Posts Tagged ‘Diet’

Burn That Stomach Fat!

ktadmin Posted in Diet, Fitness, Questions, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
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No Surgery, No Pills Necessary!

The one thing that most people don’t know is that even if you can’t see them, most people have a six-pack under that cover.  The fat cells lay on top of your stomach muscles.  That isn’t to say that, that fat layer doesn’t weaken you or your abdominals.  But it means if you get that fat layer out of the way, everyone will be able to see your tight abs!  Hmmm, so what is the super secret recipe for getting that fat free belly?  Simple: first, cut down on fatty foods you consume, way down, and secondly, exercise to force your body to burn some of the that energy reserve you are carrying around.  Funny how an energy reserve can become an energy drain!  I guess to much of anything is bad.  Notice in that last sentence I said “Simple”.  That is because the solution is easy, it is the implementation that gives people the most trouble!

It starts with a thought, an image really, in your mind of what you want to accomplish.  Visualizing is very important to helping you stay focused and committed, we humans tend to have short attention spans, visualizing helps.  Of course you would not be reading this if you weren’t ready to commit, so let’s get started.  While visualization will help you stay committed one thing helps more then all the others, having fun.  No one likes a chore but everyone loves to have fun!  So let’s have some fun!!

We are going to cut down our intake of fatty foods and increase our exercise.  The type of exercise we engage in is very important.  We can easily get on the treadmill or eliptical for hours on end and never loose that belly fat (or any other fat for that matter).  The reason for that is those are cardio exercises and while they do burn calories, they are not great for building muscles.  If you want to burn fat, you need to build muscles.  The way our bodies work, muscles burn fat.  Given this fact, the more muscles you work and build the more fat you will burn and the faster you will see results.

Back to having fun… Since it is important to build muscles it is important to find fun activities to accomplish that.  Some exercises you will just have to learn to enjoy.  Experience has taught me that learning to do an exercise correctly makes doing it more enjoyable and definitely more rewarding.  Most of the time we dread exercise because we are not or don’t feel we are in good enough shape.  Unfortunately that mindset will keep you from achieving your goals.  To combat that, start out slowly and if possible with some professional assistance so you learn to proper technique for the various exercises you will need to do.  You don’t need to hire a professional consultant there are plenty of resources on-line, including here on this blog.

Variety is the spice of life…and Life requires balance.  As a Martial Artist balance has special meaning from both practical and philosophical perspectives.  When we are striving to get into shape we also need balance, in our diet and in our activities.  The Martial Arts provides a nice mixture of strength and cardio exercises but I always encourage my students to incorporate additional strength and cardio exercises outside of class.  While many a Martial Artist gets obsessed with their training it is good to add other fun activities like swimming or racquetball.  You will find that doing this keeps you more active, helps your body build different muscles and as a result burn more fat!  Even before you begin to notice your weight loss and diminishing layers of fat, your body will be getting stronger and more agile.  By the time you do notice the benefits of your work you will begin to find new motivation!

I want to stress again the two simple rules, improve your dietary intake and build muscles.  That is it.  I have know a lot of people who workout extensively yet never seem to reduce their weight or attain their goals.  90 percent of the time this is due to the simple fact that they do not understand those two rules.  They feel simply increasing activity (treadmill, etc) will get the “in shape”, they don’t realize or don’t take it to the next step and work on building muscle which will burn the fat.  Don’t make that mistake.  It is difficult but like anything if you stick with it for long enough it will become a part of your life and easy to continue.  Above all have fun (so you don’t get bored), take your time (it is a long race) and stay safe by doing things right (proper technique).

As you begin to cut down on the fats in your diet and exercise you should see some immediate results, these will slow or become less noticeable as you continue your training, don’t get discouraged.  Our bodies heal from the inside, out and part of this process is repairing the damage done by an unhealthy lifestyle.  Keep that in mind when you feel that you are not making any progress.  Good Luck and please let us know how you are doing in the comments!

I’ll post some exercises that will help build muscle and burn that fat soon so stay tuned and read often.

Cholesterol – The Unseen Enemy

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Diet, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts,Tags: , , ,
0

High Cholesterol runs in my family so I am always (read: try to) watching what I eat.  I also get tested every year or so, to see how I am doing.  The last test I had showed a 8 point increase over 2 years, still in the healthy range, however, near the top of where my levels should be for my age/gender.  Basically I take it seriously but not so seriously that I don’t enjoy what I eat.  I’ve been cut open enough times to understand that if it can be avoided it should!  If you don’t believe me, please take my word for it.  With that in mind you can imagine my surprise when my brother-in-law (visiting from out of state) announced that his Cholesterol level was around …700!  What can I say, it surprised me he had a pulse!!

That is when I decided to write this article, not as an expert (I am not), but from my practical experience.  I do not take medication and will resist taking any for as long as possible.  I am not adverse to medication but do believe less is better.  So I focus on natural ways to lower cholesterol, my doctor may not agree with me and wish he could get the commission from the prescription, but I have at the least maintained my levels through personal effort.  I also realize every one’s body chemistry if different and you should listen to your doctor and yourself, not me.  You need to understand the differences between the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, I leave that up to you.  But if you find a few useful tips here, my effort is not wasted.

It is important to note that cholesterol is actually necessary for several very critical functions in the body.  However, excess cholesterol in the blood stream can be deposited in arteries and can cause plaque formation as well as harden arteries. Heart disease, heart attack and stroke may then result.

How do you reduce your Cholesterol naturally?  Basically you have to alter your lifestyle and diet.

Is it easy? Not always.

First of all, you need to maintain a healthy body weight.  While thin people can have unhealthy levels of cholesterol being overweight usually indicates an unhealthy lifestyle (to much food not enough activity).  Being overweight raises your LDL (bad) levels and lowers your HDL (good) levels.  That is why the first step to lowering your cholesterol is to loose weight.  Often this only requires a change in the foods you ingest.  The side benefit of this is you will feel better and have more energy!

There it is, Step One: Get to and Maintain a Healthy Weight.

Weight loss in general requires one thing, burning more calories then you consume.  The fastest way to lose weight is to reduce your calories and increase your level of exercise.  What is interesting about this process is the more you exercise the less hungry you will be…sound ridiculous but unless you are starving yourself it’s true!  Junk food can be quiet addictive (and bad for your cholesterol levels) so you may not feel this is true immediately, but stick with it and you will.

We need exercise for a lot of reasons, mostly we humans were not meant to be sedentary.  Like it or not you need to move around and get some exercise!  Exercise expends energy and pushes toxins out of your body, but it also forces your body to create more HDL (good) and convert/burn some of that bad cholesterol (LDL) into energy.  Imagine that.  As a Martial Artist, exercise also lubricates your joints, improves your flexibility and  heightens your awareness…sparring anyone?

The rule of thumb is a minimum of moderate exercise of about 30 minutes three to five times per week.  This will improve not only your cholesterol levels but will improve your heart health.  So many benefits!

Here is a no-brainer, stop smoking.  Smoking is stupid so you should stop.  Smoking is bad for you, and stupid, so you should stop.  Smoking increases LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it is stupid, so you should stop.  If you are still smoking, you are stupid…and, why are your reading this?!?

You are now exercising (or thinking about it) so how should you change your diet?

Obviously our diet is important to any aspect of our health.  To coin an old programming saying: Garbage In, Garbage Out.  However that doesn’t accurately depict the human body, probably more accurate would be: Garbage In, Garbage Stays…  If we consume a lot of cholesterol then our bodies are going to retain a lot of cholesterol.  Therefore it is critical to couple diet management with exercise.

There are different dietary factors affecting your body’s cholesterol stores:

Soluble Fiber binds to cholesterol and removes it from your body, making it a great way to naturally lower your cholesterol.  Soluble fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  Basically eating natural foods is better…duh!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also lower cholesterol levels, these can be found in flax seeds and flax seed oil as well as cold fish such as tuna, sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel.  An interesting note about flax seed oil, it is one of the few oils that does not change it’s molecular make up when heated!  Many oils change when heated thereby reducing or eliminating their beneficial properties.  Olive Oil is another great oil which not only is thought to reduce cholesterol but has antioxidant properties as well.

In case you didn’t get the memo:  Saturated and trans fats are bad for you, as they can raise your total cholesterol.  You can determine if a product has trans fats by reading the label.  Most will identify trans fat in the percentage area, however, even if they say 0%, if they contain partially hydrogenated anything, they contain trans fat!  Basically most processed food contains trans fat, store bought cookies/cakes/etc.  Again natural and home made is better!  Saturated fats are found in meats and some oils, such as red meats, processed meats and poultry skin.

If you have a cholesterol problem you should also avoid dairy products, fried foods and surprising to most, some seafood, especially shell fish.

Well that pretty much seems to rule out most available foods that we tend to enjoy…!  Not true, unless you exist on Devil Dogs and Yoohoo!

Basically I go back to my earlier comment, eat (and cook with) more natural foods.  Don’t buy a box of cookies, make them from scratch.  I actually think it is cheaper to do that now given rising costs.  Cut the recipe’s sugar in half, don’t use margarine, substitute apple sauce for butter/margarine.  I am sure you can find many more tips via google.

To summarize the basics:

  • Get up and moving…exercise!
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Avoid/reduce dairy products
  • Avoid all trans fats
  • Eat more natural foods

Easy right?  It actually is, the hard part is the change in behavior and mind-set that it requires.  Like all change it takes some work and effort.  However, I have never heard of denial lowering any one’s cholesterol…

Some people will go to extremes and become vegetarians (not that there is anything wrong with that!) personally I like meat to much for that and it really isn’t necessary.  There are also some herbs (garlic, green tea, psyllium, red yeast rice) that can also help in lowering your cholesterol, but there is no magic potion or secret trick regardless of what you may read online.  Beware of snake oil salesmen/women .

Any gains you will make in lowering your cholesterol by changing your diet are normally made within 3-6 months.  Aside from that you need to listen to your doctor and if necessary take a prescription drug to aid in your fight to lower your cholesterol.  Regardless there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle and it is never to late to change your ways and start living a healthy life style.

Good luck.

Goals & Resolutions

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Diet, Events & Holidays, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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A few days ago most of us made some type of resolution for the new year.  You may not admit it to anyone but it is there in the back of your mind, something you’d like to change or do different this year.  Call them Goals or Resolutions they equate to the same thing, a struggle with yourself, often a battle of endurance which requires willpower!  The most common resolutions focus on our personal selves, weight loss, getting into shape, attaining our next belt, other involve our careers or station in life, we will focus on the former here but what we will look at applies to both.  The problem with the resolutions most of us make is, they require hard work and effort.  Let’s face it if they didn’t we wouldn’t need things called resolutions or goals!

I don’t normally go in for a bunch of motivational gimmicks but I found this one that actually makes sense, SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
    (Get more in-depth details about Smart Goals here)

Basically this boils down a combination of “keep it simple stupid” and “being realistic and truthful”.  You can’t change if you set unrealistic goals, like I am going to loose 50 lbs next week, that is setting yourself up for failure, which if simply an excuse not to try.  I have known so many people who take this path, actually everyone takes this path eventually if they are not truthful with themselves.  We can learn a lot from addicts in this regard since it is easier to deny the problem then to deal with the problem.

So how do we get on track with our diet and fitness resolutions?  First keep reading this blog!  Secondly take the baby step method, I remember watching this in the old movie “What About Bob”.  You know what, it makes sense.  Break your bigger goal into achievable smaller goals, take small steps.  It may take longer to achieve your goal but the results will be lasting.  Nothing leads to short gains and long term losses then fad diets and an excessive ‘must have it now’ mentality.  The catch here is to make the goals achievable but useful, don’t be so easy on yourself that you aren’t moving towards your goal!  If you are trying to lose weight and you didn’t lose any last week, don’t have the attitude, “well at least I didn’t gain any!”  If you do, you will be saying “well at least I only gained a pound this week” before you know it.  Be honest with yourself but not easy!  This is training, no wimps allowed!!

I will leave you with this interesting study at the University of Hertfordshire which showed that the people most successful at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions did at least three of the following things:

  • broke their goal into smaller steps
  • rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these
  • told their friends about their goals
  • focused on the benefits of success
  • kept a diary of their progress.

There you have it, simple advice that will hopefully help you achieve your goals, regardless of when you set them…unless…

but you’re not that deluded…are you?

Hungry?

ktadmin Posted in Diet, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes,Tags:
0

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

I am a pretty fit guy but I love to eat, don’t we all?  Like most people I have a couple pounds I could stand to loose, five to be exact.  As a guy who loves to eat I can eat large portions with the best of them!  Lately I have been realizing that I don’t just eat when I am hungry, something else makes me want to fill my face, boredom.  We all know stress can lead to overeating but boredom?  It is true.  When I am home I rarely snack or overeat, but when I’m in the office most days I feel incredibly hungry!  Since I am doing less physical activity there are only two explanations, stress or boredom.  Most days it is not stress since I deal with that pretty well.

The next time you go to put something in your mouth just ask yourself, and I hungry or just bored?  If you’re bored put down the food and excite your mind with a new activity.  Yes you will still feel hungry but you have a strong warrior spirit, focus your mind on your new activity and wait until meal time.  Discipline is the key.