Stop Apologizing for Your Goals

Today’s incredibly motivational post is written by Pete Hitzeman from breakingmuscle.com. Please visit their website for a wide range of well written articles. 

Stop Apologizing for Your Goals
Pete Hitzeman
Coach and Assistant Editor (US)

It seems like it’s birthday season at work. You worked hard to limit the damage through the holidays, and the endless carry-ins and banquets and family gatherings. You even stayed on track through Super Bowl Sunday, the second biggest feast day on the modern calendar. You thought you were in the clear, finally able to focus on your nutrition and body composition goals without undue influence from those who, to say the least, don’t share your priorities.

Then Gertrude in accounting had a birthday. Gertrude is 71, and everyone loves her, and everybody brought in food. And there was this huge, photo-printed cake with a picture of her when she was in her twenties on it, and the next thing you know you’re eating Gertrude’s left cheek off a tiny “Happy Birthday!” plate with a spork. With every bite of cheap icing, you can feel your goals slipping months further into the distant future.

The next Tuesday, it was Stan in IT. Friday was Cheryl from HR. Your boss’s birthday is next week. So. Many. Cakes.

Stop apologizing for your goals.
You don’t owe anyone an explanation about your lifestyle. Do what’s right for you.

It’s Not About the Cake

If you’re honest, you don’t even like cake that much, especially the cheap cake that tends to show up at corporate birthday parties. It’s the social pressure that has you sporking it into your mouth. It’s the frustration of having to explain, every time you decline some kind of food or engagement, why you aren’t just going along with everybody else. It’s the bizarre cultural construct that states if you don’t eat the cake, you’re not sharing in the celebrated person’s joy. In effect, turning down the cake becomes a rejection of people, an insult to friendship, not just an effort to maintain nutritional balance.

Some days, you can pull it off. You stiff-arm Betty Crocker right in the face and keep on track, and you’re proud of yourself. But more often, the pressure becomes too much, and you cave. While you pretend to enjoy yourself in the company of people who wouldn’t understand your goals if you handed them a coloring book that explained them, you’re counting in your head the number of burpees required to account for this nutritional transgression.

Be Who You Are: An Athlete

Why do you put yourself through these mental and emotional gymnastics? You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You’re an athlete. You’ve worked hard for a very long time to become that, and now it’s as much a part of you as the freckles on your arms or your hair color. Do you apologize for having freckles? Do they require some sort of embarrassed explanation if somebody notices them in public?

The lifestyle choices you make to support your athletic goals aren’t anyone’s business but your own, and possibly your coach’s. If people feel threatened by your ability to stick to your plan in the face of abundant temptation and social pressure, that’s on them.

When you order a salad at a steakhouse, or decline a night at the bars with your buds because you have to be up in the morning for a training run, you’re setting yourself apart. You become a psychological “other,” and humanity loves nothing better than to denigrate those who are unlike themselves. Worse, the reasons you are different will expose a whole lot of envy and insecurity on the part of those who pressure you to abandon your goals. At best, they’ll chide you. At worst, they can get downright nasty.

The moment you wake up and decide that you’ve had enough is your chance to make a change.

But you didn’t start training to become like everybody else. Quite the opposite: you were like everybody else, and that’s why you started training. For whatever reason, you decided you’d had enough of being counted among the nearly 80 million Americans who are considered obese. You were tired of being winded just walking up the stairs to your apartment. You hated what you saw in the bathroom mirror, and you decided to do something about it.

Your co-workers have a goal of winning their fantasy football league or watching every episode of Survivor. You have a goal of a bodyweight clean and jerk or a six-minute mile.

That change in mental priority, and the accompanying change in lifestyle, makes you different – and better. It has improved your life, widened your circle of friends, given you new abilities and confidence. Those are things to be proud of, not to shy away from just because they’re not the easy, popular thing to do at the office.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

C. S. Lewis famously said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” With respect to Mr. Lewis, that’s a bunch of bovine excrement. Doing the right thing with no eyes on you is child’s play. The real test of integrity is doing the right thing when everyone is watching and expects you do to something different.

Don’t apologize to anyone for sticking to the goals and plans you have for your health and fitness. Dropping that inch from your waist, shaving that minute from your 5k, or putting those 20lb on your back squat require exactly the hard sort of integrity and dedication which are so uncommon in polite society. And those traits are nothing to be sorry for.

Photo 1 courtesy of J Perez Imagery.
Photo 2 courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.

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Lentil Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Chèvre + Pomegranate

This post is inspired by Fait Maison: they feature a lentil salad that keeps me coming back for more!
Earthy Feast shared this recipe: I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

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Ingredients for the Lentil Salad 

1 cup lentils, green or black

1 medium sized butternut squash

1/2 a red onion

seeds from 1 small pomegranate

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

2 ounces goat cheese

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

fresh parsley for garnish

 

Ingredients for the Dressing  

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

fresh ground pepper

 

Directions 

While the lentils are cooking, roast the squash. Cube squash and toss with olive oil, spices, s&p and thinly sliced red onion. Roast on 400F for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain lentils after they are done cooking, they taste best al dente in a salad so don’t let them get mushy! In a large bowl toss together the rest of the ingredients. For the dressing simply shake up equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar and pour over salad. Taste for salt and pepper.

 

3 Things You Need to Know About Protein

This weeks blog post is written by Khia Khadem from kiakhadem.com – a short but very useful post on protein. Enjoy!

By: Kia Khadem

Read Time: 4 Minutes

TL;DR- The RDA values are based on minimums, not for building muscle. There are serious benefits to higher protein intakes, especially as you age.

Fire up the barbecue, buy some meat and call your friends over. The topic of protein intake has been confusing people for too long and this is the end of it.

People all over the world just want to know: “What do I need to eat to live a long, high-quality life, and look good doing it?”

A Google search for “how much protein” brings up over 71 million results. Many with differing opinions. Some professionals try to make the case that we are consuming way too much protein. Some say high protein diets put us at risk of osteoporosis and loss of kidney function.

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While all this information is well-intentioned, it is not well-informed. Research shows many health benefits with protein intakes higher than the current recommended daily allowance (RDA). So it’s time to set aside preconceived beliefs and set the facts straight.

  1.    Recommended Daily Allowance vs. Individual Needs of Protein

A reason for the mass confusion is not understanding the dietary guidelines and how they apply to individual needs.  The RDA is set by The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine to help guide dietary choices. You’ve probably seen the RDA shown as a percentage on food labels.

The RDA is the minimum level of intake required for health needed to avoid a deficiency.  It doesn’t account for your athletic or aesthetic goals. The current RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight .

  1. Benefits of Higher Protein Intakes

In the last four years, six meta-analyses looked at high-protein diets and body composition. These studies showed greater weight loss, fat loss and maintenance of lean body mass (Phillips et al., 2016).

Combined with resistance training, a diet higher in protein is more effective at increasing lean mass and fat loss.

Longland et al. (2016) showed this by comparing a diet containing 2.4 g protein/kg of body weight to a diet containing 1.2 g protein/kg of body weight.

Higher protein intake also increases caloric expenditure and satiety. Johnston et al. (2002) showed this when they tested two groups of females. One group consumed a high protein diet equal to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Another group consumed the same number of calories but less protein as per the Food Guide Pyramid.  The higher protein group increased energy expenditure up to 90 calories in a 24 hour period.

But many people worry that eating more protein will lead to potential side-effects. Such as decreased kidney function and osteoporosis. It turns out these concerns are not factual.

A high protein diet doesn’t impact kidney function in individuals with healthy kidneys. In fact, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “the protein content of the diet is not responsible for the progressive decline in kidney function with age” (Phillips et al., 2016).

Another assumption is that high protein diets promote osteoporosis. It’s assumed that a high protein diet creates a high acid load that causes a gradual loss of calcium from the bone. That’s not supported by research either.

A meta-analysis by Fenton et al. (2011) concluded this is not supported by evidence and promotion of an alkaline diet to the public to prevent calcium loss is not justified. Higher protein intakes improve bone health and correlate with lower hip fractures when adequate calcium levels are present (Fenton et al., 2011).

  1. Protein Needs Increase With Age

But let’s start to think beyond looking and feeling good right now. About how we want our lives to be 20, 30, even 30 years from now. The maintenance of a high-quality life as we age is our ability to stay independent. And that comes down to having enough strength to do basic daily tasks.

A major health challenge as we get older is the slow decline of muscle mass and strength. And low protein intake contributes to it (Phillips et al., 2006).

The strength and muscle mass you build right now goes into a savings account that you can draw from as you get older.

And things don’t get easier as we age. We need more exercise and more protein to get the same muscular adaptations as when we’re younger. Moore et al. (2015) showed older men are less sensitive to protein intake than younger men. They need a greater relative protein intake per meal to maximally stimulate protein synthesis in the muscle (31 grams vs. 19 grams).

protein age

Consuming a diet high in protein is one of the best ways to improve your body composition and stay strong as you age. If you’re healthy, a high protein diet will not have negative consequences.

But if you’re still worried, well, that means more protein for the rest of us.

 

References

Fenton, T.R., Tough, S.C., Lyon, A.W., Eliasziw, M., and Hanley, D.A.( 2011). Causal assessment of dietary acid load and bone disease: A systematic review & meta-analysis applying Hill’s epidemiologic criteria for causality. Nutrition Journal, 10: doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-41.

Johnston, C. S., Day, C. S., & Swan, P. D. (2002). Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. Journal of the American College of Nutrition (1), 55-61. doi:10.1080/07315724.2002.10719194.

Longland, T. M., Oikawa, S. Y., Mitchell, C. J., Devries, M. C., & Phillips, S. M. (2016). Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: A randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 103(3), 738-746. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119339.

Phillips, S. M., Chevalier, S., & Leidy, H. J. (2016). Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: Implications for optimizing health 1. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(999), 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2015-0550

 

Easy recipe: chicken salad!

It almost gets boring to hear myself say this so often to clients: preparation = key to reaching your fitness, health & physique goals!
Even with the best intentions: coming home at 9pm dinner just hast to be quick and easy! The same applies to your lunch: while you might be surrounded by plenty of restaurants and cafes with healthy options (to go!) making your own lunch means you are in full control of what you’re putting into your body.

 

Please click on this link to look at a Youtube video made by Sohee Fit who created this lovely recipe and shared it!

Recipe:
400g cooked chicken breast (I recommend cooking these in the slow cooker for easier shredding)
2 cups steamed broccoli
1 medium diced apple (I use honey crisp)
40g raisins
40g walnut pieces
1/4 cup diced red onion
5.3oz Greek yogurt (I use Chobani plain)
2tbsp dijon mustard
Stevia to taste

Directions

1. Shred chicken breast in large bowl.
2. Mix together broccoli, raisins, walnut pieces, and red onions with chicken.
3. Stir in Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, and Stevia, and mix well.
4. Portion into roughly four equal containers.
5. Refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

272 Calories
36.3g protein
20.1g carbs
5.4g fats

 

Reader Question: How Does Strength Training Help Weight loss

A great post written by Erika Hurst from Hurststrength.com!

When we workout, especially if we’re seeking fat loss and a change in body composition, we want to chase a hormonal effect from exercise rather than an amount of calories burned.  Our hormones run the show and dictate everything our bodies do.

Strength training creates the most positive hormonal environment in our bodies conducive to fat loss. It also helps to boost our metabolism, which slow, steady-state cardio doesn’t do. Steady-state cardio does provide a myriad of health benefits, but it isn’t the quickest, most effective and most sustainable method for fat loss and shouldn’t be our primary means of exercise.

Ideally, you should prioritize moderate-to-heavy strength training with an appropriate amount of cardio on an “as- needed” basis. (Click here to read more and for 6 FREE sample cardio workouts).

Strength training also helps preserve and increase our resting metabolic rate (how many calories we burn in a day) by preserving and increasing lean muscle mass. Our bodies burn more calories by maintaining muscle than they do by maintaining fat, because well, muscle is harder to maintain that fat is. So a higher amount of muscle = a higher, better crankin’ metabolism.

It’s important to mention that when people say weight loss, they really mean *fat* loss – weight loss doesn’t specify where the weight is coming from. It could be fat, it could be muscle, water loss, poop or cutting off a limb (hey, that counts as weight).

The number one goal for the majority of people when trying to lose body fat is to preserve as much lean muscle as possible. (Remember, muscle = metabolism).

When we haphazardly lose weight as opposed to just body fat, we also lose muscle and other lean mass which plummets our metabolism and makes the weight loss harder to maintain (because now that our metabolism has decreased, we can’t consume as much food as before without gaining fat). This is why so many who experience weight loss, especially at a faster rate or without a proper strength training or nutrition program, usually end up gaining it all back and more.

Fat loss specifically targets losing just fat while maintaining muscle.

Maintaining and building strength is the absolute best way to ensure you’re not losing muscle. Strength training is also the key to appearing more toned after we lose fat. And beyond vanity, strength helps us embody more confidence because we can lift some major poundage and we feel powerful as heck.

So in terms of fat loss and changing our bodies, strength training while eating in line with our goals is the #1 priority AND our healthiest, sanest and most sustainable option.

Be aware of gimmicks that tell you otherwise!

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There’s many great articles at Hurststrength.com definitely go have a look!