Category Archives: diet

Hydration for Sport Performance

In the summer months hydration becomes a critical factor for sports performance. The hotter and more humid the weather is the more fluid you will lose and subsequently need to replace. Dehydration cannot only affect your performance on the field but can also potentially lead to things like heart attacks, stroke, and even death if not managed properly. One of things that I was always taught was that thirst is the least effective indicator of dehydration. When you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated to some degree.

Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium play a crucial role in your body’s ability to function. They help muscles contract and nerves conduct in a coordinated manner. Therefore any disturbance in that electrolyte balance can hinder performance on the field.

The question of which is better water or Gatorade is a tough one. For most people in most situations water is just fine to replace fluids lost during a workout or a game. Sports drinks like Gatorade have excess sugar that is just not necessary for performance. However, sports drinks do help replace electrolytes lost and give added calories for energy. If you were in a situation where food is not readily available like in the middle of a game then Gatorade would be the better option. Also, if you were in extreme circumstances such as 90 plus degree weather or high humidity then Gatorade would be a better option. If you don’t like the taste of water and need something that will cause you to drink more fluids than Gatorade would be a better option for you as well.

To monitor your hydration status there are a couple of things you can do.   First is to weigh yourself before a practice or game and then again after. Each pound lost during that event is equal to 1 pint or half a liter of fluid. This needs to be replaces before the next practice or event. Often an athlete can lose weight during a season and they can attribute this to being in shape. However, be aware of chronic dehydration. Fat loss does not happen that quickly where you will lose 5-10 pounds in a matter of weeks. If this seems like a lot of work for you there is another way in which you can monitor your hydration status. You can monitor your urine. If your urine is dark in color then you are dehydrated. Replace fluids until your urine is a lighter color similar to lemon juice.

 

 

Pre-Game: Before a sporting event where you know it will be hot and humid you should drink at least 16 ounces of fluids an hour or two before the event. The colder the fluid the better it is for keeping your body temperature down.

 

In-Game: During a training session or game you should drink as often as possible. Your goal should be 6-8 ounces every 15 minutes.

 

Post-Game: After the event remember to monitor your hydration status and replace fluids lost. Every pound you lose needs to be replaced before competing again.

 

 

Keep these tips in mind and you can dominate your workouts this summer.

 

 

Joe Lopez C.S.C.S.

http://www.Myoffseason.org

 

 

 

What I Eat Now

The one thing that people ask me the most is what I eat.  The last time I wrote a post about what I eat was over a year ago.  I often will look for ways to improve my diet or make small changes to hopefully create some big results.  In the past year I quit drinking Diet Coke completely and I have adopted a “eat real food” mentality with my diet.  In my last post. Things I Eat,  I spoke about how I really monitor my diet during the week and then on the weekends I let go a little bit.  I still do that.  Before you all think that I am crazy I am a man of habits and almost every Saturday morning you can find me at the Swiss Chalet in Morristown having coffee and donuts before I go for my run.  I also have dessert with Saturday dinner most weeks. However, monday-friday I adhere to a strict calorie allotment and then Saturday is a cheat day and often Sunday Dinner is a cheat meal as well.  I try to eat for fuel 80% of the time and eat for enjoyment 20% of the time.  That being said I never eat anything that I don’t like.  I look forward to eating and I really enjoy everything I eat but I save the things like sweets for my cheat days.  One of the differences between what I eat now and what I ate then is my focus on eating real foods.  Nothing from a box or a bag.  Basically my motto is if it has a label it is a product and not a food.  In that previous blog I listed things like frozen meals, fast food items such as Dunkin Donuts egg white sandwiches, chips and salsa, greek yogurt, and many other things that I no longer eat.  My old mind set was that as long as I stay under my calories the food doesn’t matter.  Now, I don’t think of food as a diet but as fuel for my lifestyle.  I work out quite a bit and without proper nutrition that would not be possible.  The other switch that I have made is my protein requirements.  My goal is one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. When I wrote that last article protein wasn’t really a concern.  Since I ran the NYC Marathon in November I have cut down on the running quite a bit and been focused more on CrossFit. I still run on the weekends but primarily focus on speed and hill work rather than distance. Nutrition is about abundance and not deprivation.  In order to fuel my current workout style the protein is a major concern as well as good carbohydrate options around my workouts.  Things that I have cut out of my diet completely (Monday through Friday) are cheese, milk, soda, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and anything processed.  Because of my extremely busy schedule and time constraints I do buy frozen vegetables and pre-cooked proteins but I make sure to read the labels.  Frozen spinach needs to have one ingredient only.  Spinach!  Not all of them do.  There are a few items I will also buy in jars and boxes but I have a 5 ingredient rule.  If it has more than 5 ingredients I don’t buy it.  Another rule that I have is that I use spices to flavor food and not sauces.  Sauces have excess calories and are often heavy cream or flour based.  StoneWall Kitchen has a great Salsa Verde that I use a lot on all types of meats.  It has only 4 ingredients which is a much better option than Tostitos salsa.  Basically it is tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro pureed.  Just how you would make fresh salsa at home.  I buy Organic produce whenever I can and I am not afraid of fat.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter (JoeLopez55) you know that I often write about how sugar is the enemy when it comes to diet and health and not fat.  The worst thing for dietary fat is that it is called fat and people associate it with body fat.  I eat butter and eggs every day and steak and avocados once a week.  When I make vegetables I often cook them in bacon fat or use butter to flavor them.  My macronutrient goals are 40% fats, 35% carbohydrates, and 25% protein.  I am up 10 pounds since I ran the marathon on November 3rd but my body fat percentage has stayed the same.  I want to lost about 3 percent body fat so I am in the process of making another adjustment and experimenting with some other diet changes but more on that another day.

Here is a sample day of eating for me:

Breakfast:

5 eggs, 3 cups Kale, 3 slices Bacon, One Sweet Potato, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

Lunch: 

Protein Coffee courtesy of Sparta Nutrition Store.

Dinner:

Grilled Salmon no skin 8 oz, Salsa Verde, 1 cup of Spinach, 1 cup of pureed Winter Squash, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

After Dinner: 

Homemade Chia Bar, Protein Shake 2 scoops Optimum Nutrition, 1 Orange.

Totals:

Calories                          2,283

Carbohydrates            175 grams

Fat                                   98 grams

Protein                        189 Grams

Fiber                             42 grams

Sugar                            59 grams

 

 

 

Paleo Diet

The popularity of Paleo, often referred to as the “caveman” diet,  is gaining in popularity. It is also referred to as the Stone Age diet or hunter-gatherer diet, and the theory behind it is that your nutritional intake should be based on consuming plants and wild animals, just like what cavemen are presumed to have eaten during the Paleolithic Period. Based on several clinical trials, Paleo diet is shown as effective in lowering the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The American Dietetic Association also agrees that Paleo diet has a lot of great aspects; however, some people can’t sustain this type of nutrition due to lack of variety, cost, and nutrient inadequacies.

What you can eat

There are no special pills or starvation techniques involved in the Paleo diet. All you have to do is eat similar foods our Paleolithic ancestors ate long ago. Here are several foods that you could eat with Paleo diet and those that you need to stay away from:

EAT

Paleo Foods

Paleo Foods

 

✓     Grass-produced meats — poultry, turkey, steak, pork, beef, buffalo, bacon, veal, bison, rabbit, goat, goose, kangaroo, wild boar, ostrich, quail, elk and emu

✓     Fish and seafoods — crab, oysters, salmon, bass, halibut, tilapia, tuna, mackerel, clams, lobsters, scallops, mussels, squid and shrimp

✓     Vegetables — asparagus, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, Brussel sprouts, parsley and artichoke hearts

✓     Fruits — apple, avocado, raspberries, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, grapes, lemon, tangerine, oranges, plums, peaches, lime, papaya and strawberries

✓     Nuts and seeds — almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nut, walnut abd sunflower seeds

✓     Healthy oils — avocado oil, macadamia oil, , olive oil, canola oil and coconut oil

 

Paleo Pyramid

Paleo Pyramid

NOT TO EAT

✖     Dairy — butter, cheese, powdered milk, cream cheese, nonfat dairy creamer, skim milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream and low fat milk

✖     Soft drinks — all kinds of soft drinks, since these have high fructose corn syrup and sugar content

✖     Fruit juices — are also high in sugar so try to stay away from them. Examples are apple juice, grape juice, orange juice, strawberry juice, star fruit juice and mango juice

✖     Grains — cereals, bread, toast, sandwiches, crackers, English muffins, oatmeal, corn, wheat, pancakes, pasta, lasagna and hash browns

✖     Legumes — black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, red beans, green beans, white beans, chick peas, snow peas, peanuts, peanut butter, lentils, miso, tofu, soybeans, and all soybean products and derivatives

✖     Fatty meats — spam, hot dogs and other processed meats

✖     Salty foods — French fries, ketchup

✖     Alcohol — Beer, whiskey, tequila, rum, vodka, and other alcoholic mixes

✖     Sweets — sugar, candy bars

 

Health benefits

 

  • Lose weight – Paleo diet helps your body to lose weight naturally since the stored fat in your body is being converted into energy. With Paleo diet, you are consuming foods that have a high-nutrient density without the bad calories. You also tend to lose food sensitivities and you feel more satiated because of all the healthy fats you’re consuming.
  • Increase energy levels – Several studies show that following this diet will increase your energy since you’re eating foods that are low in carbohydrates but high in fat, which provide more sustained and lasting energy.
  • Sharpen the mind – By following the Paleo diet, you are getting a well balanced meal from natural sources. It gives you more energy without having to resort to caffeinated beverages or energy drinks. It also allows you to eat until you feel full, or eat whenever you’re hungry, so you don’t risk running low on energy when you need it.
  • Detox your system – Paleo helps you detoxify your body, so you lose the unwanted substances in your food like MSG, gluten, refined sugar and caffeine. Ingesting more antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber from the fruit and vegetables you’ll be eating will help your body to purge out toxins.
  • Helps you sleep better – by cutting out the chemicals and additives in your diet, you tend to sleep better. This is because of the serotonin in the brain, which releases the signal that it’s time to sleep, is not overridden by these chemicals.
  • Leaner muscles – Because this diet plan relies heavily on consuming meat, a healthy amounts of proteins are then used to feed your muscles. This helps you have a leaner physique and better muscle development, (with the help of a little exercise.)
  • Reduce your risk of diseases – this diet allows you to eat more anti-inflammatory foods and less foods that causes inflammation. You’re also eating more foods that have antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are known to ward off diseases such as cancers and heart ailments. Naturally avoiding fast food and junk foods also help in improving your overall nutrition.

 

David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.  He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline.  To visit his other stories on Healthline, visithttp://www.healthline.com/

What does Clean Eating Mean?

Eating Clean

Eating Clean

 

 

Eating clean is simply stripping your diet with unhealthy foods. It is not a diet but a lifestyle choice wherein you only eat whole, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. This allows you to eat more and weigh less by making smart food choices.

Eating clean can is the foundation for proper nutrition, weight loss and disease prevention. The concept of clean eating may seem to be overwhelming at first, especially if it involves a lot of dietary changes. Taking it one step a time and incorporating it gradually, however, can help you ease into these changes. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes or have slipped off the rails a few times. All it takes is the determination and patience knowing that you can eventually live a much healthier life than ever before. The keys to good health and proper nutrition are in the following concepts:

Cut down on alcohol

Several studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol (specifically red wine) has some health benefits, such as raising good HDL cholesterol and warding off dementia and Alzheimer. It is essential that consumption stays moderate, however, since excessive alcohol can affect your liver. It also weakens your immune system, making your body an easy target for diseases.

Cut down on sugar

On average, Americans consume 30 tablespoons of added sugar every day, which is higher than the recommended allowance deemed by the American Heart Association, which is only 6 tablespoons for women and 9 tablespoons for men. Excessive intake of sugar can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can also result in weight gain since excess sugar that’s not immediately required for energy is converted to triglycerides. So, avoid sugar in excess, including sugary beverages such as soda and fruit-flavored punches.

Cut down on salt

Restaurant foods and processed foods generally have high sodium content. It is best to cook food at home to be able to manage your sodium intake. Use fresh ingredients and boost flavor by using herbs and spices rather than salt. Too much salt intake can result to hypertension and may increase the risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer, cirrhosis and kidney stones.

Avoid saturated and trans fat

Saturated fats are known to increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can damage the arteries. Trans fat is far worse that saturated fats because aside from raising bad LDL, it also lowers good HDL. Too much of these unhealthy fats can lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver dysfunction and other chronic conditions.

Cut down on refined grains

As much as possible, limit your intake of refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and other foods made with all-purpose flour, such as cookies, cakes and crackers. Refined grains are easily digested into simple sugar, causing your blood sugar levels to spike or crash. These foods can also contribute to high triglycerides, which can cause inflammation and may worsen arthritis symptoms. Choose whole grains instead like whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and whole rye.

Avoid processed foods

Processed foods are anything that is in a box, can, bag or package that have a food label indicating more than one ingredient. All of these processed foods have loads of added sugar, salt, trans fat, and saturated fat that can be dangerous to your health. Processed foods also cause chronic inflammation, indigestion and obesity. Choosing natural, fresh foods are still the healthiest choice for everyone.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables are the best thing you could do for your body. Aside from being nutritious and rich in antioxidants, these power foods have low calories, which can minimize the risk for heart disease. They also have numerous vitamins and minerals, which are essential in keeping the body healthy and lowering the risk of contracting diseases. Fiber, which is also found in most vegetables and fruits, helps prevent diabetes, appendicitis and colon cancer. Make sure that fruits and vegetables will be the main food in your daily nutrition.

Increase your water intake

Our body is made up of 60% water, so it’s important that you replenish it by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to the body. It also helps keep your metabolism healthy and flowing, as well as regulates body temperature. Dehydration or lack of water in the body can cause tiredness, migraine, constipation, kidney disease and irregular blood pressure.

David Novak is a national newspaper columnist, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and GQ Magazine, among others.  David is a health and diet enthusiast, and frequently writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in healthline.com.  For more of his Healthline articles, visithttp://www.healthline

CrossFit Transformation.

I am now 6 weeks into CrossFit. I decided to take measurements before I started which would help me determine just how effective CrossFit was for body composition and overall fitness. While I knew that CrossFit felt different than what I was previously doing I didn’t quite know how much change would occur in just 6 weeks.
CrossFit preaches a Paleo diet which is the eat like a Caveman approach. All organic meats and fresh veggies and fruits only. No processed foods, no carbs, no sugars, no beans, and no dairy. I didn’t quite adopt the Paleo diet completely but I am slowly trying to get there as much as possible. What I have done is increase my protein intake dramatically. I was always focused on just the number of calories that I eat and trying to keep that number to help me maintain my weight. I wasn’t necessarily focused on what foods I was putting into my body. This diet helped me lose 90 pounds and it also helped me maintain that weight loss for 7 years. However, in the last 6 weeks I have been attempting to get a good 40,30,30 split. 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. My goal now is to get 200 grams of protein a day and also particularly after a CrossFit workout to have a a protein shake with 40 grams immediately after. I stopped eating cheese, yogurt, and bread which were staples of my diet for a while. I still use Saturday and Sunday Dinners as cheat meals. I allowed myself to to eat whatever I wanted on these days. I used to eat a lot of fast food which was light on calories. I often ate dunkin donuts flat bread egg whites and things like that. Now, I am basically eating salads, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and a lot of Think Thin protein bars which I love. I also eat edamame and dried peas and lots of fruit.
My workouts these days are CrossFit twice a week, one other day a week at regular weight room which is mostly abs and core and 2 runs a week consisting of 3-6 mile runs. In about another month my runs will becomes more frequent and also more intense as the weather gets better. I am running the NYC Marathon this year so I decided to only do CrossFit twice a week so that I have enough time to train for that.
So just 6 weeks into CrossFit at only twice a week:
My weight went from 188-192. I gained 4 pounds. If I was just using a scale as my measuring tool I would not be happy. But let’s look at my other measurements.
My neck went from 15 to 15.25
My waist went from 37 to 35.5
My Hips went from 40 to 39.5
My Body Fat percentage went from 22-20%
My Chest went from 44 to 42.75
My Chest and Shoulders went from 52 to 52.5
And the most amazing number is my thighs went from 18 to 22.5.

I gained 4.5 inches in my legs in 6 weeks. Wow! I knew Crossfit was very leg heavy and I could feel my legs becoming stronger but to gain 4.5 inches was crazy. If you look at all of my numbers everything went down but my shoulders and my legs went up. This is reason number one that you can’t just use a scale as your measurement tool. I can’t wait to see how these numbers continue to change as I get more and more into my CrossFit workouts and also as I start to run more in preparation of the Marathon. The latest research shows that CrossFit increases Vo2 max which will help my oxygen uptake and I think if I take care of my body and recover properly I expect great things from my marathon times. So far CrossFit is a success and I am very happy with it.

My Top 10 posts of 2012

These are the articles that received the most views in 2012.  I always love getting feedback and seeing the number of  views  for my articles so keep it coming in 2013.  This year I had people from all over the country contact me about my articles. I am always humbled and honored that people take the time to search me out for advice about health and fitness.  JerseyStrong was viewed in 60 countries worldwide.  In the month of December my articles for Stack Media made me one of the top 10 most viewed on the platform.  I sincerely hope everyone has a HEALTHY and happy new year!

1.  Product review of the Nike Plus Sport Watch

2.  High School Strength Coach.  Necessity or Luxury?

3.  How to Gain 4 pounds of muscle in 10 days.

4.  How to Warm Up Like the Pros.

5.  2012 ING NYC Marathon.

6.  Things I eat.

7.  3 Step Approach Guaranteed to Build and Protect Shoulder Muscles.

8.  The Ripped Lower Ab workout. 

9.  What an Amateur Runner Thinks during a 20 Mile Training Run.  Warning.  Explicit Language.

10.  How Long can you build muscle.

Of course there are other articles that were not the most viewed out there in cyber land but I think you should still check them out.

Hurricane Sandy and the NYC Marathon:  A Runner’s Viewpoint.

I was also featured in Men’s Health Magazine this past year so this article was probably the most viewed overall because it reached millions of people worldwide via Men’s Health Magazine.  I included the link in my blog post.  If you haven’t seen it yet check it out.  Image

What an Amateur Runner Thinks During a 20 Mile Training Run. Warning: Explicit Language.

Mile 1: “My heart is racing. Do I need to slow down? No, this is my pace. Just relax and I’ll settle in.”

Mile 2: “I’m going a little fast. I should slow down. I don’t want to run out of gas in the end. Well, maybe I should keep up this pace while I am fresh. Either way my last few miles are going to be slower. Maybe I’ll just split the difference and run a little faster than my race pace.”

Miles 3-4: “This is easy I can do this all day. No problem. These new sneakers feel great.” (Rosalita, jump a little higher Senorita, come sit by my fire I just want to be your lover, ain’t no liar Rosalita, you’re my stone desire)

Mile 5: “My hip feels a little tight. I hope it doesn’t get worse. What am I going to wear to the marathon? If it’s cold I guess long sleeve T-Shirt and shorts. What if it’s really cold? I guess I have to wait until the week of. When I get back from my college reunion I can start thinking about the logistics of the race.”

Mile 6: Another runner approaches. Look at this guy. I am so much better than him.” Give a wave.

Mile 7: “I can’t wait for next weekend. My reunion is going to be so much fun. I haven’t seen Blair in a while. I wonder who else will be there? I have to try my best to not get too drunk or eat too much while I am there. I don’t want to ruin the marathon with one bad weekend. I am supposed to run 12 miles that weekend. How the hell am I going to do that? What places do I need to show Ann? She’s never been there. I guess just show her around campus and around town. Not much there. “When should I take my first energy Gu? I feel fine now. Maybe 10 and 17. Ann is making Chili for dinner. I can’t wait for that. I love Sunday dinners. I hope she makes Brownies. The ones with the spicy cayenne are so fucking good with vanilla ice cream. I am going to have 3 beers with dinner and finish the week off with an Irish Coffee. I deserve it. I am probably going to burn 3000 calories today.

Mile 8-9: Zone out. Silence for 2 miles and then. “Shit I slowed down quite a bit. Quick body scan. My hip feels a little tight. am I babying it? I don’t think so. I should be fine. My Right hamstring is really tight. Probably because of my hip. Fuck. Why did I slow down? I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I need my first Gu now. Wow Mint Chocolate is not bad.” ( But now you’re sad, your mama’s mad And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Oh, your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
‘Cause a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance)

Mile 10: Approaching my mom’s house. “Halfway. I need to refill my water.” Say Hi to everyone and quickly head out. “The longer I stop the harder this will be. I just need to get this over with”

Mile 11: “Ok Halfway. That wasn’t too bad. Just do it again.”

Miles 12-13: Approaching Madison High School. “Madison is really good at football this year. I wonder how they would do against a bigger school? I think PJ vs Madison would be a close game. I don’t think Madison could beat Delbarton. I wonder how many kids on Delbarton’s team are from Madison? They have to have at least a few. What if all the skill player’s from Madison were at Delbarton? Then they would be really good. That kid Goodwin is going to Rutgers. Why is he at Madison playing shitty competition? I am sure a few of the privates tried to get him to transfer. Delbarton is going to beat Pj I think.”

Mile 14: Zone out until Jeep Wrangler passes. That is nice. I can’t wait until my lease is up. I think I like the Jeep. Damn my Hamstring is really tight.” Stop at red light and wait for cars to pass ” Holy shit my knee kind of hurts. All on my right side. Probably has to do with my hip. I hate having to stop in the middle of a run.”

Mile 15: Girl on a bike passes me. “Fuck her. She has wheels that’s why she passed me. Try running. Biking is so easy.” UpHill. “Ugh I have to run uphill now after 15 miles. I guess the marathon won’t be flat. Just suck it up you pussy. Stop whining. This is why a marathon is a mental challenge instead of physical. Anyone physically can run a marathon. You just have to run a little more every time until you get to 26.2. Eventually you can do it. It’s a simple overload Top of Hill principle I ran two marathon because I am tougher than other people not because I am better.

Mile 16: Overweight Man running in sandals approaches “Look at this moron. He must have just read Born to Run. He’s going to have an injury within weeks. Time to take my next Gu. Wow Peanut butter is really good. I miss Peanut butter since I banned it from my diet. I was like an addict. I couldn’t stop eating it.” This Gu is really good. I think I’ll bring Peanut Butter to the marathon.”

Mile 17: “Come on I am so close. 3 miles is nothing. I think I have the beginnings of a blister on my foot. Damn that’s not good. I hope it’s not too bad. Maybe the new shoes or maybe I need new socks. Damn. What if that happens during the race? I guess just suck it up and finish. I should buy new socks.”

Mile 18: Runner passes me “Fuck her. She’s not that fast. She is probably running 2 or 3 miles. Does she know I am running 20? Maybe I should tell her. I probably look terrible right now. She probably thinks she is so much faster than me. I bet she has never run more than a 5k.”

Mile 19: “Oh boy. I am slowing down. Hold it together for 2 more miles. How am I going to do 7 more miles? I guess I did it before I can do it again. Maybe if I let this car hit me I can stop. No, that would be bad.”

Mile 20: “My legs feel numb. That can’t be good. Stop thinking negative you asshole! ” Just run. Car makes a sharp turn. “Oh what the fuck! That fucking dick. He couldn’t let me cross the street. Does he know that I am running 20 miles today? Figures that he drives a fucking BMW. What a prick. Ok quick body scan My right hip is sore. My right hamstring is really tight. I think I have a blister on my right big toe. My legs feel numb. My left kneecap sort of felt weird when I stopped. I wonder what that is about.”

Approaching Finish. you got this. you got this. Around the corner and I’m done. Wow. That was pretty good. Body scan again. everything feels ok. That wasn’t so bad. I can walk that is good. I bet I’ll be sore tomorrow. Who cares. That’s the last long training run. Now I can taper. 12 miles next weekend and then 8 and then the race. Shit I better not gain weight while I am tapering. Who cares? Time to shower up and get a Guiness. I love Sundays.”

Men’s Health article.

I just realized that I didn’t post my Men’s Health article on my blog.  So here it is.

http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/belly-joe-lopez

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Top 10 IPhone apps for health and fitness

10.  LifeTimes Fitness. If you belong to this “Globo gym” you just know.

9.  Running Pace Calculator.  Want to figure out how fast you have to run to do a 2 hour half marathon?  This it it.

8.  Healthy Grocery List.  Find better options in your super market

7.  Men’s health urbanathalon.  Training for the race or just want a killer workout. Try this.

6.  Runner’s World Smart Coach.  This guided me through my first marathon.

5.  Fooducate.  This is the best option to scan your groceries and see if they are really healthy or have misleading labels.

4.  Nike + running.  If you use Nike products this tracks runs and gives you a personalized homepage with graphs and charts.

3.  Hal Hidgon Marathon training.  This is what I am currently following for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon

2.  Nike fuelband.  Syncs through bluetooth so you can know exactly how active you are each day.

1.  MyFitnessPal.  Track your daily eating habits and you are 100% more likely to lose weight.

Random thoughts from a weight loss journey.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about the problem of belly fat versus fat that is collected in other areas of the body.  Belly fat is a more serious indicator of a potential health problem down the road.   Heart disease and stroke being the number one risk from fat around the abdomen.  The U.S. Army has even included waist circumference as a measure to predict healthy potential soldiers.  The used to use BMI and body fat percentage solely.

Now, how do you specifically target belly fat.  The standard answer that a lot of personal trainers will give you is that you can’t spot reduce fat.  For example, if you have fat around your bicep than doing curls will not get rid of bicep fat.  But, there is some good news for people who worry about this excess fat around the abdomen.  If you read my blog you know that I am a runner.  I am running the ING NYC Marathon this fall.  I have also said that distance running is not a way to reduce body fat.  Instead to reduce body fat high intensity sprints and power exercise such as full body olympic movements will help torch body fat.  Well here is where it gets complicated.  A recent Duke University study focused on cardio endurance training vs high intensity resistance training and their responses to visceral belly fat in particular.  Visceral fat is the fat that sits deeper in your belly.  It surrounds your organs and is much tougher to get rid of than subcutanous fat which is more superficial and lies just under your skin.  The Duke study found that endurance training actually helped get rid of the visceral fat more so than high intensity training.  This is why you can sometimes see a runner who has a very “skinny frame” with a higher body fat percentage.  If you look at them in a sweater you might say they are really skinny.  However, if you asked them to take their shirt off you might see some belly fat.  However, because their belly fat is that subcutaneous fat they are not at risk for heart disease etc.  Now. think of the olympic weightlifter with a huge belly.  This guy is powerful but he has the classic “beer belly” look.  He is at risk for a heart attack much more than the runner.

So, what does this mean for you.  If long term health is your goal.  I would try to amp up your cardio.  When I began running I could barely run a mile.  It’s just classic overload principal.  Start slowly and add on a little at a time.  Maybe add 10% a week at the most.  When you first start don’t worry about distance just run for a time.  Say 10 minutes at first.  Then the next week 11 minutes.  A good way to keep you motivated would be to sign up for a 5K or a 10K a few months down the road.  These races are everywhere and they are a lot of fun with other people running alongside you.  If you currently work out 4 days a week then maybe do 2 cardio days and 2 weight training days.  When I was 290 pounds I went to the gym 6 days a week and lifted weights.  I could bench press 340 pounds.    But to work on that overall health and reduce fat you need to focus on diet and add cardio.  Keep in mind however that I didn’t start running until after I lost 60 pounds or so.  Diet is the key to all of this.

Lastly, but probably the most important is diet.  When you are lifting weights you need protein to repair muscle tissue.  However, if you trying to lose weight then you have to worry about total calories.  I always say get to your ideal weight first then worry about shaping your body the way you want it.  I use a smart phone app.  There are a bunch out there.  Loseit, MYFitnessPal, or FatSecret are all good.  MyFitnessPal is my favorite.  If you don’t have a smart phone they also have a website.  Most people will tell you that eating at home is the best way to control weight because you can control the food that you prepare.  However, with these calories trackers you can look up the calories in a menu item at say subway or Dunkin Donuts and make better choices.

This may sound obvious  but many yo-yo dieters just don’t do this.  EAT FOODS YOU LIKE!  If you are chewing carrot sticks and you just hate them then how long do you think you are going to do that?  Find lower calorie options that you actually like to eat.  I can’t answer this for you but there has to be something out there that you enjoy that is not 1000 calories.  If you don’t do this then your diet will be temporary.  You want this to be a permanent change in the way you eat and not a diet.

Cheat Days are a must.  There are things that everyone loves that they just can’t have when restricting calories.  My cheat day is usually Saturday night and sometimes Sunday if I am training for a race.  I will usually have a few beers and dessert on Saturday nights along with dinner.

Don’t diet at special events.  Christmas is not a time to worry about your weight.  If you start to live this way you will always be aware of calories and what the calorie count is.  It will always be in the back of your head.  If you feel that you have control over your diet then go ahead because you can always get back to your routine.

It takes 14 days to create a habit.  I would recommend that when you start this new lifestyle that you are extremely strict for 2 weeks.  No cheat days for at least 2 weeks.  Your body will adjust and you won’t feel as hungry after two weeks.

Eat to not be hungry.  Don’t eat until you are full.  Think about this.  I am a foodie.  I love food but biologically we eat because we need energy.  Our bodies signal hunger.  Once that signal ends than we no longer need to eat.

Eat when your hungry.  If you are hungry Eat!  Usually just a small amount of food will actually end your hunger.

Successful dieters are boring.  They tend to eat the same things over and over again.  Because they know that it is something they like and they know the calories.  It makes it easy and convenient.

Finally, crate your own Eat This not That.  Men’s health popular program that lets you make small changes to your diet that will save you calories each time.  This was probably my number one weapon for weight loss.  For example,  I stop at Dunkin Donuts everyday after work.  I used to get an Iced Coffee and a muffin.  I go from work as a school teacher right to my personal trainer job and needed something to hold me over until dinner.  After learning that a muffin at Dunkin Donuts has 600 calories and a chocolate glazed donut has only 350. I switched to a donut.  How many weight loss guys will tell you to eat donuts!?  But I just saved myself 250 calories a day 5 days a week.  In three weeks if I did nothing else I would lose a pound right there.  After a few months of ordering glazed donuts I also like egg sandwiches.  The Ham, Egg, and Cheese, on an english muffin is 290 calories.  Bam!  I just saved 60 more calories a day.  3 months later they have an egg white flatbread turkey sausage sandwich.  That is 210 calories.  It is basically the same size and it fills me up just as much.  I just saved 80 more calories a day.  From my original muffin I am down 390 calories a day every day of the week.  My original daily snack when I started going to Dunkin Donuts was an iced coffee with cream and sugar and a muffin.  700 calories.  Now I get am Iced Coffee with Skim Milk and splenda and a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap.  for 215 calories.  I did not make all of these changes at once.  That is the key.  I changed one thing and when I got used to it I then changed another thing.  Think about your daily habits and how you can make small changes one at a time.

Coffee with no cream

No cheese on a sandwich.  (would you really miss it)  that’s 150 calories.

Mustard instead of Mayo

Diet soda instead of regular soda

Brown rice instead of white rice.

Weight watcher’s bread vs your regular bread.

Lite beer instead of regular beer.  etc

Find which swaps work best for you and remember choose one thing at a time.  All of these swaps for me took place over the course of several years.  If you tried it all at once then you would miss it too much because you are too close to your old habits.  Start with one swap and then let it become a habit.