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perform for life

3 Tips to Successfully Grocery Shop

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3 Tips to Successfully Grocery Shop

Good morning and hello to everyone who actually liked math in high school; today I’m going to hit you with a few numbers. I know, that seems no fun, but stick with me. If you’re working out consistently let’s say between 2 and 6 hours a week, first of all, I’m proud of you, and you should be too; that’s no small feat. Going to the gym can be a pain, literally. However, you’ve committed to those 4 hours a week (because averages) and that’s great. But, there are indeed 24 hours in a day and 7 of those days in a week. We do the multiplication (ugh, I know) and that gives us 168 hours in a week. Subtract 4 and that gives us 164 hours where you’re not in the gym. This means that the majority of your success is going to be dependent on the time when you’re NOT working out. While there are a lot of things you can do with this time to help yourself reach your goals (and also work and have a life, you know, normal people stuff), one of the biggest variables that will have a huge impact on your success and that’s also entirely in your control is your nutrition. You are what you eat; I want to help you eat better. 

Now, it’s really easy for me to sit here and write “Nutrition is a big deal, figure it out and you’ll be beach ready”, and I’d be right, but it’s not nearly that simple or easy. Food is emotional, food is community, food is comfort, food is family. Our culture developed in part through the sharing of meals and building community through food. So, it’s not as simple as “A+B=C”, and today all I want to do is give you a few simple tips to make it more approachable and manageable. We’re not going to go down the rabbit hole of macros, or paleo, or the ins and outs of your neighbor Jenny’s meal plan; instead, we’re just going to look at 6 simple tips that you can implement this week to make eating well as pain free as possible.

First off, a pre-tip; cook your own food. I don’t know who needs to hear that and I know it takes time, but this way you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. That said, what you cook starts with what you decide to buy at the grocery store. So, let’s start with three grocery tips to make your next grocery trip a good one. 

Tip #1: Make a list and stick to it

The first key to a successful trip to the grocery store starts before you even leave the house; making your shopping list. Having a list with all the food you need for the week ensures a couple of things; first, you get everything you need and don’t forget anything important, and second, you don’t get carried away with treats and also stick to your budget. BONUS TIP: Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry, you’ll be less inclined to buy things you don’t need just because you’re hungry.

Tip #2: Go for nutrient dense foods

Tip two is to try and stick to as many nutrient dense foods as you can. Nutrient dense foods are usually those that are most minimally processed and have the highest vitamin and mineral profiles. Now, be careful of the word density when it comes to food. Don’t confuse nutrient dense with energy (calorie) foods; they’re not the same. For example, a candy bar is very calorically dense, but it doesn’t offer us much nutritionally.  When looking for these nutrient dense, minimally processed foods, the outer walls of the store are going to be your friend. This is where you’re going to find the most minimally processed foods from all your major food groups, fruit and vegetables, dairy, proteins, those sorts of things. The more stuff that’s added to something and processing it goes through, the higher likelihood that it’s more calorically and less nutrient dense so try and make the majority of your selections from those outer walls.

Tip #3: Beware marketing buzzwords

That brings us to our last grocery store tip, when you are reading labels and making choices, don’t get caught up in sneaking marketing terms like low-fat, low-sugar, organic, or even healthy. Odds are that while fat, or some other nutrient may have been taken out, something else, like sodium or sugar alcohols may have been added in their place; these things aren’t any better and you’d be better off going with something less processed and being mindful of the nutrients your body needs.




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The Move More, Eat Less Challenge

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The Move More, Eat Less Challenge

A few weeks ago, something dawned on me while my girlfriend and I were strolling through our neighborhood in the Sunset. We passed by our favorite local ice cream joint (which is located directly across the street from our gym by some twist of cosmic irony) and were overcome by temptation for the second day in a row. Normally we exercise more restraint, but alas, the ice cream won that day. Jokingly I said, “Well, as long as we workout more times in a week than we eat ice cream, we'll be okay.” I then realized that for most folks, they eat out far more often than they exercise. From that, an idea was born.

Here in San Francisco - where we take our food very seriously - the old adage of ‘move more and eat less’ isn't shown enough love. A lot of people engage in some amount of regular exercise, but the amount of it relative to the volume of food consumed isn't in the best proportion. I realized that most clients I have worked with go out to eat quite a bit more than they engage in vigorous exercise. As such, this version of the ‘move more and eat less’ challenge was born: on a weekly basis, try to get in the gym and perform vigorous exercise more times than you go out to eat.

Every challenge needs some guidelines to be effective. Although I don't want to make a rule set that's overly-specific or restrictive, some structure is needed to adhere to the spirit of the challenge. I'll make some suggestions below to help guide this process.

  1. The exercise session needs to be a minimum of 45 minutes in length, and it needs to be hard. Something like walking through the city doesn't count. Honestly, many forms of yoga or pilates wouldn't really qualify either. I'm not saying they have no value, but the level of energy expenditure is simply not high enough for our purposes. The exercise should increase your heart rate significantly and make you sweat (and not just because it's outside in the heat or in a hot room). If you can't engage in vigorous exercise for some reason, exercising to the level of a brisk walk for 90 minutes would also suffice.
  2. As far as whether or not a meal is considered “eating out” is a bit more subjective. However, a good rule of thumb is if you're selecting your meal based purely on taste, then it should probably count as eating out. If the meal is selected in an attempt to make it balanced and nutritious (and reasonably portioned), then it doesn't add to that count. So, if you cook a giant bowl of fettuccine alfredo at home, that's still “eating out.” Conversely, if you get a grilled chicken breast salad at the lunch spot near work, that's not “eating out.” I think you get the idea; it's about the spirit of how the meal is composed, not the technicality of who prepared it or where it was consumed. Additionally, every 3 drinks (1 beer, 1 glass of wine, or one shot of liquor) you consume in a week is considered eating out. So, if you drink a beer or glass of wine every night with dinner, that's 7 drinks or 2 extra counts of eating out for the week. If you go out to eat and drink a few drinks, then you just ate out twice. I know this is a bit of a stretch, but I consider it so impactful that I felt it was worth using our imaginations a bit.
  3. Tally up both of these things, and try to make sure the number of exercise sessions is greater than the number of times you eat out in a week - it's really that simple. Start by trying to do this for a month, but you can aim to make it more of a long-term lifestyle choice as well.

The beauty of this challenge is that it helps you understand just how much exercise is required to counteract poor nutrition habits. For most people, the sensible choice is to change both habits a bit: exercise a few more times per week, and eat out a few less times per week. However, if eating with tons of freedom is important to you, then you do have the option of trying to balance that out with a massive volume of exercise. As well, if you really don't want to exercise much (I recommend against this option the most) or have health issues that prohibit this, then you can be very strict with your eating habits. Try it out and see how it goes!

Hopefully this arms everyone with yet another tool in the battle to enjoy the finer things in life while staying healthy. If nothing else, it will provide you some perspective on your lifestyle. That's all for today… Cheers!


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"Can I Work Out if I'm Pregnant?"

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"Can I Work Out if I'm Pregnant?"

Our co-founder, Justine Sharifi is a newly expectant mother, and you may have seen her being a total badass handling business per usual at the gym, directing the build-out of our second location, and even boxing with one of our pro boxers, RJ! I've been training her for the past few months, and I wanted to answer a few questions about exercising while pregnant for other expectant mothers.

Is it safe to exercise while pregnant?

Yes, in most cases.

You should always check with your doctor, but if you were active before being pregnant, then you should be alright to carry on with physical activity. In fact, it’s usually recommended that pregnant women do at least some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. Of course, goals will change when you’re pregnant, so it’s important to keep in mind that the focus of your exercise will need to shift from aesthetic, fat loss, etc. to your individual needs while pregnant.

What types of exercise are best?

As far as exercise selection goes, choose exercises that are:

  • Low impact (to minimize joint stress)
  • Low to moderate intensity (due to the fact that your heart rate and body temperature are already elevated from pregnancy)
  • Resistance-based, aerobic, or a mix of both.
    • A couple of notes:
      • Resistance training should focus on spine support and addressing low back pain by strengthening the hips.
      • Avoid exercises that keep you in a supine position (on your back) for long periods of time.
      •  Limit static stretching (i.e. yoga - instead, look for prenatal yoga).

Due to the changes your body’s going through, you have to take into consideration the extra stress to your body added by exercise and hormonal changes. For example, an increase in the hormone relaxin is to be expected, which is secreted to relax the ligaments down below, the uterus, and the cervix to prepare your body for child development and labor. However, the increased relaxin levels will also affect other parts of your body, such as the muscles preventing stomach acid from coming back up, which can lead to heartburn. Further, you’ll have to keep physical activity at a low to moderate intensity because your body is already stressed and working hard to create another human.  

What are the benefits of exercising as an expectant mother?

  • Stress control/relief
  • Maternal muscle strength (pelvic floor strengthening)
  • Helps with urinary inconsistency
  • Weight control (pre- to post- pregnancy)

Don’t be afraid to exercise, but don’t over-do it! Always be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise routine. Do things that will complement this significant change to your body and to your life, and do things that will make this experience the best that it can be.


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How to Structure a Well-Lived Life

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How to Structure a Well-Lived Life

As the year is well on its way towards spring, it is likely that ‘we’ - San Francisco professionals - are feeling overwhelmed. As much as we’d like to structure our time to live a more balanced lifestyle, we end up prioritizing our careers over our health, personal development, and loved ones. What we’re always telling ourselves to do, and what we may often try to do, is “find time”. This, however, should be looked at differently - you need to make time.

As San Francisco professionals, we value knowledge, and we value experiences. We trust experts to help us, whether it’s through online research, counseling, or coaching services. However, do we really take full advantage of these insights and services? Or do we just go through the motions to get a little help, without actually living the lessons that we’re taught? The key to forward progress in almost any aspect of life is structure (funny, I know, coming from a guy whose thoughts are always racing a million miles per hour). However, what I’ve come to notice about myself, my family, employees, and my hundreds of clients and athletes over the years is that what gets us off track is the lack of effort in structuring our lives. After interviewing some of our top P4L athletes, we found that one of the main cravings that they have is the need for more balance in their lives, and the need for more structure in their training regimens.

What I would recommend is this: ask for help. Yes, you heard me. This actually means two things. The first: hire someone to help you with the lack of structure in a given area. If your nutrition is out of whack, make it more of a priority and hire a nutrition expert or food-delivery service to help guide you. However, there’s a second component many people lose sight of after hiring an expert or purchasing a service. Setting expectations with them about how the service is structured and making clear what you need from them is essential to success. Take a moment from time to time to reassess the value you’re deriving from the service, and also to note any progress made. From there, you can decide whether the progress is coming along great or is subpar at best. There should always be ample opportunity for discussions around how you and the expert expect to improve the structure of the program if you feel that it’s lacking. Make sure to keep in mind what’s realistically attainable in the time that you’ve given yourself. Overall, remember to not get discouraged. Structure is a good thing, and so are goals, but if you don’t reach them, keep moving forward. A little forward progress is better than no forward progress at all.

Structure helps us get the most out of our time, our services, and our lives in general. Here at Perform For Life, every new athlete’s fitness journey begins with a designed alliance: a contract that outlines the expectations of both trainer and athlete. This gives the athlete the chance to talk about his/her goals, requests, or even any worries they may have, while also giving the trainer a chance to discuss their planned exercise program structure and to get the athlete’s thoughts on it. We want to ensure that the athlete is involved in the plan every step of the way, and also that the plan is always aligned with the athlete’s goals. Goals often change, as do people, and that should always be expressed so that the trainer can adjust the structure of the program accordingly.

We know that structure is essential to success in almost all facets of life. At Perform For Life, it’s the key to our athlete’s success. Make a structured plan, stick to it, and go forth to achieve your goals.


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How "Why Not Now" Started

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How "Why Not Now" Started

When it comes to making fitness a priority, we've told ourselves, "We'll start on Monday," or "It'll be my New Year's resolution."  Well, why not now?  Empower yourself in the present and make it your lifestyle!

Movement

How many of us are in love with fitness, training, rehabilitation, or anything related to the word I try to avoid using: exercise? Okay, I like to call any of the previous terms “movement” because it’s more intentional and it’s something we all need to do not only to survive, but thrive. You don’t need to love to move, but you do need to commit to movement in one form or another. For some of us, it’s because we’re training to perform our best at something. For others, movement may be used to recover from injuries. For most of us, exercise is not natural or enjoyable but we know we need to do it in order to look, feel, and be the best versions of ourselves. Believe it or not, I don’t personally enjoy fitness unless I’m training for a sport or an event. There are a few unique specimens who are passionate and sometimes obsessed with resistance training, running, plyometrics, etc. because it’s fun for them and allows them to reach a state of flow. Flow, aka “the zone”, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. We can discuss that next time as it’s a subject that I’m particularly interested in. For now, let’s stay on task - I’m here to talk about: commitment.

Commitment

“A commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when love falters” - David Brooks’ lecture “The Next Big Challenge In Your Life”

I’m currently falling in love with the idea that I will be a parent soon, but I refuse to have a “dad bod”. My love and commitment has evolved, changed, and failed me several times - and that’s fine. I don’t have sporting events to train for, and I have no interest in training for a recreational event at the moment. In 2016, my commitment was to avoid having surgery to repair my ACL (yes, not having the surgery is an option). My focus was training hard to build the strength and body awareness necessary to have a fully functioning knee without a fully functioning ACL. Life is full of twists and turns and you don’t always have time to prepare for them, and that’s where motivation comes in. Your motivation is dictated by the current challenges you face. Motivation will keep you committed, and most importantly, keep you disciplined enough to keep you moving forward.

A Winning Mindset

Prior to the 2013 season, Russell Wilson inspired the the Seattle Seahawks with the phase “why not us”. In February of 2014, they won their first Super Bowl. Inspired by Russell Wilson, Justine and I came up with P4L’s slogan of “Why Not Now?” Why wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to focus on your fitness? Or better yet, why wait to commit to something you love? We all have a love for something, and that love will motivate us to stay committed to reaching our goals.


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