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.

Bad Supplements – Causing More Problems Than Solutions.

iStock_000005673431XSmallHave you ever seen those late night TV ads that tell you “Lose weight quickly with this easy pill”? They always have the animated shot of fat disappearing, the bogus infographics, and the customer reaction shots telling you that this pill works. Some ads even get someone dressed as a doctor on the screen telling you they recommend it for all of their patients. And it’s for the low low low cost of four payments of $29.99!

What a deal, right?

I cannot help but laugh when I see these commercials, but it worries me that so many people take these commercials for truth. People want to lose weight, but they don’t think they are capable of the hard work that is involved. Other people not only want to lose weight, but gain tons of muscle mass in a short amount of time. They want to believe in the miracle pill that can solve all of their problems.

If you know me, you know what I’m going to say next: there are no short cuts to fitness. While we might be able to cut corners in other parts of our lives, you get exactly what you put in to your personal fitness regime.

Some body builders use steroids and testosterone boosters to help themselves build muscle mass, but please do not confuse that with fitness. That’s unnatural body building, and while they might look good on the surface, there are always side effects.

Take a look at some of the worst offenders in the world of bad supplements that I have seen:

Unregulated Carbohydrate Blockers – Carb Blockers keeps Amylase, a natural chemical that helps your body digest carbs, from doing its job. As a result, carbs will pass through your body without being absorbed. While prescription carbohydrate blockers are safe and effective at their job, unregulated carb blockers sometimes have unlisted ingredients that can cause harm to your body. On top of that, you don’t necessarily want your body to stop absorbing carbs, since carbohydrates are a natural form of energy your body needs.

Testosterone Boosters – These boosters can be safe when prescribed by a doctor, but I have seen many “miracle pills” out there that claim they can boost your testosterone levels, giving you more energy, zeal, and muscle mass. In the end, these pills are more dangerous than they are helpful. Testosterone boosters can raise blood pressure, elevate blood cell counts leading to blood clots, and even liver damage.

Believe it or not, many doctors posit that simple lifestyle changes, like regular visits to the gym and a change in diet, can give you the kind of boost that testosterone treatment claim to give you.

Too Many Vitamins – Many of us take a multivitamin pill every day. After all, we want to get a natural amount of vitamins in our system, right? It turns out, there is truth to the idea of too much of a good thing. Getting an overdose of vitamin C, for example, could lead to nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Having too many vitamins can be just as bad as not getting enough.

Even if you’re taking regular doses of vitamins, it’s important to be aware that many multivitamins on the market include fillers that make the pill more appealing. This can include hydrogenated oils, artifical colors, and other fillers that are unhealthy at high levels. Make sure you check what’s really in your multivitamin before you take them.

Please, before you do anything else, talk to your doctor about using these “as seen on TV” drugs and miracle cures. These scams are worse than sugar pills; they will change your body chemistry and lead to more problems than solutions.

Step Into My Office – David’s Story, Part II

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If you haven’t yet read part one of David’s story you can find it here . David had to take off for surgery, but I advised him to meet with his physical therapist after his surgery. This way he could find out about the strengthening exercises he could do, that he could still do some cardio, and he could also focus on great nutrition.

David had the surgery and met with his therapist, as well as getting good nutrition advice from Andrea. Now with the surgery behind him, a great diet to follow, and exercises from his therapist, he took action. David went on to drop another 15 pounds after his surgery. Over the next three months he became a gym rat! It was working for him because he was working it. And don’t think that he just worked out all day. David also had a busy career that included travel and high-level executive commitments, as well as family time. He made sure that working out was at the top of his to-do list each day.

He was thrown yet another curveball when he was at the point of making some real progress. A knee doctor told him that at some point his knee would need to be replaced. The pain became too much and he ended up going in for full knee replacement surgery. Following the surgery he again had to meet with doctors and physical therapists, and he made a plan to keep the progress going to strengthen his knee. He continued his mobility exercises and cardio. In fact, he could be seen riding his bike daily with what he called his racing tights (compression pants to keep blood clots form forming and to keep swelling down). He had his headset on listening to the Beatles, eyes were closed, and he was visualizing himself riding in the mountains.

Seven months after surgery and he was down to 230 pounds, which was over a 100-pound weight loss! That was such a great day for David and it hit him with a lot of emotions of happiness, gratitude, and fun. He didn’t think it was possible to do, and at first he was just going to hunt and hike better, but the results were even better than he had imagined.

David had lowered his blood pressure, reduced his cholesterol, and his doctor was blown away by his results. He had to get new workout clothing, and he would flex his biceps. He liked the tight feeling in his muscles. Plus, when he came back from hiking he showed me a video of him moving effortlessly through the mountains. I can see why he wanted to lose the weight, as the views he saw hiking were beautiful!

David often gives me credit for his results, because I was the personal trainer who worked with him. He feels that I have done the most good for him with all of the training he has ever gotten. But I have to remind him that it worked because he worked it, and it was a honor to play a role in helping him with that journey.

Currently, David is 223 pounds and is at 17 percent body fat, and he still isn’t done. His target is 213 pounds and 13 percent body fat. He’s even looking to remove some of the excess skin as a result of his successful efforts. The best part is that he is in the best shape of his life and with his view of life and physical vitality he views 60 as just the start to life.

“Work, play, and life have never been better,” says David.” I look forward to the many years ahead with all of the things I love versus where I started from, dreading to hold a plan. I now own the planks, close grip bench presses, and dead lifts.”

David’s results may not be typical, but they go to show that transformations like this are possible. Ultimately, you are responsible for your workout effort, eating the right foods, and you should always meet with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan and diet plan. Also, consider working with a personal trainer, such as myself. It may be just the extra motivation you need to help get it all to work this time around!

 

Facebook FAQ Part I – What does this really mean?

If you are not yet following me on Facebook, you should be. In addition to the personal training that I provide to those in the Vancouver, Washington area, I also answer questions from people on Facebook. Since I specialize in working with seniors and baby boomers, many of those questions come from them. You may be able to relate to the question what it all really means, anyway.

 

 

Recently I posted a question on my Facebook page and I got a question in return. A baby boomer wanted to know what it all means and how to best go about reaching one’s fitness goals. Let’s start with asking the question about how much extra fat you are carrying. Most people want to melt their extra fat away with exercise, so the amount of fat they have is a big issue.  Most of the time when I give an answer about how to get extra fat off of one’s body I get a blank stare in return. It may even be followed with a response such as “I knew I was missing something. Grr.”

Being that I’m a nice guy, I’m going to give you the answer. This way you can become the healthiest boomer that you can be. What you need to do, for starters, is create a workout schedule. No moans and groans here, this is the only way you are going to get that extra fat off that you asked about. Here’s what your workout schedule should look like:

Monday – Mobility/Workout 1

Tuesday – Mobility/Cardio

Wednesday – Mobility/Workout 2

Thursday – Mobility/Cardio of choice

Friday – Mobility/Workout 3/Cardio of choice

Saturday – Cardio of choice

When it comes to cardio, you need to do something that is going to get your heart rate up, such as walking, biking, using the elliptical or stepper, or a row machine. When it comes to mobility exercises, you want to do 10 minutes each day. Yes, do them every single day! You will also want to do strength training 3-4 days per week. Your cardiovascular workouts should be 20-40 minutes per day and you will be doing them 6 days per week.

When I post things like this on Facebook, I do get people who respond to say that they don’t know what I mean by these exercises terms. As a result, I created three exercise videos that all boomers can get started with. Here is an example of what your boomer exercise program will look like:

Day 1

Mobility – 1) Cat Dog 2) Wave Stretch 3) Hip Flexor Stretch

Weight Training – Squats, DB bench press, single arm cable row, single leg RDL, barbell curl, lying tricep extension, super man, V-up.

Aim to do all the mobility work in 2-4 sets, with 8-10 reps per set, or if is a static hold go for 20-40 seconds. For resistance training, do:

1 round week one 15 reps-20 reps

2 rounds week two and three 15-20 reps

3 rounds week four and five 15-20 reps

For week 6-8, you will want to do three rounds to bring the rep range down to 10-15 reps. Also, focus on bringing up the intensity. You can do this by increasing the weights that you use, but always consider your form first and foremost. A good rule of thumb is that you if you can’t control the weight or maintain form, then do not increase the weight.

If you haven’t worked with a personal trainer it is a good idea to team up with one. That way a workout routine would be developed especially for you. If you are in the Vancouver, Washington area I would be happy to help. If you are not, follow me on Facebook and I can answer your questions there! Check out the next blog post, where I will go more into depth about what your plan should include.

Get your complete Boomer Fitness Program Here…BOOMERFITNESS

Get a Plan – Or Make One!

Do you have a plan for remaining healthy, fit, and on your path to weight loss? If you don’t you may find the holidays a bit more challenging to get through. It’s so important that you have a plan to get through this month. I know, you may be thinking this is a bit dramatic, but it’s not. The more prepared you are for this month; the more likely you will be successful at making it through without weight gain!

The holiday month is a time when many people, including some of my personal training clients here in Vancouver, Washington, gain weight. Nobody sets out to gain weight during the holidays, but it happens. With all the aromas of cookies, candies, and foods, we may only see this time of year as difficult time for to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It’s understandable, but there is something you can do to beat it. It’s call having a plan. If you don’t already have one, now is the time to get busy creating one.

Here is how you can make a plan to get you through the holidays safely and healthily:

  • Set goals. You must have a goal of what you want to accomplish through the holidays. Do you want to not gain weight? Lose 5 pounds? Whatever it is you need to write those goals down. Make them specific and get them on paper now.
  • Get a trainer. Work with a personal trainer, such as myself. Our job is to help keep you on track, motivated, and working toward reaching your goals. If you are in the Vancouver, Washington area, contact me. If you are not, find a personal trainer to work with in your area.
  • Write it down. Buy a journal and every morning write down the things that you have succeeded at. Include even the small things, so you have a record of all the successes you have had along the way.
  • Find quotes. Find some motivational quotes online that will keep you inspired and on track. Print a few off and put them on your mirror, refrigerator, and even keep one in your car. This will be a good focal point when you are in need of some encouraging words.
  • Call a friend. If you know someone else who wants to make it through the holiday healthily, become health buddies. Agree to call each other daily this month and discuss challenges, successes, and plans.
  • Follow me. If you are not already doing so, follow me on Facebook. I regularly post things that are motivational and inspiring, which will help keep you on track.

Having a plan is a big key to making it through the holidays successfully. It will help keep you from gaining the holiday weight that so many do, but it will also keep you fit and even on track for losing weight if you are trying to. This holiday season it is all in your hands and you have a choice to make. If you want to make it a healthy holiday, get a plan in action and keep at it all month!

 

Holiday Weight Gain is Bull Shit – and Totally Unacceptable!

Yes, I said it. And I’m going to challenge you on it. You know what I mean. The very idea that just because it is the holiday season you have to succumb to the idea that you will gain anywhere form 4-10 pounds. That’s what is reported as being average during this time of year, right? Well I say enough is enough. That’s not acceptable. Let me explain why!

Just a few pounds you say, so it’s nothing to worry about? Not so fast! Some people may gain 4-5 pounds, but others may gain more like 8-10 pounds or even more. Just depends on how much you are willing to abandon your healthy lifestyle goals and eat to the point where you just put your health on the backburner. I say right now, on this holiday season, that this weight gain madness comes to a screeching halt. Here are some reasons why:

  • If you are like most people you will never lose whatever amount of weight is that you gain this holiday season. Rather, you will keep compounding it year after year. Right now you are still probably batting some pounds you gained from a holiday binge three years ago!
  • Most people tend to rationalize that they will go on a new diet and fitness plan at the first of the year. They figure they will lose whatever weight they are gaining at that time. Nonsense! The majority of people who start New Year’s fitness routines drop out just weeks later, walking away with that extra weight gain still on them.
  • The extra weight you gain during the holidays will put more stress on any health conditions you already have. This includes things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions. There is a 5 percent increase in the number of heart attacks experienced by people during the holiday season, and more fatal heart attacks on Christmas and the day after Christmas. Your body doesn’t need the added stress of holiday weight gain.
  • People tend to never lose the additional weight, so they create an “identity” and just use it as an excuse. They may chalk it up to getting older, start cutting back on how active they are, and will lose additional health as the years ago by, due to their inactivity.
  • You are a leader and it is important for you to be aware of the message and example you are setting for others in your life. Maintain your health through the holidays and others will often follow suit.

Deep-fried turkey fire balls, flammable Christmas trees, toy hazards, seasonal car accidents, and decorating disasters (think Chevy Chase movies here), provide enough stress and danger in your life at the holidays. No reason to add to that with additional weight gain!

As a personal trainer I work with people from all around the Vancouver, Washington area. When I explain my thoughts on holiday weight gain they say my initials (BS) stand for more than just Brian Stecker. They say they want to enjoy their holiday and don’t want their spirit ruined. They may even call me Brian “Scrooge” Stecker. I know this may be an intense idea, but I am going to provide you with a series of actionable strategies you can use over the next 6 weeks to safely get you through the holidays, help you avoid the holiday weight gain, and keep you healthy and fit.  My advice comes from 10 years of training and includes solutions that will keep you fit, and enjoying the holidays!

 

Reaching For Your Dreams – Age No Barrier

This past week there was something really inspirational that was on the news. You may have been one of the millions that saw it as I did. I’m talking about Diana Nyad and how she accomplished a goal at the age of 64. For those who feel that you reach a point where it is too late to reach for your dreams, she serves as an example that it is never too late!

Nyad was big news this past week because she did something that nobody else has done before. She swam the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Did you get that? At the age of 64, she swam 110 miles in order to set a record. She’s the first person to do this and yet she’s a baby boomer. No protection from the elements, bitten numerous times by jellyfish, and hungry, she finished the goal she set out to do.

Her message to people is that they should never give up. She didn’t, and neither should anyone else. She also demonstrated that you are never too old to chase your dreams. You only have one life to live, making it crucial that you go after that which you dream of. She had a dream of making that swim and she did not let her age become a barrier to her achieving her goal. Another one of her messages is that many things in life, such as what she accomplished, is not a solitary act. While she gets the credit for the swim, she actually had a team of people who were providing her the support in order to make it possible.

While Nyad had a team of 35 people, some people need merely to work with a personal trainer or coach in order to reach their goals. Many people don’t realize it, but we are often the biggest obstacles we face when wanting to achieve something. We have a goal in mind, but we talk ourselves out even going for it with piles of excuses. We place limits on ourselves that don’t need to be there.

The negative self talk that floats around in the heads of most people, including my personal training clients, has probably stopped you from achieving many goals. You have to believe in yourself and in your ability to accomplish things in order for it to become a reality.

Perhaps you are reading this and your own dream comes to mind. Maybe it has nothing to do with fitness, but rather with finances or business. Your dream may have been something more related to personal issues, spirituality, or romance.

It’s never too late. Whatever your dream was is still waiting for you. You may think that at your age you have lost the ability to achieve that dream. You may think you are too old now. But let me remind you that a 64 year old woman just swam 110 miles in shark and jellyfish infested waters in order to make her dreams a reality. She did it in 53 hours, after she had failed at attempting it on three other prior occasions.

So what is your dream? What’s stopping you from going after it?

Forget the excuses. Instead, put a plan into action and make it happen. You can do it. I believe in you and you will achieve your goals!

 

Baby Boomer Body Composition – Why it’s Important

If you look in the mirror to try to determine how healthy you are there is a good chance you may be missing the mark. That doesn’t tell the whole story. Nor does getting on a scale to see how much you weigh. While these things may give you some clues about your health and fitness level, there is a lot more to it. When you know more, the body composition, then you will have a much better idea of how fit you really are.

As a personal trainer for baby boomers in the Vancouver, Washington area, I am happy to help work with my clients on their body composition. Your body composition is what your body is made up of. It’s the fat to muscle and bone ratio. By looking at you there is no clue how much of your body is made up of fat versus bone or muscle. But by doing tests, using calipers, we can determine the ratio for each. This gives us a better idea of what your fitness level is and if you need to work on reducing fat percentage so that it is in a healthy range.

You actually function better when you have a healthy body composition. You may also be able to avoid or delay the onset of some diseases by having a healthy body composition. Here are some ways you can work toward helping to improve yours:

  • Lifestyle choices. The lifestyle you live is going to be a huge contributor to your body composition. If you sit on the couch all day watching television there is a good chance you will have a high percentage of body fat, for example. It is important to incorporate exercising regularly into your lifestyle. In doing so, opt for both aerobic activity, as well as strength training exercises.
  • Healthy eating. What you eat matters. It matters a lot! Fill your body up with foods that are filled with unhealthy fats, trans fats, sugars, and other such things and you will not have a good body composition. Your body needs healthy sources of nutrition, which includes lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  • Having goals. When you have goals in mind you are more likely to actually make things happens. If you set out to do something and don’t know where you want to ultimately end up, there is a good chance you may never get there. Know where you are going so you can judge your success milestones along the way and you will know when you have arrived. You will also increase the chances of obtaining those goals when you share them with others. It helps to hold you accountable.

In the Vancouver, Washington area I work with many clients in personal training. Body composition is one area that we work on. If you haven’t been tested, then followed a plan, and then re-tested to see the improvement in your results you are missing out. It’s a great feeling and is motivating to see that your hard work is really paying off!

Dig Into Strength: How Baby Boomers Can Improve Strength

Do you have difficulty walking up the steps? What about making dinner? If you find these things a lot more difficult than you used to it is time to take action. Believe it or not, you can get your strength back, even as a baby boomer. You do not have to take a loss of strength sitting down. Now is the time to stand up and fight… now is the time to dig in!

As a personal trainer in Vancouver, Washington who helps numerous baby boomers I address the strength issue on a regular basis. Yes, it’s true that if you do not work at it you will lose strength as you age. In fact, you will lose about 30 percent of your strength in the years that follow turning 50 years old. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get that strength back, but it takes you being proactive in making it happen.

Many people think that you only hit the gym and lift weights if you want to be a body builder. Not so! The strength training that you will do in the gym will help you be able to climb those stairs better, or make it easier to tackle making dinner. You can use free weights, elastic bands, or exercise machines. The key is to have some resistance, because that resistance is going to help you build and maintain your muscle mass.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to increasing your strength:

  • Make sure you start with mobility. Without first focusing on improving your mobility you will find it difficult to take on the next step of strength training. Once you have addressed the mobility issue you are ready to move on.

 

  • Get a program to help you increase your strength level. The key here is that you have to make sure it is focusing on your weak areas. If you cannot identify them work with a personal trainer so you get the results you are after.
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    Use a progressive overload approach, which will keep your body from bulking up or getting bigger. Instead, you will set goals of getting stronger and focus on meeting them.

 

  • Take action. This is the most important part. You can talk all day long about what needs to be done and why, but it will be worthless if it is not put into action. If you want to see results you must get a program and put it into action.

Getting older does not have to mean getting weaker. You can stop the loss of muscle and gain some strength back again. But you have to be proactive in making it happen. Whether you work with me, through my Vancouver, Washington personal training for baby boomers, or you do it with someone else, your strength training goals can be achieved. They also make a big difference in your quality of life, making them a goal worth fighting for!

Dig Into Mobility: How Baby Boomers Can Improve Mobility

Mobility is not something one thinks about all that often. At least, that is, until it begins to decrease over the years. Once you can no longer do the things you used to do as easily, you may begin to think about mobility issues. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your mobility, regardless of your age. As a personal trainer that specializes in working with baby boomers and senior citizens, I have witnessed the way being proactive can help people improve mobility.

There are numerous things that can impact your mobility, including arthritis, slowing reflexes, a decrease in the ability to stretch or bend, loss of bone tissue, and more. The loss of mobility is especially problematic for baby boomers because it can not only hinder your ability to do the things you love, but it can also lead to you losing some independence. If you are a baby boomer who wants to stay independent and continue doing things for yourself it’s time to get serious about improving your mobility.

Here are a few of the principles that you should follow when it comes to mobility. These are principals that I share with many of my personal training clients:

  • Make it daily. Working on improving your mobility is not something you can do once in a while and then expect to see results. Rather, you have to make a commitment to improving it and then being proactive to get there. You have to work on mobility exercises on a daily basis. This includes getting daily exercise, stretching, and living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Try different methods. Stretching is a good way to help improve mobility. But you also need to know the right kind of stretches you should be doing (which is why you should be working with a personal trainer). However, if you feel stretching is not doing enough for you, try something else. Other methods to try are to include using a foam roller, getting massages, art, structural integration, tennis ball rolling, and partner stretching. There are many different methods to try, so there is a good chance you will find one that is going to help you improve your mobility.
  • Test and test again. It is important to know if your efforts are working. To do this, take a pre-test before you get started with the mobility exercise plan. Then, test as you go in order to see if you are gaining motion. If you are, great, then it is working as planned. If you are not, then you may need to try another method in order to get better results.
  • Take action. The best way to take action is to meet with a personal trainer, such as myself on a weekly basis. When you do that you will get a plan that will work for you, the results will be tested, and you will see and feel the difference it makes. A personal trainer will help identify weak areas and exercises to strengthen them.

If you are feeling down about a loss of mobility it is important to understand that it doesn’t have to stay like that. You can take measures to help make improvements. But if you ignore it, the problem will get worse and it will keep you from being as happy. Take the steps now to make improvements. Before you know it you will have improved your mobility and will be feeling great. If you are in the Vancouver, Washington area I will look forward to hearing from you. If you are not, seek out a personal trainer that specializes in working with baby boomers or senior citizens, so that you get the best possible results.