Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Every few years the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) work together to publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This 144-page document is full of medically and scientifically sound information discussing how you can keep yourself and your family healthy. To keep it simple, this document is broken down into 5 main guidelines that anyone can follow:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

The Dietary Guideline also gives some key recommendations to kick-start your healthy eating pattern.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

In tandem with the recommendations above, Americans of all ages should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

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Who Should Take Supplements?

A common question I receive is “should I take this supplement?” A lot of people want to believe that supplements alone will allow them to achieve their fitness and health goals. My full opinion of supplements can be found in the supplements chapter of 2 Weeks to Health First Edition which is available for free here. But in summary, no supplement can fix an ongoing pattern of poor nutrition and exercise choices.

Taking supplements will not make up for a diet that lacks in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, and plenty of water. Also, no protein or creatine supplements will create muscle on their own without completing the adequate exercise. While supplements certainly have their place, I recommend to most of my clients to lay off the supplements and focus on getting their nutrition from real foods. However, there are times when people need to supplement in order to stay healthy.

Who for sure needs vitamin and mineral supplements? A pregnant or breastfeeding woman, a woman able to become pregnant, someone on a restrictive diet (vegetarian, vegan, cultural), someone with limited milk and sunlight exposure, someone with a diagnosed health condition that affects the body such as anemia, elderly adults, and someone who is unable or unwilling to consume a healthy diet (food intolerances or allergies). If you fall into one or multiple of these categories, talk to your doctor or dietitian about which supplements you may want to take. I do not recommend you take any supplements without first consulting a medical professional. For conditions such as these, neither myself nor any other personal trainer is qualified to prescribe these types of supplements for these conditions so it is important to see a doctor.

What is the worst that can happen if you take supplements without a doctor’s approval? Many prescription drugs as well as supplements are plant-based and may react with one another. It is not uncommon for someone to experience side effects after mixing certain supplements and medications. Always ensure your doctor is informed about what you are taking and they give you their approval. And if you aren’t required to take supplements from your doctor, focus on getting your nutrition from real food and use the money you saved from not purchasing expensive supplements on a gym membership.

 

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 9: Improving Your Diet # 2

This is day 9 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

If you get 1% better at something every day then it is a successful day

After yesterday I know some of you are thinking “I’ll just limit myself to eating one Big Mac meal and a couple frozen dinners today so I don’t go over on carbs and fats”, or something along those lines. On day 4 we discussed the MyPlate model, and your diet should look similar to how that plate looked, roughly 25% vegetables, 25% grains, 20% fruits, 20% protein, and 10% dairy, these number do not need to be exact. First, make your diet resemble the MyPlate model, then adjust your portions to meet your macronutrient needs. A well balanced diet is paramount, and often time when someone switches from a fast food diet or a meat and potatoes diet to a MyPlate diet (balanced died), they will automatically fall near the amount of macronutrients they need.

I won’t talk a lot about what to eat, but here are some examples of my favorite (simple to cook) meals that together make up the MyPlate model:

Breakfast – Egg White, Bell Pepper and Onion Omelet: Cook a couple egg whites in a skillet with olive oil, and sauté a cup of cut bell peppers and onion in another skillet. Add the peppers and onion to the eggs and you have an omelet. This recipe will give you some of your daily protein from the eggs (contrary to what some people believe, eggs are not dairy), and veggies from the peppers and onion. This makes for a pretty good sized omelet that has less than 200 calories. Add a little bit of cheese to get a serving of dairy, or a piece of whole wheat toast for some grains.

Lunch – Italian Chicken Salad: When you are making dinner the previous night, knock out lunch for tomorrow and throw some chicken in the oven for the next day, marinate with Italian seasoning. Then for lunch pull out some romaine lettuce, the chicken from the night before, Italian dressing, and any other veggies you might want. If you are going to eat pasta for dinner like in this example, be careful that your croutons don’t put you over your limit!

Dinner – Whole Wheat Pasta: Whole wheat pasta in moderation is a great food. Boil some whole wheat pasta and add mushrooms and onions to some crushed tomatoes. Cook ground turkey or chicken in a separate skillet and add to the sauce. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy. This meal gives you grains from the pasta, vegetables from the sauce, protein from the turkey, and a bit of dairy from the cheese (dairy isn’t really necessary but tasty). Just make sure you don’t go overboard with the eating, just like all foods, watch your portion size. Many people believe the carbs in pasta are what make you fat, this is not true. A sustained calorie surplus makes you fat, so pasta/carbs will only make you fat if you eat too much of it, just like any other food.

Snack – Fruit Smoothie: I love making smoothies as a snack or sometimes for breakfast. You can put almost anything in a smoothie, but personally I prefer a tropical blend. Add a banana, a couple strawberries, some pineapple, mango, and orange slices into a blender. Add some spinach (it’ll turn it green but you won’t taste it), ice, and milk or water. Blend and enjoy! Commercial smoothies will often add simple syrup or sugar to their smoothies, so be careful when you buy smoothies from a restaurant or store. Adding sugar isn’t necessary because the natural sugars from the fruit will make it delicious without additives.

Some of you are probably saying “those foods sound gross”. That is why I don’t want to give recipes or tell you exactly what to eat, we all have our own tastes. But definitely experiment with and try new foods so that you can cook and eat great tasting healthy foods that won’t put you over your calorie and macronutrient counts.

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another medical condition, you may need to add another layer to your healthy eating model beside just the macronutrients and the MyPlate model. I recommend if you have any questions regarding this area to contact a dietician or your doctor. Your gym probably has a nutritionist or dietician you can talk to, or they can at least can refer you to someone.

I try to only eat ‘healthy fats’ for my daily fat intake. ‘Healthy fats’ are actually needed for our bodies to stay healthy, but what’s the difference? When you read a nutrition facts label, essentially when you see trans fats, those are bad. These fats are found in processed foods and are not naturally occurring. Try to completely eliminate trans fats. Saturated fats should also raise a yellow flag. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products such as dairy and meats. Try to limit saturated fats due to its high calorie density without added health benefits. Unsaturated fats are often considered to be the good fats, and are often found in vegetables and nuts. Unsaturated fats can decrease your cholesterol and will improve your health if you consume these in place of the bad fats and in moderation. Try to get most of your daily fat allowance from unsaturated fats.

It is also important to plan your meals before you eat them. Before I go to the store each week I have my meals planned for the entire week, this prevents me from buying things I don’t need. Not only does this save money, but it keeps me from buying foods I don’t need for my meals. The more food you have laying around your home, the more likely you are to eat more than you need to. Sometimes I splurge and buy some chips or ice cream (which I never make as part of my normal diet), and before I know it I consumed 1000 calories of ice cream without realizing it just because I can. That is why I only keep the bare minimum at my house. You need to make your environment work for you. If your environment is full of unhealthy snacks, then you will likely eat those unhealthy snacks. If your environment is filled with healthy foods and only the foods you need for the week, then it will be easier to eat healthy.

Meal planning is also important so that when you when you start getting hungry, you know exactly what you are eating for your next meal. Without knowing what you are going to eat it becomes very easy to over snack and then miss the mark for the MyPlate model and your macronutrients for the day.

Eating healthy can be very difficult at first, but once you learn the basics and start experimenting with different foods and combinations, it will be fun. Eventually you will get so good at it that you won’t need to even think about the MyPlate model or even too much about your macronutrient needs, they will just happen. This transition will take some time though. The basics to better health can be learned in 2 weeks, but you will never stop learning new ways to better your health. This process is a marathon, but not a literal marathon, I don’t expect you to ever be able to run 26.2 miles. It takes a while to learn everything and even longer to implement what you learn, so be patient with the process but keep pushing yourself.

I hope you had/have a great workout today. Tomorrow is all about dietary supplements and which ones you should and shouldn’t take.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 8: Improving Your Diet # 1

This is day 8 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.

One of my favorite phrases is ‘abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym’. Today we are going to discuss how to improve your diet starting with your calorie and/or macronutrient analysis from day 5. If you didn’t do this analysis yet, read this article, log your diet, and complete this after you have a solid log to look at. Please do not blow off the diet and nutrients part of this course, it is just as important as exercise.

Grab your food log and look at how many calories and/or grams of fats, proteins, and carbs you consumed each day. First, how do you feel about your diet and your monitoring process? My guess is that you tried to eat a little bit healthier just because you had to write down what you ate. That’s good, but now we are going to compare what you ate with what you should eat. I’m going to have you do another Google search. Search for “macronutrients calculator”. Select a couple calculators that you want to try out, there are a lot of them.

Enter the information it asks for, and click calculate. The output will be how many grams of fats, carbs, and proteins you should be eating per day. For example if you are a 35 year old, 200 pound, 5’ 5” female who wants to cut fat and is lightly active, according to one calculator you should be eating around 1,587 calories, 159 grams of carbs, 159 grams of protein, and 35 grams of fat per day. Every calculator will give you slightly different numbers because different calculators will prefer higher amounts of protein in the diet than others. These estimated numbers will not change as long as you maintain the same weight, goals, and activity levels. If there is any change to those three things, you will need to recalculate your recommended macronutrient values. Keep in mind, even if you have a hard workout and burn 500 calories, you can’t say “well I worked out, so I can eat more”. You need to stay at the activity levels that were calculated, and recalculate the amounts as you change your goals, activities, and weight.

If you are not very computer savvy, then you can use these values as a basis for your macronutrients and calories:

  • If you are trying to lose weight, consume 1.1 grams of protein, 1.1 grams of carbs, and 0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day if you are male. Females should consume about 0.8 grams of protein, 0.8 grams of carbs, and 0.15 grams of fat.
  • If you are trying to maintain your current weight, consume 1 gram of protein, 1.6 grams of carbs, and 0.35 grams of fat per day if you are male. Females should consume 0.65 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, and 0.25 grams of fat to maintain.
  • To get calories based on these, know that every gram of carbs and protein has 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram. Fun fact, alcohol has about 7 calories per gram. You can calculate the macronutrients you need and then multiply them by their respective calorie densities to get calories.

These numbers are assuming you are working out at least a few days per week. They are also not an exact science. If you are still gaining weight and following this framework, then you will need to keep reducing your calories consumption by perhaps removing a couple dozen grams of macronutrients. If you are gaining weight, you may need to further reduce your calorie consumption.

Now that you roughly know how many calories, carbs, fats, and proteins you should be eating per day, compare what you should be eating with what you actually ate. Does it surprise you? If you found out you are consuming way too much or way too little of something then it is time to start changing your diet so you can achieve your goals. If everything is perfect then that is fantastic. You might not need to change anything, but it will be worth it to continue reading so you can try to better fit your diet into the MyPlate model so you can get all the micronutrient your body needs (have a well-balanced diet).

If you need to cut your fats, proteins, and/or carbs, then the next step is to figure out what to cut, and what to change all together. Just like an exercise plan, there is no perfect plan for everyone, but I am going to attempt to go through some common changes and cuts you can make to get your macronutrient values down to your desired amounts. Some of the sacrifices you will need to make for your health will be tough, but it is the hard decision to reduce or remove certain foods from your diet that will make you a stronger and healthier person.

First, avoid drinking your calories. Whenever you drink soda, lemonade, juice, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks, you are consuming large amounts of carbohydrates due to the sugar. By drinking nothing but water you can easily decrease your carb intake. Second, do not eat fast food, and avoid eating out altogether. For most people, a Big Mac meal will contain all the fat they should eat in a single day. Even the healthier looking meals at nicer restaurants can have a large amount of macronutrients based on the portion sizes and type of food preparation. Third, learn to cook. Having frozen dinners at home can be just as bad for your health as eating out. Also, frozen meals have a lot of sodium, which could lead to high blood pressure and other illnesses. By cooking your own meals you can have full control over what you are eating, and your macronutrient and calorie intakes.

This course is not designed to be about cooking, and I don’t want to tell you what to eat. If you Google “how to eat healthy” or “healthy recipes” you will find thousands of websites. What I want to show you is there is a certain number of calories, fats, carbs, and proteins you should be eating in order to reach your goals, whether the goal is to gain muscle, lose weight, or maintain how you are. If you are serious about reaching your goals, I recommend you constantly monitor what you eat. Since this takes a lot of time, perhaps don’t always do the macronutrient analysis, but keep a food log to keep yourself accountable, then do an analysis a couple times a week to ensure you are eating what you should be.

Even after years of practicing healthy eating, conducting a dietary audit of myself can yield surprising results. I recently ate a couple buffalo chicken ceasar salad wraps for dinner and calculated the macronutrients as well as the sodium in the wraps. Just by eating two average sized salad wraps I had already consumed twice the amount of sodium that the American Heart Association recommends we consume per day. The dressing and tortilla together were close to 1000 mg of sodium and the buffalo sauce was about another 500 mg. The recommended daily sodium intake is 2300 mg or less, with a preferred value of 1500 mg. With two salad wraps that I thought were near bullet proof healthy I had already consumed 3000 mg of sodium, and that was just one meal.

Getting back to calories, a rule of thumb is that it takes a 3500 calorie deficit to burn one pound of fat. This means if you are a female who needs to consume 2000 calories per day to maintain weight, then you need to have calorie deficit of 500 calories per day (3500 divided by 7) to lose one pound of fat per week. This deficit can come from either what you eat, exercise, or both. If you want to lose one pound a week, every day you would need to burn 200 calories exercising, and eat 1700 calories, or any combination of exercise and eating to reach a total intake of 1500 calories per day.

I know I said this course isn’t about telling you what to eat to reach calories or the grams of carbs, fats, and proteins you need, but tomorrow we will talk more about how to improve your diet. Macronutrients are great to monitor until you get all your daily fats and carbs from potato chips, which is not good. The goal is to eat a well-balanced diet while meeting, and not exceeding, your calorie and macronutrient needs.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 5: Monitoring Your Diet

This is day 5 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

The beauty of food as medicine is that the choice to heal and promote health can begin as soon as the next meal.

Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. To be healthy (and to look good), you need to understand what you are putting into your body. Yesterday we discussed the MyPlate model and introduced macronutrients (macros) and micronutrients (micro). Today you will learn how to monitor your intake of macronutrients. As a reminder, macronutrients make up your calories. Because of this, the first part of this section is going to discuss calorie counting. The second part, which I will consider optional but highly recommended, will discuss macronutrient counting. But why should you put in the extra work to count macronutrients? Like I mentioned in the note yesterday, everyone needs a slightly different diet, and some diets are better for weight control than others. By counting your macronutrients you can learn more about your diet and what works best for you.

When you buy any food from a store, there is a section on the package labeled ‘Nutrition Facts’. For the next couple days I need you to pay close attention to this label, we are going audit your current diet and discuss it on day 8. Anything you eat or drink you will be written down in a journal or piece of paper that I recommend you carry with you everywhere. This journal should keep track of every food you eat or fluid you drink in a given day. You also need to track how many servings of that food you ate, how many calories are in a serving, and then how many total calories you ate. Every day you should have a total number of calories you consumed in that day. This will give us a base for a discussion on weight control later in this course.

—-Optional but Highly Recommended—-

If you choose to do the optional macronutrient counting then you will need to keep track of the grams of carbs, fats, and protein you consume. In the back on this book there are workouts logs that you can use to help you with this, or you can make your own journal.

Whenever you eat or drink anything, you need to write down the food/drink, and look at the nutrition facts on the package, just like you did with just calories. From the nutrition facts write down the serving size, carbs, fats, and proteins. Then look at the serving size, the servings per container, and how much you ate. Determine how much you ate and write down how many servings you ate. Please be completely honest, there is no reason to lie to yourself. Make sure you are taking portion size into account.

Multiply the carbs, fats, and proteins by the number of servings you ate to determine the number of carbs, fats, and proteins eaten. Serving sizes vary from food to food so even if you believe you know the serving size, recheck it. For example, a bottle of soda usually has 2 servings in it, so you have to multiply everything on the nutrition facts label by 2 in order to know what you consumed.

At the end of each day, add up the amount of carbs, fats, and proteins you consumed, and start over the next day. The goal is to see how many grams of carbs, fats, and proteins you consume per day.

—-End Optional but Highly Recommended Section—-

If you eat out or eat something like chips, it may be difficult to accurately estimate the nutritional values of what you ate. For something like chips, take your best guess. For a restaurant, they often post nutrition facts on their website, so a quick Google search might tell you. For everything else I recommend using http://www.wolframalpha.com. If you search “nutrition facts [insert food here]” on Wolfram Alpha, it will most likely have an answer for you. So if you ate a hamburger at a restaurant, Wolfram Alpha will tell you the average nutrition facts of an average hamburger. If you eat a banana or some fruit, it will also be able to tell you the nutrition facts for those as well. It has a database of almost every food.

The next two days I expect you to log everything you eat to the best of your ability. The more accurate you are, the better we will be able to analyze your current diet in a couple days.

I hope you have/had a great workout today! Keep up the momentum!

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 4: Understanding Your Current Diet

This is day 4 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Today and tomorrow is all about understanding and writing down what you are currently eating and drinking. I am not asking you to change anything about your diet yet, instead you first need to understand whether or not your current diet is going to work for your goals. But why does your diet matter? Your body can be compared to your performance at work, you get out what you put into it. If you put in the time and effort at work to do a good job, you are rewarded with bonuses, promotions, and that great feeling of achievement. If you are the person who is reading this article at work and commonly procrastinates and does the bare minimums, then you should expect your pay check and nothing else. Just like work, if you put good food into your body you will be rewarded with better health, better performance, and even a happier mind. If you put in the bare minimums, i.e. eating unhealthy food, you should expect nothing but a pay check that will go straight to your thighs. And you probably will not like any bonuses you receive. A common rule of thumb is when you are trying to lose weight, 80% of your weight loss comes from your diet while 20% comes from exercising. You cannot discount the importance of nutrition.

Before you start changing your diet, I want you to understand the basics of food and what you are currently putting into your body. Do you remember learning about the food pyramid in your high school health class? Well, the food pyramid model was replaced by a new model called MyPlate. This model shows what your plate should look like in order to have a healthy, well-rounded meal. It splits your diet into fruits, proteins, vegetables, grains, and dairy, and visually shows you what you should be eating. One of the biggest differences between MyPlate and the food pyramid is the new model does not have a fats, oils, and sweets group. Many of the foods you already eat are prepared in fats and oils, so any additional sweets and desserts aren’t doing anything good for your health.

myplate

How does your current diet look when you compare it to MyPlate? If you are exclusively a ‘steak and potatoes’ eater then you are going to be a bit off balance. Also, if you’re a vegetarian it might be lacking in some areas. The goal is to have a well-balanced meal that benefits your overall health. But making your plate look like this one isn’t always enough, especially if you want to lose weight.**

You often hear about counting calories, and how if you only eat a certain amount of calories you will lose weight. Yes that is true when strictly talking about weight loss, and we will actually talk more about that later on, but for overall health you need to dig a little bit deeper into what you are eating. The calories you eat can be broken into three categories called the macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins come from your meats, eggs, and dairy. Fats also come from meats, nuts, oils, sweets, desserts, and many other sources. Carbohydrates are in fruits, grains, vegetables, and sugar.

Depending on your health goals, you need to eat a certain number of calories from each of these macronutrients. We will talk about how to monitor these nutrients tomorrow, and we will discuss the specifics of your nutrient needs on day 8. For now, I want you to recognize that to be healthy, you need all of them, fats, proteins, and carbs. Many people believe that carbs are what makes you fat, or that fat makes you fat. This is untrue, an excess in calories are what makes you fat, and calories come from all of the macronutrients, protein included.

There are also micronutrients, which are your vitamins and minerals. We won’t talk about micronutrients much during these 14 days, but I want to bring them up because they are very important to remain healthy. If you follow the MyPlate model, the chances are you will consume enough micronutrients to stay healthy. If your diet doesn’t quite match up to the model there are plenty of companies that would love to sell you a multivitamin to supplement your current diet. Multivitamins are fine and often needed if you do not eat a balanced diet, but if you eat well then you do not need one. Unless your doctor wants to put you on a supplement for an illness, I recommend that you save your money and put it toward your gym membership and try to get everything you need through what you eat. The main exception to this is if you are a vegetarian then you may want to supplement vitamin b12, which is a discussion to have with your doctor.

Now think about your current diet again. Does your plate look like the MyPlate model? Are your calories primarily coming from proteins and carbs, not fats? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables to consume enough micronutrients? We are going to learn the answer to all of these questions by monitoring your diet for the next few days. Tomorrow you will learn how.

Remember to keep working out every day!

**Note: The MyPlate model is the government’s guidelines on what you should be eating as part of a well-balanced diet. However, everyone is genetically and physiologically different. What you need to eat to maintain weight may be slightly different than other people. If you are trying to lose weight, a lot of people find that eating a higher proportion of protein and a lower proportion of grains will help them lose weight quicker. Other people such as vegetarians and vegans cut out meat altogether and will say a diet low in protein and high in starches will help with weight loss. Also, dairy is often not considered to be essential for one’s diet. This is why it may be beneficial to meet with a dietician to discover what works best for you. We will talk more about the individuality of diets as we go through this course.

The 2 Weeks to Health Book 1st Edition Available for Free

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is in the works, and there are a lot of changes being made. With the new book about half a year from being completed, I want to share what is new in this upcoming edition, as well as how you can get the old edition for free!

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is a complete overhaul from the first. When deciding what changes to make, the key question was ‘will this make an immediate difference’? We used the 80/20 rule to decide what content should be added to the new book. We want to teach you the 20% of fitness and nutrition tips that will make 80% of the difference in your health. That is why this new edition explains how not to ‘major in the minors’ and how to choose what works best for you.

Topics covered in the up and coming edition include how to get started, workout and nutrition tracking, goal setting, overtraining prevention, diet and nutrition, supplementation, exercise and workout planning, lifestyle fitness, and how to bring it all together in a practical way. Be on the lookout for its release later this year.

The first book’s content is similar but different enough than the second edition that I will be releasing the entire book on this site starting on March 1st. Every day starting on the 1st a new chapter will be released. I strongly encourage you to follow along day to day as the chapters are released. Follow us at 2weekstohealth.com to receive updates on the upcoming release of the free 1st edition and the 2nd edition of 2 Weeks to Health!

“The book continues with the basic premise in mind of “Act Now, Learn as You Go, See Results.” I like the actionable tone. The book is set up to make you do, and learn as you go. The education structure is brilliantly laid out in the lessons. One day you learn what you need to know, and the rest of the days build upon the previous day’s lesson. That is how you actually retain information. Day Zero is Preschool, Day Twelve is High School Graduation.” – Approaching Fitness

 

“Exercise and temperance can preserve something of our early strength even in old age.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Exercise and temperance can preserve something of our early strength even in old age.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

Cicero was born in 106 BCE. He was a philosopher and a politician in the Roman Empire and was a witness to Caesar’s death.[1] While he nor anyone in the Roman Empire were spreading the vast benefits of exercise to one’s health, this quote from Cicero shows us that attempts to prolong health and life through exercise and nutrition are relatively old concepts that have adapted over time. Before agricultural practices were established, exercise was built into a human’s day considering it was necessary to move around to hunt and gather food. As agriculture became more prominent, daily physical activity decreased. In order to keep militaries strong and populations healthy, civilizations came up with sports, gymnastics, and martial arts to keep their people strong enough to fight.[2] The Spartans are a good example of an early exercise that was specific to combat. Cicero and the Romans were a part of this era, but as the Roman Empire grew, their lavish life often allowed their nonmilitary citizens to live a sedentary life.[3]

“Our very exercises and recreations, running, wrestling, music, dancing, hunting, riding, and fencing will prove to be a good part of our study.” – Michel de Montaigne

As we entered the Renaissance, philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne believed that exercise was an important form of education and emphasized the need for exercise and games.[4] Links between the body and the mind became well known. Exercise, games, and sport continued to be a staple of human culture, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that we saw recreational exercise plans and physical education become common place.[5] Today, not only do our military train for power like the Romans and the Spartans, but we can all exercise to “preserve something of our early strength even in old age”.

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu/cicero/

[2] https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/history.html

[3] Ibid

[4] http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763749591/49591_ch03_mclean.pdf

[5] https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/history.html

5 Surprising Reasons That May Prevent You From Losing Weight

2 Weeks to Health recently surveyed 226 people who have attempted to lose weight. Of the 226 people, 38% claimed they reached their weight goal and were able to keep the weight off for at least a year. The other 62% were unable to reach their goals and keep the weight off. 2 Weeks to Health analyzed the differences between those who were and were not successful and found 5 surprising methods that actually hurt your chances of reaching your weight loss goals. All of these methods have worked for many people under certain conditions, but based on our survey doing any one of these make you at least 10% less likely to achieve your weight loss goals.

1. Signing up for a gym membership

percentage-of-successful-weight-losers-that-had-a-gym-membership
Only 29% of people who successfully reached their weight goals had a gym membership.

We all know that there are tremendous benefits to buying a gym membership. However, our survey showed that you are 10% less likely to reach your weight loss goal if you have a gym membership. Only 29% of people who achieved their weight loss goals had a gym membership. Why is this? Usually one of the first things people will do when they decide to lose weight is to purchase a gym membership. Whether or not the gym membership is used is a different story. By just owning a gym membership, statistically you are less likely to lose weight, but consistently using what the gym has to offer will inevitably help your weight loss goals.

2. Going on a low-carb diet

Percentage-of-people-who-sucessfully-lost-weight-on-a-low-carb-diet
Out of everyone who successfully kept their weight off for a year, only 18% claimed to have lost weight using a low carbohydrate diet.

Besides purchasing a gym membership, when someone decides to lose weight they usually choose 1 of 2 diets, the low-carb diet or the low-calorie diet. The low-carb diet has become popularized by diets such as the Adkins diet, and are also on par with most ketogenic diets. While low-carb diets have been proven to help people lose weight, a crash low-carb diet is never sustainable. Our bodies and minds need energy from carbohydrates to function normally, which means people who lose weight on a low-carb diet are usually unable to keep it off for a full year. While many people would benefit from a reduction in how many carbs they eat, a strict low or no carb diet is usually unnecessary.

3. Going on a low-calorie diet

percentage-of-people-who-used-a-low-carlorie-diet
44% of people who were successful in losing weight used a low-calorie diet, while 55% of people who were unsuccessful used the same technique.

This is the one that surprised me the most. Out of everyone who attempted a low-calorie diet to lose weight, a higher percentage of the unsuccessful people tried this diet than the successful people. Overall, roughly half of people on a weight loss mission try this, but out of everyone who was successful, only 44% of the success stories incorporated a low-calorie diet. But how? Calories in, calories out, right? Well, yes, the basics of weight loss are that you must use more calories per day than you consume to lose weight, but you don’t particularly need to go on a strict low-calorie diet to achieve this. Instead of going on a low-calorie diet, you can try exercising more often and promising yourself that you remove soda and/or dessert from your diet. You can set a standard for yourself to eat only whole foods with plenty of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. It appears that most people who successfully lose weight and keep it off for a year don’t specify a low-calorie diet, but focus on eating good foods and exercising, which in return leads to a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.

4. Being a woman

percentage-of-men-and-women-who-sucessfully-lost-weight
According to our recent survey, 62% of males achieve their weight loss goals and keep the weight off for a year while only 38% of women achieve their goals.

Almost 2 out of every 3 men who attempted to lose weight reported they were able to achieve their weight goal and keep their weight off for a year. Meanwhile, only 1 in every 3 women reported they were able to do the same. Unfortunately for women, human physiology makes it easier for men to lose weight than women. The average man has less body fat and more muscle than the average woman. This means the man’s metabolism is going to run faster than the woman’s, and the man will burn more calories. Men can naturally eat more and burn more calories than women, which means if you are a woman, you are automatically 33% less likely to reach your weight goals as compared to men.

 

5. Adopting a diet that requires a strict program such as Weight Watchers

Success-rate-of-weight-watchers

Compared to the successful group, the unsuccessful group was 10% more likely to attempt Weight Watchers to lose weight. Of those who tried Weight Watchers, only 19% were successful. Taking on a strict and quantitative meal and exercise plan like weight watchers may work for some, but the majority were unable to reach their weight loss goals using this plan.

 

These 5 reasons that may prevent you from losing weight can all be very useful for certain people in certain conditions and when used correctly. Next time you set a weight loss goal, ask yourself “does this work for me”. If the answer is no, then you have 2 options, change yourself or change your methods. While changing yourself by increasing your discipline and motivation is always a good option, it is even better to look at your methods for losing weight and ensure they are sustainable. Just because you bought a gym membership and put yourself on a diet does not mean you will see results, and based on statistics you are less likely to reach your goals. You must always put in the work and adapt your strategies to fit your needs.

Quote of the Week – 29 May

“Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to do better” – Pat Riley

When you take the first step to achieving a new goal, sometimes you don’t realize that you are walking a tightrope suspended above your fears and harnessed by your discipline. To keep your balance you must take one careful step at a time, slowly moving toward your goals with patience and grace. Health and fitness are not attained through half-hearted thoughts, but rather through actions repeated and refined over time. The first step may be difficult as you step out onto the line, yet the more you walk, the gradual progress will shape your excellence. But without the discipline and motivation to improve, you will fall into your fears.