The following is a guest post from one of our clients, Tim Murphy. Since he began training with Kyle at our Zionsville location in 2014, Tim has lost over 70 pounds, reduced his waist size from 40 to 28 and reduced his suit size from 48 portly to 38 slim, among improvements to other key health metrics. To hear more about how 20 Minutes A Week has benefited Tim, check out his Client Spotlight.
By Timothy J Murphy, CAE
It started out when we were kids. The big event of the day growing up was dinner. That was family meeting time, and an opportunity to spend time together. Then as we got older, our first date was probably a dinner. To celebrate life’s milestones, we – you guessed it – go to dinner. We meet our friends to socialize in restaurants, and we are constantly surrounded by food.
To further illustrate the point, our professional, social, and networking events are nearly always food-centered. Receptions, lunch meetings, and dinner events are standard occurrences in our lives. This is even more magnified if you’re in a profession or volunteer role whereby entertaining (and being entertained) is daily business, like association executives, lobbyists, meeting professionals, and others who attend or host a lot of conferences and meetings. We walk into the board room for our meeting, and there are a million calories’ worth of sweets on the table; at noon the board then breaks for lunch; in the afternoon, there’s a refreshment break. After we conduct our business, there’s a 3-hour, 7-course dinner awaiting. And then we’ll conclude this event with a breakfast meeting the next day.
I began to pay close attention to the prevalence of our food-centric culture when I was the chief presiding officer of a huge fraternal society whose mission it is to be social. Every meeting was a dinner event, and there were four of them a week. That was my volunteer role; I am also an association executive professionally, whereby the above scenario is a regular part of life. My big issue at the time was that I was trying to lose weight! Success wasn’t going to come easily, especially with my volunteer and professional life being so completely social in nature.
With the guidance of my fitness coach, Kyle Truitt at Exercise Inc, I developed a sensible eating plan with balanced nutrition; all medically sound. (We observe the Paleo diet and lifestyle, which fit my needs perfectly.) And that was great if I was eating at home, controlling the menu; but most often I was not. So, I had to get creative in order to stay on point with my food intake. Here are a few tips for navigating the calorie- and fat-infested waters of those who are subject to so many food-centered events:
- Don’t actually eat at the dinner event. I know that sounds odd, and might even be considered rude, but there’s a way to pull this off without offending the host. If you’re at a large event in a hotel ballroom, this is easy to execute. (And there’s less temptation, since hotel banquet food is seldom extraordinary.) After the salad is served, take a few bites, politely excuse yourself from your fellow table guests, and visit the other tables so you can see everyone at the event. Depending on the size of the group, it may take the entire entrée and dessert for you to have made your way around the room. You avoided the ‘late in the day’ calories, and got to see all your friends at the same time. If you’re at a smaller venue like a restaurant, and you’re all at one table, this is socially more challenging, but can still be done. Order an entrée that can be re-heated later at home (and is good for you). Take only a few bites, and be very slow in doing so. When everyone is finished, simply make a comment like, “My eyes must have been bigger than my stomach; too bad, because the food here is so good.” Then ask the server for a to-go container. No one will have noticed that you didn’t eat much; you’ve avoided social awkwardness and unnecessary calories.
- Go for the crudité plate at the reception. Receptions typically have “finger food” that is fat-, sodium-, and calorie-packed, like chicken wings, stuffed mushroom caps, mini sandwiches, and cheese displays. Instead, head to the crudité display and have some vegetables. (And yes, you should not overdo the fat-laden dip it comes with, since that defeats the purpose!)
- Navigate the buffet with a purposeful Paleo focus. I never liked buffets for a variety of reasons; and when I see one in a room, I know I’ll likely be dining elsewhere. However, if that would be a business or social faux pas, go with the Paleo rules – unprocessed, lean protein and vegetables. You can fill a plate up quickly by making most of it salad (and watch your salt intake on the dressings). Go for a sample of the sliced chicken or roast beef (if it’s in its au jus; if it’s swimming in gravy or thick sauces, skip it). Avoid the potatoes and corn, and head right to the green beans. There’s a lot of temptation at a buffet display, so don’t linger, and don’t go back for trip number two!
- Make your morning set the tone for the rest of the day. Typically, breakfast is the only “private” meal in the life of a professionally social person; as such, you’re in complete control. Have unprocessed, lean protein, like chicken, turkey, pork loin, or anything else that tickles your taste buds. Cook up an omelet, make an egg casserole, or have a hard-boiled egg. (Avoid luncheon meats, as they are quite processed and packed with salt you don’t need.) Personally, I like ground turkey patties on the grill for breakfast. The protein in the morning makes you feel fuller and more energetic, so the temptations you encounter throughout the rest of the day will have no power over you.
Even though you’re always in the midst of food, you can maintain a sensible diet, and thus healthy weight, by using these proven methods of calorie control at your social functions. And always remember that nothing tastes as good as fitness feels!
At Exercise Inc, we have always believed lifting weights can improve the health of your heart just as much or better than aerobic training. Part of our reasoning is due to the fact that the body functions as a systemic organism, with every system being completely connected with and dependent on the health of all other systems. Your muscular system is the largest system in your body, comprising about 40% of the average healthy person’s body mass. It would only make sense that stressing your muscles with high intensity strength training would also be the best way to force your cardiovascular system—especially your heart—to improve.
Cardiovascular disease has the highest global mortality rate of any disease, with coronary heart disease accounting for almost half of cardiovascular disease related deaths. The traditional approach from the medical field for improving cardiac disease risk factors and for recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery has been moderate intensity, continuous aerobic training (walking on a treadmill), otherwise known as cardiac rehab. This approach has been proven to be effective based on the positive association between higher cardiorespiratory fitness and lower all-cause mortality and cardiac-related mortality. Even with its success rate, only 10% of eligible patients typically enroll in a cardiac rehab program, even when their insurance company is paying for it. There could be a number of reasons for this lack of participation. My guess is that most people don’t want to spend three days a week in a supervised exercise program, and most people probably don’t want to go to a hospital to exercise.
Growing evidence suggests that strength training is also a safe and effective approach for patients with coronary artery disease. In older adults, strength training has been shown to increase cardiorespiratory fitness just as well as aerobic training. And, of course, strength training will make you stronger. Just being stronger has a huge association with improved prognosis, survival, and performing activities of daily living. All promote independent living and a quicker return to work after a cardiac event. Additionally, strength training has been shown to improve co-morbidities associated with heart disease, such as sarcopenia (age related muscle loss), frailty, falls, arthritis, diabetes, depression, cognitive impairment, peripheral vascular disease, and renal failure. Despite this evidence, very few medical professionals recommend strength training as a form of rehabilitation for heart disease patients. Their reasoning is usually based on their perceptions of how most people lift weights. Most medical professionals don’t understand that properly performed strength training is much safer than aerobic training. But, in their defense, there are very few strength training programs that focus on proper breathing, and eliminating momentum the way we do at Exercise Inc.
Last month (May 2017) a meta-analysis study was published evaluating all studies published on the effect of resistance training on cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength in coronary artery disease. The study found strength training alone improved aerobic fitness to a similar degree as aerobic training in coronary heart disease patients. In other words, strength training was able to make the same measurable cardiovascular improvements in patients with heart disease as walking on a treadmill. The authors of the study stated that strength training can provide cardiovascular improvements equivalent in magnitude to aerobic training, which may contribute to a reduced mortality risk. Additionally, the overall affects of improving strength and cardiovascular fitness were greatest when strength training was combined with walking, which is exactly what we recommend at Exercise Inc.
The Health Professionals Follow-Up study reported a 23% reduction in the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks in men who reported 30 minutes or more of strength training per week, which is greater than the 18% reduction for men who reported walking 3.5 hours per week. The mechanism of the reduction in heart attacks has not been fully identified in resistance training, but both cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength have been linked to reduced mortality, and strength training improves both.
In spite if this evidence, most doctors are still reluctant to recommend strength training to heart disease patients. They typically state that it is just too strenuous or dangerous. Well, there is another caveat to this study that addresses the safety issue. Twenty of the studies reported adverse events that occurred during training. There were 64 cardiovascular complications that occurred during training—63 occurred during aerobic training, and only one event occurred during strength training. It looks like the doctors are concerned about the wrong type of training being safe. Based on this study, strength training is a much safer form of training for heart disease patients, especially in regards to being safe for the heart.
Maybe it’s time to rethink our recommendations for heart health and hit the gym for some strength training.
Our approach to nutrition is to keep things as simple as possible by eating real, whole, unprocessed foods. The problem is most of us have eaten highly processed foods with lots of added sugar for so long, that our taste buds freak out when we remove added sugar from our diets. Again, the “food industry” came to our rescue to save us from our over stimulated taste buds by giving us artificial sweeteners.
A study published this year found that consumption of artificial sweeteners jumped a whopping 200% among children and 54% among adults from 1999 to 2012. The researchers found that about 25% of children and about 41% of adults consumed artificial sweeteners during this period. The study also found that the majority of artificial sweetener consumption was in the form of beverages such as diet soda.
This can easily be confirmed by the amount of shelf space dedicated to soda in most gas stations in America.Our consumption of artificial sweeteners is fueled by or government’s endorsement. The FDA endorses the use of artificial sweeteners as safe over a lifetime when used within “acceptable daily intake (ADI)” levels. The acceptable daily intake established by the FDA for aspartame, the most popular soda sweeter, is 18 cans of diet soda a day. Big Gulp please!
Turns out there are lots of reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners. According to Susan Swithers of Purdue University, findings from a variety of studies show that routine consumption of diet sodas, even one per day, can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain. Data from a number of studies, including the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, also reported greater risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and metabolic syndrome, which is related to diabetes and cardiovascular problems, for consumers of artificially sweetened beverages. Some data indicated that those who consumed artificially sweetened beverages had double the risk of metabolic syndrome compared to non-consumers.
But even though these risks are known by many, people still turn to diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as a way to lose fat by reducing calories. Turns out there might be more to reducing fat than just reducing calories. The San Antonio Heart Study reported an increase in body weight gain for adults and adolescents who consumed artificially sweetened beverages over beverages regularly sweetened. Research, including studies from Swithers and colleagues, shows that frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the opposite effect by confusing the body's natural ability to manage calories based on tasting something sweet. Some of the connection could be related to how people behave by saying to themselves, 'I'm having a diet soda, so this cookie is OK.'
While there is evidence showing that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners could cause fat gain, we have really not understood a possible mechanism until recently. A study published in 2014 showed that artificial sweeteners altered gut bacteria in a way that leads to glucose intolerance in both mice and humans. Glucose intolerance is a pre-diabetic state of high blood sugar that is associated with obesity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that regular consumption of the artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame all increased glucose intolerance. Also, healthy volunteers who did not normally consume artificial sweeteners were fed saccharin daily for a week. The majority of them developed poorer glycemic responses within one week, and had altered gut bacteria.
Having a little artificial sweetener once in a while probably won’t hurt you. On the other hand, a diet soda a day will most likely downgrade your gut bacteria and move you closer to Type II diabetes.
If you’re the kind of person who still needs one more reason to kick that diet soda habit, check this out. A study conducted in 2013 found that drinking more than four cans a day of soda is linked to a 30 percent higher risk of depression. On the flip side, drinking four cups of coffee a day seemed to offer protective effects, lowering depression risk 10 percent. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet soda compared to regular soda.
If you really think you need to have soda once in a while, you’d probably be better off drinking one of those “new” sodas that actually contain sugar. But, remember sugar is addictive, so be ready. Your best bet—water, on the rocks!
We're so excited for our 2017 Spring Wellness Event! This is a great opportunity for you to bring your friends to our Brownsburg Exercise Inc location and have them learn what we're all about! They'll have the opportunity to talk with our coaches and even try a workout.
You won't want to miss the on-air personalities from WIBC, demonstrations of the healthy benefits of essential oils from Young Living and free spinal assessments from The Joint Chiropractic!
Meet WIBC radio personalities Pat Sullivan, Denny Smith and Dr. Dirt (Dick Crum)
Learn how essential oils can improve your health
Receive a free spinal assessment
Receive a free spinal assessment
Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronal Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush all regularly took time from their busy schedules to enjoy an afternoon nap. Even your dog takes naps, your kids take naps, and chances are your 80-year-old grandma takes naps. In fact, 85% of mammals take time for a relaxing afternoon nap.
But most working age Americans don’t. A 2009 study found that only one third of American adults take naps on a regular basis—probably because our fast paced work schedules just don’t allow time for this childhood pleasure. And, of course, there are stigmas associated with napping, such as laziness, lack of ambition and low standards.
But, would we actually be more productive, smarter, healthier and easier to get along with if we all took naps? Let’s consider this from an ancestral/biological perspective. Our ancestors needed continued vigilance at night to protect themselves from predators or other dangers, making it difficult to sleep uninterrupted for 7 hours. They also lived closely in small groups so they constantly dealt with the needs of infants and young children throughout the night. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were likely to wake up the entire clan when they couldn’t sleep through the night. Also, the relaxed pace of our ancestors lent itself to afternoons of dozing into never-never land.
People in other cultures around the world still enjoy an afternoon nap as part of their normal workday. Siestas are common in Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Spain. These short afternoon naps are also common in Italy, Greece, the Philippines and Nigeria. In China, napping is done almost religiously after lunch. However, it seems our fast-paced American lifestyle just doesn’t lend itself to napping.
It turns out that napping may provide benefits that could be worth the time.
- Data from the National Sleep Foundation suggests, “a well-timed afternoon nap may be the best way to combat sleepiness.”
- Gregory Blenky, MD, Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center, says a nap can help make up for insufficient sleep, and that “it’s even possible that divided sleep is more recuperative than sleep taken in a single block.”
- Mark Rosekind’s studies with NASA pilots found that napping pilots had a 34% increase in performance and 54% boost in alertness that lasted 2 to 3 hours.
- The Center for Applied Cognitive Studies says that during a 10 to 20 minute afternoon nap, your brain cells reset their sodium potassium ratios, which are thrown out of balance during long periods of intense brain arousal. This imbalance is the main cause of what is known as “mental fatigue.” A brief nap can restore the ratio to normal, resulting in mental refreshment.
- Studies in Greece indicate that people who nap have a lower heart attack risk.
A 10 to 20 minute nap can help improve mood, alertness, performance, and memory. The Center for Applied Cognitive Studies says, “the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking.” The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and contains 5 distinct phases, which exhibit different wave patterns. Leading researcher Dr. Claudio Stampi found that naps taken in the afternoon (a common low energy period for our circadian rhythms) were comparatively higher in the most restorative slow wave sleep.
So it looks like the ancestral/biological evidence indicates that an afternoon nap may be worth the time. So, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your naptime.
- Plan to nap for 10 to 20 minutes. Short naps are best. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy.
- Set an alarm. It’s easier to relax when you have a safety valve to keep you from oversleeping.
- Take naps in the afternoon around 2 or 3. This is the time of day most people experience a lower level of alertness, and anything later could interfere with nighttime sleep.
- Elevate your feet to allow blood to flow more easily from your legs to the rest of your body.
- Create a peaceful environment by turning out the lights, closing the door and silencing electronic devices.
If you’re still wondering whether or not you should doze off in the afternoon, here’s a little demographic information. The 2009 study found that 21% of people making $75,000 to $99,000 a year take regular naps. Among people making more than $100,000, 33% take naps.
Wake me up in 15 minutes!