Author Archives: Adam Maielua

About Adam Maielua

Lead Instructor at The Body Lab and Partner at UltraFit Systems. “I am a heretic; a fool that stands out in the status quo. I am a person intentionally trying to upset certain groups of individuals in an effort to change what is into something else, something powerful and fun. Health and wellness is my passion, my addiction; I don’t feel right without it. But that’s just me, and it’s not my goal to push people to my level of compulsion, just to share some of my enthusiasm and hope that others will benefit.”

Balance hormones

Want to be fit? Keep it simple, keep it real

I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have a fat tooth. I don’t buy chicken breasts, I prefer the thighs. I eat a whole avocado, whole eggs, and bacon almost every day. I eat a handful of nuts with breakfast and again for snacks. If I consume dairy it’s the full fat variety. I’ve maintained these dietary habits for over five years, and no, I don’t exercise every day and I don’t count calories. My body fat percentage averages 10% or lower and my overall cholesterol has remained below 160. Am I one of those jerks blessed with ideal body type and a high metabolism? Nope, I used to weigh 220 lbs. (I dropped to 175 lbs. five years ago) and I’m only 5’11”.

What changed?

When I feel active I do something sweaty. When I’m hungry I eat. I keep it simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. Exercise gives me a 20% edge. The remaining 80% effort is in my nutrition and fat is a primary factor. Research human biology and we may be surprised how dependent our chemical processes are on fats. This is the daily fuel our engines require to stay alive and many nutrients cannot be absorbed and hormones produced without fat. Why would we want to restrict our natural energy source? Please don’t use this as an excuse to coat everything in butter. Let’s keep it real, i.e. all natural.

Chemical dependence

Every time we see the phrases “fat free” or “low fat”, let’s replace it with “chemical $h!t storm”. It takes a lot of additives and processes to remove naturally occurring fat from our food and even more to keep them resembling something edible. By products are rampant. Nonfat categories of dairy products contain oxidized cholesterol (a carcinogen) and many baked goods rely on hydrogenation which produces trans fats to retain texture and shelf life. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Would nature deliberately alter one of our food sources to slowly poison our bodies?

When we consume naturally occurring dietary fats our bodies use them effectively. Modified variations send our systems into panic as it fights to manage the toxins. This energy needs to be reserved for essential processes that become neglected while other areas such as our livers are strained. Over time this can lead to chronic diseases.

Good or bad

Most fats loved by our bodies are fatty acids, which we know as omega-3 and omega-6. Digesting them in their natural state, e.g. raw nuts, cold olive oil, and fatty fish, keeps our bodies happy. Most of us maintain adequate, if not high, levels of omega-6, but omega-3 is essential and often deficient. Real food is preferred but supplementation with fish or flax oil will bridge the gap. Excluding oil extraction, altered fats should be avoided. Even the heating of oil can cause fractionation which reduces the bioavailability and generates byproducts. This may seem an excessive amount of calories; however quality fats increase satiation so we eat less in the long run.

Keep it simple, keep it real, and let it be fatty. Have a favorite food or curious about a recommendation? Take 60 seconds to research it and don’t believe anything on the label except the ingredient list. Monitor how you feel, how you look, and what your doctor says. Cheers to a “fat” life.

foodgroups

Diet Changes for Healthy Living

There are so many nutrition lifestyles today that it’s almost trendy to be on a diet. We see it increasingly on menus and grocery store labels every year. How many “points” is this one? “Non” this. “Free” of that. When did eating become such a procedure? It’s no wonder so many of us fail such programs.

We have enough work to sort through in our lives without having to complicate our basic survival needs. Yet, we also have the ability to optimize our health. So we choose not to completely ignore our options. Side effects may include weight loss, increased energy, and stable moods. Diet changes for healthy living are worth our attention.

Process of Elimination

The food fad of the moment is the elimination diet. If something does not serve us then let us remove it from our lives. Once it’s gone we may instantly feel better, or we may feel nothing at all.

This can be difficult to figure out. More severe conditions such as food allergies we are probably already aware of and have integrated necessary precautions into our daily routines. But what if we have sensitivity, not a full blown allergy?

There are various tests our healthcare providers offer, but these are not time and cost effective, especially since it’s not a medical necessity. So let’s pick an ingredient, prevent it from entering our bodies for a week to a month, and take notice of how we feel during this period. Let it back in and see if there’s any change. Try a different ingredient.

This experiment could drag on for a lifetime and there’s too much fun to enjoy to try everything. So let’s just focus on some of the main triggers.

breadloafGluten

Yes, this word is all the buzz. “Gluten free” is on menus and labels everywhere we go for food. What exactly is it? Gluten is a plant protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It provides the elastic quality to dough and our stomachs may find it challenging to break down. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)reports that only about one percent of the population has Celiac Disease and must avoid all gluten, but many experts argue that as much as 40 percent of us are sensitive to the protein. Because of the popularity of gluten-free diets, options are readily available, but some label reading is required to exclude it from all ingredients.

milkDairy

This is another food where few of us are lactose intolerant, but many may be sensitive. The ability to digest this milk sugar may vary depending on the dairy product. Fermented versions such as yogurt and cheese have significantly lower levels and may not need to be excluded. We may be surprised by how many foods use some form of dairy as an ingredient.

soy

Soy

Galacto-oligosaccharides. This plant carbohydrate can be as difficult to digest as it is to spell, and it is found in soy. Thankfully, fermented versions are also well-tolerated, so experiment and enjoy. Once again, versions of soy in ingredients are more common that we realize.

corn2Corn

This grain is one of the most common genetically modified organism (GMO) in the food industry and is used in various forms to produce thousands of processed products. This alone can cause several gastrointestinal issues. Compound that with corn’s ability to inhibit satiation hormones and we may not realize when we’re full of crap.

Worth the Effort?

There’s a lot to experiment with and even more to read about. These changes can also increase our eating budget. We all have to pay a price, but do we choose to pay up front with better food or on the back end with increased healthcare?

If our bodies are constantly battling the sustenance we put into it, then we are not expending the energy to absorb the nutrients we need. Elimination is used to identify the source. From there we focus on replacement, not removal. In this way we don’t suffer a loss and will gain more life in our years and more years in our life.

Adam1

BODY BALANCE: SWITCH UP THE EXERCISE ROUTINE THIS SPRING

Springtime in the Valley of the Sun is ripe with opportunities to indulge in the fun of life. We feel the increased energy as people crowd the valley to partake in nonstop activities in near perfect weather. Many of us feel a revival of our active routines. Gym visits, fitness class attendance, outdoor excursions, and clean eating routines undergo resurgence.

While it’s wonderful to resume our quests for self-improvement, it probably won’t last. Falling back into the same program means falling back into the same end result. Complicate this with the fact that we have changed and may not be able to attempt the same undertakings. It’s time for a little personal spring cleaning and maybe a little self-reflection.

Why does is hurt here? How do I fix this? Why do I feel this way? 

Balance – Nature finds a way

Our bodies are transformable. You want to inflate your muscles? There’s program for that. You want bigger boobs? There’s a procedure for that. You want clearer eyesight? There a treatment for that. You want a stronger mind? I’m sure there’s an app for that. There’s always a cost. Human physiology is more sensitive than we realize.

For over fifteen years of my life I studied and practiced every discipline of weightlifting I could find. Bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifts, CrossFit – I wanted to master them all. It was fun, I learned a lot, and I forced changes in my body envied by peers. I’m still paying for those changes.

I’ve spent all of last year in physical therapy.

The conditions manifesting in my physique is the cost of altering the God given balance within me. I will never be 100 percent, and I’m happy that way. I got what I wanted and I’m paying the price of obtainment. I’m not trying to relive my former accomplishments. I’m reestablishing my starting point.

An important lesson – the location of symptoms within us is not the source of concern. When a person complains about lower back discomfort we examine what’s happening in their hips and legs. If they have neck pain, we’ll see how the rest of the spine is moving. Shoulder issues? Let’s check out the chest and upper back. Something feel abnormal in your left leg? I’ll bet your right handed.

Why does that matter?

Everything within us is connected and our bodies fight to maintain equilibrium in every way. Pain is often the result of overcorrection. Our habitual natures encourage routines that ignore subtle, but potentially detrimental ailments, while maintaining body balance is key.

Adam2At least twice a week I have a client complain about chronic pain around the hips, shoulders, or spine. These people routinely practice a repetitive activity such as biking, running, tennis or even yoga. The lack of countermovement leads to tightness, overdevelopment and often the opposite in the opposing muscles and connective tissue.

This is a great opportunity to learn something new.

“Switching it up” doesn’t mean just jumping into a new program. Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing that we don’t know what we’re doing. Even seasoned teachers and instructors value continuing education. We should spend the extra time to work with a professional to understand how our body is moving and why a revamp of the routine is needed.

Take a class, go to a workshop, or schedule a private session. Even running is not simply one foot in front of the other. Often, when we don’t like something different, it’s because we don’t appreciate the variances. Maybe we’ve been missing out on our true love.

Let’s listen to our bodies to enhance the enjoyment of our lives without forcing something unnatural. If we’re happy with complacency then let’s die as a beast of burden. As for me, I’d rather be a stallion than an ass.

Fitness Retreat

NEED A BREAK? CONSIDER A FITNESS RETREAT

Often the best way to ingrain something into our lives is to immerse ourselves in it. Why not take the same approach with our health?

re•treat: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is disagreeable; a place of privacy or safety

Name a discipline and there is probably a place to escape and envelop into it. Commonly referred to as retreats or camps, such programs are available around the world. We can attend by ourselves or with loved ones. We can stay for days, weeks, months, and maybe longer. We can learn as much as possible or leave it all behind.

More Than a Vacation

When surrounded by individuals with a similar focus we create an environment to encourage change. We learn from our teachers and from each other. We learn what we can teach one another. We learn how to make our lives healthier. This extends beyond the physical. Immersion also involves mental and emotional strengthening.

Sound intense? It can be. When our entire world feels structured and planned we may crack. This is good. Part of learning to love ourselves is to identify and remove the barriers that restrain our growth. There’s nothing wrong with the way we are now, however there’s always room for enrichment…if we want it. Let’s not forget, we’re striving to enjoy life by focusing on enhancement, not repair. Wherever we are is where we start.

Take the example of yoga retreats, one of the most popular types of fitness retreats. Sitting here in a villa in Bali, Indonesia, I have removed myself from the conveniences and culture of western society. My bungalow is little more than four pillars and a roof. In an open air bathroom I shower under the stars every night. I only eat food that is grown and prepared locally. I practice yoga twice a day and study a little in between.

This is not as extreme as it sounds. While some programs maintain a meticulously planned agenda, I have chosen one that has afforded me time to scuba dive, hike a volcano and participate in various other activities, as well as get in a few massages. This is balance.

Thanks to unreliable Internet and no desire to pay international wireless rates, I have unplugged from my world and have been forced to rely on what is real in human nature. This is living. There’s a unique strengthening from exposure and vulnerability. I’m learning a lot about myself.

Self” Study

Besides the increased internal self-awareness I’m discovering how my body responds to true natural living. As I mentioned above, I am only consuming food grown locally using traditional, labor intensive methods.

For example, the rice fields behind the villa are irrigated from lakes and rivers, use ducks for pest control, are harvested by hand and the grains are dried in the sun. Every meal is cooked from fresh, raw ingredients. I feel like a heavy cloak has been ripped from my body. My digestion is smooth and regular, energy is consistent, my head is clear, and I sleep soundly through the night and wake refreshed. I feel like King Kong!

Yoga in Bali is not the only option. I could have chosen another discipline and I didn’t have to choose to travel halfway around the world. There are other fitness modalities, and some are even local. Nearby resorts offer health and wellness packages that include classes on exercise and nutrition.

Don’t feel overwhelmed with the commitment. None of these should be viewed as a regular exercise regimen. They are tools to break through plateaus, a way to learn something new, and let go of what no longer serves.

Excitement stems from discovering how our bodies can be revamped. Not just learning about it, but actually experiencing the distinction. This is lasting reinforcement. It’s easier to maintain what we have than build something new.

social workouts

Buddy Up: Social Workouts Can Keep You Active

Buddy Up: Social Workouts Can Keep You Active

It seems fitting that I follow up holiday eating with holiday fitness. For most of us, this is about balancing family and friends with exercise. If we start before the New Year begins, the extra effort will motivate us well into warm-weather vacation time.

What truly matters

We should never neglect the important people in our lives. They are a reflection of us and us of them. The ones who love us will also love what we do and vice versa — this includes exercise. Much frustration arises from trying to keep our fitness agenda completely separate from personal relationships. When we find something we love, we will make time to enjoy it. And, we should share our joy with others, such as with gift certificates to our favorite class. Or better yet, to your friend or loved one’s favorite class. It’s always fun to have a workout buddy, especially one you love.

Social and active complement each other

For my birthday, I got a group together for a yoga class at a friend’s studio. Some loved it, some did not, but we all appreciated a great laugh. We enjoyed some exercise and important bonding time. Working out doesn’t have to feel like actual work, and we shouldn’t wait for a special occasion to plan a group event.

Another friend got us together to compete in a dancing video game — one that requires actual dancing. Is there anything wrong with celebrating a random Sunday shaking my butt to Pitbull? How about gathering teams for physically inclined charity events? Although running is the most common, there are other programs involving lots of movement, such as Habitat for Humanity.

Parents will also benefit from scheduling household activities. What adults call exercise, children call playtime. We can all learn from children. Give them a chance to pick and lead an activity. Post a calendar and develop a prize system for activities accomplished. The true reward is their improved development and overall growth as a family.

Traveling? Pack your workout clothes, even if you haven’t made exercise plans. Do your best to stick to your regular schedule and try not to sleep in too much. The presence of the clothes and additional free time will either stimulate or guilt us into action — so will the holiday eating.

Searching for variety and blending it with quality time will enhance the holiday season. If this time of year builds stress then it’s an ideal way to let such negativity go. Shifting our busy minds to enjoyable thoughts and connecting with those in our inner circles is a great way to recharge our spirits.

Have a wonderful holiday and a beautiful New Year.

holiday eating

Holiday Eating Or Holiday Sabotage?

Holiday eating or holiday sabotage? Is this a time to embrace indulgences or battle temptations? Depends on one’s outlook. If you read the last article on cheater’s diets then this is an especially wonderful season. Approach with caution or dive in blindfolded. So, what’s the plan?

Holiday Eating: comfort or enjoyment

Meals this time of year are a mix of celebration and de-stressing. Admittedly, we’re well aware that binge eating to deal with life only intensifies overall anxiety and conditions such as high blood pressure. Identifying what’s burdening our minds and planning how to manage the tension will help us enjoy food as a benefit, not a detriment. With a little extra effort towards time management, particularly with sleep and eating schedules, we can adore the holidays, not try to “survive” them. Common sense is always prevalent, but it may not be as common as we thought.

We are not livestock

“Grazing” became mainstream around the late ’90s. “Eat six or more small meals per day to increase metabolism and prevent weight gain.” As with most nutritional advice generated during this era, evidence was largely anecdotal with little or no long-term observations of a large participant group. Studies at the Salk Institute and in the British Journal of Nutrition show that there is no significant metabolic surge from higher frequency eating. There was no difference in total energy expenditure when the same quantity of daily calories was spread through increased meal times. We may actually gain weight. That’s a lot of time spent for meal breaks. More time is required to measure and balance the proper quantity and quality of nutrients over an extended eating schedule. The reality is opportunities for overeating are multiplied. How do we measure and stop when we’re 80 percent full?

Right time, right place

The studies above also suggested that when we eat is just as crucial as what we eat. Nutrient Timing has gained much traction in fitness performance discussions, but these methods are not restricted to athletes. A great place to start is working with our medical advisors to appreciate what’s happening in our bodies, particularly with hormones. Accepting our ever-changing physiques and lifestyles brings understanding to how foods affect us. We may have to give up some, but we may gain a lot more.

More is a broad category. Some more myths include calories in, calories out, and negative calories. The body has the ability to hoard fat storage regardless of caloric expenditure, and intensified activity is not correlated to bigger eating. Foods that require more energy to digest than they contain are theoretical. According to a study by Harvard University: “…conventional wisdom ― to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods ― isn’t the best approach.” We may lose or prevent weight gain, however, the results are likely temporary, and overall health may decline.

Eat to live

We consume food; food does not consume us. Keep it simple. Periodically spend a little time to learn how to eat. Nutrition needs to enhance our life, not drive it. I love food, I enjoy eating clean, I endorse cheating — but there’s a difference between fan and fanatical.

Cheating on your diet

Cheater’s Diets: Why Cheating On Your Diet Is OK

I cheat. Not a cloak-and-dagger, back-alley cheat, but an in-your-face, let-the-world-see-me cheat. When I cheat, I copiously surrender to my heart’s desires and immure any rational restraint behind a passionate barrier of, “I don’t give a f@#k!” This includes disregard for how horrible I will feel the next day, centering deep in the pit of my guts, excreting out through every pore of my being. Absent regret, I forget the previous events and anticipate my next conquest. Heaven forgive if I go out of town and my inhibitions are eradicated. Ultimately, I own my actions, am proud of what I did and feel good about who I am.

In the world of health and wellness, centering on fitness and nutrition, cheating on your diet is celebrated.

When we eat something we know we shouldn’t and skip a workout when we need it, we’re human ― because at the end of the day that’s all we are. Physical strength derives from mental and emotional fitness. Have you ever crate-trained a puppy? What happens when you let it out after being gone all day? We experience the same unbridled release of energy when we are too restrained in our self-discipline. If we’re not happy, if we don’t love it, then it’s not worth it. We need to find another way. We need to find another reason.

The extreme regiments of “Diet Nazis” inevitably lead to weight gain, irritability and demoralization to ever attempt nutritional changes again. If we remain dedicated to our health all week, then a night of indulgence will not unravel any progress. Allowing cheats will maintain sanity, dedication and increase fat loss. Yes, a well-planned cheat meal will increase our metabolism and replenish glycogen reserves to burn additional calories and restore energy. The leaner we become and the more active we are, the more we NEED to cheat. Motivated yet?

Cheater’s diets vary as do nutrition plans. Aside from the weekend indulger, there is also the 90/10, 80/20 or 20:1, 30:1 eating. The first option requires clean eating 80 to 90 percent of the time and cheats the remaining 10 to 20 percent. The second structures meals with one cheat meal for every 20 to 30 clean meals. Deciding which to attempt depends on one’s body type, lifestyle and goals. As with fitness and nutrition, we try them all, monitor the results and choose the one we love.

Adam cheating on his diet.This is not an endorsement to binge. Be reasonable. If we know that we are sensitive to gluten or dairy, then we should still avoid such ingredients. Junk food is still junk. Even with cheat meals, there are quality choices worth craving. Leniency is encouraged, but portion control is still exercised. We don’t need to hurt ourselves getting “chocolate wasted.”

A few weekends ago, I was honored to witness a close friend’s wedding in Chicago. Two bottles of tequila and a box of donuts later, we all returned home worn out but completely satisfied and effortlessly happy. I can still stretch past my toes, row 500 meters in 90 seconds and hold a plank for more than five minutes. Cheat meal is a misnomer; it’s required for great health and wellness. The next wedding is in three weeks, and I plan to “out-cheat” my Chicago efforts. Never refuse wedding or birthday cake. That’s just rude.

For more information about The Body Lab, visit thebodylabaz.com.

Exercise Addiction: Do You Know When To Stop?

Exercise Addiction: Do You Know When To Stop?

“Thanks for a great class. I almost threw up! I going to do some cardio now.” Is that really necessary? The first half I take as a compliment — not because I pushed them to their limits, but because I encouraged them to explore their depths. For the latter, I’m discouraged. If I’m teaching people to connect with their bodies, then they’ll have the patience to honor change with time. When you paint a room a new color, you let each coat set. You can’t cram it all on at once or you end up smearing around an abstract finger painting. Congratulations if that’s the look you want. Otherwise, take a step back and examine what you’re doing. Your body responds the same way. It may or may not show on the outside, but it’s definitely not a masterpiece on the inside. But how do you know if you’re an obligatory athlete? How do you know if you have an exercise addiction?

Do you schedule exercise around life or life around exercise? If you never miss a workout, never skip a session, then you’re not living. Do you “work through the pain”? Stop listening to your ego, and listen to your body.

What are you trying to accomplish? I know, sometimes you set periodic goals such as completing a marathon, preparing for beach season, or getting ready for a social gathering. But what about the rest of the time? If you push too hard, the body will resist. Try to restrict too many calories, and your body will hold on to its last bit of fat in “survival mode.” Try to exercise too much, and your body will immobilize you with fatigue or injury. Being sore all the time is not a good thing.

Where is this compulsion rooted? To some degree, we all have addictive personalities. We periodically enjoy a level of competitiveness. I’ll argue it’s ingrained in our humanity as is any emotion. And with every emotion, the intensity varies with individuality. Obsession can turn a good thing bad, and there’s no one competing against you. Are you punishing yourself for no reason? Are you trying to satisfy an emotional void? You might as well iron your clothes while wearing them. It’s never a good idea, and you know better.

Is exercise your “happy hour” to socialize? For those who love to be seen, fitness groups, such as cycling clubs, and community events, such as public yoga, are great. They foster unity, encourage active lifestyles and motivate people to try something new. But again, don’t schedule your life around them. Ask yourself, are you spending more time talking about these events than attending them? Do you feel anxiety or irritability? Or, do you feel depressed if you cannot attend? Are you in touch with the real value of being there or creating your own? Contemplate the genuine purpose of your presence at these occasions.

Do you know what exercise is to children? Play. So, ask yourself — are you having fun? It’s supposed to be a leisure activity, not a task. Our bodies are designed to move. Mentally, physically and emotionally, we all need activity and stimulation. There’s nothing wrong with being habitual, but don’t let it become a fixation. If you’ve crossed the line of commitment and compulsion, then stop. Reduce your fitness schedule. Talk to someone you trust to help you reevaluate. You can’t control life. Love it, one day at a time.

For more information about exercise addiction or The Body Lab, visit thebodylabaz.com.

Dumbbells

Pilates Isn't Just For Women: Breaking Gender-Specific Workouts

There are no women’s and men’s workouts.

There’s the body you want and the body you need. You want six-pack abs. You need a strong core. There are the exercises you like to do and the exercises you need to do. You like to do biceps curls. You need to do some squats.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve the body of the moment. The problem is that you only have it for a moment. Unless your lifestyle is directly dependent upon your physique, there is no long-term gain to looking good. Appearance is not correlated to health and wellness. Focus on feeling strong, feeling healthy, feeling happy, and the look will become a welcome consequence.

Do you keep falling back into the same routine? You start your program, obtain some measurable results, and then take a break. You miss what you had, so you start over again and again. Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to settle into a routine that you love to maintain consistently? It’s time to try something different.

One of the greatest obstacles is how gender-specific physical disciplines can be. Pilates is for women. Powerlifting is for men. No, they’re for whoever loves to practice them. That’s the key. Do what you love. Who cares if you’re one of the few males or females in class? You’re not there for anyone else, so focus on you. This doesn’t mean you have to completely change your philosophy, just tweak it a little. Many disciplines complement one another and will extend years into your active lifestyle.

Ever read about NFL programs and the U.S. military incorporating yoga and Pilates into the conditioning regiments of their athletes and soldiers? There’s a good reason for that. A high-performance sports car doesn’t ride on three wheels. Everything must be in balance.

The same applies to recreational activities, such as golf, tennis and cycling. Benefits can extend beyond the physical by enhancing mental clarity and emotional understanding. We all have bad days, and a good session will bring levity to your mood.

However, before you begin, ensure that you are physically able to attempt something new. Ask yourself if you feel good. If so, are you happy? Yes. Are you hurt? No. Then keep going. Your body will tell you when it’s time to take a break. When you try something different give it an honest try — not a drive-by. Put full effort and enthusiasm into a session, maybe more than once. If you’re heart is not in it then you have certainty and can move on. It never hurts to know your body and yourself a little better.

For more information about yoga or Pilates, visit thebodylabaz.com.

Supplements

Which Supplements Work For You?

Sup·ple·ment: Something that completes or makes an addition.

These are food products. These are not medical drugs; these are not designed to replace anything; and, these do not excuse your actions (or lack thereof). Few are truly natural and require some type of processing to produce a conveniently consumable form. Some lack long-term examination and others are based on anecdotal evidence. So what good are they?

Unique individuals have an inability to absorb or retain specific nutrients. For them, supplementation can be crucial. For the majority of us, substantial benefits are rare.

Genetics and lifestyle are factors but the main influence is education. It’s imperative to connect with your body, appreciate how it is distinctive and how the choices you make affect its transformation. A tree does not stand deprived of roots. Give it all the Miracle-Gro® you want, it will fall. If you do not sustain a nutritional foundation of clean eating, then there is little for supplements to support. If that’s the case, then stop reading. You have other fundamentals to comprehend. Otherwise, if you’re prepared to make changes or already on the path, let’s get to the particulars.

I’ve listed the products in order of most to least important. It will take trial and error to determine how well your body will respond to each. This includes dosage strength and nutrient timing as well as the quality and potency of the brand you select. Also, it helps to have input from your primary care physician. A general blood screening will highlight any particular deficiencies, and you need to be aware of possible prescription drug interactions.

Please remember that these are just suggestions. My absolute, essential source for nutrients is real, wholesome food.

Fish Oil

Specifically, it’s the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil that are valuable. There are vegan sources, such as flax seed oil; however, they are not as potent.

These acids are attributed to improving a plethora of physical conditions. Most are related to heart, circulatory, brain functions and inflammation.

Start with a low dose and gradually increase over a two- to three-month period to about 1,000 milligrams per day. Too much too soon can be a shock to your system, and you may suddenly find your intestines purging.

Many of you are concerned with smelling, tasting, and/or burping up something fishy. Quality capsules, such as Barlean’s and Carlson, are odorless and will move past the stomach before releasing to be absorbed through the intestinal wall.

Vitamin D

The “sunshine vitamin” has been neglected, and more convincing studies are correlating the prevalence of chronic diseases and vitamin D deficiencies.

Several medical professionals are recommending between 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily, which significantly higher than doses contained in multivitamin blends. Most labels are listed as D3 and high doses come in very small capsules.

Multivitamins

Even exceptional eating plans can fall short of meeting the body’s nutrient necessities, especially with the declining quality of an industrialized food supply. There is an abundance of brands for a lot of different physiques. It’s not necessary to find one with the highest overall doses and variety of ingredients. Efficacy improves with lower doses spread throughout the day, and your body probably only desires the basics. Males need to avoid brands with iron unless you are anemic, vegetarian, or vegan.

Minerals

There are about seven major trace minerals needed by the body. For instance, most people will benefit from additional magnesium; it is involved with hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. The majority are associated with muscle, nerve and immune system health. It’s very important to keep the doses low and spread out because magnesium is also a laxative.

There are also about nine trace minerals needed by the body. A little extra zinc couldn’t hurt. Its involved in cellular metabolism and more than 100 enzymes. It’s more commonly known for immune system support and doses are low.

Herbs

This last category is purely circumstantial. There are not enough medically-supported, long-term studies to vindicate supplementation of herbs. It’s up to you to experiment with herbs. Various cultures have documented the use throughout their history, but none of it is definitive.

Let me preface this first duo by saying that this is not justification to eat sugar or “carb out.” Fenugreek and cinnamon are receiving growing attention for blood sugar support. Studies are focusing around alternative treatments for diabetes. If you have or are working on reducing your refined carbohydrate intake, then these two herbs may assist your efforts by slowing your body’s insulin response to such foods.

Licorice root provides adrenal gland support. This is where the cortisol is produced. Unhealthy levels of this stress hormone can lead to excess abdominal body fat. Milk thistle provides liver support. Our busy lifestyles, poor nutrition and lower food quality taxes the liver to maintain balance in the body. You may not notice any changes in your overall health with any of these, but your doctor will on your next visit. Just pay close attention to how you feel and how your body responds.

For more information on supplements and/or The Body Lab, visit thebodylabaz.com.

Over-training, under-eating

Over-Training, Under-Eating: Looking Vs. Being Healthy

Lose weight the right way — avoid over-training and under-eating.


Summertime! For many, this means vacations, adventures, fun drinks, good food and less clothing. That last one might make you feel a bit self-conscious. But there’s still time to look better! All you have to do is starve yourself and exercise every day until it’s go-time. It works, right? There is a difference between looking healthy and being healthy, but that’s probably not a priority right now.

I get it. Sometimes things get out of control, we lose track of time, and then we rush to get acceptable results. When you reach your deadline, I’m going to ask, “Do you have the summer body you wanted? Do you feel good? Are you excited and energetic?” Many of you showed little progress, so you dieted more and exercised harder. You don’t sleep well, you’re sore all the time, and you feel like you’re getting weaker. Ever hear Einstein’s definition of insanity?

Stop comparing

“I have a friend/relative that lives this way all the time and looks amazing.” Simple response is, “You’re not them so stop trying to be like them.”

People often exaggerate their nutritional and exercise habits. We all have different genetics and lifestyles, so unless you’re monitoring them around the clock, you can’t specifically compare your efforts.

The human body is adaptable and will fight to maintain balance. However, let me repeat — there is a difference between looking healthy and being healthy.

Too much exercise? Avoid over-training

Ever make JELL-O®? Exercise is the same for your body. It’s best enjoyed if given time to settle and take shape. If you keep opening the refrigerator to stir, it’ll look lumpy and deformed. This may be acceptable for JELL-O®, but not your body.

Over-training is when you don’t give your body enough time to repair the damage caused by exercise. A person can look good, but a medical exam will reveal distressed organs, weakened immune system, inflamed joints and muscle catabolism. In its fight to maintain balance, the human body will make sacrifices.

You may not notice or shrug it off as “good pain” or “getting older,” but this constant build-up of stress will manifest itself when you least expect. If you’re lucky you’ll just get sick, e.g. exhaustion or a bad cold. Otherwise you could experience a debilitating injury.

Fat-free is bad?

Replace the words “fat-free” or “low-fat” with “chemical $h!#-storm.” It takes man-made processing to alter natural foods while maintaining consistency and appearance.

Under-eating deprives your body of essential nutrients. This becomes crucial with the added stress of exercise. It’s easy to get focused on quantity instead of quality, i.e. counting calories without paying attention to the source of those calories. You need more fat than you realize just sitting in your chair. Cutting too much puts your body in a panicked “I’m going to starve” state, and it will hold on to and increase fat reserves every chance it gets.

Even with intense exercise, your body will fight to hold on to these reserves.

Stay active

Don’t take this as an excuse to eat fatty foods while sitting on the couch. It still takes effort, but maybe not as much as you thought. Exercise to feel fit and eat to be healthy. Don’t just learn, but take the time to understand the difference between processed and naturally occurring nutrients, especially fat. Yes, fat is a vital nutrient, not an evil toxin that sabotages your tummy. So maybe it’s too late for your ideal body this summer. You can still look good in winter, even if it’s for yourself.

Balance hormones

Fitness, Nutrition Are Tools to Balance Hormones

You are hormonal; you need to balance your hormones. Any age, any gender, any ethnicity — hormones regulate the body. Ideal body weight, good skin and hair, high energy, strong joints, etc. are all affected. There are too many to discuss here without turning this into a human biology journal, so let’s focus on three major ones: insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones. Lastly, we’ll review how fitness and nutrition are tools to manage this balance to achieve overall health and wellness.

Insulin

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and regulates blood sugar. The body will fight to maintain blood sugar in a very narrow range. Insulin release is triggered by the foods we eat and is needed to access the glucose calories contained in those foods. Too much can lead to insulin resistance and too little in hyperglycemia. Following periods of exertion, such as exercise, insulin aids in accessing carbohydrate energy for recovery.

Cortisol

Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands to help the body deal with stress. It breaks down tissue proteins into amino acids that the liver can convert into glucose for quick energy. It also breaks down fat cells into fatty acids, maintains blood pressure and is necessary for injury recovery. Too much cortisol can result in muscle catabolism and too little in chronic fatigue.

Thyroid

Thyroid hormones help the body breakdown proteins and increase free fatty acids to generate energy and heat to boost metabolism. This affects weight gain or loss, strength and recovery. Imbalances will result in hyper or hypothyroidism producing in changes in body mass and how well you manage fatigue and recovery.

Alter your efforts

Try this for the next month. Shift your thinking to eating and exercising to manage your hormones instead of weight gain or loss. The latter is just a bonus. Your body is sensitive to nutrition because your hormones are sensitive to nutrients.

Remember the Three Little Pigs? Quality provided strength, and effort resulted in longevity. Food shapes your foundation, and exercise forms your building. From there, maintaining your structure is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent fitness. If you use generic materials, e.g. processed foods, your body will deteriorate rapidly.

Fitness will stimulate your body to be more productive with these three major hormones. This is accomplished by putting your physique under an adequate amount of stress and then allowing time for recovery. The latter is where the building occurs.

The act of exercise itself is damaging for the body. It breaks down muscles, strains joints and weakens the immune system. However, all this is temporary. The added stress demands the respective glands to produce more hormones. During recovery, these hormones repair damage and add reinforcement in anticipation of future damage. Would you patch a hole in your wall with putty or bubblegum?

There are several ways to sustain this cycle of hormonal balancing. Concentrate on quality, and be accepting of the fact that the cycle will change. Aging causes unavoidable fluctuations in our hormones. A brand new condo requires different maintenance than a historic home. One consistency is that a level of effort is still required. Love your body and it will love you back. Unlike a home, you have to live in it. Moving is not an option.

For more information about balancing your hormones and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, visit thebodylabaz.com.

Fitness Apps

Fitness Apps: A Rewarding Way To Achieve Your Goals

Yes, “there’s an app for that.” Some provide the most important element – FUN! They can be rewarding, literally rewarding. I’m talking about real cash and prizes. Whether you’re just getting started or feel the need to accomplish more, a great software application can give you an edge to achieve your fitness goals. Many integrate social networking, which adds encouragement, competition and the chance to make new friends. Cost and convenience are primary reasons for the growing popularity of exercise and fitness apps.

They’re significantly cheaper than gym memberships and personal trainers, and these fitness apps perfectly fit your schedule and demands because you’re in full control. So take control and wield it as any skilled craftsman would a prize tool.

Use caution

I reviewed a few below, but there are some things to remember. The fitness app doesn’t do the work for you. In our modern society, we need to add it to the list — no perfect exercise, no miracle pill, no magic diet, no special app. Living life takes effort, and you must take ownership of your actions, or lack thereof. Many provide detailed instructions with adequate audio and visual aids, but this is not a substitute for a trained and experienced teacher. There is the potential for injury and be certain you are medically approved to attempt the program. Take the time to learn, listen to your body, and solicit qualified advice if you’re unsure.

Fitness apps:

Nexercise – iOS, FREE; $2.99 upgrade

This Facebook of fitness apps can track more than 90 activities. Key features include chat and comments with friends and the ability to earn points and medals for accomplishments. These can then be redeemed for real prizes or discounts on various goods and services. GPS tracking verifies location and routes to keep everyone honest. This fitness app is for tracking purposes only; it is not for exercise instruction or planning workout routines.

MapMyRun – iOS/Android/Blackberry, FREE; $2.99 upgrade

This app has all the great tracking information a running app should have with voice prompts to keep you updated on your progress while you’re exercising. It integrates social networking, including photo and story sharing for added motivation and the ability to search for local events for added competition. Join sponsored challenges to win prizes. This app is great if you love to run, but it doesn’t have options to mix in other types of fitness.

GymPact – iOS, FREE

This one is simple and straight forward. Set an activity goal, such as number of gym sessions completed in the next 30 days. Complete it, and receive a small cash reward, but fail, and you pay. GPS allows you to locate a nearby gym, check in, and log time spent exercising. This app is for tracking purposes only. It is not for exercise instruction or planning workout routines, and the only social interaction is to share your routine.

Nike+ – iOS, FREE; $1.99 upgrade

One of the original and continually evolving fitness apps, it can be enhanced with the purchase of additional technology, such as a sensor wristband. They have since expanded into general fitness with workout routines and exercise instruction. Nike has also partnered with Kiip to offer rewards for completing achievements. There is some variety with Nike, but not an all-in-one app to satisfy your demands.

Zombies, RUN! – iOS/Android, $7.99

Turn running into an actual game. Complete missions and story lines, or just run for your life while listening to voice prompts and your own playlist. You can use it anywhere, even on a treadmill. It lacks performance tracking and social networking, but the developer is promising upgrades soon.

FitnessBuilder – iOS/Android, FREE; $9.99 upgrade

This is the king of fitness apps with 750+ workouts and 5,600+ exercise photos and videos. It also includes a virtual personal trainer, performance and body composition tracking, as well as the ability to customize your own routine. There are event options for professionals to track group or individual client performance. You can share workouts and ask questions, but it would be nice to have more social networking capabilities.

You Are Your Own Gym – iOS/Android, $1.99

Based on the book by Mark Lauren, this fitness app teaches you to use your own body to exercise anywhere. In includes customizable timers and lots of instructional photos. Developers are promising videos and the ability to ask questions to a trainer, maybe even a little social networking because it always more fun with friends.

Exercises

Exercise, Workouts For Those With Limited Time And Equipment

Spring is here, and summer is around the corner! The perfect weather and surplus of activities encourages people to get out, get moving and exercise, but there’s never enough time to enjoy it all and still maintain your usual routine. Are you one of the many that made New Year’s fitness resolutions? Sometimes you need to miss a workout due to work, school or personal obligations. Don’t get discouraged when sometimes turns into often. It’s a myth that you need at least an hour and a lot of equipment to complete an effective workout. All you need is attitude.

A Little Exercise Science

Short duration and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – sound familiar? Ever take the time to understand it? A great example is the Tabata Protocol discovered by Sport and Health Science Professor Izumi Tabata. His team documented that athletes training with this regiment could be exhausted in as little as four minutes. He also noticed that any motivated person can achieve the same results. This is not some new fitness craze; this was back in 1997! So why aren’t more people using this? It’s a misconception that long duration exercise provides greater benefits.

I say it all the time, “nothing worthwhile is easy.” High intensity means you have to give your best effort. This does not mean 100 percent every time until you’re about to vomit — but you still have to work hard.

Using the Tabata as an example, you run up and down a flight of stairs for 20 seconds and then stop for 10 seconds. Repeat this for eight intervals. If you gave your best effort, you will feel exhausted in four minutes. Cheers; you just completed a workout! You don’t have to use Tabata and stairs all the time, but you get the idea. Switch up the exercises and intervals, e.g. run fast using a 30/30 time split. Extend the workout to at least 15 minutes to gain the best hormonal response from your body, i.e. Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).

More Workouts

If you have access to some equipment

Warm up with intervals on any cardio machine or jumping jacks, jump ropes, etc. using the Tabata Protocol described above (four minutes). Then perform three, whole body movements for 10 minutes, 20-25 repetitions each. Try dumbbell swings, squat thrusters and hanging leg raises. Only rest for as much time as it takes to change exercises. Finish with another four minutes of intervals.

If there’s no access to a gym

Get a deck of cards, and shuffle well, with jokers. Aces = 1, Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Jokers = pass, and all other cards are face value. Pick three to four exercises, e.g. squats, push-ups, sit-ups and burpees. Keep the order of the exercises the same for every round. Flip over a card, and complete that number of repetitions for the exercise you’re on. Repeat rounds for 15-20 minutes stopping as little as possible.

Be Nice to Yourself

Get creative, and try different exercises, but be careful. If it seems too complex and you’ve never had anyone teach you proper form, then try something else. Also, listen to your body. There’s a difference between good and bad pain. Make sure to strengthen, not strain. Focus on controlling your breathing, try to have some fun even if you have to fake a smile, and be excited that you just completed another session.

Nutrition

Media-Influenced Weight Loss, Nutrition: Make Informed Decisions

“I really don’t eat that badly.” If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that, I’d be retired. If you’re seeking advice on nutrition there’s something about your body you want to change that your current eating habits are not satisfying.

Your nutrition

What is the basis for your nutritional guidelines? Are you following food industry principles and sponsored studies or independent PhD research? Most of the reliable information isn’t new; it has just been overshadowed by business propaganda.

Coincidence?

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, obesity in the U.S. has increased dramatically since 1985; currently one-third of adults are in this category. And the 1980 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans supported a major shift to double the recommended servings of carbohydrates, including starches, whole and enriched grains, as well as a greater reduction in fats. The effort was to reduce the risk of chronic diseases ― but it’s not working. 
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer percentages are all on the rise. Furthermore, food is big business, and all major industries have lobbyists influencing government agencies. As food companies’ profits expand, so does your waistline. So whose standards are you following?

More Confusion

Spend this weekend counting how many ads you view in any media for diet/nutrition programs. Now, think back through the last 10 years. Atkins®, Sugar Busters®, Zone®, South Beach®, Weight Watchers®, Nutrisystem®, etc. Which one is the best?

All are based on reasonable medical facts. Try any one and follow the program strictly, no exceptions, and you will lose weight. And then what? Whether it’s because you reach your goal weight or quit during the program, they are all banking on the fact that you will stop.

They are all companies seeking profits, and they have statistics predicting when you will gain the weight back and return to the program or try another one. It’s a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc on your body physically, mentally and emotionally.

What do I do?

Stop focusing on weight loss. This is a short-term goal with little concern for more important factors. Reducing your total body weight doesn’t improve your body. Focus your efforts on improving your overall health ― blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, sleeping better, sustained energy, elevated mood, mental clarity, and so on. The side effect? Long-term fat loss; you won’t be merely losing weight, but losing fat. Remember, it’s possible to stay the same weight while also lowering body fat.

Try this logic. Would Mother Nature provide anything to deliberately harm you? Is she focused on profit? All-natural means you can chase it, pull it out of the water, dig it out of the ground, or pick it off of a plant. Then you can eat it as is (or with minimal cooking because we’re not cavemen anymore).

Ever try Natural Cheetos? Tell me where I can find the Cheetos tree so I can pick a fresh bag. Remember that on your next trip to the grocery store. There are programs such as Paleo or Gluten-free living that are a bit extreme, but they do teach you to make better selections.

Nothing worthwhile is easy

Remember why and how badly you want this. It takes effort, discipline and desire. If it was easy everyone would look and feel great!

Educate yourself to make proper choices for your body and your lifestyle. Are you expected to maintain these choices all the time? Yes! That’s what a lifestyle change means ― for the rest of your life.

And although clean eating can put more demands on your budget, ask yourself this: would you rather spend now on better food or later on increased medical bills?

Healthy Lifestyle

Using Groupons To Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle, Find The Perfect Fit

For those wanting to keep their New Year’s resolution of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consider making a permanent change in your life. Sample various gyms, workouts, etc. that fits your lifestyle; one that you look forward to — instead of one that you dread.


Do you love your couch? Mine is amazing and anywhere you sit on it is the best spot to be. The thing is a death trap. It sucks you in and slowly bleeds your energy and enthusiasm till you lose all motivation to accomplish anything.

I’m being dramatic. The point is we all have a “couch” that inhibits our desires to accomplish more for ourselves. You’re busy, and good for you for being normal and having a life with more important things to focus your energy. However, if improving your overall health is of any value, then I challenge you. Somewhere I guarantee there is a person twice as busy as you, and he or she is making time to go for a run.

We know you want it, so let’s turn desire into action and keep the momentum pushing you forward. Simultaneously, we’ll mitigate the “couches” that can derail your progress. There are no shortcuts, no miracle pills, and no perfect foods or exercises. Lasting change takes time, discipline, and dedication. That is what you are truly pushing for – permanent change.

The First Steps

Specifically detail why you want this. Maybe you’re trying to prevent health problems or be a positive example for your family. Whatever you decide make it selfish and personal. Powerful reasons are hard to ignore. Try appealing to your competitive side. Reward yourself for reaching benchmarks or, even better, get a workout buddy or group to compete with and reward each other. Now it’s time to find the tools to accomplish your goals.

We are creatures of habit and tend to focus on routine and results and forget to HAVE FUN!

Finding the Perfect Fit

There are too many fitness options available to be certain which ones are perfect for you without trying them all. Barring any physical limitations, it’s more about finding a mental and emotional fit. Love what you’re doing, and don’t be fooled into thinking you need to immediately commit to any one program to see results; there’s time to make that happen.

Realize that you are remaining active and opening up the possibilities for a better life. As the weeks pass you will discover something you love and will stick with it and you will have certainty in knowing that you’ve already tasted the alternatives. But remember, no gym is supposed to make you instantly feel good about yourself while you’re there. If that was the case they’d serve you shots. You look forward to what you’re about to attempt and then feel great about what you’ve accomplished. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring!

Take Advantage of Deals

If you could test drive a different luxury car every week and just had to pay for your own gas – would you do it? This time of year is a buyer’s market in the fitness industry. Gyms can obtain a 30 percent increase in new memberships during January and February. This means lots of options and big discounts. You’ve probably seen more than a dozen promotional offers within the last few weeks through various advertisements. Search through Groupon and LivingSocial. Try as many of them as you can and HAVE FUN!

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Eventually you will settle back to being habitual, but you will have achieved change that is now a part of your life. Appreciate this moment and look forward to your goals on a weekly basis. Stop trying to focus on the rest of the year. You don’t stare at the top of the mountain while you’re hiking up the trail. Once it becomes habitual you will make it a part of your routine. You’ll schedule time for it, add it to your calendar, set reminders, make plans around it, and share it with people you know, sending them meeting requests. Before you know it you won’t let the “couch” work its way into your agenda because you’ll feel guilty if you miss a session. Congratulate yourself and admire how far you’ve traveled. And don’t forget to pay an occasional visit to your couch.

Which Groupons or LivingSocial deals have you tried and are implementing into your life? Which deals are the best in the Valley? Let us know!

For more information about how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle, visit thebodylabaz.com.