Posts tagged huntsville adventure boot camp

How To Avoid Counting Calories


In my last post I talked about The Dangers of FitBits and Food Labels. The main point was that it was a tedious and inaccurate way to try and watch your weight.


So what are you supposed to do instead? Let's start with a picture from Precision Nutrition, who I consider to be the go to source for nutrition information.


This seems like an extremely simple method, but you would be amazed at how well it works. You hopefully always have your hands with you, so no special tools are required. No measuring or weighing your food.

Bottom line-anyone can do this and it will work.


You may have to make some adjustments here and there. If you are still struggling to drop weight, you might need to cut down on a few carbs at some meals and/or take away the serving of fats at one meal.


If you are counting calories and measuring your food and it is working for you, there is no need to change! Don't fix what isn't broken. But if you are struggling and you need somewhere to start, this is what I would recommend.


What about tracking calorie burn from exercise? I wouldn't worry about that either. Instead, focus on an exercise program that you will stick to first.


Once you get to where you are doing some sort of movement 3 days a week, you can start addressing the need for a well rounded program. Including strength training, cardiovascular training, improving mobility, etc...


The simpler and more convenient you can make fitness and nutrition, the more successful you will be. Try the Precision Nutrition guidelines and focus on getting good, consistent movement as often as you can. When you get to where you need fine tuning, please let know and I will help any way I can.

The Dangers of Food Labels and FitBits



Food labels can be extremely helpful as a guide to help you be more conscious of what you are putting into your body. But a study I read recently hinted they are not that great for calorie counting.


The study (the very fancily titled, "The accuracy of stated energy contents of reduced-energy, commercially prepared foods") found that certain foods had 8% more calories than the label said. The worst offenders were restaurants that had 18% more calories than reported.


FitBits, like reading food labels, are awesome. They really do motivate people to move more. Many a night my wife has held up bed time because she is marching in place while brushing her teeth to get to the elusive 10,000th step.


But they are not as accurate when it comes to calorie burn. Studies show that FitBits overestimate calorie burn by 10-15%.


Both of these seem like marginal percentages, but if you are trying to track your calories it can make a big difference. If your caloric intake is 15% off and you think you are burning 15% (FYI-Treadmills and ellipticals are not accurate either on calorie burn) more than you think, that could be a reason you are not losing weight.


Let's say you are on a 2000 calorie plan. You have tracked every little thing accurately, but the 15% food label difference adds 300 calories to your day. You workout and instead of burning 600 calories, you and up burning 500 instead. You have an extra 400 calories per day right there.


An extra 400 calories a day will add 41.7 pounds of fat to your body per year. This is a bit of an extreme example, but my main point is that accurately tracking calories consumed and calories burned is tough with a dietitian's help.


So what is the solution? I will cover that in my next blog.

Eggs or Egg Whites?

He just can't decide

He just can't decide

I had a lot of time on hands this weekend pondering the meaning of life while I was dressed as Richard Simmons. I got to thinking about eggs and all that they have done for us.

-They united a country after Humpty Dumpty's unfortunate fall.

-They have provided children with the sheer joy of a good old fashioned egging.

-People have been walking cautiously on their shells for decades.

-Their shells have given us a template for paint

There is just so much the mighty egg has done.

So why have we turned on the egg? We villify the egg one year, only to come back the next year and say eggs are ok again.

I am here to tel you once and for all that the egg is good, nay great. How do you think it got the name the Incredible Edible Egg? Now the only thing we need to figure out is, whole egg or just the egg whites?

For me, this one is easy as well. Whole egg baby!

But you say that the yolk has all the fat, calories, and cholesterol. It also has all the good nutrients too (13 good ones to be exact, while the egg white just has protein). Eggs are also a great source of choline (helps with brain function and memory). A recent study found that 90% of Americans do not get enough choline.

Shouldn't you be concerned with eating the cholesterol? That is the old way of thinking, these days we know that dietary cholesterol does not do much to increase your blood cholesterol levels.

One more fact for the whole egg argument. A recent study had some participants eat 2 whole eggs while the other participants ate a bagel (which meant they were taking in the same amount of calories). In 8 weeks they found that the egg group had 65% great weight loss and a 34% decrease in the waistline.

Note-Whole eggs do not count in chocolate or Cadbury form.

This drives me nuts!



I was speaking to a group not too long ago and I came to the potentially dangerous "Are there any questions?" part of the talk. I have had some blush inducing moments there, so I always get a little nervous.


But this time, it was not blush inducing. It was more anger/frustration inducing. A guy stood up and said he didn't have a question, more of a comment.


He said "Well what you are talking about is all well and good, but we can't all be successful."


What??? It drives me crazy when people say stuff like that!


You may not be able to have 6 pack abs when you are 60 years old or run a 5k in 15 minutes, but you can do better than you are now. If you start with a negative attitude, then I guess you are right. You won't be successful, walking around with a self defeatist attitude all the time.


Things are not that bad! My wife is a nurse and she deals with a lot of older patients. She met a patient one time that had let herself go to the point that she probably be bed ridden for the rest of her life. This person is not that old, but she is facing what I would consider a nightmare because she neglected her health for so long.


Don't you think she would trade anything she has to be in a body that could move? A body where she can take care of herself? I'm sure she wishes she would have taken a few more walks and made better food choices, while she still had it in her to do so.


Don't let that be you.


Are you healthy enough to move? Then you can be successful and you can reach your goal.


Someone in a hospital bed is wishing they could do the things that you take for granted. Stop doubting yourself and start helping yourself.


Here is your action step. Do one thing today that gets you closer to your goals. Whether it is big or small, do something to move towards your goals. Repeat this process every day and imagine where you could be in a month, a year, ten years.


Are you always late? It might be symptom of something else



I know this person that was late to boot camp almost every time. Somewhere a person is reading this e-mail and wondering if I am talking about them.


Since they are late so often, I asked them one time why she was late every single time since we start at the same time every day. She explained to me that one time it took her 5 minutes to get to class, so now that is how long she thought of it taking.


Turns out she was 5 minutes away under perfect conditions. No traffic, not stopping at any lights, etc... She had never really thought about it before and she has since ended her tardy to the party streak.


Now one person really knows I am talking about her.


The point of this is not to be on time, although that is important too. The main thing I want you to remember is to never compare yourself to anyone else. Even if that person is you.


Over the years I have had several women tell me what they did to lose weight the last time. Most of them start with "When I was 22 I (insert diet or exercise program) and got great results really quickly. Not sure why this is taking so long. What am I doing wrong?"


The majority of the women in my classes are 35 and older, have kids, and work full time jobs. That is a completely different situation from a 22 year old with less responsibility, stress, hormone changes, etc...


Even if you are doing everything right, it might take awhile! Don't try to compare yourself to that 22 year old you, she is completely different.


Focus on making changes, not comparisons. What can you do today to get closer to your goal?


If you lost an ounce, you are on your way.

If you worked out once this week, it's a start.

If you drank water instead of your usual sweet tea, great job!


You are looking for progress, not perfection. Stay the course, avoid comparison, be positive, and you will get there. You might even be on time :)

What kills more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods combined?



Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes get a lot of news coverage when they occur, but do you know what kills more people annually than all of those events combined?

Heat waves.

I know it seems like 2 weeks ago it was 20 degrees, but the heat is here and you need to be ready.

Some warning signs to look for are: weakness, dizziness, muscles cramps, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and vomiting. You are in danger of a heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or in my case you are probably doing public speaking.

If you feel yourself succumbing to the heat, immediately stop, get to a cool place, and drink some water.

Here are a few other tips for you to follow:


Get acclimated

The body can quickly become overwhelmed when you are not used to the heat and humidity. If you’re like many people, you go from an air conditioned house, to an air conditioned car, to an air conditioned job.

You can’t expect your body to handle the extreme demands of exercising in this mess around here right away. Getting fully acclimated to the heat can take 2-3 weeks, so be prepared to slow your pace.



You need to drink fluids all day long this time of year, not just down a glass of water right before you head out. If you are exercising for more than an hour, it is a good idea to have a sports drink to replace electrolytes.



There is nothing like a nice bowl of steaming hot, oatmeal after a morning workout in 90 degree weather. Not too appetizing is it?

Anyone who exercises or works outdoors will tell you the heat has a negative effect on appetite. You will have to consciously monitor your eating habits to make sure you are getting enough fuel for your workouts.

This is a good time to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Not only will it help you get more nutrients and vitamins, but will also help with hydration because of their water content.


Timing is everything

The best times to exercise during the hot months are before 7am or after 6pm. This doesn’t fit everyone’s schedule, but if you can avoid the hottest parts of the day you will be much better off.



The best thing to wear is something light (in color and weight) and breathable. Or at the very least switch from jeans to jorts.


My son rode his bike yesterday and found out that helmets really keep that heat in. Whenever you take a break from biking, make sure to take your helmet off so your head can breath.

Wearing a hat and sunglasses is a good way to get extra protection and prevent those nasty, eye squinting headaches.



It won’t improve your performance but it will help prevent growths on your body, which is nice. Also, sunburned skin can’t get rid of heat as efficiently and you can become overheated much easier.

For gingers only:

There is no such thing as a tan ginger, stop trying. All you will get is more freckles, a sunburn, and then skin cancer.

You've been warned

You've been warned

Controlling weight after age 50 (Part 2)



-Know what a serving size is, you are probably exceeding it (A single serving of wine is 4 ounces. I've seen the wine glasses that are out there, many of them are closer to 20 ounces)


-Pour 4 ounces of water into your wine glass and mark where a single serving is (Cry at how little that really is)




-People who live to be in their 100's have two things in common. Moderation and optimism


-Why do we overeat? We are hardwired to eat as much as we can; we seek out sugar, fat, and salt; sugar and salt were traditionally hard to come by; now they are EVERYWHERE




-Find an alternative to each emotion that causes you to overeat

-Call a friend just to talk, get a pedicure, get out of the house, just do something that breaks the cycle of your emotional eating.


-There is no guarantee you will start losing weight right away


-My sister (the lecturer's sister) took exactly 1 year of strict, healthy eating before she lost a SINGLE pound


-She has now dropped 30 pounds total in the past few months


-You HAVE to keep eating healthy. The only alternative is to give up. If nothing else you will be much, much healthier


- Some healthy eating habits: 1. Pay more, eat less 2. Cook your food 3. Eat meals not snacks all day 4. Eat at a table 5. Don't eat alone (you tend to eat more) 6. Eat slowly


-Some tips for healthy eating at home: 1. Cook enough for 1 portion each person 2. If you are cooking enough for the week, get the food you are eating that night out and immediately pack the rest up 3. Don't sample while cooking dinnerIf you have trouble with sampling, put in a toothpick or chew gum 4. serve from the stove, not the table 5. Don't clean your kids' plates for them, throw it out


-There is something called Recession Induced Obesity


-The fast food $.99 options increase during bad economic times


-Tufts University found that if a person eats out ONE time during the week they will have trouble maintaining their weight


-The average American eats out NINE times a week


-In 2009 Americans spent more money on meals outside the home, than inside the home


-20% of all food is consumed in the car


-People who eat out consume on average: 300 more calories; 19 more grams of fat; 400 mg of sodium than they would at home


-Bottom line: the more you cook and eat at home the better off you will be

Controlling weight after age 50 (Part 1)



I love going to conferences. Learning new things, getting my fitness and nutrition beliefs challenged, meeting other fitness professionals, etc... Conferences are a great way to learn and grow.


I would like to share with you some notes I took from a nutrition conference I went to in Birmingham. There were several sections, but one I found really interesting was called "Weight Control After 50". It focused on how Baby Boomers can avoid weight gain, but the tidbits that were mentioned would be interesting and helpful to women of all ages.


Agree with some of it (I do) and feel free to disagree with some of it (I do), but I would love to have an open discussion about anything you find in here, so feel free to fire away!


-"People who are fat simply eat more than people who are lean." -Dr. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating


-Obesity is being linked more and more to cancer


-It is much easier to try to eat for health rather than for weight loss


-Muscle doesn't jiggle


-The World Health Organization (WHO) found that 75% are overweight and obese (based on Body Mass Index-BMI)


-Of those, there are a greater percentage of obese than overweight for the first time in history


-Why do Boomers gain weight? The main reasons are:

1. Testosterone decline (men)

2. Inactivity

3. Stress

4. "Empty Nest Syndrome"

5. The "Baby Boomer Boomerang"

6. Early retirement

7. Eating out

8. Alcohol abuse


-Women reach peak body mass in their late 50's early 60's


-WHO says obesity is the number 1 health issue in the world


-Behaviors are the main reason we are overweight


-Some rules to follow:

1. Don't buy food where you buy gas

2. Eat at the dinner table as much as possible

3. No drive thrus

4. Before you go back for seconds set a 20 minute timer. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes you can have seconds.


-Men tend to reach peak body mass in their late 50's


-Men get into a vicious cycle of testosterone. Weight gain causes testosterone levels to drop, lowered testosterone cause more weight gain-58% of obese men have low testosterone levels


-High intensity exercise is effective at increasing testosterone levels


-The "Old school" approach to fat loss for baby boomers consisted of: long duration, mild intensity cardio work; mild to moderate strength training; caloric restriction and consumption of "diet" food. It was not effective.


-21st Century approach: high intensity, shorter duration strength and cardio sessions; changing eating behaviors; portion control


-Exercisers don't gain weight on steroids like sedentary people do


-Eating is a health issue, not a morality issue


-You are not "bad" when you eat unhealthy and you're not Mother Teresa because you had blueberries for breakfast ( I thought that was genius)


-Enjoy your food, just eat less of it


-People do not enjoy food like they used to. When you focus on enjoying your food, you will find you eat less of it. Win, win.

What you MUST do before you turn 50 (doctor’s orders)




We had a guest speaker yesterday at a United Methodist Men's group that I am a part of. He is local physical who came to speak about men's health.


He touched on many different subjects, but one thing he kept coming back to is the importance of starting healthy habits before the age of 50. This was equally important for men and women.


After age 50, you build on the habits that you started before you turned 50. Sitting behind a desk all day, poor nutrition habits, not exercising, etc... are very common because people are focused on career and family instead of their health.


We all want to look good and feel better, but setting healthy habits will improve the length and quality of your life. The best times to start healthy habits are:

1. Today

2. Now


If you have the exercise part down, work on your nutrition. If you have been taking care of the nutrition part, start adding exercise in. Start small, build up, and keep at it until is is a habit you own.


What about after 50? On Wednesday I will share with you a summary of a nutrition conference I went to called Weight Control After 50. Very interesting and a little controversial information in there that I think you will enjoy.

4 Tips For Better Pushups



My clients probably don't appreciate my love of the humble pushup, but there is a reason I love this exercise. Most people know it as an upper body exercise (chest, shoulders, and triceps), but it also works the lower back, abs, back legs, and butt.


Whether you are doing pushups on your toes, your knees, an incline, or a wall these tips can help you get more out of your pushups.


1. Don't let your elbows flare out

It all starts with proper hand placement. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders at the top of the pushup. As you lower yourself down, keep your elbows in close to your body. Think about keeping your elbows lined up with the middle finger on your hand. When the elbows flare out, you place more stress on the shoulders.


2. Push through your pits

Focus on pushing with your armpits. This sounds weird, but will help you better recruit the muscles in your chest and triceps, gets the lats (the muscles on the side of your back) involved, and helps to protect your shoulders.


3. Never let your butt go over your head

This is just good life advice in general, so there's that. It will also help you avoid a common problem of "piking" your hips up. Keep your butt muscles tight, your chin off your chest, and lower yourself down chest first. This will give you a better range of motion and a more effective pushup.


4. Keep your chin up

When pushups starts getting hard a lot of people have a tendency to drop their chin down and keep grinding out the pushups. This can not only negatively effect your breathing, but can also cause you to injure your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position.

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