Lose The Weight, Gain The Muscle Part II

mark-dziuban-weights-2

In previous blogs, I discussed glucose as your bodies preferred source of fuel, or energy for daily activity. You now know our bodies convert ingested carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar. Ingest too many carbohydrates and excess glucose will eventually get stored as triglycerides in your adipose fat tissue resulting in unwanted body fat.

You also know your body protects its fat stores for future energy needs against a potential starvation event. Your body will cannibalize its own muscle to use as energy before utilizing its precious energy stores which reside in your adipose fat tissue cells. You MUST use your muscles so your body will bypass this cannibalizing process and use its fat stores for it’s go to energy source.

“Resistance training”, or using your muscles does not require lifting weights. No intimidating gym visits needed here. In fact, no weights are required at all. Let’s talk about using our own body weight as the weight needed to obtain a leaner and healthier you.

In his book, “The Primal Blueprint,” Mark Sission talks about, what he calls, “Primal Essential Movements”. He recommends four body weight exercises which work all the major muscles in your body and promote functional fitness for daily life activities. At the same time, you will be teaching your body to convert and utilize its fat stores for its energy needs leading to a leaner and healthier you.

So, what are these four body resistance exercises? Push-ups, squats, planks, and pull-ups. Haven’t done these exercises since your high school or college days? Don’t worry, we can alter each exercise to suit your current physical ability and you’ll find that they are easier to do than you may think.

Let’s start with push-ups. We all think a push up is done from a starting position on the floor making them very difficult to do. Let’s go to the stairs. Facing a set of stairs, place your toes close to the bottom stair while placing your hands on the fourth stair from the bottom. Now do a push up. You’ll find these easier to do as you have transferred most of your weight to your feet relieving your shoulders from doing most of the work. Start with 5 sets of a quantity you can maintain for each of the 5 sets. Work your way up to doing 12-15 repetitions for each of the 5 sets taking a three-minute rest in between sets. Has your heart rate increased? If you answered yes, that’s great. Increase in your heart rate is important. Don’t let your heart rate elevate too much, you want to be able to hold a normal conversation while your heart rate is slightly elevated. Now, once you are able to perform 5 sets, move down one stair eventually working your way to placing your hands on the floor. Are you able to perform 5 sets of 12-15 repetitions while flat on the floor? Turn around and place your feet on the first stair from the floor and challenge yourself. Work your way up the stairs placing your feet higher. It is important that you are able to complete all 5 sets but they must be challenging. Remember, we are teaching our body it needs its muscles so it will not eat away at our muscles for its energy needs. Challenge yourself.

Planks. Lay on the ground, elbows on the ground shoulder width apart hands extended out in front of you, palms flat on the floor. Legs behind you spaced comfortably apart, toes pointed down. Now, raise up on your toes and elbows in a stiff body position. Work your way to being able to hold this position for 30 seconds. Take a 3-minute break in between sets and work our way up to 5 sets at 30 seconds each set. Once you have been able to perform 5 sets at 30 seconds, work your way up to 45 seconds, then 1 minute. Your goal is to master the plank for 2 minutes. You will feel your core tighten up, your back and glutes will be challenged working your large muscle groups. Are you sweating? Good!

Squats. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, extend your arms straight in front of you, palms facing down. Hold this position while lowering your butt as low as you can go. Try to get your thighs parallel with the ground before standing back up. It’s ok to put a chair or a stool behind you until you become comfortable with the movement and gain confidence in your ability. Work your way up to 5 sets of 25 repetitions. You’ll feel a burn in your quads which is exactly what you want.

Pull-ups. Pull ups require the most strength of these four exercises but don’t worry, there are ways around everything. Search “resistance bands” on the internet and purchase a set. The kind with integrated handles work best. Loop over a hook or an overhead beam in your basement. From a seated position pull the bands toward you in a fashion that mimics a pull up. Increase tension as you gain strength. Assisted pull ups are easy too by hooking your foot in a resistance band on one end and looped around a traditional pull up bar on the other end. The assistance the band provides is greater than you may think making you look like a pro at performing this exercise. Pull ups work several muscle groups including your lats, biceps, abs and core.  

Alternate these four exercises every other day doing push-ups and squats on day 1, 3, and 5, pull-ups and planks on days 2,4, and 6. Challenge yourself, over time increase the amount of reps within each set as you gain strength and confidence.

In my next blog I will discuss the three different muscle fiber types and the benefits to working each individual one. Whether you are looking to increase muscle strength, muscle endurance, or increase lean muscle weight, we will determine the work out resistance training regimen to suit your goal.

So go get started. In a very short period of time you will be impressed how quickly you will be able to see results. But remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”

Why Resistance Training is Critical to Weight Loss

Mark-Dziuban-resistance-training

If you read my previous post you should have a better understanding how our bodies convert ingested carbohydrates into glucose which you now know glucose is our bodies preferred source of energy. Too many ingested carbohydrates, which exceed our current energy needs, eventually convert into triglycerides which reside inside our adipose fat tissue cells and are saved for future energy needs.

So, based on what we now know, conventional wisdom would suggest if one stops eating, one’s body would use the over abundant triglycerides stored in our bodies adipose fat tissue cells for its energy needs, right? Wrong! Believe it or not, before your body resorts to using all that available energy found around your midsection or in your thighs, your body will actually eat away its own muscle, or cannibalize itself before tapping into those stored triglycerides. Our bodies will literally eat themselves away until there is little muscle left to perform nothing but our most basic functions such as walking, sitting, and breathing. Diet, and don’t use your muscles, you’ll lose them. Think of a sailor lost at sea in his tiny life raft with no food for weeks before being found.  After weeks of surviving on little to no rations, he is rescued, his arms and legs are the size of toothpicks as his body used its own muscle as a fuel source before it used the very stored energy, (found inside our adipose fat tissue cells), we all so desperately want to lose. So, when we “diet”, or starve ourselves, we are actually training our bodies to store more energy in the form of “fat”, for future energy needs, which is contrary to our goal.

So…how do we lose weight and maintain, or gain, our lean muscle mass?,…USE THEM! You need to teach your body that it needs muscle to survive. Once your body recognizes you are dependent upon muscle function it will bypass your muscles as an energy source and will then begin to utilize those triglycerides, stored in its adipose fat tissue cells, as its new energy source. Make sense???

Weight training, or resistance training, is a key component to successfully shedding unwanted pounds. By doing so we trick our bodies into bypassing our muscle stores for energy and to go directly to our triglycerides stored in our adipose fat tissue cells for its energy needs. No gym needed here. You can easily do this at home and save yourself the time and expense to join a gym. I’ll even give you an option and show you how you can do this by spending little to no money on expensive home gym equipment.

Read my next blog on how to create a workout regimen you can easily conduct at home or on the road while you’re away from home, even from the confines of your hotel room. And remember…”If you want it you’ve got to go get it!”

More ways to make healthy eating affordable

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A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden.

Here are three more easy ways to make healthy eating affordable.

 

Don’t buy it, grow it

When it comes to healthy eating, you cannot beat homegrown foods. Many wholesome items, especially fruits and vegetables, are capable of being planted and grown at home in a garden or greenhouse. Figure out which of these foods you consume the most, then find out how to effectively plant and nurture it so that you can produce it yourself. The process may be slow and a little time-consuming at first, but it should pay off in saved money and peace of mind knowing you are eating as naturally as possible.

 

Buy in bulk

Bulk buying can be a huge money saver in many aspects of grocery shopping, and it is just as effective when applied to a healthy eating regimen. You can buy almost any healthier food options in bulk, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Namely, items like breads and smaller fruits like berries and apples stand as ideal bulk choices thanks to their larger quantities. This approach will save you time otherwise spent on periodic weekly shopping trips, and it should also cut down on general costs (assuming you effectively divide your high-volume purchases into logical portions).

 

Freeze and refrigerate meals

I previously discussed how meal plans can be a huge asset to affordable, healthy eating, as they allow you to plan out healthy meals and apply them to the constraints of your weekly grocery budget. However, you can take this approach a step further by actually preparing your planned meals in advance and freezing or refrigerating them. Depending on the food in question, you should be able to quickly thaw out your food for an at-home meal or a packed work lunch without the present effort of throwing it together on a time schedule. You may even find yourself less stressed as a result of the latter notion.

Five foods that might seem healthy, but are not

mark dziuban, foods that may seem healthy but are not

Since the United States first launched into its health craze about a decade ago, countless brands have been advertising that their foods are now “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and/or “organic.”

Unfortunately, these claims are rarely ever true, as this presumably healthier food is often packed with saturated fats, toxic sugar substitutes, and high levels of carbohydrates.

Here is a list of five foods that might seem healthy, but actually are not:

 

Granola

It is important to note that not all granola is unhealthy, but many brands add unnecessary sugars and oils to their products during the cooking process, giving them a higher fat content. If you are craving granola, opt to make it at home instead. After all, there are plenty of savory recipes that are healthier — and more satisfying — than the usual store bought brands.

 

Flavored yogurt

No matter how lofty yogurt brands’ claims are, their flavored yogurt is not, in fact, a healthy breakfast option. Instead, these small cups are often loaded with more sugar than you would expect, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after tossing the plastic cup into the recycling bin, Make it a point to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into your diet. You can add fruit or spices to give it more flavor and it will leave you feeling more energized for the day ahead.

 

Margarine

Although it boasts a lower level of saturated fat than its classic butter counterpart, margarine is far worse for your body due to how many synthetic ingredients are added during its production. As a matter of fact, margarine is not even naturally yellow like butter is — it is more of a grey color, but it is bleached to emulate butter and steamed to remove any chemical odors. Perhaps it is time to pitch that container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and switch back to butter or a real natural alternative.

 

Instant oatmeal

As unfortunate as it is, packets of instant oatmeal hold little to no nutritional value, especially if they are flavored. Flavored oatmeal has been proven to contain too much added sugar, which, similar to the aforementioned flavored yogurt, will only leave you rummaging around for more food within an hour or so. Instead, opt for the classic instant oats and add in fruit, spices, and other items to add flavor and texture to your morning bowl of oatmeal.

 

Gluten-free foods

This is likely the most shocking item on this list, as gluten-free foods are presumed to be inherently better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as gluten-free foods contain various rice flours, additional sugar, and starches that are not as nutritionally beneficial in comparison to whole grains. So, if you do not have a legitimate gluten allergy, it would be best to avoid gluten-free foods as much as possible.

Exercise habits to avoid

Mark dziuban, workout habits

No matter how long you have been actively pursuing a better fitness routine, it is possible that you have one or more bad exercise habits that are deterring your efforts. In order to fully reap the benefits of your time in the gym, be sure to avoid the following exercise habits:

Skipping gym days. It is no secret that exercising is sometimes a greater test of your mental willpower than your physical abilities. After all, it is rare to find a person who genuinely desires to go to the gym and work out — especially in front of others who may or may not be in better shape than they are. However, it is better to find a way to will yourself to get up, lace up your sneakers, and go to the gym anyway. Such persistence will benefit you in the long run.

 

Taking long rests between exercises. Although it may be tempting to sit down and take a long water break after an especially difficult set of weightlifting or a sprint, it is much better for you to take shorter breaks — anywhere between one and three minutes — as they give you the opportunity to catch your breath without losing momentum or drastically lowering your heart rate.

 

Eating and/or drinking too much. Indulging in full meals or drinking too much water before a work out can lead to nausea, cramps, and other painful side effects. It is better to eat a small, healthy snack — such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or granola — and drink no more than two glasses of water prior to your next trip to the gym, as this will give you the energy you need to follow through with your exercise plan without any additional pain.

If you do choose to eat a full meal before heading to the gym, be sure to do so about two to four hours beforehand.

 

Working out aimlessly. If you go into the gym without at least an outline of your regimen for the day, it is unlikely that you will gain much from your efforts, as you will be more prone to getting distracted or giving up mid-exercise because you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

 

Make it a point to write down your exercise plan, whether on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. This will not only give you direction at the gym, but help you to familiarize yourself with your gym’s range of equipment as well.

Ways to make healthy eating affordable

Mark Dziuban, affordable healthy eating

A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden. Here are three easy ways to make healthy eating more affordable.

 

Change your way of thinking

You must possess the proper mindset if you are going to pursue a healthier diet, and this includes the financial end of this pursuit. It is no secret that many Americans resort to fast food, unhealthy frozen meals, and other quick answers to daily meals in an attempt to balance both their time and budget. A big step towards healthier living is coming to the realization that not all healthy meals require large amounts of time and money — you must break away from the conditioned association of unhealthy meal options and affordability. Once you have reached this point, you will be able to better focus on “good deals” that are also good for you.

 

Make a meal plan

If you are concerned about how healthy meals will impact your budget on a long term scale, it is wise to plan out your meals in advance. Use Sundays to make a meal list for the upcoming week, basing the list off of a predetermined meal budget. Estimate how much each meal will cost and use these figures to balance your plan to your liking. You can never have too much foresight in this field, and keeping these habits will give you a better natural perception of the meals you can and cannot make on a regular basis. Plus, if nothing else, a meal plan will add another component to your organization throughout a busy work week.

 

Relish the leftovers

Do not be afraid to make too much of a healthy meal — unless you are extremely picky about repeating specific courses, you may be able to use meal leftovers to get you through multiple days of eating, saving more money in the process. This way, you will at least ensure that you are eating something you know is healthy while saving time otherwise spent on new meal preparations. Additionally, you can use leftovers to craft other healthy dishes (stir frys, salads, and burritos, for example).

The best apps for dieting

Mark Dzuiban, dieting apps

Dieting can be difficult. For many people, a total change in eating habits can take a lot of time and effort as they strengthen their willpower and overall discipline.

Luckily, modern diets can be complemented by a variety of supplemental resources that aid dieters toward their goals. Dieting apps now stand as an obvious technological advantage for dieters owning a smartphone or other app-ready device.

Here are some of the best dieting apps (for both iphone and android).

 

MyFitnessPal

Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app is a go-to resource for nearly every type of dieter (though it is generally marketed towards those who are also active). The app allows users to easily enter foods and beverages they have eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories and crucial macronutrients (proteins, fats, sugars, etc.). The app then stacks these numbers up to predetermined calorie and macro totals based on your unique body type (weight, height) and your lifestyle (very active, moderately active). Additionally, the app is able to factor in calories burned during physical activities, which can also be logged in a similar manner.

 

Diet Point – Weight Loss

Diet Point – Weight Loss is a handy dieting app that provides users with over 130 different diet plans, each tailored to a different lifestyle and starting point. This wide set of options gives users the convenience of avoiding guesswork in terms of figuring out how to get started. Furthermore, users can enjoy close to 500 preloaded tips to improve their individual weight loss plans and achieve their goals. The app also comes with a BMI calculator, which always serves as a helpful tracking resource for those dedicated to losing weight.

 

My Diet Coach

My Diet Coach is aimed primarily at women, but it features a motivation-heavy theme focused on inspiring users to continuously reach for their weight goals. A big staple of the app is its reminder feature, which allows users to set daily reminders personalized to your regular dieting needs or responsibilities (users can set alarms to drink more water or prepare a healthy lunch, for example). Other helpful features include a diet diary, a motivational photo album, and a list of perseverance tips.

 

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has existed as a dieting resource for many years now, and its mobile app is a testament to its continued relevance amongst dieters nationwide. The app follows Weight Watchers classic “PointsPlus” system, which goes beyond typical dieting management by grading users through a points system (rather than through calorie counting alone). The app does require a paid subscription after prolonged use, but with a variety of food and weight tracking features and a 24/7 chat option that links users to weight coaches, your money will be well spent.

 

Exploring popular superfoods

Mark Dziuban

Throughout your dietary endeavors, you have probably come across the term “superfood.” This term is a bit ambiguous in a way; clearly it has a positive connotation, but why?

In reality, “superfood” is a marketing term used to refer to foods that present nutritional benefits. While the term is pretty broad in its most basic meaning, the foods it encompasses do consistently prove to be healthy for a variety of reasons.

Here are some of the most popular superfoods, and the reasons they are seen as smart eating choices.

 

Almonds

While most nuts are known for providing a variety of nutritional benefits, almonds are consistently found to be one of the most nutritionally dense nuts on the market, offering the “highest concentration of nutrients per calorie” of any nut, according to Greatist.com. Additionally, almonds are found to be high in potassium, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.

 

Watermelon seeds

Watermelon itself is sometimes grouped in the superfood category, but the fruit’s seeds appear to be what has the most nutrients. Seeds are commonly spit out or thrown away in favor of the sweet, juicy parts of the melon, but you should refrain from following this approach, as the seeds are found to provide magnesium, amino acids, good fats, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, among other important nutrients (according to Rawguru.com).

 

Avocados

Avocados are unique in a lot of ways, from their distinguishable shape to their specific nutritional value. One characteristic that sets avocados aside from most fruits is that they are high in good fats, whereas most fruits are rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also provide 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and C, and actually contain more potassium than bananas.

 

Eggs

The nutritional value of eggs has been debated for a long time, but the latest verdict is that their health benefits outweigh their potential flaws (they are high in cholesterol, but are not found to negatively impact blood cholesterol levels). According to AuthorityNutrition, a single large boiled egg contains a reasonable percentage of vitamin A, phosphorus, selenium, and folate, in addition to a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also loaded with protein, healthy fat, and omega-3s (the latter depending on how the eggs are prepared and enriched prior to being sold).

 

Kiwi

An occasionally overlooked fruit, kiwis are loaded with antioxidants. They are found to bring a variety of unique and interesting health benefits to the table, ranging from aiding in digestion to serving as a light sleep inducer. Factor in high amounts of fiber and vitamin C and you are left with a fruit that truly lives up to “super” status.

Healthy Substitutes for Guilty Pleasure Foods

Adhering to a strict diet is tough, and many people do not realize how difficult it is to stay the course until they have already committed to it. The benefits of a healthy diet are well documented, but there are always cravings that pop up. By making health-conscious substitutes, it is still possible to enjoy your guilty pleasure foods without neglecting your diet.

Black Beans for Flour in Baking

Most people could benefit from consuming less flour in their diets. If you have any type of gluten insensitivity or are following the Paleo diet like myself, then flour is not an option in your diet. Luckily, black beans make a great flour substitute for baking. Swap out a cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of washed and pureed black beans the next time you are craving brownies. Aside from eliminating the flower, you also add extra grams of protein to the mix.

Spaghetti Squash for Noodles in Pasta

There are plenty of pasta substitutes on shelves in the grocery store, but the best one I’ve found so far is a baked spaghetti squash. Cut the squash in half and spread a layer of oil on the open halves along with some salt and pepper for taste. Lay them open-half up in a baking pan with some water and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the inside of the squash is easily removed with a fork.

Coconut Oil for Coffee Creamer

Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and dairy, both of which can be detrimental to your health. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning and blend it to get a smooth, velvety consistency. Research has also shown that MCTs in the coconut oil help provide longer lasting energy that creamer cannot match.

Avocado for Butter

Someone somewhere had the idea to swap a 1:1 ratio of avocado for butter in baking, and that person should receive a medal. While butter is not awful, it cannot compare to the nutritional benefits of an avocado. Next time you are craving chocolate chip cookies, try swapping out the butter for avocado, and I bet you won’t even taste the difference.

Sticking to a nutritional plan should not make you miserable, and you should be enjoying the foods you are eating. By making these healthy substitutions, you can stay the course and enjoy every meal.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the health and wellness world over the past decade due to its seemingly unlimited uses. Originally marketed as a cooking oil, coconut oil has since grown into a universal product that you’ll find in the cupboard of most health-conscious people. While it is still a popular cooking oil, it is also used for much more around the house.

Beauty and Health Uses

Skin Moisturizer

Coconut oil has been proven to be as effective as many store-bought moisturizers without any of the added chemicals or dyes.

Lip Balm

While coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer, it is also an effective lip balm. A thin layer can protect your lips from the cold and wind all winter long.

Oil Pulling

Swishing or “pulling” coconut oil in your mouth has been shown to improve teeth and gum health, eliminate bad breath, stop tooth decay, and kill unwanted bacteria.

Toothpaste

Mix coconut oil with baking soda and a drop of peppermint oil to create a gentle toothpaste that will leave your breath fresh all day.

Deodorant

The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil make it great at fighting body odor. If you don’t like the consistency of an oil as a deodorant, combine it with a little baking soda to thicken it.

Shaving Cream

For many men, including myself, shaving causes a number of problems including razor burn and the occasional ingrown hair. Try a layer of coconut oil after a hot shower as your shaving cream to eliminate those issues.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Coconut oil is a great substitute for an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner. It also works wonders on dandruff!

Cooking Uses

Toast Topper

Instead of spreading butter on the top of your toast, reach for the coconut oil. The consistency and flavor will have you wondering why you never tried it before.

Coffee Creamer

Throw a tablespoon of coconut oil in your coffee in the morning and blend it to create a velvety morning drink that will pack a punch.

Popcorn Dressing

Toss your freshly-popped popcorn in a bowl with coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt for a healthier alternative and a new taste.

Energy Drink

Most sports drinks are jam packed with sugar and unwanted additives. Add coconut oil and some fruit to a glass of water to create a delicious pre-workout drink.

Around the House

Gum Removal

There are plenty of guides online on how to remove gum from the couch or from your hair, and coconut oil is up there as one of the most effective. The oils will break down the gum and make it easier to remove.

Shine Your Shoes

Shoe shining kits can be expensive, and you may only use them once or twice before they sit in your closet collecting dust. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your shoes to get them shining while protecting them at the same time.

Slow Dust Accumulation

Speaking of collecting dust, it seems as though dusting is a chore that you could do daily and the dust keeps coming back. Spread some coconut oil on anything made of wood or plastic that collects a lot of dust and let it dry.

The versatility of coconut oil is impressive, and people are finding new uses for it every day. Make sure you find a spot for it in your pantry, in your medicine cabinet, in your broom closet, or all three today.