4 Harmful Myths That are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 2

4 Harmful Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 2

By: Ben S. Fogel

There is more questionable advice and so-called “experts” out there in the health and wellness world that want you to subscribe to “their” way of thinking, and that usually fattens their pocketbooks as well.   

We are going to discuss and bust 4 myths that continue to get a lot of  attention in the news media and on the internet.  If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can check out the first 2 myths that we busted HERE.   

Here’s the truth – Currently almost 40% of ALL Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.  This number is set to SKYROCKET to 60% of ALL Americans by 2030 (barely 8 years away!).  I feel so strongly that so much of this has to do with all of the myths that are floating around in the health and fitness industry.  It is our job as professionals to give you the truth, so that is what we will be doing below.  

Here are the final 2 myths below.  

Myth #3 – All Calories are the same

The expression, “A calorie is a calorie,” is one saying that is particularly concerning. 

Outside the context of metabolic health, that may be correct, but it is absolutely misunderstood in the context of human nutrition and certainly in the context of what we do with energy in the body.  Yet people and so-called experts repeat the same harmful “Calories in, calories out” myth. 

By that same logic, you could argue that 2,000 calories of soda pop are treated the same within the body as 2,000 calories of properly balanced macronutrients with a well balanced nutritional plan. One essentially kills the body and makes you fat and sick, while the other sustains life and helps you thrive.

And that saying completely ignores the impact on your body’s systems and hormones.  Hormones, like insulin, have a profound effect on what our body does by way of burning calories, storing calories or even efficiently wasting calories.  

Because Insulin resistance is such a huge piece of this puzzle, I want to share in a nutshell what insulin resistance is, when you may be dealing with it, and how to overcome it.

Insulin Resistance in a Nutshell 

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.  Then, that blood sugar will store as fat, you will feel tired and hungry – then you will rinse and repeat the “insulin resistance” circle above. 

Signs of insulin resistance:

  • A waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
  • Blood pressure readings of 130/80 or higher
  • A fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dL
  • A fasting triglyceride level over 150 mg/dL
  • Fasting insulin greater than 6
  • A HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women

Effective Treatment for Insulin Resistance

Carbohydrates such as simple sugars and grains should be avoided as they stimulate insulin secretion. They should be replaced with higher protein-containing foods and vegetables, as well as good sources of fat (we will discuss more about this below).  Other things to consider to add to help treat insulin resistance:

  • Adequate vitamin D intake
  • Aerobic and resistance training.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been found to be superior to low-intensity cardio.  Also, the form of resistance training we utilize at Epic Fitness is a mix of HIIT as well as what we love to call “Metabolic Resistance Training” or MRT.  
  • Get adequate sleep.  We have our clients aim for 7 hours of sleep per night.  

By consuming the right blend of proteins and healthy fats and limiting simple carbohydrates, you’ll not only have much more sustainable energy, it will help strengthen your immune system, and even aid in gut health and brain health.  Now you can see that your body knows all too well that all calories are not created equal! 

Myth #4 – A low fat diet is best for weight loss

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, there is a good chance that you’ve at least considered a low-fat diet.  In 1977, the US Dietary Guidelines were published without significant evidence from randomized controlled trials and testing.  These guidelines recommended a significant reduction in dietary fat, and thus began the nationwide mentality to fear fat.

People have been told to not eat fats that are clinically shown to be healthy in favor of refined carbohydrates, and the results have been devastating.  Since 1977, the average adult American is nearly 30 pounds heavier; as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.  

Many of you that might be my age may have seen this with your parents.  I sure did.  I was born in 1980, just after these recommendations were made by the US government.  I remember being 10 years old, and eating ALL the carbs with my parents – well, because that was the recommendation, right?!  

The base of the pyramid was “6-11 servings of Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta.”  It is no wonder that my parents were gaining weight.  I may have been lucky to avoid weight gain because my childhood involved running around outside, exploring and building tree houses!  Verses today’s children who are obsessed with playing on their cell phones and iPads instead of playing outside.  As you can see from the original food pyramid, they clearly had it all wrong and it has been disastrous for our society as a whole.

There is overwhelming evidence of the benefits of including fat in your diet for overall health (and not just sparingly as the pyramid suggested!)  

Fats not only help you feel full, they help with brain health, gut health and metabolic health.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy carbs, but you need to realize that you still want to get a majority of your diet to come from essential amino acids (from protein), and essential fatty acids.

Focusing on a wide spectrum of healthy fats from animal sources – like eggs, beef, salmon-  and plant sources – olive, coconut and avocado will keep you satiated for longer periods of time which will lead to less over-eating (which is what got us into the whole mess in the first place!).  

So, the next time you hear anyone tell you that “Your metabolism slows as you age” or that “You can out-exercise that last bad meal” or “All calories are the same” or “You should avoid fats at all costs” please just share this blog with them!  

Are you looking for a team of experts that can help guide you towards better health, one day at a time?  Check out our “30 Day VIP Experience” at Epic Fitness where you will get access to expert training, nutritional advice and support, and the most inclusive environment in the state!

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4 Harmful Myths That are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 1

4 Harmful Health Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic- Part 1

By: Ben S. Fogel

There is more questionable advice and so-called “experts” out there in the health and wellness world that want you to subscribe to “their” way of thinking, and that usually fattens their pocketbooks as well.    

This very binary “This is bad, this is good” thinking when it comes to your health can be really harmful.  There is a great deal of misinformation out there.  Some of it is from simple misunderstanding, and some of it is willful deception to push an agenda, but almost all of it has absolutely no basis in science and facts.  

We are going to discuss and bust 4 myths that continue to get a lot of  attention in the news media and on the internet.  The hope is that you can decipher the truth from the lies and make the best decision for your body and your health.  

The truth of the matter is this – Currently almost 40% of ALL Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.  This number is set to SKYROCKET to 60% of ALL Americans by 2030 (barely 8 years away!).  I feel so strongly that so much of this has to do with all of the myths that are floating around in the health and fitness industry.  It is our job as professionals to give you the truth, so that is what we will be doing below.  

We will discuss the first 2 myths in part one of this series, and the second two myths will be shared in part two. 

Myth #1 – “My Metabolism is slowing down as I age”

Many people believe that as we age, our metabolism (the rate at which we utilize calories for energy) decreases.  Contrary to popular belief, our metabolic rate doesn’t change as we age.  Instead, metabolism is almost always coupled to our body weight. Interestingly, when someone starts to gain weight, their metabolic rate will actually go up. And if they lose weight, their metabolic rate will go down.

Instead of metabolism slowing down, far more people “break” their metabolism by following poor advice, or doing short-term “quick fix” diets and exercise routines.  

There’s a popular weight loss reality show where people starve themselves and exercise like crazy to lose an incredible amount of weight in a relatively short period of time, you have probably heard about it or seen it.  That can certainly work in the short-term, but there’s a reason you never see reunion shows on these weight loss programs – they just don’t work long-term.  

As these people inevitably get back in the real world, they start gaining weight again and their metabolism doesn’t match it. Their metabolism just doesn’t come back up with the incredible yo-yo in body weight.  What happens, you may ask?  They’ve effectively broken their metabolic rate.  How do you “break” your metabolic rate?  Here is a toothpaste analogy to help visualize the concept.

The Toothpaste Analogy

Our bodies are actually highly sophisticated “machines”. When fuel (calories from food) is scarce it becomes more efficient at utilizing the energy it does have.

Think of it this way –  When you open a new tube of toothpaste you use it without any thought, right? You have enough. It’s easy to get out and you go about brushing your teeth effortlessly. But when you get down and low in the tube you have to start to really squeeze it out and you’ll make do with less toothpaste for each brushing. You’re acclimating to the resources you have to get the job done. Our bodies do the same thing with energy.

(This is what “acclimating to our resources” looks like!)

Our bodies are resilient and when energy intake is low it will fight to keep us alive by slowing our metabolism (burning less calories) and ‘holding’ onto energy on our bodies in the form of energy storage (which can lead to weight gain). This is similar to that toothpaste analogy, you use less to do the same amount of work when resources are scarce and want to keep as much toothpaste (energy for your body) in the tube as possible.  

The opposite is also true when you start to come off a diet.  Your body and metabolism can’t adjust to the big swings in the amount of activity, as well as food intake that you are changing in such a short period of time.  

The truth is, the fancy restrictive “diets” and excessive exercise routines that you may have subscribed to have “slowed down” your metabolism – don’t blame this one on your age.  

Myth #2 – Exercise can make up for a poor diet

You may be tempted to buy-in to the idea that a good workout can compensate for a bad diet. That’s simply not the case.  What we like to say at Epic Fitness is: You can’t outtrain or outrun a poor diet.  

To avoid any confusion, at Epic FItness we recommend that everyone should do some form of exercise 5-6 times a week.  This recommendation is less for weight loss than it is for a host of other health benefits including cardiovascular and brain health, as well as your ability to maintain balance as you age, and especially for hormones and proper nutrient absorption.  “Some form of exercise” could literally be to go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride – something that gets the body moving and grooving.  

The real “secret” here though is this: 

The best kind of exercise is the kind you’ll actually do on a regular basis. 

But that doesn’t mean you can outrun, or out-exercise a bad diet—that’s a particularly dangerous myth.  Even the heaviest workouts will only burn a few hundred calories, while eating the wrong kinds of food are not only resistant to being “burned”, they actively encourage your body to store body fat.

If you want to “burn” more calories, you can actually do it more effectively through a proper diet. Your diet likely got you into the shape you’re in, but it also can help get you into much better shape now and in the future. 

Wondering what the final two myths are?  We will share them in part two very soon.  *HINT* It will all have to do with nutrition and a proper diet leading you towards better overall health outcomes.  If that sounds desirable to you, stay tuned!!  

Are you looking for a team of experts that can help guide you towards better health, one day at a time?  Check out our “30 Day VIP Experience” at Epic Fitness where you will get access to expert training, nutritional advice and support, and the most inclusive environment in the state!

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Your Health is your Wealth

With the COVID Delta variant completely taking over in the US, the people at the top seem to be ignoring one of the biggest variables in having a good or a poor outcome with this disease. 

That variable is our overall physical condition.  As a client of ours said recently, “My health is MY wealth!”

Why aren’t we being encouraged to pursue the improvement of our physical condition? ⁣ It’s been almost entirely ignored by all of the “experts” out there.  

Here are the facts on the rise of COVID cases and our risk factors associated with it: ⁣

  • The CDC reports obesity increases risk of hospitalization from covid-19 by OVER 700%⁣
  • Poor cardiovascular fitness is an increased risk factor⁣
  • A study from the University of Virginia found exercise reduces a person’s risk of even contracting covid-19⁣
  • Exercise is known to impact and improve the immune system⁣ in positive ways
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a top cause of death from covid-19. Research has shown that there is an exercise-induced antioxidant that can protect against this⁣
  • There’s now an abundance of evidence that Vitamin D reduces covid-19 infection, severity, ICU admission and mortality⁣
  • Collectively, studies show vitamin D is a far more effective basal covid-19 treatment than any additive pharmaceutical available to date⁣

Maybe this is our fault.  The fault of the fitness professional.  

There’s an overwhelming attitude that we are just about looks or aesthetics.  Fitness has become a synonym to these things.  That we are just about “pecs, guns, butt and leg day⁣.”  

But the fitness profession is about so much more than this.  

It’s about strength, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, mobility, mental health and much, much more.  ⁣

There’s an ABUNDANCE of scientific evidence showing the benefits of exercise on⁣ the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke recovery
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcopenia 

And the mental health benefits of regular exercise?  There is more research in this area now more than ever.  

I’m a cancer survivor who went through over 2 years of chemotherapy and treatment to go into “remission.”  If it wasn’t for fitness, I probably wouldn’t be here.⁣

Yes we can help athletes perform better and people to look better⁣.  

But I truly believe that we do so much more⁣.  We change lives.  We have the ability to reverse health conditions that otherwise destroy the body.   Nearly 40% of American adults aged 20 and over are obese. 71.6% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight, including those that are obese.  These numbers are really unacceptable.  We can do more.  

Exercise is medicine!⁣  But the problem is, it is not the doctor’s job to “prescribe” exercise.  We get it, this is not their “job.”  

This is our “job” – this is our “why.”  

We all have the ability to choose a better health outcome.  Once we realize that it starts with YOU, that is when change can occur.  

I will leave you with this powerful quote from F.M. Alexander:

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and it’s their habits that decide their futures.”  

We all have the power to choose what to do next.  As fitness professionals, we will choose to continue to be the place where our clients improve their health outcomes 1% better than yesterday.  

Ready to decide to make fitness and health a part of your daily habits?  Check out our VIP Experience below to learn how to make your next month your best month of the entire year! 

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Fitness to Finance

From Fitness to Finance

There are 4 simple concepts we are going to talk about today that will help not only your fitness, but also your finance.  Maybe you have heard of some of these concepts, maybe you haven’t.  In any case, when you put these 4 strategies into action some amazing things can happen not only to your fitness and health, but also to your fiscal finance and wealth!

I wrote this after listening to best selling author of “Profit First” Mike Michalowicz speak at a seminar and his turning point in his career was when he learned these 4 concepts!

One of the best things a client ever said to me when he signed on the dotted line to start a membership with us was “I realize now that my health is my wealth!”  Wow!  Now that is a powerful one liner, so powerful it bears repeating:

“I realize now that my health is my wealth”

What he realized was that no amount of money would give him a healthy body or give him the ability to perform at the level that he wanted to perform at.  He knew he would need to work on his physical fitness and improve his health, and that in turn would turn into his newfound “wealth.”

We are going to talk about not only physical wealth but also fiscal wealth and how closely tied together they are in these 4 concepts.  Here is what you can start to incorporate into your life right away that will not only make an impact on your health, but also on your wealth both physically and financially.

Concept #1 – Small Plates

About 200 years ago, our dinner plates were actually the size of a dessert plate (does anybody even have these anymore?!).  In all seriousness, our plate size has over DOUBLED in the last couple of centuries.   Back then, we were taught to “clean off our plate” and that mantra has continued as we grew up and now as we raise our children.

Want the solution?  Use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate is the best way to subscribe to “forced portion control.”  Actually, only have smaller plates in the house.  Then, this really weird thing will start to happen – you will actually start to eat LESS!  This will help us force portion control in the right direction and give us the ability to eat less without even thinking about it, as it is an almost automatic habit you don’t need to put much more thought on once you replace your plates with smaller ones.

In finance, you can do the same thing by controlling the “serving” of cash you have available to use.  By separating the money into “smaller plates” or separate savings or investment accounts, and “carving” out that money before it even hits your primary cash or checking account, you have in essence “paid yourself first”.

Then you will end up with less in your “serving” dish of cash, and that is ok as you will learn how to deal with this very quickly, just like you did with the small plates.  This is also known as “Parkinson’s Law.”  The concept of Parkinson’s law leverages this behavior of being able to “make due with what you got.”  If there is less in your account, you will be forced to spend less and not make those silly purchases!

This is a lot like a tube of toothpaste.  We all have been there before – where we either have a full tube of toothpaste or an almost empty tube of toothpaste.  We will use that toothpaste differently depending on what end of the spectrum we are at!  I love a full tube of toothpaste because I can just lather up that toothbrush with a huge amount and care less (a lot like over-spending when you get a raise/bonus/etc).  I also love working with a smaller tube of toothpaste – it forces me to use muscles that I never knew I had to squeeze out that very last little bit of toothpaste!  Think of your primary account just like this tube of toothpaste – if you are almost out and can’t pay your bills then you can’t afford those things you have been buying!

Concept #2 – Eat your “Vegetables” first!

How do most of us eat dinner?  Maybe if we are out to eat, we may start with an appetizer then move on to the main course, then dessert.  What about at home?  I would always start with the “meat and potatoes!”  In all seriousness, the process is pretty much the same for all of us.  We will almost always start with the most savory, tastiest part of our meal first – then go on to eat the most of that!

What if we didn’t change us, but merely changed the process of how and what we ate first?

What if we ate the vegetables first off of our plate, then we proceeded to the rest of our meal?  This forces us in a good way to eat the most nutritious part of our meal first, and that way we may even be fuller a little sooner once we get to our main part of our meal, maybe even full enough to not even eat dessert!

In finance, the vegetables are the “profit” that we pay ourselves first with, and place in a retirement or savings account.  The saying “pay yourself first” is very true, and taking your profit first is just like eating your vegetables first!

Concept #3 – Remove the temptation!

This may be one of the most undervalued concepts of all.  I have a confession to make – I LOVE chocolate chip cookies!  I know, you may have never believed it with me being a fitness professional and all!  But in all seriousness, I love freshly baked gooey chocolate chip cookies.  I would actually eat them every day if I had them around.

But here’s the secret – I remove the temptation!  I don’t have fresh baked cookies inside my house every day (ok, maybe just on the weekends!)  Here is something that I learned after a very long time:

You can’t use willpower to avoid temptation

If you remove the pure accessibility of whatever item/s it is that you are tempted to eat (mine just happens to be chocolate chip cookies!) you will be 100% less likely to dive into whatever it is that tempts you.  Think “out of site, out of mind.”  Removing the temptation is a powerful thing, since you can’t just count on willpower alone!  

In finance, let’s go back to these “profit” accounts where you pay yourself first.  In order to remove the temptation, we recommend setting up these accounts in a very “inconvenient” place – like a completely separate bank.  This is where it is so hard to transfer any money back, and it removes that temptation to do so.  It is also “out of sight, out of mind.”  This can be a game-changer since you don’t see the account balance daily, and this account will continue to grow and grow without you making the mistake of putting your hand in that damn cookie jar and taking anything out!  I heard a story once of a businessman doing this for about 20 years, and he never checked the balance of this savings account.  After 20 years, he accumulated over 1 million dollars!  Wow, now that is avoiding a lot of temptation!

Concept #4 – Eat 5 meals a day (Or pick a number greater than 1!)

This concept of eating smaller, but more frequent meals during the day does several things.  The most important of which is it regulates your appetite throughout the day, so you don’t have those huge peaks and valleys.  You all know what I am talking about.  It is 3pm and you haven’t had lunch yet.  You are so hungry that you could eat anything in front of you, and what is usually in front of you is a fast food stop!

What if you were able to plan out your main 3 meals of the day, along with a small morning and mid-afternoon snack that was easy enough to take with you (non-perishable) that kept you in sync during the day?  Do you feel like you would be in more control?  The answer is yes.  When we start to split our large meals that we normally only have once or twice a day into smaller more manageable meals (think small plates here) we keep the peaks and valleys at bay.

In finance, there will be peaks and valleys in your income.  By making your savings automatic, and also automating the day these funds get transferred out of your account – like 2 times per month instead of one – you will start to be able to self-regulate your finances much, much easier.  For example, if you wanted to start saving $100/month and that just sounded like such a large amount, what if you were able to break that up into two $50 transfers that occurred on the 10th and 25th of the month?  Would that feel a little less hard and not break the bank?  This concept of splitting up your savings to twice a month can be a game-changer.

Give these 4 concepts a try in your fitness and finance to become more physically and financially free!

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Stop Counting Calories – Part 2

Why you should stop counting calories – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 2 part series on why we should stop counting calories.  In part one found here, we talked more about the history of the calorie and where it came from, and in part two we will discuss why counting calories as the primary means to guide you towards your health goals is misleading you.  

Back in part one, we did a deep dive into the history of the calorie, and how this unit of measurement was born.  Remember the Atwater system?  This system of averages truly ignores the complexities of the human body – especially the human digestive process – and how this plays a HUGE role in actually how many calories you are actually digesting and utilizing from the food you eat.  


The complex world of your digestive tract

YOU are unique, and no one else digests food quite like you.  This is also known as your metabolic fingerprint – the way in which foods interact with your body is a complex process and is completely unique to you.  

The part that is overlooked here is the amount of calories you actually burn when you are digesting the food you eat.  This can be very significant!  As much as you don’t realize it, you DO burn calories just by sitting at the dinner table.  The process of digestion has an energy “cost” – the cost of chewing, swallowing, producing stomach acids and digestive enzymes to break the food down, and then shipping out all of the “metabolic waste” – this all has a metabolic cost and burns a lot of calories.  This takes us into the concept of the thermic effect of food. 

The Thermic Effect of Food

It actually costs calories to absorb calories.  Understanding this will help you understand how much energy it takes your body to break down protein, carbs and fat.  Here are the generally accepted amount of calories it takes to digest certain types of foods:

Protein:  Protein takes the most energy to digest.  With about 20-30 percent of the total calories in protein going straight to digesting it.  

Carbohydrates:  5-10 percent of the total calories in carbohydrates goes into digesting it.

Fat:  0-3 percent of the total calories in fat goes into digesting it.  

Example – You eat 100 calories of protein.  20-30 of those calories are used by your body just to digest the protein!  So, in actuality, you are only receiving 70-80 calories of the 100 calories you just ate from protein.  The reason proteins take ten to twenty times as much energy to digest than fats is because our digestive enzymes must unravel all the tightly wound strings of amino acids from which proteins are built.  

Here’s the thing though, your food label isn’t telling you “Eat more protein, because your body will burn 20-30% more calories from it!!”  You are just supposed to know this, right?  Also, have you noticed why high protein diets tend to work best for fat loss?  Well, now you have a better scientific understanding of why they do.  

Arnold knew it all along!


Whole foods versus processed foods – “You are what you eat!”

I think everybody’s mom said this at one time or another, especially when we weren’t making the “best” nutritional choice.  It’s funny, even as children, we know what foods are good for us, and what foods are considered “treats.”  What is important is even from a young age, we understand the difference.  We get to eat dessert after dinner.  This tradition has been ingrained into most of us for a very long time.  

Well, there is a BIG difference in how we digest whole foods versus processed foods.  In a recent study from the journal Food and Nutrition Research they set out to find the difference in calories absorbed from a meal of “whole foods” versus a meal of “processed foods” that contained the exact same amount of total calories.  The researchers gave healthy test subjects sandwiches of either multi-grain bread and cheddar cheese (this was deemed whole food) or white bread and a processed cheese product (you know, like Velveeta that we grew up with!).  The results they found were pretty shocking.  

Is this “whole food??”

By the end of the study, they found that eating the processed food sandwich led to a 50% reduction in calorie burn after the meal compared to eating the whole food sandwich!  Remember, the two different sandwiches were basically identical in the amount of protein, carbs, fat and total calories – it was merely the difference of the food being heavily processed or not that led to this dramatic difference in whether the calories were going to be stored in the body or burned.  Just think about this study the next time you open a box, can, or bag of processed goodness – there is a reason it tastes so good, and that it is hard to eat “just one!”  These processed foods have been proven to lessen your ability to utilize these calories to be burned and you will be more apt to storing these calories as fat.  

The real takeaway here is that it’s the TYPE of food that you are eating that will have the biggest impact on the net gain of calories you end up burning more than anything else.  


Your Gut Microbiome (“My gut what??!”)

This final piece of the puzzle on why you should not use counting calories to measure your progress is probably the most important one.  Your gut bacteria, or microbiome may play the largest role in how many calories you are actually extracting and getting out of your food.  Did you know – every human being has between 1-2 pounds of microbes living in their stomach!  Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal and we would not be alive without them.  

There was an amazing study by the Weizmann Institute of Science that confirmed there are specific gut bacteria that are more prevalent in people who are overweight.  When they planted these human “fat bacteria” into mice it caused the mice to gain weight, have increased blood sugar, and higher levels of body fat (as well as a big craving for Cheetos – JK!).  In all seriousness though, this is important stuff since the type of gut bacteria you have can make you more or less susceptible to weight gain.  

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed also that the higher diversity of gut bacteria is directly correlated with less weight gain and improved energy metabolism independent of calorie intake and other factors.  This is another perfect example, like above, of how two different people can consume the same amount of calories and how one person gains weight while the other person does not.  If you are wondering how to increase your diversity of gut bacteria, look no further than increasing your food diversity.    


Ending the calorie confusion

I am hopeful that all of this evidence above will serve you well in not having to focus solely on the amount of calories you are eating as a guide for fat loss.  We don’t want you to think that calories have zero significance – it still is a system that offers us some guidance – we just don’t want it to be the only way, because it is far from the only thing that matters.  The main takeaway here is that your body and its digestive process is so unique and complex that you will never truly know for sure how many calories you are eating or absorbing from a certain food.  

In addition to everything we already covered above, your ability to utilize the calories you eat is also influenced by the response of your immune system towards different types of foods (which requires different levels of energy), how much muscle mass you have (because increased muscle mass increases your overall caloric burn – yeah for strength training!). 

Maybe now you can see that counting calories is more overrated than the entire Fast and Furious franchise (no disrespect for The Rock and Vin Diesel, of course).  

You gotta love them!

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Stop Counting Calories – Part 1

Why you should stop counting calories – Part 1 

This is a 2-part series on why we should stop counting calories.  In part one, we will talk more about the history of the calorie and where it came from, and in part two we will discuss why counting calories as the primary means to guide you towards your health goals is misleading you.  

“That [fill in the blank] has too many calories in it!  I can’t eat it, because it must be bad for me.”  

How often have you thought this, or worse yet, said it out loud?  

Our society has been on a kick lately around counting calories for fat loss.  Yes, it is the “socially acceptable” exchange tool that we use to tell us how much energy is in the food we eat, but to learn why we should all stop counting calories we need to learn how the heck (and why) we came up with a calorie as a unit of measure in the first place.  

Benjamin Franklin never said “please pass me those low calorie cookies so I can finish up with these bifocals!”  He never talked about calories, well, because they, like the bifocals were not even invented yet!  

The calorie didn’t even come into existence until the 1800’s, and apparently humans fared pretty well without it.  The calorie wasn’t even originally invented as a measurement tool for food.  Wait, what?!  Yep, that’s right.

Where the heck did the word “Calorie” come from anyway?! 

The calorie was originally used as a measurement tool in physics and engineering and had nothing at all to do with nutritional science.  Here’s the funny part: Nobody truly knows who came up with this unit of measurement, not even the historians of nutrition.  

Despite the confusion over who invented the unit, the calorie as a nutritional unit came to the U.S. by way of an American Chemist  named Wilbur Atwater in 1887. Shortly afterward, the science of nutrition began to take hold in the U.S.

US Popularized the calorie (1918)

A popular early nutrition text published in 1918 by Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters outlined the first methods of counting Calories. In her bestseller, “Diet and Health, with the Key to the Calories”, Peters outlined 100-Calorie portions of many foods and preached counting calories as a way to regulate weight.  This book was a huge hit back then, mainly to women, selling over 2 million copies and it triggered a massive change in societies beliefs about food.  It presented the concept of calorie reduction as the best form of weight loss/watching weight to American women, who were wanting to conform to the new-found body image “thin is in”.  

In her book, Dr. Peters wanted people to start thinking of food merely as calories, and nothing else.  For example, she wrote, “Hereafter you are going to eat calories of food.  Instead of saying one slice of bread, or a piece of pie, you will say 100 calories of bread, (or) 350 calories of pie.”  This shifted food to merely numbers and nothing else, and what a damaging shift it was.  

Even back then, there was no distinction made between the actual quality of the food – it was merely only all about the calories inside the food.  In her system outlined in her book, a person of the same height as her could eat whatever they wanted, as long as they ate a strict diet of 1,200 calories per day.  But how accurate is calorie counting, anyway?  We have to dig in a little deeper to truly understand how this measuring energy works in the first place.

Is a Calorie really a Calorie??

Ok.  Pretend you are alive in the early 1900’s.  This brand new way to measure what you eat is all the talk, so now you better start “watching what you eat!”  

The commonly accepted unit for measuring the energy in food is the calorie.  So how accurate is it, anyways?

Scientifically speaking, a calorie is a unit of energy, just like a foot is a unit of distance.  One calorie is the amount of energy you need to heat up 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  So to measure the amount of calories in food, manufacturers needed to use what is called a bomb calorimeter.  This device is used by placing the food source in a sealed container filled with water.  Then you burn the food with electrical energy until the food completely incenerates, and then they measure the water temperature to see how many degrees it was raised.  Based on how many degrees the water was raised, you can tell how many calories were supplied to do it.  

Now, if you are not too familiar with your body and how it works, it definitely does not incinerate food once it enters your body (as much as it feels this way when I am Hangry, apparently it does not burn up inside me!).  The way your body “burns” food is completely different from how the “bomb.com” calorimeter does it!  One of the other major issues with the calorimeter is that it measures ALL the calories inside each product, but most foods contain indigestible food components (like fiber) that are not burned in the human digestive tract.  But that’s not the only issue…There’s more…

The 1990 Nutritional Labeling and Education Act and the Atwater System

This bill passed in 1990 through congress because of the requirements the government wanted to have on food companies to label all of the nutrients and calories on foods.  So instead of using the bomb calorimeter, since this became a much too tedious way to measure calories for food manufacturers, they switched to a much easier method – The Atwater System – to measure calories.  This is the method that we are all super familiar with, and what I learned back in nutritional science courses back in college as the “end all, be all” for measuring calories in food.  It was the Atwater System that allowed us to do some simple math, and wallah, your calorie count appeared!  

Here are the calculations:

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrates  = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

There you go, apparently that is all that matters!  So, for example if you have one of those yummy bottled “Naked” fruit drinks (great marketing, by the way!) and it has 10 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fat.  Here is our calorie totals – 

Protein- 10 grams x4 = 40 calories

Carbohydrates – 40 grams x4 = 160 calories

Fat – 6 grams x9 = 54 calories

Total Calories for your Naked drink = 254 calories, and that is what goes on the nutritional label.  The calorie and nutritional label on ALL your foods is based on that and that alone.  Now, if only your body was a machine and it took in all of these calories, utilized and “burned” them all, and you continued to eat a perfect balance of “calories in and calories out” and stayed at that ideal weight.  But that is not what happens in the human body, and that is something we will be discussing WHY next.  

Now that we have gone over the history of the calorie, in part 2 of this blog we will go over why using this gross estimate is one of the most misguided and inaccurate measurements you can use.  There is so much more to the story of the calorie and how your body utilizes food for fuel.  Keep an eye out for part two very soon!

Want to learn more about the way we help our Rockstar members with nutrition, with the emphasis on the quality of food over counting calories?  Check out our 30 Day VIP Experience below!  

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How to tackle change

What’s the first thing that happens when we go to start a new routine or habit?  We want to make all the changes overnight!  We want to start that new fitness and exercise routine, start the new diet, get on that new sleep routine – all at once!  Our advice – Shrink the change.  We often bite off more than we can chew when getting started.  You’ll increase your chances of success when you merely focus on less.  How do you know what to focus on first though?  

We love to use this analogy.  Think to yourself:

 What is the ONE thing that if you change would make everything else that you want to change easier or even unnecessary?  

What if you started with drinking just ONE extra glass of water each day?  That would not only help with your hydration, but also your recovery, your sleep, and most likely your satiety.  So often, when we feel hungry, we are actually dehydrated and don’t even realize it until it is too late.  

As another example, say you want to start a new fitness routine.  Would you jump right into 6 days a week training, or would you be ok starting by scheduling 2-3 days a week that you know you could commit to and have live in your calendar as an appointment with yourself (and your coach, ideally!)   

Looking back into the past can give you a lot of insight on how you may have dealt with making bigger changes in your life.  Can you remember as far back to January 1st, 2021? This may have been the day you were going to make that massive shift in your life and start doing (fill in the blank!). 

How is that going for you now? 

In reality, only 7% of people actually stick with their resolutions over the year. The other 93% of us may have bit off more than we could chew. 

By focusing on smaller, more bite size changes over a longer period of time, you will actually see better results! 

Ask yourself, what is the ONE thing I can do successfully over the next 7 days that will get me closer to my goals? 

Can I drink ONE extra glass of water and track it?

Can I cut and slice my vegetables for the week?

Can I schedule my workouts 3 days this week?

Don’t do it all at once, just commit to ONE thing, and see how it goes.

We hope this little bite size tip helps you tackle change by shrinking it down just a little bit.  Want to learn more about how we incorporate these daily habits into a total routine for your mind and body?!  Check out our upcoming 30 day VIP Experience below, where you can get a kickstart to your fitness and your health.

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Steven J. Shares His Epic Journey

We are so excited to be sharing Epic Fitness Rockstar Member, Steven J.’s story.  Steven started with us back in January, 2019.  After completing his first challenge with us, he saw some pretty amazing results losing over 25 pounds of fat in just 6 weeks.  When he returned last fall, his transformation has been nothing short of amazing!  He has officially lost over 100 pounds, and has such an inspiring story to share with all of us! 

Check out Steven’s entire story below! 

Are you in a position where you know you want to make a change with your lifestyle and health, and just don’t know where to start?  We have the perfect solution for you!  Check out our 21 Day Epic Challenge, where you can have access to us, your very own customized program up to 4 days a week!  

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6 Techniques for a Growth Mindset

6 Techniques for a Growth Mindset

By: Ben S. Fogel

There has been so much talk lately about the “growth mindset.”  A lot of this has been due to a landmark book on the subject “Mindset” by Carol Dweck.  The author does an amazing job describing the growth mindset, the fixed mindset, and how you can re-train your brain out of one mindset and into another.  But before we start talking all about the “growth mindset” I feel it is important to define both the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  

In the fixed mindset, you believe that your traits are “fixed.”  Therefore, no matter how hard you work at something or how much effort you give, your traits (intelligence, athleticism, fill in the blank) will not change.  

The growth mindset is believing that you can grow your abilities – that’s really the best way to put it, and the way Carol Dweck, Author of “Mindset” defines the growth mindset.  You can grow your abilities and change, adapt and get better.  Your intelligence is not fixed, and neither is your ability to learn and improve in any part of your life. 

John Wooden, long time UCLA basketball coach was known to have very much a growth mindset.  He actually came up with the idea of the “holy grail” of the growth mindset being the culmination of these 2 things: 

Full preparation and full effort  

As John Wooden once famously said:

”You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better.  By applying yourself to the task of being a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”  

With this idea in mind of getting just “a little bit better” each and every day, if you take this into action and get 1% better each day on anything in your life, by the end of the year you will become 37 times better!  There are 6 techniques to cultivating a growth mindset I want to share below that I truly feel will help you get 1% better every day! 

1. Stop Failing and Start Learning – You didn’t “fail”, you merely figured out a path that did not work this time around.  Instead of looking at failure as a dead end, look at it as a clue that will lead you to a different path on how to do something.  

As an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”  When you start to look at failure as another step into the right direction, you will start to make some positive progress.  

2. You don’t need others’ approval, you need their criticism – Don’t put praise ahead of the ability for you to learn from criticism.  One of the best ways to do this is to actually ask for feedback.  This is a skill we never learned in school, but that is so valuable in the workplace, or in your relationship.  An example I will give as a business owner is after a meeting, I will often ask my employees, “what could I have done better in this meeting?”  If you are not asking for feedback, it is really hard to cultivate an environment of learning and growth.  

3. Track your progress with a journal – Vividly describing your goals on paper is one of the best ways to really know if you are making any progress at all.  A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.  

In fact, you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis. It has to do with how our brains work. When you write things down, you’re activating both parts of your brain, the imaginative right hemisphere, and the logic-based left hemisphere.  When is the last time you wrote your goals down?  If the evidence says you are almost 50% more likely to achieve your goals by merely writing them down, I would start there!  

4. Focus Inwardly and not on your image – The last thing you need is other peoples validation to achieve your goals.  Don’t wait for others to validate your success, just start taking one step at a time on all the things you can control.  Albert Einstein himself insisted that, “he had not been born with any special gift.” All children are “gifted” for nothing in particular; they are gifted for “everything.” Children who believe that talent and intelligence are made, not born, get better results in every part of life, and this starts at a young age realizing that your traits are not “fixed.”  

5. Learn from the mistakes of others
– There is an old saying that “success leaves clues” – it is also true that mistakes leave clues as well!  These mistakes are what kept the successful to continue to learn and grow.  Learning from the mistakes that other people make before you will fast track your success by not making the same mistakes.  Oftentimes though, we sometimes only look at the success of people, and not the mistakes or failures.  Remember, mistakes leave clues, too!  

6. Practice Gratitude – I know this may be one of the most cliche terms over the past few years, but practicing gratitude daily can give you some of the most rewarding, positive energy for a very small investment of your time and energy.  By merely writing down one thing you are grateful for each day, you are delivering a positive thought into your mind and starting your day with positivity, not negativity.  Negativity leads to the fixed mindset, while positivity leads to the growth mindset.  Here is a little something I started to write every day:

Today can be better than yesterday.  I have the power to make it so.  From positivity and attitude grows perseverance.  Perseverance by definition makes me unstoppable!

Start with just one of these 6 techniques that will help you cultivate a growth mindset.  Want to join us for the next 3 weeks to cultivate a growth mindset in all the things you can control with your health, wellness and happiness?  Check out our next round of our Epic 21 Day Experience here:

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TIME – How to make the most of it

By: Ben S. Fogel

Time is our most valuable non-renewable resource.  Why does it feel like time melts away most days? 

Most people fail with time management because they don’t know or frankly realize how much time they waste.  

A typical smartphone user checks his or her phone 2,617 times every day, according to a study by the research firm D Scout.  

Yes, you heard that right!  That eats up 90 minutes per day wasted on your phone, or 23 days per year.  

What about Television usage?  The average American watches an average of 33 hours per week watching TV!  According to Neilsen, the average American spends 11 hours per day watching or interacting with media.  If you are wasting a majority of your waking hours on external media, and you are having a hard time “finding time” for other things, like taking time to take care of yourself – it may be time to audit your day.  

Bill Gates is never late to a meeting.  When asked, he said:

“Because time is THE ONE finite resource I can’t buy more of.”

The old proverb “time is money” isn’t really true.  Time is worth so much more than money.  Time is, literally your life.  What you do with your time directly correlates with your quality of life.  

Your tomorrow actually starts the night before.  Instead of staying up late worrying about your never ending “to-do” list, putting together a plan for how you will win the day tomorrow helps you close all the open tabs in your brain.  

Here are 3 tips I have to help you shape your best tomorrow.

1. Write out your “to-do” list the night before

But instead of just writing down all the things, capture them as either “primary” projects or tasks that absolutely need to get done tomorrow, or as “secondary” tasks – these are all your things you can quickly go through and “check off” your list when done, like grabbing the groceries, dry cleaning, or sending that email.  

2. Place your primary and secondary items in your calendar

Remember, the project or task will NOT get done unless it lives in space and time.  Make sure to actually schedule a time for it to get completed during your next day.  This is SO important.  This is often overlooked and you think, “I will just get it done tomorrow at some point” then it gets missed, forgotten or overlooked.  

Make sure to place it in your schedule just like it is an important meeting with a co-worker or client.  

3. Always overestimate the amount of time you think it will get something done.  

As humans, we are horrible at estimating how much time it takes to do things.  What I like to do is overestimate the amount of time a project takes.  Then, if I finish it early, I can give myself a big pat on the back and feel good that I have completed something early!  Also, if you have a project you know that will take more than one sitting (more than 1 hr) make sure you block out that time over the course of the week or month. 

Controlling your time will lead to so much more positive things in your life.  One being having the time to take care of yourself!  Are you ready to take the time for you, and control your health?!  We would love to be in your corner.  We have 3 more spots for our May 21 Day Challenge!  Learn more and sign up below:

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