4 Ways A Food Journal Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

If you are serious about working out then there is a good chance you already track your workouts. Well why not take things up a notch and also start tracking the foods you are putting in your body?


Yes it’s an extra step that will take you a few extra minutes, but when done consistently it will help you change your habits for the better.


In 2008 Kaiser Permanente did a study on 1,700 individuals. The study found that those who kept a food journal where able to lose twice as much weight as those who did not. Just think about that for one second.


If you could lose twice as much weight for simply writing down what you ate would you give it a try? Of course you would!


Here are 4 ways keeping a food journal can help you reach your fitness goals by Ryan Boos of Pinehurst Fitness Center and Gym Eau Claire WI:


#1 – It Makes You More Aware


Self awareness is the first step to changing anything. Most of us just eat and don’t really think about what we are eating. We may eat one healthy meal and 5 unhealthy meals.


But since we aren’t keeping track of it we don’t really realize it. When you keep a food journey you will be more aware of exactly what you are putting in your body.


You will be able to see all the good and bad choices you are making throughout the day. Sometimes becoming more aware of what you are eating is enough to help you make better choices.


#2 – It Holds You Accountable


When you know that you will have to write down everything you eat, it makes you think twice about eating certain foods. And while writing everything down won’t make your cravings go away, it will act as an accountability buddy that helps you make better food choices.


Please note keeping a food journal does not mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods. It means you are more conscience of how much you are putting in your body so you won’t ruin your results.


#3 – It Will Show You Nutrition Gaps


If I asked you if you are currently getting enough protein in your diet what would your answer be? Chances are it would be “I don’t know”. And this is all because you are not writing down what you are eating.


Most people have gaps in their nutrition and don’t even realize it. Using a food journal will help you quickly identify any nutritional gaps so you can address them head on. Once your diet is on the right track you will be surprised how quickly you get results.


#4 – It Will Clearly Highlight The Connection Between Diet and Performance


The foods you eat play a major role in how you perform during your workouts and throughout the day. Ignoring the vital role it plays is ignorant and can prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.


There are some foods that will make you feel lousy during a workout. There are also foods that give you a ton of energy and make you feel great during a workout. Keeping a food journal will make it easy to identify those foods.


Once you are able to see the connection between what you are eating and how you are performing, you’ll make an effort everyday to eat the right foods.


Keeping An Effective Food Journal


When it comes to getting the most out of your food journal, the key is to avoid getting too detailed. You don’t want this to turn into a task you dread doing. All you need to write down is the food you ate, and how much of it you ate. The goal is to get a general idea of what you are putting in your body.


Another important tip is to also write down why you are eating. It may sound crazy, but sometimes we eat for no other reason than pure boredom. In some cases you may be eating because you are stressed out.


Recognizing why you are eating will help you cut down on unnecessary calories. When you realize you are eating because of stress or boredom you will be less likely to do it.


Writing down where you are when you eat matters as well. Your environment plays a huge role in how you eat and when you eat.


How To Stick To Your Diet While Traveling

Traveling and eating right are two things that generally don’t go together. After all, when you aren’t able to prepare your food like you normally would, staying on track becomes quite difficult.


However, just because you are on the road doesn’t mean you get a free pass to eat anything you want. That’s why it is extremely important that you take the time to plan ahead. With that being said, here are 6 tips to help you stick to your diet while traveling.


#1 – Book A Hotel With A Refrigerator and Microwave


The good news is finding a hotel with a refrigerator and microwave is not as difficult as it used to be. Just go to your favorite travel booking site, put in what you need and you will see several hotels that meet your needs.


When your hotel room has these two essential appliances you will be able to buy groceries and cook your food. This of course will eliminate the need to eat fast food.


To save time consider preparing a few meals in advance. This way you can just grab them and eat whenever you get hungry. Be sure to pack your eating utensils as there probably won’t be any at the hotel for you to use.


#2 – Take Your Protein With You


Having our own source of protein with you is one of the best things you can do for yourself when traveling. This is because most restaurants offer meals that are either low protein and high carb, or low protein and high fat.


That means getting in your recommended amount of protein can prove to be a challenge. The easiest way to combat this is to pack your own protein sources. The good news is there are plenty of sources of protein you can take with you. The most common ones are protein powder and protein bars.


#3 – Pack The George Foreman Grill


I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love my George Foreman grill. Its an amazing appliance that allows me to prepare my meals in a short period of time. Taking it with you while traveling will help you save time when you are preparing meals for the day.


For safety reasons it may be best to use the George Foreman on a balcony or porch if you have one attached to your room. If you do not just be very careful as you don’t want the fire alarms going off because your George Foreman grill got a little too smokey.


#4 – Get Sauces On The Side


Let’s be honest, if you are traveling it is virtually impossible to cook all of your meals. At some point you are going to go out and enjoy a good meal at a local restaurant. To help you stay on track when eating out, always get your sauces and dressings on the side.


This is extremely important because restaurants are notorious for loading up their most popular dishes with sauces and dressings.


And though they taste delicious, they are also full of calories that can set you back several days. By getting them on the side you can control how much you consume.


This one tip can save you hundreds of calories throughout the course of the day. It can also prevent you from having to do hours of cardio once you return from your trip.


#5 – Make Sure You Stay Busy


Since you will probably be eating more than you normally do while traveling, it is very important you stay busy. Find a local gym and make sure you don’t miss any workouts. You should also get out and see some of the local attractions.


#6 – Drink Plenty Of Water


Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a great way to keep hunger at bay. If you get sick of water add a zero calorie flavoring to give it a little flavor.


If you go out to eat try drinking a glass of water right before your meal comes out. Doing so is a great way to ensure you don’t eat the whole meal. You can take half of it and save it for later. And don’t worry, most restaurant meals come with so much food that you won’t miss anything by splitting it up.


5 Ways Busy Moms Can Fit A Workout Into Their Busy Day

If you are a busy mom sticking to a regular exercise regimen can be quite difficult. That’s why you have to be creative and find easy ways to fit a workout into your busy schedule. Here are 5 ways you can ensure you get a good workout in even on your busiest days.


#1 – Make An Appointment To Workout


If you have an important meeting you will put it on your schedule so you don’t forget about it. Why not do the same when it comes to your health? Treating your workouts like appointments you can’t miss is a great way to make sure you get a good workout in several times a week.


Each week you should put together a calendar so that everyone in your home knows when you plan on working out. This way everyone can step up and make sure everything is taken care of while you are working out.


#2 – Do It First Thing In The Morning


If you wait until the end of the day chances are you will never be able to get a workout in. Angela Bekkala, the creator of Happy Fit Mama, recommends waking up before the children and getting a good sweat in. She herself wakes up at 4:30 am to workout.


This is a great time as you can be sure there are no meetings scheduled around that time. It will give you at least at hour of alone time to workout and get your mind ready for the day ahead.


#3 – Workout During Your Lunch Break


If you have a flexible lunch break you may be able to fit in a workout and eat a nice meal before heading back to work. Do a 30 minute workout and then have your lunch. Or you can do lunch first. The order doesn’t matter. As long as you commit to it that’s what really matters.


#4 – Get The Children Involved


Let’s be completely honest here, as a mom it is sometimes virtually impossible to get a few minutes of alone time to workout. Sometimes you just have to get the children involved and let them workout with you.


Children love to move. It’s just a part of who they are. So throw on a DVD and workout with your little ones. Chances are they will be tired out before its over. But even if they are not, it is a great bonding experience for them to be able to workout with you.


#5 – Turm A Small Space Into A Home Gym


Not being able to get to the gym is not an excuse. Because truth be told, you don’t need any special equipment to get a good workout. This is where you really have to learn how to be creative and use the tools you have at your disposal.


For example, if all you have is a chair then you can use it to do sumo squats, tricep dips, lunges and heel raises just to name a few. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how many different exercises you can do with just your own body weight.

4 Super Simple Workout Tips For Beginners

Starting a new fitness journey can be a very intimidating process. Especially when you feel like you aren’t armed with the proper knowledge to be successful.


To reach your health and fitness goals it is very important you start off on the right foot. Most beginners get off to a rocky start and before you know it they have given up and fallen back into their bad habits.


My goal with this article is to help you avoid some of the many challenges beginners run into. With that being said, here are 4 super simple workout tips for beginners.


#1 – Make Fitness A Habit


Success starts with consistency. Working out has to become a habit in your life. Your body will not start to change until it does. Being that you are a beginner you should start by working out 3-4 times a week.


And keep in mind it takes time to change your habits. If you miss a workout don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on track the next day.


#2 – Get Your Diet In Check


You could workout everyday for 3 hours a day and not get any results if your diet is not in check. True transformation starts in the kitchen. What you put in your body matters more than most people realize.


Your diet is should be your number one priority. And just like fitness should be a habit, so should eating healthy.


Now this is not to say you can’t enjoy the foods you love the most. You can! You just can’t overdo it. It’s all about moderation and learning how to make healthy substitutions.


#3 – Focus On Compound Movements


If you are a beginner it is recommended you stay away from complex training techniques that are often found in bodybuilding articles all over the world wide web. If this is your first time lifting weights, or you haven’t been to the gym in years, compound movements will help you see results in a matter of days.


If of course your diet is in tact. Compound movements such as squats, lunges, the bench press, the deadlift and the bent over row will promote muscle growth and increase your metabolic rate.  These two things are very important when it comes to transforming your body.


#4 – If You Don’t Know Something, ASK!


The gym is probably the most intimidating place for a beginner. There are a ton of machines and chances are you have no idea how to use them. And that’s why it is so important you ask for help when you need it. That’s what the trainers and other staff members are there for.


Knowing how to use the equipment correctly is extremely important as using it wrong can lead to injury and prevent you from getting the results you are after.


The worst thing you can do is not ask for help when you need it. And truth be told, most people in the gym and super friendly and would be glad to lend you a helping hand.


How To Stay Motivated To Reach Your Fitness Goals

When you first start your transformation journey you are motivated and ready to go. You are excited to go to the gym and to eat healthy, nutritious meals. But as time passes, all of that motivation starts to quickly fade.


If you have found yourself suddenly lacking motivation, here are 3 simple things you can do to stay motivated and focused on reaching your health and fitness goals.


#1 – Set Clear Goals


This is in my opinion the most important step to staying motivated. You need to have a clear goal before you start your fitness journey. Just saying you want to lose weight is not enough. How much weight do you want to lose? And by when do you want to lose it?


A good example of setting a clear goal would be “I will lose 30 pounds by October 31st.” This goal is time specific and deadline driven. Goals set in this manner are more likely to be accomplished.


#2 – Do Something You Actually Enjoy


When it comes to getting in shape, doing something you enjoy is a vital part of your overall success. Not everyone has a desire to be a bodybuilder or a bikini model. If you can’t stand going to the gym, don’t go!


You may prefer to do an at home workout program such as P90x or 21 Day Fix. By doing something you enjoy you are likely to stick with it and thus get the results you are after.


#3 – Workout With A Friend


Social workouts are often the best workouts. When you have someone there to push you, you are more likely to give it your all on every rep. Just make sure you pick the right friend. You don’t want someone who is more concerned with picking up girls, or guys, than actually working out.


If you can’t find a friend consider going to a class at your local gym. You will often find friendly people who will help you stay motivated.


3 Spices That Will Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine

As you very well know , everything we put in our bodies is either helping or hurting us when it comes to our fitness goals. And just like there are certain foods that can sabotage our results, there are also certain foods that can accelerate our results.


Here are 3 spices that will turn your body into a fat burning machine:


#1 – Cayenne Pepper


When it comes to losing weight Cayenne Pepper is one of the best spices you can incorporate into your meals because of its ability to help you lose weight in a variety of different ways. Not only does it act as an appetite suppressant, but it also slows the growth of fat cells and helps increase liquid oxidation.


#2 – Cinnamon


Cinnamon is the spice of life. It can be used on just about anything and it’s sweet enough to satisfy even the stingiest sweet tooth. Cinnamon can help with weight loss because it is able to imitate the role of insulin in your body.


The great thing about cinnamon is how versatile it is. You can add it to your oatmeal, coffee or even your favorite smoothie for an instant flavor boost. It will also give your metabolism a boost which of course aids in fat loss.


#3 – Garlic


Garlic is the one spice that tends to be on everyone’s spice rack. There are literally a thousands reasons you should add more garlic to your diet. However, as far as losing weight goes, this staple spice acts as an appetite suppressant, increases your metabolism and increases your sensitivity to leptin.


Leptin is a very important hormone that helps regulate how much food you eat. Garlic also contains sulfur, B Vitamins and antioxidants. Three compounds that aid in the removal of toxins from your body.


These three compounds also fight free radical damage which means your cells will remain healthy and damage free.


Hungry for more? Check out this video which gives a bit more info on spices you can use to improve your health!

Building Blocks and Patterns

One of the biggest problems that still exists in today’s fitness training world is trying to convince people of the necessity to think of the body as more than just an assembled collection of parts.

Thanks to the bodybuilding craze of the late ’70s and early ’80s and guys like Arnold, Ferrigno and even the later hulks such as Haney, Priest and Yates, gym culture is still caught up in the concept that if you train the body in isolation the whole will get stronger.

In my experience there are definitely times to use isolation exercises – heresy, I know from an RKC, but it’s the truth. For instance, many women in our community will struggle with pull ups. One of the biggest problems is a lack of strength in elbow flexion. For those who don’t know this is the movement caused by doing bicep curls. Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to devote whole days to “Arms” but in certain cases adding in some exercises in training to improve strength in that area will be beneficial. Likewise for guys struggling to finish off their press. For many, at the point the bell clears the head there is a distinct feeling of needing to change gears. What is happening is that emphasis goes from the bicep and shoulder to the triceps. Under max loads the body may not always happily make that leap to the next gear. But adding in some overhead tricep extensions will help. In fact, training logs of top GS competitors will show that during the off season they spend a large amount of time on assistance exercises while boosting General Strength and Conditioning. Their focus during this time is to boost overall strength and iron out any kinks in their movement – and tricep extensions fit this mold.

In Kenneth Jay’s book Perfecting the Press there are a myriad of ways to increase your press solely via pressing. While very clever they are also, in many cases, needlessly complex and time consuming to set up. And didn’t we all start using kettlebells in the first place because they were simple? So why are we trying to make things more complex than they need to be? In a lot of cases a simple solution will work best and if you look at top strength training groups such as Westside Barbell they have a host of assistance exercises to boost shortfalls in the three main lifts. The development of GPP – of being all round strong – is chief among them though and will take you a lot further in your training than seeking out a fancy way of doing things.

This return to simple, to smart programming is why the FMS system makes so much sense to me. The tests themselves are for the most part building blocks of exercise. For instance there are tests to determine internal and external rotation of the shoulder while also testing thoracic rotation and extension. These skills are important for throwers, fighters, swimmers, kayakers and anyone who has to ever rotate and move their arms. Likewise the Active Straight Leg Raise test while looking like a simple hamstring flexibility test is also a test for how active the hip flexors are and also has important links to squat depth. The idea is that, like with a pyramid, a bigger, stronger base of movement skill can lead to a high eventual peak of sport skill.

These building blocks are so foundational that improving them can lead to instant gains in movements that look completely unrelated. There is an excellent new book out called Becoming Bulletproof by Tim Anderson and Mike McNiff. They’ve spent a lot of time looking at the foundational, so called primitive patterns, within the FMS and integrated them into training sessions. In particular their use of rolling and crawling has reminded me of several things –

We have lost our way as beings. Like it or not we are all still not far out of the trees and our monkey cousins don’t seem to experience all the movement and injury issues we seem to. (Of course, not being able to speak with monkeys, even hand signals with that Coco, I am just guessing at this). I’ve never seen a Chimp complaining to another Chimp that it has plantar fasciitis due to not warming up running away from a Jaguar. As humans we start to learn the skill of movement early in life as we begin exploring. We start with crawling and eventually stand. Sadly, as soon as we start getting the hang of this we are then sent off to school to start “learning”. Sadly the book learning is spent sitting down and we then spend the rest of our lives forgetting everything we learned in the first six!

The drills within Becoming Bulletproof focus on things that we all should spend time doing and the more I look the more I see them everywhere – crawling and rolling can be found in the Get Up and swimming, both of which I have heavily advocated. The Get Up is a no brainer. When great minds like Steve Maxwell (who originally brought it into the RKC system), Pavel Tsatsouline, Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Dave Whitley, Jeff O’Connor, et al all heavily praise the Get Up you’d have to figure that it’s probably a good idea to incorporate it into your own training. But swimming…Wait…that’s not very RKC of me – to advocate both something that is thought of as “cardio” AND non-load bearing.

But think about it – the freestyle stroke IS crawling in water. It IS the climbing pattern that Gray so heavily advocates. It IS the Monkey Bars that Dan John enthuses about. It is all of those things. It is easy on the joints and good for flexibility. It is good for the heart and lungs. And, of course, it is an essential athletic movement that may just save your life some day.

But what about other movements within the RKC system? Where are our breakdowns, or patterning progressions? Well, if you’re a good reader by now you’ve taken me up on my urging to buy Dynami. I’ve written fairly extensively about it over the last month or so and honestly believe that everyone should own a copy. If you’re still sitting on the fence about it consider that within are workouts that show you the building blocks of movements – exercises such as Wall Touches, Single Leg Deadlifts, etc. – are all in there and all in a format that you can use instantly.

Because that’s the funny thing – we’ll all go and spend time doing our FMS correctives to fix building blocks of movement, but we won’t pattern to build the blocks of exercise skill. The exercises themselves, while able to be improved via the addition of foundational movement skills, are also able to improved via the use of breakdown drills that will highlight and improve various aspects of each exercise. My work on simple progressions for the Swing has seen me quickly improve my Snatch numbers with the 32kg – up to 140 reps in two weeks! And I’ve even been Snatching the 36kg for a few reps too. Only a few months ago that all seemed out of reach. I thought those bells were for guys like Dave Whitley – big, massively strong guys. Well, spending some time lining it all up right has shown me that yet again I should raise my expectations of my own training. I don’t actually believe there is an upper limit for how much strength is possible. The gains I have made in the last few moths have been miles beyond anything I had thought I was capable of – from essentially fixing my hamstring issues, to improving my shoulder mobility and thoracic rotation, to increasing performance elements like my hip drive to allow me to snatch bigger weights.

All made possible by simplifying my training, working on the building blocks to recreate my functional pyramid bigger and better than ever.