Tag Archives: Weight loss

Is it Possible to Have Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Melissa Blair, RHN

If you want to optimize your results in the gym, being knowledgeable about nutrition is a must. The two work hand-in-hand. I have worked with many athletes, both in the gym and in the kitchen, and know the following to be true: You cannot out train a bad diet.

So let me clear up a common blind spot when it comes to eating clean: “Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?” When it comes to food and weight loss, the answer is a definitive “yes”.

I’ve had clients who were nutrition fanatics, fueling their bodies with whole grains, organic lean meats, fruits and veggies, but in one particular case, still struggling to drop an excess 15 lbs.

At first glance, her recall of daily diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyle habits did not add up to them being 15 pounds over optimal weight, so I thought it was time for me optimistically nit-pick her food journal in the hopes of finding the missing data.

After just 10 days of writing down the quantity and timing of all their meals, snacks and beverages, we found the cause of their weight not dropping. It was nuts! Yup Nuts. Turns out they were consuming about 1-2 cups of raw “healthy” nuts per day, that translates to over 1200 calories of nuts per day.  Does this mean nuts are bad, and they should cuts nuts out of their diet? No, absolutely not. In 20-30g portion sizes, nuts are a great source of fat, fiber and protein. They are, however, very calorie dense and easy to overeat because of their portable bite size convenience.

The good news is that all it took was incorporating a premeasured nut container to their meal prep and they reached their weight loss goal in less than two months. The take away is, yes it is possible to have too much of a good thing. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so be cautious of foods that are bite size and easy to mindlessly pop in your mouth such as, olives, grapes, dried fruits, granola, nuts and seeds.

Products : Trimactiv, Green Coffee Bean , Garcinia Cambogia, Protein Power

Melissa Blair, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of Purica Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. For more information, check out her website or email her.  And for regular healthy eating and training tips, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

*A note on vegan and vegetarian options: At Purica, we’re committed to empowering you with the best in whole foods, supplements and positive lifestyle solutions. We support all athletes and active living people whatever your dietary preferences, although we will always do our part to raise awareness about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan options.

Survive, Revive and Thrive Through Your Coffee Breakup

Here’s Melissa’s second cup of tips to help you take a break from coffee and the side effects of caffeine.

If you brewed some inspiration from our recent blog on Managing Your Cup(s) of Coffee which was designed to help you take a break from coffee or even break your coffee habit for good — you will be happy to know that we’re following up here with some great tips and life hacks to help you survive the withdrawal, revive your energy and thrive through your coffee break.

It’s really all about avoiding the withdrawal symptoms!

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can sometimes be so overpowering that you can easily give in to your body’s need for a caffeine shot or two. Despite all the benefits of quitting caffeine, it requires a lot of will power to persevere through the common symptoms of headache, dizziness, constipation, irritability, lethargy, low concentration, confusion, and even depressed mood.

Here is what you can do to ease the withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Replace your favourite coffee mug with a new favourite water bottle that you can refill with water or herbal teas to refuel your energy and eliminate headaches caused by dehydration.
  2. Bullet Chicory Tea: This was my own saving grace on days 5 to 15 and continues to be my morning kick-starter!Recipe: Brew some Chicory Dandelion Dark Roast tea. In a high-powered blender, blend 1 tablespoon MCT oil with ½ teaspoon PURICA Cordyceps or PURICA Chaga powder with 1 cup strong brewed tea to increase energy and help regulate bowel movement.
  3. Sleep Better, Perform Better. Giving up caffeine might initially cause fatigue but with time, your sleep will improve along with your energy, mood, digestion and clarity of your skin. As you become less dependent on caffeine to boost your energy, your nervous system will recover from being constantly stimulated into overdrive and start feeling more energetic from better quality sleep and lower cortisol levels and inevitably, your performance will become better than before.
  4. Move it to lose it. Light exercise like walking and running can work wonders to boost your energy levels, improve mood and curb your caffeine cravings. You can also reduce your stress levels with healthy activities like yoga and meditation.
  5. Eat regular meals instead of gulping acidic coffee as a means to fill your stomach. Having low sugar, high fibre protein based meals and snacks will prevent your blood sugar level from falling dangerously low and help you thrive throughout the day. My clients love the new PURICA Purola granola bars and the equally new PURICA Power Vegan Protein Powder infused with Chaga mushrooms, which makes for great shakes and even simple water smoothies. They’re both great to use to replace mid-morning and afternoon coffee to revive their energy between meals.

The good news is the physical withdrawal period is relatively short. Based on your daily consumption of caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms may only last between 2 and 15 days to resolve. It can be tough, but it’s worth it!

Managing your cup(s) of coffee

Here’s a news flash: Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. If you’re like many who adore it via a delicious cup of coffee, I’m here to share with you some reasons why you may want to kick your coffee habit…or at least cut back on your caffeine intake.

I know it’s a sensitive topic because so many of us drink coffee as routine and we’ve done so for years. Yet only through eliminating coffee was I able to see the effect it had on my mood, energy, weight management, sleep and skin. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots between food and mood until you commit to an elimination and replacement nutrition plan. The good news is that the benefits of quitting caffeine become evident soon after you restrict your intake.

Here are a few ways in which saying goodbye to caffeinated foods and beverages can help you…

Balance Your Hormones

A bad diet is a key reason for hormonal imbalance. Caffeine causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Taking caffeine out of your dietary regime can help lower blood cortisol levels, increase the circulation of HGH and prevent insulin resistance. Balancing your hormones improves your overall health.

No More Headaches

Caffeine is one of the most common causes of headaches. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots around what causes you to have a headache, anxiety or an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. In my experience over the past 15 plus years as a wellness coach has shown me that most people don’t drink enough water. Since coffee is a diuretic, it isn’t so much the removal of caffeine but the increase in water that helps reduce and in some cases eliminate headaches, lower blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of anxiety. Drinking more water will also help with weight loss and improving the health of your skin!

Weight Loss

If you load your coffee with cream and sugar or regularly order blended coffee drinks, the average number of calories per cup ranges between 250 and 650 calories (depending on what you’re loading into your drink)!  These hidden sugars lead to an increase in body weight and a drop in blood sugar levels, which in turn will typically zap you of energy and increase cravings for a second cup. By cutting down on these caffeinated sugar bombs, you can attain your ideal fitness goals faster than you thought.

Clearer Skin

If you think caffeine might be affecting your skin adversely, you’re probably right!

Caffeine increases your body’s stress levels and triggers the fight or flight response to the adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones. Increased levels of cortisol can cause acne and breakouts. Replacing dehydrating coffee with pure water and fresh lemon will help hydrate the skin and purify the liver to clear your complexion from the inside out.  Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin.  Simply replace your morning coffee with a bottle of water and when you sit down to start working at your desk, reach for water instead of a second cup of coffee and you will notice an improvement in the texture of your skin within the first couple weeks.

Quitting caffeine is not easy, but it is possible. My next Blog will cover how to avoid irritability and depression that can come with withdrawal so you can persevere and see the benefits of quitting caffeine kick in.

3 Ways to Avoid a Snaccident

Ever roam the aisles of a drug store looking for a protein bar or healthy snack that taste good, is satisfying, or will fuel you up for a workout, and isn’t full of mystery ingredients? It’s a scary scavenger hunt most of us have been on that results in an ugly snaccident! When you eat the wrong thing or opt to skip a meal altogether the end result isn’t pretty. As a Fitness Trainer, Pro Athlete and Nutritionist I have learned to create an arsenal of perfect on-the-go snacks to pack in your gym bag to fuel a busy day. Here are three of my favorites!

  1. I make my own Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls to keep on hand when I need a boost. They satisfy my sweet tooth and are great for pre- or post-workout. Try this simple, easy to make recipe: 1/2-cup oats, two scoops of Vegan Protein Powder. I use Sprouted Living Vegan Chocolate Maca Protein Powder, one medium banana *mashed, 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 1/4 cup honey OR 2 Tablespoons Yacon syrup, mix the ingredients in a bowl, roll the balls in unsweetened coconut and cacao nibs. Done and done.
  1. I am totally on board with having raw nuts-as-fuel, but post workout I suggest pairing them with a serving of Low GI fruit. Almond nut butter with pureed frozen banana is one of my favorite desserts to replace an ice-cream craving. Pre-portioned nut butter packets or ¼ cup portion control container for loose nuts are a great way to make this snack portable and help avoid ‘over-nutting.’ OD-ing on nuts can cause weight gain with just a few quick fistfuls.
  1. After a workout is when I suggest a protein shake. Bring a single serving of protein powder with you to the gym to mix with water, coconut water, or a greens juice to provide a delicious convenient liquid snack needed to reload your muscles. Having a single serve of protein powder in iced coffee or iced tea is a great carry along when traveling or stuck in meetings, and food munching isn’t an option.

Isn’t it great to know healthy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated? You now have on-the-go eating covered and you didn’t even have to cook!

Remember; Keep your Friends close, and your snacks closer.

Prime Time IT (Internal Talk)

When you want to achieve optimal fitness success, you need some daily Prime Time to condition your Internal Talk.  What I mean by “prime time” is you need mental preparation time to set your intention for the day and insure your internal talk supports your set goals.

The first thing to do during prime time is identify any self-defeating words or labels you use to describe yourself. These can be words like lazy, fat, or weak. Or they can be limiting belief statements like, “I’m never going to get fit” or “I won’t ever be able to keep up with these healthy habits”, or a very common one, “ I hate my body. “ Dig deep and be honest to discover what self-prophesying internal talk you’ve been trapping yourself with. This step still applies to you even if you’re already fit because we all can create imaginary ceilings that can leave us with “trouble spots” or unconsciously stuck.

Step two is; identify and derail the scenarios that trigger the negative internal talk. For example, if you go to bed saying “ I can’t be a morning person” and you set your workout time to be a six am sweat session, the chances of you fulfilling the self-defeating statement, “I’m never going to get fit” is pretty high. Your subconscious mind is working 24/7, which is why you need some prime time to recondition your intention.

Step three of Prime Time is where you change IT! Changing your internal talk from the thoughts that have been keeping you stuck to ones that perpetuate positive change is how you convince your body to do a workout, even when you don’t “feel” like it.  This can be as simple as replacing the word can’t with can the moment it’s trying to leave your lips. This little swap transforms the statement “ I can’t be a morning person” to “I can be a morning person.” After a couple weeks of Prime Timing your IT, you will build the new positive belief  “I am a morning person.”

If you don’t think such a simple change can create the change you crave, I challenge you to fully commit to applying your new positive self-talk to your daily walk. That’s right walk the talk and refuse to let a bad day change your prime time perspective. Take control of your subconscious and deliberately choose your thoughts. Be intentional with your words and relentless with your actions. Refuse to let your potential life be buried and let your optimized self shine!

The Best Workout For a Crowded Gym

Navigating through the gym during prime time can be a nightmare! This workout is designed to build muscle, burn fat and ensure you won’t have to wait inline for a piece of equipment at the gym.

The only equipment you’ll need is one pair of dumbbells so you won’t even have to change the amount of weight you use as you move from one exercise to the next. As you get stronger week-by-week you can increase the weight of the dumbbells used for the entire workout routine. This routine is designed to take a rest day following the session.

The Workout:  Do 4 sets of 10 reps. Take 60 seconds rest between sets.

Dumbbell Step up: Holding dumbbells at arms length at your side. Stand in front of a step or bench that is high enough that when your foot is on top your knee is bent 90 degrees. Pressing the heel of your foot into the step, push up until your leg is straight and you are standing on one leg at the top of the bench. Lower your body back down to the floor. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps per leg.

Neutral Grip Dumbbell Row: Grab your dumbbells, bend at the knees and hips, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Keeping your core abdominals tight and spine neutral, let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, palms facing behind you. Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso, pause at the top of the range of motion, then slowly lower the dumbbells.

Offset Thumb Grip Dumbbell Curl: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, engage your core, grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at your sides. With your palms facing forward, extended each thumb to touch the outside head of the dumbbell. This forces the biceps brachia to work harder to keep your forearm rotated outward as you curl the weight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows, and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulder as you can. Pause, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.

Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist:  Hold dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent and palms facing each other. Rotate your torso to the right as you press the dumbbell in your left hand up diagonally, straightening it above your right shoulder. Pivot the left foot and keep your abs braced as you rotate your torso to prevent injury to your lower back. Reverse the movements back to starting position then repeat sequence in the other direction to target your right shoulder.

How to Master Your Weight and Build Health…

…Without Feeling Overwhelmed.

When you think about getting fit, eating healthy or how to find time to work out in your already over stressed day it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed.

This is when many people default to fad diets and quick fix promises. Having a perfect exercise and diet plan without applying the principles leaves you full of frustrated wishes.  Having a perfect exercise and diet plan and following it for thirty days, two months or twelve weeks will work until it doesn’t. Then you’re left feeling more frustrated and probably a little heavier than when you started.

You might ask yourself; where do I start? How do I begin? What’s my first step?

You start and finish with your habits.

“First we form habits, then they form us!” Rob Gilbert, Australian chemist

The key to effectively managing your weight is repeating the right things in the right way to achieve the right results. The most effective approach to building the body you desire is to build healthy habits that will equip you with a system to grow above and beyond what you set out to achieve.

The conscious mind gets you started. However it’s the unconscious mind that makes you successful long term. Building healthy routine behaviors that are so natural you don’t need to give them much thought is how to transform your mind and body.

“Weight isn’t the problem it’s a symptom. Weight loss isn’t the solution it’s the outcome of having healthy habits.” MT

We all know fad diets and quick fix promises don’t lead to lasting results. It’s not about changing your whole life overnight. Small changes build big results when you consistently commit to practicing them. Habits are built one thought, decision, and action at a time.

Here is a checklist to help you make a new healthy habit:

  1. Decide on a goal that you would like to achieve for your health.
  2. Choose a simple action that will get you towards your goal, which you can do, on a daily basis.
  3. Plan when and where you will do your chosen action. Be consistent: choose a time and place that you encounter every day of the week.
  4. Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action.
  5. The more you do it, the easier it will be.  Within 10 weeks you should find you are doing it automatically without even having to think about it.
  6. Congratulations, you’ve made a healthy habit!

Your Legs: From Good to Great

Legs are obviously an important body part. First of all, they help us move around and make the most of the life around us. Secondly, they’re prominent features of our overall physique.

With both in mind, walk these four steps to great legs:

Warm it up

Make sure you warm up before doing weighted leg exercises. Getting the blood flowing with a brisk walk or jog on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes with some fascial mobility stretching will get the range of motion primed before your first working set. This approach will help to prevent injury.

Variety Show

There are various muscle groups in the lower body. This means it’s important to vary the type of exercises, foot positioning, reps and sets that you do to stimulate all the muscle fibers and keep your body guessing. For example, when doing squats, place your toes parallel on your first set and then toes out in a plié position to target the hamstrings, glutes, adductors and quads on a different plain for your second set. Muscle development happens by having to adapt to a stimulus so mix it up and you’ll stimulate greater shape to legs.

Recovery

If you want to have nice strong, lean legs, you’ve got to lift heavy and support muscle growth to smooth out and burn access body fat. To do this, you’ve got to have a good nutrition plan to help optimize recovery and shape your results.  A simple 300-400 calorie cutback per day, if needed, can help burn off an extra five pounds in a month and reveal some great leg lines.

HIT the Cardio

When you hit the treadmill, intensify your results by jumping off every 3-5 minutes and do 30-60 seconds of pop squats, scissor lunges or deadlifts for your 3-5 rounds.

When you increase the strength and endurance of your legs, it makes it easier to live a more physically active lifestyle and you burn more calories overall and may indeed be a secret to staying trim.

Decide. Do. Delete.

In your life, it’s up to you to decide what you want to happen. You have that power.

If you want to make things different, you have to make different decisions, do different things and delete old habits.  Just because you are where you are now doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes. Your current situation is the result of choices made up until this point. If you are unhappy with your current weight, fitness level or energy level, you are fully capable of making better choices from this moment onward.  These new choices will lead you toward your optimal weight, health and fitness level.  In fact, you are the only person capable of making the decision to change your ways.

If you take the time to specify what you want to achieve and why, you can then make a plan of attack and apply successful strategies from other areas of your life to strengthen the area in which you want to improve. You can strengthen your willpower through visualization and by reminding yourself regularly of why your goals are important to you.

Changing behavior isn’t easy and positive change rarely happens on a whim. You already know what giving up feels like. I want you to see what happens if you don’t.

The importance of planning your own development will be the key over the coming weeks, months and years. Success will require saying “yes” to any external influences that move you forward in your aims and saying “no” to anyone and anything that will slow you down or lead you off track.

This is where moderation comes into play, not! Moderation might be the most overused word in the entire nutrition and fitness universe because people like the idea of not restricting themself and being able to eat anything they want so long as it’s not “too much.” The problem with moderation is that it’s a fantasy, not a strategy. Without clear boundaries, old habits will always win.

Behavioral research shows that the more specific an action is, the more likely you are to actually do it. So decide what you need to change and be single minded. Focus fully on the chosen behavior and tune into all the opportunities that will take you there quickly. Be consistent with the little things and the big change will happen. Nobody can talk you into your future but you. Don’t let fear talk yourself out of your full potential. If you can talk yourself out of going to the gym or making healthy food choices, you can talk yourself into it. Delete old unhealthy habits by building new healthy ones.

Words only work when you work them. A plan only works when you work it!

10 Habit Hacks to Achieve Healthy Weight Loss

How can you shape or engineer your environment so that maintaining a healthy weight is easier?

You have to put your mind to it, but the good news is that simple changes made to your home or workspace can help make achieving weight loss easier. The key is to surround yourself with nutritious foods and supportive messages while reducing the number of influences that will challenge your commitment to better health. Make these simple adjustments to boost your chances of weight loss success and improve your health:

  1. In the home, get rid of stuff that you’re likely to eat too much of. Overeating is obviously a leading culprit in weight gain.
  2. One step towards improving eating habits is to change the contents of your shopping basket. If you never buy chips, they will not be in the cupboard to tempt you.
  3. Have a snack before a meal, something such as a small serving of protein. This will help you avoid over-indulging later.
  4. Stay away from alcohol before starting a meal. There’s evidence that alcohol stimulates appetite and leads to overeating.
  5. Serve your dinner meal from the stove or counter rather than serving your plate right off the table. Studies show you are likely to eat 19 percent less food with this healthy habit.
  6. Serve salad first rather than bread at mealtime. You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see than the fifth.
  7. Replace 12-inch plates with 10-inch ones. People tend to eat about 60 extra calories per meal when they eat off of larger plates.
  8. Avoid the TV and Computer When Eating. It’s easy to lose track of what you’ve eaten when you are not paying attention. Try to remove items that will take your focus off of eating, such as the computer or a television at mealtime.
  9. Celebrate your healthy meal by sitting down, relaxing alone or with family. Take the time to slowly enjoy your food. Creating a special mealtime ritual will help you to feel satisfied with the experience of eating. This is better than looking in the cupboard and fridge before mealtimes or snacks to see what is there.
  10. Physical activity is more important for weight maintenance than for weight loss. What matters most for weight loss is controlling calorie intake. However, doing things such as walking to the local market or parking far from the grocery store door will support weight loss by increasing total daily steps and calories burned. Adding daily exercise is the key to improving your mood, protecting against disease. It boosts energy during the day and improves sleep quality at night.