Tag Archives: healthy

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit

(This is part 5 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

So, with a New year on the horizon and you’re ready to make a change and adopt a new habit. First, take a moment to check in with your mindset, as change begins here. It’s a common theme in our society that change is difficult and maintaining the status quo is easier, but is that true? Oftentimes, the thought of taking on a new habit appears to be daunting, but the actual habit itself isn’t that hard to do. Remind yourself of this. You can do this. Once you believe it, the actual adoption of the habit will become easier. Adopting a new habit, however big or small, comes down to one thing: consistent action.

To increase your chances of success when adopting a new habit, it’s helpful to break things down into the following six steps:

  • Decide

Decide what your new habit will be. This is the first step. Get specific here. Will it be working out? Eating healthier? Going to bed earlier? Waking up earlier? Figure out what it is you want to do and why you want to do it. The why is important as it can serve as extra motivation.

  • Write it Down

Write down your new habit to make it both tangible and visible. You may tell yourself that you are going to do something, but when it’s not written down, you can easily rationalize your way out of it or even forget you committed to it in the first place. Write down your habit and place it somewhere visible, such as your bathroom mirror, refrigerator or the background on your cell phone.

  • Create a SMART Goal

Develop a SMART goal—one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound—and write it down. For example, if you want to wake up earlier, your SMART goal would sound something like this: “I will set my alarm for 5:00 AM Monday through Friday and get out of bed at that time for the next four weeks.”

  • Plan 

Plan your schedule accordingly. When will you act on your new habit and implement your SMART goal? If your goal is to go to the gym more often, will you go in the morning before you start your day? Or will you go in the evening after work? Be specific and put it in your calendar as you would any other appointment. If your goal is a smaller task, such as going to bed earlier, set an alarm on your phone to remind you.

  • Act 

Act on your habit and perform the behavior you set out to do. As mentioned earlier, it’s often the thought of the action that is difficult—not the actual action itself. Remind yourself why you are adopting this new habit. Every day is a day to take action, so even when you slip up, don’t use it as an excuse to give up entirely. Just get right back to following your habit as soon as possible.

  • Assess 

Assess your progress and redesign your habit if necessary. Check in with yourself periodically to see how you’re doing. If things are going well, keep it up and consider introducing a new habit if there are more behaviors you hope to adopt. If things aren’t where you hoped they would be, simply make some adjustments. Figure out where you are encountering barriers and determine how you can overcome them or use them to your advantage.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 6 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 11 – What Does It Mean to be Healthy?

(This is part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘healthy’? Some may visualize a lean person perhaps with ripped abs or shapely muscles. Others conjure up images of perceived healthy foods, like broccoli, chicken, Greek yogurt, nuts, and kale. Now, let me ask another question. What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘unhealthy’? Do you visualize someone unkept and overweight? I think most of you would come up with a list of food that contains some or all of the following: fast food, carbs, trans fats, processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, soda, etc. Regardless of what you pictured when you thought about each word, you are right… and wrong.

Understanding Context

I’m really not a fan of the terms healthy/unhealthy. More often than not they are used without proper context. Most times they are used as click-bait by editors in headlines to get you to read what they have to say. Instead I find it very important to understand not only what they mean, but also what they mean in the context in which they are used. The problem with words like ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ is that they are thrown around with little thought given to context or understanding. They are used to scare or force you into making decisions without fully thinking it through.

Healthy Does Not Equal Fat Loss

One of the most common diet approaches when it comes to fat loss is just ‘eating healthy’. And while this approach is undertaken with the best of intentions, it often sets the dieter up for failure, for a number of reasons. The biggest one being that most people can’t agree on what eating healthy really is! The problem with labeling foods as healthy vs. unhealthy is that it forces people to see them as either good or bad. And that can create a dangerous relationship with food. When you limit what you can eat while dieting, you greatly increase the chances that the diet will fail. The more severely we restrict our food choices the greater stress we place on ourselves, and the harder the fat loss process will be. Yes we should limit our consumption of certain foods but notice I said limit, not eliminate. There is room in everyone’s diet for a reasonable amount of ‘unhealthy’ foods, even when fat loss is the goal. The important thing is not classifying foods as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ ‘good’ or ‘bad’; but rather being able to identify which foods you should limit, which ones you should eat more often, and which foods will move you closer to your goals.

The Huge Scam

Another problem is the big ‘health food’ push by food companies. They know that people are becoming more conscious about what they are putting in their bodies, and are producing new products as a response. But trust me, they do not have your best interests at heart. Large food companies know that a vast majority of the population fall into the trap of ‘Eat healthy, lose weight’. And they take advantage of this. For almost every food item available, there is at least one (if not more) ‘healthy’ alternative. And most, not all, aren’t that much different than the ‘unhealthy’ version. They usually will contain about the same amount of calories, less fat or carbs, more sodium, more sugar or artificial sweeteners, and of course, cost more. These companies bank on the fact that a majority of people don’t read food labels or serving sizes, and that they will see the fancy packaging with the words ‘Healthy,’ ‘Low-fat,’ ‘Low-carb,’ ‘All-Natural,’ or some other meaningless marketing nonsense and purchase it because its quote ‘better’ for them. More often than not, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these foods. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from purchasing them if that’s what they want. But what I don’t want are people purchasing them because they think it will help with fat loss. Because then you are just wasting your money.

Context (and Calories) Are King

When classifying foods, context is king. What better context to classify things other than calories?  ‘Healthy’ food, just like ‘unhealthy’ food, has calories. Regardless of what type of food you are eating, if you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose fat. 3,000 calories from chicken, brown rice, nuts and yogurt is the same to the body from an energy-in standpoint as 3,000 calories from pizza, beer, and ice cream. It’s still 3,000 calories. No one would probably consider those first food options unhealthy but if your goal is fat loss and you are eating so much of these foods that you are gaining weight, would that really be ‘healthy’? A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, at least from an energy-in/energy-out point of view. You cannot lose fat if you are not in a caloric deficit, no matter how ‘healthy’ you are eating. If you are only burning 2,000 calories a day, but are consuming 3,000 from one of the options above, you will not lose fat; no matter which foods you are eating.

Quantity AND Quality

The quality of your food does play a role in reaching your fat loss goals and eating the right quantity of food will allow you to lose fat. But in order to have a well rounded diet; one that is rich in vitamins and minerals, that will help your body function properly, help you recover from workouts, and leaves you satiated and satisfied, it will have to mostly be made up of ‘healthy’, high quality foods. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for ‘unhealthy’ foods either. If you are flexible with your diet, work these things into your day, or a free meal, you can enjoy the occasional treat or indulgence if that’s what you want. And if you don’t enjoy these foods, or they don’t agree with you, then stick with the higher quality foods. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as at the end of the day, you are moving closer towards your goals. It’s about finding the right combination of moderation and balance. In the wrong amount any food, regardless of how you classify it, can be detrimental to your fat loss efforts. So know that if you are looking to lose fat, or struggling with your current efforts, just ‘eating healthy’ probably isn’t enough.

See you tomorrow for Day 12 and the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple
Day #9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing
Day #10 – Insulin and Insulin Resistance

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods

(This is Part 7 of a 12 part series to provide you with some useful health and fitness info over the holiday season)

The holiday season more than any other time of year is full of tempting treats. From holiday parties to family gatherings, the amount and variety seems almost endless. For some, it’s a side step to their healthier eating; for many, it is a time of temptation and indulgence, almost to the point of shall we say, addicting. Addiction is defined as “a compulsive need or use for a substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” When addiction is discussed, most think of illegal or harmful substances. But food addiction is a real psychological condition in which someone is addicted to food in the same way a drug addict may be addicted to drugs. Food addiction is classified as uncontrollable eating of certain groups/types of food. While really enjoying a particular food doesn’t classify as being addicted, studies have shown that there are foods that do indeed cause addiction. Here’s a list of some and what should not come as a surprise, not a single one of them is a “natural” food.

Most Addictive Foods

  • Bacon
  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cake
  • Cheese
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Chips
  • Chocolate
  • Cookies
  • French fries
  • Fried chicken
  • Gummy candy
  • Ice cream
  • Muffins
  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Soda

On the contrary, here’s a list of the least addictive foods and what should be glaringly obvious is that every single one of them is a whole, unprocessed food.

Least Addictive Foods

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Carrots
  • Chicken breast
  • Corn (no butter or salt)
  • Crackers (plain)
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Salmon
  • Steak
  • Strawberries
  • Water

See you tomorrow for Day 8 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism



10 Things To Teach Your Kids (Or Yourself) About Fitness

10371943_711569598908803_8165290089901549042_nIn another month or so my little boy will be turning five! Where in the world does that time go? I’ve loved every stage of his growth from feeding him to watching him crawl to seeing him run to trying to keep up with him, and I know it’s only going to get better. But he’s of the age now where he’s more aware of the world around him outside of school, cartoons, and toys. He understands more of what his daddy does for a living and knows that both his mommy and daddy are exercising, running, or riding. (Mommy swims too!) Brady has the fortunate privilege that his daddy is a fitness professional and what better resource to have right at his disposal let alone two parents that lead an active lifestyle? It got me thinking about what I really want him to understand regarding fitness. Chances are, whether you have children or not, there are probably a few things may be you also need to or should know about fitness and to better understand and appreciate its value. Here are the 10 things I want my son to understand about fitness and perhaps you can share with you and yours

  1. It’s Not a Contest. You exercise regularly for one and one reason only – YOU! That means doing what YOU need to do for YOU to the best of your ability. No one loses out more in the end by not addressing your fitness than YOU! Hold yourself to a high standard and worry less about what everyone else claims to be doing and only what you’re doing.
  2. Like Respect, Fitness is Earned. You were born with the greatest machine on Earth. Take care of it the best you can and if things become hard or turn for the worst, don’t blame it on what you did or did not do. There are literally endless ways to stay fit and take care of yourself. You make your choices and endure the results.
  3. Keep It Fun. As previously stated, there are endless ways to find physical activity and to take care of yourself. Find what you enjoy that keeps you moving and looking forward to, not dreading, the next opportunity. The only best exercise is the one you stick with.
  4. Fitness Is Not A Chore. When we negatively associate things chances are we will always conjure up ways to avoid or say bad things regarding them. At its root, fitness is just about keeping the body moving and while that may seem like work, keeping a positive perspective will go a long way. George Bernard Shaw said it best: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
  5. It’s Called Working Out For a Reason. It’s cliché to say, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. Just because you work out three days a week, take weekends off (as does the diet) hardly classifies you as an “active” person. It requires a lot more than just showing up or going through the motions. It takes a commitment to keep moving forward and not being content with mediocrity.
  6. Exercise Is A Lifestyle, Not An Event. You can’t expect exercise to work for you if you do it in little increments expecting big returns on little to no investment of time. Ignore all the marketing hoopla, pseudoscience, and “experts” who claim to get you more for less. Maintain a consistent healthy lifestyle and it’s much easier to make a bigger shift if necessary.
  7. With Strength Comes Confidence. It’s never about how much you can lift, or how much you can throw. Having strength is having the ability to do the things you need to do in every walk of life without ever feeling like you need help. Real strength is measured by what a man can do, not what he pretends he can do.
  8. It’s A Healthy Stress Reliever. Having a bad day and need a release? There’s nothing better than the release from physical exertion can offer without compromising other areas of your health. You may even surprise yourself with just how hard you can let it all go.
  9. Appreciate Fitness From The Inside Out. Don’t stress over numbers like weight or inches until you first put into perspective what it is you’re trying to accomplish and you’ve made a 110% commitment to that end. It will serve you better knowing that you’re doing the right thing despite what some lab rat or popular media would have you believe.
  10. Fitness Breeds Life. When you take care of yourself, you’ll feel great and when you feel great, you’ll make excuses for nothing. You’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can’t put that in a pill; you can’t “fake” your way through. I once had someone challenge me to feel like them for a day to which I responded they should have a taste of what it feels like to be me for just five minutes. End of discussion.

Fitness is my profession and it has always been a part of my life. Fitness to me is the rule, not the exception but I find the strength every day to train smarter, eat well, and be better every day for my little boy in the hopes that someday it will be him trying to keep up with me. I will continue to lead by example and he will know fitness is not just another activity – it’s what we do.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.




Still Good Enough For Us To Eat? 2013 – 12 Days of Fitness: Day 11

(This is Part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

570271_ice_cream_3_picEating healthy is a choice just as much as eating unhealthy is. The problem is while most can agree on what is considered unhealthy eating a much larger discussion would be necessary to discuss what constitutes healthy eating. Everyone has their choice but unfortunately one area where most people don’t get a choice, at least unknowingly, is what is being put in the food. Nutrition labels and ingredient lists will spell out what’s in the food, but does that mean they are necessarily good for you? Here are 11 ingredients that are banned around the world but are still permitted and exist here in the U.S.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene). Many chips, sausages and cereals contain butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene in their ingredient lists. The waxy substances act as preservatives, keeping foods from becoming rancid. While BHA and BHT have been “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. FDA, they remain controversial. Both substances may have some disease-fighting properties, but they’ve also been shown to raise cancer risks in animal tests, according to the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Both BHA and BHT are banned from foods in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and throughout Europe.

In the U.S., it’s used to enhance texture of soft white breads, including hamburger buns. Azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia, the U.K. and European countries. What’s more, if you add azodicarbonamide to food in Singapore, you could face up to 15 years in prison and a nearly $500,000 fine. Why? Because it can interfere with respiratory health, causing allergic reactions and asthma in some people.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and Recombinant Bovine Somatropin. To increase milk production in cows, many U.S. dairy farmers have turned to recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and recombinant bovine somatropin (rBST). The use of these synthetic hormones is not permitted in the European Union, Canada, and some other countries, due to human and animal health risks. According to the American Cancer Society, cows treated with rBGH tend to develop more udder infections (mastitis). These cows are given more antibiotics than cows not given rBGH, and this increased use of antibiotics might lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria which could pose a health concern for people.

Potassium Bromate. This bread additive strengthens dough, reducing its baking time and saving manufacturer’s money by lowering production costs. Also called bromated flour, it is believed to disappear from foods during baking and therefore trace amounts are considered safe in U.S. foods. Potassium bromate has been banned in the EU, Canada, Peru, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea and China. Researchers in Japan published a study showing that potassium bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other body parts of rats and mice. The U.S. FDA hasn’t banned potassium bromate, but it does advise moderate use only and proper labeling. Many small and large bakeries in the U.S. voluntarily avoid using potassium bromate, however, it’s still found in many fast food buns and other products.

Olestra. Olestra made its way into fat-free foods, including chips, crackers and fries in the U.S. in the late 1990s. Soon after, it was found to cause side effects, namely gas, cramps and anal leakage—another term for uncontrollable diarrhea. What’s more (in case you need more reasons to avoid it!), Olestra was also found to reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. Illegal in Canada and the United Kingdom, the faux-fat remains legal in the U.S. as long as companies warn consumers of its unappetizing complications on product packaging

Genetically Modified (GM) Canola Oil. In Europe, farmers cannot legally grow genetically modified canola crops. According to NPR, as of 2010, roughly 90% of canola plants in the U.S. are genetically modified varieties (GMO) that can resist two types of herbicides, glufosinate and glyphosate. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, this means “canola oil producers use a lot of pesticides on their crops.” Weil suspects that residues find their way into the finished product and recommends choosing organic or non-GMO, expeller-pressed brands of canola oil. He writes, “The lower-cost products sold in supermarkets have often been extracted with chemical solvents or high-speed presses that generate heat. Both methods alter the oil’s fatty acid chemistry in undesirable ways.”

Genetically Modified (GM) Corn. Ninety percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (GM). Countries including France, Greece and Algeria don’t allow genetically modified corn to be sold. “The tricky part about avoiding GMOs is that, even though the vast majority of Americans are in favor of labeling GMOs, manufacturers are currently not required to do so,” said Jon McGoran, magazine editor and urban agriculture advocate in Pennsylvania. A June 2013 study published in the Organic Systems Journal found that pigs fed a combination of GM soy and corn suffer more frequent severe stomach inflammation and enlargement of the uterus than those who eat a non-GM diet.

Genetically Modified (GM) Soybeans. While genetically modified soybeans are banned in Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, and Luxembourg, more than 90% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Even if you never eat edamame or tofu, soybeans and soy derivatives are found in countless common (and surprising) foods, including energy bars, butter substitutes, breads, crackers, deli meats, meat substitutes, vegetable oils and salad dressings. Dr. Joseph Mercola writes, “Animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy including allergies, sterility, birth defects…”

Blue Dye No. 1. Though it’s been banned in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, this food colorant is often found in U.S. ice cream, cereals, canned processed peas, packet soups, bottled food colorings, icings, and in the liquor blue curacao. Research has connected Blue No. 1, which is also called Brilliant Blue with allergies, hyperactivity, learning problems, aggressiveness and irritability in children.

Yellow Dye No. 5. Also called tartrazine, is a food colorant banned in Finland and Norway and available widely in the U.S.. “Six of the 11 studies on Yellow No. 5 showed that it caused genotoxicity, a deterioration of the cell’s genetic material with the potential to mutate healthy DNA,” say Jayson and Mira Calton, authors of “Rich Food, Poor Food.” These effects can have serious complications, such as causing growth abnormalities. In research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2010, tartrazine was administered to organ tissue in male rats. The researchers found that the artificial dye negatively affects markers of disease in vital organs, such as kidneys and livers — at low and high doses. Common sources include cheese-flavored crackers and chips, colorful cereals, butterscotch pudding, yellow sports drinks macaroni and cheese mixes.

Yellow No. 6. Also called Sunset Yellow, Yellow No. 6, is the third most widely used food coloring in the U.S. found in Fruity Cheerios, Trix, some Eggo waffle products, and some Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners. While it enhances the color of many American cheeses, cheese-flavored pasta mixes, candy, cereals and carbonated drinks, it may also contribute to some serious health problems. Finland and Norway banned Yellow No. 6 after lab studies showed a link between the additive and tumors in the adrenal glands and kidneys of animals.

Bottom line: read labels, not packaging and don’t buy into marketing propaganda. Selling product is their number one game: your health should be yours.

See you tomorrow for the final day of the 12 Days of Fitness.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.



6 Lies The Food Industry Is Feeding You 2013 – 12 Days of Fitness: Day 2

(This is Part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

disney_pinocchio_08Forget for a moment about defining what a nutritious diet should be. If you were to pose that question to ten different people, you would certainly get ten different answers. Instead, think about why you buy the food you do. Is it because you think it’s healthy? Is it a good bargain? Is it what you enjoy?  I am sure you have your reasons and I am sure I would be able to prove that some of them are advertising influenced. The food industry is a multi-billion dollar juggernaut with the primary purpose of not only feeding you but feeding you what you think something is rather than what it really is.  Ingredient lists aside (they are after all playing by the government’s rules), it’s not what they’re telling you is in the food; it’s what they’re saying about the food and what they’re not telling you that’s in the food.

#1 – Wood

  • Technology and the internet have made the newspaper a slowly dying breed. So what does that have to do with food you might ask? Paper is made with wood pulp and with paper print declining there is a surplus of wood pulp. Otherwise known as cellulose, wood pulp can be found in a lot of packaged, processed foods. Cellulose provides texture to processed foods, so food companies have been using it as a replacement for such unnecessary and inconveniently expensive ingredients as flour and oil. Cellulose is 30% cheaper. The FDA has no interest for restricting its use because it considers it to be edible and non-toxic. The real problem? It’s not FOOD! It’s undigestable and has no nutritional value to speak of.

#2 – Faux Orange Juice

  • Orange juice has long served as the drink associated with breakfast or what you consume when you’re feeling a little under the weather for the supposed Vitamin C benefits. But what if you knew how the orange juice you buy in the carton is made? It is not as freshly squeezed as if you had did it yourself despite what the labels say such as “100 percent natural!”, “not from concentrate!” and “no added sugar”. Do you think that you would still enjoy it? You decide. The process indeed starts with the oranges being squeezed, but that’s the first and last normal step in the process. The juice is then immediately sealed in giant holding tanks and all the oxygen is removed. That allows the liquid to keep without spoiling for up to a year. That’s why they can distribute it year-round, even when oranges are not in season. This process however removes all the taste from the liquid which of course needs to be flavored with none other than a carefully constructed mix of chemicals by the same fragrance companies that formulate colognes and perfumes. Still need proof? Some grocery stores will sell you freshly squeezed orange juice for triple the price of commercially produced orange juice and I can guarantee you it tastes unlike anything you ever drank claiming to  be orange juice.

#3 Ammonia-Infused Hamburger

  • Any restaurant that serves hamburger goes out of its way to reassure you how pure and natural it is. Claims such as “Our burgers are made from 100 percent beef, supplied by farms accredited by nationally recognized farm assurance schemes” and “Like all U.S. beef, our 100 percent premium beef is USDA inspected, then passes our 20 quality checkpoints” attempt to convince the consumer that their burgers could be as good as filet mignon. The beef is safe from E.coli and other potentially microorganisms because it is treated with ammonia, the same harsh chemical they use in fertilizers and oven cleaners.

#4 Fake Berries

  • Blueberries are some of the most nutritious food you can ever eat, high in antioxidants and fiber. With their appearance in many food products, you would think that we have blueberries growing out of bounds. The reality is that most products allegedly proclaiming to have blueberries in their ingredients such as cereal bars, bagels, and muffins have been found to not include any blueberries at all. Rather, they contain blue chewy and juicy bits of artificial colors and additives. All you have to do is read the ingredient list to see if the blueberries are fake or real.

#5 “Free Range” Chickens

  • In a movement to get people thinking that their food, more specifically any animal based product, is handled and nurtured with the greatest of care, the food industry has come up with terms such as “free range” and “stress free” to describe the farming practices of these animals. But what does “free range” mean? It very simply means that the chickens have access to fresh air and constriction-free range of motion. The reality is there are absolutely no regulations whatsoever for the use of the term “free range” on anything other than chickens raised for their meat so your protein bar could be free range for all the government cares.

#6 Broad Health Claims

  • Nuts that reduce risk of heart disease. Yogurts that improve digestion. Foods that cause weight loss all by themselves. Products like that are everywhere these days, but the vast majority of product health claims are completely and totally unfounded. So why are they able to keep marketing this stuff? In 2002, the FDA introduced a new category of pre-approved product claims called “qualified health claims,” which is basically a list of health solutions a company can use if their product meets certain qualifications.

Bottom line: Make informed, healthy, and conscious decisions. Don’t fall prey to the misleading marketing and advertising tactics of the food industry.

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


The Caloric Price Tag of The Thanksgiving Meal

downloadToday’s post is not meant to dampen your holiday spirits. I enjoy Thanksgiving as much as anyone (as an adult it has become more my favorite holiday) and I do not intend to allow one day of enjoyable, perhaps gluttoness eating ruin my holiday spirit or waistline. It’s more to just shed some light and awareness about not only the caloric consumption of the Thanksgiving meal (just the meal itself, not the day) and what it would take to burn those calories off. In my experience, most have no idea about how many calories they consume in a day let alone what it would really take to burn them off. In turn, rather than enjoying the holiday, they have fears of enjoying the day when in reality they don’t eat well or exercise consistently enough throughout the other 364 days that the point is moot.

Chow Time

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume between 3,000 and 4,500 calories during the Thanksgiving meal alone. That’s considerably more than the estimated 1,600 to 2,400 that women need and 2,000 to 3,000 that men need in an entire day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So how does a Thanksgiving Dinner stack up?

  • 1 cup Mashed Potatoes, 237 cal
  • 1 cup Green Bean Casserole, 230 cal
  • 1 cup Candied Yams, 203 cal
  • 1 cup Canned Cranberry Sauce, 418 cal
  • 1 cup Stuffing, 350 cal
  • 1 cup Turkey Gravy, 100 cal
  • 1 Biscuit, 128 cal
  • 1 Dinner Roll, 84 cal
  • 1 pat Butter, 36 cal
  • 3oz Turkey Breast with Skin, 134 cal
  • 3oz Turkey Breast without Skin, 88 cal
  • 3oz Turkey Dark Meat with Skin, 136 cal
  • 3oz Turkey Dark Mean without Skin, 106 cal
  • 1 slice Pumpkin Pie, 323 cal
  • 1 slice Apple Pie, 411 cal
  • 1 slice Pecan Pie, 456 cal
  • 1 cup Whipped Cream, 154 cal
  • 1 cup Vanilla Ice Cream, 289 cal

Time To Go To Work

So how much work would it really take to burn off that holiday feast? Let’s use an example of a 150-pound person and what it would take to burn off 3,000 calories. Keep in mind that personal calorie burn will vary with intensity, body composition, age, gender, and weight. Here are 12 examples:

  • Brisk walk (greater than 3.5 mph) of 13 hours
  • 9 hours of casual downhill skiing
  • 15 hours of nonstop dancing
  • Running with a respectable 6 mph pace (10-minute mile) for 4 hours
  • 6.5 hours on the elliptical
  • 8.5 hours of an intermediate Pilates class
  • 3 hours and 40 minutes of a competitive squash match
  • 6 hours of lap swimming
  • 15 hours of weight training
  • Moderate cycling indoors or outdoors for about 5.5 hours
  • 5.5 hours of snow shoeing
  • 17 hours of hatha yoga

Yes, Thanksgiving is a once-a-year celebration but the average person gains about one to three pounds during the holiday season — and doesn’t lose it over the course of the rest of the year. There are a couple of things you can do to combat the holiday-season bulge such as keeping portion sizes in check and opting for healthier  substitutions. The other option of course is to keep up with a regular exercise routine, not just a pre and/or post turkey burn workout.

Have a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving with your families!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Foods That Carry The Most Pesticide Residue

Ahh summer! I am one of the few crazies that love the heat, but what I really love most about summer aside from the warmth is barrels_of_peppersthe extended daylight, trips to the beach, and the abundance of fresh and local produce. Farmer’s markets are a great year round source for seasonal produce and if you are lucky, there’s one right around the corner from you. However, don’t just assume that because it was bought from the farmer’s market that automatically makes it healthier or safer than what is sold in the grocery store. Supporting the local economy is a good thing; just don’t assume farmer Joe takes the steps to assure fresh and pesticide-free treated produce.

Here is a list of the top 12 produce that have been shown to carry the most pesticide residue

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers

Most local farmers will not use anything but natural fertilizer on their crops. To prove it, compare the size and color of produce bought in store versus at a farm stand. They may however, spray crops to ward off insects and other unwanted feeders. When in doubt, just ask. Making a healthy choice begins with a smart decision.

A short one today. Get out and enjoy the summer before it’s gone!

Bon appétit!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2012 – Day 11: Eating Healthy On A Budget

save_money_on_food(This is Part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)


Make no mistake about it; the cost of food has gone up. And when you’re low on both time and money, eating healthy food is quickly replaced by processed foods because they’re quick, easy and inexpensive. Unfortunately, they’re also loaded with sugars, fats and empty calories. If your goals are to eat healthier and save money, the good news is that it can be done.  It requires that you change your current food shopping behaviors, but the excuse that eating healthy is too expensive is just as ridiculous as thinking eating French fries counts as a vegetable serving.

Strategy #1

Buy produce in season to save money and guarantee better freshness. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables during their off-seasons, as they’re usually less expensive and last longer. Avoid canned foods, which often are loaded with salt, sugar or other preservatives, and typically cost more per serving.

Strategy #2


Buy in bulk if and when possible for non-perishables such as whole grains, rice, or beans. Store in air-tight containers, and they can last for months.

Strategy #3


Eat at home. Cooking meals made from fresh, healthy ingredients saves you from loads of saturated fat and empty calories. It also costs less than eating in a restaurant. Start with simple meals and aim to try one or two new, healthy recipes per week until you’re able to prepare a wide variety of healthy, inexpensive meals.

Strategy #4


Cook extra. Prepare an extra portion to use as a quick lunch or meal later in the week. This allows you to buy larger, more economically priced amounts of ingredients for one meal rather that purchasing the ingredients for two meals.

Strategy #5


Prepare a whole chicken. For the same price as a package of chicken breasts, which will yield one meal for your family, you can cook an entire chicken as one meal and use the leftovers to create one or two additional meals. Use the bones to make stocks and broths for other recipes, so that every part of the bird is used.

Strategy #6

Drink water. Soft drinks and sugary juices or energy drinks add calories to your body and detract from your grocery budget. Cut out all drinks but water for an entire week and see how much money you can shave from your grocery budget. This includes runs to expensive coffee houses and stops at work or school vending machines.

Strategy #7

Plan, plan, plan! Making menus helps save money in two ways. First, it allows you to take stock of items on hand, so you waste less and purchase less. Second, sticking to a list helps you avoid impulse buys, such as snacks and drinks. Planning healthy meals and creating a menu means you always know what’s for dinner and can prepare accordingly, instead of heading to a fast-food restaurant because you’re in a pinch.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 35,400 push ups done as of publishing time




The Top 10 Things That You’re Probably Doing That Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts

Running-Losing-WeightAccording to the calendar, summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st.  But with the recent weather, summer has made an early entrance. Hotter weather has a tendency to do two things: keep people inside with the air conditioning and two, remind them about how much they did not stick to their “plan” 5 months ago to look and feel better in less clothing.  It’s not always for lack of effort that most never reach their goals; they invariably shoot themselves in the foot thinking they are doing the right thing when in reality, they are setting themselves up for failure.  Here is what I would consider the top 10 things in no particular order that are sending you backwards as opposed to moving forward.

  1. You dine out almost as much as you eat in. We all love a nice night out to eat, but when you know your waiters and waitresses better than you know your own kitchen, you’re absolutely not going to succeed with any weight loss goals.  Sure, most restaurants offer “healthier” choices and more chains will have nutritional info in their menus, but make no mistake about it.  When you’re not the one cooking it, buying the fresh ingredients, and controlling the portion size, it’s very difficult to eat well when dining out.
  2. You’re following yet another diet. You’ve heard it before…diets don’t work!  Yet year after year, some of the top best sellers are diet books.  Diets don’t work because they are a short term fix to a long term problem.  Giving up a food group, eating just one particular item, eating while standing on your head, are all just gimmicks to create an illusion that THIS diet is the one.  Will some diets work?  Sure, if you can stick with them the rest of your life.  For a diet to be successful, it needs to be palatable (you have to enjoy what you’re required to eat); it needs to be realistic (telling an Italian to not eat pasta isn’t going to cut it); it needs to be repeatable (everybody should find success with it).  Failure to meet all three criteria and you’ll know if your diet of choice is a long term solution or a quick fix.
  3. You skip breakfast. If not the number one, a close second to being the most important.  The word breakfast literally means “break the fast.” What’s the fast? The hours between your last meal and the time you wake up.  If you last ate dinner at 6 but then wake up at 6 the next morning, you’re looking at least 12 hours with no fuel in the body. The problem begins with blood sugar levels that are at a low and then need a boost to get moving as the body gets moving.  Skipping breakfast is like trying to drive a car for 100 miles with only enough to take you one mile.  Sooner or later, things are going to sputter and there could be a really nasty crash. I’ve heard everything from “I don’t have time” to “I don’t like breakfast”.  There’s only one answer to that and that’s you can’t afford to miss breakfast.
  4. You don’t plan your meals or shopping trips. No planning leads to impulse buying, over spending, and over indulging.  All that winds up leading to bringing items into your kitchen that don’t belong there, wasting money on groceries that either rot or take up a permanent residence in your cupboard, and justifying that because it was on sale it was an irresistible purchase. Live by the rule – out of sight, out of mind.
  5. You eat salads so you think you’re eating healthy. Don’t get me wrong, salads can be a healthy meal.  They however, don’t make one automatically a health conscious person.  Salads can be made to be some of the heaviest meals from a calorie standpoint you can eat. Meats, cheeses, and least not forget the dressings can add up real fast.  On the contrary, a salad with nothing more than lettuce and may be some veggies may not cut it if you’ve starved yourself all day.
  6. You eat bars as meals. Meal replacement bars are quite the misnomer.  They shouldn’t be used as meal replacements at all.  They are best used as supplemental or in emergency situations when a meal was possibly missed or is going to be quite some time away. But they should be the exception, not the rule. Most are not really “nutritious” and even more are closer to a candy bar than a healthy snack. Planning and preparation are the solution here.
  7. There’s no color in the food you eat. Tan, brown, and white.  Devoid of nutrition; devoid of sustainable energy; devoid of life itself.  Boxed, packaged, processed, and mass produced.  I always wonder how caveman would have survived on a diet of such bland nourishment.
  8. You eat a lot of “supposed” health food. Granola bars, yogurt, rice cakes, popcorn, pretzels, etc. (see #7).  A lot of these food items have been somehow passed down as healthy, low calorie choices for nutrition and more specifically weight loss. But most are empty calories, have more than 50% of their calories from sugar (granola bars, yogurt) and generally encourage more eating because after all, they’re healthier.  The most recent nonsensical item is the 100 Calorie Pack. A 100 Calorie Pack of Oreos is no more healthier than a handful of regular Oreos – it’s all the same processed garbage but in cute little bags.  Fooled you!
  9. You buy lots of fat free or low fat food. Low fat and fat free does not mean calorie free or healthier than its full fat version.  Rule #1 If an item comes in a low fat or fat free variety, perhaps it’s something you need to really consider eating at all. Rule #2 You don’t get fat from eating fat.  Fat is an important nutrient and as in Rule #1, the source needs to be considered.  Rule #3 The simple fact that fat was removed or lowered changes the chemistry of the food item.  Therefore, something was added to replace it.  The usual suspects: sugar, artificial sweeteners, natural flavors (whatever that means), some other modified or vastly altered food item. Yummy!
  10. You do nothing but cardio. I refer to these people as cardio-holics.  They’re not training for a marathon, or bike tour, or triathlon, or stair climbing contest.  They’re under the delusion that cardio (and lots of it) is the answer to their weight loss success.  If your goal is weight loss and you don’t exercise, you will never meet optimal success. But if you do exercise and you do cardio only, you must add some resistance training, and the cardio exercise must be done in an interval type format.

Don’t believe me, then have it your way.  There’s an effective method to achieving all of your weight loss goals and it’s not a diet book or gimmick: make a goal; develop a plan; do what matters; do what is necessary; most of all, if what you’ve done to this point hasn’t worked, then it’s time to re-evaluate what it is you’re doing wrong, come to terms with it, and move forward for we are either moving forwards or backwards – there’s no in between.

Til next time, train hard, eat well, and be better.