PhD Author’s Tips on Achieving a Metabolic Makeover

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With a Masters in Kinesiology/ Performance Psychology and a PhD in Health and Human Performance, as well as a certified Strength and Conditioning specialist and Fitness Nutrition specialist, Tiffany Breeding is an expert in psychological and physical health. Her debut healthguide The Metabolic Makeover releases January 2019, just in time for the season of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions. Not a diet or a quick fix fad, The Metabolic Makeover is a holistic mindset shift for better well-being. The book comes with meal plans, grocery lists, and progress charts and is great for those looking for tips on eating out, eating on the go, and eating around the holidays!

Your health philosophy focuses on understanding how we should incorporate macronutrients into our diet. Can you give our readers a basic understanding of what macronutrients are?

A complete, balanced nutrition program is made up of three main sources of fuel: fats, carbohydrates,and protein. These three fuel sources are call macronutrients (“macros”). Each macro provides the body calories, or unit of energy to drive energy, brain and body function. Fats are a primary source of fuel for lower intensity, longer duration physical activity. They also help regulate body temperature and organ insulation. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of energy for most all physical and mental performance, but specifically higher intensity training. Protein is the building block on lean muscles, and assist in nutrient absorption throughout the body.

Metabolism is one of those words that we throw around but have a really hard time defining. What is metabolism and how does it affect our day-to-day life?

Metabolism is the sum of all chemical processes in the body, including digestion and the transport and utilization of nutrients. The energy that results from breaking down our food can be used immediately or stored to use later. Several factors determine how much and how quickly we use energy. The rate of these chemical processes helps us to know how much energy (food/calories, yum!) we can handle before we are consuming more than we are expending. Metabolism is an umbrella term which encompasses three things:

  • Breaking down food to use for FUELing our body at the cellular level.
  • Converting food to building blocks for protein, carbs, and fat.
  • Assisting the body in eliminating waste.

What inspired you to pursue a Masters in Kinesiology/Performance Psychology and PhD in Health and Human Performance and various certificates in specialized nutrition?

I think I was born with a pair of cleats on my feet. From the time I was a little girl, I was always active, always drawn to fitness and sports. This stuck with me well into my college years and was a primary driver in my decision to pursue a degree in physical and mental performance. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted to use this knowledge to change the lives of others. To help them achieve the body and the mental toughness that would allow them to live the healthiest life they could.

Balance is an important aspect of how you instruct your readers. What are some warning signs that point to an imbalanced overall wellness?

As a society, we drift toward likes and dislikes, and this is where we spend most of our time and energy. “I like to work out, and eat healthy but I am not a very social person.” “My job and my family are priority, I don’t have time to go to the gym or cook dinner every night.” Common precursors to more detrimental imbalances are mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. Both of these are related to high cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone), and lowered immune system which leaves us more susceptible to sickness and infection. For others it can come in the form of sleep disturbances, or physical health concerns such as hypertension, or heart disease due to lack of proper physical activity or poor nutrition choices.

 In your expert opinion, what is the difference between fat loss and weight loss? Which approach do you steer your clients toward?

My philosophy and coaching model is 100% geared toward fat loss, not weight loss. Clients that work with me locally come into the office for body composition analysis throughout their program. Rather than just relying on the bathroom scale to determine progress, we are looking at their lean mass to fat mass ratio. If we are losing weight and not looking at the “type” of weight—body fat versus lean mass—then we are not effectively protecting that clients metabolic capacity. The more we suppress our metabolism, the more likely we are to regain weight once we return to normalized eating patterns.

Beginning new health plans—and books for some people—is a hard first step, what kind of advice can you give to people who are opening The Metabolic Makeover for the first time?

Change is hard, and realizing you need to make a huge change like losing weight, starting an exercise plan, or altering your relationship with health behaviors stinks. But focusing on the end result, the benefit of investing time, money and energy in YOU is where we have to focus. This book is a step by step, gradual process. If you try and focus on the present, the current task, the focus of the week it will set you up for success. It can be daunting anytime we look at change on the whole and think about all the things that we may have to face. Little bites, small steps. These add up to big results.

Your book emphasizes that mentality plays as much of a role in your wellness as physicality. Can you elaborate on how you incorporate mindfulness to your workouts?

Every movement we make is intentional. Whether moving through our daily tasks or during a dedicated exercise sessions, all movement serves a greater purpose. Some of the best ways to maximize the mental growth through exercise is by using techniques such as:

  • Incorporate deep breaths. Focus especially on rhythm and inhale/exhale patterns.
  • Focus on visual cues such as foot position and posture. Mirrors or video analysis can help with this.
  • Listen to verbal cues from a coach or training partner.
  • Find music that keeps you in the moment and centered. You might experiment with different types depending on your goal for the workout.
  • Practice active meditation. My husband Stu and I actually have some audio downloads that we use in our studio, called “medi-training” that help you to use meditation safely and effectively in training situations.

What are some SMART (specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, time-limited) goals that you have used in the past that you can share with our readers who are ready to start their metabolic makeover?

Here is a recent example I used: for the next 8 weeks I will walk for 30 minutes three times a week with my friend from next door.

  • Specific: I have defined the length of time, and number of days a week. I have also been very specific about method of exercise and my timeline.
  • Measurable: I can use a watch to track our walking time, and I can use a calendar to mark off days of completion and success with days and weeks.
  • Agreed Upon: I have identified a training partner and contacted them to coordinate schedules.
  • Realistic: I feel confident that I have 30 minutes of time in the day, I have access to a safe, convenient walking route and I feel motivated by the goals.
  • Time Limited: I have committed to an 8 week timeline and have the resources I need to do this.

And this is an example of a mental/emotional SMART goal: I will engage in 5 minutes of “Me Time” in the bathroom every morning before breakfast.

  • Specific: I have defined duration, location and time of day to accomplish my goals.
  • Measurable: I can use a clock, as well as track with a checklist on the mirror when I have completed this throughout the week.
  • Agreed Upon: I am going to share this goal with my husband so that he can help to hold me accountable, as well as help with the morning routine to allow me this time.
  • Realistic: Making this associated with another daily routine of brushing teeth, getting dressed and the ability to close/lock the bathroom door to avoid interruption makes this doable. Doing it before the day gets started or hectic makes this more realistic and less susceptible to failure.
  • Time Limited: I have limited this to 5 minutes for now. I want to be successful vs. overreaching feeling like I cannot stay committed.

How do you advise readers who tell you they just don’t have enough time to think about macronutrients? What is your go-to meal-on-the-run?

I would urge clients to assess their daily and weekly schedule and use their weekends wisely. Most of us have activities that we can tweak to reallocate time or incorporate some time-saving strategies to make staying mindful about nutrition more doable even for the busiest of folks. I talk a lot about shopping smart, finding quick and simple recipes like Insta-pot or Crockpot meals. I also give suggestions on frozen veggies or pre-portioned foods such as microwave cups of rice, canned beans, or portioned out chicken breasts that you can unthaw one at a time. This helps those who are worried about wasting food or not having time to shop multiple times a week.

I am a cooler packer, so that would always be my first suggestion. However, life happens. One of my favorite “on the road” meals, is Subway’s Double Chicken Chopped Salad with two bags of their apple slices. You get a really great portion of lean protein. I love the fact that you can get fresh, real veggies versus so many other fast food places that only have limited veggies like iceburg lettuce and tomato. You can also moderate dressing by getting it on the side, and the apples are a high fiber, fruit-based carb source instead of having to rely on enriched buns or higher fat sides like chips or fries.

Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your secrets on ways to improve our overall health both physically and mentally. Watch out for The Metabolic Makeover, out January 15, 2019 and be sure to keep up with Dr. Tiff at www.workwithdrtiff.com and @WorkWithDrTiff on Instagram.


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