Walking, is it Exercise?

My knee jerk reaction to this is a resounding “Are you kidding me? No, seriously. Did you just say that?”

Remember, this comes from a guy who runs a training business and prides himself in getting people lean and fit as fast as possible. Walking on my hierarchy of exercise for fat loss is right next to sleeping, pretty close to the bottom.

First I want to give you my off the cuff, top of the head, spiel before I get into the geeky stuff and include some external viewpoints.

Walking, to me, is locomotion. It is how we get from one place to another. It is part of our lifestyle not something we should be seeking out to do as exercise. We should be walking because we need to get from one place to another and really enjoy the feeling of moving upright.

Having lived in Europe for many years, I had the unique opportunity to spend significant time with people in a different culture. Walking, to the Europeans, is an everyday part of their life. They don’t have to make a conscious effort to get their walking in, they do it to get from place to place. They walk to the train, they walk to the bus, or they walk to the store.

Quick side note: If I did ever see anyone out walking for exercise they had these goofy walking sticks and they definitely were not walking for pleasure. They were also ridiculed mercilessly in my mind because of the ridiculous looking sticks. Walking sticks are one thing if you need them because of a bad knee or balance issues or if you happen to be a shaman climbing a mountain, flat ground on the other hand should require nothing of the sort. 🙂

Seriously? Walking sticks? 🙂

The United States is different because many of our daily activities are so spread out that we need to take a car from point A to point B. Plus, it gets really cold here in the winter. All of this I realize, but this still does not discredit the fact that walking for thousands of years has been man’s primary form of locomotion. We are born to walk upright.

My personal opinion is that walking should be done as much as possible but should not be one’s sole form of exercise. I am going to talk more about that later but first lets take a quick scientific approach to walking.

Walking Defined

To decide whether or not walking is exercise we must first think about how we define exercise. According to freedictionary.com exercise is “the activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to keep fit.”

I don’t think walking really fits the bill. Yes, we are exerting our muscles but we exert our muscles when we lift the remote to change the tv channel and I know we can all agree that that is not exercise.

Health Benefits vs More Strenuous Exercise

Let’s take a look at walking in terms of health benefits. True exercise provides numerous benefits to our health. If walking is indeed exercise, it should elicit similar health benefits to other forms of exercise, most notably moderate aerobic training. No, not Jane Fonda in leg warmer aerobics exercise but rather think running at a moderate pace.

According to a study from the University of Alberta “Traditional Aerobic Fitness Training Trumps Pedometer-Based Walking Programs for Health Benefits.”

The researchers compared a walking-based group and a supervised fitness group over a six-month period. After comparing the two groups, the supervised fitness program saw greater reductions in their systolic blood pressure, rating of perceived exertion during submaximal exercise, ventilator threshold (where breathing starts to become progressively more difficult), and peak VO2 (a measurement of peak oxygen uptake, higher VO2 equals someone in better shape).

These are all normal responses to a good exercise program but if you are not convinced here is another study to give you some more food for thought.

Please don’t go screaming from the mountaintops that Trevor is anti-walking. Walking is a great “lifestyle” activity.  In a sedentary society like ours people should try and increase their daily activity.  Don’t take the closest spot at the supermarket.  Race your kids to the door or try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  All in all, utilize your ability to walk upright.  As a matter of fact I am going to take a quick lap around the house after writing this.

The Conclusion

I think people should spend MORE time walking and less time sitting, but don’t confuse walking with a proper exercise program.

Walking can be a great transition for those who are severely obese or sedentary to a structured exercise routine but in the end you need to push yourself harder than a leisurely stroll.

Exercise should raise your heart rate, make you sweat a little, and breath harder than normal. I think you will be surprised at just how hard you really can work. Step out of your comfort zone every once in a while and push yourself.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the results.

-Trevor

Throw the scale out the window!

Throw the scale out the window!

Yes, you read it right, throw out the scale. Get rid of the sole object that has been causing you agony for all these years. You don’t need it, and its time to part ways.

Can’t do it, well at least tuck it away for later. I am going to show you today the methods of assessment you should be using. You are assessing your progress aren’t you?

If you aren’t, how do you know if you are improving or getting closer to your goals? Heck, maybe you even reached your goal and you don’t even know it yet.

If you are not assessing the qualities related to your goal through a variety of means, then you are simply guessing with your programming and diet, which is certainly not an efficient way to reach your goals. Remember that chemistry test is high school when you guessed C for every answer. How did that turn out for ya?

Why do should we assess?

Periodic assessments tell us whether or not we are doing things right. I am all about following how we “feel” but if you have specific goals like “wanting to lose 30 pounds of fat, gain 10 pounds of muscle, or do 15 full push-ups” you need objective evidence to determine whether the path you are taking is working or if some slight tweaking is in order.

I didn’t say overhaul but slight tweaking. Rarely does anyone need a complete program overhaul usually just a change of pace or intensity.

As a health and fitness professional I do this in numerous ways with my personal and small group-training clients. I require it of anyone in one of those programs because it tells me if the programs I write are working.

My boot camps on the other hand are more self-directed so today I am going to talk about a few quick and easy ways to assess body composition that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

As always, you can always contact me to do an assessment; it only takes about twenty minutes.

Assessing Body Composition

A person can assess just about anything from body composition, speed, power, strength, endurance, and the list goes on and on.

Most of you reading this get all jacked up about body composition so those are the assessment tools we are going to focus on today.

Why the scale doesn’t tell the whole story?

The first assessment tool that anyone thinks of when they are trying to make body composition changes is the ALL-MIGHTY scale. The scale is so 1970, here’s why you should throw it out with those velvet bell-bottoms. Seriously, they are never going to be stylish anymore, get rid of them.

Pro:

1. It’s easy.
2. It’s easy.
3. It’s easy.

Cons:
1. It tells us nothing about body composition. I am more worried about body composition than simply what the scale weight has to say. I might gain five pounds but if I drop a percentage of body fat I am elated.

2. It can fluctuate greatly depending on the time of day you decide to step on and for the ladies out there the “time of month.” Two words: water weight. No you did not just gain 5 pounds of fat from breakfast to dinner.

3. People can get way to attached to the scale and constantly measure themselves day after day living and dying by the number. I have seen the scale become an addiction and have had to remove it from client’s lives because it caused that much emotional trauma. It’s a tool, and only that, a poor tool.

Ready for an easier, more objective way?

An easier and much more objective way to tell what is going on in your body is to measure your waist right at the belly button. This gives better insight into body composition than the scale weight every day of the week. If this number consistently drops you are doing things right if fat loss is your goal.

(Again women, when bloating and retaining water become the norm, you know when, disregard these measurements because you are getting inaccurate readings of what is actually going on.)

Don’t measure everyday either. Stick to the same day, at the same time, every other week to do your measurements. Once every two weeks is perfect. You need to give time for the program to work and your body to adapt. Measure in centimeters too because you need to be able to record little changes. Plus, the entire world uses the metric system because if flippn’ makes sense. How does 12 inches equal a foot, come on people.

Need More?

If you are someone like me who needs lots of information to assess the entire situation you can do a few things.

1. Have a meeting with me and I will do all the work for you.

2. Set-Up an excel spreadsheet and record the changes in girth at multiple different body parts most notably, the neck, shoulders, chest, waist (at the belly button), hips, thigh, and calve. Always do the same side of the body and at the same time during the on each assessment. Every two weeks is frequent enough.
3. Use a cheap set of calipers to take your own body fat or have someone you trust do it. Then enter those numbers into a formula to get a number.

With my clients, I utilize a 3 -prong approach when assessing body composition: body fat percentage, body part girths, AND scale weight. This gives me a much more accurate picture of what is going on in my client’s or my own body.

If you want to buy your own set go to amazon.com and type in “calipers tape measure” and some great options will pop up for you.

Review

• If you are looking to make changes in your life, you must measure or assess or you are simply guessing with your programming. Start assessing NOW.

• Consult with me to have an assessment done or buy a kit of your own from amazon for less than $30, set up an excel spreadsheet and start recording.

• If you are not losing weight consider adding an extra half an hour of exercise to your regimen or cutting out 200-300 calories.

• If you do only one measurement measure your waist circumference directly at the navel.

• Stay emotionally unattached to the numbers. They are simply a guide to whether or not your programming is effective.

OFF-Day Workouts

What to do?

Question:

Boot Camp only meets 3 x/week, what should I be doing on my off-day workouts?

Answer:

This is a great question that has been popping up repeatedly in camp lately.  I figured, what better way to answer it than writing a post for everyone?

To be honest, if you are happy with where you are, you might not need any more exercise than the 3 days of camp.  The boot camp sessions are intense and those alone will get you great results.

Always remember, our bodies need time to repair after intense exercise.  Rest is a good thing.  This isn’t sit on the couch and eat potato chips rest but active rest, still moving by going for a walk or a bike ride.

I know this won’t satisfy the workout junkies, so I am going to highlight a few different options you could do on off-days to speed up progress or if you are just looking to come in and burn off some steam.   If you have some serious weight to lose or have a few trouble areas, putting in some extra work on these off-days is a great option.

I know everyone is different and has different goals, so I will post a few scenarios and you can find the one that meets your needs.

Scenario One:  Core Strength is Lacking

What to do about it?

Core exercises are a great routine to do on your off days.  They will get the blood flowing, get you moving, and most importantly reinforce proper stabilization patterns.  Plus, everyone loves a toned, flat core.

Here is a simple circuit to help tighten your core and get you moving.

Front Plank (progress to a one foot plank)
Side Plank (L) (progress to a full plank holding a small dumbbell overhead)
Side Plank (R)
Supine Lying Hip Extension (progress to elevating the feet on a small object)

Do each exercise for 4 reps of 10s holds then rest as needed before going onto the next exercise.  Go through the circuit 5 times and call it a day.

Scenario Two:  Weight Loss is a Top Priority or you want to Increase Cardiorespiratory Fitness Efficiently.

What to do about it?

Option 1: Incline Treadmill Sprints

7 minute workout

2 minute warm-up
15 s elevated sprint  then 15 s rest and repeat
6 sets
2 minute cool-down

*Use an elevation between 6-10 degrees and play with a speed that works.  Start easier than what you think you can do and slowly build your way up.

*Also, if you are 30 pounds or more overweight or have orthopedic issues, I highly recommend not sprinting, use Option 2

Option 2:  Bike Intervals

18 minute workout

4 minute Warm-Up
15 s HARD (8-9 out of 10)
45 s EASY (2-3 out of 10)
10 sets
4 minute Cool-Down

Total time 18 minutes

*You can use any modality you like for this, but I prefer treadmills or bikes.  On the hard intervals increase the level you work at and then decrease the level for the easy portions.  On the hard portion,s you should be working your butt off and look like a maniac.

Option 3:  Take the day off and work on NUTRITION

Take the time you would normally spend going to the gym and working out and focus only on planning your meals for the week.   You should be able to plan your meals and write up a grocery list in this time.

Plan 3 meals for each day of the week leaving 2 spots open for cheat meals and then make a list of appropriate snacks in case hunger strikes between meals.

This will actually help you more than the other two options if your nutrition is not on point.  Don’t know what to do?  Set up an appointment with me to do a nutritional session.

Scenario Three:  A particular body part is weak and needs extra strengthening (ie: upper body)

I am going to use the upper body as an example for this one because I know many of my clients could use more upper body strength.

For these clients, a simple strength routine consisting of 3-4 exercises using heavy weights will suffice.

Upper Body Strength

Heavy Push-Ups
Standing 1-Arm Row (L)
Standing 1-Arm Row (R)
Arms Extended Squat

Do 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise.  Use a weight you can only lift 7-8 times.   These are heavy sets.

Scenario Four:  I just need to do something

What to do?

Do some type of low-intensity activity that you enjoy; something that will get you sweating and moving your body.  Go jogging through the park, take the kids to the local swingset and play a game of tag, yoga, easy bike riding, walks etc…

I suggest also going through your personal improvement routine.  This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Now you know four quality options that you could use on your off-days.  Also, if you are starting to feel run-down, or you just aren’t getting as much sleep, think about taking a day off.

Do one of these options only 2-3 days per week and make sure to take one day completely off every week.  Also, vary your options from time to time and don’t do the same option more than once during the week.

Well, this is a quick and simple way to stay active on your off-days.  If you really need more guidance think about upgrading to the platinum package where you can work directly with me in a small group setting.  I will then design your off-days specifically for you and you will work with me one day outside of boot camp.

If you are interested in the PLATINUM OPTION talk to me at boot camp or simply reply to the newsletter.

Enjoy!

-TJW

Kitchen Rules: Pantry Cleansing

They’re GREAT! No Tony, not so much.

As you open your pantry door does Tony the Tiger, The Helping Hand (think crazy glove guy from Hamburger Helper), or any of the Hershey’s characters greet you with a huge toothless grin? (Rant: why do none of these characters have teeth, hes a freakin’ tiger for goodness sake)

No? Save yourself some time and just skim through, you will probably find a nugget or two, 70%+ cacao nugget with just a hint or orange and ginger of course.

Yes? Get your garbage bag ready, its pantry makeover time.

FIRST, MY RANT

It’s not your fault, for the most part. On a daily basis, million dollar-marketing campaigns bombard us with how great their products are. They are convenient, last forever (not a good thing) and cheap. For the thrifty shopper, what’s not to love? Well, a lot actually but we will get to that in more detail. Read on.

As of right now you get a free pass for pantry nutrition illiteracy and being sucked in by ridiculously clever industry marketing. After this post though you will know better, so there can be no more blaming it on the industry but instead a little more sticking it to the man.

First and foremost, you are responsible for your own health. You need to seek out trustworthy sources to educate yourself. If you choose this blog, great, if not find someone you trust.

You don’t live with mom anymore — even if you do, I am not judging — so make your own decision whether or not you should eat your vegetables.

As much as billion dollar corporations might say they care about your health, the products they consistently produce don’t exactly put their nutritional content where their mouth, err money, is.

My advice is simple:

EAT FOOD THAT IS ALIVE!

If you can pick it, grow it, gather it, or kill it you are probably pretty safe eating it. You don’t grow a donut plant and skittles don’t fall from the sky no matter how many “Taste the Rainbow” dances you do.

Plus, when people start to be cognizant of their decisions and stop blindly consuming, the world seems to have a tendency to improve. Crazy, right?

Another great aphorism comes from the infamous Jack LaLanne, the godfather of fitness.

Jack LaLanne’s Advice

“IF MAN MADE IT, DON’T EAT IT.”

Simple, right? Now, think about if you ate every meal based on this one principle. You would probably have the body of your dreams, no questions asked. Now only would you look sweet but your health would flourish. According to Jack’s saying what foods does that leave us with? Naturally, whole foods. Think meats, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts to name a few.

Most of the foods in your supermarket were thought up and created in a laboratory. They are strategic combinations of sugar, hydrogenated oils, some cereal grain (usually wheat or corn), artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and salt. Most are stripped of all nutritional fortitude so they need to be fortified again with synthetic vitamins and minerals before putting them on the market. Does this sound crazy to anyone else? Strip the vitamins and minerals then add them back in, huh?

Have we really evolved that much as humans in the last 100 years that we know more about food and our diet than thousands to millions of years of eating directly from nature. This whole “food in a box” thing (not to be confused with the SNL skit) is actually a pretty recent invention.

Why are nutritional diseases more prevalent now than ever before? Looking at the Standard American Diet (SAD), things become pretty clear: lots of sugar, hydrogenated fat, grains and very few natural, unprocessed foods.

As consumers, you control the market. Your demand determines what grocers carry and what manufacturers produce. Your decisions at the supermarket or choice to support local farmers steer the market in very distinct directions. Essentially, you as the consumer have the power. Use your power wisely.

NOW, LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS

Enough with this rah rah mumbo jumbo let’s start taking some action.

First, grab a large plastic bag.

Seriously grab one.

Now throw everything that is in your pantry in the bag. If you eat the Standard American Diet, then yes, throw everything inside. Instead of talking about all the things we should throw away (chips, candy, granola bars, cookies, crackers, regular peanut butter, instant mixes, dried bread products, anything else in a box, and anything that will keep longer than a few months – or even a few weeks– sitting on a shelf), lets get to the things we should be including.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will get you going in the right direction.

Nature’s Foods
• Whole Oats
• Quinoa
• Whole-Grain Pasta (I suggest rice pasta and usually advise against wheat –think gluten)
• Natural Peanut Butter (you know the stuff with oil on the top, and make it organic too, peanuts equal loads of pesticides)
• Mixed Nuts
• Dry Beans (black, kidney, lentils, green, etc…)
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Vinegar (Apple Cider, Red Wine, Rice, etc…)
• Green Tea

Supplements
• Protein Supplements
• Fish Oil Supplements (I actually prefer Krill Oil)
• Greens Supplements

Take a look at the list again. If you looked at the labels of these foods, how many ingredients do you see?

First, you wouldn’t see any labels. You don’t find labels on carrots to tell you that the only ingredient is………carrots For some of the packaged items that would require labels you should only see one (ie: brown rice, quinoa, black beans) and possibly salt too. The list should be straightforward and not require a degree in Biochem to understand.

These foods come from nature. They are created by nature and harvested by man.

Not…

1. Genetically modified to resist pesticides by man
2. Nourished by nature
3. Harvested by man
4. Ground down by man
5. Chemically engineered by man
6. A whole lot of crap added by man
7. Reconstructed by man
8. Finally, laboratory vitamins added back in by man or woman of course.

Don’t try to outsmart nature. You might not lose right now, but life is a marathon not a sprint, and nature has been running since the beginning of time. Good luck keeping up! Better yet, hitch a ride and benefit from her wisdom.

Fat Loss Rules (The Refrigerator)

 

Clean House!

Last time we went over the “why” we need to rid our house of junk to protect and enhance our physique. This week lets delve into the “how” we go about doing that and “what” we should be replacing.

I need to preface this cleaning with a simple warning: This will be hard. Throwing the first few half full bottles of sauces and condiments will be difficult and someone may need to pry them from your hands. One piece of advice, emotionally disconnect yourself from the food. The food is simply something you bought; you are not throwing away a piece of yourself each time that sugar bucket hits the garbage.

Alright, let’s get down to it.

THE KITCHEN

Let’s begin in the refrigerator.

Start by getting rid of that stuff in the back. It’s been there for 3 months. You didn’t use it last month, and you won’t use it next month. Clean house, and get rid of it.

Furthermore, anything containing mold should also be thrown. Unless of course, you are running your own culture lab, then well, maybe just move it to the lab.

Now, lets move to the infamous door. Don’t get intimidated. There is a lot of work to do, but here are 4 hints to help you get started.

GET RID OF ANYTHING CONTAINING…

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup — At some point I will do an entire post on fructose and its detriments to our health, but for right now just trust me, clean house. Your physique and health will thank you. If it has HFCS in it throw it immediately.

2. Sugar (syrups – agave, maple, corn, anything ending in –ose – fructose, sucrose, dextrose, HFCS, brown sugar etc…) If sugar is in the first five ingredients on the list, get rid of it. I would even go as far as getting rid of it all together if it’s anywhere in the ingredient list.

3. Hydrogenated & Partially Hydrogenated Oils (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils, margarine etc…) — Partially hydrogenated oils are more commonly known as trans fats. Fully hydrogenated oils do not contain trans fats but are still unhealthy. Don’t simply look at nutritional facts. If a product contains these ingredients, clean house, even if it is considered to trans fat free.

4. Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil and Palm Oil. Look closely at your dressings because these will be major ingredients in most of them. The reasons “why” are way beyond the scope of this article, but one quick tidbit is simply their high concentration of Omega 6s to Omega 3s (with the exception of canola oil).

I need you to actually go into your fridge and look at some labels. This is your health we are talking about and if improving it and/or looking good naked is a goal make a conscious effort to do this.

3 FOODS (if you can even call them that) TO THROW IMMEDIATELY

1. Fruit Juice
2. Soft Drinks (seriously, stop drinking soda)
3. Baked goods, bars, bagels, and pastries – save these for special occasions. If these are available 24/7, hello snacking.

Remember the rule, if it’s in your house, you WILL eat it.

You are probably thinking, “What do I replace all this stuff with?”

Your staples should be…
• olive oil
• flaxseed oil
• coconut oil

If you want to get exotic, pick up avocado oil and walnut oil. Remember, these are your staples, if you have other oil occasionally that is fine but these MUST be your go-to’s.

I will never leave you hanging so her are a few action steps to get you building some momentum towards a healthier you.

MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSING

Ever thought about making your own dressings? Doing so is actually fairly easy. All you need is a large salad dressing shaker and a few key ingredients.

Start with a base of
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2. Add a vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine, white wine, rice)

The magic ratio of oil to vinegar is 3 : 1

Then add spices (not all of them but here are some examples)
1. 1/4 c. stone ground mustard
2. Juice of 1 lemon
3. Juice of 1 lime and handful of chopped cilantro
4. Chopped basil, oregano and rosemary
5. 1/2 c. pureed raspberries

You can also buy some quality dressings but be aware of the ingredients and added sugars. Look in the organic section or at a small co-op for better selections.

5 PHYSIQUE FRIENDLY SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS

Here are 3 sauces and condiments that won’t wreck your physique. Plus, you can buy these pre-made at the store or make your own.

1. Guacamole
2. Salsa
3. Hummus
4. Hot Sauce (I LOVE TABASCO)
5. Mustard

*When buying the above foods be sure to check for the previously mentioned ingredients to make sure none of the health wrecking components are sneaking their way into your diet.

This should give you a quick idea of what should and should not be in your fridge. Take the courage to throw away the stuff sabotaging your health and replace it with healthy alternatives.

Here is quick list of resources to improving your kitchen. I tend to find cheaper items online, and quite frankly its easy. Buy in bulk and save.

Salad Dressing container:

Chef’s Planet 8-Ounce Glass Cruet

Great cooking oil, marinade, and a whole host of EVERYTHING

Cert Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 16 oz (454 grams) Solid Oil

Quality Salad Dressing and Seasoning Ingredients

Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 Liters (Product of Italy)

My favorite:

TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce – Original Red Gallon

Apple Cider Vinegar – 128 oz

Flaxseed Oil, High Lignan 16 fl oz (474 ml) Liquid