Lately I have been asked by many of my clients how many calories they should eat. This is the reason why I am writing this article. It is true that the amount of calories is an important consideration in weight loss, but it isn’t more important than the type of calories eaten. So my answer is, “The best thing you can do is eat a healthy diet high in organic vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in meat, eat on schedule and drink only water. Once you are eating healthily, worry about the calories. I bet when you are there, calories won’t matter to you anymore.”
Sometimes people try to lose weight without knowing what they really want. For many weight loss is not what they are really looking for. They usually want to get a toned body, to avoid diseases, to have an attractive body, to feel better, fit in their old cloth and so on.
When people focus only on losing weight many times they opt for poor approaches, such as dieting, pills and surgeries. This may lead to weight loss but not to the real results that the client is looking for, such as an attractive body or avoiding diseases.
When people determine what they really want, they can find the right process to get there. For example, if people are looking for a toned body, dieting or eating healthily alone will not get them to their goal, although they might lose weight. Or if they really want to avoid disease, maybe exercising alone is not what they need. They need to improve their eating habits as well.
Anyway, cutting calories is not the right path to achieve your desires. Cutting calories may not tone the body, may not get rid of fat, may not avoid disease and may not help to achieve an attractive body.
The biggest reason we eat is because we need nutrients in our body. Real foods have calories, but they also have nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and protein. Some products have calories but no nutrients, hence the term “empty calories.” Therefore, it’s not the same eating or drinking 1,000 calories from foods rich in nutrients than from foods deficient in nutrients.
Can you get the same benefit by replacing 500 calories of vegetables with 300 calories of alcohol? Is your body getting the nutrients it needs to avoid disease, tone your body or make your metabolism more efficient?
How about if you replace 500 calories of organic, homemade food with 300 calories of ultra processed foods that have all nutrients removed and chemicals added so they last longer? Will you be healthy? Will you have more energy? Will your organs work properly? Are you going to lose fat?
There is a research done in Brazil were people ate the same amount of calories. A group of people ate ultra processed foods and the other group whole foods. Interesting enough, people who ate the processed food became obese. While the other group kept the same wait. You may read my article about the research here:
Focusing on your real goal instead of losing weight for the sake of losing weight will help you find the path to get there.
To answer the question mentioned in the first paragraph, the calories that a person needs depends on the level of activity, body type, weight, height, lifestyle and metabolic rate. It can vary from 1,500 to 2,500 daily, according to many sources.
People cope with depression in different ways — with psychotropic drugs, alcohol, shopping or food.
I know how hard depression can be. I have been there. Therefore, I can empathize with people who have been or are in depression. It took me three years before I could regain my confidence.
Depression is a state of mind. It happens to everyone, especially when we suffer a loss, such as the death of a close loved one, a divorce, the foreclosure of a house in which we’ve invested part of our life or the loss of a body part such as our legs, eyes, arms, etc. It is common sense that we are going to get depressed when losing something that used to be part of our life and added value in some way.
I have a client who was overweight by about 25 pounds. After the death of her mother, she gained 45 more pounds. She weighed 185 pounds and was 5 feet tall. She was sedentary and overeating because she did not care about life. I called this autodestructive habit. She was living a depressing life for two years until she understood that her mother wanted her to be happy and let her rest.
My client changed her psychological outlook and started to walk, hike and eat healthily. She lost 15 pounds on her own. Then she got stuck, and even though she tried, she could not continue losing weight. She thought it was impossible to lose more weight, until she came to see me.
This is when I met her. She told me her story and how she had lost the 15 pounds. She thought she was eating healthily. I bet she was eating healthier than before, but she needed some improvements in her eating habits. The walking and hiking was not enough for her anymore. So she signed up with our weight-loss program. My client now has lost an additional 20 pounds and weighs 150 pounds. She is losing an average of 5 pounds per month. She has being with us for 4 months now.
After my client figured out her problem, she took imperfect action, and when she got stuck she asked for a professional. She decided to continue her journey and not give up and regain the weight she lost. My client is very happy with her results and is motivated to continue losing the extra pounds.
Maybe you can relate to her story and you need some motivation or a model to follow that shows you that the extra weight you have can be shed. She told me that it’s never too late to try something new.
It’s interesting that even though many of us know what to eat and all about the benefits of exercise—that it slows downs aging, prevents diseases, strengthen our bones, improves our appearance, and facilitates weight loss– it’s difficult for us to practice those healthy habits.
Lately I have being paying more attention to how the cells function. Cells are the building blocks of life—teeming with many organelles with unique functions, a microcosm of the unique organs inside the larger human body.
One specific organelle in cells, the mitochondria are often called our power plant and are responsible for the production of energy in cells.
The human body functions due to thousands of different cells, all doing their jobs: creating tissues that in turn make up organs, organs make organ systems that enable our whole organism to work. But fundamentally, it all comes down to cell and their health. Cells need energy to function and they get the energy from the mitochondria. Biologists and physiologists explain that the more cells we have the more the mitochondria we have, and the more the mitochondria there is, the more energy is needed. This leads to an increase of metabolism. When we develop more muscle in our bodies, we are actually creating more muscle cells, which need more energy, thus increasing our resting or basal metabolic rate. To say it in a different way, the more muscles the human body has, the more calories it will burn. For every three pounds of muscle we add to the body, we burn around 120 calories more.
Another reason to exercise is that weight lifting helps prevent osteoporosis. When we lift weights, the bone goes into a process that is called remodeling; it adapts to the stress to which it is put. The skeleton replaces itself bit by bit every day like this, and takes seven years to replace all the old bones. So if there is no stress in the human body, the bones remodels itself weaker, and the skeleton weakens accordingly. On the other hand, if the bones are stressed regularly, they develop a stronger skeleton.
A study several decades ago in Brookline, Mass. showed that even the elderly can gain bone strength after a few months of moderate weight training. The study had people over 80 and even over 90 engage in weight training a few times a week, and to the researchers’ surprise, the seniors’ bones got stronger. Great information, right? But what good this information do if we don’t practice it?
Action is what really matters. And action requires will. Albert Einstein once said, “There is a driving force more powerful than steam, electricity and atomic energy: the will.”
Many people need to boost their grit and their will. If they did, they would use the information they have to achieve their goals.
There are two types of energy: potential and kinetic. Potential energy is like water in a dam. The energy is there, but it’s not moving. Kinetic energy is like a river; it’s moving. Our brain works the same way; we can either keep the information static in our head or put it into action.
Exercising and healthy eating are two good habits that will add value to your life. Such changes will result in losing weight, increasing your energy levels, and avoiding some diseases, such as osteoporosis.
Many people neglect their responsibilities, including looking after their health, until the proverbial “tomorrow.” Unfortunately, “tomorrow” often becomes “never.”
My dream is to help everyone reach their potential and be genuinely happy. Our body is a machine that requires maintenance. Exercising and eating healthy will not only help you look good or lose weight. They are needed for a happier life. Put this into practice and you will see how much value you can add to your life. Make sure you do it now, however, since “tomorrow” may never come.
My dad came to the U.S. recently for the first time. He was overweight thanks to his lifestyle. In Mexico he sits in a taxi almost all day long and doesn’t eat very well. He didn’t think he could lose the weight. When we went shopping I suggested he buy smaller pants, but he didn’t want to. But after some time here he understands why I made that suggestion.
My father joined our fitness program. He is now in his 60s, and he has never been more fit. He lost 45 pounds in six months, gained a lot of strength, improved his posture, is now at 12 percent body fat and loves to run or walk every day, when before those activities were difficult.
He had never lifted a weight before or exercised in a gym. It’s never too late to start, even at 60 year of age. However, proper form and a good program is important to stay safe and healthy.
During training we focus on working most big muscle groups in the body including the pectorals (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), biceps, triceps, deltoids (shoulders), abs, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus (butt). By knowing which muscles we are working on when we exercise, we can target them, avoiding doing movements that are not necessary and which may cause injury. We make sure we have an exercise for each muscle group and do three to four series of each exercise with 10 to 15 repetitions at least three times a day. Overloading the muscle correctly helped my dad improve his strength and avoid injury. If the muscle is not overloaded, there is no progress. However, if the overload is too much, injury may happen.
For many older adults, we stay away from high impact exercises to avoid any injuries. We isolate each muscle group, and we often work on balance with some equipment. Form is very important with each exercise to avoid overloading other muscles due to compensation.
A weight-lifting program not only helps people lose weight, it also helps build the muscles that we lose due to aging. As you probably know, we lose muscle as we get older. I know that many people want to stay young, and the only way to stay young and healthy is by exercising and weight lifting properly. Using periodization helps slow down the effects of aging.
Walking, running, hiking, biking and swimming are also beneficial in a different way. Weight lifting helps the heart become more efficient, but these exercises are more effective at that by targeting the heart and making it work to meet demand. The heart is a muscle that needs to be challenged just like the rest of the musculoskeletal system. When the heart is more efficient it sends more blood to the body, delivering more oxygen and nutrients and removing waste from the body. The heart does this when we are young, and we can continue that process as we age.
Proper stretching is important with any high impact exercise such as running to avoid scar tissue buildup and injuries. As we age we lose flexibility as well, and stretching helps to maintain a healthy range of motion to prevent injury. Many people can’t see the connection between tightness and injuries. Usually they blame weight lifting, running or any other activity they were doing. While is true that the activity may contribute to the injury, often the biggest factor is the tightness of the muscles.
It is essential to exercise properly to keep it as safe as possible and continue delivering results. My father has being exercising with me for nine months achieving great results, and he’s enjoying his life more with fewer limitations. He is improving his health and avoiding injury. Exercise properly at a later age is a need to stay independent and continue doing physically activities that we love to do.
In life we find people who succeed in their goals and others who will only try, but fail. To be more specific, less than 8% of people will succeed in their weight loss goals. There are people who have all the possibilities to succeed in their weight loss goals than others and fail. Then there are others who have less possibility to achieve their goals and succeed. What differs between these two types of people? The consequences obviously are not a factor. Sidike Conde is a great example, with no legs he could achieve more than people with legs. The way people perceive life is the biggest reason why people succeed or fail. I was talking to my landlord the other day and she was telling me how some tenants are full of excuses. Even though they have all the possibilities to leave everything under good circumstances, they prefer to leave everything to the last minute and come up with all types of excuses. Interesting enough we are all full of excuses. We blame anyone and/or everything, but we don’t take responsibility of our own life decisions.
Here let me illustrate, two different people same event: one is doing her best to lift weights and get out of her comfort zone. Every time she is squatting she thinks, “The burn and the pain will help me get my legs and butt toned and lose fat. I can do this: no problem. I have done it before. I like this feeling of accomplishment.” When she is running, she tells herself, “Running is only for the strong and I’m strong. I can run 20 miles. My body was made to run”. When she chooses to eat the right foods, inner thoughts are, “My life is healthier with these foods. Healthy foods are the best energy I can consume for my body.” While the second person, when she is squatting says, “Oh no, this is very difficult. My legs are killing me. I can’t do this. I will never get what I want. I should stop now.” She comments to herself while running, “It seems too long. My body can’t handle the running. I better walk because running does not feel comfortable.” When she chooses what to eat she says, “I will only eat processed foods once. Why should I cook when there is food that is already made? Processed foods are the easiest thing to eat and I don’t care about my health anyway, because I will still someday die.”
Can you feel the joy of one of them and the pain of the other? If you picture these two people, I would hope that you would want to be the first example. I could be wrong. Maybe you would want to be example number two and continue making excuses? I know you are smarter than that ;). Anyway, did you notice that both these people in the same event were affected differently by how they perceived the same event? The reality is that you create your reality. You are the one who decides if it is painful or enjoyable. How do you perceive events?
We, fitness professionals, are focus in many physical events that we can do to lose weight and give healthy examples include running, weight lifting, taking time for breakfast, eating mainly fruits and vegetables, lowering meat intake, choosing whole grains, avoiding dairy, cutting out processed foods and GMOs, and severely no added sugar drinks and alcohol.
While many people know about these recommendations, we health professionals can help out with other deeper aspects of overall well-being- the mental aspect. Here are some psychological tips to help you achieve your fitness and health goals:
Believe: Set up your mind to understand that weight loss is in your control and is very possible.
Find a purpose: Finding the reason why you want to lose weight will help you stick to your program. You will do better, for example, if you are getting married and you want to fit perfectly into the beautiful dress.
Have desire: Think about the discomfort your body is giving you because of the extra weight you have. Then compare what the benefits of a thinner body would be to your new lifestyle. This will bring about a stronger desire for weight loss and general fitness.
Be persistent: Persistence is the key to any success in life. Think about it. Only people who are persistent achieve their goals. The rest only try. Weight loss is not an overnight event. In fact, it’s more difficult for some people than for others and requires more time. Yet these people are those who are more successful. The reason could be because they know how hard they have to work and they persist, while many of the rest don’t. Follow the right steps and be persistent.
Seek Information: Keep learning constantly. Find reliable information. Try to avoid the many myths and false solutions out there… Just because you might not achieve your goals at first, don’t create defeatist myths about yourself. Keep at it. Seek out facts and helpful strategies about your health. Whatever the situation is, use your brain and common sense. Avoid weight-loss scams. Some people only are looking for your money and will try everything to sell you a product that promises everything but doesn’t work. Assess any information you get and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. As Albert Einstein said, “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”
Plan: Brainstorm and design a Plan A and a Plan B. Follow the first plan but adjust it as needed. Plan B is only if plan be can’t be perform. Plan your day, week, month, and year. People don’t achieve their goals by accident—they have at least one plan. A mindless, chaotic lifestyle is not contusive to achieving weight loss or even basic fitness.
Be a hero: As you go along your weight loss journey and get results, share your experience with others who need them and are themselves ready to change. This will keep you accountable and help you lose weight permanently. You will also feel good by helping others. Plus, as you know, good things happen to good people.
Be decisive: Act,–do it now! Let me repeat, take action about your life! Your body and habits will never change if you don’t start to make changes. No magic thing will happen unless you act. Don’t end up just wishing and hoping and next December find yourself the same or with even more weight.
Invest in your health: Nothing is more valuable than your health. Be choosy about buying material things. Instead, spend money on anything that will enhance your health, such as fresh food, informative books, and helpful services. You only have one body and you probably want to take care of it. You can’t go to a body dealer or a doctor and get a new one. Losing weight and keeping fit about love your body and take care of it. Material things come and go and you can replace them, unlike your health and body.
Throw this article up as a screen saver for the month of January. Read it every day, become familiar with its contents, and be ready to change your life!
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Many people struggle with eating a healthy breakfast, or eating breakfast at all for that matter. When you don’t know how to cook, what to cook, if you will have enough time, or you simply don’t want to think about breakfast at all, this is a great go to! This is so easy to make and super delicious. All you need is: Oatmeal, raisins, water, and honey. Enjoy 🙂
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One of the best tools that a weight-loss program has is a follow-up system or assessment. Assessment gives specific information about the unique needs of the individual. This can include but is not limited to injuries, stress, lifestyle, exercise experiences, fears, beliefs and food perception. With this information, an individual approach can be taken. Here is where I can empathize with my clients.
Talking to new members during the assessment is exciting. I always encourage people to talk. Many people have the perception that I’m perfect, I must be on a diet, and I don’t eat certain foods, such as hamburgers. So when I say, “We need to work on your eating habits. It seems like you have a lot of improvements to make,” a common response is, “I know: no hamburgers, no fried foods, no tamales and no carbohydrates.”
I like people to feel comfortable around me, so I start telling them the truth. And the truth is that I do eat hamburgers. However, I clarify what is behind the hamburger myth.
I don’t see what is wrong with eating a piece of red meat with organic wheat bread and veggies (tomatoes, onions, lettuce, avocado and peppers). Usually I eat hamburgers once a week. However, not all hamburgers are the same, and here is where people need to be aware of the myth.
When I eat a hamburger, I make sure it has real meat and veggies. There are a couple of local places that use organic ingredients in their burgers. And when I say to make sure it’s “real meat and veggies,” it’s because many corporate hamburgers don’t have real ingredients. Here is what I mean:
One of my colleagues did an experiment. He bought a hamburger from a famous chain restaurant and left it on top of his desk for one year. The hamburger was intact! Only drier. The reason is because the hamburger is nothing more than junk. Michael Pollan puts it in other words. He says that bacteria are living organisms that need nutrients to survive and, of course, only eat foods that have nutrients. Therefore, they are not interested in the hamburger. There are processing steps that this type of hamburger goes through before they’re sold. These steps remove the nutrients from the hamburger and add chemicals so it will last longer and be cheaper. This is one of the reasons why people suffer many disease and digestive problems.
So the conclusion is that many people are eating only trash with no nutrients. These “foods” are a big factor in obesity, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. People eat because they need energy to survive, and many of these “foods” are not providing them with it.
So when we set up eating habits, I help people understand what the best choices are. I don’t prohibit foods. Like I tell them, “I’m nobody to stop you from eating what you want. I only give you information and set the path to achieve your goals.”
Food is the energy we need to survive, and I think it is OK to enjoy our foods. However, it is responsible to be conscious about what we put into our body to achieve a healthy body weight. The decision is always up to you.
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Weight loss is like a destination. You need directions to get there. Usually on the first assessment and goal setting meeting with new members, I ask them if they remember the first time they traveled by road. Then I ask if they remember how they got to their destination.
I get many answers:
My friend drove
I got directions from my friend
I followed the road and stopped at gas stations to ask the way
I used a map
I turned on my GPS
I got there safely (This is the one that I like the most)
The reality is that no one can get to their destination without knowing where they are going and how to get there.
Everyone needs some type of assistance: GPS, a map, a friend who knows the route. Some people used to take directions from the stars when they were traveling. We all need guidance. If people don’t follow directions, they can end up far, far away from the real destination. They can be going in circles in the same area like I did when I got lost for 5 hours driving in Mexico City. They can even take a different road that leads to a different destination.
The rules for weight loss are the same as for that road trip. You need to know where you are going and how to get there to achieve your goal. You need a map (instructions) to lose the pounds you want to lose. People can get distracted or go slowly or take the wrong turn when they’re not following their directions when driving. Therefore, it might take longer for them to reach their destination. Same thing happens when you don’t follow and constantly refer to your weight loss goals.
The steps to get to your destination (weight loss goal) are:
Determine your destination (how much fat you want to lose, why, and by when)
Split it into monthly goals. When you’re on a road trip, it helps to know you’ve passed or are close to a city, town or state line. That helps you psychologically. It gives you a sense that you are closer and motivates you to continue.
Make specific goals that will lead to the monthly goals. To start your road trip, you need to plan it and know the directions you are going to use. Planification requires knowing the things you will do as you travel, such as eating, stopping and getting gas, using the bathroom, resting, maybe enjoying the view, stretching, and fixing problems like flat tires.
Not planning or specifying your goal can leave you with consequences you probably were not prepared for. If you want to go to Florida to get away from the winter and start driving without destination, you may end up in New York.
Or if you did not plan and check your car before driving, you may come back home in a tow truck.
Goal setting is very important. I do it with all CBF’s members. As a matter of fact, one of our members has lost 25 pounds in 3 months and passed the goal setting — or “tips,” as he calls them — along to his brother, and he lost 20 pounds in 3 months.
Get real results by taking into consideration a tool that has helped many people achieve their destination — goal setting.
Recently I assessed a new Custom Body Fitness member who had lost 13 lbs in 15 weeks. It reminded me of another member four months ago who had lost 15 lbs. in the same amount of time. Both of these members were overweight, and most heavy people lose between 2 to 4 lbs a month. Therefore, I was surprised to see people lose more than 10 pounds in the first 5 week assessment. Another sort of member Custom Body Fitness have are those who fall into the “fit” scale. They were active before they walked in the door. This people can put into an “athlete” category. Fit people generally cannot lose 10 lbs in four months, because they are already in the most healthy weight level. However, they also impress me when they lose 2 lbs or lower their fat levels by 1 percent, since few do that. This raises a question: Why do some people, in the same “fat level category” lose a significant amount of fat and others don’t? After assessing hundreds of Custom Body Fitness members, I have found a pattern: Different sorts of habits and behaviors get us different results.
- People who get results are usually open to change. They listen to my suggestions, learn about healthy eating and exercise, and then they put this new knowledge into practice.
- They find a balance between work, family, exercise, and other activities in their lives.
- They change their eating habits by cooking at home, cutting meat intake, adding more vegetables and fruits, eating organic, substituting added beverage for water, and eat five times a day.
- They have an active lifestyle; they come to Custom Body Fitness 3 to 4 times a week, and hike, walk, run, or bike on their own.
- They find support by seeking out active people like themselves who are striving for the same goals.
- They take time to analyze their life—they meditate.
- They figure out their goals, write them down specifying each one, and work towards them.
Some people come to CBF with some knowledge of healthy ways already and just need to be reminded; others simply don’t know how to start they journey to health and weight loss. My hope for all members is that they learn to find a balance in their life in order to accomplish their desires. I want them to feel less frustrated about losing weight and concentrate on their habit changes, not on the weight they are trying lose. So if you want to lose weight in a healthy and fun atmosphere that fits your lifestyle, think about the suggestions above. These pointers have been proven to work, so why not let them help you.