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One Step at a Time

One Step At A Time

Chris Bathke, MA CSCS

http://www.elementalfitnesslab.com


How many of you enjoy multi-tasking? If not then why not?

It may have to do with the fact that juggling multiple thoughts and actions is stressful, and likely means we'll do a poorer job of it. Yeah yeah... try telling that to your boss I know. But it's a fact. Recent books on efficiency that I've seen all seem to touch on the subject of setting aside chunks of time to do only e-mail, then a time for filling out the TPS reports, of whatever it might be. Point being they figured out what your Grandmother considered common sense.

Over the past year I've been learning and refining my approach to coaching nutrition, and many of the smartest people in that field, such as Dr. John Berardi, have incorporated knowledge from behavioral psychology and experts in neurological sciences. And what many of them say regarding the way we eat, and most other behaviors, is that habit is a big deal.  We tend to eat the same things week after week and get accustomed to certain things, and when we alter that pattern what happens? We crave.

So what happens when what we are used to, what we habitually eat makes us fat and unhealthy?


effective habits

Some time back I came across an interview with Charles Duhigg, a writer that just published a book called The Power of Habit. His work centers mostly on exploring the science of how habits are formed and changed for success in business, but in it he references studies regarding how people turned their lives around by altering, among other things, what they ate.

Among other things neurologists noted in studying the brain activity of subjects that you can apply to nutrition and fitness is this:

1. Changing one habit makes it easier for the brain to accommodate other subsequent changes.  In other words quitting smoking will make it likelier that next month you'll have better success at stopping the nightly Oreo binge.

2. Change one habit at a time.  Attempting to change more than 1 habit at a time will decrease the chance of it sticking, as the brain will want to fall back into old stable patterns, which demands less energy from the brain.

3. Our brains like to bundle actions together, which is known as "chunking".  These chunks of actions quickly become routine, then habit.  So if you come home from work everyday tired and reach for the cookies or wine your brain, partly in an effort to save energy, will group those actions together so that pretty soon you will crave that wine every night. Before long you notice your pants are fitting a little tighter.

If we want to reverse habits such as snacking at night, according to science, and my experience helping hundreds of people drop fat, it's best to alter one thing at a time. Say for example deliberately stopping having wine each night but not changing what you eat or anything else. Just focus on not having wine and having water or tea instead during the week.  After a few weeks it will get easier and pretty soon you won't miss it as much. You might still want it, and science shows that urge might never completely go away, but keep your attention on that one thing until it's not a big deal. Then focus on the next thing.

The same lessons apply to fitness of course in that everyone who has ever spent time on an online fitness forum has seen dozens of questions from people who are trying to improve their running while improving strength while wanting to do Olympic lifting. If you need to improve your strength then do that. Later on you may be ready to work on endurance and so on.  Whether or not they know what will really work to improve each quality is another matter, and why smart people read hire me to help them ;)

None of this is new of course. A couple thousand years ago Lao Tzu famously said "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

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Tips for Holiday Fat Loss

 


Posted by Chris Bathke, December 12th, 2011

 

 


‘Tis the season for holidays parties and all the assorted sugar bombs and alcohol that cause millions of people to make that New Year resolution to exercise more and eat better this year. And this time they really, really mean it.

 

Now we all know prevention is the best medicine, so none of you are going to fall into that old pattern right? I thought so.

 

Regardless, I’m going to provide you with a few strategies to make it through the Holiday season without having to buy bigger Santa pants.

 

#1. You don’t have to eat that cookie or have that drink. (Channeling Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting here) You really don’t – it is completely up to you, and only you. The only people to judge you for not double fisting the eggnog are really just jealous of your self control anyway, so go ahead and show them. And come summer you can really show them when it’s time to break out the swimsuit.

 

#2. Pre-eat. Have a small meal, or even dinner before hitting the Christmas party so that you are less likely to start eyeing the trays full of sugary goodies. Eating something healthy beforehand will also reinforce a positive mental state and leave you less likely to over-indulge.

 

#3. Exercise before the party. Because nobody is going to exercise after, and by getting in a workout beforehand will help raise your metabolism and normalize your insulin levels just in case a couple cookies somehow make it past your defenses. Exercise will also put you in a healthier state of mind. In fact get some exercise everyday during December

 

#4. Be mindful of how full you are, and mindful of what you eat. In doing so you might just notice that you really aren’t hungry or thirsty at all. To steal a line from Michael Pollan if you aren’t hungry enough to eat an apple then you aren’t hungry. And if you are then eat an apple. Feeling better about yourself and knowing you are in control of your urges is far more satisfying than any sweet. Sounds corny but it’s absolutely true.

 

#5. Before having any alcohol drink a full glass of water. This way you won’t be thirsty enough to drain the glass quite so fast, and you’ll be better hydrated. If you end up having a second drink then finish another full glass of water first.

 

Read more tips at http://www.elementalfitnesslab.com

 

 

Chris Bathke
Elemental Fitness Lab
11 NE Hancock St.
Portland, OR 97212
503-281-0105
http://www.elementalfitnesslab.com

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Chris Bathke & Elemental Fitness Lab

Chris Bathke and Elemental Fitness Lab were recently showcased on KPTV's Good Day Oregon. Stephanie Kralevich spends time with Chris going over some effective core training techniques in these interesting and very useful videos. Watch them here:

http://bit.ly/p5iDok

http://bit.ly/sk9XUA

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Inefficient Exercise for Fat Loss


Article Posted by Chris Bathke, September 13th, 2011

 

exercises at elemental Way back in June my last article on fat loss addressed the topic of why having more muscle is helpful in dropping fat. And while many of you have probably heard that before, today’s topic is one that at first glance appears counter-intuitive.

There is a saying among fitness professionals that the best exercise program for you is the one you are currently not doing. What we mean is doing movements that you are not used to will be harder, and therefore likely result in greater stimulus to your muscles and result in increased caloric expenditure.

This is why those 60 minute cardio classes stop working after a few weeks. Your body adapts pretty quickly to whatever it is that you do if you do it enough. It’s also why most people tend to gain weight when training for a marathon or triathlon, and why the stereotype of the overweight aerobics instructor exists. The human body is highly adaptive to repeated stresses and will accommodate a high volume of endurance exercise with limited body composition changes.

When training someone specifically for fat loss I will have them do exercise patterns that are fundamental, but also movements which may be unfamiliar. In a few weeks time the person will inevitably get better and stronger at doing that particular movement, so we modify the exercise, or change the exercise altogether to avoid the effect of diminishing returns and keep the results coming.

Keep in mind however that for someone looking to improve sport performance the goal should be to maximize movement efficiency. Runners need to perfect their mechanics and become as smooth as possible. In doing so however that person would like see fewer body composition improvements. Running burns calories, sure, but the more you run the better your body gets at it and the less calories you will burn given the same intensity and duration.

Combining the idea of “inefficiency” into resistance training, which as noted in previous articles is superior to endurance training for fat loss, the use of what we call “metabolic circuits” is highly effective. What this means is putting 2 up to sometimes 5 exercises together in a circuit where the goal is to do a little more work than the previous time, or use a little more weight than last time.

The effect of doing slightly more over a period of a few weeks results in you getting stronger, and by using proper and safe technique also moving better. The trick is of course that by the end of the month those exercises probably no longer work quite as well because you are now more efficient at them and it is time to switch exercises.

Another benefit of this type of metabolic training is improvements in conditioning. Our members often come back reporting of having crushed their best 5KM run time or their favorite tough hike is now considerably easier. Not a benefit while the primary goal is losing fat and feeling better!

 

 

Chris Bathke
Elemental Fitness Lab
11 NE Hancock St.
Portland, OR 97212
503-281-0105
http://www.elementalfitnesslab.com

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Exercise and Fat Loss Confusion


Posted by Christopher Bathke, on June 2nd, 2011

 


The subject of exercising for fat loss is wrought with misinformation, and ridiculous claims. Many that come in to Elemental Fitness Lab with the goal of losing weight have tried all sorts of protocols, which obviously haven’t worked or they wouldn’t be talking to me.

 

In order to clarify what works and what doesn’t we need to look at physiological principles. Keep in mind that we are setting nutrition aside for the moment.

 

To get the body to change it must be taken out of homeostasis, which means there must be enough consistent demands placed upon it so as to cause adaptation. In other words being concerned only with burning calories is insufficient. We need to consider the role of metabolism.

 

Have you ever noticed that in general sprinters have lower body fat levels and are more “toned” than distance runners? In part this is because sprinters have more muscle, which results in a higher resting metabolic rate. Calories are utilized to maintain lean tissue, so it is easier to maintain lower body fat levels the more muscle one has.

 

This is why jogging or other steady state cardio alone doesn’t work very well. Our bodies adapt to such low intensity efforts fairly quickly so that while there may be some initial change, in order to continue seeing results one would have to keep running further each successive week.

 

Instead we need to look at ways of exercising that creates a higher metabolic demand. Resistance training is the most time and energy efficient way of doing this. What this means is doing a program that gradually and safely increases strength and anaerobic capacity.

 

Keep in mind that strength does not equal getting bigger. Of the hundreds of people I have trained over the years all that have gotten leaner also got stronger at the same time.

 

In the next article I’ll discuss the importance of metabolic conditioning for fat loss.

 

Chris Bathke
Elemental Fitness Lab
11 NE Hancock St.
Portland, OR 97212
503-281-0105
http://www.elementalfitnesslab.com

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