Christmas Treats

With the holidays upon us it is customary, or at least implied that people are going to overindulge in eating and drinking and take part in even less physical activity than they normally do.

The average person gains one to two pounds over the holidays. While that not seem too bad, the problem is that the weight gained stays on, most people do not drop that slight gain. If the weight never gets dropped, and every year the weight keeps accumulating then you start having a problem.

But what is one to do? It is implied that you eat. If you are off work, spending time with family and friends and watching the ultimate Christmas Movie (Die Hard) it is hard not to have that cookie and beer.


Don’t worry about everyone else. If you make a plan to eat relativity healthy, don’t let others derail you by giving into their temptations. Actually a lot of people choose to eat healthy over the holidays, or at least try to. Many put out healy alternatives but continue to serve the treats because that is what is expected.

There are dozens of websites out there dedicated to healthy holiday treats.

healthy treat


You don’t need to eat one of everything that is being served. Before you go out if you are worried about overeating, have a healthy meal at home before hand to fill you up so you don’t over indulge while you are out. It is fine to have a little extra here and there or a cookie or piece of pie. Treats are good, just in moderation.

No one feels good after drinking a gallon of eggnog. Nor do you feel good from consuming a pound of sugar cookies. If you did this before think about how you felt. If you felt like crap, think about that and realize that you don’t want to repeat it.

If your overall goal is to drop a few pounds keep that in mind. Is that third cupcake or 5th glass of eggnog worth it? Unlikely! It will make you feel good at the moment, but going back to the last point, you will feel like crap shortly. Either from being over full of crappy food, too much sugar, too much fat, or just depressed because you are three cupcakes.

Serve healthy food at your parties. You will be surprised on how fast it goes. Most people want to eat healthy and when given the choice will choose some healthier options.

Exercise over the holidays. Even a little exercise is better than none at all.  A 10-15 minute walking around the block after a big meal can do wonders for your blood sugar and your mood. The more you exercise the more you can eat and not feel guiltily. I had a professor in university tell us that is why he works out. He works out because he likes to eat.

Last this is booze. it is OK to have a drink, just be mindful that there are calories in alcohol. Also depending on what you drink there are added calories in any mix or other ingredients you put in your cocktail. Drink water between drinks or choose a lower calorie cocktail.


Remember It’s ok to have a treat. But everything in moderation.


Have a safe and Happy Holidays!




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Is a Calorie really a Calorie?

To answer the title question yes!

A Calorie is a Calorie is a Calorie. However some grus in the fitness industry think otherwise.

When we “eat well” or at least say we eat well and we think  we should be losing weight. If that doesn’t work we blame our metabolism, or we say that it was the type of calories we were eating, not that we we eating too many of them.

Depending on whom you ask or what you read the key to weight loss is Calories in versus Calories out. Meaning if you eat less calories than you burn each day your body will be forced to tap into its stored fat for energy. You will burn this fat for energy and drop the pounds you are wanting to.

Can it be that simple? Is this the cure for obesity? Well yes but it is not that simple.

The problem is that most people have a major problem counting and keeping track of the actual calories they consume.

I have actually run into this several times as a trainer. My clients tell me that they are eating healthy and that they have cut their calories to the level that we talked about. I keep detailed records of their exercise program, but they are still unable to lose weight.

At one point early on in my career I started to doubt myself. Either I was not good at my job or my clients were lying to me.

Both untrue, I was definitely good at my job and my clients we not lying to me, at least not on purpose.

Dr. Steven Heymsfield, an obesity specialist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, found the exact same thing; the “eat-less-move-more” mantra did not work for many people.

What did Dr. Heymsfield do? He did a clinical study to find out what exactly was going on.

Dr. Heymsfield had twenty of his patients that could not seem to lose any weight consume isotope labeled water that would allow the Dr. to track exactly how many calories the patients expended. Sometimes referred to as Doubly labeled water.

For anyone interested the isotope labeled water is called Heavy Water sometimes written as D20. The stuff is pretty cool. Besides being able to tell you exactly what your metabolic rate is, if you make ice cubes out of it they sink when you put them in water.

The patients had no idea why they were drinking this special water the doctor gave them. Basically the doctor was spying on them or at least double-checking their caloric intake and expenditure.

The results were what some might expect. 18 out of the 20 participants were vastly under reporting their caloric intake. Some actually ate twice as much as they recorded and only exercised half as much as they said the did.


The Doctor suggested that the patients weren’t lying, they were just underestimating. This seems to happen a large majority of the people trying to drop weight by keeping track of calories. He went on to even suggest that the heavier the person is the more they tend to underestimate their caloric intake.

Dr Heymsfield did a second study, this time telling the participants what the water was used for. When the results came in and compared the food journals were much closer to what the actual numbers revealed by the water were.

This shows that a lot of the obesity epidemic may be psychological. Or at least have some psychological parts to the equation.

In today’s society fast food advertising is right in our faces and the sedentary culture that we embrace is creating a perfect storm. People are able to justify to themselves they are not overeating and they are exercising enough to lose weight.

When people try and don’t succeed to lose weight they blame their metabolism or something else, where in reality they are really eating too much food.

We are programmed to eat a lot of food because throughout our history mankind has been faced with famines and droughts so out body are programmed to eat and store fat for those times. However in western society a pizza is a phone call away. We don’t worry about not having food readily available.

The majority of the population is overweight or obese. But not everyone is overweight or obese. That means that it is possible to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If someone else can do it so can you.


Many that are overweight blame their metabolism but really it is the number of calories you eat. The answer to weight loss isn’t sexy or quick and there is no trick.

Advertisers do a good job of convincing you that the trick is in a bottle, book or video. The weight loss industry thrives on failure. That is why it is a multibillion dollar a year industry. The  amount spent on weight loss in the United States is 20 billion dollars per year. That’s more than the GDP of some countries.

If all that money spent on the weight loss fads, pills and gimmicks really worked why is there such an obesity epidemic?

This may be depressing to some out there trying to lose weight but it shouldn’t be. It should actually be encouraging. The study by Dr. Heymsfield  shows that it is possible to lose weight by a reduction in calories as long as you are honest about the number of calories you consume.

Weight loss is within your means.


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Fitness and Nutrition Myths Part 1

I have been getting a lot of question lately about myths and rumors in the fitness industry. So I decided to write a blog post on some of them. I will keep adding to the myths and clarifying anything I can.

If you have a myth you want answered drop the question in the comment sections and I will be sure to include it in one of the following posts.

Here are 5 of the myths I heard lately.

Myth #1

Static Stretching before exercise prevents injury!


Nope. Gradual warm up is the key to preventing injury. Static stretching could actually lead to injury. Your muscles are like elastics; they stretch and go back to their original shape. If elastic is cold and you tried to stretch it the chances of damaging it are greater.

There has been no evidence that static stretching before working out improves performance.  Warming up prior to exercise prepares your body for what is about to come. There have been many studies showing that a warm-up before exercise improves performance. If you do feel like you need to do some static stretching before getting into the meat and potatoes of your workout, warm up first then stretch then proceed with the workout.


Myth #2

Yoga Lengthens muscles.


You cannot lengthen your muscles. It would be like saying yoga is going to make you taller. Your muscles have an origin point and an incretion point that cannot be changed. Yoga can help improve flexibility so your joints and muscles can move freely throughout their entire range of motion. You may get the feeling that they are longer because they are moving more freely through their complete range of motion, but they have not lengthened.


Myth # 3

Yoga creates weight loss

No, or at least not much. Weight loss or “burning fat” is a product of energy expenditure. Yoga can be hard and in many of the poses you burn slightly more calories than resting but not a lot more. Yoga is just not intense enough. Cardiovascular training or high intensity interval training are two ways to increase caloric expenditure and increase fat burning.


Myth #  4

You can spot reduce!


We hear this one a lot. If we could spot reduce scientists would not be wasting time and money researching obesity and potential cures. If doing sit-ups worked to decrease abdominal fat stores and in conjunction obesity, the research to find other cures would have stopped long ago.

When doing sit ups or side bends or the inner and outer thigh machine you are actually stimulating muscle. By doing that type of strength and core training you will increase the strength and endurance of your muscles but do little to nothing to effect the layers of fat covering them.

Myth # 5

The more you sweat the more weight you lose.


Yes and no, depends on what type of weight. You will lose the water weight through the sweating process. Athletes and those that sweat a lot can lose a few pound of water through sweating alone.  Sweating is a way your body regulates its temperature so that it doesn’t overheat. Sweating a lot doesn’t mean that your body is burning fat. Burning fat requires you to “burn” more calories than you take in, either by reducing the number of calories you eat or increasing the amount of activity you do.

People can be in hot environments and sweat a lot but not burn enough extra calories to tap into their fat reserves for energy. Conversely if you restrict your calories consumption you can “burn” fat from doing your daily activities and not sweating at all.

If you sweat too much and you don’t replenish the liquids you lost you can get into a dehydrated state, which can become potentially dangerous.


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more fitness myths in upcoming blog posts.



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