If you want a leaner belly, burn this into your brain first: Eat breakfast!
Many people make fat loss out to be super complicated.
You definitely want a multi-pronged approach (like combining smart exercise and clean eating) to whittle down your belly, but really simple concepts practiced persistently are what pay off over time.
One of the easiest things you can do to start melting the fat off your frame is to start eating a breakfast EVERY DAY that boosts your metabolism and sets the tone for fat loss all day long.
Perhaps you’re nodding your head in agreement with me, but saying something like, “That’s great. I know that. But what the heck do I eat?”
Glad you asked 😉
Here are three simple fat fighting breakfasts from my colleague, Registered Dietitian, Jayson Hunter:
1- Cottage cheese mixed with real fruit
2- Hard boiled egg and yogurt mixed with real fruit
3- 2 pieces of fruit and a scrambled egg wrap
Seriously, would that be so hard? There’s protein and fresh produce in every example there. And very little prep/cooking time ;-). I bet you can manage these in the morning.
Well, if you can’t Jayson, who is the Head of R & D at Jaylab Pro, has another suggestion. You can use a nutritious meal replacement shake like Lean. Blend it up with ice and the liquid of your choice and you’ve got a meal replacement that has been perfectly formulated with the right amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.
I use it myself and find it really has a delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, I hear Jaylab Pro spent 6 months developing Lean just to get the taste right.
I’ve just finished week one of my 6-week Back to School Transformation Challenge. My clients are focused on eating healthy and getting more exercise. They are dropping inches as well as unwanted fat. But did you know that even if you regularly exercise, your metabolism may not get the boost it needs? In this post I’ll share some surprising statistics about sitting and its negative effect on weight management and metabolism.
Long Periods of Sitting Can Be Hazardous
The National Cancer Institute conducted an eight-year study following almost 250,000 American adults. Participants reported on their daily activity, answering detailed questions about how much time they spent commuting, watching TV, sitting in front of a computer, exercising, sleeping, etc. At the start of the study, none of the study participants suffered from health issues like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. At the study’s 8 year point, those participants who were sedentary were either sick or dead. Those who sat in front of the boob tube for 7 or more hours a day proved to have a much higher risk of premature death. Well… duh!
But here’s the surprising part. Those people who exercised 7 hours or more a week who also spent time in front of the TV were still more likely to die compared to those who watched less TV.
Australian Study Determined 1 Hour of TV Watching = Snipping 22 Minutes from Life Span
The University of Queensland did a study about prolonged TV viewing time and its connection to life expectancy. The article is a bit dry, but here’s a recap: If an average man watched zero hours of TV in his adult life, the researchers concluded his life span might be 1.8 years longer.
Sitting, Metabolism & Weight Gain
Dr. Levine of The Mayo Clinic began his study to answer this question: Why do some people who consume the same amount of food as others gain more weight? He measured everything, thinking there was a magical metabolism factor. Dr. Levine invented a motion-tracking underwear (betcha that was attractive and comfortable : D ). Let’s get to the punchline. Dr. Levine found that the people who didn’t gain weight were unconsciously moving around more. They didn’t exercise more, they just moved more in general. If you want to read more about the study, this New York Times article is a fun read.
Ok, by now you’ve been scared out of your chair and off the couch. Have you set any fitness goals so you move more?
Please share in the comments section things you do to move just a little bit more (aside from working out).
Talk to 10 people and you’ll get 10 different opinions on the best way to get fit.
One will tell you to attend an aerobics class. Another will swear by jogging. Yet another will tell you that dance and biking worked for them.
The truth is that there’s really only one effective way to get fit and be lean.
Before I get into the details, it’s important that we agree on the definition of ‘fit’. Too often skinny is mistaken for fit, and that’s not what you should strive for. In my opinion, “fit” means that you’re lean, strong, and flexible and that your body functions well as a unit.
When someone is skinny but has very little muscle tissue, they aren’t truly fit.
Here’s why skinny doesn’t equal fit:
A skinny person’s body fat percentage could be higher than ideal—even though you don’t see a lot of fat on them
A skinny person’s resting metabolism will be low since little muscle is present to burn calories at rest
A skinny person’s body won’t be functionally strong, which can lead to injuries
So how does one get truly fit? It’s this simple: Strength Training
Strength training is when resistance is used to challenge your muscles in order to gain strength and endurance. You could do this with traditional weights, exercise bands, medicine balls, cable machines, sandbags, kettle bells or even just using your own body weight.
Regular strength training has the following benefits…..
Improved strength and muscle tone
Improved cardiovascular capacity
Higher resistance to injury and disease
If that’s not enough to convince you that strength training is the only way to truly become fit, read on…
Top 9 Reasons To Strength Train
1) To Build Muscle and Gain Strength: Don’t worry, ladies. This does NOT mean that you’re going to ‘bulk up’ or look too masculine. What will happen is that your arms, tummy and legs will become tighter, leaner and more defined.
2) To Lose Fat: When it comes to losing size, all that you want to see go is fat, not muscle. Strength training ensures that you maintain and grow those muscles and lose unwanted fat.
3) To Build Strong Bones: The older we get, the more important our bone density is. A good strength training program is one of your best defenses when it comes to osteoporosis.
4) To Alleviate Anxiety, Stress and Depression: Sure there are plenty of pills out there that claim to give these benefits, but you and I both know that strength training is a more wholesome and effective way. And besides, who really wants pharmaceutical side effects?
5) To Sleep Better: Here’s another pill you can stop taking once you start strength training. Study after study have proven that strength training improves sleep.
6) To Improve Chronic Back Pain: If you are one of the millions across the globe who suffer from back pain then you’ll love the benefit of decreased pain.
7) To Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Today diabetes is a huge threat. Minimize your risk by improving insulin sensitivity through regular, challenging strength training.
8) To Improve Good to Bad Cholesterol Ratio: Here is yet another pill that you could potentially stop taking while on a strength training routine. Blood pressure and heart health are of utmost concern, so why not give yourself the advantage of a strength training routine?
9) To Raise your Metabolism: This helps to reduce body fat and to keep that body fat off, even on the days that you aren’t able to exercise. Pretty awesome, right?
A solid strength training routine will tone your legs, lift your buns, strengthen your core, and will result in inches and pounds lost.
All those things I mentioned at the beginning of this post–aerobics class, jogging or biking–these are all great things to do to improve your fitness. However, to round out that fitness program and get the best results, strength training is the key, hands down!
Not sure how to safely add strength training to your current fitness routine? Contact us at lifeSport Fitness for a free consultation, or sign up for a free one-week trial at our boot camp workouts in San Jose or Campbell. We can teach you how to successfully strength train in a one-on-one session or at boot camp.
Getting a metabolism boost may be on your holiday wish list this season. Unfortunately Santa can’t leave it in your stocking no matter if it’s hung on the chimney with care. There’s simply no magic about kick starting your internal engine to burn fat.
The Good News About a Metabolism Boost
There is a direct correlation between lean muscle and metabolism. And, your metabolism defines the shape of your body. So, the higher your internal engine (metabolism) revs, the the more calories your body will burn. Building lean muscle will burn more calories. Your excess body fat can’t do that ;-). That’s why I focus on resistance training with my personal training and San Jose boot camp clients. Aerobic activities like running, swimming and fast walking are great for your cardiovascular system and improving your overall fitness, but resistance training is the only way to increase lean muscle mass.
A Simple Equation
It’s a simple equation really: calories in versus calories out. If you want to positively change your body’s composition (decrease fat, increase lean muscle), it’s just a matter of playing the numbers game. If you burn more calories than what you take in each day, then you’ll lose weight. I know… easier said then done. Yet achieving a caloric deficit is the only way to lose fat. I’ve seen clients diligently work out in my bootcamp and still gain weight. Why? Because they are taking in more calories they burn.
Now that the holidays are here, it’s even harder to reduce your daily caloric intake. It may not be realistic to say NO to a slice of pumpkin pie during this holiday season. However, you can say YES to a longer workout. According to wiki.answers the average slice of homemade pumpkin pie (1/8th of a 9-inch pie weighing 5.5 ozs) is approximately 316 calories. Again, its simply a math equation. If you want to maintain this holiday season, calculate those extra calories and convert them into a consistent and effective workout routine. There’s where your metabolism boost will kick in.
An added benefit to a little more muscle on your body? You’ll look better in your clothes :-).
Boosting metabolism can seriously affect weight loss results. Imagine waking up 12-weeks from now, looking in the mirror and actually being amazed about what you see! You absolutely do have the ability to be in an entirely different body. The first step is creating the right mindset for your transformation journey.
Are You Ready For Change?
Making a commitment to follow a metabolism makeover guarantees the surest path to your ultimate fitness goals. However, you need to be ready for change. Yes, you’ll begin to see and feel dramatic changes within your body, but there are other changes you’ll experience. Expect psychological and physiological changes. Expect a decreased body fat percentage, increased lean muscle mass, increased metabolism, increased sense of well-being, an abundance of energy, better cholesterol levels, decreased risk of heart disease, and the most important change of all… increased self-confidence.
These types of change requires effort and dedication. You need to be ready to embark on the journey. Otherwise, you won’t be setting yourself up for success.
If you feel it is selfish to take an hour a day, four days a week for yourself to exercise, you shouldn’t. Remember, your family, children, spouse, and friends all need you, but more importantly they need you healthy! Taking time for proper nutrition and exercise is not selfish — it’s selfless because you are working to maintain your body so it can perform well and remain healthy.
When you start living a fit lifestyle you will notice that your life will improve dramatically on many levels. It will improve socially, physically, and mentally. Your confidence will go up. You will live longer. You will look in the mirror and be proud of the face that is staring back at you. You’ll know you are doing all you can to live a healthy life, and that is a wonderful feeling.
The cost of that feeling? Make time. You make time for the things that are most important. So… no excuses. Fitness needs to be at the top of your priorities.
What hurdles do you need to overcome in order to change your mindset?
If you’ve been struggling with weight loss, there may be a good reason as to why. In my bootcamps I see all types of clients. Some want to lose baby weight while others just want to tone up and get firmer. Whatever your fitness goal, consider these 10 reasons you may not be seeing the results you seek:
1. Too Many Calories
As with most weight loss eating programs, you’re probably trying to reduce your caloric intake. Even if you’re carefully measuring and planning your main meals, extra calories can sneak in with snacks. It’s all too common to under-estimate the number of calories consumed on a daily basis. Research shows we underestimate our food intake by about 30% on average. I suggest that you journal what you eat every day whether in a notebook or via an electronic tool like MyFitnessPal. Portions count, so make sure you REALLY know how much you’re eating.
2. Too Few Calories
What!!?? I know this may sound contradictory to #1, but not eating enough can be another reason why you’re experiencing weight loss. You need to create a caloric deficit by reducing your intake slightly. If you go too far below your maintenance calories and your body goes into starvation mode. It’ll do the opposite of what you want… shedding muscle and storing calories as fat. Why? Because it wants to protect you, saving energy for future use. So, by not eating enough supportive foods on a daily basis, it lowers the amount of calories your body burns.
3. Not Lifting Weights
Cardiovascular exercise burns calories, but it doesn’t boost your metabolism quite the way strength training does. Doing some kind of resistance training like lifting weights is critical to building and maintaining muscle and tone. If you’re not lifting weights while trying to lose body fat, you may actually lose muscle over time. Plus, your metabolic rate will decrease, causing you to burn fewer calories.
4. Too Little Exercise
If you’ve cut the calories to a healthy deficit and you’re doing resistance training, then the last alternative is to increase the amount of calories you burn. If you’re still not losing weight with 20 minutes of exercise three times a week, then you need to ramp it up. Very few people are successful at losing weight and keeping it off without exercising almost everyday. Make it a rule to be active at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Unrealistic Expectations
Slow and steady wins the race in weight loss. Often I see that my clients have unrealistic expectations, wanting to see instant results. Focus on progress, not perfection. If your workout motivation is waning, think back to why you started this journey. Revisit your goals and get back in touch with your “why.”
I’ll be back next week with 5 more reasons your weight loss efforts may be stalling.
Tips for getting greater fat loss results in the next 12 weeks
I recently held a free assessment day for members of our lifeSport Fitness boot camps in San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos. Because the scale doesn’t tell the whole story, it’s important to track other measurements such as body fat and girth to really get a clear picture of what’s happening once you start to do boot camp workouts. So, we offer free measurements for our members to keep them focused and on track.
At lifeSport Fitness, we work hard to make every boot camp workout extremely effective for fat loss: We do LOTS of strength training. We do interval training to increase the calorie burn of the workout. We make sure to train the whole body in a functional manner in every workout.
That said, my coaches and I can’t out-train a client’s poor diet 🙂.
If you don’t eat enough, you don’t fuel your workouts well and you might lose muscle over time. If you eat too many calories, you won’t shed body fat. And, if you eat about the right amount of food, but it’s nutritionally unbalanced or down right non-nutritious food–well– you’re probably not going to feel very good AND you probably won’t shed fat.
Bottom line, nutrition accounts for a LARGE margin of your results. You need to eat often and eat nutritiously to fuel an active body. You also need to be aware of portions and quantity.
I gave a “tips” sheet to our members at our assessment day to give them ideas for getting to the next level of fat loss at their next assessment, and I’d like to share it with you.
If you want to be leaner in the next 8-12 weeks, you should:
LOG your food intake
If you (or I) don’t really know what you’re eating, you don’t know what needs to be changed, and I don’t know how to coach you on changes you should make.
Start a free account at www.myfitnesspal.com. Your journal is only as “honest” as you are, but you’ll see your calories, protein, fat, etc all listed there. This particular website is “smart phone friendly”. You can scan food packaging and it will automatically upload the food item to your journal.
Increase your vegetable intake by AT LEAST 50%
This will fill up your plate, decrease your calorie consumption and increase your overall nutrition by a HUGE margin! The greater variety of colors on your plate, the better!
Pay attention to the calories you drink
These are very often “forgotten” calories—but they may be the ones that are ending up on your waistline. Big culprits here: Blended coffee drinks, alcoholic beverages, juices and other sweetened drinks.
If you eat out more than 3 times a week, work on decreasing that number
Restaurant food is chock full of calories, fat and salt. It’s really hard to lose fat if you’re eating large fatty, salty or sugary commercial meals on a regular basis.
Plan and schedule your workouts outside of camp
If you’re actively trying to shed fat, I suggest doing some form of cardio exercise (longer, lower intensity workouts, as well as shorter High Intensity Interval Training cardio workouts) 5 times a week. Strength training should be done 2-3 times a week. When pressed for time, do your strength/cardio together circuit style.
This fails every single time. Diets are temporary. Your lifeSport Fitness boot camp coaches and I want to teach you how to lose fat and keep it off by changing your food habits and your lifestyle. If you start on some sort of fat loss plan you can’t live with—you’re doomed to fail. Deprivation just doesn’t work long term.
Make small changes over time. Focus on what TO eat, not what NOT to eat. Have indulgences now and then. THAT’s real life. Yes, the fat will come off more slowly this way, but it’s more likely that you’ll stick with the new habits.
Some people might read the title of my blog post here and wonder how snacking in between meals can be a good thing if you’re trying to lose weight. Can healthy snacks between meals really help you LOSE weight?
I say……..YES! Here’s why: Eating a small, healthy snack may help you eat LESS at meal time. And, it may also eliminate blood sugar peaks and valleys that can trigger binge eating. Overeating at meal time and binge-eating are common causes of weight gain. The key to snacking in between meals is to snack smart!
3 Healthy Snack Tips
1- Make sure the healthy snack contains a source of protein. Eating a little protein will help you feel more full.
2- Eat a snack low in sugar. This will prevent a spike in blood sugar and subsequent crash in blood sugar later on.
3- Keep the snack small: 150-200 calories for women, 200-300 calories for men.
I like to see a mix of protein and carbohydrate in snacks, and perhaps a little healthy fat. Healthy snacks should hold you over to the next meal, raise your metabolic rate a little bit (digestion requires calories!), and keep you from having large swings in blood sugar. Studies show that metabolism affects weight loss as it affects how you burn calories.
Tomato and low-fat mozzarella slices drizzled with balsamic vinegar
If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand at home, at work and in the car. If you find yourself hungry without something healthy to eat, you ‘re MUCH more likely to make a poor choice.
Set yourself up for weight loss success by planning ahead and snacking smart!
Do you have a favorite healthy snack not listed here? Please share your favorite snack ideas in the comment section!
Yesterday I held one of our Nutrition Seminar/Grocery Store tour events.
I took members of our boot camps in San Jose through the Whole Foods Market on Blossom Hill Road.
We talked about how to read food labels, where the highest nutrition foods are in grocery stores, how to spot misleading claims on packaging and how to get the most value when we shop for food.
I always enjoy our Nutrition Seminar/Grocery Store tour because it gives me a chance to really connect with our boot campers and help them sift through nutrition myths, help them to be better consumers, and perhaps open their minds to trying new foods.
If you haven’t attended one of our tours before, I hope you’ll consider attending one in the future. Even if you think you eat well already, you might learn one new thing that helps you improve your overall nutrition.
Here is a random sampling of just a few of the things we talked about:
Most Americans eat between 12 and 14 grams of fiber a day. We need 25-35 grams. An easy way to begin to increase your fiber intake is to increase your intake of fresh produce.
Just because a package says “made with whole grain” doesn’t mean the food inside is high in fiber.
Stay mainly on the perimeter of your grocery store for the freshest, most nutritious food. However, there are certain foods you should venture into the interior aisles to purchase (you’ll have to go on one of my tours to find out what those foods are!)
Beef isn’t necessarily bad for you. The quantity you eat, the frequency with which you eat it and the cut you choose matter. The leanest cuts of beef include round, tenderloin, sirloin, and flank.
If you eat yogurt, consider buying Greek yogurt. It’s higher in protein than regular yogurt.
Eggs are a great, inexpensive source of protein. Contrary to popular belief, eating whole eggs will not raise your cholesterol (eating a lot of trans fats and some saturated fats will, though!)
The golden rule of food shopping: Never, ever shop for food when you’re hungry! ☺
I’ll leave you with a quote that is on the final page of my 7-page handout that each participant gets:
“When you change what is on your plate, you will change how your body looks and performs”
If you want to get better results from your boot camp workouts in San Jose, are you willing to make a few changes on your plate?
If you attended our tour yesterday, let me know what change(s) you will make based on what you learned. If you didn’t attend our tour, but are interested in attending a future one, please let me know what you’d like to learn on your tour.
Committed to your success,
P.S. Did you know that the Whole Foods store on Blossom Hill has a Healthy Nutrition specialist that is there to answer your nutrition questions? Her name is Georgia Brown, and she has a workspace toward the back of the store. If you’ve got nutrition questions or special dietary needs, make sure to look for her! Tell her I sent you 😉
In my line of work as a personal trainer and boot camp instructor in San Jose, one of the first things I do with new clients is offer to take a look at a 3-5 day food journal. It’s really the only way that I can help my customers make sensible changes that will lead to fat loss. I get a lot of resistance to the food journal with some folks. I hear phrases like this a lot: “I eat really well, Becky, so I can’t quite figure out why I’m not losing weight”.
Yes, some folks DO eat really well. Others—not so much (yet they think they’re doing great).
I was going to do a cool “eat this, not that for fat loss” video for you, but then I realized that a colleague of mine, the Abs Expert himself Scott Colby, did a great video a few months back that really illustrates how what you might think is a healthy diet really isn’t all that healthy.
Scott and I think a lot a like, so I’ll let Scott tell you ☺
The next time you go grocery shopping, think about some of the things Scott has presented here. Just because a packaged item says it’s healthy for you doesn’t mean it is.
Want to learn more about how to improve your diet from the Abs Expert himself?? You have an opportunity to spend some time vacationing, working out, and getting motivated by Scott Colby.
You can learn about his life-changing fitness adventure here: