Changing bodies, one mind at a time

feeling green & great  I’ve often wondered–with as many theories regarding weight loss and exercise that exist, why aren’t we all a size 4? Why isn’t every guy chiseled from deltoids to calves?  From where do these theories come? Research?  Self experimentation? I know much of what I write about comes from both; but mostly the latter.  I’ve learned to listen to my body, not theories.  As I’ve often said, it’s a matter of what works for you; not a control group, or someone else.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t avail yourself of the latest data.  You should; but you have to try it on for size.  Kick the tires, take it for a test drive.  If you don’t you might find yourself lost in a maze; confused and frustrated enough to say “f#@! this.”

As a nurse and personal trainer, that’s not where I want clients to be.

I also don’t want to hear them sounding like a textbook, or engaging in the latest trend, thinking it will cut calories.  Examples?  Gluten free.  Dairy free.  Sugar free.  My questions for them?  Do you have celiac disease?  Gluten sensitive?  Are you lactose intolerant?  Do you realize what is added to foods to make them comparable in taste, if gluten-free or sugar-free?  Most of them answer with a resounding “no.”  My answer then–do your own research.  Do your homework before you reiterate what the world is telling you.  Why?  Because chances are, like Chicago weather–it will change.  Just wait a little bit.


As a man thinketh, so he is.  You reap what you sow.  Old adages indeed–that may harbor a grain of truth(though it may not be gluten-free).

Not so long ago, pro athletes and celebs alike were lining up to wear the milk mustache.  What about the milk your diet commercials?  You know, the ones where lean, svelte waisted people were drinking up?  A milk glass would then appear, with slight hour-glass curves.  Surely, there are a few of you who recall these ads.

Dairy and I at times don’t always see eye to eye.  I know what that feels like; no one has to tell me.  If you are gluten sensitive or diabetic, unless newly diagnosed, no one has to tell you what that feels like; especially if you eat the wrong food.

For the rest, let’s not rely on the latest craze or hypothesis alone.  Let’s put it to the test in our lives.

Recently, a trainer from Australia I viewed online was debunking what she hailed as “fitness myths.”  One such myth was “yoga & Pilates do little for weight loss.”  She felt yoga was helpful, just not so much for losing excess pounds. Well, this is one theory I test drove for myself–pretty much for an entire summer.

I happen to like hot yoga.  The kind performed with upwards of thirty people, in a room designed to accommodate twenty.  Sad to say I didn’t see much weight loss.  What I did notice however, is that I was more aware of what I was putting in my mouth; particularly if I was participating the next day.  Enter ballet inspired workouts, CLASSICAL STRETCH, ESSENTRICS, and a little Pilates.  Now here’s the kicker.  All I heard in these DVDs and workouts was “engage, pull in your stomach, abs are hollowed up into the ribs.”  With all that hollowing, engaging, and pulling in my stomach, guess what happened? Less food went in, more weight came off.  Matter of fact, my entire body shape changed.  My legs and waist elongated.  Cellulite I’d long since given up on, started to shed.  The first time I heard one trainer state “this will help rid cellulite,” I laughed out loud.  That leg workout was no walk in the park.  But she was right.

As you can see, fitness is not a “one size fits all” endeavor.  Training involves understanding what you enjoy (and despise), as well as knowing what you want to accomplish; besides weight loss.  That will happen.  Once the weight is gone, what’s your end game?  Long, lean, toned?  Muscular arms and thighs? Running a marathon? Running a mile?  How much time do you have to spend training?  On maintenance?  What are you willing to sacrifice to get there?  Yes, I said sacrifice.  When you answer these questions, you can transform.  And not by someone’s theory, newest book, or trend.  Sure they may help.  Yet in the end, it’s not about how they did it, it’s about how you do it.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at

Working out isn’t working….the lowdown on lowfat

3 piece cakes Overindulgence–I mean the holidays, are upon us.  If you are contemplating your New Year’s resolution, why not start now? If like previous years it includes weight loss, now is perfect time to start.

While this early jumpstart borders on obscene to many, let me explain.  What I’m discussing here has more to do with what is deemed low-fat, and the subsequent choices you make because of this label.  So I’m not asking you to skip the sweet potato pie, homemade fudge, or any of the countless treats associated with this time of year–just yet.  What I am suggesting is if your favorite goodie is being hailed as low-fat, see if it measures up.


Low fat is a term that can be quite misleading.  Oftentimes, it leads us to believe we can double up on something, because it’s low-fat.  That’s not really the manufacturers’ fault.  It’s what in our head–the idea that is planted is what gets us into trouble.  Well nothing uproots the subjective, like the objective.  So here it is.


Before we make our fat-free discovery, let’s look at what protein, carbs, as well as fat equals.  This is a calculation I learned from an ACSM seminar for personal trainers.

Carbohydrates and proteins contain the same number of kilocalories.  That number is 4.  Fat equals 9.  So to recap, you might want to remember:

Fats=9 kcal/gram

Carbs=4 kcal/gram

Protein=4 kcal/gram

Let’s suppose you want to buy low-fat RED VELVET ice cream.

According to the label, it contains 5 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of fat.  Caloric content per serving is 140 calories/half cup.

By percentage, this is how our ice cream breaks down.

Protein:  5 x 4kcal (protein)=20 calories   20 divided by 140=0.143 or 14%

Carbs:    6 x 4kcal(carbohydrate)=24 calories   24 divided by 140=0.171 or 17%

Fat:        12 x 9kcal(fats) =108 calories   108 divided by 140=0.771 or 77%

If our calculations are correct, our ice cream is almost 80% fat.  Is this still the choice you would make, if you truly want low-fat?


By now, most of us realize labels touting “low-fat, sugar-free, gluten-free,” doesn’t mean “calorie free.”  Artificial sweeteners have been linked to actually making our bodies crave real sugar.  Gluten free foods often substitute fats and sugar to give the food texture and taste, to replace gluten.  Naturally, if you are gluten sensitive or require gluten-free foods, that’s another story.  Low fat?  Well…

If you are going to indulge over the holidays, and let’s face it, few don’t–keep it real.  Better to eat a little less, exercise a little more, and consider an intermittent fast, if you are able.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at

Is this the face of the enemy?

I'm not the enemy   CARBS–bread, pasta, rice, just to name a few–are part of an ever-expanding hit list.  By the way, let’s not forget about this either.milk & bread  Does anyone besides me, recall athletes and celebrities lining up to wear the milk mustache?  You couldn’t open a magazine (especially health & fitness) and not see this ad.  What about the “milk your diet,” commercials?  They’re not that old.

In the quest to become fitter, thinner, and more svelte, seems we’ve lost a few friends (yes friends) along the way; not to mention more than a few nutrients.

Let me back up a minute first.

If you have celiac disease, gluten is definitely not your friend.  If you are lactose intolerant, you know what too much dairy can do to you.  Those who struggle with these issues–I am not making light of your symptoms, or your need to watch your intake.

That being said, let’s take a look at our dietary hit list.


If you are attempting to cut fat, but won’t give up real milk, maybe you’ve switched to skim.  Realize then, you may be cutting back on some key nutrients as well.  Vitamin D and calcium are two.  However, if you are looking for a less caloric alternative, you can try almond milk.  It contains more calcium, with fewer calories.  Almond milk for me though, is an acquired taste.  It is much thicker.  I find myself drinking less of it, because of the density.  Yes you can add H20 to it.  But then, how much of the nutrients are you really obtaining?  Who knows.  Because of this, I’m not sure how much of an alternative to milk this really is; at least for me.  An alternative (however healthy) has to be a substitution which fills or exceeds the expectation of what is being replaced.  This means content, appearance, and in this case–taste.  Vitamin content may be there.  Less fat and calories sound great.  If getting it down you or your family is questionable, how viable is this?  You be the judge.

I am persistent though.  I bought almond milk combined with coconut milk, and find it enjoyable in tea.


Our crusty friend seems to have fallen out of favor–except in private.  He seems to be what one relishes in private, but publically–not so much.  We say we’re cutting back.  Or, “I don’t eat bread anymore.  Pasta isn’t even in my house.  Flour?  I gave that up long ago–and I’ve lost so much weight!”   Bread and pasta especiallyseem to have taken on the persona some people may take in our lives.  But that’s another discussion–one well outside my scope of practice.

Bread has been called the staff of life–and for good reason.  It was and continues to be a staple in most households.  True, our choices may have changed.  We don’t buy the white bread our parents did.  Our choice is usually grainier, lighter or thicker depending upon our tastes, and maybe gluten-free.  If you wonder whether you need to be gluten-free, check out my post “Do I really need to be gluten-free?”  It is dated 7/10/13.

My question as with any deprivation is this:  what am I sacrificing?  We all want weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.  Most of us are willing to make the changes necessary to this end.  Like milk, have you considered the vitamins you may be giving up?  If cutting the fat and sugar is your goal, you may want to re-think your gluten-free choices.  Something has to give that bread or pasta taste and texture.

As with exercise routines, before you jump on the latest trend, do your research.  Side by side label comparisons in-store can be quite a revelation; especially if you’re trying to cut calories.  On a budget?  Then you definitely need to invest some homework time.  If it’s not a fit for you or your family– however healthy, time-saving, or cost cutting it may be, it may not be your best bet.  That being said, your family doesn’t get a pass from eating healthier.  It just means you have to be a little more savvy and creative.

So tell your kids they probably won’t be getting a pass from eating their veggies.  And just to clarify, neither will you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Do I really need to be gluten free?

mecca & meadowGluten–another term we need to add to the “bad word” food vocabulary?  Let’s see–there’s sugar, in ever-increasing circles dairy, and now gluten.

Last post, I wanted to dispel the myths behind the big “O.” Organic only foodies have made the rest of us feel not only lacking in education, but find it necessary on some sites, to discuss the girth of our stomachs and backsides.  Of course, its only done in the name of non-organic heathens (such as myself) seeing the error of our ways, and improving our health.  Indeed.

For me, the jury is still out on this one–and maybe on an extended holiday.

Once again, like that proverbial dose of castor oil without the spoonful of sugar, I’m here to help.  At the very least, share another point of view. Is Gluten Bad for You?  Also, What the Heck are You Eating?

Both articles give solid information about gluten, who should be gluten-free, and if gluten-free living is really worth the hype.

Briefly, gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye.  While those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have cause for concern, the rest of us need not buy into its defamation.  You may also be surprised that food labeled “gluten-free,” may pack more calories.  Why?  Gluten adds not only texture, but in many cases, taste.  In order to keep your taste buds happy, a substitute must be found–probably in the form of some type of fat.

In our quest for healthier lifestyles, it is easy to pitfall.  Before you do, and especially before you lighten your wallet in the name of that quest, ask yourself:  Does this change make sense in my life?  Does it address my specific needs?  If you are trying to lose weight, will this change help or hinder you?  How?  Lastly, how attainable & sustainable is this change–especially once you’ve met your goals?

Theories come and go–decade by decade, year by year, often hour by hour.  Avail yourself of the prevailing knowledge; but understand this:  Its only relevance is how relevant it is to you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments? Contact me at