Thursday, January 29, 2009



Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (or NEAT for short) is the amount of exercise you get when you are not specifically exercising. Anything that you do that isn’t really part of your exercise routine falls under this. this includes walking, cooking, cleaning, fidgeting, watching TV, sleeping, etc.

hyperactive1The neat thing about NEAT (yeah I know) is that you burn the overwhelming majority of your calories during this time. A little adds up to a lot over the course of the day. For example, studies have shown that people who are more ‘fidgety’ tend to leaner than those who are relatively calmer.

That being said, how can we use this concept to help us getting lean? Well for one, we can all try to take little breathers and walks every few minutes or so. Say you spend 16 hours awake, and you take a 2 minute walking break every 30 minutes. That’s a good hour of walking in a day! And I haven’t even accounted for the calories burned by sitting up and down.

Here are some other ways you can easily incorporate NEAT into your lifestyle:

  1. Stand on one leg when brushing your teeth.
  2. Park your car further from your office
  3. Always take the stairs
  4. Get a 10 minute walk during lunch
  5. Do as many pushups as you can before the morning shower

If you have any ideas to add here, please share :).

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year “Resolutionists”

gymThe local gym is pretty busy these days. In fact, its always busy this time of the year. There are lines of people waiting for the cardio machines. It takes 20 minutes to find parking (and my gym has a 4-level parking garage!). The changing rooms are crowded.

However, year after year, everything returns to normal and the gym is once again sparsely populated (relatively speaking of course) by the time February rolls around. Its a something my friends have termed “The mystery of the disappearing New Year  Revolutionists”.

Its a very curios thing. I’ve never really understood it. however, I think I have a working theory on why people drop their new year resolutions: The goals we set are too high.GreatWallJinshanlingToSimatai

If you try to work out for an hour everyday at the gym, you will get bored pretty fast. Its not a lack of motivation, its a lack of proper planning.

My advice would be make more realistic resolutions. A good example, if you’ve led a hereto forth sedentary lifestyle, is to promise that you will take a 10 minute walk everyday.

Once you start doing this regularly, not only will you be in better shape, but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you further. At this point you can incrementally increase the amount of exercise you get.

Remember, baby steps. That’s the key.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Healthy Habits - Ditch the Liquid Calories

This month I plan to write a series of posts on simple steps to achieve a healthier fitter you.

Today’s healthy habit is to drop all liquid calories in your diet. This is an easy step but makes a HUGE difference in terms of weight management and body composition. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to drop:

  • All soft drinks (coke, pepsi, sprite, mountain dew, etc)
  • Milk (all sorts)
  • Fruit juices (sweetened, unsweetened, whatever)
  • Tea/Coffee (without sugar is still ok)
  • Energy/Sports drinks (Gatorade, Propel, Red bull, etc.)

no cokeThe amount of calories we get from these is remarkably high. On top of that most of these drinks contain a bunch of sugar (In my later posts I’ll explain why sugar is the major player in fat gain).

Sugary drinks are a major reason behind increasing rates of diabetes, they are also the reason we hear about d iseases like Fatty Liver disease or the metabolic syndrome. Even if you have a healthy body fat ratio, these drinks are still playing havoc with your internal systems.water

When you think about it you are not really sacrificing much. These drinks don’t even really fill you up. However, the benefits of not consuming these and sticking to plain old water are tremendous.

Try this out for a couple of weeks and be amazed at the progress in your fat loss goals.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The most effective form of exercise known to man

Tabata Protocol aka. Guerilla Cardio

What it is: Warm up for a 2-4 minutes. For the next 4 minutes do 8 cycles of 20 seconds and 10 seconds, where you go ALL OUT for 20 seconds and slow down for 10. Cool down for the next 2-4 minutes (if you can still move that is).

Step 1: Read up on the research HERE (pdf) and HERE

Step 2: Pick your poison. Sprinting outdoors is probably the best. Elliptical machines and stationary bikes also work well (in that order). Thrusters (howto) are amazing. Pushups, pullups, squats? Good, good and great. Treadmills/Other sissy stuff? Not so much.

ummm.... NO!

Step 3: Warm up. Jump around for a couple of minutes. Make sure you are nice and loose. No need to stretch. DON'T proceed if you have any sort of niggles/tightness.

Step 4: Get crackin'. This takes all of 4 minutes, so give it all u've got. The 5th and 6th cycles are the toughest. Don't give up.

"You can do eet!"
Step 5: Falling flat on the ground, not moving, breathing heavy, puking, swearing loudly are all acceptable post-tabata behaviors.
"my cat's breath smells like cat food"
Step 6: Do this 2-3 times per week for 2 weeks. Curse me now, thank me later :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How to Beat Procrastination

Sometimes you feel lazy (read extremely lazy) and you just can't seem to do stuff that you know you should be doing. It could be the laundry that's piling up, or the dishes, or the walk you promised you'd go for. It could even be a work or school related task. Sometimes you just don't feel like getting started.

I'm sure most of us have been through this. It's the classic combination of laziness and procrastination. Well I'm here to tell you that this is a very easy problem to fix.

The Cause

Before we actually go ahead and remedy the situation, let's look at why we fall into this problem. You see what happens is that your brain looks at any problem as one whole piece. When you look at a problem, you see it as a whole, you don't immediately break it down into smaller tasks. The reason you don't get started on a task is because you look at it and then, on some level, you think to yourself: "Dang! This is a big problem. There's no way I can finish it, so there's no point in starting."

And then you don't. What ends up happening is that you never get around to starting the task until the last minute when it becomes a do or die thing.

The Cure

Now that you know what causes your laziness, here's how to fix it: say to your self that you will only do this task for 5 minutes. In fact, set your kitchen timer (or you can keep a timer in your office) for five minutes. What this does is that it gives your brain the impression that its only a small, easily accomplishable task that you are tackling, so you are more likely to actually get started.

Once you actually start, more often than not you'll find that its very easy to keep going. I've been using this to get a lot of work done lately - stuff that I would normally put off for "later". So give it a shot and tell me how this work for you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rules for eating out

I've been eating out a lot recently; buffets, somali restaurants, all over the map really. Here is a little set of rules to keep that food from showing up on the belly...

The 5 Cardinal Rules (Must NEVER break)
1. No Drinks (water is ok)
1. No Desert
1. No Bread
1. No Rice
2. No Potatoes

Some more guidelines
1. Avoid the oil. Especially true for pakistani-indian restaurants, where they use the-really-bad-for-you vegetable/corn oil. Avoid the oil as much as possible.
2. Load up on veggies. Order a side of broccoli or a salad. Most restaurants are happy to replace the bread with extra salad.
3. Eat up on the meat. Can't go wrong here.

There you go, so simple :)