Empty Stomach Syndrome: Creating Havoc on your Diet

iStock_000018166519XSmallWe’ve all been there. You’re heading to the supermarket and suddenly everything looks delicious. You start walking down the aisles and you suddenly have an urge to try everything! Those chips look so good, those cookies are to die for, and I’ve never seen that beef jerky before. The next thing you know, your cart is full and you haven’t even started checking off the things on your list yet.

Stop! Drop those sugar-filled cookies and get out while you still can! You’re suffering from empty stomach syndrome, and it’s not going to help that specialty diet we set up for you.

Empty Stomach Syndrome, or ESS, is what happens when you are hungry and enter a store filled with foods. It’s a recipe for disaster if you’re on a specialty diet program, especially when you walk down those aisles that are absolutely filled with junk food.

It’s not entirely your fault, either. Supermarkets know what they’re doing with these aisles, and seek to take full advantage of your ESS. You might notice that snack foods are always at eye level, spaced throughout the store, and always seem to have some great “club prices” that scream a deal. After all, there’s no harm in trying those saturated fat crackers, especially when you’re saving two bucks when doing it!

Do yourself a favor: The next time you’re going to the market for foods, grab a quick healthy meal or snack beforehand. Planning your trip to the supermarket after a meal will do a number of things for you:

Save Money – You might notice that if you’re not shopping hungry, your cart won’t be quite as full. You’re going to be less inclined to buy foods you don’t need when you’re not daydreaming about how they taste. Less cravings mean less money at the checkout.

Less Snack Foods -If you’re not hungry, you’re going to be planning for the future,  not for the present. Keeping your attention on your diet instead of your snack cravings means you’re going to spend more time in healthier aisles, which means less temptations later down the road.

Better Planning – When you’re operating on a full tank, you’re a lot less likely to make mistakes than if you’re running on empty. After a meal, you’re going to be thinking straight, which means you can plan around your diet. You’re going to remember things that are on your good list, and remember to keep yourself from buying foods that are not.

Remember: You either go all the way or your don’t go at all. There’s no middle ground, which means you can’t cut corners on your diet. Stick to it, and you will make progress!

Natural vs Unnatural Sugars

iStock_000012651702XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about sugar and the dangers of consuming too much. Many of us are eating sugar without even knowing it, with many condiments and processed foods smuggling sugar into our diets.

There is such a thing as too much sugar, but does that mean you can cut them from your diet altogether? Well, not exactly. Carbohydrates, necessary to keeping your body energized, is a sugar! Give up carbs altogether, and you won’t have any energy to get through the day.

Now, you might be thinking I’m contradicting myself. How can I tell you to cut sugar from you diet, but then tell you that sugars like carbs are a necessity of life? There is a distinction between necessary sugars and excessive sugars, and it’s as simple as looking at the source.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

The biggest culprit in excessive sugar consumption is high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. HFCS is made primarily of corn, and is created when corn syrup undergoes a conversion process, changing some of its glucose to fructose. Because of the ease of processing, HFCS is used as a supplement in many processed foods for sweetness. You can find it in most sodas, processed desserts like Twinkies, and even in places you wouldn’t expect like energy bars or cereal.

There has recently been a lot of conflicting information regarding HFCS. Many sources will tell you that there are no dangers in HFCS, while others will tell you that its a poisonous bile you should avoid at all costs. As commonplace as it is, it’s hard to escape HFCS. But there are always alternatives to unnatural sources of sugar.

Natural Sugars 

Of course, sugar isn’t an unnatural product altogether. Many healthy foods, like fruits for example, naturally contain sugars. A single red delicious apple will naturally contain approximately 23 grams of sugar, and you will seldom hear a doctor telling you to stop eating fruits.

As I said before, carbohydrate sugars have a very important part in our lives, and it would be unhealthy to block out these energy sources completely. How can we get through our fitness regimen if our body doesn’t have the energy to do it?

I have a quick tip I tell some of my clients who are struggling with this: If you’re considering a food, look at the nutritional information on the back. If sugar comes up in the first few lines, put the box down and find something else to eat. If High Fructose Corn Syrup shows up, find something else to eat. If you see words that you have to sound out in your head, put the box down.

The ingredient sugar is not deadly, but sugar in high quantity is. As we make changes in our lives, especially in our diet, it is important to be aware of what we are fueling ourselves with. Trust me, I know that making the change from processed foods packed full of sugar will be difficult, but I also know it will be worth the change.

Be sure to ask any of the personal trainers at Boomer Fitness about how you can make a healthy change in your diet. And stay up to date on my blog for more details to come!

Good Supplements – Filling in the Gaps

iStock_000004424358XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about the dangers of bad supplements, and how they can do a lot more damage than good. Things like carbohydrate blockers, unregulated testosterone boosters, and too many vitamins can cause harm to the way your body functions. Many don’t measure up to the outrageous claims made on late night tv commercials.

Many supplements can do damage, but that doesn’t mean all supplements deserve a bad rap. In fact, many supplements on the market can do a lot of good, depending on what your body needs and your diet might be lacking.

There are plenty of supplements in the market that are perfectly healthy, when taken in moderation and with the full knowledge of what you’re putting in your body. I could write a book about all the good supplements out there, but lets take a brief look at some of the well known supplements out there:

Whey Protein – When I bring up protein mixes, a lot of people initially think I’m trying to turn them into a muscle head or a body builder. Having extra protein in your diet isn’t going to automatically give you bulging muscles, but what it can do is help preserve your muscles after exercising.

Whey Protein is a great source of Branch Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs. These proteins reduce the amount of protein breakdown in your muscles. This means your muscles are going to recover faster after a workout, and promote muscle growth.

There are many, many different types of whey protein out on the market. There are even many types of protein mixtures other than whey you can use. I typically do not pay attention to the label as much as I do the nutritional information. Since it’s a protein mixture, I tend to choose mixtures that are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates.

Vitamin C – This particular vitamin has many uses throughout your body. From fighting colds to reducing pollutants, curing infections to promoting better blood flow, Vitamin C goes a long way to promoting healthy bodily function.

So how much is enough Vitamin C? As I wrote before, having too many vitamins can be a bad thing, but one to three grams of Vitamin C per day can go a long way toward promoting healthy body functions.

Green leafy vegetables and fruits like oranges and kiwis are very high in Vitamin C, and are a great natural source of the vitamin.

Fish Oil – This is a generalized supplement, but fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes healthy body function when paired with omega-6 acids. Because the common diet of red meats and eggs contain many omega-6 acids but not as many omega-3s, having a healthy boost of omega-3 acids can reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, and even reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Again, supplements should not be taken in excess, as fish oil can also raise levels of cholesterol. But when taken in moderation, the omega-3s found in this oil can be very beneficial.

Of course, the big question comes to mind: do I need to take these supplements? And the answer is of course not! Supplements do nothing but add nutrients to your body that you might not normally get in your everyday diet. There are no miracle cures that will automatically give you the body of Wonderwoman. But what supplements can do is fill in a few gaps you might have in your every day diet. They won’t do the hard work for you, but it might give you a little extra help.

No matter what though, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements of any kind. And be sure to talk to me about any supplements you might be considering! I am happy to share my two cents on any and all supplements out there.

Vegetables – The Neglected Section of the Food Pyramid

Senior Woman Eating Healthy SaladIf your childhood was anything like mine, there were many conversations (always one-sided) about the merits of eating your vegetables. I know I was a carnivore growing up, and anything green was always pushed to the side of the plate.

Of course, as we grow up, we grow out of our picky eating habits and start to eat much healthier than we ever thought we would as kids. But I have noticed that many vegetables still get sidelined when it comes to preparing meals.

Vegetables play a huge part in making sure you’re getting enough nutrition in each meal and we can’t afford to ignore them, especially as we get older and wiser. But it’s one thing to know that vegetables are good for you, and another thing to know why vegetables are good for you. Other than the fact your parents used to say “It’s good for you,” why should you make an extra effort to get some salad for dinner?

Take a look at some of the benefits you get by having a vegetable-rich diet:

Vitamins – Vegetables are a great source of Vitamins A and C, both of which are essential to keeping your body healthy. Vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin healthy, protecting from infection. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, and helps cuts and bruises heal. Vitmin A can be found in Carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli, and Vitamin C is found in parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and peppers.

Folic Acid – This paticular type of acid helps your body create red blood cells in your blood stream. Pregnant women are usually encouraged to get their fair share of folic acid, but its importance doesn’t cease once you have had a child. Folic acid also helps liver and kidney functions, prevent colon and cervical cancer, and prevent stroke. Folic Acid can be found in leafy greens, okra, asparagus, mushrooms, and tomato juice.

Antioxidants – While fruits usually get credit for being high in antioxidants, vegetables also contain a lot of the chemical compound. Antioxidants help reduce oxidant stress, disease, cancerous cells, and can even help boost your immune system. Vegetables that are high in antioxidants include eggplant, spinach, onions, leeks, and oregano.

Dietary Fiber – Fiber is the uncredited hero in vegetables! Fiber does everything from helping reduce your risk of heart disease to reducing your cholesterol levels, helping your insides work correctly and even providing a sense of “fullness” so you don’t overeat. High fiber vegetables include artichokes, peas, avocados (technically a fruit, but still worth mentioning) and lima beans.

You might be thinking “I know that vegetables are healthy for me. That’s not news to me. It’s finding new ways to enjoy vegetables that challenges me,” and I understand that. Sometimes, the hardest part is finding new ways to enjoy different foods. That’s why this Thursday, I’m going to have a few recipes high in vegetable content that you can try over the weekend, and find that maybe, just maybe, your parents had the right idea when you were a kid.

The Traits of a Good Personal Trainer, Part I

DSC_1198Most fitness blogs talk about the right nutrition you need to look for in a diet plan. Most will write about the kinds of exercises you need to be focusing on to properly work your biceps, triceps, glutes, core… Any muscle you might want to focus an exercise on.

My own blog features a long list of these subjects. I’ve got write-ups and videos detailing the most important nutritional aspects of any good diet. I’ve got a long list of write-ups and videos detailing various workout routines you can do at home.

But how do you know that what I’m saying is true? Or for that matter, how do you know if any personal trainer is worthwhile? If you’re going to be spending a lot of time making progress with your own personal trainer, you want to make sure he or she knows what they’re talking about, not just blowing hot air.

Not all personal trainers are created equal. True, we all go through rigorous training. We get certifications and credentials. We’re required to endure years of reviews, self appraisals, and tests before we begin training. But even after all this, some bad trainers still manage to slip through the cracks at larger corporate gyms. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

So what do you look for in a good trainer? At Boomer Fitness, I put a lot of pride in my team of personal trainers. I know they are some of the best trainers in the area, and I wouldn’t invite them to the gym if I was not 100% sure of that fact. Take a look at some of the things you should look for in a personal trainer, and some of the things we do here at Boomer Fitness:

Assessments – I love recording data. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing quantifiable results when coming to the gym. But more importantly, it is a sign of a good trainer to make assessments of your improvement. This includes the initial measurement, and standard measurements every few weeks to record change.

At Boomer Fitness, we take this measurement process very seriously. The very first thing you do when starting work with a personal trainer is an assessment of your body. This gives us a baseline to judge your improvement every four weeks. During one of our assessments, we measure your range of movement, weight, diet, and even your willingness to make changes to your daily life. If it’s quantifiable, we will record it.

Want a quick telltale whether a personal trainer is measuring you? See if they’re carrying a clipboard with them through the gym. If they’re not, they aren’t measuring nearly as much as a trainer should be.

Planning and Setting Goals – One of the most important aspects of heading to the gym is having a goal for the future. Without a goal, we don’t have a direction to align ourselves toward, or a rudder to steer us. With a goal, we know where we will be in 3 months time. A good trainer knows how important planning is, and will sit down with you in the beginning of your fitness regimen to help you plan your future.

At Boomer Fitness, we always discuss goals as a part of our initial assessment. When we know where you want to be down the road, we begin planning out 4 week milestones to gauge your success factors. No matter how well trained we are or how sophisticated the gym equipment is, we cannot make progress without a game plan.

Integration of Training and Nutrition – Exercise alone does not get you results. You can spend hours each week at the gym, but if you don’t make the change to your diet as well, your time is going to make little to no change on your lifestyle. A good diet will ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need, without excessive sugars or carbs that usually are found in unhealthy diets. Good trainers know the relation between nutrition and fitness, and create dietary plans as well as fitness plans.

Trainers at Boomer Fitness don’t stop their work when you leave the gym. We make sure we outline a dietary plan to accompany your total fitness plan. This way, your fitness plan will be the most effective at helping you reach your goals.

This isn’t even half of the traits found in good trainers. Be sure to check my blog next week for more traits you want to look for when choosing a Personal Trainer, and all the traits you will find at Boomer Fitness. And when you’re ready to make a healthy change with some of the best personal trainers around, contact us for more information!

Superbowl Snack Aftermath, Part 1

iStock_000015504165XSmallWell, the game is over. The Patriots won a solid victory, and more importantly, the Packers are now undefeated for the 2015 season!

If you know me, you probably know I wasn’t such a fan of the Superbowl this year. But I know many of you were watching yesterday, and I’m sure there was plenty of buffalo wings, barbecue sauce, and beer to be had.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating once in a while, especially at such a big occasion as the Superbowl. But after an event like this where we tend to go overboard on junk food, it’s a good idea to reflect on what we put in our body.

So what exactly did we eat this last Sunday? I want to take a brief look at some common Superbowl Foods that may have graced your coffee table this weekend, and give you an idea of what you were really eating this weekend.

Buffalo Wings – You don’t have to convince me! Buffalo wings are a delicious part of any Superbowl party, especially when you get just the right kind of sauce. But before you start preheating the oven, be sure to check the nutrition facts! Many store bought buffalo wings are extremely high in sodium and cholesterol, both of which aren’t too great for the heart Another thing to remember is in many cases, a serving size is as little as 3 wings (100 grams). How many wings did you have this weekend?

Potato Chips – No party, especially a Superbowl party, is complete without a big bowl of potato chips, right? While potato chips have become a staple of party food, they are also very high in fat and calories, leading to a higher risk of weight gain and obesity. Even one ounce (around 15 – 20 chips) of plain, unsalted chips have about 10 grams of fat and more than 150 calories.

Fried Foods – More generalized than the first two, but many parties serve deep fried foods to guests, and it’s likely many of you had something that made its way into a deep fryer. This can be anything from fried chicken, onion rings, jalapeno poppers… you get the picture. When frying foods, a lot of oil can get absorbed, which can contribute to weight gain, higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure… all leading to a higher chance of type 2 diabetes.

Beer – We all have our personal taste when it comes to flavors, but it’s a fair argument that a lot of beer is consumed during the Superbowl. It doesn’t help that the Superbowl has plenty of ads catering to beer consumers across the nation. While it’s true that occasional beer and wine consumption can be considered beneficial, excessive drinking can lead to heart disease, liver disease, and even pancreatitis. Don’t worry though, the occasional beer won’t lead you down the road to ruin. Just don’t go overboard.

High angle view of snacks and beer on a table for a football gameSo that’s enough doom and gloom. Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easy to say “I should have” or “I shouldn’t have” when it comes to dietary choices, and many don’t look beyond mistakes they have made in the past.

That’s not what I’m about.  Instead of dwelling on prior mistakes, I know that it’s important to acknowledge how we’ve lived in the past, made the decision to change, and then move forward from here. It’s about making the conscious choice to do something differently.

This Thursday, I plan on taking a look at some flavorful alternatives, helping us ween ourselves off unhealthy foods and making wholesome choices. Most importantly, however, I want to explore how to make healthy choices without sacrificing taste and flavor. Make sure you check in to see how to escape the Postgame Superbowl Blues, and start eating right!

Top Fitness Tips Learned in 2011 (and How to Make it a Great 2012)

One of the many benefits of being a personal trainer is that I get a chance to keep up on learning lots of fitness tips, news, and information throughout the year. One of the benefits of keeping a blog is that I get a chance to share that information with all my readers, both baby boomers and beyond. Throughout 2011, there were several key fitness tips that I picked up that I think can help you make 2012 the best year ever!

Here are the top fitness tips I learned throughout 2011:

Taking a break can be a good thing. It can help you to get re-focused, so that you come back fresh and ready to get down to business. Taking a vacation or small trip, for example, will help you reflect and remember that you are not a human “doing,” but rather you are a human “being.”

Getting a tune-up can be a really great thing. By a tune-up I mean a massage, acupuncture, or some other type of activity that helps you feel great. After all, we take our cars in for a tune-up, so why not take in ourselves? It will help with recovery, mind clarity, and overall wellness.

Making health and fitness a lifestyle is crucial to long term success. One effective way you can make your fitness goals a long term lifestyle is to work with a personal trainer. The support, guidance, and accountability is extremely important and effective.

Trying something new can be a great way to clear the mind and help you feel good. For example, this past year I went to the symphony for the first time. I found that I enjoyed it! It’s important to try new things and remember that variety is the spice of life.

It is important to find things you love to do and then do them during the week. This will help you to take care of yourself and your passions, so you can give more of yourself to others.

Just because someone takes a step backward doesn’t mean they have failed. Two steps forward, one step back, means you still took a step forward! Don’t get caught up in what you are not getting. Instead, focus on the fact that you trained four days, for example, rather than focusing on the fact that you are not at your goal yet.

You can’t out-work bad nutrition. If you consistently eat poorly, it will catch up with you. It is essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet to have overall wellness.

Whether you are a baby boomer or not, or you are seeking weight loss, or just want to adopt a healthy fitness lifestyle, you can increase your chances of success in 2012 by keeping these points in mind. This year, success can be all yours!