Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse...

We have already talked about the statistics of obesity and the rapid inrease in rates of obesity over the last decade. It is now estimated that over 60% of the population of America is overweight or obese! We are teaching these new unhealthy habits to our kids as well! Obesity is contagious and there is new research out that we can infect each other with habits which will lead to weight gain and obesity. BUT, just when I thought it can't get much worse, I picked up the Wall Street Journal on Feb 22, 2011 to read about a new out break of Obesity!! It seams that we have not only infected children with the obesity epidemic but it has also spread to our Pets! The article explained that due to over eating and a lack of exercise there has been a huge increase in overweight and obese dogs and cats which is leading to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, high blood pressure and cancer in our furry friends. This all leads to the question...where the hell is PETA when you need them? Where is the public outcry from the celebrities at all these senseless diseases in animals caused by man!?! But have no fear, we are Americans and we will solve this dilemma. The article focused on several potential solutions to this problem. Yes, you can now buy a 'Doggie Treadmill' for somewhere in the range of $375-$999! And you can get a customized meal plan for Fido as well! While I'm a huge fan of creating new businesses, this one is killing me! Really?!?  A treadmill for your dog?  A special meal plan?  How about feeding them LESS?  Ok, look, I'm just guessing here, but since the solution to both the human and pet weight problem is to increase exercise and decrease calories, maybe we can take our pets out for a little exercise and get some ourselves! Hurry before PETA comes to call! Actually, I think we need to create a new organization, PETO, People for the Ethical Treatment of OURSELVES!  We need to realize that the decisions we are making is not allowing us to live the best life we can live.  Remember it is the choices we make that will determine our destiny!  Be kind to yourself and those around you, it's contagious.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh sure, ask the most difficult question first...

See what you get when you ask for suggestions about blog topics!?!  One of the first questions I got was can you talk about Motivation!  Motivation would seem to be one of those simple things and yet once you start getting into it you see that it is a very complex issue to tackle.  Wouldn't it be great we could motivate ourselves or others with a simple sentence, it must work because we see all the t-shirts that aim to do this very thing.  But, it isn't quite that easy now is it.  How about those fantastic 'win one for the Gipper!' speeches that must work or watching Rocky for the 1,000th time (who isn't pumped up after that).  And yet given our best efforts we launch into a new healthy habit only to watch it slip away.  Where the hell is Burgess Meredith when we are fighting the temptation to eat that huge ice cream sundae?  "You're a bum, if you give in and eat that ice cream, now get back to the gym!"  Let's take on this topic of Motivation one step at a time.  What exactly is motivation?  What makes someone 'motivated'?  Can you motivate someone else?  Can someone motivate us?

According to Wikipedia...:Motivation is the driving force which causes us to achieve goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism.[1] Motivation is related to, but distinct from, emotion."  There, that clears every thing up right?  Now go out and get healthy!  I believe that the answer is in here somewhere and yet needs a little more.

As a basis, I believe that we are all creatures of habit and we like to be comfortable.  The extrinsic motivation comes from outside of us, this is where the movies and music and speeches live.  Here is some breaking news for you, all of us are DIFFERENT and we respond differently to external motivations.  Some people need positive reinforcement while others respond to being challenged or negative reinforcements.  I think this is where all the confusion comes from.  We have all been told at some point 'you can't do it?' but why do some people here it and give up and say 'yea, you're right, I need to find something more suitable for me' and others like me hear that and say 'oh yea, well, now I will do it, just to prove you wrong!"?  Is it genetics?  Genetics seem to be the 'cause Du Jor' these days.  Anything we are not sure of must be 'genetics'.  He is just 'wired' that way,  its in his DNA-he can't help it."  Which brings up the whole debate of nature vs. nurture (here we go opening up Pandora's Box).  Do we act the way we do because of our genetic make up or because of the environment we are raised in or some combination of the two?  Make no mistake that genetics dictate our physical size in height and general body shape and other physical traits like skin color, eye color, sex and some diseases that genetically linked.  But, the way we act and the behaviors and belief systems we have are all part of us making sense of the world.  We spend the first parts of our lives trying to figure this world out and we have plenty of input from parents, teachers, coaches and peers to help us make sense of the things that happen to us and to those we know.  When we are presented with a new circumstance we take a look back at our personal history to find a reference point.  'Have I ever been in a situation like this before?'  and if so what do I do about it?  If not, then what is the closest thing that I can compare it too?  And on we go through our lives situation by situation.  We store all of our experiences in our subconscious along with all of our reasons, stories and justifications.  These are those little voices that constantly reminds us 'you're not good at things like this' or 'this is something we are very good at'.  And then when we try something new and things don't go right we hear it again 'See, I told you that you shouldn't do that'.  We have taken external or extrinsic feedback and made it intrinsic or internal.  The problem with this is that we begin to limit what is possible because we already think we know what is going to happen.  How many of you starting on a weight loss plan think, "wow, this is really going to work!!" vs. "none of these ever work but I guess I will try."  That is launching into a program from two very different places. The world is full of possibilities and you can attain (almost) anything.  (almost because you can't change the genetic stuff, Micheal Jackson excluded).  I believe motivation lies in this simple fact. The definition is correct "Motivation is the driving force to accomplish goals" but ONLY if we are willing to pay the price to accomplish those goals and not let the baggage from the past get in the way.  Nothing worth having is every easy, if it was everyone would have it.  You do need some external support to help get you there and hold you accountable but you have to want it.  You have to want it bad enough to not listen to those voices telling you it's not worth it.  Let's continue this discussion in the future, there is a lot here to cover.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

7 Health Factors for Longevity

7 Health Factors for Longevity

Do the simple choices we make each day really have an impact on our life?  Well let's take a little quiz and find out.  How many of the following do you do on a regular basis?
  1. Sleep 6.5 to 9 hours per night
  2. Don't eat unhealthy food between meals
  3. Eat Breakfast regularly
  4. Maintain proper body weight
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Moderate to no use of alcohol
  7. Don't smoke or use tobacco
OK, So now you should have a count of how many of these things you do on a regular basis.  (Yes, there is actual research on this.)  The next step is utilize this number to determine your Health Age.  You take your accurate age (don't lie to yourself but the actual number of years from birth to current age) and find the number of these things to do to find your true Health Age or the Age your body actually feels.

                                                                   Calculated Age

Habits 0-2Habits 3Habits 4Habits 5Habits 6Habits 7
Current Age   2034.327.420.518.915.810.6
Current Age   3046.939.133.029.425.318.9
Current Age   4059.450.745.439.934.827.1
Current Age   5072.062.457.950.344.335.3
Current Age   6084.574.070.460.853.843.2
Current Age   7097.185.782.871.363.251.8

So back to our original question, "Do the simple choices we make each Day impact our Lives?"  I think you can now see a resounding YES!!  The one I always like to point out is the 60 year old who does 0-2 of these things, they have a health age over 80!!  There is another American Habit than has major impact on the length of our lives as well, TV.  Australian researches last year concluded that watching over 4 hours of television per day would shorten the average persons life 4 years!  So if the average life expectancy is 78 years, it is 74 years for someone watching more than 4 hours of TV per day.  So is 50 the new 30?  Only if you do these 7 things!

Tim 5TC

Monday, February 7, 2011

Let the games begin...

The wait is over!  The clients have signed up, metabolic tests have been done and continue to be done, meal plans are being posted, training groups begin can all only mean one thing...the next 5 Ton Weight Loss Challenge has begun and we have another enthusiastic group of people beginning the journey to a healthier life.  For those of you who have been through the Metabolic Test, you know have a better idea of how your body functions.  It is an amazing test, that done properly, gives us a lot of information about how your body utilizes energy (in the form of kcal or calories).  Having utilized this test for several years, it amazes me that someone would try to go on a weight loss plan without having the information of this simple test.  Granted you have to sit still for 10-15 minutes and breath through a tube (que the druel) and the nose clamp on (not a great look for most) but the information we get is vital to your success.  The report shows the correct meal plan for you based on YOUR metabolism, the guess work is removed.  So having utilized this program successfully now for two years, the one thing we know is that most people who are trying to lose weight make one major mistake.   Any guesses?  They don't eat enough!  I heard the collective "WHAT?  That can't be possible!!  I have always heard..."  This is where our typical American Logic fails us.  Obviously, if the goal is to burn more calories than you eat then by not eating anything or eating very little would be the way to go, right?  Wrong!  Yes there is a balance and you have to eat less than you burn if you want to lose weight (3500 kcal = 1 lbs of fat) BUT and this is a BIG BUT (no pun intended) if you reduce your food consumption too low your body will begin to hoard calories.  Let's go back to our Hunter/Gather heritage, our bodies don't know when the next meal is going to come and we store extra energy/calories as body fat.  Remember our resting energy expenditure (resting metabolic rate) we said that the body burns energy (calories) to keep the body going.  There is actually a priority in the body and the brain is at the top followed by some other important organs like the heart and lungs.  Although a lot of people act like they don't have a brain or a heart, in reality we all do and yes, it takes energy for your heart to beat and the other systems in your body to continue to function.  If the body senses that it is going into starvation then it begins to slow down or will eventually shut down different functions of the body.  The body will actually start to destroy tissue to use as fuel and one of the first sources it taps into is the protein of our muscles.  So, go on a starvation diet and you can actually decrease your metabolic rate and begin to burn muscle mass.  Then when you decide to start eating again you have less muscle mass that burns energy and thus any calories over our new lower metabolic rate is stored as (you guessed it) FAT!  So the magic of a weight loss program is to reduce your calorie level enough to start burning fat stores but not so much that your body begins to shut down.  Our bodies run on energy (calories are just the unit of measurement) or the fuel we get in the form of food (carbohydrates, fats and proteins).  Fats have twice as much calories per gram than protiens and carbohydrates. It is almost like there is a science to this whole thing!  So, for those of you on our program and who have done the metabolic test we now know your effective range, don't ruin your progress by thinking "hey, I'm only going to eat part of what they told me, and then I will lose weight faster!"  hopefully you now know this is not true. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

No More Yo-Yo

This coming Monday, we will start another 5 Ton Weight Loss Challenge.  We have been doing these 'challenges' for the last two years and completed the last one in November, 2010.  We have now passed our 5 Ton goal (that's 10,000 lbs of weight lost for those of you who struggle with conversions).  While we are very proud of the success we have had, there is still a lot of work to be done, basically lose another 5 Tons (statistically, there is plenty of weight out there to lose).  I know, I know, oh great another "weight loss program" and I agree there are a lot of them out there, but, here is the deal...I don't like any of them.  I'm sure they all started (OK, I'm not really sure) with good intentions but became more about making money than helping people.  So, I developed the program TERRIOlifestyle which we use as the format for our weight loss challenges to combine what we scientifically know about weight loss with what I have learned about leadership.  Think about this everyone starts out to lose weight with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement.  We decide that we are finally ready to tackle this problem head on and in we jump full force.  But then something happens, all of a sudden it is not fun and actually hurts (see my previous blog about starting to quickly) and our enthusiasm disappears. Once this happens our subconscious starts lining up all the reasons, excuses and stories of why we can't/shouldn't continue and we are done. 

I was in a seminar years ago about leadership and the instructor was talking about how to create engaged employees.  The overall premise of the course (created by a business guru, he's already famous so no reason to add to that here) was to match your leadership style with the stage that the employee was in and then help move them along the course to become self sufficient, a peak performer.  As the instructor talked about the four phases that people go through when taking on a new task and the pit falls at each stage and thus the need to change the type of leadership, I  thought 'wait a minute, this is exactly why people are never successful at losing weight!  (my mind works in this strange way of putting together seemingly unrelated topics to derive new solutions to problems.  I believe that opportunity is everywhere and we just have to be willing to keep an open mind to possibilities and thus new solutions).  The more I thought about this new solution for weight loss the more I realized that it could really work.  Then came the hard work, I had to figure out how to create a system that would be scalable to help a lot of people but that would meet the needs at each step and provide a path for those willing to work hard enough to change. 

Having a good understanding of the functioning of the human body and taking what I had learned about leadership and program development, I first had to answer the question...'why do diets fail?'  and the answer was pretty easy... they are not sustainable!  This is the reason for the "YO-YO' diet syndrome (the grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet, the cookie diet, etc, etc), do they get you to lose weight, maybe, initially but then you go back to your usual eating habits, any weight loss you might have had comes back and usually with a few extra pounds. Thus the only way to create true sustainable weight loss is to replace old habits with new healthier one.  Perfect, I have the Answer!!  If it were only that easy!  You see this whole habit replacement idea, threw me into the field of behavior modification.  After reviewing current thinking about behavior modification, I realized that to make a change in behavior we had to start with the little steps.  If you can stop any habit (drinking, smoking, eating donuts every morning, whatever) and replace it with a new habit for 12 weeks you now have a new habit (at least for a year, its a technical thing).  So, I decided to create our program to be 10-12 weeks long.  For those of you trying to lose weight, I think you will agree that the idea of doing a 'program' for 10-12 weeks is much more attainable than 'the rest of your life' (that sounds like a miserable task).  We also set the program up to match the emotional side with the appropriate leadership to help people get through level one and two and move to level three where they begin to take ownership of the new habit (if you are starting Monday, just go with the program, it will happen naturally).  We launched the program in January of 2009 as a competition.  This way not only was the program limited but we invoked the spirit of competition to make things a little more fun.  We also set people up in 'teams' to help with accountability and camaraderie.  We found our program to be hugely successful and we have been improving it ever since.  In retrospect we now know that the people who were most successful were the ones who followed the program most closely.  If you cheat, you are letting those old habits keep hold and they won't be replaced.  For those of you starting the program Monday, it will be hard, you will get sore and your old habits will keep trying to sneak in on you.  Stay with the program and in about 8weeks you will be a different person, you will have replaced your old habits with new ones!  You will have lost 30 lbs (average weight loss on our program for 10 weeks) but most importantly you will be healthier, happier and have a lot more energy.  Good Luck! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life!

Variety is the spice of life and the same is true with an activity (exercise) program.  The best way to ward off boredom and meet your goals is to change things up.  Remember, that exercise is simply something you haven't done before but that doesn't mean just do one thing over and over and over again.  There are several ways to include variety in your workouts but before we get to that lets have a little lesson on 'Motor Learning'!  All these years of learning have taught me that there is one major thing that influences the activities people select and it is (drum role please!!) (now we go to commercial, just like TV shows, building the suspense)  People don't like to Look Stupid!!!  There you go, how genius is that!  But, I find it is actually True!  It hits people in varying degrees but it is always there!  Here is the problem, there is a set pattern of learning movement that has been studied over and over again and the first phase no matter who you listen to is the 'cognitive or mental' stage.  In other words we learn the steps involved like a recipe and we follow it step by step, consciously thinking of the next step.  We might as well call this the 'ROBOTIC' phase because that is exactly what it looks like!  It doesn't look very good but it is an important step in the learning process, if you try to jump this phase you will never have full command of the movement later.  So set aside the American ADD (the need for instant gratification) and realize that it will take time to learn a new movement and its OK to laugh at ourselves as we are learning.  Everyone learns at different rates but you CAN learn any movement if you are willing to put in the practice.  It is estimated that to truly master anything it takes 10 years of specific practice (that is to be world class) and yes it is true for everything from mastering the piano, to learning computers, to the Beatles!  So, knowing this give yourself a break and try some new things.  Remember, we are not talking "exercise" here we are talking activities because the more activities we do the more CALORIES we BURN!!!  Dancing (check), walking (check), hiking (check), martial arts (check), yoga (check), and on and on and on.  But here is the funny part, we like to do what we are already good at, so the strong people, they go lift weights and the very flexible people they do to yoga and Pilate's and the people who have a ton of experience dancing, they go dance.  I'm just saying if over all fitness is your goal then you need to mix it up and keep trying new things then it will be a lot more fun reaching that goal. 

Back to the motor learning, after the 'mental' phase and with enough repetitions a strange thing starts to happen!  You don't have to "Think" about every little step any more and the movement begins to look more fluid (second phase of motor learning)  now if you keep practicing eventually the movement becomes 'automatic' where you don't have to think about it at all.  This is the problem, we see someone do a movement and think 'wow, that was cool, I bet I could do that' and then we try it and we look 'goofy' and can't seem to do it.  Now its decision time, we either proclaim the whole thing "stupid and a waste of time"  (translation:  I just embarrassed myself and need to get the hell out of here) or we ask "show me that again" and we try to figure it out (enter the motor learning and the robotic phase).  If our ego doesn't get in the way and we actually truly practice the movement we can learn anything.  Think about this why is it that when a baby starts to learn any new movement, let's take walking for example, its a huge event and we constantly cheer every slight improvement!  We clap and cheer and video tape and call our family and friends when they take a step. But, something happens as we start getting older, we lose patience for kids trying to learn new tasks or movements.  You hear it every where "NO, NO, NO, I told you to shoot the basketball this way or swing a bat that way" and the granddaddy of them all "how many times do I have to tell you!!!"  I just keep waiting for the kid to turn around and say 'according to research, about a million!"  We are just as hard on ourselves "I'm so stupid, I just can't get this" or "I'll never get this".  Give yourself and the kids a break and realize that the more complex a movement is, the more time it is going to take to perfect it.  You cannot and will not have Tiger Woods (I know, but he does have a great swing) or Phil Mickelson's swing until you are willing to put in the hours and years of experience with top coaches, to constantly refine the movement.  But then again that really isn't the goal here now is it.  So, go out there and make your self look stupid, learn new activities and laugh at yourself along the way and when the 'critic' tells says your not very good, tell them your just a baby!