effective weight loss tips

Over the past three years, I have had incredible success with losing weight and keeping it off.

So it killed me when I came across an article the other day that was essentially telling people that eating five hundred calories of organic fruits and vegetables is basically no different than eating five hundred calories of steak with white bread and butter.

What I have found to be common among the majority of these so called "health articles", is that rather than use their power to empower and inspire people, most of them leverage their power to instill fear and doubt; which I'm sure is exactly what their sponsors want them to do.

By publishing this confusing, ridiculous nonsense, they are in fact turning a lot of people off to the very things that (I know for a fact!) actually help people lose weight!

It's outrageous.

So to set the record straight, I felt the need to express to you the truth about how incredibly simple and easy losing weight can be if you just ignore all the nonsense, and listen to someone who has actually done it!

Some of this stuff I have written about before in greater detail, but for the sake of this article I am going to try and keep this as plain and simple as possible.

[1]  You have to want it.

I can't tell you how many people I have run in to, who upon finding out how much weight I have lost, express to me their complete shock and disbelief. Then in the same breath, they will tell me how great life would be if only they could do what I've done.

They'll say something like, "I wish I had your discipline," or, "I could never do that."

All that these statements are telling me is that you obviously are not ready to change your life yet. Because I tell you what, in order to lose weight, you have to face your demons, and you have to want to change.

[2]  Recognize (and change) your daily rituals.

The way we live our lives today is essentially based upon a series of rituals.

For the most part, the majority of us go about our days essentially stuck on autopilot: we wake up, brush our teeth, take a shower, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then we go to sleep and repeat it all over again the next day.

Before we know it, our rituals have become so automatic that we can't even recognize when something negative infiltrates our routine and sabotages us from within!

Have you ever heard the anecdote about the frog in boiling water?

The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

This is what happens to us if we don't slow down and take inventory of whatever rituals we are allowing to take over our daily lives.

In order to change anything about your life, you are going to have to recognize the patterns and behaviors that are causing your discontent. Then you have to have the strength and the courage to replace them with habits that will benefit you and help you become the person you truly want to be.

For me, I had to completely shift my entire life habits around in order to change my life.

When I was fat, my day consisted of a lot of the same routines that most of you have, just with a lot of sitting on my butt and eating a lot of junk food packed in between.

It took me a while before I could recognize that the reason I was fat wasn't because I was a bad person; it was because I had developed bad habits that I simply was not paying any attention to. My eating habits were so deeply engrained in me that I never even thought twice about them.

It was only after I recognized what my daily habits were, that I could draw out a new plan of action to replace them with healthier habits.

If you were to take a look at my life now, I still do a lot of the same things I used to do. I brush my teeth, I take showers, I eat, I sit down (occasionally). But the new rituals that I have placed in between all of that stuff looks nothing like it did when I was overweight.

Now before I eat breakfast and take a shower, I usually run five miles. Instead of eating sugary cereal: I eat healthy, organic, whole grain cereal with almond milk, along with an organic cup of coffee and non-dairy creamer. Instead of watching television after breakfast, I spend time meditating or reading books that fill my brain with new knowledge. For lunch I will eat an organic veggie burger on twelve-grain wheat bread with organic ketchup, along with a whey protein shake blended with almond milk and a handful of almonds for my mid-afternoon snack. For dinner I'll have whole grain pasta with organic pasta sauce and a side of steamed broccoli mixed with whole grain rice. Then to wash it all down, my wife and I will blend up a delicious concoction of fresh juice using our fruit and vegetable juicer.

Can you imagine what your life and body would look like if you made a commitment to live that way for the rest of your life?

That is the life I get to live out every day, and every new day of my life I feel healthier, stronger, faster, smarter, and more energetic than the day before.

You can't just have it though, you have to want it!

[3]  Learn the simplest way to read nutrition labels.

There are a lot of people out there who will talk all day about the pros and cons of nutrition labels. Some people think and believe that they are inaccurate and that you should pay them no attention. Then there are others who go way too far and will stress out over every gram and calorie until the cows come home.

You can choose to listen to whomever you want to.

The way that I lost weight, was by disregarding all the technical jargon and focusing on a set of rules that I created based upon information that I gathered and my own common sense.
  1. Did the food have sufficient calories (energy) and nutrients to sustain me for that meal? If you don't know how many calories your body needs, find out here.
  2. Did it have enough protein to help fulfill my daily protein requirements? If you don't know how much protein your body needs, find out here.
  3. If it has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, don't buy it and don't eat it.
  4. Buy Organic.
  5. The product with least ingredients is always going to be the best, bar none.
If you look at the back of this Blue Diamond® Almond Package, you can see for yourself all the unnecessary garbage they put into their product.

On the other hand, the ingredient label on my bag of almonds at home reads like this;


That's really all the information you should need in order to make the best possible decisions when you go grocery shopping. Oh, and did I mention that I lost 120 pounds doing it this way?..

By now you might be saying, "Well, that's all well and good, but how am I supposed to keep track of all this nutrition information?!...

[4]  Keep a food and exercise journal.

Losing weight is a simple math equation. I know this is true, because I used simple math to help me figure out my weight loss action strategy.

Here is pretty much all the math you'll need to know in order to understand body weight:

  • One pound equals approximately 3500 calories.

So hypothetically, if your body requires 2000 calories to maintain your current weight, and you wanted to lose weight, you really have one (good) option (in my mind): reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories per day, then figure out a way to burn (at least) an extra 250 calories per day through exercise. If you do the math, you will lose about 3500 calories in a week doing this; which is equal to about a pound every week.

The part most overweight people do not understand is that the heavier you are, the more calories you burn doing the same activities as your less than heavy competition!

So for instance, a 170 lb man who bikes for an hour at a moderate pace will burn approximately 650 calories. And if you are as overweight as I was and weighed 330 lbs, you would burn approximately 1,300 calories doing the exact same exercise for the same amount of time! In my opinion, this is the biggest advantage an overweight person has over a thin person, yet none of them are doing anything about it.

So all I did then to lose weight quickly was tap into this concept and I used my heaviness to my own advantage. I would bike for approximately 2-3 hours every single day.

So based on what I just taught you, how much weight should I have been losing each week? You do the math...

I mean it, you need to do the math here. Because frankly, nobody else cares as much about you as you do, therefore nobody else is going to bother to do the work for you.

Now, will you have to do this forever? Up front, I am going to say that for the majority of people out there, a solid no should suffice. Typically after about thirty days of keeping track of the calories you consume and calories you burn, you will develop your own natural rhythm and will no longer require the assistance of the food and exercise journal. My only disclaimer would be that if you find yourself slipping and are eating too much or not getting enough exercise, that you immediately go back to using these tools in order to help you get back on track.

[5]  Make it important and keep it simple (because it is).

All I can say is that once you get your life on the path of discipline, where eating healthy and exercising become an important part of your daily ritual, your weight will naturally level out on its own. So long as you keep it up, you'll never have to worry about weight again.

Is it going to be hard at first? You bet. Depending on where you are in your journey, the first three to six months are probably going to be incredibly difficult, but it's worth it.

Try and imagine that your life is like a traveling locomotive that has been cruising along and gradually building up speed for the past however many years; it's probably going to take some real effort to stop that train in its tracks and get it set up on a new track isn't it?

But once you switch the track and get it up and running, after a few months the train just kind of takes care of itself. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Now that I've put in the work, I really don't even have to think about eating right or exercising every day. It's become such an automatic and rewarding ritual for me that it's gone from being a big chore, to being something I truly love and enjoy doing every day; like brushing my teeth or taking my wife to work.

So take it from me, someone who has actually done what you're trying to do, and keep this simple.

Use your common sense, trust your gut, want the change, believe you can make positive changes happen in your life, educate and empower yourself, and have the courage to follow through.

Trust me, it's easy!


5 tips to take control of your money

I grew up in a family that did not manage their money very well. We were always lead to believe that money was scarce, it didn't grow on trees, and that we ought to just appreciate what we had. Now, I have no problem with appreciating the things I have. In fact, I believe that having an attitude of gratitude is one of the most important things you can do in order to achieve true happiness in your life. 

I do, however, have a problem with the weak minded, negative idea that money has some kind of a life force, and somehow that life force is hard to come by. 

This kind of thinking is toxic and dumb. 

The way I think about money now is completely different than it was when I was young; and far more helpful. 
  1. Money is a tool. Like a hammer in a tool chest, it is neither bad or good. It is simply a neutral and inert object. Only in the hands of a person can that tool be manipulated to do good or bad things. 
  2. Money is obedient. Once you take control of it and tell it where it needs to go and what it needs to do, it obeys. 
Unfortunately, many young people today are graduating high school and college with little education in regard to handling personal finances. Inevitably, they wind up living their lives earning money only to spend it.

So what is the solution? 

Discipline! Once you introduce discipline into one area of your life, it naturally spreads like a wonderful and glorious wildfire.

Below are 5 simple tips that have personally helped me take control of not only my finances, but indeed my entire life.

[1]  Budget.

It took me until the age of twenty-four before I finally took the time to sit down and write out a basic monthly budget. It wasn't pretty at first, and it definitely was not easy, but by the time it was complete, I knew that I had just finished something that was going to positively impact the rest of my life.

For those of you who might not know how to create a budget, I will keep this simple.
  1. Print out a blank calendar.
  2. Write down the days you get paid, and how much money you will get paid on those days.
  3. On a separate sheet of paper, write every single expense you have for the month. Rent, gas, etc.
  4. Assign every dollar you earn each paycheck to every individual expense until you have no more.
  5. Every time you get paid, pull out all your cash and deposit it into an envelope for each specific category.
Whatever is left over, you simply need to tell that money where it needs to go on your budget before you spend it.

That doesn't mean that you can't ever have any fun! All it means is that you are preemptively making a conscious decision to deliberately spend a specific amount of money on whatever type of fun you want to have before you get paid!

You want to save up for a cruise? Start stashing money away into a cruise envelope. You want to go out to a restaurant every weekend? Well, simply make a category on your budget called "restaurant" and when you get paid, place that specific amount of cash inside that envelope; then go out and spend it!

[2]  Have multiple sources of income.

This tip is short and simple, never put all your eggs into one basket. One thing I have learned over the years is you always want to spread things out so that you do not have to rely on just one source of income.

How easy would it be for your boss to tell you today, "You're fired."? How much easier would that be to handle if you had say, three or four additional sources of income to fall back on? 

Think about it.

[3]  Save for what you want.

For some people who had proper upbringing, this might be one of those statements you hear and immediately respond by saying, "Well, duh!" However, many businesses nowadays are set up to entice people into "buying now, and paying later." And as harmless as these little scams may seem, they are actually very harmful once you get sucked into them. 

Do yourself a favor, and stay away from credit. Instead, learn how to procure the necessary funds that are required to purchase the items you desire on your own

Too often we see things we think we want (or need), and we become impatient. By saving up before you buy however, you reap the rewards of delayed gratification!

In the weeks or months that it will take to save up for whatever it is you would like to purchase, you are also giving yourself ample time to think about whether you actually want (or need) to purchase that item or not.

Then, by the time you have finally saved up enough money, you might change your mind and decide that you would rather put the money into a savings account instead. If not, then you get to experience the satisfaction of trading in your hard work and discipline for the item you so desired.

Can you see how this would be more rewarding than swiping a credit card and making payments for twelve months?

[4]  Live below your means.

It took me a long time before I learned about the magic of living life below my means. For many years I overextended myself, and I wound up unhappy, overweight and in debt.

Once I learned how to assess my income and properly balance out my budget, my entire life turned around. According to Dave Ramsey, this is how much the typical American should be spending each month in their budget:

  • Charity – 10-15%
  • Saving – 5 – 10%
  • Housing – 25-35%
  • Utilities – 5 – 10%
  • Food – 5 – 15%
  • Transportation – 10-15%
  • Clothing – 2 – 7%
  • Medical/Health – 5-10%
  • Personal – 5 – 10%
  • Recreation – 5 – 10%
  • Debts – 5 – 10%

Remember that this is not an exact science. Instead, learn to look at these percentages as a guideline that will help you achieve your financial goals.

If you are above in any of these areas, you may need to think about scaling back a little (or possibly scaling back a lot!). If you are below in a few areas, then feel free to ante-up in a different category; who couldn't use more savings?!

[5]  Exercise.

I know exercise sounds like it has no business being placed in a list designed to educate people on how to best control their finances. But throughout my journey, I have learned that taking care of your body is by far the number one way to ensure that your finances and your mind remain under control.

Now, whether you choose to believe it or not, you have two options in the world we live in today: either take care of yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you.

Regardless of whether you live or die, or whether you are healthy or unhealthy, nobody cares more about your overall well being than you do. So why then are so many of us choosing to believe that somebody, somewhere, is going to somehow do a better job of taking care of us than we can?

It's absurd!

How many people today are forced to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every month just to "maintain their health"? Now, imagine living in a world where instead of flushing that money down the toilet each month, we chose to eat healthy and exercise for an hour every day. How much money would we save? How much better would we feel?

The way I have come to understand it, eating healthy and exercising every day is the best and most important investment you can ever make in your life. No amount of money and no prescription drug will ever be able to replace the feeling you get when you consciously decide that you are going to take control of your destiny.

And now, no matter how much money I earn and no matter what I do, I live with the satisfaction of knowing that I am in control. Finances, health and all.

ten rules to make running fun and easy

When I first started running in the summer of 2009, I was definitely not the runner I am today. I was slow, I was inefficient, and like most beginners, I struggled to get through my daily runs.

Over the past two years however, I have learned a lot about running. The majority of what I learned came from reading books and magazine articles. They gave me a lot of helpful pieces of advice that uniquely improved my running performance. These tips were invaluable, and I am grateful for the incredible people who took the time out of their busy lives to write down what they learned, so that people like me could benefit from them.

To pay homage to them, I thought it would be nice if I wrote down a few things that I have picked up along the way that might benefit you in the future.

So here we go!

1. Less is more.

When I first started running, I was completely horrible at it. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Naively, I thought I could just strap on a pair of running shoes and everything would fall into place.

But the more I ran, the more I began developing pain in my shins and in my ankles. I kept thinking, "Why is this happening to me?" Then one day while I was doing some research on running injuries, I came across this book written by Christopher McDougall titled:

It was through reading this book that I learned a simple truth that impacted the way I viewed running forever. That truth is, human beings were literally born to run. Before automobiles and fast food, our ancestors had to be able to run long distances. We ran to travel, and we ran down animals in order to survive.

And do you suppose our ancestors had a pair of Nike's strapped to their feet while doing all of this running?

No. We ran barefoot. You see, we are naturally programmed to walk and run just fine without shoes.

After learning about this concept, I was immediately convinced that it was my "running shoes" that were causing my running woes. So the day I finished the book, I embarked on my very first barefoot run. It was incredible! No pain, no agony, and I was somehow going faster than my usual pace - even though it felt like I wasn't even trying.

After that, it was clear to me why most people develop issues when they first start running - they purchase the wrong equipment. Mother nature has already blessed us with the most perfect running equipment imaginable - our feet.

All we had to do was figure out how to add a little bit of protection without taking anything away from the already exquisite design. This is why I believe that minimalist running shoes are the way to go if you really want to get serious about running.

They truly give you the best of both worlds!

2. Land on your midfoot.

Once I adopted the minimalist running lifestyle, I noticed that instead of landing on my heel when I ran, I naturally began landing on my mid-foot instead. After doing some research, I learned that landing on your mid-foot is the most efficient way for your body to absorb shock when you run.

3. Baby steps.

There might come a time in your running life where you feel particularly overwhelmed by a distance you are trying to cover. To help ease this stress, simply remind yourself that running is all about the journey, not the destination.

If you find yourself struggling during a run, just keep telling yourself to put one foot in front of the other. Without a doubt, these small steps will eventually lead to a huge and rewarding accomplishment.

Trust me!

4. Focus on short, quick strides.

It is a common misconception that if you lengthen your stride, you will run faster. This could not be further from the truth. What I have learned is that you are better off focusing on short, quick strides instead. By running this way, your body not only conserves energy, but you also significantly improve the ease with which you run.

To determine whether you are running efficiently or not, you must first figure out your running cadence.

The next time you are out running, count the number of times your right foot strikes the ground for 60 seconds, then multiply that number by two. This will give you your running cadence.

The ideal running cadence is about 160 foot strikes per minute. If you are below that number, then you strides are too long. If you are above that number, your strides are too short.

5. Abide by the talk test.

A simple test you can administer to see if you are exerting too much energy while you run is called the talk test. It's really simple: If you can't talk and run, you are running too hard. If you find yourself in this predicament, slow your pace until you can comfortably carry on a conversation, then finish your run with ease.

The more you train, the easier it gets.

6. Set a challenging but achievable goal.

It could be something as simple as committing to running just one mile every morning for an entire month. The distance does not matter, nor your speed. The point is to develop and solidify your running ritual.

After you pour your heart into this initial running foundation, building up becomes fun and easy.

7. Get your run in before breakfast.

Over the past two years I have experimented with running at all different times of the day. What I discovered is that the very best time to run is first thing in the morning - before I ate breakfast.

Why you ask?

Because there is truly no other time of day that can possibly even compare to an early morning run.

You have the benefit of:

  • Running on an empty stomach - less weight to carry from fasting all night.
  • Running with well rested muscles - your glycogen stores are full and dying to be burned.
  • Running in the fresh, crisp morning air - I run in the city, so fresh outside air is hard to come by.

My point is that running in the morning provides the most ideal conditions for running. Not to mention you feel incredibly energized the entire day following a morning run.

Why do you think races are held early in the morning?

8. Join a running group of some kind.

Even if you enjoy running on your own (like me), I promise you will benefit from running with a group - even if it is just once every other week. Not only will you make a lot of new running friends, but you can also pick up valuable tips from seasoned running vets that will likely aid you in the future.

Trust me, you'll be doing yourself a favor.

9. Learn how/when to eat/hydrate.

  • If you're going to eat before a run, make sure it is at least 1 hour beforehand.
  • Always eat a high protein meal within 30 minutes of completing your run.
  • Hydrate 30 minutes before, 45 minutes into, and immediately following a run.

10. A.B.T - Always Be Training!

Before we get into this rule, I think it is important that I first explain to you the difference between exercise and training.

After you get comfortable with running about two miles without stopping, I suggest you sign up and train for your first 5k race right away.

The reason this is so helpful is because training for a race keeps you focused, holds you accountable, and keeps you motivated. Once you drop money on that entry fee and tell a few friends that you are training for a race, you no longer have any room for excuses.

And once you get into the habit of always training for a race, you'll never find yourself in those pesky weight traps again. You'll actually be able to enjoy those holiday/special treats (in moderation), because you have the satisfaction of knowing that you worked hard for it. You'll start going to bed a little earlier every night because you know that next morning's run will be waiting for you, whether you get enough sleep or not.

When you find balance in your weekly training, a funny thing happens: the rest of your life balances itself out and seem a lot less frantic than before. You'll find that you have more energy than most of the people around you. Inevitably you will experience this incredible sensation of peace and tranquility that will overflow into every area of your life.

Take it from me, it's hard but it is worth it!

Good luck and happy running!

Corey Barton