Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Exercise"

Day 241 - New Thoughts on Dopamine


For most of us, exercise can produce some pretty amazing "feel good" hormones. There is a even phrase that has been coined because of this change in mental state known as "runner's high". Sure, there are times when you just want to lay on the floor to try and catch your breath before your throw up after an intense workout, but for the most part, exercise should be, and is, a very good mood elevator.

There has been a long-standing belief that this has been caused by the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Research has shown that when individuals partake in pleasurable activities (exercise, eating), they have elevated levels of Dopamine in their brains.

John Salamore and his team from the University of Connecticut has found some somewhat contradictory evidence, however.
But over time, Salamone’s studies and those of others started revealing problems. In animals, dopamine levels can spike after stress, such as losing a fight with another animal. Soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder also show activity in dopamine-rich parts of the brain when hearing recorded gunshots and other combat sounds.
What Salamore and his team of researchers are trying to do, is figure out why and how varying levels of Dopamine in the brain alter your mental state. His team is finding that it may have more to do with energy levels and motivation to complete certain tasks.
For example, what will a rat do when on one end of a corridor there’s a pile of food, but on the other end there’s a pile of food twice as big with a small fence to jump over on the way? 
As Salamone’s studies have showed, animals with lowered levels of dopamine almost always choose the easy, low-value reward, while animals with normal levels don’t mind exerting the effort to jump the fence for the high-value reward.
Other studies in humans have corroborated these results, such as research with depressed patients. 
“Often, depressed people say they don’t want to go out with their friends,” says Salamone. But it’s not that they don’t experience pleasure, he says – if their friends were around, many depressed people could have fun. 
“Low levels of dopamine make people and other animals less likely to work for things, so it has more to do with motivation and cost/benefit analyses than pleasure itself,” he explains.
So how does this apply to your situation? Well, chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are either lead an active lifestyle, or you are looking to lead an active lifestyle.

Research has shown that things like exercise can elevate levels of Dopamine. So if that Dopamine is not intended to necessarily 'reward' you, as Salamore hypothesizes, then maybe it can create some momentum with your training.

For example, if you begin an exercise regimen and start to receive these elevated levels of Dopmaine, then perhaps you will continue to get this heightened sense of motivation to continue to stay active. Those are my thoughts at least...

I guess taking the first step is always the toughest, as they say...

Quote of the day:
"Clear your mind of can’t."
~ Samuel Johnson
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Day 240 - Fountain of Youth Part 1


Nobody likes getting older. Yes, it is inevitable that we all age, but that doesn't mean we have to get old  - if you catch my drift. There are a number of lifestyle changes and improvements that everybody can make to delay the onset of aging and help you feel youthful and energetic for years to come! Over the next few blogs, I am going to detail a number of ways that you can improve your life.

Exercise

Far and away, the best thing you could ever do for your body is exercise 5-6 days a week for the rest of your life. No questions asked. Yes, there will be times when you are sick, pregnant, injured, etc. and you absolutely cannot exercise, but a few days off here or there won't even make a noticeable effect if you are consistent the other 300+ days of the year.

There are of course many different ways of exercising. We have all heard of cardiovascular exercise, such as light jogging, brisk walking, etc. This is fine, and is definitely a great way to stay active and MUCH better than the alternative, i.e. sitting on your rump. Just fine you ask? Yes, I will explain more in a bit, but aerobic exercise is the type that you can do for prolonged periods of time keeping up with your energy demands by oxygen alone, hence the name aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is the kind that is good for your heart and circulatory system to keep the pipes clean (arteries, veins), and has its place in a training regimen, especially for those that wish to go and run a marathon or something, not to mention the ability to burn some calories along the way, great!

However, a far more beneficial type of training is pushing yourself into and past your lactate threshold. Let me explain. Most people are at least fit enough to walk at a normal pace and can meet these energy demands by their body by breathing alone. As explained above, this is aerobic exercise. Some people can even jog at a decent to extremely fast pace and still fulfill their energy demands by breathing alone. The human body is designed this way to burn body fat (adipose) along with oxygen in its energy systems for a long period of time. No matter how fit (or unfit) you are, most people could at least walk for hours at a time without needing a rest.

So back to the lactate threshold thing. Let's say you are walking along for an extended period of time, maybe breathing a little heavier, but not having any problems, fine! Then you come across a steep hill. Walking up that hill suddenly starts to cause your muscles to burn and your breathing rate to increase. You may even get to the point where your muscles are burning so badly that they either move slower or stop working all together. This is caused by a buildup of lactate in your muscles. I am sure many people have experienced this before.

The benefits to this, is that you are causing damage to your muscles. This damage causes a huge wave of hormonal response in your body that is initiated to repair this damaged tissue. That, right there, is the real fountain of youth. You see, as you age, your body produces less and less hormones, and your bodily tissues are used less and less, so you begin to decay and eventually die. I know, I sped up the process there a bit, and not everyone likes the word decay, but it's the truth. Your body lives by a "use it or lose it" mentality.

As kids, we would run around and play, climb trees, etc. This would send a message to the rest of our body to be better and to grow. As people age, they become less and less active, causing their brain to take notice and basically "pack it in" by lessening our muscle tissues, using our brain less, etc. We can slow that trend, and even reverse it to live many, healthy years!

Alright, back to the lactate threshold thing. If you are training for a marathon, or a triathlon or some similar type of event where you actually want your body to have more aerobic stamina, then fine, go and practice that and run or swim or bike a bunch of miles every day. But, if you want to simply improve your overall health on a day-by-day basis, about 20-30 minutes of intense, hard exercise is all you need!

I can hear what you're saying now, "This can't be true! I need my fix on the treadmill or else I am not myself!" Well, if you wish to use a treadmill, fine, go right ahead, I am not stopping you, but keep this in mind; running on a treadmill may burn a couple hundred (200-300) calories in a half an hour. An equal amount of time spent pushing yourself to your limits using a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular training can burn twice that! Not to mention the fact that you are pushing yourself to your limit, which is causing that flood of hormones which increases your metabolism for 24-48 hours post-workout so you will continue to burn calories at an increased rate. Simply running on the treadmill won't do that much for you!

The key here simply is quality over quantity. You do not need to be spending hours in a gym, period! You need to be making your time more efficient, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, that is what causes positive changes throughout your body. Within as little as 20-30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week, you are maximizing your potential.

Some of you may ask, "Well, can I exercise intensely for an hour and a half then?" When you push your body outside of its comfort zone, aka, into your anaerobic training zone, you are burning stored glycogen in your body. (Refer to my previous posts regarding this) If you are pushing yourself properly, trust me, you will not be able to exercise at this level of intensity for much more than an hour!

"What do I do about cardio then?" Cardiovascular training is simply elevating your heart rate to a specific level for an extended period of time. By exercising at near-maximum heart rate levels, the point at which your muscles are burning and eventually fail out, is your lactate threshold, or in other words, using your anaerobic energy systems.This is where your body simply cannot meet the demands of clearing away lactate fast enough, and causes something known as oxygen deficit.

Think of oxygen deficit as your body's transport system failing to meet its needs during strenuous exercise. To use an analogy, think of oxygen, carbon dioxide and lactate (the burning acid in your muscles) as commuters waiting for public transit. As you exercise more and more intensely, there simply is not enough subway cars to meet the demands of all of the commuters. So, as the commuters start to build up on the subway platforms, once rush-hour is over, these commuters still need to reach their destination, so even though an exercise may be done, subway trains will continue to try and catch up to the strained demands of the system.

If you are pushing your anaerobic energy systems, even after your exercise is done, you will continue to breath heavy and your heart will be pumping fast to try and clear away all of that excess lactate and feed oxygen to your muscles, mimicking cardiovascular exercise!

When it comes down to it, doing something is always better than doing nothing. You are far better off to go and exercise as you see fit (like my pun?). But if you are going to be working out, wouldn't you much rather maximize your benefits and make your workouts that much more efficient by pushing yourself to your limits for short bursts of intense effort? I guess that is for you to decide!

Quote of the day:
"Don't make the sky your limit... Make it your starting point."
~ Unknown


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Day 235 - Diet vs. Exercise


My past few blogs have been about strategizing your diet and eating healthy. But what about exercise? Which one is better? In a perfect world, everybody would exercise and consume a healthy, balanced diet on a daily basis, but we all know that is not the case.

I am also reminded of the commercials I keep seeing on the t.v. about these dieting companies that promise to lose "x number of pounds" by "certain date". A lot of these programs will allow you to see moderate to even excellent success, but they aren't necessarily always sustainable for the long haul (life).

Ideally, what I personally follow, and many others should follow too, regardless of age, is called the 90-10 plan. I heard about this a while back and felt that it really suits my lifestyle and feel like it can be possible for many to follow. Basically, it means that 90% of the time I try to eat as healthy as possible consuming fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grain carbohydrates, and lean proteins. The other 10% of the time, I cheat and consume things that are tasty and make me feel good, but really have no nutritional value whatsoever such as cookies or a few beers.

When it comes down to it, I exercise 6-7 times a week, and eat healthy 90% of the time, so that 10% doesn't even become a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. Not only that, but by exercising intensely, I am gaining so many other benefits that can never be attained from diet alone. I have listed a number of scenarios below and discuss what is the top dog for each category, diet or exercise!

Lose Weight
Plain and simple, it is MUCH easier to cut 500 calories out of your diet than it is to burn at the gym. To give you an example, many of you could go for a fairly intense run on a treadmill for 20-30 mins. and only burn a few hundred calories. However, by ordering from the lunch menu at the restaurant and skipping dessert could easily drop those unneeded calories. Diet and exercise are both extremely effective ways of keeping weight off, but diet wins here.
Winner: Diet

Boost Energy Levels
There is nothing like exercise to get your blood flowing. Not only that, but an intense workout causes a massive flood of "feel-good" hormones throughout your body that not only lift your mood, but also give you a boost of energy. Sure, some foods can give you a quick boost of similar hormones, but they are generally short-lived and can even cause dips in the opposite direction. Sound familiar? Eat because you're unhappy, unhappy because of what you ate?
Winner: Exercise

Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Many people will say, "Exercise is good for your heart!" The more correct phrase would be, "Exercise is good for your cardiovascular system". You know, your internal plumbing. Things like high cholesterol, high sodium, high fat, high sugary diets can cause 'clogs' in your internal plumbing that can lead to a myriad of diseases such as (but not limited to) heart disease and stroke. Exercise flushes things out with such positive effects as lowering your blood pressure and resting heart rates. Having said that, consuming healthy fatty acids like Omega-3's can reduce your heart disease risk big time. I call this one a tie!
Winner: Tie

Prevent Diabetes
This category will be a shock to many of you. You automatically assume that diet is the winner here correct? Well, not exactly. Diet goes a long way here, as you should limit your consumption of certain foods (sugary garbage), not to mention overweight individuals are at a higher risk for diabetes (refer to the first category), but healthy active muscles gobble up glucose out of the blood for energy like it's going out of style! Routine exercise goes a long way to stabilizing your blood sugar levels so even if you do go for that dessert treat every so often, you are mostly covered!
Winner: Exercise

Prevent Cancer
Consuming a mostly plant-based diet has been shown to be a major deterrent for cancer, studies also show that regular exercise strengthens this fact even more. I call this one a tie as well!
Winner: Tie

Improve Mood
Similar to the "Energy" category from above, there is nothing like exercise to boost your mood with that flood of hormones that are released from exercise. Think of it this way, exercise is so good for you that your brain wants to thank your muscles for doing such a good job, so they release these hormones and make you feel great! That's not exactly what happens, but think of it that way. Also, more and more studies have shown that exercise is a great tool to curb the symptoms of depression.
Winner: Exercise

Injury Prevention
The United States has one of the highest dairy consumption rates per capita amongst many countries in the world yet their rates of osteoporosis are also rising, what gives? Your diet can only get you so far here. You can take in tons of calcium and nutrients to make your body somewhat look good, but your body still survives by the "use it or lose it" mantra. Exercise, and especially resistance training, puts a lot of stress and strain on not only your muscles, but your bones as well. Your body is a fighter in that regard because when it sees a challenge, it attacks it head-on by strengthening your bones, ligaments and muscles so that they can withstand these forces. The more exercise and tensile strength we put our bodies under, the stronger they become and less prone to injuries caused by neglect!
Winner: Exercise

Overall Winner: Tie

Yes, a healthy diet has LOTS of positives, and by no means can be replaced. As the saying goes, "You can't out-train a bad diet!" So remember that BOTH tools, diet and exercise, are crucial to living a happy, healthy life, but you certainly cannot do this with diet alone. So when you see those commercials promising to help you lose weight by changing your diet alone, remember, that is only part of your health-body equation!

Quote of the day:
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
~ Mark Twain
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Day 212 - 10 Great Health and Fitness Tips

It seems as though people try and over analyze health and fitness. This unfortunately leads to some folks getting discouraged and giving up on a healthy lifestyle. They seem to think that they need to exercise for this much time at this time of day and eat only these things at these times, etc.

Fad diets and fad exercise regimens come and go, but at the end of the day, there are a set group of "rules" I feel everyone should live by, which are listed below.

1. Be As Active as Possible - Those of you out there that are currently living a sedentary lifestyle will like this one. Rule number 1 is not about working out, but being active (don't worry, #10 is all about working out!). There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of tips people can do every day to help them stay more active. Here are just a few examples; park at the back of the lot when going to the store, you are then forced to walk a further distance. If you have grocery bags or something to carry on the way back, even better as it will be like a mini workout. If you work on the 3rd or 4th floor of a building, take the stairs. Obviously if you work on the 98th floor you will take the elevator, but maybe only until the 94th floor and then take the stairs the rest of the way. Little things like this should be permanently embedded in your brain to make you think of "how can I stay active today?"

2. Eat More Plants - No, I do not mean buying one of those "ready to cook" dishes and popping it in the microwave. The amount of processing those veggies have gone through to get to your freezer has sucked so many nutrients out of them. I mean fresh, whole, good old fruits and vegetables. I would say 70% of the stuff in your fridge should be fresh products that will not last more than a week. That way, you will be forced to eat them before they go bad, and two, by eating all of those fruits and veggies, you will be too full to fill your belly with other junk. Also, when possible, eat your fruits and veggies as naturally as possible (raw) because cooking can remove some of the vital nutrients!

3. Resistance Training - Most women (and some men) are afraid of getting "bulky". I am going to let you in on a little secret...it is extremely hard (if not impossible) for women and also men to ever become "bulky". You see, our bodies are designed to be lean and fast. Our ancestors had to chase down food and run from predators, etc. so your body does not want to be lugging around all of that extra muscle weight (or fat for that matter). Unfortunately, your body has no other choice but to store extra calories from overeating as fat, but I am getting away from the topic here. Yes, men have a higher affinity to build muscle because they have more testosterone, which makes it virtually impossible for women to ever become "bulky". Weight training (using resistance against your muscles) has a whole slew of benefits ranging from increasing your strength in muscles and ligaments, helping prevent osteoporosis, increasing your resting metabolic rate, etc. Weight training is vital for everyone to do; male, female, young and old!

4. Circuit Train - This is resistance training...done as a circuit. Many of you may have tried this type of training. The most wonderful thing occurs when you circuit train. Even though resistance training is considered "anaerobic training" or working your body without oxygen (basically), a well-designed circuit routine also works your "aerobic" systems of your body similar to running on a treadmill. This is due to the fact that when you burn your muscles, you are causing what is known as "microtrauma" to your muscle cells, where you body has to come in a repair to make you stronger for next time. How does your body repair your muscles? Well it increases your heart rate and improves your circulation. If done correctly, circuit training that works your muscles and your circulatory system at once should be the only type of training anyone should ever need (unless you are training for an endurance event such as a marathon, etc.). Not only that, but well-designed circuit routines have been proven to burn more calories than standalone cardio ever can, plus your metabolism is kicked into high gear for hours after the workout is over (including while you sleep!).

5. Change Things Up - Also known as "periodization", this is the idea that you should not be doing the same things all the time. Even you runners out there that want to train for a race should not just run, but do other full body exercises. When you do something, your body wants to do that particular thing as efficiently and effectively as possible so it strengthens you in those areas, also known as adaptation. Once you adapt to a program, your body stops changing and you hit a plateau. This is very common for people who want to get fit so they decide to take up running. Well, they get out there and run 5km, 3 days a week and see great results the first few weeks, losing weight, etc. Then, all of a sudden as if someone hit a switch, they stop losing weight. Its because their body is used to running and is no longer changing. This is why full-body circuit routines are great, you can constantly swap out different moves and literally have an infinite number of exercise combinations to keep your body constantly guessing...and constantly changing!

6. Train With a Purpose - If you are a soccer player, you would train your legs and core and heart to be a better runner and kick the ball harder, etc. If you are a gymnast, you train your flexibility and core strength, etc. Well for average people who do not have a specific sport to train for, you should be training your body to become more functionally fit for everyday life. This includes core strength to improve posture, leg strength to climb stairs into your old age, arm strength to lift your kids and play with them. Don't just do something just because it looks cool or is the new fad, do it because it is going to improve your overall health. For example, if you are a dad who coaches your sons soccer team and wishes to be more fit and active, going to the gym three days a week and spending 45mins of every hour doing ridiculous weight on the bench press and bicep curls may make your muscles grow a bit, but you are still going to be huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the kids. Take that for example right there, kids do a little bit of everything, they run, they jump, they swing from trees, adults should take a hint...

7. Stretch - Now that you are following rule #3 and doing some resistance training, remember to stretch as well. Nothing makes someone old faster than their muscles experiencing atrophy (decay) and shortening up as they get older. You see it in your older relatives, their posture is terrible, they hunch over, etc. This is due to a lack of strength training as well as a lack of stretching. It literally is the fountain of youth. Stretching not only opens up our muscles but also helps with joint mobility, circulation and injury prevention.

8. Core Strength - I touched on this a bit in #6, but core strength is something everyone should be focused on. Your core allows you to do the things you do in every day life. I don't just mean those "six-pack abs" here either, but your entire trunk. Everything from you "nipples to knees" is your core and all the way around your body. Not only will your arms and legs function more efficiently due to a strong core (healthy trunk makes for a healthy tree) but you will also be less susceptible to injuries, especially with your back.

9. Drink Your Water - Most of us are underhydrated, probably caused by our obsession with caffeine (diuretic). A properly hydrated body just runs more efficiently including digestions, our immune system, our thinking, etc. Not only that, but if you are underhyrated, your body thinks as if you are living in a dessert so it starts to retain water which can add inches here and there. Drink your water and eat raw fruits and vegetables as they are mostly water to stay hydrated!

10. Exercise - I told you I would get back to this one. As much as we all like to think, "Oh, I did the gardening today, that is enough exercise" or "I walked the dog, that is enough exercise" you are fooling yourself into thinking you are speaking the truth. Stop lying to yourself and get some exercise. Exercise is where your heart rate gets up high (much higher than walking pace) and stays there for a decent amount of time. For those of you starting out, 20 mins of exercise will be plenty, then as you get more fit and more comfortable with your changing body, you can increase the amount of time you work out. Keep in mind though that more does not necessarily mean better. Some people go from couch potato to 2 hours at the gym their first time out and can barely walk the next day. Unless you are training for the Olympics, most people will benefit from 45-60mins a day, 5-6 days a week. Yes, I had to sneak that part in...everyone should get at least 20mins of exercise 5-6 days a week...no questions asked.


Quote of the day:
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
~ Aristotle


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Day 206 - Health Myths Put to the Test


We have all heard of fad diets and exercise trends that come and go, all promising to "Lose 10 pounds in 10 days" or "THIS miracle food will help you lose 5 pounds instantly" etc. When it comes down to it, an active lifestyle with a balanced, healthy diet is the best and only sure-fire way to get and stay healthy. Below are some popular health myths that I will debunk!

Fat Makes Me Fat - People tend to confuse dietary fat with the body flub that surrounds their body known as adipose tissue. Truth is, dietary fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and should make up 25 to 30% of caloric intake. Dietary fat helps dissolve vital fat-soluble vitamins in the bloodstream such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Your omega-3 fatty acids are also attributed to a healthy cardiovascular system. The problem people run into is consuming too many saturated and trans fats, the latter of which should be avoided at all costs due to its utter uselessness in the human body.

You see, back in the 1980's fat began to develop a very bad reputation from some medical experts who believed that people were getting fat because they were eating too much fat, which coincidentally has twice as many calories per gram compared to carbohydrates or proteins. This is only partially true, as it is not fat that makes us fat, it is the calories in the fat that makes us fat. You can cut fat out of your diet completely and still become a fat cow by eating too many carbohydrates and protein (which is very apparent in today's society).

One thing to note here, is that since companies all started to jump on this "low-fat" bandwagon, they realized that their food products don't taste as good without fat (humans inherently enjoy fatty foods) so they substitute fat for sugar. Unfortunately sugar and sugar substitutes can make you just as big or bigger!

There are many reasons for humans to consume fats, we just need to realize that since there is twice as many calories per gram in fat compared to protein or carbs, that we need to eat less fat, not eliminate it completely. Needless to say, most people need to eat a lot less of everything!

Ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet should include olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, etc. Aim for about 60-70 grams per day (but everyone is different).

Cardio Training is Better for me Than Resistance Training - I see this all the time. Women especially head into a gym, hop on an elliptical or treadmill, etc and work away for an extended period of time, work up a slight sweat, then go home. What good is that? First of all, you are only working a specific portion of your body, not to mention not really burning a whole heck of a lot of calories. Yes, cardiovascular training is important. You need to get your heart rate up to clear the junk out of your arteries and veins to allow your heart to work more efficiently. Second, a longer, slow-burn type of cardio session can do wonders to burning fat, lowering your resting heart rate, and lowering blood pressure. EVERYONE needs to incorporate some sort of strength training into their balanced exercise plan a couple times a week, at least! Men and women a like should work all of the muscles in their body at least twice a week.

Strength training promotes stronger muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons so that we are less prone to injury as we age. Not to mention working our core (notice I say core, not abs, as your core includes your upper thighs, hip flexors, back, etc.) helps to stabilize our bodies and prevent things like back injuries in everyday life. The biggest proponent to strength training though is the fact that a well-designed, hard-hitting resistance routine burns far more calories than a cardio routine ever will because you are using your muscles to exhaustion which burns tons of calories during and after the workout. Doing strength training properly causes micro tears in your muscle fibers which cause your body to move in a repair the damage afterward. This is what increases your resting metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after a good strength routine! That's right, after a good circuit-style strength routine, your body will be burning more calories at rest than usual...even when sleeping!

Women: "I don't want to lift weights, that's for bodybuilders!" - Related to the post above, many women are afraid of doing any serious weight lifting because they are afraid they will look like bodybuilders. No wonder women have such high incidence rates of osteoporosis, etc! The body basically follows the mentality, "Use it or lose it sister (or brother)." As we age, our bodies decay from inactivity, soooooo, if you are not using your muscles or creating a tactile load on your bones, they begin to decay away.

Truth is, majority of women don't have the necessary testosterone levels in their blood to pack on large amounts of muscle anyways! Women's bodies are built more for endurance so you get that long, sleek, toned look from weight training. Men's bodies are more built for power and speed. (In a general sense) Women should be aiming for timed circuit training or 15+ reps when training, but don't skimp on the weights, you want to push yourselves!

High Cholesterol - Cholesterol, like fat, has been victimized in the past. Cholesterol is now a household name for many as being "bad". Truth is, like fat, cholesterol is a vital part in the human body for regular cellular function as well as bile production to aid in the breakdown of foods. The confusion arises because some people have linked high cholesterol levels in our diets to dietary cholesterol which simply is not true. Studies are increasingly showing that high blood cholesterol comes from a diet high in saturated fats, while foods high in dietary cholesterol have a fairly negligible effect on high blood cholesterol. Foods high in dietary cholesterol but low in saturated fat, including eggs, shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, and other shellfish, can be safely eaten in moderation without having much effect on blood cholesterol levels.

The link between high blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol seems to have a mixed signal here because non-seafood foods with high cholesterol also have high levels of saturated fats, which is the true root cause of high blood cholesterol. I know, it sounds confusing, but its true. The more and more something like a double cheeseburger creeps into your diet, the higher your blood cholesterol is going to climb...but its because of the saturated fats that do it!

Snacking Makes Me Fat - Remember your mom used to say to you, "Don't eat that snack, it will ruin your appetite!" Well good, ruin that appetite! People may fend off some hunger pangs, especially in the afternoon because they know dinner is coming up. The only problem with that is you then tend to overeat, and overeat very quickly by the time you get to dinner. More and more studies are showing that eating consistently throughout the day helps stabilize blood sugar levels and feeds our bodies with a constant supply of fuel.

Think back to our early ancestors roaming the countryside from cave to cave. They probably did not sit down at a McDonald's at 6pm to grab dinner, they were foraging and snacking all day on fruit and veggies that they found as traveled. This should be the same for you. Snacking does not mean a handful of chocolate or chips though, aim for something with some sustenance to it. Healthy fats such as nuts, or something with protein, or even some fruits and vegetables with fiber. Anything that will digest slowly and keep that slow fire burning in your gut rather than an energy drink or chocolate bar that will be digested and burned off quickly (or stored as fat quickly) causing you to...crave more sugar.

"I exercise, so I can eat whatever I want!" - There is a saying in the fitness industry that's along the lines of, "You can't out-train a bad diet." To live a long, healthy life, you must lead an active life with a good, balanced diet....period! Yes, there are times when we all like to pig-out on a dessert, but that should be VERY rare. You may have some friends/family members that are lucky because they have "one of those metabolisms" that help them burn calories all the time, super for them. You often see that with teenage boys/girls. Boys/men especially generally have more muscle tissue which means that those muscles are needing calories all the time. That also allows them to eat more calories and not worry about gaining weight. If you are getting older and are already fat, with little to no muscle mass, guess what, your resting metabolic rate is going to be low. Yes, you can eat treatsmore often if you are fit and have good muscle tone, but not all the time. Even more reason to hit the weight room...men AND women!

Drinking Water Flushes Out Fat - I have to laugh at this one. Have you ever mixed water and oil together? What happens to that oil? It pools on top of the water in little droplets. When was the last time you went pee and noticed little oil slicks in the toilet? Water does a lot of good for the body, but flushing out fat it does not. Often times, we confuse hunger for thirst, so if you are ever feeling hungry, try a glass of water first. Secondly, a dehydrated person will notice a substantial energy drop which makes your workouts suffer. Some studies have even shown a boost in your metabolism if you start your day with a cold glass of water. If that works or not, it certainly could not hurt!


Quote of the day:
"Too many people are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when they ought to just water the grass they are standing on."
~ Amar Dave

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com



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Day 193 - Plateau


"I'm eating at a large calorie deficit and exercising really hard, yet the scale isn't moving. What gives?"

Plateau, huh? When most people begin a new workout routine, many of them begin to see some pretty good advancements in their muscle strength, cardiovascular strength, and of course, dropping some weight right away.

Once you start to get a few weeks into your new workout schedule, that is when you begin to plateau. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's one of two things. If you're not dropping pounds, yet your inches are changing for the positive, odds are you are actually losing fat but also gaining muscle. That's what's balancing out the scale.

I know it's a frustrating situation, but if you've been looking in the mirror or putting on clothes, you've probably noticed that you're looking better and your clothes are fitting better, so it's not all bad.

Another possible reason for plateauing could also be undereating, which can force your body into starvation mode. Our early ancestors (who hunted and gathered) didn't have access to grocery stores, Burger King's or McDonalds'. Because of this, people sometimes had to go for days with little or no food. Evolution would tell us that people who survived these times of famine were the people who, well, survived these times of famine so these bodily mechanisms are now programmed into our DNA. In order to do this, their bodies adapted by slowing down their metabolisms and holding onto emergency fuel supplies (aka "fat") during lean times. This is starvation mode.

Finally, I will discuss the idea of "muscle confusion". The idea behind this concept (which has been around for many years) is that you want to be continually changing your workout plan to keep things fresh and exciting. Every few weeks, you are going to want to change up your usual plan somehow. If, for a few weeks you run on the treadmill, do some bicep curls, a few pushups, etc. Shakes things up, try a stairclimber or an elliptical for your cardio. Instead of pushups, try a bench press, etc. Also, change the order in which you do things. If you used to always do a chest and back routine on a Monday, switch it up to a Friday. The idea is that you want to keep your body constantly guessing. The more variety you keep in your fitness, the more you challenge it, and the less likely your body will become accustomed to repetitive actions. The more you do something, the easier it becomes, so why not change things up?

Just like with everything though, everyone is different. Some people come out of the gate on a new exercise/diet regimen and see results fast and plateau later. Some people plateau at first, then see results after a few weeks. The key thing here is to stick with your plan even through tough times like a plateau!

Diet and fitness should become a full-time job for you for the rest of your life. Plateaus will come and go, and that is normal. But when they do hit, it takes a dedicated person to realize and understand the plateau, and then do something to change their course to continually challenge themselves.

Quote of the day:
"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling."
~ Margaret Lee Runbeck

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com



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Day 181 - Stay in Shape Rather than GET in Shape


Simple enough title right?

Those of you that know me well know that I am a big fan of the New York Yankees. I am therefore a HUGE Derek Jeter fan.

There was an article in Sports Illustrated a few years back that let the reader in on Jeter's personal life a little bit. One key factor that the interviewer touched on was Derek's fitness regime.

Derek said that when he was younger, and broke into the league, he stayed in shape all season long and then took a few months off. But now that he is getting older, he finds it is much easier to 'stay in shape' rather than 'get in shape'.

He said that after the baseball season completes, he likes to take a little bit of time off, but then gets right back into the swing of things (ha!) and works out hard in the offseason.

Although Derek is a professional athlete, this same mentality can and should be followed by those fitness-minded individuals. A lot of times, people start a workout program and then a few things happen;

1) They experience a lot of pain via sore muscles and exhaustion, so they give up on their workout plan shortly after beginning because things are 'too hard'.

2) They continue to fight through the pain, complete a few months of exercise, then go back to their sedentary lifestyles. This is fine, but 6, 8, 12 months down the road when they feel like getting back into a routine, they experience that same pain and exhaustion they had at the beginning of their last round...rinse and repeat.

The most ideal scenario here would be to dedicate yourself to lifelong fitness so that you are continually growing and making yourself stronger, faster, healthier.

Think of fitness as climbing a descending escalator. Scenario 1 above would be somebody starting at stair 1 and climbing up a stair at a time. Since they are out of shape, each stair is quite difficult, in fact, many people try to tackle 2 stairs at a time for 'faster' results, and end up discouraging themselves, quitting, and having the escalator carry them back down to ground level.

Scenario 2 would be an individual starting on stair 1, and taking things 1 stair at a time for a few weeks/months, then when they feel they have reached a 'high enough' level, they let their bodies travel back down to the ground floor. Then, weeks, months, or years later when they decide they wish to exercise again, they have to start all over from stair 1.

Wouldn't you rather take a stair at a time, every day, getting yourself into a routine, so that as you age and grow older, the stairs actually become easy, then you find yourself taking 2 stairs at a time, or 3 or even 4!

Now there are going to be a few days here and there that you are busy, or have a cold/flu/some other illness side tracking you. But if you minimize the amount of time you take off, then you can keep a steady pace and never have to travel back down to the ground level.


Quote of the day:
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
~ Anonymous
Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com



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Day 110 - Walking is Only the First Step...


A study published in USA Today this morning discusses the fact that more Americans are getting more active with walking. Walking is a great way to stay active, it is not enough activity to meet the requirements adults are recommended to meet to stay healthy.

Step 1 of my "Grow Younger Every Day" list is all about this very fact. Too many people feel as though simply 'staying active' with moderate activities is enough to stay healthy, although vigorous exercise is what is really required to keep a healthy cardiovascular system and ward off cardiovascular diseases.

The current government recommendation is adults should get at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, such as brisk walking (fast enough that you get a little winded), or 1¼ hours (75 minutes) of a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types, to get the most health benefits from exercise. This activity should be done in at least 10-minute bouts.

Don't get me wrong, I always try and promote as much activity as possible amongst people, regardless of the intensity level. Having said that, the reason why I promote activity is that everyone needs to start somewhere, but intensity is the name of the game and eventually everyone should try and increase the intensity, as well as the duration of their exercise to consistently challenge themselves.

If you are new to exercise, not only do I try and promote moderate activity to start, I actually recommend it as I believe that everyone should start off slow. Once you start to get in better shape, however, you should look for new ways to challenge yourself and up the intensity.

Quote of the day:
"The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."
~ Chinese Proverb




Day 104 - Distinction in Diet vs. Exercise


If you haven't already, I strongly suggest you check out Yoni Freedhoff's blog Weighty Matters.


One of his recent blogs discusses the topic that "Weight is food. Health is fitness." I have discussed this topic before, although not everyone reads my blog, so hopefully Yoni's readers will also get the hint.

In other words, for proper weight management, diet is the key. Sure, exercise helps, in some ways, to maintain a healthy weight, but in general, the obesity epidemic is not due to the fact that we are moving less, but that we are consuming more.

On the flip side of this coin, exercise is health. Don't lie to yourself and think that exercise is not needed for a healthy lifestyle, because it is absolutely necessary. Just remember that exercise keeps the machine (your body) running smoothly while the fuel (food) you put into the machine, is what (primarily) keeps the weight at a proper level.

What I personally get a kick out of is the constant "promise" nearly everyone in the fitness industry touts. I personally see advertisements from personal trainers all the time promising that their fitness program will help folks "lose weight in 4 weeks, guaranteed!"

I am sure many of you have heard of these sayings before, but just in case you haven't, here are a few "sayings" tossed around in the health and fitness industry that are spot-on with this information:

"Abs are made in the kitchen."

"You can't out-work a bad diet."

Quote of the day:
"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true."
~ Leon J. Suenes






Day 87 - Grow Younger Every Day Step 4: Enjoy What You Do

Step 4 of improving yourself involves enjoying what you do.

Some things in our lives are hard to control. Let's not try sugar coat things, people's jobs are a great example of something that not everyone has control over. Sure, there will be those that will tell you to just up and quit your job if you don't like it, but more often than not, there are major repercussions that follow an attempted career change. This is even more prevalent if you have a family that relies on you and your income.

Sure, there are things in our lives that we have little to no control over, but there are many things that everyone does have control over but simply choose to be miserable. I want you to do your best and take control of two of the most important things involved in your life - and enjoy every minute of it!

First is diet.

I will admit that growing up, my family was a very "basic" in terms of what we ate. Our idea of vegetables consisted of corn, potatoes, and sometimes peas. As I got older, and made it out into the world on my own, my wife (then girlfriend) helped and inspired me to try new foods.

I now consider myself a vegetable fanatic. There is still a pretty big list of items that I have never tried before, but the list of things that I now eat is far greater than what it used to be.

This took some time to get used to. Since I wasn't too accustomed to eating certain fruits and vegetables, I would try things here and there, and eventually my grocery list began to change to include far more fresh produce. Now, my wife and I joke about how much of our fridge, beyond just the vegetable crisper, is taken up by fresh fruits and veggies.

The mental approach I took towards eating new and healthy foods is a multi-step approach. First, I would read about the benefits of a certain food. Once I learned how tremendously beneficial something is for my mind and body, I would then learn ways to use it in my meals as basic as possible (free from sauces, as raw as possible to maintain its benefits). Then I pick some up at the grocery store and give it a shot. If it is something that I really cannot bring myself to eat consistently, then I re-evaluate new ways to eat it, ways that I will at least somewhat enjoy!

Sure, there are items of food that you absolutely can't bring yourself to eat, but maybe that is because you haven't found the best way to prepare it.

Also, what has helped me is keeping the mindset that although food and dining should be a pleasurable experience, it really only has one sole purpose and that is to fuel your body. Professional racecar drivers do not use your standard, regular unleaded, they go for premium fuel. I know that if I wish to continue to stay as active as I like to be, then I need to find the best possible fuel to put in my body, which means I absolutely need to find ways that I can enjoy eating said foods.

Secondly, exercise should also be enjoyable!

I can't believe how often I hear folks moan and complain about a workout they "have to do". Who says you have to do anything? I am assuming that if you are reading this blog, you at least have some freedoms and free time to choose what you wish to do at your leisure.

I always shake my head when I hear people complain about their workout, as if somebody, somewhere is cracking the whip on them forcing them into manual, slave labor.

If you are "exercising", but hate doing it, then change what you are doing! Do you have going to the gym? Go for a run outside. Can't run because it's winter? Go for a nice, long, challenging hike. Don't like running? Go for do some lane swimming or buy a bike.

There are SO many options available to people, yet somehow, folks everywhere make up their mind that "exercise" has to be this monotonous, torturous event.

There are days when I hate the thought of doing a specific workout as well. So instead of just skipping it altogether, I change things up and do something I enjoy doing instead.

I feel the problem with most people is that they know they should exercise and eat healthy, but feel that it just isn't 'fun', or requires too much effort. You may even feel relatively healthy at this point in time, so it is hard to see the number of benefits that will be paid back to you as you age gracefully if you lead a lifestyle that is active and healthy.

One thing that I remind myself on a day to day basis is that finding ways to enjoy healthy foods and finding exercises/activities that keep me interested is the best way to stick with something long-term. If you hate what you do or hate what you eat, there is not a chance in hell you are going to stick with it. You have the freedom, opportunity, and resources available to you right now at this very moment to find something that you will enjoy. If you don't have the resources available, then go make it happen!

Quote of the day:
"I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the best."
~ John Keats





Day 82 - Grow Younger Every Day Step 1: Exercise


In following the theme of this blog; "A Better You, to Grow Younger Every Day", I have compiled a list of steps/tips/pieces of advice that everyone can do to improve their lives. This list is based around the idea that not everyone is perfect, but if you try to fulfill the requirements on this list, you should become a much happier, healthier person.

So, the first in my list is exercise. For my usual readers, this first step is probably a no-brainer, as many of you probably live a life with plenty of exercise already. If not, I highly recommend you get your butt moving!

If you didn't already know, exercise is a tremendous tool to keep your body youthful and less prone to injury/illness. Although it plays a part in weight loss, what you eat (diet) really is the better tool to successfully lose weight and maintain a healthy body composition. (more on that in a future blog)

Exercise is so much more than that, however. It makes the cardiovascular system more effective/efficient, it improves cognition, it can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, it improves confidence, it makes the bones, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues stronger. The list goes on and on!

One of the biggest problems with exercise, however, is there seems to be a vast discrepancy with some people as to what they believe exercise actually is. Gardening is not exercise. Walking your dog is not exercise. Walking through the mall is not exercise. Sure, all of those mentioned activities are great ways to get active, but they are certainly not exercise!

Exercise should be challenging, you should sweat, you should be breathing hard, and it most certainly should be raising your heart rate to a respectable level, that is when change happens.

You see, when you push your body outside of its comfort zone, into a place when it is struggling to 'keep up', that sends signals to your brain causing a cascade of hormonal releases throughout your body. These hormones are the ones that signal growth and improvement in your tissues.

Why is growth important?

Think of your body like a constant construction site. When you are a kid growing up, your body is growing, adapting, and changing. This is like springtime for your body, your bones, ligaments, muscles, and cells are all new and enjoying the swath of growth hormones. These growth hormones are like a brand new construction site, building, improving, and expanding.

Unfortunately, as we age, these 'growth' hormones begin to slow down. Your body, which was once a construction site of growth and improvement is now beginning a slow decay. Sure, there are little construction projects going on all over, but for the most part, decay is winning over the growth.

Exercise, and the subsequent flood of growth hormones caused by intense exercise, recruit a whole new construction crew to continue building your body and improving your body just like when you were a child. Healthy food is great in many ways, but it exercise that sends the signals to you brain and body that you are still growing and improving, and that, is the best way to stay young!

So here's the deal with my "Grow Younger Every Day Step 1"; exercise intensely 5-6 days a week. This does not need to be an all-day affair, as science has shown as little as 20 minutes of intense exercise a day makes monumental improvements, but make those 20 minutes count! In a future step, we will discuss what intensity really means, but for now, just focus on challenging yourself physically 5-6 days a week, no questions asked.

At this point in time, I really don't care how busy you are, nor does it really matter. All that matters is that you get active. Find the time to do something challenging. I am sure you find time to eat, and find time to go to the bathroom, and you probably even find time to shower and wash yourself. Well, consider exercise as one more piece of that puzzle needed to maintain your body - because it is.

This is outside of the fact that you should be as active as you possibly can (remember gardening and walking your dog?). In future posts, we will also discuss the need for recovery and 'downtime', but for now, get off you butt and get moving, and make it count!

Quote of the day:
"Choice, not circumstances, determines your success."
~Author Unknown





Day 64 - Diet vs. Exercise: And the Winner Is....


Just in case you have missed it, I have been comparing diet vs. exercise in various topics to determine which one, once and for all, is better for total-body health. You can review the past posts here:

Part 1: Weight Loss
Part 2: Increase Energy Levels
Part 3: Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Part 4: Prevent Diabetes
Part 5: Improve Mood
Part 6: Injury Prevention
Part 7: Cancer Prevention

So without further ado, I declare the winner between diet and exercise, as the be-all, end-all to lifelong health and fitness to be...

Diet AND Exercise - it's a tie!

Come on now, you didn't actually think I was going to pick one over the other did you? That would be like asking a parent to choose their favorite child!

Both diet and exercise each have their pros and cons, but combined, they play a tremendously important role in maintaining a healthy weight, keeping steady energy levels, improving overall mood, improved sleeping, preventing illness, etc. The list could go on and on!

Keep in mind that there is no magic solution to getting fit, feeling great, and looking a certain way. It requires a life-long dedication to not only consuming healthy and nutrient-rich foods, but also moving your butt and challenging your body in various ways.

Don't think of the word 'diet' as a short-term fix to get your ass into a pair of jeans to impress someone who frankly could probably care less. Think of it as a long-term change to improve yourself and live a healthy lifestyle.

Don't think of 'exercise' as a monotonous tool - that you hate with everything that makes you who you are - that will allow you to eat whatever you want and will help you shed pounds. Exercise is not that thing you turn to once every year to try and make yourself look good in that bathing suit, again, to try and impress people who probably don't give a sh*t.

Healthy eating and an active lifestyle is the only way you can change your body and your mind for the better to help you feel better and age as pain-free and illness-free as you possibly can. The only person who can make that commitment is you!

Quote of the day:
"Success is something you attract by the person you become."
~ Jim Rohn





Day 62 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 7: Cancer Prevention


There are plenty of research studies hypothesizing that consuming a mostly plant-based diet has been shown to be a major deterrent for cancer, studies also show that regular exercise strengthens this fact even more.

There are other categories at play here, such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol, etc. Truth of the matter is, Cancer can happen to anyone at any time, and is a scary disease!

Having said that, leading as healthy a life as possible has been shown to greatly reduce your risk of cancer substantially. I would like to quote Henry S. Lodge from the book Younger Next Year:

Some 70 percent of premature death and aging is lifestyle-related. Heart attacks, strokes, the common cancers, diabetes, most falls, fractures, and serious injuries, and many more illnesses are primarily caused by the way we live. If we had the will to do it, we could eliminate more than half of all disease in men and women over fifty. Not delay it, eliminate it.


Diet and exercise are both important here, I call this one a tie!

Winner: Tie

Quote of the day:
"Life's problems wouldn't be called "hurdles" if there wasn't a way to get over them."
-Author Unknown






Day 61 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 6: Injury Prevention



The United States has one of the highest dairy consumption rates per capita amongst many countries in the world yet their rates of osteoporosis are also rising.

Now common belief would tell you that, "You are what you eat" and if you wish to increase your bone density, then you should increase dietary calcium and vitamin D (also magnesium, etc.) in order to build bone tissue.

Turns out, your diet can only get you so far here. There is more evidence coming out today that is exploring the fact that you can take in tons of calcium and nutrients to make your body somewhat look good, but your body still survives by the "use it or lose it" mantra.

Exercise, and especially resistance training, puts a lot of stress and strain on not only your muscles, but your bones as well. Your body is a fighter in that regard because when it sees a challenge, it attacks it head-on by strengthening your bones, ligaments and muscles so that they can withstand these forces.

The more exercise and tensile strength we put our bodies under, the stronger they become and less prone to injuries caused by neglect!

Winner: Exercise

Quote of the day:
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
~ T. S. Eliot






Day 60 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 5: Improve Mood

 
Similar to the "Energy" category from before, there is nothing like exercise to boost your mood with that flood of hormones that are released from exercise.

Think of it this way, exercise is so good for you that your brain wants to thank your muscles for doing such a good job, so they release these hormones and make you feel great!

Also, more and more studies have shown that exercise is a great tool to curb the symptoms of depression.

Some people may feel that food is the way to improve their mood, as everyone has those "feel good" foods or drinks that they turn to in times of stress or depressed feelings. However, similar to alcohol, foods and beverages only cause temporary spikes of euphoria, often times causing 'crashes' later on. (Hangover anyone?)

Exercise is a much more sustainable way to improve your mood over the long term. Not only that, but you are doing something good for your body, improving your tissues, and burning calories, rather than cramming in unneeded calories that will just add inches to your waistline.

Winner: Exercise
 

Quote of the day:
"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
~ Benjamin Franklin






Day 59 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 4: Diabetes

 
This category will be a shock to many of you. You automatically assume that diet is the winner here correct? Well, not exactly.

Diet goes a long way here, as you should limit your consumption of certain foods (sugary garbage), but if you train your body to be a well-oiled machine, then dietary choices will not seem as drastic any more.

I don't want to blur the lines here, however. Diet plays a large part in weight gain and glucose insensitivity which can lead to conditions like diabetes, but exercise and keeping a healthy, fit body, can go a long way to preventing this disease. I am not advocating a diet rich in high-sugary, high-calorie foods, but a healthy, active body uses and distributes carbohydrates much more efficiently.

Carbohydrates must play a role in our diets. Our bodies need them for energy, and our brains need them to function. The problem most folks run into is that they consume FAR too many carbs than what their body needs on a daily basis. If, however, you get your butt up and off the couch and get active, the amount of carbs (healthy carb options) you ingest is less important.

Overweight individuals are at a higher risk for diabetes (refer to Part 1), but healthy active muscles gobble up glucose out of the blood for energy like it's their job! Routine exercise goes a long way to stabilizing your blood sugar levels so even if you do go for that dessert treat every so often, you are mostly covered.

If we were discussing this category from a flipped perspective, then I would say that diet is much more important in managing diabetes, but I feel that exercise is actually more important in the role of helping to prevent this condition.
 
Winner: Exercise 

Quote of the day:
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
-Henry Ford






Day 58 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 3: Reduce Heart Disease Risk

 

Many people will say, "Exercise is good for your heart!" The more correct phrase would be, "Exercise is good for your cardiovascular system". You know, your internal plumbing. 

Things like high cholesterol, high sodium, high fat, high sugary diets can cause 'clogs' in your internal plumbing that can lead to a myriad of diseases such as (but not limited to) heart disease and stroke.

Truth is, your heart is a very powerful and efficient pump. Having said that, your heart muscle is like any other muscle in your body, it needs fuel to keep pumping. Poor lifestyle and diet choices can increase the risk of blockages in your 'plumbing' that can lead to your heart not receiving enough fuel, and therefore stop pumping!

Exercise essentially 'flushes' things out with such positive effects as lowering your blood pressure and resting heart rates. What exercise does is keeps your arteries and veins soft and pliable so that blood can pass through them with ease.

Having said that, consuming a healthy diet rich in healthy fatty acids like Omega-3's, whole grain carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, can reduce your heart disease risk big time. I call this one a tie!
 
Winner: Tie

Quote of the day:
"Success is a journey, not a destination."
~Ben Sweetland






Day 55 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 2: Increase Energy Levels

 

Despite what some "energy drink" advertisers may try and tell you, there is nothing like exercise to get your blood flowing. Exercise (intensely) does a tremendous job at increasing circulation to all corners of your body. When you are at rest, blood can end up 'pooling' in areas of your body that are not being used as much.

As soon as you get your body moving, your heart rate up, and the blood pumping through your veins, you actually force the pooling blood out of the far nooks and crannies of your body which increases what is known as your 'venous return'. With a greater return of blood back to the heart, the more red blood cells are available to transport oxygen and wake you up.

Not only that, but an intense workout causes a massive flood of "feel-good" hormones throughout your body that not only lift your mood, but also give you a boost of energy. Sure, some foods can give you a quick boost of similar hormones, but they are generally short-lived and can even cause dips in the opposite direction. Sound familiar; "Eat because you're unhappy, unhappy because of what you ate?"

There are plenty of people who feel that their low energy levels can be fixed by certain foods, beverages, or pills. In actuality, however, consistent exercise will help alleviate dips in energy levels over longer periods of time and help maintain higher energy levels.

Having said that, a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods also goes a long way to giving you sustained energy levels, but exercise takes you to the next level!
 
Winner: Exercise

Quote of the day:
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson






Day 54 - Diet vs. Exercise Part 1: Weight Loss



Part 1 of a multi-part series discussing once and for all what is better for you - a healthy diet, or exercise. In this first part, I will discuss what is better for weight loss.

Plain and simple, it is MUCH easier to cut 500 calories out of your diet than it is to burn at the gym. To give you an example, many of you could go for a fairly intense run on a treadmill for 20-30 mins. and only burn a few hundred calories. However, by ordering from the lunch menu at the restaurant and skipping dessert could easily drop those unneeded calories.

A well-structured exercise program can do wonders to also help you lose weight, but by strictly focusing on the numbers, an individual can more efficiently cut calories faster and (arguably) easier than the time and effort needed to work calories off your body.

Diet and exercise are extremely effective of keeping weight off, but diet wins here for dropping weight to begin with.

Winner: Diet

Quote of the day:
"Those that can push themselves further once the effort gets difficult are the ones who will win!"
-Unknown






Day 30 - Exercise when sick?

 
Tread carefully when you are sick. The general rule I tend to use is if your symptoms occur above the neck, then you are probably ok to do some sort of workout. I find that to get the blood moving a bit and get the sweat flowing, I feel better afterwards.

Keep in mind, however, this should not be a strength or endurance building workout. You should allow your body’s resources to be solely focused on fighting your infection!

This blog comes at a good time (or bad time, depending on how you look at it), because I came down with a head cold the other day. I have done some light exercise while being sick, but for the most part, I have taken it easy to allow my body to recover.

I see a lot of folks who feel as though they need to 'push through' and exercise, even when they are sick, in order to maintain momentum, or they feel as though they may lose their fitness 'gains'.

Think of things this way. Health and fitness should be considered an ultra-marathon throughout your life. You should make healthy eating and exercise part of your full-time job, for the rest of your life. Over than many days, weeks, months, and years, do you think a few days off here or there are going to make any difference in the larger picture?

On the other hand, if you exercise too hard while sick, you may prolong your illness or potentially even injure yourself as you simply are not 100%.

Take breaks when needed! 

Quote of the day:
"The only thing in life achieved without effort is failure."
-Author Unknown