Monday, July 30, 2012

Do Diet Drinks Make Us Fat ?

There are many articles circulating that claim that diet drinks make you fat.   Technically, they do not make us gain weight or fat.    They can and do make us hungry and thus we eat more.   Artificial sweeteners are very much like real sugar.     Consumption of both sugar and artificial sweeteners activate signaling to the brain to notify us when we are hungry and when we are satisfied.   If consuming an artificial sweetener such as in a diet soda, we are sending signals that we are hungry by spiking blood sugar levels however, we are not consuming anything to satisfy that hunger – so we eat more.  

Be aware of any artificially sweetened drinks and/or foods and the possible “hunger effect."  Knowing and understanding the impact of sweeteners can help you control and conquer its negative effects. 

Stay tuned………..

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Evander Holyfield - Quote

"It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters. " -  Evander Holyfield 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Exercising in the Heat

What a summer!!!!!!!   Relentless heat and record temperatures almost everywhere.  However, do not let the heat keep you from your fitness goals. 

Few tips:  

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.   Be sure to get plenty of water.   It is even more critical in the hot weather.

Stick to morning workouts.  Even if you are not a morning person, get the exercise in early.  

Spend a few extra minutes warming up.   Do not just jump into heavy/intense sets.

If you can, workout at a gym instead of opting for the home or outside exercise.  If you are not a member of a gym, most facilities have day or week passes - and they generally have air-conditioning.

Go easy on yourself.   Realize that you may not be able to do killer new personal best records when the body is stressed from the heat.  Just going from the house to the car in this summer’s temperatures takes a toll on the body.  

Keep focus and commitment -  keep working out!!!!

Stay tuned……….

Monday, July 23, 2012

Caffeine and Sports

Caffeine is another highly debated subject.    We are living in a generation of Monster, Red Bull, AMP, 5-hour energy, triple espressos, etc.   Is it all bad?  Is it all good?

Being the queen of energy drink consumption, I think I can speak from experience as well as some facts on caffeine.    Caffeine and its effects vary from individual to individual.  One’s metabolism, combined with the frequency and quantity of caffeine consumed, all play a role on the effects on your body. 

Positives of caffeine:  Improves long-term endurance and stamina.  Decreases fatigue and muscle soreness.  Stimulates the central nervous system and increases mental focus and concentration.   Stimulate the muscles to burn more fat and rev up metabolism.

Negatives of caffeine:  Headaches, irritability and upset GI tract to name a few. 

Caffeine use is banned in many sporting events because it is believed to provide a competitive edge when consumed in significant quantities.

The best advice I can offer is if you consume caffeine regularly and especially if you prefer the highly caffeinated “energy drinks” then I highly recommend that you cycle your usage.   Caffeine forces adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline.  You might recall from previous blog entry that this is the hormone associated with “flight or fight”.   In order to not degrade your system, at least once a month go for a week without using highly caffeinated products.  Allow your body to reset itself.   

Stay tuned………..

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

To be honest, I did not think I was going to like this next recipe because I thought that Swiss chard was just another bitter green.  However, was I surprised!

Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C.   Some consider it to be one of the healthiest vegetables.

Enjoy -- healthy AND tasty!   

             1 tablespoon olive oil (or enough to coat the pan)  {I removed the butter component}
             2 minced garlic cloves
             1/2 diced red onion
             1 small bunch Swiss chard coarsely chopped  (you may want to remove the ribs of the leaves and chop them separately)
             1/4 cup dry white wine
             ½ of a fresh squeezed lemon
             2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
             Sea salt to taste (optional)
Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the chard and cook until wilted then add the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Adapted from  

Enjoy and Stay tuned……….

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hakeem Olajuwon - Quote

"I've always felt it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best. " -  Hakeem Olajuwon

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Suck in Your Gut

It is summer time and everyone wants those washboard abs.   But as I've mentioned previously, no TV gimmick or time sitting on the ab machine at the gym will magically shrink away the fat, add muscle and tone to those abs.    (See previous post on this subject.)    However, one thing that will make your mid-section look better is good posture and a solid core.   Compound moves are key to a solid core.   Body fat percentage is key to showing any ab muscles.   

Posture and core can be improved by a simple task that you can do anywhere.   “Suck in the gut."  The saying has a lot of merit to it.    There are many deep layers to your abs (way deeper than you can see) and these extend into your lower back making a “core” that impacts every move.   

Simply pull in your abs while keeping a straight and good posture.  Breathe – do not hold your breath.   Try this anywhere and anytime of the day.   You will not get washboard abs from this but you will strengthen your abs in the deep layers and help build better posture to support your back.

Stay tuned………..

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shocking - Grossest Foods !!

I came across this article recently and was shocked so thought I would share with you.

Stay tuned………

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friedrich Nietzsche - Quote

"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow. "  - Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stress – Offset the “Fat” Hormones with Intense Workouts

Stress makes us fat.  But why?  It does not have any calories!
We have all read the stories about people doing extraordinary physical feats such as those who can lift cars off people and others who have walked down mountains with a shattered leg.   This is due to the adrenal glands releasing the hormone cortisol into their systems.   Cortisol (also known as the “the stress hormone”) is secreted at greater levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response.   A few of the ‘fight or flight’ benefits include dramatically increased energy for survival, heightened memory and much lower sensitivity to pain.

The entire body’s "fight or flight" was designed to be offset with physical exertion ("DO something") that releases the counterbalancing hormones.     Those positive (offsetting) hormones are human growth hormone and testosterone.  If you are fighting for your life, you are exerting intense physical exertion. 

Without getting into biochemistry, let us look at the reason why stress makes us fat.    Stress from our work, families, or generally, “life” causes us to release this same ‘fight or flight’ hormone of cortisol.   Cortisol regulates insulin.   Both cortisol and insulin are huge players in body fat, high blood pressure, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, metabolic syndromes – just to name a few.  These factors regardless of our calorie intake – WILL make us fat.

Since we do not live in a world of the ancestors of true "fight or flight”, we are missing the offset of our “stress hormones.”    We need to add these into our daily lives to control cortisol and all the negative effects.   In order to offset, we must stimulate growth hormone and testosterone.  As you have read many times in my blog, these two powerful hormones (growth hormone and testosterone) are released during intense muscle stimulating exercise. 

The more stressed you are, the more important it is to have an intense workout.   Offset the negatives with some powerful positives.

Stay tuned…………

Monday, July 9, 2012

Calories – Are Not All Equal

A simple formula for calculating weight change is calories in (consumed) minus calories out (energy expenditure) equals a weight gain or loss.       Is it that simple?    Are all calories equal?

When you are just beginning your commitment to fitness, I think this simple concept gives you a great start.  However, as you evolve and advance in your journey to fitness, you need to take your understanding to the next level.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, nutrition is divided into 3 major categories:  protein, carbs and fats.    However, these are not all handled the same by the body.  The body must use energy to digest, absorb and metabolize our foods.  More energy is required to process protein than carbs, and more energy is required to process carbs than fat.  So given the exact same calorie total for a day, a high-protein diet adds fewer calories than a high-carb diet.  And a high fat diet adds the most of those daily calories.  Meaning a 1,800-calorie diet and how much it really adds to the body will depend on which percent of the protein, carb, fats it consists of.

Another erroneous implication of the simple equation is that the fewer calories you consume, the fewer calories your body burns.  Your body's metabolism slows to conserve the reduced number of calories you are eating.  This simply means it is increasing the value of each calorie.

Another factor in the calorie equation is timing and frequency of meals.  We have covered these in previous blog postings.

Bottom line……… a calorie is not JUST a calorie……  To fine-tune your fitness strategy, examine what amounts of each protein, carbs, fat you are consuming and when……..    Simple adjustments and tweaks in your eating plans can make big differences.

Stay tuned………….

Friday, July 6, 2012

Watermelon Wedge Salad

Summer time delight !

Watermelon Wedge Salad

½ small seedless watermelon, rind removed
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup no fat yogurt
Fresh lemon juice – from ½ of a lemon
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives plus more for serving
Sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves


1. Cut watermelon so you have thick wedges.
2. In a bowl, stir together the feta cheese, no fat yogurt, lemon juice and chives. Season with sea salt
3. Place wedges of watermelon on each plate. Drizzle with the feta dressing and sprinkle with chives and basil leaves.

Adapted from Tasting Table

Stay tuned……….

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Walter Payton - Quote

"I want to be remembered as the guy who gave his all whenever he was on the field. " -   Walter Payton

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Technique & Form Over Weight

Every gym I go into, regardless of location, I always find at least one lifter throwing around some unrealistic weight:  Bench presses going only a few inches up and down.   Squats a mile high of parallel.   Barbell curls that uses all momentum and no biceps.    They focus on the weight and not on the form and muscle contraction.     I have been guilty of this myself.  It is easy to get caught up in the numbers of the weight and lose track of the form and the real muscle work. 

The better the form, the more benefits.   When you cheat on form, you cheat on yourself and will not have the results you are working soo hard to obtain.   And you are setting yourself up for injury. 

The keys to proper form include:   Use full range of motion.  Use controlled reps – do not use momentum.   Keep a flat back as rounding will lead to injury.  Enlist a spotter that knows the proper form for the exercise you are performing.  It always helps to have someone watch and monitor your form.  Often times as you are doing the move it is hard to determine exactly your form.   I always have a spotter when I do deadlifts and squats.   I do not want to cheat myself.    

Lift strong with good form!

Stay tuned…….

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dietary Supplements – Purity and Potency

Dateline NBC Tonight aired a segment on March 18, 2012 entitled “ Are Dietary Supplements Safe? “.  This program revealed an astonishing amount of labeling and advertising misrepresentation.

Here is a simplified summary of tips and facts on the subject since there is so much being argued in the press and media. 

Dietary supplements (YES, this includes your multi-vitamin) are not tested by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).   The FDA regulates dietary supplements but they do not have responsibly for purity, labeling or effectiveness.  Supplement manufacturers do not need to get government approval before producing or selling their products.  The supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that the "Supplement Facts" label and ingredient list and content are accurate.   And guess what?  They frequently are incorrect!

To ensure you are getting what you think you are getting (and what is labeled) look for the third party testing seals of approval.   A few more noted sources of third party testing/seals are:  :
    NSF International  :
    U.S. Pharmacopeia  :

Examples of brands that seem to be accurately representing their product are NOW and Nature’s Herbs brands.  They have many dietary supplements on the market.  They post on their website as well as their products all of their 3rd party certifications and approvals.

Be informed and make sure you are getting the potency and ingredients you think you are purchasing.

Stay tuned……….