Monthly Archives for September 2010

Archives for September 2010

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

I think I could rest with him for the remainder of my life.

In yesterday’s fitness tips, I mentioned that it’s always a good idea to time your rests – especially if you’re looking to maximize your workout’s efficiency. It begs the question: How long should you be resting in between sets?

Like so many things in fitness, it depends. Rest time depends on your goals, what you’re training for, how you’re feeling, how old you are and so on. But here are the basics.

When you workout, you use energy. Duh. We know that it takes 2.5 to 3 minutes for your energy system (often called the phosphagen system) to fully recover after an intense set of exercise. So what does that mean for rest times?

3 – 5 minute rests: If you are training for power lifting, sprinting, football, etc. – or any sport that requires short bursts of explosive energy, wait 3 – 5 minutes in between sets. It’s a long time to wait, but it will result in the fast, quick power that these athletes need. Studies also show that it also boosts testosterone levels which increase strength gains.

45 – 60 seconds: Resting for a shorter time does not allow for full recovery – and that’s a good thing if you’re looking to build muscle size or train for a sport that requires constant energy over a longer period of time (i.e., marathon runners, soccer players, swimmers, etc.). Training with 45 – 60 second rests forces the body to improve it’s ability to sustain moderate or fairly high intensity exercise for longer durations of time. Trainers often espouse the 1:1 ratio – equal amounts of lifting to rest. If it takes you 50 seconds to complete your set, rest for 50 seconds.

At the end of the day, you’ll have to find out what works best for you. Some people swear by 90 second resting periods. Others by 2 minutes. Listen to your body and your results.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Workout!

Who says nothing good came out of the 90s?

In my (sometimes) humble opinion, life is about quality not quantity. I’d rather have 5 great friends than 500 so-so acquaintances.

The same goes for workouts.

Last year, my workout lasted a mind-blowing 2 hours. 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. No workout needs to last that long.

Through a little hard work and effort, I was able to decrease my workout routine by 30 minutes while simultaneously boosting its effectiveness. Of course, not everyone is willing to commit an hour and a half to exercise. I understand that. And chances are, unless you’re hoping to look like Marky Mark, you can achieve your goals with 30 – 60 minutes of exercise a few times a week.

Here’s how to make the most out of your routine:

  1. Turn up the intensity. I cut my cardio time in half by making it a whole lot harder. For me, that meant ditching the elliptical or long distance jogs for interval training. It feels like twice the exercise in half the time. Instead of being leisurely about your cardio, get ready to push yourself hard and SWEAT!
  2. Switch during rests. You’ve seen my workout routine. I like to combine muscle groups (i.e., forearms and back on the same day). Let’s say I’m doing a great back exercise. During my rest time, I’ll switch to the other muscle group and immediately do a forearm exercise. You can practically cut your strength training time in half with this simple tip.
  3. Exercise at the right time. You know when you have the most energy. For me, it’s early morning. If you can find a way to schedule your workouts at the time when your energy levels are highest, it will be easier to power through the workout and you’ll be less likely to daydream.
  4. Time your rests. If you do take true rests (instead of switching to another muscle group), time them! It’s easy for a 60 second rest to linger for 90 seconds. Watch the clock.
  5. Less time and heavier weights. If you’re looking to build muscle, this tip is crucial for you. Up the weight your are lifting and decrease the number of reps and sets. For example, I could easily curl 4 sets of 10 reps of 35 lbs. Instead, it’s more efficient (and much more in line with a goal of building bicep muscles) to do 2 or 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps of 45 or 50 lbs.

With these simple tips, you should be able to get the most bang for your workout buck. It’s yet another reason why everyone has time for fitness!

Do you have any tips for saving time at the gym? Share them in the comments below!

5 Tips to Eat Dessert Daily and Never Get Fat.

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eating just one of the pieces.  ~Judith Viorst

Yeah, yeah. We all know two things:

  1. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to keep tabs – even if it’s roughly – on the calories you consume.
  2. Desserts tend to have a shitload (that’s a technical industry term) of calories.

The Great Wall of Chocolate from P.F. Chang’s, for example, has 2,200 calories. More modest desserts in more modest portions tend to average out in the 300 calorie range (see here for a more detailed calorie listing). It’s no surprise, then, that I found the following tip posted in a fitness forum:

Limit yourself to 1 dessert per week – Go from 7 to 1 day to decrease calories by 1,800 (300 per dessert) per week. 3,500 calories burned (more than consumed) equals 1 pound.  So you can lose 1 pound every 2 weeks and 26 pounds in 1 year this one tip alone!

Talk about buzz-kill. Beyond the importance of calorie counting and the unhealthiness of most desserts, we also know another thing: Life is better with dessert. And so, dessert is one thing that I’m not willing to give up.

Don’t get me wrong: Nutrition is crucially important for a healthy lifestyle. But I refuse to subscribe to the mentality that I must deprive my taste buds of ice cream, apple crisp, pie or anything else pleasureful. Life is too short not to indulge responsibly; remember all those men and women on the Titanic that waved off the dessert tray.

If you’re like me in your unwillingness to deny your sweet tooth, then here are a few tips:

  1. Watch the portion and eat consciously. Your dessert desires can be satisfied with just a few bites. Consciously and fully enjoy each bite. You don’t need an entire pint of ice cream or thick slice of cake. It helps to put the portion on a separate plate or bowl (i.e., not eating ice cream out of the carton).
  2. Mix healthier options into your dessert selections. All desserts are not created nutritionally equally. While I’d never ask you to ditch chocolate cake entirely, occasionally opt for things like fruit salad, yogurt, mixed berries, cut mangoes or bananas drizzled in chocolate. Need more ideas? Here are some healthy dessert recipes you may want to try out.
  3. Work it off! Better and more effective than cutting calories to create a caloric deficit is to increasing the amount of calories you are burning. Starving yourself to lose weight tends to backfire. If you want to lose weight and you are unwilling to cut dessert, make it up on the treadmill. I burn 425 calories in 20 minute on the treadmill. I’d run an extra 20 minutes if it came to that or dessert!
  4. Balance it. Nutritional balance isn’t holding a cupcake in each hand. It’s eating well – most of the time. If you know that you’re going to indulge with your dessert, then cook (or order) a healthier man course. Instead of the double bacon BBQ cheeseburger at The Cheesecake Factory (6 zillion calories), order the Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp (only 2 zillion calories). I follow the 80/20 rule of eating healthy 80% of the time.
  5. Enjoy it. For fuck’s sake, enjoy the dessert and don’t feel guilty about it. Worst of all, don’t feel guilty about feeling guilty. Guilt is not a powerful motivator. Dessert is one of life’s simple pleasures. Eat up and enjoy.

So yes, when it comes to dessert, you can certainly have your cake and eat it to. If God didn’t want you to have chocolate, then she wouldn’t have invented it. Just indulge responsibly.

My question for you: What’s for dessert tonight? I’m having apple and pear cobbler.

How to Eat Healthy on a Road Trip: My Menu.

Yeah, I'd be staring too.

On Saturday, I made the 10-hour international drive from Rhode Island, USA to Toronto, Canada. It’s no secret: Road trips can be diet disasters, and I was determined not to let this drive detour me from healthy eating.

Breakfast options at 6AM are fairly limited. I was terrified to discover that McDonald’s was my only choice. I opted for a bottle of water and an Egg McMuffin without butter or cheese. It was decent, and reasonably healthy with some good protein.

For snack, I stopped at a gas station and picked up some unsalted trail mix and water. Unsalted nuts are a wise choice; though high in fat, it’s the good kind of fat. And they are packed with protein. The bag that I purchased contained five servings. After 30 minutes of mindless munching, I realized the bag was almost empty. Ops.

For lunch, I ordered a veggie delight sandwich on wheat bread from Subway. When browsing Subway’s nutrition information, I was shocked at the sodium, caloric and fat content for many of the sandwiches. A foot long chicken bacon ranch sandwich, for example, has more than 1300 calories and an entire day’s worth of fat. To get some protein, I also drank a smoothie rich with real fruit and protein from a nearby shop that I was fortunate to find.

It wasn’t perfect, but I did alright. Here’s what I learned:

  • Plan ahead. You wouldn’t take a trip without thinking ahead, planning for the weather and packing a bag. Add stocking up on healthy snacks to that list. Soy jerky, apples, portioned trail mix or unsalted nuts, and vegetable sticks make for good snacking options.
  • Dodge road trip hypnosis. It’s really easy to overeat when snacking on the road. You’re bored (no offense, upstate New York). Eating brings pleasure. If you pack a large bag of trail mix, it’s easy to eat the entire thing. Alternatively, pack smaller portions or individuals baggies with a proper portion.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice. Staying hydrated is important! But don’t pack in extra and empty calories with soda or other sugar drinks. Go for water. Your body will thank you.
  • Avoid the fast food chains, if possible. Let’s face it: It’s nearly impossible to make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. Even subway can be shockingly unhealthy (though their marketing machine will try and tell you otherwise). Make yourself a sandwich and throw it in a cooler. Avoid the fast food chains whenever possible.

Follow these tips and you should steer clear of diet disaster while on the road.

What do you usually eat when on a road trip? Any great snack ideas or tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Where Do I Start? A Journey from Obesity.

I get a lot of mail from blog buddies asking for advice, giving tips and sharing stories. I really appreciate hearing from you, but I was especially touched by the following e-mail:

Hi Davey!

About a month ago I was curled up in bed with a boy that I’m completely in love with after a night of him drinking. He turned to me and said “If you would lose 160 lbs, I would marry you tomorrow”. The sting that went into me was so intense. I started crying and told him I was sorry I wasn’t beautiful…

I got up the next day and joined a gym. It’s so intimidating to be morbidly obese, and walk into a place where the women walk around in sports bras and have PINK written across their ass, but whats even worse is the anxiety I feel when I see the early 20s guys helping each other cut the sleeves of their shirts cause they’re so ripped. I feel so out of place. Everyone looks at me like, “What is that fatty doing here?”

I had NO idea how much I weighed, I haven’t known for at least ten years. I got on the scale. I am twenty six years old… I am five foot eleven inches tall… and I weigh three hundred and thirty seven pounds.

I started with doing 1 hour water aerobics classes 4 days a week. Now I’ve added 15 minutes of weight machines, and 15 minutes on a bicycle.

I don’t feel like I’m doing the right things.

I’ve lost 4 pounds in a month which is a good start but NOT nearly what I want.

I’m morbidly obese, but HOW do I lose weight when its so hard to move my body?

Dear Blog Buddy,

Even reading your words, I can feel your very real pain. One issue is your boyfriend: Do you want conditional love? It is beyond the scope of this blog to delve into the murky world of relationship advice, so I will stick to what I know.

Having been overweight when I was younger, and now much fitter as an adult, I have been on both sides of this experience.

First, though people may look at you in the gym, I’d advise you not to project your insecurities into their stares or looks. In all honesty, it is very likely that people are impressed by your courage. A gym is especially intimidating for beginners – people understand that – and the gym goers that you see may be looking at you because they admire your bravery.

Second, it’s helpful to move to a place wherein there looks or stares are of no importance, regardless of intent. Measuring yourself by the judgments of others – good or bad – is a dangerous game. Avoid it by honoring and cultivating the intrinsic self worth that you have as a human being. I know, easier said than done.

Third, you are doing the right thing. And you’ve done the hardest thing. You’ve taken the first step. It is the hardest step that you’ll ever take, and it’s now behind you.

Fourth, maintain a gym commitment that is sustainable. It’s very easy to burn out when getting started. It’s great that you are doing both cardio (water aerobics, bicycling) and strength training (weight machines). Doing strength training buildings muscle, and muscle incinerates calories all day long; it’s absolutely essential to accompany your cardio with strength training.

Fifth, consider your nutrition. I’m going to e-mail you a copy of my Eating for Fitness program. Nutrition is obviously the other side of the health and wellness coin. Losing weight is about both exercise and nutrition – and you may wish to seek the help of a professional.

Sixth, and along the same vein – you may wish to work with a trainer. Most gyms have personal trainers, and I’m sure they could pair you up with someone wonderful and affordable. It will be money well spent, and money that you may otherwise be spending on health problems and complications down the road.

Seventh, do it for you. Forget your boyfriend’s comment. Do not lose weight so that he will marry you. Lose weight so that you can honor your body and this experience of life. You only get one body. Honor it. Do it for you.

It’s all about small steps, and like I said, you’ve already taken the hardest one. Just keep moving – moving forward – and with a little hard work and dedication, you will be create a transformed body and a transformed life.

We are all routing for you.

Bust Your Ass (and Belly) with Interval Training!

Running his way into my heart.

One of my favorite training techniques is interval training. I love interval training because it burns 30% more calories than exercising at one pace and it boosts your metabolism like none other – for up to 12 hours after exercise. It’s great for losing weight, toning, definition (hello, six pack), injury prevention, burn-out reduction and performance.

Want to give it a shot? Set aside 40 minutes and grab a sweat towel:

  1. Warm up with five minutes of low-intensity jogging.
  2. Stop and stretch for a good three minutes. Stretching will improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
  3. Start cycle 1: Pick up your pace to a medium-intensity speed and hold it for three minutes. This is a pace that you’d be able to maintain for the entire workout.
  4. No, go full out. Run hard for 1 minute. Really burn yourself out at a speed that pushes you to your limits. After the one minute, drop back down to your medium-intensity speed.
  5. Each subsequent cycle will follow this same pattern. 3 minutes of aerobic/recovery and 1 minute of anaerobic/sprinting. Do four more cycles (five cycles in total).
  6. Cool down with five minutes of low-intensity jogging.
  7. Stretch again.

I usually do my interval training (and running, in general) on a treadmill; it’s easier to set a speed and monitor the time. But, you can certainly perform interval training outside with the help of a watch or stopwatch.

Running not your thing? Try this same program on a bicycle. Or, modify it slightly to try in the pool (2 laps recover, 1 lap sprinting).

And, feel free to change the numbers. You may want to shorten recover time or do more cycles. Make it your own and have fun with it. It will kick your ass, but the results speak for themselves. Enjoy!

How to Transform Your Body.

The only thing harder than changing your body is accepting it. Of course, some positive change can come from changing your body – like increased strength, improved health, a stronger immune system and the like. On one hand, I think we can accept where our body is at now, but work toward a different tomorrow.

Instead of resisting where you are at today, put that energy and effort into creating the change that you wish to make tomorrow.

So, what is it that you want to change about your body? Please take my poll below – multiple selections are allowed. I will use your answers to guide future blog posts and videos. If you want to change something that isn’t on the list, leave your answer in the comments below. Thanks for your feedback!




5-Minute Oblique Workout! [Video]

Back in July, I shared a 5-minute killer ab workout that you can do at home. Today, I’m excited to share a 5-minute ab workout that focuses on your obliques. Your obliques are the muscles that run alongside your abs – and many people forget to exercise them.

You can try my full 30-minute ab workout as part of my Total Body Assault fitness program. Use promo code “abs” to save $10 at checkout!

Watch the video below:

Gym Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep.

Wakey, wakey. I don't think I'd get too much sleep next to him.

Not getting enough sleep is one of my top 6 reasons why your muscle-building workout isn’t building muscle. But a new study by researchers at Stanford University goes one step further. The researchers found that extending sleep periods can dramatically (relatively speaking) improve the performance of athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

For athletes participating in roughly two months of sleep extension, 20-yard shuttle times improved from 4.71 seconds to 4.61 seconds, and 40-yard dash times decreased from 4.99 seconds to 4.89 seconds.

While those numbers might not sound significant to the typical treadmill trooper, in a sports world where 1/100ths of second means the difference between between gold and silver, a tenth of a second is like a lifetime.

According to lead researcher Cheri Mah:

Sleep duration may be an important consideration for an athlete’s daily training regimen. Furthermore, sleep extension also may contribute to minimizing the effects of accumulated sleep deprivation and thus could be a beneficial strategy for optimal performance.

Under the surface, it appears that muscle growth occurs during the deep, non-REM stages of sleep. In addition, deep sleep helps rejuvenate the immune, skeletal and nervous systems.

Athletes in the study slept as much as 10-hours – a true stretch for most of us and our busy lifestyles. Nonetheless, Mah believes that all of us can put the results of this study into practice by following these five recommendations:

  1. Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen. It’s just as important as eating protein.
  2. Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
  3. Maintain a low “sleep debt” by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults)
  4. Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day. Minimize weekend fluctuations and the like.
  5. Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.

How much sleep do you usually get? I average somewhere around 7 hours, though I like to aim for a full 8.

When is It Good to Be Sore?

Dear Davey,

A day after I exercise, I tend to get really sore. Is this bad? Does it mean that I’m pushing myself too hard or that I need to change something?

Thanks,
Brian

Dear Brian,

When people exercise, there are two types of soreness: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (called DOMS) and injury-related soreness. DOMS is good, injury-related is bad, and it’s very easy to tell the two apart.

DOMS occurs 12-48 hours after you complete your workout. It sounds like the type of soreness that you’re describing, and it’s often associated with a change in your workout program, increased intensity, etc. When you finish your workout, you don’t feel it. But in the subsequent hours, it slowly sneaks up on you.

This type of soreness is actually good. It’s part of a process that leads to muscle growth and increased strength as your body adapts to your workout regime.

There’s no simple way to treat DOMS – the best advice is simply to rest and recover until it passes. Some people have reported that gentle stretching or massaging seems to help.

Most importantly, do not exercise the sore muscle groups until they recover. Remember, the soreness is from muscles that are rebuilding – you need to let them build up before you break them down again or else you will not see results or increases in strength. Moreover, you may injure yourself.

Speaking of injury, any soreness as the result of injury is markedly different from DOMS. For one, soreness as the result of injury often hits sooner – if not instantly. And, wherein DOMS soreness is generally symmetrical (i.e., in both legs a day or two after doing squats), injury-related soreness is asymmetrical (i.e., in just one leg). Stop exercising if you have an injury and seek medical attention.

So, soreness can – and usually is – a good thing. Just make sure to give your body time to recover!

Fitness Secrets: How to Get Good Protein Cheap!

I wonder if he has any protein I can have. 😛

Today, I drove over to my local nutrition store to pick up some powdered protein. I’m a big fan of whey protein as it has the highest Biological Value (learn more about protein quality), but it doesn’t come cheap. A 2-lb container lasts about a month and costs $30 – $40 in the United States. When I was in Australia, I paid a shocking $55 for a similar product. Canadian protein is also more expensive than in the states.

But regardless of where you live, there’s a secret you can use to get the same product much cheaper.

I asked the store clerk if they had any protein that was expiring soon. Sure enough, they had a 2-lb container of powdered whey protein set to expire in December. Instead of costing $36, the product was discounted to $12. Of course, you can’t get picky with the flavors – there usually isn’t too much from which to pick.

If there are a few shops in your area, I’d recommend calling around every week until you find some protein. By the way, you the same trick works for protein bars – most nutrition shops will have a basket of entirely edible (but soon to expire and deeply discounted) protein bars.

This simple tip makes fueling your muscles a whole lot cheaper!

How to Get a Six Pack: Are Crunches Enough?

Sexy? Yes. Worth the effort? You tell me.

Wisdom aside, many people first start working out because they want the almighty six pack. Of course, it’s my hope that these exercisers eventually come to appreciate the much more powerful and transformative benefits of working out, but there’s new denying the ubiquity of the six pack.

In fact, more than 40,000,000 web pages (now 40,000,001) are dedicated to the subject. So what’s the secret to abs of steel? And are crunches enough to carve out a washboard midsection?

The simple answer is it depends.

In terms of effectiveness, crunches and sit-ups are at the top of the list. Researches from Slippery Rock University put many popular ab products to the test and found that we need not waste our money on fancy equipment to activate our abdominal muscles (check out my equipment-free 5-minute ab workout on YouTube). Researches wrote:

For the 8 exercises examined in this study, the Ab-Sling, Ab-Rocket, crunch, and sit-up produced the most muscle activation in URA and LRA, but because participants would neither purchase nor use the Ab-Sling or Ab-Rocket, the sit-up or crunch should be prescribed for rectus abdominis exercise.

That’s good news for our wallets. But are crunches really a magic bullet if you’re going after the superficial Jersey Shore six pack? If you’re naturally very lean, then yes – you can stop right here. But for the rest of us, no.

Here’s the real secret: A powerful workout that incinerates any body fat hiding your abs and a smart but lower (not crazy low) carbohydrate diet.

The good news is that you may already have a six pack. The bad news is that it’s probably comfortably hidden under a layer of body fat. Even a small and healthy layer of body fat will do a good job to hide your abdominal muscles from view. But if a six pack is really your goal and focus (spending that same energy elsewhere may be more rewarding), then you’ll have to step up the cardio and really monitor your eating. Goodbye pizza and pasta and hello up-hill sprinting and intervals!

Sure, they’re sexy. But do you think it’s worth the energy and effort to carve out a six pack? Let me know in the comments below.

Is Diet Soda Bad For You?

You know that soda is one of the six absolute worst foods you could ever consume – but what about diet soda? Is it really the “healthy” alternative that marketers would want you to believe?

Yes and no. Regular soda contains a whopping 10 spoonfuls of sugar and virtually no nutritional content. Diet soda, on the other hand, has no sugar and it’s caloric count dramatically reduced as a result. But diet soda still has its fair share of health concerns, including:

  1. Weight gain. What?! How could something with so few calories lead to weight gain? Many researchers have found that the sweet taste of diet soda stimulates cravings for other sugary foods like cake, cookies, candy, etc. Make no mistake – sugar is addictive… even fake sugar! Your taste buds won’t know the difference.
  2. Tooth decay. Diet soda is very acidic. The acids in the drink erode precious tooth enamel. Some studies suggest that the phosphoric acid in soda may even leech calcium from your bones, weakening your skeletal system.
  3. Insomnia, headaches, depression. Caffeine, which is present in diet soda, is also addictive. Caffeine abuse can lead to a whole slew of negative side effects.

Worst of all, when you drink soda, there is an opportunity loss. Soda is consumed at the expense of another and possibly healthier drink, like water or even tea. If you want a little flavor, try sparkling water with lemon, or add a dash of cranberry juice.

Bottom line: In terms of health an nutrition, regular soda gets an “F”. Diet soda gets a “D-“. Pick your poison.

Are you a soda or diet soda drinker? Would you consider a healthier alternative? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Simple Tips to Lose Weight Fast!

Small changes can make a big difference. Here are 5 simple and easy tips for losing weight:

  1. Eat an apple before dinner. According to a recent Penn State study, people that consumed an apple before their meals ate 187 fewer calories than those that did not. High fiber foods, like apples, are digested slowly by the body and make you feel fuller. Fill up on apples and not on Applebee’s!
  2. Drink lots of water. You’ll cut a zillion calories by not drinking soda or sugary drinks – and, it’s filling! If you’re still craving more after a healthy snack, drink up!
  3. Use BBQ sauce instead of mayo. Using BBQ sauce instead of mayonnaise on your burger will save you 146 calories per two tablespoons.
  4. Know how many calories you should be eating. You need a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. In other words, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. But in order to create that deficit, you first need to know how many calories your body requires. Use the Harris Benedict Calculator to find out.
  5. Counteract the “rainy day” principle. If you create a calorie deficit by decreasing your eating and don’t increase your physical activity, your body will go into starvation mode. This is why so many people have trouble losing weight. When your body thinks that it is starving, it will hold onto everything that you put into it. Your metabolism will go to crap, and it will save all your calories instead of burning them. To counteract this principle, exercise! You need to move, move, move – even if it’s just 2 or 3 days a week for 30 or 45 minutes.

Do you have any tips for losing weight? Leave your best tip in comments below. I’ll select one commentator to receive a free copy of my Eating for Fitness program! Good luck!

6 Tips: Spice Up Your Workout for Better Results!

Are you in a workout rut? Need some ass-kicking? I recorded this video with six tips for spicing things up:

Is Our Fatness a National Security Risk?

You're not asking but I'm telling: I'd enlist for that!

While it doesn’t seem that the United States will be resuming a draft anytime soon (it has been used five times in U.S. history – four of which occurred in the last century), all men ages 18 – 25 are required to register so that the draft can be activated if needed.

There are just over 25 million draft-aged Americans today. However, a recent study has shown that 9 million of them – or a whopping 27% – are too fat to join the armed services. And unfortunately, the trajectory of that number is going in the wrong direction. With the pool of draft candidates shrinking, it begs the question: Is America’s obesity issue a national security risk?

On a related note, with the tragic September 11 anniversary just behind us, it’s worth noting that obesity kills an estimated 300,000 Americans a year. That’s like a September 11 happening ever 3.5 days, all year, every year. We’ve had an ongoing war on terror, but we’ve yet to truly fight a war on our nation’s health.

As if we needed another reason to tackle this “big” problem, this latest study certainly provides it. Of course, don’t wait for our government to take action: You can take matters into your own hands by cultivating a healthier lifestyle. Start with these Davey Wavey Fitness weight release articles, but remember that actions speak louder than words. Live it!

Today is the last day to win an iPod touch by downloading one of my workout videos or programs! Click here for details or to enter today!

Best Fitness Advice Ever.

This picture really has nothing to do with the post but you are welcome anyway.

Every now and then, I stumble upon a gem of fitness wisdom that changes everything. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of fitness advice. But three jewels really stand out about the rest:

  1. Take the first step. This one works on many levels. In the most literal sense, it reminds us to take the first step in the morning when that alarm clock goes off. The first step is always the hardest! It’s very easy to go back to bed and put off an early morning workout. In a larger sense, if we look at our fitness goals, things can seem overwhelming. This piece of advice reminds us that, as they say, “a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Those little steps add up. Just keep moving forward.
  2. Educate yourself. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to workout out. I see a great many people making mistakes at the gym that will prevent them from getting results. If you’re going to spend 30 minutes or more at the gym a few times a week, why not take 15 or 20 minutes to read some research online. Signing up for Davey Wavey Fitness updates is a great way to start.
  3. Look at your workout as an investment. I know that we only get 24 hours in a day – and that each of us has many, many commitments. There is a temptation to look at fitness as an expense – but it’s not. It is in investment in a healthier (and yes, often happier) you. And unlike the turbulent stock market, your investment in fitness is going to yield great results. And provided you do your research and have something of a clue, those results are just about guaranteed.

Those are the three nuggets of wisdom that really stand out to me. But now it’s your turn – what is the best piece of fitness advice that you’ve ever heard, seen or read? Leave your answers in the comments!

A Healthy Diet of… Words?

Yeah, we know that a healthy diet is part of weight loss. But should that diet include healthy words, too? Is it possible that our words are literally weighing us down?

Diane Petrella thinks so. And I tend to agree. Diane, in addition to being a good friend of mine, is a psychotherapist and columnist on Calorie Count. She writes:

A healthy diet of encouraging words is just as important as a healthy diet of nutritious foods. Because your mind and body are connected, your body responds to your words and images. Your words can either uplift and lighten you or feel heavy and weigh you down… It’s a chain effect that starts with your words. Your words become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your beliefs. Your beliefs become your reality.

All the negativity sabotages us from the onset. Stop for a moment and examine the words that you use when describing your body to yourself or others. Be honest. I’ll admit that I’m often my body’s worst critic. I’ve said things like, “I hate the way I look today” or “I’m a cow” or “I’m never going to be able to do that” more than a few times.

Instead of responding to our body with negativity or hate, Diane suggests something along these lines (or whatever feels authentic for you):

Even though I’m heavier than I want to be, I appreciate my body for all it does for me.  I commit to taking very good care of myself. I’m learning to love my body.

In actuality, our bodies are miraculous bundles of energy and information; each of us is a symphony of cells dancing to the same beautiful beat. It is through our bodies that we’re able to experience this world, and for that we can be very grateful and appreciative. There’s just no room left for negativity.

It’s a change in mindset that ultimately changes your reality. In a universe where we see what we believe (nope, not the other way around), treating your body with verbal love, gratitude, respect and compassion can make a world of difference.

Next time you hear yourself muttering an “I can’t”, “I won’t” or something negative about your body, bring awareness to your word choice and try to replace it with something that lifts you up instead of weighing you down.

Food for thought: What are some of the nasty things that you’ve said about your body? What can you replace those words with?

When Good Knees Go Bad: 3 Effective Low-Impact Cardio Exercises.

No face? No problem.

Hi Davey,My knees can not handle high impact cardiovascular exercise like running, jogging or even stair climbing. I know that cardio is important, but what can you recommend that is low-impact and yet effective?

Confused,
Chris

Dear Chris,

Great question! Having nursed a knee injury just last summer, I can relate. And you’re absolutely correct: Cardio is important for everyone.

Here are three effective low-impact exercises that I’d recommend:

  1. Swimming. Swimming is phenomenal for all people, but especially beneficial for those individuals seeking a low (or no) impact exercise. Whereas running a treadmill will pound your knees, swimming involves much smoother movements. You weigh 1/10th of your land weight in water, so a great deal of stress is taken off of your joints. A 155lb person could expect to burn 214 calories after 30 minutes of moderate swimming.
  2. Rowing. I’m a huge fan of rowing – and it is very gentle on the knees. Much like swimming, the movement is fluid and not abrupt. I enjoy rowing sprints – 90 seconds of all out rowing followed by 45 seconds of rest for 15 minutes. If you’d rather keep things easier, try going at a moderate pace for 90 seconds and then a slower pace for 60 seconds. a 155lb person would burn 246 calories after 30 minutes of moderate rowing.
  3. Elliptical. If you don’t have access to a pool or a rowing machine, the elliptical is a good alternative. Because of the machine’s structure, the movement is low impact and fluid – and a 155lb person can burn 400 calories after 30 minutes of exercise.

You can also give cycling, walking, in-line skating and cross-country skiing a try. Whatever your interests, you should be able to find a low-impact cardio program that suits your needs.

Any other suggestions or questions? Ask away in the comments below!

6 Absolute Worst Foods You Can Ever Eat!

Please promise me that you will never order the Aussie Cheese Fries at the Outback Steakhouse.

I scoured the globe to find the 5 absolute worst foods that you could ever put into your body based on nutritional content. The winners are:

  1. Soda. Soda is loaded with calories, steeped in sugar, overflowing with artificial ingredients – and without any nutritional benefit. Soda is the ultimate example of “empty calories.” Just how much sugar is in a can of soda? About 40 grams – the equivalent of TEN packets of sugar! Yet the average American drinks 51 gallons of soft drinks each year. If we could cut that number in half (and replace the 25.5 gallons of soda with water), it would add up to more than 30,000 calories (the equivalent of 8.7 pounds of fat). It would take 57 hours on the treadmill to have the same effect.
  2. French fries. I recently requested the nutrition information for the “Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing” at the Outback Steakhouse. I was shocked; it contains 2,900 calories (much more than a day’s worth) and 182 grams of fat (65 grams is the typical recommendation for an entire day). Potatoes on their own are bad enough – they rate low on the gylcemic index. Their simple sugars are absorbed very quickly by the body. Once deep fried, their trans fat content goes through the roof. Avoid this gastrointestinal disaster at all costs! Opt for a salad, some rice – or pretty much anything else on the menu (and whatever you do, don’t smother them in cheese and ranch dressing).
  3. Chips. Traditional potato or corn chips face the same trans fat issues as french fries. Fortunately, the times are changing and some companies are making healthier alternatives – even baked chips. I do my best to substitute chips with carrot sticks; you get the same crunch but without the heart disease and clogged arteries.
  4. Mozzarella sticks. “Mozzarella sticks” is just another way of saying “fat fried in fat.” Cheese is full of fat. Deep fried, it’s even worse. Sure, there is some calcium in the cheese (and Mozzarella cheese is one of the lighter cheeses), but you’re much better off eating some spinach or yogurt to get the same calcium intake.
  5. Doughnuts. What’s worse than starting your day with a bowl full of sugary cereal? Reaching for a doughnut. High in trans fat and sugar, doughnuts are a true artery clogger devoid of nutritional benefit. Yet the average American consumes 35 doughnuts each year! Doughnuts are the one food that you will NEVER catch me eating – I just can’t justify it!
  6. Ice cream. I love ice cream, and it pains me to include it on this list. But did you know that a serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream can contain as much as 30 grams of fat? And who eats just one serving (half a cup)?! There is no saving grace for ice cream, save some calcium. Timing also comes into play – most of us eat ice cream just before bed, which is obviously the worst time possible!

Do you eat any of these foods? Or do you have any other foods to include on the list? Let me know in the comments!