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Sunday
Feb122012

6 Keys To Losing Bodyfat

In the past two weeks, three different women have separately asked me for tips on how to reduce their bodyfat.  I'm not sure if everyone is envisioning bikini season despite the freezing winter temperatures, but this seemed like a perfect time to record some of the keys I see as essential elements in any fat loss program.

These tips are meant to be (somewhat) simplistic and easy-to-follow, but as always you can find much more in-depth scientific research by Googling any of the key terms to follow.

The first axiom that helps plot the course to fat loss is to remember that DIET IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXERCISE.  I'm sorry for yelling, but often that point gets missed and requires loud tactics to drive home the point. I've used this saying before, but it bears repeating - great abs are made in the kitchen.

Now that we've successfully established that when it comes to fat loss, diet is more important than exercise, we can move on to some of the micro-level details:

#1 - Cut out the junk.

In-case you are puzzled as to what constitutes "junk", it would be any of the following: sugars, sodas, fried foods, white carbs like breads, pastas, white potatoes, and heavy dairy like cheeses or most regular milk.  None of these sorts of foods belong anywhere in a fat loss program.

 

 #2 - Keep it clean.

After eliminating the "bad", begin to focus on the good.  Your daily eating habits should be focused around solid clean food sources.  Base your grocery shopping and meals around lean proteins, LOTS of vegetables (particularly leafy greens and colors), moderate amounts healthy fats, low-to-moderate amounts complex carbs (more on this in a minute) and some select fruits.

Examples are as follows:

Lean Proteins: Lean turkey breast, organic chicken breast, Tilapia, Salmon, Egg Whites, organic eggs, Tofu, Bison.

Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Mixed Greens Salads, Baby Carrots, Red/green/yellow Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Cabbage.

Healthy Fats: Avocado (this does NOT mean guacamole), extra virgin olive oil, Almonds, Almond Butter, organic Peanut Butter, Coconut Oil.  Eggs and Salmon also fit into this category.

Complex Carbs: Oatmeal, Oat Bran, Sweet Potatoes, Brown rice, Quinoa

Fruits: Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Grapefruit

 

#3 - Reduce carbohydrates later in the day.

It's time to start looking at food (particularly carbohydrates) as fuel.  Carbs make up the body's most immediate energy source (especially fruits, sugars, and non-complex sources) so it makes little sense to load up on an energy source when the remainder of the day will be mostly spent sitting in-front of the computer or television, or preparing for bed.  Replace the space on your dinner plate that would normally be filled by pasta, mashed potatoes, white rice, or dinner rolls with salads and/or vegetables.

 

#4 - Focus carb intake around workouts

To build off of point #3, it makes little sense to continuously fill your body with carbs (think muffins and bagels around the office, lunchtime sub sandwiches) throughout the day if your energy expenditure is mostly walking back and forth to the copy machine or restroom.  One strategy that has worked well for me is to limit carb intake to pre-workout only.  The goal is to fuel up with energy and burn those carbs off during my intense workout.  I've even abandoned the long-held strategy of post-workout carbs (rice cakes, gatorade, bananas, etc) to "refill muscle glycogen stores" after an interesting read which made tons of logical sense. Post-workout carb refilling is appropriate if you are an endurance athlete. It does not fit into a plan focused around reducing body fat.

  

#5 - Limit "Reward Meals" to 1-2 times per week

I use the term "Reward Meals" instead of cheat meals to signify that these meals truly should be a reward for your hard work and diligent eating during the week.  The 90/10 rule applies towards your diet in that if you keep on-track 90% of the time, the remaining 10% may slow your progress slightly, but will not ultimately derail it.  It is important to remember however that a Reward Meal is not an entire Day's worth of gorging. It may also be helpful to plan your reward meals the day before a tough workout so that those extra calories go towards your energy level and performance in the gym.

 

#6 - Intensity of Exercise > Duration of Exercise

The metabolism is a lot like a fire.  Focus on using your brief-but-intense workout to rev up the metabolism for the remaining 23 hours of your calendar day. A fat loss workout does not need to be two hours.  It should not be an endless marathon on the stairmaster or elliptical trainer.  Those machines can have a small-but-focused role in your workout, but they should not be foundation of your plan as I so often see many women doing in the gym.

Those looking to shed bodyfat should instead utilize interval training like Tabatas, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to get their heart-rate up, which takes advantage of the fat-burning qualities of Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and Lactic Acid.  Intense resistance training (don't be scared ladies) also plays a HUGE role in priming the body's hormones to burn off stored fat cells.  A targeted clean diet plan sets the stage for the correct hormonal environment within your body.  Intense resistance training brings hormones like testosterone and HGH into the equation, which have proven fat loss attributes.

 

There are other aspects of your fat loss plan that need to be in-sync, such as getting a proper amount of sleep (8-9 hours per night is recommended), and avoiding a stressed daily mindset.  The body will not release stored body fats if your normal temperament is stressed and agitated, as this throws the hormones I mentioned earlier out of balance.

Losing body fat is a process not an event.  It is not a linear, mathematic equation (eat 500 calories less, burn 500 calories more, etc) that happens exactly as it would on a calculator.  It requires patience, perseverance, and a plan.  Life does not happen in a linear fashion, and neither will your fat loss.  But with the right tools in-place, it can be put into action just in-time for beach and bikini season around the corner.

Tuesday
Dec202011

Weight Loss All-Stars Volume 2: Brendan

It's been a while, but previously I highlighted one of my friends for her inspiring weightloss story.  For volume two of the Weight Loss All-Stars, we're going to look at one of the more incredible body transformations you'll see.

Pictured on the right, is a "before" photo of my friend Brendan.  He has become one of the regulars who crushes the workouts at my YMCA Athletic Conditioning classes each week.  

I want to avoid spoiling the details of hisBrendan [Before] awesome story, in which he lost close to 95 pounds.  He was nice enough to share his story in our Q&A session below.

Be inspired.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What's your athletic background?  

 I have been involved in sports my entire life. Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball). However; my main sports were football and baseball. I attended Catholic University of America and played both Baseball & Football my freshmen year. It became too much so I chose to focus solely on football.

 

What was your weight at its highest, vs your current (average) weight? How long did the process take?

 

I graduated high school in 2000 right around 225 lbs. Finished football my 5th year Dec 2004 right around 265 lbs (although it was an in shape 265 lbs). Once I graduated I dropped back down to 225 lbs. From Jan 2006 to May 2009 I slowly put on weight. The most I ever saw on a scale was 296 lbs in May 2009 (although it was very likely that I was 10 to 15 pounds bigger than that a few weeks before, just never got on a scale). In Dec 2009 I hit 203 lbs on the scale. On average I have been about 215 since.

 

What caused you to want to make a change?

 

One of my roommates from colleges’ girlfriend was venturing out on her own as a health coach. She had success in the corporate world as a health consultant and decided it was time to branch out on her own. I was her first client. I knew in order for ME to really make a long term change I would need to make a pretty big financial commitment. This way I would be forced to stick with the program (in fear of just wasting my money).

So it was time for my yearly checkup at the doctors office. On the way to the doctors office (I knew I was going to have to get on a scale and was mortified at what I would see) So, I called my Buddy’s gf and signed up. I paid $1400 upfront and the program lasted 6 months. I lost 93 pounds. Best money I have ever spent.


What were your initial first steps?

 

I had completely stopped working out for nearly 3 years. Which was odd because I had been so active my entire life. So I slowly started working out again. Along with working out again (at first just 2 times a week) I was watching what I ate. I was eating a great deal of organic foods for the first time in my life. I was also consuming a ton of fruits and veggies. However; I still ate what I what I wanted one day a week. She encouraged me to find things that I enjoyed to do. I started volunteering at Big Brothers and Big Sisters and started attending a class 2 times a week at the YMCA (Athletic Conditioning). I got hooked on both, and still do both to this day.


Did you ever get discouraged during the process?

 

I was by far the most out of shape person in the Athletic Conditioning Class. I was running 12 minute miles where the slowest person besides me was running under 9 minute miles. I couldn’t do a single pull up and I could barely do 5 push ups, where the rest of the class were doing sets of 25 push ups. However; I stuck with it and it paid off.


 Did your diet change at all from your heavier days, to now?

 

I have changed my diet, but not a great deal. I don’t eat fast food or anything like that, but for the most part I eat and drink what I want.

 

 

Describe your fitness activities these days 

 Working out has become a part of my everyday life.  I continue to take athletic conditioning class about 4 times a week. I am also a member of Crossfit, which I love. I also run competitive races now and compete in Crossfit events.

I have recently got my mile time down to 5:16 and can do 30 pull ups at once. I am by far the most fit I have ever been and stride to improve that fitness level each day.

 

 

  

 

 

 

(Above is Brendan's "After" photo.  Doesn't even seem like the same guy, does it?)

 

 

 

What would you say to heavy people who feel like remaking their body composition is "impossible"?

 

 Losing weight is really quite simple. The key is to stay dedicated and find something that you really enjoy doing. Once you find something that you enjoy, it doesn’t become work anymore it becomes fun and you look forward to working out.

 

What other advice would you give to a heavy person who has yet to make a change?

 It took me 6 months to loose my weight. It comes off fast, you just have to stick with it and make a lifestyle change. The key is taking it off and keeping it off. Once your workout and diet become a habit, then its smooth sailing….

--------------------------------------------------------------------

There are many different paths to significant weightloss and body transformation, however the main consistent is a combination of work ethic and an internal desire to make a change in your life.  I hope to continue spotlighting people once in a while that have made dramatic physical improvements in their health and nutritional lifestyle. 

For anyone reading this who may not like what they see in the mirror, on the scale, or struggle fitting into their old jeans - hopefully Brendan's awesome transformation story help to inspire that with hard work, patience, and a plan, anyone can achieve great results.

 

Saturday
Jan082011

Why Do You Train So Hard?

"Why do you train so hard?"
 
I get this question a lot - as I'm sure many of you do as well.  I'm asked why I watch what I eat so closely.  I'm asked why I'll sprint on the treadmill like there's a dog behind me.  I'm asked why I'll set my alarm for 4:30am to squeeze in a good workout before heading to the office.  I'm asked why a sane person would enter a half-marathon in the dead of winter.
 
I have many reasons for why I train so hard, for why the work part of "working out" is actually a labor of love.  But for this project, I wanted to share a lot more than just my own reasons for why I do this.  I wanted to show that the average person you see training like a mad man or a crazy woman isn't so different after all.  They are regular people.
 

I train so hard because...
"...I believe being physically fit carries into confidence, focus, and clarity in every aspect of life. It also sets a person apart from the sendentary masses."

Andrew, 31
Lawyer
Specialty: Tricep Push Downs

 
"I train so hard because mom told me to "never settle!" Also, as a former athlete I know nothing but to give 120% at everything I do. Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best!"

Gordon, 25
Marketing & Social Media Manager
Specialty: Soccer, Weight Training, Nutrition, HIIT, Plyometrics


 

"I train so hard in order to reach my God-given athletic potential and hopefully inspire others along the way!"

Kelly, age 27
personal trainer and triathlon and running coach
specialty: triathlon, running, tennis.
 
 
"I train so hard so my mind is clear from stress from all the challenges I face from a hectic but rewarding job. I also like to challenge myself to do better in all aspects of my life, including fitness."
 
Sharon, 43
PR/Media Manager
Specialty: Long-distance running
 
 
"I train so hard for those who cannot. My older brother was born with cerebral palsy and is very limited in his physical activity. I grew up observing his desire to participate and every day I am reminded not to take my ability to be active for granted. Every race I run is for him.
 
Bethany, 23
Marketing
Specialty: running, half-marathons, spinning, cross training, P90X.
 
 
"I train so hard due to my personal belief that health is the most important investment in the world."

Philip, 27
Director of Information and Technology
Specialty: Running (8k, 10k, half/full marathons), weight training, cycling, swimming, tennis, racquetball, hiking, snowboarding, soccer, life coach.
 
 
"I train so hard because it lifts my spirits and makes me a happier person all around.
I like setting goals and challenging myself; there's a great feeling of accomplishment in meeting or exceeding a goal!"

Mary Dare, 34
Group Fitness Instructor/Mother of three
Specialty: long distance running and boot camp classes. Aspiring tri-athlete
 
 
"I train so hard because I want to live a long and healthy life with my family. I also want to set a solid example for my children, friends and others who struggle with their weight."
 
Jonathan, 34
Sports Marketing
Specialty: Interval, Spin/Cycling, Running, Basketball
*Note - Jonathan has lost 60 pounds since the end of 2009 with a goal of losing 80 more.

 

"I train so hard because it has become a part of who I am. Pushing myself on a daily basis to accomplish task’s that I once was nowhere close to completing, generates such a sense of self achievement that it drives me to continue my progression. My hard training has helped me drop from a totally out of shape 296 lbs to a fit 215 lbs in just 6 months. It has also helped me maintain this 215 lbs for over a year now and drop my once 12 minute mile to a personal best 5:29 mile. This kind of progression is what drives me to train so hard on a daily basis..."

Brendan, 29
Sales
Specialty: YMCA classes & Crossfit
 
 
"I train so hard because it's the ONLY way i can shed body fat, stay lean... and really stay positive about life in general! Fitness people are usually the MOST positive group of people!!"
 
Jmiah Williamson, Type 1 Diabetic for 22 years
2nd Place Winner of Model Universe 2007 and 2008
3rd Place Winner of Model America 2007
www.JMIAH.com
 
 
"I train so hard because I like to be as strong as I can possibly be. I run, but I don't run for time, just run as fast as my body says I can, but then run faster. I lift, but it's not based on how much I lift. I lift as much as I can, then lift more. I do plyo's and cycle and when my body says "it's over", I say "it ain't over until I say it's over." I guess to me training hard is a mind game. How strong am I mentally? That's what I like to explore."
 
Desiree, 42
Personal Trainer and Fitness/Sweatcamp Instructor at Frye Gym
Specialty: Running, Power/Endurance lifting, hiking, and motivator
 
 
"I train so hard because it is my desire to honor God by striving for growth in the 3 areas of my being: Spirit, Soul & Body. I also feel like being the best person I can be in these 3 areas may allow me the opportunity to encourage & inspire others to do the same."

Jill, 38
Wife, Mom & Homeschool teacher of 2 beautiful kids
Specialty: Athletic Conditioning, HIIT, weight training, yoga, plyo, Surfing (where there's waves!)
 
 
"I train because I love a challenge and enjoy working towards a goal. I train with Ward because it makes me feel nostalgic about my college field hockey days!  Can't wait for the Cooper River Bridge Run this year!"

Caroline, 28
Account Executive - Marketing/Advertising
Specialty: Running, Mountain Biking, Field Hockey, beginner Triathlete
"I try so hard so I can stay sharp...I think when you are fit, you feel better about yourself and thus produce better work.  Plus I like to give myself goals when it comes to working out - I don't stop until I achieve those goals."
Dixon, 27
Marketing
Specialty: Half-marathon
"I train so hard because proving someone wrong is the greatest feeling ever.  I was once told I would never be good enough for one certain college (will remain nameless to protect the innocent), well my whole college career I never lost to an athlete from there!  All in all I have been told I was always too fat or too slow to be a top-level athlete.  Once I got out of my own way and started training with an open mind, I achieved success unlike before." 
Dan
Director of Sales
Specialty:  Former all-american (Javelin), 2008 Olympic Trials Qualifier, beginner Triathlete
"I train so hard because.....my body CALLS me to do so.  I believe pushing myself to the limit is the only way to honor God for the gift."
Theresa, 25
Graduate Student
Specialty:  Group Fitness/Mud Runs
 
  

 
 
For me - I train so hard because it is one of the few aspects of my life that is within my control.  I cannot control the weather,  I cannot control the economy.  I cannot control my family members, or my job, or my favorite sports teams.  MOST of life is largely out of my control and in the capable Hands of the Good Lord.  However one of the few things I can control, is how well I take care of my body.  I get one body, one single chance to take care of it for better or worse.
 
I also agree with a few of the above contributors.  There's something special about pushing your body (and mind) to places you previously thought were not possible.  The sense of accomplishment in achieving a feat (whether it's a half-marathon, fitness class, mountain bike excursion, or weight loss goal) that previously left you intimidated.
 
There are a littany of reasons why people train so hard. One person's reason is specific to him or her, and I invite you to find your own.  However the overall point is that those of us who seem fanatical about this part of life, aren't that much different than anyone else.
Friday
Jul232010

Return of the Six-Pack: Getting Back Into Shape For New Moms

A month ago, a friend from work gave birth to her first child.  She's a former college athlete, so with a few weeks left in her pregnancy she was already lining up her game plan for getting back into shape.

"I've gotta get my six-pack back again!" she said one day.  Well I like fitness challenges, so I was quickly motivated as well. 

Losing the pounds that accumulate on a woman's body during pregnancy is obviously tough.  Adding to the challenge is the fact I'm a man and almost nothing about the complexities of the female anatomy post-pregnancy, however I've never had a problem consulting with people smarter than me to learn something new.

I assembled a "Dream Team" of the fittest moms I know and elicited their wisdom, feedback, and collective experiences after they gave birth to help my friend put a long term plan in-place that will help get her back to her "old self". 

Comprising my Fit Mom Roundtable: a former Division I college field hockey player, a former college soccer player in the ACC, and two fitness instructors/triathletes.  Clearly they know their stuff, but their shared experiences mean even more since they are "regular people".  What I hope to do below, is aggregate what I've learned from them (as well as some other sources) in the hopes that in-addition to my friend, some other new moms can help collect the tools to either reclaim their lost six-pack - or find the one they never knew they had!

 Doctor's Clearance

Also known as "Step One".  The Most Important.  Without this step, forget about reading the rest of the article until you've consulted a physician.  Hopefully it goes without saying, but there's no such thing as a plan to get back into shape post-pregnancy until you've been cleared by your doctor.

Diet

This was an interesting finding for me, since if you've spent any time on my site you know that I place a premium on nutrition strategy for athletic performance, body composition/fat loss, and overall health.  I was unaware that a new mom's diet had such a major affect on their baby due to breast-feeding.  Odds are that if you're a new mom reading this, there's nothing you can learn from ME about breast-feeding (and the subsequent effects of your diet), so I'll try to stay in my lane and stick to things I know something about.

Once your focus shifts to your own nutrition for your plan to get back into shape, many of the same dietary strategies that would help keep you lean under normal circumstances.  You'll want to do many of the same tactics like cutting back (or eliminating) those white starches like pasta, breads, pastries, and a few heavy dairy sources.  A shift (or continued focus) towards lean proteins, healthy fats, and moderate-to-low carb sources is the way to go.  Good news that there is no need to "re-invent the wheel" when it comes to dieting to lose pregnancy pounds.

As you have probably already learned the hard way, meal time becomes much less structured with a new little one controlling your schedule 24 hours-a-day.  As my friend Jessica (former Div. I college field hockey player) pointed out, "grazing" (snacking on healthier foods throughout the day) is one way to keep your diet pointed in a positive direction even while the baby's appetite takes precedence over your own.

"I became a grazer and would grab a protein and/or dairy source as a snack whenever possible (nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, slice of meat, etc.). I kept berries and spinach on hand and would grab a handful here and there throughout the day."

Jessica makes a great point that gets overlooked too often, if you keep good snacks handy, that makes it much less likely that you'll gravitate towards the "wrong" type of snack while you're trying to get back in-shape.

Goal-Setting

I'm a big fan of setting goals for fitness, both short-term and long-term.  In this situation, the short-term goals need to be moderate, and the long-term goals need to be LONG-term.

The consistent response from my Fit Mom Dream Team was that their recovery time spanned from 6 weeks to 2-3 months, and even then, the first few workouts should be kept to some brisk walks of 20-30 minutes. Another good strategy (that solves two tasks at once) is to invest in a solid baby stroller that allows you to burn a few calories while getting the new baby outside the house for a little while.

Once you get past that introductory stage and can truly begin focusing on your legitimate fitness goals, scale weight is OK however it's only one factor in the grand scheme of returning to your old self (or even an improved version).  You'll know once certain clothes begin to fit again, so those things will take care of themselves.  But with regard to fitness goals, once you are able to get out and jog for 15-20 minutes, perhaps it's time to target a 5K run in the next 1-2 months.  No worries about what the stop watch says, just focus on finishing and being involved in the competition aspect.  Once you get moderately close to your old self, maybe you set a much longer term goal like a half-marathon or sprint-triathlon in the next calendar year.

Stephanie, a personal trainer/triathlete (and mom of two) here in Charlotte had the following advice for new moms:

"The cross training that triathlon offers is fantastic, and I would recommend it to everyone.  Having goals is a huge motivator and really keeps you on track with your training.  Every workout has a purpose, so it eliminates repetitiveness and boredom that so often occurs when people 'just lift weights'."

 The Power of Routine

One of the biggest consistencies I found from the new moms was that their own workouts and bodies are now a distant second to the needs and care for their new little baby.  That's obviously a good thing, however there does come a point where Mom needs to avoid neglecting her own health and fitness too.  Still, workouts need to fit into the overall family schedule, so time flexibility is paramount.  Rather than fall back on the sometimes valid-yet-insufficient reason of "I don't have enough time", you must MAKE time somehow.

  • Gather with other new moms you know and pick a time to meet and push the kids in the stroller together. 

 

  • If you've got a gym membership, print a group fitness class schedule and pick 4-5 classes per week that you'll attend like clockwork.  See if the gym or YMCA has a child watch facility where you can drop the baby for an hour and jump into a cycle class or total strength/organized cardio class.  Odds are you'll become attached to the group setting and probably meet a few new people along the way. 

Mary Dare is another of the great fitness instructors (also newbie triathlete and mom of 3) at the Charlotte YMCA and she said the organization of the group exercise schedules plus child care was a huge pillar of her post-baby fitness plan:

"It takes time getting used to new schedules, and I think routine is important. Everyday, we went to the Y at 9:30 for an hour. This was my hour to myself, and fortunately, the YMCAs have great childcare. I scheduled all appointments around that time. Obviously things come up sometimes, but 4 out of 5 days we were there. Once my children were in Child Watch, I could focus on my hour to work out."

 

  • If your husband also likes to work out, do like my friend Jessica and set a "your turn/my turn" rotation with Dad.  If you watch the baby on Monday while he works out, on Tuesday it's your turn.

 

The point is, MAKE time and make getting your workouts a part of your regular schedule somehow.  Even if you can't go for a long jog or swim like you used to, a brief but intense session can still get the job done.

 Celebrity Mom Perspective

While there are some celebrity new moms who spend 3-4 hours in the gym with their personal trainers, there are still quite a few that incorporated the same workout and nutritional philosophies that will give a "regular" mom the success she's looking for.  One online article I found illustrated that several big names found success by using similar dietary tactics that I outlined above:

Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson, Elizabeth Hurley and Catherine Zeta-Jones all lost their post-baby bodies by following a diet that is low in carbohydrate-based foods (breads, pastas) and high in protein (fish, chicken, lean beef).

Jennifer Garner, mom to one-year-old Violet, tells People magazine, "It took me a long, long time. I just wasn't that motivated. I wanted to play with her. Then I got on the treadmill, stopped stuffing my face and lost the weight. I cut out croissants, bagels and muffins -- all the good stuff. And went back to having a salad once a day and protein."  David Kirsch, supermodel Heidi Klum's trainer, tells Access Hollywood that the best way to lose the bloat is to cut down on "starchy carbs" like dairy and fruit for two weeks.

Workout philosophies varied among celebs (as they do among the rest of us) - Jennifer Garner and Gwen Stefani were big fans of higher intensity running, whereas Gwenneth Paltrow was more into moderate activity like yoga.  Jada Pinkett Smithwas a bigger fan of higher intensities like interval circuits and resistance training to work off her baby pounds (which is what trainer/triathlete Stephanie recommends by the way). Pro Volleyball player and Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walshlost 36 pounds by consulting with other athletic moms like Mia Hamm and Gabrielle Reece for advice.

Patience

I saved the final key finding for last, since it seems to be the most important.  You can't rush back into your fitness plan 100% without allowing for a few set-backs and injuries along the way.  All of these aspects are important in their own way, but starting slow builds a solid base for more advanced training.

My friend Amy (half-marathonner and mom of two) was an ACC soccer player who went head-to-head with future Olympians at practice every day, but even she had to set moderate goals when first starting out.

"When I started walking I would take the baby out in the stroller just to get fresh air for the both of us.  And then depending on how I was feeling/healing I would either increase the length of time or if I was feeling too sore afterwards, then I would take off  a day or so, and then next time slow down.  It really is trial and error."

Kerri Walsh acknowledged the difficulties of remaining patient in her interview:

"They're like: 'It's possible.  Just give yourself time and be patient,' " Walsh said to the Times. "Which is truly the hardest part, being patient.  I want to be fit yesterday."

Trainer/triathlete (mom of two) Stephanie also echoed the importance of resisting the urge to do too much, too soon:

"I went back to work 6 weeks after giving birth and I think that's when I started working out again.  Lifting weights and light sessions of aerobic training.  I was determined to compete again in triathlons for the next year. I wanted to start running again and get a really good foundation of winter training on my bike (I rode on my trainer indoors).

  I probably did too much high intensity training too soon and paid the price with a  lot of injuries.  I was forced to scale back on my training and go about it in a smarter way.  I hadn't giving my body enough time to recover from the pregnancy and child birth, and it was retaliating!"

The odds are that your body will let you know what it can and cannot handle once you begin activity again.  The key is to listen and slow down when your body is asking for recovery time.  Set realistic short term goals, and keep the longer-term goals far enough in the future that you allow for a few minor setbacks along the way.

If my Fitness Mom Dream Team can illustrate anything, it's that with realistic planning, flexible scheduling, smart nutrition, and perseverance, that six-pack that you've been missing will return again one day.

Just be smart and persistent, and it might be sooner than you think.

Sunday
Jun062010

The Raw Foods Experiment

Former UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar went from unstoppable force after his title unification win over Frank Mir last summer, to laid up in a hospital bed in early 2010.

What finally knocked Brock down to the canvas?  His diet. 

Lesnar developed a bacterial infection that turned into diverticulitis, which eventually ate a hole in his colon, spilling fecal matter into his abdomen (wow.)  The situation compromised his immune system to the degree that he contracted mono, and his loved ones feared the worst.

In the May 2010 issue of Muscle & Body magazine, Brock is fairly open with what led to his illness.

"I have changed the way I eat.  I've really cleaned my diet up.  I've added a lot more fiber to my diet, and also grouping my foods together has really helped.  It's made it easier for my digestive system to do its job and to get the most nutrients out of each and every meal.  This is a sickness that we've done to ourselves.  This is because of our western diets.  Our processed foods, I believe are a huge factor in what's creating a lot of cancer.  This thing has opened my eyes to a whole bunch of things."

Lesnar is fairly open that he probably "ate a whole cow in a year", and nutritionist PR Cole shared the estimation that Brock's meat-heavy diet probably led to his condition.

While I hesitate to use the term "cure", a Raw Food Diet goes a long way in helping the body's fiber requirements, as well as extracting even more of the best enzymes that are lost in fruits and vegetables once they are heavily cooked.

A few key notes from www.thebestofrawfood.com:

  • Cooking food above 115 degrees F kills the enzymes. Enzymes help you digest your food. Your body can create enzymes but that process takes a lot of energy. This makes you tired - remember how you feel after a heavy cooked meal? Further, the enzymes your body makes are not as good as the ones that were destroyed in the food. The food will not be broken down as well and thus harder to digest. 
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  • It also changes the pH of the food and makes food acidic. We like to eat alkaline foods. Eating acidifying food makes your body acidic and thus a welcome feeding ground for disease.
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    Without trying to download everything here, there is a litany of information on how to implement more raw foods into your everyday habits.  While I hate the term "diet", this eating philosophy has caught on amongst numerous celebrities, not only because of the health benefits, but cosmetic benefits as well.

    I highlighted the "Raw Model" Anthony Anderson previously, but the most notable celebrities who promote this sort of nutrition philosophy seem to be Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore

    There's probably a lot of crossover between raw foods and veganism, here's an article interview with Harrelson's former trainer Jon Hinds conducted an informative interview here.  I also stumbled onto a pretty interesting site - No Meat Athlete.

    Well, if you've read this far I can only assume you hve clicked on a few of the informative links and done your own research by now.  With regards to the question "how do I get started?" it is actually simple (and shouldn't clean eating be simple?)

    Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Eat foods as close to their natural states as you can (wash them when necessary of course).  And obviously by now you should have noticed a theme on this site with regards to utilizing the blender to combine your raw healthy foods into a smoothie.

    As for me, I will likely be combining my two "experiments" into one.  The early parts of the day will be largely raw foods (grapefruit, almonds, sunflower seeds, salad, whey protein) until dinner time.  Dinner will then be vegetarian (beans, brown rice, egg whites, oatmeal) though in the interest of full disclosure, there will probably be a few peices of fish eaten during the week.

    My hope is to stick to this, at least for a month into July and see how it goes.  Hopefully both the health results and performance results will be positive.