Podcast Ep. 13 | Beer + Fitness = Love

So THIS Is Fitness Podcast Ep 13

Podcast Ep 13 | Beer + Fitness = Love

Listen Now! Episode player embedded below.

It’s one of the weirdest team-ups out there…but for some reason beer (well, alcohol in general) and fitness seem to go together just like peanut butter & jelly.

I, for one, enjoy a good brew every now and then…as does every other Average Joe out there. But there are some questions we should probably be asking before we start chugging away, don’t you think?

Read more…

The Athlete’s Willy Wonka – Perfect Fuel Review

Chocolate Designed For Fitness

Do I have your attention now?

Not all performance fuels are created equally…and nearly NONE of them are chocolate.

I am absolutely IN LOVE with Perfect Fuel Chocolate. The co-founders have taken a great idea, tested it, evolved it, and now? Well…

Somehow they’ve taken chocolate to a place we’ve always wanted it to go but never thought possible. Kids, it’s time to fuel your day on chocolate. Let’s talk “how and why” 🙂

Read more…

Back To Basics

I Have Lost My Way.

I’ve been lost, wandering, and floundering nutritionally and in my fitness since just before my wedding last August. Going on 6 months now. 3 months of flat-out not working out, and 3 months of trying and failing to stick with a program. Nothing has stuck. I feel lost.


This is not a new feeling for me, and I don’t like how the rest of the story goes. I know there are others, probably some people reading this, who are in the same boat – forward progress has come to a complete halt, or maybe never began in the first place. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, or flounder, or get lost, or fall off the wagon…the trick is centering yourself and getting back on track.

Fortunately, I know how to stop this and right the ship. I’m not going to allow myself to go back over 200 lbs.

It’s time to go back to basics.

So what exactly are those “basics”? Is there some magic fix for this situation? Sure there is. Strap in, this is gonna be a doozie (the revelation AND this blog post) –

Proper Nutrition and Exercise

There, I said it. And let’s be honest – you knew I was going to. The basics: Proper Nutrition and Exercise. It kind of is magic how well it works. Eating the right amount of the right stuff will do the trick, and getting some exercise will help the process – it’s that easy and that complicated.

So where do I even begin? How do I figure out what “the right amount” and the “right stuff” is?

Step 1: What is your goal?

You have to know where you’re going before you can figure out how to get there. We’ll keep it simple right now and lump all your possible goals into three categories: do you want to gain weight (build muscle), lose weight (burn fat) or maintain (stay the same)?

Step 2: How much should I eat?

This is the deceptively hard part. How many calories do you think you should be eating? You might be shocked by the answer.

Process:
A. Figure out your BMR – B. Figure out your “Maintenance Number” – C. Figure out your target calories

Part A.) BMR is your “Basal Metabolic Rate” – it’s how many calories you burn simply existing…y’know, like, comatose. There are several formulas you can use to figure this out…I prefer the Mifflin – St. Jeor (and a recent ADA study found it to be the most accurate).

W = weight in kilograms
(weight (lbs) / 2.2) =weight in kg

H = height in centimeters
(inches x 2.54) = height in cm

A = age in years

Men
(10 x W) + (6.25 x H) – (5 x A) + 5 = BMR

Women
(10 x W) + (6.25 x H) – (5 x A) – 161 = BMR

Save this number – you’re going to need it in a minute.

Part B.) How active are you?

Some people sit at a desk all day and some people are constantly moving – how active you are VERY MUCH affects how much you should eat in a day. Multiply your BMR by whichever of the following applies to you:

BMR x 1.2 – Sedentary (Desk job – sit around a lot)
BMR x 1.3 or 1.4 – Light Activity (light activity job…walking a bit)
BMR x 1.5 or 1.6 – Moderate Activity (waitress or other “moving” job)
BMR x 1.7 or 1.8 – High Activity (physically demanding lifestyle)
BMR x 1.9, 2.0, 2.1 or 2.2 – Extreme Activity (VERY Active physicaly-engaging job/Professional Athlete)

The result is the number of calories you must eat to stay exactly where you are: your “maintenance calories”. 

Part C.) Factor in your goal – lose, maintain, or gain.

Earlier, in Part A, what did you decide was your goal? Lose weight (burn fat), gain weight (build muscle mass) or maintain (stay the same)? If you said “maintain”, then the “maintenance calories” number we just figured out is your number.

If you want to lose weight: Generally, consuming 80% of your “maintenance calories” will lead you to a 1 lb/week weight loss. If you’ve got a LOT to lose, you can safely go to about 60% of your maintenance calories for a 2 lb/week loss – this is the absolute MINIMUM amount of calories you should eat.

If you eat too little you are not doing yourself any favors – your body can go into “survival mode”, afraid it will never receive food again, and store away a lot of what you give it as fat.

The absolute minimum calories you should ever eat, REGARDLESS of the above calculations, are below – NEVER go below these numbers. If your calculations try to take you lower, stop here.
1200 – women | 
1500 – men

Want to GAIN weight? – Instead of subtracting 20% or 40% from your “maintenance calories”…ADD 20% or 40%. This should be roughly a 500 or 1000 calorie addition. Adding much more than that won’t result in muscle gain…just fat.

Step 3: What should I eat?

This, too, will depend on your goals. The general guideline is “eat clean” and eliminate the junk. You can try doing this in 2 stages so it’s not such a shock to the system:

Stage 1 – Avoid fried foods, fast food, and soda, limit refined (white) sugar.
Stage 2 – Eliminate white sugar & limit artificial sweeteners (raw turbinado cane sugar is ok), try to do brown/wild rice & whole grain bread/pasta instead of white. Stick to lean meats (chicken, fish, lean beef, turkey, etc).

Macro-nutrient ratios are important too! – Everything you eat is made up of 3 “macro nutrients” – Protein, Carbohydrates, & Fat. Make sure that these are balanced in the correct ratio and you’ll do a lot to help yourself. GENERALLY, for fat loss, I like to stick with 50% protein, 30% carb, 20% fat. If you’re trying to gain weight or doing some sort of athletic performance, you’ll probably need more carbs (we’ll cover macros in more detail another day).

Step 4: When should I eat?

This is really up to you, though I DO have some guidelines:

1.) ALWAYS eat breakfast
Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day – it starts the fire and kicks your metabolism into gear. Make it count, have a couple hundred calories…take the early opportunity and throw some carbs on the fire!

2.) The Carb/Protein sliding scale
Short answer – Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day when your body needs the fuel for the fire, less carbs as the day goes on. More on this another day.

3.) Smaller, more frequent meals
Again, think of your metabolism like a fire – dumping a big pile of wood on the fire all at once makes it slow down and work through that big pile. If, every so often, you throw a little wood on the fire it will flare up and burn steady, shredding everything you throw at it.

4.) Spread it out
I trained myself to eat every 2 hours, and I continue that for as long as I’m awake. Think about it – the longer you’re awake – the more you’re doing – the more fuel you need. My last meal is generally 2 (maybe 3) hours before bed. Coupled with the smaller/more frequent meal idea…this is a recipe for success.

Step 5: Exercise – and eat what you burn!

Getting your nutrition in line is 80% of the battle, but exercising is important too! Exercise is a good way to (obviously) burn more calories, build some muscle, look (and feel) better, and just generally be healthier. It helps you really take charge of your health and get your fitness super-charged!

Everyone has different needs – some people don’t want to work out in a gym for whatever reason (maybe you’re not a self-starter, need constant hand-holding, and can’t afford a personal trainer 6 days a week). Some people CANNOT work out at home (distractions, lack of motivation, etc). Whatever your needs/desires, there IS an option out there for you! Maybe I can even help (and I’d be happy to!)! Regardless of the path you choose…one of the most important things to remember…

EAT THE CALORIES YOU BURN IN YOUR WORKOUT!

Yes, in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. However…you’re already doing that by doing all that math you did earlier in this post! It is crucial that you add the calories burned in a workout to your target calories for the day.

How do you figure out how many calories you burned? Most cardio equipment can give you a good estimate or you could invest in a wearable heart rate monitor (I recommend doing that). If you’re looking for guidance/recommendations feel free to comment on this post. So what’s the bottom line here?

Exercise & Proper Nutrition Are The “Basics” That Will Make It Happen!

If you don’t see the scale move…don’t get discouraged…remember – that number isn’t the only one that means something. If you’d like a little help/guidance feel free to email me (Darrell@SoTHISIsFitness.com) or leave a comment on this post.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist/registered dietitian or doctor – I have simply gone to the school of hard knocks. I have learned this through my own independent research, peer interaction, and trial/error.

It’s Easier…To Not.

Nobody is immune.
Up until 3 months ago, I was a 6-day-a-week fitness freak. I couldn’t even really rest on my rest day..I’d do yoga, or a long stretch session…something. Up until 3 months ago
Now I find it’s easier…to just…not.

Image from TVTropes.org
I’m once again in the shoes of so many others. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s so easy to just…sleep in. It’s so easy to just…take a little too long having coffee…and oops…no time left to work out. 
But in the end…it’s really not so easy… but you might not realize why until it’s too late.

I know because I did this already

Sometimes, for an instant, I forget that I was 300 lbs two years ago. SOMETIMES I forget why I do what I do…and I fall back into bad habits…we ALL do. That extra half-hour of sleep I got by ignoring my alarm? Wasn’t really restful. That extra time I stayed up last night? I accomplished zero useful things. I could keep giving examples (and I usually do) but the point is…all of these things we do…it’s just wasting time. Sure, TV’s great (and I happen to be on a Breaking Bad binge right now) but wouldn’t it be even MORE great to feel like you accomplished something today?

Yeah. It would. Know why?

It’ll always come back around in the long-term
Whether it’s in a month, a year, or more…eventually you’ll see the results – whether you wasted time or used it wisely. I miss that feeling of accomplishment when I lost a couple pounds, or when I completed a workout program…Honestly, the only thing I’ve accomplished lately is losing muscle, gaining fat, and making a dent in my couch.

Backsliding sucks

Image from GalleryHip.com

Example: I ran the Jingle Jog in Falmouth recently (recap coming soon) and I came in at 28:58. Many would say that’s great, and for many…it is!

But my PR is about 23:30.

I can do better than 28:58. Yes, I broke my knee. Whoopee. It’s healed – not an excuse. That time and my current condition is a result of not working out for the last three months.  Just not doing it has already come back around to bite me. Imagine what would’ve happened if I stayed out of it longer. Jeez…I might’ve ended up right back at 300 lb square one…

And now I have extra work to do

I have to make up for all those losses. I have to get back that 5 1/2 minutes I lost off my 5K time, gain back the muscle, lose the fat… And the best part?

It takes longer to fix than it did to break.

It can take much longer to re-lose the weight than it did to gain it back. That’s incredibly discouraging. Discouragement leads to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation leads you to…not. See the sick little self-fueling cycle we fall into?

You owe it to yourself to NOT not-

Every time you’re thinking “let’s…not”… just DO it. It’s easier to not, but it’s BETTER to not not. I immensely regret letting my fitness fall by the wayside. Hell, if I had stayed with my workouts…I might not have broken my knee in The Beast!

It’s time to do something about it.

You have to BEAT this. Every time you’re going to nothit it harder. You KNOW you can do it, and you know the saying…

I have already started – today is day 3 of Insanity. How about you?

No Regrets.

GMOMG! – Educate Yourself.

In our modern, advanced, intelligent society, I’m shocked to see that we’re still so susceptible to fear-mongering and mass ignorance. I’m sure we all know…

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

We have been wrong before. We believed the Earth was flat. We believed cigarettes were healthy. We believed diet soda was actually a healthy alternative to regular soda. Today, we seem to believe “GMO’s” are creating un-killable man-eating weeds, turning our soil toxic, and poisoning our children turning them into mutants.

My question is: Do you know why you hate “GMO’s”? Do you even know what they are? Really? If you use your noggin for a minute and try to see through the mob-mentality hysterics…I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

Let me clear something up right now: I’m not Pro-GMO. I’m not Anti-GMO. I’m Anti-Ignorance.

Get Educated. Let me teach you a few things…


I really can’t stand all the nonsense I see on Facebook. I see people blindly re-posting all kinds of anti-GMO propaganda (yeah, I used that word) and I can’t help but think… do you even KNOW what you’re saying by sharing/re-posting that?

Fear-mongering, scare tactics, and a gross misunderstanding/lack of actual facts has skewed things to the point where there’s a veritable war on GMO’s…and we may very well look back on it with immense regret. I’m going to do my best not to ramble. Let’s take this step by step.

First…What IS a “GMO”, anyway?


Farmers face a lot of challenges. Pests, drought, weather, and much more can lead to low crop yields. Farmers have to overcome it all – after all, we’re counting on them to feed us. Well, people realized that many organisms possessed qualities that would be IMMENSELY helpful in our crops to combat these very problems – hence, GM seeds. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. Basically, scientists take a gene from an organism with the desired trait and put it into the DNA of the seeds of a crop farmers grow, like corn or potatoes. 
Example: BT Corn. BT stands for Bacillus Thuringiensis. Corn has MAJOR pest issues – pests that are killed by a toxin BT produces. Essentially, introducing specific BT genes into corn made the corn produce that toxinThat’s right, toxic to specific pests (mostly), not ALL insects, not animals, not humans.

There’s also GM crops that are drought-tolerant and, more famously, resistant to pesticide. They’re even working on being able to fortify foods with additional vitamins they don’t normally have! If executed properly, something like that could solve a lot of problems around the world.

Ok…but…they’re bad!…right? 
science AND research
Says who? When I surf the internet and read all of the top results on GMO, Monsanto, and why everything to do with this topic is “Bad”…I see a lot of misinformation, scare tactics, and enough fear-inspiring trust-destroying buzzword combinations to make your head spin. There is a troubling lack of facts and peer-reviewed research associated with every claim I see that GMO’s are bad/evil/destroying the world. See this, this, and this as examples.


What claims are “they” making?


-GMO Corn caused tumors in rats

There were so many issues with this “study”, and it is completely debunked, yet anti-GMO groups are still harping on it as fact (yes, that was published well after retraction). Another anti-GMO site claimed GMO’s caused liver/kidney damage…but the “review” cited said itself that the tests were not sufficient to prove anything conclusive.

Farmers are being sued when GMO pollen blows into their crops

This is a big twisting of the truth. There are famous cases this is based on (see this, this and this). There are far less cases being brought up and going to court than many anti-GMO activist groups would lead you to believe. They’re going after people violating patent law by saving/replanting seeds, not wind-blown pollen.

-GMO Seed-sellers are “controlling and manipulating farmers”

Not quite. These Genetically Modified seeds are, essentially, akin to a software developer creating a new program, or an artist painting a new picture – they retain the rights to profit from their new creation. The scientist may not have created “seeds”, but they DID create seeds that have extra genes built-in. Copyright, trademark, and patent apply, even if it seems strange. The farmer agreed to these terms when they bought the seed. Nobody held a gun to their head – it was a choice.

-Monsanto et al are selling sterile “Terminator seeds”

While it’s true “Terminator seeds” (which do not grow back the next year) do exist, GM Companies have never actually put them to market. (that I know of)

-GMO crops are creating unstoppable pesticide-resistant super-weeds and super-pests

Pests and weeds are going to evolve and become resistant to our efforts just like the flu virus morphs and changes every year to resist the flu vaccine…but you don’t see pitchforks and torches outside your local clinic or pharmacy, do you?

-Pesticides are destroying good soil, rendering it forever useless without GMO seeds
-There’s collateral damage as a result of “Roundup-Ready” crops.
The list goes on. These are just some of the many allegations being made. I’m not here to refute them all, but I simply had to point out that some are, in fact, incredibly false.
“Label it! I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!”
This whole “gmo” labeling thing is such a huge deal right now…there are GMO labeling measures being fought for around the country…and food/drink/agriculture companies are pouring millions of dollars into the fight to squash it. Why?

Mandatory labeling accomplishes nothing.

Labels are great – they allow us to have more information and, thus, make informed decisions. Sorry to break it to you, but Mandatory GMO Labeling wouldn’t help us make any kind of decision we can’t already make. People say they want to know so they can know what they’re putting in their bodies. They want to know so they can avoid foods they don’t want. They want labeling because…they WANT it! And other countries have it, so why shouldn’t WE?!

Know what ELSE other countries have? Communism.

Seriously, though – every argument FOR mandatory labeling I see is a lot of demands, a lot of ignorance, a lot of “I THINK I know what’s up” and little or no fact / REAL good reason. Current U.S. Law requires labeling on new foods that have significant nutritional or allergenic characteristic, and the FDA has judged that, so far, there is no danger, health risk, or reduced nutritional value from GM foods. There are many “Certified Organic” and “non-GMO certified” foods labeled as such. So…all those “informed choices” you want to make? You already can.

On the flip side, all the arguments I see against mandatory labeling are based upon facts, research, and real reasons. There would be a lot of cost involved in such an endeavor. Mandatory labeling hasn’t exactly gone like a dream in other countries. Customers ALREADY have choices (as I said above). My favorite reason – mandatory labeling would imply some kind of health risk – you don’t need to be a genius to imagine how that would pan out…it’d be like slapping on a poison label.

There IS positive potential for GM foods

I’m no expert, but given the technology GM foods could solve a lot of problems. Better pest resistance and less reliance on pesticides could mean it’d be less expensive for farmers to…farm. Less crop loss due to pests means more people get fed. Genetic Engineering could lead to larger fruits and vegetables, feeding more people. Vitamin enrichment could solve critical vitamin deficiencies in other parts of the world. Drought-resistance could mean crops could be grown in far more places – more people get fed. All in all, GM foods could be a big part of the fight against world hunger and feeding an ever-increasing world population.

And if we freak out and squash GMO’s…we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

TRUTH IS – We’ve been doing this for centuries 

Maybe not the same way, but farmers have been “messing with” your food for a very long time. How do you think broccolini exists? Farmers have been doing their own (more crude and unpredictable) genetic modification for a very long time. Cross-breeding, selective breeding/planting, etc. This is not a new idea, just a new method. Why, all of a sudden, are we upset?
Again, let me be clear – I am not pro-GMO. I am not anti-GMO. I’m simply remaining open-minded. I’m forming my opinion and making my decisions based on fact, not fear. I’m certainly not blindly following what everyone else tells me about GMO’s. If YOU would like to be educated and sound a whole lot smarter when you talk about GMO’s, you can visit any of these sites/read any of these studies:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-linking-genetically-modified-corn-to-cancer/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2012/09/24/does-genetically-modified-corn-cause-cancer-a-flawed-study/

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/monsantos-good-bad-pr-problem/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/
http://www.popsci.com/article/science/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked
http://gmoanswers.com/
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf

Please – be educated. Know what you’re talking about before you join a fight that could have major global impact later on. Be open, learn something, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion :).