The One Lifehack that Will help you Eat Less (without dieting!)

I’m a clean plate eater. Have been that way since I was first able to eat without my mom having to make airplane noises while feeding me. Coming from a Latino family, eating EVERYTHING in front of you is expected (you can seriously catch some hell if you don’t finish!) While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this mindset (who wants to waste good when people are starving elsewhere?), but if you couple this with our tendency to eat fast, it can easily do damage to your waistline. I know, if I feel like it and it’s in front of me, I could eat an entire Dominoes pizza quick, just because it’s there and I feel hungry.

Have you ever been so hungry that you grab the easiest meal you can get your hands on, scarf it down and feel bad about it afterwards? Worse yet, do you feel hungry about an hour later? They say that it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. So here’s my lifehack to help you listen to your stomach, feel fuller, and eat less. Benefit: It could help you lose weight and keep it off.

Here’s how to get started with the 20 Minute Rule today:

-Set aside the time to eat your food. The rule here, of course, is 20 minutes. If you’re crunched for time, say, at work (15-30 minute break only) try to prepare your food ahead and you won’t have to worry about the hassle of going out to grab something.

– On your phone, set the timer for 20 minutes (Pro tip: Start the timer AFTER you Instagram your food)

– Once the timer’s set, EAT. Important: Chew slowly, and savor the flavor of the food. Put the fork/spoon down every so often. (Pro tip #2: Take a deep belly breath every so often. You’d be surprised how that can make you feel fuller faster.)

The MOST important part to doing this successfully: There must either still be food on your plate when the timer goes off, or you’re just about finished with the entire meal. If you have leftovers, great! Save it for later (can you say “budget hack“?)

There you have it. An easy rule of thumb that you can start doing today to feel fuller longer and potentially lose weight. No diet added here.

To your health and wellness,

Martin Arroyo, CPT

You are what you pee (well, sort of)

You are what you pee. Kind of. It’s something we normally do without a second thought every day.  Into the bowl it goes and we flush it away. Hold off on flushing for a second though, because your pee can actually give you some insight on your health.

What you want to take note of when you’re checking your urine is its color. Normally, it should be a yellow/gold color. When it’s a light yellow color, it usually means you’re well hydrated and good to go! The darker the yellow typically the more you’ll want to hydrate (drink water and maybe cut back on the caffeine.) On the flipside, if your urine is completely clear and you’re running to the bathroom often, you might be overhydrated and may want to cut your fluid intake back a bit.

Now, sometimes your urine might be a different color. Here are some colors you should take note of and what they may potentially indicate:

Orange – It’s typically a sign of dehydration, but could also mean that you’ve consumed a lot of orange foods like carrots or squash, or had some food with orange food coloring. It can also look like that right after exercise. The darker the orange, the more dehydrated you are. Perhaps you should drink some more water.

Brown – This is usually an indicator of intense dehydration, but could also mean you ate some fava beans. It could also signal a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or kidney stones. If your urine looks like this often, consult a physician.

Green- Pretty rare, but this could mean that you have an unusual UTI or you had an excessive amount of asparagus. It’s usually nothing, but if it persists see a doctor.

Red – This could mean that you have blood in your urine, or that you ate a lot of beets, blueberries other red colored food (or foods with red food dye). If you suspect that it may be blood, consult a doctor immediately.

Black – Not a good sign at all. See a doctor immediately.

There you have it! A short guide on what your pee can tell you. Next time you go, take a closer look to see what your pee says about your health!

For hydration’s sake, here is a handy urine color chart taken from www.navyfitness.org:

The Scale: Friend or Foe?

 

It was the summer of 2010. I was looking better, getting tons of compliments and feeling pretty good. But I wasn’t satisfied. I had set a goal for myself to drop 100 lbs. I was 10 lbs shy of reaching my goal, but a whole month went by with no movement on the scale. It constantly read between 260 and *gasp* 263! After having experienced consistent weight loss over a period of about 8 months, I finally hit a plateau – the number on the scale would NOT budge. I was still doing everything right – eating well, staying within a reasonable amount of calories for the day, running 3-4 days per week, hydrating, but I wasn’t dropping any more weight. I was starting to get frustrated and a bit depressed. Success started to feel like it was out of reach.

Then I started to think, “Hey, aren’t my clothes fitting better? I’m still getting compliments, and people tell me all the time that I look great. Why am I so worried about a number?” Why? Well, because I used it as the ONLY yardstick to measure my success and progress. No weight loss as per scale = failure. And that wasn’t healthy for my body or my mind.

So when you’re faced with the same issue (and if you’re looking to lose or gain weight, you will likely encounter this) what should you do? Here’s what I did to get the ball rolling again:

Find other metrics – I started using a tape measure to check my waist size and chest size. I found that I was actually trimming down still, but perhaps was retaining lean muscle (a good thing!) I also put more emphasis on how my pants and shirts fit, and how well I was able to do workouts (was I able to increase my reps, intensity? Did it feel a little easier than last week?)

Keep using the scale, but use it consistently – Personally, I weigh myself on my scale EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Yes, I have my scale in the same spot in my room, and I weigh myself there every morning right after I use the bathroom and shower. Here’s the thing: I don’t move the scale from that spot! It’s always there. I don’t weigh myself at other times during the day. Consistency in all aspects of weighing yourself is key, because any deviation can and may lead to a different figure. I also don’t take this number THAT seriously anymore. Understand that IT WILL FLUCTUATE from day to day. I have learned to use it as a guideline, not a test.  Weighing yourself every day like I do may not work for you. Maybe every other day or every week will work better. Find what works, where it works, and what time it works and stick to that. If you forget to do it one day, wait until the next scheduled time to weigh yourself.

In the end, it’s how you feel that matters – Once I started to let go of my intense focus on the number and move towards how I was feeling, I started changing some things up. I felt stronger, so I increased the intensity of my workouts a bit. I was a little hungrier and actually ate a little more. I shook things up because it felt good and I felt good. And guess what? The number started moving again. I reached my goal.

Stepping on to the scale can be a mortifying experience for some people, but just keep in mind that it’s truly just a number – a measurement – and not a test. It doesn’t determine how successful you have been in your efforts or how successful you will be. After all…

Hope this helped ease the anxiety of stepping on the scale and provided some insight on getting past a plateau. I’d love to hear suggestions for future posts, so please comment below and let me know your thoughts.

~Martin Arroyo, CPT

It’s official! I’m a Certified Personal Trainer!

When I started this blog about 3 months ago, I was just starting my studies for the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Personal Trainer Certification. I’m ecstatic to announce that, after 3 months of studying and learning tons of new things, I’m officially a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT)!

NESTA

So I have my flashy, new certification, and some newly acquired knowledge… now what? Well, I’m far from being a guru, but I plan on continuing to expand my knowledge through new certifications, reading, and learning more so I can share with all of you!

I’ll be posting more about my personal training philosophy, policies, rates and everything else fairly soon. Also, keep an eye out for a review of the NESTA certification and exam (especially for those of you looking to get into personal training.)

I am taking suggestions on topics that you would like to read about – absolutely anything related to health and fitness, motivation, losing weight, etc. I ‘d be happy to address – and, if I don’t know the answer I WILL FIND OUT FOR YOU! 

Hit the comment box below with your suggestions and thanks for reading!

-Martin Arroyo, CPT

 

Use Your Phone to Lose Weight!

Disclaimer: I am not a Registered Dietician or health professional. The advice in this article is not meant to be used in place of a consultation with a practicing health professional. You should always seek medical approval before beginning any weight loss or exercise regimen.

Believe it or not, you can use your phone to lose weight! No, I’m not going to reveal some study that says texting burns calories, an hour of Candy Crush is equivalent to a 30 minute run, or anything like that (although I wish this was true!) There are some apps, though, that you can use to track the amount of calories that you take in to help you lose weight (or gain weight, if that’s what you want.)  Tracking my daily caloric intake using my phone is one of my secret weapons in the fight to stay trim.

Why should I track my calories? How is that going to help me?

One of the very basic principles of weight loss is what we call “calories in vs. calories out.” In order to drop weight, we have to burn more calories than we consume each day. Many people don’t know how many calories they consume each day, while others may think they have a good idea how much they’re eating. The only way to tell for certain is to keep a food diary, which means tracking everything you eat and drink each day. It can be an eye-opening experience for sure, as many people don’t really know how much they actually eat during the course of the day. Tracking your calorie intake is extremely helpful for weight loss, because knowing how much you’re consuming each day is one of the first steps in determining how much you may need to cut back.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Your phone can be a big help for you here! Hands-down, my favorite fitness/nutrition app is MyFitnessPal. I discovered this FREE application about 3 years ago, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone looking to lose weight.

MyFitnessPal

**Note** I’ll be going more in-depth on how to use the app and maximize your weight loss with it in a future post. For now, this is a basic overview.  

Available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry, MyFitnessPal allows you to track your daily calories, exercise, and fitness progress. You start off by setting your own weight loss goals, to a maximum pace of 2.5 lbs per week. Once you complete your initial profile (height, weight, age, activity level, etc.) MyFitnessPal calculates the amount of calories you should take in each day. After maybe a total of 5 minutes time, you’re ready to start truly watching what you eat!

One of the things that make MyFitnessPal really convenient is its huge database of foods. Simply type in the name of the food/product that you’re about to eat, and chances are it’s in the database. If it is, all you have to do is find the food/product that matches or most closely resembles what you’re eating, click add, and voila – The food is added to your diary AND the amount of calories from it are deducted from your daily total, giving you the number of calories that you have left to consume for the day. The Android and iPhone versions offer a label scanner option as well – simply scan the label of whatever food you’re eating and it is inputted to your diary automatically (as long as it’s in the database.)

If you exercise (and you should!), MyFitnessPal can help you keep track of your workouts and even give you an estimate on how many calories you burned. What’s better is that it adds the number of calories burned to your daily total, to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition and energy.

Finally, the app also helps you keep track of your total weight loss by allowing you to “check-in” as frequently (or infrequently) as you want. Simply input how much you weigh on a given day and MyFitnessPal keeps track of it for you. You can even go back and look at the reports it generates to show you how much weight you have lost over a given period of time.

Here’s my personal MyFitnessPal badge to show off a part of the weight tracking feature:

MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter

While there are many good fitness apps out there, for the purposes of tracking calories and progress I think MyFitnessPal “takes the cake” (and tells you how many calories are in it too!) The user interface is simple, straightforward and very easy to use – even for those who aren’t very tech-savvy.  Whether you integrate it into your daily life, like I do, or use it briefly just to get a clearer picture of your eating habits, it is well worth keeping a food diary. MyFitnessPal just makes the process a lot easier, and you can’t beat the price! Funny how our phones can almost do anything now, huh?

~Martin, CPT

Do you use any fitness apps that you would like to recommend as well? Would you like me to check one out that you’ve heard of, but aren’t sure how to best utilize? Hit the comments section below. Any and all feedback is welcome and greatly appreciated!

Related Reading:

Chicago Tribune: Baltimore Health Experts Share Their Picks for Best Fitness Apps