Carbohydrates are sugars. They are your body’s main source of energy. Each gram of carbohydrate equals four calories. Carbohydrates come from breads, pastas, oats, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Not all carbs are created equal. The carbs that you will want to base most of your diet on will be quality carbs such as whole
grains—like wheat and oats—and, of course, fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, fruits are higher in carbohydrates than vegetables, as the fructose in them that makes them sweet is a sugar. Potatoes and corn, though, are very high in sugar.

Eat a steady flow of carbohydrates throughout the day, but frontload the larger portions of carbohydrates in the early part of
the day so that your body can utilize them instead of storing them. This is why it is good to eat fruit in the morning and vegetables in the evening.

Do NOT be afraid to eat carbohydrates! But you should track and measure the amount of carbs that your body needs based on
how energetic you feel. Pay attention to how sustained your energy levels are throughout the day. Do you feel like you can focus all day and that you have the energy to accomplish your necessary daily tasks? If not, look at how you are putting your meals together and make sure they are balanced.

People who are looking to lose weight and tone up should choose complex carbohydrates and decrease their intake by about
half. If you normally eat a cup of rice at a meal, replace it with a half-cup. If you need to make up calories, do so using protein and/or non-starchy (low-carb) vegetables.

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Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are usually found in powders and shakes. Check first with your doctor, but protein supplements can be used
if you need help getting your daily requirement of protein. As we said earlier, getting enough protein is necessary for building muscle, and muscle speeds metabolism. (This is how protein shakes can indirectly help you lose weight.)

If you struggle with cooking and have difficulty preparing meals in advance, it is better to have a protein shake than eat fast food or end up not eating at all. But it must be said, while protein shakes are great for supplementing the diet, there is nothing better for your body than natural whole foods. The body can utilize real food much better than a supplement. If you have an option, eat the real thing.

Two of the most commonly used protein shakes are whey protein and casein protein. The differences of the two are how fast the
body utilizes them and what they offer specifically towards your goals.
Whey protein is full of amino acids, which are important for building muscle and speeding recovery. It is absorbed quickly, which helps the body synthesize the protein well. Whey protein may also help boost the immune system in the body. The best time to take whey protein shakes is about an hour before and immediately after your workout.

Casein protein is a slower digesting protein. It keeps the body from going into a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state that otherwise occurs when you don’t eat for a sustained period of time, such as during sleeping. Thus, this is good to ingest in the evening.
Casein protein also provides some amino acids and is a great source of dairy calcium. The best way to use casein protein
is to combine it with your meals—especially with whole food proteins—and at dinner.

Note that whey and casein protein are both derived from milk. (In fact, 80 percent of the protein found in milk is casein protein and the remaining 20 percent is whey.) So if you are lactose intolerant, like I am, these probably aren’t good choices for you.

You can use soy protein or rice protein instead. That is what I like to use for my protein shakes. Another consideration is a beef protein powder that has recently come to the market. While these don’t work exactly as whey and casein do respectively, they are options for getting that protein boost.

Your local health food store will usually carry many different types of protein powders based on your needs. Ask for help if you
have digestive problems with certain types of protein shakes. And talk to your doctor about using them. The key factor in using such shakes is maintaining a regular workout program and a healthy diet.

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Protein-Rich Foods

In order to make the healthiest protein choices, look for the leanest cuts of meat. Red meats tend to be higher in saturated fat than white meats like fish and chicken. Fish is also higher in healthy fats.

Servings and Protein Content

• Chicken/turkey breast, 3.5 oz. serving = 30 g
• Chicken Thigh = 10 g
• Beef (most cuts) = 7 g per ounce
• Hamburger patty, 4 oz. = 28 g
• Egg = 6 g
• Fish fillets (most) = 6 g per ounce
• Tuna fish, 7 g per ounce


• Low-fat cheese stick = 6 g per ounce
• Cottage cheese, ½ cup = 15 g
• Milk (get lowest fat content you can handle), 1 cup = 8 g
• Soy Milk, 1 cup = 6-10 g
• Yogurt (reduced sugar), 1 cup = 8-12 g
• Beans, cooked (black, pinto, lentils, etc.) = 7-10 g per half cup
Nuts and Seeds:
• Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons = 8 g
• Almonds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Peanuts, ¼ cup = 9 g
• Cashews, ¼ cup = 5 g
• Pecans, ¼ cup = 2.5 g
• Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup = 6 g
• Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Flax seeds, ¼ cup = 8 g
• Whey Protein Powder, 1 scoop = 20-30 g
• Soy Protein Powder, 1 scoop = 20-30 g

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Protein is found in foods such as chicken, fish, lean beef, and egg whites. Each gram of protein equals four calories. For example, if you have twenty grams of protein you would consume eighty calories.

Protein is a useful source of energy. You should eat .8 to one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. For example, if
you weigh 120 pounds you would eat between 96 and 120 grams of protein total per day. This food staple has multiple functions in the body that make it a necessity for healthy living.

If you are specifically looking to bulk up, or increase muscle mass, I would increase that amount. One to 1.5 grams of protein per
pound of body weight per day is ideal.

If you are specifically looking to tone up, try to get one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and make sure it is lean protein (best: chicken, fish, turkey; avoid: red meat and pork).


• helps to build and repair muscles in your body. (When you exercise you cause minute tears in your muscles. Proteinhelps repair those tears. This is what makes you stronger.)

• stimulates your metabolism.

• repairs, builds, and maintains the body’s cells—including regenerating healthy hair, skin, bones, and fingernails.

• supports main organ function, such as regulating the digestive process.

• creates antibodies that help fight infections.

Complete proteins are proteins that provide the essential amino acids to help repair and build muscle fiber. Complete proteins are found in animal meat such as chicken, fish and beef.

Incomplete proteins come from plants and legumes such as beans, rice, tofu, and certain vegetables. These provide lower amounts of protein per gram and should be combined together in order to provide a meal higher in protein, such as rice and beans. Incomplete proteins are also higher in carbohydrate content than complete proteins.Vegetarian and vegan diets typically consist of these proteins.

Vegetarian/Vegan Options

Vegetarians and vegans can have a more difficult time obtaining the protein that they need because of the incomplete proteins that make up most of their diet. Drinking vegan-based protein shakes, increasing the number of meals per day, and combining a wider array of incomplete proteins in each meal can help.

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Water is an essential and often overlooked nutrient in our body. Almost two-thirds of our bodies are water. While much of nutrition discussions these days are focused on low-carb plans or protein intake and vitamins, we forget that the most important nutrient of all is water. Just increasing your water intake will allow your body to utilize your food and supplements more efficiently.

A lot of times when people think they are feeling hungry, what the body is really craving is water. Try drinking a glass or two of
water next time you think you are hungry and wait 15 to 20 minutes to see whether you feel satiated or not.

Most people don’t drink enough—and watch out, because sodas don’t count, they actually cause dehydration. When you do drink
enough water you will notice an increase in energy and focus.

Water is especially important when you are increasing energy output. In my experience, if you are even the slightest bit dehydrated during and after your workout, you will not recover as quickly. Water helps to stimulate your metabolism and aids in the removal of toxins in the body. You can absolutely trust your instincts as to how thirsty you are—don’t drink so much you feel sick. But the following guidelines are a great reference point and helpful if you are a beginner.

A full glass of water is eight ounces. Each day you should drink eight to 12 glasses (eight-ounce sized) of water—depending
on your build, workouts, and environment (such as heat, humidity, and/or altitude). As part of this daily total, I recommend:

• Drink two or three full glasses of water (total = 16 to 24 ounces) two to three hours before your exercise.
• Drink a half to a full glass of water (four to eight ounces) every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout to stay properly
hydrated. You may need more or less based on how warm the weather is and how much you weigh. But generally speaking, during a one-hour workout you should drink oneand- a-half to four glasses of water (12 to 32 ounces).
• Drink enough water after your workout that you feel satiated.

If, in spite of this, you are still feeling dehydrated, weigh yourself before and after you workout, and drink one-half to two-thirds of a glass (four to six ounces) of water following your workout per pound that you lost.

Water is the best way to get your body hydrated but if you end up losing a lot of salt during your workouts (and you can tell by an
intensely salty taste of your sweat or salt stains on your clothes) then you may need to drink a sports drink that has electrolytes. But be careful, stick to just one sports drink per day—especially if you are a beginner or trying to lose weight. Sip it during your work out and finish it immediately after you exercise.

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Mental Exercises for Dealing with Setbacks

Remember to give yourself some credit for the effort you are putting in. The effort is the success. If you put too much pressure on yourself to hit your goals you will probably end up unhappy. Always maintain the attitude that you can laugh at any situation and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be patient.
Another way to deal with a setback is to give yourself a mental break and focus more on other aspects of your life for a short
period of time. This does not mean to quit your workout program, but rather keep exercising and tweaking your workouts while simultaneously focusing more of your mental energy on your work or relationships.

Have multiple life goals outside of your fitness goals. This allows you to continue getting positive reinforcement from another
area of your life when your fitness is hitting a plateau.

Focus on the positives of what you are doing and the results that you have already achieved. In our quest to be successful it is easy to forget the success already obtained along the journey. Don’t discount it. It matters. Nothing is too small of a victory. Celebrate the fact that you are even striving toward a fitness goal. Celebrate that you are exercising regularly. Be proud when you eat one healthy meal in a day. These are different ways to keep a positive outlook on your journey and feel like you are progressing.

Read a book on having a positive attitude. These books can serve a great purpose and give you motivation when you are feeling down. A book is also a way to slow down a racing mind and to focus your energies on something other than your obstacles. Listen to motivational speeches in your car or on your mp3 player. Sometimes hearing positive reinforcement come from someone else—anyone else—can make a real difference.

Find a friend who will listen to your struggle. Sometimes all you need to do is express that bottled up disappointment in order to
start fresh again. This is a great way to also bond with a friend or a loved one who can support you on your journey. They may become the one to give you that push you need when you feel like giving up. And instead of going out for ice cream to talk about it, talk it over during a brisk walk. You’ll feel twice as good at the end.

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How To Handle Fitness Setbacks

Before you get too worked up about a plateau, make sure you are doing the correct exercises and that you are doing them  correctly. Then look at your training regimen and the data you’ve kept on your activities to see if you are changing your workouts enough. See if your intensity is lagging; consider whether you are giving your best effort in your workouts. Be brutally honest with yourself and use the reality principle. You may have a fear looming in your head
that prevents you from giving it your full effort.

Create a list of some of the setbacks that you are experiencing in the personal part of your fitness journal. When you write down the setbacks and problems, you will be controlling the setback instead of letting the setback control you. Isolate each setback and come up with at least five different solutions to the problem. By having more than one solution you can try several strategies to see which one works the best for you.

Create a plan for how you will overcome various setbacks, then consider asking a fitness professional for his or her opinion. Also, find someone who works out regularly in a gym and ask them their opinion about your plan. Go online to a communication
platform such as or join the fitness communities on and ask the audience what their opinions are. Write down the feedback you get.

Look over all of the responses you received to see where there are similarities. That is where you should start. Formulate a plan
based on that.

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Fitness Setbacks

Oftentimes we are afraid to set goals using the S.M.A.R.T. principle because we are inherently afraid to fail. There is a subconscious thought that holds us back: If I hold myself accountable to a goal, what happens if I don’t reach it?

When setting goals, you have to understand that there will be setbacks and failures. You must be realistic. No one who has achieved worthwhile goals gets there easily. The road to success isn’t straight and smooth. How you handle the bumps on the road to your goal will become the measure of how successful you will be in seeing it through to the end.

Think of setbacks as a test of how badly you want it.

It is easy and normal to feel frustrated when your progress slows. Some people give themselves the excuse that something is wrong with them genetically. But it is just the science of how you are going to break out of the plateau that matters. Becoming educated so that you know how to adjust your actions, and knowing that you must have patience during plateaus as you adjust, will help you get through.

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Goal Setting: The S.M.A.R.T Principle

I’ve adapted Paul J. Meyer’s S.M.A.R.T. goal characteristics to relate to body health changes. Use this as a general guideline for reaching your fitness goals.

Be specific about what you want to achieve. Have short-term and long-term goals. For example, a short-term goal
would be to lose ten pounds, a long-term goal to lose thirty.

Document your progress in the workout section of your journal so you can measure your success. For example,
weigh yourself every two weeks.

Have a specific plan in place as to what your workout will consist of each day and what you will eat each day. Make sure you prepare everything in advance so that there are no excuses to back out.

Keep your goals in line with what is both possible and healthy. Generally speaking, two pounds a week is a
healthy weight-loss goal. Depending on how much you have to lose, the first couple of weeks you may see more
weight loss. On the other hand, as muscle is built, you may even see weight gains the first couple of weeks. Stick with it, and the loss should start to regulate.

Give yourself a deadline to meet your short-term and long-term goals. Nothing motivates like a deadline.

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Creating Your Action Plan

Once you discover your “Why,” your job is to list your fitness goals and tie them to your “Why.”

By keeping this line of thinking in mind as you do your training activities, you will see a significant difference in your motivation and success. Your actions will have meaning. It will become more than just going through the motions of a workout program and you will be able to stick to your program more than you ever have in
the past.

You will go through the ups and downs of hitting plateaus and setbacks. If you know your “Why,” you will have the reason to keep going and push through to the other side.

First, start the fitness journal I described earlier. In the front of the book, or on a bookmark, write MY “WHY” and list three to five main motivating factors that drive you to succeed. Before you write in your journal each day I want you to review your “Why.”

Second, add photos that symbolize your “Why.” Choose the pictures wisely. Make sure they emotionally resonate for you. The pictures should visually depict the feelings that are most important to you and serve as a constant
reminder about why you are changing your lifestyle. You can put these in thefront of your journal, or create a vision board—a place your “Why” pictures are posted that you can see every day.

Third, I want you to find a partner or a support group to whom you are accountable. This partner should remind you of your goals and, most importantly, “Why” they are important to you. The partner you choose must be someone who is supportive and compassionate, but not afraid to tell you the truth and speak candidly. Choose this person carefully as his or her support and ability to make you accountable for your actions can be key to taking your
fitness to the next level.

Fourth, set up a reward system that will motivate you and provide the positive reinforcement that you need. This is an often-overlooked part of a fitness program and it is easy to get caught in the trap of setting “moving targets” as goals. For example, if you promise to buy a new pair of shoes after you reach ten pounds, and
the first ten pounds comes off easily, don’t wait until you lose 15 pounds to buy the shoes. Reward yourself and set a new goal. The reward—especially if it is a tangible item or an experience—will be another visual reminder of your accomplishment and the need to keep going.

Change is hard, but your “Why” will pull you through.

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