10 Ways I’m Thankful For My Body.

IMG_3475It’s Thanksgiving… so let’s get into the spirit of gratitude.

When we focus on dieting and counting calories, it’s easy to create an environment of scarcity and lack. With such a perspective, we get into a cycle of negativity; as a result, our worldview and happiness can contract. When we focus on abundance, on the other hand, the good things in our lives thrive – and our happiness expands.

By practicing gratitude, we can break – and even reverse – this downward cycle of negativity and better align ourselves with both abundance and happiness.

To that end, here are 10 ways that I’m thankful for my body.

  1. I’m thankful for my legs. They’ve carried me through all my travels, and enabled me to meet so many wonderful people and visit so many awesome places.
  2. I’m thankful for my arms. They’ve allowed me to hold many of you tight – including a 14 year old girl who came out to me as gay during a recent meet-up in New Jersey. I was the second person she came out to, and through streams of tears, told me that her family would never accept her. I held her tiny, shaking body so tight – and did my best to comfort her and help her find the strength within.
  3. I’m thankful for my eyes. They’ve allowed me to take in so much beauty. Though it’s easy to grow accustomed to our surroundings, there’s unfathomable beauty all around us. Always. We just need to stop, get off Instagram or Facebook, put down our phones and simply be.
  4. I’m thankful for my strong hands. I love the power of touch, and I love feeling my boyfriend’s body in my hands. I love exploring and getting lost in his body; my fingers are like little adventurers discovering a new land.
  5. I’m thankful for my lungs. Whenever I get lost in the chaos of life or my own silly self-importance, I shift focus to my breath. Inhale. Exhale. My lungs are a wise teacher, enabling me to be present and aware.
  6. I’m thankful for my voice. It allows me to speak my truth and hopefully – even in some small way – help inspire others to find theirs.
  7. I’m thankful for my lips. They allow me to kiss. And, just as important, they receive kisses. I love and appreciate the connection that my lips help to facilitate.
  8. I’m thankful for my ears. They allow me to hear the words of my many teachers and the people who inspire me.
  9. I’m thankful for my stomach. I love to eat, and my stomach receives all the delicious foods that I consume. I enjoy experiencing the abundance of delicious flavors and fueling my body with the nutrients it needs.
  10. I’m thankful for my genitals. Yes, I definitely am. They have brought me so much pleasure and so much joy, and allow me to connect with other people at the level of their soul.

Even if you’re not at your goal weight or build, perhaps some of these reasons will also resonate with you. Even as you express gratitude, you can feel your entire mood – and perhaps even your spirit – shift to a higher level.

In the comments below, please share the ways in which you are thankful for your body.

P.S. For more information about achieving weight loss through inspiration, gratitude and love, consider downloading Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program.

How Does Being Fat Benefit You?

Hi Davey,

I’m 32 years old, 286 pounds and have a body fat percentage of of 41%. I’m worried that I’m heading for a health disaster but can’t seem to find the motivation or energy to do anything about it. How do I break the cycle and get motivated?

Yours,
Stu

Great_Body_Transformation

We all know the benefits of exercise and a proper diet. So why is it so hard to change our behavior?

Hey Stu,

Thanks for your honest question.

With more and more adults overweight and obese, the current approach isn’t resonating. You already know the benefits of exercise. You already know the health risks of being overweight. And yet, none of it is motivating you (and many, many others) to change behavior.

So I have a different question: How does being overweight or obese benefit you?

At first, it might sound like a silly question. But consider it deeply.

An article on PsychCentral asked that question of patients. Though the question is initially met with nervous laughter, some of the bravest patients find the courage to answer it honestly:

  • “My obesity gives me an excuse. I am not held to the same standards as others; they don’t expect it, because I am morbidly obese.”
  • “My obesity keeps men away; I was sexually abused by my dad for 4 years of my life.”
  • “My marriage is so distant that food has become my only lover/friend. I’m lonely and food gives me comfort.”

If weight loss was as easy as eating smarter and moving more, we’d all be at our goal weight. But we’re not. And it’s clear that, for many of us, there’s a psychological element that cannot be ignored. As personal trainers, it’s our responsibility to be aware of this – and to give our clients the tools that they need. And that means more than just a treadmill and a calorie journal.

So…. how does being overweight benefit you? Yes, you. In the comments below, please find the courage to answer that question honestly. And because you deserve to be healthy and happy, give yourself the gift of professional help.

Love,
Davey

P.S. If you’re not sure where to start, consider downloading Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program. Beyond nutirtion and exercise, the program is written with the help of a psychotherapist and spiritual weight release coach to address the psychological component of weight loss.

17 Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving!

431A few years back, I shared 11 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving. Just to recap, here they are:

  1. Just take a small scoop of cranberry sauce. It’s loaded with sugar and can have 300 calories per half cup.
  2. Remove the skin. While the skin adds great flavor and is a nice treat for special occasions, it does contain extra calories and fat – and is usually coated in butter.
  3. Go light on the gravy. Gravy, depending on how it is prepared, can be loaded in fat, calories and tons of sodium. Just use a touch of it.
  4. Eat before dinner. Have a healthy lunch before going to Thanksgiving dinner so that you’re not hungry. This will help prevent overeating.
  5. Opt for healthy sides. Instead of going for buttery, cheesy or creamy sides, opt for steamed vegetables and smarter choices.
  6. Save your calories for the dinner. Appetizers, munchies and finger foods are notoriously high in calories and unhealthy fat. Moreover, they’re not filling. Save your calories for the main course.
  7. Drink lots of water. Water boosts your metabolism and helps you feel full. And it’s definitely a much wiser choice than eggnog.
  8. Use a small plate. Studies show that if we use a small plate, we eat less. Moreover, wait 15 minutes before going back for seconds. It takes time to feel full.
  9. Talk! Instead of chowing down, take time to talk with your friends and family. By eating slower, you give your body time to digest and feel full – thereby lessening the likelihood of overeating.
  10. Have a few bites of dessert. If you have room, just take a few bites of the dessert options. It will satisfy your sweet tooth without overindulging. And if you’re full, take your dessert to go rather than cramming it down.
  11. Don’t feel guilty. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and if you eat a lot – so be it. All of us occasionally indulge and it’s part of creating balance in your diet. Don’t feel guilty about it – because guilt often manifests itself as additional overeating.

Today, I’d like to share 6 more strategies that you can use.

  1. Smarten up your recipes. If you have any influence over the foods being prepared, it’s easy to make your dishes healthier but cutting the recommended quantities of ingredients like sugar or butter. You can also replace ingredients like butter with healthier substitutions – including avocados!
  2. Skip seconds. While you may feel inclined to load up a second plate of food, resist the urge. Instead, give yourself a good fifteen minutes to digest your first plate. You’ll probably discover that you’re already a lot fuller than you think.
  3. Load up on protein and fiber – before the meal. When eating breakfast or lunch before Thanksgiving dinner, opt for foods that are high in protein and fiber. Because fiber and protein digest slowly, it will take the edge off of your appetite.
  4. Minimize alcohol. Though consuming alcohol may help make family conversations more bearable, it’ll also load your meal up with empty calories. That is, most alcoholic beverages are high in calories but low in nutrients.
  5. Play football instead of watching it. While it’s tempting to sit on the couch and watch a football game (though, honestly, that doesn’t tempt me at all), it’ll be far healthier to engage in a family game of football in the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll burn off some of that pumpkin pie. If football isn’t your thing, try another activity – or just go on a walk.
  6. Focus on your family. Sometimes, a shift in perspective can make a big difference. Instead of thinking about Thanksgiving in terms of the food, shift the focus to friends and family. The main event isn’t the buffet; it’s spending time with the important people in your life.

The reality is, Thanksgiving is one of more than a thousand meals that you’ll consume this year. It’s not going to make or break any diet. But having said that, you can use the above tips not just on Thanksgiving – but each and every day to improve the way you look and feel.

P.S. If you want to upgrade your diet (and, in turn, your life), I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. Especially with the holidays coming, it’s a wise investment in the quality of your life.

Review: Gallon Of Water Per Day For A Month!

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Well, this makes me thirsty…

A month ago, I came across an article describing a woman who drank a gallon of water per day. She lost weight, decrease her waistline by an inch and experienced remarkable improvements to her skin. The bags under her eyes disappeared and she looked ten years younger.

I was skeptical, but sometimes you need to try things for yourself.

And so I did.

As promised, I’ve been drinking a gallon of water per day for the past month. As many of you reminded me, too much water can be dangerous. But with Mayo Clinic recommendations of 13 cups of water for men (with more if you exercise) and nine for women, the 16 cups in a gallon of water should fall within the margin of safety. Of course, it’s always wise to check with your doctor.

Each morning, I filled up a gallon jug of water. Throughout the day, I used the jug to monitor my progress. Of course, eating in a restaurant made the science less exact – so, in some instances, I had to use my judgement and estimate. Nonetheless, I completed the challenge for the full month.

So, what’s the verdict?

First, I was surprised how easy it is to drink a gallon of water per day. It sounds and looks like a lot, but I’m pretty sure I drink almost a gallon on a daily basis even without the challenge. Truthfully, it probably only amounted to an extra few cups. And the only change that I noticed was having to get up once or twice during the night to pee.

All in all, I don’t look or feel any different.

Perhaps the woman in the article was severely dehydrated when she started the challenge. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the challenge did provide some pretty substantial benefits. But if you’re already fairly well hydrated like myself, you might not notice any changes.

Having said all of that, I really do like the idea of having a gallon jug of water to better track my hydration. Sometimes, sipping water isn’t a priority and the jug is a good reminder to drink up. For that reason, I may continue with the challenge when I’m home or when it makes sense.

Did you try the gallon of water per day challenge? Let me know how it went in the comments below!

How To Be A Good Spotter: 7 Tips!

Bench-PressIf you’ve spent much time in a gym, you’ve likely been asked to provide a spot. Or, there’s probably been a time or two when you would have benefited from a spotter.

Years ago, I was lifting at a gym that didn’t provide safety pins to hold the weight plates in place. On my last repetition of bench pressing, I missed the rack and dumped 175lbs worth of weight plates across the gym floor. More than creating a spectacle (which it was), I was lucky to escape injury. If I had asked for the assistance of a spotter, the whole debacle could have been avoided.

What is spotting?

Simply put, it’s the act of supporting another person during an exercise to ensure safety and allow the exerciser to lift or push more than he or she could on their own.

Some spotters are good. And some spotters suck. So to be a better spotter, here are a few tips focused around bench pressing:

  1. Communicate. Asking someone for a spot is a bit like asking someone to be your boyfriend or girlfriend. Good spotting relationships are built on a foundation of communication. Being on the same page involves asking the exerciser what they need from you and how many repetitions they are aiming to complete.
  2. Help only when needed. When someone asks you to spot, they’re not asking you to do the work for them. If they’re struggling and moving the bar slowly, don’t provide assistance. If the the exerciser is failing and gravity is pulling the bar down, do provide assistance.
  3. Don’t use full force – unless needed. When you do provide assistance, apply the proper amount of force. Usually, this means providing just enough force to lift the bar. The exerciser should still be working throughout your spot. The exception would be a sudden drop in the bar or total failure on the part of the exerciser; in this instance, full force is necessary to safely re-rack the barbell.
  4. Spot lift off. When bench pressing, lifting the barbell off of the rack may require some assistance. You’ll commonly see this in powerlifting competitions. It’s always smart to ask if they’ll need help with this movement.
  5. Help re-rack. You’ll probably be expected to assist in the re-racking of the barbell upon completion of the set. This is especially important if the lifter has reached failure. Many accidents happen when exercisers miss the j-hook, so be proactive during this part of the exercise.

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    Should have had a spot!

  6. Know the technique. Different exercises require different spotting strategies. For the bench press, keep your hands near the bar but don’t touch it until needed. Having a mixed grip of one hand under the bar and one hand over the bar will enable you to use maximum lifting strength if required. Spotting on a squat, on the other hand, is much more technical. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable spotting, just let the exerciser know. It’s better to speak up than risk injuring the exerciser.
  7. Pay attention. When someone asks you for a spot, they’re putting their safety in your hands. It’s not the time to look around the gym or check your cell phone. Pay attention. A good lift can go bad quickly, and you’re the safety net to prevent serious injury.

If you have any tips, spotting stories or pet peeves, share them in the comments below!

P.S. If bigger muscles are your goal, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle!

Answered: Why Am I Exercising But Gaining Weight?

Dear Davey,

I’ve been working out for almost two months. Two months ago, I had a 38 inch waist and weighed 210 lbs. After all this exercising, I’m now 215 lbs and my waistline has increased by an inch. I’m extremely discouraged. What is happening?

From,
Peter

14405029672_43f234844f_zHey Peter,

That is very frustrating. But as it turns out, you’re not alone. Gaining weight while exercising is actually quite common. In fact, a recent study demonstrated this reality by enlisting 91 healthy but overweight women in an exercise program. At the end of the 12 week program, 70% of the women had added fat mass – despite being more aerobically fit and healthier.

The study didn’t focus on the other variables in the women’s lives. And therein lies the problem. Exercise is just one part of a very complicated equation. For example, it’s entirely possible that the women ended up increasing their calorie intake during the study or became more sedentary in other aspects of their lives.

If you’re gaining weight while exercising, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it muscle? Depending on your exercise program, your weight gain may be due (at least in part) to added muscle mass. If this is the case, you may notice a transformation in your body such as increased biceps, larger pectorals or increased glutes. A larger waistline, on the other hand, is an indication that you may be adding body fat.
  2. Have your eating habits changed? In the simplest terms, weight loss is the result of a calorie deficit. When we eat fewer calories than we burn, a calorie deficit occurs. Exercise can increase calories burned, but many exercisers also increase their caloric intake. Exercise may increase your appetite – and it’s possible to consume more calories than you burned during exercise. This can result in excess calories being stored as body fat. In other words, working out isn’t a free pass to eat anything and everything.
  3. Is your workout effective? Going to the gym isn’t enough. Your workout must be connected to your goal of losing weight. Endlessly walking on a treadmill, for example, could actually be counterproductive. If you need help creating a workout that targets fat loss, download Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program or enlist the help of a personal trainer.
  4. Are you sleeping well? Besides exercise and nutrition, other variables can impact body fat storage. Not getting enough sleep is one of them. Changes in hormone levels can increase your appetite and decrease satiety after eating.
  5. Are you stressed? Increases in stress result in the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can increase appetite and may result in the accumulation of fat in the body’s midsection.
  6. Are you taking any new medications? If you are on any new medications, talk to your doctor about side effects. It’s possible that weight gain is one them. This is especially common with anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory steroids and medications that treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure and diabetes. Don’t stop taking medications without talking to your doctor.

Don’t be discouraged. Gaining weight when working out isn’t a sign of failure. Instead, use it as an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of your training, your diet and the other factors in your life. And then, if possible, make changes and press forward in the achievement of your goals.

Love,
Davey

Which Fats Are Good And Bad?

mens_fitness_18793A decade or two ago, low fat diets were popular. If you’re looking to drop body fat, cutting dietary fat would seem logical. But that’s not really how things work. Through science, we’ve come to realize that things are a bit more complex than that – and that we still have a lot to learn.

If you read the nutritional labels (and I hope you do!) of the foods you eat, you’ll notice that there’s total fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Here’s what they all mean.

  • Total fat: The cumulative fat content in a serving, displayed in grams and as a percentage of your recommended intake. Keep in mind these percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your actual caloric needs may be different. Total fat doesn’t seem to have an effect on health. Instead, it’s the type of fat consumed that has an impact.
  • Saturated fat: Until recently, nutritionists have warned against saturated fats because they raise the type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries. However, researchers have been unable to establish a correlation between saturated fat and the risk of heart attack or stroke. As such, saturated fats may actually be neutral. But that’s not a free pass to eat a pound of bacon.
  • Unsaturated fat: These are the heart-healthy fats found in fish, olive oil, etc., that appear to have a protective effect on your health. Of course, unsaturated fats are still calorie-dense – so continue to eat these fats according to recommendations.
  • Trans fat: These are the bad guys, and are most often found in processed foods. Trans fats simultaneously raise bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol. As such, the American Heart Association recommends minimizing trans fats in your diet by not exceeding more than 1% of your total caloric intake. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s 2 grams of trans fat per day. You can find trans fats in many cakes, fries, doughnuts and baked goods. Though many manufacturers are moving away from trans fats, it’s important to check nutrition information.

The truth is, all of us need essential fats to survive; cutting all fat out of your diet would be a very bad thing. Instead, be mindful of the type of fat you eat – with an emphasis on heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

P.S. If you want to cut body fat, there’s no better way to do it than by downloading Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Program. Through a strategy called high intensity interval training, you’ll incinerate excess body fat while preserving muscle.

Is Milk Actually Good For You?

lady-drinking-milk-1We’ve always been taught to drink our milk. In fact, the USDA recommends that adult men and women should get three dairy servings per day. But are these guidelines outdated – or downright wrong?

A number of recent studies have shown that milk might not be so great, after all. Just a few weeks ago, a new study was published in the journal BMJ. Researchers set out to determine if high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in men and women.

More than 100,000 Swedish adults were recruited for the study. Over the course of several decades, mortality rates and fractures were tracked. According to the data, researchers concluded that having three or more glasses of milk per day increased mortality rates for both men and women, and increased fractures in women.

So does drinking three glasses or more of milk really cause you to die earlier?

Researchers advise caution, and feel that more data is needed before making any conclusions. If this link proves to be true, researchers speculate that it could be due to an ominous ingredient in milk called D-galactose. In animal studies, this ingredient led to premature aging in the body and bones and internal inflammation, which can lead to health issues including cancer and heart disease. But all of that is a big ‘if’ at the moment.

Of course, we do know that milk does have some benefits – mainly, that it’s rich in calcium. But there are plenty of other calcium rich foods like kale, oranges, beans, green peas, chickpeas, quinoa and seeds.

Milk also contains a great deal of sugar in the form of lactose. One cup of milk contains 13 grams of naturally occurring sugar… or just over 3 teaspoons. It’s one of the reasons why I always opt for unsweetened almond milk. It’s creamier than milk, but without the sugar or extra calories. Regardless of whether or not these studies prove to be true, I highly recommend making the switch.

P.S. To look good and feel great through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. It comes with a free gift!

5 Tips For Healthier Burgers.

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Nope.

Mmmm. Burgers.

According to The Economist, the average American eats 3 burgers per week. That adds up to 40 billion burgers annually. The problem is, most burgers start with fatty cuts of meat and then go from bad to worse with unhealthy toppings.

By upgrading the nutritional value of our burgers, we can take a huge step in the direction of a healthier diet. Here are a few simple and delicious tips for getting more out of your burgers.

  1. Start with lean meat. While turkey can be leaner than beef, it really depends on the cut. The USDA defines ‘lean’ as meat containing less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams cooked serving. You can also opt for extra lean for further reductions. If beef is your choice, grass-fed provides nutritional benefits over conventional beef. To cut down on calories per serving, I like to sneak lots of veggies into my burgers. I’ll chop up an onion and a few cloves of garlic to add into the meat mixture. Alternatively, a marinated Portobello mushroom burger can also be perfection.
  2. Select a whole grain bun. A wheat bun isn’t the same thing as a whole wheat bun. Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel; they contain more protein, fiber and nutrients. Read the ingredients to ensure that the first item listed has the word ‘whole’ before it. You can even ditch the bun and sandwich your burger between to lettuce leafs.
  3. Opt for healthier condiments. Mayo, BBQ sauce and ketchup are tempting. But the first is loaded in unhealthy fats and the second and third contain huge amounts of sugar. In fact, ketchup is 25% sugar. The good news is that all of these condiments are replaceable. Use a thick slice of tomato instead of ketchup. Avocado is another great condiment upgrade.
  4. Load up on the good stuff. Don’t stop with tomato and avocado. I love adding microgreens to my burgers. Sun-dried tomatoes and olives are also nice. You could use salsa and cilantro. Or red onions and spinach. Sometimes, I even top my burgers with an egg. Yum!
  5. Grate the cheese. Cheese has some health benefits, but it’s calorie dense and often loaded with unhealthy fats. If you absolutely must include cheese on your burger, opt for grated cheese. By grating your cheese, you reduce the portion.

The good news is that burgers can be a part of any healthy diet. It’s just important to be mindful of the ingredients you select. And if you have any tips for building a better burger, share them in the comments below!

P.S. To look and feel great by changing the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. You’ll even get my five video ab workout series (A $59 value) as a free gift!

How To Build A Better Butt.

Dear Davey,

I’m going to get right to the point… I hate my butt. I don’t like the shape and it’s too small. I have no idea what to do. Help!

From,
Jordan

gingers-are-cool-OH.-OKAY-THEN.-I-WILL.-UM.-JUST-BE-OVER-HERE-IN...Hey Jordan,

For both men and women, our asses are important assets. They can be one of the first things that other people notice (other than your wonderful personality!), and can certainly get the blood pumping. Among other things.

Here are few tips for giving yourself a booty makeover.

  1. Build your glutes through strength training. The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are the muscles that define your butt. By engaging in strength training exercises that target your glutes, you’ll build a rounder and tighter tush. Some exercises to incorporate into your workout include squats (this one is the best!), lunges, leg presses and deadlifts. Every few weeks, progress to heavier and heavier amounts of resistance. This process (called progressive overload) will cause your muscles to grow.
  2. Target glutes through cardio. You can also train your glutes through cardiovascular exercise. According to research, jogging on a treadmill is the most effective cardio exercise in terms of glute activation. Adding an incline further enhances activation. If you’re really willing to invest time in the pursuit of an awesome ass, learn how to ice skate… because hockey butt.
  3. Reduce butt fat through a calorie deficit. If you want to reduce butt fat, know that a calorie deficit is required. That means, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you burn. It’s important to continue exercise when using a calorie deficit to ensure that more fat than muscle is lost. However, keep in mind that fat will melt off all areas of your body… and not just your backside. It’s impossible to reduce fat just in your butt without reducing fat from other areas of your body.
  4. Be realistic. At the end of the day, exercise and diet will most likely enhance the shape you already have. But having a stronger, lean backside isn’t just about looking a certain way. It’s about being strong and powerful. And a well developed butt will help you in other aspects of your workout.

If you want a bigger butt, focus on tips 1, 2 and 4. When building muscle (a process you’ll often hear gym enthusiasts refer to as bulking), a calorie deficit will actually work against your goals. Obviously, building muscle requires a surplus of calories.

If you want a smaller backside, focus on tip 3. When reducing fat (a process you’ll often hear gym enthusiasts refer to as cutting), you won’t be able to build muscle.

Love,
Davey

P.S. For a guaranteed strategy to build muscle on your backside or anywhere else, download Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle!