Author Archives: lfcorak

About lfcorak

I am a Certified Personal Trainer, Healthy & Fitness Specialist, Aerobics Instructor and have a bachelors degree in Health Science. My goal in life is to motivate individuals to take their power back from all the negetive stimuli and start living a healthier and happy life.

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie? The truth behind “calories in, calories out.”

 

 

If I were to ask you, what do you think the best diet is to successful weight management and a healthy lifestyle? I guarantee 90% of you would say, “Eat real, wholesome food and avoid processed “fake” foods.” Absolutely. But do you know why?

Second question, how does one lose weight? Calories (AKA energy) in, calories out, right? The clear cut answer is yes, but how do we measure that accurately?

The answer to these two questions are simple, but the why is so much more important. With a little science to explain it, I am hoping the “why” will help you understand the bigger picture of energy (calorie) input and output.

Let’s identify how a calorie is actually measured and how it effects our body.

The calories we see on nutrition labels are determined in a science lab by incinerating food. So when a nutrition label reads “100 calories,” that information was gained from scientists burning that food sample with a measurement tool called a bomb calorimeter. Problem is, our bodies don’t incinerate food, it digests food.

“Your body is smarter than you. It’s a dynamic, adaptive, living organism. Not a machine.” (Krista Scott-Dixon)

Your body’s way of metabolizing food (the amount of calories needed for digestion) can either speed up or slow down depending on a number of factors. These factors include our hormones, timing of eating (such as eating after a vigorous workout at the gym) and nutrient density. For example, eating a nutrient dense meal high in protein is harder to breakdown so your body will rev up to accommodate the demand of digesting the meal. On the other end, if you feed your body with low nutrient dense foods (AKA fake foods) your metabolism can slow down because the deprivation of key nutrients causes a metabolic response to conserve energy. Yes, the “starvation mode” that you’ve all heard about is true. Deprive your body of essential nutrients and it will deprive you from proper metabolic functions. So in order to have good digestion and metabolic response, we need to fuel our bodies with nutrient dense foods (AKA real food).

Here is a direct excerpt from the Precision Nutrition course I am currently taking that explains digestion impressively:

Digestion is an active process with innumerable moving parts (including trillions of bacteria that do much of the “digesting” part for us). It’s not just moving “calories” along a conveyor belt. The way we digest food can change the amount of energy we can get from it by up to 25%. The more easily we can break down a given food, the higher the available energy, and vice versa. That means our digestion can be affected by:

  • Macronutrients and fiber: Protein, fiber and resistant starch don’t provide the same amount of energy to our body as when burned in a calorimeter.

  • Processing: If a machine has chewed and manipulated the food for us, our mouth and gut don’t have to work much. White flour (processed) in a muffin is handled differently than fresh (wholesome) berries. Processed food takes less energy to digest and absorb compared to whole foods.

  • Cooking and heat processing:This often breaks down the stuff (such as fiber) that our digestive system might get hung up on, allowing us to get more energy out of a given food. One researcher thinks that cooked food may provide 25-50% more calories than raw food.  

  • Our GI tract health and flora: Our intestinal bacteria do much of the work of “digestion” for us. When our internal bacterial environment (aka our microbiome) changes, our ability to absorb nutrients changes.

 

So yes, we can assume energy in and energy out, but there’s a person in between with functions other than a simple measurement tool. There is no precise method to figuring out how many calories we are truly consuming and the energy we are expending from eating those foods. What we do know is that providing our body with nutrient dense foods expend more calories in the digestion process, which is exactly what we want. Not only that, but the converted energy is used to energize us throughout the day and improve our athletic performance, which essentially means more calorie expenditure! Can you say DOUBLE WHAMMY!!?

 

Putting this information to use in terms of making food choices is most important. Eating a 100 calorie chips ahoy pack will provide you with no beneficial nutrients to be broken down. In fact, your body may have no idea what to do with the food because it doesn’t recognize half the ingredients, so it will cause all sorts of internal disruptions. So if you’re lucky, your body will digest what it can. Whereas if you eat 180 calories of almonds (about ¼ cup) your body will get to work with the nutrients provided, adding additional energy expenditure through the process of digestion.

 

Now I may be sounding bias and a hater of all companies that promote low calorie, fake foods, but I am just speaking the truth based on the facts. The best thing we can do is try to educate ourselves on this subject and have a simple understanding of what goes on in the body. I get it that most do not care about the science and really just want to know what they should and should not eat. But, to tell you the truth, knowing the basics of why you should eat what you eat, will give you a reason to adapt a healthier lifestyle rather than, well… Just because.

Key information to take away:


  1. Although nutrition labels help you be mindful of the product, nutrition labeling isn’t a perfect system. Calorie counts may be inaccurate or misleading. Don’t rely on your MyFitnessPals for your information either, most of that data is self-input.

 

  1. Calories are just a measurement of heat. They don’t actually imitate what happens in our body. Remember, we don’t incinerate food; we digest it.

 

  1. Supplementing low calorie “diet foods” for whole foods won’t help you lose weight. Your body will burn more calories digesting the whole food, even if it’s has more calories.

 

  1. If you want to be fit, lean and healthy, stray away from calorie counting. Eat to fuel your body and your body will reward you with good health and body composition.

 

  1. Focus on nutrient qualityof the foods you eat. Eating more quantity of low calorie, low nutrient dense foods will not get you to your goal.

 

  1. Don’t worry or rely on the numbers so much. They won’t help you as much as you expect. So throw away those point systems and just eat real food why don’t ya!!

 

Knowledge is power. It’s time to take your power back.

Take Your Power Back!

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What does the word “power” mean to you? The definition of “power” according to the dictionary states it is the ability of doing or accomplishing something, the ability to act with strength, might and force. It is the possession of control; to have authority and dominance. When we surrender to power, we lose control of ourselves as an effort to be an individual. In order to grasp life fully and be the best individual we can be, we need to embrace the power within. The truth is, when we have power within ourselves, we can conquer the world. No, not in an evil and creepy way, but in a way where the sky is the limit and we can achieve anything we put our minds to.

How can we take our power back?

1. First, we have to decide what it is that we are taking our power back from. My mother always says, “Check your boxes.” Each aspect of your life represents a box; your career, family, relationships and health. When one aspect of your life is not going the way you want it to, rearrange your boxes. If you don’t like how your job is going, or you’re not happy in a relationship, it means it’s time to make a change.

2. Get rid of negative energy and create a positive environment. Exclude negative individuals from your life. Surround yourself with people that are supportive, positive and inspiring. You will start to adapt to the positivity and you will notice your thoughts will be brighter and optimistic.

3. Be in control of your thoughts and actions. I am guilty of being indecisive and I have a hard time making decisions. I am afraid of making the wrong decisions and often look for justifications to support them. It is not only important to make your own decisions, but to accept them and move on. One tip I’ve found helpful in making decisions is to go with your gut feeling. Your body’s initial response is so powerful and 99% of the time, it’s the right choice.

4. Stay true to yourself. Love who you are and accept yourself as you are. Don’t adhere to what others think you should do or be. Stick to your beliefs, respect yourself and the people who matter will respect you for being you.

5. Visualize what you want, and believe you can have it. You can have anything you want and you can be whoever you want. If you have a goal, visualize yourself accomplishing it. Whether it is getting a promotion at work, or crossing the finish line of a marathon. Visualize it, believe you can do it and well, just do it! When those thoughts of doubt start creeping in your head, tell them to back off, because you can do it, and you will.

6. Eat PowerBack Snacks. They will automatically give you your power back! No I am totally kidding, but they will give you the energy you need to get your power back physically!! Okay okay, terrible marketing ploy, but I had to throw it out there..

 

Take your power back, live life, and kick ass! Happy Tuesday Everyone!

What does it mean to be your own super hero?

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Dominate in everything you do.

Whether it is a workout at the gym, or a presentation at work, crush that shit. Give it everything you got and more. If you go into a situation with the predetermination that you’re going to dominate, you will. Even if you completely suck at it, have pride in what you do and rock it.

Focus on your superpowers.

Everyone is good at something and has a unique skill. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you’re not good at, embrace what you are good at. When you pursue what you are good at and what you love, confidence and happiness always follows.

Accept your kryptonite’s and move on.

Just like we all have things we are good at “our super powers”, we all have our kryptonite aka weakness. My weakness happens to be sweets, but that’s a different story. We all have something in our lives we can improve on. In fact, it’s great that we all have weaknesses because it gives us something to work on. It gives us a goal and reason to work hard to better ourselves. The first step is to accept our weaknesses and challenge ourselves to improve on those weaknesses.

Push yourself to your limits.

Super hero’s don’t live “safe” lives. They have to reach outside their comfort zone and take risks. Nothing ever gets done in our safe zones. Push yourself past that comfort zone and see what you can accomplish. You will notice new opportunities will arise and you will do things you’ve never imagined doing.

Be a fighter and never give up.

Don’t give up on anything. Fight for what you want and love. If you have a dream, go get it. Even if it doesn’t work out, you can never say you didn’t fight for it.

Be unique and do you.

We all are unique and we each bring something to the table. Be the best version of yourself and do what makes you happy. There is always going to be a villain trying to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself. But chances are they are either jealous, or they are insecure about their own kryptonite’s. So DO YOU and don’t worry about what others are doing.

Be badass.

Yup that’s pretty much it.

Happy Monday!

Taking Your Power Back: Why has food taken control over us?

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Food is not as simple as it used to be. With thousands of products on the market, we have lost track of what is in our food. We used to not have to worry about the ingredients the food industry put in the products we were eating. The food industry has become so greedy that in order to cut costs and make more money, they have replaced the quality ingredients in our food with cheaper chemical and artificial based ingredients. Food labels have gone from 5 simple ingredients, to a list of 15 plus unpronounceable, unfamiliar ingredients. To distract us from these hidden toxic ingredients they market the hell out of health claims by using “gluten free”, “all natural”, “low sugar” etc. We no longer know if the product we feed ourselves and our families are actually beneficial to our health or just another product we were suckered into believing was good for us.

The cost of food has a total affect on what we purchase. We are restricted from quality products because of the high cost. This is a major problem that we have been trying to address for a long time. Unfortunately the food industry has a lot of power when it comes to this topic. It comes down to supply and demand. The more people who buy organic, high quality products, the more they will supply. It is nice to see that certain stores like BJS and Wal-Mart are making an effort to supply us with higher quality organic products. If we could come together and create a larger demand for organic foods, positive changes like this will happen. My last note on price of food is; we may be saving a few dollar bills not buying quality foods now, but we will be spending ten times more in health related bills down the road.

We think that in order to eat good tasting food, it has to be unhealthy. Good news is that is not true at all. You can take any unhealthy recipe and substitute in wholesome ingredients to make it taste delicious. We demonize food because the food we consume is making us fat. We spend most of our lives on diets because we are convinced that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and restrict certain foods. We have to reprogram the way we think about food. So how can we do this?

Think of your food as fuel. We need to eat in order to survive and for our bodies to function properly. Currently, we eat food for taste, comfort and entertainment. As a society we have to retrain our brains to eat for a purpose. That purpose should be to receive beneficial nutrients to support a healthy body and a “feel good “mindset. That doesn’t mean we have to give up taste though, there are plenty of ways to eat delicious food and still fell good in your body. We just need to be educated on which foods can do that for us.

We are food addicts. Sugar and processed foods has made us revolve our lives around eating. When we take processed sugar out of our diet, the body reacts like a withdrawal from drugs (That alone is scary). That is your body’s way of cleansing the toxins out. After those symptoms go away, your body will function differently. You will have more energy, you will feel less bloated and you will find yourself craving healthier wholesome foods. This is one of the first steps in taking control of your food. Reject sugary, processed foods. We have to stop our bodies from relying on it.

Taking your power back from food is not a one step process. It takes a lot of patience, time and commitment. One thing I can promise you is that if you do choose to take your power back, you will live a life you have never experienced before. I can tell you that first hand. The way I felt over 200 pounds and the way I feel now are like night and day. Let me tell you, it is worth it. Your body is your temple and you have one life to live in it, so live in it with full control and power.

The Power Of Confidence

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All my life I have been hung up on questions of how can I fit in? How can I get myself to look like that or how much weight do I need to lose to be considered skinny? It consumed my life because I didn’t feel good in my own skin and the only way I felt like I was moving forward was to try to answer those questions.

It took me 6 years to figure out my way of thinking was all-wrong. I finally realized that spending all my time wondering how I can be a certain way was getting me nowhere.

Why do we have to be a size 2 or why do we have to be a certain number on the scale? What does that even mean or represent? Well you may think to yourself, I will be happy when I hit that number on the scale or fit into a small size. Let me tell you something, you won’t be happier. In fact, you will be even more lost.

As some of you may know from reading my blog on my life story, I was overweight most of my life and then I took it to the extreme and became underweight. I had reached that size 2 pants I had always dreamed about, but guess what? I wasn’t happy because all I had to show for it were pants that made me look like I was 10 years old and a number on the scale.

That’s when I began to think, why did I waste my time thinking I needed to be this way? I thought for sure I would feel great and walk with my head held high. I still had no confidence, so whether I was a size 16 or a size 2, I still walked with my head down. It changed absolutely nothing.

What I am trying to preach to all you ladies is that it’s not always about losing weight or being the fittest one in your class. It’s about finding your best self, the self where you feel most confident. Confidence and weight loss aren’t 100% correlated. My advice to you is to work hard at a goal that is going to make you better. If you make your goal all about the way you look and a number on the scale, you will never be happy and you will drive yourself crazy in the process. Composition goals are great, because obviously if you look good you feel good, but there are other goals in addition to focus on that will make you feel accomplished. 99% of the time those goals will get you to your composition goals, but you wont drive yourself nuts staring at the scale every day.

Because at the end of the day, who says we have to look or be a certain way? We should be who we want to be in the most confident way possible.

For the past couple months I have watched the women in my class walk into the gym. Each day they come in, I can see more confidence. I can’t tell you how fulfilling that is to watch them come in every day with their head held a little higher. That is what life is about. Becoming more confident and comfortable in your own skin each day. Being better than you were yesterday. These women work their tail off and I know that they leave the gym everyday feeling accomplished and empowered. They all have something to show for their success that’s meaningful. For example, one of the girls was petrified of jumping on a box. The first day she was afraid of jumping over a barbell an inch off the ground. Now she is doing 18-inch box jumps and absolutely killing it! It is things like that that builds confidence in our every day lives. Not only self-success but also the success of the group as a whole has built confidence. Nothing makes me happier then seeing women cheer for each other’s success.

This is what I live for. This is what I love and I hope each day I am able to help women see what they are capable of and be..well just awesome!!!

Thursday Food For Thought; Manipulating Nutrients to Benefit Performance and Body Composition

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Many people (especially us women) think that in order to lose weight and cut fat, we need to eat less calories then we consume. Most diets are based on this assumption, which is why many diets don’t work or at least aren’t attainable.

Ive based most of my life off the princible of eat less, burn more. I was miserable, hungry, weak, depressed and wasn’t enjoying life. I needed a new way of thinking because what I was doing was not working. It wasn’t until Cross Fit that I finally started to see the bigger picture.

I had finally come to the conclusion the best way to eat that will result in a win win all the time. Its no secret or magical solution, its just being educated on how your body works and the effects of consuming quality foods. Now is my chance to retrain your brain and save you from a life long misery of frustration trying to lose weight. If you learn the whats, when and why, you will forever hold they key to success when it comes to reaching any composition or fitness goal.

Did you know there is actually a scientific reason to eat?

Everything we do in life demands energy . Whether it is sitting at your desk at work, sleeping, eating or running, our bodies rely on energy to supply these activities. All of this required energy creates your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Scientifically, your TDEE tells you how much heat your body generates through a process of thermogenesis. There are three main contributors to your body generating heat, in other words there are three reasons our bodies “burn calories”.

The first and most obvious factor that contributes to calories burned is how much heat your body generates to sustain daily activities and exercise.

The second contributor is the energy used for our bodies to keep all of our organs functioning properly (brain, liver, kidneys, etc). This is called your Basal metabolic rate (BMR) which means, even if you laid in bed all day and didn’t eat or move, your body still requires energy just to function. Depending on how much you weigh, gender and age, this number can range anywhere from 1000-2000 calories. This is why nobody should EVER consume less than 1200 calories a day.

The third factor, (which is my favorite) is the amount of calories needed to eat food. Sounds kind of ironic right? Our bodies need energy (about 10% of total TDEE) to digest and absorb nutrients of food. So this is why it is important to understand what you put in your body because everything has a different process of digestion, some burning more calories then others.

Now we need to understand how our macronutritents (carbs, proteins and fats) get digested. Lets start with protein.

Protein is the most thermogenic of them all, meaning it takes the most energy (calories) to digest and process. This is why many people see weight loss on high protein diets because it takes a lot of calories just to break it down. Protein also keeps you fuller longer because it takes so long to digest, which means you wont feel the need to eat as much. Our body is made up of protein so it is super important to provide our body with the materials it needs to repair your body into a lean mean fighting machine!!

Carbs & Fats are easier to break down and the energy required to digest these macro nutrients is less than protein. Fat burns the least amount of calories through digestion.

Now lets get to the fun part!! How to utilize these nutrients for our own benefit. As long as we are knowledgeable, we can manipulate these nutrients to get us to any physique or athletic goal we want. Its all about the power of knowledge!

Consuming carbs after a single bout of exercise is 70% greater than before training. If you add that up, that’s the difference of thousands of calories every month that you get for free!! On top of the boosted metabolism from high intensity exercise, your metabolism is kicked into high gear when you eat carbs post workout. Your body is always trying to reach a state of homeostasis. So after an intense training session, it becomes a furnace burning tons of calories trying to bring your body back to a neutral state. Carbs help with that recovery process.

In other words, after a training session you have a 30-60 minute window to generate an insulin response. This is the time where you want to drink as much water, eat protein, carbs and fats because it will all be utilized and beneficial to recovery and body composition. So if you are going to eat a big meal, that is the time to do it. Not saying you should eat a box of cereal and a carton of milk, but if you did that would be the best time..just saying.

What Im trying to teach you is that eating sufficient amount of calories throughout the day and having a high carb meal after your training will give you an advantage. When you focus on eating to perform, body composition will follow. Eating non-processed, clean food will allow your body to function and digest properly. You will notice that if you eat clean you will not only feel and look better, but there will be no need for you to count your calories anymore. Focus on quality of food and timing. Don’t create a diet, create a lifestyle change and be efficient with it.

And there is todays food for thought! Happy Thursday 🙂

Ingredient Must Haves and Where To Buy Them!

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I have spent entire days going from one store to the next to scout out all the deals in food prices. Because I take pride in buying the highest quality of foods, it is hard to stick to a budget. I have realized that it takes a lot of work and experience to find the best prices for the food I’m looking for. For instance I made an antipasto this past week that called for Salami. So I first went to my “go to” store, Stop & Shop and I purchased the Applegate all natural nitrate free salami for $6.99. This yielded about 3 servings and is only 1 out of 12 ingredients I needed to purchase for this meal. Then I went to target for a non-related food visit, but I ended up in the food section because I’m always curious of the different prices. I found that same salami for $3 cheaper. I could have cut that cost in half! Boy did that bother me for DAYS! Anyways, I am going off on a tangent but my point is, it is important to do your research to find the right deals, especially on quality foods. So I figured Id share with you what my pantry looks like and the top ingredients that I could not live without. These ingredients may be a big expense at first but they will last a long time and there are so many great recipes that call for these ingredients so it is totally worth your while.  

Oils:

Coconut oil (BJs)

Olive oil (BJs)

 

Flours and Grains:

Almond flour (Trader Joes $7.99)

Coconut flour (BJS $5.99)

Old fashioned rolled oats-I use Bob Mills (Target $4.99)

Organic panko breadcrumbs-Trader Joes ($3.99)

Brown Rice (Trader Joes)

 

Sweeteners:

Pure maple syrup (BJs $13.99 for 32 oz.)

Agave honey (BJs $7.49)

Cocoa powder (Trader Joes)

 

Nuts & Butters:

Almonds (3 lbs. at BJs $15.99)

Walnuts (3 lbs. at BJs $13.99)

Almond butter (Trader Joes)

 

Fruit:

Bananas-great add in for baked goods even when too ripe to eat

 

Poultry, Meats & Dairy:

Almond Milk

Coconut Milk (BJs)

Eggbeaters

Chicken breast boneless & skinless –Can freeze

Ground turkey (BJs $5-6 for 6 patties)-Can freeze

Nitrate free Bacon (I use Natures Promise brand)

 

Spices & Condiments:

Dijon Mustard

Apple Cider Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Lemon Juice

Hot sauce

Pesto

Basil

Parsley

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Paprika

Cinnamon

Black Pepper

Sea Salt

Baking soda

Baking powder