Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why Counting Calories Will NOT Lead to Weight Loss

I came across an excellent article from Time entitled "'Eat Less, Exercise More' Isn't the Answer for Weight Loss" published on June 3, 2014.
Science has proven that burning more calories than you consume will result in weight loss. But the trouble is that this only has short-term results. Obesity experts are saying for long-term weight loss, it simply doesn’t work. They say to stop counting calories and start paying attention to what you're eating.
We need to start paying to attention to the effects of what we eat. For example, "when you eat a lot of refined carbs, like say, a 100-calorie pack of Oreos, it causes a surge of insulin that will trigger your fat cells to soak up calories—but there are not enough calories and nutrients to provide the energy that our bodies need. The brain recognizes this discrepancy and triggers a hunger response that also slows our metabolism. We are then going to want to eat more."
We should instead be focusing on the quality of the food we consume. Although foods such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil are high in fat, they are among the healthiest foods we could possibly eat. Experts blame the obesity epidemic on refined carbohydrates. "Sugar and processed grains like white bread which have become ubiquitous in our diets, and one of the reasons refined carbs is the prime culprit is that we’ve spent far too long chastising fat. We have to forget the low-fat paradigm."
"Instead of counting calories, we should be focusing on the quality of the food we consume. If you just try to eat less and exercise more, most people will lose that battle."
The article is a quick read and very informative. As always, I suggest reading it in its entirety.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Vitamins, Supplements, & Homeopathic Remedies

The first time walking into a store or even down a grocery store aisle that sells vitamins, supplements, and homeopathic remedies can be overwhelming. It's kind of like walking into a gym for the first know everything in there can help you, but how and when do you use it? You go in looking for one thing, but when you start browsing, it looks like you could use a little of everything. How does one know where to start?
First, choose one store to buy your products from. So how do you choose a store? I base this on two factors: reputation and location. When I began researching a place to get all of my vitamins and supplements, I realized I could just get them at my local grocery store. The problem was, there wasn't someone there to answer my (many) questions. So I chose a store less than five miles from my house that has been in business for over 30 years and has many great reviews on Yelp and other Internet review sites. They also had hours that worked with my schedule. (For my local readers, that store is Back to Nature Health Foods You can find their Facebook and Twitter handles on their website)
So now I have a location and reputation, but how is their customer service? Are they helpful? Are they going to see how na├»ve I am and try to sell me every supplement available? I started simply by asking for a multi-vitamin. However, I didn't want to be taking more than one or two a day, I didn't want to pay a lot, and I often get nauseous from big vitamins so I need something that's easily digestible. I was pleased that the owner offered me many different brands of multi-vitamins that fit my tall order.
In my opinion, I choose a small business not only because I love to support small businesses and shop local, but because I truly feel the owners of this store have my best interests in mind. If you can't say that about the store you're currently going to, it's time to do a little research and see what else is out there. And remember: location (because time and traffic is always a factor and if it's too far, you won't go...same train of thought when choosing a gym), reputation (referrals from a friend are great, but when you don't have that, check out how long the shop has been in business and do a little Internet research for reviews), and customer service (much like choosing a personal trainer...does the shop owner have your best interest in mind, or do they just want your money?)
OK, so you've chosen your store. Now you have a long list of supplements that you've written down from friends' recommendations and watching or reading Dr. Oz and you don't know where to begin. There are so many different brands each claiming to be the best and each bottle is giving options the others don't (capsules, oils, gummies, etc.) How do you know which is right for you? First, pick one supplement. If you're not taking multi-vitamins, I say to start there. There are some that say a multi-vitamin isn't necessary, that we get all of our nutrients from the food we eat. That may be true for some, and good for them because that's the best way to get them, however, when I look at the label of my multi-vitamins, I know there are vitamins and minerals in there that are not in my daily meals.
Discuss your allergies and preferences with the owner or employee of the shop. Make sure they are fully confident in what they are suggesting to you (and if not, try another employee or another shop. Your health is nothing to take lightly!)
Start with one vitamin/supplement and take that for a week, maybe even two. Once you feel that it is a benefit to your health and there are no side effects, then you can move on to your next. Remember that what works for a friend may not work for you, same as diet or exercise. If it's not working, don't give up, just look for another option.
I tried looking for an article online that I could provide as a guide for you to use when shopping for these products, but unfortunately they were all tied to an online company selling them. I'm sure many online companies are legitimate, however, I wouldn't suggest buying them off the Internet unless they sell your exact brand and you've been using that brand for a few months without any issues or side effects. I found this site from the National Institutes of Health to provide some useful information on the background of homeopathy, as well as use, side effects, and regulation:

I hope this has been some help to get you started. Even if you only take a multi-vitamin, it's important to make sure you're taking the right one. For years I took a popular brand sold in every major pharmacy thinking that if all of these stores are selling it and I see commercials for it, it must work. It wasn't until I started taking a brand that's not sold in big box stores that I noticed my energy increase and my nausea decrease.

If you've had good or bad experiences with vitamins, supplements, and homeopathic remedies, or even with a store that sells them, please let me and the Body by Kelly community know!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fear of Getting "Bulky"

Any personal trainer will tell you that strength training is necessary. The problem is women are afraid to get "bulky." Time and time again I have to explain to women that using weights, be it machines or free weights, will not cause bulky muscle. In fact, it will even help to burn more fat than just doing cardio alone, even at rest.
Recently I've come across an article on the Huffington Post that provides even more reason to work out with the intent of building muscle instead of just burning fat. The article is entitled, "More Muscle Could Help You Live Longer" and was published on March 27, 2014 by Sean Kinney. These findings were published online February 20 by The American Journal of Medicine. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging.
The main finding of the study is this: increased muscle mass appeared more closely associated with lower instances of premature death than less body fat.
One doctor says, "“Rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”
This study focused on older adults measuring muscle mass as opposed to BMI (body mass index).

The ideal workout will include time for cardio, stretching, and strength training. If you are not including any one of these three, it is time you ask yourself why. If you do not know how to strength train, your best bet is to find a personal trainer who suits you and tell them exactly what you're looking to get out of the session. You've never used the machines before? Or not sure if you're using them correctly? Then that's the first thing you work on. The machines will teach you proper form you can later use with free weights or other exercise equipment. It will also allow you to work out on your own, free of the trainer's supervision. If the trainer refuses to take you on the machines, write out a program for you, or discourages you from working out on your own without his/her supervision, it is time to interview another trainer. Thank them for their time and be on your way. You need someone who will teach you to work out independent of him or her. If they are a good trainer, then they will have plenty of ways to keep you challenged after they've taught you the basics and will encourage you to try new things to keep you motivated and active.

Another thing stopping you might be money. Trainers aren't cheap and there is a good reason for that. Trainers take the time to tailor each workout to your specific needs. They study where you're at and figure out how to get you to your goal as fast as possible without mental burnout or physical injury. So how do you get started when you can't afford a trainer twice or even once a week? Figure out what you can afford. And seriously think about every purchase you make: the daily coffee at your local coffee shop, the lunches you buy instead of preparing the night before, the nights you get take-out for you and your family. Chances are, you are spending money and gaining calories which are both working against your goal. Your trainer can sit down with you and show you how to fix that, but first you have to hire one. Maybe you can only afford twice a month, or even an hour a month. Maybe half that hour is discussing your successes and pitfalls for the month and where you can do better next month. Training is what you make it. It doesn't have to be a drill sergeant yelling at you if you don't want it to be. A good trainer will make you realize your weaknesses and take responsibility for them.

Are you working out now? What do you do for cardio? Are you sure you're doing it correctly? Are you sure you're doing enough? Do the free weights and machines intimidate you? Do you know when to stretch and how often?
If you plan on getting fit this season, these are all questions you will need answers to. And once these are answered, you'll have even more. Working out can be extremely fulfilling and a huge confidence builder. You just have to do it right.