Unity Fitness’ Five Principles of Fat Loss

Hola!

This has been a big week for us as we re-open Unity’s doors for the first time in over 10 weeks due to COVID-19!  So, it’s especially exciting for us!

If you’re in the La Crosse area and looking for expert guidance in all things exercise, nutrition, mindset, and recovery – please send a message to unityfitnesslacrosse@gmail.com and let’s get chatting about getting you set up with a custom program!

Now on to the actual subject of this post: Unity’s Five Principles for Fat Loss.

This is going out because of the “Quarantine 15”, or the “COVID 19”, people are putting on – as in they’ve gained +15 lbs over the course of the quarantine (similar to the “freshman 15” a lot of freshman go through when they start college).

Stay with me here as I go over each principle in detail to help you understand them better, and also be reminded of this quote that I think I heard from my personal coach and fat loss strength coach guru, Alwyn Cosgrove, since the first day I met him:

Methods are many, principles are few.  Methods can change, principles never do.

​At Unity, we don’t mess around with fads or the latest “methods” when coaching people.  There are thousands of them out there, from diets to supplements to special instructions on how to live your life.  Honestly, 99% of them are BS, but there’s a reason why they sell since the “Diet Industry” in the U.S of A alone is estimated at $72 billion last year (and that’s with a drop in overall dieter numbers, most likely because of the positive body and size acceptance movement).

And being the research nerds we are, here’s what WE KNOW works for fat loss aka the PRINCIPLES OF FAT LOSS:

1) Create a caloric deficit.

​The calories (energy) you are consuming have to be LESS than what you’re burning off for energy that day.  A deficit of 300-500 calories is what you need to succeed over time, not 1,000 calories below.  Your body doesn’t function off of that and will actually store fat.  But you NEED to be in a deficit!  It doesn’t matter which type of plan (“diet”) you choose, whether it’s low-carb, high-carb, plant-based, animal-sourced, etc – as long as you’re in a deficit, you can lose fat.  Remember, the BEST diet is the one you can reasonably and consistently do right now.  Also, what you eat MATTERS!  Speaking of which…

2) Eat more whole, minimally-processed foods.

You consuming 6 Oreos is equivalent to you eating 2 apples with 1 tbsp of nut butter.  You consuming a large soda is equivalent to 4 apples.   Those calories are MOST DEFINITELY not created (and absorbed) equally, which results in different metabolic effects in your body.  You’ll absorb more nutrients from real food, stay full longer (while also decreasing cravings), and have better functionality.  Your body will thank you for this in many ways!

3) Maintain a positive nitrogen balance.

A positive nitrogen balance means we preserve (and possibly build) our lean muscle tissue and burn fat.  If we’re in a negative nitrogen balance, we can burn muscle as fuel (while continuing to store fat) which is BAD NEWS.  When we decrease calories for our deficit, we want protein to be our constant.  In other words, we don’t want our calories cut from protein, and often times a majority of people will actually get better results from INCREASING their protein.  We recommend to at least get 1g of protein per 1 lb of body weight, with the minimal amount being 1g = 1 lb of their lean mass.  So, if someone weighs 150 lbs and wants to focus on fat loss, we’ll recommend 150g of protein consumed each day.  This is where shakes come into play because hitting that high of protein can be HARD for most people.

4) Create “metabolic disturbances” for better “anabolic signaling” (notice how this is the FIRST exercise one on here – the first 3 are on nutrition).

You have to be doing an activity that signals to the body to maintain your muscle mass.  Creating metabolic disturbances come from specific types of training that involve strength training with specific superset designs of upper and lower body movements, they come from interval training, from progressive overload, and from metabolic resistance training.  Those are all things we do at Unity, so members of ours don’t have to worry one bit about it.  Traditional cardio doesn’t offer this benefit after about 2 weeks.  Neither do several other activities.  They can certainly help burn some fat as fuel, but over time they add up to as much unless you continue with adaptation through the S.A.I.D. principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands), which again is taken care of in our programming – so make sure you are doing it too!  The same thing can work, until it doesn’t!

5) Sleep more efficiently.

This is when most of your fat loss will happen, because sleep happens to be a very metabolic activity! Sleep offers us an opportunity to hit the “reset” button every day.  We like to think it’s a mini “update” you can do for your software each day.  People often count the hours of sleep that they are lying down in bed, but there’s more efficient ways to track sleep through R.E.M., S.W.S. (deep sleep), HRV (heart-rate variability), RHR (resting heart-rate), and much more.  More hours of sleep usually help with these variables and help with efficiency, but with the research being done on sleep, we know these variables matter!  Sleep also helps our body RECOVERY and DE-STRESS.  We don’t get better from training, we get better by RECOVERING from training.  Make sure you’re giving your body every opportunity it can to get better sleep.  7-9 hours/night is recommended, and stay consistent on when you go to bed and when you wake up!

Aaaaaand there you have it!  Unity’s Five Principles of Fat Loss.

Take a quick moment to notice how there are ZERO supplements mentioned within these principles as well.  The best part, this principles are all things YOU CAN CONTROL.

There’s obviously strategies we can implement for each principle, but I would start with the principle that you find easiest for you to focus on right now, and then break that down into tasks/habits to help you achieve success.

Let me know if you need any help on this!

Improving the way fitness is done,

Jordan, Founder of Unity Fitness

Written by Coach Jordan Rudolph,  CFSC, Pn2, TPI F2, SFG1, and Lead Lifestyle Transformation Coach

Navigating Our Return to the Gym: Turn a Dial, Don’t Flip a Switch.

Gosh, I cannot wait to get back in the gym with a barbell on my back.

I’ve had the thought many times and day-dreamed about that first workout back with barbells and plates and all the heavy kettlebells I can hope to lift.

However, I’ve also had to check my thinking and stop it in its tracks. Though I wish I could lift every weight in the gym, pick up my new phase as if I were never gone, and squat heavy weight immediately, the coach in me knows that’s not smart.

I think there’s a misconception that we can pick up right where we left off, as if we didn’t take time away from the gym. Flip the switch. Get back in the gym. Lift the exact weight that is written in our progressions on our program. But that line of thinking is short-sighted.

It’s not that the home workouts were ineffective. It’s not that we lost all of our gains and progress. Seriously, even if you took time almost entirely off, you didn’t lose as much as you probably think. But we were exposed to a different stimulus for an extended period of time. We advanced and progressed in a different way. Not better, nor worse, but different.

When we step back in the gym, it will feel as if we’ve lost progress. Weights that we could move with ease pre-shut down will feel heavy, especially if we haven’t had access to them. And that’s totally okay. It’s the natural progression of exposure to different training.

Have you ever done a goblet squat with a kettlebell, and then you use a front-loaded Ultimate Sandbag in your next phase? Chances are, it felt different. Moving from our at-home training programs to those in the gym is similar. We’re progressing into a new phase of training.

In this phase, we have to approach it with a beginner-like mindset. The gym, and the equipment within it, is a “new-to-you” stimulus. The problem is, though, we don’t feel like beginners in this situation. Instead of someone who is just joining the gym, we’re coming back to things we’ve done before. This small discrepancy is where the difficulty lies.

We’ve done it before; we can do it again. That’s how it works, right? Not exactly. We’re going to feel sore from a “small” amount of work done simply because the stimulus is different than what we’ve been doing at home. And, while soreness isn’t fun, it’s not the biggest problem we have to worry about.

Our biggest problem is injury.

You don’t get better from training. You get better from recovering from training.

When we flip the switch, turn it back to 100% of where we were pre-Safer at Home, it’s highly unlikely that we will be able to adequately recover from that training. The workload, intensity, and volume will likely be massive in comparison to our current at-home training. This is the perfect recipe for injury. Sure, it might not happen in that first session or perhaps not even in the first week.

But we don’t train to see where we are in a week; we train to see what we’re able to do for years.

Getting back into the gym, we have to play the long game and think for the future. Cutting down workload will seem awful. We have access to this equipment, why not do as much as possible with it? Simply put, we have to prioritize our future selves over our immediate desires. We have to check our ego at the door. Spending time easing back into your gym program and acclimating your body to the new stimulus, allows you to build up to a manageable training for you.

What might this “turning the dial” approach look like in practice? There are a few factors we have to consider:

What are you doing right now, at home? What weights have you had access to? How many days have you been training?

This is a big consideration when you’re planning your return to the gym. If you’ve been doing bodyweight only training, 2-3 times per week, you absolutely cannot hop back into 4-5 days, full equipment training on the first week. Heck, perhaps not even in the first month! You will have to gradually add days, as well as weight, to your training programs. If you’re in that situation, perhaps start with lighter weight, fewer sets, and only 2-3 days for at least the first week or two. Then, gradually build up over the course of 4-5 weeks. Tentatively plan, for a full volume training session at the very least one month after the return to the gym. Of course, this can vary wildly, and I highly recommend working with a coach to navigate this transition seamlessly.

How is your recovery? Are you incorporating regeneration days? How is your nutrition now and what changes, if any, do you have to make to support greater workloads in the gym?

During this initial transition, it’s important that we monitor recovery closely. Like I said earlier, it’s the recovery that makes us better, not the training. As you increase your training, make sure that you increase sleep, hydration, quality nutrition, regeneration sessions, etc. These are all vital to ensuring a seamless turn of that dial. When you turn the dial up on the training, all of these dials must get turned up as well.

What is your long-term goal? What are your short-term goals?

Having a goal during this time is important. It gives direction and a greater purpose to your training and allows your coach to help you get there in a way that is gradual. Instead of planning to use every single piece of equipment that you haven’t had access to for a couple months”, I hope you can see how taking it a bit easier now can benefit you in the long-term. It won’t feel like a waste of time when a lighter few weeks will allows you to truly ramp up your training when it really counts, or avoid injury that will hold you back from doing things outside of the gym – golfing, running, walking, gardening, hiking, racing, participating in events, etc.

At the end of the day, we have to stop comparing our pre-COVID-19 gym experience to that of the return to the gym, at least for the first couple of weeks. It’s likely going to look very different as we regain a sense of normalcy. Once again, we must strive to embrace the new normal. This time it’s post-Safer at Home orders. One thing can make this easier: preparation and managing our expectations.

I encourage everyone to start thinking about this now. Take time to think about what you want your return to the gym to realistically look like. Spoiler: it should not be an all-out, max effort workout on the first day in the doors. Think about your goals. Identify what you want long-term and how approaching the gym slowly will support that goal. Identify how you will turn the dial and leave “flipping the switch” to TikTok.

Written by Emily O’Connor, NSCA-CPT, Pn1, SFG1, XPS, and Lead Lifestyle Transformation Coach

Snacking at Night?

So, you stuck to a perfect meal plan all day. You feel wonderful, body feels great, and you are proud of yourself for keeping your choices on track all day. However, all of a sudden you begin to get cravings right before bedtime…

“Just one” cookie or chip has all of a sudden turned into 500+ calories that your body doesn’t need to go to sleep with. I think we have all been in this situation from time to time.

I know how frustrating the aftermath can be when you realize what you have done to your perfect day. It’s easy to push it aside and blame it on your self-control, but there may be underlying issues causing this.

This could be caused by a variety of different things. Here’s a few common ones:

  • Deficiencies in key minerals
  • Lacking proper sleep
  • Dehydrated
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Sensory stimulation / availability
  • Stress
  • Or very commonly, you have just always had a snack before going to bed and it has turned into a

Cravings can be tempting at night. Maybe you feel like you deserve it. I mean, it’s usually the first time you get to relax after a long day, and tiredness or emotion make it harder to say no to temptations.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t BAD to have snack before bed. However, it easily can be detrimental to your health and fitness goals if they aren’t thought out, healthy, and nutritional options.

When choosing your bed time snack, opt for whole foods that are nutrient dense and contain protein so that your body can use that to build and/or preserve muscle mass during sleep. Sleep is when our bodies are recovering broken down muscles and recovering from a hard workout or long day at work. This is why it’s so important to give yourself healthy options for your body to work with while sleeping.

If you often find yourself struggling with bad choices at night, try these:

  • Push your dinner time back even just 30 min to 1 hour to see if that helps.
  • Plan your healthy evening snacks early in the week so that there are no surprises when it comes time and you are in more control.
  • Throw away tempting unhealthy options so that they aren’t even an option.
  • Set a specific time that you will brush your teeth at night so there will be no more eating
  • Drink a large glass of water. Sometimes our bodies mistake thirst for hunger.
  • Buddy up – find someone to keep you accountable! Maybe it’s your living partner, co-worker, or family/friend. No matter who it is, let them know what you need from them. We are much more likely to reach our goals and stay disciplined in our actions when we have support from others to keep us on track.

Bed time snacks can either set you up for success or failure. Keep in mind what will keep you on track and pushing towards the goals you are striving for!

Not one of us is perfect, but we’re all in this together and here to keep each other accountable towards a healthier lifestyle!

Written by Coach Ali – Lifestyle Transformation Coach, Usaw1

What is your ‘WHY-POWER?’

For those of you who are either brand new to your fitness journey or who have been going strong for years – have you ever stopped and asked yourself  “Why?”

  1. Why am I doing this?
  2. What do I want out of this?
  3. What is my ultimate goal?
  4. Am I willing to accept change?
  5. How much time am I willing to put towards myself?
  6. What is going to be different this time than other times I’ve tried in the past?

I sat down and asked myself this very question the other day. I have been exercising regularly my whole life. But still – do I have a goal in mind? Is my goal to be at a certain weight or fit into a specific size? I, like many of you, have many different reasons.

For me, my WHY is because I want to live my life feeling the best I possibly can.

I enjoy feeling comfortable and confident in my clothes. I hate hiding behind layers of clothing and being self-conscious of how I’m looking. I want to use my body and push it to see what it is capable of. I love challenging it and feeling strong. I love the endorphin high that comes along with a workout, and the satisfactory feeling of being finished. I also came from a very active family who all try to take care of themselves as best they can. I was raised to know your health is important to take care of.

But I, like many of you, have good days and some not so good days.

Some days I am ready to attack any workout and push my limits. Then there as some days where I can’t seem to find the motivation to get going. This is when I try to go over my reasons why and it tends to help! Even if I just go out for a long walk – I feel better and am happy I did it!

I encourage you to sit down and ask yourself why you put yourself through each and every workout. Not only do I think you should figure out what is important to you, but why.

If it is a goal weight, do you have a specific number in mind? Why do you want to get there? Have you ever been at that weight before in your adult life? How will you feel when you reach your goal? What if you still aren’t happy?

The journey itself is about learning new health habits, shaping our mental health, and exploring our depths. When all of these pieces fall into place, then our goals will become our new reality. Weight loss and/or muscle growth is not a simple fix or a one-size-fits-all process that happens overnight. If looking great, being pain-free, and feeling confident is the ultimate goal, I urge you to stop and think about why you are doing it.

Once you figure out your ‘why-power,’ you have already broken down a huge barrier between yourself and success. You can use this ‘why-power’ to motivate yourself on the days you just want to sit on the couch and binge watch the 27th episode of a show.

Okay, now picture yourself reaching your goal, whether that be weight loss, muscle growth, etc. What happens next? Are you done? Is the journey over? Absolutely not. You will most likely continue setting goals for the rest of your life!

Our hope for you here at Unity Fitness is that not only will you have learned lifelong health habits that you can share with the people in your life, but also that you’ve come to love the person underneath the skin. Remember, this body you have is the only ‘home’ you will ever live in. Take care of it, be kind to it, and do not shame it anymore. Learn to look at yourself in the mirror and understand that people love you for who you are, not what you look like. Hear me out: if you were to pass away tomorrow and we asked people why they loved you, I promise you that they wouldn’t say, “I loved _______ because he/she was a size small.” They would talk about how kind you were, how funny you were, and how incredible you were!

This is my reminder to you to sit down, think about why you are on this journey and be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can with what you have. If you find yourself stuck in a corner and have no idea where to go, call us! We WANT to help, we WANT to answer questions, and we WANT to be there for you!

Written by Coach Amber – Lifestyle Transformation Coach

Outside of the Box Pancakes Ideas

Helllloooo, Sunday! A day of the week when many of us sleep in, relax, and take it slow. Aside from a hot, steamy cup of coffee, the next best thing to being at home on Sunday mornings is being able to cook a full breakfast. Sometimes I’ll get creative with leftovers and whip up a hodge-podge egg-protein-veggie scramble with a side of fruit, topped with cinnamon and nut butter (this is actually one of my favorite all-time meal combinations, and I never get tired of eating it).

From time to time, though, I get the itch for something a bit sweeter. When my brother and I were little, my mom would make these deliciously thin and light crepe-like pancakes that we would smother in syrup or homemade strawberry jam. Back then, you could probably catch me topping mine with a few spoons of sugar as well…

Now, when I think about pancakes, I’m looking for something a bit more “outside of the box,” and certainly more health-focused than what comes from using a store-bought batter. A box of pre-made mix includes five ingredients: enriched bleached flour, oil, leavening, dextrose, and salt – mainly processed and refined for quick and cheap eats. I suppose you could get the “Heart Smart” version and go for nine ingredients and ten fewer calories.

Instead, I like to opt for recipes that call for less processed pantry staples, which make these flapjacks not only healthy and delicious, but also pretty convenient. These can all be enjoyed with a variety of toppings, including favorite fruits, nuts, nut butters, Greek yogurt, or real maple syrup. And of course, don’t forget the coffee!

Protein Powder Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Fit in 42)

 I don’t have a direct link to this recipe, but definitely have it memorized. It’s either easy to remember, or I’ve just made them THAT many times:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • I recommend blending all ingredients until oats are fully incorporated.

I’ve used both vanilla and chocolate protein for this recipe, and I imagine that any flavor would be good. If I use chocolate, I’ll typically top with a nut butter (peanut butter chocolate pancakes, um, yes please!). Otherwise, some of my go-to toppers for vanilla are fruit, like apples or berries, with a few nuts, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Diabetes Strong)

This recipe calls for low-fat cottage cheese, oats, egg whites, vanilla extract, and the optional pinch of stevia. I added a bit of cinnamon to mine and, oh my…I thought these were delicious! I couldn’t taste the cottage cheese and the cakes turned out thin, but fluffy, which worked well for soaking up the juice from my heated frozen fruit. Dolloped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and it was basically like a PB&J!

Pumpkin Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Leah’s Plate)

Who doesn’t love pumpkin, especially in the fall? With how available canned pumpkin is, I find these to be a delicacy that I can enjoy all year round. The original recipe calls for pumpkin puree (be careful not to grab pumpkin pie filling), eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, honey or maple syrup (optional), and ground flaxseed (optional).

After many attempts, I have perfected my version of this recipe. I omit the added sweetener and flaxseeds, I use 3 egg whites, and add in a half-scoop of vanilla protein powder. It’s a pretty wet and thick batter, but with some extra patience, they turn out basically like pumpkin pie, but for breakfast. My preferred toppings are either maple syrup with a few pecans, or with some almond butter.

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite pancake recipes, and pulled up a few pictures of these recipes coming to life on a plate, I think I’ll head to my kitchen now…. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Written by Coach KasieLifestyle Transformation Coach, CPT, Pn1, Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach