Monthly Archives: May 2012

My food is out to get me

You aren’t fat just because a particular food is making you fat. Carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, fat and protein don’t magically find a way into your stomach. McDonald’s cheese burgers don’t magically levitate into your stomach. The movie size box of candy doesn’t jump off the shelf and say, “BUY ME!”.

Oh wait, you are addicted to a food item? Well that changes the laws of matter and physics. Now obviously the cheese burger can levitate, and candy has the power of movement. It’s the inanimate object that’s responsible for your decisions, not you. That’s the problem.

So as you go through life, fat and unhappy do feel free to blame the box of candy.

Can these foods lead to increased obesity? Yes. Are manufacturers trying to design foods to entice you to eat more, yes. The question is, at the end of the day who’s responsible?

You are. Food does not think or act. You are the one who decides what you are going to stick into your mouth. You can give me a laundry list of excuses. Bottom line, even an alcoholic has to acknowledge his actions. If you have a hard time saying no to a beer, don’t go into a bar. If you have issues with movie size candy, don’t walk into CVS and buy one. If a food causes you to binge, YOU are the one who has to figure out how to walk away. There is no magic, and there’s no special technique. If you gobble up the bowl of queso, then you need to tell the waiter to take it off the table. If your friends complain, tough nuts.

You are responsible for your actions. Period. It’s great that you’ve identified a food as a problem. It doesn’t matter a lick if you do not take steps to address the problem.

Wordless Wednesday: Stronger


Wildcard Weekend- Memorial Day edition


It’s a holiday weekend! Make a point to stay active. 

This weekend try-

30-40 minutes of Yomping. This is British military style fast walking/marching. Get a backpack, fill it with several large books and head out the door. Walk, don’t run, focusing on keeping your posture erect, and walking at a fast pace. 


Head to the playground and do a circuit of all the equipment. Move from station to station, and see how many passes you can make in 15 minutes


Do 30 minutes of a sport you’ve never tried. Ultimate Frisbee, flag football, kickball, or even a game of tag. 

Have fun, be safe, and take a moment to honor our veterans. Happy Memorial Day weekend!




You want to get in shape and get healthy? Get selfish. 

One of the chief excuses I see on a daily basis when it comes to fitness is what I call the “me last” excuse. The premise is simple. You get so focused on putting everyone else in your life first, you forget that you need some attention as well. Kids forget they need cookies for class tomorrow? You drop your workout to take care of it. Best friend is in town unexpectedly, you throw your meal plan out so you can eat at her favorite spot. The boss needs something done yesterday, you stay late and miss workouts and meals. 

Over and over again, this pattern repeats. You argue that this is just you being responsible. You are doing your job, being a good parent, being a good friend, a good spouse. Sure. You are missing the point. You are being a horrible you. As you skip workouts and meals, you reinforce poor patterns which are keeping you stalled out. You make poor decisions, feel terrible, and look worse. The longer it goes the worse things get. 

You cannot make the changes you want in your life and be all things to all people. If you want this to work, you’ve got to be selfish. When it comes to your meals, your workouts, and the things moving you forward, they have got to be an absolute priority. If the situation doesn’t warrant a 911 call, it is not an emergency. The world will not end if there are no cookies tomorrow. It will not end if you tell your friend no. It will not end if you explain to the boss you’ve got an appointment you can’t miss. These situations may lead to some deeply uncomfortable moments to be sure. They will not kill you. 

The more you put yourself first, the better you get at balancing the demands in your life. You have energy to do things, and that energy helps you create time. You’ll have the energy to teach your kids how to bake, which means no more cookie emergency. You’ll have energy and feel better, meaning you have the patience to explain to your friend why this isn’t the best week to step off plan. You’ll have confidence to talk with your boss and get things done right. 

Be selfish. Fight for yourself the same way you fight for others. 

Where will you be


Right now you are sitting at your desk, clicking your way through the news. You check Facebook, maybe switch over to doing some actual work. Your workday is a metaphor for your life in general. You coast along, letting the waves in your life dictate where you end up. It’s not very satisfying, but hey it’s the best you got. 

Is it?

Take out a piece of paper. Go ahead, you’ve got time to Facebook, you’ve got time to do this. Now write at the top:

Where will I be in 5 years

Start writing what comes to mind. Chances are good that you are drawing a total blank. That blank is why you are stalling out. How can you know where you are going if you don’t make any attempt to pick a direction? 

Now put the paper aside for a minute, and close your eyes. Allow your mind to wander. Ask yourself where you would like to be. You get bombarded by a variety of images. You may be with the people you know now. You may see others. Don’t be afraid of what your mind shows you. Open your eyes, and start writing. Just dump everything out of your head and onto the paper. 

Congratulations. You’ve just taken the first step towards getting yourself out of a rut. Each note that’s on the paper is a desire of your heart. Some will be easy to achieve, others are much harder. For now, don’t worry about easy or hard. For now just accept that you’ve got a map, a way to help you get from where you are now to where you will be. 



It’s the start of a new week. You get up, get dressed, and then the little things all start to rain down on you. A fuse in the kitchen keeps blowing which means you can’t get a hot cup of coffee. You spend so much time messing with the fuse that you miss your designated time to leave the house. You go to look for your gym bag and discover the dog peed on it. There goes your workout. You throw up your hands and stomp out of the house.

It was something similar last week. You got off to a poor start and somehow you managed to miss most of your workouts. It’s not like it was your fault. The world was conspiring against you.

That’s right, all those inanimate objects in your house are obviously out to get you. The coffee maker surely realizes that you can’t function without your cuppa. Heaven forbid you just stop at Starbucks on the way to work this time. You have things to do. The car not starting, that’s obviously the fault of the car, not you for failing to take it in for an oil change. The door slamming in your face is a conspiracy, not simple physics at work. And that darned dog! This is all is fault. Ignore the fact that you were too tired to let him out before you went to sleep.

Too often a case of the Mondays is a function of letting small irritations turn into major events. More critically, those small irritations can be used by your back brain as a clever way to sabotage yourself. Having a tough start to the day? Best to put things off until you feel more comfortable, until you get back into a groove, until you are in your routine.

Newsflash sparky- skipping the things that are hard will not get you back into a groove. Skipping them just make it easier to keep skipping them. Change does not happen when you are comfortable. It happens when you are anything but. You’ve got to dig in and fight through those impulses to skip. Yes it sucks. It means ignoring family time for an hour while you get a workout in. It means staying up late to finish things you started. It means stopping off to buy a bone for your poor dog.

Stop trying to blame people for your bad day. Better, stop blaming inanimate objects for your bad day. Blame doesn’t move you forward. Take a deep breath, drop the excuses, and fix the problem.

The cottage cheese theory of weight loss

One of my favorite arguments against eating healthy is the, “but I don’t like the way X tastes.” I get this one frequently.

“What should I eat to make breakfast healthier?”

“Well eggs and oatmeal are a nice, balanced breakfast.”

“Oh I don’t like oatmeal. It’s yucky. How about a bagel?”

This type of conversation goes on in every weight loss forum, support group, and gym constantly. People ask what you need to eat to lose weight, you tell them, and then the answer is, “I don’t like that.” Cottage cheese is a major do not like food. For many in the fitness community it’s a staple food item. It’s affordable, and a great source of protein. It also hits a wide range of icky food buttons for folks. Be it a matter of taste or texture, cottage cheese inevitably receives an ick vote.

Here’s the thing. So what? So what if I don’t like cottage cheese? I like being fat even less. I don’t have a food allergy, I just have an aversion to that particular food. The foods I do like aren’t good for me. I mean a donut tastes tons better than cottage cheese. The donut is not going to help me hit my weight loss goal.

There are many foods I didn’t like when I started my weight loss journey. Cottage cheese was on the list. What I realized is that to get where I wanted to go, I needed to give up things that I enjoyed for a time. So the donuts went off the daily list along with a host of other foods. Cottage cheese rotated on the list. It was a struggle in the beginning. I mixed it with a low fat yogurt to mask the taste, held my nose and ate my cottage cheese. I made the decision that my personal dislike of a variety of foods needed to take a back seat while I worked to lose the weight.

This is a key point for those looking to lose weight and keep it off. You’ve got to make conscious decisions to do things which make you uncomfortable. Being fat is comfortable. It’s familiar, and it’s safe. You need to break down those old routines and habits that are keeping you locked in negative routines. Is it fun to eat food you don’t like? No way Jose. It was months before cottage cheese and I became more than antagonists.  I hit a point where I ate so much tuna I thought I was going to grow gills. I did not enjoy it.

I kept reminding myself that I enjoyed being fat far less.

Over the next several months, the weight dropped off and I formed new relationships with food. Cottage cheese turned from a disgusting food to a staple in the pantry. The Cottage Cheese Theory of Weight Loss was born. In order to get what you want, you’ve got to be willing to suffer through a little (or in my case a lot) of cottage cheese. Embrace being uncomfortable, and through that discomfort discover just how strong you can be.

Weights and measures, fitness style

Without an accurate map, it’s hard to see where you’re going. For those looking to lose weight, figuring out a system to track your progress is important.

The standard tracking system for years has been scale weight. While the scale tells you how much you weigh, it’s not as good at telling you what all that weight is. Muscle occupies less space than fat does, which can create a situation where you are wearing smaller pants, but weight more than your “goal” weight. Additionally, environment can impact scale numbers. Grab a Libertarian taco from Torchy’s and the sodium will cause an overnight spike in weight. That 2 pound gain means you have extra water in your body, not extra fat.

Using a tape measure is a good way to mark progress. Circumference measurements of key body sites can give you a good idea of your progress. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests using the following sites:

  • Abdomen
    • level of umbilicus (belly button)
  • Waist
    • narrowest part of waist above umbilicus and below xiphoid process (about half way between bottom of the breast bone and your belly button)
  • Hip
    • maximal girth of hip, or buttocks
    • Above gluteal fold (where the butt and leg connect)
  • Thigh
    • maximal girth of thigh
    • below gluteal fold
    • legs slightly apart
  • Calf
    • maximum girth between knee and ankle joint
  • Arm (bicep)
    • Arm in anatomical position (relaxed at your side, palm facing forward)
  • Forearm
    • maximum girth of forearm
    • arm hanging downward and slightly away from trunk
    • palms facing forward

The recommended method is to do all measurements on your right side, take three sets of measures, then average them out.

Body fat percentage is the last of the methods available to help measure body composition and weight loss progress. There are a variety of methods available, and the accuracy can vary. For most folks, the caliper measurement or bio electrical impedance method is most common. Calipers are used to measure skin folds, and those measures are then plugged into a formula which estimates your body fat levels. Bio electrical systems can be found in scales or hand held systems like this Omron fat loss monitor.

All of these systems have strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to realize that every single one of these numbers is an educated guess. The only way to be 100 percent accurate about what’s going on inside of you is an autopsy. I’m pretty sure that none of us want to go to that level of detail.

What I suggest is using a combination of all three systems to get an idea of where you are going. Each week I take a single set of measures using a tape measure, I weigh on the scale, and I check body fat. So long as two out of three of those numbers show a downward trend, I call it good and move on. Because each measure accounts for something different, a bad week on the scale may not translate into a bad week on body fat or tape measure.

It takes about 10 minutes first thing in the morning to get these measurements done. With information in hand, you can plan out your next week and help keep your weight loss on track.