Healthy Lifestyle

Pick A Different Approach

People are barraged with social media advertisements for products and programs that promise rapid fat loss with their one of a kind system. And so it goes month after month, year after year; people try different diets and workouts and everything else possible to burn off stubborn body fat, weight they’ve gained over the years, and bring the pants size back to what it was in high school.

I don’t think I’ve made it one day out of my three plus decades of living without someone talking about how fat they were, how they hated their body, how much weight they wanted to lose, or how out of shape they feel.

The goal of fat loss isn’t usually the problem. It’s the mindset that often evolves from a seemingly never-ending fat loss pursuit. Fat loss isn’t executed as a simple objective, structured process that lasts for a designated time. It gradually morphs into a definitive, emotionally-fueled, all-consuming infinite lifestyle. Losing weight becomes what people do for the rest of their lives.

As a person who doesn’t like the fat loss mindset, it is hard for me to watch people go through this. This unrelenting, long-term focus on fat loss is brutally effective for one thing: making people chronically dissatisfied with their bodies.

I think people fail to realize some important truths. But I’m going to share them with you in hopes that one day this helps you or someone else you know that fights this daily battle.

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You can set health and fitness goals that don’t have a thing to do with losing fat.

The reason you eat a chicken salad doesn’t have to be because you’re trying to lose weight. You can eat a slice of pizza without declaring you’re cheating on your diet or, making yourself feel terrible while indulging in what’s been labeled a guilty-pleasure food.

The reason you perform a workout doesn’t need to revolve around the desire to incinerate fat stores or because you overindulged at last night’s dinner and think you have to go into damage control to minimize the effects of your food choices.

Slimming down your waistline doesn’t have to be the dominate thought prodding your return to the gym each week. You can choose to move your body and eat well because, oh, I don’t know, you’d like to feel good about yourself instead of hating your body and relentlessly berating yourself until you can get the button on that smaller pair of jeans to clasp. Because you want to discover what your body can do, and then do more for no reason other than because you can.

Working out because you hate the fat on your thighs isn’t a positive purpose. Attempting to get 10,000 steps in a day so you can see the scale budge isn’t going to push you positively long term.

This lifestyle shouldn’t dominate your life. Attempting to follow a diet or workout program that’s too strenuous, time consuming, or rigid is why people often fail to reach their goals.

The way you eat and move your body must fit into your life, accommodate your schedule, and have built-in flexibility. Sounds different than you’re used to hearing I’m sure. You can actually feel great about yourself, for a start, instead of physically and mentally punishing yourself for having fat on your body or missing a workout or eating a donut. You can have a social life and enjoy your favorite foods with a dose of flexibility and responsibility. Working out and living a healthy lifestyle with a positive purpose should build you up instead of tear you down.

Choose Better

The Importance Of Sleep

People often eat mindlessly and in general, mindless habits involve less healthy alternatives. For example, the amount of food that people eat often depends on the size of the dishes or containers, and on the size of the utensils. People served themselves 31% more ice cream when given larger bowls and 57% more when supplied with larger bowls and larger serving spoons.

How do we combat this?


Sleep is one of those overlooked healthy habits.

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When it comes to losing weight, most people find it hard to change the behaviors that got them into trouble in the first place. It's challenging to improve food habits, or get yourself moving instead of sitting on the couch.

Did you know that the amount that you sleep can have a direct effect on whether you’re a healthy weight or overweight? Are you aware of the minimum hours of sleep that you need, to give yourself the best chance at succeeding with a weight loss program? Today, the average night’s sleep is only 7 hours a night. I’ve often wondered why I seem to need 8-9 hours. Everyone is different and the key is to find the right amount for you.

When you sleep less than 6 hours a night, your body produces a "hunger hormone" ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite and causes you to crave carbohydrate-rich and fatty foods. Talk about a nightmare.

When you get enough sleep, your body produces a satiety hormone, leptin, which naturally curbs your appetite. Crazy, but true. Just imagine how much easier it will be for you to make healthy food choices if you just. get. enough. sleep.

There you have it: the optimal weight loss plan should start with getting enough sleep. My hope is that you'll discover that it's far easier to lose weight than you thought, because you're physiologically empowered to make better choices and eat less.

Weight loss isn't easy. I don't mean to make light of that fact, but there's no question that being more rested will help you win in so many ways.

Change Is A Messy Process

Most people have a hard time accepting the need to change and find it even harder to actually make meaningful life changes. Change is scary. The natural fear of the unknown and uncertainty that comes with it is enough to make most people just remain the same. Change requires people to be uncomfortable and that is a feeling most people will not seek out. It takes strength and courage to do anything different or unfamiliar, because unfamiliarity breeds discomfort, and the more unfamiliar “it” is, the more discomfort we feel. Importantly, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is acknowledging your fear and doing what you need to do in spite of it.

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It’s not unusual for people to stay in painful, unhealthy situations, sometimes for years or decades, even when they know they need to make changes. They become comfortable with the pain. Certain unhealthy conditions become somewhat normal.

How can pain be comfortable?

  • They are familiar with the pain of their specific situation. They know exactly how it works and what the results will be. The expectation of the pain brings no surprises.

  • There is a certain predictability and comfort in it. Most people become motivated and begin to move toward making major life changes only when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of doing something different.

Use the fear of change as an invitation to practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness. And when we do, self-criticism and feelings of failure or of not being good enough soften and fade away. When that happens, we can cultivate an attitude of acceptance and loving awareness toward ourselves which deepens our capacity to make progress.

Principles to remember when attempting change in any area:

  1. Change is a messy process of trial, error, and experimentation.

  2. Change involves taking risks.

  3. Mistakes should be made and accepted as a part of the process. They are opportunities to learn and adjust.

  4. Change often feels worse before it feels better.

  5. Change involves failure. Failure is only information. Even when attempts at change don’t yield the desired outcome, they provide valuable information that can be integrated into future attempts at change.

The Power Of Emotional Eating

Do you put others' needs before your own? That may be a part of the job for you.

Whether you’re a high-powered professional, a mother, a caregiver, a partner, a worker, a daughter, a son, a friend, or all of the above and more.

We live in a busy world today. Many of you spend your days putting out fires, handling to-do lists, wiping little noses, meeting deadlines and making sure other people aren't going hungry, feel safe, and happy.

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The stressors of life can literally beat a person up. If they go unattended too long they can destroy relationships with food and lead to a series of events that prevent a person from living their best life. Emotional eating is real and if we don't heighten our awareness around it, we can easily fall victim to it. 

In some cases, the story goes like this. 
Life stressors become too much to bear. 
You get drained mentally and emotionally.
The time you used to invest in your health and fitness has disappeared.
The clothes that you felt comfortable in are now fitting tighter than you would like. 
The sugar and junk food cravings seem much stronger.
The gym membership you have isn't being utilized and the home gym equipment you have is gathering dust.
The bathroom mirror and scale are avoided. 
You end up putting your health and fitness goals to the side because changing it feels like the roller coaster ride that never ends.
Food becomes the way you deal with stress. 
Food becomes the gateway to helping you feel better. 

At the end of a long and hectic day, a big bowl of ice cream can be especially effective in temporarily soothing our exhausted, hard-working selves.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can feel healthy, fit, and good in your own skin.
You can regain control of your schedule and your body. You can overcome emotional eating and cravings.
You can show love and appreciation to others while still taking care of yourself.

Emotional eating can be a direct result of not being conscious of what or why you’re eating. Therapists call this unconscious eating. Unconscious eating is when you’re done with your meal and you continue to pick at it, slowly eating the remaining portion that you intended to leave behind. It can also be putting chips, crackers or any other food in your mouth, just because it’s in front of you.

Possible Solutions

Find other ways to reward and soothe yourself besides food (and other self-destructive behaviors.) Will these other ways be as effective at soothing you as food? Absolutely not!  The things you come up with will help somewhat,  But, In order to truly give up emotional eating, you are also going to have to practice tolerating difficult feelings.

Try to remain mindful of what and when you are eating. It sounds crazy but you have to be intentional about asking yourself a series of questions so you can be more mindful of breaking the cycle. 
Why am I eating this?
What am I thinking?
What am I feeling?
Who am I with?

Emotional eating is a powerful and effective way to find temporary relief from many of life’s challenges. If it didn’t work so well, no one would do it. In order to stop this cycle of emotional eating, you have to make a commitment to reach deep inside yourself to find a place of grit and strength to break the cycle. 

Hopefully the above reminders can assist you in your journey.

Improving Patience

One of the hardest things to learn when you embark on living a healthy lifestyle is patience. 

Being on a ranch a lot growing up and being introduced to weightlifting at a young age taught me the power of patients. 

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The purpose of building patience will impact your lens on living a healthy lifestyle, self-confidence, and strength. Improving your patient abilities also improves your relationships, professional success, and coping with stress. We can all work to develop more patience. An important idea here is that developing patience is just that. Developing a skill. We aren't born with it. It comes with time. 

After all, we can't just come out the womb knowing how to drive a vehicle and maneuver through traffic without ever learning the basics of vehicle safety, and driving practice. We practice and practice some more until we get it down. 

I have to talk about the importance of patience all the time to family, friends, and clients on a weekly basis. When they are exhibiting habits of impatience the evidence of their actions can be detrimental to their success in achieving whatever goal they may have. 
1) Bouncing from diet to diet. One week they're Keto and the next week they are on the Mediterranean diet. Or one week they want to lift weights and do cardio and next week they want to practice yoga and walk 10,000 steps. Having the patience to see something through is tough when you are looking for instant results. 
2) Being unkind to themselves for not being "perfect" on whatever regimen they are following. Or comparing their success to others. Being patient enough to stay in your lane and remain on course when you see others passing by seems hard in theory but doable with enough patience. 
3) Having a judgemental attitude. Impatience leads them to believe that there is a one size fits all approach. 

"Comparison is an act of violence against the self. " ~ Iyanla Vanzant

One of the first steps in growing patients is to get in touch with the addictive quality of the opposite of patience. Things like anger, irritation, blaming, shaming. The opposite of patience typically starts with a slight discomfort and tensing in the stomach area that goes along with the interpretation that things are not going our way. We even start to play a little storyline of certain sayings like,
"I have never seen such a thing..."
"How could they..."
"They did this on purpose..."
"I can't believe this happened to me..."
"I'm stuck with..."
"I look terrible because..."
You know the rants. We all have them. And we can grow beyond them.

So many of us have the belief that being "comfortable" is the only state we will tolerate. I have a good friend who wanted to stop using tobacco a while back. He had learned to say to himself, "This is merely uncomfortable, not intolerable." It helped him enormously to break his habit. It is okay to be fine with the circumstances that may present themselves from time to time and still seek change. 

Pain has its purpose in our lives. It pushes us to find solutions. Improving our patience is an inside job. Embrace it. 

Food Strict Or Food Flexible

Food is in your face all day long. You see it on commercials, ads, billboards, and every digital platform out there. These days it’s very easy to get hooked into eating without thinking. The abundance of food available can trigger the desire to eat when you’re not physically hungry. You will end up eating more than your body needs or over eat certain kinds of food because they’re just so appealing. The availability and advertising of food forces you to constantly think about food and create the desire to eat.

We live in a world that constantly encourages us to eat, drink, and snack. You walk in the mall and smell cinnamon rolls, and every street corner has a multitude of fast food joints. In the United States, the food and beverage industry spends over $136 million on advertising, and the restaurant industry spends over $6 billion.

Food is always plentiful for those of us living in the United States, food is always plentiful. Our appetite used to be guided by survival and sustenance. Rather than an aid in our survival, it has become a disruption to our health and well-being. Your appetite may make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride of restricting, bingeing, and chronic self-blame. And while a roller coaster ride may be a thrill we seek out at an amusement park, it is not a pleasant or useful way to live. No one chooses a pattern of disordered eating that damages health, self-esteem, and personal relationships. But that is what the power of food has done to our society. 

Food roller coasters get old. The needle on the scale that you watched descend just days ago inches back up again. A critical inner voice makes you feel guilty for your lack of willpower and plays in your head like a broken record. Leaving you with a feeling of hopelessness and shame. 

Depriving yourself of sweet, salty, or fatty foods is what sets you up for cravings. Cutting yourself off from these super-tasty foods causes stress that then leads you to soothe yourself by bingeing on them. Let me tell you something that you already know. Dieting doesn't work and depriving yourself of foods you love is exactly why diets don't work. 

That is why the only way you will be successful at living a healthy lifestyle is occasionally including foods you enjoy. It's not too good to be true, nor is it unhealthy. Incorporating a broad range of foods within your daily caloric and macronutrient allowance can still enable progression towards your health & fitness goals. Flexible Dieting allows for a shift in thinking whereby foods are not recognized as "good" or "bad" and instead the science of how the body deals with macronutrients and calories from any food source is regarded. Quite simply, the body recognizes different foods for the food's macronutrient and caloric value, including proteins, fats or carbohydrates. If you're consuming less energy than you are expending (eating in a calorie deficit) you will lose weight. If you're consuming more energy than you are expending (eating in a calorie surplus) you will gain weight. Of course, you don't want a full day of eating to be consumed with refined sugary treats but you should not feel guilty if you work a small snickers bar into your caloric intake for the day. 

Stop labeling food with "clean" and "junk" labels because the diet you saw on the internet told you to. All diets lead to the same goal. A calorie deficit or a calorie surplus. Flexible Dieting focuses simply on eating to fulfill designated macro nutrient targets, or "hitting macros", each day. Try to fill your day with nutrient dense colorful foods and work in something from your "guilty" list from time to time and watch how much easier it is to adhere to your plan. The scientific principle surrounding calories in vs calories out are paramount to the success of Flexible Dieting. 

Learning how to eat right for your body, goals, and lifestyle takes time. But your consistency will only increase as you learn how to be flexible in your approach. 

Choose Wisely

You have the free liberty of making choices every day. What is a good choice? Good choices are decisions that keep you heading in the direction in which you want to go. Bad choices, on the other hand, end up being counterproductive and can quickly begin spiraling into stress, confusion, and despair.

Some of the trickiness of choice-making arises with options that may be pleasing in the short-term but may incrementally steer us off course over the longer term. Just taking that one extra serving of dessert or staying in bed for only another hour more can be choices like this. Some decisions can be a bit dreary or difficult at the time but lead to better directions down the track. Staying home and preparing your own meal instead of going out and risk overeating or completing another session at the gym are examples of short-term discomfort for long-term benefits.

My Top 11 Choices that will always lead to a better long-term outcome: 

  1. Choose consistency, not perfection.
  2. Choose strength and performance, not exhaustion.
  3. Choose to focus on the things you can control, not those you can’t.
  4. Choose to shut up and take action, don’t be a complainer.
  5. Choose for health and fitness to be a part of your life, not something that takes over it.
  6. Choose self-compassion as a response to your things not going as you planned, not condemnation.
  7. Choose flexibility, not obsession.
  8. Choose to adapt to the circumstances, don’t give up entirely.
  9. Choose to become the best version of yourself every day; don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  10. Choose consistent, small improvements; don’t lust at the idea of overnight success.
  11. Choose the process as its own reward, don’t rely on the destination to provide happiness.

Why I Hate The Term "Bikini Body"

I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July. I certainly enjoyed mine. While I was working out yesterday I overheard a few ladies talking about getting their bikini bodies back. And shortly after that I heard a male trainer tell his female client that she needed to work harder because she has to earn her six pack.

I have no issue with anyone wanting to work hard for their fitness goals. I do believe that our individual perspectives of how we view fitness will dictate how long we will be able to sustain "motivation".

I cringe when I hear women talk about their fitness goals and the main reason for them wanting to get in shape is for a bikini body. Trainers in the fitness community are largely to blame for this train of thought though. It is a marketing ploy to get in your pocket books. Bikini body is a play on words so you can visualize yourself comfortable and sexy so they can sell you the next weight loss plan, strict diet, detox supplement, or 2-a-day workout plan.

When people tell you it’s time to start working for a “bikini body,” they’re not doing so because they’re concerned for your health. All that bikini body talk does is reinforce the toxic notion that women’s bodies must conform to a certain shape. A shape so you can feel accepted or feel confident in public. Aiming for a “bikini body” is much more likely to lead to destructive feelings of body shame than a sustained commitment to caring for your body. Taking good care of your body shouldn’t have a season. Our bodies deserve our care every day of the year.

One of the best ways to feel at home in your skin is to exercise regularly.

Fitness centers are so busy trying to get you to believe that you can look like a fitness model that they are dropping the ball on the true benefits of exercise. They tell us that fitness is something you see instead of something you feel, that it’s not about what you can do, but whether you can count your abs.

Physical activity has a number of well-documented psychological and physical benefits. But it requires a change in mindset. 

Researchers have found that women who exercise to increase their health rather than to change the way they look actually enjoy exercise more. They stick with it longer. Another study out of the University of Michigan found that women who exercise with weight loss as their goal engage in less physical activity than those who exercise for a sense of well-being or stress reduction.

When you shift your focus off of aesthetics good things happen. You start to notice the things that matter. Energy increases become apparent, sleep and recovery feels at an all time high, and your clothes start to feel better than they did before. The time investment of your workout time isn't judged on what you see in the mirror but how you feel day to day. That is what this lifestyle is all about.

Does Healthy Food Taste Disgusting

The health and fitness information on the internet is astounding. If you want to know something you can definitely find it within seconds on the internet.

But even though we have so much information at our fingertips, the average weight of Americans continues to rise. The average weight of women is as much as the average weight of American men in 1960. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the average American male weighed about 166.3 pounds in 1960. The average weight for American women in 2010 was 166.2 pounds, which marks about a 18.5 percent increase. The average weight for women in 1960 was 140 pounds.

Why is the continuous rise in body weight happening but we essentially have more information on how to be healthier than ever before? 

There are some annoying fitness fanatics out there that try to tell people that eating healthfully tastes as good if not better than eating junk food. That couldn't be further from the truth. Of course a cookie will taste better than an apple. Of course the french fries taste better than green vegetables. Pie and cake are going to be more comforting than fiber rich fruits. It is time we stopped the crazy talk. We need to re-frame the way we think. 

Instead of thinking that healthy food should taste as good or better than high-calorie junk food, we should accept that it doesn’t. This isn’t a bad thing. The healthy food doesn’t need to be disgusting either. But hoping that your grilled turkey burger will be as savory as your favorite burger from Five Guys is a little crazy. This sort of thinking can also lead to a poor relationship with food too.

We need to accept that while it is not as pleasurable as the decadent high-calorie savory food, the healthy food aligns more with our values.

I'm not trying to say we can’t have the junk food once in a while. A small amount can fit into pretty much everyone’s diet. A bowl of your favorite cereal isn't going to cause you to have a metabolic syndrome. You aren't going to get fat off one donut every now and then. A couple slices of pizza can fit into your caloric structure from time to time. However, think about what you value, then freely choose which food aligns more with that value.

Do you value being a good role model for your children? If so, you have the ability to choose that piece of fruit instead of the cookies and chips. Sure those cookies and chips would be super pleasurable especially when you’re super hungry after a day of hard work, but while that apple isn’t as pleasurable, it aligns with your values.

Do you value your health? If so, you will do what is necessary to manage. When we ignore managing it or fail to make it a priority we face the consequences of those actions, and so do our loved ones. You don't want to leave them with the responsibility to take care of you for something that could have been avoided.

If your health is important to you, align your actions to match those values.

Choices & Consequences

It's Friday night, you had a long day at work. You skipped lunch and food has been invading your thoughts like a bad dream.

It comes down to good old choices. You inherently have the free liberty to make day to day nutritional choices. Those decisions have consequences regardless if you think about them or not. Everything we eat has a trade off. This means that sometimes the food choices you make could give you substantial energy or possibly make you feel like crap. The choices you make could add to weight gain, weight maintenance or weight loss. The choices you make may ultimately take you down a path of a lower quality of life or they could benefit your health immensely.

The personal conversation of "What am I going to eat and how will it make me feel" needs to happen daily. The hardest part of this question is separating the emotional decision from the physical one. The emotional decision is often times the easiest one, or the decision that speaks to how we feel in that moment. The physical decision can take some problem solving and may require more time. It might be the less exciting one or the least spontaneous choice. But often times it's the choice that will benefit you long term.

These choices could vary but typically look something like this:

  • Go out to eat or stay in and cook.

  • Order take out or eat left-overs.

  • Stop for some fast food or or wait to eat the food you meal prepped.

  • Eat a three course meal with family and friends or watch portions and say no to some possible favorites.

  • Stay out late drinking with friends or limit your intake and leave an it earlier than others.

  • Hang out with friends at happy hour or eat your scheduled snack and get to the gym.

We tend to not weigh those decisions but they accumulate into something negative or positive depending on what we decide. Often times they are the deciding factor if we reach our goals or not.

When your willpower is depleted, you are even more likely to make decisions based on the environment around you. After all, if you’re feeling drained, stressed, or overwhelmed then you’re not going to go through a lot of effort to cook a healthy dinner or fit in a workout. You’ll grab whatever is easiest.

Set yourself up for success with these decisions so you're armed to face them head on.

Here are 5 tips that help me fight off giving into food choices that don't benefit my overall goals.

  1. Have a healthy snack alternative to hold you over on your ride home.

  2. Pace healthier foods in more visible spots in your refrigerator, pantry, and around the kitchen.

  3. Tuck away cookies, treats, and other unhealthy choices down on the lower shelves.

  4. Have your meal already waiting for you in a container so it is easy to grab and less time to wait when you get home.

  5. Plan out a day or two that you will have a treat so it's worked into your week. That way you aren't going over your allotted calories for the day or week and you have something to look forward to instead of feeling guilty about.

5 Tips To Help Stay On Track While Traveling

Is there a trick to traveling and managing your nutrition?

Many of my clients travel often for work. They say, "I can't be healthy this week because I have to travel for work". Or "This week is going to be rough because I have to go out to eat a lot for work."

Of course when you are thrown into the unknown things will be challenging. I know it will not be easy for you to stay on track with nutrition but it is doable.

Here are 5 tips to help stay on track while traveling:

  1. Be prepared.
    By planning ahead you will find yourself staying much closer to the path of wellness when on the go. The first stop you should make is at the grocery store. There are tons of great snacks that travel well so you can have nutritiously dense food to take with you. I've brought protein bars, raw nuts, fruit, and my empty water bottle so I can fill it up once through security that way I have more than enough. Those tiny little cups they give you on the plane might as well be a shot glass.
  2. Be boring when choosing your meal.
    Eating out at most restaurants can be very difficult. The portions are likely too big, the healthy options are limited, and they cover just about everything in inflammatory oils. When your calorie friendly choices are limited order a salad with dressing on the side. I dip my fork in the dressing then take a stab at the dry salad and I typically use about half as much if they poured it over the salad for me. Pay the extra money to add protein if it doesn't come with it. The extra protein can be satiating and may keep you from ordering dessert or eating too much past what you should. Steamed vegetables with lean proteins like chicken or fish are available at almost any place you go.
  3. Keep tracking.
    If you're already tracking your food in some sort of log or app keep doing it. Don't stress out if you go over your normal amounts but by tracking you will be more cognizant of what you're doing and you will inevitably make better decisions or choose smaller quantities. You may not hit the target carbohydrates, protein, and fats you want but you can make sure that you don't go over the allotted calories you have during that time.
  4. Fast food.
    Sometimes we simply can't avoid it when traveling. You're with 3 co-workers who all could care less about the things they put in their bodies so you're outnumbered. Don't freak out and don't starve yourself in this situation. One of the few changes we have seen in recent years is restaurants actually telling us the nutrition info. Keep an eye on the fats and aim for something that is high in protein. The fats is where they tend to get us because they douse the food in the worst kind of oils imaginable. If you do happen to overeat because you had a lack of choices then consume it guilt free and move on with your day.
  5. Enjoy it.
    We can't expect to be perfect and life is all about controlling the flow. I try living by the 80/20 rule. Make good nutritional decisions 80% of the time and the other 20% I enjoy life! Exploring new cities is fun so don't let it go by without having one mouth watering meal, beverage, or both!

How To Avoid The Diet Hamster Wheel

Unhealthy lifestyles create a self-perpetuating and vicious cycle. It begins with feeling like you don't have enough time, energy, strength, or emotional wellness to make any lasting changes. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle seems like a daunting task. Diving into a journey of uncertainty is challenging. I get it.

But when you neglect healthy living you end up feeling even worse. And of course, feeling worse makes it harder to exercise, take time to cook, and make other good choices. Thus by abandoning healthy living, you can find yourself trapped in a cycle of plummeting health. I call it the diet hamster wheel.

The only way out of this is to find a way to incorporate healthy changes, however small, over time.

I understand that 30 minutes of exercise or taking some time to prepare meals ahead for a few days is plain hard in some cases. Sometimes it's helpful to envision the benefits though. A healthier lifestyle could afford you the possibility of living a longer, pain free, enjoyable life.

The flip side of that would be the person that tells me, "Kelvin I'm living my life to the fullest already. I eat what I want, do what I want, and we all have to die sometime. I might as well go out on my terms."

If you are wondering if someone has told me that then the answer is, Yes. I have actually heard it many times. And to some degree I understand it. Truth is, a unhealthy lifestyle takes up more time than you might realize. The doctor's appointments due to being over weight and poor lifestyle conditions can take a toll on you. Being slowed down because chronic pain due to a sedentary life, and getting sick more often takes away time as well. Unhealthy habits such as emotional or stress eating, endlessly refreshing social media feeds can also eat away at time that could be spent doing something more useful.

If you want to make lasting lifestyle changes then you have to be prepared for it to take time. Contrary to what you may have been told, you don't have to join a gym, devote two hours a day to cooking, and spend all your time exercising. Instead, small decisions can add up to big changes over time. Focus on achieving your health goals in small, manageable chunks.

Here are 5 of my favorite tips for helping people start improving their lifestyle.

  1. Replace one unhealthy snack with a healthier option each day.
  2. Commit to cooking at home at least two days per week.
  3. Dedicate five minutes a day to exercise. You can increase this number over time. But you may also find that after a five-minute workout, you're motivated to go for 10, 20, or even 30 more minutes.
  4. Be mindful of your automatic negative thoughts and focus on re-framing them into more positive ideas.
  5. Schedule some "me time" each week so you can decompress in ways that make you happy and recharge your batteries.

Our society is busier now than ever before, so no matter how committed you are to living a healthier life, odds are good something is going to rob you of your time. One of the most important keys to long-term health is finding time for healthy choices even in the midst of chaos. The demands our world places on us are bigger now than ever before, but this doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy living. Indeed, making healthy lifestyle choices may be the best thing you can do to manage the chaos of an increasingly challenging world.

How Sleep Deprivation Effects The Waistline

Since when did not getting enough sleep become a bragging right? "Dude, I only sleep 4 hours a night!" Congratulations. While it may be needed to skimp out on sleep from time to time because of your lifestyle. Let's not make it a habit of choice.

Inadequate sleep doesn't make you tough, but it certainly affects your efforts in the gym. While you may be able to "function just fine" on a few hours of sleep, doing so still short changes your body composition goals.

It is easy to overlook sleep as being important for you reaching your health and fitness goals. When you have a tough work schedule, children at home, or school deadlines to meet, sleep is put on the back burner. Did you know that not getting enough sleep might affect your waistline?

Current research suggest that on average, those who are sleep deprived consume about 385 calories more than they normally would per day.

The researchers found that not only did subjects consume more calories the next day after being sleep deprived, but they also found that the majority of those calories came from foods that were proportionally higher in fat and lower in protein.

The extra calories a day is equivalent to topping off your normal daily nutrition with four and a half slices of bread. Or eating a slice and a half of pizza, two servings of ice cream, or a few candy bars. With no offset from physical activity you can guarantee that the added scale weight is coming.

Research also suggest that chronic sleep loss could be a driving force of obesity across the country.

A lack of high quality sleep appears to impact on physiological drivers of energy balance. Specifically appetite, hunger and energy expenditure. Along with this, sleep deprivation adversely affects the body’s ability to handle glucose and may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

So what is considered sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation defined in most studies is getting only three and a half to five hours of sleep per night.

Seven to nine hours of sleep is the optimal amount one should get each night. If you have trouble sleeping you may need a little help by making better sleep habits and maybe taking quality supplements like melatonin every night.

Using Fitspiration As Motivation

Fitspiration is a term used to describe the inspiration behind someone getting up and working toward their physique goals.

Most of these supposedly motivational memes and pictures portray men and women working out or posing to show off their physiques. They are traditionally in spandex or cut off shirts. They are typically drenched in sweat and sport an amazing six pack or a great pair of legs and butt. They will have some slogan that encourages pushing through pain, exhaustion, and hunger. Some of them sound like this. 

"Suck it up now so you don’t have to suck it in later."
"The only bad workout is the workout that didn't happen."
"No Pain, No Gain."

Is this a good form of motivation?

My answer: NO!

There is no research confirming fitspiration’s role in helping people maintain a healthy, sustainable level of physical activity.

A desire to workout because you want to emulate the toned, muscular individual on a fitspiration meme can be a source of short term motivation. The issue with this type of motivation is that is has a short life span. You may enter the 'grind harder' mentality but lose your stamina after learning how much exercise and time it takes to acquire that physique. It sounds good in theory but what's wrong with staying in your own lane?

A huge component of your success in improving your fitness is for you to develop a good relationship with exercise. If you don’t actually enjoy the gym or exercise in general, your interest in engaging in exercise to lose weight or gain muscle will peter out pretty quickly. 

I see a lot of disordered thinking from people looking at fitspiration as a vehicle to to get to there goals. In most cases it actually fosters the motivation to exercise less because it makes most feel worse about themselves. That ultra-fit ideal may seem so far away from where you are now that it is just easier to stay in the same place and resist change.

Fitspiration could alienate people from engaging in exercise, since they’re led to believe that the only way to do so is some over the top program. Most of those memes portray some high intensity boot-camp program, a workout dvd that looks impossible to complete, or a body builder’s weight training routine from his hay day. These memes make a leisurely stroll, bike ride, or a easy swim look like a waste of time. But they aren't because they can help you improve your health and fitness too.

Let me explain something real plain and simple to you.
Real fitness isn’t about having a ridiculously low body-fat percentage.
Real fitness isn't about being able to run a mile in under six minutes.
Real fitness isn't about being the biggest or the most buff person around.

Fitness involves being active enough to get your blood flowing at least once a day.
Fitness is about maintaining your heart, lung, brain, bone health, and emotional well being.
Fitness is about taking pleasure in the ability your body has to move rather than sitting in front of a computer screen or television.

5 Tips For Improving Sleep Quality

We can all agree that sleep is important. Well I hope we can at least. The benefits of sleep are unquestionable. But an increasing amount of research indicates that when we don’t focus on sleep we lose out on other parts of our life. When we routinely get enough quality sleep good things happen. We’re much more likely to make healthy food choices, we eat more vegetables, and we experience far fewer cravings. When we don't get enough sleep our appetites are out of control, cravings run wild, our inflammation increases, and our will power tank decreases. 

In short, when we get enough sleep, everything else has a tendency to fall into place.  And getting enough good sleep may be the single best thing we can do to help ourselves keep up with nutrition, fitness, and weight goals.

Through personal experience and reading through tons of research I've rounded up 5 small tips that will help you improve your sleep quality.  

1. Make A Bedtime
I feel like captain obvious by saying this. But it needs to be number one despite how easy it seems. Adults need a bedtime just like children do. That might mean committing to an hour less of television, coming home earlier from a social gathering or simply telling our partner that you are calling it a night! Aim for 6 to 8 hours a sleep. The formula to do that is pretty simple. Set a bed time 6 to 8 hours before you need to wake up. That may wind up being an early bed time. But your rest should be a priority. 

2. Turn Off The Gadgets
The rise of electronic screens means that it’s almost impossible to imagine an evening without a phone, television, iPad, e-reader, etc. Screens emit too much blue light, which harms our dim-light melatonin production. Either turn off screens to protect this sleep promoting hormone or switch your gadgets to night mode. Most new devices have this feature. 

3. Don't Forget To Exercise
Inactivity causes poor sleep. By exercising, we unleash a hormone-regulating effect throughout our bodies. Regulated hormones equal better sleep. This does not mean you should go outside and run miles on end. Neither should you try to punish your body in the gym with hard workouts. In fact, there’s evidence to support the idea that less-strenuous exercise is actually more beneficial for hormones. 30 minutes of walking each day can improve your sleep!

4. Keep Your Home Cool
Sleeping in a cool environment is an easy way to improve sleep. Ever notice that you wake up sweating during the night? Our bodies are designed to sleep best in an ideally cool environment. Try turning the temperature down to about 65-68°F and see how your sleep improves! If you are too cold then add blankets.

5. Wind Down
Taking 30 minutes each evening to wind down by reading, stretching or taking a relaxing bath can help your body transition from the hustle and bustle to sleep-sleep-sleep. This might mean cutting out 30 minutes of television every evening, or pushing your bedtime back by just a bit. But the peace of your evening routine will pay off!

Commit to one of these today and watch how your sleep improves.

Why Does Your Weight Fluctuate

I enjoy weighing myself everyday. I am also probably an exception to the rule because weighing yourself can lead to a lot of negative emotions as well.

I like to see how the previous days food, water, stress, and digestion effects my weight from day to day. It gives me a snapshot of what is going on. The more data points I get the more information I can piece together. I don't place my value on the scale or let whatever the number is affect my self confidence in any way. But I know there is a long road for others to get to that point. It is key for you to understand what causes your weight to fluctuate. I'm not asking you to weigh yourself everyday like I do. But if weight loss is something you are trying to accomplish then you have to learn how to separate your feelings from the number on the scale.

If your goal is weight loss, it can be easy to celebrate when you see the number on the scale fall by a few pounds one day, then worry when the scale jumps by a pound or two the next day. But what do these fluctuations in weight tell you?

Short-term fluctuations in weight are normal and generally reflect changes in your body’s level of water. It’s not possible under typical circumstances for your body to gain or lose several pounds of fat over the course of just a few days. Components like diet, exercise, weather, and your bathroom habits are all factors that can change the level of water in your body and cause the number on the scale to change, too. So you freaking out is the last thing you should be doing.

For example, eating salty food causes your body to hold on to extra water. Until your body clears out the excess salt and the water that comes with it, your weight will increase by a few pounds. An intense, sweaty workout can cause your weight to decrease by several pounds from the fluids you lose as sweat. Once you are fully hydrated and your level of body water is back to normal your weight will increase again.

Your metabolism can also influence your body’s water balance and cause fluctuations in weight.

How your body handles carbohydrates gives us the best example of this. As part of normal metabolism, your body stores a small amount of carbohydrate that is used to maintain steady blood sugar levels between meals and to power muscles during exercise. This reserve of stored carbohydrate, called glycogen, attracts and holds extra water. When your body’s glycogen reserves are full, your level of body water will be much higher than when your reserves are depleted. This is why your nutrition and exercise habits are so important. They both can lead to changes in the body's level of stored glycogen. Because normal variations in your body’s glycogen stores affect your level of body water, weight fluctuations are part of normal metabolism.

It is normal for your body weight to fluctuate by several pounds over the course of a day and even in a week. This doesn't mean that weighing yourself isn't helpful. You just need to keep things in perspective when doing so. Tracking body weight is still a good tool as long as your mindset is in a place to take it the right way. If stepping on a scale makes you feel frustrated, hopeless, or sparks other negative emotions then staying off the scale might be the best action to take for now.

If you want to teach yourself how to approach weighing yourself the right way then you should have a few things in order first.
1. Be discipline in preparing your meals or have some consistency in your nutritional regimen.
2. Have consistent exercise habits. It doesn't matter if it is one day or a week or seven. It could be 30 minutes per session or 60. You need to have some solidity in your program.
3. Don't place your self worth into a number on the scale. You are amazing already.

Start by checking your weight less often. Once a week or once a month for example. That way you will have a good idea of your progress while limiting the distracting influence of short-term fluctuations in weight and less mind games.

Some things you should consider if you are going to weigh yourself is:
Weighing yourself on the same scale all the time.
Weigh on same day of the week.
Weigh at the same time of day.

The goal is to get the most consistent measurement as best as you can.

Watching the scale drop by a few pounds only to see it rise again by the end of the week can feel discouraging. But when you know what your scale is really telling you, it’s easy to avoid being distracted by short-term weight fluctuations and stay focused on your long-term goals.

The scale is a tool. That's it. Stay away from it until you can view it that way.

Why Variety Is The Perfect Plan

In today's society driven by social media, filtered selfies, never ending marketing, and contradicting dogmatic beliefs it's no wonder people get lost in the world of nutrition in hope to look like the model from [fill in the blank with your favorite instagram account].

People everywhere are telling you they have found the perfect plan or cure all to get rid of stubborn belly fat. Paleo, vegan, ketogenic, as well as all the pharmaceuticals you're being advertised to buy... The list goes on and on.

I don't like to speak in absolutes. There are many factors, variables and exceptions to every rule. The fact of the matter is there is no plan or quick fix that works the the entire human population. Period. If someone is telling you this they're likely are trying to sell you something.

All this chaos started about half a century ago with the low or no fat diets based off anecdotal evidence. We've since come to realize these claims hold little merit. There is little evidence actually proving fats or cholesterol derived from our diets translate to body fat or cholesterol levels in our blood. In fact, we need fats for a ton of daily functions such as fuel our brain, create cell membranes, sex hormones, and more.

Then we came to the conclusion carbohydrates were the root of all evil. And though you may lose weight for a few weeks or months by cutting back, it can actually cause a ton of long term damage, especially for women.

This is when many people simply say the hell with it. I'll just eat as little calories as I can stand and I will lose weight and be healthier. Right? Not so fast, that causes a whole other host of problems.

The fact of the matter is the human body is very adaptive and can survive in some of the most extreme conditions but doesn't mean your body is healthy. Not sick and healthy are not interchangeable terms. Fitness and health is not black and white, it's a spectrum.

Do not risk your health in pursuit of the abs seen on the cover of the magazines. A lot of the times the models you see do a ton of harm to their bodies to reach that point and only look that way for a few days a year.

Next time you find yourself reaching for magic pills, powders, or potentially poisonous potions. Ask yourself a simple question, " will this make me healthier?" If you're even considering it, the answer is likely no. Aim for longevity by eating real, earth grown nutrient dense whole foods.

Having well balanced nutrition includes eating lean meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and fruit. Highly refined foods aren't bad but should be consumed in moderation.

Be careful with all the extremes you see today. Always air on the side of BALANCE.

What is the perfect plan? Variety.

Fitness Doesn't Define You

You’re not your diet or nutritional plan.

You’re not your workout program.

You’re not the size of your bra, shirt or jeans.

You're not the number on the scale or your body fat percentage. Health and fitness habits should not define you.

The ultimate goal for any health and fitness goal should be to create the best version of yourself that you possibly can. Exercise and nutrition are the vehicles to get you there but they are just that. Tools that give you the ability to live a more awesome life with no restrictions. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look better. I’ve built my career off helping people lose fat, improve fitness, and gain muscle. Everyone wants to feel confident and like how they look. But how we eat and work out should not consume our lives and dictate our every move.

Fitness shouldn't stress you out.

Fitness shouldn't overwhelm you.

Fitness shouldn't make you feel bad about yourself.

Fitness shouldn't be always be about chasing a lower body fat percentage or new personal best on bench press.

Fitness shouldn't be about arriving at some state of “perfection”.

If you feel any of those things then it is time for a change. The outcome isn't pretty if you continue down that path. It can lead to disordered eating habits, and uncontrollable binge eating. You could experience exhaustion from long and grueling workouts, a terrible obsession over a number on the scale, and constant dissatisfaction with your body. This is not a good road to travel down.

Your happiness shouldn't be predicated on you reaching your health and fitness goals.

Fitness should enrich your life. It makes your life better. Improving your fitness should build you up and help you to reduce your stress. It should make you appreciate your body for how it looks, but also the amazing things it’s capable of doing. Think about something for me. When's the last time you stopped to appreciate that you are better today than you were yesterday? Or the last time you stopped to think the amazing things your body can do instead of trying to change how it looks?

It is easy to look at what you lack. Make a different choice. Things could always be worse. If you have the ability to exercise in order to improve your lifestyle then you are fortunate. So to place your happiness based on the number on the scale is disastrous. 

When your health and fitness becomes a lifestyle it will no longer consume you. There is a learning curve because you have to gain all the skills necessary to make that transition but it will happen if you are consistent.

This won’t resonate with everyone, and I don’t expect it to. To some working out and eating well is only about, and will only ever be about looking good. That’s fine and completely understandable. But as you dig deeper in to this lifestyle you will notice that there is great carryover from your fitness routine that will impact everything you choose to do in this life. You will see that your relationships improve, your financial discipline sharpens, and you will start to have revamped look on life. A healthy lifestyle is much bigger than most give it credit for.

Gary Keller states in his book The ONE Thing, “Your body is an amazing machine, but it doesn’t come with a warranty, you can’t trade it in, and repairs can be costly. It’s important to manage your energy so you can do what you must do, achieve what you want to achieve, and live the life you want to live.

Are You Getting Enough Fiber?

Did you know fiber is also known as roughage? Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that travel through our digestive system. Fiber absorbs water along the way and helps to ease bowel movements.

Fiber is a very important conversation that I have with clients all the time. Do you get enough fiber? The odds are pretty good that you don’t get the recommended daily amount. Studies show that only five percent of adults consume adequate dietary fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men every day.

The majority of us are missing out on the health benefits from fiber including support for heart health, digestive health, and weight management.

Many nutritionally dense foods have much less fiber than you think. For example, an apple has about 3 grams and a slice of whole grain bread contains about 2 grams. So you can see that it takes some planning to make sure that your daily fiber content needs are met.

Don't try to fix your fiber needs in a day. Gradually improve. Any time you make a major change to your diet your body will need some time to adjust. Increasing fiber is best done in small increments because drastic change can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Attempting to improve it too fast can cause digestive upsets such as intestinal gas, cramping, or diarrhea. One approach may be to add one serving of fiber-rich foods every day for a week. See how your body feels and maybe increase to two servings the next week. You could repeat that as long as you listen to your body until you reached the desired fiber content level. Your best choice is a slow, gradual increase over time to help your system adapt and avoid any uncomfortable symptoms.

A key component to increasing fiber content is to also increase water as well.

Hydration levels and digestive comfort are closely related. The large intestine plays an important role in maintaining the body’s water balance so monitoring water becomes even more important. On a day when you don’t drink as much water as your body needs, the large intestine will compensate by absorbing more water than usual from the materials entering the large intestine. The end result can often leading to constipation. One of the benefits of getting an adequate amount of dietary fiber is to increase both the volume and moisture content of the material in the large intestine. This is beneficial because it supports the body’s ability to eliminate waste and promote regularity. However, increasing dietary fiber can only support regularity if you are well hydrated.

Exploring many different sources of dietary fiber is a major key.

There are a many different types of dietary fiber and each type has unique benefits. Some types of fiber can dissolve and thicken when mixed with water. This is a property that helps you to feel satisfied for a longer period of time after a meal. Oats, for example, are a a type of fiber that helps keep your appetite in check and can have benefits for heart health. Other types of fiber are called prebiotics and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. You can maximize the benefits for your body by choosing a variety of fiber-rich foods.

Almost everyone can help their bodies by getting more fiber. Fiber rich foods support both healthy intestinal function and overall health in many ways. By keeping the tips in mind that I laid out, you can receive maximum benefits from getting the right amount of fiber for your body every day.