nutrition

From tragedy to triumph: Michelle's story

When Michelle Kong-Rosario finally emerged from all the surgeries and complications following a motorcycle crash, fitness was the last thing on her mind.

Before she could focus on herself, Michelle had to deal with the enormous emotional toll of losing her boyfriend in the accident. She also had to learn how to walk again on her prosthetic leg.

“There were complications that led to me losing my leg,” she said. “The process was very long. After two months in the hospital, I was in in-patient rehabilitation for another two or three months to learn how to walk again with a prosthesis. Then it was out-patient rehabilitation. It took me about a year.”

This past year marked 20 years since the accident, and it was only recently when Michelle, a 42-year-old mom, started focusing on herself again — her fitness, her strength and her body. Unfortunately, that only led to more frustration.

“I’ve been through so many different gyms that left me in pain or injured, and that would put me out of commission,” she said. “I would be out for two or three months.

“I’ve worked out on my own, I’ve hired personal trainers, I’ve been to classes,” she said. “And each one of them, when I talked to them about my leg, they said they could help me and I always ended up injuring myself more. By the time I came to Max [Velocity], I was pretty frustrated, pretty tired. Everybody tells me they can help me, that they’re going to create this whole program for me, but nobody really does. But when I came here, things changed.”

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This past November, Michelle finished second in Max Velocity’s Fall Fitness Challenge. Contestants were scored on attendance, consistency with their nutrition habits and check-ins and performance in their baseline workouts. Michelle recorded the second-highest rep total in her initial workout and the fifth-highest improvement in her retests. She was also 80 percent compliant with her nutrition habits and 100 percent compliant with her weekly check-ins with her coaches.

“It took me by surprise,” she said. “… That challenge was a great way to measure that I am improving, I am doing better taking all these classes.”

Michelle has even bigger goals for this year, as she is now training for a mini-triathlon, a bike tour and a full triathlon in 2019. After seeing her amazing results, Michelle’s husband is thinking about joining her at Max Velocity.

“He wants to get himself onto my level,” she said.

Would you like information about our next fitness challenge starting Jan. 28? To learn more, follow this link.

Passover Survival Guide

Passover is a festive holiday, despite all the discipline and hard work that goes into preparing your home and meals for guests who travel from near and far to invade your space and wreak havoc on your lives ...

Come to think of it, Passover can be a real pain! But in all seriousness, it's a wonderful time of year. And for those who follow the dietary guidelines, it can be refreshing to take a break from your normal routine and try some new foods and recipes. As someone who came to Judaism by choice as a convert, I have found this experience of separation from the normal routine to be cleansing and beneficial.

When you're observant and trying to stick to an exercise and nutrition plan during the holiday, it can be extremely stressful. But it doesn't have to be. Here are a few tips that will help you navigate the holiday without sabotaging your fitness goals:

-- Remember that most of the points of emphasis in a sensible nutrition plan are not affected by Passover whatsoever. What should be prioritized on your plate during the rest of the year -- protein and assorted of colorful vegetables -- are perfectly Kosher for Passover. So are smart carbs like sweet potatoes, quinoa and fruit. Continue to focus on those areas.

-- When cooking, marinating or making dressings, stick with extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil also is a good choice for cooking, and most brands are Kosher for Passover without needing to be labeled as such. Beware of the cornucopia of other toxic oils you'll find on the shelves at your Kosher supermarket. Keep it simple.

-- Also beware of Kosher for Passover substitutes for foods that require leavened bread to be what they are. In order to make a waffle taste like a waffle during Passover, you'll notice a long list of additives and chemicals and words you can't pronounce. Stay away.

-- Baked goods and sweet snacks are where many people fall off track during the rest of the year, and this is even more true during Passover. Ask yourself: Would a chocolate-covered marshmallow twist, loaded with sugar and corn syrup, support my fitness goals in December or January? No? Then it doesn't support your fitness goals during Passover. (Also, there's no such thing as a marshmallow. Unless someone can show me a marshmallow tree.)

-- As during the rest of the year, home-baked goods are best because you control the ingredients and can make healthy substitutions. Almond flour instead of regular flour is a good choice any time, and it's a necessity during Passover. Also, try coconut palm sugar or raw cane sugar instead of overly processed sugar. Your pancreas (and waistline) will thank you. Here are some healthier dessert recipes to try ... just be sure to make substitutions that are appropriate for the dietary restrictions of the holiday.

-- Traditional foods and Passover recipes handed down over generations are an integral part of enjoying the holiday. As we've always taught you, you don't have to take an extreme approach to nutrition in order to get results. Just follow your rules most of the time. It's OK to indulge and tell grandma how delicious her Passover Schnitzel is ... just be mindful of portion sizes and hunger/fullness cues as you would any other time of year.

-- Eating on the go becomes an even bigger challenge during Passover. So here are a couple of healthy snacks we found in our local supermarkets that will help:

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Beef jerky is high in protein and low in fat, and this brand is not only Kosher for Passover, but it also has zero grams of sugar and no nitrates or nitrites! (For locals, we found it at Wasserman's Supermarket on Main Street in Flushing.)

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Seaweed snacks give you the crunchy, slightly salty satisfaction of potato or tortilla chips, without the toxic oils and carbohydrate density. And seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, zinc, iron, calcium and selenium (which is recommended for those with under-active thyroids). These tasty treats are not only Kosher for Passover, but they also have only three ingredients: seaweed, olive oil and sea salt. It doesn't get any simpler than that. We found them at Stop 'N Shop in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. Warning: Buy lots ... they're addictive.

Here are some healthy Passover recipes to try during the week. Even if you don't use them, reading through them can give you some ideas for how to adjust your own recipes to comply with the dietary rules AND support your fitness goals.

Lastly, I want to leave you with something to think about. As the holiday is almost upon us, think about all the work and discipline that go into keeping Kosher during Passover. Think about how these rules are non-negotiable for you, and how literally nothing will keep you from deviating from the dietary laws set forth in the Torah.

There is no doubt, this is a powerful, life-changing way to live for those who have chosen an observant path. Fasting on Yom Kippur and other holidays, and adhering to the Passover dietary laws, takes thoughtfulness, mindfulness, discipline and an uncompromising belief that the sacrifices you are making will come with a reward. 

Imagine for a moment that you were able to harness these skills and habits that you already possess and apply them to making food choices that support a healthy lifestyle year-round. There is tremendous power and undeniable benefits in applying skills that you already have.

Happy Passover to all.

 

Study: Activity trackers not effective tools for weight loss

Technology is amazing. I use it every day to find the latest health and fitness news. I use it to coach my clients, interacting with them via Precision Nutrition's ProCoach platform and viewing their customized workout programs on FunctionalMovement.com.

Some of my favorite stories I've reported during the past decade as an NBA journalist involved teams' growing reliance on technology to improve player performance and prevent injury -- such as this piece on the Golden State Warriors' use of wearable technology and this one on the importance of sleep.

Wearable technology is omnipresent in the fitness industry. From Garmins to Fitbits to Apple watches and Jawbones, it's become a cool trend for everyone to know exactly how many calories they're burning each day.

The only problem is, activity trackers may not help with weight loss. In fact, according to a new study at the University of Pittsburgh, people wearing activity trackers lost about half as much weight in a 24-month randomized trial than those who weren't wearing them.

How could this be?

First, let's take a look at the study led by John Jakicic, chairman of Pitt's Department of Health and Physical Activity and published last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association. 

The study followed 470 people ages 18-35 with a body-mass index between 25 and 39. All participants were placed on low-calorie diets and were prescribed increases in physical activity as well as group-counseling sessions on health and nutrition. 

After the first six months, participants were divided into two groups. One continued receiving monthly health counseling, while the other received a wearable device to monitor diet and physical activity.

The results? Those who utilized wearable activity trackers lost 7.7 pounds on average, compared to 13 pounds for those who only participated in behavior-based health counseling.

"While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity -- steps taken per day or calories burned during a workout -- our findings show that adding them to behavioral counseling for weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement," Jakicic said. 

Having coached nutrition clients who like to rely on wearable devices, I have a couple of theories for why this happened. First, whether you're counting calories in or calories out, calculating energy balance is a risky, error-prone undertaking. Specifically, as illustrated in this infographic from Precision Nutrition, consumer fitness trackers are off by as much as 30 percent when it comes to measuring calorie expenditure. Due to other factors, such as genetics, sleep, hormones and the macronutrient breakdown of your food intake (protein requires more energy to digest than carbs and fats), you could be looking at as much as a 25 percent error in measuring your energy balance.

I have encountered clients who use activity trackers and sync them with My Fitness Pal, thinking the more closely they monitor their energy balance, the more successful they will be at losing weight. In addition to how imprecise and error-prone calorie counting is, there's another problem: When people see the massive amount of calories they supposedly just burned in a given workout, they often view it as a license to pig out with a huge meal. In fact, you can set apps like My Fitness Pal to tell you how many extra calories you've supposedly earned that day.

If you're trying to lose weight and/or fat, not a good idea.

As the study shows, the most effective path to consistent and sustainable weight loss is a behavior-driven approach that includes learning how to make better food choices without apps, spreadsheets, scales and error-prone calorie counting. 

"While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity ... these devices should not be relied upon as tools for weight management in place of effective behavioral counseling for physical activity and diet," Jakicic said.

Would you like to learn more about how we coach our clients to sustainable weight loss using a proven curriculum that focus on behavior and lifestyle change instead of gimmicks, extreme diets and fads? Let us know how we can help.

 

 

For real change, skills instead of extremes

When a basketball player wants to become a better perimeter shooter, he or she gets in the gym and practices shooting technique. 

When a baseball player wants to improve his batting average, he goes to the batting cage and practices hitting.

So when people want to improve their body composition -- add lean mass, lose fat, feel and look better -- why do they try to do a whole bunch of things that have nothing to do with achieving those goals?

Whether it's loading up on supplements, following an extreme exercise program or restricting food intake to the point of dizziness and deprivation, these strategies may work for a while. But once the unsustainable practices run their course, it's right back to the old way of doing things.

The way that wasn't working.

And guess what? The weight comes right back and the lean mass disappears ... often, with interest.

There's a different way. That's why at Max Velocity Fitness + Performance, we follow the Precision Nutrition approach to weight loss, muscle gain and performance enhancement. Just like improving in a sport, we focus on habits, practices and skills that lay the foundation for healthy living. 

Think about it: Could you become a better drummer by taking guitar lessons? Of course not. So why would anyone think they could become more consistent with healthy eating habits without learning the most fundamental skills involved in it -- such as appetite and hunger awareness?

As you can see in this infographic from PN, breaking down your goals into a series of simple, sequential and strategic skills is much more effective than going "all-in" with a series of unsustainable diets, fads and extreme exercise regimens. If you want to get better at something, you have to practice the skills that will make you better at it.

It sounds obvious. Sadly, it isn't. If you feel that you've wasted too much time on flawed strategies for weight loss -- strategies that involve extremes and fads instead of the cumulative acquisition of skills that bring you closer to your goals -- you're not alone.

And it doesn't have to be that way.

Would you like to learn more about how we incorporate Precision Nutrition's proven system into our training programs -- and how we use a proven strategy and curriculum to coach real people to real results with nutrition?

Click below to get started.