Updates This Week

Updates this week will be pretty much non-existent unfortunately, because I’m currently traveling for my day job.  And by “traveling” I mean spending a week on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with 41 artists and bands on Cayamo.  The internet on the ship is terrible, so getting things uploaded, while working twelve hour days, is close to impossible, so I’d rather save the good posts until I get back to the United States next week.

In the meantime, feel free to read the blogs that I write on a daily basis while at sea over at www.sixthman.net/blog!  Thanks for your patience guys; things will be back full force a week from today.

This blog is coming to you from Semana in the Domican Republic.

-Steve

Level Up Your Life #5 – Activities That Burn Calories

So, if you’ve been following the blog for the past four days: you figured out that you want to get in shape (woot), you’ve learned what your your Body Mass Index is (sweet), how to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (oh hai), and what your Daily Caloric Consumption is (nice!).  If you missed this stuff and want to read about all it, there are links at the end of this blog.  Now, why did we spend four days doing math problems?  Because we had to create a stable base from which we can build.  Now that you know your body type, and how many calories you are burning each day, we can create a custom plan for you that involves decreased calorie intake (less Twinkies), increased physical activity (more running), or a combination of the two.

Here’s the important stuff you need to know:

  • 1lb of body fat equals 3500 calories – Remember this forever!
  • Hate exercising? To lose 1lb per week, cut out 500 calories every day from your diet.
  • Junk food for thought: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and 20 oz Coke = 500 calories
  • Don’t want to diet? Do enough exercises to burn 500 calories per day to lose that lb per week.
  • Best of both worlds? DO BOTH. Little changes to both will dramatically improve your health predicament.

Now, which exercises burn the most calories?  I’d tell you about every freaking activity in the world, but that would take way too much work and this blog would take forever to write.  Instead, how about I link you to a few great resources instead:

  • Health Status’s Activity Calculator, set your length of time, and then type in how long you did it for, and it tells you approximately how many calories you’ve burned.  Sigh, yes there is “sexual activity” listed for activities, so feel free to giggle and put down 5 hours and see how calories you’d burn (it’s a lot).  Get it out of your system?  Do you feel better now?
  • PrimusWeb’s Calorie Counter: put in your weight, and length of time, and it gives you calories burned for 222 activities for that time frame.  My advice – put down 60 minutes and print it out.  You can then base whatever activities you do off of that.  Run for 15 minutes? Divide “running” by 4 and you got your calories burned.  Success.

My advice for when you only have 20 minutes to train and want to burn maximum calories: Interval Training for the win!

-Steve

Previous Posts

Level Up Your Life #4 – Determining Your Calorie Level

Yesterday you figured out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Do you still have that number?  If not, go to this website, input your info, and write down your BMR.  Got it?  Good.  Today we’re going to take that number and make it more realistic.  This is where the Harris-Benedict Formula comes in!  Who is Harris and Benedict?  Do you really care?  Google it.  We’re going going to use this formula to calculate how many calories your body burns every day when you’re out and about, moving, working, running, jazzersizing, etc.

Take that BMR number you just calculated, and figure out where you fit into this equation:

  • Little or no exercise : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Okay, so we spent the past three days plugging numbers into formulas and multiplying answers by fractions.  Boring stuff I know, but as nerds you gotta at least appreciate the simplicity behind it.  (Note: this number doesn’t take into effect extreme amounts of lean muscle mass or excess fat; if you’re built like Brad Pitt in fight club you’ll need MORE calories than it says to maintain your weight, and if you’re built like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers you’ll need LESS calories to maintain your weight.)

Okay, now we get to the fun stuff, actually losing weight!  If you learn one thing today, let it be this: 1 Pound of Body Fat is made up of 3500 calories.  Do not forget this.  This piece of info will help shape your future as a healthy individual.  If you’re looking to lose 1lb of fat, you’ll have to figure out a way to consume 3500 less calories per week, burn 3500 extra calories per week, or some combination of the two.  Further breaking it down, this equates to 500 less calories per day if you want to lose 1 lb of body fat.

WARNING: If you get a crazy idea to to cut your calorie intake drastically and lose lots of weight quickly, it won’t work. If you cut the calorie intake back (I’m talking way down), your BMR will actually slow down to keep the food inside you longer because your body thinks it’s starving.  So, don’t try to lose more than 1% of your body weight per week (generally a loss of 1-2 pounds per week is okay).  Nice try, sucka!

If you’re looking for a starting point, this is it.  Tomorrow, I want you to keep track of EVERY SINGLE THING you eat, count your calories, and find out where you fit in (gain/lose/maintain).   See if there’s a place for you to cut out 500 calories.  If you can only find 200 or 300, then we’ll have to make up the rest with exercise.  Which exercises burn the most calories?  Check back tomorrow and we’ll break it down…

-Steve

Previous Posts

Next Post

Level Up Your Life #3 – Basal Metabolic Rate

Yesterday you figured out your Body Mass Index.  Congratulations, we now have a starting point for you.  The next thing we need to determine is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). In a nutshell, this rate will tell you how many calories your body uses to stay alive…or in other words, how many calories you’ll burn when you spend the entire day on the couch playing Halo (not that any of us have ever done that before, ever).  Sure, it’s not exactly real-world applicable because you get up and move all day, but for those of you who work desk jobs and don’t get any exercise, it’s a pretty good estimation.  To answer your next question, no…playing minesweeper on your laptop doesn’t really count towards burning calories.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find an embeddable BMR calculator (and I looked for a solid 5 minutes), so you’ll have to go here to input your data.

Once you find out what your BMR is (mine is 1923.3), go ahead and mess around with the different numbers.  Increase your weight, and your BMR goes up.  Makes sense, there’s more of you to go around, so your body has to work harder to keep it maintained.  As you get older, your BMR decreases; the older you get the slower things happen.  When it comes to gender, girls use up less calories per day than guys. That’s just how it is.

You might ask how your Basal Metabolic Rate is determined.  Honestly, I’d explain the whole formula and equation but it’s boring as hell and a waste of time to type it out when this site explains it better.  Just know that it works, and it’s accurate.

Now that we have your BMR, make sure you write it down and remember it.  We’ll use this number when determining how many calories you’re burning on a daily basis after factoring physical activity.   Soon, we can look into how many calories you eat and what activities you do; every one of these things will determine your mass.  When you break it down, calories consumed vs. calories used will determine if you gain weight, lose weight, or maintain.

Check back tomorrow to learn how to take your BMR, your level of activity per week, and calculate how many calories you need every day.

-Steve

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Level Up Your Life #2 – Body Mass Index

Leia's BMI: 19.  Jabba's BMI: 5432

Leia’s BMI: 19. Jabba the Hutt’s BMI: 5,472

Yesterday you made the decision that you want to get in shape. Now, the first thing we need to do is to figure out what your goals are.  If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to get there.

Right now, I want you to write down 3 specific fitness goals: lose 35 pounds, do 40 consecutive push ups, run a mile in under 7 minutes.  Set goals even if they seem unrealistic; at least you’ll bust your ass to get there.  For example, I want to be on Ninja Warrior.  Gotta aim high, right?

Okay so you have your goals.  Now we’re going to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 years.  As long as you’re either a man or a woman (I like your chances), and in that age range (if you’re older than 65 and reading my blog, you’re officially the coolest old person I know), you can quickly figure out your BMI and that gives you a starting point on where you are and where you need to be.

To determine your BMI, click on the stick figure below and drag up and down to set your height and left and right to set your weight. Think of it like the Create-A-Player Mode in Madden, except instead of making a 450 lb. placekicker, you’re making a stick figure representation of yourself.  Once you set the height and weight (make sure you change it to standard, not metric), it will give you your score.

If you’re a uber-nerd and you want to know how your BMI is calculated, here is the formula.

BMI Calculator

Okay, so now you have your number; this is what your number means:

  • A healthy BMI score is between 19 and 25.
  • A score below 19 indicates that you may be underweight
  • A value above 25 indicates that you may be overweight.

First of all, if it’s higher than you expected don’t get discouraged; you have to start somewhere, right?  Every day we’ll work on getting that BMI down to help decrease your risk of disease.  Plus, you’ll look way better naked…so you got that goin for ya…which is nice.  If your BMI is way below 19 (and you’re a dude), read my blog on getting in shape and gaining weight; you’re in the minority, and people will yell at you when you say things like “I can’t gain weight!”  Please note, this BMI number only takes into effect your height and weight.  Your muscular build, if you’re a guy or a girl, and your body fat% can skew this number slightly, but it’s a good start point especially if you haven’t exercised since high school gym class.

Start adjusting the weight on your stick figure until the little number on him drops into the 20-25 BMI range – that’s where you want to be.  From a weight-loss stand point that’s your goal weight.  Don’t worry, we’ll work on turning you into a warrior from “300” soon, but first you need to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.  We now have a starting point (your BMI), and a goal in sight (your target weight).

Let’s fill in the middle steps.

-Steve

Yesterday’s Blog: Level Up Your Life: Making a Change

Next Blog: Basal Metabolic Rate

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Level Up Your Life #1 – Make a Change

Leonidas wants you to get in shape, I swear.

Leonidas wants you to get in shape, I swear.

Congratulations, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

As of right now, 2/3rds of Americans are considered overweight and 1/3rd of the nation is considered obese. Sure it’s easy to blame genetics, society, 5 dollar foot-longs, World of Warcraft, global warming, the Man, Scientology, your mom, etc…but at the end of the day it’s up to us to make a change.  I don’t care if you’re overweight and haven’t exercised in a day in your life.   Everything that has happened up until now is irrelevant; it’s a brand new day, and you’re going to make a change.

Now, every one of you will have a different reason for getting into shape.  You might be here because you want to get big muscles and beat the crap out of the kid who gave you a swirly yesterday.  You might be here because you know the new girl down in H.R. is a health nut and you want to impress her.  Hell, you might be here just because your doctor said you might be in trouble if you don’t start exercising.  Luckily, whatever reason brought you to this site is a good enough reason for me to help you make a change.  As long as the reason you’re here gets your ass out of that chair and moving, I’m all for it.

For the rest of this blog, I’m going to be optimistic and assume you want to get in shape.  Let’s talk about some benefits of that decision: when you get in shape, not only will you be stronger, more attractive, and live a better life, you’ll also be far less likely to contract all kinds of fatal diseases.  Seriously, just look at this list of stuff that you have a larger probability of getting if you’re overweight:

  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

That’s a long list of some pretty terrible diseases.  This is like going into a gun fight and without a vest.  Sure it might not save you, but when you have an opportunity to increase your chance of survival even a little bit you have to take it.  Getting into shape is your bullet-proof vest; if you could prevent any of those disease up above, you’d be a fool not to take action.  Now, let’s talk about all the other benefits of getting into shape:

  • More Energy – People that exercise are less tired than people who don’t exercise.
  • Sleep Better – Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep, which will give you more energy.
  • Stronger Heart and Lungs - Try living without either one of these things = epic fail.
  • Exercise improves your mood – Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which can make you feel happier than before you worked out…full of win.
  • Look better naked – Pretty self explanatory: who doesn’t want to look better naked?!  You don’t need to see studies to show that you will be more attractive to the opposite sex if you are in shape.  It’s science.
  • Feel better about yourself - Getting in shape will give you a higher self-esteem.  Woot.
  • Live longer – Studies have proven that those who exercise daily can add up to 4 years to their life.   Not only that, but your quality of life can dramatically increase for those later years if you’ve been exercising regularly.  You won’t be as useless!

Now, what kinds of changes are we talking here? Don’t be scared: when I say “make a change,” I’m not telling you to buy spandex, start running marathons, and eating spinach for every meal.  We’re talking baby steps here.  One day, one change at a time.  Some of the changes you’ll make might seem small and insignificant, but they will have a profound effect on your life and overall happiness (I promise).

Join me and work towards getting healthy.  To quote the greatest movie of all time, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really.  Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”  Tomorrow, we’ll take our first steps towards getting in shape.  Until then, take the next two minutes and watch this video, featuring an epic montage of 40 kick-ass movie speeches.  If this doesn’t get you fired up and make you wanna climb a mountain, you’re dead to me.


2 Minutes of Inspirational Speeches from Movies

Let’s get it done.

-Steve

Next step: Figuring Out Your Body Mass Index

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Find your Yoda

I met with Yoda tonight.

Sure he doesn’t look or act like Yoda, and the Force may not be strong with him, but I couldn’t be more thankful that he’s around.  My Yoda happens to be named Mike, a personal trainer guru from Colorado who taught my certification class.  Although he trains in Colorado, he travels all over the country to train trainers and hits up Atlanta quite frequently.  Whenever he’s in town I make a point to meet up with him for breakfast or after work.  In the short time I’ve gotten to know Mike, he’s quickly become an amazing mentor to me.  Tonight, I spent a good two hours just picking his brain (much better than picking his nose…yes I went there) on the fitness industry, personal training, and the next steps in my career.  I’m always amazed with how happy and willing Mike is to pass along knowledge and advice to me, stuff that people pay hundred and hundreds of dollars to get at seminars.  I’m very lucky.

I’ve realized that having a mentor is absolutely essential to anything do in life if you want to be successful.  If you want to get better at math, you find the smart kid in the class and ask for help (bad example, you all were probably were that smart kid).  If you want to be the best chess player on the planet, who do you play against?  You try to find the best, and learn from them.  If you want to be the best Counterstrike player in the world, you join a clan of the best players around.  Find people that have been there before you, and ask them how they did it.  Ask them what mistakes they made, what worked best for them, and follow their leads.  Go it alone and you might make it, but I guarantee it will take you a lot longer and probably cost you a lot more money.

I spent 6 years in a gym – from my sophomore year of high school until graduating college – doing what I thought was right; I wasted hours and hours of time and probably hundreds of dollars on equipment, supplements, and routines that turned out to be useless.  In just three sessions with a personal trainer my life changed completely.  Had I not been so dumb for so long I would have seen results and success much sooner.  Since then, I’ve learned my lesson, which is why I’m so thankful to know Mike.

Tonight, I asked for his advice on switching up my workout; it had become stale and boring and I was out of ideas.  Beginning next week I’ll be starting a brand new routine that emphasizes full body workouts three times a week and I couldn’t be more excited.  You might think that because I’m a personal trainer I should be able to train myself, but it’s not that easy.  There’s always room to improve, and always somebody who knows more than you, so you have to make an effort to never stop learning.

That path you’re thinking of exploring – find somebody to help you get started.  If you want to start a business, find somebody who started something similar and ask for advice.  If you want to get in shape, reach out to somebody who has the body type and lifestyle that you want for yourself.  Now, if you don’t have anybody that you can reach out to, shoot me an email at [email protected] with any fitness related questions, and I’ll gladly help you out.  Fitness is tough starting out if you don’t know where to begin (trust me, I know), so let me know what I can do to help you change your life.

Find your Yoda!

-Steve

The Top 5 Reasons to Do It With A Friend

Relax Mom, I’m talking about exercise.

Think about all the great duos in history.  Do you think Lloyd Christmas could have made it all the way to Aspen without Harry Dunne?  Do you think Derek Zoolander could have stopped Mugatu and created the Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too without Hansel?  Hell no.  How about growing up with your friends playing Contra on old school Nintendo.  Without the code (yeah I know you can recite it from memory right now, good for you), that game was freaking impossible if you’re flying solo.  Tag team it though, and those aliens don’t stand a chance.  Exercising is no different!  It’s better when you do it with a friend.

So you’ve made the decision to get in shape.  Sure you’ll feel all motivated and excited for the first week because things are going great…and then it rains one day, so you don’t work out, then you have a rough day at work and you take the next day off…pretty soon you’re right back where you started.  However, if you have a good friend who is going through the same thing you are, you can get through the rough patches together and make your lives better.  Let’s talk about 5 reasons why you’ll be more successful getting in shape when you do it with your friend:

1) Accountability -  When you decide to slack off and you’re the only person that’s affected by it, you let it slide.  However, if you’re part of a team and you let everybody down, the guilt kicks in.  Damn you guilt!  When you work out and exercise with a friend, you won’t be able to skip workouts so easily.  When you have a crappy day and don’t feel like going to the gym, your buddy can drag you there.  When he’s having a bad day, you can drag him there.  You’ll feel much better after the workout anyways!  One of the most important things about exercising is sticking to a consistent schedule; work out with a friend, and you’re 76.5% more likely to stick to it (yes I just made that up, but it’s probably true).

2) Motivation – Think back to grade school, when you had to run the mile…you made it 3/4ths of the way around the soccer field and gave up.  There was no motivation to go, nobody yelling positive words of encouragement – just Ned the bully making fun of your sweatpants.  When you’re out running to get in shape and you have another mile to go, it’s pretty easy to just give up and call it a day because you’re tired.  Rule #76 – No Excuses. Play like a champion!  When you’re running with a friend or trying to crank out an extra five push ups, his/her words of encouragement will push you farther than you think you could go.

3) Spotting – I’ll never forget my first day in the gym.  Other than looking like a jackass, I loaded up too much weight onto a bar and tried to do some bench presses.  Definitely dropped it right onto my chest, and then one weight slipped off one side, which IMMEDIATELY put the bar way out of balance and the weight on the other side fell off too.  Like a scene out of a movie, everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at me.  Epic fail.

To avoid situations like this, work out with somebody else who can spot you while lifting.  If you’re trying to gain more muscle mass, you make the most gains during those last one or two repetitions which are extremely dangerous when done by yourself.  However, if you have somebody helping you along and motivating you (I see you #2) you’re more likely to get through the workout and get more out of your exercises.  Also, with a friend spotting you, they can tell you when you’re doing an exercise improperly.  Start good habits and good form on each exercise from the beginning, and you’re way less likely to get hurt from lifting improperly.

4) Share Information – Fitness is one of those great things where you’re always learning something new.  Two minds are better than one, so think of how many more things you can learn with two people!  You’ll be sharing information, workout tips, even good recipes (or phone numbers to good take-out places if you’re useless in the kitchen).  Buying workout equipment/apparel?  Might be cheaper to buy two and save on shipping.  Buying a gym membership?  Find out how much the gym will pay you for referring a friend and split the savings.  Want to get a personal trainer?  Ask what the rates are for two people at once instead of just one.  Save money, get smarter, be more efficient.  What’s not to like?

5) More FUN – Working out can get boring!  Running can get dull.  Sticking with your routine every day can get repetitive.  And nobody wants to hear about how much you can bench or how many pull ups you did yesterday, especially if they don’t exercise.  However, if you have a workout buddy, you can g-chat each other all day long about what’s the new plan at the gym and they’ll listen, because they’re on the same page as you.  When you pair up at the gym, you’ll have somebody to talk to, crack jokes with, and somebody to listen to how crappy your day was (just don’t over do it).  Besides, with your friend there you can have healthy debates like, what’s better, “the Shield” or “the Wire,” what the hell is “drinkability,” and if the girl on the treadmill is hot or not.

There you have it. Now, it comes down to what friend you want to pick.  Pick whoever you want, as long as they’ll make you a better person in the gym.  If you can find a friend who has already worked out before, even better…he can show you the ropes.

Whatever you do, don’t pick the smelly kid because you’ll pass out when he’s bent over trying to spot you while you’re doing bench presses.

-Steve

How a Computer Programmer Lost 33 Pounds in 12 weeks

About three months ago, I got an instant message from my friend Saint up in Massachusetts who works as a programmer for a computer software company.  That morning, he told me that he stepped on the scale and finally decided that he had put on too much weight.  It was time for a change.  Beginning that day, I’ve been working closely with Saint to develop a better diet, a free workout plan (he doesn’t have a gym membership or any weights), and a lifestyle that provides him with more energy and a healthier life.  Since then, he’s been so successful that I asked him to answer a few questions about his life then and now:

Describe a typical day before you decided to change things up.  What did you weigh?

Saint: 236 pounds.  A typical day for me would always begin with me waking up late for work.  I have an hour and half commute so i need to leave the house around 7:30AM.  I was usually waking up late because of my awful sleep habits: not only would I play Everquest II til all hours of the night, but my snoring/lack of getting oxygen while sleeping kept me always tired too.

As I arrived at work I just sat down, with out eating breakfast at all.  I’d probably grab a Cherry Coke around 10-10:30 and be starving when I got to lunch which was generally a large sub with a side of cream of broccoli soup or a personal pizza. I’d have another Coke or one of those frozen Starbucks’s Coffees you can buy.  Around 3PM, I would grab another coke to give me enough energy to last until the end of the work day at 5.

Driving home from work was be atrocious; I’d be falling asleep the whole time and call people to stay awake, usually having to stop at a fast food place to curb my appetite.  I would get home and have a huge dinner.  I can’t tell you what i was eating, because I never paid attention.  I do know that it was usually a lot of pasta or a lot of meat, and I would eat as fast as I could because i was starving.

“I don’t eat till I’m full, I eat till I hate my self” -Louis ck. Perfect description.

After dinner, i would grab a soda or something around 6:30 and jump on EverQuest. While playing, I would grab snacks or caffeine to keep me awake and keep playing. Around 10 my sister would get home from Starbucks (where she works) with the food that wasn’t eaten…which usually would just go right to my face: usually two Chocolate fudge, chocolate muffins with cream cheese in the middle.  MMMMMMMMM.  Around midnight I’d take a break from the game to make myself a chicken quesadilla or some sort of microwavable food.  At 1AM I’d hop off the computer and head to bed.

Yeah, that’s not exactly gonna keep the weight down…  Let’s talk about your motivation: what put your over the edge and why did you decide to make the change?  Everybody knows one of the hardest parts about getting into shape is admitting to yourself that it’s something you need to do.  How did it happen?

Saint: My motivation to make the change was after 3 months of averaging over 80 hours a week playing EverQuest II.  I stepped the scale on a weekly basis and watched it go up and up and up.  After finding out from my girlfriend that we were going on vacation in March, I stepped on the scale one day and finally decided that I had to make a change.  Hell, my clothes weren’t even fitting anymore.  I just had enough of it, and needed to start living better.

I’m glad it happened.  I know we talked about it a few months before that, but until you got to that point where you were ready to make a change, there wasn’t anything I could do.  To say you’ve made a change is an understatement: you’re a different person.  Describe a typical day now, and now what do you weigh?

Saint: I’m down to 212 lbs (and counting!)[editor’s note: Since the first publishing of this article, Saint lost another 9 lbs in the next 3 weeks, bringing his weight down to 203!].  The changes to my daily routine that I made are not as hard as you think.  Instead of soda I drink water, about 5 – 6 bottles a day.  Instead of coffee, I have been drinking Green Tea.  I eat breakfast (Egg White Frittata Sandwich ), LOADED with good proteins. [NF Note: Saint deciding to eat breakfast every day was one of the biggest changes he made] My lunch is a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato. My dinners have been any thing with pork or chicken.  Every day I try to either play basketball or go for a run, and then do push ups, crunches on other days. I have changed over to Left 4 Dead rather than EQII for the last couple months mainly because I didn’t have enough time to get raid gear and do multiple 6 hour long quests. Honestly, it dawned on me that I was leveling up my character to no end.  It never ends and you get pretty much nothing out of it. I figured I’d rather level up in real life while saving the world…from a zombie apocalypse.

What are your goals moving forward?

Saint: My goal moving forward is to get down to 199.  Back when I started my weight loss, cracking the 200 barrier sounded like a far-off dream.  Now that I’m down to 203, 199 is RIGHT THERE.  As I lose the weight, my goals are to start building some muscles and look like Kratos from God of War, Daniel Craig in Casino Royal, or Ryan Reynolds (how freaking ripped is this guy!?).  Yeah those might sound like crazy goals, but 199 sounded crazy to me too just a few months ago, and look a me now.  A healthy lifestyle isn’t nearly as bad as it seems.  I still pig out on Saturdays and just continue on my way. Every day when I look at my spinach and egg whites and Tabasco sauce, I just say “this is what I do now” and keep on trucking.  It’s amazing.  I now have more energy, my clothes fit (or are too big), and I feel better about my life.  Things can only get better.

What’s the one thing you think that had the most impact on your weight loss?

Saint: The thing I think contributed the most to my transformation was encouragement and positive support from my friends and family.  My closest friends were all rooting for me and giving me advice, so once I let them know I was getting healthy and back in shape, I didn’t want to let any of them down.  Also, I can’t tell you how great it felt each week to step on the scale and watch the number go down and down.

We’ll keep checking in with Saint over the next few months as he continues to transform himself into a new person.  Also, Saint has some before pictures of himself, but his camera broke so once he gets it fixed we’ll be getting those posted as well.  There you go guys, a true success-story in the making.  As I posted in yesterday’s blog, step 1, is deciding that you want to get in shape.  Step 2 is doing something about it.

Get there.

-Steve

5 Reasons to Get 30 Minutes Of Exercise at Least 3 Times a Week

I WAS RUNNING!

I WAS RUNNING!

So, my good friend Ali (3rd year med student at Emory) took offense to my blog yesterday that dissed straight cardio and running.  Also a little known fact: don’t ever call it “jogging” in front of a runner, because they will rip you a new a-hole.  As a future doctor and marathon runner, I guess she knows what she’s talking about, so I amended the post to be less one-sided and more informative.  She also brought up a good point when it comes to medical articles and fitness articles; you shoud always check your sources, and the sources of the authors.  Even though MSN reported on something, not citing their source could mean that the study hasn’t been published yet, had unusual results, or all the facts simply weren’t published.

Thank you Ali.  In her defense of cardio, she has come up with the five best reasons why you should be doing 20-30 minutes of cardio (even just straight running) at least 3 times a week.  See, my last blog was biased because running bores me.  However, for others it’s a great way to start your day, get away from reality for 30 minutes, and stay in shape.  Without further ado, here are those reasons!

1.  Running really is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories, both time-wise and money-wise. You burn approx 100 calories per mile (regardless of pace) AND all you need is a good pair of shoes, no other equipment of gym membership necessary.  The basis of weight loss involves expending more calories than you absorb.  Each mile gets you closer to a better body!

2. Reduced risk of cardiac disease Nobody likes heart disease, especially your heart.  Why not have a healthy heart, and live far longer, spend less time in the hospital, and don’t spend nearly as much money on health care?  If you want the boring proof on this, here is your article.

3.  Running gets you high. Running causes some pain, which causes endorphins to be released.  Endorphins activate the same chemical receptors as morphine (and heroin),  so you get a little high, and it makes you happy.  Plus, you don’t have to deal with the whole extremely drug-addiction, arrest thing…so you got that going for you, which is nice.  You’ll also have more energy which will allow you to concentrate better during those marathon sessions in WoW.

4.  Running is a weight-bearing exercise, so it promotes bone growth. This is especially important for women.  Stronger bones = happy bones = happy people.

5.  Improving cardiovascular health (making your heart stronger, lowering blood pressure, etc.) will improve your endurance for OTHER exercises, like hopscotch and twister.  Wait, what exercises did you think we were talking about?  Pull your head out of the gutter! (but yes, it will help there too).

So there you have it, from the mouth of a marathon-running doctor-in-the-making.  Even though there are millions of diet pills, stupid ab machines, and “NEW” workout plans that will make you lose weight faster than anything in the past…it’s all crap.  What it comes down to is a consisten diet, burning more calories than you eat, and getting 20-30 minutes of raised-heart rate activity at least 3 times a week.  Between yesterday’s blog and today’s blog, hopefully you see that these options are all variations on the same theme.   Whatever you decide to do, DO IT, and stick to it.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with my friend Saint, a software developer who has lost 24 pounds (and counting) over the past 9 weeks.

-Steve

NPD: Wii Fit sells record-setting 777K in January – News at GameSpot

Work those glutes!

Work those glutes!

Looks like Nintendo’s little balance board is continuing to kick ass.

“Reporting on US software, hardware, and accessory sales today, the NPD Group revealed that industry revenues stood at $1.33 billion for January, a 13 percent climb from a year prior.  Falling in line with analysts’ expectations, US software sales amounted to $676.6 million in January, a 10 percent increase over last January’s $614.7 million haul. And as expected, Nintendo’s Wii Fit absolutely clobbered the competition. The Balance Board-equipped fitness training game sold 777,000 units for the month, a figure that sets a new record for the most single-SKU sales in January.”

via NPD: Wii Fit sells record-setting 777K in January – News at GameSpot.

Holy crap that’s a lot of Wii-Fits.  Can you say “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?” I guess if there’s gonna be one game that will break records for a normally slow month, it might as well be a health related video game.  I’m just glad to see so many people are making the effort to get in shape.  Hopefully other companies are taking notice of these sales and developing interesting ways to use the board in their games…Electronic Arts I’m looking in your direction..cough..SSX.

-Steve

And Now for Something Completely Different

And now, for something completely different: I’ve watched this video at least 30 times in the past two days, and I’ve hurt my chest from laughing every single time. It actually gets funnier with each viewing. Can anybody tell what he’s saying (and in what language) before he goes horizontal?

-Steve

Protein and Tetris – Building Blocks of Muscle Development

Complete that sucka!

Complete that sucka!

Protein is the long 4-block piece in Tetris. “WTF does that mean” you ask.  Luckily, I have the rest of this blog to explain it to you.  Let’s get the quick science-y crap out of the way first: Proteins are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.  Amino acids (which have nitrogen in them) are molecules that exist in the human body.  Your body can create 11 of those Amino acids naturally in its system (pat yourself on the back).  However, there are nine others that your body can’t make (you slacker), so you need to get them through your diet.

Still awake?  Good, now back to the videogame talk: think back to tetris: all the different shapes are different kinds of protein.  Weeeeeeeeeeee!  Some are the kinds that your body make, and some are the kinds that you get through your diet.  Every time you clear a line, your score goes up and your muscles get rebuilt.  When you work out, your muscles are broken down and over the next 48 hours they’re slowly rebuilt just a little bit stronger.   Sure your body can rebuild them naturally (like slowly clearing one line after another in the game), but when you throw some protein from your diet in there, BAM! 4 line Tetris – big score, faster muscle recovery and growth!  Certain proteins are higher quality (the straight Tetris pieces) while others are lower quality (think the squares – they clear lines, but they’re less efficient in the process).  Let’s find out which pieces are which:

High Quality Protein (the long pieces) – these are complete proteins, and the most efficient

Eggs – now you know why Rock drank raw eggs – I wouldn’t recommend that though.

Fish - tuna especially…unfortunately I hate tuna.

Poultry – Chicken! Lots of chicken.

Meat – lean ground beef is a favorite of mine, great for burgers or in spaghetti sauce.

Dairy – those milk ads were onto something…

Lower quality proteins (square pieces) –

Grains – if you don’t know what grains are, then we have a lot to work to do.

Legumes – beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts

Vegetables – if it’s green, it’s probably good for you…unless it’s ecto-cooler.  Remember that stuff?

Let’s talk about when you should be eating protein. Whether you’re trying to gain weight or lose weight, protein needs to be a major component of your daily diet.  Like I said earlier, when you work out your muscles are broken down, and over the next 24-48 hours they’re rebuilt.  Don’t waste your time working out unless you’re going to fill your body with high-quality protein immediately afterward, and then on a regular basis for the next 48 hours.  Most people don’t realize this, but all of your gains and success in the gym comes when you’re NOT working out.  Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this until after spending 4 years in a gym unsuccessfully trying to put on muscle mass (I’m a jackass).  Once I figured it out, I bulked right up.

Let’s use another analogy: if your body is a mason, you have to provide it with materials constantly throughout the day or it will run out of stuff to do and stop working.  Try to spread that protein intake out evenly through the day by having some with each meal (breakfast especially – your body has been without food for 8-9 hours at that point).  You should try to get at least 20-30% of your daily diet from protein.  If you’re eating 1800 calories…that means you should be eating 90 grams of protein a day or more.  For you skinny nerds looking to build muscle mass, you should be eating close to a gram of protein per pound of body weight, spread out evenly for every three hours you’re awake.  Yeah, it’s a lot of protein, and a lot of eating, but that’s what needs to be done.

Look at that list of protein guys and gals, and memorize it.  Learn to love the food there, because it will become a huge part of your diet, and an even bigger reason why you’ll be in shape.  I know it’s tough to get that much protein in your diet all the time, which is where protein shakes and protein powders come in.  I’ll be writing a blog soon on what protein supplements are legit and which ones are useless.  For now, just try to stick with regular “whey protein” supplements that don’t have anything else in them except that.  Mix with low-fat milk for a double protein boost!

-Steve

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