Category Archives: Diet

Break Your Rules

Dr John Berardi is someone who has really helped me throughout my career when it comes to diet and nutrition. Years ago he wrote a book (I forget which one), to help people with their diet and training. In the book he recommended using an excel sheet to record your diet. The method he used was simple. Set a few simple rules such as,

 

  1. Have protein in each meal.
  2. Have fruits or veggies in each meal.
  3. Drink water at each meal.

I am not sure these were his rules, yet this is what I took away from the rules. Once this is set make an excel sheet with 7 columns and as many rows as meals you would eat each day.  If you were eating 5 meals per day you would have 35 empty boxes. Now each time you follow your rules put a check, and when you fail put an x in the corresponding box. At the end of the week score your sheet. Now try to do better next week.

 

Improvement is not linear yet your steps for improvement can be. Let’s say you had 20 meals that you followed the rules in week one, and 15 that you didn’t. This is your baseline. Just be one meal better next week. Keep taking steps in that directions. Here is the kicker, for most people scoring 100% on this is not only impossible, it isn’t a happy life. No matter how good you get at this don’t try to get to 100%, break your rules 10% of the time. This 10% is life that happens. Sometimes Marcus opens a new doughnut shop, and next thing you know we are eating doughnuts here at UF. If 2020 taught us anything it is, don’t turn down the opportunity to have a beer with a good friend.

 

Now I ask you, can you go set some rules, believe in those rules, and break them sometimes? Just by the act of being conscience of your decisions I can promise you that you will feel healthier and stronger. Until then I’ll be here eating the peaches that Sarah brought to the gym.

 

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, and HFCS

The good old American diet, quick and assessable greasy fat or sugary foods. YUM, am I right? In America, there is heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and an obesity epidemic. There is room to point fingers at a lot of reasons but in this, we’ll focus on added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  

 

HFCS was invented in 1965 and in the 70s it was being marketed. Over the years, this has been used more often for food and drink products. Which is found in most of the foods and drinks we consume (e.g. bread, soda, juice, canned fruit, cereal, & coffee creamers, etc). This has become a common ingredient because it is cheap and easy to manufacture. 

 

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. HFCS needs to be broken down into glucose, glycogen, or fat by the liver before being used as fuel. In America, the increased sugar consumption per person per year has greatly increased. This increase consumption can cause serious health issues mentioned in the beginning. Glucose will stimulate the area of your brain that controls appetite, whereas, fructose does not, which means you could eat more than planned. Are you wondering what overeating can lead to? Well, have you heard of visceral fat? It is the most harmful type of body fat. HFCS will promote visceral fat build-up on your major organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and heart. This can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, artery disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

 

I’m not saying avoid HFCS or sugars at all costs. These sugars are everywhere and can be hard to avoid, especially in our more sedentary, grab-and-go society. Just try to be mindful of what you are putting into your body. 

Member Spotlight

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!

 

This week we’d like to shout out Jessie Theisen.

 

Ladies & Gents, here is Jessie in her own words.

 

“I grew up in central California (where the cows overpopulate the people) in a small town called Visalia, however, I was born at Fort Bragg, NC (military brat- dad was 20 years 82nd Airborne and mom a marine). After spending the majority of my childhood in central CA, at 19 I picked up and moved to LA in 2008 where I lived there intermittently through 2016 (moved to PGH with my then boyfriend, now husband summer of 2016). Of my past lives, the most interesting is probably the opportunity I had as a professional makeup artist working in film, runway, magazines, commercials and doing everything from beauty makeup to special effects/gore (the latter was the most fun)! I was a professional makeup artist for the 8 year stint I was in LA.

 

For my current work, I am a team lead for a group of loan analysts at a financial tech company called LendingHome (they specialize in mortgages for people who fix and flip houses)- my team helps process that product, attempting to locate any process/design flaws and work with our engineering team to better perfect it. In short, it’s a fancy customer service job. I love the people I work with and can’t imagine being anywhere else anytime soon.

 

My training background really starts with Union Fitness. I was never the sporty or athletic type- I was a band nerd who could play Sweet Child O’ Mine on 5 different instruments while marching in a god-awful wool suit (feather and all). I would always strive to find ways to be active, though; I just never really landed on what worked for me. Took everything from cardio barre, to pilates, yoga, I just didn’t fit in any of those spaces. My drive and motivation quickly waned until I found UF, where they encouraged people of all athletic abilities to pick up a weight, and put it down, and pushed to do the same the following day/week, only heavier. THIS.WAS.MY. SHIT. Attending the #powerful classes on a regular was therapeutic for me. There were stents where I was going 5-6 days a week, sometimes two-a-days. It wasn’t even just the workouts anymore, it was the community of people who went to the same classes, continuing to build each other up and cheer each other on in their small(or big) victories. A place of misfits that I could call my own; UF is home to where I’ve made some of my closest friends. I’m grateful to the atmosphere it has cultivated and maintained from its origination until now.

 

The fun shit:

  1. If I could eat one food every day it’d be a cold-cut turkey sandwich (you’re free to DM me on particulars), I’m a fanatic and those close to me know it, there’s a certain consistency to the bread, color combo of the mayo and mustard together, a particular type of ground oregano- there’s an art to it, I promise; to which I must add, PITTSBURGH! Stop heating that shit up and putting fries on it…. STOP THAT SHIT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
  2. If I was a piece of equipment at Union, I’d probably be the EliteEFTS PRO, short monster mini band (yeah, the small green one) – functional, small, sturdy, pain in the ass.
  3. I’m competing in my first ever bodybuilding competition this May 8th. Signed up last March a week before Covid shut everything down- (original show meant to be last Oct). I have gone through 2 cuts now, and 2 refeeds. What was originally meant to be a 6 month prep will be 14 after all is said and done. I’m f’n jazzed to get on stage and have one of them cold-cuts mentioned under #1 right after!
  4. The most under-rated candy is Chewy Sprees.
  5. I have only ever owned pitbull dogs as pets; they’re the biggest derpsters and I love everything about them. I have a black and white named Trouble; I would die for her.
  6. Oh, fave exercise:  deadlifts.”

 

Thank you, Jessie for being a great member of our community!

 

Cheers,

CeJ

I Love Eggs and You Should Too

Hang around lifters, (the humans not the bad nickname for your shoes) long enough and the topic of protein will come up. The rule of thumb that most of you have probably already heard is eat one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. For me I float around 200 lbs so around 200 grams of protein a day is a good goal. There is some debate about this number yet we can use it as a starting point. From there the quality of protein matters. If you do not understand amino acids that’s OK here is how you can think of it. For this blog we are going to just use numbers to represent different amino acids(AA). Let’s say AA your body can produce AA’s 1-5 but not 6-10. AA’s 6-10 must one supplied through diet. That is what makes a protein a “complete protein.”

 

Your goal for protein intake can include some non complete protein, yet getting complete proteins is very important for recovery. Another rule of thumb (no this is not a fact yet a decent rule of thumb) is animal proteins are generally complete. This is why being a vegetarian is so hard. Often times you will have to supplement with AA’s that you miss in your diet.

 

Onto the egg. Here are some fun facts about eggs.

 

  1. Eggs are a complete protein
  2. The yolk has as much protein as the white.
  3. They are one of the few foods high in Vitamin D.
  4. The are delicious and easy to prepare.
  5. This is the big one. The egg has a cheat sheet inside of it to tell you how awesome it really is. That cheat sheet is the yoke. A yellow yoke=BAD egg. A dark gold or almost brown yoke=Gainz. Without delving into hens diets too much a darker yolk means that the animal had a healthier diet and more than likely a better life. Run an experiment for yourself. Go to a local grocery store by the cheapest eggs you can look at the the yolk, cook it and taste it. Now go to a farmers market or east end food co-op, do the same thing. See and taste the difference for yourself.

 

Clearly point #5 was the one I really wanted to write about. The yolk tells you most of what you need to know. Now I am aware that people will say “Hamer, those eggs are expensive.” I do understand yet let’s look at the bigger picture. If you are willing to spend 4-6 dollars on your fancy coffee yet not 4-6 dollars on your eggs then you made your decision as to what’s important. I love the fancy coffee too and I also know the fancy eggs are more important. So skip the mocha, soy, chai, skinny, latte, with the sugar free, sugar infused vanilla and a pump of hazelnut and buy some real eggs.

 

Eat real food.

 

Hamer

 

Drink Coffee, Get Bumpy.. Mo Joe

Union, Let’s raise a cup of Joe ,

 

It has been said loooooong ago in a land far away, that a herd of goats stumbled upon a berry, ate said berry and had a jolt of energy. The goat herder took these berries to the local monastery for the monks to observe. A drink was made with these berries and boom, the nectar of the gods which we call coffee was born!

 

The Effects of Coffee on Exercise:

1) Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain which in turn reduces grogginess & smacks the parasympathetic system up, boosting alertness & response time. 

2) Caffeine improves blood circulation, which brings oxygen and other nutrients to muscle tissues.

3) A study by old Johnny Hopkins University suggests 200-400mg of caffeine can improve mental and physical performance.

4) Pain in post exercise soreness decreases with pre-training coffee consumption.

5) Coffee has antioxidants which are badass and help defeat evil inside of you.

 

Now go french press your own, or head on over to your local coffee beanery and enjoy a cup for your health & performance. 

 

Cheers, 

CeJ

Nutrition Tips For Thanksgiving

The holidays give a lot of people anxiety when it comes to eating, being fearful of overindulging, not being able to control their intake, or for some, not sure how to approach any holiday while still enjoying the foods they love. My simplest piece of advice that I can offer always reigns true for anything in love, eat mindfully but allow your space to indulge without guilt, how do we do this? Well if you keep following along you’ll find out.

 

Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays, mainly because I get two in one year. As a Canadian we celebrate Thanksgiving in October however also being American, we celebrate this holiday but in November. From the pie to the stuffing to the gravy, this holiday is all about the food and I’m here for it (sometimes I end up in a food coma, actually let’s be honest, I always end up in a food coma around Thanksgiving).

 

As always, my tips are just suggestions and in no way do you need to follow them head-on. I’m simply sharing what I share with clients who struggle with this holiday and want to also stay on track with their goals while enjoying all the amazing food that sits in front of them.

 

Fasting for Thanksgiving is a big no-no, you do not need to fast for this festivity unless you are someone who already follows an intermittent fasting schedule. Instead, let us look at the day this way:

 

  1. Enjoy a high protein, low carb, and fat breakfast
  2. If your Thanksgiving dinner sits in the early afternoon, instead of having lunch, make yourself a high protein, low carb/low fat snack.

 

          • If anything, people struggle with getting enough protein in on this day so having 1-2 meals or one meal and one snack that is high in protein will set you up for success.

 

      3. For your Thanksgiving meal, the following is a suggestion:

 

          • 1/4 protein, 1/2 carb, 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 fat (can be included in protein/carb). Within this structure, you’re still hitting all your core groups and you can visually see on your plate where each macronutrient sits.
          • For dessert, if there are many different kinds sometimes I’ll opt for smaller portions to allow more space for a variation or if I’m more prone to want just apple pie, 1-2 slices is the perfect amount for me (I’ll never skip dessert, it’s the best part).

 

Remember, these are just suggestions to get the most out of your holiday without feeling like you overindulged. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with these feelings then please disregard my suggestions or follow them if you want to also stay mindful of your goals. Everyone is different and we all have different relationships with food, that is why what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person.

 

If anyone needs any extra advice or wants to reach out to speak on the holiday, feel free to DM me on my personal Instagram. I’m always available for a little chat, especially since I’ll be spending the Holiday virtually with my family.

 

Have a great Thanksgiving Union Fam, much love,

 

Jocelyn

Keeping it Real

I took four whole days off of tracking my daily intake and it was my fault. I didn’t go to the grocery store like I said I would, I didn’t prioritize my nutrition around an unexpected busy schedule and I truthfully didn’t feel bad about it because it was a decision I made. As Curtis reminded me this morning, making sure you all as members know that even us, as coaches and employees at Union Fitness, have days or weeks where we fall off the wagon is important.

 

I’ve noticed there’s this obsession in the fitness world where professionals either always appear to be on their game or they aren’t transparent about their struggles, these aren’t the people I want to follow in real life or on social media. As a Nutrition Coach and someone who has chosen fitness as their day-job/career, it was my goal long before both of these titles to always remain honest with the world because it keeps me honest with myself. I cannot possibly coach people through their nutrition habits if I’m not honest with them that I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner, 3 days in a row. True nutrition is understanding that we are human and we cannot chase perfection. 

 

Outside of my professional titles I also train/compete in the sport of CrossFit, I like to say I’m average at best but I do work very hard inside and outside of the gym. Tracking macronutrients for me is a way to make sure I’m not only fueling my body for training but also making sure it is getting enough food to get me through everyday life. Aside from tracking, I see a Physical Therapist for bi-weekly check-ups and I am constantly prioritizing my recovery and sleep. Whatever I am chasing inside the gym needs to be matched outside of the gym. But here’s the thing, no matter how well I am at keeping my priorities aligned, life will always be there and something will always happen and it’s up to me on how to move forward.

 

An unplanned four days off from tracking my food intake was a mistake on my part and this is where personal accountability comes into play. I understand that I made these decisions but that my feelings around these four days were nowhere close to being negative. I rolled with the punches, I told myself to take a break and to just do whatever my body felt it needed and that when Monday rolls around I’ll get back on my game. Truthfully I had planned for Sunday to be back at it full-swing but when Canadian Thanksgiving happens and your boyfriend shows up with a pint of Ben & Jerrys, you just can’t say no.

 

The biggest lesson I can share with you all about nutrition is that when you start to dig deep and build these long-term habits, the moment you slip up, your feelings towards that slip-up change over a period of time. You can go from feeling awful about it to making better decisions and allowing yourself the space to indulge without guilt.

 

So here I am, keeping it real with you all because sometimes you just need to cut yourself some slack and do whatever you want for no reason at all but because you want to or because you wanted to take a nap over going to the grocery store.

Nutrition Debunking Series

TODAY’S TOPIC: BEING CONSISTENT AT HIGHER CALORIES.

 

Well guys, looks like I’m making a thing out of this for however long I can find things that need debunking in regards to nutrition (which could be for a while with the number of things that bother me endlessly about society). I’ve mentioned this before but there is an immense amount of misinformation out there, companies will profit off of this misinformation leaving consumers feeling underfed and eventually unhappy in their skin.

 

In my first “Nutrition Debunking (Part One)” I spoke about a caloric intake in which only a child should be eating, 1200 calories is not a sustainable intake for anyone above the age of 8, so why are companies profiting off of a diet that such a caloric intake is being advertised? I’ll tell you why, because everyone loves a quick fix until they realize this is a quick approach to a long-term issue.

 

When potential clients come to me underfed its truly no surprise, this problem is so common that I have come to almost expect it before the first conversation. Society has ingrained in us that we need to cut calories to lose weight, while that may be true, just jumping into a caloric deficit is not the correct path (especially if the individual is already underfed). The truth is that we need to be more consistent in our eating at a higher caloric intake, such as eating at maintenance. 

 

Maintenance is the baseline amount of calories our body needs per day to function properly.

 

Working towards eating at maintenance is a perfect starting point for people who are ready to take their nutrition to the next level. Now the process in which to get to your baseline can be a month-long process, especially if the client is underfed. Consistency takes time and it can certainly be challenging for most people but our bodies love consistency, it wants to be fed properly and be fed with nutrient-dense foods. 

 

To put it into perspective for you, the average American is probably eating well Monday – Thursday but when the weekend rolls around our nutrition takes a backseat and we find ourselves ordering takeout Friday – Saturday, enjoying a few drinks then spending Sunday recovering and probably consuming less than 1,000 calories or well above what we need to curb that hangover. We could also find that some people are under-eating one week, and the next week they hit their caloric intake perfect, then overeat the following week. Our body absolutely cannot figure out what we are doing and this is when we see process full-on stop.

 

So, before you decide to “slim-down” or hop on a brand new diet, why not see what happens if you become more consistent at eating more food. Make it a 2-week goal, if the 2 weeks felt good then make it to a whole month. A lot of body composition progress can be seen with eating a higher amount of calories for 6 months or more if the individual was well underfed previously and was able to be consistent in their eating habits. Consistency also doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, in my experience following the 80% rule is a great starting point. The 80% rule means hitting your daily intake 80% of the time while also letting yourself be flexible and not feeling stressed out because nutrition should never cause you stress.

 

The mentality of going from being underfed to eating more food can we hard, it can be a huge change for some. We attach a lot of our feelings to food and with that being said, sometimes these feelings can damage the relationship we have with ourselves. Once we start to understand that food is fuel not only will you have a better relationship with yourself but you will find that your mentality is shifting, building that trust between food and the relationship you have with yourself.

NUTRITION DEBUNKING (PART ONE)

What’s up guys, Jocelyn here. I’m super excited, overly passionate and invested about anything and everything nutrition related. After finishing my Nutrition Coaching cert through Precision Nutrition I’ve had so many opportunities to personally help and/or guide people through their own nutrition journeys. I’ve found consistently, even from just coaching in general that there are A LOT of nutrition myths out there, thus another nutritious blog post from yours truly (see what I did there?).

 

Misinformation exists, especially in the fitness world and it’s a huge problem for professionals in this industry trying to properly educate individuals. The market for dieting is growing every year, from weight-loss supplements, juice cleanses and meal plan templates, we are seeing the biggest marketing scheme for “quick-fixes” take over the health and wellness industry.

 

In this blog post I’m going to focus specifically on the diet culture within the fitness industry and providing educational and informational responses on why these chosen paths for weight-loss are ultimately damaging not only for your body but mental health as well.

 

Let me first clear things up, there are no quick fixes especially when it comes to weight-loss.

 

Getting right into it, I want to start off with this idea that we need to eat 1200 calories a day in order to see weight-loss happen. Here’s what will happen if you only consume 1200 calories, you will lose weight (awesome right? Not exactly), you will also lose some fat but also muscle. The biggest problem with restrictive eating is that your metabolism will eventually get used to eating at such a low caloric intake that you will have to continue to eat less and less calories to see progress in your weight-loss. The issue with this is that it creates an unhealthy relationship with food, it creates stress and stress comes with a whole list of things it does to your body. Having such a mentality leads to disordered eating, labeling food as “good or bad” and then eventually binging because you’ve deprived your body of what it needs for so long, this is not only harmful for your body but also your mind.

 

No person on this earth except for a child under eight that doesn’t exercise should be eating less than 1200 calories (according to the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines). As we get older the baseline amount of calories we need to function properly go up and they will also vary dependent on how active of a lifestyle we live and if/how hard we workout. This is why a one-size meal plan templates does not work and why juice cleanses are a superficial. The main reason why a one-size meal plan doesn’t work (side note: it may work for some people when its a customized plan for their specific needs) however, we are all different and that means the amount of calories we need is different from say myself and what my fellow co-worker Curtis needs to fuel his Powerlifting training. Therefore, buying a one-size fits all meal plan template from an Instagram influencer might not be the best move for long-term sustainable success.

 

Let’s move onto juice cleanses, a market that has generated $215 million dollars in 2012 (according to market research firm NPD group via Harvard Health). The biggest issue I have personally with juice cleanses is that they claim to “detoxify” your body when in actuality your body comes equipped with a natural detox system AKA your kidneys and liver. If you have healthy kidneys and liver they will filter blood, expel toxins and cleanse your body 24/7. Juice cleanses will profit off of detox marketing and misguide people thinking this is what they need to do to rid their body of waste so that they feel healthier. These cleanses are generally low in calories and in-turn result in weight loss, however the real question here is what do the participants do once they have finished their cleanse? Just because you rid your body of all the “toxins” within it doesn’t mean you can go back to how you were eating before and evermore your internal desire to binge will be high due to restricting yourself for days. We also need to pay attention to how much protein the body is getting, even if you are vegan/vegetarian these diets still get a healthy amount of protein to maintain muscle mass. Juice cleanses have little to no protein in them, overall the juice cleanse is just a “quick-fix” to a long-term problem.

 

Good nutrition comes from education on whole and nutrient dense foods, a stress-free and relationship centered focus in regards to food. Restricting calories, following diets that are a one-size fits all approach or thinking quick-fixes are going to get the job done is not going to promote health for the long-term. Nutrition Coaches like my myself focus solely on making sure the client in eating enough food to sustain a healthy weight while also reaching their goals, the biggest myth of all is that you need to starve yourself to lose weight when in reality you probably need to eat more than you already are now to achieve your weight-loss goals.

 

Next time you’re scrolling through social media pay closer attention to what type of information you’re taking in and if you have specific nutrition questions, stop me in the gym next time you see me and/or stay tuned for part two!

 

Much love,

 

J

 

References:

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Juicing — Fad or Fab” Harvard Health, health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab.

“Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015” 2020 8th Edition 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/.

Toria’s Trip

Hello! I’m one of the new kids here at UF. I wanted to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story with you all. So… I graduated from Slippery Rock University with my BS in Exercise Science and from the University of Pittsburgh with my MS in Health, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease. I am currently an Exercise Physiologist at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh, and a desk worker/soon to be trainer at UF. Now that you know my education and work background, let’s get into the fun stuff. 

 

When I was a student in college, I had gained just about 50 lbs over the course of those few years from being lazy and unmotivated. I believe I gained 25 of those 50 lbs in just one year. I only saw the inside of a gym maybe a few times per year. I was very unhappy with myself and didn’t care enough to try and lose the weight. I would eat fast food and drink pop (or “soda” for you oddballs out there) literally all of the time. I don’t think I really even knew what a vegetable tasted like. My physical and mental health both went down a steep hill. 

 

A little over a year ago, my doctor ordered a blood test because of the rapid weight gain and how badly I had been feeling. The test revealed that I had abnormally high LDL cholesterol levels (LDL = the “bad” cholesterol). At the age of 22 it definitely isn’t normal to have high cholesterol with no history of it in my family. Since I’m young it doesn’t seem like a huge concern, but I sure was scared for my future health. Not long after that news, I discovered a local CrossFit gym that I figured I could try out. I was intimidated and very unsure of it at the time, but I immediately fell in love with exercise and fitness. I ended up bringing my cholesterol levels down, losing all of that extra weight I had gained in college, gaining some solid muscle mass and a lot of confidence along the way. When I first started out, I could barely do a few pushups even from my knees and that extra weight I was carrying put a lot of stress on my joints. Now I can exercise with no pain, do movements I wasn’t able to before, and I feel great while doing it.    

 

I found a love and passion for exercise, and I realized that it’s something I will never give up on unless something crazy were to happen to me. Exercise is truly one of the greatest things on this earth. To be able to physically perform and experience what it can do to you is definitely a blessing as not everyone in this world is able to. On this journey I have learned that fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s 100% about being better than YOU used to be. If you put even just a little bit of focus on yourself and your physical/mental health progress, it can truly go a long way. I hope my story helps you realize and remember that even with some of the setbacks that come throughout life, you can do anything you put your mind and body to!

 

Stay healthy friends!

 

Toria