Health and Wellness
Critical Thinking Applied to Low-Carb Diets
Our first newsletter of 2015 will cover everyone’s “favorite” topic of all time, diets! Paleo, Atkins, low-fat, Ketogenic, Hollywood, juice cleansing; while all of these diets sound great and innovative they actually all share one thing in common. None of them really work over the long term to promote a sustainable, healthier lifestyle. These fad diets generally work by influencing easily manipulated factors in the body which produce quick “results” that are almost entirely caused by a reduction in water weight with no regard to long term sustainability.
"FAT HAPPENS TO BE VERY TASTY"
If we look back at a historical example, the prevailing fitness trend from around the 1970’s thru the early 2000’s had been low- or no-fat everything. There was a common belief, even among the fitness elite, that eating dietary fat would make you fat. This has since been entirely debunked by scientific research, and we now know that eating dietary fat actually helps your body burn fat (because nature has a sense of humor and was seemingly built on irony). Fat happens to be very tasty. Find anyone who would rather eat a lean bottom round steak over a well-marbled rib eye. Once food manufacturers removed all the fat from the products they produce they had to come up with ways to make their food actually taste good again. This was achieved by simply adding another tasty ingredient, sugar. The American diet quickly became even worse off as foods very high in added simple sugars took over our grocery stores and cabinets. The current no carb craze is a direct result of the no fat craze of yesterday, and it happens to be just as ineffective.
While your body doesn’t technically “need” carbohydrates to survive, it does need them to function optimally. Carbs are the preferred source of fuel for your body. While too many carbs certainly can contribute to fat gain, just like eating too much of anything else, they also help give you energy to get through your day (and they’re delicious - pancakes are made of carbs and pancakes never hurt anyone…probably). Let’s look at one of the most popular diet trends to come out of the low carb fad, ketogenic diets (referring to “ketosis” which is the state that your body is in after a prolonged low carb diet).
A ketogenic diet calls for reducing carbohydrate intake to as close to zero as possible with the idea being that, without a source of carbs for energy, your body will be forced to use its fat stores to keep you going. This is partially true as after a prolonged period of low carb eating your liver will begin producing ketones which are used to help the body metabolize fat for energy. Sounds great for sure and people who start ketogenic diets usually report large weight loss in a short amount of time, but let’s take a deeper look. First, almost all of that weight loss is water.
Carbs cause your body to retain water through an important process where the body converts carbs to glycogen which is responsible for muscular energy (the glycogen is actually what’s retaining the water). So reducing carbs will cause a very quick reduction in weight via water. This type of water weight loss is quickly and easily reversed, too. Second, while you’ll probably feel great at first, it’s only a matter of time before you start to feel tired and lethargic from the lack of carbs. Good luck keeping up an exercise routine or staying awake during your 4th status meeting of the day. Speaking of status meetings, it’s also worth pointing out your breath will smell quite bad from all the ketones your body is producing so you should probably invest in some mints.
Lastly (and this is not a comprehensive list), think of what your diet has become over the long term. How long can you realistically keep carbs to an absolute minimum? This means no breads, no oatmeal, no rice, no pasta, no legumes, no potatoes, NO ALCOHOL (although as someone interested in a healthy lifestyle, you probably already keep drinking to a minimum right J?), and worst of all you can’t ever eat any pancakes.
Meat and cheese is great, but meat and cheese for every meal forever? Probably not so much. Can you really keep this up forever or are you going to fall victim to yo-yo dieting that prevents so many from reaching their goals? Most people coming off a ketogenic diet have a tendency to binge eat the carbs they’ve been missing, which is the exact wrong thing to do given your body’s current carb deprived state. What’s worse is this binge is actually partially driven by biology.
Essentially, your body is craving the fuel it wants so while you may be well intentioned coming off your diet, biological necessity is usually going to turn that one serving of your carb of choice into a carb plus two doughnuts, a muffin and a piece of cake (that biological impetus will actually make you seek out sugary foods very dense in simple carbs). If carbs aren’t reintroduced into the diet SLOWLY, the end result is generally gaining all of the weight back with interest, a lot of interest.
While there are no magic diets or workouts, life doesn’t have to suddenly become nothing but “clean eating” and no fun, the truth is far from it. The key is to break this type of thinking that has survived for so long and to find out how you can live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle over the long term.
Keep following the MS Health and Wellness committee. We will not prescribe bland, boring, or strict one-size-fits all regimens for eating or any other aspect of your lives. Each month we will be bringing you detailed fitness, nutrition and wellness articles to help you be a healthier, thriving you. We’ll also be organizing events, brown bag sessions and many more fun and exciting ways to learn something new or to get out and get moving. If you have any specific questions or requests for articles please reach out and help us to help you make MS the healthiest account at Capco.
Colleague Profile: Todd DeStaebler
I am Todd DeStaebler and I’ve been with Capco for almost 2-1/2 years and on the Morgan Stanley team for just over one year. After a long career in industry at two large financial services companies, I’ve been a consultant for the last 5 years. I’ll gladly put myself out there to share a little bit more about my health and wellness.
As I told my fellow Health and Wellness committee members, I am much more interested in H&W than I am a practitioner. I have an active enough life that I don’t count calories and don’t restrict what foods I eat, but definitely need to restrict how much I eat. I keep conscious of my day-to-day activity level and food intake and rely on a lot of little things throughout the day and all through the year to maintain my health and wellness.
Last year I started packing on extra pounds, so weight loss became a primary focus. My weight gain came as a result of two significant events: I separated my shoulder in January while skiing and I switched client engagements to come to Morgan Stanley. No, Morgan Stanley does not make you fat! What happened is that my commute to 1 New York Plaza doesn’t involve the 1-mile walk that I enjoyed to my previous engagement. I didn’t cut back on any of my food indulgences during vacations and holidays and eventually I had to make changes this year to lose 15 pounds.
The first change I made was psychological. Instead of trying to lose 15 pounds, I decided to lose 1 pound per week for 15 weeks. Reaching a goal every week is way, WAY better than making incremental progress toward one distant goal. Motivation is critical to achieving any goal, and this tactic keeps me motivated. Then I modified my daily activities so that I ate less and moved more. Here’s a sample day-in-the-life.
I started doing burpees in the morning. I’ve been reading a lot about high intensity interval training (HIIT) being great for maximizing results in minimal time. You will too later in this issue. I’ve always been a fan of bodyweight exercises because of the convenience (e.g. push-ups, sit-ups, squats) and burpees work everything in one session. I also feel much more invigorated than after a brisk walk.
After a little exercise and something for breakfast, I pack a lunch. I’m proud to say, as a Dad with four kids, my kids are very good eaters overall – not just hot dogs and mac-n-cheese every day! Since there are six of us, there aren’t ever enough leftovers for two dinners, so I bring lunch just about every day. In order to lose weight, I make sure to eat less at each meal and cut down on my snacking during the day. By reducing portions, I get to eat whatever I want, just not as much of it. I also drink water all day and no longer add any sugar to my coffee. Little changes add up and don’t require that I suffer through major dietary changes or having to join a gym.
Another minor change to each day is that I don’t sit as much as I used to. Countless studies point out the negative effects of sitting and/or being sedentary. So while everyone else races for the train to get a seat, I take my time and stand for the whole ride – stress free because I don't seethe over losing a seat! To add more walking to my routine, I get off the subway at an earlier stop, Fulton St., and walk 10 minutes to work instead of riding all the way downtown. Then it occurred to me that I’m getting 10 minutes of exercise in only 5 minutes! Here’s how: to ride the final two subway stops to South Ferry takes about 5 minutes, so of the 10 minute walk, my commute is only 5 minutes longer. Thus 10 minutes of activity and only 5 minutes expended. Exercise doesn’t have to take up a lot of time if you don’t want it to – and I don’t want it to.
"Set meaningful goals for yourself"
This all seems like a really complicated system when it’s written down, but it’s easy to do. And let’s be realistic: if I’m in a hurry or if it’s raining, I take the subway all the way to 1 New York Plaza and don’t beat myself up over missing a workout (sneaky workout: taking the R train adds two flights of stairs to the commute and NO extra time!) If you want to read more about little changes adding up to big results, read about the British cycling team’s marginal gains theory and the results. In short, they looked at everything related to the team, sought to make a 1 percent improvement in each and went on to enjoy repeated wins.
The simple things I mentioned above have me feeling much better than I did last year. I’m fit again, healthier, and even happier overall. Don't underestimate the positive effects of meeting goals, no matter how small. I haven’t yet lost all 15 pounds, so I should feel even better in a few more weeks!
Set meaningful goals for yourself using whatever tools work for you and, if you're willing, please share your story in a future edition of this newsletter. We want to profile a different team member each month to help everyone get to know each other.
Financial Well-Being: The Capco 401K Plan
401k – Fidelity Investments - click here for more details on Cap-In-Touch
Are you enrolled in Capco’s 401k plan? You should be. Employees are automatically enrolled for 1% and defaulted to a Fidelity Freedom Fund. If you didn’t know this, log on to your account and take control of your savings.
Capcoites manage their accounts online through Fidelity Net Benefits at www.401k.com. Access your online account to opt out and/or change investment options.
You can change contributions any time online or by the phone number listed on the website. You may contribute 1%-60% of your semi-monthly eligible compensation (pre-tax and/or Roth). There is an IRS maximum limit on contributions: $17,500 for 2014 all plans combined. (Age 50+ catch-up contributions to $5,500 max)
Here’s the best part. Capco will match 50% of your Deferral Contributions but not to exceed 6% of your eligible compensation. There is a 3-year graduated vesting schedule on Capco contributions. This means that you can’t withdraw the full balance until you’ve been with Capco for 3 years.
Rollovers from qualified plans accepted if you have investments elsewhere. Loan and hardship withdrawals are also available.
Research and investment news are available throughout the website. For example, Fidelity “Viewpoints” guidance at: https://guidance.fidelity.com/viewpoints-workplace/overview.
New employees receive an information packet at their home addresses within one month of date of hire. Want to find out more? Please click here to review the 2015 CAPCO BENEFITS GUIDE for more details on the 401k program and all other Capco benefits.
Dealing with Stress
Do you feel stress or anxiety regarding your work? Do you want to get better at managing stress/anxiety? If you answered yes to the first question, you are not alone! In fact, as per a survey by APA in 2012 found that 65% of adults experience work related stress. In addition, only 37% feel they are doing a good job managing that stress which leads to the second question. If you answered yes to managing stress better, here are some simple tips which will help you.
- Modify your morning routine – Most of us wake up and instantly start checking our emails and then rush to work. Instead of doing that, take a few minutes to meditate before taking on the day. If meditation isn’t your thing, you can make a healthy breakfast or go for a quick run. Short on time? Use an HIIT program as described in this newsletter. Small changes could refresh your mind and prepare you to take on the day.
- Take small breaks during the day – A break does not have to be long. You could take 5 minutes for a quick walk alone or over to a colleague to have a chat. If possible, definitely do try to go outside and get some fresh air (as fresh as can be had in NYC) and natural daylight. With the harsh winter behind us, you should no longer feel confined to the office all day. Exposure to sunlight lifts one’s mood.
- Take control – A lot of times we feel overwhelmed because we don’t feel in control. A way to assuage that is to create a “to do” list for the day and assign an importance level to them, remembering that not everything is high importance. This simple exercise will let you feel a sense of control on where your time goes.
- Exercise – Not only will exercise get you that summer body you have been wishing for but will also lower your stress! Please read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/exercise-reduces-stress-levels-anxiety-cortisol_n_3307325.html for more information about how exercise can help reduce stress or contact any Health and Wellness committee member for additional information and resources.
- Breathe – As basic as this tip may sound, many of us don’t breathe properly throughout the day. When we feel anxious, we breathe shallowly, but breathing deeply from the stomach will provide a relaxing effect.
Please feel free to share some of the methods you use for dealing with stress that are not on this list and we will happily disseminate it to the wider community. Watch for an upcoming Health and Wellness seminar that will give you the tools to coordinate your schedule, prioritize your goals, minimize your stress and maximize your productivity professionally and personally.
What the Heck is HIIT??
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around a new type of exercise regime – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). There seems to be certain misconceptions and a certain shroud of mystery around this exercise regime. This article will hopefully provide a high level of understanding of HIIT, pros and cons, and the misunderstandings that exist regarding the style (as an added bonus you will get to read something different than BRDs).
High Intensity Interval Training has participants repeat an exercise at a high intensity for a short interval followed by a short rest period. Each exercise interval should switch between cardio and strength exercises. The length of the workout interval and rest interval varies from person to person but is usually between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. The idea is to keep alternating between high intensity workout and rest in a session. Below is a diagram to present the information in consultant style - after all, no piece of writing is complete with out a workflow diagram.
Misconceptions about HIIT
· All exercises are suited for HIIT training à False. Exercises that use full body movements and test your cardiovascular system are usually a good fit for HIIT. Some exercises that are suited for HIIT are burpees, kettlebell swings, and sprints. Some exercises that are not suited for HIIT are bicep curls or tricep extensions.
· You’ll lose weight without dieting if you do HIIT training à False. It is true that your body’s metabolism receives a boost for up to 48 hours after a HIIT session but if no diet control is followed the desired results simply won’t show up.
· HIIT training will add muscle bulk à False. A HIIT regime helps burn fat while preserving lean muscle but one needs to do targeted strength exercises to bulk them up.
Personal Perspective on HIIT
One of my personal goals for spring is to get back in shape. I have adopted a toned down version of HIIT for about a month now. When I initially started, I followed the schedule below (either on elliptical or treadmill.
- A 5 minute warm up
- Sprint for 30 seconds and then slow walk for a minute. I did 12 repetitions of the sprint and slow walk
- End with a 5 minute cool down (total workout is just 28 minutes)
As I train more and more, I’ve improved to 15 repetitions of the sprint and slow walk. My next step will be to add resistance training to my session to increase the effort required. Overall, I am quite happy with my progress using this exercise regime and notice that I am more energetic throughout the entire day. I would love to hear anybody else’s journey with HIIT - even if you did not like it. In addition, I would love to get your suggestions for what exercises I might add for resistance training!
"Fast Food" You Can Make for Yourself
Take control of your health and fitness goals by taking control of what you eat. Don’t let a lack of healthy food choices stall or completely derail your lifestyle goals. One of the best ways to do this is to prep your own food. I know the first thing you’re thinking is “how could I possibly I have enough time to make my own lunch every day?” Even worse, you think you will be eating bland sandwiches for the rest of your career. The good news is that meal prep doesn’t have to be time consuming or bland.
Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Take a few hours on a Sunday afternoon or evening to start your meal prep (stay with me if you’re thinking that there’s no way you’re going to sacrifice any weekend time cooking in bulk)
2. Pick a method of cooking that is easy to “set and forget” which will allow you to do other things in the meantime. For example:
a. Boil chicken breasts in a large pot of water or chicken stock (uncovered) for about 40 minutes
b. Once done, remove the chicken and shred the meat with a fork. The chicken should fall apart very easily
c. Now that the hard part is done, pick your favorite spices and/or sauces (healthy food is not boring food, but make sure you aren’t using any sauces that have more calories than your chicken J) and combine a portion of the chicken with your preferred mixture
d. Use the remaining portions of chicken with different mixtures for variety: Basil chicken pomodoro on Monday and a southwestern chicken stuffed sweet potato on Tuesday, sounds almost as good as what you got from Chipotle for the 5th time this week
e. Pair the chicken with vegetables, rice, quinoa or other healthy sides of your choosing (which you can also prep in bulk at the same time you’re boiling the chicken)
f. In about an hour you will have several meals ready to go and your hands-on time was limited to filling a pot, shredding some chicken, combining it with some sauces, and putting the finished product into a container
g. As an alternative you could also bake the chicken with different seasonings to give you variety of taste with a similar ease of preparation
3. Pack your lunches in separate reusable Tupperware containers so all you will have to do in the morning is put it into your bag
Do you have a successful meal prep routine? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to any committee member and we’ll share your tips with the whole MS team!
Capco Tennis Team
Do you have a team or group? Are you interested in forming a team or group? Drop us a line and we'll drum up new recruits for you. Its always a good time when a bunch of Capcoites get together!
Regional Event - Spartan Sprint
We hope you enjoyed the first of what will be many, many informative Health and Wellness newsletters. Send your article ideas or contribute an article on any useful topic and we’ll put it in a future edition. Definitely let us know if you were, in fact, able to kiss your elbow – we know you tried!!
Stay healthy my friends!!