Being Bruce -: 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mind Over Matter: How to Use Meditation to Combat Stress

Like many a poor sap trying to make the most of this hectic world, my mind tends to churn like a washing machine filled with ferrets. Even in the most tranquil of moments, dozens of thoughts scrape and bite to get to the top of my consciousness—and most of the time, it's the big ugly ones that win the race.

Rodents and household appliances aside, you may know this phenomenon simply as "stress." You have a million things to do and a billion things to worry about. We all do. It's the curse of the modern age.

Woman Meditating

Unfortunately, most of us look to pursuits to take the edge off; they may seem to help, but actually compound the problem. There's nothing wrong with the occasional cocktail, or a little mindless television from time to time, but activities like this don't solve anything. They just cover up your issues and make your thought process all the more unruly.

If you're looking for a serious solution, meditation is a far more effective way to cut through the cerebral clutter—and unlike a booze bender or a reality TV marathon, it only takes 5 to 10 minutes a day

The Benefits of Meditation

Woman Listening to Music

People tend to associate meditation with Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, but Judeo-Christian fans may be surprised to learn that there are references to meditation in the Old Testament. And, in Islam, meditation is an important part of Sufism. Although there are certainly connections to religion, meditation, in the modern sense, can be completely secular. No blue deities, no transcending this earthly form, no incense (unless you dig that, then it's, like, totally cool)—just an opportunity to organize your thoughts and take back your brain from the laundry list of external forces pulling you in a million directions.

The science on the benefits of meditation is super strong, especially when it comes to stress reduction. Research appearing in the Journal of Biomedical Research shows that meditation does this by increasing parasympathetic activity. Your nervous system is divided into two parts—sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system controls your "fight or flight" reactions. It's the predominant nervous system when you're under the gun. The parasympathetic nervous system controls your "rest and digest" functions. In other words, when things are mellow, the parasympathetic takes charge—and meditation makes that happen more often.1

But that's just part of the story. A consistent meditation practice has been scientifically linked to improved cardiovascular health, focus, and information processing.2 In fact, if you pick a malady at random, odds are that there's a reasonably credible study showing that meditation either improves symptoms or acts as an effective way to manage symptoms. There's really no reason not to do it.

How to Meditate

Woman Meditating

Many people mistakenly think the goal of all meditation is to "turn off your brain." This is one technique (sort of), but in truth the definition of meditation shifts depending on whom you ask. In some circles, it's a matter of reading a philosophical/religious text and contemplating the key passages (suggestions: the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, or Winnie the Pooh). Tony Horton often refers to yoga as "moving meditation." When I'm cycling alone, I often focus so intently on my breathing and the cadence of my peddling that it becomes a form of meditation. Some people consider sitting on a favorite park bench and breathing deeply for five minutes to be meditative.

However you do it, the key to any good meditation practice is to quiet the noise in your brain—not drown it out or dope it up, but actively calm it down.

All those options aside, if you're looking for something more specific, there are a few meditation techniques that have been shown to be especially effective.

First, it's important to find a quiet place with minimal distractions. Here in Los Angeles, lots of people prefer the beach. Frankly, I find the waves, the birds, and the beauty of it all just too distracting. My favorite place to meditate is the middle of my living room, at about 6 AM before my daughter and my dog wake up demanding waffles and kibble (in that order).

Next, sit comfortably, but up straight. You want to be comfy because, once you master it, you'll be there for a while. You want to be upright for a couple reasons. Many experts claim it's necessary because a straight spine allows energy to flow better. Personally, I think sitting up straight is a good way to avoid accidentally falling asleep. If you have back issues, do what you need to do. I elevate my rump by sitting cross-legged on a yoga bolster. I also support my spine by sitting with my back against a wall.

Finally, start with five minutes a day and increase gradually as it becomes easier. Odds are, your thoughts are going to be all over the map the first few times you do it. That's cool. Even if your practice felt like a complete mess, it benefited you given it took you one step closer to learning how to calm your brain. You'll get there. Just try again tomorrow.

From here, there are a number of practices to experiment with. You might want to try a variation of Transcendental Meditation (TM), developed by Maharashi Mahesh Yogi, who you might remember as that yogi guy who hung out with the Beatles. In this practice, you pick a mantra to focus on—a word that has meaning to you and feels right, such as "love" or "heal" or "beer." (It could happen.) Armed with your mantra, sit quietly and repeat it silently to yourself. When your mind wanders—which it will—simply steer it back to your mantra.

Another technique is mindfulness meditation. Like the TM variation above, start with a focal point—typically your breath. That'll hold your attention for a little while, but soon thoughts or sensations will try to take over. Don't try steering away from these things. Instead, accept them without judgment and let them pass by, like waves on a beach or clouds in the sky. If it helps, you can also assign "tags" to help you observe thoughts passively. For example, let's say you're in the middle of meditating and suddenly you remember how one of your coworkers stole your lunch out of the fridge yesterday. Instead of following that path and letting your anger consume you, assign it a tag that describes how you feel, like "anger." Now, just repeat "anger" in your head, distancing yourself from both the thought and the emotion. It should soon pass.

I've found this technique to be an incredibly powerful tool for managing my emotions. It can also be used for pain management, by isolating and passively accepting pain instead of letting it consume you—which can be a massive benefit when Shaun T's got your legs searing in the middle of an INSANITY® workout.

If you're looking for a more in-depth look into mindfulness meditation, I strongly recommend Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield.

The modern world is a stressful place. Sometimes, there's nothing you can do about the barrage of stressors that make up daily life. You can, however, change how you—and your body—react to them, so take a deep breath and take back your life.

By Denis Faye, Team Beachbody

Have you ever tried meditation? Has it helped you? Where have you struggled? Tell me at

  1. Wu, S.-D., & Lo, P.-C. (2008). Inward-attention meditation increases parasympathetic activity: a study based on heart rate variability. Biomedical research Tokyo Japan, 29(5), 245-250. J-STAGE. Retrieved from
  2. 4 Scientific Studies on How Meditation Can Affect Your Brain and Creativity

Thursday, December 12, 2013

5 Tips for Not Getting Sick this Winter

As the weather gets colder, it forces us to do things like wear clothing that covers our midriffs and spend more time trapped indoors with people who have runny noses and hacking coughs. To stay out of the infirmary, we need to keep our immune systems running at optimal levels. That means never going outside with wet hair and starving a fever, right? Not exactly.

Woman with Cold while keeping hydrated

Colds are caused by viruses, not inclement weather conditions. So to stave off the sniffles so you can continue to train hard through the long winter months, you'll need to do a few key things.

1. Eat More Fiber

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, fiber intake should be between 20 and 35 grams per day. "Your immune system needs key ingredients to function properly," says Dr. Steven Masley, author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up. "Fiber is the most potent-packed nutrient in the human diet. Eating more fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts, as well as giving yourself a healthy oil change, using olive oil, nuts, and seafood instead of inflammatory grain oils, can help."

Lack of fiber in your diet can cause irregularity, constipation, and lethargy—not exactly the best kind of ménage a trois. Boost fiber by eating whole foods instead of processed and deep-fried foods that contain trans and oxidized fats. "Trans fat is like embalming fluid; the stuff is toxic," Dr. Masley explains. Sadly, that means passing on the chicken wings and beer-battered pigskin hooves over Super Bowl weekend.

2. Manage Your Stress

Woman in Winter outfit holding some bags in one hand and a piggy bank in the otherEmotional strains are unavoidable, and can serve a purpose if you're able to control them. "Stress gives us purpose and challenge," Dr. Masley says. "But if you don't manage stress, your cortisol goes up; and with prolonged stress you will get sick more often."

Stress fires up your sympathetic —or "fight or flight"—nervous system while suppressing your parasympathetic—or "rest and digest"—nervous system, which plays a big role in healing and immunity. In other words, when you're stressed, your body doesn't make fighting illness a priority.

Other negatives of uncontrolled stress include stomach pains, headaches, and trouble sleeping. So instead of Hulking up at your dilemmas, misfortunes, and outstanding TPS reports, explore healthier ways to calm down. Take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth, read for pleasure, or take a walk. Basically, if it's healthy and provides a reprieve from what's stressing you out, find a way to build it into your daily routine.

3. Consume Lean, Not Mean Protein

Foods high in protein help keep skin, hair, and nails healthy; they're also essential for packing on lean muscle. But all proteins aren't created equal when it comes to boosting immune function. "Eating 'mean' protein doesn't just mean consuming saturated fat like cheeses or fatty meats, but also proteins that are laced with chemicals, hormones, and pesticides," Dr. Masley reveals. Stick to proteins like organic and/or grass-fed meats, tofu, and legumes. These tend to be filled with more antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, all of which boost immunity. Then, as Dr. Masley suggests, "Add healthy fats to the mix and you're not just helping protect your heart, you're helping your immune system work better." Those include extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

4. Sleep Better

Woman SleepingWhether you're pulling an all-nighter at work or you're pulling an all-nighter with an attractive coworker, depriving yourself of sleep means you're cutting back on your body's ability to repair itself. This includes undermining the way your immune system fights viruses.

"Our bodies do a lot of healing at night—we produce testosterone and growth hormone—so when we deprive ourselves of sleep, we're shortening that repair cycle," Dr. Masley says.

5. Monitor Your Exercise Intensity

Undertraining can lead to you owning an unsightly spare tire around your waist. But overtraining can lead to you owning decreased immune system efficiency. Essentially, you need to find that healthy medium. Some studies suggest that participating in more than 90 minutes of endurance exercise leaves an athlete more susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours after completing his or her last rep.

"Think of a U-shaped curve with immunity and exercise: No exercise and you're sick all of the time. As you get more moderate, you drop to minimal and almost never get sick. Overdo it and push yourself every day and you're fried and get sick all of the time," he says.

By Zack Zeigler, Team Beachbody

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just Eat This: 5 Rules for a Healthy Diet

Banquet"Can't you just tell me exactly what I'm supposed to eat?" is a question I'm often asked. Today, we'll look at the answer that, incidentally, is "no." It's a good thing that there isn't one perfect diet because we don't all like the same foods. The world would be a pretty boring place if we did. It also means that you have many choices when it comes to eating healthy, so why is it so hard?

Eating well, for most of us, requires eliminating junk from our diets. Therefore, it's easier to tell you what not to eat. But based on the questions I receive, that's leaving you too much leeway. Since I can't tell each of you exactly what you individually should eat, let's have a look at what I eat, why I eat this way, and how you can alter my diet to suit your personality and lifestyle.

There are a few rules to achieving a healthy diet. These will give you a far greater understanding of why I do what I do. So let's look at them first.
BooksHumans are all different, even if it's only slightly. So when it comes to diet we cannot expect that foods will all work exactly the same for us. This is in contrast to what the myriad of diet books you can choose from will tell you. Most of those want us to think that there's only one way—theirs, incidentally—to transform and keep your body healthy. Of course, if this were true there'd only be one book to buy. So, just the fact that there have been hundreds of best-selling diet books is the best argument that there are many different healthy ways to eat.

There are many other scientific reasons for this as well. Some are proven, like allergies. Some are more speculative, like eating for your blood type, but all have some anecdotal evidence that they work, which is all the validation we need.

Dairy products are the best example to illuminate this point. There is plenty of science showing both pros and cons to consuming them. But regardless of what science tells us, some people do well eating dairy and others do not. When a food allergy is suspected, eliminating dairy is the first step most nutritionists recommend trying. It often yields great results, but not always. This makes dairy a food group that some of us can eat and others cannot.

Similar examples can be found within any food group. What it comes down to is that, no matter how you want to eat, you're going to need to evaluate your diet and see how it's working for you. This requires some trial and error. While that probably sounds daunting, read on and you'll see that it's not. By cleaning up your diet and eating for what you are doing, it becomes fairly easy to identify foods that agree with you and those that don't.

Watching TVYou've probably heard this before, especially if you're a longtime Beachbody member. Similar to not putting gas in your car when it isn't going anywhere, your body doesn't have the same nutrient requirements when you're sitting as when you're moving. Since it's simple to understand that you burn more calories attempting an Ironman than watching Oprah, it shouldn't be a stretch to understand that you have different nutrient requirements on different days.

Furthermore, most of us have different periods in our life where we not only do things differently on a daily basis, but have different goals. Some common goals, where diet and lifestyle are concerned, are:
  • to lose weight
  • to gain fitness (regardless of weight)
  • to maintain weight
  • to train for an upcoming event
For each of those objectives you will want to eat differently. We will discuss all of them.


Or, at a minimum, that should never be in your kitchen. These are items that, somehow, have made it onto our daily menus that we could easily live without and, at least, should be treated as desserts, anomalies, rewards, or emergency rations. For a more complete list, visit your local 7-Eleven. Let's look at the major offenders.

  • Soda CansSoda. How soda has made it into our daily lives is a testament to marketing. It's a dessert, at best, and when consumed daily makes it nearly impossible to have a balanced diet.
  • High fructose corn syrup. It's not just for dessert anymore. HFCS is now found in bread, salad dressing, and probably 80% of the stuff at most convenience stores. It's not just that it's bad for you; it's also an indication that a food item is made using the lowest-quality ingredients possible. A 15-second label check can protect you.
  • Trans fats. These man-made fats help foods sit on shelves longer but serve no nutritional purpose for you. They do, however, have a terrible downside. Fortunately, they're on the dangerous food radar and now much easier to detect.

  • DrinksAlcohol. Again, it's not so bad in moderation but as a daily accoutrement to your diet you're adding a lot of calories and very little food value. While I'll be the first to extol its merits as a reward, it has no true place in your daily diet. This will also help to understand which alcoholic beverages are better than others.
  • Splenda, aspartame, and Sweet n' Low. Calories aren't the only thing to worry about. These sweeteners have been proven safe enough to not kill you but have no place as a regular part of your diet. They also can lead to an enhanced sweet tooth, something that won't make your fitness goals easier to achieve.
CookiesOr even close to it. In fact, there are times when you should relax and let yourself eat whatever you want. I can even come up with a scenario where junk food is what you want to be eating. But we'll get to that later.

Your body is very resilient. Your mind, however, can be the opposite. A constant client excuse is to quit a program due to some type of misstep that they've stigmatized as "I've blown it." That's not how it works. As long as the big picture is better than what it was before, you'll be making progress. One bad meal, day, week, even month doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're moving in the right direction. As long as you're doing better than you were before, you'll feel and look better than you did before. And the fitter you become, the more your body programs itself to toss out those bad days.

Translation: the more fit you are the more you can cheat. It's one of the best examples of being rewarded for your work in the natural world.

RULE 5: IF IT'S PROCESSED, DON'T EAT IT (well, sort of).

Junk FoodYour diet should consist of as much whole food as you can fit into it. This means vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and meats that have been processed as little as possible. If your diet consists mainly of these foods then you're on the right track. Whole foods are also more regulating than processed foods. Eating them causes your body to respond in a natural way. It's pretty much exactly the opposite of what happens with soda and candy.

But you don't have to avoid all processed foods. As we learn to read ingredients and understand what types of nutrients our body needs we'll see that not all processed foods are evil. Look for processed foods with whole food ingredients. An easy guide to processing is the fiber content on the label. The more processed something is, the less fiber it usually contains. And fiber is your friend.

by Steve Edwards, Beachbody

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Appetizers to Avoid

'Tis the season for holiday parties, and if there's one thing you're dreading more than awkward conversations with drunken acquaintances, it's the array of deep-fried diet-busters awaiting you at the refreshment table. How are you supposed to keep eating healthy and feeling under-the-mistletoe sexy when cocktail franks are calling your name? We asked Ani Aratounians, MS, RD, the manager of nutrition and culinary development for Team Beachbody®, to help us navigate the good, the bad, and the ugly among your favorite holiday appetizers.
Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings

Hummus and Veggies

What's Good: "Hummus is an exceptionally healthy food, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, zinc, and magnesium," says Aratounians. "Paired with fresh veggies, it becomes a powerhouse of nutrients."
Bad: Hummus contains around 25 calories per tablespoon—so if you don't keep an eye on how much you're scooping, you can rack up calories quickly. In other words, less hummus and more veggies is the ideal strategy.

Shrimp Cocktail

What's Good: "Not only is shrimp a good source of the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory astaxanthin, as well as omega-3s, but 80% of its calories come from protein," says Aratounians.
What's Bad: Shrimp are high in cholesterol, which may be an issue for those who are watching their numbers—but for most people, the high omega-3 content still makes it a worthy option. Just be careful not to douse the shrimp in high-sodium/high-sugar cocktail sauce.

Chicken Skewers

Chicken Skewers What's Good: "Chicken skewers made with low-fat, high-protein chicken breast can be a healthy and filling appetizer," Aratounians says. "If the chicken pieces are layered with superfood veggies such as peppers and zucchini, it makes it even better."
What's Bad: If the chicken is breaded or slathered in a sugary sauce, you may wind up consuming a lot of hidden calories and carbs.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

What's Good: The scallops—they're an awesome source of selenium, phosphorus, B12, zinc, iron, omega-3s, copper, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
What's Bad: The bacon, of course. "Wrapping scallops in bacon can potentially triple their calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol content," says Aratounians. Indulge in one or two if they're your absolute favorite, but don't polish off the whole tray.

Stuffed Mushrooms

What's Good: They have potential. "Stuffed mushrooms can make a delicious and healthy bite-sized appetizer, as long as the stuffing is veggie-based and isn't loaded with bread crumbs, cheese, and cream," Aratounians says.
What's Bad: What's inside is anyone's guess. While there are plenty of healthy homemade recipes out there, most people will opt for the carb-heavy, prepackaged variety. "Stuffed mushrooms are labor-intensive, so they're usually store-bought," cautions Aratounians. "This makes it harder to find healthier versions." Of course, you can always find out who brought the mushrooms and ask for their recipe—and then plan your noshing strategy accordingly.


Nuts What's Good: "Raw nuts can be a nutritious appetizer that provides heart-healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals," Aratounians says.
What's Bad: Portion control is a toughie—who can stop after an ounce of nuts? "You can quickly add hundreds of calories to your daily intake without even realizing it," warns Aratounians.

Spinach Dip

What's Good: The spinach—and that's about it.
What's Bad: The leafy greens are usually drowning in mayo and cheese—and you're probably scooping them up with chips, crackers, or pumpernickel. "Although this is a party favorite, a few tablespoons of this dip can be loaded with hundreds of calories that come mostly from saturated fats," Aratounians says.

Frozen Goodies

What's Good: They're easy. There's a reason heat-and-eat apps like pizza rolls, cocktail franks, and mini quiches are a party staple. After all, you don't have to be Martha Stewart to microwave some Southwestern egg rolls.
Frozen Pizza Rolls What's Bad: "Packaged appetizers are often highly processed and loaded with calories, sodium, unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, additives, and preservatives," says Aratounians. "This makes them one of the unhealthiest choices with hardly any nutritional benefits."

Nachos and Cheese

What's Good: Salsa can be low in calories and a good source of antioxidants, lycopene, and potassium.
What's Bad: Everything else. "Most cheese sauces don't even meet the requirements for being called cheese—they're loaded with neon-orange food dyes and MSG," says Aratounians. "This appetizer is high in calories, fat, sodium, additives, and preservatives—need I say more?" Nope, that pretty much covers it.
Of course, even when you know the nutritional damage of your favorite finger foods, it's hard to resist temptation when it's staring you in the face. The easiest way to avoid overeating? "Don't go to a party hungry!" Aratounians says. "Have a Shakeology® with water and ice, or a handful of raw nuts, before you head out." Two more smart tips from her: Hold a glass of wine in one hand and your phone in the other, so you can't nibble without doing some juggling. And if you're worried there won't be any healthy options, bring one with you—you'll salvage your diet and help the host out. Win-win!

By Kara Wahlgren - Team Beachbody

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Life Lessons from Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee"If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." —Bruce Lee
While some might hesitate to consider Bruce Lee's films works of art, there are few who will deny the beauty and grace of his physicality. Standing at 5'7" and weighing 135 pounds at his peak, the renowned martial arts master was a temple of muscle. As Chuck Norris put it, "He had muscles on muscles."

Of course, to reach this point took devotion, perhaps even obsession, which few of us are willing to put forth. That said, there's still plenty to be learned from the man whose short life—he died at 32 of cerebral edema in 1973—has influenced thousands of bodybuilders, action heroes, and martial artists.

In the book Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body, author John Little parsed through a vast amount of material on or about Lee to come up with a concise interpretation of the master's fitness regimen. At its core, Lee's plan consisted of anaerobic work—weight training and isometrics—balanced with aerobic work. Given Turbo Jam® had yet to be invented, his preferred form of cardio was running. He combined all this with a clean diet. No surprises there. However, when you look into the details, you'll find some interesting things.
On circuit training
Tony YogaLee's devotion to what would eventually be known as circuit training started when he read a series of articles in Ironman magazine by bodybuilder Bob Gajda about The Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) System. Like Tony Horton does in his Power 90® routines, the system moves from body group to body group instead of focusing a long time on one particular group. The benefit of this is that blood flow continually flows from muscle group to muscle group, thus increasing muscular endurance and delaying fatigue. It also works the cardiovascular system. Lee loved the multiple benefits of this technique.

On Lee's abdominals

AbsThe man had amazing abs, but he had to work hard to get them. His five basic stomach exercises were sit-ups, leg raises, twists, frog kicks, and side bends. He also understood that while you could do crunches until you were blue in the face, it wouldn't matter unless you ate completely clean, avoiding sugar, starches, and excess fats. Yes, there are people to whom a six-pack comes naturally but, according to his journals, Bruce Lee, owner of one of the most amazing six-packs in history, was not one of these people. So next time you're pushing through Slim & 6-Pack, thinking about that grandé mocha latte you skipped this morning, just remember that Bruce Lee made the same sort of sacrifices.

On stretching

StretchWhile he believed in stretching every day for at least 15 minutes, his regimen was basically to limber up at every available opportunity. He'd do it watching television, reading, even in the sound studio while dubbing his films. While few of us are in the movie business, that doesn't mean we can't work a few thigh stretches into our coffee breaks, or work those shoulders and neck while watching American Idol.

While he was a man of extremes, Lee understood the importance of moderation in the stretch. Never bounce-stretch or stretch too hard because overaggressive stretching can actually send a signal to the brain to tighten up the muscle to protect it from damage.

On Asian food

Of the various aspects of fitness, diet was the one Lee studied least. As his wife, Linda Lee Cadwell put it, "He couldn't boil water" and therefore left culinary responsibilities to her. He did, however, understand "junk in, junk out." Mealtimes in their household weren't much of a focus—more of a time to fuel up.
Asian Cuisine
He also preferred Asian-style cooking because it offered more variety in a meal and a healthier ratio of veggies to protein. Keep in mind that this was over 30 years ago, when American cuisine meant a potato and a hunk of meat, as opposed to an Asian meal which could consist of shrimp, chicken, veggies and tofu all on the same plate. He felt this variety led to a more complete nutritional profile. While American cuisine has since diversified, the message is the same, keep that variety up. Eating the same thing every day probably means there are vital nutrients that you're skipping.

And no, Bruce Lee wasn't a saint. From time to time, he'd indulge in steak or even McDonald's, keeping in mind that super-sizing did not exist at the time.

On opportunities for everyday exercise

FlamingoIn much the same way he stretched whenever possible, Lee felt it important to shove exercise into his day as much as he could. Here are some of the tips he'd offer his students:
  • Walk whenever possible. Park the car a few blocks from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • No elevators. Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Practice balance by standing on one foot when putting clothes or shoes on—or just stand on one foot whenever you choose to.
Fitness doesn't come from 60 minutes a day. It's a lifestyle thing. Whatever workout you're doing now is great, but take a look at the rest of your life—when can you walk instead of driving? When can you hand-whip instead of using a blender? When can you run around with your kids instead of watching television with them? Bruce's son Brandon was no slouch himself. His dad clearly had a huge influence on him.

Bruce Lee accomplished an amazing amount in his short life. Even if you follow his path, odds are you won't accomplish as much as he did. On the same note, you probably won't win the Tour de France even if you train like Lance Armstrong and you don't stand much of a chance winning the California governorship, even if you lift weights like Arnie.

But then again, maybe a defeatist attitude like that is just the kind of "limit" Bruce Lee was talking about.
BONUS! The Bruce Lee Protein Shake
According to John Little, up to two times a day, Lee would make a drink consisting of several of the ingredients listed below. Unfortunately, he left no instructions for his magic elixir. We can tell you this much, however—he did use a blender.
  • Non-instant powdered milk (which, nowadays, he'd probably replace with whey protein powder)
    Water or juice
  • Ice cubesM
  • 2 raw eggs, occasionally with shell*
  • 1 Tbsp. wheat germ or wheat germ oil
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp. brewer's yeast
  • Lecithin (in granular form)
* Eggs are healthiest when eaten raw, but poor-quality commercial eggs carry a risk of salmonella infection. Unfortunately, these are the majority of eggs on the market. The USDA does not recommend eating raw shell eggs that are not cooked or undercooked due to the possibility that salmonella bacteria may be present.

- Denis Faye - Team Beachbody Newsletter

Monday, November 25, 2013

Test Your Strange Food Facts IQ

  1. CeleryWhat vegetable burns more calories than it contains?
    Celery has about 6 calories per stalk. But your body burns more calories than that in the digestion process. It's not actually the chewing and crunching, but the digestion of the high amount of cellulose in your stomach that burns the calories.
  2. Poppy Seeds on BagelWhat common bagel topping can show up as an opiate in drug tests?
    Poppy seeds are related closely enough to opium poppies that they can show up in a urine test as an opiate like heroin or morphine. The level is generally considered too low to be considered a "true positive" and most drug testing companies discount these results. However, just to be on the safe side, the federal prison system has banned its inmates from eating poppy seeds. And in case you were wondering, you could pretty much eat your weight in poppy seeds and not get high.
  3. Vanilla Ice CreamWhich U.S. state eats more ice cream per capita than any other?
    Despite living in one of the coldest states in the Union, Alaskans eat twice as much ice cream as any other state.
  4. What are the food additives cochineal and carminic acid made from?
    These scientific terms found in the ingredient lists of many foods, beverages, and cosmetics are fancy names for a red food coloring developed by the Aztecs, made of dried powdered beetles native to Central and South America. While their origins may be less than appetizing, they are perfectly safe to eat.
  5. Cans of Spam What do the letters in the canned meat product SPAM stand for?
    Salted Porky Anonymous Meat? Guess again. Originally it stood for SP iced h AM , named in a contest, where the winner was awarded the princely sum of $100. The people at Hormel Foods say that while it does include ham and spices, it doesn't begin to describe the product that is SPAM, and now maintain that SPAM stands merely for SPAM.

    - Joe Wilkes, Team Beachbody Newsletter

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Will Turkey Make You Sleepy? Check Out 10 Urban Food Myths

There have always been rumors spread about food. Remember the one about the Kentucky Fried rat or Mikey, the kid from the Life cereal commercials, who allegedly expired after washing down his Pop Rocks with a Coca-Cola? These, like so many, turned out to be apocryphal, but now in the age of the Internet, it seems like there's always some story making the rounds about a grocery item that will poison you or a food that will miraculously cure what ails you. Here are some myths we were able to dismiss.
  1. Carrots Eating carrots improves night vision. This rumor apparently was started by the British during World War II, after a new British radar device began greatly assisting in the shooting down of German bombers at night. Not wanting to alert the Germans of the new technology, the government spread a disinformation campaign that the British pilots' love of carrots was the cause of their keen night vision. It spread like wildfire and it has become a staple in parents' arsenals for getting kids to eat their veggies. Carrots are generally good for your eyes, though, as studies are beginning to show a link between increased beta-carotene (carrots are loaded with it) consumption and a decrease in macular degeneration.
  2. Turkey Turkey makes you sleepy. It's true that turkey contains tryptophan, the amino acid credited for the poultry's alleged soporific effects, but beef, chicken, meat, milk, and beans also contain tryptophan and they don't seem to make you pass out on the couch after dinner. Turkey's bad rap probably comes from the famous post-Thanksgiving food coma, which was probably not induced by trace amounts of an amino acid, but more likely by consuming vast quantities of carbohydrates like potatoes and stuffing, washed down with a couple of glasses of wine.
  3. Julius Caesar Caesar salad was created by or for Julius Caesar. Actually, despite what they might tell you at the Olive Garden, the Caesar salad is not Italian food. It was created by Caesar Cardini, a restaurant owner in Tijuana, Mexico less than a hundred years ago, not in ancient Rome. The recipe includes romaine lettuce, olive oil, garlic, coddled eggs, and Parmesan cheese, among other ingredients, but the original recipe does not contain anchovies—another myth debunked.
  4. Mentos Diet Coke Geyser Mentos and Coca-Cola, combined, will explode your stomach. As any YouTube connoisseur can attest, dropping a Mentos candy into a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke can create an effect that will give the fountains at the Bellagio a run for their money. However, despite rumors of Brazilian youths dying of burst abdomens, this myth seems to be another of the endless variations on Mikey and the Pop Rocks. There seems to be little evidence that eating any combination of anything generally considered edible will make you explode. (Although that Chinese food I had for dinner came pretty close around midnight.)
  5. Beware of flesh-eating bananas! There was an email forwarded by many well-intentioned people not too long ago that asserted that the FDA was covering up the fact that several thousand bananas covered in germs causing necrotizing fasciitis (the flesh-eating disease) had entered the country. This turned out not to be true. A reverse rumor, that humans were killing bananas, also has circulated. This one says that due to varying explanations, such as climate change or genetic modification, bananas will be extinct in less than a decade. This also is false. So, eat your bananas. They're full of potassium, won't make your skin fall off, and there are plenty more where they came from.
  6. Kangaroo Grazing McDonald's uses kangaroo meat in their burgers. This is one that's been around since I was a kid. Common sense can answer this one. While we wouldn't put it past the Golden Arches to put anything in their food, kangaroo meat seems an unlikely beef substitute as it costs much more per pound than actual beef. Although adventurous eaters might consider adding 'roo meat to their diet, as it has more protein and about half the fat of beef.
  7. Chocolate Milk Chocolate milk is tainted with cow's blood. This is a popular playground myth that milk too contaminated with blood to sell as plain white milk is colored brown, flavored, and sold as chocolate milk. Chocolate milk and all dairy products go through the same rigorous FDA testing process that regular moo juice does. However, the added sugar isn't doing you any favors.
  8. Aspartame causes multiple sclerosis and lupus. Aspartame, often branded as NutraSweet, has been rumored to cause many serious diseases. While we consider the jury to be out on whether aspartame is completely safe, there have been no reputable scientific studies linking the sweetener to MS, lupus, cancer, or any other life-threatening illnesses. However, it still can't claim to be totally healthy.
  9. Canola Oil Canola oil is toxic. It's been rumored that canola oil contains the same toxins found in mustard gas. Canola oil is made from oil pressed from the seeds of the rape plant, a member of the mustard family. There is actually no such plant as the canola, but it's easy to see the marketing problems that would result in calling it "rape oil." This may have been one of the reasons scurrilous rumors have circulated about this noble oil, which is perfectly safe and rich in monounsaturated fat, the best fat, also found in olive oil and avocados. As for the mustard gas claim, while it is true canola oil is made from mustard plants, mustard gas is not. It's called that because of its acrid smell, not its ingredient list.
  10. Red Bull Red Bull causes brain tumors. As a favorite beverage of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, it's easy to make a case based on anecdotal evidence, but there actually is nothing in Red Bull that has been linked to brain tumors. It has been banned in some European countries because of its high caffeine content (a can has about as much as a cup of coffee), but aside from the typical health concerns regarding any sugary, caffeinated beverage, Red Bull appears safe. Claims that it will give you wings seem unfounded, however, and when mixed with vodka, it has been rumored to make underpants disappear.

    - Joe Wilkes, Team Beachbody Newsletter

Saturday, November 23, 2013

4 Hearty and Healthy Dips

When aren't we going on and on about how you need to eat more vegetables? They're full of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and low in calories and fat. And one of the best ways to eat them? Raw. So you're trying to be a good camper, with your bowl of broccoli and cauliflower florets, baby carrots, and celery sticks, crunching your way to a leaner (and probably gassier) you. You know what would really make these veggies sing? Some dip! French onion dip. . . or guacamole . . . or hummus . . . or nacho cheese. Ha! Guess again! Nothing can make your healthy vegetable snack descend the rungs of Michi's Ladder faster than a few dunks in a bowl of fatty, salty, delicious dip. But we're not completely heartless. Here are some variations on some old favorites that are actually pretty good for you!
  1. Hummus. It's a perfect dip. Made primarily of creamed chickpeas, it's like dipping your vegetable in another vegetable! But not all hummuses (or is it hummi?) are created equal. Many are loaded up with tahini (the sesame paste that gives hummus it's nutty flavor) and olive oil, which are almost pure fat. Granted, they're both healthy fats, so a little is OK, but too much will pack on the pounds. Try making your own from scratch. Just puree a can of chickpeas in a food processor or blender with lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper to taste. You can add as much tahini or olive oil as you think your diet can handle, or none at all. If the hummus is too thick, you could thin it with a little vegetable broth or water instead of oil.
  2. Guacamole. Avocados? They're in the Pious Tier of Michi's Ladder. And guacamole is just mashed avocados, right? Right, but as with olive oil and tahini, avocados are full of calories. One avocado has 227 calories, and 21 grams of fat. Instead, how about an easy-to-make avocado dip? In a food processor, combine one avocado, one cup of nonfat yogurt, and one cup of nonfat cottage cheese (all top-tier ingredients from Michi's Ladder). Blend until creamy and no lumps from the cottage cheese remain. Add cayenne pepper and ground cumin to taste. For extra flavor and texture, mix in some chopped fresh cilantro and onion before serving.
  3. French onion dip. OK, nothing made of instant soup (essentially flavored salt) and full-fat sour cream is going to pass Michi muster. But onions are in the top tier, so that's a start. Instead of sour cream, how about tofu? It's not just that white brick that sits in the back of your fridge after a well-intentioned impulse buy. Puree 2 cups of extra-soft tofu in a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, and garlic cloves to taste. Meanwhile sauté some chopped onions in a little bit of olive oil until caramelized. Mix the onions into the tofu mixture and deglaze the pan with a little white wine and add that to the dip as well.
  4. Spinach dip. Nothing's a bigger hit at a party than that hollowed-out sourdough boule full of mayonnaise-y goodness. Instead of mayo though, try pureeing some nonfat yogurt and cottage cheese. Thaw out some frozen chopped spinach and mix that in and add some chopped water chestnuts and scallions for crunch and flavor. For extra zip and color, try mixing in some curry powder. With all that going on, you'll forget the mayo's gone! And don't forget to use whole grain bread.

    Joe Wilkes, Team Beachbody Newsletter

Friday, November 22, 2013

Onions, Garlic, and Leeks: Our Stinky Friends!

Onions, garlic, and leeks—the bane of the romantic evening, but the balm for so much else. These aromatic and pungent stars of the vegetable world are all members of the allium family and have a myriad of health benefits, both real and purported, not the least of which is all those germs you'll avoid when nobody will kiss you after you've eaten them. So, let's take a moment to salute these beautiful, bountiful bulbs which are delicious and nutritious, with a smell that's slightly vicious.

The onion (Allium cepa) has been a culinary staple for thousands of years. Many civilizations even worshipped them as symbols of eternity, because of their concentric rings. Ancient Greek Olympic athletes consumed onions before exercise, as it was believed they cleansed the blood. They were also taken along on long sea voyages by many cultures, as their high levels of vitamin C helped prevent scurvy. Onions have also been applied topically as home remedies to relieve congestion, fever, gout, and arthritis, as well as to speed healing of scars and burns.

In modern times, many studies have turned up evidence that there are some genuine health benefits to eating onions. Onions can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol that is responsible for clogging arteries. They are believed to lower blood pressure. They have been found to have antibacterial properties which can help kill salmonella and E. coli. They can reduce clotting, which can aid the circulatory system. They have anti-inflammatory properties which can help alleviate cough and cold symptoms, and onion extracts are even used in some asthma medications to provide bronchial relief. They are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. And they are among the cheapest vegetables available, which is healthy for your pocketbook.

It's an extremely versatile vegetable, which can be sharp and tangy when raw, or sweet when cooked. Another great thing about onions is that almost none of their nutritional value is lost when cooked. One medium onion only has 44 calories, no fat, and 2 grams of fiber. A half a cup of chopped green onions only has 28 calories, no fat, and 4 grams of fiber. So for those of us keeping an eye on our diet, onions are a great way to get a lot of flavor for very few calories.
Cooking tip: Onions contain all kinds of different sulfur compounds. When the vapor from the sulfur hits your eye, sulfuric acid is created, which is why onions can make you cry. The best way to avoid tears is to rinse the onions after you cut off the ends. The milkier the juice oozing from the onion, the stronger the acid. By rinsing this off, you'll have fewer tears, and the onion will be less bitter in the recipe. Also, make sure you use a very sharp knife. This will help ensure that the juice stays in the onion instead of on your cutting board, and ultimately in your eye. Less juice, less vapor, less crying.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a spicy relative of the onion. Unlike the onion which is a discrete bulb, a head of garlic is a clump of bulbs, each clove an individual bulb. It has also been harvested for thousands of years for its flavor and also is one of the earliest known plants to be cultivated for medicinal reasons. It was thought by ancient cultures to be a great purifier, i.e., anything that smelled that bad had to kill whatever bad was inside you. And garlic is a frequent component in folk remedies throughout the ages, purported to cure impotence, madness, and tuberculosis. And anecdotal evidence that it wards off vampires and werewolves is very persuasive.

As with onions, garlic contains a high number of sulfur compounds, and when a clove is broken or chopped, the chemical reactions create a very pungent smell. Allicin, a sulfur compound found in garlic, is both an antibiotic and antifungal compound. It is also what gives garlic it's hot, spicy flavor. It and other sulfur compounds have been credited with researchers for a number of health benefits, including lowering of LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels; lessening atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries; reducing clotting of the blood; stabilizing blood sugar levels; and possible anti-cancer benefits. Studies have even shown that babies tend to breast-feed better when their mother eats garlic which shows up in her milk. And a clove of garlic only has 4 calories and no fat, so you can season your food to your heart's content.
Cooking tip: To get rid of garlic breath, chew some parsley. To get rid of the smell on your hands, wet your hands and rub them against the blade of a clean stainless steel knife (but don't cut yourself!). To get rid of the odor in your plasticware, freeze the offending item overnight. When you take it out of the freezer, the smell should be gone!
Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) are also members of the onion family. Usually they are eaten for their white and light-green base, and some are cultivated for their bulbs, which are marketed as "elephant garlic." Leeks have enjoyed a long history, especially in Europe. In Wales, the leek is the national emblem, a symbol of courage and independence. They require much more care in their cultivation, as they are a biennial plant, like asparagus, and are therefore a little more expensive than their bulbous cousins.

Leeks recently received some good ink in Mireille Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure. In the book she revealed her recipe of Magical Leek Soup, a simple leek broth, which she would eat on a two-day fast to jump-start her diet. (We prefer our own 2-Day Fast Formula®). Their high content of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and iron make them an excellent food for helping to stabilize blood sugar, probably the reason Ms. Guiliano's fasts are successful. Also, like garlic and onions, leeks are good at raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels while lowering LDL (bad) levels. There has also been some evidence that they lower blood pressure. At 38 calories per leek, with no fat, this is another great light vegetable.
Cooking tip: Because leeks must grow through two seasons before they are harvested, there is a fair amount of dirt, grit, and sand hidden in their folds. Before chopping your leeks, soak them in a sink full of cold water, so that some of the sand and grit will float out. Then chop from the white to the green, and rinse again, as needed.

Joe Wilkes - Team Beachbody Newsletter

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Test Your Metabolism IQ

So do you think you burn hot, or not? Do you know how metabolism works and effects your health and your weight? Maybe you do, maybe you don't. Check yourself out by reading further:

FALSE: Your metabolism slows drastically because of age.
  1. People's metabolism does tend to slow a bit as they age, about 5% per decade, but the biggest change isn't because we're getting older, it's because we're becoming more sedentary. As we age, many of us enter a vicious cycle of decreasing our activity, which causes us to gain weight, which causes our metabolism to slow, which causes us to have less energy, which causes us to be more inactive, which causes us to gain more weight, etc. The reason you didn't gain weight as easily when you were younger is probably because you were more active. If you can maintain a comparable level of activity into your golden years, you can keep your metabolism as high as it ever was, or higher.

  2. TRUE: Your metabolism is genetically fast or slow.
    But this doesn't let us off the hook. Sure, a lot of us were dealt some bad cards genetically, but our genetic predisposition is only a fraction of what influences our metabolism. Behavior, in terms of what you eat and how active you are, is many times more important then the metabolism you were born with.

  3. FALSE: Heavier people have a slower metabolism.
    The good news for heavy people is it takes a lot more energy to haul that carcass around, so heavy people will actually have a much faster metabolic rate to produce the energy they need for day-to-day activities. The bad news is that in order to lose weight and maintain long-term weight loss, they will have to make greater and longer-lasting changes in diet and exercise to keep the weight off .

  4. TRUE: Men metabolize alcohol better than women.
    This has nothing to do with the fact that men may be bigger or have a higher tolerance because of their vast experiences at keggers. It's because men produce an enzyme in their stomach that women do not. This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing alcohol more quickly, so only about half as much alcohol enters the bloodstream of a man as a woman. So in that famous scene from The Thin Man when Nora Charles asks the bartender how many drinks her husband Nick's had and requests he line up an equal number for her, she's actually setting herself up to get twice as drunk as Nick. As tolerance grows, both genders will metabolize alcohol faster, so the ladies could conceivably catch up, but they start at a huge disadvantage.

  5. TRUE: Eating certain foods can speed up your metabolism.
    But eating any food will speed up your metabolism—at least in the short term. Some studies have shown that some food and drink such as hot pepper, green tea, and caffeine can give you an extra short-term calorie-burning boost, but for a long-term change to your metabolism, overall improvements in diet or exercise are necessary.

    Joe Wilkes
    , Team Beachbody Newsletter

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Simple Steps to "Reprogram" Your Weight

  by Steve Edwards, Beachbody
Your body resists change, even when it's good for you. This irritating little survival trait has led to a passel of colloquial words that we use when referring to how to deal with it. These include survival mode, starvation mode, periodizational training, plateau-ing, and set point. Today we'll tackle the latter, which is a term we use to explain why our bodies impede our results whenever we get close to our target weight.

"Set point" is not a real term in a medical sense and, thus, its meaning is often misused or misunderstood. A common "definition" found on the Internet states "Set point is the weight range in which your body is programmed to weigh and will fight to maintain that weight." While more or less accurate, its use of the word "programmed" is misleading because it insinuates that you have no control over the programmer, which is, in fact, yourself.

This is further exacerbated with the sentence "everyone has a set point and just like you have no control over how tall you will be, or what color your eyes and hair will be, you also have no control over what your set point will be. Your body is biologically and genetically determined to weigh within a certain weight range." While this sentence has some true elements, it's also fatalistic and sounds as though you're doomed to live a life that's predetermined. You have a lot more control over what you weigh than your height and what color your eyes are. If this wasn't true, Million Dollar Body members wouldn't be so successful at losing weight.

What the creators of the term "set point" have done is to combine the meaning of the word homeostasis with the fact that there are different body types. Homeostasis is your body's desire to stay regulated under varying conditions. Since it's a point your body likes to maintain, it is, in a way, a set point. Except that it's changeable. Body type is not changeable. However, how your body looks, no matter what type, is easily altered. If that weren't true, bodybuilding would be a sport with only one body type, and it's not.

So let's get down to the business of how to change your set point. Since "set point" isn't even a real term, but more of a myth, it shouldn't be too difficult. We change myths all the time.
Step 1: Change whatever you are currently doing. If you don't believe that your set point can change, try Morgan Spurlock's experiment, the film Super Size Me, and super-size all of your meals at McDonald's for the next month. Most of you can visualize this pretty well. If you overeat like crazy, you will gain weight. By just understanding this one thing we've myth-busted the legend of the set point. You can gain weight and, therefore, you don't really have a set point as defined.

But you probably don't want to gain weight; you probably want to lose. So let's look at how this works. Your body likes wherever it is right now. Even if that state is sick or overweight or out of shape, your body tries to hang on to this state because the reactionary state of your body is that change is bad. It's a survival mechanism that kicks in because, no matter how unhealthy, we're currently still alive and all change has some risk associated with it. But we are reasonable beings and have the ability to offset our reactionary state (that we might want to refer to as our "amoeba state"). So when we understand that something is good for us, we can force our reactionary body into doing something it doesn't want to. The easiest step of all is to simply change what you are currently doing.

When ultra-runner Dean Karnazes made the decision to become a runner, he was in a bar. He stopped drinking, went out into the night, and ran 30 miles. At that time, his set point was that of a guy who sat in bars and not someone who would run 50 marathons in 50 days. He had to change it, which he did in sort of an extreme manner. But my point is that he did change it. And it didn't happen on that first run, which I'd imagine was quite miserable. You've got to force change on your life; otherwise your body will revert to its state of homeostasis.

Step 2: Clean up your life.
Step one is easy; this one takes more work. Nothing you can do will help you as much as changing your lifestyle to a healthier one. Eat less junk, get plenty of exercise, stay hydrated, eat more whole foods. It doesn't sound all that hard, but we wouldn't be having this discussion if it were easy.

This is a roundabout step because it won't necessarily change your weight and, hence, your set point, but it will change you inside. It's the most important step because your body will get healthier and run better. Eating good food changes the way your body metabolizes, especially when you add some exercise. And your metabolic process is what this entire set point issue is about. When you change your body's foundation for the better, it will more easily accept future changes.

Step 3: Zigzag your diet.
To lose weight, you generally need to eat less. But while randomly eating less can be effective, the best strategy that you can use is to zigzag your calories.

Don't confuse zigzag dieting with yo-yo dieting; they are completely different. Zigzagging means to eat more on different days in order to keep your body's metabolism working at its set point while you are under- or overfeeding it. It works both ways—you can zigzag down and zigzag up.

Your goal is that your overall calorie expenditure is either down or up. Most of you probably want to lose weight, so let's use down. Say you weigh 200 pounds and want to weigh 150. Your body wants to eat around 3,000 calories a day in order to maintain its weight (or its current set point). But you want to lose weight as quickly as is safe and you're psyched to starve yourself to do it, so you're willing to eat 1,200 calories a day. If you do, however, your body thinks that you are starving and, over time, begins to lower its metabolism. There is some lag time in your body's ability to react, so you may lose a lot of weight in a week or two eating 1,200 calories a day but then it will slow down. Furthermore, your slower metabolism will negatively affect your ability to work out hard, especially the fitter you become.

Instead, eat between 2,500 and 3,000 calories two or three days per week and 1,200 on the others. This way your body doesn't have the time to react, resulting in negative calorie days that force your body to more efficiently use its stored body fat as fuel for energy. While your caloric consumption for a week is a few thousand calories higher than if you were eating less, your higher metabolic rate allows you to work out harder, exert more energy, and burn more calories. Over time, the calorie burning will increase beyond what you could hope to achieve by just eating less.

As you lose weight, your upper-end caloric consumption can drop. But be careful because your body composition is changing. With more muscle and less fat, your caloric needs increase, even as you are losing weight. There is no exact scale to use for this, but a muscular 150-pound person can burn more calories than a fat 200-pound person. So never drop your high-calorie days too much.

Step 4: Eat more!
Assuming you've followed the above steps you will reach a point where you need to eat more in order to continually lose weight. The reason is that a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet isn't enough to feed a highly active person of any weight. If you're small, 1,200 calories may be fine during times of inactivity, but an hour of intense exercise burns at least 500 calories and an active body can't live long (at least in a fit state) on 700 calories a day—it's starvation mode central. For this reason, adding calories is probably the number one piece of advice we use on the Message Boards to get our members off of weight plateaus toward the end of their programs.

This concept throws a wrench into the original idea of the whole set point theory because if your body's "set point" is, supposedly 160 pounds, is it 160 pounds at 15% body fat or at 30%? The difference in how these two bodies will look couldn't be starker. It's like the difference between Gabrielle Reece and Roseanne Barr. How you look is far more related to your body composition than your actual weight.

Step 5: Periodize your diet.
In other words, eat for what you do. Food is fuel and you don't put gas in your car when it's sitting in the driveway. It's much the same with your diet. You need far less food when you are sitting all day then when you aren't.

Periodizational dieting is, basically, just planning your diet around your activities with your goals in mind. Much the way you do with your workouts. For example, Beachbody exercise programs are all programs, meaning that you do certain exercises and workouts over a given amount of time, usually 4 to 12 weeks. Then you're "done," at which point you re-evaluate your goals and do something different. This is exactly how your diet should work.

For example, each of the above four steps could be a "period" of dieting. Each time you change what you were doing before, you go through a period of adjustment as your body resets its set point to reflect your new lifestyle. Once it's reset, you again change what you are doing until you get your body to the point where you want it. At this point, your set point becomes your friend because, due to homeostasis, your body always wants to maintain the point it's currently at.