Tag: health

Color My World With Sound

 

If you are one of our regular readers, you likely already know I love to get out in the great outdoors and hike. Hiking is great exercise that is as wonderful for improving our mental outlook as it is for conditioning our bodies. Today, I hiked a trail that I hit pretty often on the weekends, however, today’s experience was entirely brand new to me. It was as if I had never been on this particular trail before. And in a larger sense than I ever could have realized, I had never been there fully until today. Today I had full hearing which I have not had for over thirty years now. My hearing has been damaged from my years in the military working around aircraft on flight lines and on the decks of aircraft carriers, and from years of extensive fire arms training. We might add a little blame on too loud rock and roll as well.

In case you are wondering what hearing has to do with weight loss/management and overall physical fitness, it has tons to do with these issues as hearing is an integral component of wellness. At David’s Way. we address weight loss/management from a holistic approach where the individual as a whole is considered. We never have, nor will we ever, only concentrate on calories in verses calories burned in assisting others with their weight management journey’s. Your entire well being needs to be brought into balance as a part of weight loss. Now, I have found a missing piece to my puzzle that was larger than I had ever dreamed.

Recently, I visited the VA to address a few issues and to get back into the system. I decided to get a full physical work up to include eyes and my hearing which I knew from my military past was damaged. I had no idea that my hearing was as bad as it is, and was quite stunned to learn that I qualified for hearing aids. I thought my hearing was good enough and that my lovely wife just needed to learn to speak up when she was speaking to me. I was wrong.

Monday of this week, I was fitted for new hearing aids. ReSound LiNX Quattro to be exact. My God, these hearing aids are wonderful. The first thing I became aware of hearing was the ticking of a clock on the wall as the audiologist fine tuned them to my needs. Then I could hear the sound of air rushing through the vent in the ceiling and the sound of feet on the floor as people were walking in the hall outside of her office. It was amazing the sounds that were coming to life for me. These particular hearing aids also have an app along with different settings for normal use, a focused noise cancelling setting for conversations with a lot of back ground noise, a setting for music, and lastly, one for the great outdoors which I came to fully appreciate today on my hike.

Color my world with sound!

I have been playing around with the different settings on my hearing aids, but had not really done much with the outdoor setting until this morning. I got into my truck and drove over to Weston Bend for my hike while jamming on a little classic rock with my hearing aids set to the music setting. It’s nice to fully hear the tunes without having to crank the radio too loudly anymore. Once I got to the trail head, I donned my camel back full of drinking water and then switched my hearing aids to the outdoors setting where my mind was blown away with all the old familiar sounds of nature I had not heard in several years. My hearing has been poor long enough that I had totally forgotten how noisy the great outdoors can be.

Color my world with the sounds of nature. As I walked along the meandering trail, up and down hills and such, the woods came completely alive for me. I could hear gravel crunching underneath my shoes. I could hear the songs of several species of birds just a singing and tweeting away. The sounds of summer locusts was almost deafening, I could not remember the last time I heard them be so loud. I could hear Wood Peckers pecking away at trees along with the soothing sounds of water emanating from the babbling brook down at the southeast side of the trail. As many times as I have hiked this trail, even when the waters in the creek has been high and fast moving, I have never heard it there before.

As I hiked the trail, even the trees were coming to life. I could hear a gentle breeze rustling the leaves and the creaking of tree limbs as they swayed in the breeze. I kept hearing one odd noise in particular that I soon realized was the sound of acorns and other seed pods falling from the trees and landing on the ground all around me.

Millions of little frogs call these woods home. I see them all the time, jumping out of my way, clearing my path as I hike down the trail. Today, I could actually hear the sounds as they leapt into the shrubbery and weeds which line the trail. I have to even admit, I enjoyed hearing the sounds of mosquitos buzzing by me along with a few flies and bumble bee’s.

It was a beautiful day.

I cannot believe how much of life I have missed through silence alone.

Even though my hearing was not entirely gone, my world was much grayer over the last thirty some odd years until I had my hearing restored.

As I have said, at David’s Way, we believe treating the individual as a whole is integral to healthy weight loss/management and towards over all wellness. There are many singular paths that can be followed to lose pounds on the scale, but we believe in exploring all the paths we encounter toward our well being. Maintaining a physically fit and health body requires also having a healthy mind and spirit. It is not a one or the other choice, both of these sides in our wellness have to be addressed. To be at our optimum level, we have to fine tune our lives each and every day. If we are physically active or sedentary for a day, we have to adjust our food intake accordingly. If we want to progress in strength training, we sometimes need to only add one or two pounds at a time to our barbell to keep making forward progress. Sometimes, we even need to remove a few pounds from what we might normally workout with in order to keep progressing. We have to address areas in our lives that cause us stress and fix them. Even when the stresses are small, they require fixing. Sometimes, we might have areas of our lives where we are lacking and do not know it. Yet, when we fine tune those areas too, the quality of our lives improve. Live your life to your fullest, never settle for mediocrity.. Learn to fix enough of the small stressors in your life and the big ones will take care of themselves.

If you or a loved one have an issue with hearing, get yourself checked out. Even if you believe that hearing aids might be cost prohibitive for you, there are programs out there to assist the needy in these regards if only you reach out to them.

Fine tune your existence.

Color my world with sound.

Healthy Weigh In Habits

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Brenda Sue and I have addressed a recurring issue with several of our online clients that I am not sure will ever be resolved. The issue is one of daily weight checking. If there is something that will quickly derail one who is on a weight loss journey, it is erratic weighing once or even several times in a single day. With some, it’s almost like they might hop onto their bathroom scale after every time they open and close their refrigerator door. This behavior is part of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is not going to go away simply because we tell our clients they should only weigh themselves once per week at best.

These obsessions and compulsions are unwanted and disruptive to daily life. OCD can be associated with eating disorders, anxiety disorders or depression, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. OCD has complex ties to eating behavior and weight loss, and may be associated with weight gain, difficulties losing weight or unhealthy weight loss. (1)

Friends, our aim is to help others in achieving a healthy body fat percentage in the least stressful manner possible. We understand the compulsions as we have been there ourselves too. We understand what it means to ensure that you have emptied your bladder and bowels before stepping onto the bathroom scales. As with many of you, at times we have also found ourselves trying to step onto the scales as gingerly as possible in order to maybe not weigh heavier than we feel we should, and this after scooting the scale around the floor to that perfect weigh in spot. Admit it or not, we know there are a few of you reading this who are in full understanding of the last couple lines. We know the disappointment that comes when thinking weight loss for the week was a sure thing, only to have those thoughts crushed when we seen a heavier reading than from our last weigh in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that between Brenda Sue and myself, there is nothing you can tell us that you have done that we have not also done in a lame attempt to cheat the scale. To weigh the least amount possible on weigh in day, people will do the craziest stunts to beat our brutal nemesis, the bathroom scale.

Daily Weighing is not helpful for many if not most!

How many of you step onto your bathroom scale every morning and then base the rest of your day on the numbers you read? How many times has your attitude towards life and all in between gone to hell simply because of the morning scale reading? You know this is not helpful or healthy, yet many will continue to keep up the insanity of daily weighing no matter what we advise. I can tell you how salt and other additives will increase your water retention and you will still be upset over your temporary weight gain. I can tell you that your worries need to be placed on body fat percentage over water retention weight, and yet the number on the scale will still ruin your day, even when you full well know the reason it might be higher than you expected. I do not advocate daily weighing, and believe that for some, even weekly weigh in’s are too much for those who are going to let the scale number rule their day.

Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. (2)

If you really must weigh daily:

Neither your body or your bathroom scales are finely tuned machines that never need adjustments. We know there are many factors that can cause our body’s to fluctuate in weight simply as a result of water retention, therefore our weight can yo yo up and down by several pounds each and every day. If our scales were known to be perfectly calibrated every time we stepped on them, we would never be scooting it around the floor, nor would we try to minimize our weight by the way we step onto it, would we? Nope, if we knew we could never manipulate that scale number we would never practice the “Scale Ballet” every time we weigh ourselves.

If you have done the “Scale Ballet”, you are not alone…

If you are going to weigh yourself regular, it is worth your time and money to actually invest in a good quality digital scale and then ensure it always has fresh batteries or a good charge. If your body weight is important to you, then it should be important enough that you buy quality scales whether digital or mechanical. Do not sell yourself short by going cheap since cheap scales are less likely to be reliable in their calibration. If your scales are only 1% off on their reading this can mean a 1.5 pound error if you weigh 150 pounds. Now, if you weigh in excess of 200 pounds, do the math and you will see that your reading could be off by 2 pounds or more. Good quality scales are a must!

Never let yourself get upset over what could be a faulty reading of your weight!

Now, lets assume you have purchased a good bathroom scale and still want to weigh yourself daily. While I do not advise you to weigh every day, I still want you to weigh yourself weekly or bi-weekly in order to keep a measure of your progress. I want you to keep track of your progress without getting down and out about it when the number is too high, nor do I want you to get too excited over your weigh in when the weight drop is too high.

Remember, your body weight can fluctuate greatly, solely as a result of water retention.

  • If you simply must weigh yourself every day, get yourself a pen and a note pad to keep somewhere close to your scale.
  • Be consistent in weighing at the same time of the day and in the same or like clothing. Your clothing can add a couple pounds.
  • If you go to the bathroom and never have anything to eat or drink before weighing, then stick to this every day. Do not eat and drink breakfast and then step onto your scales before voiding your bowels and bladder. This one should be obvious.
  • Step onto your scale only once, write down your weight in your note pad and move on with your day no matter what the number said.
  • At the end of the week when you take your last daily weigh in for the week, write this number down and then figure your weeks average. For example. add the weight from each day together, then divide by the number 7 for your weekly average weight. 151+154+152+150+152+153+152=1064 1064/7=152 pounds weekly average weight.
  • The numbers during the week can fluctuate, it is the weekly average that you need worry about when you average them out for the entire month. A healthy weight loss is only 1 to 2 pounds maximum per week. If you average 1 to 2 pounds per week at the end of a month, you are on track for healthy weight loss. Daily numbers mean little to nothing if not used in a proper context. No matter the daily scale readings, if your first week average is 151 pounds and your second week average is 149 pounds, then your weight loss for the week is 2 pounds even if you had a minor gain during the week.

For successful weight loss/management, know yourself!

Know your goal!

You need to set a realistic goal for yourself. If you are 50 years old, you might not set a goal to once again be able to wear your cheer leading outfit from 9th grade. Not even if you get your weight close to where it was way back when. At David’s Way, we recommend not setting a goal weight, but setting a goal for body fat percentage instead. By setting a body fat percentage as a goal instead of a random scale number, it takes a lot of the stress out of weight management because your weight can fluctuate a few pounds and have no ill bearing on your overall body fat percentage. Whether you set a goal of a certain weight or body fat percentage, you need to be realistic about your body build, lifestyle and health needs.

Know your triggers!

There are certain foods and circumstances that will cause your weight to fluctuate or that will cause you to want to over eat. We always recommend that you go sugar and processed foods free, but we also understand there are times where this might be impossible for you. Brenda Sue and I have written extensively about the inflammatory effects of sugar in your body and how it affects your weight and health.

If you are out with friends in a restaurant and the wait staff asks if anyone is ready for dessert, ask for a cup of coffee and enjoy it while your friend indulges in their pie. You can still enjoy their company, and they can still enjoy yours. Make it a point to fill up on salad and vegetables with your meal and drink plenty of water to ward off the temptations of a sweet dessert treat. If you give in and have a dessert, try sharing it with your friend and let them eat the bulk of it. Then tomorrow, shrug it off and move on with your day. You might crave the sugar if you have been sugar free, but that craving will pass.

If you had restaurant food today, you can expect a weight gain tomorrow because the sodium and MSG chefs use will cause you to retain fluids. These circumstances where you have to eat out are going to happen whether you are out socially with friends, on vacation with family or on a business trip where you cannot cook for yourself. Do not freak out over the temporary weight gain and get back on track as soon as you can. It does not have to be the end of the world, and if you understand what triggers weight gain for you and what to do about these triggers, this in itself will greatly reduce the stress which comes when trying to lose weight. Stress reduction is something we have also addressed as at David’s Way, we treat the problem of obesity from a whole body, holistic approach where we know that simple loss of weight is not enough to make you successful at getting at, and then remaining at a healthy body fat percentage.

Ladies, most menstruating and premenstrual women might find their body weight rising by 3 to 5 pounds, even though their daily intake of food has not changed. (3) Do yourself a favor and do not get worked up by what nature is doing temporarily with your body. You know this is going to happen and must simply plan your lifestyle in order to deal with it instead of letting it control you. For more information read this article by Brenda Sue, Dirty Little Secret.

Keep adjusting!

At David’s Way, we encourage you to track your caloric intake in order to lose weight. We do not want you to over eat, conversely, we certainly do not want you to under eat which can have a negative effect on your metabolism and health. You will find that once you have lost a certain amount of weight, you will likely plateau. Do not get frustrated, adjust your caloric intake and get your weight loss moving again. You can go to our Calorie Counter Pro to find out how many calories a day you need to manage your weight.

Now for a key point!

Once you have lost weight, you have to adjust your caloric intake as what it takes to lose weight at 250 pounds is different than what it takes to lose weight at 160 pounds. Our clients seem to always get stuck on that last 10 to 20 pounds unless we remind them of this. For instance: if you are a 40 year old, 250 pound female who stands 5 feet 2 inches, and is sedentary or exercises very little, you will need 1609 calories per day in order to LOSE 1 pound of body fat per week. (This is easy when you do not eat sugar or processed foods, and only consume whole foods)

Lets say you are now 41 years old, and currently weigh 160 pounds, and you still get little to no exercise. You would now require 1613 calories per day to MAINTAIN this current weight. As you can see, this number is little different than the number it took for you to drop weight. If you never changed anything, the reason you have stalled is because you never re-figured your caloric needs. Your body has different requirements for how much you weigh. As you manage your body fat levels, you must always evaluate your needs. This is true for men and women of all ages.

No matter what happens during your weight loss journey, always remain focused on your goal. There are times when this is going to be difficult for all of us. If you slip up, do not cast judgement upon yourself, understand that life happens. Bad circumstances and tragedies befall us all. Even if you slip, make it a point to not get yourself permanently derailed. Be committed to your own good health and well being and make yourself a priority. Make healthy living your lifestyle. Instead of letting others pull you back down, reach out a helping hand and give others a hand up. Continue reading our work at David’s Way, it will always be free to you. Share what you have found here with family and friends who you think will also benefit from our labor of love. Comments and questions are always welcome here.

(1) Livestrong.Org, Jon Williams

(2) MayoClinic.org

(3) Carbohydrate Addicts Lifespan Program, Heller

Be The Best You Can Be

This article is dedicated to my life long friend and mentor Ronnie Gray Cash. My brother from another mother.

Years ago I had the good fortune of having an older mentor who took me under his wing and taught me some valuable lessons about life. Despite being functionally illiterate, Ronny was an extraordinary craftsman and artist. I learned a great deal while watching him turn random pieces of wood, metal scraps and such into fine art, all the while talking to me about living life to the fullest. Ronnie taught me to be the very best I could possibly be at anything and everything I should ever take up in life. Actually, his admonition was to always be the damn best at every endeavor I should take on. He taught me that anything worth while to take up in life was worth putting a 100% effort into. He taught me to never slack at anything, and I have lived my life trying to live up to the lessons he taught me. The ultimate irony being with this highly intelligent man was that he had quit school at a very young age, about 13, in order to work and help support his family.

The most mesmerizing masterpiece Ronnie ever crafted was his rendition of an old time masted warship that he worked on for sixteen years before calling it done. No detail from bow to stern was missed, not even down inside the ship where he had crafted miniature cannons out of brass that could actually be loaded with a small amount of black powder in order to shoot bb’s. The female figurehead he carved for the bow was so finely detailed you could have imagined a woman posing for it while he carved. Looking at the ships steering wheel, you could imagine crashing through high waves in an unruly ocean while heading off to fight battles for country or plunder. I could dream of climbing up the ropes of the main mast to the Crows Nest with a telescope in hand to watch for signs of land in the distance such as the slight haze variation of the horizon you see when land is still quite far away. I could imagine the joy sailors would feel after months at sea when they would spot a sparrow, as these birds would always lead you back to shore. These little birds are such a part of sea going lore that sailors will often have a pair of sparrows tattooed on their chests or back to remind them to always return to their homes when they could. After I became an actual sailor I never got sparrow tattoos, but I did return home when I could where I could sit and chew the fat with my mentor, my brother Ronnie, and still learn lessons of life from this wise man despite my having been around the globe aboard Navy ship a few times in real life.

A good portion of who I am today is a result of my brother Ronnie Gray Cash taking me under his wing when I was still a wild ass teenager that was having a difficult time navigating life.

Today, Ronnie is now 70 years old, and I will be 56 in just a few short weeks. I have had my ups and downs in life as a good many other people have. But, no matter how hard life has kicked me when I was down and out, I have always got up and fought my way back to the top.

I get agitated when people tell me “that’s easy for you to say” when I give advice to them. Life has not always been kind to me either.

But, I always get back up.

In 1997, 16 years after enlisting, I lost my career in the Navy when our government decided to draw down our numbers in the armed forces. I went into a deep funk for a few years. A depression combined with Post Traumatic Stress that I began to believe I could not kick. I gained a tremendous amount of weight, and was no where near being in good physical condition. It was Ronnie’s words from the past that woke me to the reality that I was becoming a weak man. I was a 250 pound bloated slob when I decided to clean up my diet and to get back into shape physically and mentally.

I dropped 90 pounds from 250 pounds to 160 pounds with a 30 inch waist. I began running again, which made me once again enjoy life. Soon, I cleaned up my weight set and began lifting again. Next came mountain biking. By 2008, I was 45 years old and in top physical condition again. I was eating clean, weight training three days per week and biking 60 to 70 miles as well.

Also in 2008 I found out I could return to military service in the Army Reserve National Guard and would likely be able to return as a Staff Sergeant. I did not believe this would be true, but went to have a chat with a recruiter anyhow. He informed me that with my physical condition and military history he could indeed bring me back in as a Staff Sergeant. He also informed that a part of coming back in at this time meant that I was sure to have a combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, possibly both. These terms were acceptable to me. I re-enlisted, went home and asked my loving wife what she would think if I told her I could get back into military service. She looked at me and said the obvious, she instinctively knew I had joined and gave me her full support in finishing my military career even if it meant combat deployments.

Shortly after I signed my re-enlistment papers I was shipped off to the Army’s Warrior Transition Course at Fort Sill Oklahoma. The Warrior Transition Course (WTC) is essentially Basic Training for Veterans returning to military duty. At WTC we went through almost all the training basic recruits endure with the exception of only a few areas being as we were not raw basic recruits. I was not only one of three Staff Sergeants returning to duty, I was also anywhere between 15 to 20 years older than the 255 other soldiers in my training evolution. Because of my rank, I was automatically assigned the position of Platoon Sergeant over 85 other soldiers. I took it all in stride despite having been a Navy guy with no experience with the Army culture. I took the position and did my best, and I was good.

As a Platoon Sergeant, I led our morning physical fitness training and formation runs. I was just shy of turning 46 years old, but I still was able to physically out perform many if not most of my soldiers in our morning calisthenics. During our formation runs, as with Ruck Marches, my place as Platoon Sergeant was at the front of the formation leading the way. Because of my position, there was not going to be any falling back in the runs or ruck marches. Our morning formation runs were 5 miles, I set the pace and we went hard. Anything less would have had me getting swarmed by the Drill Sergeants as they already could not believe a 45 year old former sailor had the nerve to join their beloved Army in a senior leadership position. The same was true with our timed ruck marches where we had to go from Point A to Point B while carrying 100 pounds of combat gear in a prescribed amount of time. As difficult as this was, I lead from the front as a good Platoon Sergeant is expected to do. There was no allowance for me to slack because of my age. I was a Staff Sergeant and had to carry myself as so. Lack of experience with the US Army did not matter, I had to learn on the go, and had to be damn good at improvising when I did not know some of the established procedures set by the Army, and the particular Cadre running the training. I had to be on top of my platoon from before sun up to well after sun down. As the Platoon Sergeant, I made it a point to arise, shave and be dressed in my uniform before my troops were out of their bunks. At night, I did not retire to my bunk until I was sure I had given my troops the opportunity to speak with me about any of their injuries and or concerns. A good Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) will always place the welfare of his troops before those of his own. This I did, I took my NCO Creed to heart. I was damn good at my position.

As Ronnie taught me in my youth, be the best at what you take on in life.

In August 2009, I suffered a very debilitating spinal injury which brought my life to a screeching halt. I herniated the disk at L5 S1, squeezed it like a jelly donut to the point it encapsulated my sciatic nerve which caused permanent damage and now a life time of chronic pain from my right butt cheek all the way down to my right foot. Not a day goes by that I do not have some degree of discomfort if not outright pain.

As a result of this spinal injury, I endured a series of three epidural spinal injections. What these are is the doctor uses fluoroscopic x-ray guidance to inject a dye and then a steroid into the epidural space in the hopes it will decrease inflammation and your pain. The injections did not work for me.

November 2009, I underwent spinal surgery where the herniated disk material was removed along with a bit of arthritis that most of us over the age of 40 have in our spines. This was followed by 2 months of physical therapy after I healed, yet I still suffered a great deal of pain. I returned to the doctor and was sent for an MRI where it was confirmed that my sciatic nerve had been damaged and also was now scarred over. I was doomed to a life time of pain, and was told to never return to heavy weight training again in my life.

I was not content to lay around and not resume living my life to the fullest possible. I figured I could live in pain and be inactive, or I could live in pain and still enjoy my life as best I can. I had a choice to make and chose the latter. I decided to resume living as I see fit, and have zero regrets. I embrace tough challenges in life whether it is under the barbell, on a difficult hiking trail or in any other endeavor. I do not accept mediocrity out of myself. I began lifting again with an empty barbell and worked my way up to squatting and deadlifting over 400 pounds which caused my doctor a great deal of concern to say the least. I also began eating upwards of 6000 calories a day to fuel the heavy lifting I had worked up to and gained enough weight and body fat to skew my blood lab numbers some and also to cause a elevation in my blood pressure. But, I had proved to myself that despite what is sometimes crippling pain, I could still live my life fully.

People say it is easy for me to say when I give advice about diet and physical fitness.

Yet, none of them were ever there to see how many tears I shed when working to regain my mobility to squat to a proper competition depth, or just in getting myself into a good starting position to pull a heavy deadlift without once again injuring my spine. No, none of these people have ever seen me cry in pain after a workout that was triggering horrible sciatic pain brought on by a simple impingement of the damaged nerve. None of these people were there to know what it was like for me to learn to walk normal again. After my injury, it took me a year to learn to not have my right foot pointing out at an acute angle and dragging when I walked. Every step was a conscious effort in making my right foot do what it was supposed to do pre-injury. None of these people ever seen the tears of pain this brought on either.

I have always had good nutritional knowledge despite not always using it in my past. However, when I decided to lose the weight I had put on after my injury while rebuilding my capacity to train once again with heavy weights, I put this knowledge into use. I took off 70 pounds and dropped to 9% body fat which I maintain through clean eating and exercise. People always ask for nutritional advice and what do I do to stay fit and trim, I get the same answer from them quite often when I tell them I do not ever eat added sugar or processed foods, nor do I eat in restaurants. And, I exercise vigorously on a regular basis no matter how the rest of my week may be going. I always make time for physical fitness. I treat it with the same importance as I do my job, it must be done even when I do not feel like doing it. Period.

That’s easy for you to say!

What I want to know is why do they think it is easy for me. Granted, it is now, but I too have had an addiction to simple sugar and carbohydrates. I too know what it is like to get those cravings for food so bad that I would become “hangry”.

What I do know is that adopting my methodology is not impossible for those who try. I am not that different from anyone else except for the fact I do not ever take the easy road in life and I believe that when you take a difficult task and work it long enough, it will soon become easy. My dietary habits of clean eating, measuring and weighing my foods comes easy. It is just what I do, it is my lifestyle and I guarantee I can cook a full meal quicker and cheaper than you can go through a fast food drive through and order utter crap to feed yourself and your family. While this may be acceptable on occasion, you are doing yourself and your family a huge disservice when you feed them in this manner on a regular basis.

Friends, Brenda Sue and myself are certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates as Nutritional and Wellness consultants. Our certification process required many hours of intensive study in order to become certified. We take nutrition and fitness seriously, and love sharing information with you, our wonderful readers from around the world. We both live the life that we teach to others. We live this every day, and despite our certifications being in hand, we still study nutrition and fitness in order to bring you the best and most current information with no sugar coating or bull shit. We tell it like it is, and pull no punches. Our blog is unique in that no one else brings you this information from a male and female perspective. We are unique in that we address weight loss and management from a holistic, whole body and mind approach in order to best serve you. We do not only address a limited number of topics, we address every aspect of what it takes to achieve and maintain a healthy and fit body. We put out this blog as a labor of love to help others and have never charged for any of the information in our over 500 articles and recipes.

We live to be the best we can be. We want to help you to also live to be the best that you can be in health and wellness. We believe hard work and discipline actually makes life simpler rather than harder. This may take a little effort, but a life without chaos is easier any day, any time. We believe in planning our days, weeks and months. We believe in measuring our goals in exercise and fitness. I know that my weight remains within ounces of being the same from week to week, yet I still weigh myself every Saturday morning first thing as a form of accountability to myself. When I train with my weights, I log every weight used for each lift along with every rep of every set. After all, how can you judge success if there is no measure? Remember too, what gets measured gets done.

Be the best you can be my friends, thank you for reading and God bless.

10 Tips to Avoid Self Sabotage

 

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Don’t Lose Ground!

Many times we work so hard to improve our lives only to undo all of our work with habits that seem harmless. Small tweaks in our routine can make all of the difference!

1-Boost your self esteem with activity, with your doctor’s permission of course. Exercise is one of the very best anti-depressants. When we feel good about our accomplishments we are more likely to behave in a manner that will reinforce the lifestyle that created our newfound happiness.

2-Develop a supportive social network and avoid negative people with negative input into your life. There are some people whom you believe have your best interest at heart who do not. They will try to influence you to be like them and forget about your new lifestyle. Don’t allow this to happen.

3- Get yourself a new wardrobe and dispose of all clothing in larger sizes. If we don’t have bigger clothes, we’re more likely to try to stay in the new smaller sizes that we worked so hard to wear.

4-After reaching your weight loss goal, continue eating the same way.  Add just enough calories to stop your loss and make this way of eating your lifestyle. Let it become your normal.

5-Minimize clutter to help control stress. A cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind which leads to anxiety. Anxiety produces a strong desire for comfort foods, alcohol or drugs. Stop anxiety in it’s tracks at all possible venues.

6-Guard your overall health and energy. Get a physical with blood labs. There are some physical conditions that can cause depression and lethargy. If left unchecked, they may cause the desire to overeat to become overwhelming.

7-Avoid alcohol. Alcohol contains excess empty calories. It lowers your inhibitions which can lead to uncontrolled binge eating. It also interferes with leptin production which lets you know when you are full.

8-Avoid sugar. It’s high in empty calories and causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin which drive cravings for more of the same, and an endless cycle of cravings and weight gain will ensue.

9-Remember that you are choosing to be healthy. It has not been imposed on you. This is something that you chose for yourself. There is no struggle for power or competition.

10- Set an achievable long term goal with many short term goals along the way. This will keep you focused on making progress.

Now, celebrate the difference in the way that you feel with less weight to carry. Enjoy your newfound energy and the physical abilities that come with it and carry on. Remember, it’s a lifestyle that will see you into old age and beyond with strength and energy. Don’t grow old gracefully. Grow old with style.

Why Can’t I Sleep?

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

At David ‘s Way we teach that there are three components that lay a foundation for good health. They are nutrition, activity and rest. You should read David’s article Fitness Triad for some good information concerning the details. America is known as the most sleep deprived nation on earth. Almost half of all Americans don’t get enough sleep. There are some common reasons for insomnia that can be remedied.

1-You check your phone before bed. Social media and email can be stressful and then you struggle to fall asleep. Another problem is that the light from your phone triggers your brain to believe that it’s daylight and time to wake up. Forego that last minute media check and turn in a few minutes earlier.

2- You have an irregular schedule and go to bed at different times throughout the week. This confuses your circadian rhythms and your brain doesn’t know when to shut down. Try to keep your sleep times as regular as possible, varying no more than 30-45 minutes if possible.

3-You drink caffeine too late in the day. Caffeine tricks your brain into thinking that it’s time to be awake. Try having your last serving at least 5 hours before bedtime.

4-You wind down with alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol interferes with sleep. You may nod off easily but you will not stay asleep. Stick to one drink per day if you drink and make sure that it’s at least 2 hours before you want to sleep. Better yet, forego alcohol altogether.

5- Your bed is uncomfortable from a bad mattress or a pet in the bed or a partner who steals the covers or takes up too much room. Get a good mattress, put the pet out of the bed and buy a bigger bed if your partner is a bed hog.

6-Your bedroom is too warm or bright. A cool room triggers you to sleep and if the room is too warm, your body will not cool down like it needs to for sleep. If there is too much light, you won’t produce the melatonin needed to fall into a peaceful slumber. Keep your room at 68 degrees and use light blocking shades and sleep masks.

7-Stress keeps you awake. Get a relaxing pre-bed ritual that calms you down such as a relaxing hot shower or some form of mindfulness practice.

8-Your partner snores. Encourage your partner to see a sleep specialist. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea and can be detrimental to his/her health. Do both of you a favor and get this fixed.
https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/why-cant-i-sleep#1

You CAN Do This!

                                                                                     
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels
 

DON”T QUIT!

The Tools

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and the ability to spring back into shape, or elasticity. That does not mean that you do not struggle. It does not mean that you never want to quit or that you never get “bent out of shape”. It means that even though you do, you put yourself back together and proceed with your plan of action, always pressing towards your goal.

The Skills

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that resilience can be cultivated. (1) It is a learned behavior for most people. It doesn’t just happen. It’s cultivated over time with specific behavioral modifications. Resilience creates “The Phoenix” personality, someone who will recreate themselves and rise from the ashes. A 1- positive attitude, 2- optimism, 3-the ability to regulate emotions and 4- the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback all help to create this state of strength and growth. Research indicates that a positive outlook helps to buffer the effects of stress on the brain. Once the stress is defused, our ability to think can be restored and we can choose the best path of action. Resilience is usually a result of “doing the work”. It doesn’t just happen. We have to want it and work for it. The result is reaching our goals and having a measure of peace of mind in even the most difficult circumstances because we have learned how to control our thoughts.

Application 1

In weight management, resilience is critical. The idea that a “diet” is a temporary state of deprivation is possibly the most destructive factor in crushing good intentions. Without resilience, cravings seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome. The resilient person has the ability to look forward to the goal, realize that this moment of misery is just that, a moment, and move on. In the interim, we reset our minds to focus on the big picture, not just one dark spot, and the beauty of the masterpiece that will be revealed has the ability to obliterate most of the present pain. It’s not an easy task but it’s well worth the effort.

Application 2

In any fitness program resilience is the deciding factor of success or failure. There is never an end to fitness. It is a chosen lifestyle filled with victories and falling short of what we want to achieve. Without resilience we will throw in the towel when those six pack abs don’t show up on our predetermined schedule. The resilient person toughs it out, struggles through the workouts, falls short, sets new personal records and keeps moving towards the goal which is a lifetime of strength and good health brought about by working for it day in and day out without an end in sight.

Methods

The ability to see the temporary factors that affect our performance, and success or failure, is important. If we view these things as temporary and fixable we are much more likely to make adjustments and go on with our plans. If we believe that we performed poorly because we are inept or unable to accomplish the task, we may stall and eventually stop or even lose progress. Perspective is key to our resilience. One “fail” at the barbell or one gained pound, or so…, does not mean that we can’t do it. It means that THIS time we didn’t do it and we need to set about to discover WHY. To say that we just couldn’t is never an adequate response. Dissect the “failure”, fix it as much as possible and move on.

Assimilation of “Failure”

Failure is part of growth. Even plants do this. If a blade of grass encounters a sidewalk, it just looks for the crack. It didn’t fail. It had a temporary setback. Trees that are blown almost to the ground in a storm may grow up twisted but they don’t just die because their first attempt to be the tallest tree on the block failed. They keep growing and become a strong and beautiful work of art.

Resilience Models

 David, the Author of David’s Way is the best example of resilience that I have ever known. He has had debilitating spinal injuries that would have destroyed most people. Instead, he is incredibly strong and healthy and accomplishes more in an hour than most people accomplish in a day. I have had my own struggles, including having my life turned wrong side out by the direct hit from three tornadoes within mere minutes March 19. 2018. When we have trauma and setbacks in our lives, the only proper response is “Full speed ahead!” Anything else makes us a victim of circumstances. I am a tornado, cancer, divorce, raising an autistic son , child of an anorexic mother, puritanical upbringing survivor, NOT a tornado, or whatever, victim. NEVER refer to yourself as a victim of anything. If you survived it, you are a survivor.

Full Speed Ahead

When you feel the wind pick up, gather your forces and put your survival plan into place. Shelter, but when the winds still hit, hold on. Don’t wait for the storm to end before you start fighting back. Fight IN the storm. Fight for your health. Fight for your mind. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your life. Never stop. Don’t Quit. Even if you get a direct hit, or two, come out of that shelter and create a brand new life. The old one is gone and it doesn’t really matter. You have to work with what you have today. So, if you feel like a failure or if you’ve had setbacks, know this, you are not alone. There are many people who fail repeatedly. They’re called Winners and Leaders. I believe that Winston Churchill summed it up, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” No one succeeds the first time, every time. Just keep getting up and you will get there. Only runners can win the race.

(1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/resilience

Mindset and Your Health

Half Full or Half Empty?

Have you ever known anyone who is constantly looking at the down side of everything? If someone walked up to them and handed them $1,000,000.00, they would bemoan the way that the gift might change their taxes and turn that windfall into a negative event. In some ways we’re all geared that way a little. It’s called the negativity bias. We are all hardwired to focus on the negative as a way to survive. In times past, the ability to focus on the negative was a way to stay safe in a dangerous environment. It’s the part of our brain that is aware of the lone predator under the bush when everything else around us looks just fine. Unfortunately, this pessimistic trait has been passed down to us because our ancestors who were a bit paranoid are the ones who survived to pass on their genes. We have a lot to overcome where perception is concerned, and the winning mindset is illustrated by something that David says, “It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full, refill the glass.” In other words, take control of the situation.

“What Gets Fired, Gets Wired”

There is potential for this negative mindset to profoundly change our lives in a devastating way. Whatever we dwell on increases. This is called Hebb’s Rule in neurobiology. It’s explained as “What gets fired, get’s wired.” (2)Whenever we continually fire the same neurons in our brains, our brains begin to hardwire it in as our reality. This can be a disaster if we continually tell ourselves that we have bad health genetics or that we are unable to control our habits concerning food choices and exercise. If we tell ourselves over and over that we cannot positively impact our health, we will begin to believe just that. It will become our reality. We will not even attempt to make healthy choices and we will suffer the consequences. If we get anxious about our health and feel helpless to change, it will increase our cortisol levels which will drive our blood sugar up, cause an insulin dump into our bloodstream and a corresponding hunger. Anxiety and a negative mindset will almost always make most people overeat.

Positive Aspects of Hebb’s Rule

Just as the brain begins to accept negative programming as fact when it is programmed with it continually, it will also begin to accept positive programming when we make a conscious effort to fill our minds with positive thoughts. As we change our thinking, our thinking changes everything about us. In a study by Crum in 2007, (3) mindset was shown to cause positive changes in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and BMI. This is believed to have happened as a result of the placebo effect and showed the profound impact that mindset has on our health. Sometimes if we believe that we are making healthier choices, and begin to see positive changes, we will develop momentum to continue with more positive decisions.

Change Your Brain

You may say that you’ve been trying to do that for years with no success but there are ways to sway a negative mindset.

  • Have a positivity stockpile. Fill a jar with written memories of instant mood boosters such as a favorite vacation, pictures of you at your best weight or encouraging quotes to spur you on in your journey to health.
  • Question and reframe your negative thoughts. This is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. If you have a thought that says that you will never lose the weight ask yourself why? Ask if that’s an opinion or a fact. Ask if you would tell someone else that same thing and then come up with a better response to the negative thought. You may be able to reprogram your brain with this method alone.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Dump the negative people who are constantly trying to pull you down. You might read my article Osmosis to read about a phenomenon called “social contagion” that can be deadly.
  • Focus on what you CAN control and do just that. We are more powerful than we know. If we exercise control where we can, we will become more confident and adept at correcting even our most negative thoughts and habits.
  • Use “Failure” as a stepping stone. In weightlifting. I face a lot of “fails”. There are many times that I just can’t get one more. David reminds me that although I may fail at some point, I have still gotten a great workout in the attempt. Everything is that way. We grow from the attempt as much as the mastery of anything. It is the sincere, grinding attempt that makes us strong and teaches us where we are missing the mark. Whenever you fall back into negative thinking, remember where you went wrong and avoid that pitfall the next time.
  • Seek calm. Whenever the urge to panic or become distressed sets in, remember that you have to remain calm to be in control. When you are calm, you can make rational decisions about food choices and exercise. Anxiety and panic cause emotional eating. Avoid drama at all costs.
  • Seek clarity. State your goals clearly and execute your plan to move towards them. If we don’t clarify our goals we will be confused and discouraged. Always move in the right direction. Every bite of food that you eat should benefit your body. Live with purpose.
  • Concentrate. Focus on your health and to Hell with everything else.
  • Stand Your Ground. Be your own best advocate. The World will tell you that you are self-centered. That’s okay. You will be healthy when they’re all dead. Remember, it’s up to you.

CREATE YOUR LIFE

(1) (2) https://www.psycom.net/positive-thinking

(3) https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3196007/Langer_ExcersisePlaceboEffect.pdf?sequence=1#:~:text=These%20results%20support%20the%20hypothesis,(mindless%20beliefs%20and%20expectations).

Killer Cholesterol

I consume about a half dozen eggs every day of the week, and have done so for several years because they are a most excellent source of inexpensive protein. And of course the first question people have for me when they learn how many eggs I eat each day is;

Don’t you worry about getting high cholesterol?

No, I do not worry about getting high levels of cholesterol as a result of my dietary habits.

No I do not worry about getting high cholesterol because I am mindful and accountable to myself in making sure that everything I eat has a significant nutritional value. I do not eat unhealthy foods that are loaded down with added sugar, unhealthy fats, high levels of sodium and preservatives. I do not worry about it because I make a daily, concerted effort at keeping my body healthy. Every day, with everything I consume, I track my caloric and macro-nutrient intake as a normal part of my healthy lifestyle. And just because I am able to, I have blood labs done on a regular basis at my local Veterans Administration hospital in order to re-evaluate any of my habits should my labs ever show a change towards the negative, which has never happened.

Of course, there are some people who do everything right who are genetically prone to higher levels of cholesterol coursing throughout their blood vessels, but this is not the case for most of us when we have a healthy diet and include regular exercise as an integral part of our lifestyles.

What exactly is Cholesterol?

Simply put in layman’s terms, Cholesterol is a fat like, waxy substance produced by our liver and is found in our blood. Our bodies actually require cholesterol in order to help your body make cell membranes, many hormones, and vitamin D. The problem is, high levels of cholesterol can increase our risk for heart disease. Have you ever heard the term of having “too much of a good thing”? With the obesity epidemic we now have, we have a far too many who are guilty of this as a result of their unhealthy lifestyle habits.

When we have “high cholesterol”,  we develop fatty deposits in our blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits grow, which make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. The result is similar to how it is when we are trying to suck a thick milkshake through too skinny of a straw, it’s just not efficient. And then one day as you go about your business, one of these  deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes you to fall over dead from a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect if you have it.

High cholesterol can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, which make it preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can help reduce high cholesterol.

Bad and Good Cholesterol

Cholesterol and other fats are carried in your bloodstream as spherical particles called lipoproteins. The two most commonly known lipoproteins are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). (1)

 LDL (low-density lipoprotein) Cholesterol

LDL (‘bad”) cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood that contains the most cholesterol. It can contribute to the formation of plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis). This is linked to higher risk for heart attack and stroke. You want your LDL to be low. To help lower it:

Avoid foods high in saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and extra calories

Exercise

Maintain a healthy weight

Stop smoking (1)

 HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

HDL (“good”) cholesterol helps to remove cholesterol from the blood. This keeps plaque from building up in your arteries. You want your HDL to be as high as possible. Some people can raise HDL by:

Exercising for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week

Quitting smoking

Not eating saturated fats

Losing weight

Others may need medicine. Because raising HDL is complicated, you should work with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan. (1)

Checking your blood cholesterol level

A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help find people at risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test. (1)

What is a healthy blood cholesterol level?

High blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

You can lower your risk by getting more exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. 

Blood cholesterol is very specific to each person. Your healthcare provider will determine your total cholesterol and LDL goals based on other risk factors. For that reason, a full lipid profile is an important part of your health history and important information for your healthcare provider to have. (1)

What treatments are available for high cholesterol?

Medical treatment may include:

Changing risk factors. Some risk factors that can be changed include lack of exercise and poor eating habits. (1)

Cholesterol-lowering medicines. Medicines are used to lower fats in the blood, particularly LDL cholesterol. Statins are a group of medicines that can do this. They include simvastatin, atorvastatin, and pravastatin. Two other types of medicines that lower cholesterol levels are bile acid sequestrants such as colesevelam, cholestyramine, and colestipol, and nicotinic acid (niacin). (1)

Statistics about cholesterol

High cholesterol is a risk for many Americans. Consider these statistics:

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 95 million American adults have total blood cholesterol levels of 200mg/dl and higher. Of those, about 28.5 million American adults have a level of 240 or above.

Slightly more than half of the U.S. adults (55%, or 43 million) who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.

95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dLNearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.

High cholesterol levels early in life may play a role in developing atherosclerosis as an adult.

7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.

According to the AHA, high blood cholesterol that runs in families will affect the future of an unknown but probably large number of children. (1)

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are another class of fat found in the bloodstream. The bulk of your body’s fat tissue is in the form of triglycerides. (1)

Triglyceride levels and heart disease

The link between triglycerides and heart disease is being studied. But many people with high triglycerides also have other risk factors, like high LDL levels or low HDL levels. (1)

What causes elevated triglyceride levels?

High triglyceride levels may be caused by health conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, or liver disease. Dietary causes of high triglyceride levels may include drinking a lot of alcohol, and eating foods containing cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. (1)

Lifestyle changes that help high Cholesterol

Of course there are medical needs for medications, but I believe that we are much better off if we can address our health needs through good nutrition and exercise if we can do this in lieu of finding ourselves tethered to prescription medications for the rest of our lives.

1. Eat heart-healthy foods. A few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health:

  • Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.
  • Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. But they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Increase soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.
  • Add whey protein. Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.

2. Exercise on most days of the week and increase your physical activity. Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. With your doctor’s OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Consider:

  • Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
  • Riding your bike to work
  • Playing a favorite sport

To stay motivated, consider finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group.

3. Quit smoking. Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
  • Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
  • Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker

4. Lose weight. Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up.  Snack on pre-measured nuts, seeds, greek yogurt or foods that are high in protein between meals if you feel the need to.

5. Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yardwork. (2)

Personal Accountability

As I have addressed above, there are some people who are genetically prone to high Cholesterol levels, as well as other ailments too. However, the vast bulk of us can suffer ailments that are entirely self inflicted.

How do you know that you are genetically prone to your health problems?

Have you ever had any type of medical testing to see if you are genetically prone to what ails you?

Or, is it an assumption on your part that your family’s genes have caused you to be a loser in life’s lottery?

I want to say, I am not discounting the role that genetics play in our lives, they obviously do have some impact. The larger point is we do not always have to fall victim to genetics if we instill healthy habits into our lives beginning at an early age. Brenda Sue just wrote an excellent article on this topic, It’s Fun at 21. We have also addressed familial/cultural issues regarding weight and health in this article, Genetics, Reason or Excuse. Another great article where we have addressed the issue of genetics can be found in this article, The Generational Curse, What is It?

Sometimes what we might assume to be a genetic trait within a family when it comes to weight and health is actually a cultural thing instead. Quite often, multiple family members suffer the same maladies because they have the exact same lifestyle habits as each other. It is not rocket science to figure out that unhealthy kids raised by unhealthy adults, will only grow into unhealthy adults who will raise unhealthy kids. And the cycle continues on and on…

(1) John Hopkins Medical

(2) Mayo Clinic

 

Best Exercises for Six Pack Abs!

Summer time beach weather is coming soon, and with it, many will be wanting to look their best in swimwear. While a lot of people desire well defined abdominal muscles, the “Six Pack”, most appear to be sporting a keg under their shirts instead.

I frequently get asked what are the best exercises for developing abdominal muscles. My response will typically be to ask them whether they want strong abs, or well defined abs. Of course, most who inquire want to have well defined abdominal muscles. I perform some type of ab work with every workout I do, but I do have my two favorite which I will get to last. These two are the most effective way to achieve good visible abdominal muscles and trump all others, but first:

Beginning Abs Workout

I would tell you to do all the exercises in the illustration above, with the understanding that the rep counts are going to increase until you can do 50 reps of each.

Are you going to be committed?

Are you willing to work through the pain?

If you are not committed and willing to suffer a little bit when first beginning, then I might be inclined to tell you to get back to doing nothing. But, as I said, these are not my favorite exercises, nor are they the only way forward to achieving that “Six Pack”.

Ab exercises for the more advanced.

Assuming you have become more capable with your ab work, the exercises pictured above are great for those abdominal muscles too. But still, these exercises in and of themselves are not enough for you to be able to display a nice midriff during the summer beach wear weather.

Let’s get real about this, male or female, if you want to have well defined abs, you can do all the ab work in the world, and it will mean jack squat nothing if you are not willing to do more strength and conditioning work, especially for your core.  And, you must get your nutrition under control. If you are not committed to strengthening your entire body and eating a nutritionally sound diet, then you might as well continue eating powdered sugar donuts while washing them down with your favorite soda pop. Developing visible abs takes work on many fronts that requires full commitment. If you are paunchy now, and unwilling to do what is necessary, then get over ever having a good swimsuit body and resign yourself to remaining out of shape.

My favorite work for my abs!

I do a little something for my abs every single day of the week, that you can do too.

That is if you will commit to it.

With my weight training workouts, I love to do:

sit ups,

hanging leg raises with a twist for obliques,

screw drivers,

dead lifts,

squats

I do each of those exercises regular with a good mix of exercises from the illustrations, but my favorite and most important exercises are “Push Aways” and “Fork Put Downs”.

The most effective thing you and I can do for visible, well defined abs is the “Fork Put Down” followed immediately by the “Push Away” of our plates when full from nutritionally sound foods. If you want your abdominal muscles to be well defined, you have to get your body fat percentage low enough for them to become visible. If you fail to do so, all you will achieve through that extra ab work will be that your belly will only become larger since larger ab muscles will only serve to push out that layer of fat which has them hidden away.

Quit eating or at least cut back on your consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars.

 This can and will help you lose extra fat and to expose your abs.  When you consume refined carbs, it cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to increased hunger and food intake. Swap out refined carbs from foods like pastries, pastas and processed foods and instead enjoy whole grains such as brown rice, barley, bulgur and couscous to help support satiety and burn belly fat. Eating plenty of whole grains, helps to reduce waist circumference and lower body weight.

Stop eating processed foods.

Heavily processed foods like chips, cookies, crackers and convenience foods are typically high in calories, carbs, fat and sodium. These terrible foods of convenience are typically low in key nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. By dropping these unhealthy foods from your diet and swapping them for whole foods you will increase weight loss, reduce belly fat and help yourself achieve a set of six-pack abs. It takes more energy to digest whole foods rich in protein and fiber, which can burn more calories and keep your metabolism up. The  healthy nutrients in whole foods, like protein and fiber, also keep you feeling satiated longer which curbs cravings and aids in weight loss. Simply put, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all nutritious alternatives to prepackaged convenience items like frozen meals, baked goods and salty snacks.

Add more high-fiber foods into your diet.

This is one of the simplest methods for increasing weight loss and achieving six-pack abs. Soluble fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and can help slow the emptying of the stomach which makes you feel satiated longer. One study found that increasing fiber intake by 14 grams per day was linked to a 10% decrease in caloric intake and 4.2 pounds of weight loss. Another study showed that for each 10-gram increase of soluble fiber taken daily, participants lost 3.7% of belly fat over five years without making any other modifications in terms of diet or exercise. You can alter your diet to help burn body fat simply by adding fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds for sources of healthy, high fiber foods.

Having visible abs takes commitment.

As you can see, there is much more to getting six-pack abs than simply doing a few crunches or planks each day. If you want your abs to be visible as a “Six Pack” instead of as a “Keg”, it requires a commitment to following a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle to help achieve your goals.Your overall goal should be one of achieving and maintaining good health over vanity of how you appear in swimwear. No matter your age, by making a few simple switches in your nutrition and daily routine,  you can get  a set of six-pack abs and improve your health at the same time.