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Archive for August, 2011

Food Addict

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When we hear the word addiction, we think of alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, cigarettes…  We rarely think of food.  The truth is, food can be an addiction, a deadly one.  In fact, food is the only addiction that is blatantly thrown in our faces every second of the day.  Everywhere we turn we are being sold the addiction that is food.  Encouraged to indulge, practically given for free the foods that are worst for us, rewarded by convenience, comfort and cost.  Unlike other addictions, we actually need food to survive.  It’s not something that we can cut out of our lives.  We can’t just avoid grocery stores and restaurants and vow never to eat again.  We need to make a change.  To make that change, a lasting change, we need to get to the root of the addiction.

For me, when I think about food, it’s like remembering an old friend.  As stupid as this may sound, food has always been there for me.  No matter what I was feeling, I could always count on food to make me feel better.  If I was alone, depressed, happy, nervous, afraid, sick, angry, in love, sad, stressed, bored… I could always count on food to medicate my emotions, take away the edge of pain, reward myself for a job well done, distract myself from whatever was going on.  Unlike people, food never judged me, never criticized me, never made me feel unwanted, never rejected me.  It gave me exactly what I needed in that moment; a feeling of happiness, relief, and satisfaction.  It gave me an excuse to ignore the issues going on inside, and cover them up with pounds and pounds of weight.  I am currently 295 pounds, and it has been so hard to move away from that 300 pound mark.  It’s like my body knows that there are things I have to deal with as the weight comes off and it doesn’t want to make itself vulnerable and give up the “security” of the weight.  There are issues buried so deep inside that as they begin to poke their ugly little heads up, they’re things I had totally forgotten about, things I had pushed down; but they’re still there… and they still need to be dealt with.  Part of my problem is that I don’t really know how to deal with those things.  A friend of mine helped me realize that I am good at thinking it, acting like it, feeling it – but I have never truly vocalized it.  I will get there, I think most of it is fighting through that fear of being vulnerable, of being stripped down to who I really am.

When we get to the root of the addiction, that is when we can really take control of it altogether.  Food isn’t evil, but it isn’t a drug either.  We can diet and exercise all we want, but until we deal with what is on the inside… it will never match what is on the outside.

Over Weight? – an Eating or Activity Problem?

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So, I was just reading an article about an upcoming study that is looking at the increasing epidemic of obesity with a different slant. Instead of attributing the weight problem in the US to the huge portions and highly processed, sugar and fat laden foods that are readily available, he is starting with the premise that the problem stems from lack of activity. He notes that generations ago much of the US population was living and working on farms, our lives were more physically demanding, everything is powered now from lawnmowers to vacuum cleaners to computer keyboards vs. the manual typewriter. Cars were simple enough we could work on them ourselves, we didn’t have self cleaning ovens (remember spraying and scrubbing?!), freezers weren’t self defrosting. Overall, life was more physical. While I agree with the statement that life was more physically demanding, the foods were not as processed, not as readily available. There was no microwave. Meals actually had to be prepared not just reheated.

Truth be told it is probably a combination of the two (cheap, readily available low quality food and a reduction in activity) that have caused the weight control problems that are rampant in the US right now.

I can say from a lot of personal experience that it is very difficult to manage one’s weight solely though increases in physical activity. It is far to easy to consume more calorically that one can burn physically. Many people can temporarily lose weight with diet modification alone. On the other hand, one can lift weights and do cardio all day, but if still consuming too much there will be little positive change with regard to weight loss.

Here at Personal Training Institute we recognize the importance of all three legs of fitness and weight control: nutrition, strength training and cardiovascular training. I liken them to the three legs of a milk stool. Each is equally important and the milk stool is of little use if missing one of its legs. Weight control is literally a math problem: calories out must exceed calories in to have weight loss. If a person can create a 500 calorie a day deficit, he or she can burn a pound of body fat (3500 calories) a week; a 1000 calorie a day deficit would mean 2 pounds of body fat a week. Let’s take a quick look at each of the legs:

Nutrition: by consuming a diet rich in fiber, protein and good fats a person can feel satisfied; not be hungry all the time; enjoy good foods and get quality nutrition while staying within a reasonable calorie goal. It all starts with proper diet. Too much means no weight loss, not enough means no fat burn; we need to make sure that our bodies are getting what it needs to function optimally and repair and sustain itself with the additional activity we are going to be doing.

Strength Training: this is the biggest secret when it comes to weight management. Go into any gym and looks to see where the lean people are (generally the weight training equipment). Where are the heavy people? (ellipticals, treadmills and bikes). The reason strength training is so important to weight management is that adding leans muscle increases your basal metabolic rate, meaning that your metabolism goes up and you burn more calories all day and night. Where the calories burning effect from cardio ends shortly after the exercise stops, the benefits of strength training last 24 hours a day!

Cardio: cardiovascular training is extremely important to our heart. It improves our VO2 Max, increases our endurance and burns additional calories. Keep in mind though that the calories burning effects from cardio training end shortly after the exercise stops. You do get some additional benefit of increased calorie burn shortly after the exercise stops while still in EPOC, but within an hour of ending the exercise you are back to your basal metabolic rate of burn.

So the important take away from all of this is that while yes, our lives in general are less physically demanding then they were 100 years a go, the obesity epidemic in the US is not due solely to this phenomenon but rather a combination of eating and activity. The best solution should encompass a combination of nutrition, strength training and cardio training. You can get all of this working together to get you to your goals at PTI for as little as $25 a session. Chew on that for a moment and come on in and get started today!

Free Training for Cancer Patients at Tucson PTI!

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Take a moment to review the links on the PTI blog. We have a category showing all of the benefits that exercise has for cancer patients. Study after study are showing that patients undergoing active treatment and cancer survivors both benefit hugely from exercise. Here at Personal Training Institute of Tucson we firmly believe this and have programs for both kinds of people. For those undergoing active cancer treatment we will provide three months of free strength training and nutrition counseling! Beyond that we offer discounted rates for cancer patients and survivors. Help us spread the word! If you know someone that would benefit from this program please give them our number and have them give us a call! PTI Tucson – 520-297-8280!

Diabetics, Avoid These Foods!

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Here are the 9 most important foods to avoid if you have diabetes:

  1. Sugary Foods: soda, sweets, dessert and the such; these cause huge spikes in blood sugar and lead to weight gain. Choose sweet fruits or berries instead!
  2. Fruit Juice: all the sugar and none of the fiber. Eat the fruit instead!
  3. Dried Fruit: again, the best choice when it comes to fruit is fresh fruit. Be careful with tropical fruits like bananas and mangos, as they are high in sugar for fruits.
  4. White rice, bread and flour: the key here is white. Avoid these highly refined and processed foods. Opt for whole grains instead!
  5. Full Fat Dairy: much higher in saturated fats that lead to weight gain and heart disease both of which diabetics are predisposed to.
  6. Fatty Cuts of Meat: same story with saturated fats. Go for the leaner cuts and chicken, turkey and fish.
  7. Packaged Snacks and Baked Goods: These are pretty much a big combination of everything bad for diabetics and then some: full of sugar, refined flour, saturated fat, sodium, preservatives and usually high in trans fats. Nothing redeeming about these foods. They are awful for diabetics…actually for anyone!
  8. Fried foods: full of fat, at times trans fats and lead to weight gain and heart disease. Not good for anyone.
  9. Alcohol: alcohol is pretty much sugar in its purest form. If you do drink, drink in moderation that is one drink for most women or two for most men.
Try to fill your diet with lean meats, vegetables, fruits and good whole grains. That is the best recommendation for diabetics. It is an excellent recommendation for everyone for that matter!


Be Careful with Calories Burned on Cardio Equipment!

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You know that weight management is all about calories in and calories out, so you set the treadmill for a 300 calorie workout so you can have that 300 calorie treat – Be careful! You are probably taking in more calories than you are burning. Cardio equipment is notorious for overestimating your calorie burn. In a study, the American Council on Exercise found that some machines can be off by as much as 25%. Machines that require you to punch in your weight, height, age and gender tend to give a better estimate, but it is still an estimate.

If you are calorie counting and balancing your equation, invest in a heart rate monitor, the kind that straps around your chest. My personal recommendation for a brand would be Polar as they are the industry standard and the telemetry on most machines is set to pick up the Polar transmitter. I would also make sure that you get a monitor with a fitness test so that it is set to your body instead of just the generic tables. The Polar FT40 and FT60 are the two I recommend the most.

Stop Eyeballing and Measure!

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Measure your oils!

I know you all will eyeball your measurements in order to “save time”. Just be aware you time saving is probably costing you in calories and sodium! Study after study shows that we are all really bad at eyeballing measurements. To make matters worse we err on the wrong side: too much not too little. Keep in mind the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of oil is 80 calories and 9g of fat! The difference between a half teaspoon and a teaspoon of salt is about 1200mg or about half your daily recommendation!

What about your breakfast cereal! Surely we can accurately free pour our cereal…nope! If you are like most people you will over pour by 40% . In one study, 100 people were asked to make a cereal pour and only 1 in 10 were even close. For flake cereals, the average pour was 40% over the one cup serving size. A full cup of skim milk means you have added another 40 calories over the label standard. No think about your orange juice, coffee creamer, jelly, etc….breakfast is full of opportunities to make bad portion calls and all this with a still slightly groggy brain.

Your key to success is to measure everything. Spend the time and save the calories!

Which Cooking Oil has the least calories?

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  1. Olive Oil
  2. Canola Oil
  3. Corn Oil
  4. Vegetable Oil

Trick question! They are all the same. There are other differences between these oils but a tablespoon of oil is a tablespoon of oil.


*Interesting trivia: the word Canola is an abbreviation from Canadian Oil Low Acid.