The Plank is an exercise that it seems every newbie to fitness wants to master in order to strengthen their core. You can venture onto just about any beginning strength training or weight loss forum and find a plethora of planking challenges being presented to the eager followers. The problem is, while there is some utility in mastering the plank, it is an overrated exercise that too many people do not even do correctly. I personally feel there is a better use of your gym time, but I will digress, and write about them since they are not going to die a peaceful death anyhow.
What is a Plank’s benefit?
In addition to doing crunches, planks can help improve your core strength and stability. Simply get into the top or start position of a pushup while keeping your palms and toes firmly planted on the ground, your back straight, and your core tight. Then lower yourself down onto your elbows and hold for 30 seconds to one minute at the most. Bear in mind that a saggy back or bottom during a plank can result in lower back pain later on, so be sure not to compromise your form. Do not let your head sag.
Long periods of planking are really not beneficial for you. If you are going to get the most benefit of doing planks, do sets of 5 to 10 reps with a 30 second hold. A simple plank should be held for a maximum of 30 seconds to one minute at the most. With all the internet challenges, it may excite you to push beyond this point, but the result is only going to lead to unnecessary stress and strain on your body. It’s common for fitness newbies to want to work muscles to failure but it must be remembered that this is failure of form, not strength. When holding a plank to failure, as soon as your back begins to sags and your abdominals start to sink to the floor, consider yourself done with the rep. Once you are past this point the abs are no longer working but intense pressure is placed on the ribs and into the shoulders. You may still be able to hold the plank but you are no longer performing an effective exercise.
Planks alone won’t give you a six pack.
But when paired with a healthy diet and total-body strength exercises, planks can help you develop definition in your middle as they train the inner core muscles, including the transversus abdominis, which lays the foundation for creating a stronger, more defined rectus abdominis — the front sheath of abs that you see in the mirror. For people with disc issues or existing back pain, planks are safer than crunches because they don’t require flexion of the spine.
Planks done wrong will cause you problems.
Common complaints when attempting to do planks is that it hurts the shoulders, back and wrists. If you are experiencing joint pain, you’re doing something incorrectly.
Arching your back
The back arch is the most common reason for back pain during a plank. Your back should be held perfectly flat when you are performing a plank. If you held a stick on your back it should touch your back down the length of the whole spine. To ensure this, tuck the butt and engage your lower abs. This is called a pelvic tilt. This will elongate the spine and help to engage the right muscles and alleviate back pain.
Collapsing the Upper Back
The next common mistake occurs in the upper back around the shoulders. Do not allow your scapula, or shoulder blades to pinch together. Focus on pushing hard through the floor and drawing your chest upward to fill the space in-between your shoulder blades.
You are raising your butt to the sky
This is a plank, you are not trying to do the yoga pose “downward dog” where your hands are forward of your shoulders and your rear end is jutting up towards the sky. Remember the stick trick. Everything should be straight. If you’re butt is in the air, try to get it down to the same level as the shoulders and ankles.
Wrist and Elbow Alignment
Arms are another important element to the plank. Keep the arms at body width, don’t go too wide. Elbows should be below the shoulders. In the push up position, try to line the fingertips up with the shoulders so the base of your palm is in line with the middle of your chest. When doing a forearm plank, tuck the elbows under your body. Try to keep the hands below eye level and keep the elbows squeezing in to your center. No chicken wings!
Remember these key points next time you practice your planks so that you can get the most out of this exercise.
I had a reader inquire recently about the best way to approach physical fitness and what do I believe is the best time of day to exercise for weight loss. My first response is “Do not over complicate it”. Of course professional personal trainers might tell you differently, however, there really are no magical formulas which you need to memorize. If you are new to physical fitness, forget all about those theories about having to maintain muscle confusion in order to find success. Forget about most everything you may have ever heard that might have prevented yourself from venturing into the world of physical fitness. You can worry about the fine minutiae of exercise once you have found an activity you love to do that also gives your body a healthy benefit. Until then you just need to become committed to good health and then be:
Firm! Fair! and Consistent!
But, firmness, fairness and consistency are leadership traits. You might be wondering how in the world does that apply to the best way to approach physical fitness and the best time of day to exercise for weight loss?
It is simple!
Once you have decided to begin a physical fitness regimen of any type in order to become healthier and to lose weight, you are going to have to be a leader unto yourself, you will have to be a self starter. And here is how these traits will apply to you and and your new routine:
Be “Firm” in your resolve!
Face it, if your family and friends are not into physical fitness, do not expect them to be as committed to your cause as you need to be. You will find family and friends to often be like crabs in a bucket. The harder you try to crawl out of that bucket with them, the harder they will try to pull you back in. Therefore you are going to have to be firm in your resolve in getting healthy, fit and trim. You need to create your own exercise schedule and then be firm in using that schedule. You will find that your out of shape loved ones will not respect your exercise schedule and will not understand why you have to exercise all the time. They will attempt to get you to go out for fun when you are getting ready to head out for a run, or to your gym. You cannot let them stray you from your schedule. Once you let them do this, you have lost your battle since they will always believe themselves capable of manipulating you away from that which they do not have a care in the world for. Treat your workout schedule with the same importance as you do your job. It really is that important.
Don’t try to fit workouts in haphazardly; put workouts on your calendar or have a set time each day. I have found that most who work out in the morning have greater consistency than those who work out later in the day. Things will often occur throughout the day to sidetrack your workouts, and this is less likely to happen in the morning.
Be “Fair” to yourself!
Sometimes life is going to get in your way of having a good workout. This is true for all of us who have incorporated physical fitness into our lifestyles. Maybe you have been sick or exhausted from work and you could not put in a full effort, or maybe none at all.
If something out of your control causes your workout to be less than stellar, don’t ever beat yourself up about it. Do not let a small setback derail your efforts, sometimes life circumstances just happen without any of our control. Once you have been at physical fitness long enough, you will come to understand that there will be days when you are feeling strong and your workout will suck anyhow. There will be days when you go at it feeling weak in the beginning and then finish stronger than you ever have. There is not always any rhyme nor reason to this, so just be fair to yourself and feel satisfied that you still gave it your best effort no matter what the circumstances. Take any kind of setback in stride and vow to “lean forward and drive on” with your next workout.
Lastly on fairness; never, never ever, compare your capabilities to that of others. We all have a different story, and different goals with different visions in how we are going to accomplish our goals. No matter how strong or fit you might be, your personal best might be the warm up exercise for someone else. You might also find yourself striving to be like one who has a losing and non sustainable strategy to last for the long run. You just never know…
Be consistent with meeting your schedule for exercise.
You need to be consistent for the beneficial changes of exercise to occur in your body. Just doing a little exercise just when ever you feel like it is not going to bring you much benefit. Consistency in working out will bring more substantial results than periodic extreme fitness routines. Without a doubt consistent training is the most important aspect of athletic success and forward progress. The single main ingredient that keeps people from reaching their fitness goals is their lack of consistency! People tend to be impatient when it comes to exercise. Too many times people do not give their exercise plans enough time to reap the benefits they are looking for, and as such, they fail to ever realize their original goals.
Even a poorly designed or random training program will produce results if followed consistently and training occurs regularly. In my experience, those who are still performing well into their 40s, 50s, and beyond all have one thing in common: they’ve trained consistently over the years and rarely gave up ground. If you have tried consistent exercising and failed, think about the different methods of exercise. Most people try one exercise routine over and over again—going to the gym, walking around the neighborhood, etc. But if your routine isn’t working, switch things up. Start biking, swimming, hiking, rock climbing, playing with the dog, lifting weights, or yoga. There is a vast multitude of fitness routines available online and through programs. If after giving a routine a truly valiant effort over a month or two, try something new and learn to enjoy the many benefits of consistent exercising.
We often get contacted by email with the basic question being from individuals who have never been fit wanting to know where they should begin. So, I am going to address a few points every newbie to fitness should know and understand. Here goes:
You do not know how much you do not know.
While most types of exercise on the surface are not rocket science to figure out, there are many things you should know in order to not hurt yourself and to not burn out before you begin.
First off, buy yourself a pair of shoes that are proper for your type of foot. Cheap shoes that do not fit well all over, especially the insole to the arch of your feet are going to cause you painful problems such as plantar fasciitis and or shin splints. Either condition is going to stop you in your tracks before you get very far into a routine.
Begin slow and build up your pace and distance over time. It is expected that you should push a little harder each outing, but you need to know when to stop. If you always train to failure, you will soon fail.
Before you begin your run, simply warm up a little bit by getting your blood flowing and your heart rate a little elevated. Stretching cold muscles is not necessary and really does little to nothing for you In fact, people who do not know what they are doing can hurt themselves when stretching their muscles while still cold.
Once you have reached your desired distance or time running, take the time to walk it out as a cool down and stretch your muscles while they are still warm. Perfect your stride and breathing before trying to go all out when running.
Fitness trackers such as Fitbit are nice, but not anywhere near necessary for good running, nor are heart rate monitors. If you are running for general fitness and in order to burn fat, then you want to ensure your heart is beating in the aerobic fat burning zone. Without any types of monitors, here is how to know if you are in your individual target zone. If you can speak easy, you need to quicken your pace as your heart rate is not in the aerobic zone yet. If you cannot speak at all, you need to slow down as your heart rate has now surpassed the aerobic zone and is now in the anaerobic zone where your muscle tissues have become too depleted of oxygen for you to continue at this pace. The perfect aerobic, fat burning, heart rate zone for you to be at is your breathing is just heavy enough that you can still have a labored conversation.
Warm up a bit before swimming laps the same as you would before a run with a few simple calisthenics.
Know your capabilities and do not exceed them while in water that is over your head.
Push yourself, but do not train to failure.
Concentrate on perfecting your stroke and breathing before pushing yourself too hard.
Whether using your body weight, machines or free weights, you need to find exercise which will make the most efficient use of your time. You can do this by performing exercises that work multiple muscle groups at a time instead of single muscle groups.
By doing compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, you will prevent the occurance of muscular and strength imbalances. Not only will this make you feel better and stronger, your body will look better and stronger too.
You need to work different body sections on different days. You can alternate upper body one session, lower body the next. Chest and arms one day, back and shoulders the next session and legs on the next. And always ensure that for every pushing exercise you do, you also complete a complimentary pulling exercise.
Start much lighter and easier than you might feel you need to, then increase your weight or intensity over time. You might begin by going all out, and then find yourself with a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that will hurt so badly, you will not want to even think of working out.
Do not try to write or create your own programming to workout by when you first begin. You do not know what you are doing and have no clue about proper programming with zero experience. Seek out a beginning program established by someone with a solid reputation in the field. A good example for weight training is Mark Rippetoe from StartingStrength.com. Coach Rippetoe has one of the most solid beginning weight training programs I have ever used myself.
Keep a training log where you write down each exercise, weight used and number of sets and reps performed, as well as your daily caloric intake and your mood before, during and after your weight training session. Keeping a log is a form of measurement. What gets measured usually gets done. If you have a particularly off day, then you can go back over your logs and quite possibly find the reason whether it be from not enough rest or insufficient food intake.
Ladies, never fear getting huge muscles from resistance training, your body does not produce the testosterone for you to get big. Getting large muscles, even for men, requires a lot of time and hard work in the gym. Getting huge does not come natural or by accident. If you are female and get big muscles from working out, then it will have been with very direct intention and most likely through the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Wear comfortable workout clothing that you can easily afford. Expensive workout clothes do not help you to run extra steps nor do they help you lift more weight for more reps. You are working out, not working a fashion show runway.
Wear proper fitting shoes designed for the exercise activity you are going to do. If you run, buy shoes that are going to provide proper support to your instep and that will hold up to regular running. Cheap shoes for running can actually cost you more money over time than a more expensive pair.
If you weight train, an inexpensive pair of Chuck Taylor flat soled shoes are great. For overhead pressing, dead lifts and squats, you want a shoe with a sole that does not compress. There are specialty shoes available for weight training that have stiff soles and a gentle rise in the heel which helps you to get to proper depth when squatting if you have mobility issues which preclude you from doing so.
Do not be self conscious of your level of fitness when joining a gym, rather, do not put off getting into shape in front of others solely because you are not in the physical condition they might be in. With very rare exception, nobody in the gym is going to be rudely watching and laughing at you. Most people in the gym are entirely focused on their own workouts.
Getting proper rest is essential for good recovery between workouts, no matter what you are doing. Without good recovery, your body will soon burn out and your progress might not just stall, it can even go backwards.
Proper nutrition and caloric intake is necessary in order to progress with your workouts. While you do not want to over eat your caloric needs, you have to eat enough in order to fuel your activity. If you are not consuming enough calories, you are obviously going to lose weight. The problem is, too large a caloric deficit will also have you burning off lean muscle tissue along with your unwanted body fat. This is not helpful when trying to get lean and fit. You can go to our Calorie Counter Pro in the main menu to figure out your daily needs based on your age, gender and activity level.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is a must if you are going to exercise vigorously. Protein is the building block of life which helps us to build, or at least, to maintain our lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you build, or maintain, the more efficient your body’s metabolism is going to be at burning off fat. Women who exercise regular should consume at least .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight, men should consume at least .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
At David’s Way, we strongly advocate concentrating on bringing your body to a healthy body fat level instead of concentrating on a random scale number you think you might want to weigh. You can drop body fat and lean muscle tissue and still be what is termed skinny fat despite reaching the goal weight you set for yourself. Skinny fat is no healthier than just being fat. And being as you can have a false sense of security about your health based solely on your weight, you stand a greater risk of health issues that will take you down because of lack of awareness.
You cannot out exercise a bad diet. Abs are made by proper diet. All the abdominal work in the world will not give you a 6 pack if you still eat poorly.
You cannot spot reduce fat on your body. Think about this and re-read number 9.
Find an exercise activity that you enjoy. Make it fun and you are going to stick with it much longer.
Sometimes our schedules are so full that our health incentive gets lost in the shuffle. The answer to this is to have good habits in place that automatically give us an advantage even when life is hectic. There are some known strategies for dealing with the chaos of our fast paced modern life.
If you know that a challenging time or event is coming up, plan for it. Look ahead and decide what you will eat. You may need to carry your food. You may need to start your workout schedule that week a day early if you’ll be traveling or otherwise at a disadvantage for working out. If you’re on the road, look ahead at possible locations where you can get out and walk. Riding for long periods can impair circulation and increase the possibility of deep vein thrombosis.
At David’s Way we teach tracking every bite that you eat. If a stressful time is coming up that will make this difficult, then pre-track. Decide what you will eat, record it and do it.
Decide now what is important to you. Is it drinks and dinner with the gang or long term health? The gang that wants you to abandon your health incentive will not be around for you when you get sick from abuse and neglect of your body. Take care of yourself. Nobody else is going to do that for you.
4-Just say “No!”
Sometimes we just have to tell ourselves and others “No!” It’s that simple. If an acquaintance wants me to join her in a dessert frenzy, too bad. I don’t need friends like that. If I want to eat a jar of peanut butter at 3AM, “No!” is my only option. If I consider skipping my workout without justification, it’s a no-brainer. The answer to that is a resounding “NO!” Sometimes we just have to be tough.
Make your health and fitness regimen non-negotiable. You do it…period.
6-Don’t think twice.
Once you find what works for you, just do it. Don’t reconsider. Don’t negotiate. Don’t waver. If you are having true success with your program, your body fat, over all health and muscle tone are good or improving, don’t let anyone talk you into a goofy fad program that may or may not work. David’s Way will work.
Healthy living is not something you do and “get it over with”. It’s a lifestyle of healthy choices. Just keep on keeping on. That’s how it works.
8-Read and study about health.Get on this blog and get involved. We have all kinds of tools to help you make a healthy life for yourself. Go to the Home Page and read the tutorial. You may be surprised at all the tools available to you here.
9-Associate with like minded people.
They will help keep you on course. Check out our forum and contribute or start a new thread. Keep your mind turned towards health.
10-Keep records of your workouts.
David says “What gets measured, gets done.” Keeping accurate records of your workouts is a form of measurement. Personally, I record my sleep quality, state of mind and calories eaten along with detailed lifting records of weight and reps. This insures progress because I can see what I did that helped or hindered.
Begin these actions today and before you know it, they will be habits. You will be healthier for it. I promise.
This piece was inspired from both a little anger and exasperation from a conversation my dear wife and I had earlier as she was preparing to go to work. The anger and exasperation was not because of anything she has done, it was a result of something she was told by a “Nutritionist” while she was attending to one of her clients. Loraine is a personal care attendant who provides daily care to citizens in our community who are unable to care for themselves any longer, yet are still well enough to not be placed in a nursing home. As a personal care attendant, Loraine also interacts with other health care professionals who are a part of her clients care teams. Some of these professionals she speaks to on a frequent basis, some maybe only a few times at best. Some she will encounter multiple times a week with multiple clients, this “Nutritionist” being one of them. With this particular one, I am using the term “Nutritionist” very loosely as being a certified Nutrition Consultant myself, I am left scratching my damn head wondering just where in the hell this character received his training and certification from after the complete bullshit he told her this morning.
So what is it this “Nutritionist” said that has my britches in a twist?
As a lot of us do as we age, my dear, sweet wife gained a few pounds over the years, some of them as a result of a few health issues I am not going to get into here.
Life issues and weight gain happens.
Loraine made the wise and personal choice that she was going to do something about her weight gain and began doing Keto pretty strictly at first and has since been incorporating my methodology, David’s Way, by bringing in more complex carbs while still avoiding simple carbs and refined sugar. Loraine has lost just about 30 pounds now with a very healthy rate of loss, and I could not be any more proud of her. She looks and feels great. Yet, this “Nutritionist” told her that she is going all about her weight loss wrong.
Wrong! Despite her healthy rate of weight loss has been a consistent 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Wrong! Despite how she feels so much better physically and emotionally.
Wrong! Despite how she manages to stay on track even with the demanding schedule of her very demanding job.
And just what in the world is Loraine doing wrong in this “Nutritionist” mind? He said that she should not deprive herself of foods that she enjoys just because they contain sugar. She should not avoid foods that are comprised of simple carbohydrates. Apparently this fool believes the choice to cut out sugar and other simple carbs is not sustainable in the long run so you should just try to do a better job of managing your consumption of them.
Minimally, I find this to be poor advice coming from one who may not know any better.
Professionally, as this individual is a supposed professional, I find this advice to be absolutely contemptible.
Someone who is putting themselves out there as a professional should know this theory is complete bullshit. While it may be workable in theory, in a practical application, it is complete garbage spread by many who should know better.
Why is it bullshit?
Many, if not most over weight or obese individuals suffer an addiction to refined sugar and simple carbs. Refined sugar and simple carbs might make food taste really well, but it is a fact that most foods that are high in sugar are very low in nutritional value and very high in calories. It is not rocket science to figure out that too much high calorie low nutrient based foods are going to make you fat and be harmful to your over all health by increasing inflammation within your body, causing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and more.
It is a fact that sugary foods cause your body to spike your serotonin. Sugary foods will increase your level of endorphins which make you temptorarily feel better. Sugar causes your dopamine to surge. All of this serves to make you feel better in the moment just like a drug. These facts are not even arguable. Think about this, have you ever craved a brussels sprout in the same manner as you craved a piece of chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream? Unless you are some kind of outlier, the odds are high that you didn’t. Brussels Sprouts do not contain added sugars like cake and ice cream. Brussels sprouts do not make you feel good in the moment like a piece of cake, now does it?
I have written about this in the past and will say it again; Telling someone with a weight problem which has come from a poor diet high in sugary foods they should continue to have sugary foods in their diet is as irresponsible as telling an alcoholic they should continue having the occasional beer or glass of wine. It is as ignorant as telling an ex-smoker they should still enjoy an occasional cigarette. Nobody in their right mind would ever do those things, so why in the hell would someone who is a so-called nutritional professional tell a person who has battled obesity as a result of a carb addiction they should still eat sugar?
I get the theory that in a perfect world, we should not deprive ourselves of foods that bring us enjoyment. But, we do not live in a perfect world, do we? Having battled my own sugar demons, I know the addictive nature of this substance quite well. I also know from personal experience that going sugar free is both doable and sustainable in the long haul. I give you plenty of delicious sugar free dessert recipes on this blog in order for you to still enjoy desserts without the guilt or worry of cravings which come from sugar consumption. There truly is no reason for anyone to continue eating refined sugar if it is causing them health and weight problems. It drives me crazy to see or hear of a nutrionional professional or business such as Weight Watchers tell their clients that it is perfectly fine if they continue their consumption of sugar and simple carbs. I would like to ask these nutritionists, and the corporate folks of Weight Watchers, just how in the hell do they expect someone who has proven they had no control over sugar and simple carbs in their diet in the past, is going to have control in the present. I would like for each of them to look me in the eye, and with a straight face, explain to me their position on how this is supposed to work in the real world, with real people who have real nutritional based weight problems.
Be careful of who and what you believe! Hell, you can even question me. I am open to any and all questions and will answer all. When you take advice from any professional, consider the nuances of their advice and their motivations. While I do believe there are some out there who may have well placed intentions, they may not full well understand the problems they are attempting to address. If one has never had a problem with carb addiction, it may seem reasonable to direct another to continue eating sugar. However, there are others, such as Weight Watchers specifically, who I believe are not on the up and up when they say “Eat what you want and track it, nothing is off limits”. While many do find success with Weight Watchers FreeStyle program, I find the vagueness of their program instructions to be either poor management or possibly even nefarious. They tell you that you can continue eating all the foods you enjoy as long as you track them and do not exceed your points. So folks continue eating junk food to their point limit, and then continue filling up on zero point foods that are still full of calories for the rest of their day which causes them to exceed their caloric needs based on their basal metabolic rate. I followed their program very closely for almost two years. I interacted with many folks on their social media platform Connect, and there was always that underlying theme that people would continue to eat all the foods they have always enjoyed, and then could not figure out why they were not losing weight despite not exceeding their point allowance.
Seriously. telling people with a weight problem they can continue to eat all of their favorite foods is ludicrous. By having some people who do enjoy weight loss success, there messaging gives a false sense of hope to those who will be nothing more than an income stream to Weight Watchers for months or even many years to come. I find it to be good profit driven business sense while also being morally repugnant.
At David’s Way we will soon be providing online counciling for those who desire personal assistance with weight loss and improved health goals. We have had to set back our launch because of a few obligations outside of this blog. We are finishing up our legal forms and other legalities including insurance and we will soon launch our counciling. This blog of mine has grown pretty huge and it is only my most excellent co-author/business partner Brenda Sue and myself who have built this on top of working full time and demanding jobs. We also work together online from two far away geographical locations in the country.
Our main purpose is, and always has been, to help others in achieving their best in health and weight management. We are equal opportunity in that we will step up to assist anyone regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, religion, culture or nationality. Who and or what you are is of no concern to us, if you want and need our help, we will be here for you as long as we have openings available to accomodate you fully. Since we announced that we would be providing counciling, we have already been approached by many. It is just the two of us right now, we will do the absolute best we can to care for as many as possible without the quality of care suffering.
I pledge to you, that we will always have your best interest at heart. My desire is to help folks to learn and adopt healthy nutrional habits as a life style in order to achieve a healthy body fat percentage, and good health, instead of only concentrating on a random weight number on your bathroom scale. What makes David’s Way diferent from other weight loss business is we want to help you, and then have you move on without our help. I do not want you as an individual to be nothing more than a perpetual income stream as some of the other weight loss business would have you. I promise that as with our blog articles, all of our advice will be well researched and thoughtful for you as an individual and a person as a whole.
You are not just a number or statistic as you would be from others. We will give you advice which is straight forward. We honestly want to help you to be the best that you can be.
Nature has a way of illustrating life lessons simply by doing. The tree pictured here never considered the difficulty that it was faced with in it’s quest for life. It did all the right things. It grew. When it hit a rock, it just grew in another direction, never giving any consideration to giving up. It didn’t find the support it needed on this side, so it developed a massive root system on the other side. It knew exactly what it had to do to live a healthy life. It had to have sun so it worked hard to develop into a strong, healthy structure that would take it to everything that it needs for it’s best life. It never wavered just because it’s path was not easy and now, standing tall, it has become everything a tree should be. It gives shade and produces those wonderful phytochemicals that are known to be medicinal when we walk under trees. It has not only provided life for itself by “trusting the process” (David), it provides healing to those around it.
If you have ever felt like you didn’t get a fair shake at life, a rocky beginning, a difficult path, take a lesson from this tree. We have all experienced setbacks and tragedies. We have all faced problems that seemed unmovable. We have all wanted to give up. This experience is common to mankind. It’s what we do with it that counts.
Will you stop short of your destiny and die in the ground, cold and alone? Or will you push hard? Will you decide that it’s just too hard, that it’s easier to wither on the vine than to develop into the majestic being that every one of us is meant to be or will you reach for the sun? Will you exchange your life force for the temporary comfort of ease or will you just keep going in the hard, dark times in order to become a brilliant example of what a person can be and nurture yourself and those around you? You have the key to life in you. It’s your decisions. There are grand, sweeping tragedies that befall us that we don’t seem to have any control over. I’m not talking about those things. They are few, but real and oh, so sad, but most of our life is determined by our decisions. We create ourselves. Push. Stretch. Reach. Fall down and cry, but get up. All that matters is that you keep getting up. Fulfill your potential and never look back. Those rocks don’t mean a thing, except that they made you stronger.
At David’s Way, we strongly encourage all who want to live a healthier lifestyle to incorporate a regular exercise regimen into their daily routines, or at a minimum three or four days per week for at least a half hour of activity. Just ensure you have your physicians approval before beginning any new physical fitness activities. If you have never been one to exercise, know that thirty minutes of moderate intensity, such as walking 3 days per week is sufficient to be a benefit to your health and well being. If thirty minutes is too much for you to begin with, then try three ten minute walks each day as they are equally useful as one thirty minute walk. In fact, if you have never exercised, you would be better served to do three ten minute walks and build into walking for a half hour straight at your own pace.
Having studied several popular weight loss/management programs, I have observed that many of them appear to only concentrate on two things, getting you to lose weight and taking your money. A glaring problem I have identified is that even if they encourage some exercise, the focus is aimed squarely at losing pounds, and reaching a number on the scale or maybe a smaller size article of clothing. The mental health aspect of why people might become overweight is almost never addressed. The programs are always aimed at getting your weight down and not at fixing your mind in order for you to understand why you might have an eating disorder and fail to address how regular exercise helps to clear your mind and how it can increase your self esteem and confidence. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mind are caused in part by the blood supply’s improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Inactive people usually experience cognitive inflexibility which keeps them repeating unhelpful behaviors and restricts their ability to process or to even acknowledge new information which reduces the ability to change their behaviors which contributed to their overweight or obese situation. Regular exercise will help to clear the mind in order to see new solutions to life’s problems.
For a large number of overweight or obese individuals, possibly even a majority, if you do not get your mind right as a part of a weight loss program, even if you do reach your goal weight, you are likely going to put that weight back on and likely even more than you lost in the first place. The mind has to be in the game too, or you will fail at your efforts. As a part of having your mind right, exercise has to be about more than causing a scale number to drop. Exercise has to also improve your mood along with increasing your lean muscle mass, or at a minimum be sufficient for you to maintain the lean muscle mass you currently possess. As a component of a healthy lifestyle, the health benefits of regular exercise that should be emphasized include the following:
Increased interest in sex.
Improvement in mood.
Increased energy and stamina.
Reduce tiredness which can increase mental alertness.
Reduce cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness.
Friends, you do not have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits of regular exercise. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a huge difference in the quality of your life. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better in body and mind.
News flash! The more out of shape you are, the more you had better be considering getting yourself active on a frequent basis with some sort of physical exercise. If basic physical fitness exercises make you uncomfortable, you need to find a way to work yourself through it. Just be sure to always have your physicians approval first as we do not want you to aggravate or awaken any underlying conditions you may not be aware of.
Obviously if you are overweight and in poor physcal condition, fatigue and soreness is going to be a limiting factor to you beginning and then keeping up with a regular exercise regimen. This is the reason you need to move your body, and should not be your justification for not exercising. Your goal should be to build on your ability to exercise, taking baby steps while on the path to being able to go full stride, to work your tolerance up slowly where you will not feel like giving up because it hurts too much.
If you are brand new to exercise, walking is your friend. Walking is the best restorative exercise any of us can do, even if we are in top physical condition, It is low impact and can elevate your heart rate enough to begin burning fat for fuel after about twenty minutes. Get outside in the great outdoors and walk, do a few flights of stairs until you can not do anymore. Wait until your heart rate has come down, and then do the stairs some more before walking back home or to your car if you have gone to a park or athletic field. Athletic fields are great as they usually will have a smooth track to walk on and bleachers where you can climb the stairs.
The worse your physical fitness, the more trouble you wll have getting into shape. This should be the primary reason to move your body and never the excuse to continue being a couch potato. If you can not exercise for very long at a time, you need to understand that it is still beneficial to do what you can do even if for only a few minutes at a time, If a few minutes is all you can accomplish, then increase your frequency by exercising more than once a day. For instance, if you can only last ten minutes at best, then six 10 minute sessions equal one hour of exercise for the day. Be tenacious until you can actually do a solid hour with one session. Make up your mind that is is possible, and then make it happen. Know that if you commit yourself, then as time passes, you will be able to do more as your tolerence increases. Once you can complete an hour of exercise in a single session, then you can reasonably back off to only one session per day.
Once you have developed exercise as a habit along with healthy eating, you need to begin considering the incorporation of resistance training to retain or build on your lean muscle mass. You can burn calories, lower your blood sugar and melt away fat with aerobic exercise which is great, but a problem that some experience is when your caloric intake is too low, you are going to lose lean muscle as you are losing body fat. You do not want this to happen as losing that muscle tissue actually lowers your metabolism which makes it more difficult to keep the body fat down. At David’s Way, our emphasis is always going to be on a healthy body fat percentage over a number on the scale. The path to doing this is to consume a high protein low carb diet combined with a combination of aerobic and resistance training. By incorporting resistance exercise you will increase your muscle density which is going to help your body in metabolizing more calories. It is critical to increase your muscle density in order to normalize your metabolism. Ladies, you are not going to bulk with resistance exercise unless you do so intentionally, it is not going to happen as your body does not produce the testosterone to make this happen simply. In fact, it is hard work for men to bulk. Do not let possible buliking up be an excuse for not strength training in order to retain or build lean muscle.
A mistake often made by folks attempting to lose weight is when they consume far too few calories while going at it hard with aerobic exercise. You need to know what your caloric needs are based upon your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and then make sure that you are eating enough calories to support your activity. You can find your caloric needs simply by using our easy to use Calorie Calculator which can be found in our main blog menu. This is something you can take to the bank; If you lose body fat and lean muscle, and then if you regain to your former weight with body fat alone, your body fat percentage at any given weight can be greater than it was before you intitially lost weight. This is going to lower your metabolism. Repeat this process too many times and your metabolism is just going to get slower by the continuing decrease in your lean muscle as your body fat increases. For successful weight management, you must retain and or build on your lean muscle mass, no matter who you are. Skinny fat is no more healthy than just being fat to begin with.
What is skinny fat? This is when your weight may not have you in the overweight category, but you are soft and pudgy anyhow. Just achieving a goal number on the scale in itself is simply not enough in order to be healthy, this is the fallacy of most every other weight loss program you can find. At David’s Way, we are always going to emphasize body fat percentage being the priority over a random number on the scale.
But, what if I can not exercise is a question I have been asked plenty enough. Bear this in mind, exercise is important, but if your ability to do so is legitmately impaired, there is still hope for you. If you can not exercise, then diet is going to be more critical for you. You will need to know your daily caloric needs based on your BMR and then stick to them with modifications only in order to correct any miscalculations on your part. Usually a miscalculation would be in overestimating your activity level. If you are not paralyzed from the neck down, then there is about always something you can do though. Almost everyone can do something. Even those who can not walk can still do arm, abdominal and back exercises with light weight dumbells. You can listen to your favorite music and rythmically bounce up and down for a full song even if your body does not fully lift off the ground. Move your body for health and longevity. Exercise will facilitate the loss of body fat and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise has a powerful effect on promoting quality of life as you age. If you have the will, you will find a way. Start slow and gradually work yourself up to more. Immediately, begin moving your body more in order to live a more fullfilled life. Even when it is tough to do so, you will never have any regrets from exercise and achieving a healthy body fat percentage.
So you have finally committed to losing weight and have tons of questions you might want to ask and may feel too embarrassed to ask them publicly. You may or may not have a good idea of how to lose weight, and your expectations may be anywhere from apathetic to grossly exaggerated in your own mind in how your end results will turn out. You may just be simply sick and tired of being sick and tired of your situation in life, you are tired of being overweight and feel the need for change without having a well thought out game plan of how to move forward. All you might know is that you have to change your life to the better. I’m going to outline a few issues I have seen over the years and try to address them in a thoughtful manner. I will likely not answer every question everyone would have, but if I miss something you would like clarification on, let me know in the comments. Either myself, Brenda Sue or the both of us will address your questions. Here goes, and in no certain order I hope to answer a lot of newbie questions.
What is the best diet plan I can use?
Of course, I will tell you that David’s Way, my plan in the best one out there. But I am only one of many others that are truly effective such as Weight Watchers and My Fitness Pal.
My plan is really not much of a plan as it is a life style that involves eating healthy and exercising. Coming soon is a redesigned web page and there is going to be an app for your use. In a nut shell, while I am not going to tell you what to eat, I will tell you that you need to give up sugar and processed foods, to buy your groceries from the outer perimeter of your grocery store and to avoid the internal aisles where all the sugary and processed foods are located. I have already written extensively about the ill effects of sugar and processed foods in our Standard American Diet. You will need to figure your individual daily caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate which is determined by your age, gender, weight and how active you are. You can find this on My Fitness Pal, and this information will be included with my app when it comes out.
I promote a high protein, low complex carb diet to be used with Intermittent Fasting if you want to take your weight loss to another level. This works for everyone who gives it an honest attempt. It works because the protein will keep you satiated longer than carbs while not depriving your body of the carbohydrates required for energy. Complex carbohydrates will not just dump into your blood stream like simple carbs such as refined sugars will. Complex carbs do not cause spikes in blood sugar or with your insulin, therefore there are no crashes after consuming them. Once, you have met your weight loss goals, then I recommend increasing the amount of complex carbs in your diet while still refraining from the simple carbs. At 168 pounds and 9% body fat, I consume 40% of my calories from protein, 35% from complex carbs and 25% from fats.
You owe it to yourself to find a physical fitness activity that you can enjoy and that is sustainable in the long run for you, then stick to getting your exercise done a minimum of 3 times per week for at least a half hour. My exerises of choice are weight training and hiking, but you can pick anything you like as long as it increases your heart rate into the fat burning zone for 30 minutes at a time.
How long will weight loss take?
This depends, it depends simply on how bad do you want to lose it. You can and will notice a rapid loss of weight in your first week or two and then it will slow down, maybe even drastically. The initial rapid weight loss, no matter what dietary plan you are using, usually is a result of your body losing water weight when there is a reduction in carbohydrates, especially simple carbs. For each gram of carbohydrates you consume, your body can and will retain 3 grams of water.
A lot of people get excited about their rapid loss of weight at first and then get depressed when the pounds come off slowly afterwards. While that water weight is good to remove, what you want and need is for your fat to be burned off. Water weight and fat weight are not the same thing. The rate of loss you need while remaining healthy is going to be 1 pound to no more than 2 pounds of fat per week. If you have accurately found what your daily caloric needs are to maintain your current weight, you need to reduce that amount by 500 calories a day in order to burn 1 pound of fat per week.
What do I do when I plateau?
There may be weeks where the scale number has risen, or your weight may not change from the previous week. This happens to almost everyone, it is not unique to you. Your body weight can fluctuate up to about 9 pounds in a day because of water retention. Water retention does not mean you are not burning fat, it simply means you retained water. Really, you can weigh yourself every week and either feel good about the readings, or feel unnecessarily bad about yourself. What matters is the long term, at the end of the month, how much did your weight change from the beginning. This matters more than week to week.
If you plateau, you simply need to truthfully look at the foods you are eating and consider if you actually know how much you are eating of each item. Do you weigh your food, or simply eyeball it and make a guess to the quantity you are consuming. If you are guessing, odds are you are guessing on the low side and are only cheating yourself. This leads to the next topic…
Tracking and measuring, is it really necessary?
Yes, tracking and measuring your food is necessary. How else will you possibly know what your caloric intake may be. You may be assuming that you are only consuming 1600 calories a day while actually eating 2100 or better. How do you possibly know for sure if you are not tracking and measuring? The answer is simple, you don’t. If you are not tracking and measuring, you are a whole lot less likely to bust out of your plateau.
Remember, measurable progress is more satisfying than non-measured.
You say no, when other plans allow me to eat sweet treats.
Other plans will tell you that it is perfectly fine to eat sweet treats as long as you track them in order to not exceed your daily points or as long as It Fits Your Macros (IFYM). Here is the deal, you can do what ever in the world you want to do, no one is going to stop you. It is true, you can eat sweets while on a points or IFYM plan, and still lose weight. What they do not say, especially the Points Plan is that sugar is addictive which causes you to crave it. The science does back that you can eat sweets and be within your points and or macros while still losing weight. But ask yourself this; If you are reading this and have a weight problem, what caused your weight problem in the first place? If you had little control over your appetite in the past with sweet treats, what makes you believe that you can control it now? No offense, but this is no different than an alcoholic thinking an occasional beer or shot of liquor is alright. If in the past you had a problem with sweet treats containing sugar and manage to lose weight, it is a huge roll of the dice, a serious gamble, that you might end up putting weight back on. This happens to good people every day.
Should I eat my exercise calories or Fit Points?
Yes, by all means if you are truthfully getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour, then by all means eat that extra food. Just make sure it is high protein and/or low carb. However, you had best be careful in eating those calories, or rather, you need to be extra careful in how much you eat in regards to lets say Fit Points. For example, if you get in 7,000 steps a day, track that activity if it was truly a heart rate raising exercise. If you are doing the same activity level as you were before getting obese, then tracking those 7,000 steps is meaningless as nothing has changed which will cause you to lose weight. If they did not cause you to lose before, it is not reasonable to expect they are going to help much with added calories in your diet.
Will my family and friends like the new me?
Maybe, maybe not. This will depend on a few factors. Some folks will be ecstatic about your success, some will be jealous. Another point is, your social life could actually drop off because you always only eat healthy nowadays. A lot of family and friends who want you to go for pizza and beer are not going to want to accommodate your special wants or needs while out eating. They may question why you are filling up on that healthy salad when there is so much pizza and hot wings to be ate. They will tell you that one night of eating bad is not going to hurt you. Well, maybe it won’t, or maybe there is a strong possibility that one night off the rails will totally trash your path. A lot of this depends on your personality.
How do I resist cake at a party?
This being a continuation of the above paragraph, there will be family celebrations where cake is thrust upon you. Someone is bound to get upset that you do not want a piece of their kids 5th birthday cake or whatever. If sweet treats got you into a mess with obesity, then you are gambling if you succumb to someone’s pushing cake on you. Do you want to gamble to appease someone who is not showing they respect what you have done for yourself, or do you stick to your guns and politely decline the cake. After a while, they will quit pestering you. Maybe…
My sabotage almost always comes from my family.
Will I have loose skin or stretch marks?
Possibly you will, maybe you will not. This is all going to depend on how old you are, how long and how much you were over weight, and how rapidly did you lose your weight. Rapid weight loss is going to be a huge factor in loose skin, and if you are young with more elasticity to your skin, there is less likelihood that loose skin will be an issue. There are no easy answers to loose skin, some have to have it surgically removed. I recommend if loose skin or stretch marks may be a problem for you, then try the different skin treatments used by women during pregnancy.
Can I boost my metabolism with cheat days?
Can I sell you some beach front real estate in western Kansas? No, you can not boost your metabolism with cheat meals or cheat days, there is no scientific evidence to back up claims to the contrary, although you will read of this nonsense. Some people claim that you can eat like crap for a day or two and boost your metabolism in order to bust thorough a plateau. If you look at the foods you ate when doing this, you are doing something which either causes you to lose more water weight, or you have actually reduced your total caloric intake for the week despite increasing it for a day or two. Boosting your metabolism comes from getting proper nutrients through a clean diet and losing body fat while increasing lean muscle mass. Lean muscle causes your body to more efficiently burn fat, cheat meals do not.
Can I boost my metabolism with diet pills?
No, you can not and will not. Diet pills work by increasing your heart rate artificially which in turn reduces your appetite, therefore you eat less calories. This is not a healthy means of weight loss for anyone. Eat clean and exercise!
Can I get all my daily nutrient needs from supplements?
You may be able to get some, but not all, in the manner your body requires. Supplements are just that, supplements. You use supplements only in order to increase some nutrients that you might be lacking from your diet. If you use supplements, you still must get most of your nutritional needs taken care of through a solid diet, period.
I heard that Joey Bogofdonuts lost weight on the latest Fartogenic Cabbage Soup with Croutons diet?
Friends, steer yourselves quickly away from anyone who ever tries to get you on the latest fad diet. Fad diets do not work for the long run, and can cause you serious health issues in some instances. We see infomercials and television advertisements daily regarding fad diets and diet pills. Please, keep your money in your pocket or if you really want to blow it, then donate to a legitimate charity instead. It will do at least someone a little good going to a charity instead of some business dreamed up by someone who does not have your best interest at heart.
I know there are many more issues which can and should be addressed. Please, if you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate. All comments and questions will be answered, that is my promise to you.
And thank you for reading, especially my loyal followers. This blog has grown leaps and bounds beyond my wildest imaginations. Plans are in work to make navigating easier and there will soon be capabilities where you can figure your caloric needs, track your food intakes, and a forum. This will all be available on an app as well.
Many people wish they had the motivation to exercise. I’ve been told many times, “I wish I had the motivation.” The real reason to exercise is to have a longer, better life, without the burden to ourselves or others of unnecessary illness and debilitation. For some reason this is not enough for many people. Because our health as a nation is so poor in a Country where we have every advantage to be healthy, studies have been done to determine sources of motivation beyond the obvious health advantages. A 2014 study  revealed that 69% of Americans age 18-24 do not get enough exercise.
A research team led by Damon Centola divided a group into 4 subgroups, individual competition, team competition, team support and a control group with neither support or competition. The team competition was the winner. Strangely enough, the group that only offered support caused a decrease in exercise.
The obvious lesson here is to choose our companions wisely. It seemed that when there was only support with no one to answer to concerning exercise habits, that when one person didn’t exercise, it moved through the group like a domino effect. We see this frequently in some small groups on weight loss media platforms. One will make an excuse and that thread turns into a love yourself just like you are party with no one pushing us to ante up and work out. If we really felt like we were okay exactly like we were, we wouldn’t have joined a weight loss group to begin with. I don’t need somebody telling me to be content just like I am.
Birds of A Feather
Conversely, when participants competed to work out and get better at it, to commit to be faithful, without fail, that group had a greater success rate. That carries over into other areas such as eating well, cessation of smoking, diabetes control and medication compliance. Having the right cohorts created a healthier lifestyle all around. Here at David’s Way, we challenge you to be your best self. We challenge each other. We live what we teach because it is truly the way to a healthier, richer life.
Apps that challenge you individually also increase fitness and overall health. We have told you this for several months now. Use the online tools that will help you keep track of what you eat and your activity. This is a form of competing with yourself.
Remember, we will reply to our comments and questions. We are Nutrition/Wellness Consultants and research continuously to bring the latest scientific findings to you right here. Check in often. The door is always open and the light is on. ;-*