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Final Results

I have been having computer problems for the last 3 weeks or so and I haven’t had consistent computer access so I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. Regardless I did my last weigh in on Sept 8th and was at 211 pounds.  So I only lost 4 in my last week and didn’t reach my goal by 1 pound.  Oh well, still came very close and lost 29 pounds, and about 6% bodyfat.  I did really kick butt in the last week with my nutrition and exercise but it just wasn’t enough.  Once again, I am 100% positive that I would have easily reached my goal if not for the injuries.  I probably took approximately 14 days off from exercising because my injuries (left knee, both elbows, achilles tendon, and lower back) over the course of the program.

After the program was done, I took a full week off from exercise and wasn’t as strict with my diet.  My knee and elbow were still bothering me, and during the next two weeks I ran a couple of times, got a gym membership and lifted weights twice.  That’s about it.  My nutrition was mediocre at best and the  temptations of football season certainly didn’t help my waistline.

Now I have 4 weeks left until park and rec basketball starts and my goal is to generally kick some butt over the next 4 weeks.  When I weighed in at the beginning of this week I was at 220 pounds.  When I did my final weigh in I was definitely slightly dehydrated and had lowered my calories for the final 2 weeks of the program.  I probably, realistically, put on about 7 pounds in the last 3 weeks.

My goal is to get back below 210 pounds.  I also want to lift a lot of weights, increase my vertical, speed, quickness, and endurance.  With a gym membership, I will definitely put on muscle as long as I lift.  Lots of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, and abdominal exercises.  I won’t be doing as much distance running, and more of my cardio workouts will be focused on sprints and plyometric exercises.  I need to play basketball at least 2X per week and include various basketball drills.  Lastly, I need to do my morning warm-up exercises and do lots of stretching and icing.  About 2 weeks before the season starts, open gyms will begin and I should be able to play basketball 3-4X before the season starts.

Phase I is complete and phase II will go from October through an alumni basketball game which is the first weekend after the new year.  My goal is to be able to dunk a basketball by then and get my bodyfat under 20%.  After that I will have playoffs for the park and rec league in early February and my goal is to win the league.  Looking forward from there I have my 20 year high school reunion this summer and I want to have my bodyfat in single digits by then.  It won’t be easy but as long as I hold myself accountable to workout hard, eat right, and keep my lifestyle in check, I should be able to reach my goals.

If you need accountability and the best information on how to exercise safely and effectively, check out our website at BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com and check out our accountability services.  Thanks for reading and do something active today!

The Home Stretch

Crunch Time, a week and a couple of days before my final weigh in where my goal is to be under 210 pounds.  I’ve got 10 days left to lose over 5 pounds, I’m currently at 215.

The last couple of weeks have been tough.   First of all it’s gotten really hot after a very  mild summer.  Overall, the heat helps with weight loss, but it’s still miserable.  I sweat buckets when I’m running which is good because sweating is the ultimate way to detoxify.  Forget about stupid, restrictive diets to detox, just sweat everyday (the more the better, within reason!) and cut the junk out of your diet.  That’s how you detoxify and it doesn’t cost you a penny!

I have really picked it up with the running and have run everyday for the last 12 days.  Unfortunately this increase in running has riled up my left knee.  It’s pretty sore everyday and it hurts every time I stand up or sit down.  The pain isn’t unbearable, but it’s definitely there.  Luckily it rarely bothers me when I’m running or sitting still.  My elbow and Achilles tendon issues are still present.  I feel the Achilles when I’m running, but not always and it seems to be getting better.  As for my elbow I still feel it when doing pull-ups (still keeping pull-ups to a minimum) and occasionally when I’m lifting something heavy away from my body.  I’ve been icing (knee, elbow, and Achilles) at least 2X per day, and have been religious about icing  after running. I’ll keep up with it, it’s summer and the ice is kinda nice sometimes.

Here’s my biggest hurdle, 5 tough pounds left to lose and I’ve ran for the last 12 days straight.  It’s no wonder my knee is ailing and I hope it doesn’t limit me the last week.  Also, I’ve cut back my calories and I think my body is in starvation mode.  It’s not actual starvation, I’ve still been eating 1500 calories or so per day.  What I mean is that my body has lowered it’s metabolism in response to a decrease in calories.  I think if I stay the course, take a day off then really kick it into high gear and grind out the last week I’ll lose the last 5 pounds.  Time will tell and there are certainly no guarantees.  Either way I’ll have lost at least 25 pounds which isn’t bad in 3 months.

If you need guidance/coaching from a professional, send us a e-mail at: ian@bodybalancehealthyliving.com, we’re here to help.  Thanks for reading and do something active today!

The Healthy Lifestyle Plan-Prep Week and Week 1

Currently I am through 2 weeks of the Healthy Lifestyle Plan.  A couple of the goals I have set for myself include: cutting back on meat (3 meals with meat per week or less), eating more fruits and veggies (at least 1 serving with most meals and a smoothie most days), not eating out as much (1-2 X per week) and when I do eat out, making better choices, and being more active (some form of exercise most days).

So far so good in terms of meeting goals and progress.  Down 6 pounds (I’m at 234) after 2 weeks which is right where I want to be.

Setting goals is all fine and good, but it’s certainly not easy, as I’m sure most of you can attest.  Since starting, week 1 I did 5 workouts (mostly running and resistance) and was decent with my nutrition.  Week 2 I bumped it up, my running workouts have been longer and I had 2 days that I worked out twice.  My nutrition was much more solid and consistent during week 2.  It’s not all hunkey-dory though.  My left Achilles tendon has been acting up despite icing, stretching and taking a day off.  Then, I unconsciously overcompensated for my Achilles pain while running, and now my right hip flexor is quite sore.  The Achilles pain can mostly be attributed to my weight, it’s 234+ pounds of body weight being slammed into the pavement or ground as I run.  I also have tennis elbow.  It flares up after I do pull-ups which is one of my favorite exercises.  Lastly, I’ve been having some left wrist pain.  It’s really strange too, it’s on the side of the ulna (pinkey side) and the pain is about 2 inches above the wrist.  Luckily it has been feeling better the last couple of days.  It can be hard to balance the right amount of exercise with rest when you have ailments and you’re trying to reach your goals.  It’s important to be careful with these types of injuries because if they continue to get worse, eventually you can do some real damage that could lay you up for weeks best case scenario, or require surgery, worst case scenario.  The moral of the story, if the pain is getting worse, you to rest, ice, and stretch that area of the body.  I’ll keep at it though and hopefully things will take care of themselves with icing, stretching and rest.

My goals for next week are to continue making improvements to my diet, do a little more resistance training, keep up with running and continue to improve on times, up the intensity of my basketball workouts, and hopefully improve on my nagging injuries.  This week is the 4th of July so it will take a little extra discipline to stay on track with nutrition.  Next week we will be taking a vacation, so that will be a challenge too.  My weight loss goal is to lose 4 pounds this week to get under 230 pounds before we leave on vacation next Tuesday.

There you have it ladies and gentleman, once again, this exercising and eating right thing isn’t easy but I definitely feel better (despite the ailments), look better, and am healthier so it’s worth the time and effort.  If YOU need additional guidance please check out our website at http://www.BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com or shoot an e-mail to ian@bodybalancehealthyliving.com.  Our goal is to help YOU  lead a healthier lifestyle.  Have a great day and do something active!

BPA in Plastics

As you can tell from my previous posts, our food supply is under attack by unhealthy food additives designed to do 3 things, #1-make food taste better, #2-increase shelf life, and #3-get you addicted.  In addition to food additives, plastic containers pose a serious health threat.  This post contains more information on BPA, what it is, what it’s in, how to avoid it, and how it may effect your health.

BPA or bisphenol A is used to make plastics, and can leak into water, other beverages and foods.  It can be found in plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic food containers.  In Jan. 2010 the FDA reversed its belief that BPA is safe for humans.  The FDA is especially concerned (if the FDA is concerned, you should be too) over BPA’s effects on developing fetuses, infants, and young children.  Definitely be aware of BPA if you have infants or young children.  You’ll have to look for recycling codes on the plastic products you use.   Look for three bending arrows that form a triangle around a number (1-7).  Each number represents one of the seven classes of plastics.  Types 1, 2, 4, and 5 are unlikely to contain BPA.  Types 3, 6, and 7 are most likely made with BPA which can leak into beverages and food.  You can also look for a BPA free label which is on many water bottles.

Another interesting fact is that when a hot liquid is exposed to plastic made with BPA, the amount of BPA that is leaked into the liquid is drastically increased.   So be aware when adding hot foods and beverages to plastic containers!

In closing, you should take steps to avoid products and foods that may have BPA in them, especially if you have infants or children.  Check recycling codes, try to use products with glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, and be especially cautious with hot foods and liquids.

Other unhealthy stuff: food additives part #1

Food Additives

There are over 14000 chemicals that are added to the American food supply.  That’s a lot!  Additives are substances (both natural and artificial) that are added to foods to preserve flavor, increase shelf life, and enhance taste and appearance.   Food additives have been used for centuries.  Examples are pickling foods in vinegar, salting, and adding sugar.  Additives definitely have their place (safe forms of food preservation are vital to the distribution of the worlds food supply), and some forms can enhance the healthiness of foods.  Examples are fermenting as in sauerkraut, adding vitamins and minerals, adding fiber, and the recent practice of adding probiotics.  Unfortunately the dollar rules and the cheapest and most available forms of preservation and flavor enhancement are often used.  Some additives and preservatives have been banned, but dangerous ones are still on the market.  Here is a list of the food additives you should limit if not eliminate from your diet.

Artificial Sweeteners

According to the Food Matters website (I highly recommend you watch the documentary Food Matters, definitely worth your time!) artificial sweeteners are the #1 food additive to avoid.  “Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal) is not your friend, it’s a neurotoxin, and is carcinogenic.  It is responsible for more reports of adverse reactions than all other food additives combined”.  There is also a laundry list of diseases and ailments linked to this artificial sweetener.  These are serious concerns, so limiting, and preferably eliminating aspartame from you and your families’ diet is highly recommended.  Examples of foods with aspartame are: diet and sugar free colas, other diet or sugar free beverages, sweets, cereals, pudding, and gelatin products.  When you are reading labels keep your eye out for aspartame.  If you are a diet cola drinker make the effort try to find healthier alternatives.  Your long term health depends on it.  Recommendations are: tea (there are many, many different kinds of tea’s, the best and cheapest way to go is to brew your own, think of the $ you’ll save by not buying your favorite diet cola or beverage with aspartame!) water, coffee, mineral water, and naturally sweetened drinks (we suggest you try to find beverages that are lightly sweetened without high fructose corn syrup, which is up next!).

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) aka Corn Sugar

HFCS is in EVERYTHING!  Go ahead, take a look, read some labels, you will be astounded.  If it’s processed in any way, it’s likely to have HFCS.  It’s absolutely startling when you realize that HFCS is “the #1 source of calories in America” (Food Matters website).  These are empty calories folks, and these empty calories end up getting stored as fat.  HFCS and all added sugars are unquestionably the main culprit in our obesity epidemic.  They don’t fill you up and don’t provide any nutrients.  Furthermore, HFCS is linked with diabetes, heart disease (two of the most prevalent diseases in America), and high LDL levels.  Look for products that aren’t sweetened with HFCS and avoid products with large amounts of added sugars.

Trans-Fats

Just as HFCS and added sugars are linked, so is animal saturated fat and trans-fats.  They’re bad for your health and you should limit or eliminate your consumption of these fats.  No more than 10% of your calories should come from animal saturated fats, if you choose to consume them at all.  Trans-fats are found in fried foods, and in processed foods that use margarine and partially hydrogenated oils.  Because trans-fats are dangerous to your health, their amounts must be listed on nutritional labels under fat.  However, as long as there is less than .5 grams of Trans fat (which would equal about 4.5 calories), it can be listed as 0 grams.  You must go to the ingredients list and if you see: partially hydrogenated, it’s got Trans fats in it.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is added to foods to enhance flavor and appearance.  You’ll have to look at the ingredients list again to find out if it’s in a food.  It’s in quite a bit of stuff, such as chips, Chinese foods (ask if they use it at your favorite Chinese restaurant), soups, frozen dinners, and luncheon meats.  MSG is linked with depression, fatigue, obesity, and headaches according to the Food Matters website.

This is part #1 of a two part series on food additives.  There are more to avoid so stay tuned!

Don’t Diet, Eat Healthy

Dieting is dumb.  The first three letters in the word diet are die.  Wanna know why?  Because most diets are so ridiculous and restricting that they make you want to die.  Ever try to get by on a highly restricted diet?  Only eating a small number of certain things (here’s looking at you grapefruit and carrot diet), and/or keeping your calories below 1000 calories or so is very hard not to mention dangerous.  You’re tired all the time, you have no energy, you have trouble sleeping, you’re irritable, and there are other health problems that can develop.  How about a little nausea, constipation, or diarrhea as Web MD says (http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/low-calorie-diets).  They also mention that the most serious and common side effect as the formation of gall stones.  I’ll pass, thank you very much.  The FDA (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm281333.htm) goes further and mentions:  electrolyte imbalances, and irregular heartbeat as side effects of very low calorie diets.  These very low calorie diets are so dangerous in fact that Shirley Blakely, a nutritionist at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition says that these diets require “strict—and constant—medical supervision to ensure that side effects are not life threatening”.  Sobering stuff, who’d a thought that dieting could be life threatening.  It’s ironic that oftentimes people are dieting because they want to be healthier.  There is definitely a safer, better, smarter, healthier way to lose weight, it’ called eating healthy.

If you’d like to learn more about eating healthy, please send us an e-mail (ian@bodybalancehealthyliving.com) with your questions and stay tuned because our next post will share Body Balance Healthy Living’s Top 5 ways to eat healthy and lose weight.

Body Balance Healthy Living’s Top 5 smart things I see people doing in the gym

While it’s easy to criticize others for doing pointless, time wasting, stupid things at the gym, there are lots of smart, intelligent, things that I see people doing too.  Here are my top 5

1.  Following the proper workout design.  All workouts should consist of: a warm-up, your workout, cool-down, and stretch.  It always puts a smile on my face when I see someone stretching after a workout, one of the smartest things  you can do!

2. Using the right weight and proper form.  You see it all the time, people using more weight than they can handle, it’s only a matter of time until they hurt themselves.  You want to use enough weight to challenge yourself and force your body to adapt, but not at the price of proper form.  If you can’t do the exercise with proper form, then you’re using too much weight.  If you can easily do more than 20 reps or so, then you need to challenge yourself more and use more weight.  It goes both ways.

3. Doing squats and lunges-the leg muscles are the largest group of muscles in the body.  If you want to add muscle, burn calories, and lose weight, focus on training the large muscles.  You have over half of your muscle mass in your legs because of 3 very large muscle groups.  You’ve got your thighs, your hamstrings, and your butt muscles.  Doing exercises like squats and lunges works these large muscle groups and is the quickest path to fast results.

4. Performing intervals when doing cardio.  If you’re doing cardio at a moderate intensity for long durations (30 minutes to an hour) then you’re not getting the most out of the time you’re spending doing cardio.  You are much better off doing a shorter duration workout, but doing intervals.  Intervals are harder work, but you’re hard work will be rewarded.

5. Working out with a partner or personal trainer.  One of the hardest aspects of working out is motivation.  Motivation to do the workout, and motivation to work hard during the workout.  A personal trainer or training partner will help keep you accountable and working hard.

Knowledge is power, especially for busy individuals who don’t have hours per day to spend exercising.  You need to be smart with the time you spend exercising to get the most out of your workout.

Top 5 exercises to do at home

While it’s nice, and recommended, to have a gym membership it’s not a necessity if you want to be more active.  There are plenty of exercises you can do with little to no equipment.  Here is a list of the Top 5

1. Some type of Squat-there are a variety of options, and ANYONE can do them.  You can do wall sits (lean up against a wall, squat down as far as you feel comfortable and hold), sumo squats (just squat down and hold it), standing squats (put your hands behind your head), chair/couch squats (just sit down and stand up, and dumbbells squats where you place the dumbbell between your feet.  Start with 1-2 sets and try to do a little more each workout (do squatting exercises 1-2X per week)

2. Walk you Stairs-a great way to get in some cardio and work your legs.  Start at the bottom and walk up, then down your stairs.  That’s one trip.  Keep going until you are winded.  Keep track of your time and how many trips you took.  You can try to go faster (be careful), or you can add trips as your cardio improves.  I do stairs with ALL of my in-home clients.

3. Push-ups-a simple easy exercise you can do anywhere.  You can do wall push-ups, knees down push-ups, or knees up push-ups depending on your upper body strength.  Perfect Push-ups are highly recommended when you are doing push-ups (go to http://www.BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com for Perfect Push-ups) because they take a considerable amount of pressure off of your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

4. Pull-ups-this is the only exercise that requires equipment.  I recommend a removable doorway pull-up bar (go to http://www.BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com for doorway pull-up bars).  Most people aren’t capable of doing a full pull-up.  You will have to use a chair or bench to do your pull-ups.  Your legs will assist.  Shoot for 10-15 reps.

5. Planks-No list of exercises to do at home is complete without abdominal exercises, and planks are the bomb.  Most people will have to start out with a front plank.  You can make it harder by using a exercise ball or balance disc’s (go to http://www.BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com for both), and by doing a side plank.  Planks are among the best and safest abdominal exercises you can do and require no equipment.

There you have it.  You don’t have to go to the gym and deal with driving, parking, waiting for equipment, and confusing contracts.  You also don’t have to spend a ton of money on a home gym.  The only piece of equipment you really need (to work all the major muscle groups) is a removable doorway pull-up bar, and there are plenty of pieces of exercise equipment that you can get for cheap.  If you’d like to learn more, please send me an e-mail at ian@BodyBalanceHealthy Living, I’m here to help!

Top 5 healthy snacks to bring on the road

Let’s fact it, it can be hard to eat every 2-3 hours when you’re on the road, and have meetings all day.  Keep snacks readily available for when you do get enough time for a break.  Here are the Top 5 snacks to bring on the road with you.

  1. Walnuts-of the nuts and seeds, walnuts have the highest amount of omega-3’s.  Also remember that walnuts are very high in calories, so be careful.
  2. Almonds-almonds and flavored almonds are among the most readily available nuts.  They are high in fiber, high in protein, and low in carbs.  At just about any convenience store you will be able to find a sleeve of almonds in a variety of flavors.
  3. Whey protein-you can usually find fruits like apples and bananas, and veggies like baby carrots and salads in convenience stores and at airports.  Furthermore, you can also easily find breakfast bars, granola bars, and nutritional bars that don’t have enough protein (at least 10 grams).  But it’s hard to get a high quality protein source that’s not loaded down with sodium, and preservatives when you are on the road.  That’s where whey protein comes in.  Throw however many serving you anticipate you’ll need into a ziplock bag with the serving scoop and you’re good to go.
  4. High protein, low sugar snack bars-it can be downright hard to find a snack bar that is good for you.  Most of them are packed with sugar (20-30+ grams of sugar) and it’s hard to find one that isn’t.  Read you labels, and find a snack bar that you like.  Be sure to bring them with you when you’re on the road (or in the air) for a quick, easy snack.
  5. Nut mix.  Buy a pre-made nut mix, or make one of your own.  Take around ½ of a cup or so of the snack mix and put it into a ziplock bag.  This is the perfect serving size (250-400 cals).

To stay sharp, alert, and full of energy, make sure to eat something every 2-3 hours.  Snacks are a great way to accomplish this.

#3-Top 5 things for busy professionals to pack when on the road

If you don’t plan accordingly, it will be very difficult to eat right and exercise when you’re out and on the road.  Packing a few things to go with you can help tremendously when you’re trying to eat healthy and exercise.  Here are the Top 5 things to pack before you go on the road.

#1- Put supplements in ziplock bags.  Be sure to pack: whey protein w/scoop, multivitamins, and an omega 3 supplement.  If you have resistance workouts planned, remember to bring: a glycogen replenishment carb powder or drink, BCAA’s, and glutamine.  You may want to supplement an extra 5-10 grams of glutamine per day if you have a really stressful business trip planned.

#2-Bring snacks-Nuts, seeds, low sugar snack bars, and whey protein are good choices for snacks to pack.  One of my favorite on the road snack is a homemade snack mix.  I always add walnuts, and almonds and then go from there.  Other ideas are: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, raisins, dried fruit, flavored nuts and seeds, cashews, and peanuts.  Measure out ½ a cup (around 275-350 cals) and throw it in a ziplock bag for a low carb, high protein, snack that also has omega 3’s from the walnuts.  You’re also going to want to pack low sugar snack bars, and whey protein.  A good strategy when using whey protein is to put a serving of the powder into a water bottle, then simply fill it up at a water fountain and combine it with a carb source for a quick snack.  Finding carb sources in an airport or at convenience store is easy (fruits, salads, granola bars, snack bars such as nutra-grain bars that are low in protein, and fruit juice are generally healthy carb choices).

#3-Workout shoes and clothes-another example of if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.  You’re obviously not going to workout if you don’t have shoes and workout clothes, so pack them first.  Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit if the hotel you’re staying in has a pool, swimming and treading water are a great ways to exercise.

#4-A book or magazines about self improvement, fitness or nutrition-Chances are you’ll have some downtime so educate yourself with a book or magazine to pass the time.

#5-Your gym membership card if you belong to a nationwide gym-when considering a gym membership find out if it has facilities in other cities.  If there are cities that you consistently travel to find out if your gym has a facility there.  If you are going to be traveling a lot, you may want to consider one of the nationwide companies that has a gym in most large cities.

Remembering to pack all of these items will help you keep it healthy while you’re on the road!