Tag Archives: Weight loss

How to Keep From Getting Fat over the Holidays

And still enjoy indulging yourself!

First off: A few parties and a few holiday feasts should not put you over the edge and cause you to gain 5-10 pounds! It’s what you do day after day, year round that sets you up for the one-two punch of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then of course, there is New Years, when you vow that this is the last time and then you plan to get serious! Think of this scenario as you might a handmade snowball rolled down a mountain, by the time it reaches the half-way point the little snowball is now an avalanche! Trying to undo the snowball will require a much larger shovel.

What is the sense of living if every day is a struggle fraught with abstinence? Eating and drinking are simple pleasures, sharing meals with family and friends during the frustrated dieterholidays should never be dreaded and they should be something to look forward to. I am going to explain exactly how to do this without suffering the consequence of over-indulgence.

Make a pact with your family that the morning of a holiday feast, you have a sensible breakfast. A light meal made up primarily of carbohydrates. Plan to go out for an hour of easy exercise. If you don’t run, walk. If you prefer to ride a bike, perfect go do it, but don’t go crazy. If you dig a big hole you’ll generate a big appetite.­­­

Do a few active chores- wash the car, shovel some snow, tidy up around the house, just try to stay active until lunch. Be sure to have a nice meal for lunch, nothing over the top just enough to square up your blood sugar and keep from becoming ravenous come dinner time.

Stay off the coach! You have the day off and there is a lot of football you want to see, try to watch the games while standing, move around and stay active. Sitting promotes snacking and it also drops your metabolism. If you keep moving everything will work in your favor, your metabolism, circulation and digestion will all be lit up in preparation for your next meal.

Take a 20 minute walk– nothing intense, just a 10 minute destination and return. If you have some friends over, invite them to come with you. They will bitch and moan but the ones who come along will really end up enjoying the time they had with you without all the disruptions in the house.

When it comes time for dinner; enjoy the meal, have that glass of wine but be mindful, you need to go for one more walk before settling in for the evening. This time I suggest around 40 minutes to an hour walk. Don’t stress that you are not running, you are just trying to keep your metabolism stoked.

Here is the thing: Eating and sitting are murder; even those who feel that because they went out early in the morning for a Turkey Trot and this is their hopeful salvation, it’s not enough. Parking your weary hungry body on the couch will soon result in a sluggish metabolism. By keeping on the move, your body acts like a furnace and burns through the food you consume. You will also find that if you feed at reasonable intervals you are less likely to binge come dinner time. You will still have a chance to enjoy all of the food you love and without thinking about it, once satisfied you will simply stop eating. Odds are you will eat 20-30% less food and with your activity levels up throughout the day; the energy you consume will be met with a nice energy burn.

By practicing this approach during the festive season you should come away unscathed. As a matter of principle, the most effective way to maintain weight is through a sensible eating plan combined with an active lifestyle. Early exercise is great, staying busy all day is better. To learn how to create an intelligent meal plan, visit: www.diazhumanperformance.com/nutrition.html we provide a free nutrition analysis.

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Fitness Tips for Fat Loss

Common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight through exercise

Earlier in my career path I owned health clubs. I sold memberships, trained clients, hired and fired trainers and in 12 years of managing club affairs I learned a lot about the needs and desires of fitness enthusiasts. I could rant for hours about the goofy things I had witnessed members do in a health club, however, my focus for this article relates to the moronic things I see trainers have their clients do and get paid for. Before I build my list of useless exercises, I think it’s important that I shed light on the typical requests of the average new client in order of importance:

1. Weight loss (most people join health clubs to lose weight)
2. Tone-not build (the second leading request is to tone muscle without building them larger)
3. Improve health (coming of age and tired of feeling sickly and lethargic)
4. Supplemental to sports training (cross training, this one is pretty new)
5. Meet people (likes group exercise, classes, Yoga, Zumba Spinning etc)

A trainer is hired to help clients achieve their goals. Look at the first few lines of any trainers’ bio on their personal website and they will tell you: “I will help you archive your goals”. Flash forward to the initial interview of trainer/client: Client shares their desires (see 1-4 on my list), trainer divulges the fee for hire, a deal is struck and then… is when the *^%x hits the fan I my book!
The broad stroke
9 out of 10 trainers will begin by suggesting; “get on a (pick one) cardio machine and warm up for 15 minutes.” After which, they will begin segregating body parts and working each major muscle group in some fashion of sequential order. For example: Back-Biceps, Legs-Triceps, Shoulders-Abs… I think you get the idea. What’s worse is most health clubs are designed with specific departments of body part machines in plug and play fashion so as to make it easy for the novice to find the appropriate machine to work the appropriate muscles. The trainer you are now paying will serve as your guide. He or she will plug the pin into the weight stacks, count your repetitions for you out loud and tell you how great you are doing, because he or she is very considerate and over patronizing.

Let’s return to the #1 goal- To Lose Weight. The best way to lose weight is to keep your heart rate up for a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable? How much weight do you need to lose and how much time can you dedicate and how much can you endure? More is better. Too much too early is unsustainable. Heart rate is directly tied to the amount of calories you burn and from which energy source. If your heart rate is too high, the exercise will be short lived. You burn more calories relative to time spent but high intensity exercise does a terrible job of burring fat. If the exercise is low intensity, you’ll be able to spend more time but the caloric expenditure will be low even though the majority of the calories burned will come from fat. (This is awesome if you have all day to exercise).

The solution: Wear a heart rate monitor during exercise; have a VO2 max test conducted to identify specifically what heart rates will produce greatest benefits for you. If you can’t afford a VO2 max test or don’t have access to this technology, subtract your age from 180 and based on your initial state of fitness, add or subtract 5-10 beats per minute. If you start out pretty healthy, add 5, if you are out of shape, subtract 5 beats per minute (reserve the 10 bpm shift for extreme cases +/-).

Avoid exercises that isolate small muscle groups
Here is a short list:

• No bicep curls
• Triceps extensions
• Calve raises
• Laterals for the deltoids and…
• Ready… crunches or sit ups.

Most people that visit a gym will spend between an hour and ninety minutes max on their exercise routine. Do the math: 15 minute warm-up on cardio machine, 3X10 reps on body parts. Working biceps and triceps average 1 minute per set X 6 sets with an average of 30 seconds to 1 minute rest between sets. We have now wasted up to 12 minutes on an area of the body that will not improve in appearance until the layer of fat is burned away. Because the muscles are so small (relative to larger muscle groups, hips and thighs) you will only burn a fraction of the calories that you should have relative to your goal (lose weight-tone not build). You have now exhausted 50% of your dedicated time exercising on worthless exercise. What people should come to grips with is that to lose weight you have to make every minute count, espically if you only plan to exercise for an hour.

Focus on Compound Exercises
A compound exercise involves more than one joint: For example, the hip and knee, shoulder and elbow. When bot joints are involved the exercise becomes functional and integrates far more muscle mass than does isolated exercises as mentioned above. You will burn easily 4 times as many calories per effort and will improve functional motor skills which are a huge bonus and arguably even more important than the number of calories you’ll spend during exercise.

You may be thinking that by participating in an aerobics class sounds like the answer?
To some degree you are right. You would burn more calories this way but in my experience, most aerobic classes are not aerobic at all. They tend to be anaerobic, especially if you are out of shape. This will result in calories expended almost exclusively from sugar (You won’t be burning fat over the long term).



Lifting weights while exercising overloads muscle, when a muscle is overloaded, it becomes stronger, denser and increases your metabolism. Having said that, the key to weight lifting effectively is a matter of progression, begin with lighter weight and work up to loads you can manage with good form for an average of 10 repetitions. Initially, many exercises are more effective with body weight alone. For example: if you can’t do 10 push-ups with good form, doing a bench press is not an effective substitute. A push-up is a functional exercise; it involves more than one joint and encourages core integration and stability. A bench press does not. A body weight squat that takes you through a full range of motion should precede a squat with external load (weights) that you cannot successfully move through a full range of motion.

My recommendation for a successful hour of exercise to lose weight and tone muscle

Begin without any external devices for the first 6 weeks. Perform a circuit of exercise that cause you to keep your heart rate to an 180-age while exercising with recovery times between exercise as needed that causes you to come down to no lower than 120 bpm. If you are 40 years old, in fair shape, 180-40= 140 + 5= 145 bpm (you will be surprised how hard this is in the beginning).

Air Squat

Air Squat

Example: Jog/run 200 yrds, do 30 seconds worth of burpee’s (look it up) 30 seconds worth of push-ups, plank for 30 seconds, recover to 120 of max and repeat. Each of these collective sets, including recovery will take 4-5 minutes. After the second round, you will want to walk a bit, this is very taxing. Go ahead and walk until you feel able to proceed. Keep this up for an hour, do it every other day and follow a sensible plan, doing this will get you to your goal much faster than your old trainer. Oh yeah, I forgot. Fire the trainer, use the money to buy a high quality heart rate monitor.

This approach is surprisingly simple in structure, does not require a membership to a gym yet is highly effective.
To really accelerate the process, make a point to jog or walk for an additional 30 minutes every late afternoon, preferably before the dinner meal. This added bump in metabolism will pay huge dividends. It m

ay not seem like much but it’s the consistency that matters. Turning the switch up on your metabolism right about the time that things began to slow down.

This is the theme for the exercise sessions I take my small group through 3 days each week. Of course there is more variety, some overload and a few extra tools but the concept is the same. I don’t count reps, I don’t commonly complement new hair-do’s but I get things done. That’s what they pay me for.
Written by Richard Diaz, founder of diaz human performance.

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Training Smart with Heart Rate 04/11 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts

Training Smart with Heart Rate 04/11 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts.

DrSanMillanTraining with heart rate is the most effective way to improve endurance for cycling and running.  Join Richard Diaz and Dr. Iñigo San Millán, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab & Sports at the UC School of Medicine as they discuss heart rate training.
Dr. Iñigo San Millán was selected as Colorado’s Top Thinker 2013 in Health. He also served as director of physiological testing for the professional cycling team Garmin-Transitions, Spain’s pro team Once and Saunier-Duval, as well as Astana in 2007. While a number of his former employers have been beset by doping scandals, San Millán is widely regarded as an exponent of a clean cycling.

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Running Tips – Tailoring your Training to your Life 10/25 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts

Running Tips – Tailoring your Training to your Life 10/25 by The Natural Running Network Live | Sports Podcasts.


JennyLearn what you can do when you’re not running to become a better runner. Listen as our host Richard Diaz and guest Coach Jenny Hadfield discuss the non-running aspects of training. Also, Running Tips for women, train the body cycle rather than from a template! Too much talk about mileage, work and more work. A runner spends only a fraction of their day running, what about the rest of the day? What can you do to enhance your ability to perform with the rest of your life? Veteran Coach and columnist for RunnersWorld.com and Women’s Running Magazine Jenny Hadfield has some interesting insights and Richard Diaz wants to share them with you!

Too much talk about mileage, work and more work. A runner spends only a fraction of their day running, what about the rest of the day? What can you do to enhance your ability to perform with the rest of your life? Veteran Coach and columnist for RunnersWorld.com and Women’s Running Magazine Jenny Hadfield has some interesting insights and Richard Diaz wants to share them with you!


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Diet Cults Exposed

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Diet CultsIf you are on a diet, any diet, you need to listen to this show. Best Selling Author Matt Fitzgerald has a lot to say about “One true way to eat” for maximum heath diets. Nutrition is plagued with fallacy and we’re going to expose some of these myths.

Fitzgerald advocates an agnostic, rational approach to eating, based on one’s own habits and lifestyle. Many professional athletes already practice this agnostic approach, and now we too can ditch the brainwashing of these diet cults for good.

Check out this episode!

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A Review of Racing Weight Cook Book

Matt-GeorgieJoin Richard Diaz and Vanessa Runs as they chat with nutrition experts Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear co-authors of the “Racing Weight Cookbooklearn to prepare delicious meals that help you lose weight and keep you lean while you train for your next race.

Every endurance athlete or marathon runner knows that in order to get faster they must drop body fat.  Performance gains generally occur first through proper nutrition. Matt Fitzgerald’s best-selling weight loss program for athletes “Racing Weight” incorporates a simple Diet Quality Score system that guides athletes to eat the best foods in the right amounts throughout the day. The Racing Weight Cookbook breaks recipes into three skill levels for inexperienced cooks, the recipe literate, and athlete foodies.

Check out this episode!

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Heart Rate Training | MIO Global



Heart Rate Training | MIO Global.

Richard Diaz of diaz human performance LLC  offers a 4 part series on heart rate training which he reefers to as “The Kiss Principal


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Hard Wired for Fitness

sports nutrition

Understanding “The Functional Day”

Dr Robert Portman demolishes the myths of dieting and shows how to activate the body’s natural biological rhythms to help you get into the best shape of your life! Learn how to unleash your powerful energy and why is the key to successful weight loss. Yes, we are hardwired for fitness, it is built into our DNA and now we have the science to guide us back to the fitness we were born with. This is a fascinating look at the evolutionary way to lose weight, have more energy and improve body composition-Naturally.

Follow this link to listen to the show now!


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A few years ago, my wife and I were traveling through Europe and spent some time in a little town called Luso which is located up a mountain pass in Portugal. It is a quaint little town like many others we visited, where the center of town serves as a gathering place for the local village people. Here we sat in an outdoor café having a late lunch when we couldn’t help but notice something unusual happening at the central fountain. It appeared to us that many of the town’s people were converging at this fountain at nearly the same time carrying large jugs. Our first thought was that it was the beginning of some type of festival or celebration. Upon further investigation, we realized that all they were doing was gathering water from the town’s fresh water spring which fed this fountain.




The reason I share this story with you is because it parallels with our theme due to the extreme nature of the work everyone performed as a daily unconscious ritual. Mind you, there are no flat roads in Luso, you are either walking straight up or down a hill. In the case of this water gathering, the people came down the hill with empty jugs only to return home with full jugs. We witnessed women well beyond 65 years of age lugging what must have easily been 5 gallon jugs in each hand up a cobblestone road that in my estimation had to be a 20 percent grade. It occurred to us how ridiculous it would be to ask any of them what they do for exercise. My guess is they would not even understand the question. They simply went to collect water. I thought of how strenuous it would have been for me to complete this same task. Needless to say, we had a good laugh over that!




Exercise has evolved in our lives as a solution to our sedentary lifestyles. Hundreds of years ago people worked hard and then rested, People did not put in a full hard day’s work and then decide what they needed to do for exercise to make up for the listlessness of the day. There was never a thought of how fit one could become if they trained themselves. It was all about survival. If I don’t hunt or farm today, we don’t eat. Go back a thousand years and early man was on the same par physically as an elite marathon runner, slight of build, very lean with amazing endurance and general strength. Fitness was a result of his survival concerns. He was constantly on the move seeking food and shelter from the elements, while evading the many predators that survived on the same premise.




Today our lust for comfort is virtually killing us. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc… are all manufactured illnesses of man.




It pleases me to see the retro-fitness mindset moving to the front of the line where fitness is concerned. We’re getting out from beneath the neon lit warehouse style exercise clubs, out from the air conditioning and into the sunlight and the environment to re-invigorate our bodies.




Personally, I have relearned fitness by completely changing the direction in my training protocol by getting away from the “gym mindset…” I have owned health clubs for several years in the past. Now, I have completely changed that entirely making nearly all of my training inspired by nature. Our functional training facility today is all outdoors behind our lab and store at diaz human performance. Where it may not be plausible to climb trees and jump from boulder to boulder in our urban settings to sharpen our physical skills, I recommend that we take advantage of the opportunities that do exist in our neighborhoods and local parks.




As a fitness consultant, my first advice would be to watch children at play. What you’ll see is a total abandonment of process. Children are jumping, tumbling, crawling, rolling and by preference, many times barefoot. No rules, no structure, just wild jostling and sheer enjoyment.




I am sure all who read this are aware of the many fitness Boot Camps and possibly even Cross-fit centers that have been sweeping the country. These types of training systems rely on one fundamental premise; the return to functional movement as opposed to contrived and restrained applications of training that is the staple of typical health clubs.




For runners, triathletes or athletes involved in team sports, the environment is a far more likely to provide the cross training effects they seek through alternative exercises to their sport. If you walk through a busy health club and listen to the dialogue that occurs between trainer and trainee, the term core will come up all too often and generally out of context, not only in commentary but in application. If you truly understand the concept of training, this word should never really need mentioning. If you train the body from a global perspective as opposed to segregating body parts from machine to machine as is typical in a gym setting, you cannot avoid core engagement. It as if to say, “Ok, now you can breathe.” Of course you breathe, of course your core should engage, provided that you train the body and not the body parts.
Running is a great example of a global exercise as is swimming, climbing or crawling on all fours.




Let me cap off this article with a few suggestions in respect to training either for sport or general fitness.


A Marine of the United States Marine Corps run...

A Marine of the United States Marine Corps runs through a creek. Original caption: “Lance Cpl. Anthony M. Madonia emerges from the water during the swimming portion of the triathlon. Marines and Sailors of Marine Security Company and the Naval Support Facility in Thurmont, Md., participated in the Catoctin Mountain Triathlon, July 20.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


1. Make a conscious effort to spend some quality time training outdoors. Not just on your bike or running, but get in touch with the ground.
2. Take off your shoes and run barefoot. Realize the benefits that come from allowing your feet to make contact with the ground instead of the constant bondage and de-sensitizing cruelty that shoes present while running and training.
3. I live in California with easy access to beautiful beaches and the ocean. If possible, why not get into the sand and play? Remember doing cart wheels or tumbling as a child? These youthful activities awaken your agility skills and balance.
4. Swim in the ocean and allow natures anti-inflammatory bath invigorate your body. What better way to recover from a tough workout!
5. Finally, allow your self some tranquility, by simply lying in the sand with eyes closed while focusing on nothing more than the ocean as it crashes on the shore.




So many athletes operate on the assumption that they must always push themselves to improve. The fact is, we only benefit from the work we do while we rest. This is when the restorative properties of our bodies truly go to work. So, my advice to you this article is not technical as is the usual case. To the contrary, it is about becoming in touch with our primal spirit and finding the edge that exists when we embrace nature once again.




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Running for Weight Loss


On the heels of the LA Marathon which concluded this past weekend I thought it might be a good time to address; “Running for Weight Loss”.


If you watch the televised footage of most major marathon events you can’t help but notice a sea of seriously overweight people participating in the races. Now mind you, I applaud their inspiration and motivation. Sure, it may be the stepping stone for greater things. These obese would be runners may have worked long and hard to participate and their participation may be a life changing event.


But then again; could they have prepared themselves a bit more effectively and possibly run all or most of the distance? I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with those of you who are battling with weight. I agree that running is in fact the most effective exercise tool we have to combat obesity. As a matter of fact, I have fitness clients that I train and require road work which I know has the greatest influence over weight loss. Having said that and also potentially having caused some folk to get their hair up let me offer what I think is the appropriate approach to running for weight loss.


  1. Use a heart rate monitor during every training session, indoor or otherwise. Avoid training above your anaerobic threshold at all costs for at least the first 8 weeks of your training plan. This recommendation comes from my experience working with people like you (assuming you are a good 20 or more pounds overweight). What you will learn very quickly is that your heart rate will soar very quickly and a very slow pace. If you bust into a run, it will be short lived and it will cause you to burn nothing more than sugar and that is not our target. Also, if you are carrying an unreasonable amount of weight on a frame that was not designed to carry it you risk orthopedic injury. The most common issues will be with your feet and all of the associated joints right up to your low back.
  2. Train daily, a little every day is far better than too much now and then. You will start out with a lot of walking and a bit of low intensity jogging if you allow your heart rate to dictate when you are training too hard. As time passes, you’ll see great improvements in your cardiovascular response and by the end of the 8 weeks, you’ll find yourself capable of running far more often than you will need to walk.
  3. Do not starve yourself while training. Realize the more you weigh, the more calories you will expend per hour. You cannot burn the candle at both ends and succeed. You need to hang on to what little muscle you have to do the work while shedding the fat. I suggest having a RMR(resting metabolic measurement) test to identify how much debt in calories you can reasonably support. You want to be in caloric debt but it’s a fine line you tread. It is better to burn it off than it is to refrain from eating. Do not restrict carbohydrate intake. Carbs are not the enemy. Too much food is the enemy. Don’t get caught up in the trendy diet myths that plague our country and feed off people who are desperate. Exercise is the key to weight loss and a solid nutrition plan is the best support system for an exercising body.

    Suunto Heart Rate Monitor watch t6c

    Suunto Heart Rate Monitor watch t6c (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Exercise is the key to weight loss and a solid nutrition plan is the best support system for an exercising body.

  4. If you plan to prepare for a race allow enough time to prepare. If you are overweight I do not recommend that you attempt a marathon if you are varying more than 30 pounds over ideal weight. You may finish but you may also injure yourself in the process. Think of the event as you’re coming out party because you worked so hard to lose the weight and now you are in the hunt to show yourself, friends and family what you are all about.
  5. Given my recommendations in number #4 the issue is time. Allow yourself the time needed to lose the weight. Odds are you did not gain it in a few weeks or months, it’s not logical to think you can lose it twice as fast. You will need an average of a week for every pound you hope to lose. You may lose more than this in the first few weeks but your weight loss will eventually taper off and it will be harder to lose after about 8-10 weeks. Once yo are able to run for an hour to 90 minutes without needing to stop and walk, your weight loss will accelerate once again.


Be patient and diligent. You have to keep a dedicated schedule of training and a serious commitment to your nutrition. If you do this; I promise you within a reasonable amount of time you will run a marathon and possibly as many as a few each year with your newly refined Fitness Makeover. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth the time and soreness. Don’t kill yourself trying to get into shape, use your head, play it smart and put in the time. I’ll see you at the finish line.


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