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Lose the belly this year

Many people want to know the secret for weight loss, health and vitality. It is a mystery as to the direct answer why do we have an obesity epidemic in this day and age? We are fatter than ever before, and sadly, the problem just seems to be getting worse.

In my past blogs, I’ve explained how exercise plus good nutrition equals weight loss. Today I offer you a remedy that is more specific: eliminate wheat and all wheat products. Cardiologist, William Davis M.D., proposes wheat as the source of the obesity epidemic in his book, “Wheat Belly.” His argument includes extensive real life experiments with his patients, and their radical transformation due to cutting out the wheat. Basically, wheat has been genetically altered into a modern plant that is drastically different than the plant from fifty years ago. It’s been proven much more addictive and toxic to our bodies than the whole grain of the past. Thus, when we have two slices of toast we spike our blood sugar higher than eating pure table sugar. Also, a myriad of other problems and diseases have occurred in our bodies  from eating wheat, such as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immunologic disorders.

But eliminating bread, cake, cookies, crackers, pasta is no fun! Getting the basket of bread and butter at your favorite restaurant before dinner is so tasty! Here is where will-power and the concern for your health must come into play. Do you want to lose that stubborn fat that has been piling up around your belly, thighs or butt? Do you want to look attractive, have a healthy long life for your children, or loved ones? You do have this option to turn your life around. What real harm will you encounter by cutting wheat and all flour-based products from your diet? Only the jealousy of others seeing you lose weight and look great!

In addition, exercise, getting active and having fun moving is the other key to the fountain of youth. Good luck this year!

What new year’s resolutions do you have? Please share.



Eating at the right time

Having a hefty meal for dinner, after skipping lunch and barely eating a sufficient breakfast seems to be what many Americans do in their busy lives. Eating a nice piece of chocolate cake at the end of dinner also goes along with this routine. Then a few hours later after consuming 90 % of his/her calories for the day, it’s bedtime.

If you’re gonna eat a donut, do it in the morning!

Is this possibly why we are getting a poor night’s sleep after we just loaded up on fat, sugars, carbs, etc.? How can we run around all day long and forget to eat properly? Easy, life is busy and eating isn’t always at the forefront of our mind. However, our bodies go without food as we sleep at night and when we awake it’s the best possible time to pack it full of calories and nutrients to be productive and burn more calories efficiently. Breakfast is crucial. Numerous studies have linked breakfast-eaters with a lower body fat percentage. Next, lunch is the second most important meal of the day. Try to eat a nice filling lunch full of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of vegetables. Then, make dinner your smallest meal of the day. If you’re at a restaurant for example, just eat an appetizer.

Another big mistake with the right timing of meals is just after a workout. No appetite after your workout? Try drinking a smoothie, or a protein drink such as Kefir. Drinking flavored kefir, like blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry, etc, is full of the protein and carbs your body desperately needs after working out. If you deny your body the post-workout food, you’ll have a much more difficult time losing weight. In fact, some studies show that if you don’t have a post-workout meal, your body goes in to a sort of “starvation mode” and stores more fat out of a survival instinct.

Lastly, the further time goes by after your workout, the less junk food you should eat. That means, no late-night desserts if your workout was at 8 AM. Are you just dying to eat a piece of pie? Then eat it first thing in the morning! Right before or right after your workout! I know it seems crazy, but think of food as fuel. You start out the busy day with no fuel in your tank, things could get ugly. On the flip side, you fill up your tank right before you turn your car off for the day the fuel will not get burned up and will just sit in your tank turning to fat. It’s all in the timing.

Remove ugly belly fat

Some articles proclaim “how to get rid of belly fat!” or “Try these exercise to remove unwanted belly fat!” The articles may be missing one key point. We cannot simply laser off belly fat magically, unless you get surgery. Don’t get me wrong, exercise DOES WORK to reduce body fat. However, you can’t eat cookies and pie all day long and expect to lose the body fat!

Keep in mind, we all have different body shapes and different places fat cells like to accumulate. One type of body has those nice dimply thighs and chunky butts, where the fat cells love to pile up, with less of a chance for the extra ugly belly fat. The other type has less fat on the legs, but chronically chubby tummies. These are body types that you can’t escape. The fat will go where it wants to go.

If you are the type that has extra belly fat, you can do sit-ups all day long and it won’t burn those stubborn fat cells. Although, core and abdominal strength are an extremely important part of a fitness regime. The solution to burning the fat is essentially burning more calories, and then to eat less calories. If you’re burning calories, you’ll eventually use the fat cells to produce energy. Hence, zapping away those piled up fat cells around your belly button!

Don’t listen to all the articles that proclaim the cure to belly fat as being one specific exercise or trick. The key is to just go out there work hard, burn some calories, and then skip the ice cream at night.

Post-exercise food power-up!

Eating berries keeps ya healthy!

Often we exercise to look good and lose weight. Therefore, the thought of eating a brownie after a good workout seems ridiculous! Not so. If you are going to have any junk food throughout the day, the best time would be immediately after you finish burning calories versus eating the brownie at ten o’clock at night. If you are in the habit of having a tasty treat at night, it can be very difficult to break the routine. But once you’re weened off the midnight sugar-fix, you may find it easy to resist temptation. We are creatures of habit. So, try forming a healthy habit. It’s possible to metabolically re-program your body by learning to love vegetables and hate brownies! Another good eating habit is learning to eat most of your calories in the first half of your day when you’re more likely to burn them off.

Another important habit is what you do directly after exercise, besides re-fueling with a decent amount of water, protein and carbohydrates, a very important post-exercise food is a good dose of antioxidants, most commonly from berries or beans. Why antioxidants? During exercise we have a lot of oxidative stress released in our body.  This stress which damages cells in our body has been linked to many diseases including Alzheimers, cancer and heart disease. But, berries, beans, and spices pack a mean punch of antioxidants to fight the oxidative stress!  According to researchers, the top ten foods highest in the antioxidants are:

  1. Small red bean
  2. Wild blueberry
  3. Red kidney bean
  4. Pinto bean
  5. Blueberry (cultivated)
  6. Cranberry
  7. Artichoke
  8. Blackberry
  9. Dried prune
  10. Raspberry

So, enjoy your beans today, knowing that they keep the balance of the oxidation and free radicals from harming your body on the cellular level, and potentially ward off diseases. Try eating red beans and rice as a dish served after a hard day of training. Stay healthy and as we say: eat to train, don’t train to eat.

Low-Carbs Myth

Don't rock the muffin-top at your next topless event!

If you’re trying to shed some weight from the winter-time, and look good this spring and summer in your skivvies, do not eliminate carbohydrates or you may be in danger of bonking at your next workout.

The idea that you should eat low-carb or no-carbs to lose weight has various negative repercussions that many nutritionists have noted over the years. My point is primarily targeted at athletes who try this diet. If you are shooting for weight-loss in your nutrition, simply slashing the carbs you eat can possibly be detrimental to your next workout. Time and time again at a workout I’m coaching, someone eats only protein and fat prior to the workout and then has very little energy to go as hard as he or she wants.

If your goal is weight loss and muscle tone, then I recommend exercising at least five times per week and carefully plan your diet — not by eliminating carbohydrates! You’ll need the carbs for your workouts, so eat around 20 – 30 grams of carbohydrates (depending on your body weight: more if heavier, less if lighter) right before and after your workout. Protein should also be included immediately after exercising: about 5 – 15 grams should be sufficient, also depending on your body weight. What type of protein and carbs is crucial! There are good carbs and bad carbs. Most processed carbs, based from refined sugar and flour are not as beneficial to your body as whole foods. The best carbs I recommend are from fruit and vegetables. If you’re really looking for a sweet, try eating dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, and apricots. If you want something savory try carrots and hummus, for example. For protein, you’ll want to consume complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids, this type of protein comes from animals. Sorry vegetarians, but it can be difficult to get your complete protein from a plant-based diet. Some great forms of protein come from eggs, fat-free yogurt, lean meat and nuts such as almonds. Remember, whole food always trumps powders, bars, and other processed food! However, whole food is not always as convenient on-the-go. So, if you can pre-boil eggs, they are very convenient and “pre-packaged” too! Also, a blend of dried raisins, cranberries, cherries with almonds work just as easily as any protein bar.

Lose weight and feel great one step at a time. Calories in, and calories out. It’s a mathematical equation and a matter of good old self-control and will-power. You can do it! Good luck!

What Are Putting in your Mouth?

Food. We have to make decisions every day about food. What if food is challenging for you to deal with? Many people don’t really know what to eat. Others know what to eat, but simple snack unconsciously. Others are tortured by eating disorders, sadly. I am no psychologist, but I do know a few things about eating healthy. I have established a great “diet” or nutrition plan that works for me and while not everyone needs the same things as I do, I’ll share a few tips and hints I’ve learned.

  1. Portion control. When loading up your dinner plate, remember that 50% of the total meal should be fruits & veggies at least. If you can make it more, great! But, beware of meals that are predominantly just meat and bread or pasta (I’m not pointing fingers, but peperoni pizza?!!). So, take a large helping of the broccoli and lean protein, like salmon. And a smaller portion of the rest of the meal, and skip the butter, eat olive oil instead.
  2. Healthy carbohydrates. Carbs are OH so important! But, really be picky about the type of carbs you’re eating. The more you can eat vegetables as your source of carbs the better! That means sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, corn and squash (acorn, butternut, etc). Here’s a good chart to track them. Next best are the whole grains, for example quinoa, brown rice, and steel cut oatmeal.
  3. Bad carbohydrates. Refined flour lacks nutrients and fiber and will leave you craving more. So try to avoid breads, baked goods, pastas, crackers, and other foods made of refined flour. Also, refined sugar is a bad carb too. So get your sweeteners from honey, maple syrup and agave INSTEAD of sugar. When I do a long bike ride, I simply mix honey in the water bottle and it’s really tasty and better for you than any premixed powder!
  4. Make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats, so you don’t crave the bad ones. That means olive oil in your salad, instead of regular salad dressing. Nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts are also an excellent source of HEALTHY fats that are very important for a variety of reasons, including reducing of inflammation. Not to mention they’re all anti-oxidants!
  5. Last but not least, if your nutrition is still out of control, ask yourself, what am I putting in my mouth? and write it down! Write it in the notes on your phone, each and every thing. Don’t forget to write down the doughnut you ate at Starbucks! Or if writing it down takes too long, simply take a quick photo of it with your phone and at the end of the day log it all. Do your homework. Take this seriously, it’s your health and your life and the longevity of it! It’s preventative healthcare and a good diet I believe will keep your medical costs down!

Also, keep in mind the less you eat out at restaurants and the more you cook at home or pick out healthy options at the grocery store, the easier this is. So go crazy at Trader Joe’s and pick up a box of quinoa instead of a box of salty crackers! Good luck.

One final note regarding eating disorders. If you have a very difficult time with your nutrition and need more serious attention regarding a possible eating disorder, here’s some options in the Bay area.

  • The Body Positive: A great org in Berkeley that offers workshops and lectures, personal coaching, and continuing education. This place seems much more focused on the creation of a positive body image! Their Mission: The Body Positive’s mission is to implement educational programs that transform individual and societal beliefs about weight, body image, and identity. The result is a growing national movement of healthy, confident individuals contributing to positive change in the world.
  • Woodleaf Center: I have heard really good things about this place in Hayes Valley, in San Francisco. They have a twice monthly Free Support Group that might be helpful for you. They also offer outpatient services and accept the following health insurance: Aetna, Cigna, UBH, United Health Care, Great West, Value Options, California Blue Cross, Blue Shield and more. (Please note we do NOT accept Kaiser).
  • Beyond Hunger: This is a place in Marin that has a pretty good reputation as well, and they have a Drop-In Group on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 9:30am on 4th St. in San Rafael.

Athletic Nutrition Tips

Sometimes people get really into the idea that they need to diet to be skinny. Occasionally this works, but it doesn’t always make you healthier. What does make you healthier and happier (and more attractive 😉 is doing an activity or sport you enjoy plus getting the nutrition right! You really can’t do them independently.

Exercise + Nutrition = Good health

What I’m talking about is “preventative healthcare.” You’ll have less visits to the doctor and less spending of money! So get outdoors find a fun active hobby-like activity and eat right. Eating healthy while exercising can be challenging at times. Here’s a few guidelines to begin with:

  1. Eat small meals every three to four hours.  Your first meal should be eaten within one hour of waking and before any type of exercise (when exercising in the morning).
  2. Portion Control! A serving of protein and carbohydrates should be the size of your fist and veggies should equal one to two fist sizes (and leafy greens two open hand-sizes).
  3. Of your total daily carbohydrate intake, 20% or less should be from sugar.  This includes fruit, milk and yogurt sugars as well as sweets, alcohol & other beverages.
  4. 25-30% of your overall calories should come from fats of which most should consist of healthy fats like nuts, avocados, olive oil, fish oil, & nut butters.
  5. Always mix carbohydrates with proteins and fats, with the exception being before or during your workout. This helps slow down the digestion of carbs and helps reduce large insulin surges.
  6. Get your fiber!  Fiber-rich foods fill you up and require more energy to break down and pass through the body.
  7. Eat at least 1 gram of protein for every two pounds of body weight.  Protein is needed to repair your muscles and helps keep you full.  Protein is not easily stored as fat if it goes unused like carbohydrates. And that said, you should regularly spread your intake out throughout the day.
  8. Drink at least 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water per day.  Drink more on days when it’s hot or when you exercise.
  9. Take your multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants daily.  Our food is less nutrient-dense these days due to over-processing and nutrient deficient crop soil.  As a result, we cannot get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food. Fish oil is another great supplement that may reduce inflammation (aka sore muscles).
    Taking supplements ensures that you will get your daily requirements.  Anti-oxidants help rid your body of free radicals produced during exercise, which can be damaging to the body’s cells.  Check out  juice plus website. Juice Plus has loads of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients.
  10. Reduce or eliminate alcoholic beverages.
  11. Never severely cut or eliminate your carbohydrate intake!  40-60% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates.  This is your body’s main energy source.  If you don’t get enough energy from carbohydrates for your activity level, your body will go into starvation mode causing your metabolism to slow and a potential loss of muscle. But eat the HEALTHY carbs: from vegetables and whole grains, yes that means NO PIZZA! Or less pizza anyway. For example, include sweet potatoes, brown rice, and steel cut oats into your daily diet.

These are all just suggestions to get you started off right. Please ask me any questions you may have about how to eat to be healthier and stronger! Let’s all try to avoid the doctor by keeping up with regular workouts and eating right with healthy food!

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