Category Archives: Support & Motivation

How the Scale is Lying to You

Beachbody-Blog-How-Scale-Lying

Don’t trust the scale. You’ve heard it before. But, really, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to its insidious lies. Your scale tells you one thing and one thing only: how much you weigh (at this exact moment, on this planet). It doesn’t recognize and can’t report on things like water retention, muscle gain, bloating, or how many carbohydrates you housed the night before.

It also doesn’t know if you’ve started a new workout routine. If you have, it’s very likely your weight will go up for the first few weeks. That means even if you have a fancy schmancy scale that can tell you about bloating and muscle mass, it still won’t tell you not to freak out if your weight goes up when you start working out. (Psst – that’s what we’re here for.)

Look, I get it. For some of us (myself included), the scale can be a mental measure of fitness success. I weigh myself every morning. And it used to be that whenever that number was higher than the number I saw the day before, I would get bummed out. But, then I started to realize that scale weight isn’t real and now I just use it as a measure that things are generally heading in the right direction.

It also became extremely clear (through weighing myself every morning), that weight loss isn’t linear. Some days I was up a pound. Other days, down two pounds. Here is a look at how my weight has fluctuated over the last month so you can see what I mean. (I didn’t weigh myself between the 15th and the 19th as I was traveling. That’s why that part is flat.)

Beachbody Blog Weight Chart

Still, knowing all of this, I wanted to lose 10 pounds. My pants were tight and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t like this. So, 30 days ago, I (and a team of 5 of my coworkers) started doing FOCUS T25 and tracking what we ate. I’ve been good about keeping up with the workouts, but not so good about dialing in my food. I have a penchant for burgers and beer, both of which are fine in moderation. The numbers on the scale went up and the numbers on the scale went down.

After 30 days, I feel fitter, my pants fit better, I can start to see more definition in my arms, and my legs feel stronger. Guess how much weight I lost? 0.4 pounds. Not four pounds. Point four pounds. I had just spent 30 days working out and watching what I was eating and I only lost a measly .4 pounds. Harumph.

But I did notice real results somewhere else. In my photos and in my measurements. If you haven’t taken photos and measurements, start. If you’re on Day 5 and forgot, don’t wait to take them until Day 30. Just take them tomorrow morning. And then take them again on Day 30. I take measurements of my waist, the widest part of my waist, my hips, my chest, my biceps, my thigh, my forearm at the widest point, my wrist, and my neck. I use the forearm, wrist, and neck measurements to determine my approximate body fat percentage.

In 30 days, I lost .75″ on my waist, 1.5″ on my lower waist, and .5″ on my hips. I also lost 1.5 pounds of fat and my body fat percentage dropped from 29% to 27.8%. If I had had eaten better, I probably would have seen even more impressive results. Now, a fancy scale could have told me my body fat percentage, but it couldn’t have told me the rest. And, the photos tell the rest of the story. I haven’t yet reached my fitness goal, but I definitely look like I’ve dropped more than .4 pounds.

 

And, so you can see it’s not just the angle I’m at, here’s the side view. And, yes, that’s a beer poster behind me. This one, if you’re curious.

How much do you rely on the scale?

 

 


3 DAY REFRESH LOSE WEIGHT AND FEEL GREAT!

Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is Working

Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is WorkingExercise makes us feel great. It makes us less hungry. It helps us perform everyday tasks better. Besides our health and the way we look, feeling great, being less hungry, and performing better are exactly the reasons we put ourselves through exercise. However, en route to ultimate fitness, there are some hurdles we all need to clear. Mainly, they include being faced with the opposite of our intended goals. Enter the trilogy of grumpiness: getting sore, slow, and hungry. We tend to look at these as negatives, but how about a little New Year’s spin? You want these feelings because they’re clear signs your program is working.
Sore, Slow, and Hungry
Before we analyze why you need to embrace “going backward,” let’s answer the obvious question: why would we design this type of program? Certainly, there are exercise programs that don’t put you through torture. Could we have chosen such a path with P90X®?

The answer is that programs lacking this trilogy don’t provide you an incentive to get in top shape. In the early stages of any exercise program, it’s possible to structure the schedule and diet around making small improvements. I call this the Curves® template. You push your body above its normal output, though just barely, and you keep it there. If you are greatly deconditioned, it will yield improvements. This approach doesn’t hurt, and frankly, it helps people who’ve never exercised—mainly due to the mental boost they get from feeling they can exercise. It’s a nice alternative for some people. But let’s be realistic. None of them would sit through a P90X infomercial, much less be inspired by it.

The Curves template is what we would call a foundation phase of training for someone who has never exercised. The next step would be one of our programs, like P90X or Slim in 6® (these programs also work on the Curves template because you can choose modified variations). The upside with this method is that each day you leave the gym feeling better than when you walked in. The downside is that you’ll never have the body of a fitness model. To achieve a higher level of fitness, you need to periodize your training and eventually stare into your Nietzschean abyss. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is more than a cliché with P90X—it’s your life.

Getting Sore
Soreness is the easiest symptom to understand. Most of us have been sore at some point. It happens anytime we do something physical that we’re unaccustomed to. From yard work to a pickup game with your old team to a marathon shopping spree, when you push your body beyond what you do in your normal day-to-day activity, you get sore. This is true even if you used to do the said activity all the time. In fact, that generally makes it worse, because you still hang on to the muscle memory of how to do the activity, which means you can really put the hurt on if you don’t have the requisite fitness base.

Most soreness comes from the breakdown of fast twitch muscle fibers. Our bodies have both slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. Slow twitch fibers have a low recruitment factor, which simply means they get fired up at low outputs. Fast twitch fibers have a high recruitment factor, meaning it takes something more intense to get them going. A simple example would be raising your fork to your mouth, which requires slow twitch fibers, compared to raising a heavy barbell over your head, which requires fast twitch fibers. Furthermore, we all have some extra fast twitch fiber for emergencies. When you run from a bear, you’re engaging these, which is why you’re likely to run faster than you ever have before.

Fast twitch fibers are repaired much more slowly than slow twitch fibers. You can pretty much keep shoving food into your mouth and never get tired. When you do get tired, you’ll be able to resume the activity quickly. Lifting a barbell over your head will wear you out, and it will take some time before your body is able to do it again. The more weight you add, the quicker you’ll get tired and the longer it will take before your body is ready to do it again. And once you’ve escaped the bear, you’d do well to avoid him for a couple of weeks. Those emergency fibers you’ve thrashed will take that long to recover.

Hypertrophy means muscle growth. Almost all training programs target this, even weight loss programs, because changing a body from rotund to svelte requires you to lose body fat. And the quickest way to lose body fat is to gain more muscle. Muscle requires more work from your body, even at rest, so you’re body will take the nutrients from the foods you eat and store them in muscle tissue rather than adipose (or fat) tissue.

To create hypertrophy, you need to overload your muscle fibers progressively to keep breaking them down. As you get fitter, you engage higher-threshold muscle cell motor units to keep the overload coming. Breaking down exactly the number of muscle cells your body can replenish right away is nearly impossible. This means that to advance your level of fitness, you are going to break down more muscle fibers than you intended. When this happens, you get sore.

Furthermore, the more varied the exercise you do, the more you’ll find areas where your body is out of balance. This means some muscles are stronger than others. When you do new exercises, your stronger muscles are forced to do extra work as the weaker ones catch up. This results in both the strong and weak muscles being overworked while they sort out the balance problem. This is the first step of Muscle Confusion, and as you know, there is no shortage of it in P90X.

Getting Hungry
“I heard I would get less hungry and all I can think about is eating” is a common sentiment expressed on our Message Boards. The reason is somewhat obvious—our entry-level programs have low-calorie diets, not to mention restricted diets. Most of these people are simply craving the junk foods we’ve had them cut out.

But Xers get hungry too, and they’re usually eating enough calories. This is because your body cries out for nutrients when it’s in breakdown mode, even when you’ve eaten all you can. Learning that this craving is normal will greatly help your success curve.

When your body is craving nutrients, you want to feed it. However, under the type of duress a hard program creates, you can’t possibly give it enough nutrients. Many of us try. We eat and eat. And while eating can help ease the mental anguish your body is going through, you can’t put all of these calories to use, and some will get stored in fat tissue.

When your body is hungry, supplements are your best friend. Most have very few calories and a lot of nutrients. Some have targeted nutrients, which basically means they’re designed for nutrient efficiency. Results and Recovery Formula is a prime example. Although its nutrient profile is unsuitable for many situations, during or after exercise, it is the most efficient food for your body. Using Results and Recovery Formula as directed will help you get less sore, and hence less hungry. Shakeology® also shines during an exercise program. While healthy anytime, drinking Shakeology while your body’s in flux will enhance your ability to use all of Shakeology’s nutrients effectively.

But no matter how well we strategize, we’re all going to get hungry at some point in our programs. So much so that staying hungry is a metaphor for the bodybuilding lifestyle. In the film Stay Hungry, a bodybuilding champion (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) sums this up with the line, “I don’t want to get too comfortable. I’d rather stay hungry.”

A note from expert Denis Faye: “If you’re hungry even though you’ve eaten all your calories and you’re trying to lose weight, your first course of action is to fight it. Hunger doesn’t necessarily mean you need food. It just means you’re used to food. However, if you’re going completely nuts, then you want filling foods with few or no calories. Herbal tea is good, so is broth or veggies, as long as they’re fresh and raw. If you must eat something more substantial, I’d opt for a straight protein, like chicken or egg whites. It’s not going to impact your blood sugar as hard and it’s not all that yummy, so you know you’re not just comfort eating.”

Getting Slow
This is the hardest condition to conceptualize but the easiest to explain. During hypertrophy, your muscles are growing. Growing muscles are a bit like a growing person. Just as you learn how to grow into a developing body, you need to learn how to use new muscles. During the hypertrophy stage of your exercise program, your muscles are “big and dumb,” like the old-school concept of the “musclehead.”

Larger muscles have a greater capacity for strength than smaller ones. A large muscle isn’t necessarily stronger, but if trained properly, it will become stronger. Muscular efficiency (or absolute strength) is what gets targeted in the latter stages of a training program. Doing low repetitions, along with eccentric and plyometric movements, is all about teaching your muscles efficiency—essentially, the ability to recruit high-threshold muscle cell motor units.

We’ll talk more about strength training in another article. Today, my point is to explain the rationale behind what I call “getting slow.” While your muscles are growing, your ability to move quickly lessens. This is why athletes do all of their body-altering training in the off-season. When you start to feel slow, it’s a sign that your program is working. Just remember that you’ll want to increase your intensity and whip those big lugs into shape later on.

Wanting to experience the trilogy of grumpiness should help you during your next program or training cycle. But remember that these are stages, not chronic conditions. You should only experience them early in a program or new cycle of training. If you aren’t experiencing them at all, it means you’re ready to ramp your training up to the next level. But if they persist beyond 4 weeks, you’re overdoing it and risk overtraining. You may also experience them each time you transition to a new phase. In this case, though, they should be gone before you move into the next phase.

from Beachbody GetFit

 

8 Tips For Running Faster

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Sometimes, in life, it’s good to go a little faster. Those times include when you’re competing in your first mud run, running your hundredth 10K, or just upping your pace on your jogs around the block. We spoke with Scott Weiss, DPT, ATC, CSCS, and a member of the sports medical team for the London Olympics. Shaving seconds off your best time is his bread and butter, and here’s what he has to say:

 

1. Be Social

Not like on the PinFace or TweetBook. We mean—brace yourself—physically surrounding yourself with another person or a running group. “I find that the people who run with a partner or with a group last the longest versus those people who are self-motivated,” says Dr. Weiss. “And that’s because other runners feed off of each other…and most people need outside motivation. That camaraderie is important and can catapult you to another level.”

The right running partner(s) can help you maintain focus, serve as a distraction from fatigue, keep you from missing workouts, and call out flaws in your running form.

2. Get Outside Feedback

We’re guessing you’re no Prefontaine. And neither was he until coaches and trainers helped him train and hone his running form. “Some people only need a mirror to see what they’re doing wrong, while others need video or a coach that’s on the side yelling ‘Heels deeper!’ or ‘Knees higher!’” says Dr. Weiss.

Whichever camp you fall into, it’s extremely helpful for you to develop proper mechanics. “Biomechanics are crucial for preventing injury and good running experience,” he adds. “So finding an expert to do a running or gait analysis would be a great thing to do.”

3. Fill Your Plate with Carbs

If you’re not eating enough carbohydrates, you won’t have the energy to push yourself. That translates to a lackluster finish in a race. “Protein isn’t the body’s primary energy source. Carbohydrates are the main fuel for runners and your plate should be full of them. Runners are looking to get about three to five grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight per day on the days they’re running.”

For this, look toward long-lasting, complex carbohydrate sources that provide lasting energy. This includes brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lentils, starchy veggies. During or immediately after runs, simple carbs work better, such as bananas, grapes, or berries.

4. Don’t Run Every Day

The way you approach rest is as important as the way you approach training. Without adequate nutrition and recovery time you’ll compromise your body’s ability to perform at optimum levels.

“Running more than five days per week increases your chances of injury tremendously,” says Dr. Weiss. “Four days of running per week is ideal. I also suggest that people refrain from training a couple of days before a smaller race. Don’t exercise or run a day or two before the race. Just stretch. This way you’re going to the starting line with a day or two of rest and you’re feeling fresh.”

5. Run the Tangents

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We know this because we passed third grade math with a D-. Oddly, it seems like people forget that information when they’re running—specifically with turns. “If you understand the course you’ll want to run the tangents—where you cut the corner to shave time. Going around a whole turn wastes time and energy. You can often cut significant time off your running course by choosing the shortest path through each turn.” Note: This doesn’t include cutting off the turn. That’s cheating.

6. Use Interval Training

“The latest research has been showing that interval training has a good crossover for running. Some days you’ll want to do your long, slower runs, and others you can use interval training. Use a 2:1 ratio where you sprint for 20 meters, jog 40 meters, sprint 20, jog 40, and so on. There is no set time for interval training but you’ll cover most of your bases by keeping all intervals three minutes or less.”

This type of varied training for runners is also called fartlek, which could possibly be the worst-best name in the exercise dictionary. It’s a Swedish word that literally translates into “speed play.”

7. Drink Every 20 Minutes

Studies show dehydrated athletes consistently underperform compared to athletes who are properly hydrated.

“There are so many recommendations as to how much water a person should drink, but runners should aim to consume about 300 ml of water every 20 minutes while they’re running,” Dr. Weiss suggests. That’s 10 ounces for all you non-metric folk.

8. Get Your Head in the Game

Remain focused and fresh before race day by adopting proper sleep. Doctors recommend using your bed only for sleep and sex. Engage in other activities—reading, watching TV, using your iPad—in other areas of your home.

“Your mind is your motor. Some people don’t realize that sleep and training go together because they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum, but rest and sleep are so important,” Dr. Weiss explains. “You’ll want to make sure you’re getting solid sleep to allow the body to repair its joints, muscles, and bones in the days leading up to the race.”