The Obesity Action Coalition

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is dedicated to giving a voice to the individual affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy, and support.

There are three major issues that the OAC advocates for: obesity, weight bias, and access to care. The OAC view obesity as a chronic disease that is often understood by people not affected by it, including healthcare practitioners. Addressing obesity requires an individualized approach that requires a team of doctors, dieticians, trainers, and perhaps psychotherapists. Trainers are a large part of the obesity treatment process, which is why 2 Weeks to Health created the 14 Day Weight Loss and Healthy Living Course. For every book we sell at the normal price, 2 Weeks to Health will donate 40% of our earnings to the OAC.

The ultimate goal is to get people the treatment they need to eliminate obesity. To allow access to obesity treatment, the OAC advocates for insurance coverage of obesity and its related illnesses. The OAC seeks to empower individuals affected by obesity to take action and to provide those individuals with the education they need to fight obesity using safe treatments. It is also important to the OAC to eliminate the negative stigma associated with obesity and to eliminate prejudice against people with obesity.

Anything we can do as individuals to help stop the obesity epidemic is a worthy cause. By working together and by working with organizations like the OAC, we can slowly increase the international awareness of obesity and help individuals with the disease live a healthier life by losing weight and mitigating related disease. To read more about the Obesity Action Coalition you can visit their website www.obesityaction.org.

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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.

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.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

Low Carb Diet vs. High Starch Diet: Which One is Better? The Answer May Not be so Obvious

Probably the most confusing part of nutrition is just trying to figure out how to eat healthily. This is difficult because you have doctors, trainers, and nutritionists who all say different things, which just confuses all of us, including myself.

Just for fun, I asked the general public using Quora what the pros and cons of high starch (high-carb) diets are. Generally, we accept that a low carbohydrate diet helps with weight loss, so I wanted to see what people thought about a high starch / high carb diet. The answers I received were very different from one another. One “advocate of low carb lifestyle” explained that a high starch diet is the cause of obesity, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, and cancer, and these occur because of the lack of human adaptation to an agriculturally based diet. An athletic trainer commented saying there are absolutely no pros to a high starch diet and that the whole idea is a fraud. A food security consultant countered that viewpoint saying complex carbohydrates like what are found in starches are not the problem, simple carbohydrates such as sugar is the problem. There were a couple comments that I would consider to be the ‘voices of reason’ that explained the conditions of each diet, and how it depends on what you need individually. Then someone posted saying the only cons to a high starch diet are that “people love to eat what they have always eaten. You will be made fun of and ostracized by the ignorant…Eat starch be healthier and live better.” With only 12 answers to my question, I got a full spectrum of answers.

 

 

 

Here’s another good example of this spectrum of opinions. Both of these books were written by very intelligent doctors, and both books are highly rated best sellers. The difference is one book is telling you to eat zero grains to lose or maintain your weight, while the other book is saying you should eat predominately starches, which include grains, to lose or maintain your weight. So hold on a second, no wonder everyone is confused, these books are telling you to do two completely different things to lose weight.

It turns out there is a very simple reason why people have seen such great successes and such great failures with both diets. Losing weight is more of a factor of energy use and consumption rather than the kinds of foods you are eating. So 1000 calories of starches are pretty much the same as 1000 calories of beef in the context of weight loss. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other health benefits besides just weight loss. The general consensus believes that a plant based diet is healthier than a diet based on animal products. That should mean a starch based vegan diet like what is described in the book The Starch Solution should be healthier than a no-grain diet as described in The No-Grain Diet. Nonetheless, people are living healthy lives on both of these diets. How are both of these polar opposite diets allowing us to stay healthy?

I believe the answer is simple, both diets allow you to eat fruits and vegetables and encourage a vast majority of your calories to come from them. A typical meal on a high starch diet, according to the book, will consist of mostly fruits and vegetables with perhaps some dish with beans, corn, rice, and/or potatoes. A typical meal on the no grain diet, according to the book, will also consist of mostly fruits and vegetables but will also include a portion of meat. When eating a diet with a large focus on fruits and vegetables it’s hard to go wrong. Where people begin to see problems with their no-grain/low-carb or high-starch/high-carb diet is they will not base their diet on fruits and vegetables, but rather eat other foods that fall into their diet category. For example, someone may begin a low-carb diet and only eat beef, pork, and chicken with no other food groups.

Regardless of what diet you choose, if you want to be successful, start by filling your plate with the fruits and vegetables your diet allows.  The remaining calories you can fill with anything. The high carb high starch diet says to fill it with rice, pasta, and potatoes. The no grain diet says to fill it with meat and dairy. One or the other may fit you better, but both, when prioritizing fruits and vegetables, can help you lose weight and stay healthy. That is why both books, although contradictory to one another, are highly rated by the readers. There are many ways to reach your goals, so if one way doesn’t work for you, try another and you may be surprised that something you once believed to be the cause of weight gain can actually help you lose weight.

Is Aerobic Training the Only Way to Burn Fat?

“I have read in popular magazines that aerobic training is the only way to burn fat. Is this true? If not are there other ways to burn fat, if so what are some?”

Perhaps I do not read these popular fitness magazines that solely claim aerobic training is the only way to burn fat because when I tried to find examples of a magazine claiming this, I fell short which was a pleasant surprise. However, I have seen this misconception first hand while working with friends and family. We live in a faced paced culture where every problem ideally has a single and simple solution. For example, if you are hungry you can grab a quick meal at one of the dozens of restaurants that are in your town, or if you need to talk to someone you send them a text 10 seconds later. Instant gratification and simple single solutions rule our everyday lives, so it makes sense that some people believe there is a single method to reducing body fat. So why cling on to aerobics as the way to do it? My theory is we are more likely to attempt to add a new habit to our lives than change an old one. Old habits include the food we eat and the drinks we drink, so we are likely to turn toward exercise, a habitual addition, to burn fat. From there I believe we turn toward exercises that we can easily measure or perceive the outcome of. For aerobics it is easy to measure the amount of calories burned, thus we get some instant gratification after seeing our calorie count after a workout. We of course know that what we gravitate toward isn’t always true.

Fortunately ‘Top 10’ lists have become very common in the fitness world and seem to be the common format for fat loss articles. These lists eliminate the concept of there being a single way to lose fat. Nevertheless, the common theme in many of these lists are the websites and magazines choose content over proven research, and some suggestions are loosely scientifically backed or simply opinions. Sometimes recipes make it into the list stating that a certain food or meal will burn fat. It’s good that the fitness community is no longer pinpointing one way to lose fat, but there is still a long way to go before insignificant or false methods are fully eliminated from these lists.

Although green tea and apple cider vinegar were discussed more often than eating a balanced diet, thankfully most lists include at least [sometimes loosely] one tip about each of the following: aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, and nutrition. Anaerobic exercise is a great way to accelerate fat loss but it is often misunderstood. A relatively common belief is by doing an anaerobic exercise for a particular muscle group you can spot reduce fat in that area. The fitness magazines are doing a better job not spreading this myth, yet it still shows up in some blog articles. Since fat loss is a metabolic process, we can use aerobic exercise to increase our metabolism by increasing muscle mass. The more lean mass we have, the higher our resting metabolic rate is, meaning we require additional calories to sustain ourselves. This extra calorie requirement paired with a static diet can decrease body fat. Nutrition is another common way to reduce body fat, and is often underestimated. When people aim for calories burned with conducting an aerobic workout, they often fail to recognize that perhaps the largest gains can be made by changing their eating habits rather than changing their exercise habits.

I have not recently seen any magazines claiming aerobics are the only way to burn fat, but that doesn’t mean the misconception isn’t out there. Like the new ‘top 10’ lists are showing us, there are many ways someone can lose fat with anaerobic exercise and good nutrition being two of the top ways besides aerobic exercise.

2 Weeks to Health Book Summary on ApproachingFitness.com

2 Weeks to Health is a 14-day crash course in how to change your life by giving you the information you need to lose weight, get fit, and feel better about yourself. Approachingfitness.com recently published a summary of 2 Weeks to Health, and I encourage you to check it out if you have a health related goal and aren’t quite sure how to achieve it. You can click here to visit Approaching Fitness and to read the summary for 2 Weeks to Heath: Kick Start Weight Loss and Live a Healthier Life.

“The book continues with the basic premise in mind of “Act Now, Learn as You Go, See Results.” That is how I am going to describe it at least. 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

 

The Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise and Why it Matters

I’m sure you hear the terms aerobic and anaerobic all the time. The term aerobic has often been used synonymously with the term cardio and is sometimes confused with a type of fitness class from the 1970s. What exactly are aerobic and anaerobic exercises, and why does it matter?

It turns out that these are directly related to your metabolism and the way your body uses energy. The amount of energy your muscles keep stored at any given time only allows for about a second of maximum exertion and after that, your body needs to begin making more energy for itself. For the first couple minutes of a hard workout, your body will use carbohydrates in the form of blood sugar or glycogen (sugar stored in your muscles) to generate additional energy. These first couple minutes do not require additional oxygen to create the new energy, so it is called an anaerobic (no oxygen) process.

If you exercise extends longer than a couple minutes without a long enough break to allow your muscles to restore their energy, then your body begins to run out of glycogen and blood sugar to safely use and must find a new way to produce energy. Your body decides to start breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and even proteins to use as energy. If your workout lasts long enough, your body will even go as far as breaking down your muscles for energy! These metabolic processes require oxygen, which is why they are referred to as aerobic processes.

How you train determines what type of energy pathway you are using. If you are lifting weights, throwing a ball, or running a sprint, then you are using anaerobic processes to provide your body with energy. This type of exercise forces your body adapt to become better suited for short, explosive movements. Your muscles will start to store more energy and they will begin to grow larger. If you decide to go jogging, swimming, or dancing, you are using aerobic processes to fuel your body. The more you do these kinds of workouts, the more your body will adapt to utilizing and mobilizing fat, which could lead to a lower body fat percentage. Also, your ability to store and transport oxygen in your muscles will increase and your aerobic capacity will rise.

A good mix of aerobic and anaerobic activities are required to stay healthy and fit, but depending on your fitness goals you may want to choose to train one more often than the other. To lose weight, aerobic activities should be favored, while to gain muscle size and mass, anaerobic exercises should be your go to exercise type.

Quote of the Week – 24 Apr

“Persistence can change failure into an extraordinary achievement” – Marv Levy

For those of you following the quote of the week series on 2 Weeks to Health, you will notice that there are a lot of posts about failure and persistence. This is because I can’t stress enough that if you want to meet your health goals, you will have setbacks and failures, you will have days where you want to quit, but the key to success is being able to persist through failures. Even if you are failure free, health goals should be lifestyle based and should persist throughout your entire life. Never let your guard down with your health. Be persistent with your workouts and healthy diet, and you will find that you will achieve goal after goal.

How Knowledge is Power in Nutrition – Things Worth Sharing

In this diabetes centered TED talk by Dr. Wendy Pogozelski you will learn how even the experts in the medical field sometimes disagree. When it comes to nutrition, knowledge is power and it’s important to learn and know what works best for you. If you want to learn more about diabetes or learn about your overall glycemic load (how many carbs you can eat), then this talk is worth watching.

Quote of the Week – 17 Apr

“Age is no barrier, it’s a limitation you put on your mind” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Telling yourself you are too old to do something is a lie. You’re never too old to make a life change. If you have a health goal, go for it and don’t use your age as an excuse. I’ve seen people over 100 years old run marathons and both power-lifters and triathletes in their 90s, yet sadly it’s usually people in their mid-lives that I see using their age as an excuse to change their eating habits or to lose weight. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog a new trick, so don’t mentally limit yourself because you believe you’re too old to do something.