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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Skinny Guy's Guide To Gaining Weight


How would you like to learn how to gain weight fast?  If the title of this article caught your attention, there is a good chance you are sick and tired of not seeing the weight on the scale budge.   Most likely you just got home from the Mandarin buffet and still can't budge the scale.  You could live on McDonald's and Pizza Delight and your Ferrari style metabolism would simply burn it off.  In a world that is obsessed with losing weight – you are interested in gaining weight! 

Are You Sick and Tired Of People Telling You How To Gain Weight?

It probably sounds like this:

"All you have to do is eat, eat, and eat some more to gain weight..."

"Weight gain is just a matter of eating..."

"You just gotta overload your metabolism to gain weight fast..."

"You can't build a house without the bricks and mortar for gaining weight..."

Don't throw me to the wolves quite yet. There is certainly truth to these statements and some of these analogies can prove quite powerful. I think I'm even guilty of preaching a few! But the problem with this advice is that it's usually followed up with the same old regurgitated blah, blah, blah advice that only tells you what to do and does not reveal real-world, practical how-to action-steps.

If you are someone who has struggled their entire life, trying to pack on extra muscle mass and still consider yourself underweight, then you are not alone. I was once skinny and underweight myself...

People, predispositioned to skinniness, are commonly referred to as "hard gainers." This is the cool way to label your scrawny frame despite the fact that your body turns into a Number 2 pencil when you wear yellow!

It's Not Totally Your Fault You're Skinny

In the skinny guy's defense, the reality is that you have been cursed with traits like Lamborghini-type metabolism, giraffe like limbs, and the strength of a senior citizen. You have to fight with every bone in your body to do something about your small frame and to keep up to your male buddies who seem to grow muscle just by sneezing – those muscle freaks piss me off just as much you!

Even though you might think your genetic deficiencies have sentenced you to a life of frailty and surprised looks when you tell others you lift weights, I am living proof that hard gainers with very 'muscle-unfriendly genes' can fight back against their genetics and gain muscle weight. I defeated my skinny genetics just after college and I am about to show you four tips that helped me climb from a 149 pound weakling to a rock hard 190 pounds in six months.

Trust me, no body has worse genetics for building muscle and gaining weight than an ex-long distance runner who abused his body with 60-80 miles of running a week (for over 10 years).

Skinny Guys Must Play By A Different Set Of Rules

If you are underweight, than your first step to gaining weight is to understand that you must play by a different set up rules. I have said this before and will say it again,

"Taking advice from someone who can gain muscle weight easilyis like taking money advice from someone who inherited a fortune or is making money illegally."

You must think outside the box and give up the excuse of being a "hard gainer." It is time to stop listening to all the naysayers who have told you that is impossible to gain weight because of your genetics. Regardless of what you have been led to believe, you do have the potential to build an impressive physique that turns heads and even intimidates!

If you have read this far, I am guessing you are ready to longer resemble a microphone stand! You are prepared to overload your metabolism for muscle growth, to ensure you are never referred to as 'underweight' or 'skinny' ever again. Start following these simple steps and don't be surprised if you gain an extra ten pounds of muscle weight in the next four weeks.

Simple How To Gain Weight Action Steps To Start Growing Like A Skyscraper!

 

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1. Double It Up

One of the most practical steps you can take is to double whatever you are currently eating in the kitchen right now. If you are eating one chicken breast per meal, then cook up two. If you are only eating two slices of bread, then make it four. If you are eating one handful of nuts, then make it two. If you are using only two scoops of protein powder, then make it four.

Most likely you are only a few dozen meals short of filling out your underdeveloped body parts and attracting the attention of that sexy girl at your gym. I assume you are already in the kitchen and have the food out. So would you agree, you really have no good excuse not to shovel down a greater percentage of calories by doubling it up?

2. Live Your Life Around Food

Sure, you know that you must eat every 2-3 hours, but how well do you execute? Set your clock on a countdown timer to go off every 2 and ½ hours so that you reinforce the habit of eating literally not a second late for each meal! Don't turn off the damn beeper until you start chowing down.

Ensure you are eating your first meal within 15-30 minutes of waking up - absolutely no later. This first meal of the day should always consist of REAL food to flood your body with quality nutrients. I question anybody's commitment to gaining weight if they are too lazy to wake up 15 minutes earlier to eat a real meal.

Lastly, don't be surprised if you are not gaining weight if you do not find yourself spending more time preparing food, more time eating food and more time cleaning your kitchen. You should notice you are spending more time in the grocery store and you should also notice a larger grocery bill each week!

3. Use BIG Eating Equipment

If you want to bulk, then you have to eat like Hulk. Do you think Hulk eats out of a small plate, or a small bowel, or a small cup? If you are aiming to get big and huge, you are going to require large amounts of food, most likely close to double of what you are currently eating.

So get BIG eating equipment! Get a BIG cup, get a BIG bowel, and get a BIG plate. Surround yourself with BIG. Most of the time hard gainers are nothing more than "under eaters." If you struggle to complete a meal, then a bigger serving on a bigger plate will look small!

4. Never Train Hungry

How many times have you woken up, whipped up a protein shake and than headed off to the gym? Or maybe you had a long afternoon and missed a few meals and then attempted a weight training workout after work?

I thought this was common sense to avoid, until a few of my skinny clients confessed that they were showing up for their workouts having only eaten a piece of fruit and some crackers within the entire day!

After dropping the 45-pound plate on my foot out of shock, they reassured me: they were not hungry.  I sometimes screamed back, "Yeah, that's because your metabolism is in starvation mode and shut right down, you skinny pencil neck!"

I understand that training in the morning is the only time for some, however, I recommend to aim for a minimum of at least three solid meals in your system prior to training. Or eat the biggest meal of your day immediately after your AM workout. Would you take your car out on a long trip with a half empty fuel tank? Not unless you wanted the car to die and you push it the rest of the way. So why would you take your body through a grueling training session on an empty stomach?

5. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods

Focus on caloric-rich foods that are loaded with nutrients.  Avoid foods with empty calories, which means there is little or no nutrient value in the calories you are eating.  Why would you consume a 500-calorie plus meal that is loaded with fat and sugar which does nothing but make you feel sluggish and soft?  Instead, eat a high caloric meal loaded with slow releasing carbohydrates,  proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber.    Here are some of the best choices:

Carbohydrates – Oatmeal, rice, breads, yams beans, potatoes, fruits and veggies. 

Proteins – Steak, chicken, lean beef, cottage cheese, whole milk, eggs and salmon.

Fats – Olive oil, flax oil, avocados, nuts and peanut butter. 

Extras (high calorie cheat food) – Ice cream, raisins, dried fruit and trail mix.

6. Drink A Carb And Protein Drink While You Workout

How hard is to sip on a calorie-rich drink during your weight training sessions?  Simply mix up a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein with one liter of water and you instantly have a few extra hundred calories per day.  Now have an extra workout drink before your workout and extra workout drink after your workout and that's easily an extra one pound per week.  Only use this technique if you are weight training at a very high intensity. 

7.  Live the motto, "Never Stop Eating"

Did I hear you say, "But I'll throw up if I eat all day?"  Maybe... Is it necessary?  Of course not.  But this is a part of pushing your body's threshold.  Don't worry, you will get used to it and your body will require more food as you gain more muscle on your body and your metabolism increases.  Just think that if you are not eating, then you are not growing, and if you are not growing then you are staying the same.  Is that what you want?


Conclusion

There you have it and as I promised, learning how to gain weight fast is quite simple.  Executing is a whole different story.  It will really come down to how truly committed you are to defeating your skinny genetics and gaining the muscular body you deserve! 

Here is my promise to you. You have the ability to gain at least another ten pounds of solid weight in the next four weeks by simply applying the advice above. If you are truly committed to your goals of gaining muscle weight and no longer being known as underweight, then I believe you will rise to the challenge and take action! Are you with me?

 

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Nutrition Or Training - Which Is More Important?


Legendary bodybuilding trainer Vince, "The Iron Guru" Gironda was famous for saying, "Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition!" But is this really true or is it just another fitness and bodybuilding myth passed down like gospel without ever being questioned? Which is really more important, nutrition or training? This IS an interesting question and I believe there is a definite answer:

The first thing I would say is that you cannot separate nutrition and training. The two work together synergistically. Regardless of your goals - gaining muscle, losing fat, athletic conditioning, whatever -you will get less than-optimal or even non-existent results without paying attention paid to both.

In fact, I like to look at gaining muscle or losing fat in three parts - weight training, cardio training and nutrition - with each part like a leg of a three legged stool. pull ANY one of the legs off the stool, and guess what happens?

In reality, it's impossible to put a specific percentage on which is more important - how could we possibly know such a number to the digit?

Nutrition and training are both important, but at certain stages of your training progress, I do believe placing more attention on one component over the other can create larger improvements. Let me explain:

If you're a beginner and you don't posses nutritional knowledge, then mastering nutrition is far more important than training and should become your number one priority. I say this because improving a poor diet can create rapid, quantum leaps in fat loss and muscle building progress.

For example, if you've been skipping meals and only eating 2 times per day, jumping your meal frequency up to 5 or 6 smaller meals a day will transform your physique very rapidly.

If you're still eating lots of processed fats and refined sugars, cutting them out and replacing them with good fats like the omega threes found in fish and unrefined foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will make an enormous and noticeable difference in your physique very quickly.

If your diet is low in protein, simply adding a complete protein food like chicken breast, fish or egg whites at each meal will muscle you up fast.

No matter how hard you train or what type of training routine you're on, it's all in vain if you don't provide yourself with the right nutritional support.

 

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In beginners (or in advanced trainees who are still eating poorly), these changes in diet are more likely to result in great improvements than a change in training.

The muscular and nervous systems of a beginner are unaccustomed to exercise. Therefore, just about any training program can cause muscle growth and strength development to occur because it's all a "shock" to the untrained body.

You can almost always find ways to tweak your nutrition to higher and higher levels, but once you've mastered all the nutritional basics, then further improvements in your diet don't have as great of an impact as those initial important changes...

Eating more than six meals will have minimal effect. Eating more protein ad infinitum won't help. Once you're eating low fat, going to zero fat won't help more - it will probably hurt. If you're eating a wide variety of foods and taking a good multi vitamin/mineral, then more supplements probably wont help much either. If you're already eating natural complex carbs and lean proteins every three hours, there's not too much more you can do other than continue to be consistent day after day...

At this point, as an intermediate or advanced trainee who has the nutrition in place, changes in your training become much more important, relatively speaking. Your training must become downright scientific.

Except for the changes that need to be made between an "off season" muscle growth diet and a "precontest" cutting diet, the diet won't and can't change much - it will remain fairly constant.

But you can continue to pump up the intensity of your training and improve the efficiency of your workouts almost without limit. In fact, the more advanced you become, the more crucial training progression and variation becomes because the well-trained body adapts so quickly.

According to powerlifter Dave Tate, an advanced lifter may adapt to a routine within 1-2 weeks. That's why elite lifters rotate exercises constantly and use as many as 300 different variations on exercises.

Strength coach Ian King says that unless you're a beginner, you'll adapt to any training routine within 3-4 weeks. Coach Charles Poliquin says that you'll adapt within 5-6 workouts.

So, to answer the question, while nutrition is ALWAYS critically important, it's more important to emphasize for the beginner (or the person whose diet is still a "mess"), while training is more important for the advanced person... (in my opinion).

It's not that nutrition ever ceases to be important, the point is, further improvements in nutrition won't have as much impact once you already have all the fundamentals in place.

Once you've mastered nutrition, then it's all about keeping that nutrition consistent and progressively increasing the efficiency and intensity of your workouts, and mastering the art of planned workout variation, which is also known as "periodization."

The bottom line: There's a saying among strength coaches and personal trainers...

"You can't out-train a lousy diet!"

 

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No Pain No Gain: Fitness Myth or Ultimate Fitness Truth?


No Pain, No Gain. Is this aphorism just a fitness myth and downright bad advice? A lot of people seem to think so. As a bodybuilder with 25 years of training experience and more than two dozen trophies on my shelf, I have another perspective to offer you. Success with your body and in every area of your life is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that means embracing pain.

To reach high levels of physical and personal success you must approach your training, and your entire life, as an endeavor in constant growth. The ultimate truth is, you are either moving forward or moving backward; growing or dying. There's no such thing as comfortably maintaining.

To grow, you must step above past achievements; beyond your perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the known, into the unknown; out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone.

The Late Cavett Robert, who was founder of the National Speakers Association, said something I'll never forget: "Most people are running around their whole lives with their umbilical cords in their hands and they're looking for some place to plug it back in."

Most people are scared of the unknown. They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort. When the going gets tough; when the effort gets painful, when the work gets hard, they always pull back into safety. But the extraordinary people do the opposite. They know they have to get out of the comfort zone, and into new territory or they'll stagnate and die.

Walt Disney once said that he never wanted to repeat a past success. He was always creating something new. They called it "Imagineering." Disney's mission was to continuously dream up and create things they had never done before, and look at what Disney has become today.

Here's a little quote that you should post on your bulletin board, your computer desktop or somewhere you will always see it:

"Do what you always did, get what you always got."

You can't grow or change by doing what you've already done. You've got to train just to prevent yourself from going backwards. Maintenance doesn't occur when you do nothing, maintenance is working to fight entropy, the tendency for things to naturally deteriorate.

Still, most people won't leave their comfort zones. They won't do it in business, they won't do it in their personal lives. They won't do it in their sport. They won't do it for personal health and fitness. Why? The answer is simple… It hurts.

By definition, what's it like outside the comfort zone? It's UN-COMFORTABLE, right? Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it's physically painful, but it's always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear.

The maxim, "no pain no gain" gets knocked all the time as if it were bad advice. The fact of life is that you don't grow unless you' are constantly stepping outside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone is discomfort and pain.

I find that it's mostly the non-achievers who make out "no pain, no gain" to be a bad thing. But the winners get it. The champions understand stepping outside the comfort zone in a healthy context, so they embrace it.

 

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When you're talking about the Olympics, or pro bodybuilding or the Super Bowl or a world championship, you'd better believe it's physical pain, it's discipline, it's sacrifice, it's blood, sweat, and tears - literally. But for most people who simply want to go from unfit to fit, from overweight to ideal weight, it's not so much about physical "pain"; it's more like stretching yourself.

How do you develop flexibility? What does your trainer tell you? You stretch to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain, right? You get into a position of slight discomfort and you hold it just long enough, then what happens? The discomfort goes away, because the muscle becomes more pliable, and the range of motion is increased.

Each time, you stretch a little further, just barely into the range you've never been in before, and eventually, you're doing the splits. And why do you approach it like that? Because you don't want to injure yourself. Stretch too far, too fast and your muscle tears.

The elite athletes and high achievers really have to push themselves; they're going to push their boundaries and test their limits. But if you're not an elite athlete or seasoned bodybuilder, and you take the advice, "no pain, no gain" too literally, you're going to end up getting injured.

I always say to my training partner when I watch him cringing during a set and he finishes up with that pained look on his face, "Are you injured, or just hurt?" He knows what I'm talking about. If he says he's hurt, I say, "OK, good. As long as you're not injured. Let's get on with it. Next set."

It's not about injury. That is bad pain. That is stupidity. But do stretch yourself.  You can't improve unless you stretch yourself. If that's what some people want – if they just want to "stay fit" – OK fine. It actually doesn't take that much to stay fit, once you've already achieved it.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want a new body? What if you want to change? If that's what you want, you've got to push yourself a little. You've got to break comfort zones. And if your body is not changing, then I don't care how hard you think you're working, whatever you're doing right now is inside your comfort zone.

Burn the Fat, Feed the MuscleThe statement "no pain, no gain" has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, the people doing the criticizing are almost always comfort zoners who haven't achieved much. Don't listen to them. Instead, follow the small percentage of people who step out and achieve great things. If you don't like the sound of it, then say, "No effort, no gain." We're still talking about the same thing.

Embrace the discomfort like the champions do. Soon it subsides, you enjoy the benefits of the change and the pain is forgotten. You've reached a new, higher plateau of achievement. Enjoy the view for a short while. But be on guard because it's not long before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone and then its time to press on again.

 

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Mental Training Tactics For Health And Fitness Success


Understanding the mind's role in motivation and behavior is one of the most critical elements in fitness success. If you struggle with changing habits and behaviors or if you can't get motivated, then even the best training and nutrition program is not much help.

A fascinating fact about your subconscious mind is that it's completely deductive in nature. In other words, it's fully capable of working backwards from the end to the means. You don't need to know how to reach a goal at the time you set the goal. If you "program" only the desired outcome successfully into your "mental computer," then your subconscious will take over and help you find the information and means and carry out the actions necessary to reach it.

Many people are familiar with affirmations and goal-setting as ways to give instructions to your subconscious mind. But perhaps the ultimate mental training" technique is visualization. In one respect, affirmation and visualization are the same, because when you speak or think an affirmation first, that triggers a mental image, being as the human brain "thinks" in pictures.

You can use visualization to plant goals into your subconscious mind. You simply close your eyes, use your imagination and mentally create pictures and run movies of your desired results. For example, in your mind's eye, you can see . If repeated consistently with emotion, mental images are accepted by your subconscious as commands and this helps with changing habits, behavior and performance.

Although there are some new and creative ways to use visualization, (which you are about to learn), this is not a new technique. Visualization has been used formally in the fields of sports psychology and personal development for decades and philosophers have discussed it for centuries:

 

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"If you want to reach your goal, you must 'see the reaching' in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal."

- Zig Ziglar

"The use of mental imagery is one of the strongest and most effective strategies for making something happen for you."

- Dr. Wayne Dyer

"Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life."

- Shakti Gawain

"Perhaps the most effective method of bringing the subconscious into practical action is through the process of making mental pictures - using the imagination."

- Claude Bristol

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."

- William James, 1842-1910, Psychologist and Author

Despite these glowing endorsements and a long track record, some people can't get past feeling that this is just a "hokey" self-help technique. Rest assured, however, that visualization is an effective and time-tested method for increasing personal success that has been used by some of the highest achievers the world.

The Soviets started to popularize visualization in sports psychology back in the 1970's, as detailed in Charles Garfield's landmark book, "Peak Performance." They dominated in many sports during that period, which validated visualization anecdotally.

In the last 10-15 years, there has been some groundbreaking new brain research which has validated visualization scientifically. Here's something that was written recently by Dr. Richard Restak, a neuroscientist and author of 12 books about the human brain:

"The process of imagining yourself going through the motions of a complex musical or athletic performance activates brain areas that improve your performance. Brain scans have placed such intuitions on a firm neurological basis. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans reveal that the mental rehearsal of an action activates the prefontal areas of the brain responsible for the formulation of the appropriate motor programs. In practical terms, this means you can benefit from the use of mental imagery."

So much for visualization being a "cheesy" self-help technique.

Although visualization is widely used today, even people who are familiar with it often don't realize its many applications. Arguably the most common use of visualization is by athletes, musicians and other performers as a form of "mental rehearsal." Research shows that "practicing in your mind" is almost as effective as practicing physically, and that doing both is more effective than either one alone.

A common use of visualization in the fitness context is "goal visualization." In your mind's eye, you can see yourself having already achieved your physique goal or your ideal goal weight. You can also visualize a specific performance goal such as completing a difficult workout or a heavy lift like a squat or bench press.

One creative way you can use mental imagery is called "process visualization." Once you've set your goals, it's easy to come up with a list of the daily habits, behaviors and action steps necessary to reach your goal. So write down the action steps and visualize them - the entire process, not just the end result. See yourself food shopping and grabbing fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, ordering healthy foods from restaurant menus, saying no to sodas and drinking water instead, and going to the gym consistently and having killer workouts. Some people visualize their entire "perfect day" as they would want it to unfold. When you do this as vividly, emotionally and in as much detail as you can, you will be neurologically priming your brain to carry out those behaviors.

The least known of all mental imagery techniques is called "physiology visualization." An example would be picturing the fat burning process in your body or seeing the muscle fibers growing larger and larger. Using this technique, could it be possible that you might be giving subconscious instructions to your body's cells, organs and tissues?

Well, consider the work of Dr. Carl Simonton, a physician and cancer researcher who taught his patients (as one part of a comprehensive program), how to visualize powerful immune cells devouring the cancer cells. I'm not suggesting that you can cure cancer or materialize a lean and muscular body just by visualizing, (there's a step in between thought and manifestation - it's called action - a step that many self help 'experts' forget to mention). However, thoughts and mental images are the precursors to action and the fact that a mind-body connection definitely exists makes this an exciting prospect.

Scientists have established the mind-body link in many contexts, and not just by the existence of a placebo effect. There's also direct evidence as in the way emotional stress can contribute to physical disease. The mind does influence the body! The mere fact that a branch of science has been devoted to this area is proof that it deserves critical investigation and is not just the domain of infomercial self help gurus. The science is called psychoneuroimmunology.

Using "physiology visualization," you could, even in the middle of a workout, imagine the fat burning process taking place, and visualize fat being released from adipose tissue storage in your abdominal region or elsewhere. You could see the free fatty acids entering your bloodstream, being carried to the working muscles and being burned for energy in the muscle cells. You could also visualize the physiology of muscle growth.

To make your imagery as accurate and detailed as possible, my best suggestion is to refer to an anatomy & physiology textbook that shows pictures of fat cells, blood vessels, myofibrils, motor units, sarcomeres, and cell organelles like the mitochondria, so you know what the structures look like. You could also get more details about the processes by looking up lipolysis, hypertrophy or beta oxidation.

Even if you had no idea what the internal structure and workings of the body were like, you could still use this method. Your body responds to mental imagery even if it isn't anatomically correct. We know from the field of hypnosis that the subconscious mind responds well to metaphor – maybe even better than literal suggestions. Facts and logic are the domain of the conscious mind, while emotion and metaphor can slip right past the conscious and into the subconscious. Dr. Simonton often wrote about his young patients who created (metaphorical) mental images of immune system cells as "knights in shining armor", slaying "the dragon" of cancer cells.

One of your greatest mental powers is imagination. You can visualize anything you want and you can embellish and exaggerate your imagery as much as you want. For example, you could imagine the free fatty acids being burned for energy in the "cellular powerhouse" - the mitochondria - and you could imagine the mitochondria as a fiery furnace... "incinerating" the fat! I think it's a pretty cool idea to "see" your fat cells shrinking and visualize your body as a "fat burning furnace."

Should you not believe that there's anything to the physiology visualization technique, that's ok, because we know that the subconscious is deductive. Just give it a goal, tell it what you want and it will get you there automatically by altering your attention and behavior. Therefore, we can be confident that physiology visualization will be effective even if only as a subconscious directive about your desired goal. If science someday provides us with conclusive evidence that visualization actually does cause cellular - physiological changes in the body, well, that's just all the better.

 

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It's Not About the Body Fat


How they lost 100 lbs or more is a topic that always gets a lot of attention and is very popular in the media. Whenever someone loses a lot of weight, there is always buzz from those who were inspired by hearing about these huge body fat losses and before/after transformations. I was inspired, too. But sometimes I think we focus too much on the almighty scale and body fat percentage and forget about something even more important…

Your Health.

Health is what psychologist Abraham Maslow called a deficiency need, which means that when you've lost it, getting it back is the only thing in the world that matters.

Unfortunately, two corollaries to this theory of human motivation are:

1. Most people won't lift a finger to improve their health until something bad happens (they have to hit "rock bottom" to change), and

2. When you've got your health, you tend to take it for granted.

That's why we need constant reminders to keep our focus on health and keep health right on top of our list of life values.

As you remind yourself of the importance of your health every day, it also pays to consider how you define it.

Fitness and transformation icon Shawn Phillips, author of Strength for Life, says that if your definition of health is merely the absence of disease, then subconsciously, the mere absence of disease means you've achieved your "goal."

Therefore, you feel no motivation and no need to move above and beyond that and strive towards…

"A life of ABUNDANT energy, vitality and strength."

We NEED these reminders.

That's why I get such a thrill when people send me success stories that are not just about the scale and body fat percentage, but ALSO about health and what that new-found health has done for a person's life.

 

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A Before and After Success Story You Don't See Every Day (But Should)

For example, this success story comes from Burn the Fat reader Craig B:

 

"Tom, I visited my Dr. today and he was stunned at the change in my blood results. Check out this before and after:

Cholesterol/Total
232 before
121 after

Triglycerides
185 before
87 after

HDL (good cholesterol)
32 before
41 after

VLDL (bad cholesterol)
40 before
17 after

Total cholesterol/HDL ratio
5.63 before
3.0 after
(I dropped from 2X average risk to less than HALF average risk!)

TSH
4.8 before
2.1 after

CRP
3.90 before
1.02 after
(I moved from High risk to Low risk.)

I have burned 34lbs of fat and put on 7lbs of lean muscle.

I have moved from 40% body fat to 32.9% (My scale may be off, but I am hoping to verify those body fat % measurements with a dunk test during my next visit to S.F. or Portland.)

The doctor, in short, was blown away with the results.

I have tried Atkins, Protein Power, Lindora (medical weight control), each of these over the years and probably too many others to mention. Never have I felt this empowered and well armed with information and insight.

When I was not getting the results the math would have me believe, I had the tools and community support to explain what Beta Blockers do to cardio and metabolism then took that insight to my doctor and he has reduced and changed those meds.

I am now off statins all together as of today!

I have a ways to go to reach my final goal of 10% body fat, but I have the tools and I can accomplish it. I am, as you suggested, putting the date when I achieve it in pencil, but the 10% BF is in ink. I will get there.

It is amazing how empowering feeling good and controlling your blood chemistry through nourishment (both physiological and physical) and being consistent with the hard work in the gym and changing to a new lifestyle.

Thanks Tom - you are helping a lot of people, clearly. I will be telling anyone about the book and the Burn the Fat website that has any questions or looking for answers."

Gaining muscle and losing fat is nice, but what could be better than gaining muscle, losing fat AND feeling your health, energy and vitality skyrocket!

As Craig shows us, tracking your health improvements, not just what you weigh, gives you another source of tremendous motivation and a feeling of empowerment.

You realize that you are in control of your body. You are the maker and master.

One final thought: It's a misconception that the "bodybuilding" lifestyle is in some way not healthy or doesn't dramatically IMPROVE your health

Nothing could be further from the truth, as Craig's results prove. Craig was not just doing aerobics - he was pumping iron and feeding the muscle, not starving himself.

If you do ANY kind of resistance training, you ARE a "body-builder" and a "health-builder."

When you do NATURAL bodybuilding, it's about looking great AND getting healthier. That's how I do it - naturally - and that's how I encourage others to do it in my Burn the Fat programs.

 

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A “Mind Training” Technique That Makes You Stronger


The word "visualization" sometimes conjures up images of new age gurus teaching esoteric techniques for personal enlightenment and "attracting" what you want into your life. This causes many evidence-based types to scoff. However, piles of research has shown that mental imagery (aka "visualization") can improve performance. The latest study suggests that a certain type of mental imagery can also increase your strength

Olympic champions and professional athletes have used visualization and mental rehearsal techniques for decades. Not only is visualization one of the most widely accepted techniques in sports psychology, it's supported by scientific research.

Nevertheless, many people remain skeptical.

Some people agree that mental rehearsal might enhance specific skills, like a golf swing or a basketball throw, but they question whether it could make you stronger, increase muscle growth or help you lose weight.

A new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that indeed, mental imagery can make you stronger. This study also begins to explain how mental imagery works on a neurological level…

Twenty two sports students, with a mean age of about 20, participated in the 6-week long experiment. Prior to the study, none had done mental imagery before. The students were divided into a control group and a mental rehearsal group.

The goal was to see if mental imagery could increase bench press and leg press strength.

Each participant was given very specific instructions on how to perform the mental imagery. During the rest period between sets, they were to vividly imagine the exercise movement and the muscle contractions generated from each rep.

After 12 workout sessions, the mental imagery group had significantly increased their strength more than the control group, especially in the lower body (leg press).

 

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The researchers concluded:

"The results provided evidence that mental imagery did contribute to improve strength of the leg muscles without any macroscopic structural change"

What they were saying is that the duration of the study wasn't long enough that there was any major muscle size increase, so they credited the strength increase to non morphological adaptations.

It's well known in exercise science that gains in strength occur from changes not just in the muscle fibers and surrounding tissues, but in the nervous system.

That gives us clues about how mental imagery works.

Put simply, mental training techniques, (since they're working with your brain/nervous system - as the name implies), can trigger some of the same neurological adaptations that occur from physical training.

Apparently, mental imagery can increase synchronization of motor units in muscles, having large corresponding cortical areas in the primary mortor cortex.

There are also psychological benefits, such as increased motivation, improved focus during the set, technique improvements, more confidence and less apprehension or anxiety. But clearly, there's more to this than just "psyching up."

Here's something else interesting. The researchers even suggested that mental imagery could decrease strength loss when athletes are inactive due to injury.

This recent study is a practical one because it gives us one specific technique that you can apply to your next workout: vividly imagine a successful lift for the upcoming set while you're resting between sets.

NOTE: it's important to mentally see (visualize) the exercise and mentally "FEEL" the muscle contraction. This is multi-sensory - both visual and kinesthetic.

In some of my previous articles, I talked about density training and superset training as excellent techniques for busy people because these methods reduce rest intervals, making the workout time efficient.

But the rest time between heavy sets doesn't have to be wasted - now you know what to do with that time…

Instead of chatting with your gym buddies, or scoping out the attractive bods in the gym, you can be mentally rehearsing your next set… and enjoying the strength increase that follows.

 

Most fat loss programs only focus on diet or physical training. If you want to learn more about how you can add "mental training" techniques to increase fat loss, muscle growth and muscular strength, then be sure to check out chapter one in my ebook, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.

 

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The Mass Confusion That Dominates In Fat Loss & Fitness Today

People are confused more than ever about how to burn fat.  They are confused about the best way to go about achieving the body they want.  They are confused about what works and what doesn't, and the reasons why.  There are countless individuals slaving away in gyms and fitness centers around the country right now. 

They are working tirelessly, almost every day, on the treadmill, stair-climber, elliptical, etc. to burn those calories and fat.  They also might be lifting weights several times a week for hours at a time to build some strength and muscle.  They might even join a few aerobics or spinning classes too.

They are probably also trying one of the latest diet strategies that promises miracle fat burning and weight loss.  They could also be spending a lot of money on the latest and greatest dietary supplements that could be that miracle pill that will aid in weight loss.  They are also carefully watching the scale as their main judge of fat loss progress. 

If it goes up a pound or two, they may behave rashly and maybe even change up their entire workout or diet program! And of course there are others are doing variations on that same theme. 

After all, this is the kind of stuff that many of the popular fitness and diet gurus typically recommend to burn fat.  But with so many different strategies and plans being pushed as the be all and end all, what happens is we tend to overboard. 

And when that happens, we lose sight of what really matters in achieving lifelong fat burning, fitness and health…the principles than many people don't know about, most people have forgotten, and only a select few put to use to achieve lifelong health and fitness.  These are the same principles I used to drop over 40 pounds of unwanted body fat, keep it off, and revitalize my life!

With any exercise or nutrition program, you'll probably lose some fat initially, but far too often the progress doesn't continue or doesn't come as fast as the person would like because they're using a temporary mindset.  They're only focused on the short term and one specific goal.  So they end up switching to something else, and the cycle continues until they've become consumed by this cycle of confusion. 

I believe that this is one of the biggest, if not the #1 reason for the lack of fat loss and fitness progress that is being experienced by the masses of exercisers and dieters in the world.  They are jumping from one fad diet or exercise routine to another, while losing sight of what's really important, and what really works. 

Simply put, they are exercising far too much, not nearly intensely enough, and trying to adhere to unrealistic diet recommendations.

If instead they focused on a long term plan, a lifestyle as it's often called, and didn't worry about "losing 10 pounds by summer", they would find it far easier to do the right things most of the time. 

And those right things include brief, progressive, and intense resistance training, eating a diet full of nutrient rich foods, drinking tons of water, and getting plenty of quality sleep and rest.  The students of my Fat Burning Furnace method understand this and are reaping the life long health and fitness rewards because of it.  Are you? 


Rob Poulos is a celebrated fitness author, fat loss expert, and the founder and CEO of Zero to Hero Fitness.  Rob created the world's most efficient method for fast and permanent fat loss with his "Fat Burning Furnace" system to help those looking to put an end to restrictive fad diets, long boring cardio workouts, and the need for super-human willpower for good.


If you're thinking about using the Fat Burning Furnace system yourself, but still have a few questions, make sure you visit the
Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Also, it may help to read about the success stories of others like you to see how people in similar situations have changed their bodies and their lives with the techniques in FBF.

But you may become anxious to get started on your new body right now, so you can also click the button below to get started right now.  Remember, you have a full 60 days to decide if it's right for you.  If not, just email me and we'll issue you a full refund and I'll thank you for trying it out...it's that simple!

 

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The Low Body Fat Secret Of Bodybuilders And Fitness Models


The secret to getting super lean – I'm talking about being RIPPED, not just "average body fat" – is all about mastering the art of "peaking." Most people do not have a clue about what it takes to reach the type of low body fat levels that reveal ripped six-pack abs, muscle striations, vascularity and extreme muscular definition, so they go about it completely the wrong way.

Here's a case in point: One of my newsletter subscribers recently sent me this question:

Tom, on your www.burnthefat.com website, you wrote:

'Who better to model than bodybuilders and fitness competitors? No athletes in the world get as lean as quickly as bodybuilders and fitness competitors. The transformations they undergo in 12 weeks prior to competition would boggle your mind! Only ultra-endurance athletes come close in terms of low body fat levels, but endurance athletes like triathaletes and marathoners often get lean at the expense of chewing up all their muscle. Some of them are nothing but skin and bone.'

"There seems to be a contradiction unless I'm missing something. Why do bodybuilders and fitness competitors have to go through a 12 week 'transformation' prior to every event instead of staying 'lean and mean' all the time? If they practice the secrets exposed in your book, they should be staying in shape all the time instead of having to work at losing fat prior to every competitive event, correct?"

There is a logical explanation for why bodybuilders and other physique athletes (fitness and figure competitors), don't remain completely ripped all year round, and it's the very reason they are able to get so ripped on the day of a contest…

You can't hold a peak forever or it's not a "peak", right? What is the definition of a peak? It's a high point surrounded by two lower points isn't it?

Therefore, any shape you can stay in all year round is NOT your "peak" condition.

The intelligent approach to nutrition and training (which almost all bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors use), is to train and diet in a seasonal or cyclical fashion and build up to a peak, then ease off to a maintenance or growth phase.

I am NOT talking about bulking up and getting fat and out of shape every year, then dieting it all off every year. What I'm talking about is going from good shape to great (peak) shape, then easing back off to good shape.... but never getting "out of shape." Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Here's an example: I have no intentions whatsoever of walking around 365 days a year at 4% body fat like I appear in the photo on my website. Off-season, when I'm not competing, my body fat is usually between 8 – 10%. Mind you, that's very lean and still single digit body fat.

I don't stray too far from competition shape, but I don't maintain contest shape all the time. It takes me 12-14 weeks or so to gradually drop from 9.5% to 3.5%-4.0% body fat to "peak" for competition with NO loss of lean body mass...using the same techniques I reveal in my e-book.

It would be almost impossible to maintain 4% body fat, and even if I could, why would I want to? For the few weeks prior to competition I'm so depleted, ripped, and even "drawn" in the face, that complete strangers walk up and offer to feed me.

 

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Okay, so I'm just kidding about that, but let's just say being "being ripped to shreds" isn't a desirable condition to maintain because it takes such a monumental effort to stay there. It's probably not even healthy to try forcing yourself to hold extreme low body fat. Unless you're a natural "ectomorph" (skinny, fast metabolism body type), your body will fight you. Not only that, anabolic hormones may drop and sometimes your immune system is affected as well. It's just not "normal" to walk around all the time with literally no subcutaneous body fat.

Instead of attempting to hold the peak, I cycle back into a less demanding off-season program and avoid creeping beyond 9.9% body fat. Some years I've stayed leaner - like 6-7%, (which takes effort), especially when I knew I would be photographed, but I don't let my body fat go over 10%.

This practice isn't just restricted to bodybuilders. Athletes in all sports use periodization to build themselves up to their best shape for competition. Is a pro football player in the same condition in March-April as he is in August-September? Not a chance. Many show up fat and out of shape (relatively speaking) for training camp, others just need fine tuning, but none are in peak form... that's why they have training camp!!!

There's another reason you wouldn't want to maintain a "ripped to shreds" physique all year round – you'd have to be dieting (calorie restricted) all the time. And this is one of the reasons that 95% of people can't lose weight and keep it off --they are CHRONIC dieters... always on some type of diet. Know anyone like that?

You can't stay on restricted low calories indefinitely. Sooner or later your metabolism slows down and you plateau as your body adapts to the chronically lowered food intake. But if you diet for fat loss and push incredibly hard for 3 months, then ease off for a while and eat a little more (healthy food, not "pigging out"), your metabolic rate is re-stimulated. In a few weeks or months, you can return to another fat loss phase and reach an even lower body fat level, until you finally reach the point that's your happy maintenance level for life – a level that is healthy and realistic – as well as visually appealing.

Bodybuilders have discovered a methodology for losing fat that's so effective, it puts them in complete control of their body composition. They've mastered this area of their lives and will never have to worry about it again. If they ever "slip" and fall off the wagon like all humans do at times … no problem! They know how to get back into shape fast.

Bodybuilders have the tools and knowledge to hold a low body fat all year round (such as 9% for men, or about 15% for women), and then at a whim, to reach a temporary "peak" of extremely low body fat for the purpose of competition. Maybe most important of all, they have the power and control to slowly ease back from peak shape into maintenance, and not balloon up and yo-yo like most conventional dieters!

What if you had the power to stay lean all year round, and then get super lean when summer rolled around, or when you took your vacation to the Caribbean, or when your wedding date was coming up? Wouldn't you like to be in control of your body like that? Isn't that the same thing that bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors do, only on a more practical, real-world level?

So even if you have no competitive aspirations whatsoever, don't you agree that there's something of value everyone could learn from physique athletes? Don't model yourself after the huge crowd of losers who gobble diet pills, buy exercise gimmicks and suffer through starvation diets like automatons, only to gain back everything they lost! Instead, learn from the leanest athletes on Earth - natural bodybuilders and fitness competitors…

These physique athletes get as ripped as they want to be, exactly when they want to, simply by manipulating their diets in a cyclical fashion between pre-contest "cutting" programs and off season "maintenance" or "muscle growth" programs. Even if you have no desire to ever compete, try this seasonal "peaking" approach yourself and you'll see that it can work as well for you as it does for elite bodybuilders.

 

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The Little Thing in Your Head That's Keeping You Fat


I have no doubt that a scientist somewhere just read the title of this article and said out loud, "YES! Venuto is right! That little thing in your head – the hypothalamus – it IS the thing that is keeping you fat! By George, that Venuto guy isn't a dumb bodybuilder after all – he's been doing his research!" At which moment, I will be shaking my head and thinking, "you need to get out of the laboratory and into the real world, with real people, buddy." Okay, okay, to be fair, Neuro-endocrine control of appetite and body fat really is quite fascinating. But today, I'm talking about PSYCH-ology, not PHYSI-ology. The little thing in your head that's keeping you fat is actually just a….

Limiting belief!

Self-limiting beliefs are among the biggest problems that people deal with in their struggles to achieve a healthy ideal weight. They're also one of the reasons that so many people start to falter or fall off the diet and exercise wagon as early as late January or early February in their New Year's goal pursuits.

If you're that science guy I spoke of and you're about to bail because you're thinking, "Here we go again… another psycho-babble, self help article," then think again. A belief is the force behind the placebo effect, which is well known by every scientist and medical professional. A respected doctor gives a patient a pill and is told it's a powerful drug. The patient gets well immediately, not knowing that the "miraculous" substance was a dummy pill. Inert. Sugar. The miracle was in the mind.

But beliefs are not only involved in the mind-body connection, they are unconscious programs that control your behavior. The most important factor in whether you achieve the body and the health you want is NOT what diet or training program you follow. It's what makes you follow your diet and training program. And guess what? What you believe controls your behavior - whether you will stick with your program or sabotage it with cheating, bingeing or inconsistency.

What to do about limiting beliefs

Ok, so now you agree that beliefs are psychological factors that affect you physically by controlling your behavior, including your eating, exercising and lifestyle. What now? 3 steps. 2 questions.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY LIMITING BELIEFS

You are fully aware of many of your beliefs. For example, beliefs about spirituality or politics are usually in the front of your conscious mind.

But the beliefs that hold back your health and physical development the most are usually the ones you don't even know you have. They are like unconscious "brain software," running silently in the background.

So the first step is to bring those unconscious and potentially damaging beliefs up to the surface so you are aware of them. You can't fix a problem if you don't know you have one.

2 Quick Questions That Will Help Draw Out Your Beliefs

Beliefs can go back to childhood, but don't worry, you don't have to go to a psychotherapist and be regressed back to kindergarten. It's simpler than that. But it does pay to do this questioning process as a formal "exercise" with serious quiet time, with pen and paper (instead of just thinking about it).

 

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Question #1: What causes me to be overweight (or unhealthy, or not having the body I want)?

Question #2: What's preventing me from getting leaner? (or healthier?)

Spend some time with it and see how big of a list you can create. Ask yourself whether each belief helps or hurts you. Does it move you forward or backward. Does it empower or disempower you? The ones that hurt you or hold you back will be obvious. You may come up with beliefs such as:

"I'm overweight and I can't get leaner because":

I have no time
I'm too old
I can't stop eating
I hate exercise
You just can't do it when you have 4 kids
It's impossible after having a hip replacement

But the million dollar question is: are these beliefs actually true?

Beliefs are not facts. You may hold your beliefs as absolute reality, but when you deconstruct them and challenge them, you may see that they don't hold any water.

Self limiting beliefs are false interpretations (negative thought patterns) that hold you back. And you keep holding on to them because making excuses and staying the same is a lot more convenient than changing, isn't it? Change requires hard work, effort and leaving your comfort zone.

Your mission now: weaken the limiting beliefs and get rid of them

STEP 2: CHALLENGE THOSE BELIEFS

How do you challenge a belief? 4 ways:

(A) Challenge it directly: Is the belief even valid at all? See if you can find a "counter example" that disproves your belief. For example; if you think that after you've had 3 or 4 kids, it's impossible to get a nice flat stomach, what will you say after I introduce you to a dozen of my clients and readers who had 3 or 4 kids and went from bulging belly to rock-hard flat stomach? If they did it, then how could your belief be valid? Answer: It WASN'T! You believed something false and inaccurate and it was holding you back!

(B) Challenge the source: Is it your belief, or have you been living what your parents, peers or culture handed down to you? Just the realization that a belief wasn't yours to begin with is enough to shatter it.

(C) Challenge the usefulness of the belief: Ok, so you believed something when you were younger. Does still believing it has any usefulness today? Does it help you move closer to what you want in your life today? If not, then wouldn't today be a good time to get rid of it?

(D) Challenging the belief by weighing the consequences: If you keep this belief, what is it going to cost you? What will the pain be like? What will you miss? And what will these consequences be if you don't change it NOW?

STEP 3: INSTALL A NEW BELIEF

Nature abhors a vacuum, as Spinoza once said. You don't simply get rid of a belief, you must also replace it. What things would you want and need to believe instead that would create positive behaviors that would move you toward your goal? Write them down, then massage them into an affirmation. For example, if you've hung your hat on the belief that you didn't have time to exercise, could you write a new affirmation of belief similar to this?

"I'm a very busy person, so that means I must set clear priorities and I must keep my health and body on the top of my priority list. I always schedule time for my most important priorities, I am efficient with my training, and I use every minute of my day wisely. And if Barack Obama, the busiest person in the world, can train for 45 minutes a day 6 days a week, there's no excuse for me. I can do it too."

Write down your new belief affirmations and read them, right along with your goals, every day.

Then "activate" this affirmation by doing what Olympic and professional athletes do: engaging in mental rehearsal. Visualize yourself carrying out the behaviors that this belief would generate. Think about and feel what it would be like to take those positive actions steps and play mental movies of how your life would change by doing so. Involve all your senses: see it, hear it, feel it.

Keep it up until you start to see your behavior change and your habitual actions come into alignment with your goals/intentions. If you're diligent, you'll see changes in attitude and behavior with 21-30 days. It may happen sooner. It may take longer if you've carried deep, lifelong limiting beliefs. But in less than a month, the roots of the new belief pattern will be formed.

Then you can update your goals and affirmations to reflect your current priorities and move on to the next goal you want to achieve or the next limiting belief you want to change. Keep THAT up, and pretty soon, you will be LIMIT-LESS!

BELIEVE ME, spending quality time understanding and working on your beliefs is a lot more productive than spending time in forums arguing about whether a low carb program is better than a high carb program… or even whether the cure for obesity is found in the arcuate nucleus of the lower hypothalamus. It's in your head all right… but most people have been looking in the wrong place.

 

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Instead of New Year's Resolutions, Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals


Why do new year's resolutions usually fail? Why do you start with guns blazing on January 1st, but by February, you're losing motivation, cheating on your diet, skipping workouts, and slipping back into old patterns? John LaValle, a master trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests that we should take a closer look at the meaning behind the word "Resolution." Being derived from the word "re-solve," it really means "to solve again." And isn't that exactly what happens? You solve the same problem again and again, year after year?

You know what I'm talking about… That 20 pounds you lost last year, and promptly gained it right back… you are now resolving to take it off again aren't you? The very nature of the word resolution implies gaining it back again.

Suggestion: don't make resolutions. Set SMARTER goals.

Resolutions aren't real goals. They're more like wishes, and wishes are wishy-washy. A wish becomes a goal the moment you put it in writing. When you write your goals in a certain way, following scientific principles of success psychology, you'll skyrocket your chances of getting what you want this year… and keeping it.

One of the most tried and true methods for goal achievement is the SMART goals formula. If you searched the net for SMART goals, you would probably find a dozen different variations on the SMART goal acronym. Here's my version of SMART goals, along with a little extra to make them even SMART-ER.

1. Specific. Set goals with clarity. Your mind does not respond well to vague generalities. If you say your goal is to lose weight and then you lose one pound, then you've reached your goal. Is that what you really wanted? Get clear. Be precise. Be specific.

2. Measurable. Set goals that can be quantified in measurable units such as pounds, body fat percentage, lean body mass, inches and clothing sizes. Performance goals can include strength (lbs or kilos lifted) and repetitions completed. Don't forget to include health goals as well, such as blood pressure and blood lipids.

3. Accountable. Set goals you can be held accountable to. First be accountable to yourself by using a weekly progress chart, a daily nutrition diary and a training journal. Then double your motivation with external accountability and submit your results and journals to someone else who will hold you to your commitments.

4. Realistic.
Set goals that are attainable and maintainable. If you lose two pounds of fat per week, you are doing awesome. 30 pounds in 30 days sounds great in the advertisements, but it is not typical, and rapid weight loss is likely to consist of muscle and water, not fat, and is nearly impossible to maintain.

 

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5. Time Bound. Set goals with deadlines. Time limits are highly motivating. With no time limit, there is no urgency for completion. Set goals for daily workouts and nutrition, weekly weight and body composition and 12 week changes in weight, body fat or measurements. Set long term goals as well for one year, five years and even beyond. For all time periods, be certain that your deadline is realistic.

Now we add some motivational ooompf for this year by making your goals even SMART-ER!

6. Emotional. Goals give you a direction, but strong emotions are the propulsion system that drives you in that direction. Build up a burning desire by focusing on the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Connect your goals to your values. What's most important to you about reaching your goal? If you reach 9% body fat, or whatever is your target, what will that do for you? What will your life look like then? How will it make you FEEL?

7. Reviewed often. Resolutions fail because they are casually set once at the beginning of the year and easily forgotten. Stay laser-focused by writing and reading your goals every day. Repetition is one of the keys to re-programming your mental computer for success. Use the goal card technique. Write your single most important body or fitness goal on a small card, then carry it with you every where you go, reading it several times a day.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R. GOALS is a simple, memorable formula for goal setting and goal getting. It may not be new, but then again, there are no new fundamentals. Methods and tactics may change, but scientific principles of success never change. And don't forget to make your goals even smarter this year. A goal that's not strongly desired and kept in front of you every day will be forgotten. Stay focused, eat right, train hard and expect success!

"A goal that is casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle." - Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

 

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Facebook and Social Media - The Next Marketing Opportunity



Marketing as an activity is all about reaching the right customers with the right products, and the result sought is delighted customers who are more than willing to open their purses wide enough to boost your revenues. For many years, marketers stalked their target customers through various means and by trying to get their message across to spread awareness about their wares.

Traditional Means of Communication

Traditionally, marketing communications were conducted via print, broadcast and such traditional media through disruptive advertising, where advertisements appear in between the content of interest for the customer.

Traditional media does give a large reach to a marketer with its programming of mass appeal. However, the wastage is equally high, since a large portion of the audience would belong to a different segment than the one that is to be targeted by the marketer.

Enter Social Media and the Internet

The revolution stirred by the internet as a medium took place because of the fact that it is highly personalized and provides more content on-demand than any other available medium. Social sites proliferated far and wide in their usage for a few simple reasons:

The power to create and distribute content is equally available to every user, irrespective of him/her being a customer or a marketer. In the earlier forms of media, that power rested with the editorial staff of the channel or the advertiser, but hardly ever with the user.
The medium is completely personalized, and a user can create or join groups and further create content based on what he/she likes.
Opinions are free and fair. This is one reason why social media is of utmost concern to marketers, since buying decisions are no more influenced as much by advertisements. The traditional word-of-mouth marketing approach has grown leaps and bounds on social networks.



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Facebook – At the Center of Social Media

With 500 million (and growing) unique users worldwide, Facebook is the number one social networking site in terms of activity and subscriptions. What started as a garage initiative by Mark Zuckerberg has now become the biggest phenomenon on the internet.

A user interface that allows for quick communication and the ability to create fan pages and groups at the click of a mouse button are what make Facebook extremely popular. Another important reason for its immense popularity is the wide variety of social applications that have been developed and made available within the Facebook environment.

These applications can allow users and friends to do joint activities like playing games that run endlessly, sharing photos, videos, and web links, and many more.


How does this help a marketer?

Traditionally, media plans were drawn to include television channels, publications, or any other media that can grab maximum eyeballs and effectively reach a selected target audience. The science of segmentation and targeting has become only more accurate in the case of social media.

Facebook provides a wide variety of avenues to communicate with the audience, which opens up an entirely different world of possibilities to have a fruitful dialogue with customers. Some of these methods used popularly by marketers are:

Advertising: The first opportunity, which is the most obvious one, is advertising on Facebook. The difference, however, is the fact that you can create your own advertisement in a matter of minutes and also specify the details of your target group in terms of demographics and types of discussions where you want your advertisement to appear.
Fan Pages: Facebook allows every brand, as well as individual users, to create fan pages for their favorite celebrities and their own homegrown businesses. Large brands have also created their official pages on Facebook that have a huge, immediate fan following around the world. The fan page has immense utility to convey first hand information about the brand and also to collect immediate and frank feedback from your customers.
Branded applications: One of the most effective ways to engage a user toward your brand is by creating an application; this could be a game or a contest, with your branding coming across subtly through it.

What makes Facebook even more exciting is the way it allows you to target your communication sharply just to the customer segment you want to attract. It also provides analytics and page insights that give good feedback and measurement on the activity done.

The options provided by Facebook can be creatively explored and used judiciously for bringing about maximum benefits to any brand.

However, while doing all this, you need to be aware of the fact that customers have an equal say and have the ability to respond immediately to any of your actions with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Availing the service of a social media consultant to work out a social media strategy may be required so that your efforts will not be in vain.

 

 

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How to Stay on Your Diet and Stay in Shape Over the Holidays Without Turning into a Miserable Scrooge

My mom makes the most amazing Christmas cake in the world; it's been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember. First, she mixes up a light, fluffy, vanilla cake mix, pours it into the pans and then pops it in the oven. After it's been baked, she stacks the cake in two layers with whipped cream spread generously between each layer. She then pours on red and green Jell-O, which gets soaked up inside the cake. Next, whipped cream is smothered all the way around for frosting. And finally, she garnishes it with red and green sprinkles. A few red and green-striped candy canes are stuck in the top as the finishing touch, and off it goes to the refrigerator so it can be served chilled later.

Now let me tell you, as a bodybuilder, I have a lot of discipline. But when that moist, delicious, red and green, Jell-O-filled, whipped-cream covered cake is sitting on the table in front of me on December 25th, it takes every ounce of my willpower to keep from calling it a "VERY high carb day" and devouring numerous very large slices.

Despite the temptation, I don't "pig out" nor do I deprive myself. Instead, I'm content with eating my single piece, savoring every mouthwatering bite, all the while repeating my mantra, "Nothing tastes as good as being lean feels."
The next day, on December 26th, I'm on the bike or Stairmaster at the crack of dawn, followed by six perfect meals of lean protein and complex carbohydrate - just like every other day of the year.
A week later, on December 31st, I usually go out for a nice dinner (very naughty food, I must admit), and then we toast champagne to the New Year at midnight. I'm in bed at a reasonable hour shortly thereafter.
Unless it's a scheduled day of rest on New Years day, I'm not groggy and hung over like many of my friends are. I'm in the gym squatting, bench pressing, curling, or "stairmastering" just like I usually am.
And here's the point: You can and should enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy being with family and going out with friends. You can go to holiday parties and have fun. You can enjoy a few "naughty" meals. You can have a piece of cake and a glass or two of champagne. There's no reason why you can't enjoy yourself AND stay healthy, lean and fit through the holidays. All it takes is some planning, some goal-setting and little dose of old-fashioned discipline.
I'd like to share with you 10 ways that you can follow your diet and stay in great shape over the holidays without turning into a "miserable Scrooge." If you follow this advice, then you'll be one of the proud few with a New Year's resolution to be the best you've ever been in the new year to come - instead of one of the guilt-ridden many who must resolve to reclaim what they lost over the year that's just passed them by.

1. Expect to stay on your program over the holidays

"Fail to plan and you plan to fail" is a time worn and cliché statement, but it's still some of the best success advice you will ever hear.
Not only do most people fail to plan, they consciously plan to fail over the holidays. Most people expect to "blow" their diet and skip workouts over the holidays. They expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, they don't even make the effort.
Instead of taking control, they resign themselves to maintenance at best, or back-sliding at worst. This negative expectancy leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the first week of January, they're in the worst shape they've been in for a year and they frantically make New Year's resolutions to shed the excess fat they've gained.
You can avoid this trap by planning to succeed during the holidays. Set up a positive expectation. Resolve now that you will not tolerate slipping backwards. Keep your standards up and don't settle! Not only can you plan to "stay in shape" over the holidays, you can plan to improve! All you have to do is make the decision and expect success.
 

2. Plan all your workouts in advance

You know your schedule is going to get hectic over the holidays. You'll be cooking, shopping, wrapping gifts, sending cards, going to parties, traveling, visiting family, and so on. To stay on your training and nutrition regimen is definitely going to take some sound time management skills.
Plan your schedule in advance. Anticipate what's coming up. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. By doing so, you won't be caught unprepared.
Use a schedule book or monthly calendar and "make appointments" for ALL your workouts for the entire holiday season. Then, post a copy where you will be forced to look at it every day. This is a powerful exercise that will keep you focused and force you to think about and prepare for each upcoming workout.
If you try to "wing it" and squeeze in your workouts and meals whenever you have time left over, you'll find that there never is any time left over! Somehow your daily activities always seem to "expand" to fill the hours in every day. So schedule your workouts and meal times in your calendar just like you would any other appointment or event. Once you've done that, stick to your schedule religiously.
 

3. Set some compelling training and fitness goals over the holiday period

Don't wait until January 1st to set your goals just because you think it will be harder to achieve them over the holidays. On the contrary, studies on personal achievement have shown that you'll usually reach 80% of the goals you put onto paper. The problem is that few people set any goals at all, and fewer still set them during the holidays.
Why wait? Why not do it now? Set some big goals that you can start working on during the holidays:
Set a goal to lose the 25 lbs you've always wanted to lose NOW Set the goal to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle NOW Been contemplating a competition in bodybuilding, fitness or the new ladies figure division? Pick an early spring show and GO FOR IT - START TRAINING NOW!
Goal setting should not be a once a year affair, it should be a continuous process. You should always have your goals in writing and your list should be regularly updated and rewritten. If you only set goals once a year, you're not going to accomplish much in your life.
 

4. Give yourself permission to have "free meals" - and schedule them in

A planned "free meal" or "re-feeding day" helps you to stay on your program better in the long run. If you're too strict all the time, you're setting yourself up for cravings and binge eating.
A few free meals per week will have very little effect on your physique. Also, if you've been on a strict, low carb and/or low calorie regimen for a long time, a full day of maintenance level calories might actually be good for you! It will boost your metabolic rate and give your body the signal that you're not starving and that it's ok to keep burning a lot of calories.
Over the holidays, schedule your dinners and parties so they become your "free meals." Then, for the rest of your meals, be steadfast! Just the fact that you know you have free meals coming up will relieve the pressure of staying on a strict diet for a long time.
Also, when you do have your free meal – ENJOY IT! If you're going to eat it and feel guilty, then don't have it at all. If you've stayed with the program all week long, then when your free meal rolls around, you deserve it!
 

5. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on it

So you had about a dozen too many of those Christmas cookies did you? Don't worry; because you have free meals built into your plan, you shouldn't let guilt immobilize you. Even if you fall completely off the wagon, don't beat yourself up. All you have to do is get right back on your program without missing another beat.
Too many people mess up once and then think their entire diet is ruined. They feel as if everything they've done prior to that day was wasted and there's no sense going on. Or even worse, they rationalize to themselves, "Well, I already cheated, so it doesn't matter now, I might as well keep pigging out."
That's nonsense. If you threw in the towel every time you didn't score 100% on your diet, most people would never get through more than a few days on any structured program. Just because you slip up once doesn't mean you should quit! You're only human. Don't let one small slip keep you derailed. Firmly plant your wheels back on the tracks and start rolling again.
 

6. Maintain your consistent eating schedule

If there's one thing that all people who successfully get lean and stay lean have in common, it's consistency. Without it, you never get any momentum going. It's like taking two steps forward, only to take three steps back.
Many people allow the busy holidays to throw them off their regular eating schedule. They completely veer off their usual meal frequency, or they start eating foods they would normally never eat (because "it's there").
Once you have a habit or pattern going, it's fairly easy to keep it going. But once you lose momentum, it's very difficult to get it going again because you must overcome inertia all over again. (An object at rest tends to stay at rest!)
On the major holidays, when there's a big dinner scheduled, many people think that skipping their morning and afternoon meals to "save room" for the big one later is a good idea. It's not. This is actually a good way to invite a binge that could set your back for days.
Don't lose your consistency or your momentum. Continue with your pattern of eating small, frequent meals all year round. All you have to do is count your holiday dinners as one of your regular meals and keep them small.
 

7. Control your portion sizes

You can have your cake and eat it too – you just can't eat the whole thing! One of the most important rules to remember this holiday season is the law of energy balance, which states: To lose body fat, you must consume fewer calories than you burn up each day.
There are two corollaries to the law of energy balance:
1. A caloric surplus gets stored as fat – even healthy food.
2. Small amounts of anything – even junk food – will NOT get stored as fat if you stay in a calorie deficit.
There's no reason to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Just make sure you don't overindulge. As long as you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, and you keep working out, it won't end up around your waistline.

8. Don't buy into the low standards and expectations of others

Keep your standards high, but don't expect other people's standards to be as high as yours. Remember that most people have already planned in advance to fail at fitness over the holidays. You've decided to stay strong (haven't you?) Don't let their negative influence drag you down.
When you've reached your pre-ordained drink limit, say "When" and switch to water or a non alcoholic, non caloric beverage. When they offer you seconds on dessert, politely say, "No thank you, it was absolutely delicious, but I'm full, I can't eat another bite." And when the wee hours of the morning start to roll around, and your friends are egging you on to keep partying, politely tell them you need your sleep. Tomorrow is a work out day. If they're really your friends, they'll understand.
 

9. Make the best choices possible in every situation.

You know those tables you see at holiday parties that are covered with yards of chips, dips, pretzels, cookies, salami, candies, punch, liquor, and a seemingly endless assortment of other goodies? Well, did you also notice that there is usually a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery and other healthy snacks too?
No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something "bad" rather than a huge portion, thereby obeying the law of calorie balance.
Chances are good that there's probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the turkey breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.
 

10. If you drink, enjoy alcohol in moderation

If you enjoy having a few drinks on special occasions, then go ahead and have a drink or two. But if you're serious about your fitness goals, then drink infrequently and in moderation. Alcohol puts fat oxidation on hold while providing a large amount of calories. When there's alcohol in your bloodstream, you're not in fat burning mode.
I've never met anyone who was truly serious about fat loss or bodybuilding who was a heavy drinker. Alcohol and muscles just don't mix. The impact goes beyond added body fat; your energy levels and workouts can be affected for days after a night of heavy drinking. A glass of wine may have health benefits, but there's never any reason or excuse for binge drinking or getting drunk.
So go ahead and toast to the New Year, but know when to say when.
 
In conclusion, there's no reason to let your exercise and nutrition program spoil your holidays, but there's also no reason to let your holidays spoil your exercise and nutrition program! Put these 10 holiday tips into practice and you can start losing fat today, not next year.

 

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