Posts tagged ‘personal training’

March 23, 2012

How can you know what works?

by Zen Gray

I love “before” and “after” pics, don’t you?

Jennifer Hudson before and after.

Personally, I think Jennifer Hudson looks stunning either way but her weight loss is definitely impressive. And how did she go from a size 16 to a size 6 after having a baby? She worked out with a trainer (Harley Pasternak) and learned portion control (Weight Watchers) —  a pretty solid weight-loss strategy.

I’ve tried many diets, exercise routines and supplements over the years and here’s how I’d sum up a few of the diets (exercise and supplements to be reviewed in future blogs):

Atkins -Low carb, no fat restriction, works fast, makes you a little crazy and you smell. Must maintain a low carb lifestyle and doesn’t allow for deviation, vacation or holiday eating. Even the carbs on the “maintenance” phase seem too low for anyone who exercises, but it does say you can adjust carb intake based on your activity level. Lots of Atkins food products with chemicals and sugar alcohols out there. (My stomach reacts poorly to sugar substitutes.)  Not sustainable.

Zone Diet – Low carb but higher than Atkins, focuses on a diet of 1/3 low-fat proteins and 2/3 fruits and veggies, effective for weight loss. Sustainable – and there are food delivery services using the zone philosophy so if you can afford it, it’s a good choice.

South Beach – Very similar to Zone Diet, also created by a doctor, controls cellular inflammation and hormonal response in the body using three phases of carbohydrate intake (you get the most carbs on the phase 3 maintenance part of the diet). It works.

Weight Watchers – I haven’t tried this personally, but my clients that do WW and train with me at least two times per week see great results. I hear they have several plans available but essentially you assign “points” to your food and you’re allowed a certain number of points per day. I believe their philosophy used to be purely calorie-based, but I’m happy to hear that they now allocate points to foods based on the protein-carb-fat ratios and nutrient content. I love that they are community-based and you can have weekly check-ins to help stay accountable. Clearly, Weight Watchers works (see Jennifer Hudson above).

Perricone Diet – A diet created by an anti-aging specialist and dermatologist. It’s all about decreasing inflammation and there are loads of high-priced skin care products to accompany this diet philosophy. I tried the diet AND the products and I lost weight but the products had too much oil in there for me as I was still under 30 at the time and my skin probably wasn’t as dry as most aging skin. Expensive but effective and if I didn’t already love my skin care lines (Arbonne and Kiehls), I’d try it again since I’ve been 29 for over ten years now.

Lean Cuisine – If this is your go-to diet food and it works for you, then great. However, the only benefit I see to these frozen meals are portion/calorie control. Almost all of the choices have wheat in them but they are pretty tasty. Doesn’t help if you’re trying to control hormonal response (i.e. not eating too many carbs). Not great if you’re trying to back off on wheat (gluten) or dairy, but certainly better than a Big Mac. I’ve noticed a lot of sodium in these and hard-to-pronounce ingredients, too. OK, if you just need to replace your usual large portion and/or fast food lunch.

Eat Right For Your Blood Type: This diet takes a more evolutionary perspective to eating: your blood type determines what foods are absorbed best by your body. Since I’m Type O (the oldest blood type – “the Hunter”), I’m supposed to eat plenty of lean meat, vegetables and fruits but avoid dairy and grains since those didn’t become a human staple until agriculture was developed. It’s kind of fascinating and I enjoyed reading the book. I’ve been told to eat this way by more than one holistic doctor, however, I’ve also been told that nothing is healthier than a vegan diet. So, who is right? I don’t know. I lost weight on this diet pretty easily but I can’t vouch for the effectiveness for the other blood type recommendations.

Paleo Diet: Essentially, this diet goes along with my Type O diet but insists that everyone will do well eating lean meat, veggies, fruit and nuts. Again, no grain or dairy. It works for me.

Jillian Michaels –  Master Your Metabolism: This is a book and not necessarily a diet but Jillian has certainly changed her old tune of “calories in, calories out”– which I’m glad to hear. It’s all about balancing your hormones. She’s one of the first celebs to address the importance of eating organic food and explaining what all the “food” and chemical additives are doing to our hormones; which is causing the weight gain so prevalent in the US. Tons of helpful, yet alarming, information. And yes, it works… but it can be pretty confusing and overwhelming.

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss: I love this book, this diet and this author. This guy has made himself the guinea pig for over ten years of diet, exercise and supplementation experiments. Ferriss records all his info and gives you the basic explanation as well as the in-depth “geek” version of why his plan works. The other thing I LOVE about his plan is the once-a-week binge day… which does have rules but you do get to eat AS MUCH AS you want and WHATEVER you want. Heaven, right? I can’t tell you how much I really appreciate the mental break of eating whatever I like once a week… as long as I follow the rules exactly the other six days of the week. The trick is to NOT CHEAT during those six days and people have a tough time with that. I highly recommend this book… not only for the effectiveness but for entertainment value.

OK, I realized after I started writing this blog that I have more diets that I could write about and no doubt someone will point out another effective strategy.

However, my point is: There are many effective diet strategies! (Hooray, right?!!!)

Some diets offer a “quickstart” option (typically, super low-carb) and others are more long-lasting with more flexibility. I’ve found that if I stick to a diet for three weeks and DON’T see or feel a change, then it’s time to switch. But honestly, I’ve lost weight on almost every diet I’ve tried. The key is to see if you can stick to it.

And how do you know if it’s working? Take measurements and/or check your body fat percentage as well as check the scale. If you’re exercising, you’ll put on weight first before the pounds come off… and you might think that you’re not making any progress when, in fact, you’re making great progress with your fat loss.

Do you have a favorite diet plan you’d like to share? Then let’s talk, dahling.

Ok, ironically, it’s time for me to dash off to see The Hunger Games

Until next time,

~Zen

March 11, 2012

“Disabuse”

by Zen Gray

Last week I posed a bunch of questions that have been rattling around in my brain and got some feedback about which topic was most compelling.

“Should we keep questioning our choices? Or accept all we do and just move forward?”

Since I’m not omniscient, I’ve got an opinion instead of “the” answer. But I think it’s pretty sound logic to assume that no one can go back in time and make a different decision, therefore, all we can do is move forward. Now, does that mean we can’t change our mind? No. Does that mean we can’t apologize if we screw up? No. I think it simply means that all we can do is course-correct and do the best we can.

I’m taking the GRE in April because I want to get into Claremont Graduate University and get my PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology… and getting a decent grade on that exam is part of the requirement for admission. While studying for this whopper-of-a-test, I came across a word in my vocabulary flash cards: disabuse.

Disabuse means to persuade (someone) that an idea or belief is mistaken: “he quickly disabused me of my belief”, to undeceive, to free a person from deception or error.  The sample sentence they used was:

Galileo’s observations disabused scholars of the notion that the sun revolved around the Earth.

I bet that was a fun discussion for Galileo. Actually, I know it wasn’t because the Roman Catholic Church forced him to stand trial for his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun and he ultimately died under house arrest after nine years of imprisonment.

OK, what’s my point? My point is that when it comes to love or weight-loss, we don’t have to have such drastic consequences when we try to make things right.

Did you hurt someone’s feelings? Then apologize and ask what you can do to make the situation better.

Did you eat a box of Krispy Kremes? Then drink some water, make a plan for tomorrow, get some rest, and stick with your plan to eat better and exercise.

Is it always that simple? Probably not. But chances are you won’t be killed or incarcerated for your course-correction. (I could be wrong, though, perhaps you deserve some hard time.)

But I know that when it comes to weight loss, NOT changing course could lead to some serious consequences like self-loathing, hiding from the world, heart disease, diabetes, and the death of life as well as the death of one’s dreams.

Disabuse yourself from the idea that you can’t change…. because you can.

Galileo should have it so good.

May 10, 2011

Getting Into a Groove

by Zen Gray
Madonna's "Into the Groove"

Madonna's iconic "Get Into the Groove" look

Madonna would be so proud of us. After living together for six months, my fiance and I have really gotten into a groove. We time our morning rituals nicely so that while I’m getting ready, he’s feeding the dog and taking her outside. I grab my protein shake and run off to the gym and then the house is free for David to get dressed and ready for work, too. When he comes home, I’m typically making a protein-packed dinner for the two of us and then we either take the dog to the park or head to the gym together before watching a movie and going to bed. Thursday nights are open for fun activities like dancing or karaoke or whatever else we choose.

Saturdays are typically spent working on career-improvement things — new certifications, classes or books for me and music-related research and rehearsals for David. Sundays are easy-going family days as well as grocery shopping/prep days for the week ahead.

Sundays are typically our cheat/binge-days, too, so I really look forward to them. Every time I crave something sugary during the week, it’s easier to triumph over the urge to blow my diet by writing down a list of all the food that I COULD eat on Sunday. (Even though once I get there, I don’t always have those cravings anymore.)

It’s a nice healthy groove we’re in… but I understand that sometimes a groove could be more of a “rut” for some people.

I’ve certainly had relationships where we’d have dessert every day and our habit would just be to complain that “we shouldn’t have” after we ate it. Then we’d do a little self-loathing, finger pointing and do it again the next day. Sound familiar? Or instead of going to the gym together or being active, we’d only hang out on the couch… secretly resenting the other person for not getting up off their ass and coming up with something more exciting. Fat and bored. Fun.

When clients come to me overweight and unhappy, one of the first things I do is ask them to describe a typical workday… from waking up to going to bed: all activity, food, work and relationship stuff. It all matters because all of those things affect the body. We discuss how we could make some small changes and try to adopt new habits every week… not go for the complete overhaul on Day One. I know I’d fail if I tried to make too many changes at one time so I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be able to do it either.

If your groove feels more like a rut, then take a look at one entire workday over the last week. See where you can make small changes:

  • Can you get more sleep?
  • Can you start your day with a better breakfast?
  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you enjoy your job? Is there anything you can do to improve it?
  • Do you have healthy, supportive co-workers?
  • Do you need workout buddies?
  • Are you eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours?
  • Are you addicted to caffeine?
  • Is your home a place that feels rejuvenating?
  • Are you active with your loved ones?
  • Do you take time to play?
  • Are you taking steps to improve your life or are you coasting and hoping?

I think that if you’re not excited about SOMETHING, then you’ll be depressed about everything. One of the first places to start making a change, is to create ANY vision that sparks some passion in you and start working toward it. Whether it’s your work, your partner, your family, or your dreams… start tracking SOMETHING and the momentum will help you succeed in more areas than one.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just making one more sales call or adding one more minute to the treadmill, make today just a little better than before and soon you’ll notice you’ll be groovin’, too.

Health & Happiness,

~Zen