Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bruschetta

After a long and cold winter our homes are not the only the only places where we need to do some spring cleaning. Winter diets tend to concentrate of fattier, heavy food that are designed to inspire feeling of warmth and satiety. And as we shed our layers of clothing, air out the house, and clean out all of the nooks and crannies from built up clutter and dust, we should do the same with our diets.

Spring season is finally in Georgia! It is hard to believe that just four hours north of where I live there is still snow and ice! To celebrate the warmer weather and to help you refresh your menus, I give you this Bruschetta recipe. It is quick and easy, stores well, and can be a great addition to a post workout / run meal.

Bruschetta

Ingredients:bruschetta

2 Roma tomatoes (diced)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup Red onion
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Olive oil
Salt to taste
Whole wheat bagel crisps

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the diced cilantro, red onion, lime juice, and olive oil. Set aside to marinade while you dice your tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to your onion mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Serve atop of whole wheat bagel crisps, whole wheat pita chips, or just eat it like a salad.

 

The Problem with BMI

What is BMI?

health-and-fitness-motivation-by-elisaBMI or Body Mass Index is a frequently used to measure or quantify an individual’s body shape based on a correlation between that person’s height and weight. BMI was first created in the 19th century by a Belgian sociologist and mathematician Adolphe Quetelet as a means to measure populations with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

Today, BMI is used by doctors and other healthcare professionals as a means to objectively discuss weight problems instead of using terms such as “overweight”, “obese”, or “underweight”. However, more and more physicians and other healthcare professionals forget the intended purpose of BMI as a generic way of classifying a population and instead use it as means for diagnosis.

Misusing BMI:

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? And yet it is increasingly true. About a year ago I went to visit one of a few dozen physicians from the “old country” that operate in my area. I thought that since this particular doctor had experience dealing with people from my region I could save some time on filling in the gaps about some of the common ailments and just get to being treated for the problem that was bothering me. What I didn’t expect is to come into the office get weighed in and to be told that I am overweight and need to lose a lot of weight.

bmi-chartAt this point, allow me to give you some back story. I am a runner with a love of bodybuilding. I am fit, I eat right, I have a fairly low body fat percentage, and high muscle mass. So, when the doctor whom I never met before, looked at me (I was wearing a hoody and loose pants) and told me that I really needed to start watching my weight and change my diet, I couldn’t help but laugh.

He, of course, asked me why I was laughing. I asked him why he thought I had a bad diet and was overweight. In turn, he turned my attention to the BMI chart and said that based on my height and weight, I was clearly overweight and that could be due to the fact that I am not eating right and not exercising regularly. Honestly, at that point all I wanted to do is get up, take my hoody off, flex my “guns” and walk out, but I refrained.

I nicely told him the following:

On a case to case bases, BMI alone is not a good indicator or predictor of health or body composition. For example, a man who is 6’ 3” with a weight of 210 pounds is considered overweight according to the BMI chart. However, the chart does not specify if the body fat percentage (BF) of the man in question. Sure, if the man has a BF of 30% or more he is overweight. However if you look at a man who weighs in at 210 and stands at 6’ 3” with a BF of 15%, I guarantee you, you wouldn’t be calling him even remotely overweight.

What is the Lesson to be Learned Here?

1970767_10152283371584394_2044580024_nBMI is a good way to analyze large samples of predominantly sedentary, average population, not as a way to discuss weight issues on an individual case by case bases.

You will hear fitness professionals tell their clients to stop concentrating on “the number on the scale”. This is partially the reason why. That number means absolutely nothing unless you pair it with measurements, accurate BF% measurements, and, of course, whether or not the client is trading their “fat pants” for the “skinny jeans”.

So, if anyone tells you that you are overweight / obese and you respectfully disagree, ask them why they think that. If the answer is that the BMI chart told them so, tell them to read this article and walk away. You should expose yourself to such willful ignorance and negativity.

Fierce Workout: Well Armed

Regardless of who you are and what you do you probably spend a lot of time picking things up and putting them back down. Whether you are carrying your children and groceries, working in your garden or lifting a 32 oz. mug of beer to your mouth, your arms are probably involved in the process.

This weeks workout is all about building strong, shapely arms to make whatever it is you do look a little sexier.

The How To:

Tension (resistance) Band Curls:

Stand on the tension band with your legs apart until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your arms straight down. Holding the tension band handles, palms out, curl up as you would with a dumbbell curl.

Tension (resistance) Band Triceps Extensions:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your ankle level. With the tension band behind you. With your hands behind your head grab the handle, palms face each other, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handles up and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Preacher Curls:

Wrap the tension band around a sturdy surface at about your waist level. Hold the band with your arms extended, palms up. Pull the handles towards your shoulders and slowly return back to starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Triceps Push-down:

Wrap the band around something sturdy high above your head. Hold the handles with your palms facing each other, elbows bent at 90 degree angles close to your body. Pull the handles down while keeping them close to your body, bending only at the elbows. Return to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Wrist Curls:

Secure the tension band underneath one of your feet. Hold the tension band handle with the opposite hand, elbow resting on top of your quad, hand  above your knee, palm facing up. Pull the handle up by curling your wrist up. Return to the starting position. Take care to utilize proper and challenging tension on the band at all times.

Tension (resistance) Band Wrist Extensions:

Secure the tension band underneath one of your feet. Hold the tension band handle with the same hand, elbow resting on top of your quad, hand  above your knee, palm facing down. Pull the handle up by utilizing only your wrist and allow it to return to the starting position. Your forearm should remain stationary throughout this exercise.

Well_Armed

Fierce Workout: Cry on My Shoulder

Warm weather is right around the corner and that means sleeveless shirts and exposed shoulders and arms. Who wouldn’t want to have some nice, sexy definition? This weeks no gym required workout is all about shoulders. All you will need is a set of tension (resistance) bands.

The How To:

Tension (resistance) Band Shoulder Press:

Stand on the tension band with one of your feet until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your hands over your shoulders and  elbows bent. Holding the tension band handles, palms out, push the handles up until your arms are almost fully extended (keep your elbow soft), then bring your hands slowly to the starting position.

Tension (resistance) Band Internal Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand closest to the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle in towards your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band External Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand furthest away from the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle out across your body away from your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Front Deltoid Raise:

Wrap the tension (resistance) band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well. Hold the tension band handels with your arms in front of you, palms facing down. Pull the tension band up until your arms are parallel to the floor, then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to maintain appropriate, challenging tension on your resistance bands!

Tension (resistance) Band Lateral Deltoid Raise:

Stand on the tension band with your legs apart until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your arms straight down. Holding the tension band handles with your arms on either side of your body, palms in, pull the handles out and up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.

cry_on_my_shoulder

I’d love to her what you thought about this workout in the comments below or on our Facebook!

 

 

Easy Calorie Counting & Demystifying Weight Loss

Nutrition and Calories

l_a1d8c110-60e7-11e1-b1da-97b177c00001It is no secret that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. Cutting calories and “dieting” is more of an individual process than generic, preset approach. It is only through trial and error that you will be able to know what truly works for you and how many calories you need to consume in order to lose weight and gain lean muscle.

If you follow Fierce Miles, you have heard me say this time and time again—severe caloric restriction is not sustainable and extremely dangerous. Creating massive deficits will wreak havoc on your hormones and result in slowing down your metabolism even further which will lead to the inevitable weight gain.

Of course, there are general guidelines that can help you figure out your approximate optimal daily caloric intake. However, without good record keeping and a willingness to go through a certain period of trial and error, you will never be able to zero in on what truly works for you.

 

Fat Loss:       

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphasis on fat loss is the following:

Focus on getting 11-16 calories per pound of your target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 140 lbs:

11 cal X 140 lbs = 1540 calories (this is your absolute lowest daily intake)
16 cal X 140 lbs = 2240 calories (this is your highest daily intake)

Muscle Building:

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphases on muscle building and weight gain is the following:

Focus on getting 17-25 calories per pound of target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 200 lbs:

17 cal X 200 lbs = 3400 calories (lowest daily intake)
25 cal X 200 lbs = 5000 calories (highest daily intake)

Weight Maintenance:

It is generally ill-advised to maintain a caloric deficit for prolonged periods of time. Your body will eventually get use to the deficit making fat loss more difficult. In order to maintain a healthy metabolism and a lean, strong, healthy body, periods of maintenance are essential. During maintenance periods your body rests and rebuilds.

There is no set formula to calculate your maintenance calories. I suggest starting slowly increasing your caloric intake by 15-20 % every week until you stop losing weight. A large increase in the daily caloric intake may result in an increase in body fat. If that happens just reduce the weekly caloric increase.

Maintenance periods can be tricky and it usually takes time to find the proper increase percentage. Good record keeping is essential for the maintenance phase.

Counting Calories:

fitness-inspiration-954-eaf80244-sz480x480-animateToday, there are a number of tools that you can use to track your daily caloric intake. However, nothing beats good old math. Many food companies actually underestimate caloric values of their products on their labels due to the way they count calories in fiber. It has been a fitness myth for many years that calories from fiber do not count towards the total caloric value of a carbohydrate because fiber isn’t fully absorbed by the body. The key word here is fully. Some fiber does get absorbed and can’t be counted towards “free nutrients”. So, what does that mean?

That means that some food companies do not include the caloric value of fiber in the calorie total of the product. Although a difference of 10 calories here and there may not sound like much initially, an extra 100 calories a day can add up to 1 pound of body fat gain per month.

Here are the macro nutrient caloric values:

Protein = 4 cal/gram
Carbohydrates = 4 cal/gram
Fat = 9 cal/gram
Fiber = 4 cal/gram (fiber is a carbohydrate and there for is 4 calories per gram. When you take into account that only about ½ of the fiber gets absorbed by the body, it totals to roughly 2 calories per gram. When calculating total caloric value of fiber, divide by two).

Example of calculating calories based on food labels:

Let’s take Healthy Life High Fiber Bread, the label give the following information:

Calories: 70
Total Fat: 0.5 gram
Total Carb: 16 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 5 gram

Look at the total fiber number, divide by two. Subtract the number you are left with from the carbohydrate total and multiply by 4 to get the proper carbohydrate calories in the food you are looking at.

When you calculate it out:

0.5 x 9 = 4.5 (fat)
5 / 2 =2.5
16 – 2.5 = 13.5
13.5 x 4 = 54 (carbs)
5 x 4 = 20 (protein)
4.5+54+20= 78.5 (total calories)

So the total calorie count in the Healthy Life High Fiber Bread is 78.5.

What to do when a food doesn’t have a nutrition facts label:

There are a number of resources that you can turn to if you find yourself in a situation where nutrition facts are not readily available.

  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • USDA Super Tracker (a more user friendly version of the Database)
  • CRON-O-METER (although this does not come in a convenient app form, it is accurate)

In most cases a simple Internet search will answer all of your macro nutrient questions. However, make sure that you rely on trustworthy sources for your nutrient information. Some of the largest fitness and calorie tracking applications that are available today grossly underestimate calorie information and are laden with human error.