Archive for June, 2010

Creating Instant Habits

According to Merriam-Webster, a habit is “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” Research states that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That’s three weeks of working on a behavior to make it stick. What if we could create instant habits? Wouldn’t it be great to get one habit under your belt and get on with the next?

In the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard authors Chip and Dan Heath describe “action triggers” as being able to create instant habits. Action triggers are when you associate a desired change with an existing habit. The existing habit then becomes a reminder to do the new, desired behavior, essentially piggybacking off it. So, “When I do _____ (your existing habit), I will do ______ (desired habit).”
The success rate of this strategy is much higher than attempting it without the trigger.

Two things to note are that 1) the desired change has to be a hard one. If it’s an easy one, the rate of success is no different than when not using an action trigger. 2) both have to be very specific.
i.e. You have a very hard time remembering to eat breakfast before you leave for work. You typically pour a cup of coffee. Drink it while you read emails and then rush off to work. An action trigger might be, “When I turn off the TV at the end of the day, I will prepare my breakfast and set it in front of the coffee maker.” This is actually a double trigger: turning off the TV leads to preparation and getting your coffee leads to eating breakfast (since you can’t miss remembering breakfast when it’s sitting in front of your coffee habit.)

Look at the behaviors that you have been having difficulty changing and see if you can create action triggers to form those instant habits.

I’d love to hear about your successes.

Best wishes, Mark

Mark Nutting, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT-AR*D
NSCA 2009 Personal Trainer of the Year
Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter


06/30/2010 at 5:24 PM Leave a comment

A New Health/Fitness Newsletter

Ensemble Fitness Club has just published its first monthly newsletter. We secured Mark Nutting, NSCA’s 2009 Personal Trainer of the year, writer, and our lead blogger as our editor.
Check out our first issue with the following articles: Start With Your Smallest Change, Summer Workouts, and Quick Nutrition tips. Then register to receive it monthly.

This is one more way to let you know that you’re not alone in your journey toward being healthier and more fit.

06/19/2010 at 5:30 PM Leave a comment

Avoid “Boomeritis”

I noticed in one of my fitness trade journals that a new term has been coined by the Mayo Clinic, “Boomeritis“. Since they include my age bracket as being a boomer, I was a little curious about it.

Essentially it refers to injuries that people in their 50s and 60s get when they get over enthusiastic with a fitness program. They can be injuries such as tendinitis, bursitis, stress fractures and tendon tears.

One of the defining characteristics of the boomer population is that they (OK…we) have no intention of growing old gracefully. Getting “old” is just not acceptable. This is why they (we…sheesh!) are looking for every potion, pill, or program that can keep us younger, longer. Jumping into exercise to help sustain youth is no exception.

Here’s the problem… impatience. When the results are wanted yesterday and the program needs to be a gradual lifestyle change to be most effective, injuries will occur. We’re not old, but we are “older”. We’ve had time to accumulate injuries, health risks, and/or have had plenty of inactivity to decondition our bodies. Reconditioning them, working around injuries and issues, will take time.

Here are 6 recommendations to help avoid “boomeritis“:
1) Check with your doctor to see if there is any reason to not begin an exercise program.
2) Warm-up with 5-10 minutes of either light cardio or some dynamic active range of motion movements.
3) Start with a level that is not that challenging. Your job is to first find a “safe zone”, a level that you are not sore from the next day.
4) Use proper progression. Once you’ve found the “safe zone”, go up in resistance, reps, or time every session that you can, BUT… by the smallest amount possible. This will help pre-condition your body for more intense levels and will keep the likelihood of injuries down.
5) Be consistent. Plan to get your workouts in on a regular basis. Consistency promotes progress and inconsistency opens you up to possible injuries.
6) Enough recovery is also important. How much and how often really depends on your individual program, but you need to listen to your body.

Of course I believe the best way to begin an exercise program is to seek the guidance of a Personal Trainer. Let’s face it, that’s why we’re here.

Good luck getting started and avoid becoming a “Boomeritis” statistic.

Best wishes, Mark
Mark Nutting, CSCS*D, NSCACPT-AR*D
NSCA 2009 Personal Trainer of the Year
Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter

06/10/2010 at 5:42 PM Leave a comment

Milk, Does It a Body Good..?

The benefits of drinking milk has been the topic of discussion for a very long time and it appears there are the pluses and minuses to consider.

I grew up drinking, not just whole milk, but whole milk that I would often doctor up with PDQ flavored sugar beads (loved the eggnog flavor) and Nestle’s Quick (chocolate and strawberry). Here’s where the controversy could get started. Is milk a healthy, nutritious drink that can aid fat loss or is it akin to sugary soft drinks that will increase the chances of obesity?

Milk as nutrition: Milk is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, vitamins A, D, and B12. It can also be a large source of saturated fat depending on the % fat of the milk.

Milk as an agent of obesity: Well, if you drink it like I used to, you can see where that might be true. The fact is that if you are over-caloried with anything, you will gain weight. Milk is no exception. Another thing to keep in mind is the various % fat of milks. Approximate values are below. Note that the only real differences are fat content and calories:
1 cup nonfat (skim) milk = calories- 80, carbohydrate- 12g, protein- 8g, fat- 0g, calcium- 300mg
1 cup 1% (low-fat) milk = calories- 102, carbohydrate- 12g, protein- 8g, fat- 2g, calcium- 300mg
1 cup 1.5% (low-fat) milk = calories- 118, carbohydrate- 12g, protein- 8g, fat- 3.8g, calcium- 300mg
1 cup 2% (low-fat) milk = calories- 122, carbohydrate- 12g, protein- 8g, fat- 5g, calcium- 300mg
1 cup whole milk = calories- 146, carbohydrate- 13g, protein- 8g, fat- 8g, calcium- 300mg

Milk as a weight loss tool: Research shows that a high calcium diet (one that meets the recommendations) aids fat loss.  Even greater fat loss occurs when calcium is achieved through dairy sources.*
According to the National Academy of Sciences, recommended intake levels of calcium are:
1,000 milligrams/day for those age 19 to 50
1,200 milligrams/day for those age 50 or over
1,000 milligrams/day for pregnant or lactating adult women

Milk as a sports drink: Because of its high nutritional content, low fat milk is a great post activity/recovery drink. Often times, to increase carbohydrates and the desire to consume it, low fat chocolate milk is recommended for those not concerned with weight loss.*

Lactose Intolerance: The inability to break down lactose (milk sugar). According to the Mayo Clinic resulting gastro-intestinal discomfort is usually mild. There are reduced lactose dairy products that can be consumed as an alternative.

Hormones: Without getting into a big discussion, with all of the concerns about hormone use in milk production, the preference would be to choose milk products that are hormone free.

So what’s the scoop? For me, I believe that low fat milk is one of those beautiful power foods that more people should enjoy. Low fat, hormone free, for lactose tolerant… Milk, it DOES a body good!
I’d love to hear your feedback and/or answer any of your questions.

Best wishes, Mark
Mark Nutting, CSCS*D, NSCACPT-AR*D
NSCA 2009 Personal Trainer of the Year
Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter

06/06/2010 at 12:13 PM Leave a comment

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