Fat loss

Do you need to join a gym to get in shape?

The other day, a friend of mine shared the following article from the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/style/do-you-need-to-join-a-gym-to-get-fit.html

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

The article, which is certainly worth the read, highlights the efforts of a New York Times reporter to join a gym and try to “get fit.”

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but she ultimately decides that she doesn’t need a gym to get fit. She gets plenty of exercise from playing pick up basketball.

What is this article basically saying? 

Playing like a kid is good for you.

Absolutely! Get out that whoopie cushion and that fake dog poop and...oh you don't have that in your desk drawer? Oh yeah...uh me neither. Nope, not me. 

Playing like a kid IS good for you. (Whoopie cushion too...) There are many benefits of playing sports as an adult to stay in shape. 

1. You move in different planes of motion

The sagittal plane is where most of us spend our time. We’re walking forward, and in the gym we’re squatting, deadlifting (I hope) and curling in the squat rack. Don’t curl in the squat rack. The frontal plane is moving side to side, a lateral lunge for example, and the transverse plane is rotational movement, such as a golf or a softball swing. 

Very few of us move in different planes of motion as an adult, even that biologically, that’s what we are designed to do. Playing defense in basketball and swinging a racquet or golf club keeps us moving in ways that we are designed to move. 

2. You’ll forget that you’re exercising

Hahahaha...I know what you're thinking. Kim, I forget my name half the time but I could NEVER forget that I'm exercising. But you know what I mean. When the focus is on scoring a bucket instead of watching the minutes drag by on the treadmill the time goes faster. 

Playing volleyball, basketball, racquetball or squash is a great way to think about something else while still getting in a good cardiovascular workout. 

3. It’s fun

Remember fun? I hope you don't just remember fun, but that you've had some today. And yesterday. And every day. 

I make videos on a weekly basis promoting the fun of exercise, but let’s be honest, it’s not fun for everyone. Some people just flat out hate to exercise so turning the workout into a game can make the time go by much faster while also providing a good outlet for stress.  

Dodgeball anyone? 

One caveat

I just wanted to use that word.

I completely agree with the author that there are some fun and creative ways to get a good workout in without dropping 50 bucks a pop on a barre or spin class.** But I believe strength training is essential to any workout routine, especially if you’re a recreational athlete playing tennis or pickleball. 

Strength training is going to help you build more muscle and better bone density and those benefits alone will help you not only perform better in that noon-time pick-up game, but also stay healthy in the process. 

The worst feeling as an adult is when you sprint down the first base line in a beer league softball game only to pull a hamstring. It makes you feel old. Our muscles get more like beef jerky and less like a prime cut of steak as we age (analogy courtesy of Mike Boyle). Our muscles also get short as we age - for example if you sit all of the time, your quad (front of your upper leg) muscles are going to be short while your hamstrings (back of your upper leg) are going to get longer. Those shortened and tight muscles that you didn't have as a 16-year old are going to make it harder to move your joints through a full range of motion.

In other words, blah, blah, blah, beer league softball just broke me. Which brings me to my last point.  

For the love of all things holy, warm up 

Regardless of what you decide to do for a workout, warm up. Please? Please?

At a minimum, do your foam rolling or throw a tiger stick in your gym bag. Doing a couple of arm circles and side bends aren’t sufficient to get your muscles warmed up to go from 0-60 out on the basketball court. 

Just to help you out, here's an introduction to foam rolling.

Thoughts? Questions? Ready to get your own workout program? Comment below or shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness.com

Even if it's just to say hi. Or tell me a joke, I love jokes. 

Struggling with fat loss? Try more protein

That's such a click-baity headline, I know. But I did it anyway because I suck at headlines and I'm experimenting, ok?

When clients want to make nutrition changes, I teach a habit based approach, something that I learned during my certification process with Precision Nutrition

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This means that rather overhauling your entire diet on day one, we choose one habit to focus on for each week. Usually, we start with keeping a food log. Often, just writing down everything you eat can help you find some of the hidden calories that it's easy to forget about at the end of the day. Unmeasured salad dressing, the croutons you pop in your mouth while cooking dinner or the handfuls of nuts you eat in the afternoon. 

Then we reduce processed foods. (Your body has to work harder to break down a handful of peanuts than it does two tablespoons of peanut butter). From there we focus on chewing slowly and paying attention to hunger cues. Are you really hungry at 10:00 a.m. or are you tired of answering emails and eating a snack out of boredom?

Once we've worked on these habits we start looking harder at the macronutrient breakdown. If you're unsure what a macronutrient is, check out this post here. 

One habit I encourage is to increase the overall protein intake for the day, and the recommended starting point is 100 grams. You’ll see many different recommendations on the interwebz when it comes to protein consumption, but if you’re just beginning to make dietary changes, 100 grams is a good starting point. 

There are multiple reasons that a high protein diet can help with fat loss. Protein is satiating and helps you stay fuller longer. It helps build lean muscle, especially when consumed after a strength workout. And it has a thermogenic effect, meaning that your body has to work harder to process the foods and you burn more calories in the process. (This is what people mean when they talk about the meat sweats…no I've never had meat sweats...) 

Many clients come in feeling as though they enough protein, but when we begin tracking their food, they quickly realize that they consuming much less than they originally thought. So to help get you started, here is a sample of what a 100 grams of protein in a day might look like. 

Breakfast: Smoothie - 40 grams 

In the image above, one scoop of protein powder is 23 grams, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt is 12.5 grams, and 2 tbsp. of PB Fit (not pictured) is 4 grams. One cup of almond milk, ice cubes, and some spinach or green powder and you've got almost half of your protein intake for the day. Total calories are under 300.  

Lunch: Cottage cheese, chicken breast, spinach salad - 47 grams

1/2 cup cottage cheese - 15 grams 

4 oz of chicken breast - 32 grams 

Right now, you're almost to 100 grams of protein half-way through the day, and once again, you're around 300 calories. 

Dinner: Salmon and steamed brocolli- 40 grams 

If dinner is half of a salmon fillet, now you're at almost 120 grams of protein for the day. Boom. 

Now there are a ton of different factors with this recommendation. One is assuming that you like seafood, and you may not. And another is assuming that you like and can eat dairy.  The above suggestions are only scratching the surface of possibilities. You can also get protein from grains such as quinoa and spelt, nuts and soy products and chicken and turkey.

Questions? Thoughts? Stories?

Shoot me an email at kim@kimlloydfitness.com or comment below.  

 

You didn’t blow it

Thanksgiving is four days away. But I want to tell you today, right now, that if you have a piece of pumpkin pie, you didn’t blow it. 

If you lick the batter of the pumpkin pie while you’re making the pumpkin pie, you didn’t blow it. 

If you have mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and several helpings of each, you didn’t blow it.

In PA, we call these gobs. But in Maine they are whoopie pies. Whatever you call them, if you eat one, it doesn't mean you blew it. 

In PA, we call these gobs. But in Maine they are whoopie pies. Whatever you call them, if you eat one, it doesn't mean you blew it. 

I often have clients who don't even want to meet to talk about nutrition this time of year because "I've been bad. I've been awful."

No. You haven't been bad. And you haven't been awful. 

You've been human. Human, okay? 

What you may have done though, is decided that after one or two cheat meals and a few missed days at the gym, you've completely screwed up all of your goals. 

No. No you haven't. 

The only way you blow up your nutrition or exercise routine is when you give it away. When I coached softball a few years back, our team struggled for wins and had plenty of games where the score was out of hand. And the only thing I asked of my players in those games was to give nothing away. 

You know what the hardest thing to do is in moments like those? 

Give a shit. (Sorry mom, I said shit. Again.)

It is so tough to drag the bat up to the plate and swing like you care because when you’re losing 18-0 in the third inning, even a home run is just a drop in the bucket. So what does your at-bat and your effort even mean in those situations?

Everything. 

You caring means everything. You caring enough to try matters. In that situation, your effort matters to your teammates, to your coach, and to you. That at-bat matters because you matter. Because we don't play sports and love sports for championships and play-off wins. We play and love sports for the moments. 

And your fitness and nutrition journey is no different.

What matters is you giving up. When you decide that because you ate something that was not on your plan, you should chuck the entire plan. When you judge yourself so hard because you “slipped up.” 

When you decide that you can’t stick to anything, that nothing will ever work, that you might as well not even try because you ate something that wasn’t on your nutrition plan. Or because you missed one workout. 

Researchers actually named this the what the hell effect. You got up and had a cookie for breakfast and decided that the day was lost. So you might as well do fast food for lunch and pizza for dinner and start again tomorrow.

 So today I challenge you. 

That eating a donut for breakfast when your in-laws brought donuts doesn’t mean your day is blown. 

That missing the gym for the past three weeks in November doesn't mean you have to wait until December. Or January. Or even Monday. 

And eating a piece of pie - even eating a whole pie - does not make you a bad person. 

Let me say that again. 

You are not a bad person if you have a meal that doesn't meet the nutrition goals you outlined with your coach. Or in your head. 

Please hear me when I tell you that you are not a bad person.  

This is my favorite quote:

"It is never too late to become what you might have been." - George Elliot

It's not too late. You're not a bad person. You can do this. 

But what you can't do is throw in the towel. (In Pittsburgh we wave our towels, we don't throw them.) Don't give up on you. A donut for breakfast does not mean you start again tomorrow. It means that you had a donut for breakfast.

Believe in yourself. And believe that one or two or five decisions doesn't define you. Ok? 

Do you want help not throwing in the towel? Do you need help believing in yourself? Do you want some guidance and a judgement-free zone to make a plan? Email me. Message me. Comment below. I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a topic you'd like to see addressed? Let me know that too. Be strong. Be kind. To others, but especially to yourself.  

 

The difference between exercise and training

I was given a t-shirt two weeks ago that said:

Stop Exercising. Start Training.

I don’t often agree with slogans on Nike t-shirts. With the exception of the Bo Knows series from the 90’s. I was always pretty sure that Bo knew everything.

Chasing a chicken to help you beat Apollo Creed is a version of training. 

Chasing a chicken to help you beat Apollo Creed is a version of training. 

Are you exercising? Or are you training? And what’s the difference? And why do I ask so many questions?

Good question. 

Before we talk about exercise or training, let's start with physical activity, which is described by the Center for Disease control as any activity that gets your body moving. Also according to the CDC, adults need at least two and a half hours every week of physical activity. So doing things like brisk walking everyday (to understand what brisk walking means, check out an earlier post I wrote here), hitting your Fitbit step goals, playing with your kids and grandkids - this is physical activity. 

If you are sedentary in your job then finding ways to be physically active after work and on weekends (or even during the workday with walking meetings or walks on lunch breaks) is an important place to start. But it's just that - a starting point. 

The next step is to add some type of exercise in to your weekly routine. 

Exercise is a physical activity performed for the effect that it produces today - right now. Mark Rippetoe describes it as “punching the physical clock.” When I take my basset hound out for a walk, we’re exercising. Or, lying on the sidewalk because it’s hot and he protests and then I carry him back to the house. So I’m exercising. As a kid, I went outside and threw a ball off of the wall over and over again. My adorable parents go to their local gym three times per week and use the elliptical and weight machines and bands. 

When you start to exercise with a particular performance goal in mind, your physical activity transforms from exercise to training. This is why we train for a 5K or a marathon - we train for a power lifting meet - we train to catch a chicken because it will help us defeat Apollo Creed....

Last night at the gym, I had a long conversation with a client who’s been with us for over a year. She’s lost a lot of weight, kept it off, and is starting to get antsy. I would argue that she has outgrown exercise - now she’s ready to train. She likes the idea of taking her fitness to the next level and is bored with exercise for the sake of exercise. She has built a strong base and is ready for more. That more might be a mud run or an obstacle race - it might be a push/pull meet (powerlifting meets that have only a bench and deadlift, no squat), or maybe running a 5K or 10K.

She doesn't have to sign up for an event like a run or power lifting meet to start training though. She might start training for a 1.5 times bodyweight deadlift. Once she sets a performance goal and gears her workouts towards hitting that goal, she is now training.

There is no one right place to be, depending on where you are in your personal journey. Physical activity might be the goal - and that’s ok - we all need to start somewhere. But if you have been exercising for a long time - going to the gym three times per week and riding the recumbent bike while watching t.v. and are frustrated that you aren't seeing any changes in terms of fat loss, then it perhaps it's time to stop just exercising and start training with a purpose. 

 

Changing your fitness focus - get out of the weeds

I’m a big fan of simplicity. One of the reasons I took up running in college was the ease of getting started. Put on some shoes and run. Boom.

Or, depending on how you roll - skip the shoes and just run. 

Over the weekend I joined other fitness professionals for a three-day fitness summit hosted by Perform Better. One of the speakers, Rachel Cosgrove has been training clients, and women in particular for over 20 years. She's an expert at helping people get results, and in her talk spoke to a good reminder that we all easily forget.

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Focus on the big rocks.

This reminder has been a big part of my studies with Precision Nutrition - the idea of mastering the basics of getting enough sleep, enough water, fun (ok that's mine) as part of your base. I see a lot of clients start in the weeds - should I do intermittent fasting? Go Paleo? Should I take BCAA's and fish oil and hair of the lemur 22 minutes after my workout? 

Should I eat my protein while riding a goat off into the sunset with a koala bear? 

Yes, you should - but invite me along because I love goats and koala bears. 

A strong focus on those minute details can cause information overload and decision fatigue - and before you know it, you're too exhausted from trying to understand what's you should be doing and just throw in the towel.

(Hold on to the towel. No throwing of the towel. If it's yellow, you may wave it at Steelers' games - but you must not throw it.)

Some of the big rocks in training include training with a purpose 3-5 times a week, warming up with a purpose, and working on areas of opportunity, such as performing a push up from the floor or a chin up. 

TRAIN WITH A PURPOSE

Over the weekend, we got t-shirts that said: “stop exercising and start training.” I love the quote and I think this could be a blog post in and of itself. When you sign up to work with a coach, the two of you have a goal in mind and the coach develops a plan to help you hit that goal. Whether you want to drop a pant size, gain lean muscle or perform a push up from the floor - your programming is the road map you need to follow. 

Exercising is getting out and moving, which is good for you, but is there a purpose behind it? Do you know if what you're doing is going to help you achieve your goal? 

(To read more on why you need a coach, check out this post)

WARM UP WITH A PURPOSE

No, chasing your dog does not count as a warm up, although you do want to get your body temperature up. Warming up with a purpose means warming up the muscles and movements you’re about to use in your workout. We don’t do toy soldiers because we want to know if you’d make the Rockettes, we do that to warm up your hamstrings before working your hips. 

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Are you getting enough sleep? Most of us know we’re not. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults age 26-64 need 7-9 hours and adults over 65 need 7-8 hours. If you are averaging less than seven hours of sleep per week, we know that you want to work on your batwings (one client’s name for skin on the triceps) and belly fat, but one of the best places to start is to get more sleep. That means turning off the phones and iPads 30 minutes before bed (or turn on the Night Shift which reduces the blue lights) and put a priority on getting more, quality sleep.

GET ENOUGH WATER 

Recommendations from Precision Nutrition on water are that sedentary individuals drink at least two liters, athletes drink three litters, and athletes in hot weather climates drink at least four liters per day. Many of us would benefit from drinking more water. Especially those of us like myself who drink most of their water with…well…a lot of coffee in it…

Some of the other big rocks in nutrition include eating whole foods (single ingredient), eating slowly and mindfully, and following the formula of a serving of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats with each meal. 

Regardless of your goals, we live in a time of information overload. In fact, I saw this great quote from strength coach Ben Bruno the other day. 

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Be careful of the weeds. Stick to the rocks.