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Monday, November 25, 2013

Push Ups - More Tips, Tricks and Variations to Keep Them Challenging and Fun

Tired of doing standard push-ups and want to mix up your routine?

Here are a variety of different push-up variations that you can do at home, requiring little or no equipment while pushing you to constantly get better.

With this first video I'll show you push up variations you can do with the exercise ball.

In this second video check out how you can progress yourself into doing one arm push-ups by working your way through several progressions.

Here get started using a Jungle Gym/TRX or other suspension training device to do many different challenging push-up variations.

In this second suspension training push-up video learn how to insert even more variety into your upper body workouts.

Finally, this last video I'll show you how to do a few more push-up variations with your Jungle Gym or TRX type suspension training system.

Monday, November 18, 2013

52 Fitness Myths that Won't Go Away

There are plenty of fitness myths that I hear over and over again, whether it be from clients or from people in general.  It's key to your progress that you get these nonsensical ideas out of your brain forever.  Believing these myths to be fact will keep you from making progress.  Please don't let me hear these come out of your mouth or else!

1.  If you stop working out your muscles will turn to fat.

2.  Squatting past parallel is bad for your knees.

3.  Too much protein will damage your kidneys.

4.  Saturated fat is bad for you.

5.  Red meat is bad for you and will cause heart disease.

6.  Don't let your knees go past your toes on a squat or lunge.

7.  You need to do cardio to lose fat.

8.  High reps is for toning.

9.  Low reps will make you get big.

10.  Heavy weight will make you get big and bulky.

11.  Organic food isn't better for you.

12.  Tap water is healthy.

13.  You should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.

14.  Sports drinks are good to use during workouts.

15.  Gluten free is a fad.

16.  Gluten free is healthier.

17.  Grains are essential for good health.

18.  Salt makes your blood pressure increase.

19.  Everything in moderation is the key to health.

20.  Your body needs sugar to function.

21.  Eating lots of fruit is healthy.

22.  You can't build much muscle when you're over 40.

23.  Being really sore is a sign of a great workout.

24.  Aerobic capacity directly correlates to cardiovascular health.

25.  Eating fat makes you fat.

26.  Cutting calories is the way to lose fat and tone up.

27.  A calorie is a calorie.

28.  Crunches will give you a six-pack.

29.  Ab exercises will give you a six-pack.

30.  Juice is a healthy beverage.

31.  Functional training will make you more functional.

32.  Being an endurance athlete is good for your health.

33.  Spin classes are good for toning your legs.

34.  Decline bench press is for the lower pecs.

35.  You should keep your eyes on the ceiling when doing a crunch.

36.  Just because someone has worked out for a long time makes them an expert.

37.  If someone works out a lot they are a good trainer.

38.  Eating a high carb low fat diet is healthy.

39.  You can get all your nutrients from food alone.

40.  Smoothies are a healthy meal.

41.  The speed at which you do a weight training exercise doesn't matter.

42.  Use light weights if you don't want to get bulky.

43.  Just go by feel when deciding what your workout will be on any particular day.

44.  Carb loading the day before a big endurance event is good for you.

45.  Cereal is a healthy breakfast food.

46.  Doing weight training workouts on unstable surfaces uses more muscles.

47.  Cardio machines are good because they are easy on your joints.

48.  Caffeine will dehydrate you.

49.  Certain foods are always healthy for everyone.

50.  Healthy food doesn't taste good.

51.  Your genetics are the biggest factor in determining whether you're fat.

52.  Genetics don't have any impact on whether you're a great athlete, it's all hard work.

53.  Humans were designed to be endurance athletes.

In future posts I'll go through and provide a brief explanation of you know the real truth that's hiding behind these myths.

I just had to add this photo, which I saw this past Friday at 24 hour fitness in Pleasanton...there's a first time for everything...when you think you've seen it haven't!

A Little Extreme Perhaps?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pull Ups - How to Do Them at Home - Even If You Have Never Done Them Before

Most people I've run into are not able to do a pull-up, however almost anyone can build up to doing so with the right training and instruction.  I've put together several videos which should help you out whether you can already do some pull-ups but want to do more or have never been able to do pull-ups and want to do that first one.  I split them up into several videos so you can watch them in a short amount of time when you have a few minutes.

This first one will tell you about the things you'll need if you want to do pull-ups at home.  The equipment mentioned in this first video can be found on amazon.  Here is the easily removable Iron Gym pull-up bar along with the more permanent ... bar that mounts to the door frame with brackets.

The second video shows you how to use a pull-up assistance band which will be very important if you are not able to currently do a full pull-up with proper form.  The band mentioned here is the Perfect Fitness Pull-Up Assistance Band.

This third video is the one where I discuss and demonstrate proper pull-up technique along with tips on how you can improve your pull-up strength using techniques you likely have never been taught before.

Hopefully with the assistance of these videos and the tips and instructions they contain you'll be able to either do your first pull-up or improve your current pull-up strength and form.  If you have further questions about pull-ups just post a comment and I will do my best to answer them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stupid Things You See In The Gym - Neck Buster, Back Blowouts and Shoulder Shenanigans

In case you missed the first Stupid Things You See In The Gym post check it out here.  This first one is absolutely nuts, I saw it a couple months back at 24 hour fitness here in Pleasanton (I apologize in advance since the background music didn't get reduced properly...turn up the volume and you can still hear the details)...basically the dude couldn't clear his head with the huge 90 lb dumbbell and instead of asking for a spot allowed it to rest on the top of his head.  Guess he was hoping to make himself shorter or perhaps confine himself to a wheelchair.  Check this out...

Check out the rest of this post for three more episodes of stupid things you see in the gym...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Stupid Things You See In The Gym

Today is Halloween so I thought I'd share with you a few videos demonstrating some downright scary stupid exercise techniques you see in most gyms on a regular basis.  Check out this craziness...the sad thing is the individuals doing this are usually in reasonable shape...give them a few years though and see how many injuries they have racked up!

This one is certainly my favorite...I actually saw a guy doing this recently...the scary thing was another guy who appeared to be his brother (based on looks) was doing the same thing!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Discover How Anyone Can Do Push Ups and Get Stronger

Have you always been frustrated by the fact that you can't do a push-up?

Or, can you do push-ups but are looking to increase the difficulty beyond just doing more repetitions?

Today I have a couple videos that will show you how to properly perform several push-up variations as well as how to work on building up your strength in specific parts of the push-up movement.  Maybe you have a hard time pushing yourself up from the bottom position or perhaps are looking for a way to challenge yourself further but aren't able or interested in trying 1 arm push ups just yet.

Here are the videos that will quickly show you how to get the maximum benefit from push-ups right now.

Take a look...this first video shows you several push-up variations.

In this second video I demonstrate a couple techniques for breaking through your weak points on push-ups.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Push Ups - Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Maximum Benefit and Minimum Pain

Push-ups are one of the best exercises you can possibly do, whether you want to tone up your body, strengthen your back and core or lose fat.  The best thing is you don't need fancy equipment or a gym to do them.  However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when doing push-ups in order to avoid possible pain and injury.

One thing many people complain about is shoulder pain when doing push ups, the short videos below will show you some things you can do to minimize or eliminate shoulder  pain on push ups.

If your shoulders aren't hurting, or even if they are - there are likely other things you can do to reduce the likelihood of hurting other areas of your body such as your neck and back.  The following quick videos illustrate the proper way to position your head and back when doing a push up.  The form errors in these videos are very common and I see them all of the time.  Watch these, make the small corrections and you'll notice a huge difference with your push-ups.

Finally, I've included a video that will help those of you who have issues with your wrists bothering you during a push up.  This simple modification may make push ups again possible for those who've found standard push ups bother their wrists.  Take a look at this short video for the tip.

Stay tuned for several more videos later this week that focus on various push up related tips and modifications that should help your workouts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

How Should You Hydrate for Exercise?

What are you drinking?
Are you overwhelmed and confused by all the different options for hydration?

If you're like most people I run into you probably have quite a few questions regarding what's best.

With the barrage of so-called sports drinks, energy drinks, rehydrating formulas and every other type of highly marketed, specially formulated beverage that's promoted for those
 who exercise it's no surprise there is mass confusion amongst people about what's actually best for hydrating.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's so Bad About Grains?

Back Away
You hear much about grains being unhealthy these days, despite the fact that the popular notion has long been that whole grains are good for you.  You may be wondering what the problem is, or even if it's true that grains are not as healthy as you may have believed.  Here I'm  going to give you a brief overview of what the issues are and then you can decide for yourself if you want to include grains.  But before I get started I'm going to tell you straight up that everyone looking to lose body fat would do well to eliminate grains from their diet.  Yes, EVERYONE!

First, without getting too technical, if you look at a grain in its natural state you will quickly realize that it's not edible like say an apple.  In order for a grain to be at all edible it must be processed in some manner...that is unless you enjoy gnawing on something that resembles the consistency of cardboard.  With that said, all grains that you consume, regardless of whether the package says whole grain or not, are processed. 

You can't eat this

Ever tried buying steel cut oats?  That's about as unprocessed as you're going to get and they require about 20-30 minutes of cooking to be edible.  So we've established the fact that all edible grains must be refined and processed, which presents a number of issues.  For one, wheat bread (which is supposedly's really not healthy) has a glycemic index over 20 points higher than pure sugar.  In other words it's going to rapidly increase your blood sugar and cause a large insulin response that will lead to a crash in a couple hours - followed by extreme hunger.  This cycle of up and down blood sugar and the accompanying insulin response leads to fat gain...particularly visceral fat (fat around the organs) which creates an inflammatory environment that underlies many health issues.  Needless to say - you do not want visceral fat accumulation if you're interested in health.

You don't want this friend.

Now lets look at another reality with grains - the history of human consumption - at this you may be surprised.  It was only about 10,000 years ago when grains began appearing in people's diets...but the grain consumed back then was much different on a genetic level than the stuff people eat now.  BTW..10,000 years is extremely little time in terms of human history and in that time our bodies have not adapted to digest grains...particularly the modern forms of grain that are available today.  And to boot the modern grains produced have never been safety tested for human consumption.  Major efforts of hybridizing grains began in the early 40's to combat hunger - needless to say we still have hunger issues and while people eating all these highly manipulated grains may feel like they are getting what they need - they are likely getting more than they realize...and definitely not in a good way.  In particular, modern grain contains more gluten proteins which cause greater blood sugar spikes and more reactivity in the human body...not a good thing.  Couple these manipulations with the heavy promotion of a low fat whole grain diet beginning in the 80's and there you have a recipe for exactly what's been happening over the last 30 years - more and more people becoming overweight and sick with the follow along diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.  And only enhancing the issues are the fact that avoiding grains is very difficult to do as they are in virtually every processed food...even things you wouldn't think such as salad dressings, soups and more.

Beyond the blood sugar issues and resulting inflammatory environment they create there are a host of other problems...not the least of which is the addictive nature of grains.  If you've tried to eliminate or even cut back on grains you know very well what I'm talking about - lethargy, fatigue, mood swings - all the hallmarks of drug withdrawal.    What happens when gluten is broken down is that it attaches to morphine receptors in the brain just like opiates...making you feel good.  Hence the reason getting away from the stuff is very difficult. 

Feel like this after eating?

Additionally, grains contain lectins and phytates which wreak havoc in the human body.  Lectins are proteins which contribute to intestinal damage, leptin resistance (you don't know when you're full), and impaired insulin sensitivity.  Phytates, which are also contained in grain, render minerals unavailable for absorption...certainly not something you need...considering most people are deficient in a variety of nutrients...particularly minerals like magnesium, zinc etc.

If you're thinking you need grains in order to get your you don't, there's plenty of fiber in probably need to start eating more of them.  In fact, fiber irritates and ruptures the outer layers of intestinal cells...this is not good or normal.  I don't know about you but do you think it makes sense to rupture any part of your body...I think not!

And oh what about the governmental guidelines to include grains as part of "your heart healthy diet"?  Ignore them...these are not at all based on science or what's healthy...instead they are based on money and incestuous agricultural industry relationships.  Just look at how big the grain subsidies are.  Not to mention Monsanto, and all the other governmental relationships with big food,  pharma and biotech companies.  If you'd like to believe what I'm saying is a bunch of nonsense, well that's up to you...however, based on the current state of government I'd bet it's highly unlikely you trust the government to say or do anything without twisted ulterior motives.

You won't look like this eating grains

Now you should certainly have an understanding of why staying away from grains is in your best interest, if you don't and believe grains are needed, well just take a look at yourself in the mirror...even without clothes if necessary...and ask yourself a question.  Has eating grain and grain based foods (if you're not consciously trying to avoid grain, you are eating it) really created a picture of health, well-being and energy?  I think you know the answer.  If you haven't already, eliminate them and see what happens...oh yes you may experience withdrawal at first...but long term you likely will experience weight loss, energy increase and many of the other health related outcomes you've been searching for.

Wheat Belly
Grain Brain:  The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar
Mark's Daily Apple

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Eat at Restaurants for Fat Loss?

You can start buy ordering 3 drinks, a couple baskets of bread and then some potato skins loaded up with cheese and bacon.  Oh no!  That's right...that's the way to start off if you want to gain fat and slowly destroy your health.

While that may not be how you start things off when you go out to eat, it's not all that uncommon in for many Americans.  What makes it even worse is the fact that restaurants enable this type of behavior by asking you 8000 times if you want more to drink, or more bread or dessert etc. etc.  Of course the servers are trained to do this to increase sales and also to prevent people from getting upset about the fact that they aren't able to gorge themselves sufficiently on a variety of so-called foods that contain any number of things no real food actually contains.

Lets look at an example from a meal that you can order at your local Applebees (this is from their website)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is Red Meat Really Bad For You? - Think Again

You’ve heard it for years - red meat is bad for you!  Especially from the media, who takes every opportunity they can to sound alarms about red meat.  I then hear the aftermath of this from clients and others, some of whom unknowingly tout the fact that they don’t eat red meat like it’s a health badge of honor; unfortunately they have been woefully mislead. 

The reality is that red meat, when you look objectively at the evidence, is one of the healthiest things you can eat.  Now before you dismiss this reality as nonsense, and close this article, let me actually detail for you why much of what you hear about red meat is not accurate.

For one, most of the research done on red meat is observational in nature and is therefore, for a variety of reasons, unable to prove causation.  Basically, in this type of research there is no way even the most careful researcher can control for every possible factor that could have influenced an outcome.  For example (this is very simplified), when they say red meat causes colon cancer they are basing this on asking people to recall what they’ve eaten (dietary recall is notoriously inaccurate) over long periods of time and then concluding that the chances of getting colon cancer are higher for those eating red meat.  What they fail to mention directly, is that people who tend to avoid red meat also tend to do a number of things that actually do contribute to reducing risk of disease (regular exercise, eating less processed food, less sugar etc.).  While those who eat more red meat (which oftentimes includes all kinds of processed meat), tend to do things that increase risk of disease (e.g. smoke, not exercise, don’t manage stress).  Therefore, based on these realities, drawing such conclusions and blaming red meat is not only baseless but also intellectually dishonest, bad science.  Bottom line is…correlation isn’t causation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Do I Grocery Shop for Fat Loss?

Not sure what to buy?
This is another of the many questions I'm asked by people on a regular basis.  Everyone wants to know how they should shop, where they should shop, what to buy and so forth.  Here I'm going to take you on a tour of your local grocery store in an attempt to make it much easier for you to make better choices...these things apply whether you're trying to lose fat or not.  Knowing and implementing these shopping strategies is the first step in setting up your kitchen and preparing meals that will lead to the weight loss results you want.

First and foremost, and you likely already realize this but may not have thought too much about it, you have to realize that grocery stores are designed primarily to make money (not that there's anything wrong with this as they are for profit companies).  Thus, everything about the store - from product availability and placement, all the way down to the lighting is designed to maximize your purchases while minimizing the stores cost.  While this may be good for the store it's typically not very good for your health.  So in order to make the healthiest choices and set yourself up for success you need to have a shopping plan.

Not Everything at Whole Foods is Healthy

Before I go into the specifics let me give you a high level overview and shopping strategy.  If you've read my previous posts on Why You Get Fat Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 you're aware that the key to fat loss is limiting quickly digested carbohydrates and other sugars.  Therefore when shopping you want to navigate to the areas of the store which will keep you as far away from the aforementioned junk food that will sabotage your efforts.  Since most every grocery store is laid out in the same way it's pretty much always a good idea to spend most of your shopping time on the perimeter of the store where the freshest most unprocessed items are located.  You only want to navigate into the center portion of the store on a limited basis to get select items.  The best way to make sure you stick to this plan is to abide by certain guidelines.

  1. First, go grocery shopping after you've just had a meal and are in a good mood.  
  2. Secondly, always have a grocery list with you and stick to the list (again don't make the list when you are hungry or in a bad mood).  Click here to download an excellent free shopping list.
  3. Third, avoid buying items based on price alone because typically the cheapest and best deals are often some of the worst items from a health standpoint.  The unfortunate reality is that healthy foods are more costly because they require more time, energy and money to produce.  If you want to get the absolute best deals and still eat the highest quality foods you're going to have to do some legwork to find local sources where you can buy direct from the farmer, typically in larger quantities.  
  4. Finally, absolutely avoid purchasing items based on convenience as they are typically the least healthy...think about convenience stores items (certainly not the place to go for health fare).  Here is a good grocery list to download and use.  

By following these shopping guidelines it will make it much easier to stay on the outside perimeter of the store with few if any trips to the dangerous middle aisles that are filled with processed foods and drinks that will ruin your fat loss efforts.

With these basic guidelines in place here are the specifics about the various sections of the store:

1.  Produce Section - typically the first section you come to in the store and one of the sections where it's easier to make the right selections than in many others.  Focus on the vegetables more so than fruits (except for berries which are lower in sugar and higher in nutrients).  When buying produce you'll want to preferably choose the organic as they will be free of chemicals and typically have more nutrients (despite what popular media propagates - take a look at who funded the studies that say there is little nutrient difference - big food companies or universities funded by them).  Even though most people have their favorites it's always good to try produce you've never had before, the more variety the better (changing your food choices helps prevent food intolerances and oftentimes helps fat loss).  The foods you'll want to avoid in the produce section are starches such as potatoes and corn along with most fruits (especially for the first 14 days of a fat loss program).  Most people who need to lose fat can't handle anything more than 2 pieces of fruit per day without causing themselves problems.  With produce, the thicker the skin typically the fewer the anti-oxidants (e.g. berries contain more antioxidants than bananas).  Additionally, choose vegetables with a variety of colors as you will be getting a larger variety of nutrients.  Each of your meals should involve vegetables along with the healthy fats and high quality proteins which need to be the emphasis of your eating for fat loss and for health.

2.  Meat -  Though adequate protein and fat are keys to fat loss, this area of the store requires a bit more scrutiny than the produce section if you really want to  be successful.  Meat has gotten a bad rap for a long time as the media and so called "health authorities" have scared people into thinking the only meat they can eat is a boneless, skinless chicken breast (yuck!).  Like most things, the devil is in the details - and that's why you have to be very particular about the quality of your meat.  I'll go ahead and say it...95% of the meat in most conventional supermarkets (Safeway, Raley's, Lucky etc.) is not the best quality.  The animals are raised improperly and thus the contents of the meat is not the healthiest.  There are however some that is good, you just have to look closely.  When it comes to beef you want organic and 100% grass fed as this will ensure that the fats in the meat are healthy and you won't be getting the chemicals, hormones etc that come with conventionally raised beef (i.e. corn fed, feed lot animals).  For any poultry you want pastured organic chickens or at least free range and the same goes for eggs (even though they are usually in the dairy section of the store).  The standard brands in your major supermarkets, like tyson/foster farms etc are not high quality.  To get the good quality meats you need to shop at either smaller local markets or places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, New Leaf and Trader Joes.

3.  Dairy -  Most commercially available dairy products are not healthy or helpful for fat loss, sorry all you cottage cheese and yogurt fans.  The biggest issue is the fact that the processing the dairy products have gone through render them low in nutrients and high in reactivity for most people as dairy is one of the top food allergens.  No this doesn't mean you have to have an anaphylactic attack...rather if you find your stomach feeling lousy and you're quickly looking for a restroom after consuming dairy products odds are you are sensitive to something in them and you should avoid them.  All dairy in the majority of stores is pasteurized (this means cooked) and some is homogenized (this has been shown to raise cholesterol).  There are some smaller local stores that carry raw dairy products in California (in many states it's illegal to sell in stores).  Butter is one thing that is very healthy for you if it's from grass fed cows (the fat profile is better...more omega 3's).  You should avoid any of these butter replacement products that, regardless of what the package says, are nothing more than processed vegetable oils and other bad fats.  If you insist on buying dairy it should be organic and from grass fed cows full fat.  Yogurt and cottage cheese should also be organic, plain and full fat.  You have to read labels because they put all kinds of other things in dairy products.  The same goes for soy, almond and all of these other "milk" concoctions...they are highly processed and loaded with sugar.  You do not need dairy products to be healthy.

4.  Other Important Items -  When you venture out of the perimeter of the grocery store it should only be for oils, nuts, frozen vegetables, some canned fish and carefully selected condiments and perhaps water if you buy bottled water (Nestle Pure Life is a good option).  You can buy a filter and make your own water for much cheaper (I use the Nimbus Watermaker Mini which is excellent portable r/o).  The only oils you should purchase are extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, organic palm oil and possibly pumpkin oil and all should be organic.  Do not purchase any vegetable oils, organic or not and also avoid products that have these vegetable oils in them (basically any packaged food).  Nuts should be organic and raw as well as free of added poor oils like canola etc.  Peanuts are not nuts and they should be avoided (they naturally contain a mold, are common allergens and have estrogenic properties)

All of the other items not mentioned should be avoided, this includes all breads and baked goods, pastas, sauces, condiments and so forth.  Virtually all of these products contain bad oils, soy, or other food additives that you do not want to consume.  Unless you are extremely well informed it will be virtually impossible as well as ridiculously time consuming to search through these products in a store to find ones that may be marginally acceptable at best.  Thus it's easier to just avoid them all unless you've been personally taught by someone who knows the fine details.  As a side cannot buy a healthy salad dressing in any grocery store (this includes Whole Foods etc.).  You can make your own at home with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Use this shopping guide.

There you have it, the rundown on how to shop for groceries.  I would encourage you to purchase the book...Rich Food Poor Food by Jayson and Mira Calton and use it.  It's a very easy to use healthy shopping guide that will delve into much more detail about what to look for as well as specific names of products to buy and avoid.  Please feel free to post specific brief grocery shopping questions in the comments below.  If you live locally in Pleasanton, CA, I do offer fee based individual grocery shopping tours on a limited basis.  This involves me going shopping with you and showing you exactly what to pick out.  Please call me at 925-931-1120 if you are interested in these local grocery store tours.  F7MZKK4KPGYK

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's A Healthy Body Fat? - You Will Be Surprised...

In your quest for fitness, you likely want to lose fat.  But what level of fat should you shoot for?  You may have seen charts that place you in a category, such as underfat, healthy, overfat and obese, based on your body fat levels.  But where do these categories come from, are they accurate, and what do they really mean?

As with anything that categorizes you in a general way, looking a bit closer does much good.  For instance, with the various body fat charts and guidelines you'll find, many interestingly enough site no sources while others give a vague reference to a book or journal article.  When looking at the body  fat charts from some of the organizations considered to be "authorities" you'll find one particular reference often sited.

What you discover when reading this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is that the study was not designed to establish body fat norms but rather to explore possible ways of establishing body fat ranges.  In this case they attempted to link "healthy" BMI(Body Mass Index) numbers with predicted percentage body fat.  Using "healthy" BMI numbers is inherently flawed as BMI considers height and weight without regard to fat vs lean weight.  With that and some of the other characteristics of this study in mind it's safe to say one can hardly extrapolate body fat ranges with this single study of little over 1000 participants whose age tended to be in the 40-60 range on average and who were recruited via newspaper ads, flyers or referral for body weight evaluation(these aren't usually apparently healthy individuals).  The study itself, in discussion of its limitations states "the aim of this study was not to provide population ranges for body fatness".  Yet it's used as a reference for charts that people use to provide population ranges for body fatness.  Suffice to say there are no absolute standards for body fat and the ranges that are provided in most instances are quite wide and vague.

What's the bottom line on body fat then?

What's healthy and normal largely depends on what your situation and goals are.  For example, a wide receiver in football will perform better at a lower body fat percentage than a lineman in football.  However, most people will have better blood test and health numbers, whether they are an athlete or just someone wanting to feel better, look good and be healthy, with a markedly lower body fat than they currently have. 
For men that means sub 10% is ideal and for women sub 20%.  You may be scoffing and saying that's impossible and I say yes if you have a standard American diet and lifestyle that may be true.  But, if you fix your diet and lifestyle and work out properly you can get to these levels safely and don't let anyone tell you you can't.  It won't happen overnight, it will require hard work, but it can happen - that is if you are willing to go against the grain and take action.   

Visually where do you fit in?

Remember, we're genetically programmed to be's our modern lifestyle that has lead to the acceptance of high levels of body fat as normal.  Native humans were not fat...they also didn't sit at desks 10 hours a day and then plop on the couch for 4-5 more every night.  You have to make significant lifestyle changes to get to these healthier levels of body fat, many of which you may not be willing to make.  That's perfectly fine, just don't expect to have flat abs and a lean fit look when you have a lifestyle that involves eating whatever you want and working out a few hours a week.  It won't happen.  However, if you do what everyone else won't, you'll look like everyone else doesn't.

As an end note, all methods of body fat testing are just estimations that extrapolate fat percentage based on various methods, body water, density, skinfolds etc...and should be taken as such.  There is inherent error in each...and thus visual appearance is a much better guide.  This is true with other "health measurements" as well...for example your total cholesterol numbers have to change by more than 35 points in either direction to have statistical confidence that they have actually changed at all.  None of this gives you permission to totally dismiss your numbers to justify your preferred habits (if the body fat scale reads 35% you're still fat), but what it does say is don't place such fanatical emphasis on one test that you stress yourself trying to get to a certain number.  Take a look at the whole picture of your lifestyle, health and well being and you'll be much  better off in the long run.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

3 Minute Shoulder Shaping Workout

If you like the workout head over to my Done in 5 Fitness site for new workouts each day.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's a Healthy Breakfast? - It's Not What You May Think

Not So Fast Buddy

I'm constantly asked by clients and other people what they should eat for breakfast.  Then when I give them the answer they give me a strange look, say something like "I just can't eat xyz in the morning", or  have no response (typically a way of saying I think you're crazy, there's no way I'm going to eat that, but I'm not going to say it to your face).  The reality is this - you can choose to eat whatever you want for breakfast, just be prepared to accept the consequences.

If you're like most people, you have a certain idea of what constitutes acceptable breakfast fare and are highly resistant to eating anything that falls outside of that norm.  Typically it's whatever you grew up eating or what the media has convinced you to eat, healthy or not.  Instead of me telling you eat this, don't eat that, lets look a little closer at what a huge majority of people eat for breakfast.  In light of my How You Get Fat series of articles, it should quite quickly become abundantly clear as to what is healthy and what is not...especially with regards to fat loss.

Lets look some very common breakfast selections and how they stack up in terms of nutrients and effects on fat loss...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

La Vite - Pleasanton Italian Restaurant - Menu Selection

La Vite Pleasanton –  Not that you should be going out to eat frequently if you're trying to lose fat, because you shouldn't be for a variety of reasons.  The main reason being you really have very little idea what you are getting (hidden oils, mediocre ingredients and other hidden flavorings etc).  Particularly, as is obvious if you've read any of my previous local Italian restaurant reviews (Barones, Strizzis, Pastas), places whose menus centers around refined grain (i.e. pasta in this case).  Never-the-less if you find yourself going to La Vite or any of the local Italian places (Forno Vecchio, Fontina, Baci), of which there are many - I hope my suggestions help you figure out something you can eat and not feel like you are totally blowing your diet.  With that said, La Vite is a nice hidden place to go in Pleasanton, if you don't know where it is you would hardly stumble upon it (in the plaza next to the Sports Park).  In the past I've just stuck with salads topped with one type of meat or another...pretty much the only thing you can get if you're serious about fat loss (you have to avoid quick digesting carbs).  I do also mention the better options in the pasta sections in case you feel you have to have it or if it's your cheat meal of the week.

Before you head out to La Vite Ristorante in Pleasantoncheck out my choices below from their menu.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Eat a Meal for Fat Loss - Do You Have it Backwards?

Want to look like this?
So you want to lose weight (you mean fat)?


You’re all motivated and ready to go…but then you have to eat!  Not such a problem until now…I mean, when you’re not in the weight loss mode, if you’re like most people, you just eat whatever is easy.  But now you realize things are no longer that way…that is, if you really are serious about losing weight.

There are so many mixed messages these days, it’s confusing, frustrating and likely has caused you to give up many times.  Especially with the Internet, where there are as many views on eating for weight loss as there are people.  So you’re left with the nagging question – “What really is the best way to eat a meal for fat loss?”.

If you’ve read my series on Why You Get Fat, you likely have some idea of how to eat for fat loss.  But in an effort to make it as simple as possible, I’m going to tell you the way to eat a meal that works best for most people who want to lose fat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eddie Papas Pleasanton - All American Comfort Food - Healthy Options?

Eddie Papas Pleasanton –  While they have many fat loss friendly options, you'll have to be careful when eating at this local eatery.  As with almost all restaurants, you'll want to avoid the bread, sauces and other hidden calories in dressings and beverages.  They do make mention that they accommodate gluten free individuals and others with food allergy concerns.  You'll be fine if you follow the fat loss eating rules I make mention of throughout these Pleasanton Restaurant posts, and in my Why You Get and What to Do About It post.  Keep in mind that this series on restaurants isn't meant to imply that you should regularly go out to eat, but rather to give you ideas about better choices when and if you do go out to eat.  Ideally, as you probably realize, for the most effective fat loss, you should eat food you prepare.

Before you head out to Eddie Papas American Hangout in Pleasantoncheck out my choices below from their menu.

Best Protein Bars Available

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why You Get Fat – And What To Do About It – Part V

There are no secrets

In Part I of Why You Get Fat, I discussed the issues with and history of the calories in calories out and eat less exercise more mantras of fat loss, Part II of Why You Get Fat was dedicated to dispelling the myth that the answer to fat loss is cutting calories, Part III of Why You Get Fat showed that exercise alone isn’t the answer and Part IV of Why You Get Fat explained the real reasons people get fat.  

If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest you go back and read the previous posts in the series before reading this fifth and final post that explains what you really need to do if you want to lose fat permanently.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sultan's Kebab - Pleasanton Mediterranean Food - Healthy Menu Choices

Sultan's Kebab Pleasanton –  When it comes to fat loss and eating at restaurants, Mediterranean places like Sultan's are among the best options.  Here, as in most Mediterranean restaurants, there are plenty of high protein options.  However, you do have to watch out for the sauces, dips and toppings that tend have the items you want to avoid.  Namely, vegetable oils, easily digested sugars, additives, flavorings and other ingredients that will sabotage your efforts to lose fat. 

Many people complain that eating healthy is boring and restrictive, I say feeling like crap and being unhealthy is way more's all about choices...and you can't have both.  People like to make exceptions and excuses to justify having their sweets, but then complain and act puzzled when they can't seem to lose fat.  It's not complicated, modern eating is unhealthy and unless you are willing to buck the norm you won't have much success when it comes to losing fat or preventing health problems.  I hear people say they just can't go without such and such thought is, if you can't say no to something then your yes means little.  It's really no different than any other addiction...addicts always make excuses and justify what they do.  You crave the things you do largely because of physiological needs that aren't being met due to poor lifestyle and eating habits that have been developed over a long period of time.  Breaking these habits is not a quick and easy proposition, but you must first acknowledge that progress will be minimal at best until you do begin to change.  Making healthy choices at restaurants, while only one component of fat loss, is a key step that everyone who wants to lose fat must take if they are to have success.  As with other addictions, the details do matter, you can't just have a little and think you'll be alright...particularly when you are just starting.

Before you head out to Sultan's Kebab off Koll Center Parkway across from Safeway on Bernal in Pleasantoncheck out my choices below from their menu. 

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