Feburary 16th Newsletter – 124 Days until summer



124 Days until Summer!!

I know that it is cold in many parts of the country and that our friend the ground hog has predicted that winter will keep going but before you know it the hot days of summer will be here, do you have a plan to be ready?

Remember one day of eating bad will not kill you just like one day of eating healthy and exercise won’t give us the body that we need and want for a long healthy life.

It is through persistence of each day that builds on the previous day and we have 124 days to build for that family reunion, class reunion, wedding, vacation, etc…

Greg Short

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How to Bust Your 6 Biggest Excuses

By Kara Wahlgren

THE EXCUSE: “I’m too busy!”

Instead of letting your endless to-do list take priority over your health goals, treat exercise like any other important task. “It’s about prioritizing and planning ahead. Set a time and schedule it, as if it were a dental appointment,” says Jimi Varner, a trainer on MTV’s I Used to be Fat series. Of course, there will be days when you really are too swamped to squeeze in a full workout—but that doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Instead, try to carve out a few minutes to break a sweat. “If you have just 10 minutes, it’s still progress,” Varner says. “It doesn’t have to be an hour and a half, so knock it off.” Go outdoors and do a few sprints, or try a time-crunch-friendly program like FOCUS T25® or P90X3™.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m beat.”

Whether you’re sore from yesterday’s workout or drained from a long week at work, don’t bail out just because you’re low on energy. Start slowly, and gauge how you’re feeling after the first few minutes. “It’s okay to exercise at a lower intensity for a shorter time. Start doing it, and really listen to your body to see if this is nurturing or punishing,” says Michelle Segar, PhD, Associate Director for University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center and a motivation and behavioral sustainability researcher. “This helps get people more in tune with their body and actually can improve their desire to move.” Promise yourself you’ll do the first five minutes of your workout—once you get going, chances are you’ll go ahead and push through.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m broke.”

When you’re on a tight budget, it can be hard to justify the cost of a monthly gym membership. But you don’t need Globo-Gym to get in shape. “Walking is among the best ways to move, and you can do it anywhere,” Segar says. And Varner suggests picking up furniture movers (usually under $10) and using them for lunges or mountain climbers. And, ahem, we can recommend a few DVD training programs that won’t break the bank.

THE EXCUSE: “The gym is intimidating.”

You might feel like everyone’s staring at you, but the truth is, they’re probably way too busy worrying about what they look like. So get out of hermit mode and go build a support system. “Everybody you see in these classes was once in your shoes,” Varner says. “They understand how you feel and the courage it takes to be there. And they will be more than happy to help and be supportive and friendly.”

THE EXCUSE: “I’m bored.”

If you do the same workout every…single…day, it’s easy to fall into a rut. But there’s no rule that you have to stick to a rigid, repetitive fitness regimen. “You can change up any part of your routine,” Segar says. Renew your enthusiasm by starting a new program, joining a new class, ditching the treadmill for a hiking trail, or making a friendly weight-loss wager with a friend.

THE EXCUSE: “I’m dieting instead.”

Just because you’re counting calories, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to chill on the couch. “Diet alone works well when weight loss is the goal, but adding exercise to the mix can enhance the results,” Varner says. “Exercise has countless other health benefits than just weight loss—you’ll look better, feel better, sleep better, have more energy, and be more productive at work and home.” And with all those benefits, why would you want to make excuses?

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In This Issue

February Challenge Pack Promotions21 Day Fix Challenge Pack

Les Mills Combat Challenge Pack

A New Flavor: Strawberry Shakeology

Ask the Expert: Are Cheat Meals OK?

The Short Answer:

It’s absolutely OK to have a cheat meal! If the rest of your diet plan is tight, there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose once or twice a week. In fact, the shift in calories may help you avoid plateaus. Also, it keeps you sane. After all, life is too short not to eat the occasional donut.

The Long Answer:

Now that you’ve stopped twerking for joy around the room and returned to your screen, I’ll explain why the occasional cheat meal is OK. As I said, they are a good way to ward off potential plateaus. They also break up the stress commonly associated with diet and keep you on track.

Cheat meals fight plateaus.

While we live in a modern world, our bodies still operate under some very primitive rules. When you eat at a calorie deficit while working out regularly, your body doesn’t get the memo that you could stop at any time. Instead, it assumes you’re trudging across a desolate African plain with nary a Souplantation in sight, desperately tracking a wildebeest in hopes of feeding your starving family. (Some might argue that Plyo X offers a similar sensation.)

To deal with this stress, your body will sometimes slow down its metabolism and hold on to emergency fuel stores (body fat) to survive. We call this “starvation mode” and because you’re not burning fat, it creates a weight loss plateau. While the obvious solution is to increase your calories in general, cheat meals are also effective because they give your body a little “feast” break in the middle of the “famine” to convince it to keep burning those love handles away.

In fact, we often suggest people zigzag their calories from a large deficit to a slight surplus over the course of a week to break this type of plateau. A cheat meal or two, provided the rest of your eating is extremely clean, can create such a zigzag.

Cheat meals strengthen willpower.

In their excellent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Dr. Roy Baumeister and science writer John Tierney discuss the concept of “decision fatigue,” the idea that willpower, just like our muscles, can give out after a while. “When asked whether making decisions would deplete their willpower and make them vulnerable to temptation, most people say no. They don’t realize that decision fatigue helps explain why ordinary, sensible people get angry at their colleagues and family, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket, and can’t resist the car dealer’s offer to rustproof their new sedan.”

Think of cheat meals the same way you think of recovery days. They give your willpower a chance to rest and restore, reducing the chance that you’ll fall off the wagon in a bigger way.

Cheat meals relieve stress.

Survival mode suggests cheat meals relieve physical stress. Decision fatigue suggests they relieve mental stress. There’s also a third type of stress they relieve: emotional stress. Turning around your diet can be really hard. Sometimes, eating clean means you’re walking away from foods you’ve looked to your whole life for comfort, nourishment, celebration, and security. The fact that they are absolute crap and they were slowly killing you is beside the point. They still have an enormous amount of emotional resonance. As long as you don’t think it’ll cause a relapse, there’s no reason to completely walk away from cake on your birthday or a hot dog at the baseball game. Whenever I’m visiting my parents in Atlanta, you better believe I help myself to my mom’s epic banana cream pie. In fact, only having it on special occasions makes it all the more delicious.

What if I don’t want a cheat meal?

Although I’ve put forth some compelling arguments for a cheat meal, I don’t want to strong-arm you into succumbing to temptation. If you’re keeping it 100% clean and that works for you, go for it. For some people cold turkey is the only way to avoid stumbling into bad habits.

On a semi-side note, a funny thing happens when you eat healthy for a while. Your idea of a cheat meal redefines itself. As a teenager, I could polish off a large meat lover’s pizza and two liters of Coke. Today, two slices of veggie pizza, a huge salad, and a 12-ounce craft beer is my idea of indulgence. As for my mom’s banana cream pie, anything more than a medium-sized slice and I get ill. (You don’t want to know how much of it I used to eat.)

As you enjoy your cheat meals, pay attention to how your body reacts. When abused, refined sugar is toxic, but most Americans have built up a tolerance. They can’t feel how it tears them apart, spiking blood sugar and torquing their hormones. When you don’t normally consume it in excess, occasional consumption can make you feel sick. That’s your body telling you to eat less next time.

Finally, a couple of cheat meal myths.

Some “experts” claim that binging on a cheat meal to the point of illness is a good thing because it keeps you on the straight and narrow for the rest of the week. This is stupid advice given by fools who don’t understand the brief gorging refractory period involved with being a chronic overeater. If a meal makes you sick, you’ve poisoned yourself—not something you want to do on a regular basis.

Lastly, if someone suggests post-cheat meal “tricks” to mitigate the damage, don’t bother. It’s too late. A glass of lemon water or a series of antiquated calisthenics will be about as effective as trying to pop the Goodyear Blimp with a toothpick.

So if you think it’s right for you, go ahead and have a cheat meal. Anticipate it before you eat it, enjoy it while it’s happening, and own it once it’s done. Then get back on your horse in the morning.