Author: David Yochim

It’s Entirely Up to You

Doctors do not make you healthy.

They attempt to heal you after you have sickened or injured yourself.

Teachers do not make you learn.

You must pick up those books, read the words and absorb their meaning.

Trainers do not make you fit.

No amount of money in the world is going to buy you a fit body if you do not move it.

Coaches do not make you rich.

They can help you learn the skills, but you have to put in the work.

At some point you have to understand that this life is 100% your responsibility.

If you depend on others to bring you health, knowledge, fitness, riches or happiness, you will always feel let down.

Take action to care for yourself. It’s a cold world, do not sell yourself short for any reason. Ever

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I Don’t Do Healthy and Other Dumb Quotes

When you are certified as a nutritional and wellness consultant questions about how to lose weight and to get physically fit are always welcome. Answering questions and helping others in losing weight and getting healthy was the whole point of becoming certified. But what has left me scratching my damn head a few times is when I have been approached about losing weight only to be told one of the dumbest quotes that could possibly be spewed from ones pie hole.

I don’t do healthy”.

What????

Well Skippy, why in the hell did you even ask about losing weight if you don’t do healthy?

It’s even more ironic when this is said in a defiant tone.

If you are the type who will state “I don’t do healthy”, have you ever thought about how dumb that sounds? You are only blessed with one life, why waste quality years with habits that will only serve to make you sick in the end? If you have the attitude that it is your life to live and you will live it how you want, more power to you. If you think your unhealthy habits only affect yourself and are of no concern to anyone else, think again Sally. Your unhealthy habits will always cause you to become a burden to someone else unless you decide to check out of life early by your own hand. And even then, someone will need to handle your estate and make sure that your ass gets a proper burial or cremation. Someone will always have to pick your pieces up behind you no matter what you want to believe. It is never all on yourself when your health finally takes a dump on you.

Do not eat too much protein.

If you have a problem with proper kidney function, you might heed this advice. It is true that those who suffer kidney problems need to watch their protein intake. However, even if you are a kidney patient, your body still needs protein to help build muscle, repair tissue and to fight infection. If your kidneys are compromised, excess protein can cause waste to build up in your bloodstream.

But for once, I wish that someone who spouts this non-sense about too much protein would give a definitive answer to exactly how much protein is too much for the healthy body. And because protein comes from multiple sources, please break it down to how much is too much of each source of protein. Can I eat more soy protein than I can beef? Should I consume more or less protein from fish than from dairy sources? These are all rhetorical questions unless you can give me a difinitive answer with reference material from respectable sources.

Watch your egg intake, you don’t want high cholesterol.

This is old outdated science that really needs to die on the vine. Dietary cholesterol does not cause you to have high cholesterol. Eating too much and getting fat and out of shape is the bigger culprit to having high cholesterol.

The risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast – such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages, and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns. Most people can eat up to seven eggs per week with no increase in the risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes. (1) I personally consume between 2 to 3 dozen eggs per week, and have total cholesterol under 200 with my good cholesterol at 51, and zero indications of inflammation in my body. Despite eating this many eggs year round, by watching my caloric and macronutrient intake, while also monitoring my weight and body fat percentages, I am at no risk of heart disease per my physician and my blood labs.

Sugar is not bad for you. You just need to eat it in moderation.

Yes, I have seen this quote and many more just like it on a few weight loss social media sights. Question: If sugar is not bad for you, then why the hell would you need to eat it in moderation? Sugar is found everywhere we look in our food products. You will find it in the obvious places such as in candy and in soft drinks, but you will also find it in many processed foods from marinara sauce to peanut butter.

In the US, added sugars account for 17% of the total calorie intake for adults and up to 14% for children. Dietary guidelines call for no more than 10% of your daily calories come from sugar. Sugar is a major cause of obesity, and many chronic diseases such as diabetes.

From Healthline.org (2):

1. Consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages, increase your risk of weight gain and can lead to visceral fat accumulation.

2. Consuming too much added sugar increases heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation. High-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

3. High-sugar diets can increase androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which can raise your risk of developing acne.

4. A high-sugar diet may lead to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for diabetes.

5. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for cancer.

6. A diet rich in added sugar and processed foods may increase depression risk in both men and women.

7. Sugary foods can increase the production of AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which can accelerate skin aging and wrinkle formation.

8. Eating too much suar can accelerate the shortening of telomeres, which increase cellular aging.

9. High-sugar foods can negatively impact your energy levels by causing a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash.

10. Eating too much sugar may lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, a condition in which excessive fat builds up in the liver.

11. Consuming too much sugar may worsen cognitive decline, increase gout risk, harm your kidneys and cause cavities.

Now I ask, how can a reasonably intelligent individual still consider sugar a perfectly harmless ingredient? Drinking alcohol is pretty harmless too, right?

I do not want to lift weights because I do not want to bulk up.

The absurdity is when this statement is made by one who is already overweight or obese. Strength training is not going to bulk you up unless you want it to, and even then you are going to have to work very hard at lifting in order for it to bulk you up. If you are a female, you will have to work even harder than a man in order to bulk up as your body produces estrogen instead of testosterone.

Strength training will increase your lean muscle mass which is a desired affect as lean muscle drives your metabolism. Again, you are not going to bulk up unless you work very hard at it. When you are obese and lose weight, almost everyone will also lose lean muscle mass along with their body fat which slows your metabolism and makes it more difficult to burn off body fat. If you lose, lets say 50 pounds, and then regain that same 50 pounds without having done anything to increase your lean muscle, then at your original weight your body fat ipercentage is now going to be even higher than before. Everytime you do this yo-yo dieting while never increasing or maintaining your muscle, you are only harming your metabolism and becoming “skinny fat” at your reduced weight. Even if you are at your desired weight, when you still have a too high percentage of body fat, you are not any healthier than you were when obviously obese.

1. Strength training increases your lean muscle mass which increases your metabolism in order to more efficiently burn body fat.

2. Strength training when done right is a great cardio-vascular exercise. Doing a routine that involves compound muscle group lifts will increase your cardiovascular health. Doing little light weight dumbbell exercises that isolate single muscles are really not going to do much for a beginning lifter except give you muscle and strength imbalances which can lead to injury if you do not know what you are doing.

3. A lean muscular body is a healthy body and to most people more pleasing to the eye whether they are looking at another individual or in the mirror at their own reflection.

I look good even though I am fat. I embrace my obesity.

There are many versions of the above statements and every one of them are bullshit. I can believe that some may believe this on the surface, but deep inside, no one could be truly happy when they are obese.

1. Odds are you are not truly happy with the way you look.

2. Obesity causes all kinds of health issues over time. Do you enjoy type diabetes, heart disease, cancer, inflammation? Stay fat long enough and one of these issues will eventually affect you to see if you are truly ok with obesity. It is difficult to enjoy life when you are chronically ill.

3. Do you embrace not being able to walk through a store and having to resort to using one of their mobility scooters? It would be hard to convince most people you embrace not being able to breath when trying to walk around a store or shopping mall for a few minutes.

4. Are you comfortable when flying and you have to ask for a seat belt extender because what the airline has provided as standard issue on the seat will not buckle around you? I can just hear the great pride in your voice when you ask for these…

5. Does it bring you joy to take your kids to an amusement park, and to not be able to enjoy any of the rides with them because you either do not fit in the seats, or your health issues keep you from getting on?

6. Did you ever just binge out on some kind of junk food and then felt pride afterwards when you looked at your obese reflection in a mirror?

I am big boned and will never be petite and/or in shape.

There are many versions of this statement too. This thinking is a lame cop out unless you have a medically diagnosed ailment or injury which keeps you from getting in shape. If you are otherwise healthy, you can do something about your weight and level of fitness no matter how you are built. Everyone can watch what they consume when they learn to exercise discipline and self control. At David’s Way, we give you the tools to eat healthy and within your caloric and macronutrient needs. We also have written plenty on beginning fitness regimens that anyone can accomplish. You can enter “fitness” into our search bar and find everything we have written.

If in person you were to tell me that you were too big boned to get thinner, I would do something that you could do for yourself. First I am going to look at your wrist because that is the leanest part of your body. If your wrist is lean, this will tell the tale if you are truly big boned or not. Your wrist will be big. If your wrist is big, I would get a feel of it and see how soft it is. If your wrist would otherwise be small to normal size, you are not big boned. But even if you do have a large frame, you can still do something about your weight and level of fitness. Whether you want to believe it or not, there is always something you can do to improve your health through losing body fat and working at your lean muscle mass.

In closing, I know my points can be pretty blunt and come without sugar coating of any kind. My intent is not to be hurtful, but I do intend to be thought provoking. The truth is I want you to consider these points and then do something beneficial to help yourself to live a healthier and happier life. We expend a tremendous amount of time and resources in keeping this blog going and on the cutting edge. This is for your benefit. We owe it to our children to be healthy and positive role models for them to emulate as they grow and become adults. There is nothing sadder than seeing a 9 year old who is not only obese but also suffering adult ailments such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. This happens, and you can read up on various weight loss social medias where children are having these issues. Again, we owe it to the youth to live healthy, to show them the way forward. Think of this, if a child has never learned healthy lifestyle habits, how are they going to raise their children? Is it reasonable to think that an unhealthy child who grows into an unhealthy adult is going to teach their own children how to be healthy, and to do so with any credibility? No, it’s not likely.

(1) Mayoclinic.org

(2) Healthline.org

Weight Loss Plateau, Getting Through It

No matter where you turn when following any of the many available weight loss social media forums, the topic of plateauing always will come up. Plateaus are a real problem for some, however, they never have to be a problem for anyone. I know that right now, there is going to be at least a few who are fuming mad after reading that last sentence, but it is a truth that almost no one ever needs to get worked up about a plateau if they are doing everything right.

If you are on medications or have a diagnosed medical condition which causes you to gain, or to have difficulty losing weight, then you may have a solid reason why this article does not apply to you so much. That being said, by being proactive you can still do better for yourself than you might believe yourself capable.

What is a weight loss plateau?

A weight loss plateau happens when the calories you burn equal the calories you eat.

When this happens, your weight loss is going to stall, but you need not get worked up about this if the stall is only for a couple of weeks. It is always possible during your weight loss plateau that you could still be losing body fat yet retaining water to the point the reading on your scale is not budging. This is the reason why at David’s Way we strongly encourage our readers to worry more about getting to a healthy body fat percentage, at a healthy rate of loss over time instead of concentrating on a set number on the scale you are attempting to achieve in a short period of time. Odds are you did not get fat overnight, which means it is unreasonable to assume you can get thin overnight. Lets get your body fat down at a healthy rate of loss which would only be about 1 pound per week.

Short plateaus where the scale number refuses to budge happens to almost everyone who is in the process of losing weight. It really should not come as a surprise to anyone when they do have a temporary stall, yet many do not, or cannot, understand why it has happened to them since they are doing everything right. When you hit a plateau, the last thing you want to do is freak out, or give up and revert back to your old unhealthy ways. If you hit a plateau, you need to simply take a moment and evaluate why it has happened and then adjust your diet and exercise regimen accordingly.

With a little knowledge of what happens within your body when you begin a diet, you can get through plateaus without stress. When you have a difficult time losing weight, the answer to this problem is usually going to be more simple than you might believe it to be. But first you need to understand how your body’s physiology works when you diet.

During the first week or two of a diet, your weight is going to drop rapidly and then it is going to slow down. This is true for everyone, it is not a problem unique only unto you. When you cut calories your body gets it’s needed energy by releasing it’s stores of glycogen. Glycogen is a type of carbohydrate found in your liver and muscles and is made up partly by water. When glycogen is burned for energy, it release it’s water which you will see in a rapid initial weight loss. If you lose ten pounds in your first two weeks of dieting, about eight of those pounds will be solely from water weight and not your body fat.

Most people who go on a diet, will lose lean muscle mass along with body fat which is why we advocate eating a high protein diet coupled with resistance training that will help you maintain your lean muscle. Your lean muscle mass is what keeps your metabolism up, it helps you to burn calories more efficiently. If you lose lean muscle mass along with body fat, you are going to cause your metabolism to slow down and therefore burn calories at a slower rate than when you were heavier. When you hit a plateau, it is time to re-evaluate your caloric intake and exercise regimen if you have not already been thinking it through before hand. Constant, and honest evaluation will keep your weight loss going in the right direction, yet maybe not as quickly as you might desire. You will either need to decrease your calories consumed or increase calories burned when you hit a true plateau, or a combination of these two factors. If you do not adjust your methods, your weight will be stuck where it is.

What to do when you do plateau.

  • Evaluate your habits. Have you changed anything? If you began your weight loss journey weighing and measuring your foods, do you still do this? A few ounces extra of a lot of foods will add up quickly over the day and week. Do you still track all that you consume? Those peanut butter and jelly sandwich crusts you trimmed off of your childs sandwich add up as does those calories you get from licking off spoons and knives when preparing foods. Do you track those tastes you take while preparing your family’s meals? Are your food portions at dinner getting larger while your exercise time is getting smaller?
  • Cut your calories a little more, yet do not ever go under 1200 per day unless you are under medical supervision. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories which means to lose one pound of body fat per week, you must cut your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. If by cutting 500 calories a day places you into a caloric range under 1200 per day, then you need to consider increasing your exercise time and intensity. If you cut your calories too far, you are setting yourself up also for intense hunger which could easily cause you to binge eat at some point during your day.
  • If you are still consuming simple carbs such as table sugar along with processed foods, quit them. Simple carbs cause your body crave more and also to become inflamed and retain fluids as do processed foods which are usually full of sodium, preservatives, unhealthy fats and simple sugars. Eat whole foods that you need to prepare yourself. You will actually find it difficult to consume all of your daily needed calories when you only consume whole, healthy foods.
  • Ensure you exercise at least four days per week for at least a half hour and at an intensity which is enough to place your heart rate into it’s aerobic fat burning zone. You do not need a fitness tracker nor a heart rate monitor to know when you are in the zone. You can know you are in the right fat burning zone when you can speak but with some difficulty. If you cannot speak during exercise, you are in the anaerobic zone and need to back off the intensity. If you speak normally, then you need to increase your intensity. Remember, it takes an average of 20 minutes in the aerobic zone to burn through glycogen stores before your body actually begins burning fat for energy.

Whatever you do, never give up on yourself in your journey to lose weight and be healthier. Plateaus are not always a bad thing as with the right resistance exercises at the right intensity, your body fat might still be going away as your lean muscle mass is increasing which means the number on your scale may not move for a few weeks at a time. I advise to never weigh yourself daily, and even if you weigh yourself weekly, you should only concentrate on the difference in weight between the first weigh in of the month and the last one of the month. Additionally, if your trousers are fitting looser around the waist, and your shirts are fitting better around your belly, then the number on the scale is pretty much irrelevant. No matter what you do, never give up on yourself, you deserve better. If you are having a difficult time with your weight loss, you can always reach out to us through our contact email in the David’s Way menu or in our blog’s comments section. We are always happy to answer all correspondence from our readers.

Who Cares How Many Pounds You Lost!

You bet, you read that title correct. Who cares how many pounds you lost! Now that I have your attention, let me get to the point I want to get across. Obviously, with today’s obesity epedemic anyone who is overweight needs to think about losing “weight”. But is it the pounds, or the quantity of body fat you lose while maintaining lean muscle mass that is more important? If you have read much of my writing, you know the answer is the latter. What matters most is the amount of body fat you lose combined with the amount of lean muscle mass you maintain or even build upon while “losing weight”. If your only goal in weight loss is to reach a random or specific number on the scale, you really need to re-evaluate your goal.

Of course, if you are obese you will want the number on your bathroom scale display to go down when you are in weight loss mode. The bathroom scale is a useful tool to help track your progress. However, too many people get far too hung up on weighing themselves, especially when they do so more than once per week.

If you weigh youself more than once a week, what are you possibly learning by doing this?

Are you consistent in the time of day you weigh yourself, and do you wear the same clothes each weigh in?

Do you stress out when the numbers are not moving downward quick enough for your satisfaction?

Do you ever consider the flucuations in your water retention when you stress over not losing a pound or two in any given week?

When you stress about those stubborn numbers on your bathroom scale, do you even know why the numbers are not moving in the direction you desire quick enough?

If you have decided to regain your health by losing weight, you are to be commended and encouraged to do the best that you can every day in this wonderful endeavor. However, once you make this decision, you need to go about it with a bit of knowledge in order to make your success come easier for yourself. At David’s Way, we are always going to encourage you to achive a healthy level of body fat over getting hung up on a scale number.

Achieving a healthy percentage of body fat is less stressful than focusing on a single scale number. With a healthy percentage of body fat as a goal, your body weight flucuations are not going to be as stressful as you have not hitched yourself to a specific number that might not even be right for you in the first place.

Far too many people go about losing weight by drastically cutting their daily calorie input and then exercising like crazy. This appears to be what is required for healthy wieght loss, calories in verses calories burned, right? The problem with this is in the burning of body fat, too drastic of a calorie reduction will also cause you to lose your lean muscle mass along with the fat. If you believe that this is perfectly fine because the number on the scale is quickly reducing, you are ill informed. When you do not maintain your lean muscle mass, your metabolism slows down. Your body does not burn fat as efficiently. If you lose to your goal weight without a concern for your lean muscle mass, you are going to really screw yourself over. This is because, if unfortunately you regain pounds to your former weight without also replacing lean muscle, your body fat percentage is now going to be even higher than it was before you lost weight. If you are a yo-yo dieter, this reduction in lean muscle along with fat burning only serves to keep you at a too high percentage of body fat and will suppress your metabolism.

When you only concentrate on a scale number and do not consider doing anything about your lean muscle mass, you stand a significant chance of becoming what is referred to as “skinny fat”. You will hear people say they desire to get to a healthy weight, but guess what? Your health is not going to be improved no matter your weight if your body fat percentage is still high. Ladies, you could weigh 140 pounds at 18% body fat and be far more healthy than you would be if you weighed 130 pounds and still had a soft pudgy body with a body fat percentage that is still too high. If your body fat percentage is 32%, even at 130 pounds, then you are still obese and not any healthier than if you weighed more on the scale.

The smart manner of losing body fat is going to involve knowing just how many calories a day your body requires in order to lose 1 and no more than 2 pounds of fat per week. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories, therefore you would need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day under your basal metabloic rate needs in order to lose 1 pound per week. You can use our Calorie Calculator Pro in our David’s Way menu to find out your specific needs for losing body fat. Always remember that even if you did not drop a pound for the week, you could have still lost one pound of body fat while retaining enough water in your body for the fat reduction to not be reflected on your scale. I recommend that you aim for one pound per week of loss in order to still eat enough calories from protein sources in order to maintain or build upon your lean muscle mass in order to keep your metabolism revved to it’s fullest extent.

I highly recommend that you being a strength and resistance regimen of some sort as you are trying to get to a healthy body fat percentage. Of course, this would be with your doctors approval first. I prefer strength conditioning over cardio any day as it not only builds your lean muscle mass, but done right, strength training is also cardiovascular in nature. For strength training information, whether with weights or your body weight only, simply enter keywords such as strength training in our search bar and every article we have ever published on the topic will be pulled up for you. Remember this about strength training, you might not lose pounds very quickly, but do not dispair because your clothing will begin fitting you more loosely in a matter of a couple short weeks. Again, who cares about how many pounds you lost? We want you at a healthy percentage of body fat over a number on the scale. You are more than just a number.

Get your body fat percentage down to where this will never have to become a part of your life:

Yes this is real, and it was three feet from one side to the other. I took this picture personally just the other day.

Connecting Your Gut to Your Brain

This piece is going to address how what we eat affects how we feel, how what we eat affects our gut health and the role this plays in our mental health. We know that an ice cream sundae on a hot summer day makes us feel better in the moment, but I’m going to get instead into how nutrients affect our mood and behavior. Our brains are complex organisms that use chemicals as neurotransmitters. These chemicals are affected by our diets, whether healthy or not, and have a direct effect on our behavioral regulation. When you do not consume a healthy diet which provides a complete variety of nutrients, you will notice this in how you feel mentally and physically. When you live on junk food, your mood is going to be affected accordingly. You are only selling yourself short when you go short on nutrients.

Connecting the brain and gut.

Our gastrointestinal tract begins at our mouths and ends down under at our rear ends. The gut is like a big port that permits certain substance in, allowing specific actions to occur, and then passing waste along. Millions of nerve cells and micro-organisms line the gut and interact with each other to influence our moods and provide other benefits. Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It helps to regulate our mood and social behaviors along with our appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, sexual desire and function. (1) Over 90% of our serotonin is produced in our gut either from the microbiota or through an interaction between the microbiota and nerve cells. Because serotonin influences so many regulatory functions and helps regulate our moods, maintaining a happy, healthy gut is part of eating for mood regulation. (2) Serotonin helps set the tone for our brain activity. It plays a role in our daily rhythm because it is involved in our daily functions, such as sleeping and digesting. Serotonin interacts with our endocrine system and influences the production of other neurotransmitters, such as melatonin. Serotonin is also a mood regulator which is why eating to maintain healthy serotonin levels is a part of eating for good mental health. (2)

Foods to consume for a healthy gut and a happier mood.

Tryptophan-rich foods

After ingestion and through interactions with gut microbiota, tryptophan is eventually turned into serotonin and other chemicals. Regularly consuming foods such as rice, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, salmon, and dark leafy greens will ensure you are getting enough tryptophan in your diet. (2)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon also provides omega-3 fatty acids, which interact with gut microbiota to maintain a strong intestinal wall and increase the production of anti-inflammatory compounds. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in other fish, such as mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies. Chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans also contain omega-3 fatty acids, but they are ALA, which is less preferable to the EPA and DHA in fish. (2)

Polyphenol-rich foods

These foods are thought to regulate our gut microbiota by decreasing the bad organisms and increasing the good ones. Foods highest in polyphenols include cloves, star anise, cocoa powder, Mexican oregano, celery seed, dark chocolate, flaxseed meal, and chestnuts. But you can also get some by basing your diet around a variety of whole fruits and vegetables and adding in seeds and nuts. You can also drink your polyphenols in both tea and coffee. (2)

Fiber

This material in food helps keep the contents of our gut moving along. Bacteria in our gut also ferment the fiber to produce butyrate, a chemical that helps maintain brain health. A diet that includes high-fiber whole grains also helps increase our gut microbiota diversity and decreases spikes in blood sugar that can lead to irritability and unpleasant moods. Get whole grains from rye, barley, brown rice, oats, millet and popcorn. (2)

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics increase gut microbiota diversity, and prebiotics help feed existing bacteria. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and water kefir are all yeast, or bacteria containing foods that add to your gut microbiota. Keep that microbiota strong by eating prebiotic foods such as chicory root, raw dandelion greens, leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, spinach, bananas, and soybeans. (2)

Consuming a diet rich in whole foods that contain fiber, tryptophan, polyphenols, and both pre and probiotics help to keep your gut in good condition. A strong healthy gut means you will also have more regular moods. If you noticed in all of these foods we need to have in our diets, you did not see anything such as candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, pizza, or anything that contains simple carbs or refined sugar. None of these were processed foods either. All the foods listed are either whole foods or ingredients you might add to dishes made from these whole foods.

We promote dropping simple carbs, or refined sugars, from your diet along with processed foods. By switching to only whole healthy foods, you will feel better physically and mentally as your blood sugar and insulin levels will be steady with no spikes or dips. By eating healthy, you will notice that you are also feeling less stress and this in itself will help to make your weight loss journey easier to achieve your goals. Everything we consume can, and will affect how we feel and our moods, whether in a good or bad way. The choice is yours to make, only you can decide how you want to feel. Choose wisely my friends, choose wisely.

(1) Medical News Today

(2) AFPA Kate Tendall M.S.

Get Outside for Fitness!

Brenda Sue and I are often contacted by folks who are wanting to lose weight and become physically fit. Most of the time, these people will be new to physical fitness activities and do not know where to begin. Because we do not know their actual fitness capabilities we will always advise them to first be cleared by thier doctor for physical fitness activities. This is largely because we have found out after the fact, that some of them have not disclosed to us prior injuries or conditions that might later cause them to suffer from further complications should they follow the advice we have given them. Anytime you seek advice from a fitness expert, you must disclose this information to protect yourself. I cannot in good faith tell you to perform any specific exercises without full disclosure. If I advised you to do push ups or pull ups and you have not let me know of prior rotator cuff issues, you could easily suffer permanent damage to your rotator cuff which could impede your ability to fully use your arm. Please protect your own best interest by letting your trainer, whether online or in person, know of all past injuries and conditions. All trainers with integrity will protect your information from being disclosed to others. At David’s Way, we fully comply with HIPAA regulations to protect your privacy. For the record, we do not offer personal one on one physical fitness training online even though we give fitness advice in our articles. With personal training, you the consumer are best served by receiving your training in person where instruction and corrections to form and such can be made in real time. This is for your benefit, yet we will still answer your questions about different physical fitness activities.

If you think you cannot begin a physical fitness regimen because you cannot afford an expensive gym membership or home equipment, stop with that mindset. While gym memberships and home equipment are nice to have, they are an unnecessary luxury that you do not have to spend money on in the name of fitness. The reality is all that you require is comfortable fitting clothes and a decent pair of shoes. All of which you may already have in your closet anyhow. You also do not need the latest, most trendy of attire as that little Nike Swoosh icon is not going to get you into shape. You will get yourself into good physical condition through a clean and proper diet combined with your efforts at exercise. An analogy those of us who ride motorcycles might refer to is “Chrome does not get you home”. It is pretty to look at, appealing to the eye, but it has no other function. This is true of a lot of sports attire, just worry about being comfortable and having comfortable shoes that provide proper arch support. If you decide to try hiking difficult terrain, then you will want footwear that also provides stability to your ankles to help prevent rolling it.

Hands down, the best exercise you can do for your body is to get out and walk at a pace brisk enough to place your body into your individual target heart rate zone for at least 30 minutes. You do not need any type of fitness tracker to know when you are there, save your money for a good pair of shoes that you will always actually need. You can know your heart rate is in the proper zone when you can still carry on a conversation that is somewhat labored. Your pace is likely to not be the same as that of another, but this does not matter. What matters is your pace is right for you and you only. You want your pace to be one to where your body is actually burning off fat, and to do that, it requires oxygen from an elevated heart rate. If this is difficult at first, then simply build up your pace slowly. If you are new to exercise, it is always best to build slowly into it anyhow as otherwise you stand a good risk of burning out before your body has derived any of the benefit of physical fitness.

Get yourself outside and make your exercise enjoyable. The scenery and fresh air is going to be leaps and bounds superior to the atmosphere inside of a gym. Walk around your neighborhood, or even better yet, visit a park with established walking trails. Most parks will have trails that range from being easy to navigate, handicapped accessible, and medium or difficult challenge levels. Asphalt or concrete paths are excellent for folks new to walking for exercise, mulch covered trails can be even better for a lower impact experience. Pictured above are a couple of trails I like to hike on when I want to really put in between 10 to 15 miles. These trails never get muddy as they have a prepared surface and one of them gives you a choice between walking up and down steep hills, or remaining on a fairly level terrain for your walk or hike. The beauty of many park trails is they are usually free to access. It cost you nothing but time to enjoy one while you are burning fat and increasing your cardiovascular fitness. An added benefit is you will be surprised the friends you can meet on the trails. Almost everyone I have ever met while out hiking has been quite friendly. For those who are intimidated by the types in gyms who might make fun of you for being out of shape, it is not likely you will ever encounter this problem while out on the trails. Most hikers are usually a friendly bunch of folks who are supportive of others getting out and enjoying the great outdoors too. I strike up conversations with people on the trails all the time, no matter their level of fitness. I cost nothing to share a kind word with others who are working at getting fit.

Once you are comfortable with brisk walking or hiking a good pace, you should consider buying a set of trekking poles. Trekking poles can range in price from under $20 a pair to a significant amount more for a set where you can replace the tips as they wear out. With the more inexpensive sets, you can replace the entire set for about the same cost as replacement tips for expensive pole sets. I personally use an inexpensive set that has served me quite well despite being their low cost. The budget pair I hike with now have well over 100 miles of hiking use in all types of terrain and are still in great condition.

The benefits of using trekking poles are many. They will increase your calorie burn by 20% when used correctly. Trekking poles reduce the impact on your knee joints and leg muscles as your arm and shoulder muscles will now help to support them. With your hands positioned above your heart when the poles are adjusted correctly, your blood circulation will be improved and your heart rate reduced. The rhythm created by hiking with poles leads to relaxed, more regular breathing and increased stamina.

Using trekking poles while hiking can reduce the pressure, or strain on the opposite leg by 20%. Furthermore, while hiking on level ground, poles reduce the body weight carried by the legs approximately 11 pounds or 5 kg for every step. Once you begin ascending an incline the reduction increases to 17.6 pounds, or 8 kg. This equates to a great reduction in weight carried over a two hour hike.

You will find that when the weather is hot, your hands will feel better, they will not be prone to any kind of swelling as they can become if you just let them hang while walking. Blood will not pool in your hands when you keep you arms moving.

Finally, you will find poles to be helpful if you have balance issues. Trekking poles make hiking safer as they give you support when crossing creeks, soft wet ground and when traversing any type of rough terrain. Once you get used to hiking with trekking poles, you will find them to be an indespensible tool to help get you through incredible hikes.

Once you get adept to long distance hiking, if you find yourself wanting to be challenged, find trails that are not prepared surfaces. In many parks you can find marked trails that are not prepared which can be a challenge with steep hills to ascend or descend, creeks to cross, and maybe rocks to climb. I love this type of hiking as when you go deep into the woods you will see sights others might miss entirely. Some of the best views, places to take pictures will be found while taking the more adventurous routes. Some of the most scenic sights I have found were on overlooks that were difficult to get to. When you get deep into the woods, you will encounter more wildlife and birds. You will find more tranquility from either a peaceful silence or from any of many species of birds chirping away. I feel like a young boy in heaven when I venture down trails that are not traveled by many people. On one of my last hikes, I got so close to some deer that I almost could have reached out and touched them. It was an incredible experience as they did not hear me, nor did they smell me right away because of the direction of the wind. I have to say that as a lifelong motorcyclist, I find hiking deep in the woods to be as exhilirating as finding a good curvy road on my bike. The experience is heaven on earth that is as good for the soul as it is for the body. If you are prone to suffering depression, going on a good hike might not be a cure for your condition, but it does provide a reset to a more positive mood. Getting your blood flowing while out in nature will make you feel better, its a gift you should reward yourself with as often as you possibly are able to.

There is beauty all around us to enjoy if you only open your eyes and search it out.

Heat Cramps, Exhaustion and Stroke

Our schools have let out for the summer, the weather is getting nice and it is time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

We might like to hike rugged trails, play ball with friends, enjoy the day at an amusement park with our kids and more! Summer time is for outdoor activities where we can live our lives to the fullest after the drudgery of a long cold winter. By following a few common sense precautions, every outing can be a blast! However, a few simple oversights can also lead a summer time outing into a catastrophic event that could alter your life forever, if it does not actually take it.

Note: of course what you are going to read also applies in the work place or other areas of our lives where we may be affected by heat. The following information is extracted from MayoClinic.org

Heat Cramps:

Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during exercise in hot environments. The spasms may be more intense or more prolonged than are typical night time leg cramps. Fluid and electrolyte loss often contribute to heat cramps.

Muscles often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall and back. although heat cramps can involve any muscle groups involved in exercise. If you suspect heat cramps:

  • Rest briefly and cool down.
  • Drink clear juice or an electrolyte containing sports drink.
  • Practice gentle range of motion stretching and gentle massage of the affected muscle group.
  • Do not resume strenuous activity for several hours or longer after heat cramps go away.
  • Call your doctor if your cramps do not go away after an hour.

Note: severe muscle cramps that do not go away need medical attention as there may be another cause. For my personal example, severe cramps in my right leg were the result of a herniated disk in my spine at L5 S1 which caused permanent damage to my sciatic nerve. The result of this was very painful, intense muscle spasms similar to very bad heat cramps.

Heat Exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt attention, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a life threatening condition. Fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise. Possible signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cold, moist skin with goosebumps when in heat.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse.
  • Low blood pressure upon standing.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Nausea
  • Headache

If you are experiencing heat exhaustion:

  • Stop all activity and rest.
  • Move to a cooler place.
  • Drink water or a sports drink.

Contact your doctor if your signs or symptoms worsen, or if they do not improve within an hour. If you are with someone showing signs of heat exhaustion, seek immediate medical attention if he or she becomes confused or agitated, loses consciousness, or is unable to drink. You will need immediate cooling and urgent medical attention if your core body temperature 104 F or 40 C, or higher.

Cause of heat exhaustion

Your body’s heat combined with environmental heat results in your body’s core temperature. Your body needs to regulate the heat gain from the environment to maintain a core temperature that is normal, 98.6 F or 37 C.

In hot weather your body cools itself mainly by sweating. The evaporation of your sweat maintains your body temperature. However, when you exercise strenuously or otherwise over exert in hot, humid weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently. As a result, your body may develop heat cramps, the mildest form of heat related illness. Prompt treatment usually prevents heat cramps from progressing to heat exhaustion.

Besides hot weather and strenuous activity, other causes of heat exhastion include:

  • Dehydration, which reduces our body’s ability to sweat and maintain a normal temperature.
  • Alcohol use which can affect your body’s ability to regulate it’s temperature.
  • Over dressing, particularly in clothes which do not allow sweat to evaporate easily.

Anyone can develop heat exhaustion, but certain factors increase your sensitivity to heat. They include:

  • Young or old age. Infants and children younger than 4 and adults older than 65 are at higher risk of heat exhaustion. The body’s ability to regulate its temperature is not fully developed in the young and may be reduced by illness, medicatiosn or other factors in older adults.
  • Certain drugs. Medications that affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond appropriately to heat include some used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems (beta blockers, diuretics), reduce allergy symptoms (antihistamines), calm you (tranquilizers), or reduce psychiatric symptoms such as delusions (antipsychotics). Additionally, some illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetaines, can increase your core temperature.
  • Obesity. Carrying excess weight can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause your body to retain more heat.
  • Sudden temperature change. If you’re not used to the heat, you’re more susceptible to heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion. Traveling to a warm climate from a cold one or living in an area that has experiences an early heat wave can put you at risk of a heat related illness because your body has not had a chance to get used to the higher temperatures.
  • A high heat index. The heat index is a single temperature value that considers how both the outdoor temperature and humidity make you feel. When the humidity is high, your sweat can’t evaporate as easily and your body has more difficulty cooling itself, making you prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, When the heat index is 91 F (33 C) or higher, you should take precuations to keep cool.

Preventing heat exhaustion/heatstroke

Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life threatening condition that ocurs when your core body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention to prevent permenent damage to your brain and other vital organs that can result in death. You can take a number of precautions to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat related illnesses. When temperatures climb, remember to:

  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 F in 10 minutes. It is not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in the shade. When your car is parked, keep it locked to prevent a child from getting inside.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
  • Get acclimated. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
  • Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat related problems, such as a history of previous heat illness, avoid heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The condition is most common in the summer months. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Heatstroke signs and symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb.

If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number. Take immediate action to cool the over heated person while waiting for emergency treatment.

  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available – put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.

Heatstroke can occur as a result of:

  • Exposure to a hot environment. In a type of heatstroke, called nonexertional (classic) heatstroke, being in a hot enironment leads to a rise in core body temperature. This type of heatstroke typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especiall for prolonged periods. It occurs most often in older adults and in people with chronic illness.
  • Strenuous activity. Exertional heatstroke is caused by an increase in core body temperature brought on by intense physical activity in hot weather. Anyone exercising or working in hot weather can get exertional heatstroke, but it’s most likely to occur if you’re not used to high temperatures.

In either type of heatstroke, your condition can be brought on by:

  • Wearing excess clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body.
  • Drinking alcohol, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate your temperature.
  • Becoming dehydrated by not drinking enough water to replenish fluids lost through sweating.

Anyone can develop heatstroke, but several factors increase your risk:

  • Age. Your ability to cope with extreme heat depends on the strength of your central nervous system. In the very young, the central nervous system is not fully developed, and in adults over 65, the central nervous system begins to deteriorate, which makes your body less able to cope with changes in body temerature. Both age groups usually have difficulty remaining hydrated, which also increases risk
  • Exertion in hot weather. Military training and participating in sports, such as football or long distance running events, in hot weather are among the situations that can lead to heatstroke.
  • Sudden exposure to hot weather. You may be more susceptible to heat related illness if you’re exposed to a sudden increase in temperature, such as during an early summer heat wave or travel to a hotter climate. Limit activity for at least several days to allow yourself to acclimate to the change.
  • A lack of air-conditioning. Fans may make you feel better, but during sustained hot weather, air conditioning is the most effective way to cool down and lower humidity.
  • Certain medications. Some medications affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat. Be especially careful in hot weather if you take medications that narrow your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors), regulate your blood pressure by blocking adrenaline (beta blockers), rid your body of sodium and water (diuretics), or reduce psychiatric symptoms (antidepressants or antipsychotics). Stiulants for attention deficithyperactivity disoder (ADHD) and illegal stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine also make you more vulnerable to heatstroke.
  • Certain health conditions. Certain chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung disease, might increase your risk of heatstroke. So can being obese, being sedentary and having a history of previous heatstroke.

Heatstroke can result in a number of complications, depending on how long the body temperature is high. Severe complications include:

  • Vital organ damage. Without a quick response to lower body temperature, heatstroke can cause your brain or other organs to swell, possibly resulting in permanent damage.
  • Death. Without prompt and adequate treatment, heatstroke can be fatal!

Preventive measures for heatstroke are the same as for heat exhaustion.

Friends, enjoy the nice warm summer weather and please use good common sense when the weather gets really hot and humid. The life you save may be your very own, or that of a loved one.

For a unrelated note: We have very recently changed our visual theme and some of the format to the blog which makes it easier to navigate and also makes the menu items visible on tablets, laptops and desktop devices. We have also added more share buttons in order for you to share articles you enjoy with your family and friends on your social media sights. We are also still working on building our calorie and macronutrient chart as well as other coming improvements and features. Please, leave comments and suggestions on how we can best serve you, our wonderful readers. We truly appreciate all of you.

David

Signs of Cardiac Arrest

Neither myself or my co-author Brenda Sue are physicians, therefore we cannot in any way shape or form make any type of medical diagnosis, nor can we prescribe any treatments or therapies for what ails you. We are however, American Fitness Professionals and Associates certified Nutrition and Wellness consultants. Our professional mission as such is to provide you, the reader, with comprehensive healthy nutrition practices, along with strategies to improve your nutrition for healthy weight loss and improvement of your health and well being. We are here to give you the essential tools that are necessary in order to hopefully avoid many of today’s nutrition related ailments that so many suffer such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, heart disease, cancer and more. Once you are down with any of these ailments, you need to always consult with your physician for your individual best course of treatment. We can answer your nutritional questions, however, for us to best serve you, you cannot omit important information such as sickness, medications, surgeries and other medical procedures you may have recently received.

We feel it is not only important for you to understand good nutrition and fitness practices, but also that you know and understand risk factors of many nutrition related ailments. Poor dietary habits lead obviously to obesity, but they also lead to an elevated risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack and cardiac arrest.

Sadly, too many people not only do not know the warning signs of heart attack and cardiac arrest, they also do not know there is a difference. Spotting the signs early is imperative to saving your life. And with so many of our readers being new to healthy dietary habits and physical fitness, I want to take the time to inform you. You never know when heart attack or cardiac arrest will strike, and your odds of suffering either are much higher when you are obese.

  • Heart attack happens when a problem occurs with our circulation. It happens when blood flow is stopped by a blocked artery.
  • Cardiac arrest is essentially an electrical problem that occurs when our heartbeats are thrown off and our hearts are failing to pump efficiently. This can lead to immediate death if not treated.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) when a person is in cardiac arrest, they will be either gasping for air or they will have stopped breathing. If you have never seen this, I assure you it is not pretty. I strongly encourage folks to get trained in CPR as there may be little time to spare for your loved one who is laying there on the floor quite possibly near death’s door.

If you are paying attention to your health and well being, there are often symptoms of cardiac arrest you might notice up to a few months before it happens to you. By having a little knowledge of these symptoms you could easily save your own life or that of a loved one.

  1. Chest pain. Chest pain, tightness or discomfort are the most common warning signs of cardiac arrest. You might feel as if you have an elephant standing on your chest. This pain is a result of not having sufficient oxygen circulating in your blood and not reaching your heart. This pain is likely to begin in your left arm and last anywhere from a few moments, hours or even days.
  2. Radiating pain. You may also suffer pain in other areas of your body that you may not associate with being a heart issue. These would include your back, shoulders, neck, throat, stomach, even your teeth and jaw. These symptoms are usually suffered by women more so than men.
  3. Shortness of breath. If you are normally able to easily climb stairs, jog or run, perform highly physical activities and then find yourself unable to catch your breath, this is not a good indication in any way, shape or form. Research has shown that people who experience this symptom have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than people who do not experience any of these symptoms, especially those who suffer chest pain.
  4. Excessive sweating. If you do not normally sweat very much and then find yourself drenched in it, you could very well have a heart issue. When your heart cannot pump blood through clogged arteries, your body responds by sweating. Women, if you are going through menopause and are experiencing excessive sweating, get checked out by your doctor if you have not already done so. This could be a heart issue instead of hot flashes.
  5. Flu like symptoms. Nausea, fatigue, weakness, vomiting, lightheadedness, stomach pain and dizziness are all signs of heart issues, especially in women. Harvard Health studied 500 women with a history of heart issues, and found that 71% experienced extreme tiredness the month before their heart attack. Heart diseases are the main cause of death for women yet many still view it as more of a mans issue and ignore the warning signs and symptoms.
  6. Sense of impending doom. A lot of the time when people begin suffering the symptoms of cardiac arrest, they will go into denial. Hell, who has time to go to the doctor for a nagging pain, right? A lot will even ignore their chest pain too. They might assume their discomfort is only from a bad case of gas. Yet, despite their open denial, your loved one could actually be terrified of what is happening in their body.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, get yourself into your doctor’s office right away. Think of this, if you are terrified of what could happen, you had damn well be terrified of what will happen if you do not get yourself checked out. If you avoid going to your doctor because of the cost, think how much it will cost if you suffer cadiac arrest and survive, This will be quite possibly much more expensive than preventative measures. If expense is an issue to you, then think what your funeral is going to cost your family along with any possible emergency hospital care you incurred when doctors were attempting to save your life.

Some “Exercise” Equals Diddly Squat!

If you are the type who counts every step you take during the day as exercise, I truly hope the title of this article got your attention. If you count your housework as exercise, this article is for you too. If you believe simple basic housework and walking without exertion as exercise that justifies eating more, then you really need to continue reading.

While getting your duff up and off of the couch is certainly better than just sitting there all day, I do not care how many steps you take during the day, if you are not raising your heart rate, you are not exercising at a level that is burning fat. You will never lose your muffin top by pushing a vacuum cleaner, unless you are pushing it around your living room at full tilt boogie with your heart rate elevated into the fat burning aerobic zone for at least a half hour.

On some popular weight loss sights, people are rewarded extra food points or calories to consume based on their activity, which is a fantastic idea if it were only more realistic for those who are not already athletically inclined. Literally, people are rewarded these points/calories even for doing basic house work chores. Other people on these popular sights will wear fitness trackers and obsess over getting in a certain number of steps in a day. Literally, on the associated social medias, you can read about people getting in that last 100 steps for the day with the belief they are burning more body fat. Yet, a lot of these same people who obsess over their steps also have great difficulty in losing weight no matter how many steps per day they have logged. And there is good reasons for this. Again, if you do not elevate your heart rate into the aerobic fat burning zone, you are not burning fat, period. And, even if you are somewhat athletic, you cannot out exercise a bad diet, period. What happens to many of these people who eat more food, based on having earning extra points through steps taken during the day, they become prone to stressing over not losing weight, and therefore they eat even more. And the cycle of obesity continues…

Now I will get into the meat of this topic. It is common knowledge that to lose weight, you must have a healthy diet with a caloric intake that matches your basal metabolic rate needs and, you will benefit even more from fat burning exercises. But understand this, just because you are “exercising” and burning calories, it does not necessrily mean you are also burning fat. Again, burning calories does not mean you are burning off your body fat. When you exercise, your focus must be on burning body fat. Consider this, if you are counting all the steps you took during the day along with your housework as a justification to eat more calories simply because your weight loss app allows this, and none of this is significantly more than you did while becoming obese or overweight in the first place, then it is folly to believe that you can lose body fat because of it now. Just because your weight loss app says you can, it does not necessarily mean that you should.

Our bodies are constantly burning through calories as a part of our most basic functions such as our hearts beating, breathing, digesting food and just plain moving around. These calories we are burning through basic life functions are from carbohydrates in our systems. In order to burn body fat, not just calories, your body requires the presence of oxygen. If your exercise is not helping you to lose fat, you are not unique, you are simply not exercising vigorously enough to increase the oxygen within your body. No matter who you are, your body requires a certain amount of oxygen to begin burning body fat, and the only way to ensure this is by elevating your heart rate into the fat burning, aerobic, target heart rate zone. Understand this, if you only burn calories and not fat, the calories you burn are carbohydrates and all you will manage to do is lose water weight and also decrease your metabolism. Carbohydrates give us energy, but just burning through them is not enough in itself to lose body fat.

If you want your exercise to count towards being able to lose fat, it must be in the aerobic threshhold. It takes the average person up to twenty minutes of exercise at their target heart rate zone before they have burned off their glycogen stores and have began burning off their body fat. Some may only take ten minutes to begin burning body fat, but that is not the average. To burn through those glycogen stores, or carbohydrates, you must exercise vigorously enough that your body needs more oxygen. Or to put this simply, your target heart rate zone has been reached when you can still have a conversation but it is labored. If you can speak easily, you are not in this zone. Know also that if you go at your exercise too hard where the intensity does not allow you to speak, you are completely out of breath, you are then in the anaerobic zone where you are not providing your body with enough oxygen to continue burning body fat.

Here is a prime example from one popular sight about a person not really losing body fat despite tons of steps being walked on a regular basis. This individual films him or herself during long walks while talking to their audience. This charming individual walks a lot, is at their goal weight, yet still their body is “skinny fat”. Their weight is down, yet despite all the “exercise” they still carry too much body fat, and it is readily apparent in some of their selfies. According to their fitness tracker and weight loss app, this individual can “justify” eating junk food because their activity level being recorded allows them to do so. The obvious problem though is despite the number of steps, they are not at their aerobic threshold and you can tell this because they can still speak to their camera far too easily. Their conversation is in no way labored, therefore no body fat is being burned through these efforts. Even though this person is at their goal body weight, their body fat level is still above a healthy level. The effort may be genuine, I am sure it is, yet because it is not burning body fat, it equals pretty much diddly squat. At David’s Way we believe everyone should be aiming for a healthy level of body fat over trying to just lose weight to a specific number on the bathroom scale. Please note, I am not trying to put down the individual in my example. What they are doing is certainly better than nothing, yet the effort is not accomplishing all that they might believe it to be. And, this is actually but one of many from this particular social media sight.

There is actually a method to burn body fat while at rest and that is through strength training. Strength training is a anerobic and will actually cause you to burn through more carbohydrates than a lot of cardio. But then when your body is at rest, it is then burning off body fat for many hours after your strength traning session. The reason behind strength training burning more body fat during rest is that it increases your lean muscle mass which means that your metabolism is also going to be increased. The more lean muscle mass your body has, the more efficient of a fat burning machine you will become.

Make all that you do in regards to your health and physcal fitness count for something Do not get caught up in time consuming exercises that actually do nothing to strengthen your body or improves your looks. I have seen on several occasions on a weight loss app social media where people do what is called “Wall Sits” where they actually believe they are doing something positive. A “Wall Sit” consists of leaning against a wall in a sitting position for up to a half hour. If you have a half hour for this foolishness, then try using it to do push ups, dips, chin ups, sit ups, etc. Make sure that you invest this time doing something that is actually going to be a benefit to yourself. Make sure that your actions account for something by using your valuable time more efficiently. Do not end your day with “diddly squat”.

Let’s Be Honest With Ourselves

First things first; If you have a medically diagnosed condition such as hypothyroidism for example, where there is a legitimate reason for your weight gain. If you are on medications such as some psychotropics or prednisone which are known to cause weight gain, this article is not aimed at you. However, you might want to read along anyhow for future reference.

We correspond through email with several of our readers quite often by answering their weight loss and management questions. One prevalent topic goes as such; Joey Bagofdonuts claims to be consuming only 1800 calories per day, and per his fitness tracker he is burning 1000 calories each day, yet he cannot lose weight. Immediately when I read or hear these types of statements being made, I have questions to ask about their dietary and physical fitness routines or habits. This may ruffle a few feathers, but here is the real deal with no sugar coating to sweeten this. You are either not being entirely honest with me or yourself. Or, you may truly believe that you are doing everything you should be, yet you are quite possibly ill informed as to what it takes to successfully lose and manage body fat, which likely means you are not doing everything you should be doing.

Questions I am going to ask, and points I will address:

1. Do you have any medically diagnosed issue which could legitmately cause you to gain, or retain, body fat. If so, I am going to refer you back to your doctor to discuss your concerns. If you are on a medication that causes weight gain, you will want to consult your doctor to see if there is another suitable alternative.

2. Do you know your daily caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate? Do you track the calories of everything you consume during the day? If so, how do you track them?

  • Do you weigh and measure your foods while paying close attention to your portion sizes?
  • Do you track calories from the peanut butter you might have licked off a spoon after making your child a sandwich? It only takes 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to equal 190 calories. Those licks add up as do finishing the last few bites of your childs sandwich they left on their plate when they ran outside to play.
  • If you find there is one last cookie in an ohterwise empty package, do you track those calories if you pop that one little morsel of goodness into your mouth?
  • How about bite size candies you might find in in a bowl at your doctors office reception desk? One Hershey’s Kiss equals 22 calories, or 66 calories if you got greedy and had three.
  • If you finish off a glass of milk left behind by your child did you count those calories? Four ounces of 2% milk equals 60 calories.

As you can see, those small amounts of calories can quickly add up over the course of your busy day. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. In order to lose that one pound of fat in a week, you will need to reduce your daily calories by 500 per day. If you need 2300 calories to maintain your level of body fat, or 1800 calories per day to lose one pound per week, then those little bites which are not tracked are going to easily keep you close to, possibly even over that 2300 required for maintenance. Which means, you are not going to lose body fat.

3. Do you keep track of your macronutrients? Do you know what macronutrients are? Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat and protein. Do you know that you are getting sufficient quantities of each? Are you consuming enough protein to maintain and or build upon your lean muscle mass? Are consuming enough healthy fats to ensure proper absorption of vitamins and minerals into your system? And are you consuming enough carbs to keep your body fueled for your level of activity? I recommend a high protein low carb diet with fat included. This manner of eating is going to keep you better satiated for weight loss, but know the amount of each macronutrient is dependent on the amount of physical activity you do each day. For example, as a strength trainer, my protein needs are going to be higher than one who is sedentary for the most part.

4. Are you still eating simple carbohydrates such as table sugar? If so, then stop now. Simple carbs are addictive in nature and drive insatiable cravings that are difficult to not feed. Besides the addictive nature of simple carbohydrates, they cause many ailments such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and more. Simple carbohydrates also cause inflammation in your body which means that your body is going to hold onto excess fluids which are going to keep you feeling bloated and over weight. Refer back to my article “Are Natural Sweeteners Better For You” for more information about simple carbohydrates and refined sugars.

5. If you are using your fitness tracker or app to figure out how many calories a day you can eat, do yourself a huge favor and stop this if you are not losing body fat. While there are some fitness trackers that are fairly accurate, there are also many which are not anywhere near being accurate in regards to how many calories you have burned through your physical activities. Some calorie counters on fitness apps, treamills and such are wildly inaccurate. For example:

  • You basal metabolic rate dictates you need 2000 calories a day to maintain your weight and 1500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week, and
  • Your fitness tracker said you burned 1000 calories a day, so you added that to your 1500 and acutally consumed 2500 calories per day. If your tracker is accurate in calories burned, you should still lose that 1 pound per week. This is pretty simple.
  • Equally simple, if you take the above figures and are not losing that 1 pound per week, either you are not burning as many calories as you believe, or, you are consuming more than you think. Unless you have a medical condition, this is going to be true for every otherwise healthy individual. Your body is not as unique unto yourself as many people believe. Either you are over rating your amount of activity, or underestimating your caloric intake. It truly is this simple for everyone.

6. One popular weight loss program, Weight Watchers, assigns a point value to foods, and zero points for other foods. No matter the point values or lack thereof, all foods contain calories. If you are on this point based system and cannot lose weight, you might consider counting how many calories you are actually consuming. Where folks unknowingly sabotage themselves on Weight Watchers:

  • They earn their blue dots for the day with no consideration to how many calories they have consumed. The number of calories could be under their daily needs, or just as easily, could far exceed their caloric needs. You are supposed to be in your target range of points when you are given a blue dot.
  • They consume less than optimal foods and earn their blue point, and then fill up on zero point foods which causes them to exceed their caloric needs while maintaining their blue dot status.
  • Whole fruits have zero points assigned to them while crushed, blended or pulverizing those same fruits cause them to gain points. People will blend fruits into a smoothie for example and not count thepoints from the blended fruit because they do not believe this is necessary since the whole fruit is not assigned any points. The fallacy in this thinking is they do not consider, or realize, that once you have removed, or pulverized the fiber content of said fruit, then you might as well be consuming any other simple sugar.

7. You can be awarded extra points for physical activity on Weight Watcher and additional calories on other fitness apps, which means you should be able to safely eat a little more and still lose weight. The problem is people are adding points or calories for basic activities such as running their vacuum cleaner. No matter if you earned extra points or additional calories from any other program/app, if the activity did not cause your heart rate to elevate into your fat burning zone for a minimum of 20 minutes, you are not losing body fat. It takes on average 20 minutes in the aerobic fat burning heart rate zone to burn off of your glycogen stores before any body fat is going to be burned off too.

Without exception, otherwise healthy individuals who have difficulty losing body fat will either underestimate how many calories they have consumed, and or, over rate the amount and intensity of their physical activity. This is the truth, your body is not so unique that these principles do not apply to you if we are being honest with each other. It does not matter so much if you want to be dishonest with me on these issues, the larger question is are you going to be honest with yourself. And if not, who does it hurt the most?