Stop Using Willpower!

What are your goals? Whether you want to lose weight, pack on muscle or increase your mobility, there will certainly be some amount of structure and/or sacrifice necessary to earn the goal you have in mind.

When I ask an individual what they believe it will take for them to achieve their goal, one of the most common answers is willpower. Maybe it’s not the exact term willpower, but it’s usually a synonym such as discipline, accountability or dedication. Something along those lines.

Willpower is a sense control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.

What I don’t understand is why we’ve been lead to believe that building healthy habits is strictly based on willpower and discipline. Americans have been relying on willpower to improve their health for decades and where has that gotten us? Nowhere. In fact, things have dramatically worsened over the years according to the data collected by Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

Excerpt below:

In 1990, obese adults made up less than 15 percent of the population in most U.S. states. By 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25 percent or higher, and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30 percent or higher.

Today, nationwide, roughly two out of three U.S. adults are overweight or obese (69 percent) and one out of three is obese (36 percent).

What I’m trying to say is that we CANNOT rely on willpower when it comes to creating healthy habits. Our willpower WILL fail us, you can bank on that. Trust me, for the longest time I thought willpower alone would help me meet my goals. I found out time after time that, unfortunately, that is simply not the case.

Willpower is Scottie Pippen.

Willpower is great, but will not win you championships on its own.

Willpower needs a Michael Jordan.

ENVIRONMENT is Michael Jordan.

 

Your environment is the absolute most important component of creating healthier habits. Environment trumps willpower and will always be superior when the two are faced against each other. It may not be immediate, but your willpower will eventually give in to your environment. It could take seconds, minutes, days or even years but it is 100% inevitable. No one is perfect, so to think that we can live, eat, exercise, work, etc. perfectly without giving in to temptation every now and then is purely erroneous.

The key is that we must develop an environment that is preparing us to succeed towards our goals.

Our willpower is limited, unfortunately we don’t have an infinite amount. Think of your willpower as your smartphone. If you’re on your phone talking, texting and playing on apps all day that’s going to drain your battery faster. Eventually, your battery is going to die and you’ll be forced to charge it. If you have to use willpower to turn down unhealthy food choices multiple times a day, that’s going to drain your supply of willpower faster. Eventually your willpower will run out and you’ll be chowing down on a combo meal from McDonald’s. Not good.

One of the best scientific studies that illustrates this is the Ego Depletion study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published in 1998. This is one of the golden standards when it comes to the topic.

Here’s a brief outline:

Students participating in the study were asked to enter a laboratory room that was set up to look like a taste perception study. The room was filled with the aroma of freshly baked Chocolate Chip cookies, which had just been baked in the room. In the room, there were two different food displays; one was bowl of red and white radishes, the other was a plate of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate candies.

The participants were told which food to eat and how much of that food they were allowed to eat. After the tasting was over, the participants were asked to complete a series of geometric puzzles, however, they did not know that these puzzles were designed to be unsolvable. They were told that they would not be judged on the results of their puzzles, but on whether or not they finish the puzzle and the amount of time spent on them. Each participant was notified to ring a bell when they want to give up on the puzzle.

The results show that the participants who ate the radishes gave up on the puzzles FASTER than those who ate the chocolate/cookies (8.35 minutes vs. 18.90 minutes).

What does that mean? That means the group who was told to eat radishes depleted their supply of willpower by rejecting the delicious cookies. They exhausted their own willpower so much that they quickly gave up on the next challenge they were faced with.

Excerpt below:

Resisting temptation seems to have produced a psychic cost, in the sense that afterward participants were more inclined to give up easily in the face of frustration.

The key here is to set yourself up for success with an environment tailored towards what you’re trying to accomplish. The goal is to NOT use your willpower, because you’re not forced to use it by temptations in your environment. Instead of having your environment battle with your willpower, we need to utilize these two things in tandem, just like the Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen analogy I used before.

If you are consistently living with a healthy environment, you won’t need to use your willpower. That way when things get shaken up and you call on your willpower for help, you actually have the strength to keep your eyes on the prize.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So let’s prep our lives to be healthy.

  • Prepare your meals in advance.
  • Keep only healthy items in your refrigerator and pantry.
  • Hang out with friends who also value their health.
  • Be positive and friendly to everyone that you meet.
  • Work your hardest in everything that you do.

These are easy ways to create the environment you need to meet your goals.

Don’t rely on willpower anymore. You’re stronger than that.

SOURCES:

1) “An Epidemic of Obesity: U.S. Obesity Trends.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard University: School of Public Health. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/an-epidemic-of-obesity/>.

2) Baumeister, Roy, Ellen Bratslavsky, Mark Muraven, and Dianne Tice. “Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/584/baumeisteretal1998.pdf>.

You May Never Eat Fast Food Again After Reading This

I recently came across this story and was pretty blown away by it. Back in 1995, two pals from Australia decided to hang on to a McDonald’s burger that their friend didn’t eat.

They hung on to that burger for 20 years. The burger was locked in a wooden box and left to rot for the past two decades, but when they revealed it a few weeks ago… it was fine.

The burger literally look brand new, like it was purchased that day.

There is no rotting, no signs of age, no mold… nothing at all! What on earth does McDonald’s put into their food that would keep a cheeseburger in tact for 20 years and counting?

It really makes you wonder. Maybe you will rethink it the next time you’re craving fast food.

What Is Your Body Type?

When it comes to starting a new exercise program and/or nutrition plan, it’s not a one size fits all process. For me, as a trainer, many specific factors go into consideration when I create the programs that I present to clients. For you, as a fitness enthusiast, the selection process should be just as precise.

You need to follow a program that is right for YOU. Nine times out of ten, what works for one individual will not work as effectively for the next.

Although we all have very different genetics and body types, the human body can be classified by these three basic body types.

  • Ectomorph
  • Mesomorph
  • Endomorph

Check out the illustrations below from Bodybuilding.com for a general overview of what each body type looks like!

ECTOMORPH

  • Narrow hips and clavicles
  • Small joints (wrist/ ankles)
  • Thin build
  • Stringy muscle bellies
  • Long limbs
MESOMORPH

  • Wide clavicles
  • Narrow waist
  • Thinner joints
  • Long and round muscle bellies
ENDOMORPH

  • Blocky
  • Thick rib cage
  • Wide/thicker joints
  • Hips as wide (or wider)
    than clavicles
  • Shorter limbs

Bodybuilding.com‘s Paul Becker has recently launched a body type test that you can take and find out which body type you are. By finding out whether you’re an ecto, meso or endomorph, you can better understand your body and what it needs to function optimally. Head over to their site and take the quiz by clicking the button below!

Photos and sources: Paul Becker, Bodybuilding.com

570-Pound Man Commits to Finishing a 5K Per Month in 2015

If you’re struggling to find motivation, this article will do the trick. There’s an incredible news story going viral right now about Derek Mitchell, a 34 year-old man from Missouri who has made a commitment to finishing one 5k race per month in 2015. Derek weighed 570lbs on January 1st, 2015 when he decided to make a change in his life. He vowed to give up soda, adopt a healthier diet, add exercise to his daily routine and finish one 5k race per month.

“I decided that, starting in March, I would do at least on 5K each month for the rest of the year,” Mitchell, told Runner’s World Newswire.

He’s stuck to his word and plans to get stronger with each race. Derek want’s to shed about 250lbs this year and improve his race completion time by 5 minutes each month!

Last weekend, at the Kansas City Big 12 Run, he completed his first 5k of the year. With the entire crowd cheering him on to through the finish line, Derek finished in 1:27:44 and sparked one of the most inspiring stories of the year.

“Originally, I started this for myself because I needed to get healthy,” Mitchell said. “But it’s amazing the way you can inspire people to get up and get moving just by doing something simple like finishing a 5K.”

Inspiring is right. Derek Mitchell has redefined his possible. What’s stopping you from doing the same?

4 Natural Allergy Remedies To Get You Through Spring

One week ago, there was over a foot of snow on the ground and the temperatures were bone-chilling. As I write this on St. Patrick’s Day, it is currently 50 degrees outside at 10 AM and the sun is shining beautifully. The Spring weather is here, and it’s here to stay, but it may not be time to celebrate just yet.

Why?

You know those “Spring Allergies” are coming. It happens every year. When the weather changes abruptly, you start to notice more congestion, sniffling, sneezing, headaches, etc.

There are 2 root causes for these seasonal allergies, and they both can be handled using natural allergy remedies. The first trigger for these pesky allergies is pollen.

Pollen

The snow has melted and now plants feel like they can grow again.  Pollen is the collection of microscopic grains that are released into the air by trees, grass and plants. Pollen is meant to fertilize other plants in the environment, but when pollen gets into the nose/lungs of someone who’s allergic, that’s when allergy symptoms occur.

Unfortunately, you have no control over the pollen count. You do have control over how you deal with the allergens, so stay tuned and I’ll highlight some natural allergy remedies after covering the second seasonal trigger; Non-Allergic Rhinitis.

Non-Allergic Rhinitis

So, what is non-allergic rhinitis? It’s when you get all the symptoms of allergies, but have no clue what the cause is because you have no allergies. Let’s say you know for a fact that you’re not allergic to pollen (lucky you!), but when the weather changes you still experience the same runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat as everyone else who is allergic to pollen.

Why is that? Because weather changes are one of the most common triggers for non-allergic rhinitis. It can be as drastic as leaving a warm room and entering a room at a cooler temperature. Or it could be just as common as the transition from winter into spring. Each case varies from individual to individual.

Here’s the kicker: Non-Allergic Rhinitis does not involve the immune system. Your antihistamines will not help you in this case. But that’s why I’m here. Check out some natural allergy remedies for both of these conditions below!

Natural Allergy Remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you read my first blog about ACV, you know how much I love this stuff! Add this to the list of reasons you should be drinking Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix 2 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar with about a cup of water in the morning and you’ll enjoy tons of health benefits, including help with your allergies. The science behind it all infers that ACV can lower mucous production and cleanse your lymphatic system, making it a useful remedy for both pollen allergies and non-allergic rhinitis. Try it out. I guaranteed you’ll love it.

Neti Pot

If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, or any other type of nasal irrigation product, you’re missing out! Simply mix distilled water with about half a teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt, pour the solution into one nostril, tilt your head and watch it flow through the nasal cavity and drain from the other nostril. Seems weird, and it is. It feels pretty bizarre, but when that water drains from your nostril, so does all the allergens and irritations that are causing you discomfort.

This is a great remedy for both of the causes listed above, especially the non-allergic rhinitis. Since that’s not a immune system issue, there are a lack of fixes for the symptoms. This is by far the best!

Quercetin

This is a natural bioflavonoid that can be taken in a concentrated pill form. Quercetin is helpful for your allergies by stabilizing cells, keeping them from releasing histamine. In a way, it’s a natural antihistamine. Foods such as broccoli and oranges are also a great source of this natural allergy remedy. I would suggest combining these foods with a concentrated dose to receive the full benefits. Also, this is more of a long-term and precautionary measure. Start taking it now and you’ll be good to go by the time spring weather fully hits.

Nettle Leaf

Nettle Leaf is another natural antihistamine that effectively blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. You can find this in teas or in pill form, both of which I recommend. The best thing is that you can take this, along with all of the other listed remedies, in conjunction with numerous other vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements to find the allergy relief you need.

Hopefully you can get your spring allergies under control with these natural fixes and without the use of other medications. I stand by every single one of these products and take them all daily.

Cool story: I was on prescribed allergy medication from the time I was 10 years old, until about a year ago (I’m now 25) when I decided to stop taking the meds. I also went out and got a puppy, which I’m very allergic to. Ask to see my allergy test results if you want a good laugh. Thanks to a regimen that includes these 4 products, and a few more, I feel great year around and rarely experience the allergy symptoms that used to haunt me!

 

 

3 Stressors That May Be Holding You Back From Your Fitness Goals

Stress. That word alone may be enough to stress you out. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is the brain’s response to any demand. These demands can have a negative impact or a positive impact on your life, short-term or long-term. Although not all stress is negative, chronically experiencing stressful situations can lead to a lowered immunity, digestive complications, reproduction issues and can even harm you physically.

When it comes to exercise, a lot of people use their workouts as a chance to relieve some stress. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for everyone. People cope with stressors in their lives in many different ways. Sometimes, stress actually leads people to become lethargic and unmotivated. Since that directly affects your health, it causes concern for me! I want you all to enjoy long, healthy lives.

Below are the top 3 stressors can could be stopping you from meeting your fitness goals!

Staying up past your bed time

Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to added stress. The human body needs some “me time” for it to recharge and without that time the body will not function to its furthest potential. We’re all guilty of staying up too late from time to time, but making a habit of it can literally turn you into a Debbie Downer.

Seriously. Have you ever heard of RNT? That’s Repetitive Negative Thinking, a perseverative and abstract focus on negative aspects of one’s experience and life.

According to this study (1), “Individuals who endorsed a preference for later sleep and activity times also reported more RNT. These findings suggest that RNT may be uniquely related to both sleep duration and timing.”

If you begin to develop a negative outlook on life, your healthy (among other things) will suffer. Rest and recovery is just as important as what you do in the gym, so make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night so you can wake up and seize the day, every day!

Telling lies

My mom used to tell me, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” The internet will tell you that is a Mark Twain quote but I’m pretty sure Nancy Ochoa originated that.

It’s so true though. I’m not going to act like I’ve never lied,  I can honestly say that lying is so much hard work. It’s exhausting. I’d much rather tell the truth, especially after reading a recent study on the potential effects of valuing honesty.

“Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health,” said Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Kelly conducted a fascinating study that indicated telling less lies is linked to improved health and improved relationships as well (2).

So re-think it the next time you feel like telling one of those little white lies that you think doesn’t really matter. Tell the truth and it could help you out in the long run. You need to be thinking about crushing your next workout, not stressing out about what you’re going to tell your spouse when they ask about the random $200 charge at the Keystone Fashion Mall.

Too much caffeine

I bet 8/10 people who read this would say that they NEED some sort of caffeine to get through the day. Whether it’s coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, pills or workout supplements, Americans are getting their caffeine fix – and then some.

Did you know coffee is the most widely consumed beverage in the United States besides water? Coffee just so happens to be the main source of caffeine in American adults.

Coffee isn’t the one to point the finger at, caffeine in all varieties is the real bad guy here.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why people feel so addicted and dependent on it and the products that contain it. In moderation, caffeine can actually be helpful to your health but a lot of times there is no moderation when it comes to consumption.

Habitually overdosing on caffeine can lead to chronically elevated adrenaline, cortisol, anxiety and blood pressure (3). It can be taxing on your glands and organs to constantly be in a caffeinated state and lead to severe exhaustion. That’s right, too much caffeine can eventually cause insomnia. If that doesn’t alarm you, please re-read the first section above about getting more rest!

Anything under 300 milligrams of caffeine a day is considered to be healthy and safe, but continuously exceeding that amount can lead to some pretty nasty repercussions.

If you consume caffeine for the energy, consider more wholesome and natural remedies. Maybe lemon water or a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar in the morning. Eat to have energy, then supplement if absolutely necessary.

If you consume caffeine for the taste, like coffee connoisseurs, try to limit your intake or consider a decaf cup here and there. Drinking soda daily for the caffeine? Don’t even get me started.

You don’t want to suffer from adrenal fatigue, no cup of joe is worth that suffering! Save your energy for your next trip to 1 & Only Fitness!

—–

SOURCES

(1) Nota, Jacob, and Meredith Coles. “Duration and Timing of Sleep Are Associated with Repetitive Negative T.” Springer Link. Journal of Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1 Dec. 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10608-014-9651-7>.

(2) “Lying Less Linked to Better Health, New Research Finds.” The American Psychological Association. The American Psychological Association, 4 Aug. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/08/lying-less.aspx>.

(3) “Effects of Habitual Coffee Consumption on Cardiometabolic Disease, Cardiovascular Health, and All-cause Mortality.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 July 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23871889>.

 

 

 

Yum… Crickets? Have You Tried The Latest Health Foods Craze?

You probably hear crickets chirping on Summer nights when you lay in bed, but I bet you’ve never had the urge to wake up, walk outside, catch a few crickets and chow down on them for a little late night snack. You probably gag the thought of ingesting an insect, but the funny thing is that about 80% of the world population currently includes insects in their regular diets. This is nothing new though, other countries have valued insects as legitimate food sources for centuries now.

In Mexico and Japan, grasshoppers and crickets are pretty common cuisine. In Cambodia, they munch on Red Tree Ants. In Italy, live insect larvae is a popular addition to a dish called Casu Marzu. Ask anyone that grew up in another country, I bet they’ve consumed a few insects in their day.

America is too cool for that, though. We’d rather eat the next Frankenfood that Taco Bell comes out with.

Instead of trying something new from a fast food joint, why don’t you try something new that could actually be beneficial to your health?

Enter Cricket Flour.

Cricket Flour may be the next big thing in the health and fitness food industry. With about 15% more Iron that Spinach, 2 times the Protein of Beef and nearly as much B12 as Salmon, Cricket Flour is quickly making a case for itself to be America’s next health craze.

The best part is that you’ll never have to see a single cricket. Not even a leg. Cricket Flour is the product of thousands of crickets specially raised for human consumption, freeze-dried, then ground into a flour. It has a smooth texture just like any other milled substance, a nutty flavor similar to almond flour or hemp seeds and has absolutely NO insect qualities.

One 2 tbsp serving of this concoction has about 8g of Protein, 2g of Fat, less than 1 Carb and about 1g of Fiber.  It’s all natural, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, nut free, dairy free… all that good stuff, if you’re into that.

I’m not saying Cricket Flour is going to give you a six pack or help you lose 30 pounds in 3 months, I’m just trying to share some new information that may intrigue you brave souls out there.

If you’re a fan of NBC’s Shark Tank you may remember a company called Chapul getting funded. Chapul is the first energy bar to use Cricket Flour and now that they’ve seen such immediately success, other brands such as Exo and Bitty are following in their footsteps.

If these brands continue to flourish you may be seeing cricket products in your local supermarkets very soon. Try it out. You may find yourself a new favorite snack.

Supplements 101: The Essential Dietary Supplements You Should Take

What are supplements?

Supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, plants or other parts of these substances that can be consumed for a wide variety of health purposes (1). For many years, bodybuilders, athletes, health enthusiasts and beyond have been taking dietary supplements to help improve their wellness. When used appropriately, supplements can be a great addition to a wholesome diet and an exercise program. The focus in the previous sentence is when used appropriately.

Supplement, by definition, is something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. With that being said, the appropriate way to use dietary supplements is to use them to compliment your diet and exercise regimen. Your dietary supplements should add to, not replace, the foods in your diet. You should rely on whole foods in their natural state for the majority of your nutritional intake.

There’s no science behind this statement, but I would say at least 95% of your fitness success will come from real food. Whether your goal is weight loss, gaining muscle or anything in between, don’t rely too heavily on the supplements you take. Real food equals real results.

What supplements should you take?

I’ve had a lot of clients, friends and family ask me, “What supplements should I take for [insert fitness goal here]?” My first answer is always what foods are you eating for [said fitness goal]? A bit snarky, yes, but a lot of your fitness goals can be met by tweaking your diet. The main reason I ask that question is because I want to make sure you have a basic understanding of what a moderately healthy diet looks like.

Let’s say you ask me what supps (all the cool kids call supplements “supps”) to take to gain lean muscle mass and I ask you about your diet. You tell me that you usually eat fast food 2-3 times a day “because you have no time to cook.” I’m going to assist you with your diet before I tell you what supplements to take. No amount of Mass Gainer Protein Powder, Creatine or Pre-Workout in the world can help you gain lean muscle if you can’t stop eating $5 Hot & Ready Pizzas from Little Caesars.

Those 3 supplements are what I’d refer to as advanced supplements. Advanced supps should be taken for a specific purpose by athletes, bodybuilders or individuals that exceed 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least 4 days a week. You don’t need a pre-workout to hit the elliptical for 30 minutes. And a post-workout protein shake probably contains double the calories that you just burned. Save those supplements for the next time you try to deadlift 400 pounds. See the difference here?

With that being said, there are some supplements that everyone can benefit from. I call them the essentials. While I definitely recommend implementing a proper diet and exercise program, the essential supplements can benefit even the most sedentary individuals. These are my top 3 essential supplements.

Multivitamin

Multivitamins are incredibly useful and packed with tons of vitamins, minerals, herbs and more. Multivitamins can help you achieve the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of all the essential nutrients when you use them in addition to a complete diet. When looking for a multi, here are some tips to help you find a useful product:

  • Look at the Daily Value (DV) percentages,
    • Most of the vitamins and minerals DV% should be at or near 100% except for Calcium and Magnesium. Those two at 100% DV would cause the pill to be too large to swallow (2).
  • If possible, choose a multivitamin designed for YOU,
    • A lot of brands will have products specifically designed for men, women, teens, pregnant women, seniors and more. Find the one that fits you the best and assess the multivitamin from there.
  • Don’t be cheap.
    • As with anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to supplements. Do your research so you can confidently purchase a product that you believe will help you reach your goals. Look for vitamins that are made from whole food sources, with little to no chemicals. Make sure you’re getting a product that contains most of the following: Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, Biotin, Vitamin A, E, D2 or D3, K, Potassium, Iodine, Selenium, Borate, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese and Iron.

 

I’ve been taking Rainbow Light’s Men’s One for a while now and love it. It’s a food-based product with a great range of nutrients and even goes above & beyond with its use of superfoods and enzymes to enhance the digestive support and absorption of the vitamins. Rainbow Light makes several varieties of their multivitamin supplements. Find one that works for you and you’ll be so glad you did!

Fish Oil

One could argue that a Fish Oil supplement is more important than a multivitamin. I wouldn’t have an issue with that claim. Fish Oil is extremely beneficial and has been linked to improved joint health (3), heart health (4), cardiovascular wellness (5), weight loss (5), brain function (6), improved immune system (7) and healthy skin (8). Seems like a good gig, right?

“How,” you ask? Fish Oil supplements are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are beneficial healthy fats and oils. Guess what? You can also get Omega 3s naturally by eating Salmon, Cod, Halibut, Tuna or any other healthy seafood along those lines. There are literally plenty of other fish in the sea…

Bad joke.

Back to this whole Omega 3 conversation. There could easily be a 5,000 word article written about Omega 3s, what they are and how you should use them. I’m going to keep it pretty brief and just overview the subject. Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health and wellbeing. There’s also Omega 6 and 9, but we don’t get into that today.

The most important and valuable Omega 3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are what you need to pay attention to when choosing a Fish Oil supplement. It would be ideal to find a product that has at least 1 gram, or 1,000 mg, of DHA and EPA combined.

Here’s the kicker. You have to beware of misleading labels that say something like “1,000 mg of Omega 3s!” It’s not just the Omega 3s we’re after, it’s mainly the DHA and EPA. Everything else is just icing on the cake, so to speak.

If you see a label make that claim, turn it around and look at the DHA and EPA content. A lot of times the product will absolutely have 1,000 mg of Omega 3s, like it claims, but only a small percentage of that 1,000 mg is DHA and EPA. That’s a problem. Do not pay your hard earned money on a Fish Oil supplement that has less than 1,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA. Please, if you take one thing from this article, make that be the one thing.

A trusted brand of Fish Oil supplements that I use is Nordic Naturals. They use 100% pure oils from wild caught fish and get their products third party tested for purity and freshness. Their Ultimate Omega product has 1,280 mg of Omega 3s, with 650 mg of EPA and 450 mg of DHA. That’s a combined 1,100 mg of DHA and EPA, which sounds like a winner to me!

Probiotic

This is by far my favorite of the three essential supplements! This blog post won’t do justice to how incredibly important a probiotic can be to your lifestyle. Probiotics can enhance immunity, improve your gut flora, decrease or eliminate gastrointestinal complications and so much more (9). I briefly touched on “good bacteria” in your body in my last article about Apple Cider Vinegar, but probiotic supplements bring it to another level.

When choosing a Probiotic supplement there are several components that come into the decision. What species or strain of bacteria in included? What is the dosage? How many of the organisms will be alive by the time you consume the last pill? It’s not just as simple as picking the one that Erin Andrews tells you to take in her commercials.

Let’s start with strains and species. Below are, in my opinion, are some of the most helpful probiotic strains to look for:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – This probiotic strain is imperative for maintaining healthy intestinal walls. This will help you get the most out of your food and other supps, absorbing maximum nutrients.
  • Bifidobacteria bifidum – Your intestines need this probiotic strain for digestion process that is free of complications, especially when consuming dairy products.
  • Bifidobacteria longum – This strain has one job. Eliminate the bad bacteria that cause discomfort. It also helps break down carbohydrates you consume, without producing excess gas.
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – This strain helps your body produce lactolin, which is a natural antibiotic. It can also help regulate healthy N.O. levels and decrease pathogens in your system.

Are you still with me? If so, let’s talk about dosage. How many strains should you take? Typically, I would recommend a product that has multiple strains, and billions of each strain. Yes, billions. These bacteria are measured in Colony Forming Units (CFU) and they come in billions. Maybe I like probiotics so much because it’s the only time I’ll ever to get to touch a billion of anything.

Depending on your activity level and lifestyle, your body can use anywhere from 4 to 10 billion CFUs just fighting off the daily hazards that you come into contact with. The goal is to replenish what you lose, so starting with a product that has at least 10 billion CFUs is a wise choice. This will not only replenish your gut flora, but help you develop an even stronger gut flora by forming a nice baseline of CFUs.

As you become more accustomed to probiotics, you can begin to ramp up the dosage. I currently take a time-released, 55 billion CFU product with 10 different strains of bacteria made by Trace Minerals Research. After trying several products on the market, I found this one about a year ago and haven’t looked back since. The company backs their product with a money back guarantee and I can assure you that they don’t have to make good on that offer, ever.

Side note: Don’t forget that you can get probiotics from your food. Great sources include Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, and Yogurt.

What now?

Now that you know a little bit about each of the three essential dietary supplements, you can go out and do your own research on what products may be best for you. I plan on doing a follow-up article on a few advances supplements that highly active individuals could consider to be essential. A few examples of these are Protein Powder, Creatine, Vitamin D and Amino Acids/BCAAs.

Until then, focus on the basics. Hopefully you learned a few bits of useful info and can apply this advice to your daily routine. Thanks for reading!

-Justin

______

SOURCES:

(1) “Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 11 May 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109760.htm>.

(2) “Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements — Health Professional Fact Sheet.” National Institutes of Health. National Institutes of Health, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/#h6>.

(3) “Fish Oil Supplements.” Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.arthritistoday.org/arthritis-treatment/natural-and-alternative-treatments/supplements-and-herbs/supplement-guide/fish-oil.php>.

(4) “FDA Announces Qualified Health Claims for Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 8 Sept. 2004. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.fda.gov/SiteIndex/ucm108351.htm>.

(5) “Combining Fish-oil Supplements with Regular Aerobic Exercise Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1 May 2007. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1267.abstract>.

(6) “Fish Oil Boosts Brain Power.” Yahoo Health. Yahoo Healthy, 16 July 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <https://www.yahoo.com/health/fish-oil-boosts-brain-power-91965585587.html>.

(7) “Nothing Fishy about It: Fish Oil Can Boost the Immune System.” EurekAlert! Federation of American Societies for Experimental Bioogy, 1 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-04/foas-nfa040113.php>.

(8) Kessler, Chris. “The Definitive Fish Oil Buyer’s Guide.” Chris Kresser. 24 May 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide>.

(9) Fuller, Perdigon. Gut Flora, Nutrition, Immunity and Health. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.

 

 

3 Reasons You Should Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Everyday

People will do some pretty unusual things to improve their health and fitness, including myself. As long as it’s legal and kind of safe, I will do or try almost anything to stay on top of my game. There are so many varying opinions on health out there, it’s tough to navigate through the crappy advice and absorb some useful information. At the end of the day, what works for one person may not work for the next person. It’s all about trying new things and finding a system that works for you.

With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to something new and invite you to try a secret weapon that I’ve been using for long time now: Apple Cider Vinegar. Drinking ACV is completely safe and is probably one of the most unusual and unconventional substances in my daily regimen of vitamins and supplements. There is a method to the madness, consuming ACV has been proven to increase health and wellness in numerous ways. Below are the top 3 reasons I believe you, or anyone, could benefit from drinking Apple Cider Vinegar.

Honorable Mentions

-Soothes sore throat

-Clears stuffy nose

-Cures hiccups

All of the above uses for Apple Cider Vinegar are more immediate, quick fixes for health issues. While those may come in handy, I’m much more interested in long term health effects of this natural elixir.

#3: Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Control Blood Sugar

Apple Cider Vinegar has been involved in several studies over the years in relation to its effect on a person’s blood glucose levels. In a 2007 study by the American Diabetes Association and the Arizona State University Department of Nutrition, individuals with Type 2 Diabetes who were not taking Insulin were given two tablespoons before bed time. The studies showed that Apple Cider Vinegar favorably impacted the glucose concentrations of the subjects, lowering their glucose levels in a positive manner during their sleep [1].

Another study, also done by the ASU Department of Nutrition, showed that the antiglycemic effects of the acid in Apple Cider Vinegar lead to low blood sugar when taken immediately before a high carbohydrate meal [2].

A few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar a day could go a long way for you, especially if you’re having issues managing your blood sugar. Even if your blood sugar levels are completely normal, this is a great precautionary method of use. In the long run, it will surely help you out in many more ways than controlling glucose. Which brings me to reason #2…

#2: Apple Cider Vinegar Could Aid In Weight Loss

Another great reason for people to consume Apple Cider Vinegar daily is because of its potential to help you lose weight or maintain a lean body type. The Acetic Acid in ACV has been linked to weight loss because of it’s ability to suppress appetite, increase metabolism and reduce excess water retention. As mentioned in the study above, Apple Cider Vinegar has the ability to control blood sugar, which in turn, can reduce the amount of sugar that your body stores as fat [3].

A lot of people would consider this to be the #1 benefit of Apple Cider Vinegar, but it falls at #2 on my list due to the lack of concrete scientific data. While I absolutely believe that ACV can assist people in losing weight, I have to be responsible with my advice. Don’t expect this to be a magical potion that shreds 20 lbs of fat in 3 weeks. This is more of a holistic weight management approach that can get you on the right track for weight loss.

#1: Apple Cider Vinegar Helps With Digestion

This is the reason I added Apple Cider Vinegar to my daily regimen: Digestion. Back in 2011, I found out I have Celiac Disease and it changed my life forever. One thing to note about Celiac Disease is that it’s an autoimmune disorder in which long-term damage occurs inside your gut flora over many years of undiagnosed gluten-eating. It’s not a quick fix, you don’t magically heal by eating gluten-free. Actually, you don’t heal ever, but you can manage the condition with diet and exercise. Your gut [flora] is a complex of microorganisms and bacteria that live in your digestive tracts [4]. These are often referred to as “good bacteria” and there are more than 100 trillion of them inside you working hard to help you fight illness, digest food and absorb nutrients.

When you eat a bad diet, you can ruin your gut flora and digestive system. When your digestive system is out of whack, your immune system could follow in the same trend and lead to diseases, illnesses and many unwanted complications. The Acetic Acid, Pectin and Malic Acid  in Apple Cider Vinegar contain antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties which can help prevent the build up of bad bacteria and promote the growth of good bacteria [5].

Long story, short… Apple Cider Vinegar will undoubtedly help you with any digestion issues that you may have. You can use it for immediate use or for long-term benefits, whichever situation suits you the best.

BONUS: Apple Cider Vinegar Helps With Allergies

I know I said this was the top 3 reasons, but I had a mid-article change of heart. I’m giving you this bonus benefit. Apple Cider Vinegar can help with allergy relief as well. According to Melissa Gallagher, M.S., CWC, CNHP, the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar are just as effective as Zyrtec when trying to treat allergy symptoms [6]. I can fully vouch for this. I was prescribed to Singulair, Flonase, Claritin and/or Zyrtec from the time I was 10 years old until about 2 years ago when I decided to holistically treat my allergies and I feel better than ever! Shameless self-promotion: Look out for my upcoming blog on my daily allergy regimen I use to treat my pet, environment and seasonal allergies.

The moral of the story is that Apple Cider Vinegar would be an incredible addition to your diet. If not for one of the reasons mentioned above, consume ACV for any of the other benefits such as:

– Detoxification

– Increased Stamina / Energy

– Blood Pressure Control

– Healing Bruises

– Freshening Breath

If you’re looking for a way to improve your general health in a cost efficient manner, Apple Cider Vinegar should be your go-to. You can pick up 32 fl oz for about $8-10, which will last you at least 1 month, depending on your intake. The methods of Apple Cider Vinegar consumption vary, but I would suggest starting off your morning with 2 tablespoons diluted with about a 1/2 cup of water. Chug chug chug! You’ll feel the energy boost immediately!

Try it out and let me know what you think! Here are 26 more genius ways to utilize Apple Cider Vinegar.

Justin

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CITATIONS

[1] White, Andrea, and Carol Johnston. “Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes.” Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, 4 June 2007. Web. <http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814.full>.

[2] “Multiple Studies: You Can Control Blood Sugar with Apple Cider Vinegar.” Multiple Studies: You Can Control Blood Sugar with Apple Cider Vinegar. The Alternative Daily, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. <http://www.thealternativedaily.com/multiple-studies-you-can-control-blood-sugar-with-apple-cider-vinegar/>.

[3] Mercola, Joseph. “Vinegar Can Fight Diabetes and Promote Weight Loss.” Dr. Mercola. 1 Jan. 2005. Web. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/01/22/vinegar-diabetes.aspx>.

[4] “Gut Flora.” Gut Flora. Wikipedia. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora>.

[5] Dillan, Jim. “Apple Cider Vinegar: Drink It Daily for Better Health.” Health Ambition. 1 Nov. 2013. Web. <http://www.healthambition.com/apple-cider-vinegar-drink-daily-better-health/>.

[6] Collins, Danica. “Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits, Home Remedy for Allergies Read More: Http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits-home-remedy-for-allergies/#ixzz3Ooa3GwLb.” Underground Health Reporter. Web. <http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits-home-remedy-for-allergies/#axzz3OkAXuV6W>.

#iDo52: What have YOU done lately?

It all started when I saw this post on Twitter.

Pat Kraft is a long-time friend of mine. I’ve known him since the 5th grade, when his mom was our Sunday School teacher at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. We grew up playing sports with and against each other, he’s actually one of the best baseball players in the history of the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

Ever since I can remember, we’ve both had extreme ambition to do great things, that’s something that kept us close all these years. When I saw this post, I immediately wanted to know what he was talking about. I knew that it would be something I’d take interest in because, well, Pat is kind of a genius.

So I inquired…

As promised, I received a text a few minutes later. I read it. I loved it. Here are some excerpts that sparked my interest in #iDo52.

I’m making 52 personal promises to myself and going to try to document the whole process via iDo52.org and social media.

This already sounds like something awesome to me, but there was more.

I’m adding a “doers” tab to the site, so others can add their list of tasks they want to accomplish this year. It can allow others to get involved and hold themselves accountable for living the life the want to live.

As you can see, this is a brilliant idea. The best is yet to come…

I just was sick of being 25 and always having an excuse for why I couldn’t do something, I wanted to stop wishing I could do something and just it.

Seeing Pat say this blew my mind. Pat has more friends and business connections than anyone I know. He played college baseball, had an successful career, graduated and took a great job that landed him in the beautiful Southern region of the USA. Pat has this life thing pretty well figured out so far, in my opinion. But here’s where it gets even more awesome. He’s not satisfied. He will not settle for good, because he knows better is out there. He knows he still has goals to achieve. I love people like that. Megan Richmond, our member of the month, is like that too and she’s 80 pounds down and counting!

Do you see the theme here? My buddy Pat and our good friend Megan are just the in the beginning stages of their journey. These two embody what we stand for at 1 & Only Fitness. What do you see plastered all over the walls of our gym? 1 Life. 1 Body. 1 You.

We encourage every member to make the most of their one life, in and outside the gym! Pat’s #iDo52 campaign in his version of giving up the good, to go after the great.

So, why am I telling you all this?

I checked out the #iDo52 website and was amazed by the range of goals that Pat has set for himself. I got to #46 and saw my name; “Do a workout with Justin Ochoa.

Immediately, I got chills down my spine. I am honored to be a part of this list, but most of all, I now feel responsible to do my part for this campaign to grow into something huge. This is a special idea and I fully believe in it. So, I want to challenge YOU to do something! Anything!

Visit iDo52.org and become a doer. Join the movement. Challenge yourself to achieve great things you’ve only dreamed about. Here’s how you can start.

  1. Visit the website and check out Pat’s list.
  2. Create your own list.
  3. Submit your list via email (Ido52Info@gmail.com)
  4. You will be given your own personal page under the “Doers” tab on iDo52.org
  5. Share your experiences on any and all social networks using #iDo52

Final words: Pat has no idea I’m writing this. I want him to find out but I don’t want to tell him. I want him to find out by YOU sharing it on your social media networks, sharing it within your office via email, forwarding to friends & family, etc. I want him to receive a ridiculous amount of lists to his email address, from people he’s never heard of.

Let’s make this BIG. Let’s all do something inspiring and participate in #iDo52.