Archive for the tag - moderation

Bad Idea: NO CAKE EVER!

FullSizeRenderYou want to eat healthier. You’ve created a nutrition plan. Cake is not a part of it.

The problem is, you really like cake. Or maybe it’s chocolate chip cookies. Or peanut butter ice cream topped with hot fudge and whipped cream. Whatever your trigger food may be, excluding it from your diet can be a big mistake.

And here’s why.

If you tell yourself that you can’t eat cake, you’re probably going to find yourself thinking about cake a lot. When you’re sitting on the couch contemplating a late night snack, you’ll probably think about cake. When you’re hungry at work, you’ll probably think about how a cake break sounds perfect. And each time you walk by a bakery, rows of freshly iced cakes will taunt you with their empty promises.

In other words, the more you deprive yourself of something, the more time you spend obsessing over that thing.

Resistance, as they say, is futile. Willpower inevitably breaks and a cake binge is almost unavoidable. And if you somehow do manage to avoid cake, you’ll do so at the expense of your sanity and the well-being of the people around you.

There’s an alternative, more sensible approach. It’s called moderation.

When a craving hits, walk to a local bakery. Instead of binging on an entire cake, give yourself permission to have a reasonable portion. Though it’s not something you’d do every day, allowing yourself to strike a balance breaks the “forbidden fruit” syndrome in which you might otherwise get stuck. Besides, life would suck in a world without cake.

To avoid sabotaging your diet, replace deprivation with moderation.

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How Much Time Should I Spend in the Gym?

fitness-model-workout-routine-1People often ask me how much time they should spend in the gym.

The truth is, the answer varies from person to person and it depends on your goals, your schedule and your current gym commitment. There’s certainly no short answer, but a new study by researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University is shedding some new light.

Most people understand that exercise is associated not just with improved physical health, but also improved mental health. But is more exercise always better? The answer may be a bit surprising.

After examining data from 7,674 adults, researchers determined that 2.5 – 7.5 hours of exercise per week may be the sweet spot. Exercising more than 7.5 hours was associated with diminished mental health and sharp increases in depression or anxiety.

Because this is the first study confirming that too much exercise can be related to poor mental health, more research is needed. It’s unclear if the poor mental health is because of the excessive exercise (perhaps a symptom of overtraining) or if people with poor mental health exercise excessively as a way to elevate their mood. In other words, it remains to be seen whether or not there is a causal relationship.

It’s also worth noting that more exercise may not be better for improved physical health either. A handful of new studies speculate, for example, that running more than 30 miles per week may diminish its longevity benefits. These findings are especially troubling for endurance athletes and marathoners who may train upwards of 100 miles per week.

In a nutshell, spending time exercising is a good thing – and it can help boost your mental and physical health. But, like anything else, exercise is best in moderation.

It’s Called Balance – Not Cheating!

An equally delicious country boy special of a different sort.

Yesterday, before filming a BlogTV show with my friend Mike, we hit up one of the local diners. The menu was pretty much devoid of healthy options – and I decided to embrace it. I opted for the “Country Boy Special” complete with 2 eggs, 2 slices of toast, 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausages, 2 pancakes and home fries. I think it might more appropriately have been called the the “Coronary Carbohydrate Conundrum.”

As someone who generally eats healthy – and does my best to adhere to a lower carbohydrate nutrition plan – some might think that my indulgence was cheating. I hear people use that term all the time when talking about their diets. Every cupcake or milkshake or bacon cheeseburger is viewed as a deep betrayal. And while I understand where the idea comes from, I have to disagree.

When I eat something that’s unhealthy, I don’t look at it as cheating. For me, it’s balance.

And truth be told, when it comes to nutrition and fitness, no one individual choice has much of an impact. It’s the cumulative effect of many choices – made over and over again – that add up. Like going to the gym every other day for a year. Or eliminating ice cream as a dessert for six month. One “Country Boy Special” every now and again isn’t going to have much of a measurable impact.

Moreover, balance makes nutrition sustainable. If I had to go through life without ever eating a pancake, I’d be a very miserable and cranky human being. I don’t need a pancake every day, and when I do eat one, I don’t need to consume six. But a pancake every now and then – if that’s why you crave and enjoy – can be a very good thing. Especially if helps make your larger nutrition plan more sustainable, and helps keep you on track.

I refuse to feel guilt or shame about my eating choices and I encourage you to do the same. I think those negative emotions drag down our bodies and our spirits, and tend to backfire. I’m quite content with my “Country Boy Special” and the balance that it helped me strike.