The Sham Diet

8 05 2012

It’s Thursday and my client is warming up on the treadmill before our training session. I review my notes and memorize the workout she needs to do today. Functional movements and weight loss are her goals, which in my line of work, are the goals for the majority of my clients. She comes to meet me and we begin our workout.

We’re working hard and we discuss her progress. Then she comments about her nutrition. “I’m so tied up with guests and dining out, but next week everyone will be gone and I’ll be able to start my diet.” I lift my eyebrow and give her my typical quizzical stare. “You know how it is. You don’t want to offend anyone by not eating what they serve,” she responds. “How convenient,” I think to myself.

How would you like to lose five to ten pounds a week without changing your diet. In addition, you never have to worry about where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re eating. I have the diet for you and you don’t have to pay too much for it. Just stay on my diet plan and I’ll have you seeing results in 30 days and you’ll feel better than ever. All you need to do is eat whatever you want and only exercise for 30 minutes s day. If you don’t have time to get in that exercise, don’t worry, you can take a little break and start back up when the time’s right for you. Just take one super pill a day to keep you on track while you take a little vacation and you’ll be fine.  Tell your friends about this brand new diet called, The Sham Diet.

What does South Beach, Atkins, Low carb, Nutrisystem, WeightWatchers, smoothies, cabbage, and even the Sham Diet all have in common? A lot, but one thing’s for sure; They’re all convenient. They give you the ability to start, stop, and start again whenever you want.  As Americans, we all want convenience in every aspect of our lives. From Netflix subscriptions to reading the NY Times on a Kindle, we want to be able to know that when we’re satisfied, we can take a little break and then come back to it at any time. These diets also boast big results within a short time frame. We love the quick fixes. We want to do as little as possible and still expect the same results. Remember the time when you actually had to vacuum the house yourself? Now we just turn on little Roomba and relax on a couch with a diet Coke. Diets have followed the same suit and has become outrageously unpractical, but people will do anything to reach their goals to look better for beach season or a long awaited cruise. Some might even take up my diet in hopes that it will work. Lose those few extra pounds to make it through the summer then we’re back to Wendy’s for a late night Frosty.

All the diets, including the Sham Diet have one flaw; they don’t work if you fall outside of their guidelines. Even the Sham diet that says that you can still lose weight just by taking a pill can give you false hope if you skip a dose. The other problem that my client ran into is believing that the only way to lose weight was to follow a fad diet. Whatever the product, all fads expect you to do one thing; follow their advice. We believe that we can’t look good unless we are decked out with the latest fashion fad, or we aren’t doing something right if we don’t own a smart phone. What happened to washing your car by hand? Too time consuming, however it might keep your car looking newer than the car wash (how many times have you gone through the car wash and come out on the other side with bugs still plastered to your front bumper?).

So, let’s stop with the excuses and the whining when you’re not seeing your mid-section get any smaller. Be accountable for what you’re putting into your body as well as what you’re doing to burn off what you ate.  Stop making up excuses for not eating well yesterday or this weekend. Know that you’re going to fall off track once in a while and have the honesty and courage to admit that you did it. Then fix the problem by working a little hard to put yourself back on track, and continue improving your health. There is nothing convenient about your health. Your body doesn’t wait for you to come back from vacation or the weekend to start processing what you eat. If you eat it, you’re going to have to burn it. Yes, you have to move to burn anything that you eat. If you eat a lot, you have to move a lot. This also will take time. You didn’t put on your weight overnight. It takes half the time to put on weight as it does to lose weight. If you know you’re going to eat poorly because you have an unavoidable situation, give yourself options. Either eat a smaller portion, get a little more physical activity in the days leading up, or do both! It’s that simple ladies and gentlemen. Don’t fall for the shams and believe that you have to follow a specific restriction diet. Count everything you eat; don’t lie just to satisfy yourself. Your body will still know that it had a burger and a beer over the weekend. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll start tomorrow. Start yesterday.

Weight-Control Information Network
WebMD – Weight Loss Myths

Repair Your Keen Muscles With Quinoa

22 04 2012

So you’ve just finished your hard workout and you’re trying to figure out what to consume to bring those muscles back from the dead. You know that protein is the key essential nutrient that your body needs for muscle repair. But before you pick up that powder mix that you normally swig down with your shake, try this alternative that packs more punch and comes from a natural source.

Quinoa (KEEN-WAH) has been around for over 5,000 of years. Native to the Andes Mountains, this grain-like seed is known to be a complete protein. Complete proteins contain all 8 essential amino acids that your body does not produce by itself. All proteins that are found in meats and fish are not complete. The only additional way to get all 8 amnio acids would be to buy protein supplements that contain all amino acids. But why put a processed substance into your body when you can get the same benefits from this power food? Prepare this recipe the next time your muscles are starving to repair themselves.

Peppers Stuffed With Quinoa and Spinach (From Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook 15th ed.)
Serving size: 4
Prep time: 25 min
Cooking time: 63 mins


  • 1 – 14oz can vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 med)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 1 – 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained 
  • 1.5 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (6oz)
  • 4 large red sweet peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan bring broth to boiling. Add barley and quinoa. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, about 12 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. add onion and garlic. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes more or until mushrooms and onion are tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, undrained tomatoes, and spinach. Stir in quinoa mixture and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Remove from heat.

3. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes from the peppers. Sprinkle insides of peppers lightly with additional salt and pepper. Fill pepper halves with quinoa mixture. Place peppers, filled sides up, in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour reserved cooking liquid into dish around peppers.

4. Bake, covered 35 minutes. Uncover; top each with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered, about 10 more minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and cheese is brown.

Nutritional Information:
415 calories, 22g total fat (10g sat. fat, 0g trans fat), 45mg cholesterol, 1,206mg sodium, 39g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 19g protein

E.A. Oelke, D.H. Putnam, T.M. Teynor, and E.S. Oplinger. (2012) from


D.R. Doesn’t Stand For Dietitian

18 04 2012

There are times when I hear a member give nutritional advice to another member based upon what has worked for her. This upsets me because I know that even though the member has lost weight and wants this other person to lose weight too, the tips she suggests doesn’t work long-term. Getting the right nutritional advice for weight loss should come from someone who specializes in this area, such as a Licensed (LD) or Registered Dietitian (RD). I know this sounds common sense, but I’ll let you in on a secret, not many people see a dietitian when it comes to weight management. Even when the studies show that incorporating a registered dietitian into a weight loss program increases success rates, we steer clear from making an appointment with one. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) conducted a multi-year study in 2010 to research the benefits of adding a RD to a health promotion program for weight loss. The results showed programs with a RD had participants losing at least 5% of their current body weight.  Yet we feel like we know enough through what we read and hear from books, media, friends, and other professionals, that we go on these crazy “instant diets” only to succumb in the end to hunger and eventually weight gain.

The worst of all is that you justify the misfortunes of gaining back all your weight by telling yourself that you did it once and it was easy, so you’ll go back on the same diet and start back on phase one. The other option that I’ve seen is that it didn’t work and this shouldn’t have happened because the books were written by doctors, fitness professionals, or celebrities.  Then we go out and pick up another book off the shelf because some top-rated talk show host told you to buy it. This leads to more depression when you find out that the next “quick fix” book leads to another quick turn-around and the weight is back on.

I just received the latest issue (April 16, 2012) of Newsweek in the mail and on the cover was Dr. Phil (Click on photo to read the article). Now, I want to know how many people think that because he has the title “Dr.” in front of his name it suddenly makes him a physician or registered dietitian? The article is now one of my favorites because it exposes what celebrity talk-show hosts will do to get something sold. The whole article describes how Dr. Phil McGraw used his show to promote not just one, but two diet books that his son published. The craziness of it all is that Dr. Phil opposes diets! In a show back in 2010, he states, “Do you know that people that go on diets gain more weight during the year than people who don’t?” This is coming from a person who suddenly flips the switch later that year to promote extensively (the article claims that Dr. Phil pushed the book in 17 episodes and mentioned the book  27 times in one episode!) a diet book that claims to lose 10 to 15 pounds in just 17 days. This just doesn’t seem like a person who you’d want giving you nutritional advice.

Now I need to give Dr. Phil some credit, he is not a M.D., but he is a Ph.D psychologist who too had troubles with weight. He’s worked his magic by understanding how the human mind works and finding ways to profit from his knowledge. After leaving the clinical psychology gig, he hit a gold mine representing Oprah in a court case when he cofounded Courtroom Sciences, Inc. He was able to network with Oprah to become “one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures on television” describes Forbes magazine. So he’s able to get his own television show and get people to listen to him and suddenly everyone’s trying to lose weight quickly. That’s how it goes with all quick fix diets. Just read about your fad diets like Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers or watch the commercials for Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and any other infomercials on Saturday mornings. You’ll lose weight in a jiffy, but what they don’t tell you is how quickly those pounds come back.

Weight management is really about keeping your calories in balance. Calories in verses calories out. If you eat more than you burn off; weight gain. Eat less than you burn off; weight loss. Very simple idea, but so many people have a problem with this concept (hence the 33% of Americans who are overweight). One reason is because people don’t want to wait for the results. They want everything quick. Just ask yourself, “how long did it take you to get to your current weight?” Most likely it didn’t happen overnight. Therefore, the only way to lose weight long-term is the slow method. Losing one to two pounds a week by having a deficit of 3500 cal/wk is the only healthy and known long-term plan for weight loss. Know what you’re eating so you can stay one step ahead. This is where a dietitian or nutritionist can help to teach you which foods you should eat to maintain the energy level you need without stacking on the extra calories. Even your general physician will not be able to tell you what to eat and will refer you to a dietitian. The other component to this equation is the physical activity. I do not require people to join a gym to obtain their cardiovascular exercise. However a facility that provides resistance training will help keep your muscle strength while you lose the weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 45 to 60 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise to lose weight. Studies have shown that exercising five to six days a week at 60 to 80 minutes a day leads to scientifically significant results. Biking, walking, running, kayaking, hiking, and playing sports can all count for cardiovascular exercise.  Combine exercise with a well-balanced meal and you’ll be shedding those pounds for good in no time.

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed. (2010), Weight Management
American Dietetic Association, ADA Foundation 2010 Annual Report, p. 4

Wingert, P. & Roston, A. (2012). All in the Family. Newsweek, 28-33

Dog Gone It! Our Pets Are Obese!!

14 04 2012

I posted this on my other blog a few months ago and feel that it’s still relevent and so I want to share it with you all here.

 My wife and I were out strolling around old downtown Venice, FL a few weeks back and she pointed out something that made both our mouths drop. An older couple was walking by us with a stroller and my wife caught a glance at the carry-on. Inside the stroller was not a baby or heavy groceries, but a small dog! REALLY?  Then there was another one! Crossing the street we both saw a similar stroller, with mesh in the front and a roof to block the sun, and inside a little puffy terrier standing on all fours rolled ahead of the couple. This was ludicrous! I mean, come on people! What is wrong with this picture? These animals have legs, more legs than we do (remember why God gave us legs right?), and we’re carting them around! This was totally crazy in my eyes and as a trainer I had to notice that the couples were not daily exercise-goers either.

Then four days ago while at work making our country a little bit healthier one client at a time, I happen to glance up at one of our televisions that is set to CNN. Right in the middle of a screen was a video of a large overweight dog and the caption read “OBESITY EPIDEMIC STRIKES U.S. PETS.” I had to laugh. (You can read about it on CNN: Then I made the connection. Why are 41 million dogs and 47 million cats obese? Because we’re abusing them worse than we abuse ourselves with lack of exercise and too much food! According to the veterinarian on CNN, foods for our pets are higher in calories than the past and we aren’t providing them enough exercise. Get up and move people! Not just yourself, but with your pets too! Our pets, like our children, share similar lifestyles as you do. Why is Brutus turning into Fluffy? Most likely because we don’t have time to exercise ourselves, and so he doesn’t get the exercise either.  That is unacceptable! And so is going for a walk while you push Sparky around in a stroller. Walk your dog, get some exercise and make this country a healthier place for humans and pets. Remember 33% of people and 21% of pets are obese. Help us out!

This woman is the only one smiling. Please don't do this to your pet.