Category Archives: health

Trying to stay hydrated

I’ve been trying to drink more water and have been tracking with an app. Funny what it shows. Monday and Tuesday off to a good start. Then less and less each day of the week. My goal is 80 ounces a day. I have a lot of work to do with this habit. I have to maintain the motivation I have at the beginning of the week, when I try to “start again.”

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80/20 Rule to Diet and Weight Loss

The 80/20 rule is a rule of thumb that states “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

It can be applied to so many things. Marketing, advertising, production, etc.

And no doubt diet, exercise, and weight loss.

There is so much static and noise in the health and fitness community that it’s hard to sort out truth, fiction, lies, hopes, proof, deception, exaggeration, marketing, etc.

Arguments are made and defended where shades of gray are made black and white for the sake of defending one’s own opinion. Cults form. Paleo, Crossfit. Dogmas form. Intermittent fasting, low carb, slow carb.

There are also pros and cons to everything. Not everything is perfect and there probably isn’t anything that’s entirely bad (besides disorders like anorexia and bulimia). Paleo isn’t the only way to go.

Take for example the debate over calorie in and calorie out. That’s simply a weight loss method that says to lose weight you must consume less calories than you burn. There are opponents who dispute it, with the focus of their argument turning to an exaggerated hypothetical of someone consuming all of their “deficit” calories from Twinkies or Skittles. Strawman anyone?

For weight (and fat) loss, does calorie in / calorie out work? Indisputably yes.

Is it PERFECT? No, nothing is.

Is that the only variable? No, you should also make the calories you consume all healthy calories. You should also exercise, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, etc.

For weigh (and fat) loss, what 20% effort provides 80% of results?

  • Calorie deficit (moderate is healthier than drastic)
  • Eat plenty of vegetables (and a variety)
  • Cut out all added sugar
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise moderately
  • Don’t be afraid of healthy fats

On the flip side, what 80% effort provides 20% of results?

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Eating more smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Meditarrinian diet, South Beach diet, {insert fad} diet
  • CLA
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract
  • Raspberry Ketones
  • Excessive exercise
  • Garcinia Cambogia
  • x% fat, x% carbs, x% protein
  • Broscience
  • millions of other nutty suggestions, gimmicks, etc.

Also, the 80% effort stuff will lead to futility without first taking care of the 20% that drives the most change.

I’ve documented the healthy living part of healthy weight loss methods on my healthy living checklist:
http://mattsoreco.com/healthy-living-checklist/

Here is a great article to help sniff out fads and psudo-science:
http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2011/05/how-to-spot-bad-science-and-fads.html

Training and Healthy Living Update

It’s been a while since I posted an update. Like previous years, I slacked off again the last winter and put some weight back on. I didn’t slack so much in my diet than I did activity level. But looking back a little further, I did kind of mail it in from the end of 2011 through the beginning of 2013.

I didn’t slack on my tracking however. I’m a quantified self‘ers dream. I have my weigh loss down to a science, where I can dial it up or down. I wish I could do the same with winter motivation.

Now I’m back on track in a really good way. I think I finally put everything together diet wise–as far as restricting what’s bad and eating a lot that’s good, not just restricting calories. This includes a good balance of carbs, fat (yes fat!) and protein. More than enough veggies. The newest revelation to me was that in the past my diet was too fat-phobic. Fat (healthy fat) is good for so many reasons.

I’ve been sticking to my original (yet ever evolving) healthy living checklist:
http://mattsoreco.com/healthy-living-checklist/

I have a hot and cold relationship with jogging. I’ve done the C25K year after year. I unenthusiasticlly got most of the way through the program before deciding to hit the elliptical at the gym instead. That’s where I’ll be doing cardio until jogging starts appealing to me some more. It’s good I’m getting to the gym, which I’ve been paying for anyway. This year, I want to finally get resistance training and hiit incorporated. Those have eluded my since day 1. I need the gym for the weight training.

You can see where I was 4 years ago. Although I did have ups and downs, the net continued to be lower. I was very close to my goal in 2011. I’m well on my way now. Actual weight withheld until goal met.

yoyo

Smoothie Recipe – The Staple 4.0.1.2.3.5.12.387

Joking about the version number. I’ve switched this up so many times that I’ve lost track.

I’ve been drinking this one (and slight variations) the last few weeks:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1 scoop unflavored whey isolate
  • 1/2-1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2-1 cup strawberry, raspberry, blackberry mix
  • 1 cup steeped matcha green tea
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Sometimes kale.
  • Sometimes a tablespoon coconut oil.
  • Sometimes handful of almonds.
  • Sometimes some cucumber.
  • Sometimes some celery.
  • Sometimes some broccoli.
  • Sometimes some chia seeds.
  • Sometimes some carrot.

I’ve switched from taking the veggies raw to steaming most of them. Cooked/steamed veggies are a little easier to work with plus reduces the oxalate level.

Another winter, another season of inactivity. Luckily each winter (of inactivity) I never put everything back on. But… Here we go again.

I’ve updated my “YoYo Graph.”

yoyo

First 10 Day Challenge Down, Another to Begin

My first 10 Day Challenge was “to eat/drink pristinely for 10 days.” I think I did well. “Pristine” can be left up to interpretation, but in honestly I didn’t mess up. Well other than taking 2 bites of cake at a birthday party. I SWEAR it was more not to be rude than for the love of the cake. Really. No REALLY! Other than that, there was no other cake, candy, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Nothing fried. Nothing “bad.” It felt good and it wasn’t too hard. I had been slipping here and there previously. I hope those 10 days jump-start better habits.

My second 10 day challenge would be kind of embarrassing if I hadn’t seen so many others have trouble with and try to overcome the same (through resolutions or challenges, etc.). It’s… Get this… Drink more water!!!

I can’t believe I  need to be more mindful of this. On an average day, I don’t drink enough water. I don’t know what it is. I know proper hydration is beneficial for so many things. Overall health, weight loss, brain function, athletic performance, etc.

So, today is day 1 of drinking at least 60oz of water a day!

 

Tea Steeping Times and Temperatures

I’ve gotten into drinking tea 1) for health benefits and 2) to reduce the caffeine consumption I was getting from my abuse of coffee. Plus I’ve gotten to really like the taste of some and like taste testing various blends.

Here is a handy guide to steeping times and temperatures.

tipsheet_tea_chart

Healthy Living, Phased Approach

So people have been asking me what my secrets are in losing so much weight this year. I was going to write out a similar post at some point anyway, but it’s now time. That’s because it’s difficult to explain how I did what I did seemingly effortlessly (and surely healthily). My healthy living checklist wasn’t checked off all in one day. Maybe I’ll refer them to this post.

What I mean is if I explained to anyone a-z what I have done, cumulatively it’s a lot to digest, confusing, and perhaps intimidating. I would not have succeeded if I had thrown all of the changes I incorporated all at one time. For one it would be frustrating as it’s a lot to think about. Also, I think physiologically things more naturally fall into place the way I phased things in. For example, my body might not have been ready for “phase 5” things in the beginning.

Still, this might not work for everyone.  Everyone’s fitness levels, body composition, and a million other factors can differ from me. But there should be no debate on the foundation, which is eat very healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Also, I never had a real tough time eating too much cake, candy, cookies, chips, etc., which should be at the top of the list for anyone.

There are debates out there about long slow cardio vs. shorter and higher intensity cardio. I actually favor high intensity, but that depends on where you are starting. It’s easy for an in shape fitness guru to push high intensity. Plus considerations on growth hormone and testosterone levels are really next level things that you should not be distracted with in the beginning. You can’t lay that on someone who is very out of shape. That’s not the time for it. There is low hanging fruit to pick off first.

The bottom line is I used long slow cardio in my endeavor and did not sacrifice lean body mass. Actually I’m still deemed overweight by the BMI standards because of my lean muscle mass. I haven’t done a body fat composition test yet, but I would bet anything I’m in a very healthy range.

Ok, so here are the phases. 1, 2, and 3 are fairly basic and should be phased in within a few months. There are really no dependencies other than getting the habits down pat. Phase 4 should come when you are seeing success and ready mentally, but that should not prevent you from incorporating it a few months in even if you are still far from your goal. It’s my opinion that the next level stuff is not effective without everything else being optimized and firing on all cylinders first, so save it.

Phase 1 (get calorie balance under control, start exercising, sleep more) :

  • Use MyFitnessPal (or other BMR or calorie tracker) to track calories and set calorie target for weight loss goal per week. I started at a goal of 1.5 pounds per week.
  • Do cardio exercise. Long  and slow at this phase. I recommend couch to 5k (c25k).
  • Drink more water.
  • Take vitamins. I take a multi, fish oil, and some vitamin d.
  • Sleep more.

Phase 2 (start making better diet choices):

  • Keep with Phase 1 items.
  • Consume less sugar (even juices, which are unnaturally concentrated and sweetened).
  • Eliminate anything with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Reduce salt intake if you are taking in too much (others may not have as I had been).
  • Try to eat leaner proteins (chicken, turkey, eggs, higher quality beef).

Phase 3 (really start to eliminate and replace in the diet):

  • Keep on with Phase 1 & 2 items.
  • Take out something bad and replace it with something with good.
  • Eat a lot more fruits and veggies. A lot. Everyday.
  • Eliminate all artificial sweeteners.
  • Increase cardio. Still stick to long and slow for now.

Phase 4 (up the  optimization):

  • Keep on with Phase 1 & 2 & 3 items.
  • Eat whole foods as much as possible (e.g. natural peanut butter vs. skippy with artificial ingredients). Really start to look at ingredients of things. If the list is long, avoid it. Peanut butter’s ingredients should be peanuts and nothing else (besides salt if you like it salted).
  • Prepare your own food. Look for healthy recipes online and start playing around.
  • When buying fruits and veggies, incorporate the rainbow (red, green, orange/yellow, blue/purple, white).
  • Eat healthy snacks like nuts.
    • Be careful with portion size as nuts are calorie dense.
    • Also stick to dry roasted nuts.
  • Bring calorie intake to a balance (depending on how close you are to your weight loss goal).
  • Start incorporating some resistance training (also depending on how close you are to your weight loss goal).

Phase 5: (Next level):

  • Incorporate new things to further optimize, such as:
    • Green tea
    • garlic
    • turmeric
    • probiotics
  • Increase level of resistance training.
  • Cycle in more higher intensity training (e.g. sprinting) and reduce long slow cardio.

STILL! My challenge is to keep the weight off this time around as I had some success the previous 2 years. BUT! So far so good this winter as I’ve carried the healthy living and lifestyle parts past Thanksgiving (where I started to fail before). So far a cold has kept me out of the gym, but I’ll be back there tonight. I will declare this entire thing a success the much longer I stick to it.

Healthy Living: Lets go to the judges’ scorecards

After 4 rounds, we have a decision.
Judge 1 scores the bout 39-37 Soreco
Judge 2 scores the bout 38-38
Judge 3 scores the bout  39-37, for the winner by majority decision… Matt “the antioxidant” Sorecoooooooooo

Matt, what do you have to say about the bout?
“If I can change…….., you can change…………, everybody can change!”

So my last post I said that the start of a cold would prove the effectiveness of healthy living on my body’s response to the cold that was forming at the time.

I know no matter what you do, there is no way to completely guarantee getting sick. Especially being in a house with 2 others who are sick and one being a 3 year old coughing in your face all day. Rather you can reduce the number of times and minimize the effects.

I felt I had a cold, no doubt about it. But It didn’t slow me down one bit. The “judges” all gave one round to the virus. Last night, I kind of felt worn out a little. I was getting a little nervous. Perhaps the cold was in its death throws, because I woke up this morning feeling good. Not 100%, but good.

Bottom line. I attribute my mild cold on having everything healthy lined up. Hydrated, healthy eating, plenty of rest, etc.

Time to Put Healthy Living to the Test

Taken from my desk this morning. I’ve upped the ante. Green tea, fruit/berry/veggie smoothie, and plenty of vitamins (multi, fish oil, and vitamin d):

My poor son has been battling a cold/ear infection for 3 weeks. My wife has been stricken with the same cold for a few days now. The result is my house has become a petri dish for the common cold.

I have been adhering to my healthy living checklist militantly. Is it enough to ward off a cold while living in a common cold incubator?

Yesterday my son seemed to take a turn for the worse (he has a doctor’s appointment today!). So I took the day off of work rather than send him to daycare (I wish other parents did the same but that’s another story/blog post). At about 2pm, I said to myself that it will be a minor miracle if I don’t catch something. Even the most impenetrable immune system can only withhold so many times of being coughed and sneezed on.

I promised all of you (my 2 loyal readers)(hi mom!)(hi random passerby!), that I would give extensive reasons to all items that go into my morning smoothie, as well as the rest of my diet as well. I promise I will one day. Long story short, I try to get the most amount and widest range of antioxidants possible (and conveniently). Besides a berry, fruit, and veggie smoothie in the morning, I also drink green tea throughout the day and try to get garlic, tomatoes, and other well researched foods into my daily/weekly meals. Besides fighting and preventing inflammation (which is thought to cause/prolong/intensify a lot of common diseases), antioxidants are said to aid the immune response (which is also related to inflammation).

Even armed with a pristine diet (as well as lifestyle too–e.g. sleep), I think I succumbed to the inevitable. I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat. BUT! This war isn’t over! So far my symptoms are extremely mild–proving the healthy living is effective in immune response. {knocking on serious wood}

So in closing, I’d like to say, “Dear cold, I will win. You will lose.”

30 Day Challenges

I got this idea from Matt Cutts of Google. Committing to something different for 30 days each month (or every other month or whatever). I was thinking about doing this for quite a while.

During Lent this year, I gave up junk food, which I narrowed down to the 4 c’s (cake, candy, chips, cookies). That was sort of a 30 day challenge of itself (40+ days actually). I only messed up once completely accidentally and mindlessly during Church coffee hour. I picked up a brownie and took a bite, then realized it and threw the rest away. Besides being the annoying one who turns down cake at birthday parties, it was relatively easy for me. I don’t eat much of it to begin with.

The 30 day challenge doesn’t need to be a sacrifice however. Rather motivation to try new things.

So the new month begins and so does my first 30 day challenge. This is something I put off for over a year and a half. It is stream-of-consciousness writing. The one recommendation I’m going to ignore is to do it in writing. Rather, I’m going to type them keep them in a Google Docs folder. I’m going to isolate myself from distractions first and commit a half hour to each.

Lets see how this goes…