Category Archives: Nutrition

This Is Incredible News!

Nutrition and exercise

This is incredible news! For years we have been hearing…

If we want to lose weight and live longer, that diet and exercise are 2 things we need to change. But that’s kind of vague.

I agree that nutrition and exercise are important. But to be more specific, I believe we need to consistently consume the highest quality foods, exercise regularly with intensity, and get 8 hours of sleep every night if we wish to live longer. And have more vitality…

I like to call it The Health Triad. And the article I reference below gives hope and reinforcement to this valuable advice.

One of my main motivators for eating clean, exercising with intensity, and getting 8 hours of sleep on most nights has been a desire to keep my arteries clear.

Hey, I don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke. So there’s only one way to do my part to prevent it. I’ve gotta take care of myself.

After reading this article, I’m going to enhance my description about keeping my arteries clear, to keeping my arteries “clear and flexible”.

Here are 2 takeaways from the article:

One: There are 7 risk factors that age us faster. These include:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Elevated cholesterol
  3. High blood sugar
  4. Inactivity
  5. Poor diet
  6. Obesity
  7. Smoking

Two: We can lower the risk of heart disease by staying active and eating well, which works to keep our blood vessels healthy and keep our arteries youthful.

I’m not a doctor, but here’s my belief. Unless you have a serious lifelong medical condition, you have control over every one of these conditions.

Nutrition and exercise

And the prescription is nutrition, exercise and sleep – period.

I’m in! How ‘bout you?

Still not convinced. Read the article…

You CAN be as a healthy as a 20-year-old in your 70s: Staying active and eating well keeps arteries youthful and lowers the risk of heart disease by up to 55%. Researchers from Boston University found being physically active, eating well and not smoking increases the health of our blood vessels by up to 10 times, lowering our heart disease risk.

’70 is the new 20′ seems like a bit of a stretch.

But even if these best practices add 20 or 30 years to your life, it sure seems worth the effort.

Click here to read the full story.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

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A New Approach To Wellness

This week, I’m sharing a podcast episode that I believe resonates with this blog’s focus. It’s titled “A New Approach To Wellness”.

Wellness

In it, Chris Kresser discusses how a healthy diet can reverse many of the health conditions that sideline 50% of American adults.

Chronic illnesses that are preventable!

These preventable illnesses include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Stroke
  3. Cancer
  4. Type 2 diabetes
  5. Obesity

I firmly believe that these illnesses can be prevented, reversed, and eliminated by what I refer to as “The Health Triad”.

Wellness

This is where nutrition, exercise, and sleep become the foundation to a healthy lifestyle that’s focused on longevity and vitality. Instead of inactivity and instant gratification.

Great health & wellness only happens when you have a long-term vision, and blend consistency with healthy habits that get results.

Or, on rare occasions when a medical emergency strikes (as a result of facing one of the 5 preventable illnesses due to years of neglect), and you’re forced to make significant lifestyle changes.

But unfortunately, this isn’t even enough of a motivator to make those necessary changes, many times.

If better health & vitality interests you, then you’ll find a wealth of information and takeaways here. And I hope you learn from and enjoy this wellness podcast as much as I did.

Here’s the link:

A New Approach To Wellness podcast

And if you’d like to learn more about Chris Kresser, go to www.chriskresser.com.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

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This Is The End…

This is the endor is it? I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Is it over, or the start of something awesome?

That’s up to you to decide.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s only the beginning.

Why am I asking this question?

Well, we just completed our “6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality” program and I’m curious how you’re feeling.

It’s time to turn the page. This is a new chapter. Are you on track, or do you need to catch up?

Some of you are celebrating the completion of a successful program, and continuing on your journey. While others are lamenting because they gave up too soon and didn’t follow through.

Which one describes you?

Either way, you have results to validate your level of commitment.

Better health & vitality

But today is a new day. And it’s never too late to start. Or to continue on the trail you’re blazin’ to better health & vitality.

Stop searching for “quick fix” and get to work. You can do this.

We all have one life to live, and plenty of opportunities to get it right. There’s no time to worry about past mistakes; only a need to learn from them and move on.

We can’t stop the clock. And there’s no turning back.

There’s only one thing to do. And the time to do it is now.

So stop thinking about it, and…

Better health & vitalityWe are 100% responsible for our choices, actions, and decisions.

There is no room or need for excuses. Besides, excuses just make you look lazy and weak.

So don’t go there. Instead, decide on one element to focus on for better health & vitality, and start doing something about it. Today!

Need some ideas?

How about:

  • Increasing the amount of water you drink.
  • Exercising 3 days a week.
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Cleaning up your eating habits.
  • Walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • Consuming higher quality, nutrient dense calories.
  • Meditating for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pick one and stick with it for a month or two. Make it a habit, then add another one.

Piece of cake… No, check that (sorry, poor choice of words).

Easy, right?

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

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Been There, Done That. Now Don’t Get Tripped Up…

This week, we wrap up this month’s habit on “calories”, which completes our “6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality” program. In this final post, I’d like to show you where it’s easy to get tripped up when you’re trying to make healthier choices.

It’s a common problem, and it derails far too many people.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you there. We’ll discuss ideas to help you avoid these obstacles so you can stay on track for better health, despite the challenges along your journey.

But first, I want to share an alarming statistic.

It’s been widely reported that excess abdominal fat puts added stress on the heart, which increases the likelihood of heart failure.

6 pillars program

In a recent analysis involving 12 studies and more than 360,000 people, they found that every 4-inch increase in waist size ‘added’ a 29% chance of heart failure.

WOW!!! That sounds painful. And preventable.

There’s no way I’m going to let my gut put me in an early grave. Or cause me to have my chest cracked open.

Sure seems like an incentive to change a few habits, doesn’t it?

Personally, I’d rather eat right and exercise than have that hanging over me. How about you?

I think Jim Rohn said it best… “There are two types of pain you will go through in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

Let me help you find a way to eliminate this.

Plenty of things are vying for our attention… like friends, family, and co-workers. Busy schedules, work demands, hobbies, and personal commitments. And how about social media, smartphone notifications, the media, and of course our thoughts, just to name a few.

Your list may be longer. And in most cases, aside from the good that you may gain from some of them, these “attention grabbers” usually result in one thing.

They’re a distraction!

More accurately, they can disrupt your plans and interfere with your health & wellness initiative (if you allow them to).

The point being, when you’re trying to make healthier choices and build better habits, it’s easy to get tripped up when life happens and distractions occur, despite your good intentions.

You intend to eat something nutritious, but you’re on the run and short on time. So you grab a highly processed snack because it’s fast and easy; instead of eating the macronutrient-rich meal or snack you planned for.

You think, “At least it says ‘low fat’; or ‘lightly sweetened’; or ‘organic’… So it must be okay.”

Maybe it’s a power bar or a sports drink. That’s good for you, right? Not exactly!

Or worse, you stop at a drive-thru. NOOOoooo!!!

Here are some ways and places where your nutrition and exercise plans could be compromised.

  • A hectic work schedule
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Vacation
  • Business trips
  • Family functions
  • Going out with friends
  • Holidays
  • Late nights
  • Old habits
  • Running behind schedule
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Deceptive marketing

Or just fill in the                       .

Think about what trips you up. Your Achilles Heel.

OK, now that you’ve thought about it, what can you do?

How can you take control, at least most of the time?

6 pillars program

I have some ideas. 10 to be exact…

See if any of these can help:

  1. Keep snacks with you. For example, I like to keep bags of nuts on hand. Like at my desk, in my car, and in laptop bag. And fresh fruit and veggies for the day while I’m on the road.
  2. Prepare and pack those snacks in advance to grab on the run. Otherwise, spare a few extra minutes before you leave to get them together. And remember your water too.
  3. Brown bag it. This makes your lunch decision easy and healthy. And it will probably save you a few bucks too.
  4. Eat before you go out. Yep, especially if you’re going to a function, a party, or even dinner. This way you’ll have had something nutritious and won’t be starving. Which could cause you to opt for less healthy choices. Then you can just “pick” while you’re out.
  5. Eat to 80% full. Your brain will catch up with your stomach if you give it a few minutes. And you’ll feel much better. Think about those times when you think or say “I’m so full”, or “I ate too much”. How do you feel during those moments?
  6. Avoid fast food like poison. I know it’s difficult sometimes when you’re out. It seems like 90% of your ‘options’ are garbage when you’re trying to eat clean. And they are unfortunately! That’s where the first 3 or 4 tips above can help.
  7. Don’t let 5 + 2 = 0. This is where you work hard to stay on track all week, only to throw it all away on the weekend. Late nights and some alcohol will usually sabotage your efforts. I’m not suggesting that you avoid having fun. Just trying to bring awareness to a vicious cycle that can leave you wondering why nothing is working. But it’s one you can easily fix.
  8. Get balanced. Aim for 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat with every meal. Opt for quality – complex or fibrous carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat whenever possible.
  9. Strive for 95, as Carol Merlo puts it. Stop chasing perfection, and beating yourself up when you fall short. Perfection isn’t practical so set your sights on getting it right 95% of the time. And lighten up a little. Go for progress, not perfection.
  10. Learn from feedback. Mistakes and failure are both good things if you learn from them. And these are usually our most valuable and memorable lessons. So, don’t be afraid. Instead, relax and embrace these teachable moments.

6 pillars program

As we wrap up the last post of our 6 Pillars program, I want to say thank you. Especially to our pilot group students.

Those of you who stuck with the 6 Pillars program have met or exceeded your weight loss goals. You’ve learned some valuable lessons and have built sustainable habits that are now part of you and your new healthy lifestyle.

And remember, even if you didn’t reach your goal yet, you’ve come a long way. Because you have the results to prove it. Nice work!

If you participated in the 6 Pillars program as a loyal follower of this blog, I am extremely grateful. And I congratulate you as well. I’m proud of you. And you should be too.

And finally, thanks goes out to everyone for keeping me accountable.

Let me know how the 6 Pillars program helped you. I’d love to hear:

  • What was most beneficial?
  • And most challenging?
  • What do you struggle with?
  • And what was your “a ha” moment?

Your feedback is always greatly appreciated.

If you’re new to us and would like to learn about the 6 Pillars program, and how to incorporate these 6 healthy habits into your life, you can link back to the first post of the series here.

And I’d like to ask one final…

6 pillars program

Who do you know that could benefit from a life-changing transformation in their health & wellness? I’m building a waiting list for another 6 Pillars pilot program.

So let me know, or share this.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Improve Your Nutrition

If you improve your nutrition by eliminating (or significantly reducing) refined sugar, fast food, and processed junk from your diet, you will lose weight and feel better. And these benefits will compound over time, and pay tremendous dividends.

“Essentially, you’re investing in yourself. So it’s the best investment you’ll ever make!” ~ John Dolan

As we’ve already established in The 6th Habit Is Here, calories are not a habit. But the role we allow them to play in our lives is essential. And it’s important to acknowledge that there are 2 integral parts to “calories”. The ones we consume and the ones we burn.

This week we will focus on the consuming side of calories. I believe nutrition is the foundation to a healthy lifestyle. Which is why we need to make great nutrition a priority. Something we focus on consistently, every day.

  • If you’re in the habit of eating clean, that’s great. But don’t settle. Find ways to improve your nutrition even further, while helping others to improve their approach too.
  • If your nutrition habits suck, draw a line in the sand today. And begin to improve your nutrition immediately.

But what does “improve your nutrition” mean?

It starts with your mindset, and your long-term perspective about your longevity. This will be reflected in your choices. For example:

  • Consistently choosing to fuel your body with the highest quality nutrients, based on your lifestyle and schedule will become a healthy habit.
  • Deciding what you will eat and tolerate, what you will minimize, and what is off limits because it has no value to offer.

But let me clarify a very important description. The word “DIET” is used in many different contexts.

Improve your nutrition

Here’s what I mean when I use the word “DIET”. I am referring to everything you eat, and drink. The foods you consume every day to nourish and fuel your mind and body.

Unprocessed, whole foods. Lean protein, fibrous and starchy carbs, and healthy fats. Preparing meals “clean” without a lot of added butter, breading, or heavy creamy (high-fat) sauces.

Unfortunately, based on conditioning, here’s what most of us think of when we hear “DIET”:

  • A restrictive, calorie-cutting regimen that leaves you hungry or craving more after every meal.
  • A “program” you have to buy and then follow by purchasing specially-prepared meals.
  • Counting calories, weighing your portions, saying no, and being miserable.
  • A bulk supply of magic pills or supplements you need to buy.
  • A quick fix cleanse or crash program to drop a “quick 40”.

These are usually restrictive and unsustainable for any length of time, which makes them dangerous and bogus in my book.

Improve your nutrition

And that’s unfortunate.

It’s quick fix for a quick buck, which doesn’t lead to a healthy lifestyle.

More like a scam than a diet.

Instead, consider the following as you design your healthy lifestyle:

Think grilled instead of fried. Steamed instead of sautéed in butter. Marinade or dry rub instead of heavy, creamy sauces. Plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fat.

Our diet should be about preparing and consuming quality nutrition. Making sure to reach our macronutrient ratios.

And sorry, but fast food and highly processed meals and snacks need to be avoided, and eliminated. There is no value or rational reason to consume this crap.

Think portion control and plate management with nutrient-dense macronutrients instead of having to follow restrictive tactics like cutting carbs, or having to buy specially-prepared meals, which teach you NOTHING about how to improve your nutrition.

Look at the big picture by focusing on developing long term habits with patience. Lose the quick fix mentality and the need for immediate gratification.

And please don’t follow this all-too-common approach, which is not healthy or helpful. Did you ever hear or say this before?

“I know I’m 40 pounds overweight, but I need to lose it for the summer. Oh crap, it’s already June. I need an extreme diet or cleanse so I can be ready for the 4th of July!”

Really?

Stop looking for shortcuts; there are none.

My goal for this post is to raise awareness about the “calorie side” of nutrition. And it only happens when you start by eating cleaner and consuming better-quality calories.

Are you giving yourself the best possible nutrients?

Or have you been cutting corners and depriving yourself by consuming fast food and processed crap because you’re supposedly too busy to improve your nutrition?

And I can’t help but briefly mention the other side of calories.

Oooh, the burn.

Improve your nutrition

How’s your exercise habit? Are you consistent and going at it with intensity? Or just going through the motions with little enthusiasm, and experiencing lackluster results?

You know the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out!”

There are 2 proven ways to effectively manage calories. Through great nutrition and intense exercise.

I can tell you first-hand that by incorporating our 6 Pillars (To Better Health & Longevity) into your life, amazing things will begin to happen. But you need to be patient. And disciplined.

By planning and making the “best” choices every day. Then, before you know it, your choices and habits start compounding, and the results start flowing.

Improve your nutrition

And momentum kicks in!

Hey, I never told you this would be easy. But it’s really not difficult either. It’s just not going to happen overnight. So learn to enjoy the ride, and the challenges along the way. It’s invaluable feedback that you’ll never forget.

It’s YOUR choice!

So let me give you some suggestions:

  1. Learn more about nutrition (good and bad) so you can start to make better choices.
  2. When you eat out, ask your server to have your meal prepared how you want it. As clean as possible. And realize that food prepared in a restaurant will have more calories than when you cook at home. So apply a bit more portion control.
  3. Look at food labels or nutritional values before selecting something. There’s definitely an app for that. Be wary of excess sugar, sodium, and ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  4. Make a commitment to make healthier choices by planning and preparing in advance.
  5. Learn to be grateful. About everyone and everything in your life. For the opportunity and ability to change your situation. And the results you are achieving.

What else can you do?

It’s time to clean house! Literally…

Improve your nutrition

Remove any temptation of unhealthy, processed snacks and junk food from your home.

How?

Get an empty garbage bag and toss it all! Yes, throw it out. All of it. Seriously…

It’s not doing you any good. So why keep it around?

And don’t give it away, or worry about how much you spent on it. Just dump it and move on.

Treat it like poison.

Can you do it?

I know, it’s not easy. But think about it this way. If you found a poisonous substance in your home, what would you do?

Exactly… so just get rid of it please!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Fear is a Liar!

Healthy choices

The “unknown” can be fearful. But thanks to technology, we all have access to a wealth of information at our fingertips. Yet some unscrupulous companies still market by fear. I am here to tell you that fear is a liar!

Don’t buy into it or fall for it.

Remember the classic Blue Oyster Cult song Don’t Fear The Reaper? It was based on the inevitability of death, and the belief that we shouldn’t fear it.

And I agree, we shouldn’t fear death. But we should make better choices… now. And do whatever we can to live a long, healthy, happy, prosperous, and active life.

Let me ask, do you know anyone who is afraid of things?

Like heights, flying, speaking in public? Or perhaps, failure…?

How about when it comes to food?

No, not broccoli or Brussel sprouts. I’m referring to anyone that fears carbohydrates. Or fat. And then avoids them because they believe (carbs or fat) is what’s causing them to be overweight.

I hope you’re not one of them!

I’m not either, but it pisses me off to hear someone say it! Mainly because it’s so wrong, and they’re so uninformed.

But “supposed” authorities will lead you to believe this untruth to promote their agenda, book, supplements, or new “magic” claim.

Your body CANNOT survive without ALL 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat. So don’t believe it when you’re told that you should eliminate any of them.

Here’s my take. It’s all about how you look at it. Carbs are not bad. But some are better for you than others. And there are some you should consider avoiding altogether. Especially if you need to lose weight and get in shape.

Why?

They’re just not going to help you achieve your goal.

So go for the healthier, more nutrient-dense carbs. Like raw or steamed veggies, fresh fruits, and whole instead of refined grains. And avoid the less healthy, highly processed options. Like food that comes in a box. Or pizza, pasta, and chips or other junk snacks.

Healthy choices

The same can is true for fat and protein as well. Focus on the healthiest and highest quality choices.

Last week I made a comment about how the quality of your calories matters. For example, bagels and broccoli are both carbs. But one is clearly better than the other. So the takeaway is to eat more “broccoli-type” fibrous carbs, and ease up on the bagels.

So, if you were planning to have a mid-afternoon snack, you could:

  • Eat an apple with a scoop of peanut butter and a bottle of water.
  • Have a bag of chips with onion dip and a can of diet soda.
  • Grab a Snickers and a Snapple out of the vending machine.
  • Stop by McDonalds for a cheeseburger, fries, and a small soda.
  • Have a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
  • Skip the snack, become ravenous, stop by happy hour for a beer, catch a buzz, then overeat at dinner.

Are these recommendations? Except for the first one, NO!

The point being, you can approach your nutrition in many ways. And the quality of the contents that you’re “fueling” your body with will have an impact in the short and long term.

Like your energy level and productivity in the next few hours. And down the road with your waistline, heart health, and longevity.

Hey, it’s the Compound Effect in its simplest form. And it’s always at work, either for or against us. Based on what we do or don’t do. So doesn’t it make more sense to delay gratification and begin to make better choices that will produce significant results in the future?

And I can’t help but make another blatantly obvious point. Since the quality of our calories matters, it’s essential to fuel our body with the highest quality “macros” to ensure the compound effect is working in our favor.

For example, good quality fibrous and starchy carbs should typically make up 50% of our daily calories.

It’s obvious that you’ll benefit way more from snacking on a plate of raw veggies with hummus instead a bagel with cream cheese. Or yogurt with fresh fruit instead of a slice of pie. How about a handful of nuts instead of a candy bar? Even if the candy has nuts in it…

And we need to let healthy fat make up at least 20% of our daily calories.

Yes, even if you’re overweight and trying to slim down. Healthy fat and Omega 3 fatty acids (mostly found in certain cold water fish) are your friend, and not to be avoided.

So consider snacking on a small cup of olives instead of chips and salsa. Or a handful of nuts or seeds instead of a few cookies. How about some olive oil with fresh lemon juice as a salad dressing instead of the creamy ‘whatever’ option?

The devil is in the details… And your choices matter! For you, and for those around you.

Healthy choicesIf you’re thinking, “C’mon John!, pick up the pace and tell us something we don’t already know”. Then I have to ask, “If this is so basic, then…”

  • Why are vending machines still around?
  • Why are there SO MANY fast food joints?
  • Why are supermarkets so stocked with junk food?
  • Why are two-thirds of us over-weight?
  • Why are healthy lunch choices so difficult to find, unless you bring your own?

Obviously, it’s because too many people are still buying this crap! And it needs to STOP!

It blows my mind that people can be so lazy, unaware, and neglectful about their health & wellness?

This is the ONE and ONLY body we get to drive.

Each of us are unique and amazing miracles! We have ONE lifetime to work it out. And that one lifetime affords us so many chances and opportunities to get it right.

But the clock is ticking…

Healthy choicesSo WTF are you waiting for???

Getting back to my initial comments about fearing things. Like carbs and fats. Here’s what I think more people should be afraid of:

  • Sugar.
  • Fast food.
  • Processed food.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Being over-weight.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Heart disease, including a heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Cancer.
  • Cigarettes.
  • Having to rely on prescription drugs.
  • Dying too young because you didn’t take better care of yourself.

Most or all of this could be prevented with better nutrition and exercise. And it all starts with the choices we make, which influence the habits we build, and impacts the disciplines we develop. You have more control over your future than you possibly realize.

So it may be that the enemy within is your choices. And the result of your ignorance (or laziness) about nutrition and exercise.

Or your preference to “coast” down the comfortable and easy road instead of the one less traveled. BTW, there’s only one way to coast – just sayin’

Know that YOU can change your direction. The ball is in your court.

And please, please, please…

Don’t buy into extreme or highly restrictive diets. Stay away from quick fix claims. Like lose 30 pounds in 30 days. These DIETS are not sustainable. And the odds are stacked against you.

Unfortunately, you’ll eventually end up gaining it all back. And then some, which is even worse.

And finally, stay away from gimmicks, like what I am about to show you below. You’ve gotta check this out. It’s freakin’ unbelievable!!!

Healthy choices

Whatever you do, DON’T buy this crap!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

The 6th Habit Is Here

Can you believe the 6th habit is here? You’ve accumulated 5 months of healthy habits to your credit. You’re awesome!

Calories

Are your efforts beginning to materialize and compound?

It’s a new month and we are launching the 6th and final habit in our 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program. But this doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re just beginning

My overall goal is for you to lose the weight you need to, so you can benefit from improved health and longevity as you make these 6 habits your own. Part of your new healthy lifestyle.

Sure, there’s some effort required, but doesn’t anything worthwhile require some work? Of course it does. And you are well worth every bit of this and more!

Besides, these habits are designed to be sustainable. It’s pretty simple stuff when you think about it. And the payoff ‘in the form of results’ is HUGE! Life-changing in fact.

So, what is our 6th habit? Drum roll please………………

Your 6th healthy habit is…

Calories

I know what you’re thinking – “WTH? Calories aren’t a habit!”.

Okay, you’re right. But stay with me as I explain my thinking here and make it abundantly clear.

Calories play an important role in our lives.

And some people would lead you to believe that it’s only about calories in and calories out – PERIOD.

It’s not! But in a way, it is. However, there’s more to it.

So over the next 4 weeks, we’ll unpack this concept and make it easy to understand, and follow.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.

Science has proven that a difference in the number of calories consumed vs. the number of calories burned will result in either a loss or an increase in body weight, over time.

It’s indisputable; however, there may be other factors at play.

Calories

My objective for this habit is to increase your awareness about “calories”. And help you incorporate some meaningful healthy disciplines around this important yet misunderstood topic.

I will teach you how to turbocharge your metabolism and turn your body into a fat-burning machine that starts to build lean muscle.

Calories

And this happens when you activate the Health Triad by stoking your metabolic furnace with great nutrition, intense exercise, and adequate sleep.

And it’s all natural…

So stop chasing the latest diets and supplements. Those quick-fix gimmicks only play to your emotions, and are designed to lighten your wallet; not trim your waistline.

Diets are not the answer… even though they’ve been around for years. If they worked, wouldn’t 90% of us be thin?

And it’s not just about going to the gym either. There are plenty of people that exercise every day, yet can’t seem to lose weight.

If this describes you, then break the cycle. If you’ve been dieting and exercising for years, and are frustrated by lackluster results, then GO to the beginning of this program. Commit to 6 months, follow the program, and enjoy your transformation. You can do this!

Now back to this week’s topic.

Let’s begin with some calorie basics.

  1. What’s a calorie?

A calorie is simply a unit of energy. Nutritionally, calories refer to 2 things. Energy “consumption” based on what we eat and drink. And energy “usage” that we burn through physical activity.

  1. Why are calories important?

We need energy (calories) to live. And we acquire this energy directly from the food and drinks we consume. Without this energy, we wouldn’t survive.

  1. How many calories do you need?

We each have a specific number of calories that our bodies require to function properly. Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is a metric that quantifies the actual number of calories your body needs to consume daily, including any calories you burn during exercise and physical activity.

TDEE is calculated by scaling your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR; not BMI) to your level of activity. Your BMR is the amount of energy expressed in calories that your body needs to function at rest.

But don’t try to calculate this manually. There are plenty of good online calculators. Click here for a TDEE calculator.  And if you’d like to calculate your BMR separately, click here.

Your TDEE calculation is the first step in identifying the number of calories you need to consume every day. And remember, as your weight, age, and activity level changes, so does your TDEE.

But there’s one thing I don’t want you to calculate. That’s your body mass index (BMI). In my opinion, BMI is an inaccurate, ridiculous statistic that means nothing. So I want you to forget about it.

  1. What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Macronutrients perform vital functions and supply our bodies with energy (aka calories). The 3 main types of macronutrients our bodies need include protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Calories

  1. Calorie math.

Let’s take a closer look at how these add up.

  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Fat contains 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram*

*Alcohol is obviously not a macronutrient because it is not necessary for survival. But it does provide energy, and the calories do add up. In the United States, a standard drink (which is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. So, at a minimum of 98 calories per drink with NO nutritional value, it’s easy to see why alcohol is referred to as “empty calories”.

  1. Quality matters.

Bigtime! As it does with so many things in life, the quality of our food choices makes a big difference. And it’s not only limited to the food we consume. It includes the intensity we put into our exercise. There’s that “calories in – calories out” thing again.

Some best practices:

  1. If you’re trying to lose weight, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep a food journal. This will allow you to evaluate what you’re actually eating. Keep it for a week or two.

Track everything you eat and drink by date and time. Also note exactly what you consumed, including the size of your portion or volume of the container. The purpose of the food journal is to simply track everything you consume. Not to judge it or over-think it. You need a point of reference, and there’s no better place to start than where you are today.

Remember, we’re trying to make better choices, to build better habits, which will ultimately develop sustainable disciplines for lasting results and lifelong happiness.

  1. Weigh yourself every morning. As long as you understand that sometimes your weight will fluctuate based on what you did or didn’t do the day before. You may also retain water differently on some days. So don’t be consumed by the number day by day.

The main point about doing this every day (at about the same time and under the same conditions) is for the feedback you receive. That number staring back at you can give you clues about what’s working and what’s not. And that information is invaluable.

  1. Wear a heart rate monitor when you exercise. This will help you measure your exercise intensity and track your actual calorie burn. Go to polar.com for options.

We have only skimmed the surface here. Next week we will continue the discussion, and I’ll share some of my frustration about the health & wellness industry.

CaloriesThank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

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Clean Up Your Act!

There’s plenty of evidence that proves the importance of eating a clean, well-balanced diet. One that consists of mainly whole foods and avoids processed ones. Which is why I want to help you clean up your act. To lose weight, achieve great health, and live longer.

Eat clean

Eating clean takes more time and effort, which makes stopping at a drive-thru an easier choice. But how do you justify unhealthy food choices? And years of neglecting your body by eating this crap?

I have been thinking about eating habits.

And although we’re all different, with varying tastes and preferences, I think we can categorize most of our eating patterns into 3 distinct profiles:

  1. Those who eat clean.
  2. Those who don’t eat clean.
  3. Those who want or try to eat clean, but still don’t.

We’re in the last week of our 4th habit – eating clean. I hope this new habit is taking shape for you (as depicted below). As you clean up your eating habits, you will begin to look better and feel great from the consistent daily steps of improving your nutrition.

Eat clean

Last week we discussed eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies. And no, that’s not a rainbow on the left.

Earlier this month in the “Eat Clean, or Else” post, we discussed why it’s essential to reach our macronutrient targets, and why doing this with high quality foods makes such a difference.

This also means avoiding processed foods as much as possible. Every time food is touched (processed), the nutrient value declines. And the calories, unhealthy fat, sodium, and sugar usually rises. Along with some unhealthy additives and preservatives that only serve to increase shelf life and sabotage your health.

I would add a few other things to the “Avoid List”, as part of your healthy regimen. Including (but not limited to) fast food, anything fried, most appetizers, baked goods, junk snacks, soda, and candy.

You should also minimize your sugar and salt intake. And products made with white flour (like breads and pasta).

For my full list, click here.

I’m not saying you can never eat these things. But you should avoid them as much as possible. Especially if you’re overweight and trying to get fit. If this describes you, you need to avoid them all-together. Or at least until you get things under control.

They’re doing you no good.

If you’re serious about losing the weight and getting in shape, do yourself a big favor and stop eating this crap. You won’t miss it as the results start showing up.

Let me ask you a hypothetical question.

I want to re-frame the importance of eating clean by comparing your body to an expensive sports car. So here goes…

Eat clean

If you had the opportunity and the means to purchase a million-dollar sports car, would you hesitate for a second to go out of your way to give it the highest quality gas? Or hire the best mechanic and make sure to perform scheduled routine maintenance?

You’re thinking “That sounds ridiculous! And what does it have to do with eating clean?”.

I’ll agree that you can’t put a price tag on your life – that’s ridiculous! But the feeding and maintenance is spot on. The only real difference is that if you neglected your car, you could always buy another one.

But what’s your recourse for neglecting your body?

An organ transplant, you say. I disagree, unless it’s for a true medical condition.

But if that transplant is needed for years of compounded neglect, it won’t work. Why?

Because it doesn’t fix the root of the problem – YOU!

Here’s what I don’t understand. With all this information and proof, why do so many people continue to make bad food choices?

Eat clean

Eating clean is essential to our health and longevity.

Sure, eating clean may not be as fast or easy as stopping at a drive-thru, but it’s not hard.

And avoiding good nutrition by not eating clean leads to far too many problems. Like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke just to name a few.

I don’t know about you, but I will do anything and everything possible to avoid these life-altering diseases. Which eventually become life-ending.

And they’re so preventable! In fact, it’s also been proven that you can reverse the negative effects of these preventable diseases by eating better and exercising.

Eating better and exercising sounds like going out of your way to feed your expensive sports car “high test” fuel, then hitting the track for some laps. And performing routine maintenance sounds like seeing for your doctor for an annual physical exam and other routine check-ups.

So WTF???

It’s infuriating to see so many people neglecting themselves. And for what? Besides a heavy future price to pay!

Eat clean

Why wait for a medical emergency?

STOP making excuses!

And STOP putting other people’s priorities ahead of your own.

Are you’re thinking. “I’m too busy and don’t have enough time.” That describes everyone!

Maybe you don’t know where to start. Did you ever hear of the Internet, Google, or Thin2Win?

Too overwhelming? Then hire a professional. Even if only for a few sessions.

You’re worth it… Aren’t you?

You may discover that your medical insurance covers nutrition counseling. Look into it. And if you need recommendations for a registered dietitian, let me know.

Eating “dirty” is more prevalent (and popular) than eating “clean” is. It just doesn’t make sense when you can have it your way.

But I have a theory. I think “eating dirty” is due to:

  • It’s just easier.
  • Lack of discipline or neglect.
  • Convenience or speed.
  • You don’t know any better (which is NO excuse).
  • “Instant” gratification feels better than its counterpart – “delayed”.
  • It’s more pleasurable to do what’s fun and easy in the present than what’s necessary and perhaps more difficult for the future. Kind of like saving for retirement.
  • Martyr syndrome (putting other people’s needs ahead of your own).
  • Not being serious or committed (which makes no sense to me).
  • Too busy looking for the next “quick fix”, or magic pill supplement.

As far as I’m concerned, these are all unacceptable excuses. Are you just waiting for diabetes, a heart attack, or some other medical emergency to wake your ass up?

You have a choice. And if you can’t figure it out, then seek help from someone who has. Someone (like me!) who can help you make better choices and build sustainable habits.

No quick fixes or gimmicks. Commit to building your healthy habits one meal at a time. And before you know it, you’ll see results. Which will help to motivate your new healthy lifestyle.

I like how Darren Hardy put it in his best-selling book The Compound Effect. On page 59 he writes: “If you took a bite of a Big Mac and immediately fell to the ground clutching your chest from a heart attack, you might not go back for that second bite. If your next puff of a cigarette instantly mutated your face into that of a weathered eight-five-year-old, chances are you’d pass on that too. If you failed to make that tenth call today and were immediately fired and bankrupted, suddenly picking up the phone would be a no-brainer. And, if that first forkful of cake instantly put fifty pounds on your frame, saying ‘no thank you’ to dessert would be the true piece of cake.”

Great words of wisdom Darren. Results take time and effort.

If you haven’t read The Compound Effect, you should. And if you have read it, read it again. You’ll learn something new every time.

Our daily actions (our choices, habits, and decisions) are always compounding… in the form of either positive results, or negative consequences.

The good and the bad each take time to materialize. But here’s the cool thing. We get to decide what we want. And what we do.

So, clean up your act!

We can eat foods that nourish our body and our mind, that fight off disease. Or we can eat foods that eventually send us to an early grave. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want…

I’d like to wrap up by sharing a great article. It’s packed with 10 healthy eating tips that resonate with my philosophy. I hope you enjoy. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/healthy-eating.htm

Next week we start Habit #5. The weather is getting nicer and I think you’re going to like this one. In the meantime, start eating clean for your overall health for crying out loud!

Ok, I’m done ranting.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

How Many of These Do You Eat?

We all know that eating clean is directly responsible for our great health. And you follow this blog because you want to lose weight and get fit (or stay this way) for the rest of your life. Which begs the question, “how many of these do you eat?”.

Superfoods

I know what you’re thinking. “How many of ‘what’?”; and “What are ‘these’?”. Or maybe just “What the heck are you talking about?”.

Don’t worry, we’re going to unpack the answer to this obscure but important question as we continue to clean up our nutrition in this 3rd week of Pillar #4.

We will identify foods that pack a powerful nutritional punch, with the goal to help you start eating more of them.

Okay, so what are they?

They’re known as superfoods.

And we should all be eating more of them, because superfoods are typically nutrient-dense and low calorie. They are foods that contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals.

And it’s much better to get your vitamins directly from your food than from taking supplements.

Did you know that superfoods are high in fiber?

Fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Superfoods

Superfoods are also usually rich sources of antioxidants, which means they protect our bodies from the free-radicals that cause aging and cell damage.

And finally, fruits and vegetables contain natural chemicals called phytonutrients (aka phytochemicals), which help to keep our bodies working properly and prevent disease.

It’s often been said that you should “eat a rainbow”. Which basically means to eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day consisting of different colors.

SuperfoodsThere are plenty of documented “superfoods”. And many lists to promote the best of the best…

So instead providing another “Top 50” list, I have included some of my favorite superfoods, listed in no particular order of importance.

  • Broccoli (and other leafy greens like kale, spinach, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts)
  • Cauliflower (and other light colored veggies like bok choy, onions, and garlic)
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
  • Nuts (including walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachio)
  • Seeds (including pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax)
  • Fish (especially those high in Omega 3 fatty acids like salmon and sardines)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh fruit (including apples, bananas, avocados, kiwi, cantaloupe, watermelon…)
  • Whole Grains (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, and farro)
  • Beans (including lentils, black, white, and kidney)
  • Wine 😉 (in moderation of course)

My hope is that this list gets you started, then helps you remember to include more superfoods in your daily nutrition and meal plans.

As I’ve said over and over, I am not into diets. Especially as they’re typically marketed and portrayed for losing weight.

Why?

Because they are usually restrictive and prey on our emotions or weaknesses.

They’re short-term, quick-fix attempts that rarely teach us anything about nutrition, or how to get to the root of the weight-gain problem.

So they don’t work over a long period of time.

Superfoods

Which is why they fail most of the time.

This is not only unhelpful, it’s unhealthy. And for these reasons, traditional diets should be avoided. The same goes for the all-too-popular low-carb and low-fat diets.

Whether we’re trying to lose or maintain our healthy weight, we all need something that is sustainable, for a lifetime.

Healthy habits we can practice every day.

Not some foreign program with a finish line that doesn’t teach us anything about nutrition.

One that promotes eating to live; not living to eat  starve.

Everyone also NEEDS to eat ALL 3 macronutrients to survive, and should aim for 50% carbs, 30% lean protein, and 20% healthy fats. With every meal. Which is why my mantra is…

Eating clean will keep you lean!

Here are a few articles I found to be informative and helpful.

So, back to my original question. How many of these do you eat?

And remember to make it as colorful as possible.

The takeaway here is to make superfoods part of your daily nutrition plan.

The more the better. Let’s try to add a few this week as part of our new eating clean habit.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

“Have It Your Way”

Eating clean

“Have it your way, have it your way…”.

Remember that slogan from 30 years ago? Can ‘ya hear it?

And no, I’m not suggesting that you go to Burger King. That would be a ridiculous recommendation.

Eating clean

But their slogan is relevant for today’s advice.

In today’s fast-paced society, eating in restaurants has become a regular occurrence. Especially when you consider the potential of at least 3 meals a day, and the number of hours most people work. The odds that you will eat out at least a few times a week are very high.

Which can become a BIG problem.

One that slowly compounds over time if you’re not careful.

I find it astonishing to see the food choices that people make. And especially for dinner. No, not kids. I’m talking about adults.

Things like mac ‘n cheese, nachos, fried mozzarella, quesadillas, deep dish pizza, bacon cheeseburger with fries, wings or sliders, a full rack of baby back ribs, or Alfredo and other heavy, creamy sauces.

Not sure if it’s due to a lack of knowledge, laziness, or simply neglect. I try not to be judgmental, but it’s worrisome.

If you consider a greasy app, a large entrée, and maybe even dessert, it’s a lot of food. Add a couple drinks to the mix and…

You’re easily over 2,500 calories.

For ONE MEAL.

For most, that’s a whole day of calories. Not to mention all the unhealthy salt, sugar, and artery clogging saturated fat.

It’s disgusting! And should be illegal.

What if this happens 3 times a week? Or more…

Eating clean

You better loosen your belt, then rethink your strategy.

Is it any wonder why this reckless approach to eating is causing obesity rates to rise? Or medical insurance costs to skyrocket?

And the restaurants aren’t helping.

If you look at the menu choices, you could make the argument that it’s not your fault. Unfortunately, that’s not an acceptable response.

Eating clean is YOUR responsibility.

You’ve got to be more vigilant! And it’s what we’ll cover in this post.

If you are trying lose weight, or just maintaining good health, you are best served to completely avoid restaurants as much as possible.

Whaaaat??? Why?

When you cook at home, you know exactly what you are including. And you can scale back, like on salt for example. Or you can substitute a healthier ingredient, like olive oil instead of butter. Or brown rice instead of white. Salmon instead of steak…

I like to experiment and so I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier. My new “go-to” whole grain is farro. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great, and it’s super-healthy. I highly recommend it!

When restaurants list the calorie total on their menu, I appreciate it. I don’t necessarily trust the amounts, but it’s a point of reference. And better than no info at all. At the very least, it can help you make an informed decision about your food selection.

Including what NOT to order.

Let’s look at some “common” examples. WARNING: These are real.

Eating clean

The recommended “average” daily calorie requirements for adults is 2,000 to 2,500. But actual amounts vary based on your height, gender, age, and activity level.

Government organizations like the Food and Drug Administration have established daily intake recommendations about calories, sodium and sugar to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The daily recommendation of sodium intake according to the FDA is no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg), which is equivalent to one teaspoon. And the recommended daily amount of added sugar intake was reduced 50% in 2014 to 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons.

This doesn’t mean you should aim for the upper limits. Especially with sodium and sugar.

As far as I’m concerned, these are simply benchmarks to be aware of.

Sure, the FDA plays an important role in keeping us all safe. But I’ll never strive to be average and comply with recommendations that cater to the masses. Instead, do your best to minimize or eliminate salt, sugar and white flour from your daily nutrition.

Here are some other suggestions to help your eating clean initiative:

  1. Eat a little something before you go out – to dinner, to a party, or to a function where food will be served. Like a handful of nuts, an apple or other fruit, some raw veggies with hummus, or left-overs from last night’s dinner. Why? So you won’t be ravenous when you arrive, which can lead to bad food choices and unhealthy eating. Especially if you’re planning to have a cocktail or two.
  2. Skip the appetizers. You will have enough food between your entrée and a salad. And you don’t need the extra calories and unhealthy fat (as most of these apps are fried or greasy).
  3. Say no to the bread. Ask them to “not” bring it over. It will only tempt you, so make it easier by not having it in front of you.
  4. Ask for salad dressing on the side. Use “sparingly” to save  calories.
  5. Eat a little less than you normally would at home since the calories and sodium are higher. Save the rest for tomorrow. You’ll save calories and money by stretching 2 meals out of 1.
  6. Have it your way. Healthy of course. Ask to have something specially prepared. Most restaurants will do this if you ask. For example, ask for grilled chicken or fish without any heavy sauces or creams. With a side of steamed or sautéed veggies. And a sweet or baked potato, or brown rice. Even if they charge you a little more (which they probably won’t), it’s well worth it. After all, we are talking about you and your health.
  7. When a dish comes with fries, ask for an “alternative”. Like salad, fresh fruit, a baked potato, or steamed veggies.
  8. Avoid dessert. Except for special occasions. For the same reasons as skipping the apps.
  9. Strive for 95. Percent that is. Nobody’s perfect. And every situation is different. So try to make the best possible choice given the situation you’re in. And enjoy it!

Now let’s assume you have a busy schedule, but you commit to  eating in; not out. How can you make eating clean easier and save time while still making something delicious and healthy?

Oh, that’s easy.

There are 3 things you can do…

  1. Plan. Decide what you will eat tomorrow or for the next few days. Then go buy the ingredients, build in some prep time, and make it.
  2. Prep. For the next few days, or week (in advance). Sunday’s are great for this.
  3. Cook extra. This way you can just heat up what you want when you’re ready to eat it again. For example, grill extra chicken for the week, or slice raw veggies and store in zip lock bags to grab on the run. And do the same with nuts and seeds.

Eating clean will require minor tweaks to your current eating habits.

Eating cleanAnd in addition to planning, prepping, and eating out less… add these 5 things to your new strategy:

  1. Eat more whole foods, including an apple a day.
  2. Avoid sugar (start by cutting back).
  3. Minimize sodium and saturated fat.
  4. Eat every few hours.
  5. Hit your “macro” ratios at every meal and snack.

It takes thought and effort to eat clean. More so than the alternative unhealthy choices that are typically made unconsciously or hastily while flying through life on “auto-pilot”.

Eating clean also includes paying attention to things that could be sabotaging your new healthy initiative. Like saying NO to processed junk snacks and eliminating fast food.

You can do this… Start now and you’ll never look back!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.