Killing Sugar Cravings

YO!

A topic I probably should have addressed in one of my first blog posts ever…sugar cravings. Everyone knows it’s terrible to consume a metric crap ton in one sitting, but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve destroyed a bag of Twizzlers or Skittles in my day. With no regrets.

That shit is like crack. Let’s start at the beginning.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is a source of energy for our body to break down that helps us eat, sleep, breathe, move and live. In chemical makeup, sugars can either be short chain and quick to break down (low fiber, highly processed –  candy, white bread) or long chain and harder to break down (high fiber, minimally processed – fruit, vegetables). For the sake of this post, we’re going to refer to the generic term of sugar as the stuff that is highly processed and quick to breakdown in your body.

Why do you crave sugar?

Sugar is sweet. Sweetness is one of the first taste’s you’ll experience at birth. It releases a crap ton of hormones and has a big impact on your body’s physiology. But that gets boring and I want to keep it short.

Sugar releases serotonin, a hormone that causes your body to feel happiness, euphoric and stoned out of your goard. Sugar gets you high. After a period of time, your body uses the sugar and you get a little bit of a drop in that happy feel. So you want to get high again by eating more sugar. Causing you to want more happy feels. In the end, the more you consume, the more you want. It’s a vicious cycle!

How do you combat sugar cravings?

  1. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps curb the amount of sugar streaming through your blood. When there’s a bunch of sugar in your blood, your body decides to store it as fat unless it gets used. When your body engages in moderate to intense exercise, the sugar in your blood gets used as fuel. Which is also an optimal time to eat sugar. So if you need to dive into a sugar craving, go for a little dark chocolate post-workout.
  2. Consume a diet high in protein. A high protein diet satisfies your body for a longer period of time, reducing the amount of cravings throughout the day.
  3. Allow yourself to have a treat. But make sure you portion it out and it is a reasonable amount. At least 80% of the food you eat should be the good-for-you stuff. And even higher for those of you with more lofty bodyfat goals. With that said, you should have a bit of flexibility to have a daily treat. And when you tell yourself you CAN’T have something, how much more do you want it? So give in. But don’t be crazy.
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain a bunch of sweet stuff. But it’s not hyper-sweet. And they also contain a good amount of fiber. Fiber slows down the digestion of sugar, giving your body a more even release of happy hormones, reducing the intensity of cravings you’ll have.
  5. Choose quality over quantity.  The more you have, the more you are going to eat. Grab the small bar of chocolate that’s 75% chocolate rather than springing for the family size bag of Skittles.
  6. Don’t have sugar at home. Having sugar readily available at all times is a recipe for disaster. If you have it in your house, you or someone you love will eat it. All of it.
  7. Eat regularly. Anecdotally, I have found that the days I skip breakfast are the days I get the hungriest. They’re the days I crave sugar the most. They’re the days I regret stopping and grabbing a bunch of crappy food. So be prepared. Bring your favorite protein bar/drink with you.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to deal with cravings.

I’ve had people go full blown keto. I’ve seen people eat sugar in moderation without issues.

But for anyone looking to make a quick change and reduce sugar intake, I say this:

Make sugar inconvenient.

Make it something you have to go to the store for – each and every time you decide to consume it. Is the craving worth the drive? Is it worth leaving home for? This forces you to make a few decisions before consuming all the sweets and hating yourself.

Make sure you eat your planned meals prior to consuming the sweet stuff. You’ll feel better, be proud of yourself and enjoy the experience of having something sweet a bunch more.

Most of all, hold yourself accountable. You make hundreds of decisions each and every day. And the more you can become cognizant and make an honest decision, the better off you’ll be!

Day 1 in the Gym

There’s a guy I know who’s scared shitless of the gym. Mirrors everywhere. Jacked dudes and beautiful women with wandering eyes. There’s an unspoken pressure to lift at least as much as the person next to you. And an uncomfortable feeling of asking someone to spot you…and being so nervous that you just try to lift alone, drop the bar on your throat and somehow shimmy off the bench only to feel like an idiot and run far, far away from the gym.

Yeah, I used to be scared shitless of the gym.

There’s a certain point in a person’s life where they step foot in the gym, feel intimidated and walk out. You get home, upset at yourself, hate the way you look and feel about yourself.

 

Screw that. I’m going to tell you a little secret about the gym…Everyone feels the same way you do. Anybody who gives a shit isn’t worth your time.

So start with your goal. And it most likely begins with getting your ass to the gym.

Begin easy.

Begin with a simple routine that involves bodyweight movements. Squats, pushups, pullups (or rows), lunges, some form of walking/running and picking up heavy stuff. Hell, you can even go through the stuff you did in gym class in grade school. Pushups, situps, pullups and running. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

Two days per week, focus on doing more next time.

Look forward to your plan while staying honest with your food.

Keep track of  your workout.

As much as you hate it, snap a couple before pictures and invite a friend to workout with you. Social structure is CRUCIAL to changing lifestyle habits.

Lift some weights. Getting stronger will motivate you to get stronger.

Cardio becomes a way to challenge yourself. Going further will motivate you to go further. Going faster will motivate you to get faster.

Start easy. Start with fun. Sign up for a sports league. Give yourself a WHY if you don’t have one.

But most of all, show up. Two days per week for an entire year is equal to 104 workouts. Which is a hell of a place to begin.

Don’t overcomplicate it and don’t worry about what others are doing. Way too many folks will tell you what to do. They’ll tell you how to do it better. They’ll tell you how to get stronger. Everyone is an expert. But only YOU know if it’s good for you.

Easy Diet Changes to Lower Cholesterol

Soluble fiber is the stuff that is found in beans, oats, seeds, etc. Which is a bit different than the stuff in fruits and veggies (still YUGELY beneficial for overall health).
Here are some of the best sources of soluble fiber out there to combat high cholesterol!
1)Beans
2)Oats
3)Brussel Sprouts
4)Flaxseed
What YOU can do in a week –
Easy – Have some steel cut oats for breakfast with flaxseed mixed in.
Easy – Eat black beans 3 or so times per week (if tolerable). Black beans have the highest amount of soluble fiber but all other beans have a bunch too.
Hard – Global nutrition paradigm shift – Focus on vegetable intake being the focus of each meal – will naturally have a bunch of soluble fiber. Eat a ton of veggies and throw in meat and fats to your meals as necessary.

**Nerd talk** 

How can eating fiber, especially soluble fiber, lower blood cholesterol levels?

 

Soluble fiber binds to bile salts in the GI tract, causing them to be excreted as part of our fecal matter, rather than being re-absorbed by the colon as they usually are.

Since blood cholesterol is needed to make bile, the body must pull more cholesterol out of our blood to make more bile to replace what was lost.

This lowers the amount of cholesterol in our bloodstream.

Kitchen Makeover

‘If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.’

Today’s Challenge  – Give your kitchen a makeover.

Get rid of the crap in your fridge. If there is a question as to whether it is crap or not – it is. Get rid of the cake mixes, processed fats, chips, cheeses, breads (unless it’s made exclusively from whole grain), candy, treats, flavored nuts, Sweetened sauces, mustards and ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressings, margarine.

Fill your fridge with lean proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts / seeds and whole grains. Pick three items from the preceding categories and keep your fridge stocked full with the healthy stuff.

If you wish to be healthy and lean, you must remove all the foods not conducive to your goals and replace them with healthier options.

Your Baseball Card

Baseball cards used to be a huge thing. You’d see the player picture on the front (with a cheesy pose most of the time), combined with the lifetime stats on the back of the card. You could see home runs, batting average and other stats over the career of a player. It was something that was huge in our family. We’d flip through the old issues of ‘Beckett’ and see whose cards were the most valuable…

When you’re starting an exercise program, you need to think about the metrics you would like to improve. How do you measure your progress? What do you want to see improve in the long run – and why? What do you want the back of YOUR baseball card to look like??

greg before and after

Here’s Gregory Harris‘ rookie card:

-Bodyfat from 11.3% to 6.9%
-FMS score 19/21 (not a performance metric but a test of sound movement)
-Weight from 185 to 175
-From 4 deadhang pullups to 17
-From 42 pushups in a minute to 57
-From 285 pound max deadlift to 345
-From 200 pound max bench to 225

Detox Diets Suck. Here’s Why

What’s up Fam?

Had a couple people asking about detox and juicing diets. Some of you may not like this.
Detoxing/juice cleanses are Everywhere.
 
98% of the juice diets and cleanses are a load of crock (I don’t say 100% because dealing in absolutes is absolutely idiotic).
In short, juicing and detoxing typically fail to be sustainable and realistic for the long term. An example is something like a kale smoothie. Kale is commonly referred to as a ‘superfood’. But through the process of blending the food, it breaks down the fiber, turning the leaf into a broken down substance, decreasing the work you body has to do in order to digest it (aka burning fewer Calories while also releasing more of a storage hormone, insulin). In that respect, blending speeds the digestion of the fiber, negating the real benefit of eating a food like kale.
A justification for a lot of people to juice/cleanse is to get rid of toxins. Toxins can really be positive and/or negative. The same way our stomachs have good and bad bacteria. In fact most of the toxins your body takes in are good for you! You can build an excess of toxins from literally anything you ingest. Even if all you eat is fibrous, whole foods from a local, organic farm. You can still eat too much and create a problem.
The idea behind a detoxing diet is generally to ‘get rid of’ certain staples in your diet. One thing the cleansing diets neglect to stress is the significant role your body already plays in getting rid of the ‘bad toxins’ on its own. You liver, kidneys, stomach microbiome and intestines all play a huge role and these cleanses neglect to stimulate the function of these organs through eating a wide variety of healthy, whole foods.
Positives of a juice/cleanse:
-Help you focus on eating better food (green teas, colorful fruits are typically consumed more)
Negatives:
-Lead to potential disordered eating
-Cause blood sugar swings, turning naturally low glycemic index foods into high
-Does not decrease bodyfat
-Does not make you stronger
-Does not have any scientifically significant benefit
-Does not typically give you enough energy
-Does not contain ample amount of essential fats and protein
So how do you best detoxify your body if you don’t decide to go on the Master Cleanse?
Eat a wide variety of whole foods, consistently and in realistic proper portions. Your body will thank you. And you won’t have to mix cayenne pepper in your water.

 

Building Habits

New habits.

What does it take for you to build a new habit?

It’s not dragging your butt to the gym everyday for three weeks so your brain turns off and it just becomes what you do.

It’s not forcing yourself to run for twelve hours a day.

And it’s definitely not going on a 8 day smoothie cleanse consisting of cayenne pepper and honey.

It’s about making a conscious decision to change.

It takes a minute.

A minute to decide you CAN build a new set point.

A minute to FORECAST AND PLAN your day.

A minute to remember WHY.

A minute to commit to what you are doing…TODAY.

Everyday is a battle. You are the one who decides whether you win or lose.

Reframing Your Excuses

I talk to a lot of people who deem themselves too busy to get their workouts in. We all talk about the amount of time we have to put into our kids, our work and/or our personal life. We don’t want to give anything up. Our identities are deeply tied to the things we do, places we go and people we hang with.

Getting healthy thing can be very intimidating, frustrating and cause of a bunch of stress. Especially for those of us who don’t have tons of social support. Whether it’s an unhealthy family member, unmotivated partner or stress dumping friend. At the crux of each decision we make, healthy or unhealthy, is our self talk.

And how you talk to yourself is 100% on YOU.

So here’s an idea…

Why not try reframing the way you look at investing in your health? We all have reasons to stay healthy, strong and are working to fight against our inner fat kid.

Instead of “I can’t eat right because I’m taking my kids to a birthday party”….

Make it “I eat right so my kids can see that it’s OK to have a treat every now and then”.

Instead of “I can’t workout because I’m traveling”….

Make it “I exercise so I can have more energy during my travels”.

Instead of “I don’t have the time to exercise”…

Make it “I exercise so I can make the most of my time”.

The excuses and struggles can consume you, fight you and tear you down. But if you keep your reactions to life realistic and reframe your thinking, you can combat any excuse!

Peace like Geese

 

 

WTF is that Side Stitch While Running

Hey!

Had a great question the other day after a couple of rascals pranced around the track, dashing 400m in negative 12 seconds.

prancing

What the heck is the side stitch you get when you run at a near max effort? In my head, I’ve always called it a bear claw. It feels like a bear, grapsing your rib cage from behind, ripping out your obliques, puncturing your lungs, leaving you gasping for air.  Such a pleasant experience!

Causes

A couple of different theories out there on the causes of the dreaded stitch. The earliest I found is from 1923, theorizing that it is a result of stomach distention on the suspension ligaments in the diaphragm. Back in the day, they found it only happened with rhythmic exercise (running, walking and other bouncy repetitive motions).

More recently, the theories are far and wide and nobody is immune. It occurs in swimmers, runners but less commonly in bikers. The potential pathways are:

“ischemia of the diaphragm; stress on the supportive visceral ligaments that attach the abdominal organs to the diaphragm; gastrointestinal ischemia or distension; cramping of the abdominal musculature; ischemic pain resulting from compression of the celiac artery by the median arcuate ligament; aggravation of the spinal nerves; and irritation of the parietal peritoneum”

A crap ton of things it could be…and it really seems we haven’t figured out exactly what the cause of it is!

Speculatively, when you run, you’re bouncing which could cause you to have a hard time breathing. The stress of impact combined with the twisting rhythmic movement of your arms and upper body causes your lungs and lumbar region to take a beating. The arm swing force is transferred to the legs. And the leg drive is transferred to the upper body. If you aren’t well conditioned for the stress, you’ll feel it more frequently and earlier on. So run more. And work on strategies to improve your running economy (midfoot or forefoot strike, decreased vertical force while running, and a ton of others).

Prevention

The most effective strategies I have found for people in terms of treating the acute symptoms have included a bit stretching, breathing through it and manual pressure. In the long term, you should aim to strengthen your midline (abs, butt, lats, everything connected to your spine) and increase your efficiency in running.

For relieving the stitch, take deep, rhythmic breaths from the diaphragm. It helps relax the deep abdominal muscles, which helps in terms of relieving the stitch stress. If that doesn’t help…

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Stretch! I would recommend a hip flexor(above) stretch with the painful side’s knee on the ground, reaching overhead to the opposite side of your body leaning away from the painful side. Go by the feel of it as each person’s body will be positioned a little different to relax the painful region. If that doesn’t help…

Apply manual pressure to the area! If you have a tennis ball or lacrosse ball, you can dive into the area with a little bit of pressure along the area that has the feeling of being knotted up. Or you can use your hands. Just dive in and take those deep breaths to get some bloodflow to the area and work out the tissue.

Other strategies include wearing a tight belt around the abdominal region and abstaining from food consumption within two hours of exercise.

Beyond that, work on getting stronger and conditioning your body more. Work on breathing while you exercise. It may never go away while varying intensity – but usually if you can grit it out beyond the stitch it will clear up!

Other questions? Leave a comment! Thanks for reading and own the day!

–Mike Goose

 

 

Enhance Your Nutrition

Hey! What’s up??

Food can be intimidating. And it can be intense to get into when you’re trying to change habits. But the smallest changes can make the biggest difference!
In case you didn’t know, I recently started nerding out on some nutrition material. In my mission to serve you a little better, I wanted to make sure I’m doing my part in helping you develop your nutrition habits to be consistent with your goals. And what better way to share it with you than one of my ridiculous essays?
For each of the following five components, I could dive deeper but that’s not the point. If you are one of those who struggles with nutrition, here are some questions to ask yourself on how to create some long term change!
1) How much food are you eating?
  • Is the amount of food you are eating consistent with your specific goals?
  • This one is the most important from the get go. If you eat more energy (food) than you are using, you will gain weight. And if your goal is to gain weight, the opposite applies.
  • Eating food until you are about 80% full is a great strategy to employ. Don’t overdo it while making sure you eat enough to not be hungry all the time.
  • Severely undereating can also do a number on your metabolism, energy levels and you’ll be hangry all the time. Who wants to be around that?
 
2) How are you eating?
  • Are you eating slowly and enjoying your food?
  • I’d love to see each and every meal eaten at a table with the family around, taking your time and enjoying your food. BUT in real life, things don’t always happen like that! Your body will take time to receive the signals from your stomach that tell you that you are satisfied.
 
3) Why are you eating?
  • Are you eating when you’re actually hungry or are you just bored?
  • Is it an emotional response to something that is happening?
  • Eat around your workouts, eat when you need food, eat to enjoy and savor your food.
 
4) What are you eating?
  • Is your food primarily consisting of whole food sources that are minimally processed?
  • Is your protein intake adequate? Minimum recommendation is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight but long term goals should be somewhere between 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (for a 150 pound female that is 82-136 grams per day, for a 200 pound male, that’s about 110-180 grams per day)
 
5) Are you doing this consistently?
  • What are the smallest changes you can make to help you stay on track? Can you add in a protein smoothie once a day to increase protein intake as well as fight hunger and feel more satisfied? Can you dedicate to having one meal at home, at the table, prepared by you every day?
  • What little things can you do to keep yourself asking the above questions when you eat?
If you find that you are getting better and more confident with the first question, move onto the next. And once you have the next figured out, move on, keeping the first question around. The whole idea behind improvement is constantly asking yourself your overaching question – is what you are eating consistent with the goal you are looking to achieve? Is it sustainable?
Thanks for tuning in!