Whole Egg or Egg White?

Eggs.  What are they known for?  Raising your cholesterol…providing too much fat…better off avoiding rather than eating.  At the very least, cut them waaaaaaaayyyyy back within your diet.  These thoughts on eggs came about with the rise of the low-fat diet phenomenon, as well as with the rise in heart disease.  Reduce fat within your diet and you will reduce fat on your body.  Cut eggs out and you will lower your cholesterol.  Dietary fat really became demonized during this time and “low-fat” products boomed.  I wrote on my thoughts on this in “Fat=your friend“.  Go ahead and take a moment to read it…I’ll wait………

(Is it just me or is that picture kind of creepy?)

Getting back to eggs, it is not uncommon for me to hear people concerned about eating the yolks.  This comes from a fear of dietary fat, cholesterol and calories.  I get his…to a point.  The yolk of an egg will raise your cholesterol, but it raises the good kind.  The kind you want to go up.  What about fat?  Yup, egg yolks have fat in them, but if you read the post I mentioned above you now know that fat is a good thing.  What about calories?  The yolks of the egg are incredibly nutrient dense.  Nutrient dense calories are the kind of calories you want to take in…not avoid.

When it comes down to it, the benefits of eating the whole egg far outweigh the negatives (if you can even call them that).  Mike Geary (Certified  Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer) wrote a fantastic article on this very subjectHe does a great job of explaining why eggs should be eaten in their entirety as well as bust a few myths around egg yolks.  I highly suggest you read it.

Some of you may be thinking that I’m crazy or that I just don’t know what I’m talking about.  I understand that, I’m probably telling you something that goes against everything you’ve ever heard on the subject.  Maybe your doctor has even told you to stop eating eggs (or at least yolks), as well as take a cholesterol lowering drug to reduce your cholesterol.  I certainly don’t want you to take my advice over your doctors (even though I would argue your doctor is wrong.)

Without getting into too much detail, let me just say this: My belief (along with MANY others) is that high cholesterol is not the problem.  Cholesterol is a natural occurring agent in the body that is released to protect your arteries from inflammation, which is caused in part by crappy, low nutrient, processed foods.  So if cholesterol is the body’s natural way of healing inflammation, does it makes more sense to not eat whole foods, take drugs and lower the natural protective substance or to reduce the things that are causing the inflammation in the first place?

I don’t want to get all conspiracy theory here, but I think it’s safe to say that in our society we are really good at selling “band-aids” that do nothing for the actual problem.

Of course the choice is yours, but as for me…I’ll continue gobbling down eggs…the whole darn thing.

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Post-Thanksgiving and the “benefits” of toning shoes.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend.  I know, for myself, it was a very relaxing weekend with minimal work, lots of rest and a whole lot of food.  I’ll be honest and say that I ate pretty much whatever I felt like this weekend.  I’m not too concerned though.  Today I get back on track and feel motivated from the weekend “off” from eating a fairly strict diet.  That’s the beauty of living a healthy lifestyle, you can enjoy veering of course every once in a while, with minimal damage.  I’ve heard a lot of trainers preach on ways to survive Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day.  They give suggestions for low fat recipes and such.  I don’t think these are bad things, but I think they can be de-motivating.  My vote is: eat well all around the holidays and don’t sweat the actual day.  If you eat well MOST of the time, you can enjoy things like birthdays and holidays.  Just don’t use this logic as an excuse to binge every week.  I’ve literally had clients that come in every week telling me how they had a birthday/anniversary/funeral/low grade fever/the hiccups or whatever other excuse they can think of to justify stuffing their faces.  This approach really will not work.

OK, moving on…

In the last year or so, toning shoes have made quite a splash in the fitness industry.

They claim to strengthen, tone and tighten your calves, legs and butt by simply walking.  According to the ads, the unstable surface that the shoes provide give an added stimulus to the body which in turn gives you a work out just from wearing them.  Let alone the amazing benefits you get by doing exercises like the “Rump Sculpting Reach” while wearing them.*  The companies who make these shoes have their own “studies” that “prove” the shoes effectiveness.  However, these studies were not peer reviewed and were intended to back up their claims.  I’m pretty sure I could come up with a study that proves doing push-ups will double the amount of chest hairs I have (6), but this wouldn’t mean it’s accurate.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently did a study involving several different brands of toning shoes. In short, they found that the shoe manufactures claims were false and that the shoes provided no statistical significance in muscle activation.

Here’s my additional two cents on the subject.  Even if there was some benefit to these shoes, the benefits would only last so long.  Once your body adapted to the new stimuli, the shoes would be basically worthless.  (Even though they already are.)

This is a classic case of companies continuing to spread the lie that you can get in shape with the simple purchase of a product and minimal work.

Bottom line: save yourself the money…lunges are free.

*Please note that this comment is frosted with chocolate fudge sarcasm.

A Wednesday sounds like a good day for a few different thoughts

OK, you caught me.  That title was my clever way of disguising a blog full of randomness.  Usually relegated to Fridays, these random blogs have been occurring a bit earlier in the week due to my being gone the last few weekends.  Well, this week you get one on a Wednesday.

-I wont be posting the rest of the week.  Of course, tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I will be taking the day off.  Friday I’m working just a bit, but wont be blogging.  But I will be back at it Monday.  (It’s only a few days…we will be back together soon.)

I am in the midst of brainstorming (haven’t actually begin to write them out) on a few, more in-depth, blog ideas.  You know, things that are life changing…earth shattering…etc.  These may turn out more like articles, so I may have to split them up into a few blogs.  I know a few of you have said that the brevity of my blogs is something you like.  (I’m going to assume that it’s because you’re busy people and not because my blogs bore you to tears and you can’t wait for them to be over)……*awkward pause for reassurance*…

-Yesterday, I posted on a simple movement that can do wonders for your shoulders.  If you missed it, read this.  This is seriously a very simple exercise, that everyone can benefit from.  For real, you should be doing it.

-I’ve had a few people ask me what my approach was to get the results I got with this client.  The formula looked something like this:

lift heavy stuff+hard work+eating real food=kickin’ new body

Of course, there is more to it than that from my perspective as a trainer who is designing programs.  But these three basic elements were the foundation of everything I did with her.

-If you’ve been eating well on a regular basis, don’t stress over Thanksgiving.  I’m planning on eating whatever I want tomorrow.  This doesn’t mean I’m going to eat myself into a gravy and pie coma, but I’m definitely having a piece of my wife’s peach cobbler, maybe two.

Have a good Thanksgiving!

A couple links and a simple shoulder fix (pit stains included!)

In yesterdays post, I put up some before and after pictures of a client of mine.  She’s been working incredibly hard and it has paid off in huge way.  If you haven’t checked out that post yet, go here.

WordPress lets me know how people find my blog, whether it’s through Facebook, email, different searches, etc.  I noticed yesterday that some people had found my site through a website I hadn’t heard of.  It turns out it’s a blog based on support for people who are in a relationship with someone with epilepsy.  It’s also ran by a guy I knew back in high school.  He had linked my blog to his site and had some very kind words to say about what I’m doing.  I found his perspective very interesting and enlightening.  If you’re like me, you know very little about epilepsy, let alone the true impact it can have on individuals and their families.  You can check out the blog here.

I don’t have any official statistics for this statement, so just know this is coming solely from my observations.  The most common joint pain that I see is in the low back (lumbar spine).  Followed by either the knees or the shoulders.  The scapulae (shoulder blade) is a joint that needs a good deal of stability to function properly, as well as allow the joints next to it to function properly.

One of the best ways I’ve found to encourage/teach stability in the shoulder is the Scapular Wall Slide.  I use these very regularly with my clients as well as myself.  This seemingly simple movement can actually be incredibly challenging until you learn to properly stabilize the shoulder blade.  Here’s what it looks like:

(The sweaty armpits are optional.)

This movement also encourages good posture, increases shoulder flexibility and “wakes up” the middle of your back, which tends to be a weak spot for people in general.

When performing this movement, think of tucking your shoulder blades in your back pockets.  This will be easy to do on the way down, but the challenge comes on the way up.  You will most likely feel like you’re fighting with yourself as you try to raise your arms and keep your shoulder blades down.  That’s OK, at first.  You will want to continually gain control of your shoulder blades through this movement.

Also, keep your hands and forearms as flat against the wall as you can.

You can use these as part of a warm up or within your strength training routine.  You can even do them randomly throughout the day to continue to encourage good shoulder health.

I perform these in sets of 8-10.

Enjoy!

Fantastic before and after’s!!

I’ve been trying to do a better job of getting starting photo’s of clients.  This is something I didn’t do for a long time and have had several cases where I’ve been kicking myself for not.  When a client makes great progress, having before and after photos is one of the best ways to motivate them as well as to motivate others to do the same.  I’ve been working with a girl for the last 5 months or so who has been one of those clients with whom I couldn’t be more happy with her progress.  She has been absolutely killing it in the gym as well as in her kitchen.

Her starting weight was 142.4 lbs. (May)

Here are some pics of her from around that time:

These next pics are from September and November.  In the September pics (left column) she was down to 131.6 lbs, which was great progress.  The November pics (right column) are at a weight of 122, over 20 total pounds lost, as well as a pretty rocking stomach.

 

 

A quick overview:

-Love handles: Gone

-Thighs: No longer touching

-Abs: Check

-Butt: Half the size (length and width)

The best part of all this is that as I was talking to this client and we were reviewing these photos, she mentioned how excited she was to see what she could do with another few months.  So stay tuned for even more impressive results for her!

Another Random Thursday? Dude what’s up with that?

Yes, yes, it’s true.  Two weeks in a row with no Friday posts.  I know…I’m lame.  It just so happens that I’m going to be out of town again this weekend and I’ll be leaving early Friday morning.  And as much as I love you people, nothing witty or interesting is going to come from my brain at 6:00am.  Of course, we have Thanksgiving next week, so there’s a good chance that I wont be posting that Friday either. (Because are you really going to be checking your e-mail the Friday after your gravy and pie induced coma?  I didn’t think so.)

Anyway, here is this weeks random post:

-For the first time, my blog was linked from another training blog.  One of the owners (John Hartman) of the gym I train out of, set up a link on his blog to my post from Monday, Letting things slide (at times).  I felt it was a pretty good read, and apparently a few of you did too, including John.  I believe his words were “this post could be the Magna Carta of our time”……or something like that.  You can give John some love here.

-Earlier this week, Tony Gentilcore posted a variation of the Pallof Press (which if you’re a client of mine you know these all too well) that I’ve been incorporating in my sessions.  I really really like it.

-I’ve got some new “before” and “after” pics of a client of mine.  I have to say that I think these are pretty impressive.  I’ll probably be putting these up the start of next week.

-Yesterdays post brought in the most views I’ve had in 4 weeks.  I guess that’s what happens when you post a link on Facebook titled “get a great butt work out!”  I think I’ll be working the word “butt” into more of my titles.

-Have a good Friday and pre-Thanksgiving weekend!

Exercises you should be doing: Bulgarian Split Squats

People tend to greatly underestimate the value (and difficulty) of performing body weight exercises correctly.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with someone who is telling me how much they bench but then I see them attempt a body weight push-up and they can’t perform it correctly, or at all.  It never ceases to amaze me that people fail to see the huge gap in strength here.  Or, I see people, who can’t squat to any kind of appreciable depth with their own weight, load up a barbell in the squat rack and do (maybe) 1/4 of the range of motion they should be.

This is a classic case of working backwards.  I don’t have anyone that can’t perform 15-20 legitimate push-ups do any bench work.  And I don’t have anyone throw a barbell on their back until they can squat with their own body weight.

To be honest, body weight exercises can be very challenging.  I think there are two main reasons they aren’t done more often.

-1. People don’t understand the value of them.

-2. People just don’t know about them.

Here is a very challenging exercise that will be plenty of work for you with just your own weight.

Bulgarian Split Squats:

Cues:

-Set one foot up in front of you, a good distance from your body and place the other one on a step/bench/couch behind you.

-Lower your body, under control.  Try to drop your back knee down to the ground.  (If you can’t at first, that’s OK.  Try to get a little deeper each time you do them.)

-Once in the bottom position, drive through your front heel.  Avoid pushing through the back foot.

-Keep your chest up.  Don’t lean over.

-Avoid pushing your front knee forward.  It should stay above your ankle.

-Be conscious of the stretch you’re getting in your hips on the back leg.  This should open them up pretty good.

You can incorporate these into your regular routine by doing 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.  Expect to have a pretty sore butt the next day.

Let me know what you think!