4 Diet Red Flags Diet To Avoid

I talk to a lot of people about losing weight. Not only our members at Castro Valley Fitness, but other people as well. There are a lot of aspects to it, and after talking with hundreds of people about this I’ve learned many things but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how crucial the things we say to ourselves really are. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that for most people it’s much more important than the food itself.

Much More

What I want to do today is let you know some things I hear from people that are a red flag to me and why. I will also give you some suggestions so that you can make your self-talk help you reach what you are trying to achieve instead of impeding it.

One thing I need to mention before I go into all this is that, technically speaking, some of the things that we tell ourselves we should do to lose weight may actually work. The problem is when these things don’t work for the reasons we believe, put us in an unnecessarily bad frame of mind or aren’t thought about with the long-term in mind.

Let’s start with the biggest one.

Statement: I want to lose weight.

Why is this a problem? I’ve said this many times but it bears repeating:

NO ONE WANTS TO LOSE WEIGHT!

People want what they feel losing weight will get them. They want to be healthier, look better, not be in pain, feel better about themselves, etc. They just think that losing weight will help them reach those goals.

How do I improve this thinking? This is going to take some work, but you need to think about what you really want and why. Not just surface level but go deep with yourself. The people that do this succeed in their goals. The people that don’t, by and large, do not. That is because there is nothing at all inspiring or empowering about looking at a number on a scale. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.

On the other hand, getting off a medication or fitting into something you’ve been wanting to wear or being able to finish a hike or lift a weight you weren’t able to before? That really means something.

Statement: I’m just going to cut out carbs.

Why is this a problem? While it’s true that cutting out carbs may help people lose weight, it’s not because there is something evil about carbs. It’s just a way to cut calories. The problem with cutting out carbs is that for most people it’s just not sustainable. It’s not sustainable because it makes people feel like garbage and the worst thing you can do for your long-term success is force yourself to do something that makes you feel like garbage. Besides, some carbs taste good!

How do I improve this thinking? Understand that demonizing one particular food group isn’t necessarily a healthy approach. There are a lot of approaches that work but the key is to figure out something that works for you and will work for a long time.

Statement: I’m going to do this (enter name of extreme diet here). 

Why is this a problem? This one is a minefield. There are a lot of diets out there that use extreme methods to cause weight loss. What do I consider an extreme method? Anything you can’t see yourself doing some version of for the next 5 years. Also, let’s get serious. You know what an extreme diet is. Stop kidding yourself.

How do I improve this thinking? Ask yourself if you want to eat only 800 calories a day for the next five years. Do you want to drink 2-3 shakes every day for the next five years? I get it. You see the ads and they’re filled with amazing before and after pictures.

This Could Be You!!!

What you don’t see is the after-after pictures which look pretty much exactly like the original before pictures. Because all of these diets focus only on crazy methods, you will lose a good amount of weight right away, but as soon as the diet is over (and it will be because you CANNOT sustain these approaches) you will very quickly gain all of the weight you lost back and probably more. Focus more on sustainability and a slow-steady approach and you will thank yourself in the long run when you are reaching your goals and everyone who was on the other diet is worse off than when they started.

Statement: I need to do more cardio.

Why is this a problem? There are a lot of problems with this statement but let’s keep it simple and talk about the biggest one. (In case you haven’t noticed I really like simple.) When it comes to losing weight, diet is 85-90% of it. I know you see all these ads and posts about fat-burning belly-flattening exercises and 1000 calorie burning workouts, etc. It’s garbage. You can do all the cardio you want and if you don’t work on your diet it won’t mean anything. Despite what a lot of people say, you just don’t burn all that many calories exercising. Especially if most of what you do is cardio. In the long-run, the type of exercise that really gets you the most bang for your buck is strength training anyway. Yes, you should do some cardio, but for general health reasons, not for weight loss.

How do I improve this thinking? First of all, understand what really matters for weight loss. Diet. Next. Stop trying to take the easy way out. You know what I mean. Put in the work. With your nutrition and with your real motivation. No one said that was going to be easy, but I promise that once you get going and put in that initial work, you’d be surprised at how it starts to flow.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions or have any self-talk issues you need help turning around. It’s not easy, but I promise that if this is an issue for you, it’s going to be incredibly hard to make progress until it’s addressed.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

4 Ways to Improve Your Workouts at Castro Valley Fitness (Or Anywhere Else)

Today I want to talk about something a little different. A little more nitty-gritty. A little more nit-picky, if you know what I mean.

You don’t?

Well, I guess I should explain myself. We get a lot of questions from our members at Castro Valley Fitness about their exercise programs and as I was answering one of them this week I thought it would be a good idea to write an article answering some of the questions about exercising we get on a somewhat regular basis.

Let’s get to it!

How do I know when to add weight to an exercise?

Assuming your form is good (if it isn’t, you shouldn’t add weight until it is) you should add weight when you feel like you are able to get several reps more than your program calls for. In other words, if your program says 8 reps and you know you can pump out 11 or 12, ADD WEIGHT. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time.

How long should I rest between sets?

It depends. Most (this is, of course, member dependant as all of our programs are written for the individual member) of our programs at Castro Valley Fitness are set up with a main strength exercise first, a 2-4 accessory exercise circuit next, and another 2-3 accessory exercise circuit after that.

Generally speaking I would say to rest somewhere between 1-2 minutes in between the initial strength exercise sets (maybe a little bit longer between truly heavy sets) and about 1 minute or so between the accessory exercise sets. There is definitely more leeway between the strength sets but that doesn’t mean you should get lazy!!

Pullups and Bench Press are hard! Why?

You got that right! They are hard. The short answer as to why is because these exercsies use smaller muscles than deadlifts and squats. Therefore they are harder to make stronger. No it’s not just you. Everyone goes through this. Just keep working hard and you’ll improve.

What should I eat before working out?

This is a pretty individual thing. Usually I recommend something light about an hour before. Some fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts. Something like that. Try some things out and see how it feels. Whatever you eat or don’t eat, keep in mind that you want to make sure whatever you’re eating gets you through your workout.

I hope these suggestions help you get more out of your workouts. If you have any other questions please drop me a line and let me know.

Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

 

A Fitness Challenge To Help Your Back, Hips and Knees

You can’t go on social media without seeing all sorts of ridiculous fitness challenges. Plank challenges. Burpee Challenges. Abs challenges. Personally I’d rather eat glass than do a 5 minute plank. The kicker is that you know that most of the people doing these challenges are planking with somewhat less than good form.

I saw an Instagram posted fitness challenge the other day that wanted you to work out twice a day for 45 minutes each time and have no cheat meals for 75 days, along with about 4 other demands. Sure. Let me put my entire life on hold for the next 75 days to show the buff guy in the picture how awesome I am.

NOT!

Listen, if you want to try some of these things then please be my guest. You get to push yourself a little and maybe if you do it with a group it can turn into a fun thing. I’m the last person to tell someone to stop doing any kind of exercise they actually enjoy.

That being said, I thought I’d propose a fitness challenge that can actually help you and that you can even do while watching TV!

OK. Here it is. For the next seven days I want you to spend 30 minutes doing this:

Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch – Do 15 minutes each leg

It doesn’t look like much, but this simple stretch is the best thing I’ve found to loosen up your hips, back and shoulders and help improve your posture from the hips outward and you know my that your entire posture is set from the hips outward.

What does the Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch do?

This stretch focuses mainly on a muscle called the Psoas (pronounced SO-az). This is a long muscle that runs from from your lumbar spine on either side, down to just below your hips. See in this picture.

The Psoas is one of the muscles that are responsible for allowing you to move your thigh toward your torso as in this picture.

As a group, these muscle are called the Hip Flexors and the Psoas is the biggest and strongest of them.

The problem with the Psoas is that due to modern society’s tendency towards sitting, it can get pretty tight, and due to it’s attachment position at the lumbar spine, that tightness can cause postural problems which result in back, hip, knee and possibly even shoulder pain.

What the Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch does is help regain length and function in the Psoas. This helps put your body in better posture and helps reduce back pain, hip pain, knee pain and also possibly shoulder pain.

How do I do it?

Let’s refer to this picture one more time.

Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch

It really is pretty simple, but there a couple of important things to be aware of. Let’s go over it.

  1. Lie flat on your back with one leg straight and the other hip and knee bent to about 90 degrees and resting on a box or chair.
  2. The foot on the straight leg needs to be propped against something so your toes point straight up.

Keeping your toes pointing straight up on the straight leg is what allows the psoas to release and stretch. It’s also very important to have an object holding the foot straight up, not just you holding it. If you are keeping tension on the leg to hold it up under your own power,  the psoas will not relax.

If you experience back pain in this position it is likely because your psoas is a little extra tight. In this case, you need to elevate the straight leg like in this picture.

When you start the stretch, contract your thigh for a few seconds. You will likely feel the contraction close to your knee. Repeat this every 5 minutes or so. As you hold this position over time you will feel the contraction higher up your leg. When you feel that change, drop your leg a little lower.

I like to do this while watching TV at night. I’ve been through several seasons of Homeland and The Walking Dead this way. Half the show on one side and half on the other. I’ve been doing it long enough that I get a nice release from 10-15 minutes on each side although I still like to do 15-20. If you haven’t done this before it might take a bit longer. I remember the first time I did it, it felt like nothing was happening for a while and then all of a sudden my leg just started vibrating and relaxing like crazy. It was quite an experience.

What’s the challenge?

My challenge to you is simply this:

Do this stretch for 30 minutes per day (15 minutes on each leg) for the next seven days. That’s it. I’m pretty confident that you will feel some pretty powerful results. What’s most important is that you will start to realize the importance of your overall posture in how you feel and move every day.

I have found this stretch to have a massive impact on back pain, hip pain and knee pain. It very well may be the best thing I’ve found to help with these things and no, I’m not exaggerating. If you need more convincing just do a quick Google search for “Egoscue Supine Groin Stretch” and look at what comes up.

Also, if you want to have a little more fun with this challenge please post a picture on Facebook or Instagram or both. Tag me in it (Facebook or @mitchrfitness on Instagram) and use the hashtag #CVFitnessSupineGroinChallenge. Write how you feel in your post. I’ll be doing it, too.

Good luck and have fun!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, Egoscue PAS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191

 

5 Ways to Measure Progress Other Than The Scale

One of the more frustrating things we experience as trainers is when someone can’t see the proverbial forest through the trees.

What do I mean? It’s when someone has been making progress but can’t see it because the number on the scale hasn’t changed enough for them. I’ve actually had people tell me they feel better, are fitting in their clothes better, are moving better and feeling stronger, but aren’t happy because of what their scale says.

I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again.

No one’s goal is to lose weight.

Their goal is what they think losing weight will get them.

In other words, the deeper you think about your actual reasons for wanting to lose weight, the better you are able to achieve what is really driving you. I know this may not be easy, but seeing as doing this work is putting you in a much better position to actually get you what you want, don’t you think it’s worth it?

What I’m going to give you today are some ways to measure your progress other than just looking at a number.

1. How is your strength? Are you getting stronger? Simply put, there isn’t a goal you can have that getting stronger won’t help you with.

2. How do your clothes fit? Especially when you’re first starting to exercise it’s not uncommon for you to lose some inches even though the scale isn’t moving.

3. How is your energy and mood? Many studies show that exercise is just as good, if not better, than medications for certain kinds of depression and exercise also helps you even out

4. How is your pain? Are you moving with less pain? Good movement can be the medicine for joint pain and general creakiness.

5. How are your workouts? Are you able to do more work in the same or less time? Are you able to do more challenging exercises? That means your overall condition is improving!

Really there are a ton of ways to measure progress that are probably a lot better than some number that can fluctuate 3-5 pounds over the course of an average day. Figure out what is really important to you (it’s not the scale) and measure your progress in a way that relates to that. Let me know if I can help with that. It’s very important, but not necessarily easy.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, ​Egoscue PAS​
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility
We Help People Discover Their Strength

 

 

Your Five Keys to Success

Today we are going back to basics. I can talk (or write) your ear off about all sorts of different fitness or nutrition topics. At Castro Valley Fitness we have conversations about all sorts of things along those lines but none of that really means much without the basics.

As you can see from this picture:

5 Keys to Success

we have what we feel are the 5 Keys To Success written on our wall. I can pretty much guarantee that if you aren’t achieving results then you aren’t doing one or more of these things.

Let’s get into it.

  1. Be consistent.

Simply put, nothing works without consistency. Any kind of real lasting improvement must be done intentionally, and that doesn’t happen without consistency. Very few meaningful things in life are accomplished all at once. It’s usually the end product of a lot of hard work.

  1. Work hard.

If consistency is number one, then hard work is 1A. There is no substitute for simple hard work. There are no secrets to anything, whether it’s losing weight, moving better, getting more flexible or stronger or anything else. When you exercise, work to the best of your ability and push yourself appropriately. Remember this: without consistency and hard work, nothing else matters. You won’t get anywhere.

  1. Be engaged.

If you have a coach, do your best to listen to their cues so that you get the most from your efforts. Pay attention to how the proper form and posture feel. Don’t just go through the motions. What are the things you’re doing supposed to be helping you with? If you can’t answer that question than how are you supposed to know what is working and what isn’t? If you don’t know that, then you are basically just throwing things against the wall and probably wasting your time.

  1. Ask questions.

Believe it or not, there are reasons behind a good exercise program. If you have any questions at all about your program ask your coach if you have one. If you don’t, then do some research and find out.  We love it when our members ask us about their program because we love to talk about this stuff! The more you know about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the more you can get out of it. By the way, if your coach can’t tell you why you’re doing something, that may be a red flag.

  1. Follow your program.

Any good program is written with your goals in mind, and there should be a reason behind everything. From the exercises themselves to the number of sets, reps, the order of the exercises, the rest periods and everything else, you and your goals should be taken into account. If you simply follow the program, you are giving yourself the best chance at success. By the way, if you don’t have a program you need to get one! There’s a million books out there and I also know a very good gym that could help!

Do you know a good gym?

I feel pretty confident that these keys can really help you out. If you feel like you’re having trouble with any of these things, please drop me a line and let me know. We’ll figure it out together!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

5 Easy Ways To Get Better Results in 2019

Happy New Year everyone!! I hope you all had a great holiday season. 2019 is upon us!!!! I hope you’re looking forward to it.

I know this is the time of year a lot of people set their goals for the next 12 months, so I wanted to give you a few ways to help you achieve even better results in 2019.

Here we go!!

  1. Don’t use your age as an excuse. This is going to be a new rule we have at Castro Valley Fitness starting this year. If you keep telling yourself that you are going to feel lousy because you’re getting older than you will. If you tell yourself that it doesn’t matter and you can keep getting better than you’ll find that to be the case. Don’t make me write more about self-talk please!
  2. Be engaged. Don’t just go through the motions. Think about what you’re doing. Feel what you’re doing. Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Ask questions. I promise you that you’ll get so much more from an exercise if you do these things. Are you feeling planks in your arms or shoulders? Do you think rows are an arm exercise? If you answered yes to these questions then you need to engage.
  3. Understand that exercise has very little to do with weight loss. If you want to lose weight and you think that exercising alone will do it, I’m sorry to tell you that it won’t. Diet is AT LEAST 80-90% of weight loss. Exercise can be an important and very helpful component, especially in the long run, but please hear me on this. IF YOU DON’T WORK ON YOUR DIET YOU WILL NOT LOSE WEIGHT!!!!! 

    Weight Loss Is About Diet!!

  4. Be consistent. This is simple. You won’t get results if you don’t show up. I’d rather someone have ten “B” workouts than 3 “A” workouts.
  5. Work hard. You don’t need to work out like a crazy person to get results, but you do have to work hard. You know if you are or not. Don’t lie to yourself. Are doing 10 squats at a weight you could do 20 squats with? Are you taking 90 minutes to do a 60 minute workout? 

These are just a few ways to make sure that your 2019 is even better than your 2018. Some may apply to you and some may not but I hope that this at least gets your mind working a little bit.

Remember that 2020 is coming whether you like it or not so please don’t look back a year from now and regret not doing something.

Let me know how I can help.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, Egoscue PAS, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility
We Help People Discover Their Strength

 

 

Your Feet, Pain and Posture

So much of the time the feet are the missing link for people when it comes to pain and performance. Think about it. Your feet are the thing that connects you with the ground and lets your body know where you are, how to move and what to feel!

If you have knee, hip or back pain I’m betting that you have some issues there that need to be addressed and if you just want to perform better in the gym getting your feet working better can be a HUGE improvement.

In this video I’ll show you a simple test that will let you see what is going on with your feet, knees and how it relates to your hips and back.

Let’s talk feet!

 

Mitch Rothbardt
Castro Valley Fitness
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191

The Danger Zone!!

We’re heading towards the Danger Zone! No, I’m not talking about Top Gun. I’m talking about the holiday season.

Every year I see people fall into the same traps. I know it’s not easy, but I also know that there are ways around it that can help you actually enjoy this time with your family and friends instead of stress over it.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

What’s More Important, Losing Weight or Adding Muscle?

I overheard a question the other day.

“What’s more important, losing weight or adding muscle?”

HMMM…

If I know one thing, it’s that there is a ton of information out there. Some of it good and helpful, but much of it pretty crummy and confusing. This question is an opportunity to hopefully sort some of that out.

Obviously this question is very general, so I’m going to put some parameters on it. We’re going to assume the following:

  • The person’s overall goal is weight loss for general reasons such as overall health and appearance
  • The person is generally healthy, meaning no serious injuries or illnesses
  • The person does not have a long history with intense resistance training

Also, it’s important to understand that when we say adding muscle, we are NOT talking about becoming a huge bodybuilder. We are talking about adding some lean body, and if you want more definition to your body YOU MUST ADD LEAN BODY!! The assumption with someone with these goals is that as you add lean body you are also decreasing body fat, thereby making you smaller. Take a look at this picture if you need a little clarification on that.

Muscle is denser than fat making the same weight much smaller!

OK. Let’s start with this.

Adding muscle and losing fat are done mostly with two different processes. Losing fat is done largely with diet and adding muscle is done largely in the gym. Now this doesn’t mean that the gym and diet aren’t involved with both to varying degrees, but for the most part losing fat is done with diet and adding muscle is done in the gym.

What does that mean? Well, it means that these things are not necessarily mutually exclusive. You can do both, to some extent. Note that the person we’re talking about does not have a long history with intense resistance training.

At home you can work on your diet and in the gym you can exercise with purpose and intensity and try hard to get stronger. Both of these things should be done if you’re trying to lose weight.

As to which is more important this is a tougher question. Here’s the thing, when you are trying to lose weight it would still be very helpful to include resistance training in your routine. Although you might not have a goal to build muscle per se, this can be a big help in a couple of different ways:

  1. More muscle means a higher metabolism. This means that instead of our metabolism slowing down as we lose weight (which it will) the muscle allows it to stay as high as possible which makes it easier and more manageable to either continue with weight loss or maintain it.
  2. More muscle gives us better nutrient partitioning. This is the process where your body decides what to do with the food you’re eating. The more muscle you have and the more resistance training you do, the more your body will take that food and use it to maintain and build muscle as opposed to adding fat.

What does this all mean when it comes to the original question?

“What’s more important, losing weight or adding muscle?”

Well, here is my answer:

I think that whatever your goal is, that is what’s most important. If you want to lose weight, then that is most important (by the way, figuring out WHY you want to lose weight is a huge key to this whole thing). Having said that, adding muscle would be a huge advantage to this whole process, especially in the long term.

I hope this gets you thinking a little differently about what you’re doing. Please let me know if you have any questions about how to make this all work for you.

Thanks!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com

 

What Can Age Do For You?

I got a great question yesterday from one of our members, Sandy Laines. Here it is:

“Should I think at age 70….75…. I can still lift the same weight I can at 60? Are there factors that will limit my ability no matter how much I try the older I get?”

Now, essentially she is talking about performance. Can you do the same things as you get older?

I think this is a great question and I’m actually very happy that Sandy, in particular, asked it. Let me tell you why.

Sandy is one of our powerlifters at Castro Valley Fitness. She’s getting ready for a meet in about 5 weeks. In the past month she’s deadlifted 290 lbs, squatted 240 lbs and benched 140 lbs. By the way, Sandy is 63. I would hazard a guess and say that Sandy is stronger than the vast majority of people, men or women, of any age out there.

I tell you this because, to answer her question, of course age does things to us. It would be silly for me to deny that. However, Sandy started with us 7 years ago at 56 years old. If I were to tell you that someone in her mid-50s would be significantly stronger in her early 60s you probably wouldn’t have believed me if all you thought about was age.

Yes age matters, but in my opinion it’s incredibly over-rated as a factor in people’s health. I’ve trained people of all ages and I’ve heard people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s all complain about their age. The biggest line through all of this is this: the ones who use age as an excuse most often are also the ones who get the worst results.

Posture, strength, mobility, activity level, diet and overall mentality ALL have a MUCH BIGGER EFFECT on your condition than age.

It may surprise you but I put absolutely no thought into someones age when I write a program for them.

I think about their goals, injury history, exercise history, posture, mobility, mentality, likes and dislikes and age doesn’t enter into it at all. What kind of service would I give someone like Sandy if I just gave her some stock “Age 63” workout program?

Well, this is a pretty long answer to a question I’m not 100% sure Sandy even asked, so let me answer her question quickly and directly.

Age certainly changes things in our body that we can’t control, but many of those changes can be mitigated partially or even completely through diet and exercise. How this will affect individuals is very difficult to say as there are many factors that vary from person to person.

Whether you will be able to lift more weight later in life may have as much to do with your overall talent level, dedication, and general health than age itself, although age will  certainly be a factor. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s really impossible to say exactly. There are things working against you but everyone is different in this regard. The one thing I can tell you from my own experience, as I am a powerlifter who has probably maxed out his talent level to a large extent, is to try not attach so much significance to sheer numbers. I know how hard this is because this is what we powerlifters judge ourselves by, but do your best to just enjoy the process of lifting.

After all, we don’t HAVE to lift. We GET to lift. It is a privilege to be able to do that. I wish more people could understand that. If they did then I really believe that age would cease to be such an easy excuse.

Anyway, that’s what I have to say about it. What questions do you have about age?

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191