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The Listen to your Body Diet

This is a simple concept that many healthy people have been following without realizing that they are doing it. The problem is that many unhealthy people don't listen to their own body and end up ultimately messing up their body's internal chemistry and rhythms.

Pay attention to what your body is saying and you will discover the best strategy for your dietary goals.

Rule #1. Eat when you are hungry (but not starving!)

It's not as simple as it sounds. Most people eat based on time of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner), not when their body actually feels hungry. Sometimes people eat when they're not even hungry simply because it is "lunch time" or they will be starving at dinner/supper time because they were waiting since 3 PM to eat.
Also remember that sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. If you only ate one hour ago and feel hungry, drink a glass of water, wait 30 minutes and re-assess the need for food.

Rule #2. Stick to Smaller Meals and Snacks if your goal is Weight Loss

The question "How much should I eat" is often mentioned by dieters, and the amount is hard to ballpark. Different people have different needs based on their exercise levels and height. If you eat small meals and healthy snacks that are between 200 to 400 calories you will feel content, eating a total of roughly 1600 to 2000 calories per day depending on your size. If you're finding it's not enough or you're hungry again in an hour, raise the food intake by 100 calories until the adjustment works for you.

Try the following routine:

Breakfast 400 calories.
Mid-Morning snack 150 calories.
Lunch 400 calories.
Afternoon snack 150 calories.
Supper 400 calories.
Evening snack 100 calories.
Total: 1600 calories.

The exact times should vary day by day and be based on whether you actually feel hungry or not.

Rule #3. Eat Healthy

As often as possible try to stick to food that is not processed, fried, frozen or high in saturated fat. Instead, eat whole grains, dairy, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and healthy fats. Fruits, grapes, berries, nuts are awesome!

This doesn't mean you can't sometime indulge in ice cream or even bacon, but you should watch your calories when eating such foods.

Rule #4. Learn to Read Labels

Pay attention to labels on food packaging. Learn the differences between saturated (bad) and unsaturated (good) fats. Learn how many calories is in your favourite foods and drinks. Keep a journal of what you eat for a whole week once per month (don't do it constantly, its better not to obsess about it too much) and with time you will be able to count calories in your head without thinking about it. You can also get gadgets or Apps for your SmartPhone that can calculate calories for you. (eg. A nutritional scale for your kitchen can be quite useful.)

Try these 4 rules together and in combination with regular balanced exercise and you will see results.

The Path of Most Resistance

Do you dread going to the gym or exercising?

Do you have more negative memories about exercising than positive?

Do you treat your body poorly?

Do you talk about how miserable exercising makes you because you feel you aren't accomplishing anything?

Do you exercise less and less on a monthly basis?

Do you have fewer positive experiences with exercise every year?

If you answered yes to most of the questions above then you need to change the way you think about exercise and becoming a fitter, healthier, stronger, faster, more youthful you.

First of all consider the following formula:

TALENT X INVESTMENT = SUCCESS.

Talent is your natural talent to do something. If we were to rank your Strength for example on a scale of 1 to 20, with 10 being the average, how well would you rank? High? Low? And how high would you want that number to be? 14? 16? 18? 20 evidently would be amongst the strongest people on the planet and very rare. But a 14 isn't anything to sneeze at either.

Investment is the amount of time and effort you want to spend on a task. In this case the task might be losing weight, building strength, improving flexibility, or even just feeling better about your health.

Now lets pretend for a moment you are below average in your Strength. A mere 7. The local wimp who wants to be the next Charles Atlas (bodybuilder from the 1920s to 1970s). Is the young Mr Wimp going to accomplish anything special if he is only working on it 5 minutes per day? No, he won't, not when you consider there is 1,440 minutes in a day.

Now lets pretend for a moment young Mr Wimp decides he wants to really practice hard and aims higher, perhaps going for 1 hour per day. Well its better. But is 7 hours per week really enough to turn Mr Wimp into Charles Atlas? No, probably not. It will improve some of his muscle tone, but its not going to be anything spectacular. It might boost him up to an 8 or a couple more points higher given time.

No, what Mr Wimp really needs is a CHALLENGE. And its going to become a huge time commitment.

Think 3 hours per day, 5 days per week. Approx. 15 hours per week. If his goal is to be building muscle then he needs to lifting weights during those hours. He will be tired and sore afterwards, but if he has the mental fortitude to keep doing it then he will start to see results. Over time he will continue to challenge himself and build up his strength. If his final goal is a 16 Strength then it will take him years to accomplish, but it can be done if he invests the time.

He isn't going to accomplish this goal by being lazy and taking the path of least resistance. No. He has to take the Path of Most Resistance if he is going to accomplish this goal.

Now I am not suggesting you go out and buy Charles Atlas' book. Certainly not. You can do so if you really want to, but its really like any other bodybuilding book you might find. (According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Atlas is the reason Arnold became a bodybuilder in the first place.)

That and the whole "15 minutes per day" slogan from Charles Atlas just isn't enough time investment to be truly effective.

What I trying to convey here is that it is really more a matter of will power if you want to succeed in a particular goal.

Yes, natural talent is good. But it will only take you so far if you don't have the will power to spend the investment of time in attaining your goal.

You can learn to self-motivate, you can hire a personal trainer, you can get yourself an exercise buddy... but the end result is you need to find the will power and the motivation to make that investment of time in taking the Path of Most Resistance towards getting your goal.

Because doing nothing or almost nothing will get you this far: Nowhere.

Lets pretend you are Mr Average with a 10 Strength. You only exercise 10 minutes per day. About an hour per week. Using our formula from further above how far will that get Mr Average?

10 Strength X 1 Hour per Week = "10 Strength-Hours" (sorta of like measuring Torque in "foot-pounds").

In contrast Mr Wimp's new exercise routine is...

7 Strength X 15 Hours per Week = "105 Strength-Hours".

Now who do you think will be growing muscle mass faster? Someone doing 10 Strength-Hours or 105 Strength-Hours? The answer is obvious. Before you know it Mr Wimp will have a 10 Strength or higher. He may eventually reach a point where he decides to change his name to "Mr Strong" (kudos to the children's book).

So how do you know where you rank on the Strength Scale of 1 to 20?

Well, there are several ways to try and figure that out for yourself. You could use the previous post I made titled "How to Test your Muscle Tone", but that won't give you a detailed result because its only 2 exercises.

What you really need is a comprehensive test for a variety of different exercises and a ranking / points system for each of the exercises. In theory you could ask your personal trainer (if you have one) to come with some kind of system for testing you and then giving you a ranking. Or if you live in Toronto you could hire me as your personal trainer and I could do it for you.

You could try and come up with a system yourself, but it will be tricky to judge since you're not the most unbiased person when it comes to your own fitness. What you really need is an objective judge.

Then once you know where you are you can say where you'd like to be. Go after that goal. Invest the time and every month do the test again to see how close to your goal you are. If you are start off at 9 Strength and your goal is 14 and you're up to 10 after only a month then in theory you only have 4 more months to go before you reach your desired level of fitness.

And there is nothing more motivating than knowing you're making progress and succeeding at your goals.

How to Test your Muscle Tone

Here are two commonly used methods for testing muscle tone:

#1. Muscle Tone for Legs Test: Knees bent

Put your back against the wall, bend your knees as if you were sitting. Hold for as long as possible.

Results: If you hold

Over 60 seconds: excellent
Between 45 and 60 seconds: good
Between 30 and 45: medium
Under 30: low

EXAMPLE: The Olympic ski champion Franck Piccard held this position for over 15 minutes.


#2. Muscle Tone for Arms Test: Push-ups 
 
Lying on stomach, hands resting on the ground at shoulder height, arms bent, push up the floor stretching arms up and come down. Count the number of push ups made in 1 minute.

Result: If you exceed

Over 30 : excellent
Between 25 and 30: good
Between 15 and 25: medium
Under 15: low

The world record for the most push-ups in 1 minute is 199. Source: recordholders.org/en/list/pushups.html








How to Shed Those Love Handles

Why do people still call them love handles? Nobody loves them!

I think it is because many people are afraid to hurt the feelings of loved ones and its apparently better to make a lewd sexual joke about love handles than to admit they're unattractive.

Many people, especially men in search of firm six-pack abs, want to ditch their love handles... The problem is HOW!

Love handles are a bit trickier but they basically go hand and hand with ab workouts and cardio - and to be fair cardio is the most important part of this equation because doing ab workouts isn't going to shed the fat, it will only firm up the muscles under the fat.

"Love Handles" is the fat that can hang down from off the sides of the stomach, below the oblique muscles. You can try firming up the region by doing oblique exercises to tone the muscles, but that isn't going to shed the fat on top of those muscles.

If you're looking for a quick solution to get rid of a particular spot of fat on your body the bad news is that you just can't get rid of the love handles or any other particular area of fat that way. Spot Reducing as it is known by impossible. The only solution really is to burn lots of calories, burning fat all over your body and the good news is that your fitness journey will result in you losing fat in every part of your body and toning every part of the body - not just the love handles, but other problem spots too. So if you want to pull a Houdini on those unloved handles and make them go poof like magic you're going to have make lots of other things go poof at the same time - including belly fat, fatty thighs, arm fat and so forth.

If you're trying to "spot reduce" by doing targeted exercises you're only going to increase the muscles in that region. You aren't going to shed the fat unless you're willing to go the extra mile and do lots of cardio.

That means swimming, cycling, jogging, running, jumping jacks, anything that requires full body movement and burns lots of calories. 3500 calories = 1 lb of fat. So set yourself a goal to lose 10 lbs of fat in 10 weeks and then start doing a combination of cardio (to lose weight) and weight training (to maintain muscle definition). Losing 1 lb of fat per week is a relatively easy goal. Over the longer term when you see the results of the first 10 lbs then you can keep going and set more goals until eventually you've shed those love handles (and all your other trouble spots).

When you are lifting weights (with your personal trainer, me perhaps. Hint hint.) there are a number of exercises you can do to increase definition in the obliques (side muscles), and help firm and tighten that troublesome area:
 
-Alternating Side Crunches
-Bicycle Crunches
-Side Crunches
-Side Crunches on a Ball
-Side Planks
-Weighted Side Bends
 
These exercises alone aren't going to shed the fat. They will however firm up the muscles under the area so that when you eventually lose the love handles you will have some attractive obliques you can admire in the mirror.
 
Don't forget to maintain a healthy balanced diet along the way. Nutrition is half the journey! 
 


10 Exercises to do at Home with Zero Equipment

Wouldn’t it be great if you could afford lots of fancy equipment used in the gyms and a personal trainer? Yes, of course it would. But for those of you out there on a budget and you already have lots of motivation (which is really the whole purpose of personal trainers), what are your options?

Well there are actually quite a few exercises that are effective and don’t require any equipment at all. And best of all you can do them at home, even while watching TV or listening to music.

#1. Walking / Jogging / Running.

You don't have to go outside to do these, but you can. Pull on some shorts or sweatpants, your best running shoes and go enjoy the scenery around you while you exercise. However, if the weather has other ideas, you can also do step exercises at home. If you have a flight of stairs, go up and down them 20 times. (You could even do a load of laundry as you’re going that way anyway!) This will help to tone up your legs, while getting some low impact aerobic exercise as well. If you don’t have any stairs available, just walk or skip around the house a few times – it may not be very exciting, but it will be some cardio.

#2. Jumping Jacks – I do 500 of these every day while listening to music... Starting with "Eye of the Tiger" and some other songs that get me in the exercising mood. Jumping jacks are always fun and are also great cardio exercises.

#3. Pushups – I do 100 of these every day, again to music. Pushups are not the most favourite exercise for some people, but while they can be hard to do, you can find easier ways to do them. Do them on your knees, instead of keeping your legs straight. Or, do them standing up against a wall. You will be building up arm strength in your triceps and working out muscles in your chest area (pecs).


#4. Leg Lifts – These are great for building up strength and muscles in your legs. If you find it hard to do the exercises with your legs straight, try bending them slightly.

#5. Crunches – The best exercise for building up and strengthening abdominal muscles. When you’re just getting started, don’t worry about getting your head all the way up. So long as you’re going up until you feel the stretching of the muscles, you will see some benefit.

#6. Jogging In Place – Jogging is a great exercise for your heart. You can jog in place at home while watching TV easily. The only equipment you will require is a good pair of shoes, to eliminate any stress to your legs.

#7. Squats – These are wonderful exercises for your legs and buttocks. You can even just try these by sitting and standing up again from a regular chair, if you’re finding them to be too difficult. As long as you’re able to do a few repetitions, you will be providing some benefit to your body.

#8. Light Weight Lifting – No, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive weights for this! Just use whatever you can find in your house. Start out with something lighter, such as a can of peas, and work yourself up to heavier items. You can use milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles or even water jugs.

#9. Dancing – Dancing is a wonderful exercise, which is great for your heart. Not only that, but it can lift your spirits as well, and give your overall feeling a boost. Again, music is a must!

#10. Step Exercises – Using the steps in your home, you can do repetitions which will tone your leg muscles. (Just remember to be careful and don't fall!)
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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