Listen to the Cookie

7 05 2013

“Finding time to fit a good workout into the day is as hard as the workout,” is a response I get a lot. And to sympathize with these folks is an easier path for many. In a work day, I would say that I get bogged down in my work and find hours slipping by as I loom over my computer to finish a project so that I can cross that off my list. Then I catch my breath and continue to the next project as if on autopilot. Yet, throughout the day there are times when the chance to stop and get in a few minutes of a workout arises and the choice to get up and move is up to me. “I didn’t choose to not workout, my work/time/fill in the blank just didn’t allow me to do it,” a repeated echo rings in my head. “Bunch of bull!” Snuffs out the echo as I am pull myself away from the computer and prepare to exercise.

This scenario is a constant hinderance in our daily life and separates those who move backward in their fight to succeed with those who make positive progress.  We will always be required to make a life altering decision as the seconds past way in our lives, but we are always in control of the choices we make. Allowing ourselves to break under the pressure of excuses and blame it on something other than our lack of defiance over status quo keeps us in a vicious cycle that never ends where we want to be.

Cookie Doesn't Lie

The average person makes roughly 3,500 decisions a day. What to eat, where to go, how to dress, pass the car, say hi to that person…. The list goes on and on, and yet, with one choice taken, the other is left behind. So we can say that we didn’t have the opportunity to choose both. This is true and many people lose ground from choosing only one and not the other maybe because of comfort level, external pressures, or priority levels. However, when we make that choice to not do something, we are in control of this decision and internal factors provide the foundation of this choice. Work did not keep me from taking ten minutes to get up and move around so my muscles could stretch out from sitting for 4 hours straight. No, I told my body that it was not allowed to get up because I thought that I would lose precious time to get my project down. I chose to keep working. As the cookie states, we still choose even if we decide not to make a choice. Make every decision count and never blame that fact that you couldn’t choose your future. You are in control of your free will and to wake up half hour earlier to get a workout in is your choice.





Slice Up A Post Workout Meal

5 04 2013

After a tough workout, you deserve to enjoy a slice of pie; pizza pie that is. Try out my fresh spin to this delightfully healthy margarita pizza and tell me what you think.
Doug's Margarita Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag – fresh pizza dough
1 cup – flour
1 – fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
3 – plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup – fresh basil leaves, rinsed
1/2 cup – tomato sauce
1 cup – shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbls – extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp – garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread flour on counter top. Roll out dough to desired thickness and shape.
2. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese around the pizza. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese and using a ladle, spread sauce to cover the cheese.
3. Lay the basil leaves on top of the sauce  to cover the pizza. Next, arrange the tomatoes to layer the pizza. Finish off the pizza with fresh mozzarella slices.
4. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic powder together. Then using a brush, brush on oil mixture along the edge of the crust.
5. Place in the oven on a pizza pan or pizza stone for 18 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.





Wrong Way? No, Just Different

13 03 2013

Not Always Wrong, Just Different

If you’ve had an experience where you thought you were doing something, like eating a certain food or dressing a certain way, but then saw people doing it another way and thought you were actually doing it wrong, don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, sometimes a different way might not be the wrong way, but exactly the former; just a different way. Who says that a turkey burger can’t be a breakfast item or that everyone should drive a BMW? Societal norms influence us to think that we all have the same needs. On the contrary, we all need to pay attention to our individual needs to maintain good health.

In 2007, Wesley Shultz et al conducted a field experiment testing whether normative messaging (telling people to practice a certain behavior based on what others are doing) would have mixed success rates in behavior change. They saw that when told to use more energy saving products because a specific number of others were doing it, the number of people converting to energy conservatives increased. Yes, energy conservation is ideal and we would all want to promote this type of habit, but the mere fact that it only took one little message stating that more people were practicing one certain behavior to have the minority feel like they were wrong and change their lifestyle is fascinating. A key point to this case is that in order to see a shift in the masses, the group must be  a minority, hence, the difficulty of getting our overweight country to get back down to a healthy weight (69.2% of adults in US overweight/obese). Yet again, why should we be like everyone else?

When dealing with exercise, we must look at performing a task with blinders on. Not one person is alike and thus not one specific regimen will work for everyone.  The National Academy of  Sports Medicine has a training model that is different than that of the American Council on Exercise. Is one of them wrong and the other right? Absolutely not, because both will reach the same result in the end, although both use different pathways. The same goes when I am asked which one is better for getting toned arms, free weights or machines? Both are two different modalities that lead to the right direction to get lean arms.

The right answer to improving your health is not to follow the yellow brick road that everyone else has followed, but to lay each stone in front of you and test the ground supporting it to determine if it will work for you. So the next time you’re scratching your head wondering if the person next to you is doing it right and you should follow suit, ask yourself if you are still improving your health with what you’re currently doing. If so, then embrace the difference and continue to tread through the unbeaten path to success.

References: 

American Council on Exercise: IFT Model
CDC Faststats: Overweight and obesity http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
National Academy of Sports Medicine: OPT Model
Shultz, P. W. et al. The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms. Psychological Science, 18(5) 429-434. 2007 





The Bodyweight Challenge

7 03 2013
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I was eating my lunch a few days ago and  browsed my Facebook account to see who’s baby picture had plastered my News Feed today. I noticed a notification alert and saw that my friend, Nate, had shared a link (see picture on the left) on my timeline with the comment, “Do all of these. I dare you.” I grinned and was intrigued, so I clicked on the video link and watched what he had sent (click here to view video). I was impressed, wondering if all military men and women could do all 44 exercises. Then I saw some individuals in the background looking as impressed as I and dismissed the thought. After finishing the video, I read what my other friend, Beth, wrote, “And post video when you do! LOL”

There are guys who would try any challenge to prove their Darwinistic status on earth and then there are those who do it because they’re the ones who also would touch the wall that warns, “Don’t Touch, Wet Paint!” I would fall into the latter category of individuals and thus, out of sheer curiosity, I want to prove to myself that these would in fact be the 44 best bodyweight exercises (and yes, to know that I can do them). I will keep everyone posted as I work through all 44 exercises. I will post the final video on Youtube to let my friends know that it can be done.

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

In the meantime, this challenge has prompted a great bodyweight workout (see below) for those who are always strapped for time, equipment, or just loaded with excuses to not exercising. Follow the routine for a month, performing two to three times a week. If you feel sore the whole week, start off with once a week till you can work your way to two times a week. After a month, add on another set. You will need to refer back to the video if you are unsure of the exercises.

The Bodyweight Challenge
Perform each group of exercises for specified duration, rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat a second set before moving on to the next group.

Group 1
Burpies – 30 seconds
Hindu Pushup – 30 seconds
Archer Pullup – 30 seconds

Group 2
Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
Hanging Knee to Elbow – 30 seconds
Spiderman Pushup – 1 minute

Group 3
Jumping Lunges – 30 seconds
Hanging Leg Raise to Level – 30 seconds
Pike Roll Out – 30 seconds

*****                                                                                                                     *****
Thank You to the men and women who put their lives before ours to serve our country every single day.
*****                                                                                                                     *****





Think Healthy, Think Money

13 02 2013

We all want to be rich. Then there are some of us who would prefer to be wealthy. If you don’t know the difference, I suggest reading “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. But regardless if you want to be rich or wealthy, you must do one of two things; either learn how to earn it if you aren’t there, or learn how to keep it if you are there. Ask both sides and they will tell you that it’s difficult to uphold both ends of the statement if you are not willing to motivate yourself and work hard.

Even though it is hard to save money, many of us are so driven that we do everything we can to grow our bank accounts. We stop purchasing expensive products, we go to fewer movies, we find cheaper alternatives, and we slowly put money into our savings account until we are happy with how much we have in it. We don’t end up with $20,000 in a week, but over a period of time with little investments (depending on how much you invest into the account), we notice the large sum of money that has accumulated and we are thrilled with success.

I use this example because the same can be said with our health and the steps needed to accomplish our wellness goals. However, the majority of us don’t treat our bodies like a savings account. We expect our bodies to work miracles and in the end of the week have a body like the models and stars we see in magazines and in the media. Side note: Most actors and actresses will work with a trainer between three to six months, six to seven days a week, to get their bodies in the shape needed to perform their roles; not to mention hiring a personal chef, and dietitian. The way we stay or become healthy should follow the same plan as how we grow our bank accounts. Place importance on our wealth (health); find out ways to save our wealth (health); and slowly invest our money (time) to see our wealth (health) grow.

Wealth for HealthFollowing these simple steps will improve your overall health (and wealth) if you take the time to commit to it. Saving your health can be as easy as saving your money, but know that to do so, you must find the importance of why you’re doing it and become motivated in its returns to be successful.





Grounded and Not a Gym In Sight

6 08 2012

For the past few weeks, my wife and I took a little vacation up north to the Adirondacks in NY. We try to get up there ever year to return to the place where we met. The special place with a 32 mile lake, 800 acres of hiking trials, and a rolling golf course. I was pumped for this trip. Being that I grew up in the North, all my exercise was done using Mother Nature’s gym. Mountains became my stair climber, lakes became my pool, and hauling around a 30 pound backpack became my free weights. I was ready to get out of the flat lands of Florida and become immersed with my natural habitat. Then the worst happened.

We arrived in Tampa for a 2:15 PM departure flight two hours early. This was how excited I was about making it out of Florida. The security check went smoothly without a hitch and I was looking at the plane outside that we would board. As my wife and I chose our seats, I looked at my watch to make sure we would arrive Albany at the stated time of 5:35 PM. “Enough time to make the drive and get in my day’s workout,” I thought to myself. We sat in our seats as we waited for our plane to be taxied out of our terminal but nothing happened. My wife noticed that it had began to rain (bright blue skies followed us to Tampa). I didn’t think much about it, I just wanted the plane to move so we could get above those sad clouds and off towards my destination. That’s when the overhead announce from one of the flight attendants came on and stated, “Sorry folks, but it seems that Traffic Control has noticed a severe thunderstorm has hit areas of Baltimore and the Northeast. We’re going to hold tight on the ground for a little bit while Traffic Control can determine if there’s another route.” Then two minutes later, “Looks like Traffic Control has grounded all flights heading north toward Baltimore and this flight has a new departure time of 6:50 PM or might be cancelled,” informs the attendant. “We’re going to cross our fingers for the delay. However we can’t keep you on board, so we’re going to ask everyone to return to the terminal and wait for further information about your flight.”

So, now I’m in the terminal again and grounded for another five hours. I’m a personal trainer because I love to be active and educate others on the importance of staying active. Knowing that I will be missing my workout up north has made me upset (and the fact that I’m starting off my vacation with this long delay also ticks me off). The other reason why I am in my profession has something to do with the fact that I hate sitting in one place for a long period of time, and this delay has us stuck in this terminal for another 5 hour! With this experience and extra spare time, I designed a workout for anyone else who might need a quick stress reducer due to a flight delayed.

The Traveler’s Workout

Items needed: chair, carry-on luggage/bag, music (optional)
Perform each exercise to fatigue. Then rest for 60 seconds and do a second set before going to the next exercise.

Squat  
Targets: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps
Start in a standing position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width.  Hold carry-on by the handle with two hands. Extend your arms straight down so they are dangling between your legs. Perform a squat, placing the weight into your heels. As you squat back up, push with your heels.

Military Pushup on Chair
Targets: Chest, Triceps
Place your hands on the edge of a chair with your hands aligned with your shoulders. Keep your toes on the ground, back and abs tight. Lower yourself to the chair without bending at the hips, so your whole body descends as one. Let your chest come to the chair and push yourself back up to starting position.

Bent Over Row
Targets: Latissimus Dorsi, Biceps
Place one hand on the chair as your bend forward at the hips. Keep your knees bent and your back straight. Grasp the carry-on with your other hand. Pull the carry-on to the side of your chest as you keep your arm close to your side. Lower the carry-on back down smoothly back to starting position.

Planks
Targets: Abdominals, Lower Back
Place your forearms and toes on the ground. Keep your back straight and even with the rest of your body. Elbows should be under your shoulders. Lift your hips off the ground and bring them aligned with your shoulders and ankles. Hold the position till fatigue.

Standing Side Crunch
Targets: Obliques
Stand with your feet narrower than shoulder width. Hold the carry-on with one hand by your side and hold your other hand by the side of your head. Crunch your body down to the side, opposite of the carry-on. Slowly return back up to start.





Reducing Waist Lines By Limiting Sugary Drinks

25 06 2012

Last week, CNN wrote a post indicating that the mayor of Cambridge, MA, Henrietta Davis, took steps to adopt the sugary drink ban that was proposed by New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomburg. Not only did Mayor Davis want to prevent oversized drinks sales (greater than 16 oz.), but she took it one step further by proposing to ban free refills on soft drinks at restaurants. “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

This is a very bold move and some Americans will complain (mainly restaurant owners and those losing their free refills).  However, with obesity rates and diabetes  still on the rise, bold actions must be taken. Amid the studies and warning signs of inactivity and overeating in America, the majority of Americans are unwilling to make the healthy change. An action to restrict people from inflicting harm on themselves should not be looked upon as a governmental takeover, but rather a change to allow us to live longer. When the government decided to ban smoking in restaurants, there was an outcry from smokers complaining that their freedom was being taken away. However, after a few months, those who smoked went outside as usual, very little complaining occurred, and everyone was able to breathe easily again.

America Weighs In


Limiting the amount of soft drinks someone consumes in one sitting may be a good start in fighting obesity and diabetes. However, the other part of the equation is not just quantity, but also quality. How much sugar is in that 12 oz cup? Sugar is the key ingredient in all soft drinks, and is a factor in the epidemic of obesity. The sugar content in drinks can be difficult to estimate, so we need to turn to the nutrition label on a product.

This is where a startling realization hits those who know how to read the label. The amount of calories within many products are not accurately represented! That’s right, those calories are not what they may appear. A search for an answer was prompted when I was explaining to my wife how one calculates the amount of calories in a product. To figure out the total calories in a product, the three macronutrients are summed up by their respective caloric value. In all foods and beverages, calories are calculated by adding the total amount of fats (1 g = 9 kcal), carbohydrates (1 g = 4 kcal), and proteins (1 g = 4 kcal) in the product. Sometimes alcohol is also added (1 g = 7 kcal). An example was presented using a can of Coke (see picture). When we take a look at the three Macronutrients, we see that the only one that has a value is carbohydrates. This made it easy…so I thought.  When we multiply the amount of carbs in the beverage (39 g.) with its corresponding caloric value (4 kcal), we get 39 * 4 = 156 calories. But wait, why does the calories of the can state 140 cal? This is not a rounding issue as you will read below. The  extensive search led me through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (who regulates the food label) to get to the bottom of the fiasco. Scrounging through the FDA guidelines for proper labeling of nutrition facts was daunting. I came across a plethora of jargon and redirections that made it hard even for the product manufacturer to adhere to the guidelines.

The following were some questions relating to the problem, but there was nothing in my search that could explain why Coke was able to misrepresent their caloric value by 16 calories!

N8. Should a value of 47 calories be rounded up to 50 calories or rounded down to 45 calories?
Answer: Calories must be shown as follows:
50 calories or less–Round to nearest 5-calorie increment: Example: Round 47 calories to “45 calories”
Above 50 calories–Round to nearest 10-calorie increment: Example: Round 96 calories to “100 calories”
21 CFR 101.9(c)(1) Also see Appendix H for rounding guidelines.

N18. What is meant by sugars on the Nutrition Facts label?
Answer: To calculate sugars for the Nutrition Facts label, determine the weight in grams of all free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the sample of food. The other nutrients declared on the nutrition label are defined in 21 CFR 101.9(c). 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(ii)

N16. How is total carbohydrate calculated?
Answer: Total carbohydrate is calculated by subtracting the weight of crude protein, total fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight (“wet weight”) of the sample of food. 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)

When I was able to find the section on carbohydrates and caloric measurement requirements (see references), there was nothing that mentioned how accurate the manufacturer had to be when producing a number. They did state that a certified chemical testing company had to weigh all amounts of nutrients before producing the label. So my question is, what scientist doesn’t know how to do basic arithmetic? Before banning the extra-large cups and refills, we might want to figure out how much sugar we really are consuming.

References:

Code of Federal regulations. Title 21 – Food and Drugs: Section 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of food

CNN: Mass. Mayor Suggests Ban on Large Drinks, Free Refills

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Appendix H: Rounding the Values According to FDA Round Rules

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition Labeling; Questions G1 through P8