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.

 

Let’s lose some fat

You’ve heard the advertisements on TV and have read the ads in your favorite magazines, “Use our product and turn your unwanted body fat into muscle.” Sounds easy and simple doesn’t it? Here’s a fact, it can’t be done-it’s just that simple. Fat can never be converted into muscle. In order to achieve the “turn fat into muscle look” you must lose the fat and build your muscle. So, let’s lose some fat.

Glucose, or sugars, are our bodies only source of energy. We can not change that, our bodies need sugar to expend energy. What is in our control however is where our bodies pull that energy from. Carbohydrates are sugars. If we eat too much food in the form of carbohydrates, our body naturally converts excess carbohydrates into triglycerides which get stored in our adipose fat tissues for future requirements. So, if you continue to eat, and not expend enough energy to meet your food intake, into the “ole storage bin” those excess triglycerides go. If you’re like me, that’s right to your midsection.

Our bodies hold a supply of glucose, ready for immediate use in our bloodstream and in our liver. When we exercise and elevate our heart rate above 50% of our maximum heart rate, (MHR), our bodies burn the glucose that is the easiest to get to, the glucose in our bloodstream and liver. Slow your heart rate down and your body will go to your adipose fat tissue and convert your stored triglycerides back into usable glucose. If you exercise at a heart rate below 50% of your MHR, you will “burn fat”-it’s that simple. SLOW DOWN and “burn fat”.

So, let’s find where the ideal heart rate range is so you can monitor your heart rate while performing low level, or steady state aerobics.. We’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate, (MHR), and your resting heart rate, (RHR). Calculating your MHR is quite simple using this formula:

208-(0.7 x age) = MHR. So a 42 year old would simply calculate as follows:

208-(0.7 x 42) = MHR, 208-29.4 = 178.6, let’s round up to 179 beats per minute, (BPM).

Now that we know your MHR let’sget your RHR. The best time of the day to check your RHR is before you get out of bed in the morning. Simply find your pulse, count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Let’s say you came up with 60 BPM. Now we have all the information we need to calculate 50% of your MHR.

((MHR-RHR)/2) + RHR = 50% of MHR
((179-60)/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
(119/2) + 60 = 50% of MHR
60 + 60 = 120.

Now, per this example, if you were to exercise while keeping your heart rate below 120 BPM, you will convert “fat”, (in the form of triglycerides), back into usable energy or blood glucose.

Be patient, once your body realizes your heart rate has increased it will immediately begin to use your blood glucose but after 15-20 minutes of maintaining an exercise heart rate below 120, your body will begin to convert stored triglycerides back into a usable energy source.

So, go exercise and keep your heart rate down! You’ll finally lose that unwanted fat easier and faster than if you exercised harder!!!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

3 Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

There has been a stigma around dietary fats as long as humans have been studying nutrition. Whether it was the realization that fats contain more calories per gram than carbs and protein in the 50s, or the influence companies had on advertising in the 70s, people have been scared to eat fat. Science has come a long way in the last 60 years, and we are finding that a diet high in fat is actually beneficial and quite healthy for most humans. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is designed to put the body in a state of ketogenesis. A ketogenic diet, just like all diets, is not for everyone, but if you are able to try it, you will experience the following benefits.

Appetite Suppression

Most people site hunger as one of the main reasons that led them to give up on their diet. The majority of diets people try do not allow them to eat enough food, which results in them always being hungry. The Ketogenic diet has been a proven appetite suppressant, and it is mainly due to the low-carb aspect of the diet. When you ingest sugars (carbs), your body will constantly crave more sugar. By eliminating that from your diet, your body will be able to run more efficiently without telling you it is hungry every hour.

Eating More Fat Leads to Fat Loss

Yes, you heard that right. The age old belief of cutting fat from your diet will cut fat from your midsection is just not true. The reason people have trouble losing bodily fat is because they’re misinformed on how that fat is stored. Your body stores excess carbs as fat when you do not use them as fuel, and as you eat more carbs, you will first need to use what you just consumed before you can tap into your fat stores. If you eliminate those carbs from your diet, your body will begin converting stored fat to fuel, which will leave you looking leaner and feeling better.

More Energy

One thing almost everyone who goes keto notices pretty early on in the diet is drastically increased energy. Your body is not working nearly as hard to break down sugars, and it will leave you with long-lasting energy all day. Along with more energy throughout the day, most people have shown drastic changes to their sleep patterns. That 2 PM grogginess at your desk will disappear within the first week of switching over to keto, too.

If you are interested in exploring a new diet, you may find that going keto has all of the benefits you are looking for. It’s not difficult to make the switch, and you’ll find it’s easy an easy diet to maintain. Trying it out for a few weeks could end up leading to you making a lifestyle change and going keto for the long run.

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.

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 3-Activity Expenditure

From my previous posts, we have learned the calculation for daily total caloric expenditure. Let’s review:

Total Caloric Expenditure = Resting Metabolic Rate, (RMR), + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure.

We learned how to correctly calculate our Resting Metabolic Rate for our current body weight. We could have taken that formula a step further by first calculating our Lean Body Mass, or our body’s lean weight which is comprised of the combined weight of our bones, muscles, organs, and water mass, but we can save that for a future post as it is not entirely necessary to get you started.

We have also learned that our bodies use energy to digest and process the food we eat. Energy, in the form of calories, and how to calculate that.

So now let’s move on and discuss the third and final value of our equation, Activity Expenditure. According to the National Federation of Professional Trainers, (NFPT), the average adult burns approximately 500 calories per day performing normal daily activities. If you consider yourself a little more or less active than most you may consider adding or subtracting 100 calories from the 500 calories per day average.

Going back again to our example 34-year-old female from previous posts, we have determined her Resting Metabolic Rate to be 1,380 calories, her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories, and her average daily Activity Expenditure to be 500 calories.

1,380-Resting Metabolic Rate + 230 Thermal Effect of Food + 500 Activity Expenditure = 2,110 total required caloric intake to maintain her current 142 pounds.

Note per this example, to maintain her current weight of 142 pounds she should be taking in 2,110 calories per day but we see she is actually consuming 2,300 calories per day or an excess of 190 calories per day. Knowing that one pound of fat “weighs” 3,500 calories we can determine with a great degree of certainty, our 34 year old female will gain one pound in just under three weeks! How do we know that? Well let’s do the math”

Current daily caloric intake (2,300) – current daily caloric expenditure (2,100)=daily caloric surplus (190)

3,500 calories per pound divided by her daily caloric surplus of 190 calories per day equals 18.42 days! In theory every 18.42 days our 34 year old female will gain one pound of unwanted weight!

What does she need to do to stop this weight gain? Diet….right? Well, not necessarily. Why give up something she may enjoy. The thought of dieting, or restricting caloric intake, carries a negative connotation. So, rather than restrict 500 calories per day let’s burn 500 calories per day! Go for a walk! Your kids and dog will love you! If our example 34-year-old female walked 1 hour each day at a brisk pace, she will burn approximately 450 calories she currently does not burn. So instead of having a surplus of 190 calories, she will now have a calorie deficit of approximately 260 calories per day! (450 calories burned walking less 190 daily caloric surplus equals 260). Knowing a pound of fat weighs 3,500 calories, she will lose one pound of fat every two weeks! (3,500/260=13.46).

You say you don’t have time to walk, how far do you walk to your local coffee barista? 1 mile each way and you are half way done. There is no better time to appreciate the benefits of light exercise as immediately following meal time. After every meal, our bodies either store or use the most recent calories consumed so no better time to put those calories to good use as just after taking them in! Remember to walk slightly faster than your comfortable pace to achieve good results. On those rainy days, pull out and dust off that old exercise equipment you bought a few years ago and rarely used.

Now that you understand your Caloric Expenditure you are finally armed with the basic knowledge to start becoming a healthier you!

And remember, “I you want it, you’ve gotta go get it!”

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Mark Dziuban - Bone Broth

Bone broth has been a widespread remedy for sickness for years, but before it was a remedy, it was a staple of our ancestors’ diets. Since no part of the animal could be wasted, our ancestors would boil down anything that could not be directly consumed (bones, ligaments, etc.) into a broth that was much easier to digest. Research is now showing that bone broth has multiple health benefits, and it could make its way back into our diets as more than just a cold remedy.

Joint Health

The natural aging process of humans results in wear and tear on our joints. This wear and tear is more evident in athletes as they often put more stress on their joints. This wear and tear causes cartilage to break down and degrade. Bone broth is quite possibly the best resource of natural collagen in the world. The simmering of bone broth causes the collagen from the bone to bind to the broth and become easily absorbed into the body where it can repair and restore damaged collagen. Bone broth also contains high concentrations of gelatin, which is the body’s natural lubricant allowing bones to glide and pivot freely without friction. Researchers at Penn State University ran a 24-week study on athletes who consumed bone broth regularly, and the majority of those athletes saw significant improvements in bone and joint comfort resulting in greater athletic performance.

Gut Health

The same gelatin that helps lubricate your joints has also been found to be beneficial to gut health while having a positive effect on wheat and dairy food allergies. These allergies are usually associated with intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms associated with allergies like Celiacs Disease and Lactose Intolerance. The gelatin combats these allergies by restoring the gut lining, helping with the growth of probiotics, and most importantly regulating and supporting healthy inflammation levels.

Skin Health

Collagen is the main building block of the compounds that are responsible for a youthful, radiant skin. Studies have shown that the presence of high quality collagen, like that found in bone broth, reduces the sign of wrinkles, decreases swelling, and maintains the elasticity of skin. When women between 35 and 55 years old supplemented with 2.5-5 grams of collagen, they found an increase in elasticity and moisture along with a decrease in transepidermal water loss and skin roughness.

Immune Health

Bone broth has been found to be the best natural remedy for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut is caused by undigested food particles seeping through tiny openings in the weakest parts of the intestinal lining. The particles make their way from the intestines into the bloodstream causing the immune system to overreact in two ways: inflammation and the release of large amounts of antibodies into the bloodstream. These antibodies end up attacking healthy tissue, which in turn wreaks havoc on the immune system. The collagen, gelatin, and amino acids in bone broth strengthen the intestinal lining, which can ultimately cure Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Along with the above mentioned benefits, bone broth also contains many key micronutrients giving it the title “nature’s multivitamin.” Add bone broth to your diet once a week to capitalize on all of these great health benefits.

Make a Lifestyle Change, Not a Resolution

Mark Dziuban Make a Lifestyle Change Header

If you have been to a commercial gym in the past week (Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, YMCA) then you probably noticed that it is pretty full. January is by far the busiest month at most gyms and health clubs. We’ve all heard it from someone before, “My New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and lose weight.” The time between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays is when most people are visiting with family, eating until they are about to explode, and drinking more than they normally would. So on January 2nd when you walk into the gym it almost feels like walking through a college frat party. The biggest problem with resolutions is that they end when the calendar year does. So instead of making a resolution this year, I encourage everyone make a lifestyle change that will continue and evolve with you.

Nutrition

The most important part to hitting any fitness goal is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. The problem is that most fad diets have an end date. I’ve witnessed many people complete Whole 30 with astonishing results, but as soon as the 30 days are up they are right back to their old diet. As soon as you “go on a diet” you imply that your diet will eventually end. Instead, just change what you eat. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains (no, carbs are not the devil), and healthy fats are the basis of any great nutrition plan. My general rule of thumb is if something comes shrinkwrapped or prepackaged then it shouldn’t go in your mouth. While preparing all of your own food is more time consuming, it also teaches you how to be creative in the kitchen.

Exercise

While dialing in your nutrition takes a lot of effort, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Incorporating some type of exercise into your daily routine will drastically improve your physical and mental well being. Exercise does not need to mean going to a gym and running on a treadmill. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of exercise, which means there is something out there for anyone. Yoga, kickboxing, spin classes, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and swimming are just a few of the ways you could exercise without ever stepping on a treadmill.

Enjoyment

In the beginning, nobody wants to wake up on a Saturday morning to go on a run, or spend their Sunday afternoon preparing their meals for the week. The quicker you can find enjoyment in your routine, the easier it will become in the long run. Try out a few different approaches to exercise to see what you enjoy and what you can’t wait to be done doing. My wife and I love being outdoors, so we gravitated towards cycling and mountain biking. When I get on a bike, I never have the feeling of not wanting to ride. The most important part is holding yourself accountable once you do find what you enjoy so you can continue improving.

Getting in shape and losing weight isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. You need to be strong willed and be able to motivate yourself under the worst circumstances. However, once you start seeing the results of your hard work, you will wonder why you didn’t start earlier.

A Brief History of Fad Diets (And Why Paleo Is Here to Stay!)

It seems as though a new fad diet pops up on a weekly basis without fail. You finally know what one is about and maybe decide to try it out when suddenly there’s some new craze in this month’s magazines that’s guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve ever tried before. No matter what the diet is, it seems complicated and like a lot of work, though probably less work than closely monitoring all your meals in addition to exercising on a consistent basis. People want fast solutions, which has caused the rise of fad diets over the last couple hundred years.

Well, one of the newest diet crazes goes beyond a fad; the paleo diet! A nod to our caveman ancestors, this diet focuses on the foods that biology meant for us to consume.

Photo of  a pomegranate

History of Fad Diets

Fad diets have been around as early as the 1820s (though they likely existed long before that). In the 1820s, Lord Byron encouraged people to drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar in an effort to shed weight. At this time, other liquid-only diets were suggested and have stuck around since then. Over a hundred years later, the Grapefruit Diet rose to popularity, which encouraged a low calorie diet and a piece of this fruit with every meal. These relatively harmless diets were followed by others such as the founding of Weight Watchers in 1963, Slim Fast (a diet of mostly shakes with a daily substantial meal) and The Atkins Diet (low-carb, high protein) came onto the scene in the 1970s. In the 2000s, the South Beach Diet (a less intense version of Atkins) and juice cleanses become more popular and caught numerous followers.

In more recent years, the Paleo Diet burst onto the scene. This diet, however, has already proven its effectiveness.

The Paleo Diet

Why has the Paleo diet achieved so much popularity in recent years? To start, people began realizing that we’ve evolved over the last few million years from hunters and gatherers, but that it’s only within the last 10,000 or so years that humans settled onto farms and began producing food that way. Many argue that this period of time is incredibly short compared to the rest of human history and that our bodies have not yet properly adapted to consuming food this way. The root of this argument? Paleo diet is evolutionarily and historically best for the human body.

A main point of the Paleo Diet is cutting out grains, because our bodies haven’t developed to digest these properly, which explains the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Those suffering from celiac allergies are able to cut out gluten and eat a healthy diet through the paleo diet. The paleo diet has also helped reduce people’s symptoms who suffer from autoimmune diseases, along with various other conditions. Some people theorize that a root cause of many diseases lies in our incorrect diet, so switching to the paleo diet can help fix these issues. You’ll also take-in less sugars on the paleo diet, which can fight obesity and many other health issues, such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Paleo is still gaining steam, but those who follow the diet sing its praises and swear that it’s the best diet for any human.

What are your thoughts? What fad diets have you tried over the last few years (or decades)?

Photo of a steak on a bed of rosemary