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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:
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:
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.
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:
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!
“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
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.
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.
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.
To make the most of your cooking skills, try this:
And don’t forget: Cooking takes practice. Experiment, have fun, and don’t worry if you mess up a few meals along the way.
“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
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:
All exercise is simply movement. And one form of movement is walking.
Therefore: walking = exercise.
You own this superpower if you love to walk and know how to give it that extra “edge”.
Walking for the win!
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.
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:
“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
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.)
“I am masterful at scheduling and time management. Whenever I commit to something, I make it a priority.” — PN Coaching Client
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.
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.
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”:
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
How could you start using these secret weapons to your advantage?
For example, could you…
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.
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.
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.
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.
A basic cholesterol test usually includes a lipid profile, and has a few key components.
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:
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.
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 LabTestsOnline.com.)
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:
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:
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.
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.”
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:
Type 2 diabetes dramatically increases the risk of premature death and disability.
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:
Working out helps control Type 2 diabetes by:
Work with your doctor on your exercise plan, since diabetes affects how your body metabolizes energy. Considerations include:
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.
“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
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.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is related to the stiffening of blood vessels and arteries, and can be caused by:
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:
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.
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.
“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
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:
While there are treatments for autoimmune problems, there aren’t (yet) cures.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In hyperthyroidism, it’s as if your body’s “motor” is revving at high speed.
Symptoms can include:
With hypothyroidism, the “motor” slows down. Symptoms can include:
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.
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements for a medical condition.
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.”
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.
Build a support team — the bigger the better. This can include:
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.
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.
Don’t self-diagnose or self-treat.
If you’ve been prescribed meds, take them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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‘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.
WSJ.com: What’s Your Workout
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.
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.
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.
They’re OK. Awesome, even.
And we’re not.
This might sound kind of weird, but…
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:
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 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 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.”
In other words…
Here are 7 ways to start feeling more OK, right now, in your own imperfect, messy life.
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.)
So if magazine covers are off the table at the moment, what can you do?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
They’re all being “good enough” — just showing up and trying their best in an imperfect situation.
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:
… 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.
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:
You might also hear questions like:
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.
If there’s a lot of invisible suffering in the world, there are also a lot of invisible successes and joys too.
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.
Do you need accommodation or help? Find it. Get it.
Work on creating a system that you trust to help yourself.
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.
If you’re feeling not-OK, start recording what and why.
Write down all the ways in which you don’t feel OK.
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.)?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Workout Tips.