Peter Benedict, a St. Andrew’s College Grad, Talks About Healthy Diets

Peter Benedict (St. Andrews): The No. 1 Thing You Should Remember About Healthy Diets

Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College graduate, hopes to provide readers with information about sports training, athletics, and everything in-between. Read his blog below on what makes up a healthy diet:

The road to fitness is often long and trying, but that’s only in the beginning, before people find their stride. There is this misconception that fitness is a race, or a sprint, where the first person to the finish line wins the prize. The truth is, as with many things in life, fitness isn’t a race; it’s a marathon where the journey is the destination as well.

Unfortunately, many people approach fitness without respect or patience for the process. Among everything—whether bulking, exercising, or recovering—eating healthy is still viewed with less importance. Ever wonder why there continues to be crazy fad diets and trends year after year, despite warnings from experts? Or why there seems to be new slimming pills, teas, and other products in the market, claiming yet again a new—and often unverified—way to lose weight? This only shows how desperate and gullible people are to get fit in an instant, but there are no shortcuts to this journey, including healthy eating. In a nutshell, what you consume or put inside your body is what you’ll get. No more, no less.

No more, no less—this should give one a good idea just how strict calorie counting is in the fitness community. Why? What’s the deal with calorie counting, you ask? Many people may be surprised to know that the type of food they eat may matter less than calories. In other words, if your goal is to have a healthy diet, then by all means you shouldn’t deprive yourself that juicy burger or slice of cheese pizza as long as you’re keeping track of your caloric intake. This runs against what is commonly read in the media that one should shun unhealthy, “junk” foods no matter what, but healthy eating isn’t all that black and white.

In one research published at the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, Bray GA et al. found that the body’s metabolic responses were no different whether one had fast food (burger, French fries, the works), an organic beef meal, or a turkey meal with granola and organic orange juice. The only difference that was of statistical importance was the decrease in LDL cholesterol for the organic beef meal. Based on the findings of this study, one may come to the conclusion that calories and macros should matter more than fretting about organic, whole, and other green-marketing adjectives.

Of course, this finding alone doesn’t sanitize the awful reputation of fast food, but as part of the adage goes, “Too much of anything is bad” and in the case of eating healthy foods, the only bad thing it seems to be going on here is that you’ll miss the “unhealthy goodness” of burgers, fries, donuts, soda, and everything else branded as junk.

In the end, go ahead and treat yourself once in awhile. Cheat days wouldn’t be cheat days as long as you’re religiously keeping count of those calories and macros.

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On Exercise Motivation and Discipline

Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad: Top 5 Ways to Get Disciplined About Your Fitness Goals

Peter Benedict St. Andrew’s College graduate, believes that no one is a hopeless case. Having worked with numerous professional athletes who failed to meet standards, he has seen firsthand how sheer determination can begin the process of transformation. Read his tips below for getting disciplined about exercise:

As they say, showing up at the gym is half the battle. So how do you trick yourself into moving and to start working out when that bag of crispy potato chips wants to keep you company on the couch? There’s no one single approach to becoming more disciplined about exercising, but here are some of the best hacks you can try:

1. Create a calendar – What’s so special about marking dates on your planner? For one, you can have enough time to mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare yourself to get moving. There’s also something to be said about seeing an entire calendar with large X marks on it to remind you of how far you’ve already come—indeed, why stop now and snap that streak? Before you know it, the best reminder of your discipline and persistence is seeing the actual results on the weighing scale, for example.

2. Find an accountability partner – Sometimes, we just need a good nudge to spring onto action, and what better way to be prodded than to have an accountability partner who can also double as your own coach and personal cheerleader? However, one caveat to having an accountability partner is that you must find someone whom you respect and will hate to disappointed if you don’t walk your talk. Ideally, they may also be into fitness and exercising as well, so they’ll be equally serious in holding you accountable.

3. Set up a reward system – Think exercise is a chore? A reward system might help. Rewards and incentives are one of the oldest tricks in the book for building up a habit, but be sure not to choose a reward that will offset your gains. For instance, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can eat whatever you please just because you spent half an hour on the treadmill. If you’re going to have such a system, the rewards should also be proportionate to the effort you expend at the gym.

4. Find an activity you actually enjoy – Have you thought of getting into other forms of physical activity besides hitting the gym? As a professional trainer, I’ve met many people in my career who have thrived doing something that they actually enjoyed, whether it’s swimming, Capoeria, or MMA. By doing an activity you actually enjoy, you would have found yourself doing it for the sake of it, even inviting others to join you, instead of being dragged.

5. Make exercise unavoidable – Experts recommend getting half an hour to an hour’s exercise everyday but for busy people who seem to be always on the go, this is already a tall order. One way these people can have more time for exercise is to make it unavoidable. For instance, walking to work, or taking a longer route than usual will help.

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Peter Benedict | St. Andrews | Mental Preparedness in Sports

Peter Benedict, St. Andrews Graduate and Sports Trainer Asks: Is Your Head in the Zone?

Peter Benedict, St. Andrews College graduate who now works as a professional sports trainer, has been working with professional athletes for years. In his line of work, he knows that much of what happens during training depends on the athlete too, not just on the trainer. Whether the day’s workout will be successful (‘successful’ is quite an ambiguous term in sports training) or not will largely depend on two things: the dynamics between the trainer and athlete, and the athlete’s mental focus. With that said, Peter would like to share his thoughts on mental preparedness in sports and sports training.

Sports commentators have uttered it in disbelief so many times; “What’s going on with so and so? His head is just not in the game.” Whatever the sport, whoever the opponent is, and no matter how physically fit the athlete is, when his or her head is just not in the zone, commentators and fans speculating about losing the game to the opposing team is quite an accurate prediction. You see, nothing is more paralyzing and debilitating than losing focus and mental clarity in the middle of an intense, career-defining game. We’ve seen it numerous times before, an athlete choking at the last minute, missing what could have been a winning shot or move and subsequently giving the game to their opponent; which brings me to my point: in sports, mental training is just as important as physical training.

Before I start each session with my clients, the first thing I would ask them is if they’re ready for the day’s workout. And by ‘ready’, they know that I was referring to their mental focus and determination to complete the day’s workout routines as best they could. If you feel too lazy to move, or you’re a little sluggish during early morning workouts, that’s perfectly fine. After a few warm-up stretches, they would already feel a little energized, and by the end of the first routine, they’re pumped-up and ready for more.

But when, after the stretches and first routine, I see that they’re still not performing up to par (by then I would already know their capacity and their usual output), I stop the training and ask them what’s going on inside their head. I know something is up when they look distracted or seem to ‘fade’ in the middle of a routine, or if they hardly ever pay attention to what I’m saying. They have zoned out and gone to a different mental plane, is what I like to say. And no amount of physical exertion can get them back in the zone, so to speak. I sit them down and ask what is bothering them. Those who know me will not find this unusual. I’ve always had the inclination to help others which is why I got into sports training in the first place.

If, after the talk, the athlete still seems distracted or unable to focus, I call it a day. I see no point in pushing the athlete to the point of physical exertion when their heart and mind isn’t in it. Yes, I am a strict trainer but I am compassionate too. The overall wellbeing of my clients is topmost in my list of priorities, and this covers mental wellbeing too.

In my next post, I will be talking about steps that you can do to mentally prepare for training and sports so please watch out for that. Please visit my Crunchbase at Peter Benedict St Andrews.

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On The Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad: Is Exercise Good for Depression?

Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College graduate, is a professional sports trainer for athletes whose passion has always been to help people. Read his thought piece below about exercising to combat depression.

According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 300 million people from different age groups who are suffering from depression. While depression has been found to be common, the stigma of mental disorders has prohibited the public discourse in general from becoming more supportive and compassionate towards those who suffer from it. This is where exercise may provide the biggest benefit to those who are depressed—by providing them with a way to cope with and ward off the feelings of depression.

Many people swear by the beneficial effects of exercising in terms of helping with depression and fortunately, there is no shortage of studies and research that delve deeper into this subject. In one study published at Cochrane Library, researchers Cooney, Dwan, Greig et al. found that exercising to combat depression is more effective for patients compared to receiving no therapy at all; notably, with reducing symptoms. Even though the researchers’ work noted that exercise was no more effective than other psychological therapies, their findings nonetheless point in the right direction—confirming anecdotal evidence and what people have long experienced firsthand, that exercise for depression works.

Understanding the psychological benefits of exercise doesn’t require a degree in rocket science. In a nutshell, whenever you exercise, your body releases chemicals that can ultimately affect your mood. You may be familiar with endorphins—it’s that euphoric high you get after running a 5K, for instance. It’s interesting to note that the release of endorphins in the body feels similar to that of getting a shot of morphine, which may partly explain why people look forward to “feeling good” after a workout. However, the two chemicals have different long-term effects. Endorphins won’t lead you down a path towards a debilitating addiction.

Aside from releasing endorphins, exercising can also lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease and cancer. This is based on a special health report done by the Harvard Medical School Health Publications. According to the study, a half-an-hour to an hour’s exercise on most, if not all, days of the week should be helpful for sufferers. To us trainers, squeezing some time for exercise is always a good idea, but at the same time, we haven’t forgotten that a good majority of people who wish to have a healthy active lifestyle struggle to make good on this promise on a daily basis. This is why, both as a trainer and someone who advocates a healthy lifestyle, I hope my blog can inspire others to get up from the couch and start moving, pronto. For those who are depressed, know that showing up is half the battle. Every day you go for a brisk walk or a short jog is a day you beat depression and win.

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On Healthy Eating

Peter Benedict from St. Andrew’s College: 3 Lifelong Habits for Healthy Eating

Peter Benedict, a St. Andrew’s College graduate, became a sports trainer because he combined two things he’s always been passionate about: helping others and exercising. He hopes his blog will inspire others to stay fit and healthy. Read his blog about healthy eating below:

The link between nutrition and fitness is a strong one. If you’ve been grinding it out at the gym and yet see little progress on the weighing scale, look no further than what you put on your dinner plate. Unfortunately, many people still hold the erroneous belief that hitting the gym gives them the license to eat whatever they want, no matter how unhealthy. In weight loss however, everything boils down to calorie deficit. This means there’s no cheating your way around what you eat because it will always show on the weighing scale, or worse, on your thighs, legs, and what-not.

That said, healthy eating goes hand in hand with proper training and exercise. Here are three lifelong habits you should waste no time in learning as they will serve you well more than you ever thought possible:

1. Learn meal prep – In the fitness community, Sunday is considered an unofficial holiday where everyone takes time off from the gym to prepare the following week’s meals. Many people struggle with meal prep but that’s usually only in the beginning, before they get to master the basics. One neat trick with meal preparation is to come up with a list of staple items, such as chicken breasts, oats, and brown rice, to name a few, which are then categorized as protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The idea is to mix and match these categories and ingredients together on different days, ultimately yielding quite a number of recipes.

2. Control your appetite – As mentioned, weight loss is all about maintaining a calorie deficit, and you can achieve this better once you learn how to control your appetite. Before anything else, it must be said that you shouldn’t even think of trying diet pills as they simply do not work and even put your health at risk. One way of controlling your appetite is to avoid processed foods as these can actually trick your brain into wanting even more of them. Just think of why potato chips are so addicting—they make people crave for them, rather than feel hungry for them.

3. Learn how to count calories and macronutrients – Finally, you should learn how to count calories and macronutrients. When was the last time you looked at the nutrition label? I’m guessing a long while, if not never. We already know our goal is maintaining a calorie deficit and accurate, honest counting is part of that. As all calories come from macros, it’s time to memorize this formula: one gram of protein yields four calories; one gram of carbohydrate yields four calories; and one gram of fat yields nine calories. Once you’ve got this down pat, you’ll be counting calories and macros in your sleep in no time.

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On LeBron James’ Workout Routine

Peter Benedict from St. Andrew’s College: 3 Things We Can Learn From LeBron James’ Training Regimen

Peter Benedict, a St. Andrew’s College graduate, is a professional sports trainer for athletes. Born and raised in Canada, he moved to the USA to pursue his passion for sports science. Now studying as a nutritionist, Peter hopes to provide readers information about sports training, athletics, and everything in-between.

When it comes to naming the best professional athlete, no other name floats as frequently as LeBron James’ does. While experts will differ in their arguments for and against LeBron, one thing is nonetheless clear: LeBron James’ freakish athleticism makes him a strong contender as one of the best athletes in history. With numerous MVP awards and, finally, a Championship ring for Cleveland under his belt, LeBron showed what sheer discipline and determination can achieve, not to mention savvy health and exercise planning.

Fitting for his moniker King James, there are a number of lessons one can learn from his workout routine and training regimen. Here are a few that stand out:

1.Do as many push-ups as you can – Based on an interview the King had with Men’s Health magazine, he does as many reps of push-ups as he can every Monday, followed by at least 10 reps of pull-ups. This shows us that one just can’t do away with and replace the classic exercises. Taken from the same interview, LeBron revealed that push-ups and pull-ups actually make up part of the core of his routine, staple exercises that help keep him in shape especially during the offseason. Other classic exercises that are part of his routine are side lunges, leg squats, bench presses, and jumping rope on an unstable surface such as a stretching mat.

2. If you need to pick one workout equipment, pick the Versa Climber– The Versa Climberis touted to be the #1 cardio and total body fitness machine and the King seems to be all aboard on that claim, so much so that he even convinced the entire Cavaliers team to join him. As his go-to workout equipment, LeBron enjoys a total body workout through mimicking the movements of climbing a steep wall or mountain, which altogether has catapulted the VersaClimber onto the mainstream.

3. Recovery is just as important as the workout – Is it ever a wonder how LeBron James has managed to overcome the challenges of aging? There’s no doubt he’s only a couple of years away from his prime and yet he is showing no signs of slowing down. How? Apparently, a lot of it can be attributed to his “investments” in new recovery methods. According to a report done by sports blog Bleacher Report, LeBron was one of the first players that started using cryotherapy, a type of medical therapy wherein the person is exposed to nitrogen vapour below 200 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes. Think of it as a more effective ice bath. He also gets weekly massages, which, apart from feeling pampered, promotes blood circulation.

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On Wearables and Fitness Trackers

Peter Benedict from St. Andrew’s College: Do You Really Need Fitness Trackers?

Peter Benedict, a St. Andrew’s College alumnus, has over a decade of experience training athletes. He created this blog to dish out diet, fitness, and wellness advice, as well as to further his advocacy of training and healthy living for all. Read his blog below:

When it comes to wellness, are fitness trackers really needed? This is a question that has been asked since the first activity band came out in the market years ago. While the answer to this will likely depend on how active one’s lifestyle is, there are nevertheless reasons to believe that wearables will soon become must-haves, rather than mere wants.

Traditional athletic trainers are more likely to scoff at the necessity of wearables, but even those that may have little use for heart rate monitoring bands will find it easy to sport them, because they have also become quite fashionable. If one were to observe the social media landscape, he/she can come to the conclusion that the active, healthy lifestyle is starting to be seen more and more as something fashionable, or something chic and trendy. But once a person starts reaping the numerous benefits of exercise, he/she wouldn’t need any convincing to continue down this path.

As mentioned, wearables may be more visible because they are seen as fashionable accessories, but there’s definitely more to them than their novel appearances and forward-thinking designs—for athlete trainers, sports enthusiasts, and gym goers, these are key devices that allow them to track, manage, and optimize their workouts. If there’s one argument that can convince these stick-in-the-mud trainers to start using fitness trackers, it’s exactly that: now more than any point in time, they have the tools and data to start optimizing workouts, a somewhat neglected aspect of training.

Before, wearables felt cheap and almost gimmicky, but now the technologies they come with are as sophisticated as ever and hence, more useful. From heart rate monitors and distance trackers to GPS and sleep monitoring, these activity bands seem to be in the running to replace your smartphone as your new best friend, just how companies such as Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Misfit like it.

In the end, no one is saying that fitness trackers can replace discipline and hard work, which are two qualities that are essential for fitness success. If there’s any danger at all to wearing these fitness trackers, it’s that wearers might soon think they can become their own doctors, which is quite a stretch compared to simply being their own personal coach and trainer.

If you don’t own an incredible piece of wearable technology yet, now might be a good time to look up reviews and keep abreast of the latest trends. For fitness professionals like myself, they are certainly neat tools to add to one’s workout kit. Activity tracking is a booming industry with tremendous potential. Who knows what the coming years would bring us next?

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Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College Grad On Training Programs

Peter Benedict from St. Andrew’s College: Elements of a Good Training Program

 

Peter Benedict, a St. Andrew’s College graduate, is a certified fitness professional who is currently completing his nutritionist studies. He has over a decade of experience working with professional athletes, helping them with their strength and endurance training. Read his blog about training programs below:

Whether your fitness goal is to lose weight or bulk up, you should be aware of the different elements that make up a good training program. Not only will you be putting your body out of harm’s way but you can also hope to reap the best possible results. Often, many first-timers will just rely on their personal trainers to develop a program for them, not knowing that these aren’t as personalized as they’dhoped for. Additionally, thanks to the Internet, almost any trainer can now claim to be knowledgeable about certain topics, thus anyone looking into getting in shape should be more cautious.

While training programs are best judged on the basis of their suitability for the people they are designed for, the basic principles of fitness workouts stay more or less the same. Generally, a good training program should possess the following elements:

1. Hits a variety of muscle groups – Ideally, the training program has what are referred to as “workout splits” among the body’s major and smaller muscle groups. For instance, on the first day, the person could work on his chest (major), paired with his biceps and triceps (small muscle group). The following day, he could work on his thighs (major) next, together with the hamstrings and calves (small muscle group). Finally, he can work on his back (major) next, along with the shoulders and abs (small muscle group).

2. Shows a clear plan for progression– A program that appears to have no plan for progression is a red flag, especially when it comes to strength training. This is because progression is necessary if the person working out is to establish any level of consistency which, in turn, will improve his/her performance. Another reason why progression is needed is that it allows structured training to emerge. As opposed to just showing up at the gym and doing any exercise that the person “feels like doing” for the day, having some structure will minimize the risk for injury as well. One rule of thumb for progression is to move on to more difficult exercises when the previous exercise starts to feel less challenging.

3. Balanced and well-rounded – Finally, a good training program will have a balanced mix between isolation and compound movements, as well as the use of free weights and machines. Too much emphasis on one over the other may not yield the best results and further, lead to a poor foundation for working out properly.

Once you find out the routine you’ll be doing, don’t be afraid to ask the trainer questions if there’s any exercise that is unclear to you or questionable to your fitness goals. Your trainer should have no problem finding replacement exercises and addressing any other concerns you may have.

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