Monday, November 30, 2015

Martial Arts Form Turns an Attack Into Opportunity

Workout Tips

In aikido, the body awareness and principles of breathing and energy that one learns on the mat can be applied off the mat as well.
Workout Tips What’s Your Workout

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Training With the Stars

Workout Tips

Sunny Shah, a sports agent in the National Football League, is surrounded by elite athletes and has picked up some valuable training tips from them.
Workout Tips What’s Your Workout

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For Workout Gains, Embrace Variety

Workout Tips

Changing the types of workouts you do helps encourage well-rounded growth.
Workout Tips What’s Your Workout

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6 healthy habits you’re already doing (and don’t even know it). Use the “secret weapons” you already possess to get in better shape.

Workout Tips

Inside you are secret weapons: healthy habits and skills that can help you get in the best shape of your life. The best part: these are healthy habits you’re already doing and probably don’t even know it.


One of the most damaging myths in the fitness industry is this:

Getting in shape requires a huge lifestyle change.

Every day, we hear stories like these:

  • The celebrity who lost 50 pounds… “simply” by giving up gluten, going vegetarian, and working with a personal trainer seven days a week.
  • The 400-pound client who was boot-camped into shape on reality TV.
  • The blogger who discovered ultimate health and wellness by “only”  swearing off sugar, giving up wine, becoming a yogi and maintaining a constant Instagram halo of serenity.

Who wants to change everything about their lives?

Who wants to be told that everything they love and hold dear is wrong, poison, toxic… and should be replaced by sheer hard work?

And so, surrounded by all these examples, most of us quietly give up on health and fitness, before we even start.

That’s a shame.

Because the truth is, you don’t have to do any of that stuff to get into great shape.

Changing your body and improving your health is as simple as:

  • making small (but strategic) healthy choices, and
  • doing them consistently.

Here’s the really great part:

You’re probably already making some of these healthy choices — or at least have the building blocks to start making them.

You already have your health and fitness secret weapons.

You just don’t know it yet.

Our clients’ most common secret weapons.

We recently surveyed over 1,300 clients and learned that, before working with us, most had a stash of healthy habits they were already following.

We call these “secret weapons”.

They’re small but crucial practices that seem totally ordinary and mundane — but when focused on, and done consistently, they lead to dramatic results.

Many of our most successful clients shared the same secret weapons, including the ability to:

And once they started harnessing the power of these secret weapons, their progress really took off.

So, in this article, you’ll learn:

  • The six most common secret weapons from our most successful clients.
  • What those skills look like, in “easy” and “advanced” form.
  • How you can take advantage of those skills.

Maybe you share these same secret weapons. If so, you can start tapping into their power.

And if you don’t, not to worry — consider this inspiration to find your own. You might be closer than you think!

Secret Weapon #1:
You can probably cook
(even if you think you can’t).

“I’m a good cook, and I like to experiment with new foods. I’m not afraid to try new things, and I already have a few healthy recipes I love to make.”  — PN Coaching Client

preparing food

What it is

Easy version

Even those who say they “can’t cook” have some basics in their arsenal.

If you can chop veggies and wash lettuce, you know how to make a salad.

If you can fry an egg, or bake a chicken breast, or heat up a can of beans, you know how to prepare some protein.

Perhaps you can make yourself a killer bowl of oatmeal or a delicious smoothie in the morning.

Maybe you’re a master microwaver. Or a slow-cooker superstar.

Sure, there’s room for advancement. But if you know how to do any of this stuff, you can cook. And that’s a great starting point.

Advanced version

Where some people only see a bunch of random ingredients — chicken, bell peppers, onions, maybe a carrot or two — you see a meal taking shape. Your brain starts to fill in the pieces.

You think: “I could make chili. Or tacos. Or soup.”

Plus, you’ve probably got some techniques up your sleeve: Maybe you know how to chop an onion like a pro, or you’ve perfected a roast chicken, or you bake the best cookies.

Maybe you’re not cooking the healthiest stuff… yet. But that’s OK.

As you learn about nutrition, you’ll learn how to level up even further, and make your meals extra healthy.

Why it’s awesome

The ability to cook is a truly life-changing skill, and one that will serve you well.

Especially when you consider that what you eat has the power to change how you look and feel.

If you know how to cook, you know how to make magic happen.

You can nourish your body with high-quality ingredients. You can combine random ingredients into a meal.

And you can make it taste good.

How to use it

To make the most of your cooking skills, try this:

  • Learn about our favorite healthy foods, and how to cook with them, by checking out the Encyclopedia of Food.
  • Borrow a new cookbook or two from the library. Or get some new healthy recipe ideas from our Gourmet Nutrition cookbook.
  • Thinking about balance and portion sizes? Next time you cook, try matching your meal to our Calorie Control Guide.

And don’t forget: Cooking takes practice. Experiment, have fun, and don’t worry if you mess up a few meals along the way.

Secret Weapon #2:
You can walk.

“We got a new puppy a few months ago, and we’re bringing her on daily walks through the woods.” — PN Coaching Client

“I take my son for a walk almost every day. And I also walk to work while listening to podcasts.” — PN Coaching Client

Woman walking

What it is

Easy version

Maybe you don’t think you have time to “exercise.”

But you’re already walking, even if it’s just a little bit throughout the day:

  • You walk through your house.
  • You walk to lunch.
  • You park your car at the grocery store and walk to the front door. And then you walk through the aisles, pushing a cart or carrying a small basket. (Which is pretty much resistance training when you think about it. After all, a basket is just a dumbbell that holds produce and milk.)

All exercise is simply movement. And one form of movement is walking.

Therefore: walking = exercise.

Advanced version

You own this superpower if you love to walk and know how to give it that extra “edge”.

For example:

  • Bend your knees a little more while you’re walking, and suddenly you’re lunging.
  • Lift your arms over your head and you’ve got a nice stretch. Speed up a bit and let your arms swing naturally.
  • Pick up the pace. Maybe find a hill. Or take the stairs.
  • Maybe even strap on some weights or a weighted backpack for a little extra challenge.

Walking for the win!

Why it’s awesome

Walking offers loads of health benefits, from head to toe (literally). It can be a gentle recovery activity or a challenging form of cardio, depending on how you do it.

It can be a good stress reliever, or even a form of meditation. And it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the benefits of sunshine.

Plus, it’s easy to do any time, and doesn’t require any extra equipment other than a pair of shoes.

How to use it

Find small ways to walk more throughout the day.

Depending on your preferences you can go solo, take the dog, make it a family activity, or join a walking group.

Some of our clients’ favorite ways to walk include:

  • taking phone calls while walking around the neighborhood,
  • walking to eat lunch in a different part of town,
  • going for a morning or evening walk with their partner, and
  • taking the dog for a walk or hike in a wooded area.

Secret Weapon #3:
You’re already exercising without realizing it.

“I LOVE being outdoors and having unstructured active time with my family.” — PN Coaching Client

“I know that I prefer to do something ‘fun’ for exercise most of the time such as dancing and group classes. I don’t particularly love to go to the gym and just lift weights or do cardio by myself.” — PN Coaching Client

Little boy playing Frisbee

What it is

Easy version

Lots of people think “working out” means going into a gym and lifting weights. Sure, it can be. But it doesn’t have to be.

If you take part in an activity or hobby that gets you out and gets you moving, you have a big advantage already.

For example:

  • running around and playing with your kids at the local playground
  • playing a game of touch football, hockey, or basketball with your friends
  • gardening or taking a stroll around the neighborhood
  • taking a dance or Zumba class (or just dancing to your favorite songs by yourself at home with the music cranked up!)

If you’ve ever done something fun and caught yourself sweating or breathing hard at the same time, guess what: You’ve exercised.

(And hey, if you haven’t moved your body for a long time, think back to an activity you used to like. What did you love to do as a child? Or what did you wish you could try back then? How might it feel to try out one of those activities now?)

Advanced version

Sure, maybe you hate the gym. Maybe you think you never work out.

And yet you’ve got a sport or physical activity you love.

It might be yoga, hiking, cycling, skiing, swimming, skateboarding, or just about any other activity that involves movement.

The point isn’t to get fit — though you might be hoping for some health benefits. You do it cause it’s fun. And maybe because you’ve got some friends who enjoy it with you.

This is actually exercise of the best sort: the kind you love to do.

Why it’s awesome

We all know that exercise is good for us. But what you may not know is that fun physical activity — the kind that doesn’t even feel like exercise — is even better.

We’re more inclined to do stuff we like. Plus, if we enjoy the activity, we’re less likely to “reward” ourselves with unhealthy treats afterward.

Any exercise you already like is a building block. It can improve your confidence and willingness to try new things.

And that leads to improving your overall physical fitness.

How to use it

Think about what kind of movement you already enjoy.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve last done it, make the commitment to do it at least once this week. Schedule it in your calendar so you look forward to it.

Already enjoying your activity consistently? Try adding one more day to your weekly schedule.

It may not seem like much, but increasing your activity just a little will help you reach your goals faster.

Secret Weapon #4:
You’re willing to accept help.

“I’ve had great experiences working with a personal trainer in the past; I embrace the whole philosophy of expert knowledge and guidance.” — PN Coaching Client

“I know that there are a lot of ways for me to succeed and that with proper guidance I can find the ones that work best for me. I’m open to coaching. Especially having someone to check in with and help inspire me and keep me accountable.” — PN Coaching Client


What it is

Easy version

You’ve learned that It’s hard to accomplish big things by yourself.

And while that might make you feel kinda disappointed, it’s actually pretty awesome.

Because most of us start out thinking we can do everything by ourselves and the truth is… we can’t.

So if you’re at the stage where you know you need other people, you’re already well on your way.

Advanced version

You’re committed to change, and you are actively seeking support from people who know what they’re doing.

That support can take many forms:

  • Maybe it’s asking friends or co-workers what they did to get in better shape.
  • Maybe it’s arranging to meet a friend at the gym or grocery store.
  • Maybe it’s hiring a coach, trainer, nutritionist or a program like ours to guide you through the process and keep you accountable.

Whatever it may be, reaching out and accepting help is a great start.

(Fun fact: A good percentage of people who join our nutrition coaching program have worked with a personal trainer in the past. In fact, that’s often why they decide to work with us in Precision Nutrition Coaching: They know the power and results that come from making yourself accountable to a team of experts and a dedicated coach.)

Why it’s awesome

As PN co-founder, Phil Caravaggio likes to say, “Nothing worth doing can be done alone.”

This is especially true when it comes to making health and fitness changes.

Support from other people can add fun and encouragement to the process. It can allow you to learn from others who have gone before, and it might allow you to prevent mistakes and sidestep slip-ups.

But perhaps the best thing about external support is accountability.

In fact, accountability may be the single most important factor in achieving your goals. It even trumps knowledge, experience, and motivation.

And yet many people shy away from asking for help. They resist accountability and want to prove they can do it on their own.

So if you’re willing to embrace support from others, you’ve got a major superpower on your hands.

How to use it

If you’re truly open to receiving help from an expert, take the leap and ask for it.

(Tip: if you could use some help with your nutrition and would like to have a coach keep you accountable, check out the Precision Nutrition Coaching Program. It only opens twice per year, and the next registration period begins on January 13th.)

Secret Weapon #5:
You’re an organized planner and list-maker.

“I am masterful at scheduling and time management. Whenever I commit to something, I make it a priority.” — PN Coaching Client

Making A Goal List

What it is

Easy version

You use a calendar or a diary. You schedule your kids’ appointments, and your business meetings, and you keep them (at least most of the time).

You have some kind of reminder system for yourself to get things done, whether it’s post-it notes or alarms on your phone.

Heck, even if you’re using an alarm clock to get out of bed in the morning you’re already following a schedule.

You might not be a master planner yet, but you’ve already got the foundation.

Advanced version

You’ve got your calendar all filled out, color-coded, and reminder-ready. Excel is your happy place.

You’ve never forgotten an appointment. In fact, you’re probably always a few minutes early.

Chaos? Bring it on, baby. Organization is your middle name.

These skills mean making time for health and fitness will be relatively easy for you. Now all you need is the right information and a clear plan of attack.

Why it’s awesome

The reason lots of people don’t get in better shape is because they simply don’t make time for it.

People who are successful at fitness stop waiting for the “perfect time”, and they don’t depend on our fickle friends motivation and inspiration, either.

Instead, they depend on what we call the “3 Ss”:

  • structure,
  • systems, and
  • scheduling.

If you can use your organizational capabilities to bring structure, systems, and/or scheduling to your health and fitness activities, you’ll be well on your way to success.

How to use it

Pull up a calendar and look at your schedule. Do you currently have anything involving your health and fitness scheduled?

Carve out time for 1-2 things you want to start doing.

For example,

  • Insert a “cook healthy dinner on Sunday night” calendar entry.
  • Schedule an appointment to “meet Jordan at the gym on Thursday morning”.
  • Or set a daily reminder that pings you at the same time every morning and reminds you to “do 10 body-weight squats and 5 push-ups.”

For more ideas of what to schedule, consider checking out our free Starter Kit for Men or Starter Kit for Women.

Secret Weapon #6:
You have a strong team.

“I have a supportive family who wants to see me succeed.” — PN Coaching Client

“My daughter is my biggest cheerleader.” — PN Coaching Client

“My wife shares similar goals; we’re in this together.” — PN Coaching Client

Mother and daughter makeing yoga in the gym

What it is

Easy version

It might be just one person.

A friend or family member who gets you.

Or your dog, who absolutely insists you take him for a walk in the morning.

Or your kid who is always up for a game of “see who can run the fastest”.

This is the beginning of a support system: a team of people who will help you along your fitness journey.

And you might not even know it yet, but the support of this one person may be the biggest secret weapon you have.

Advanced version

Your support team is a few different people, who each bring something different to the table.

Your spouse and kids already know about your fitness goals, and they’re on board to help.

Plus, you’ve got a few friends who enjoy the same sports or hobbies as you. Or maybe a sibling or co-worker who’s game for a little healthy competition.

Perhaps you’ve also talked to your doctor, who’s monitoring your blood levels and helping track your health improvements.

Bonus: if you’re in a program like PN coaching, you’ve not only got a coach, you’re also tapped into a virtual community of people going through the exact same thing as you.

Together, these people form your team. They’re cheering you on, inspiring you, teaching you, and helping you edge forward, bit by bit.

That is some really powerful stuff.

Why it’s awesome

Earlier we said that it’s hard to accomplish big things on your own.

Having a family member, spouse, friend — or any mix of those people — by your side can make a big difference in the kind of results you get.

Your support system can help cheer you up when you’re feeling down. They can cook and eat healthy meals with you. They can take the kids to school while you do your workout. They can join you for long walks.

They can listen and understand and even know the struggle themselves. And they can be your reason for dragging your butt out of bed early on a Saturday morning.

If you currently have someone (or someones) around you that are 100% supportive of your goals, you arguably have the biggest secret weapon of all.

How to use it

Identify the people in your local support network and thank them. Do something nice for them. Talk with them and see how you can help them accomplish a big goal.

The best support systems are mutual.

If you can find a way to actively help the people you care about, they’re more likely to help you when you really need it.

What to do next

1. Start to shift your mindset from all-or-nothing to small successes.

Contrary to fitness industry mythology, health and fitness isn’t built from an overnight lifestyle overhaul.

It’s built by doing small, simple practices… consistently.

This is good news for all of us. The more we start adapting to this mindset, the more progress we’ll make.

Recognize that you’re probably further ahead than you think.

Start to look for your own secret weapons: the small, healthy practices that may seem totally ordinary and mundane, but when focused on and done consistently, can lead to dramatic results.

2. Review the above list of secret weapons.

Review the above list of secret weapons and consider which you may already have.

Hint: Don’t forget to review the “easy version” of each — you might have some of these strengths in the making, even if you don’t know it yet!

If you don’t have these secret weapons yet, consider how might you get just a little bit closer to making them part of your arsenal.

Are there some small things you could do to start building these skills?

3. Take stock of your own secret weapons.

Think about what other secret weapons you might have.

What small things are you already doing?

And what skills or talents do you have that might be helpful?

How might these be helpful to you in your fitness journey?

4. Identify some ways that you can start taking advantage of your secret weapons.

How could you start using these secret weapons to your advantage?

For example, could you…

  • Cook up an extra side dish of veggies at dinner tonight? Or try out a new healthy recipe?
  • Park further from the office to give yourself an extra 5-minute walk?
  • Squeeze in one more fun physical activity you enjoy?
  • Ask for advice from a trusted friend or family member who has health habits you admire?
  • Schedule a workout or do some meal planning?
  • Meet up with a member of your support system?

You don’t have to do all these things at once. (See ‘what to do next’, #1.)

Just look for something small. Something simple you can do today, that builds on what you already have.

The best place to start is where you already are.

Ready for the next step?
Consider Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Sometimes we can know our secret weapons and still struggle. That’s just a part of life.

If you want to get in better shape and want some help figuring out what to focus on, we’d love to help you.

In our Precision Nutrition Coaching Program, we’ve worked with over 35,000 men and women and helped them get into the best shape of their lives—all without radical lifestyle changes.

First, we learn about you and your life: what your goals are and what you need.

Then we take complex nutrition and exercise science and simplify it into an easy-to-follow plan.

Finally, we pair you with a coach who’s there to help keep you on-track and consistent, no matter what happens.

We only open our doors twice per year and coaching spots typically sell out in hours.

However, those motivated enough to put themselves on the presale list get to register 24 hours before everyone else. Plus, they receive a big discount at registration.

So put your name on the list below—because, as always, spots are first come, first served, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

The post 6 healthy habits you’re already doing (and don’t even know it). Use the “secret weapons” you already possess to get in better shape. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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Precision Nutrition

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Natural treatments for the most common medical problems. The lifestyle advice that helps our clients (and can help you, too).

Workout Tips

Wondering about natural treatments for high cholesterol? Blood pressure? Diabetes? Autoimmune disease? Thyroid? Lots of clients come to us after being diagnosed with something new (and scary). We help them eat, exercise, and supplement to turn things around.


On the face of it, what we do at Precision Nutrition — helping people lose weight and look and feel their best — must seem like lots of fun.

In many ways, it is. We help our clients work healthy eating and exercise into their lives in ways that work for them, and then 12 months later I get to share their inspiring nutrition-coaching stories, full of challenges, doubts, perseverance, and triumph — along with their amazing before and after shots.

I’ll admit, those aspects are really exciting.

But most of our clients come to us for a reason that’s much more serious than wanting to look better.

Check this out:


A remarkable number of the people who sign up for our nutrition coaching programs are dealing with a specific health problem. Many are on multiple prescriptions and OTC drugs.

And they’re not cool with that.

They used to feel all right. But then they went to the doctor and got scary news, like having:

It’s a turning point.

Since a lot of these health problems don’t have obvious symptoms (or don’t have symptoms that you’d know how to trace until you’re diagnosed), a lot of clients say that it feels like going from “healthy” to “unhealthy” overnight.

They don’t want to be on meds for the rest of their lives. They want to feel — to be — healthy again. They want control.

The good news: There’s help. And often, another path.

Sure, I like helping people get into shape and improve their daily habits. But honestly, giving people the information, accountability, and support to address these types of health problems through nutrition and other lifestyle choices is far more exciting to me.

Because this is the kind of stuff that truly changes — or even maybe saves — lives.

That’s why I called my friend Dr. Spencer Nadolsky. He’s a board-certified obesity and family medicine physician (as well as a certified PN Level 1 and 2 coach). Together, we came up with guidelines for dealing with these health problems naturally.


High cholesterol

Clogged artery and atherosclerosis disease medical concept with a three dimensional human artery with blood cells that is blocked by plaque buildup of cholesterol as a symbol of arteriosclerotic vascular diseases.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that has a lot of important roles in the body. In other words, we need it.

But when you have too much cholesterol, the lipoproteins carrying it can get caught in the artery walls, combining with calcium, fat, cellular waste, and fibrin (a material involved in blood clotting) to form the plaques that cause clogs.

It’s important to know that high cholesterol isn’t just one thing: You could have high total cholesterol, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and/or high triglycerides (another measure of fat in the blood).

So, why’s it high? Well, sometimes high cholesterol is genetic. Other times it’s from eating too much saturated fat (from animal foods) and not enough plants.

What your diagnosis means

A basic cholesterol test usually includes a lipid profile, and has a few key components.

1. Lipoprotein cholesterol

Lipoproteins transport cholesterol around the body (basically, imagine passengers riding an inner tube in a water ride, and you get the idea).

A typical test includes:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, aka “bad cholesterol”. In general, you want the number of these to be lower.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, aka “good cholesterol”. These bring cholesterol back to the liver for recycling and processing. Higher numbers here are usually good.

2. Triglycerides

Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body. Usually, you want these to be lower.

3. Total cholesterol

This is the total level of cholesterol in your blood.

Cholesterol tends to go up with age, but it doesn’t have to. Many populations, especially in regions that still eat traditional diets, have good blood chemistry throughout their lives.

The good news: Research shows that lowering your cholesterol sooner rather than later can curb your risk of cardiovascular disease.

(For more on understanding your lab tests, see

What you can do about it

Statin drugs and other blood lipid lowering chemicals are often seen as a quick fix.

Yet these drugs can come with side effects like memory loss, difficulty concentrating, lowered exercise tolerance, muscle pain, and depression — which, ironically, make it pretty tough to prioritize lifestyle changes that could turn your health around.

While these meds may be needed in many cases, revamping your diet can be a powerful supplementary — or even alternative — treatment.

If your LDL cholesterol level is between 160 and 190 and you don’t have heart disease, diabetes, or other risk factors, Dr. Nadolsky says, ask your doc about lifestyle changes you can make before going on meds.

If your LDL level is above 190, most doctors will insist on a prescription — unless they can trace your levels to an obvious diet choice (for example, more than one of Dr. Nadolsky’s patients have seen cholesterol go down when they rein in their Bulletproof Coffee habit).

Using these lifestyle strategies can help you avoid meds (or reduce the amount of time you’re on them).


When body fat goes down, cholesterol and especially triglycerides go down.

So if you’re overweight, consider changing your habits to get to a healthy weight. (Luckily, most people see benefits from even a little weight loss, perhaps just a few pounds. You don’t have to become an underwear model to be healthy.)

Dr. Nadolsky says a diet based heavily on plants is a good bet.

This will help you:

You don’t have to give up meat completely. Just add more plants.

Some ways to get there:

  • Add one serving of vegetables and/or fruits to each meal. Look for colorful plants (such as dark leafy greens, orange carrots, or purple berries), and add a handful or two to each meal.
  • Look for whole grain substitutes where possible. Think wild or brown rice instead of white; sprouted bread instead of white bread; or oats instead of your regular breakfast cereal. Adding these whole grains may lower your risk of clogged arteries by 30 percent.
  • Add a serving of legumes. Foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas not only taste good; they’re high in fiber, which binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract.
  • Add nuts, seeds, fatty fish (such as salmon), avocado, and olive oil. They contain healthy fats, which lower LDL and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol).

If you have high triglycerides, try lowering your sugar intake. Since your liver uses sugar to make triglycerides, less sugar means less excess blood fat.


Working out — especially a combo of cardio and resistance work — helps lower cholesterol by:

  • helping you lose body fat (remember: less body fat equals less blood fat);
  • changing certain enzymes that can decrease your triglycerides; and
  • helping lower stress (which also contributes to poor cholesterol profiles and CVD).

If possible, do a little something every day. Even a 20-minute walk after a meal can tidy up triglycerides.

Work up to about 5 hours a week, and try to do a mix of low- and high-intensity activity, including weights, intervals, and low-intensity cardio. All activity — whether in the gym or not — counts!


Each of these supplements could independently play a role in helping manage cholesterol levels. (Which means you don’t have to take all of them to see benefits). Of course, always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.

  • Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids from fish may lower triglycerides by as much as 30 percent. Dosage: approximately 4 g per day.
  • Berberine: This plant alkaloid may help lower cholesterol by upregulating LDL receptors on the liver, thereby decreasing the LDL in your bloodstream. Dosage: 500 mg 2-3 times a day.
  • Spirulina: A type of blue algae, research shows that spirulina may help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by 10 percent and 24 percent respectively. Dosage: 4,500 mg per day.
  • Red rice yeast extract: It contains the same ingredient found in statin drugs — so should be taken only under your doctor’s supervision. Dosage: 600 to 1200 mg twice a day with food.
  • Plant sterols/stanols: These may be effective at blocking cholesterol absorption. Dosage: 2 g per day.
  • Soluble fiber: It can help lower cholesterol by trapping cholesterol in the gut and reducing absorption. Dosage: 5-10 grams daily.

By the end of the Precision Nutrition program, Ken’s resting heart rate had gone from 96 beats per minute to 59. His blood pressure reading was 110/60. And after his cholesterol test, his doctor called him. “Nobody your age is supposed to be this healthy,” his doctor said. “I need the information about this program so I can give it to my other patients.”

Type 2 diabetes


In Type 2 diabetes, there’s a problem with insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas when blood sugar goes up, usually after a meal.

Insulin resistance and/or an inappropriate insulin response can prevent glucose from being properly stored. This leads to chronic high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by:

  • obesity (especially fat in the abdominal cavity)
  • cardiovascular disease
  • systemic inflammation
  • muscles that don’t store nutrients well

What your diagnosis means

Type 2 diabetes dramatically increases the risk of premature death and disability.

For example:

  • At least 65 percent of people with diabetes die of some form of cardiovascular disease, like a heart attack or stroke.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20 to 74 years.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

What you can do about it

Your doctor may have put you on one or more medications to stimulate insulin production, inhibit glucose production, or improve insulin sensitivity.

Regardless of what med(s) you’re on, lifestyle changes are the foundation of treating type 2 diabetes.


Any eating style that helps you lose weight is going to improve your blood sugar level. That’s because when fat in the abdomen and surrounding your organs goes away, insulin resistance starts to go away, too, Dr. Nadolsky says.

There are lots of arguments for a moderate-carb Mediterranean-style diet, which research shows can control blood sugar control and reduce waist circumference better than other diets.

That’s because the diet:

  • reduces the processed sugars and starches that you’re consuming, helping decrease blood sugar.
  • replaces saturated fat (from foods like butter and red meat) with healthy fats (from fatty fish and olive oil).
  • increases plant intake, which provides phytonutrients that may improve insulin sensitivity and fiber, which slows your sugar absorption.


Working out helps control Type 2 diabetes by:

  • improving blood sugars and insulin sensitivity (especially high-intensity interval training);
  • reducing body fat;
  • improving cardiovascular function; and
  • reducing stress.

Work with your doctor on your exercise plan, since diabetes affects how your body metabolizes energy. Considerations include:

  • what type of medication(s);
  • when you take it;
  • your blood sugar levels before exercise (and how your blood sugar responds during exercise);
  • what you’ve eaten before exercising; and
  • what type of exercise you’re doing.


Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.

  • Berberine: This plant alkaloid may help type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. Dosage: 500 mg 2-3 times a day.

“I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic before I started Precision Nutrition Coaching. I had pills to take, check-ups, tests… It cost a lot of money, and I wasn’t addressing the real problem. But now I haven’t been to the doctor in over a year, except for one routine check-up. My doctor’s amazed at the progress I’ve made.” – Precision Nutrition Client

High blood pressure

3d rendered illustration of arteriosklerosis

In the past, you hardly paid attention to these two numbers rattled off by the nurse at your doctor’s office.

Now, you’ve been told your blood pressure is chronically high, and suddenly you need to understand them.

  • The top number (systolic) is the pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat.
  • The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure in your arteries while your heart is resting between beats.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is related to the stiffening of blood vessels and arteries, and can be caused by:

  • A problem with your kidneys’ salt balancing function
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Immune problems
  • Genetics
  • Being sedentary
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Excessive sodium intake (usually from processed foods)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Stress

What your diagnosis means

Blood pressure has a significant effect on how healthy you can hope to be in the future.

High blood pressure can put you at risk for all sorts of health problems. If the pressure damages the blood vessels in your:

  • eyes, you could end up blind.
  • kidneys, you could end up on dialysis.
  • heart, you could end up with a heart attack.
  • brain, you could end up having a stroke or developing Alzheimer’s.
  • legs and arms, you could end up with peripheral vascular disease.

What you can do about it

Just like the 35-year-old man above, if you address your blood pressure now, you cut your risk of related health problems and death substantially.


Here again, getting (and staying) at a healthy weight and body fat level is your goal. Fat cells produce substances that promote pressure-promoting inflammation throughout the blood vessels and heart.

Some guidelines:

  • Add one serving of vegetables and/or fruits to each meal. The more plants in your diet, the better. This will help you lower your sodium intake and also increase intake of nutrients like potassium and magnesium, which help lower blood pressure by improving vessel elasticity.
  • Include healthy fats: Add a couple of portions of fatty fish per week. Consuming healthy fats is linked to lower blood pressure, likely because of omega-3s’ influence on eicosanoid production, which helps control vessel dilation and platelet aggregation.
  • Reduce processed foods. This is one of the easiest ways to lower your sodium (salt) intake. Cutting sodium intake from 6,000 mg per day (that’s a typical intake in North America) to 2,300 mg or less can lower blood pressure 10 points without any other changes.
  • Limit alcohol. About one drink a day — especially red wine — can lower blood pressure slightly (particularly in women); more than that can contribute to high blood pressure by promoting high triglycerides (blood fats) and weight gain.


Exercise helps you get and stay at a healthy body weight. It also helps your blood vessels stay elastic and your heart work more efficiently.

Incorporate a mix of low-intensity cardio, high-intensity interval training, and resistance work. Weight training or other structured workouts — at least 5 hours of exercise per week — can be especially effective in helping to lowering blood pressure.

But be careful: Using the Valsalva maneuver can bump up blood pressure during lifting, so opt for shorter sets with longer rests, and watch your heart rate.

Since stress can make high blood pressure worse, also consider recreational physical activities that de-stress you — such as walking or hiking outside.


Each of these supplements could independently play a role in helping manage blood pressure. (Which means you don’t have to take both to see benefits). Of course, always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.

  • Magnesium: Supplementing may reduce blood pressure if you’re deficient, so get tested first. Dosage: 400 mg per day.
  • Coenzyme Q10: This antioxidant may help decrease blood pressure slightly. Dosage: 100 mg per day.

“My doctor was amazed at how quickly and completely I was able to lower my blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol… Neither of us thought this would be possible without medication. Now we’re both believers.” – Precision Nutrition Client

Autoimmune disease

medical 3d illustration - female having backache

In autoimmune diseases, your immune system (wrongly) attacks healthy organs and tissues in your body. Experts don’t know exactly what causes autoimmune diseases, but it’s likely a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, now affecting 24 million people in the U.S.

Common autoimmune diseases include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • lupus
  • type 1 diabetes
  • inflammatory bowel disease,
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
  • thyroid condition like Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also see the Thyroid condition section below).

While there are treatments for autoimmune problems, there aren’t (yet) cures.

What your diagnosis means

With more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, many of which share symptoms, it can be difficult for your doctor (and stressful for you) to pinpoint the problem.

Common symptoms include:

  • fatigue,
  • dizziness,
  • low-grade fever,
  • gastrointestinal problems,
  • headache,
  • fever,
  • itchy skin, and
  • redness and swelling.

Treatment depends on the specific autoimmune disease you’ve been diagnosed with. While researchers haven’t identified cures, some of these diseases can go into remission.

What you can do about it

If you’ve got an autoimmune disease, you may have noticed you have good days and bad days. Sometimes the disease may flare up, often without warning. Sometimes it may calm down. It can be hard to know why, or what’s causing the changes.

And sufferers can feel powerless.

Gather data about yourself

One way to help yourself feel more in control is with a symptom diary.

This can help both you and your doctor identify patterns, such as whether particular foods, types of exercise, or other factors such as sleep, stress, or hormonal changes seem to affect symptoms.

In particular, consider tracking what you eat and whether you notice any changes in symptoms.

If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, then your diet may be wreaking havoc on your gastrointestinal tract, damaging intestine cells and allowing food particles and other junk into your bloodstream.

These types of triggers — perhaps innocuous to many other people — can worsen inflammation; your body’s immune response may rage against the perceived invaders.


There’s no one-size-fits-all “best diet” for autoimmune conditions. However, looking for food sensitivities and eliminating foods that seem to worsen your symptoms is a good start.

If you’d like to explore this further, consider doing an elimination diet, in which you eliminate whole categories of food for a few days, then reintroduce foods one by one, making note of any reactions you have.

If you notice a reaction, consider eliminating the culprit food from your diet permanently (of course, talk to your doctor).

Ask your doctor about food allergy and sensitivity testing. The latter is still being studied, but the findings could still be illuminating, especially in conjunction with an elimination diet.

What about the Paleo-style diet for autoimmune diseases that’s getting attention these days? Dr. Nadolsky says there’s some evidence that the diet may help by reducing inflammation, but this is totally hypothesis-based at this point.


Autoimmune symptoms like fatigue, weakness, aches, and chronic pain can make it tough to get to the kitchen for your coffee in the morning — let alone to the gym.

But, conversely, finding a way to work in low-impact exercise can help reduce symptoms significantly.

Exercise can:

  • boost your energy,
  • improve your mood,
  • improve flexibility and mobility,
  • release pain-targeting endorphins,
  • reduce inflammation, and
  • relieve depression and anxiety.

Talk to your doctor about how to make exercise work for your specific autoimmune condition.


Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.

  • Vitamin D: may modulate the immune system (especially in multiple sclerosis patients). Dosage: 1,000-2,000 IU per day; get tested for a more tailored dose.
  • Probiotics: These beneficial bacteria may help improve gut health, potentially reducing inflammation and autoimmune issues. The problem: There are so many different strains that it’s hard to know which to take, the dosage, or the efficacy. But there’s no harm in trying a few strains of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, Dr. Nadolsky says. Dosage: 1-5 billion CFUs per day.

Precision Nutrition client David removed gluten — and sure enough, he started to feel better. Yes, it was tough to give up on breads and pastas and other starchy gluten-containing treats. But as it turns out that it’s easier than he imagined to prepare wholesome, nutritious food that tastes great and doesn’t stimulate his autoimmune response.

Thyroid condition

Thyroid - Female Organs - Human Anatomy

The thyroid gland is one of the “master controllers” that regulates nearly every major metabolic function in the body.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, your thyroid might be producing too much of the hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism).

Thyroid disorders can be caused by iodine deficiency, but that’s rare in affluent countries.

Hyper- or hypothyroidism most commonly arise from autoimmune problems, in which white blood cells and antibodies mistakenly attack the gland’s cells, causing damage and dysfunction.

What your diagnosis means

In hyperthyroidism, it’s as if your body’s “motor” is revving at high speed.

Symptoms can include:

  • racing heart and palpitations
  • trouble sleeping
  • tremor and nervousness
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • muscle aches and weakness
  • diarrhea and overactive digestive system
  • sweating and trouble tolerating heat
  • exophthalmos (bulging eyes)

With hypothyroidism, the “motor” slows down. Symptoms can include:

  • unexplained weight gain
  • inability to lose weight, even with a solid eating and exercise plan
  • tiredness, fatigue, lethargy
  • depression and losing interest in normal activities
  • forgetfulness
  • dry hair and skin
  • puffy face
  • slow heart rate
  • intolerance to cold
  • constipation
  • brittle nails
  • muscle cramping
  • changes in menstrual cycle

What you can do about it

Hypothyroidism is controlled with hormone replacement that’s specific to the individual patient’s needs.

But correcting the thyroid imbalance doesn’t produce weight loss overnight. If you have a thyroid issue, you’ll still benefit from addressing nutrition, exercise and lifestyle factors.


If your thyroid problem is the result of iodine deficiency (rare in the developed world, where most people use iodized salt), focusing on getting more iodine is key. Foods to focus on include iodized salt, fish, and seaweed.

Ask your doctor if you should limit soy, which contains substances that can contribute to a goiter (excess tissue) on the thyroid. Soy only seems to cause thyroid problems when iodine intake is low and soy intake is high.

If your thyroid condition is autoimmune, an undetected food intolerance could be to blame. Scientists are still exploring the connection between food intolerance and autoimmune problems, but there’s some evidence that gut dysfunction — aggravated by food intolerance — can trigger the inflammation that worsens some thyroid diseases.

It’s plausible (though not certain) that addressing food intolerance early, before irreversible damage is done to the thyroid, may help you avoid hypothyroidism, Dr. Nadolsky says.

Talk to your doctor about food sensitivity testing and trying an elimination diet, which helps you identify food intolerances.

It’s important not to eliminate foods before your doctor has the chance to test you for a disease such as celiac, an intolerance to gluten.


While regular exercise can help improve some of the symptoms of thyroid conditions, get advice from your doctor before ramping up your routine.

Since hyper- and hypothyroidism mess with your metabolism, exercising before your condition is under control can be dangerous.

  • With hyperthyroidism, where your metabolism is already revved up, working out can cause you to overheat, and could even cause heart problems.
  • With hypothyroidism, your heart rate is slowed, meaning exercise could be too much work for you at first.


Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.

  • Probiotics: If your thyroid condition is rooted in autoimmune issues, these may help. Again, experts still don’t know which strains or doses are most beneficial. There’s no harm in giving it a shot, though. Try bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, Dr. Nadolsky says. Dosage: 1-5 billion CFUs per day.
  • Iodine: Consider taking this if your thyroid problem is iodine-related. Dosage: Ask your doctor.
  • Selenium: It’s involved in the production of thyroid hormone. Dosage: 200 mcg per day.

She pauses for a moment, maybe thinking about all the obstacles she faced— her age, the thyroid condition, the cancer, the move, the restaurant meals, the traveling, the loss of her sibling. “Really, there’s no reason not to succeed at this,” she finally says. “Precision Nutrition Coaching is so well thought out and so well designed. If I can do it, anybody can.”

What to do next

If you’ve gotten a scary medical diagnosis lately — or struggled with some mild to moderate chronic health problems that affect your quality of life — you’re not alone.

We’ve seen literally thousands of clients with health problems, ranging from the most severe (such as terminal cancer) to small everyday annoyances (like chronic sinusitis or skin rashes).

A new diagnosis is always a delicate dance — even before you start introducing meds and lifestyle changes.

Here are some general guidelines for navigating it all in a way that works for your life and health.

1. Don’t go into the woods alone.

Build a support team — the bigger the better. This can include:

  • doctors and other healthcare providers
  • pharmacists who can advise you on medication use
  • family and friends
  • nutrition coaches, fitness trainers, and other folks who can help you make lifestyle changes and discover what you can do, even with potential limitations
  • counselors and therapists to help you deal with the mental and emotional consequences of health problems
  • etc.

Depending on your diagnosis, there may be “rehab” programs available (such as cardiac rehab) to help you move through the early stages of treatment.

Having a person with you at medical appointments can help you remember important information. When we’re anxious or overwhelmed with a new diagnosis, we may not remember or process things.

2. Choose your information sources carefully.

With a fresh diagnosis (or puzzling set of symptoms), we often run to Dr. Google and the health blogger world for advice. We can end up feeling confused, overwhelmed, and considering weird options like an all-banana diet or tuning into the vibrations of the universe.

Be a critical consumer. Look for scientific evidence and research.

Ask your doctor (or other healthcare providers) what information sources they recommend. Demand credibility.

3. Work with your doctor. Follow instructions.

Don’t self-diagnose or self-treat.

If you’ve been prescribed meds, take them.

4. If you change your diet or exercise, or add any supplements, check with your doctor and/or pharmacist.

You may not be aware that even common, “safe” OTC drugs and supplements (such as a calcium supplement, or aspirin) could interact with your medications.

5. That said… ask questions, and advocate for yourself.

Some doctors are quick to prescribe meds without giving you a chance to fully explore lifestyle changes, Dr. Nadolsky says.

Be curious. Ask questions. Could you hold off on meds (or stop taking them) while pursuing healthier habits? Explore this.

Again, don’t stop taking meds without getting approval from your doctor.

6. Learn about your own body and health.

Keep a symptom diary. Track changes from day to day. Look for patterns. Map out your own unique physical landscape.

In particular, many diseases get worse when we’re stressed, or when we eat foods that our bodies don’t like.

Bring this diary when you visit your doctor. This process can help both you and your doctor solve any health mysteries. You can also write down your doctor’s instructions to help yourself remember.

7. Check all medication side effects.

Medicine — both prescription and over-the-counter — have powerful effects on metabolism, appetite and digestion, body composition, physical performance, and overall wellness.

If you’re struggling to get results with a solid health and fitness program, underlying health conditions and medication use might be playing a role. If you suspect this, talk to your doc, and consider getting a nutrition coach.

8. If you work in health or fitness, consider learning more.

Client results depend on your understanding of their underlying health issues, medications, symptoms, and motivations for changing their habits. Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 Certification Program for health and fitness professionals teaches you how to work with clients’ special medical conditions, how to address medication use, and so much more.

Want some help?

If you’re looking for natural lifestyle strategies to help you eat, move, and live better, we’d be happy to help. In fact, we’ll soon be taking new Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

You see, we accept new clients every 6 months, and coaching spots typically sell out in hours.

However, those motivated enough to put themselves on the presale list get to register 24 hours before everyone else. Plus, they receive a big discount at registration.

So put your name on the list below — because, as always, spots are first come, first served, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.


Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

The post Natural treatments for the most common medical problems. The lifestyle advice that helps our clients (and can help you, too). appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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Precision Nutrition

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Monday, November 16, 2015

A Surfer’s Guide to Avoiding Ankle Injuries

Workout Tips

‘John John’ Florence, who has completed his film ‘View From a Blue Moon’ was sidelined by ankle injury. He began a physical-therapy regimen that not only repaired damage but aimed to prevent future harm.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

That fit person who’s ‘got it all together’… doesn’t. Take it from us: Everyone else is struggling, too.

Workout Tips

Seem like everyone else is better, fitter and healthier than you? Like you’ll never be that ‘fit person’? If so, we’ve got some surprising news for you. Plus 7 steps to feeling more “OK” with you.


Fifteen years ago, thousands of male clients came to trainers with one burning wish: Make me look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

TM and Copyright 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.
(TM and Copyright 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Who could forget Pitt’s lean, sinewy, anti-establishment Tyler Durden, all abs and dirt and knuckles and free spirit?

For those male clients, Tyler Durden was That Guy.

That Guy gets romance and adventure, kicks life in the ass, and rides off into the sunset.

That Guy doesn’t have to clean out eavestroughs, or slog through freeway traffic. He doesn’t have bad knees or get heartburn after eating a chili dog.

That Guy doesn’t say “uff” when he bends over to tie his shoes. His doctor isn’t telling him his rotator cuff is messed up, or that his blood cholesterol is too high. He’s not worrying about how to parent teenagers.

Female clients, of course, often have That Woman as their ideal. The jacked, gun-toting arms of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 sent a generation of women racing towards biceps curls in the 1990s.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, Linda Hamilton, 1991. ©TriStar Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection
(©TriStar Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Generally, though, That Woman may be somewhat more domestic than That Guy. (A little more First Lady Michelle Obama than freedom fighter, perhaps.)

That Woman fits into all her clothes (especially wedding dresses). She rocks Lululemon leggings and skinny jeans… even after having three angelic children.

If you are a female client who idealizes That Woman, you know this because That Woman is at your kids’ school picking up her well-groomed offspring.

She looks fabulous and together. She’s into Pilates or running or Crossfit or kale juice or something else that seems to keep her full of energy.

She’s a lawyer or a neurosurgeon or an international diplomat or perhaps a stay-at-home mother, but whatever she does, she excels at it and is fulfilled. She uses hashtags like #honored and #grateful and #blessed, and means it.

Meanwhile, you’re shoving aside banana peels and empty soda cups to make room for your kid’s dog-hair-encrusted car seat. And you’re wearing your husband’s track pant bottoms with baby spit-up on them, because they’re the only things that fit you right now.

If only we could become That Guy or That Woman.

They’re OK. Awesome, even.

And we’re not.



This might sound kind of weird, but…

As coaches, we know our clients’ secrets.

In our case, around 30,000 clients’ worth of secrets.

Now, this doesn’t mean we’re creepy peepers.

We’re discreet and committed to confidentiality. One trusted and caring coach sees one client in total confidence and privacy.

But at some point, the baggy sweat pants have to come off so we can do body measurements.

At some point, a camera captures your image, so we can observe your progress visually.

At some point, you share your cholesterol test or thyroid hormone panel with us, so we can talk about what it means.

At some point, you tell us your daily routine, so we can see how to make changes.

At some point, you tell us honestly what’s going on, so we can help you.

That’s when it gets real.

And that’s when we both learn:

Everyone is not OK.

If you don’t have the big picture, as we do, it seems like Everyone Else is doing so much better than you.

It seems like Everyone Else can handle their lives. Everyone Else quickly learns the habits we teach.

Everyone Else is losing weight or gaining muscle or getting fitter so much faster and more effortlessly than you. Everyone Else has everything you don’t.

It feels like you are the only person in the world with your problems.

The truth is:

There is no Everyone Else.

There are only imperfect, wonderful, messy, very-much-human beings with hopes and fears and desires and neuroses and jobs and lives and kids and dogs or cats and family demands and toilets that need unclogging and lines-becoming-wrinkles and hangnails and alarms that go off too early and a love of chocolate-chip cookies… and all the rest of reality.

Like you.

Like me.

Like all of us.

“We’re all bozos on the bus,” said Woodstock MC Wavy Gravy in 1969, “so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Elizabeth Lesser, author of Broken Open and a TED speaker, adds: “If we’re all bozos, then we can put down the burden of pretense and get on with being bozos.”

In other words…

  • we can stop worrying about being the only person who isn’t fit enough, smart enough, together enough, getting enough things done in a day, a good enough mom / dad / worker, whatever.
  • we can pursue fitness, nutrition, and health goals that are actually realistic and attainable — and feel good about what we do instead of inadequate.

Here are 7 ways to start feeling more OK, right now, in your own imperfect, messy life.

1. Reboot your expectations.

In our article The Cost of Getting Lean, we explored the trade-offs that you might make for a given fitness goal.

The key messages:

Getting into reasonable, moderate shape isn’t too complicated.

All you need are small consistent changes here and there. Walking the dog after dinner, perhaps a weekly class at the gym, or packing an apple in your lunch will generally do the trick.

Getting into pretty good shape is a little trickier, but can be done if you’re committed.

You might need to focus more on food quality and portion sizes, work out a bit more, be more careful with your indulgences. Still, do-able if you’re so inclined.

Getting into film-shoot-ready or magazine-cover-ready shape is a whole other game.

You give up your life to do this.

You eat out of Tupperware. You measure everything that goes into your mouth. Your entire routine revolves around eating (or not eating), working out, and sleeping so you have enough energy to work out again.

Now here’s the secret.

People in the third group — the ones we often imagine are Everyone Else — are professionals who make their living that way.

99.99 percent of you are not those people.

They only look like that for a few hours or days. But they might pour thousands of hours of work and maybe thousands of dollars of money into that project of getting super jacked and ripped. Brad Pitt had an entire staff of well-paid professionals making sure he rolled into his shoot looking that way.

Which means that even the 0.01 percent still don’t look like that all the time.

Nor are their lives awesome.

In fact, arguably, their lives are much less awesome.

Because they’re eating three ounces of plain cold chicken out of Tupperware at a family barbecue before they go and do their third workout of the day.

(Actor Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy complained to British GQ that Brad Pitt “ruined it for everyone” by creating unrealistic body expectations, so Hunnam was forced to go and work out two and a half hours a day on top of a 14-15 hour shooting schedule.)

In short:

  • Getting into slightly better shape, or a slightly healthier routine, doesn’t take much effort. That may be what is realistic for most of us, right now.
  • Getting into epic shape takes tremendous sacrifice… and kinda sucks. It probably isn’t worth it for most of us, right now.
  • Getting into epic shape creates other problems. Because of the demands of their job, cover models are often less happy, healthy, and balanced than the average person. (If you’ve ever chased this dream, you may have discovered this firsthand in the form of workout injuries, anxiety and depression, disordered eating, hormonal disruption, social isolation, and a host of other problems.)

So if magazine covers are off the table at the moment, what can you do?

2. Find realistic role models.

There are more “fit and healthy” people than you imagine. They might not look like you expect.

“Fit and healthy” comes in many sizes, shapes, and abilities.

Look around.

The gray-haired octogenarian standing at the bus stop. Did you know that despite her arthritis, she pops a painkiller and gets out to her dance class four times a week?

The rotund guy that delivers your mail. He walks 10 miles a day as a postman.

Your child’s preschool teacher. She only has 20 minutes a day to exercise, but she does them faithfully, hitting her exercise bike and Netflix every day before she comes to corral your kid. (Then she tries to spend all recess playing tag with 4-year-olds.)

What if you shifted your perspective to “good enough”, “a little bit better”, or “trying”?

What if you looked for small moments of health, fitness, and wellness everywhere?

What if you focused on doing what you could, today, anyway?

3. Embrace the struggle.

It’s not going anywhere.

Grappling with pain — whether that’s actual pain and suffering, or just small daily annoyances — is part of being human.

As adults, we recognize life’s complexity and richness. Wanting to “be perfect” or “have it all” is not an adult wish. It’s a child wish: to have all the toys, all the time, even your sister’s.

Everyone has a struggle. You might just not see it.

For instance:

  • 48 percent of our female clients and 33 percent of our male clients take prescription medication.
  • Of our clients taking medication, 33 percent of women and 24 percent of men take antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
  • 36 percent of our clients have injuries. And many struggle with chronic pain.
  • 27 percent of our female clients and 17 percent of our male clients are over 50 years old. (Even if you’re healthy, aging brings its own challenges.)

Many of these challenges are invisible.

You often can’t see pain or disability. You often can’t see psychological distress. Unless you see someone pop a pill, you don’t know what they’re taking.

And guess what — the PN staff struggle with the exact same things.

  • We have injuries. Or had them. Or will have them.
  • We’ve struggled with mental and emotional health sometimes. Or often.
  • We’ve struggled with addictions — whether that’s to work, or exercise, or food, or alcohol, or anything else that someone could get hooked on.
  • We’ve gained too much weight, or been scrawny, or gone weeks or months without working out.
  • We’ve been the ones wearing the baby barf sweatpants.

No matter what the challenge is, at least a few of us have faced it, and certainly none of us are getting any younger.

Someone who looks fit may be at the end of a long and difficult journey.

  • Like the cancer survivors whom we coached through post-treatment rehab.
  • Like people who are coming back from an injury or illness.
  • Like our courageous coaching clients who have chosen to do PN Coaching two, three, or even four times to really learn the habits and make the progress they want to make. That’s years of work.

They’re all being “good enough” — just showing up and trying their best in an imperfect situation.

4. Recognize and respect your not-OK-ness.

It’s OK to not be OK. None of us are 100 percent OK.

At the same time, sometimes things are really not-OK.

For instance, if you’re experiencing things like:

  • chronic insomnia or poor quality sleep
  • chronic pain or lack of mobility
  • frequent injuries and/or illnesses
  • chronic and debilitating depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns
  • chronic social isolation and relationship difficulties
  • chronic lethargy and lack of energy
  • feeling like you need alcohol or recreational drugs to function
  • concerns with food, eating, and/or exercise that seem to be taking over your life and/or harming your health…

… then you could probably benefit from making some changes.

Sometimes, being in the depths of not-OK — for instance, having a debilitating gym injury, getting a scary medical diagnosis, or ending a relationship — is exactly the wake-up call we need to start working on being a little more OK.

Pay attention to your “dashboard indicator lights”.

Are your current struggles and imperfections more like garden-variety ups and downs? If they are, that’s just fine. It’s all part of being human.

On the other hand, if something feels really off, you might need a little extra help. You might talk to a trained coach, counsellor, or other health care professional.

Learn to heed your own signals. Know when not-OK is actually not OK, and requires extra help.

5. Learn to be OK with being “not OK”.

As PN coaches, much of work is actually helping our clients get a little more comfortable with discomfort.

If you’re a coaching client, you might hear phrases like:

  • Step into the discomfort.
  • Let things be a bit messy.
  • You are human. You are normal. You are not a weirdo. You are not alone.

You might also hear questions like:

  • How might you make things a little bit simpler for yourself?
  • What does it feel like to sit with the discomfort of change?
  • How could you stretch yourself just a bit?

Life is never going to be completely OK, 100 percent of the time.

The trick is to learn how to be OK with that not-OKness, and work on making things just a little bit better.

6. Take small steps towards slightly more OK.

If there’s a lot of invisible suffering in the world, there are also a lot of invisible successes and joys too.

  • Nobody besides the newspaper delivery person sees you running at a dark 6 AM. But you know. And you’re proud of your dedication.
  • Nobody besides your doctor knows you need anti-anxiety medications or anti-inflammatories or some other drug to function. But you know. And you’re proud of weighing your options and deciding on what’s best for you, even if that choice isn’t “perfect”.
  • Nobody besides your grocer sees you picking out leafy greens and lean protein to put in your shopping cart. But you know. And you’re proud of passing by the Nutella and Oreos that once called your name when you struggled with binge eating.
  • Nobody besides the inside of your brain sees you grappling with the “right choice” in a situation where you don’t have to make the right choice. But you know. And when you make that choice… you’re proud of yourself for sticking to your values.

Maybe that “right choice” was pausing for ten seconds to review what matters most to you.

Maybe you were just following your shopping list when you grabbed those leafy greens.

Maybe you think that effort was so small, it didn’t “count”.

But here’s a coaching secret: the steps that lead to success? They’re almost all small things.

Success comes from putting small things on top of small things on top of small things.

7. Find your work-arounds.

Do you need accommodation or help? Find it. Get it.

Work on creating a system that you trust to help yourself.

  • If you have one body part that’s not working very well, explore other movement options, or workouts that don’t depend on that body part.
  • If you don’t like cooking alone or working out alone, find someone else to do this with. Grab a buddy for Sunday chili-making day, or hit a group class.
  • If you’re having trouble “finding time” for things, get out a calendar and start planning. Book appointments for everything, even grocery shopping. Track your time use so that you know when you’re wasting time. Then, set alarms and reminders, stick up Post-it notes, and carve out 15 minutes a day to ditch Facebook and hang out with the squirrels during a walk in the park instead.

Coaching secret: Most people aren’t “naturally” good at most things.

The people who look like they’re good at things are getting help, and/or have a trusted system to guide them.

When we start accepting our own limitations — our own “not-OKness” — that’s when we start making changes for the better.

We embrace the small improvements that add up over time.

We treat ourselves with more compassion and evolve past an “all or nothing” attitude.

We pick ourselves up after we fall down, and we make course corrections when we need to.

And we ask for help when we need it.

Best of all, the more we accept being not OK, the more life feels… well, a little more OK.

What to do next

Gather data.

If you’re feeling not-OK, start recording what and why.

Write down all the ways in which you don’t feel OK.

Analyze your data.

What is regular not-OK (tendonitis, having a bad day, eating a waffle over the sink for dinner, etc.) and what is not-OK worth checking out (chronic illness, debilitating depression, etc.)?

Calibrate your expectations and check your blind spots.

What are you trying to do? Write out the things you are trying to accomplish or achieve right now.

Now review those expectations.

Would a sane, kind, wise friend or mentor tell you those expectations are realistic?

(If you actually have a sane, kind, wise friend or mentor, ask them for advice.)

Using their advice (real or imaginary) as a guide, re-consider your expectations. How could you adjust them to make them more realistic and attainable?

Consider a few small next steps.

One of the hallmarks of not-OK-ness is that it often feels paralyzing. It’s like swimming through peanut butter.

Action is the antidote to paralysis.

Whatever you can do, no matter how tiny, do something to affirm your basic OK-ness, even when things don’t feel OK at all.

Assemble your team.

Do you need to add people to your “Project OK” team? Such as a trusted buddy or family member, a coach, counsellor, or other health care provider?

If so, find them and recruit them to Project OK.

Ask for what you need. Let them help.

Start building a system.

OK-ness is not a do-it-yourself project. Nor does OK-ness happen spontaneously.

Along with helpers, you need systems to be OK. Things that remind you, guide you, help you, fill in the gaps for you, and generally help you stay more or less on track.

Want some help?

If you’d like some help staying consistent with your exercise and eating plan, we’d be happy to help. In fact, we’ll soon be taking new Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

You see, we accept new clients every 6 months, and coaching spots typically sell out in hours. However, those motivated enough to put themselves on the presale list get to register 24 hours before everyone else.

Plus, they receive a big discount at registration.

So put your name on the list below —because, as always, spots are first come, first served, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

The post That fit person who’s ‘got it all together’… doesn’t. Take it from us: Everyone else is struggling, too. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Workout Tips
Precision Nutrition

The post That fit person who’s ‘got it all together’… doesn’t. Take it from us: Everyone else is struggling, too. appeared first on Workout Tips.