Stress and a Desire to Die Later.

Stress and a Desire to Die Later.

“Push your body too hard in the gym without a break and you’ll break down, both physiologically and psychologically. But the majority of general fitness folks aren’t at a place where that’s a realistic concern.

However, push your stress levels too hard for too long and you’ll also break down, both physiologically and psychologically. And the majority of general fitness folks are already at a place where that’s a MAJOR concern.” – Bryan Krahn.

 

So how much of a problem is chronic stress?

As with all things…it depends upon your individual circumstances; but I would say for most it is a bigger problem for them then they realise.

The biggest issue in regards to stress and getting results from your exercise and training, plan is the diminished ability to recover between workouts. The workout, after all, is merely the stimulus for the body to change and adapt; the time recovering between workouts is “where the magic happens”.

This is when you feel like you are not getting any stronger/bigger/leaner between workouts and simply increasing inflammation and stress upon the body.

In fact it is entirely possible to train yourself into the ground and PUT ON WEIGHT despite keeping a controlled diet.

 

How do you manage stress while keeping an active lifestyle?

The key is to be realistic and adaptive.

If you only sleep 4-5 hours a night, training brutally hard everyday is not going to do you any favours.

If you are burning the candle at both ends for work (something I see all to often in Australia and mainly due to timezone issues), again training brutally hard everyday is not going to do you any good.

But does this mean you should stop exercising all together? No, merely dial down the intensity and duration of exercise while keeping the frequency consistent.

 

The dimmer switch and least mode.

Think of a dimmer switch that you use to control the amount of light in a room and apply that principle to training.

When stress is up at work, home and general life; turn the dimmer switch on training down a little.

A good example would be alternate days in the gym with active recovery days where you can move and exercise in a more restorative fashion. Walking, gentle swimming and stretching are all great options.

You can keep the body moving to enjoy the health benefits, while also balancing the overall workload to promote adequate recovery between the harder workouts.

In fact, if you get it just right, it will also speed up recovery from the harder workouts.

 

Diet and stress.

The next biggest mistake I see is letting your nutrition fall completely to the wayside because of work demands.

Most of the guys who have been through my back rehab program are familiar with the bank balance analogy, whereby you have a finite balance to draw upon during the day before the back will start to break down again.

The long-term goal for back pain is spare that balance as much as possible, letting it grow with interest like a savings account.

Well you will all be pleased to know there is another bank account you need to keep an eye on, namely your stress account.

Think of it as an account that starts with $100 a day. Every bit of stress, both negative (work stress) and positive (exercise stress), makes withdrawals from that account as the day progresses.

The key is to end the day with as much left in that account as possible, so like your savings account you start to build compound interest.

The bigger the account, the more energy you will have, the harder you can train, the better the results you achieve will be, and overall life will be easier and more manageable

The worst thing you can do to that account is consistently run around like a headless chicken at work without eating a solid, regular diet.

Effectively you are trying to drive a car very hard and fast, while running it on fumes.

In the short-term it means you stress account will never fully replenish (let alone grow) from day-to-day. You will be constantly running into the red and picking up fines by way of low energy, lack of concentration, short-temperedness, anxiety and maybe even depression.

Long-term it can lead to all sorts of hormonal imbalances and issues.

 

Putting it together as a foundation

My biggest piece of advice I can give anyone with regards to long-term health and happiness, is to look after your foundation of nutrition and recovery.

The more solid your foundation, the more you can deal with and handle in life.

The more unstable that foundation, the more likely you will enter a constant cycle of crash and burn. The results of which will vary. If you have a weak back, expect it to constantly flare up; if you have poor digestion expect IBS or diabetic type symptoms to worsen; if you sleep tends to be poor, you can expect it to get even worse (which will increase your stress further).

If you eat well and sleep plenty, then you can train hard and recover.

 

But why bother at all?

The reality is that there are prices to be paid for both an active lifestyle and an in-active lifestyle.

An in-active lifestyle is easier and more comfortable; but will follow a slow, but steady, march towards a lower quality of life. Think “use it or lose it”.

An active lifestyle will take more effort and thought as you balance demands upon your time and recovery; but you can preserve your quality of life well into old age and avoid a myriad of health issues along the way.

 

The best reason I have ever heard to stick to it…

Coming up on my 12th year as a coach and trainer, I have heard a myriad of reasons behind people’s motivation to establish and maintain a healthier and fitter lifestyle. I have never heard a bad reason to improve the quality of your health. However one I heard recently stands out amongst the rest.

One of my longest clients in Bondi, Dan, was recounting a conversation he had with a work colleague about their reasons to change their lifstyle get fitter and healthier.

Dan asked him what was his motivation to change his life and replied with:

“A desire to die later.”.

Sounds good to me.

Detoxes. Shite.

Detoxes. Shite.

Forgive the crassness of this post’s title, but at this point (3 weeks into 2017) I am utterly sick and tired of the relentless bullshit that is filling up my media feeds.

As with every January, a big part of the white noise is devoted to ‘detoxing’ away the festive season’s sins in an effort to get yourself to that slim and trim body in just a few weeks.

Without trying to argue the lack of sound evidence to support them, my biggest bug-bear with this approach (as with any quick fix dieting approach) is the damage they cause mentally.

The pyramid of ‘evidence’ that supports detoxes and all the other nonsense I see every January.

Working as a coach, I already encounter enough people that have a corrupted relationship with food and the related depression caused by unrealistic expectations with their fat loss results. This yearly nonsense just adds more fuel to the fire.

This mentality of binge eating and then punishing yourself used be a cause for concern, a sign of an eating disorder, but now somehow it has become an acceptable marketing ploy.

If you are genuinely concerned about detoxing effectively you need two things to begin. A liver and at least one functioning kidney. Add some regular water and a consistent healthy diet and you’re all set.

The real key to long-term success in improving your health is paying attention to what you put into your body the first place and being mindful of what has actually been shown to work.

For example, the most important factor in successful weight loss is calorie restriction – which, to be fair, a lot of detoxes do – replacing your food with green water will certainly achieve that, all though you may find that dropping you daily food intake to less than a third of what you usually eat is somewhat problematic to stick to.

But even that takes a backseat to the real issue. Your mindset and relationship, not just with food, but yourself and your life. Which can be painful to face up to, but is the only sustainable to approach to helping yourself long term.

Your health and fitness is a product of your daily habits. Your habits are products of your daily thinking. Without changing your habits and your thinking, you are doomed to repeat the same cycle every year of being sold into buying magic beans as a cure all for your diet and health goals.

Here are a few interesting articles related to the nonsense of detoxes and diet trends to watch out for this year…

 

Detoxes: an undefined scam

What’s the best detox or cleanse?

Diet Trends of 2017

6 Escalating Strategies to Help You With Weight Loss.

6 Escalating Strategies to Help You With Weight Loss.

There are plenty of tips, tricks, diet plans and detoxes out there this time of year to help (or that that be confuse?) you with your weight and fat loss goals for the year ahead.

My biggest bugbear with them though, is that they mostly feed into the short-term mindset of feeling guilty and needing to get a quick result to redeem yourself. Usually through an extremely restrictive nutrition plan or just plain starving you half to death.

Either way, none of them are designed with long-term success in mind, hence why the people who go for them this year, will be in exactly the same (or worse) position next year and will be falling for all the same BS yet again.

So what is the right path to choose for long-term success?

There are a couple of options when structuring your diet plan (something I will go into more detail with in a future article) that take into account calories consumed and food quality (the two most important factors for long-term success).

Having been a coach for 11 years now, I realise that not everyone is ready and willing to take on portion and food quality control head on. Maybe because of their relationship to food or maybe simply because of their current mindset with regards to themselves and their self-belief.

So, in a bid to keep myself useful I have gone for a different route and picked 5 strategies that you can add in one-by-one to help you feel better and start the path to better better health.

 

1. Water.

The classic tip that everyone groans at when they hear it. Yet the simplest and most effective one to start with.

Being better hydrated will help with energy levels, concentration and controlling appetite. In fact just feeling better and more level headed will make everything else in life easier. Just think how hard it is to motivate yourself to exercise or eat right when you are stressed and exhausted. Being dehydrated magnifies these feelings.

The easiest way to start is to buy yourself a reusable bottle (at least 750ml, can be plastic or stainless steal, which ever you prefer) and aim to fill and drink it empty twice during the course of the day.

Don’t stress if you struggle at first. The goal here is to build a daily habit that will build into long-term success.
 

2. Eat Slowly.

Again another classic piece of advice, but as with the water, a very effective habit to practice to help you control your appetite and overall food intake.

The basis behind this tip is that there is a delay in feedback, between the stomach and the brain, with the signal that lets you know when you have eaten enough.

Most people tend to eat distracted (looking at the TV or a tablet/phone) and also eat in a rushed manor. Eating regularly like this results in eating too quickly to receive the “I’m full” signal from the stomach and when it does arrive, chances are you are too distracted to notice it until you are absolutely bloated.

Start today by mindfully chewing your food and taking the time to enjoy it. Pay attention to what you are eating, how much and how fast.
 

3. Add Two Fist Sized Portions Of Fresh Veg To Lunch And Dinner.

Aim to make half your plate/bowl full of mixed vegetables. They add bulk and fibre to a meal, which in turns helps slow down your eating and helps you to feel satisfied and full sooner.

One of keys to successful, long-term weight and fat loss is to make it as easy as possible for yourself to succeed. Choosing foods that a lower in calorie content but fill you up is a superb way to start structuring our diet.

Don’t think of foods as good vs. bad. Simply foods that make weight loss easier vs. ones that make it a little harder.
 

4. Set a Regular Bed Routine

Adequate sleep is vital to long-term success. In part because when you feel exhausted, everything feels harder to do. Not a good state of mind to be in when you need to exercise regularly and follow a consistent diet.

Aim to go to bed and get up the following morning at the same times each day. 8 hours of sleep a night is ideal and by setting regular times, your body will find easier to regulate the hormones that help you sleep well and wake up feeling rested.
 

5. Schedule in Regular Exercise

The biggest mistake I see people make with exercise is not maintaining consistency with their training frequency.

Training frequency is the most important aspect in your exercise plan. Without it, you will struggle to achieve even small improvements, if any at all.

Schedule your exercise into your diary and respect it.

For general health I would go 3 hours a week (which can be split up into smaller, more frequent chucks – such as 6×30 mins for example)

For a dramatic change in physique, I would aim for 4-6 hours a week.
 

6. Be Progressive

The second biggest mistake I see, is trying to from 0-100 in terms of exercise levels in one go.

For example, doing no regular exercise to trying to run everyday. This is the path to misery and giving up long-before you even start to see results.

Be realistic about where you are starting from, but also be prepared to challenge yourself a little more each time.

For example, building a habit of 3 hour long walks a week, can then progress into 3 hours of gentle jogging for as long as possible followed by finishing the remaining time with walking. Eventually, baby steps as you go, you will be able to run for the whole hour.

The same applies to working out in the gym. Start with workouts focused on smaller, lighter movements designed to work out any imbalances or niggles you have, then build into more challenging workouts with more workload and bigger movements.

Your body’s greatest ability is that of adaptation. If you want your body to change, give something to adapt to and time enough to adapt to it.
 

Summary

Six strategies to get you on the right track. Think of them as habits and skills that need to be worked on until they become second nature.

Your body, health and mind are all products of your daily habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Aristotle

5 Things I Know About Successful Fat Loss.

 

5 Things I Know About Successful Fat Loss.

 

fat-dachshund-meme-1

 

Fat loss is simple, but not easy.

Everyone is different and the biggest battle will be inside your head.

The idea to eat less and move more to burn excess calories and hence bodyfat is simple to understand; but once viewed through your perceptions and relationship towards food and exercise, it starts to become much more challenging.

Be honest, patient and realistic with yourself and what you need to change.

 

Consistency is key.

Image blatently stolen from Renaissance Periodisation – superb resource if you are keen to understand the science behind successful dieting and training.

Consistency with your nutrition and exercise are the two most important aspects that determine your success with changing your body.

Notice I use consistency and not perfection. I think one of the biggest pit-falls I see regularly is this “on-off” approach to losing weight and getting back into shape. That you are either 100% with everything or you just give up and give it zero. THIS WILL STOP YOU FROM SUCCEEDING.

Far better to be honest and methodical with your approach. That everything just simply is. One bad meal decision does not blow your results out of the water, but how you choose to react to afterwards could do.

 

An active body will get results faster than a sedentary one.

Seems kind of obvious if you take me at the initial meaning, but stay with with me on this.

What I am talking about here is not just your training and exercise, but how you can increase you metabolic rate by choosing a more active approach to life outside of the gym.

NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is a mouthful to say, but if pay heed to it, can also help you succeed with your fat loss goals this year.

NEAT refers to the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or training.

So think fidgeting, walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, gardening work and playing with the kids as examples.

If you aim to build increased activity into your daily habits, you are setting yourself up for the easiest path to sustainable success with your fat loss goals.

 

You need to eat less than you need to lose fat.

Another diagram stolen from Renaissance Periodisation – these guys are putting out great, scientifically backed content on a regular basis.

Again obvious, but when viewed through the perceptions in point 1, the waters can become somewhat muddied.

My FAVOURITE approach – note, not necessarily the best for everyone – is to set my calories at 10-15% below my maintenance level. The easiest way to work that out is use an online calculator such as the one at http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

Then I use the My Fitness Pal app to track my daily intake and hold me accountable https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

Something to note though, with ANY approach to fat loss you choose, there will always be a trade-off in terms of advantages and disadvantages.

If you choose the route of counting calories as above, it will take some time to learn the skills needed to get portions sizes right and be able to eye-ball (at least somewhat accurately) how much you are eating when out and about. BUT the trade-off is that it is easier to eat a wider range of foods and work in allowances for the foods you love that are not necessarily the best when watching your calorie intake. My two favourites are chocolate and Coopers Pale Ale.

With ANY nutrition approach, maintaining a consistent and appropriate calorie deficit is the single most important thing you MUST do, but there are many different ways to achieve it, each with their own merits and drawbacks.

 

Sleeping well makes EVERYTHING easier.

There are hormonal reasons for this, but I think most importantly, you ability to stay consistent with a plan is largely dependent upon how you feel.

A little discomfort, challenge and hunger is to be expected, but if you already walk around in a daze feeling like you have been hit by a truck during the night, things are going to be unnecessarily tough.

Exercise will feel harder than it should, the feeling of needing comfort food will increase, you overall feeling of hunger will increase and you will more likely reduce you overall movement (less NEAT).

There are plenty of recommendations to help with sleep, but here are my favourites that help me:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule – aim to go to bed and awake at the same times everyday.
  • Control the temperature in the bedroom – having a slightly colder room to sleep in always helps me. Find a good temperature range for you.
  • Resto REM. My secret weapon. I have always been a light sleeper (even as a child, much to the annoyance of my parents). Resto REM contains a blend of melatonin, 5-HTP and phenibut. I take 2-3 capsules around 30 mins before bed and it makes a world of difference for me. I’ll keep some tubs in stock, so if you are struggling with sleep quality and need some help, get in contact and I can get some for you.

Finally…Something On Diet And Nutrition.

It has been a long-time since I mentioned this subject.

My goal over the coming weeks is to get back into more general health and fitness writing, rather than just being focused on the back rehabilitation alone.

With that in mind, a great article came my way this week that has rustled more than a few jimmies in the “fitness community”.

The more experience I have, the more I see that fitness and nutrition has replaced religion for some people. Everyone like to nail their flag to the mast of one guru or one approach over another. The result is that it is extremely hard to find reliable and unbiased information on social media and the internet at large.

So when this article came along, the resulting chaos from triggered diet zealots was no real surprise.

http://thedeepdish.org/the-pizza-diet-getting-bigger-stronger-and-leaner-eating-222-large-pizzas-in-a-row/

pizza

The tl;dr of it is a journalist, who already trains regularly and hard, challenges himself to fit in a large pepperoni pizza everyday (1600 calories) into his diet (with a 4000 calorie per day target).

The outcome was no real surprise, he didn’t exactly achieve a ripped physique, but he didn’t die and his strength still improved.

The surprise for me was that his blood work actually improved – I would have bet on at least a small increase in cholesterol or blood pressure with all that salt and fat.

But then again, the most single most important factor in a diet is to consistently eat the right amount of calories. Eat less than you need to lose weight, eat more than you need to put on weight.

A great summary of the story by Dr Mike Israetel:

“The moral of the story here isn’t that you should eat a pizza every day.

It’s that so long as you get your nutrient dense food in and get your calories right, you can be very healthy and eat all kinds of junk.

That’s one of the many ways in which knowing the science of nutrition can help you live BETTER.”

Meditation…Just for those who want to wear brown sandals?

red-brain-blue-body_103520693Meditation…
…Just for those who want to wear brown sandals and eat nothing but quinoa?

A great article appeared this week, that sheds light on an important discovery:

http://www.businessinsider.com/vagus-nerve-stimulation-2015-6?IR=T

 

I’ll give the highlights for anyone who isn’t keen to read the full thing.

1. There is a nerve that connects your brain to you your other organs – the Vagus nerve.

2. This nerve acts a as a feedback between your heart, digestive tract and even some of your muscles.

3. In times of prolonged (chronic) stress – its function is hampered and the optimal control of certain inflammatory responses in the body can start to run out of control.

4. Vagus nerve stimulation and increased activity levels have been correlated with the body improving its response to stress and improving the symptoms of severe rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Meditation has been shown to increase vagus nerve activity.

6. The Vagus nerve activity in those who led a more active lifestyle was shown to be increased.

What this means for you…

Chronic inflammation and stress can both reek havoc with your long-term health, energy and waistline.

Learning to manage stress through relaxing daily habits (relaxed walking outside, naps, etc), meditation and increasing productive exercise will all help you to build better health and shrink that gut.

Plus you now have a genuine reason to practice mediation without fear of being accused of simply wanting to join the brown sandals and nothing but quinoa gang…
P.S. If you feel you’ve lost control of your health and need some help to get back in control, get in contact in with me.

The challenges of female fat loss

weight_lossIn theory, and with all things being equal, fat loss should just be as easy as eating less.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case (notice how I did not say it never is) as there are more factors that need to be considered – other than just treating the body as a calculator.

Nearly all of my female clients come to me with a history of yo-yo dieting – years spent trying to half starve themselves to death to get a result, then to have all the extra weight pile back on the second they stop (and in a lot of cases end up heavier and fatter than they were at the start).

“But they just need to eat less!” The caloire zealots will cry. Hmmm, well let’s examine that singular strategy.

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Newsletter: The Reality of Results

mylesyThe reality of results, is it your psychology that’s holding you back?

What are the most important expectations you should have to actually get results?

I’m very lucky (and proud) to say I’ve helped some of my clients achieve remarkable results over 12 week, 8 week, and hell, even 4 week periods.

Working in this industry since 2006, I’ve been able to meet with some of the very best trainers and coaches in the world. Talking ‘shop’ about how to help clients get the best results possible for their time and effort.

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