Ok, I'm Walking More and Hitting the Gym, But Still Not Dropping The Weight, What's Wrong?

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Is this you?  I know, I know, you've probably read or have seen posts about this a lot, but you'd be surprised how often this topic comes up, in the gym, the office, even the grocery store.  Some people use the simple formula of just eating less and getting themselves more active. Now that's a good equation, and I follow that all of the time. But you have some people, and unfortunately, there are quite a number of them that think "More is Better" and they tend to swing too much to the far end of the pendulum and really cut back on their food intake thinking that they will drop more weight, faster.  Well, they soon find that even though they have continuous hunger pains, the weight seems to have stopped dropping off.  Then they think they need to cut back on their calorie intake even more. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

These people are not only stuck in park, but there are other unforeseen consequences as well.  Your body enters what is commonly referred to as the "starvation mode" when you don't eat enough to sustain your bodies regular processes, which can cause slower than expected weight loss and plateaus.

For simplicity sake, we can explain it easier this way. Your body uses a certain amount of energy each day. We get all the energy we need from food. When we take in either more or less energy (food) than the body uses each day, our weight changes (increases or decreases). For example, an average man needs about 2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight (women need a lower amount). If he were to eat 3,000 calories in a day, the body would have to deal with a calorie surplus (too much energy) of 500 calories (the body would need to find something to do with the extra 500 calories coming in from the diet). The way the body deals with a surplus is by storing that extra energy as fat causing weight gain.

 If that same man were to eat 2,000 calories in a day, the body would now have to deal with a calorie deficit (not enough energy) of 500 calories (the body would need to find non-food sources to make up for the shortfall of 500 calories coming in from your diet). The body deals with a calorie deficit by drawing on fat stores for energy causing weight loss.  That is why there needs to be a balance of how much you need to eat when you are trying to lose weight, and it is also necessary to eat the "Right Combination" of food groups, fats, good carbs, and lean protein!  And yes, that will be a topic for another day!

This "starvation mode" kicks in when your calorie intake drops too drastically. If your body needs 2,500 calories per day (to maintain weight) and you start eating 1,000 calories per day, you would expect your calorie deficit to be 1,500 calories leading to substantial weight loss. The problem is that if you cut your calorie intake to 1,500 below what you burn, your metabolism would slow (starvation mode) and burn a lot less than 2,500 calories. Your calorie deficit would turn out to be a lot smaller than 1,500 calories. 

Remember the amount of food you eat affects your metabolism. Our bodies have a built-in protection from prolonged periods of reduced calorie intake, if taken to the extreme, (starvation). Today it easy to acquire food such as in a grocery store, vending machines, and fast food restaurants. Today food, luckily in the US. is widely available. Back when our ancestors used to hunt and gather food, they would go long periods of time with little energy intake,(food). To help us survive, our metabolism would slow down in order to conserve the little energy we had left. This can be compared to driving slower when you're almost out of gas and are unsure of the distance to the next gas station.  

 If you want to lose weight, the right way, all you need to do is bring the level of your food intake under your level of energy use, but NOT drastically. Consistently eating less calories than your body burns will force your body to draw upon fat stores for energy causing weight loss. You have two opportunities to influence this energy balance equation: food and energy use.

In addition to eating less, you can also expend more energy (exercise) which will widen the gap between how many calories you burn and eat. This balanced approach of eating less AND moving more will yield the best, healthiest and longest lasting result. Problems arise with weight loss strategies when dieters rely too much on cutting calories rather than also exercising more.

A key factor that helps determine how your body burns your fuel,(food) is called your metabolism

Your metabolism can be described as the sum of all the energy needed in the body. Your body needs the energy to digest & absorb food, support the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and other organs, repair damaged tissue, move your blood around, by having your heart pumping and you're moving around (physical activity). Even without exercise, your body still has a need for energy to simply keep you alive. Your metabolism or daily energy needs are not set in stone. Instead, your metabolism is fluid and can speed up or slow down based on inputs such as the amount of food eaten and exercise performed.

Cutting your calorie intake drastically is a bad weight loss strategy for a number of reasons. The main reason is that cutting calories drastically is not sustainable. The changes you need to make to cut 1,000 or more calories from your daily intake is too much for you to handle. Taking this path might last a few days or even a few weeks but eventually, your diet will prove too much and the changes you have made will lead to a failed diet. Once you go back to your old ways, the weight will come right back on. Remember hearing the term sea-saw dieting, this is it.

Another reason that a drastic calorie cut is a bad idea is nutrient intake. Your body needs a certain amount of vitamins and minerals each day to support normal bodily functions including energy metabolism, immune functions, and tissue repair. The typical American diet is already deficient in many nutrients. Reason being, most of our foods that we eat in the old US of A, are processed. This means they've been white-washed. Or cleaned up for us to eat. This has been done over the years by companies, and even farmers who use different treatments to first the soil, then in the processing, packaging the food so that it lasts longer on the grocery shelves or in the meat cases. Because of this, we are getting less, raw nutrients with our food.  Eating less, on a crash diet, will further decrease your intake which can lead to some inconvenient if not serious health issues. Slower, more sustainable weight loss options that include exercise will lead to healthier and more long lasting results.

Losing weight by moderately cutting your calorie intake and increasing your physical activity will yield the best results. Moderately cutting your calorie intake will not have the same negative consequences (starvation mode) involved in drastically cutting your calories. While cutting calories can negatively impact your metabolism, increasing your physical activity level can do the opposite.

Exercising burns calories because moving requires energy. The more you move, the more calories you burn. In addition to the calories you burn while exercising, your metabolism is also increased for 24-48 hours after you stop exercising. Physical activity speeds up your metabolism even after you stop exercising due to the recovery phase of the exercise. The recovery phase of exercise involves repairing damage sustained to the muscle fibers while working out and replenishing energy stores used up during exercise. All of this burns calories.

So, the key word here is "Balance", it seems a little funny doesn't it, that word "Balance", If we really think about it, having a balance in our lives can solve almost all of our problems. From keeping your work stress in "Balance" to balancing your time so you spend enough of it with your family.  Keeping your eating, and physical activity in balance with one another will create the right combination to make sure that you Will lose weight, the right way!





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How a Heart Rate Monitor Can Help You Burn the Right Calories!

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Ok, I'm exercising, counting calories and burning calories, but the weight is still not dropping away fast enough. Is this you? Or have you heard this talk around the water cooler before? Well, let's take a look at the basics first and then tackle the reason's why that weight is not dropping off like you hoped it would.

We call devices that measure heart rate “heart-rate monitors,” but you could also call them “fat-burning monitors” since monitoring your pulse rate during exercise is the best way to promote fat-burning both during and after your workout.

But some people can use heart-rate monitors improperly — to push themselves even harder, which can actually cause fat storage. And others are still focused on a “calories-in, calories out” approach, which has proven ineffective as reflected in the high rates of people who are overweight, which really means they are overfat. The body is a quirky thing that most people do not understand. You see, it has a protective mode that it can drop into when it thinks it's going into "Starvation Mode". 

Some people think that merely by eating less and exercising more they will lose weight. And they are Correct!!  f you do nothing but take the advice found in that phrase, you will lose weight. Unfortunately, some people take that advice to an extreme and suffer some unforeseen consequences. Your body enters what is commonly referred to as "starvation mode" when you don't eat enough which can cause slower than expected weight loss and plateaus. For the short of it, if your body thinks that the food supply is starting to be scarce then what it is used to digesting it will, by it's makeup, begin to store fat and sugar (glucose) which it uses to make energy.  This is a topic for another post in the future, and its an interesting one.

Our weight-conscious society has taught us to focus on the wrong problem: what the scale says. Most people really don’t want to lose weight — they want to reduce body fat because too much makes us bigger and less healthy.

There was a time you could almost tell by looking at a person’s slim appearance that they exercised regularly. That’s all changed. We are now in the midst of an overfat epidemic that used to affect only sedentary people. Now it’s hitting even those who regularly work out. The result has been increased fat in the bodies of runners, walkers, triathletes and those spending untold hours in the gym or working outdoors. The problem has become so common that some are even calling it normal. It’s not.

This story is common. Despite burning a lot of calories during a hard workout, many still can’t get rid of their excess body fat. While too much-stored fat takes up more space, increasing our waist, and, our clothing sizes. In addition, increased body fat, especially around the belly, is associated with chronic inflammation. This may be an early manifestation of various diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, not to mention tendinitis, fasciitis, and other “itis” injuries. Burning off excess body fat goes beyond being slim — it’s a priority for optimal health and improved fitness, even helping competitive athletes get faster.

Calorie Catch:
The dilemma faced by millions who burn a lot of exercise calories but still have too much body fat is simple: people are burning the wrong calories. We don’t want to just burn calories. We want to burn fat calories. This requires training the metabolism to burn more fat and less sugar all day and night.

The human body has duel fuel sources — we burn both fat and sugar (glucose) for energy. The big question is how much of each do we use? This depends on each individual’s metabolism. Some people burn high amounts of fat, rely less on sugar, and are slim. Today, more people have impaired fat-burning, resulting in lower energy and higher body fat.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a harder, high-heart-rate workout leads to a metabolism that burns more fat calories. This approach can burn more sugar and fewer fat calories. Instead, you want to train your metabolism to burn more fat 24 hours a day.

Causes of Reduced Fat-Burning
Fat-burning metabolism is influenced by key lifestyle factors — exercise, food, and stress.
Lower-intensity exercise can improve metabolism to burn more fat, increase energy and reduce fat storage. High-intensity exercise, however, can reduce fat-burning. A heart-rate monitor can help you find the optimal training intensity as discussed below.

Refined carbohydrates, including sugar, impair fat-burning. Healthy fats found in avocados, eggs, butter, coconut and olive oils, and meats can promote fat-burning. If you really want to burn off more body fat, eliminating sugar and other refined carbohydrates and eating healthy fats is important.

Excess stress can also impair fat-burning. In addition to high-intensity training, other forms of stress, such as chemical (diet) and mental (and emotional) can reduce fat-burning too. Managing stress levels, including your exercise program, is another key to fat-burning.
Just by reducing their workout intensity and dietary stress, most people can be burning more body fat in just a few hours.

How Heart Monitors Help
A heart-rate monitor is a basic biofeedback device. With correct use, it can help regulate physical stress during workouts to maintain an intensity that encourages more fat-burning. This can improve metabolism during the workout and for the next 24 hours or more, even while you sleep.

A heart monitor informs you when your workout intensity gets too high so you can slow down. You can monitor walking, running, cycling, group workouts or any exercise (except for strength training, which is usually high-intensity).

What heart rate is best for you? It varies with the individual’s level of both health and fitness. You can check first with your doctor for the right guidelines to check to see what rate you should be at before you start your training and to also make sure you in good enough shape to begin a rigorous training program.

A heart monitor can also help evaluate whether you are indeed on the right track. Why wait weeks or months only to find body fat has not changed much? A simple test can tell us. As we burn more body fat, aerobic muscle function improves and you will be able to walk, run, bike or otherwise go faster at the same heart rate. This is especially important for competitive athletes. This is called, developing Maximum Aerobic Function, or MAF. The MAF Test helps take the guesswork out of training.
If your body fat is too high, stop counting workout calories, slow down and burn fat, and use a heart monitor to ensure your success.  



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Happy With Your Health Care Premiums? See How Walking Can Help Reduce Costs, Especially If You’re A Diabetic.

Posted on April 06, 2017 by Beth Hartman

We’ve all heard over the past few years how walking can improve your life, help you get healthy and not only live a more active life but live longer as well. Now we have proof that this is, in fact, the truth and some health insurance companies are now saying that by participating in a “Walking Based Exercise” monitored by using a Pedometer and or activity watch to record your data you can actually help to lower the overall costs of health care premiums. See below excerpts from a paper that has been presented just this past March 31st. 2017 at the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"Walking is one of the best types of 'medicine' we have to help prevent diabetes, or reduce its severity and potential complications—such as heart attack and stroke—if you already have it," says JoAnn Manson, MD, Dr.PH, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Women who did at least 30 minutes daily of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, slashed their risk of diabetes by 30%, according to results from the Harvard Nurses' Health Study. (This is your body on walking.) Even a single 90-minute session of aerobic exercise improved blood sugar control in at-risk women, according to research from the University of Michigan.

Walking also shrinks the dangerous abdominal fat that raises your risk of diabetes. Excess fat around your abdomen causes inflammation in cells, making them even more resistant to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar; this increases your odds of developing the disease. A Canadian study found that women who walked briskly for about an hour a day decreased their belly fat by 20% after 14 weeks—without changing their eating habits. However, this is already taking into consideration that those who have already been diagnosed with either pre- or type 2 diabetes are following their dietary plans, laid out by either their doctor or nutritionist.

The study, by researchers from the University of Michigan’s Department of Family Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research, found an association between participation in a walking program and a reduction in out-of-pocket health care expenses for people with diabetes. This study will be presented to the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego during a paper session (titled “Can a Pedometer-Based Walking Program Lower Health Care Costs among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes?”).

One of the key factors that this study cemented is that using a pedometer to keep track of the distance a person walks helps to keep them motivated. It also provides a barometer of how active they are over the course of a month. It is our nature to want to be challenged and by keeping track of your steps on a daily basis you can program your brain to want to keep surpassing your current step-count. This is even more beneficial to people that suffer from type 2 diabetes.

Walking programs using pedometers help people become more physically active by getting more steps each day. These types of programs improve daily physical activity among people with diabetes. “In general, people with diabetes face higher health care costs than people without diabetes, since diabetes management includes medical costs from daily blood sugar monitoring equipment to regular vision and foot assessments,” said Mona AuYoung.

Considering the trend in rising health care costs, the research team assessed the impact of a walking program on health care costs for people with diabetes. The research team examined step count data for 7,594 Blue Cross Blue Care Network (BCN) enrollees who participated in a walking program they called “Walkingspree” back in 2010. Participants were eligible to join Walkingspree if their BMI was in the obese category. Individuals could potentially save an estimated 20% of their out-of-pocket expenses by uploading their step counts at least once every 30 days to the Walkingspree website and averaging at least 5,000 daily steps every three months. If they did not meet this requirement, they could not stay in the program and their deductible would increase to $5000. The researchers were able to compare the change in total annual health care costs for the year before and after starting the program.
Key research findings included: Every additional 100 daily steps taken by participants was related to an average individual savings of $9.07.
On average, individuals without diabetes experienced greater total cost reductions compared to those with diabetes or diabetes with complications.
Among individuals who averaged at least 5,000 daily steps, the average expected total change in annual health care costs was $872.67 for people with diabetes and $2491.88 for people with diabetes with complications. Although there is an expected increase in health care costs for the average person with diabetes, this increase is relatively smaller for those who averaged more daily steps.
Even though people with diabetes have greater health care costs, increasing daily steps may help slow the rate of costs increases over time. The key motivator, besides getting yourself in better health for you, your family and your wallet is tracking your steps and logging your activity and progress. A good way to do this is with an accurate, reliable Pedometer or  Activity Monitor.  One that keeps your data for you for at least a month that you can then record to keep track and surpass you last monthly goals!

A walking exercise program has been found to improve blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Yet, most people with diabetes do not engage in regular exercise, based on studied poll reports provided by polled physicians and nutritionists who deal with diabetic patients.

Type 2 Diabetes, is a chronic disease and must be managed for life. Regular exercise and healthy nutritional patterns are the basis for the treatment. The team of scientists analyzed published recommendations and guidelines for exercise prescriptions for people with type 2 diabetes for the study. Think of it though, if you seriously engage in a regular regimen of walking along with following your nutritionist’s advice on the good foods to eat and the bad to either eliminate or cut back on, YOU can possibly alter the needs to take specific medications that would otherwise keep your blood sugar in check.

So, if you do suffer from type 2 diabetes, take ownership of your life and get out there walking. This way you can not only improve your health but also keep some shekels, in your wallet where they belong, instead of paying out more in health premiums.

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Can You Measure The Intensity Of Your Workout?

Posted on March 29, 2017 by Beth Hartman

Welcome to the Garmin Forerunner 935 Multi-Sport GPS Watch!

Both Spring, and Daylight Saving’s Time has finally arrived. And for those serious fitness buffs that means finally getting out and tackling those roads or mountain trails. If you’re like me, you were already out when there was ice on the lakes and branches because you need to run. Now that the sun is starting to rise a bit earlier and staying out a bit later each evening, that means more time to fit that run into your busy day. Whether it’s a morning run or after work, evening run or jog the time of year is finally cooperating.

Most of us who run, have our own set goals in mind as to why we do it. Why put up with the cold, the rain the dark of night? Sounds like the old postmen, doesn’t it?

The one thing those that run, jog, mountain bike or just plain enjoy being active outside and pushing themselves past their set goals is being able to track that progress accurately!

Garmin, just put out their new Forerunner 935 Multi-Sport GPS Watch  running and triathlon watch, with new performance monitoring tools and Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate technology.  In addition to 24/7 heart rate monitoring, the Forerunner 935 includes new training features, allowing users to fine-tune exercise and recovery to be a better athlete. Easily paired with the new Running Dynamics Pod2, Forerunner 935 users will now be able to see all six running dynamics without the need for a chest strap. At only 49 grams, every detail in its lightweight, comfortable design was chosen with the athlete in mind. This watch has everything a true fitness enthusiast wants and more! The Forerunner 935 is catered more towards athletes focused on performance and results. Which suits us well, especially when reliable data is what we’ve been asking for.

At only 49 grams, every detail in its lightweight, comfortable design was chosen with the athlete in mind. This watch has everything a true fitness enthusiast wants and more! The Forerunner 935 is catered more towards athletes focused on performance and results. Which suits us well, especially when reliable data is what we’ve been asking for.

And since I lean a bit more to the running side, this data gathering is a must for me. But this is also a multi-sport dynamic watch, running, cycling, and swimming, it's the best for all of these sports for those that want to push themselves and be at the top of their game.

So go ahead, treat yourself to sports watch that will not only keep you at the top of your game but with its data upload features to Garmin Connect and also making use of the Strava Live Segments, which automatically sync with the Forerunner 935 for live feedback during an activity.

Go ahead, what are you waiting for? Just click this link . And then I’ll see you at the top of the mountain!

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Missing Your Regular Runs Are You?

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Beth Hartman

So, now that the air is getting a bit warmer, and Spring has finally arrived,(Officially) are you feeling a little guilty at not running the way you were used to before the snow began to fall?

Well, I’ve been there with you. There have been times in the past where I succumbed to the temptation of the snooze button more often then I’d like to admit. I went as far as preemptively laying out my running clothes, shoes, headphones, and all of my other must-have running gear, the night before. Trying my best to cover all basis, I synced my favorite running playlists, and go to sleep dreaming of my feet pounding the pavement in the morning — this is the best way to start my day, or at least it was.

Life can get pretty hectic when you have a demanding job, a family, pets, and various extracurricular activities, but you know that you feel on top of your game and like the best version of yourself when you’re able to get a run in. For me, and I’m guessing like you, running isn’t just another item on an endless to-do list — it’s our favorite part of the day, and it makes you feel alive. Running is non-negotiable, or at least it was back in the fall. But I learned it’s important to anticipate life’s curveballs and have a plan B in place in case your scheduled workout gets derailed. Alarm clock mishaps, inclement weather, meetings that run late, family obligations...all of these have the power to throw off your running routine. And they’re the oldest excuses in the book of “Reasons Why I Skipped My Run Even Though I Love Running and It’s My Favorite Part of the Day!”

Much like shoes, it’s out with the old and in with the new when it comes to excuses. We all know to retire shoes when they’ve logged around 300 miles, so it’s time to retire the typical excuses you’ve been using for far too long.

If you like to run after work, there are naturally some obstacles in place that can make a regular run difficult to maintain on a regular basis. Let’s face it, I don’t like to leave work if what I wanted to get accomplished for the day remains unfinished. I’d rather have my plate cleared so that I can start fresh the next day, ready for what that day’s workload delivers. But that means skipping my after-hours runs or if I do get it in, I’m feeling rushed or I may scale back my run time so I’m not neglecting my family obligations as well.

While you may love running after work, at this time in your life that running schedule might feel untenable. You have two options here: gradually train yourself to become a morning runner, or proactively block off time on your calendar a few days a week after work. Seeing the blocked off space in your calendar might serve as a gentle reminder to make the most of your time at the office and really focus on the most important tasks. Nowadays, it’s possible to fill your entire day with to-dos, but try honing in on the things that absolutely must get done every day. You’ll likely find there are things that can wait until tomorrow, so you can lace up and hit the road guilt-free. Then you’ll come in energized and refreshed the next day, ready to rock.

If you’re trying to get back in the grove of running again, but you're feeling a bit down on yourself because your gait is not what it used to be prior to taking some time off, don’t fret it. Especially if you're competing with your work environment. I know, I’ve been there and my job requires me to travel from time to time to show my face and press the flesh so that we maintain good client relationships. But that also can play havoc with my wishful routine of running on a reg. basis.

If you’re feeling down on yourself about a “slow” pace, not running is probably the worst thing you can do! Think back to why you fell in love with running in the first place. Think of how you feel before, during, and after a run. With the advent of so much running technology, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the numbers game. In order to get back to where you were, it’s time to lace up and get back out there. Running for the sake of running is sometimes just what you need to snap yourself out of a funk, so make a plan to get back out there regardless of your pace. That doesn’t mean you should not be aware of how you are doing, pace wise, or how much distance you are putting behind you. In fact, that’s probably just the opposite of what you should be doing if you’re trying to get back into the running, swing of things again. If you don’t have a good activity monitor or better yet, one that has a reliable heart rate monitor incorporated in its tec-based architecture, you should have one. A good reliable one is the Fitbit Alta HR Activity Tracker  It Automatically tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes & hourly activity. While being of the newest in the Fitbit line it has the new Purepulse heart rate monitoring technology so that you can better track your calorie burn, gauge exercise intensity, and see resting heart rate trends.

You know that no matter your speed, style or where you start, you end up in a happier place when you run. You feel like the best, most confident version of yourself when you make you're running a priority, again. Hopefully, some of these solutions are just what you need to break free of the day-to-day things that have been holding you back so you can get back to doing what you love: running.

See you on the trails!


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