#380 (10/27/2009) HAPPY HEALTH-OWEEN!
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Charlie Brown is the one person I can identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn't even the star of his own Halloween special.

Chris Rock

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Halloween Treats: How Your Diet Can Survive This Scary Holiday

By Stephanie Saunders

Halloween. A holiday that puts joy into the hearts of children and terror into the hearts of dieters. Is it the result of the tiny little costumes we are supposed to be wearing or the abundance of junk food that infiltrates our lives? Perhaps a little of each. Also, it might be that Halloween is the gateway holiday to dieting disaster. For many of us, it begins with trick-or-treat, and finally ends with a New Year's Day hangover and five extra pounds. Since avoiding sugary goodness for three months is virtually impossible, how can you approach the weeks of mini candy bars, Halloween parties, and alcohol-abounding punch? Here are some "tricks" that might actually keep Halloween Horror in the movies, and off of your thighs.

Pumpkin Candles

  1. Make wise choices. We've already established that you will probably not avoid all contact with candy this holiday, so know exactly what you are choosing when you reach into that jack-o'-lantern. One mini candy bar has around 80 calories in it, between 3 and 5 grams of fat, and is so small that just one would not satisfy 99 percent of the population. Some wiser choices, for around 50 calories, include:

    • Hershey's Kisses®Two Hershey's Kisses®
    • Two Dum-Dum® lollipops
    • Three Mini Tootsie Rolls®
    • One Nerds® mini box
    • Ten pieces of candy corn
    • Two small Laffy Taffys®
    • Two Jolly Ranchers®
    • One Junior Mints® mini box
    • One Mike-n-Ike® mini box
    • One small York® Peppermint Patty

    We realize that the difference between 50 to 80 calories seems rather negligible, but as most of us might indulge in more than one serving over the holiday, those calories can really add up.

  2. Eat before attending a party. This is an age-old dieting trick, but one that is extremely effective. It is tempting to indulge in sweet treats when faced with a table full of them. It is even worse when you haven't eaten since lunch and your workout has left you completely depleted. Consuming a healthy meal, snack, or even a meal replacement like Shakeology® can keep hunger at bay and your hands off the devil's food cake.

  3. Woman in a Referee CostumeChoose a costume that shows off your accomplishments. There is a belief that Halloween is an excuse for women to dress inappropriately, and for men to show off their muscles. And why not? This is in no way a suggestion that you attend an event in a Speedo or bikini, but something a little sexy, in a safe environment, that shows off all of your hours with P90X® can be the perfect motivation to avoid overeating. Most of us respond better to short-term, tangible goals, and wearing the Spider-Man costume without the built-in abs is certainly attainable. So be a little daring one night, and save the costume for future motivation.

  4. Work out before attending an event. Many studies have been done that conclude we tend to eat less—and absorb less of the bad stuff when we do—after a good workout. Also, the rush of endorphins tends to make us a bit happier, which means we don't seek joy in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups®. A really intense INSANITY™ workout just before the big party might save you countless more to undo the damage.

  5. Avoid the punch bowl. For some reason, there is always a bowl of sherbet-stuffed punch around at Halloween. Perhaps it is the festive orange color, or the fact it mixes nicely with vodka? Regardless, run in the opposite direction. One serving can equal a couple hundred calories and send your blood sugar levels through the roof. Always stick to beverages that you can determine a calorie count for, and preferably, those that have few or no calories.

  6. Alcoholic Drinks and Glasses of WaterTry the "two-to-one" theory. When out on the town, my friends and I used to employ the strategy that for every alcoholic beverage we consumed, we had to follow it up with two glasses of water. Why not try this for sugary snacks at parties? For every mini candy bar you consume, follow it up with two veggies off of the crudités tray. All of the fiber will help fill you up fast, and following up a Milky Way with broccoli is really not so appealing. It could help you eat less, or maybe just stick to the broccoli.

  7. Host your own event. If you simply can't say no to Halloween goodies at a party, host your own and take control of what is on the table. Low-fat brownies, cookies, and even cakes taste incredibly similar to the full-fat version, but will leave less residual damage. Choose from the selection of candies we suggested above, serve air-popped popcorn, and make a light punch with diet sherbet that everyone will enjoy. And don't forget the fruit and veggie platters. Also, taking the focus off food with a scary movie or some fun games can often make the party much more enjoyable. After all, we stand around, talk to people, and eat every day. Why not try to make your event a little bit different?

  8. Get rid of the evidence. For those of you who hate to waste, this might be a difficult one. But, however you do it, get rid of ALL of the trick-or-treat candy the following day. If you work in an office, set it out in the lunchroom. If you work from home, anonymously mail it to your high school enemy. It is too hard to say no to a bowl of Snickers® bars, especially after a rough day, if they are sitting in a cabinet calling your name. Most of us will not get in a car to go buy candy, but if it is there, we will eat it. Just get it out of the house as quickly as you can.

  9. Don't forget the parents. When you're handing out treats on trick-or-treat night, it's a great time to treat some of the parents in your neighborhood with a packet of Shakeology or a P90X Peak Performance Protein Bar to give them the energy for a long night of going door to door with their little goblins. Then, you can wish them a Happy Health-oween!

    Halloween is only one night, so don't make it your gateway to a gluttonous holiday season. Instead, use it as a motivator for looking great! Holidays can be the very best time of the year, even on a diet and fitness plan. Just remember how it will feel when, at that Christmas party, everyone comments on how great you look. That will make any holiday seem a lot less frightening.

Related Articles
"Healthy Halloween: The Trick Is in the Treat"
"Beating the Holiday Boos"
"Best and Worst Halloween Treats"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 2nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Shocktober Week on BNN

Check out the shocking results from these incredible weight loss success stories all week long on BNN. Today, watch Tiffany Meier, who lost over 100 pounds with Hip Hop Abs®. On Wednesday, see how Doug Lowe lost 66 pounds with Power 90®. Thursday, it's Ammie Yarbro, who lost 32 pounds with Rockin' Body®. On Friday, the biggest story of all—how Jacob Morales lost 100 pounds using P90X. Click here to see their stories!

Ammie Y. and Doug L. 'Before' and 'After' Photos

Want to see more BNN stories like this one? Click here to get all the latest fitness and health news on BNN!

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 2nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Getting to the Core of Your Ab Routine

By Steve Edwards

Core is the new abs.

Translation: Those chiseled six-packs you see adorning magazine covers these days are achieved by working the entire midsection, not just the abdominal muscles. So chuck your Ab Lounge®, your Ab Roller®, and your 30-second ab routine, and read on to see what could land you on the cover of Maxim.

Man and Woman with Ripped Abs

This is the part where I confess to a bit of hyperbole. Those six-packs are mainly a function of the individual's body-fat percentage, not how strong their core muscles are. Those gimmicky ab workouts can be okay as part of your program. And hiring a publicist will do far more for your hopes of appearing in Maxim than any amount of time in the gym. Oh, and one more thing: most of those models don't look like that all of the time. As one of them put it to me at a shoot, "I can't wait to eat. You think I look like this all the time? That would be sooooo unhealthy."

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get down to the business of creating a healthy core.

The crunch phenomenon

Isolation training, or training individual muscle groups, was all the rage for a couple of decades. Probably spurred on by Arnold in the iconic bodybuilding movie, Pumping Iron, people were creating exercises to isolate one muscle at a time and blast it into submission. As these exercises trickled away from Muscle Beach and into the mainstream, the one that stuck more than any other was the crunch.

Woman Doing CrunchesThe crunch is a great isolation movement. Plus, it's relatively easy and you can work your abdominal muscles into a state of rigor mortis within minutes. And, actually, it worked pretty well for bodybuilders. After all, they aren't movement-based athletes. And, since they spent so much time in the gym, isolating the abs wasn't so bad because they isolated every muscle group. By skipping that last tidbit, this spawned an entire industry of quick-fix workout gimmicks promising that you, too, could look like Arnold. But instead of dedicating your entire life to body sculpting, these promised similar results in a few minutes of ab isolation.

The rise of functional training

Functional training is basically exercising using movements that you'll encounter in everyday life. It grew out of physical therapy, which makes sense as more and more people were landing in PT units because they'd been injured due to isolation training. What they found was that isolation training was creating muscular imbalances. This is, essentially, where one muscle group becomes stronger than it's supposed to be compared to others. When this happens it's easy to get injured.

It's hard to create a muscular imbalance in your natural life. If you run, for example, your body naturally responds in a way where it uses all the muscles it can to help the movement. This includes what are called your prime mover muscles and your stabilizer muscles. In isolation training, the prime movers would get isolated because those were the muscles that you could see. This would create major imbalances, and the stabilizers would often get no attention at all.

Your core and its function

Beachbody® Balance BallFunctional training starts with your core: the middle of your body where virtually all movements begin. A strong core creates a base to work from. If this base is solid, your chances of getting injuries decrease greatly. Because of this, functional training programs spend the majority of their time working on this area.

This might sound like isolation but it's not, because your core is not just your abs but all the muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis. It's essentially all of the prime mover and stabilizer muscles that you use to stay standing. For this reason, core exercises often include balance movements. These include using gadgets like balance balls, boards that wobble, golf balls, soft balls, and foam rollers, but it also includes simple old-school movements like push-ups, squats, and many yoga stances. All of these movements require body awareness (balance) to keep you from falling over. It's exactly the opposite of a Nautilus® exercise machine or, say, a crunch.

Is isolation the root of injury and evil?

Some functional trainers like to tell you this, but it's not true. There are many reasons why isolation movements still exist. The main one is sports. Sports create a reason for an athlete to attempt to exceed their natural physique's strength ability in certain areas. In order for a muscle to exceed its natural capacity for strength, it must first grow. Isolation exercises are great for this. So, while fine tools, these are only a piece of the athlete's pie. To avoid injury and increase performance, athletes periodize their training, which means they do various cycles of training that target different goals. Athletes may isolate a muscle group for a training cycle, but then they must switch their training to functionally train this new muscle to work within the limitations of their bodies.

Your abs and you

So how does this affect you and how you'll look at the company beach party? First, the bad news: You won't look like Maria Sharapova by watching Oprah on your Ab Lounge. The good news, however, is that you can create a great-looking midsection by training in the way that's most beneficial to your body.

RevAbs™This is the point where I tell you that a true six-pack is a phase. Like I said before, even most fitness models don't walk around looking chiseled all the time. They try to stay fit and thin, but the duration of the ultra six-pack is fleeting. It's the same for many athletes, who will often reduce their body fat to below healthy levels for increased sports performance (because reduced weight at the same strength = increase in power output). But they aren't always in this state. For a six-pack to appear, most men need to get below 10 percent body fat and women under about 14 percent—abdominal muscle strength has nothing to do with it. Athletes are better off doing most of their training a little above this and losing the last bit for competition. This is because body fat helps your defense mechanisms. Some fat is needed to avoid injury and illness. Where you are concerned, the state of the six-pack should be something you target for some photos or, perhaps, a beach party. Your daily life goal should be a slim midsection. Brett Hoebel's RevAbs™ workout is ideal for reducing body fat while strengthening your core.

Creating a healthy core

If you will commit to exercising, it's not all that difficult to ensure that your core is sound. Functional trainers love to use the word balance. And not just in regards to standing on a wobbly board. Balance in both your life and how you exercise will help you center yourself in more ways than one. Here are a few tips to ensure you're getting to the core of your workouts.

  • Work your entire body. Whatever your workout program is, make sure it works on everything. Not just your core but your arms, legs, hands, and feet. Everything is connected to your core, like branches of a tree. Whatever workout program you choose should, at least a little bit, stress every muscle in your body. No one with an overweight body has ripped abs. It can't happen.
  • Periodize your training. No matter how great your routine is, change it sometimes. Using various programs helps you work different muscles and create new engrams (neuromuscular brain patterns), which results in keeping your body balanced.
  • Teigh McDonough and Gillian Marloth, creators of Yoga Booty Ballet®Do some yoga or Pilates. Even if you hate it. Yoga, particularly, is the oldest functional training program there is. You don't need to do Shiva the destroyer's Power Yoga program. The basic old-school movements will be plenty to round out your workouts. Or for a fun yoga workout, try Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Yoga Core.
  • Do some balance work. These workouts can be hard, mentally taxing, and kind of boring. But you don't need to spend 45 minutes balancing on one leg on a skateboard on top of a golf ball to see results. Just sitting on a balance ball at your desk is very helpful. Any balance work is better than none.
  • Alter your crunch. You can still crunch, and of course, you still need to work all of your midsection muscles. A simple balance element, like lifting your legs as you crunch, turns an isolation ab movement into a core movement. Keeping your legs off the ground, and straight, contracts something called your transversus abdominis (TVA). This is the muscle responsible for holding your gut in (another good TVA exercise is simply sucking your belly button in as far as you can). You'll start recognizing variations of these movements by staying present, aware, and observing life, which is another good exercise. Or you can do crunches with a Squishy Ball, as in the Yoga Booty Ballet programs.

Related Articles
"Introducing RevAbs™!"
"5 Ways to Speed Up Your Six-Pack"
"8 Fitness Myths"

Steve EdwardsGot something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, November 2nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Shakeology!

By Joe Wilkes

Pumpkin Pie ShakeologyPut a little Halloween cheer into your Shakeology this season. In addition to all the amazing Shakeology ingredients, you'll also get the nutritional benefits of pumpkin, which contains lutein, fiber, and alpha and beta carotene. Plus, the healthy polyphenols in cinnamon help regulate blood sugar levels. You'll get all the taste of pumpkin pie . . . without turning your butt into a pumpkin.

  • 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 cup rice, soy, almond, or low-fat milk (plain or vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, unsweetened
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Ice (optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender and combine until smooth. You can substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and nutmeg or add more pumpkin for a thicker shake. Makes 1 serving.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Nutritional Information (with low-fat milk):

  • Calories: 284
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Carbs: 40 g
  • Fat Total: 3.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Total number of Reviews: 1
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"Hey, instead of using canned pumpkin, why not just use your own pumpkin the day after Halloween. Just cut away the hard outer skin, slice into manageable strips, clean away the really mushy interior, dice the remaining pieces, steam for about 10 minutes, then mash the pulp. You then have the best pumpkin, without chemicals or additives and you can use for muffins, soups, and many more. It's the best thing to eat at Halloween, freezes great too."

– John Smith, Toronto, ON

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