Are you eating enough to lose weight?

Bodybuilding has a new division called, Physique, and I think I want to compete. Finally there is a place on stage for someone with bad calves and without the genetic and chemical makeup of the Silverback gorilla. Since I don’t foresee them adding a class for people over 45 with slight love handles wearing pants, the time is now or never. To prepare I started the process the way you are supposed to in modern times; 1) Hire a trainer 2) Set a goal and pick a date 3) Post it on social media.

One and two were the easy parts, number 3, however, that part had a few interesting repercussions. Whether it is politics, exercise or pictures of your cat playing the piano, Facebook/Twitter/etc. will give you the same range of responses; some support, some ambivalence and a few adamant haters. “Go for it!” one post said which was followed by another, “That’s gross and besides Dr. Oz says it’s bad for you.” And of course there was one that just said you won’t win because of Obama.

Oddly, it was the private messages this time that surprised me the most. A few friends, new and old, reached out to ask for diet and workout advice. As eager as I would like to be to dispense that info, I’ve noticed over the years that telling people how and what to eat can be met with the same enthusiasm the Indian customer service reps have when reading the script at the cable company. Possibly the most blowback I get if I try to help comes when I write out an eating plan that requires people to eat more to lose weight. Not starve yourself, not skip meals or drink juice until you “cleanse” a few times a day. My programs might have you eating enough to possibly get sick, if not at least annoyed with the process of food intake.

“But I’ll blow up like a balloon if I eat that much?” “That’s a lot of work shopping, cooking, eating…”

Yes, it is. Do you want do this or not?

Step one when helping people with their diets is always a journal and I find that with most people the answer to their biggest diet question is always more food throughout more meals, not less!

Case in point: my lovely wife, who has just kicked her workouts and food up and at 47 is in the best shape of her life. After waving me off meal after meal saying, “No more food!” like Kobayashi near the end of a hot dog eating contest, she thought for sure she would get on the scale and see the numbers spin wildly up and out of control. Instead, something magical happened. She lost weight!

She is still dumping the last of most meals on my plate claiming she couldn’t eat another bite but finally convinced that more equals less and not the other way around.

More of what is hopefully your next question. Not more pizza and not bigger sizes. More lean protein; meat, chicken, eggs and fish. More fresh veggies; broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, asparagus, etc. And more small, frequent meals. Start with breakfast eating at least 3 eggs depending on your size. Sift out a yoke or two and add some veggies to that. Ham or turkey anyone?

Also, more water. Less of all the caloric bevvies; sodas, juices, ice teas, alcohol and more.

And do all of this for more time to get the best results. If you live consistently like this for a few weeks, eating more good food; protein, fruits, fresh veggies and good grains, over a 4 meals a day you WILL see results. If you are not stuffed, add more protein and veggies to the portions. If time and cooking is an issue, add more protein shakes.

Unless you have a very special situation, skipping meals or cutting way back on food will eat your muscle and not your fat leaving you looking and feeling worse in the process.

As for me, I am trying to get my body fat percentage down near the unemployment rate in North Dakota so I have my work cut out. The eating has begun, it’s exhausting but I’m already starting to see some positive changes.

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What not to drink on a diet…sort of

What not to drink on a diet…sort of

 

Whether it’s a Diet Margarita or the latest Ultra Mega Lite Beer people are always looking for a way to get their drink on while still trying to take the pounds off. One of the latest in a never-ending string of articles with the purpose of giving us the skinny on what not to drink on a diet was put out yesterday by the fine folks at Livestrong.com . Sure it’s good and helpful, and gosh darn it, who doesn’t love a good list. I’m really hoping though that it wasn’t ranked by order of worst to last because that’s where I’d have to throw my souvenir Captain Morgan hat in protest.

According to the blog or article or blarticle, the number one drink to avoid is the Margarita. On a strictly calorie for calorie showdown against most adult beverages, however, I would suggest either taking this off the list completely or moving it near the end. It’s not a bad choice as it packs the punch you are looking for to hide whatever issues you are trying to wash away drinking while still being low in sugar from both the alcohol or the mixer. Even more exciting to hear as your diet staggers down the 12 steps is that there are “Skinny” mixers that are almost calorie free.

Way down the list however are some of the drinks I would have put at the top, including the fruity blended types. If you like Pina Coladas or getting caught on the scale, these are for you. Some of these drinks; daiquiris, Mai Tais, blue Hawaiians and the like can be packed with 500-1,200 calories. And no lifting those little umbrellas doesn’t count as a work out and the fruit on the sword isn’t your RDA of Vitamin C. If you are trying to watch your intake find another way to have a vacation in your mouth.

Rather than go drink by drink here are a couple quick tips to consider:

-          Light beer is always a good start but remember that since they don’t pack much alcohol content drinking 4 to 6 of them defeats the purpose

-          The mixers are the real killer with most diet busting beverages. The calories from sodas and sugary blenders are what can really add up to ruining your diet

-          Alcohol slows down your metabolism. When you drink your body makes working on alcohol a priority and pushes processing food to the back burner. Not only can this lead to weight gain but also malnutrition as vitamins and nutrients from foods are lost

 

One of the tips I got from some leading bodybuilding and fitness competitors was vodka and diet Sprite/tonic/or soda for a low-cal treat but perhaps the other greatest tips was don’t drink in the height of your diet or do it in moderation once in a while.

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What to cut from your diet to REALLY lose weight

Much of the country is being whacked with yet another arctic blast proving that awful Groundhog was wrong yet again this year. To think, people tease me for still using AOL and yet we’re still using a rodent to predict the change of seasons! Regardless of Phil’s ability to see his shadow or not, spring and summer are coming, and many of us are ill-prepared to be seen in less than a parka anytime soon. We know we need to get in some kind of shape before breaking out the bikinis and we feel like it should be done fast! Should we cut our carbs? Cut out red meat? Stop eating dairy?

The answer to the question of what you should cut out of your diet is easier than you think but not as easy as you want it to be. There is no single food you can, or should, cut from your diet, that is going to help you take off weight and keep it off.

Rest in peace Dr. Atkins, sorry “Cave”-people, and a big WTF to the maker of the OMG Diet, but the only thing to remove from your diet this year isn’t carbs; you need to cut out the belief that you can effectively shed overnight that took you months, or years, to put on.
That’s right, I said it, the miracle diets and the fads might take off a few quick pounds in time for you to squeeze into that bridesmaid dress that looks like it came from Vanna White’s garage sale, but those pounds will be back by the time you take the first bite of wedding cake.
So what should you do and what can you really expect from changing your eating and drinking habits? First, journal everything you are eating and drinking for three to five days. By doing that you will clearly see where you can make little changes to your lifestyle that could pay off in a big way. Start by cutting back on your intake of junk carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, rice, etc) and replace them with vegetables, fruit, and whole grain carbs. And switch your beverages from whatever you are drinking now to good old fashioned water. The sweet teas, cokes and cookie-chinos we are drinking are adding a couple pounds a month.
What you can expect from those minor changes depends on a few things; how much you have to lose and how bad your diet is to start. If you are way overweight and eating horribly you could lose an easy 8-12 pounds in the first week and a half followed by one to two pounds per week after. It might not seem like much but that is around the 20 pounds that the OMG diet claims with doing anything drastic. Grand scheme it’s a pretty simple plan compared to starving yourself or trying to live in the modern world without eating an occasional sandwich without thinking you are going to blow up like Veruca in Willy Wonka.
Last, get moving! Diet might be 80% of the weight loss puzzle but adding exercise will really help the pounds come off. And I’m talking about real exercise, not some slow-paced walk around your office building while you complain about your job with your fellow walkers. That isn’t any more of a workout than jogging your memory or running errands. Pick up the pace!

More great tips are just a few weeks away with the release of Laugh Your Abs Off! On Amazon.com

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For those with little ones headed back to school you’ve probably gone through the drill; shopping for clothes, notebooks, and one last stop for a stock-up at the grocery store for lunch supplies. That is of course if your kids are among the ones who pack a lunch. The rest are headed back to what Adam Sandler called “lunch lady land” which is of course the school cafeteria. Until recently the food ranged between sub-par fast food and the kind of spooned-on fare that would make prison servers on “Lock Up” cringe.  Now, like a chef trying to stuff a lobster into the boiling water, schools are trying to beat back the obesity epidemic by adding in nutrition to the student diets.

According to recent article in USA Today schools in places like Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina are adding menu items with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I’m not really taking a stand here except to say, “GREAT!” And now, to ask, will the kids eat it and what will you do at home to keep things moving?

In the last 10 years the childhood obesity rate has gotten higher than the kids at the skate park and something has to be done about it. If our kids are only eating lunch and maybe a snack at school, then they are getting overweight on our watch. So what do we do at home and away to give them a fighting chance in life at being someone’s type and not some doctor’s Type 2?

-          Sandwiches should have high-fiber bread. Want a secret? It doesn’t have to be “dark brown”, the kids always catch on to that. There are high fiber wheat breads that are lighter in color you just have to read the labels.

-          Fruits and vegetables at every meal. Pre-slice and peel them when possible, except apples and bananas which will turn that color that makes kids throw them out without a second thought. And fruit “snacks” are not fruit they are Gummi bears.  If your boss wanted to pay you with 10% real money that wouldn’t fly now would it. Feeding the kids 10% real fruit won’t cut it.

-          Drinks are calories too. We forget that we are what we “drink” too, especially our kids who are sucking loads of sugar through those juice pouch straws. Sodas, juices, energy drinks, and more are packing on the pounds to our kids giving them more to carry than just a heavy math book.

Oh, and when it comes to eating snacks at home I hear that nonsense about having healthy “options” available but let’s be honest. If there’s an apple on the counter next to an open carton of Chips Ahoy that apple will be lost at sea.  So dump the healthy options and stock the house with delicious and attractive snacks only and they’ll eat them.  Next time that little swarm of chicken-nugget-eating locusts descends on your house you’ll be ready.

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Summer travel doesn’t have to be a vacation from your diet!

The summer travel season is here but it doesn’t mean you have to take a vacation from eating right and good health. Unfortunately for many of us though we leave for our trips as passengers and return as cargo. Never fear, there are a number of tips that can keep you looking and feeling great during your next round of planes, trains, and automobiles.
Probably the two most important factors in braving the nutritional road are knowledge and preparation. If you know what to eat at the various sit-downs and drive-thrus you can make more informed decisions about what to have when you get there. Most every restaurant has nutritional info in-store or online but to cut a few research corners for you however let me offer this:
- Salads can be a trap on the road. Many are served with a breaded and fried meat and iceberg lettuce that has the nutritional value of wet paper. I take that back, paper has slightly more fiber, the lettuce however is full of vitamin K which keeps blood from clotting. You’ll need this to offset the cheese and fatty dressings that most restaurants load on their salads.
For easy ways to navigate the world of salads consider; Chef salad, how often do you see a fit chef? Caeser, an obese Roman dictator. And what lives on a Ranch, pigs and cows. Even low-fat Ranch dressing is up to 80% fat. As with all dressings, get them on the side or that’s where they may end up…on your sides. Try for a variety of veggies on your salads and be sure to add a quality protein source like grilled chicken or fish.
- Fried equals died, as in your diet has just been put to rest by indulging on your trip. It’s not just a way to pack on a little carry-on but could give you a case of the blahs. Eat fresh to feel fresh on the road. Order your meat, chicken, fish, and more, grilled, baked, or blackened with sauces…on the side.
- When you do find yourself heading through a drive-thru the old standby is the trusty grilled chicken sandwich. The only place to be careful with those however is the special sauce which should be replaced with BBQ sauce, mustard or ketchup. They don’t call it the “Mayo” clinic for nothing, avoiding that glob of flavor on your bread can help keep your pounds down and arteries clear.
- Watching your carbohydrate intake on the road can be a huge challenge. With a never-ending supply of bread baskets, rice, and pasta dishes, it’s easy to lose sight of how many calories we’re eating. This is a big way that restaurants make money, most chefs think of carbs like a Kardashian; a high price tag but cheap and easy. Consider skipping the pasta and doubling up on your vegetables.
- Speaking of vegetables, they can be a tough thing to keep up with while traveling. Whenever possible get them steamed and not stir-fried or in a casserole. Raw is always good just avoid fatty dips, think “skinny” dips like hummus.
- You are what you what you drink too! It’s easy to forget about the 600 calories in your cookie-chino or sodas and even easier to let the floating party slip by as you add a couple extra drinks to your days. Water is always a good choice, especially before sitting down to eat or drink to fill the tank. (Just be mindful if it’s a car trip of the amount of “pit stops” you’ll have to make. Nobody wants to be that person.)
- When all else fails, many convenience stores are now selling fruits, vegetables, protein bars and shakes. Avoid the gravitational pull of the chip aisle and the hot donut cabinet and you’ll be just fine.
As for preparation, bring snacks. Fruit, nuts, trail mix, and lots of yummy water. If you get hungry have a snack between meals. That will keep you from making dietary mistakes out of desperation. When your blood sugar drops, so does your judgment.

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Passing down the family jeans…

Yes, I spelled it right. At least for my purposes here I meant to say “jeans”. Over the years I have heard members of my own family blame their rather superior-sized posteriors on bad genetics. While there is a bit of relevance to the size and shape of your ancestors to your eventual makeup, for most everyone else who blames their lack of fitness on a dirty gene pool, I have to throw the BS flag.
Ah but our forefathers, and especially our foremothers, do hand down one thing that affects us greatly, bad eating habits. Some of that is teaching us poor choices, no dietary discipline, and some is handing down generations of recipes that need to be buried with Aunt Rosemary when her heart pops from that last serving of her famous lasagna.
I bring this up because the opportunity presented itself to pass along some good habits that could alter the path of one of my flock when she leaves the nest after this school year.
For some reason she plopped down in the kitchen the other night with a note pad and asked for recipes. (Actually I know the reason she did this, a little more water in her gene pool from my side. Keep that between us please.)
Needless to say I beamed with pride and rattled off as much as I could as basically as I could in the short amount of time we had. I’ll give her more for sure but wanted to instill some “intel” while she was feeling more absorbent than a double roll of Brawny towels.
Of course I gave her the ins and outs of what to stock in fridge and spice rack to do most jobs, a basic shopping list, and some easy recipes, and I also gave her a few “Wow!” recipes that will delight her taste buds and build self-esteem in the kitchen. After all, shouldn’t every kid heading in to the world know the glory of searing a steak in a pan and finishing it in the oven? And shouldn’t at least some of our kids know how to save money and eat healthier by making their own chili lime chicken fajitas?

Hopefully when she comes to the dietary fork in the road, rather than taking the easy turn in to the giant bowl of takeout al Fredo, she’ll remember her notepad and feed herself a memory.
And I also hope that by taking some time to empower her in the kitchen that the family jeans she gets handed never come close to fitting.

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Finishing up my book!

Welcome to those of you who are recent followers of the blog! The full-scale blogging will be begin again soon as I am finally finishing my book, Laugh Your Abs Off! I took a brief bit of time off over the weekend to clear my mind by cooking Tequila Lime Fajitas on Friday for Cuatro de Mayo (tasted great and got the kids to sleep Early). I know, I know, the alcohol cooks off but teaching them quarters at a young age is an important life-skill. Saturday night was a charity event for the Sarasota YMCA featuring some of the best food you will ever eat from Michael’s on East! Sunday back to the grindstone on the book so I whooped up one of the family’s favorites that is kind of a culinary no-brainer at this point, Panang Curry Chicken.
Today I’m finishing up the chapter on ingredients that you can substitute that will cut the calories on diets or your favorite recipes.
If you’d like to email any of your favorites it would be GREAT!
More, better, blogs to follow, and maybe some snippets from the book pre-release.

Talk soon, eat often!
Tim

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