Tips for Healthy Eating While Working From Home

You are what you eat.  I’m sure you heard that numerous times in your life.  March is National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  If you’ve been working from home or sheltering in place, your eating habits may not be as healthy as they used to be last year.  Without dressing up for work, moving around much, and easy access to your kitchen for random snacking, the “WFH 15” may have invaded your waistline.

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Fear not!  March is the perfect month to regain control of your eating habits, and it can taste good too!  Week 1 encourages you to eat a variety of nutritious foods daily.  Try a new fruit or vegetable this week.  Raw is always the healthiest way and gives you the true flavor.  Pick fruits and vegetables with different colors because they have different antioxidants and nutrition profiles.  Also drink plenty of water, not soft-drinks and juices.  If you haven’t read a nutrition label before, read a few on the items you normally buy, could be eye opening!

Week 2 is about planning your meals.  From my experience, this is where people fall off the wagon.  When you don’t know what your next meal is, you make impulse choices which usually aren’t good!  You’re in a rush and find yourself starving!  The downhill spiral begins and it’s hard to stop.  Plan healthier meals with your family for everyone to learn new ideas and get on board with healthy lifestyle choices.  It doesn’t have to suck when one person is on a “diet” and can’t eat the same as others in the house.  By planning and cooking healthier, good tasting food, everyone enjoys together and reaps the benefits.

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Week 3 is taking your planning from the previous week and learning new skills to make delicious dishes that are good for you.  Try using fresh herbs, or new spices on meat, chicken, and fish that you already cook.  Stay away from breaded and fried, all you are tasting are breadcrumbs and flower anyway, not the protein you are frying.  You may even feel better and not have a stomach-ache after eating grilled and backed items instead of fried.  Wasting food truly is a sin in many ways.  Make smaller portions or reuse the leftovers in different dishes if you’re sick of the same taste.  Freeze what you don’t use after three days in the fridge if possible.  Your wallet will thank you also because a dollar can be stretched when you repurpose food items for other dishes.  How do you think gumbo and jambalaya became popular?

Week 4 is a good time to make an appointment with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN).  An RDN is educated on how to work with any special diseases and conditions you have.  They can also give more detailed guidance for weight loss and sports performance than a personal trainer or Corrective Exercise Specialist as myself.  Knowledge truly Is power and combining an RDN’s knowledge with a fitness professional’s knowledge gives you the total package for maximizing and enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.

You can’t out lift, run, or cycle a bad diet.  Poor refueling choices have negative effects on everything you do and feel physically.  Being sedentary multiplies your bad choices to increase health risk factors like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.  Those are three of the top five killers of Americans annually, and many could be prevented.  Add to it COVID-19 as a risk factor, and you know who has the most negative effects and chance of death, people who are obese.  Approximately 1/3 of all adult Americans are considered obese by the CDC, this does not include the millions that are overweight and headed to obesity.

For more information on nutrition and healthy eating choices, go to myplate.gov, cdc.gov, and eatright.org.

3 Tips to Choosing a Fitness Professional For Your Exercise and Health Goals

What makes a fitness professional worth the investment?  Working out on a few machines every week isn’t that difficult right?  Adjust the settings to your size, figure out a weight to do 10 reps with for a couple sets, and you transform into a fitness model in 30 days or less guaranteed!  That’s what social media and advertisements have you to believe.

Since I was a early teenager I have been attracted to working out.  Even though I played soccer most of my life along with other sports growing up, weight training was something I knew I needed for better athletic performance and because I had little self-confidence as a thin kid.  As most teen boys wanted, I also had the desires to bulk up and look HUGE!  All I needed was to lift a bunch of heavy weights, read some bodybuilding magazines, and instant massive physique! Wrong.

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Finally, at the age of 18 I received my first gym membership after working out in my room with a curl bar and doing push-ups and pull-ups.  Unfortunately, I still had no idea what I was really doing until I studied for and became a personal trainer in 2008.  I went 15 years of bumbling along reading only the same bodybuilding magazines as a guide.  Let me guess, you have done basically the same thing with some kind of magazine and now YouTube sensation to guide you.  I’m willing to bet a large sum of money you also are still clueless and have not achieved what you want regarding your athletic performance and overall health.

A fitness professional is an investment, no doubt.  Remember that fitness professionals also made an investment in themselves by spending $400-$500 on a certification, sometimes multiple certifications.  Plus, they have continuing education credits to maintain that certification, which are also a financial investment.  Fitness professionals are not just the biggest guys and hottest girls in the gym. 

How do you know who to invest in for your health and fitness goals?  I’ll share with you three characteristics of a good fitness professional.

  • Relationship oriented: they show a true interest in their clients beyond taking their money.  You truly matter to them beyond the 30 or 60 minutes a couple times per week.
  • They are a product of their product: they “look” the part and enjoy being fit.  A fitness professional doesn’t have to be the biggest, fastest, strongest, and best looking, they do need to exemplify a healthy, active lifestyle. 
  • Their own workouts are similar to what you enjoy: fitness professionals train others similarly to how they workout, it’s being human.  Watch them and see if you gravitate to their style.

Not all clients stay with the same professional, and that is fine.  Work with a few until you feel comfortable.  Ask them questions about their experiences both in fitness and life overall.  If you’re a 55- year-old male, a 27-year-old female may not understand what’s going on in your stage of life.  The relationship has to be win-win.  Fitness professionals are also counselors because our clients are in a vulnerable state and they feel comfortable sharing about their lives.  Being able to trust each other is crucial for maintaining a long-term relationship.

You are investing in their knowledge and expertise to get you where you have not been able to go.  If you’re health is worth it, then hiring a fitness professional is worth it.  Just like having a CPA.  Sure, you can do your own taxes, is it worth the risk of fines, penalties, and levies if the job isn’t done right?  Only you know the answer to that.  Your health is the same risk assessment.

For questions about my experiences with clients, email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  Go to my website and learn how to be on the Athlete in the Game of Life Team to receive a FREE copy of my book.

What is the Best Kind of Cardio Workout?

I’m often asked what the best exercises for a variety of body parts are, and for cardiovascular workouts.  In keeping with American Heart Month in February, I’ll discuss the cardiovascular workouts in this blog.  The number one secret nobody will ever tell you about establishing a true healthy lifestyle for heart health, do whatever you like the most!

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“But, Matt,” you say, “running is the best because it clears my head.”  If running indeed clears your headspace, then run.  For me, running makes me angry and I hate it, so not going to happen.  The only way human beings stick to anything that requires a little work is if there is a modicum of happiness that accompanies it.  This is why diets fail 90% of the time, because they are about deprivation with an ending point.  When the diet is over, you go back to your old ways of eating and gain all the weight back if not more.

The best cardio exercise is the one you have some kind of enjoyment during the process.  This is why people play tennis, racquetball, and adult basketball leagues, they have fun and don’t do it consciously thinking about the benefits to their heart.  The heart will beat faster and pump blood to the needed muscles whether you run, cycle, play soccer, or swim, it does not know the difference.  Your brain knows what limbs are moving and how to initiate nerve impulses that go with the physical activities.  Your heart cannot think and therefore just does its job of beating and keeping you alive.

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There are methods to maximize the time you spend doing cardiovascular training.  In my blog last week, I talked about one called Tabata.  The principle behind Tabata is interval training, where you do short bouts of intense movement followed by rest or slower movement.  The CDC says even five-minute bouts of moderate-to-intense exercise are beneficial for the heart and brain in their 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Report found on their website.  The interval training concept focuses on how quickly you can recover from an intense bout before going back to that higher intensity.  Benefits of interval training:

  • Can be done in shorter amounts of time than steady state
  • Any type of exercise can be used (walking, running, swimming, weight training, etc)
  • Doesn’t need any extra equipment
  • Mimics all sports involving a cardiovascular component

Using the FITTE method is how personal trainers work with clients.  So, here’s your free insight!  Frequency Intensity Type Time Enjoyment.  There’s that enjoyment piece again.  FITTE is how you can adjust the variables for maximum efficiency and enjoyment!  Interval training uses all aspects of FITTE to ensure you get the most bang for your buck, which is time spent on the activity. 

Frequency is how many times per week.

Intensity is your heart rate percentage related to your maximum rate.

Time is how long are you doing the activity.

Type is whatever activity you choose to do.

Enjoyment is purely subjective based on your happiness.

Example A using these variables for a 20-minute cardio session:  twice per week on the assault bike doing intervals of 1 minute all out, 2 minutes slower pace.

Example B using these variables for a 30-minute cardio and weights session: three times per week broken into four, six-minute circuits with a minute rest between circuits.

Your heart doesn’t know the difference between the examples.  It loves the process and results either way.  Get off that hamster wheel of a treadmill unless you really LOVE it.  Adapt and adjust the variables to what gives you the most enjoyment.  I guarantee you will stick with it once you practice the adjustments to help achieve your goals!

For more help, please email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  My coaching programs are also available on my website.  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Raging With Your Machine. How to Fuel the WFH Body – From Athlete in the Game of Life

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Athlete in the Game of Life, available on Amazon and on my website.

For the moment, however, I want to remind you that your body is a machine. And all machines need the right fuel to keep them operating at peak efficiency.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m about to talk about a big four-letter word — diet.

The first three letters of the word “diet” spell out “die” — and maybe that’s why people hate to think about it. But instead, maybe we should all make an effort to stop associating healthy food choices with death!  So, lose the term “dieting” and instead, embrace the good feelings you’ll gain just from changing up what you’re eating. It can make a big difference to your overall wellbeing.

Let me break down some primary food categories and how much you should be eating of each.

  • Carbohydrates

Fruits, vegetables, grains, beans are all examples of carbs. You’ll also find some in nuts and dairy products. Carbs have been a little demonized by the media and the no-carb diet fanatics, but your body likes to use them for energy — so ignore everyone and put ‘em on your plate. You need carbs after a workout to replace your glycogen (which helps you maintain your blood-glucose levels). What you want to avoid is processed and sugary goods that contain them.

According to the Institute of Medicine, carbs should make up 45 to 65% of your daily caloric intake.

  • Fats

Fats are another victim of food prejudice, but the truth is they also aren’t always bad for you. Olive oils, fish and avocados are all healthy sources of fat, while processed and artificial foods deliver unhealthy fats. In any event, it’s almost impossible to entirely eliminate fats from your daily diet, as most foods we eat contain them. Just educate yourself by reading food labels to make sure you’re having the suggesting serving size to minimize fat consumption. Fats are worse than carbs, because a gram of fat has FIVE MORE CALORIES than a gram of carbs. So tread carefully.

According to the Institute of Medicine, fats should make up 20%-35% of your daily caloric intake.

  • Proteins

As most of you know, meat, eggs and seafood all contain protein. You’ll also find it in beans, legumes, nuts and dairy. Ingesting protein contributes to a healthy lifestyle, but keto-style diets centering around protein-packed foods isn’t recommended for long-term health. To build lean muscle mass, protein is a must — your muscles use it to rebuild after a workout.

According to the Institute of Medicine, protein needs to compose 10%-35% of total caloric intake.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Tips to Avoid Boredom Eating & Weight Gain During COVID Shutdown

It’s 8:00PM on a weeknight, usually I’m cleaning up dinner after getting home from working my last client at 7:00PM.  That was before the mass shutdown, now at 8:00PM dinner was done two hours ago and I’m hunting around for a snack or fighting off the urge to have a beer.  Does this sound familiar?

It takes just over 60 days to cement in a new habit, good or bad.  The shutdown is quickly reaching that magical number.  Are you like me and sifting through the pantry and fridge at odd times during this zombie apocalypse?  The answer is probably yes, you are.  And how do you stop yourself?

Being a personal trainer also means being a billboard for healthy, active lifestyle.  Some people think personal trainers aren’t human and can say no to sweets, salty treats, or booze without a problem.  We don’t workout much and just appear looking like Greek gods.  Sadly, we are human also and experience the same emotions and require the same amount of hard work to reach and maintain our fitness levels.  Struggling through these odd couple months to not become a drunken sloth is difficult.  I like having cocktails much as the next guy and sneaking in chips or other unhealthy foods.  The accountability isn’t there with seeing clients regularly and keeping a set schedule.  Plus, physical activity levels are not where they used to be.  All of these ingredients can make a fit person fluffy!

How do we fight the fluffy?  The origins begin the same way they did before the shutdown, at the grocery store.  What you buy you eat, simple enough.  The problem is a mindset of using this time like it’s a weeklong vacation.  Sure, you buy more sweets and unhealthy snacks because it’s only a week and you want to enjoy life without the regular hassles.  Unfortunately, this vacation is dragging into months and your shopping habits are still in vacation mode.  IF you purchase regular items on a regular schedule, there aren’t poor choices to make when you rummage around. Processed-foods

Weight gain and weight loss are still math equations, yes math is hard.  To do the math on proteins, carbs, and fats, click my website for more info.  You can eat to much of healthy foods because they have calories, just more nutrient dense than a bag of chips and cookies.  Sometimes when we’re hungry, it really is dehydration and we need a few glasses of water.  Drinking a few glasses of water gives you a fuller feeling without the calories.  Try that strategy when you’re bored and looking for snacks.  Buy some flavored mineral water to give you a different taste and carbonation like a soda.  These also have zero or little calories and do the job well, I know from experience!

The best strategy for later at night snacking is going to bed.  Gastric emptying is a fact and happens 3-4 hours after a meal.  If it’s 10:00PM and you ate dinner at 6:30PM, getting hungry again is natural.  Likely you don’t have any specific reason to be awake longer and are watching shows that will be around for decades to come or reading a book that will be on your nightstand in the morning.  Save yourself the hassle and boredom, turn off the lights and go to sleep! Wake up tomorrow hungry and eat breakfast.  Eat a bigger breakfast if you like because you have all day to use those calories.  Taper off the portion sizes as the day goes on.

The last strategy is forgiveness.  When you have a bad eating day, no problem.  It’s just ONE day not a lifetime!  Make sure one day doesn’t lead into multiple days, that’s where you get in trouble.  Forgive yourself for one day and make tomorrow normal, not excessive in making up for past sins.  The body evens out, I promise.  It’s easy to let our minds run away with crazy thoughts.  Reign it in and dedicate to change tomorrow, then repeat the process.  20 pounds isn’t gained or lost in a day!