Browse Tag: sleep

BASICS OF FAT LOSS

SIG·NAL

Transmit information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound.

At the heart of our efforts to transform lie signals.

These signals (or behaviors) are what make our mind and body what they are.

When we lose fat or gain muscle, it is because not only did we send the signal(s) that corresponds to that outcome but we allowed our body the opportunity to process that signal (by cutting out other noise, confusion, and competing signals).

There is a formula for this process: Stimulus (signal) + Recovery = Adaptation

Worded a different way, it looks like this:

EXERCISE + (SLEEP + NUTRITION) = BODY COMPOSITION

Let’s break it down.

Starting with the end product, body composition refers to the proportion of muscle and fat we carry. For most people, improving their body composition means adding more muscle while subtracting fat.

The signal that our body listens to for that to happen is exercise.  With this, there are essentially 2 different forms: One that sends a signal to our body to build (ie maintain or grow muscle mass) and one that sends a signal to break down (both fat and muscle).

In order for our body to hear that signal, however, we need to cut out outside noise (other stressors) and provide the means for our body to recover. During sleep is when our body gets to work repairing damaged tissue and making the hormones needed for us to thrive (both in fat loss and muscle growth) and food/nutrients is what our body uses as its building blocks to do that with.

So, as you can see, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Send the signal.
  2. Cut out outside noise so body can hear signal (through proper nutrition and recovery).
  3. Then reap the adaptation.

Let’s get more specific.

SENDING THE FAT LOSS SIGNAL

Now I am NOT talking about weight loss (this is easy: just go to the bathroom). What we really want is not to see the number on the scale move, but for the fat in the mirror to disappear, right?  So how do we that?

We have 3 variables to work with: Exercise, Sleep, and Nutrition.

A        +         ( B    +    C)     =   Fat Loss

We can improve all 3 for optimal fat loss, but we don’t have to.

Here are the options:

OPTION A: MOVE MORE

So before I was talking about the 2 forms of exercise: One that builds and one that destroys.

Well, cardio and aerobic activities are the destroyers. Biking, running, walking, and swimming all fall into this group.

They send a signal to our body that in order to survive and become better at these activities, we have to get smaller. To do this (and depending on the intensity and length of the activity) they will break down both fat AND MUSCLE for fuel.

Most aerobic activities are not body-friendly for this reason, but they can still be used correctly.

Here is a guideline:

  • The less intense they are, the more we can do them and the more likely that a large % of the breakdown will be fat. An excellent example of this is walking.
  • The more intense they are, the more we should limit them as they will target a lot of our muscle for fuel as well. An example of this is training for a marathon or running 5+ times a week.

Another side effect of high-intensity aerobics is that they give us cravings in an effort to replace lost fuel. So this is why running to lose weight will literally leave us running in circles (as we run long distances and then gorge on food).

A better alternative is walking every or every other day and doing 1-2 runs a week (if you must).

OPTION B: SLEEP MORE

If you are sleeping less than 6 – 7 hrs a night on average, by increasing sleep to 8 – 9 hrs, your cravings will decrease, your energy will improve, and other aspects of health (such as digestion) will significantly improve.  This will all lead to fat loss.

Note: If sleep needs are not met, then exercise is out of the question.

OPTION C: BETTER FOOD

Dieting is the typical approach to fat loss. This is hard to do right as far too many people feel that if they are going to diet than they got to do it hardcore. What’s hardcore?  Taking what you used to eat and dropping it by 500 or more calories a day.

This sucks because:

In chronic calorie deficits, our body is going to eat up fat AND MUSCLE for fuel, positive hormones are not going to be made in sufficient amounts, and our metabolism is going in the toilet. In short, life (and your energy) will suck.

A smarter approach is to just eat better foods. With this, we will be getting the right nutrients so cravings will naturally diminish. Fat loss will be slower but so will be muscle loss.

OPTION D (BEST): RESISTANCE + ENOUGH SLEEP + GOOD FOOD  

A big problem with losing weight is the chance that a large % of that could be muscle.

We care about this because it is muscle that gives us our shape and curves.

If we lose 50 lbs of total weight (25 of that is fat and 25 of that is muscle), we are just going to become a smaller version of ourselves. But if we can manage to make that 40 lbs of fat and 10 lbs of muscle, we are going to come out with a sleeker, trimmer, tonier look.

So how do we tell our body to lose more fat while keeping the muscle?

  • =>> Lift weights
  • =>> Sleep 8 hrs
  • =>> Eat Better (and slightly less) food

For the first one, we do not have to do anything extreme. Simply lifting weights 2x a week for a full body workout will be enough. Keep the reps relatively low (2-15) and keep the workout short (within 50 min) and the signal will be sent.

We also want to tell to our body to lose fat. For this to happen, we need to create a teeny-weeny caloric deficit. To create this, try focusing less on numbers and more on eating better food (of course) and going to bed slightly hungry.

Lastly, SLEEP. This is obviously crucial for any positive goal.

If you are still really skeptical of strength training while attempting to lose fat, try just training the areas that you wouldn’t mind enhancing. For most females, this means the booty.

That’s it.

Now some pro advice: If your goal is fat loss, then focus on fat loss only. Trying to build muscle or train for a marathon will be competing signals that will only confuse your body (and take you further away from fat loss).

There is a reason runners don’t look like body builders and body builders do not look like athletes.

That reason is signals.

 

[When you have lost all the fat you wanted to lose, it will be time for building muscle (shape and curves). Read Part 2 of this series to find out how.]

THE BEST SUPPLEMENT FOR GETTING BACK IN SHAPE

the best supplement for getting in shape

It’s not fish oil.

Or protein.

And probably not that caffeinated pre-workout you use that promises “gratuitous amounts of energy” (although, lets be honest, those rock).

Sure these may all help, but if you are not deficient in them then they are unlikely to make that big of wave.

The main purpose of supplementation is to first fill in holes caused by our lifestyle and genetics. These holes (or deficiencies in “building blocks”) can leave us without the means to not only perform optimally, but may leave us unable to perform entirely (aka shit just doesn’t work).

When it comes to getting fit, it is critical for our lungs and breathing to keep up with our ambitions.  If you have a “hole” here, however, exercising will be the last thing you want to do…

magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

THE MAGNESIUM HOLE

For the past +6 years, I’ve had a slight magnesium deficiency.

This deficiency isn’t really debilitating and if I go about my normal day, it’s hardly noticeable (aside from worse quality poops and sleep). When I exercise, however, the devil presents itself.

What it looks like when I do anything with moderate intensity:

  • My breathing power gets cut in half (and the “wheezing” starts)
  • My recovery (aka “catching my breath”) goes from minutes to hours
  • My workout ends early (because hey, this sucks)

In short, it feels like I have asthma.

This makes sense as magnesium  is actually used to treat asthma and low levels of it are associated both with decreased lung function and accentuated allergic reactions.

Some sources indicate that 50 – 75% of us are deficient in this mineral (higher if your an athlete), but not everyone will have it to the same degree. This will depend on how “stressful” your life is.

Here is list of stressors that deplete magnesium:

  • Allergies (to pets, mold, and food)
  • Sugar and other processed foods
  • MSG
  • Coffee, Alcohol, and other drugs
  • Exercising
  • And a host of other things that trigger cortisol release

That’s just the icing on the cake. Since Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and because it is used in over 300 reactions, it is likely that a lot more other food stuffs, drugs, and  thoughts are using it up.

anxiety depletes magnesium The Best Supplement for Getting Back In Shape

HOW TO FILL IT 

So you think that “getting in shape” is supposed to suck (which it is a little bit), but maybe it’s possible that you have a magnesium deficiency as well?

2 options if you do:

  1. Eat more magnesium rich foods
  2. Supplement with it

Now, obviously it would be more beneficial if we didn’t have to rely on supplements and could just eat the food. Through my own n=1 experience, however, it doesn’t work. Some say it is because our soil is depleted, others say it’s because certain chemicals in plants (see: phytates) prevent it from absorbing, but I say it’s because our life is just too stressful.

Mine is anyways. If your in the same boat (allergies + avid exerciser), then this advice could benefit you:

But Magnesium Citrate, through capsules or powder (I prefer the latter).
Take 3 capsules or one spoonful right before bed.
Combine with Zinc Citrate for positive synergistic effects, but do not combine with Calcium (they compete).

Give yourself 2 weeks.

If you don’t see any positive effects within this time then you probably don’t have a deficiency.

If you do, however, man will it feel good…

WHY WE CRAVE SUGAR

why do we crave sugar?

Brace yourselves, the time when everyone bans sugar from their life is coming. Before you do this (and before you eventually give in and eat truckloads of it again), here is what you need about this delicious little guy.

  • Sugar is in more than just cakes and pies (see: bananas, potatoes, breads, milk and rice).
  • We crave for a reason and if we only address the symptom (and not the root cause), we’ll be right back where we started eventually.

Read on.

2 REASONS WHY WE CRAVE

1. We get bored, sad, and scared (emotion)

I think this goes without saying.

2. We are stressed

When we stressed, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, blood is shuttled away from our organs and instead, to our skin and muscles. This is smart move by our body as it recognizes the need for us to seriously kick some ass right now.

In the short term, we are fueled by hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. As the stress turns more chronic (and the fight doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon), our body realizes that it needs caloric sustenance.

Because we are still “fighting”, we need fuel that doesn’t need much digestion (remember: digestive organs are on lock down). Again, being one smart cookie, our body makes us crave that which can pass through our system easily (like simple sugars).

Now while we only seem to think as stress as something that happens in our heads, here is a short list that will cause us to crave sugar:

  • Lack of sleep (sugar is a easy decision for zombies)
  • Allergies and sensitivities to our environment (things like gluten and mold)
  • Bad gut bugs (humans being 99% bugs, they have more of a say than we do)
  • Intense or too much exercise (sugar, aka glycogen, is your muscle’s fuel)
  • Sugar (yes, it begets itself)

TAKEAWAY

Want to know the ironic thing? No or low carb diets are inherently stressful.

Since carbs are our preferred source of fuel, our body “takes a hit” when we go without them for too long. In the beginning, this is awesome feeling as the stimulating hormones that our body releases gives us a little “high”. With time, however, the hormones deplete themselves and we crash harder than 10 cups of coffee.

It’s for the best when we do, though. Typically, our system has taken such a big dump that we need this sugar rush to get our hormones and brain chemicals back to normal.

In closing, I am not saying you should eat tons of sugar, but you shouldn’t run away from it either. Sugar is needed and if you find that it is “needed” a little too much for you, address what is behind the scenes (and not the sugar itself).

The weed always grows back…

YOU ARE WHAT YOU POOP PT. 2

you are what you poop

Good pooping is a ride.

It’s quick and effortless with no pushing or straining necessary.

If we, however, have the time to read a magazine or even do the whole “clenched hand thing”,  than you can bet your butt there is more than going on besides an extended bathroom trip.

Confused as to why this matters? Read part 1.

You’re not? Let’s dive in.

WHY DOES GOOD POOP GO BAD?

The same concept that is behind virtually every cancer and disease is also behind why the Good Poops Life keeps avoiding many.

The concept is that of [chronic] stress.

Here’s how it looks:

  1. When we get stressed (it doesn’t matter what from), our age-old “fight or flight” mode is activated.
  2. With this, more blood is shuttled to the skin and the muscles so that we can get away quick or stab a pirate if we need to.
  3. This also means less blood to our digestive organs.
  4. Less digestion, more-or-less, equates to 1)  more time the trash sits in the dump and 2) not breaking down food as well.
  5. When our stressors never go away, neither does this poor digestion.

BAD POOPS IS A BAD LIFE

Here are some examples of what this could produce:

Auto-Intoxication – This is defined as a “disease caused by the accrual of contaminants produced inside the living organism”. This basically means less poo is coming out relative to food intake (and that feces that is left behind is actually collecting in our colon). As you can imagine, this is not good news.

Healthy Unhealthy Colon

Parasites –  It’s really easy for these little guys to find a home in our intestines when things are not broken down (ie destroyed) in the stomach as they should.

worm infestation

Bacterial Overgrowth – When the bad bugs outnumber the digestive-friendly good ones, bad poops happen. Not only that, but so does bad skin, bad tongues (take a look below), and an immune system that is not able to defend itself.

Luckily overgrowths will show themselves on your skin and in your mouth. (Or maybe that is not so lucky?)

Candida welcomes you to the White Furry Tongue.

THE SOLUTION

Now let me be clear: The problems associated with a dysfunctional butt and gut don’t end here with these 3 examples. Because our immune system is just a bunch of bugs in our gut,  every ailment – both in mind and body – is rooted here (by some degree).

So whats the one overarching piece of advice I can give you ? Stress Less.

We get into the Bad Poops predicament because our system has become overwhelmed and cannot adapt to the stressors that is coming at it. The key, then, is too back off.

To do this, we’ll want more-

+ Sleep
+ Fun, humerus activities
+ Positive people and environments
+ Light activity such as walking and yoga

And less-

– Drugs
– Tense work
– Processed foods and toxins
– Things that you are allergic to
– Frequent, never-ending workout sessions

The biggest thing we will want to improve will be our sleep (as running on fumes is the most stressful thing we can do). I’ve wrote about how to get more sleep before. Note: Personally, when I am getting 8 -10 hrs a night, it doesnt matter what I eat, it all comes out good on the back-end.

Next to that, when and how much we eat will make the greatest difference. My advice is to save the times for when we are stressed and/or active for liquid fasting (such as this concoction), and the times for when we are relaxed and chill for eating (afternoon – bedtime).

Lastly, let’s not forget percieved stress. If you are constantly beating yourself up about shoulda-coulda-wouldas, then you could be nuclear bombing your gut.

Relax and be at peace with yourself.

The Good Poops will come…