Getting Started II
nordgren vee neck tee in cassis

nordgren vee neck tee in cassis

Last week we met Carol Beach (see last week’s post below) and discussed the different lifestyle changes she’s in the process of undertaking, the results she’s looking for and a detailed explanation of her eating plan. Since diet is such a bugaboo for so many people and usually the first thing everyone wants to know about, we started there. In a nutshell – Eat More! Vegetables and Fruits! more frequently! with adequate protein!

The right place to start however is with the psyche. Your perceptions, self-talk or inner voice, commitment, effort, and mental flexibility are all keys to your ultimate success and ability to incorporate new habits. Making big life changes can be daunting and very uncomfortable, despite all of the wonderful new benefits you will see and feel as a result of your training program.

The ability to gain a deep level of acceptance that good eating habits (not perfect!) and physical activity are now part of who you are as a person, can help you get through some of the inevitable moments of lapsing into old patterns. Initial gusto or willpower will only get you so far. Feeling better and more energetic with some new muscle definition will be encouraging. Ultimately a serious commitment to your physical self, your health and well being are required to keep you going.

Whether it’s vanity or feeling state that provides the best personal spur – use it!

Make sure you give yourself constant positive reinforcement about the excellent habits you are developing by using incentives that are meaningful to you. My incentives include new music for my iPod – at 99 cents a song truly a bargain for the motivation and psychic energy required to get me to the gym. I also make sure that as much as possible I eat the most delicious and high quality available meats, fruits, and vegetables to keep the healthy eating desirable. When you’ve added more muscle to your frame you’ll be surprised by the quantities of food you’ll be able to eat!

For Carol, her biggest issue to date has been inconsistency in getting the training all in. Carol felt comfortable with the training schedule established (which we’ll detail next week) and the time allotted. I asked her to think about the following:

  • do you need more incentives?
  • do you need to get to a deeper comfort level about adjusting to a new healthy lifestyle?

What are some of the issues that come up for you as you adjust to new lifestyle habits? We’d love to hear from you!

Getting Started
Carol Beach is wearing nordgren azure vee neck tee and black capri pant

Carol Beach is wearing nordgren azure vee neck tee and black capri pant

Looking to get started with an exercise program?

Should you start with weights, or cardio? Maybe yoga?

What should come first? How about diet?

My friend Carol Beach has kindly offered herself up to nordgrenactive as a test case for everyone looking to make the journey to a healthier, more physically active lifestyle. In the upcoming weeks and months we’ll follow Carol as she gets started with a variety of different lifestyle adjustments. We’ll give the specifics of her training routine, tackling all of the issues as they arise. We’ll discuss food choices and what it means to make major lifestyle changes.

The best place to start is with a question.

What do you want to accomplish? Narrow it down to about three things.

Carol wants to:

  1. Reduce body fat percentage
  2. Build muscle/increase muscle tone
  3. Increase flexibility
  4. Increase stamina and energy

Let’s tackle these one at a time.

Reduce body fat percentage

The top two things you can do to reduce body fat percentage are:

A-Make adjustments to your diet

B-Lift weights.

Build muscle/increase muscle tone

Lift weights

Increase Flexibility


Increase stamina and energy

Eat the right foods in the right proportions to support your training program

This week we’ll tackle the issue of what to eat since there is so much misinformation about calorie counting, low fat vs. low carb, vitamins, diets, combining foods, and the list goes on. Despite all evidence to the contrary, most people need to lose the concept of the restriction diet or the quick fix low calorie diet. These methods of eating only lead to hunger, metabolism slow-down, fatigue, and any number of other unhealthy eating patterns.

Most people actually need to eat more. Sounds crazy? Of course I’m not talking about more junk food. I’m talking about more fruits and especially vegetables. When the body is craving vitamins it sends out hunger signals. When you turn around and give it a high-calorie junk food burger and soda, the hunger hasn’t been satisfied. This turns into a vicious cycle guaranteed to make a person fat and severely nutrient deprived.

Carol will be aiming for 4-5 meals per day. Each meal will contain protein in the form of lean meat, fish, eggs, and soy or whey protein powder. Each meal will contain fat in the form of nuts or seeds, olive oil or other vegetable oils. Each meal will contain complex carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruit or vegetables. Complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice will be eaten primarily in the morning. There’s no need for calorie counting or restrictive measures when adhering as closely as possible to the above eating plan. Sugar and salt cravings tend to fall by the wayside when the body is well-nourished and full of vitamins from fresh, natural food sources. For more information about the science behind this type of eating plan see The Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears. Also look into the Paleolithic Diet at

Since the goal is realistic lifestyle change, there is room for the occasional high calorie craving, glass of wine or restaurant meal. It’s important to eat every 3-5 hours to keep blood sugar and body chemistry on an even keel. Definitely eat when hungry. What most restriction diets don’t acknowledge is that the minute you get that “starving to death” feeling (an inevitable component of these types of diets) – your body is already reaching for something to feed it and it probably isn’t reaching into your fat stores for that fuel. In fact without consistent food sources on hand to fuel your metabolism it shuts down and clings to fat stores. Conversely when the body starts getting regular, nutrient-dense food the metabolism revs up and becomes a fat burning machine. Read the Zone to discover why all calories are not measured equally by your body.

Stay tuned for more of Carol Beach’s training program and progress.

How To Alter Your Body Composition
Tara Goodman-Miller Nationally Ranked Figure Champion

Tara Goodman-Miller Nationally Ranked Figure Champion

While exercise is crucial to weight loss and cardio-respiratory health, diet is one of the most dramatic and sustainable methods of altering body composition. Results are seen in the following proportion: 80% diet and 20% exercise. That’s right – your diet will provide the bulk of the transformation to a higher percentage of lean muscle tissue and less overall body fat by following specific guidelines. Additionally, when adopted with loyalty, accuracy, and consistency, hunger will not be an issue.

Schedule no fewer than four and as many as six meals a day. This helps to control hunger, minimize blood sugar fluctuations, and increase energy levels throughout the day. Aim for balanced meals including a lean protein, a healthy, complex carbohydrate, and an unsaturated fat. Choose whole grains and fresh vegetables over refined grains and simple sugars. Drink lots of water, a minimum of eight cups per day, the more the better.

It is best to avoid all foods containing saturated fats, any ingredients with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, high sugar foods, white flour products or any products containing “enriched wheat flour” or “enriched flour.” Exercise will help improve the speed and efficiency of fat loss. Adopt a schedule of 5-6 days per week including both cardio and resistance training. It is recommended that you eat a high carb meal 2-4 hours prior to exercising for more than 1 hour. Ingestion of protein and carbohydrates within 90 minutes of a workout will increase recovery and protein synthesis, maximizing gains.

Tara Goodman-Miller is a ranked figure champion: 1st place 2008 Gold’s Classic NPC, 1st place 2008 Brooklyn NPC, 2nd place 2008 Eastern NPC, with a background in nutrition and training as well as a masters degree in Health and Nutrition who follows the above regimen consistently with obviously impressive results! Stay tuned for more specifics from Tara about how to tailor your diet for maximum fat burning and lean muscle maintenance.