Counting macros: What is is all about? 0:07
How to you calculate your macro and calorie needs? 1:13
Who is counting macros good for? 5:17
Who isn't it good for? 7:00
Two camps to losing weight... 9:14
Incorporating treats 13:38
Curious what the process of tracking your macronutrients entails. We would like to give you an idea of the process along with the benefits and pitfalls.
Counting macros: What is is all about? 0:07
How to you calculate your macro and calorie needs? 1:13
Who is counting macros good for? 5:17
Who isn't it good for? 7:00
Two camps to losing weight... 9:14
Incorporating treats 13:38
Hope that helped you understand tracking macros a little better. There is so much with tracking macros that you just learn through doing. If you feel like you want to start tracking your macros. Head over to our Calorie Calculator, input some personal information then submit the form at the bottom of the page and I will respond with a personalized macro plan for you.
I've been smacked in the face with this concept a few times in the past month so I took it as a sign that I needed to write and share my thoughts.
Is Obesity Contagious?
We think of a lot of diseases to be contagious, the flu, a cold, but what about obesity? The American Medical Association back in 2013 actually changed it's stance on obesity and it is now classified as a disease. If you go to the CDC website it actually states that 36.5% of Americans "have" obesity. That word "have" struck me when I read it.
Philosophically that is a whole new ball game. Now a person isn't defined by being obese, they "aren't" obese they just "have" it. If you have something you can get rid of it, right??? That's good news! If you have it, does that also mean that you can give it to someone?
In 2007 researchers from Harvard published an article in The New England Journal for Medicine, The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years, that explains these concepts. Some things that stood out were, if you have a friend that is obese that you would be 57% more likely to obese yourself. The study didn't show that obesity was connected to geographical location. For example if you have a neighbor or coworker that is obese they won't rub off on you as much as someone which you actually have a close relationship.
"Obesity is a social disease. And it needs a social cure." - Dr. Mark Hyman
I love this line from Mark Hyman, "Obesity is a social disease and it needs a social cure." Unfortunately the population of the United States is heading in the wrong direction.
As of 2015 70.7% of Americans over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese. If 71% of the population had a virus that was slowly killing you every government agency and medical professional would be hysterical in finding a cure. What gives? Why are people complacent about the disease of obesity?
I think it comes back to this being a social disease. If you walk down the street or through your office building and 7 in 10 people you walk past are overweight, doesn't that skew your perception of what is normal? Now instead of comparing yourself to the cover model on the magazine, I think people are comparing themselves to the people that are overweight or obese. The thought likely goes through their head either consciously or subconsciously, "Well at least I'm not as fat as that person, so I must not be that bad."
Then you have the people that use the genetic excuse as a crutch. The same study mentioned above found out that if a sibling became obese it raised your chances of becoming obese by 40%. So if your friend, that you have no similar genetic information as becomes obese it increases your chances by 57% but a family member only 40%. Wouldn't that suggest that obesity is more of a nurture disease rather than a nature disease?
Why does this matter?
Being overweight and obese can have serious health consequences. It can lead to things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, cancer and increased joint pain. Not all overweight people will develop these diseases or will report negative biomarkers but it does raise your risk.
There is also a direct correlation to how overweight a person is and their activity level. So once you get trapped in the cycle of being overweight it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight. Your activity goes down, you burn fewer calories, you pack on more weight.
What do we do?
First thing I think we need to start treating being overweight or obese as a disease that needs treatment. It can't just be the way a person is... It can't be something we ignore thinking it is just a benign condition without consequences.
What actions do we need to take?
I believe as individuals we need to support people where they are at! Whether they are fit and lean or morbidly obese, we need to be there for a friends, family, and neighbors. We need to be encouragers! We can't wait for someone else to take action, you need to be the one! The one that gets moving! The one that cuts out a lot of the junk food! The one that eats more veggies! Do it with joy! Be contagious with your healthy behaviors!
That's why I love so much what we do! We get to be those influencers! More importantly we try to encourage others to pay it forward, to pass along what they learn and share with the people they care about.
We need to be interjectors of positivity and health into the cycle that people get stuck in. If you feel like you are stuck, find people that are going to lift you up and believe in you. Find someone that won't let you fail, aka stop!
Lastly, as a society we have become overweight and obese! It will only be as a society that we can solve this problem. We need to reset that trajectory that our country's health is on currently. Health can and needs to become more contagious than obesity! If you are ready to help be part of the change, share this post, reach out to a friend in need, or reach out to a friend that can help you!
If you've followed us for a while you know we aren't big fans of counting calories. It's not that we don't think they matter because they do 100% when it comes to weight loss. The thing that people get confused about though is just doing straight up math with calories in versus calories out and if those numbers tip a certain direction your weight will also change. Your metabolism is a bit more complicated than what your fitbit tells you that you burned during your exercise session that day and what My Fitness Pal tells you that you consumed.
What's our approach then to help people lose weight! It comes down to nutrient density and calorie density. Our bodies are pretty intelligent and for most people they know when to stop eating in order to maintain our weight. The thing that happens when people eat processed foods, the triggers that tell us to stop eating don't get tripped. The other way that these triggers don't go off is when we consume food at a fast pace!
So our approach is to consume high quality, whole foods at a slow pace and stop when you are close to being full and you will likely lose weight. If you are trying to maintain, then you eat to being full. Yeah there is certainly some nuance that can come into play around macronutrients and timing but for the most part this strategy works.
This is where the question of, what weighs more... a pound of broccoli or a pound of nachos? Let's breakdown this comparison:
I took the challenge myself of eating both a pound of nachos and pound of broccoli in one sitting. Let's just say it was an interesting experience. Overall both "meals" filled me up equally and the rate at which I ate definitely slowed down towards the end of both.
I mentioned it was an interesting experience... what that means is I actually became physically ill by consuming one whole pound of broccoli. My stomach and GI tract just couldn't handle processing that amount of broccoli. The nachos, no problem... I was eating again in a few hours. Why this happened I don't know the exact answer. Fiber content maybe, but I've consumed 11 grams of fiber in one sitting before this. Vitamin or mineral overdose, possible but not probable. If you have an answer let me know, I'm curious.
To put things in perspective a bit on whether or not this is a lot of food. The average American eats between 3 and 5 pounds of food per day, we will call it 4 on average. So, a one pound meal probably isn't that unusual. To break things down a bit further, the average American consumes around 2,700 calories per day. So doing a little math the average pound of food that an American consumes is around 675 calories (2,700 calories divided by 4 pounds of food). Based on the nutrition facts, you can see that broccoli falls WELL below that average and the nachos a fair amount above that number. Can you see how eating whole foods and especially non starchy veggies can help a person consume fewer calories?
The reason a lot of diets fail I believe is because our bodily is naturally satiated by a certain poundage of food. If all you are doing is eating smaller portions of your current foods your body is going to crave more food to fill itself up. I wrote up a whole other post on this topic, Are You Smoking Shorter Cigarettes to Get Healthy? If you aren't filling your body with a certain poundage of food you either need to resort to some incredible willpower or you will likely binge a time or two.
If your goal is weight loss and you don't want to micromanage every gram of food that goes into your body here's what we would recommend:
I know we haven't done many book reviews on our blog in the past. Recently we were approached by a "book tour" company and they asked if we would read and review Darin Olien's book Superlife. I first read this book back when it came out back in 2015! I was even fortunate to get to meet Darin and hear some stories behind the book. Turns out he grew up about an hour from where I did. Apparently kids from small farm towns in rural Minnesota can have a career in nutrition!
When I was approached to share Darin's message I was all for it. The principles he teaches in the book are also some of the fundamentals of living a healthy life and always good to revisit myself. Darin breaks out these fundamentals into what he refers to the 5 Life Forces.
Life Force 1: Nutrition
This is at the core of being healthy. His basic approach revolves around eating whole foods in abundance and variety. Eating this way will ensure that you are satiated with micronutrients that all too often we lack. Being a vegan himself he isn't a huge proponent of eating animal products but is ok if people chose to eat animal products as long as they are high quality and occasionally eaten.
With nutrition he also stresses the importance of keeping your gut healthy! This is something I strongly advocate for as well and think can be a real game changer for a lot of people. For most people that looks like... cutting out processed foods, adding foods/supplements rich in probiotics and prebiotics, and probably supplementing with some digestive enzymes.
Life Force 2: Hydration
Water... something so basic but something that so many people fail to consume. As humans, we are water! Roughly 2/3 of our bodyweight is water. It does everything from provide pathways to carry raw materials around our body to insulate us and keep us warm or cool. Let's just say it's super important! Darin provides some great tips to upgrade the quality of your water also in the book.
Life Force 3: Oxygenation
Oxygen - it's critical to life and something that gets overlooked in regards to health. Darin quotes a couple of studies that talk about how cancer thrives in low oxygen situations and dies off in oxygen rich environments. Pretty amazing stuff! Increasing oxygen ties back into life forces 1 and 2. Whole food plants contain more oxygen than processed, packaged foods. Getting adequate water also increases the amount oxygen that enters our bodies. Combine that with some intentional deep belly breathing and you are really improving your oxygenation.
Life Force 4: Alkalization
This life force is one that is definitely overlooked and understudied. Darin and I maybe differ slightly on this point. Some of the research that I've done and read suggests that it is highly unlikely your body will become more acidic based on what we eat. The pro-alkaline movement tends to look at the acid levels of a person's urine which looks at what is excreted versus the pH of a person's blood and cellular fluid.
My opinion here is the jury is still out, but I would agree with Darin in that a diet high in plant based foods will improve your overall health.
Life Force 5: Detoxification
Darin is a big believer in the process of detoxing the body. He points out the constant stress that our bodies are under from everything in our environment to what we consume. Our bodies have normal detox pathways but they get backlogged when we consume low quality foods and are exposed to chemicals in our environment.
His advice to handle all of this, focus on the first 4 life forces and your detox system will be able to handle the workload.
Darin, finishes the book with some recipes and final thoughts on how you can implement the 5 Life Forces into your current life.
I'm a big fan of Darin's approach to health and this book does an excellent job in getting people to think a little differently about their health. It's not all about being reactionary and trying to take care of yourself after you get sick. It's about doing things that produce vitality in your life and keep disease at bay. If you are looking to up your health game I highly recommend this book to give you a solid baseline of information.
It's hard to find someone that doesn't like chocolate. In our online accountability groups that we run we are always talking to people about how and what kinds of chocolate can be a part of a healthy diet. Yeah there is a way and we will get to that.
When the candy industry got their hands on the delicious cocoa bean they figured out a way to take a superfood and turn it into something super dangerous. They stretch the cocoa powder so far and add so much milk and sugar to their concoctions that chocolate as most people know it becomes a sweet treat. That is where the danger comes in to play. Sugar is addictive. (1) Consuming it leads to consuming more of it and your tastes begin to become altered. The amount of sugar it takes to sense "sweet" increases. (2)
This all equates to you needing tremendous amounts of willpower to control the quantity of eating these types of food. Guess what... that's a losing battle!
I mentioned above that the cocoa bean is a superfood! Let's talk about that and how you can choose chocolate that improves your health and doesn't lead to the damaging effects of consuming the candy industry's version of chocolate.
7 Health Benefits of Consuming Chocolate
1. Nutrient Dense - Chocolate from a micronutrient standpoint is very dense. It provides a large amount of iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. It also provides potassium, zinc and selenium. The fiber content of dark chocolate is one of the best benefits of consuming it. Fiber is a missing piece is a lot of people's diets and important for the health of your gut and blood sugar.
2. Controls Blood Sugar - One of the secret ingredients in chocolate that doesn't show up on a nutrition label is a phytonutrient called flavanol, particularly epicatechin. This compound has been shown to improve a person's insulin sensitivity. Therefore making your insulin work more effeciently and regulate blood sugar better.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure - Staying on the flavanol theme, this amazing little phytonutrient also increases the levels of nitric oxide in the blood which relaxes your blood vessels and therefore lowers blood pressure. (3)
4. Source of Antioxidants - You've maybe heard of the ORAC rating, it is a way to measure the antioxidant power of different compounds. Guess where chocolate lands when measured... yup you guessed it is right at the top of the list with some other amazing foods. Antioxidants are important, especially in whole food form, to regulate the levels of free radicals in our bodies. The less free radical damage that occurs in our bodies the lower overall inflammation throughout our body and increased health. (4)
5. Improves Cholesterol - Dark chocolate has been shown to increase the amount of "good" HDL cholesterol. It has also been shown to limit the amount of LDL cholesterol that oxidizes. This is due to the previous point about it being a powerful antioxidant. LDL cholesterol isn't inherently bad, our bodies actually need more of it than HDL. The problems with cholesterol arise when the ratio of HDL/LDL gets out of whack and/or it becomes oxidized and therefore inflamatory. (5)
6. Improve Brain Function - Better brain??? Yes please! Dark chocolate can improve brain function from a couple different aspects. First, blood flow, as mentioned above dark chocolate and it's powerful flavanols help with overall cardiovascular health and therefore better blood flow. A couple other powerful components in dark chocolate include theobromine and caffiene. These compounds are stimiulants that have both been shown to improve brain function. (6)
7. Improved Skin - Those same flavanols that we've talked about also help with protecting your skin from UV rays. This doesn't mean you should just lather up with melted dark chocolate instead of sunscreen, but it's fun to know that that treat you have can help in this area too. (7)
Hopefully I've made a case for why and how chocolate can be can considered a health food. Don't stop here though and go grab the nearest Hershey bar thinking you are improving your health. Let's talk about how you can select chocolate that actually improves your health and doesn't harm you.
Selecting the Right Kind of Chocolate
The candy industry has a pretty good hold on chocolate production. This past summer we made a stop in Hershey, PA to check out Chocolate World!
Chocolate World should probably be renamed Sugar World. By weight I'm guessing a standard Hershey bar contains more sugar than cocoa. We had to search pretty hard to find some true dark chocolate in the big Hershey store. Even the dark chocolate we found was less than desirable according to what I consider healthy.
Here is a simple equation that I created that you can use determine whether or not the chocolate you are eating is health food and will provide all the benefits listed above, somewhere in the middle, or straight up candy and the negative effects outweigh the benefits.
In general the higher the percentage of cacao the healthier the chocolate. In order to get into that moderately healthy category you should be looking for at least 60% cacao but most likely you will need 70%. Once you start getting over 80% that is typically when your chocolate starts becoming health food.
One thing to close with is that consuming chocolate can improve your health if you choose the right kind but it is also a calorie dense food since most of it's calories come from fat. Don't take this information as an opportunity to go hog wild on dark chocolate thinking that because it is healthy it can't affect your weight. A typical chocolate treat for us is usually 2 squares from a dark chocolate bar or about 1/2 of what a serving size is supposed to be according to the packaging. This is enough to give us the health benefits along with our chocolate fix without consuming a huge amount of calories.
We hope this information helps you understand chocolate a bit more and how it can and should be part of a healthy diet. We encourage you to share it if you think it is something your friends need to hear.
1. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake
2. Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness.
3. How do dietary flavanols improve vascular function? A position paper.
4. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide
5. Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder.
6. The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people.
7. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
This might sound like a strange question to ask. One would think if you do healthy things you would be a healthy person. If you eat a lot of veggies, workout regularly and drink your water, all healthy things, chances are you will be healthy physically.
We want to dive deeper into this question though and talk about the mental side of being a healthy person. We believe the ball game really changes when a person get's healthy mentally and begins to identify themselves as being a healthy person.
Let's start with talking about why the person doing healthy things is different that a healthy person.
Do Healthy Things Person - This person likely has some goals to lose weight, change their body composition, get off medications, etc. All great goals! They also likely have been given a prescription to achieve those goals from a doctor, personal trainer, or nutritionist. They are told things like eat less processed foods, eat more fruits and veggies, follow an exercise routine or drink more water.
All of those things will likely make a person healthier! So why are we making this distinction between doing healthy things and being a healthy person? This person has a measurable and attainable goal. What happens when they reach their goal? Game over... now what? Their motivation was in achieving their goal, what is going to keep them motivated? They were committed to those healthy things to achieve a goal. No goal, No commitment.
Do you see where I'm going with this? Doing healthy things can help you make progress and even reach some pretty amazing goals but I believe to sustain that change there has to be a mental shift. So let's take a look at the healthy person.
Healthy Person - This person's identity revolves around improving his health. They are a student of health, always learning and striving to better themselves. The healthy person's goals are constantly changing and evolving.
A healthy person can still indulge from time to time but there is no guilt in it. There aren't rules laid out for a healthy person that they HAVE TO do certain things to be healthy. Their decisions come naturally, there isn't stress in decision making. Exercise isn't a thing to burn calories. It is something that they do to feel better or to be social.
One thing that has helped us stay in the "Healthy Person" category has been our commitment to become health coaches ourselves. As health coaches we are looked upon to be examples and leaders. It doesn't mean we have it all figured it out. It just means that we consistently do all those healthy things as a way to inspire others to switch from doing healthy things to becoming a healthy person. Part of my identity is being a healthy person. Yeah I get ridiculed at times but seriously like making fun of someone because they are ridiculously good looking. I take it as a compliment!
How would you identify yourself? Have you not stepped into the world of doing healthy things yet? Are you doing healthy things? Or are you a healthy person?
We've worked with hundreds of people in an effort to improve their health and lose weight. I think most people strive to be healthy and live life at a reasonable weight. I will say though a lot of people put an emphasis on weight. They think that is the driving force to better health.
When I lost most of my weight I was doing a program called The Ultimate Reset. This program is a 21 day whole food cleanse/reset. The great thing about this and getting started was it laid everything out for me. I didn't have to think. The process was laid out in black and white. Eat this, take these supplements and you'll see results. I wasn't thinking about whether or not I was losing weight, I just knew what my next meal or snack was supposed to be. For more on my journey check out this post, Change Your Mind, Change Your Body.
We have made the comments before that it is more about progress and not perfection. I would take that one step further back and say that it is more about committing to the process first. You control the process! You don't necessarily control the progress. I think that is why I saw results with the program I did. I committed to actions and those actions led to weight loss and health.
If you you are looking to lose weight and get healthy, what process are you going to commit too? Some things that I believe are vital both losing weight and getting healthy would be:
We've put together a simple tracker that you can use to track your progress with these simple steps. Just click the button below and follow the directions.
One thing we really encourage a lot of our clients to work on is to be more veggies, especially greens. One of the easiest ways to get more greens in is to eat more salads. We love our salads, and try to it one 5 days a week. We aren't just talking about a little side salad with dinner. We are talking full on, stuff my face and stomach salad that is loaded with greens and veggies. We see a lot of people that grasp that concept which is awesome, but then they douse all those quality veggies with some low quality salad dressing.
A couple of tips if you do buy store bought dressings;
If the idea of eating more veggies and cleaning up your eating sounds like something you would be interested in, we will be hosting a special group on Facebook in a little over a week. The group will revolve around having a salad a day for week. We will provide recipes like the one above and some more tips on how to put together an amazingly healthy salad. If you are interested click on the image below and RSVP.
I want to share some stats and awesome info that I recently read in the book Eat Move Sleep. First off let me give a plug for the book...it's been a great read that goes super fast and has tons of practical tips to help you start making changes in your life. It's not loaded down with science but provides enough to let you know that the stuff he is saying isn't some nonsense he pulled out of thin air.
There is a chapter in the book where he refers to a study of more than 6,000 people that all tried to lose weight and what the common characteristics were of the most successful. A common theme among the successful was being healthy at home. Seems like common sense right??? You spend most of your time there but so many people live in a toxic home that doesn't promote health!
Here were just a few of the interesting stats that the study showed:
Eating breakfast... If you've followed us for a bit you know I've dabbled with Intermittent Fasting. There is a great science behind it and can lead some amazing results. It's a hard thing though for a novice to jump right in to and be successful. I think that is why the breakfast stat is an important one. Eating breakfast is a great way to set the stage for the rest of the day. If you start your day with a quality breakfast you will be a lot less likely to jump at the office donuts or the french fries at lunch. Your cravings will stay in check!
Weighing yourself once a week, this one was a little interesting to me. I get that tracking your progress is a good way to determine if you need to make changes but for the average person they really don't know what changes to make. Other than maybe eat less and exercise more, which we know isn't always a great solution. Plus weight isn't the sole determiner of progress. So we will just let this one go...and agree to disagree.
I love this last stat about TV watching. Frankly because I used to be a 10+ hour a week TV watcher. Let's be honest even the most riveting show gets boring at times so I turned to ice cream to help with that boredom. Mindless TV watching often times leads to mindless eating. On top of that TV watching also means sitting which is terrible for your health. The amount of activity went up substantially when we ditched the cable and we would encourage you to do the same.
Other Ways to "Healthify" Your Home
Laura almost didn't let me make these for her. Apparently she has a thing about eating chia seeds because they get stuck in her teeth. I get it... kind of. I was able to twist her arm and get her to try them and I'm pretty sure she was glad she did. We all loved these pancakes, even Eli. Another bonus: zero chia seeds stuck in her teeth too. Talk about having your (pan)cake and eating it too!
Seriously if chia seeds aren't part of your diet you need to consider adding them. Even if a few stray seeds end up in your teeth the benefits far outweigh any social anxiety from being caught with something in your teeth. Even if you do get caught it also gives you an excuse to share this amazing seed story with someone new!
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.