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Our Monthly Newsletters

An ongoing series of informational entries

Power Over Habit: Why Mindset Matters

October 6, 2021

If you have ever tried to ignore a box of doughnuts at work, you know how hard it is to keep your hands to yourself and walk on by. And once you walk on by, the battle isn’t over. Even if you are in a different room and down the hall, you can’t stop thinking about those doughnuts.


Why is it so hard to resist something as small and seemingly innocent as a doughnut? It has to do with habit—and mind set.


Hardwired habits

The draw you feel from that doughnut goes way beyond just a mild interest: you are wired to want it, and resistance is hard. In his book, The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler MD explains the breakdown:


When you taste foods that are highly palatable (such as foods containing excess sugar, fat and salt), your brain releases opioids into your blood stream. Opioids are brain chemicals that cause you to have intense feelings of reward and pleasure, as well as relieving pain and stress. The pleasurable effect is similar to the feelings that morphine and heroin users experience. The desire may be so intense that you keep taking one bite after another: it can be hard to stop

.

That explains why you keep eating. But why do you give in and approach that doughnut box in the first place? Why not just refuse to take that first bite?

The answer is another brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for motivating you to seek out the doughnut so you can get the opioid release. You remember how good it tasted and how great it made you feel. Dopamine energizes you to work for that doughnut. It causes you to concentrate on it and drives you to seek it out.


Once this process happens a few times, the whole cycle becomes a habit that is very reward focused, very ingrained and very hard to break. Your brain’s circuitry has become mapped and wired to want the doughnut. And you don’t even have to be near the doughnut for this process to start--the dopamine can kick in even when there are no doughnuts in site: ever made a run to the store for a treat that you just had to have right then?


The result

Over one-third of all adults in our country are obese. We live in a society in which we are surrounded by highly-palatable foods (think restaurant foods and processed foods). The deeply ingrained habit of eating unhealthy food and too much of it is widespread. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded not only with unhealthy food, but also with a neural circuitry that drives us to pursue that unhealthy food.


Remap your brain with mindset

And now the good news: you can start right now to change the trajectory that you are on. You can rewire your brain and begin reducing the power that those opioid-producing foods have over you. You can draw a new map in your mind that will have you passing by the doughnuts on your way to better pleasures.


The secret is mindset. You must want something else more than you want those fleeting moments of pleasure that the doughnuts bring you. What is it? What do want? Maybe you want to drop a couple of jeans sizes. Maybe you want to be off your blood pressure medication. Maybe you want to be known as an ‘athletic’ type person. Maybe you want to keep disease at bay. Or maybe you just want the immense satisfaction of being in control of yourself! People who can’t resist a doughnut have given away power over their own lives!


Once you know what you want, go after it with the following strategies:


1. Stop. There is no other way to say this: you must stop eating foods that are not in your plan. In the beginning, this will be difficult. When everyone around you is tossing back pizza and soft drinks, you will struggle. You will smell the pizza, you will be in the emotionally charged atmosphere and dopamine will be flowing in your bloodstream. Think about what you want more than that doughnut; think about what you can only have by resisting the doughnut. Sheer will-power is what you have to use at this point.


2. Savor the victory. Once you come out on the other side having successfully won the battle within your own mind, you will have accomplished much more than just saying no to a piece of pizza. You will have begun ‘cooling’ the stimulus, as Dr. Kessler puts it. You have taken the first step toward weakening the circuitry in your brain that drives you to habitual patterns of behavior. The next time, it will be easier. And after that, even easier.


3. Focus on new rewards. As you remap your brain, you are creating new neural pathways that in time will be stronger than the weakening, “doughnut-centered” pathways. Make sure these new rewards are life-giving and energy-producing, such as the thrill you get when you can run a 5K or set a PR in your weight-lifting.


You can have power over habits: it’s all about mindset. You can do this!

Are You Still Planning to Lose Weight & Get in Shape?

June 9, 2021

It’s time to stop planning and start empowering yourself. The time to move is now, and a group personal training is the perfect way to get started.


Exercising by yourself can be tough. Nobody knows if you skip, there is no one to push you a little harder, and you don’t have a commitment to anyone else. One day off turns into two, and before you know it, weeks have passed without you even raising a sweat. Getting fit in isolation can be done, but it’s much harder and requires a resolve few of us have.


That is perhaps why the popularity of group personal training programs is exploding: people sign up for them because they work.


Group Personal Training Benefits

  1. The biggest benefit that a group personal training offers is support. When you join a group personal training program, you are ensuring that you have like-minded people to motivate you and a qualified leader to help you reach your weight loss and fitness milestones. If staying motivated is a challenge for you, then a group personal training program will energize you to keep going. Members of group personal training programs can become close friends as they work hard and celebrate together.
  2. You will push yourself harder in a group personal training program. During your workouts, there are no distractions to cause you to lose your momentum or excuses to slack off. Your coach will expect compliance, and while we will certainly work within your ability, you will be amazed at how far you can go in the right environment. The feeling you get when you know you have pushed yourself a little further than you thought you could will give you confidence in all other areas of your life.
  3. Cost wise, you can’t go wrong with a group personal training program. They are led by certified personal trainers (not group fitness instructors), and this means that you get tailored, one-on-one help that approaches the attention that you get when you hire a personal trainer. But it costs much less!
  4. Ready for quick results? group personal training program generally incorporate variations of high intensity interval training or HIIT for short. HIIT training has been scientifically proven to be more effective and more efficient than traditional exercise programs. We’re not playing games in here. Our goal is to change your life and have a great time doing it!
  5. It’s fun! Team training takes the torture out of serious workouts. There is nothing like laughing with each other as you struggle through those last push ups or pant through that last few seconds of burpees. In fact, a recent study has proven that pleasant distraction reduces pain.1 Don’t worry-we’re not going to torture you, but any serious fitness work has moments of discomfort. The distraction of having others around you doing the same thing can mean the difference between finishing with a smile on your face and not finishing at all.

If you are tired of the same old fitness routine or tired of your good intentions to get in shape leading nowhere, then a group personal training program may be exactly what you need.


1http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/WBL02175/Pleasant-Distraction-Reduces-Pain.html

Prevent Impulse Eating: Helpful Tips

May 10, 2021

It’s happened to all of us. You know the feeling - you are away from home running errands, or you are out late because you had to stay at work longer. And you realize that you are hungry. Not just a little hungry though. You haven’t eaten for hours, your head is starting to throb, and you can’t even think straight.

Bottom line: you have to eat. Now!

As you survey your options, you realize that getting something to eat that is even remotely healthy is going to be nearly impossible. But you have little choice, so you grab a burger or a salad with “grilled chicken.” (Do you have any idea how much that piece of ‘grilled chicken’ has been processed and soaked and manipulated and transformed before it arrives in front of you?) Or a small order of fries just to get you through.

And just like that you have put food into your body that will lower your immune response, raise your blood sugar, reduce your energy and contribute to weight gain.

It is a tough situation, and like I said, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you really do have to eat ‘right now.’ But over time, these eating emergencies add up and significantly impact your health and fitness achievement.

Emergency Preparedness

The answer is to stop having eating emergencies, and I will show you how to do this. It does take some planning, but it isn’t as hard as you might think.

The first step is to make a list of healthy, on-the-go foods that you enjoy eating. Make sure that you include things with healthy fats, protein and carbs (if it’s around your workout time). When you are very hungry, you need to have all the macronutrients covered in order to get quick energy, satisfy your hunger and clear your brain fog. This does not have to be a complete meal, but it needs to be balanced enough to substitute for one if needed.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

• Unsalted nuts. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts. (These will provide protein and good fat)

• Raw Veggies. They are crisp, juicy, cold and sweet and full of the micronutrients your body craves.

• Cheese. If you eat dairy, having a small slice of your favorite cheese will give you a complete protein, a little fat and be very comforting. Remember: the goal is to tame the beast inside you that is calling out for a hotdog from the nearest drive through window. This is a mental exercise as well as physical!

• Nut butters. Cashew, almond, peanut...find your favorite. Almond butter is great on a banana; cashew butter is perfect on whole grain crackers. Go ahead and put 7-8 chocolate chips on top if you want. This is a tiny indulgence that will go far to settle your craving.

• Boiled eggs. Do you like cold, salted boiled eggs? They are a powerhouse of protein. Just be sure to get free range eggs.

• Sardines. Yes, you read that right. If you like fish, you can buy small packets of wild caught sardines that travel very well.

• Water. You have to drink water.

The second step seems obvious, but it has to happen if you are going to eliminate impulse eating: buy the food on your list. You have to get it in your house, so you have it when you need it.

The third step is to plan your food kit. This food has to travel with you, and you have to decide how you are going to transport it. The secret is convenience. If you only have five minutes to grab your kit on your way out the door before work, it has to be streamlined. Ideally you will leave yourself more than five minutes, but life happens.

Here are some tips to help you set up your food kit for ease and speed.

• Small cooler. Purchase a small cooler that will hold an ice pack and several other things. Keep this in your kitchen so you can grab it on the go.

• Plates, utensils, napkins. Whether you use paper/plastic or your everyday items, get a bag and put a couple of plates, some utensils and some napkins in it. You will use this same bag every time you use your kit, so it becomes a habit. It can be a plastic bag, a cloth bag or a paper bag. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you can grab this bag on your way out the door and know that it has what you need in it.

• Small storage containers or plastic bags. You need individual containers to put your food in. Don’t take the whole package of cheese or the whole bag of chocolate chips, because you will end up eating too much. Put one or two pieces of cheese in a container, and put only 7-8 chocolate chips in a bag. Toss some nuts in one container, some cut up fruit in another. Also, you don’t have to prepare everything in advance. In a pinch, you can eat a big bell pepper just like an apple! Just have a plan so you can get it fast when needed. Some things don’t have to be separately packaged, such as your nut butter. Just toss the whole jar in the cooler…if you can control yourself.

• A tote bag or duffle bag. This bag will be your “picnic basket,” so to speak. Stuff everything into it that does not go into the cooler.

• Water bottle. You need something to store a lot of water in.

Now do it

You’ve done the hard part. You’ve figured out what foods will make you happy and help you through the emergency, you’ve stocked up on them, you have gathered what you need for transport and you have your water situation figured out.

All that is left is making it happen. You have to take the food with you when you leave the house. The first few times you do this, it will seem complicated and tedious. But eventually, you will do it with little thought. It will be habit. That is why using the same cooler, the same bags and the same water container every time is so important. You will likely even find you grab the same foods nearly every time—it’s just easier. And it has to be easy, or you won’t do it.

The happy result is that when you are out and realize you are hungry, you will not have to eat food from a restaurant. You will have an assortment of health and energy promoting foods at your fingertips.

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