The 3 Fitness W’s for Success in 2015

Every year in January gyms across the nation become filled with new and enthusiastic people attempting to accomplish their new year’s resolution to lose weight.  People start by joining and maybe even get a coaching session or the latest weight loss supplement but by February already start to drop off from the gym.  While training a client and seeing the influx of people at a normally non-peak time, we discussed what it would actually take to make people successful with their weight loss goals.  Together we came up with the 3 W’s for weight loss; water, weightlifting and willpower. If people were to follow these simple rules they would significantly increase their chances of achieving their goals.

As much as 75% of Americans are considered to be chronically dehydrated, and water use is one of the most underutilized tools in weight loss.  Our bodies are composed of 60% water and our muscle tissues are 75% water! Water is necessary in the uptake of nutrients and minerals into our cells and studies have been shown that just by drinking 2 glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner has shown that people eat less.  Incorporating more water in the diet is essential for success.  A good starting point for water consumption is to take your body weight (lbs) and drink half of that number in ounces.  So a 200lb person would drink approximately 100oz of water a day.  The added benefit of this is that you will have to use the restroom on a relatively consistent basis which will also get you up from your work desk and get you moving and burning more calories.

Weightlifting is the second W for realizing your weight loss goals. People still fail to realize that lifting weights actually burns more calories than running steady state cardio. When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.

The hardest W to stay focused is willpower: The American Psychological Association calls willpower “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Ultimately its hard work to lose weight and only you can resist foods that will hinder your progress, but here are several techniques to combat temptation when it arises. Set short and long-term goals to keep you motivated.  It can be hard to see yourself progressing; setting short-term goals constantly allows you to see the progress within reach. It’s also important to keep track of all of the short-term goals you are achieving, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer. If you keep a list of everything you have achieved, it is a constant reminder that you do have the power to achieve your goals. If dieting is a struggle, try some of these tricks:

Keep healthy snacks on you when you feel the urge to eat, so if your blood sugar drops and you get hungry you can fill up on healthy choices.  Another idea is to eat off a smaller plate, according to Cornell research, people who eat off of six-inch plates think they’re eating about 18 percent more food than they actually are. The ability to control willpower will be one of the single greatest factors to accomplish long-term success.

The 3 W’s are a simple approach to making 2015 a healthier year. By drinking water, lifting weights, and starting with a plan for willpower should set your year for great results.


The Conflict of Interest with Dietary Supplement Recommendations

Personal Trainers always are always look to maximize their time and money while doing training sessions month after month.  Once established as a certified personal trainer, you set your rate with clients (or your training facility does), and fill your schedule with as many clients as you can until inevitably trainers reach a plateau. Either you have some sanity in your day, and allow a healthy work/life balance, or you have more clients than you can handle and work 14 hour days training non stop. Either way your income hits a snag, and the certified personal trainer looks for alternative sources of revenue to boost their bottom line. The growing trend seems to be advising clients and other health conscious people on diet and workout supplements. This article will address some of the issues with the personal trainers and companies selling nutritional supplement to make extra money.

The client/certified personal trainer relationship is meant to be based on trust as well as a trainer having a competent understanding of the body and how to get their client to exercise safely, efficiently, and effectively. This is in the personal trainers scope of practice, to practice and preach what they learned either from a degree or certification, or both. Today, more personal trainers are veering away from their scope of practice and offering nutritional and dietary advice to their clients with no training in order to make more income. The conflict of interest arises when trainers get paid money make to make recommendations for certain dietary supplement companies. Whats even worse is you have lay people also recommending these products with no knowledge of whats in them.  You may have seen reps for companies such as Advocare, BodyByVi, Herbalife, and Juice Plus just to name a few.  They use a MLM system to recruit trainers as well as everyday people to pitch their fitness products to the masses in hopes of getting more people to rep product. The issue with many of these products is that they have never been reviewed by the FDA, and their quality is only “certified” by the companies who distribute them.

Due to The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the FDA has limits on when and how they can act when it comes to dietary supplementation.  To many peoples surprise the supplement industry is very loosely regulated by the FDA. Basically, there is no regulation until a product is brought to the FDA documenting harmful affects.  A perfect example of this was back in 2009, the #1 dietary supplement on the market Hydroxycut which claimed to help burn body fat. Hydroxycut was finally was pulled after it was determined to have caused 23 serious health concerns including liver failure, and a fatality. This goes to show that what people can potentially recommend for you has no safety factors and potentially could be very harmful to your body. Shortly after being pulled from the market, Hydroxycut changed their formula and now can be found in supplement stores nationwide.  They also reformulated a second time after another death occurred while some was taking their product.

To best illustrate the conflict, I can look back at my story and the decision I had to make while considering a job offer. I moved to Atlanta in 2011 looking to break into the fitness industry.  I was certified and ready to make a difference in peoples lives through exercise.  I had a job interview from an in home personal training company whose owner also happened to be a representative from one of the companies mentioned above.  Since I was not trained in nutrition, or a R.D. I did not feel comfortable going beyond my scope of practice.  Here are two of the email exchanges:

Me:  I am interested in the personal training aspect especially if it’s around the city. I’m not thrilled about the product or a lot of the reviews it’s getting online and it’s reputation. If any due diligent customer did some research on the product they would at best get mixed reviews. If there is a market in the city then I would like to train those people but until I review the product more I would not push it to every client. Would that be a problem?
His Response was as follows:
I know you are skeptical man, and I don’t blame you.  If its not right for you now, maybe it will be down the line sometime.  I look at the Redacted angle like this;  I have been recommending Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey for the last 5 years.  I feel confident in them because they are the #1 protein brand in the world.  I bet I have convinced well over 100 people to buy the product.  And what has that gotten me in return?  The answer is NOTHING.  When I go buy the product, its still FULL price.  When my clients go buy the product, its still FULL price.  At some point, we need to be compensated for our recommendations.

This was the introduction I received in the fitness industry, regardless of the benefit of the product to the client, make sure you are compensated.

So in conclusion, I hope that before you opt to put something in your body, please do the research. Do I need this? Can I get these same benefits from food? Does the person have proper training to recommend this product?  If you can ensure well balanced meals are eaten on a regular basis, there shouldn’t be a need for supplementation. Combine healthy eating with exercise and the health benefits are exponential.

Counting Calories for the purpose of losing weight

Is counting calories the best way to live our lives?  Everyday, we hear the term calorie as an expression of how much we eat on a daily basis. Technically, a Calorie is a unit of heat measurement used to measure the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.  In this article I will discuss why is it so difficult to accurately count calories.

In America it has become increasingly popular to see calories on menus, see people reading food labels at the grocery store, and in general people obsess about calorie content. So how do those numbers make it on labels and menus? In order to see those nutrient values, scientists burn food samples in a bomb calorimeter. The result of this reaction then becomes the value for nutrient databases that are used today.  Unfortunately, there are several issues with the process.

  • Analytical methods are imprecise
  • Product variety
  • Soil and growing conditions
  • Ripeness at the time of harvest
  • Animals’ diets
  • Preparation method

The way we currently test nutrients and energy doesn’t always provide reliable results, so the analysis can only be as good as the testing method.  Besides the analysis we have to look at food as a whole.  No food is ever going to be the same, different batches of the same food will have different nutrient values, thus testing a food at a single point in time to describe all batches is extremely inaccurate. Produce is grown all over the world in different climates and varying soil conditions.  It would be improbable to say that produce grown in different regions would have the same nutrient estimates. Nutrient values are also different when picked during peak season versus out of season.  Nutrients in milk, meats, and eggs, vary based on how the particular animal lived and ate. Eating raw will have a much different affect that cooking produce. In fact, research has shown cooking provides more energy available for humans to use.  So with all these contributing factors related to food how accurate are the labels?

Foods listed in the nutrient database, or on food labels are as much as  +/-  25% off. Additional research has shown some frozen foods contain 8% more calories, and some restaurant meals are as much as 18% higher than listed on the menu. All this leads to one undeniable fact; you can’t rely on calorie counting for an accurate way to measure your weight. While this article is not meant to answer what is the best method to lose weight, hopefully it has shown that managing your weight by counting calories is time consuming, difficult, and extremely inaccurate.

Are you eating correctly for your body type?

Most people get their diet advice or meal ideas from magazines or the internet which generally has the latest and greatest one size fits all plan. While the plan or idea may have great concepts about losing/gaining weight, it never touches on the fact that each person is different based on their bodies.  In fact, most people fall into one of three somatoypes, or body types.  In order to get the best results you need to be able to customize your meals and macro nutrients around your body type and goals.

People need to be basing their macro nutrients around their specific body type.  People generally are either ectomorphs, who are characterized long and thin muscles and limbs with lower fat storage. Typically these people want to gain muscle strength and size or maintain body weight for endurance sports. Mesomorphs, typically have larger bones, a solid torso, wide shoulders, trim waist, and naturally muscular and athletic. Their goals generally are to continue to build muscle mass while maintaining a low body fat percentage. Endomorphs, usually are naturally thick and broad with higher fat storage and wider waist and large bone structure. Most goals are centered around fat loss.  While there are several other variations of these categories, its important as a starting point to find your somatotype, and base your meals and macro nutrients off your goals (build muscle, lose fat, gain/lose/maintain weight).

How many calories you need to be eating is based on your body weight and activity level throughout your day.  As a baseline measurement you can take your body weight in pounds and multiple it by the chart below as it corresponds with your activity level.

Calorie Estimator

For Example a 180 lb endomorph male that is moderately active working out 3-4 times per week and wants to lose weight would eat between 2160 (180×12) to 2540 (180×14) calories per week.

After discovering how much calories you will be consuming a day, we get to the customization that has been lacking from all the previous diets! The most important part is giving your body what it needs in macro nutrients.  Depending on your body type and goals this chart is a very good starting point in order to make the meals and macro nutrients work most efficiently for you.


Converting grams to calories 1g fat=9 calories, 1g carbs=4 calories, 1 g protein=4 calories

If we were to take that same 180 lb man looking to lose body weight his diet would need to consist of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 40% fat.  If he were to eat a fixed diet at 2160 calories we could break it down as follows: 2160 calories x .35=756 calories 756/4=189 grams of protein, 2160 x .25=540 calories, 540 calories/4=135 grams of carbs, and 2160 calories x.4=864, 864 calories/9=96g of fats. We are able to figure out both total grams and calories of each macro nutrient we should be consuming each day for our desired goal. This is one of the best ways to achieve results for your own body type and see great results.

In conclusion, before starting out on your next dieting adventure, see if the next great weight gain/ loss plan is right for your body type.  In no way is the process mentioned above the only way to achieve your desired results but it is very effective.  For more information on how to individualize your meal plan contact me at

Dining out on a Diet: Our Guide to Atlanta’s Healthiest Hot Spots

Everyone loves to go out to eat; a statement made evident by the fact that Americans eat out an average of 4-5 times a week. And why not? It’s quick, easy, clean-up free, and a great way to get out and socialize with family and friends. However, studies have shown that the average restaurant meal contains over 1000 calories, which can make dining out on a diet nearly impossible. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to stay in and cook every single night, so what’s the solution to this calorie conundrum? We’ve put together a review of Atlanta-area restaurants that offer up healthier alternatives to the calorie bombs you’d encounter elsewhere. So go ahead and treat yourself to a fun night out, minus the guilt!

Seasons 52

If you’re looking for the perfect Friday night date spot, but want to avoid the rich and hearty fare often offered at romantic restaurants, Seasons 52 is the perfect choice. The atmosphere is casually sophisticated, and the menu offers a wide variety of healthy dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The theme at Seasons 52 is “healthy indulgence,” and it delivers just that; delicious fare that you can enjoy without feeling guilty afterward. The menu features everything from baked flatbreads to grilled seafood to wood-fired steaks, lamb and pork chops, along with an extensive wine list. Even better? Nothing on the menu is over 500 calories, and the nutritional information on each dish is readily available to help you make the right choice for you. The best part? You can even enjoy a guilt-free dessert! All of the dessert offerings at Seasons 52 are served in a shot glass, so you get just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth without feeling like you’ve demolished your diet, and with flavors like key lime pie, rocky road, and chocolate peanut butter mousse, who could resist a little post-meal indulgence?

Seasons 52 is located in Buckhead at 3050 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Dunwoody at 90 Perimeter Center West.

Cafe Sunflower

For all of the vegetarian/vegans out there, Cafe Sunflower is a must-stop spot in Atlanta. A small, cafe-like feel with simple decor, reasonable prices, and a casual vibe, Cafe Sunflower is the perfect place to enjoy a light lunch with friends or a weeknight dinner date without breaking your wallet or your waistline. If your strictly vegan, it’s difficult if not almost impossible to find a dish let alone a whole menu that caters to your dietary restrictions, but Cafe Sunflower does just that. Everything on the menu is meat-free, and the few dishes that include dairy products such as real cheese are labeled as such so that any level of vegan can easily navigate the menu and find something they can eat. And with menu items such as Berry Barbecue Tempeh, Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash, and Orzo Eggplant Lasagna, who wouldn’t find something to please their palate?

Sunflower Cafe is located in Buckhead at 2140 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Sandy Springs at 5975 Roswell Rd.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill

No article on healthy restaurants in Atlanta would be complete without R. Thomas, a family-owned eatery that has become a landmark in the Brookwood Hills neighborhood since it’s opening back in 1985. Self-described as an “oasis in the city,” R. Thomas’ eclectic decor and trademark patio surrounded by various plants and caged tropical birds, it certainly lives up to that description. The menu is based on the philosophy that food is medicine, and that a diet free of preservatives and pesticides will ultimately lead to better health. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and menu items include everything from quinoa stir-frys to pastas to grilled chicken and fish to Southwestern entrees such as tacos, burritos and wraps. They are also known for their fresh, made to order juices and smoothies, making it the perfect stop for a pre-workout fuel-up or post-workout snack. Also, R. Thomas is open 24/7, so Atlantans can enjoy fresh, healthy fare any time of day, any day of the week.

R. Thomas is located in Brookwood Hills at 1812 Peachtree st. NW.

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen is a growing restaurant chain which recently expanded into Atlanta with their newest location at Lenox Mall in Buckhead. The basis of the cuisine at True Food Kitchen comes from the anti-inflammatory diet, an eating plan designed to reduce chronic inflammation which can cause a number of health issues and diseases. Inflammatory foods are those that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and are prepared without the use of added fats, oils, butter, and salt. True Food Kitchen aims to popularize these healthy foods by preparing them in a way that looks good and tastes good too, and serving them in a trendy restaurant environment that will bring people in whether they’re grabbing a quick bite during the workday or enjoying a Friday night out with friends. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes including salads, pizzas, appetizers, entrees, sandwiches and burgers using lean meats such as turkey and bison instead of beef. They also have a selection of natural refreshments using antioxidant-rich fruits, veggies, spices and teas as ingredients. Even the restaurant itself is sustainable, using recycled wood and materials in their floors and furnishings. With it’s fresh, tasty cuisine and bright, fun atmosphere True Food Kitchen is one chain that’s definitely worth a try; just order the edamame dumpling appetizer and you’ll see what I mean!

True Food Kitchen is located in the Lenox Square Mall at 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE

Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

How many times have you heard a friend, family member or coworker say “I’m going on a low-carb diet”? Chances are, you probably know someone (maybe even you) that has tried this method for weight loss. And why not? The Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, and countless others advise that going low-carb is the key to achieving the body of your dreams. But is this really the answer to healthy, sustainable weight loss? Could it be that carbohydrates get a bad rap not because we don’t need them but because most of us don’t know how to use them to our advantage, which begs the question; carbs: friend or foe?

When food is digested, it leaves the stomach and enters the intestines where it is absorbed into the blood stream in the form of blood glucose, which is then stored in the muscle cells as “glycogen” or fuel for our bodies.  This process is known as “gastric emptying time.” Gastric emptying time varies based on what you eat, and when the process is complete your blood glucose levels drop, signaling that it’s time to eat again. Proteins have a gastric emptying time of around 2 hours, while fats take 3-5 hours. Carbohydrates however, take between 20 and 40 minutes. This is why we often feel an energy crash shortly after eating a carb-heavy meal. This is also why carbohydrates have gotten such a bad reputation. However, studies conducted on gastric emptying time have found that when you add a protein in with a carbohydrate, gastric emptying time is slowed considerably (remember; it takes 2 hours for proteins to be digested). This allows for blood glucose levels to rise slowly and drop slowly, releasing steady energy for the body to use effectively and preventing that dreaded energy crash. For this reason, proteins should always be present in a meal that includes carbohydrates. The only time it is acceptable to have carbohydrates alone is immediately after exercising because glycogen synthase levels are high, so the body will take all that glycogen and store it in the cells for later use. If you eat a high-carb meal and then engage in a sedentary activity like sitting at a desk or in front of the TV, the glycogen will instead be stored as fat because the body can’t use it right away. So, instead of swearing off all carbs, we just need to know how to eat them so our bodies can use them properly.

Now that we’ve established that carbohydrates are vital for providing energy to our cells, how do we know how much and what types we should eat? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that 58% of our diet should consist of carbohydrates, the RDA recommends 130 grams per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommends anywhere from 45-65% or more depending on the individual and their level of activity. Runners, for example, probably need closer to 70%. Why? Carbohydrates are our fuel. They are the body’s greatest source of energy. You wouldn’t get in the car for a cross-country road trip without putting gas in the tank first, right? However, you wouldn’t need as much gas if you were only going for a drive down the road. This is the mentality that one should use when determining how many grams of carbohydrates they should be eating daily. So, how do you know the amount of carbohydrates that is right for you? First of all, you need to know how many total calories you should be taking in daily. It is beneficial to enlist the help of a nutritionist or dietician when determining this, but you can get a good idea using this simple formula:

1. Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of food your body requires just to maintain it’s most basic functions (breathing, digestion, etc.). You can figure this out by taking your weight in kilograms (lbs./2.2) and multiplying it by 1 if you are a male and 0.9 if you are female (this represents the calories burned per kilogram per hour). Multiply that number by 24 (hours in a day) and you have your BMR.

2. Add in your activity factor. If you are sedentary (you do not exercise at all and have a job that requires little to no physical activity), give yourself a 1.1. If you are on your feet at least half of the day, give yourself a 1.2 for light activity. If you are on your feet most of the day, give yourself a 1.3. If your job requires a lot of physical activity (manual labor), give yourself a 1.4.

3. Calculate your daily exercise expenditure, or the amount of calories you burn during exercise per day. This can be a little tricky, which is why it may be helpful to have a nutritionist or dietician assist in getting the most accurate calculation possible. You will need to consider how many days a week you work out and what kinds of workouts you do to get approximate number of calories burned per workout (be careful not to overestimate). 

4. Take your BMR and multiply it by your activity factor, then add your daily exercise expenditure. Now you have a good idea of how many calories you should be eating daily.

5. Now, calculate 58% of that number and you have a general idea of how many calories per day need to come from carbohydrates. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, so take that number and divide by 4 to figure out how many grams of carbs that equals.

Now that you have a general idea of how many grams of carbohydrates your body requires to keep you going, it is equally as important to know which kinds of carbohydrates are best. There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of sugars (fruit juices, white breads and pastas, corn syrups, etc.), while complex carbohydrates consist of starches (whole grains, beans, legumes, etc.). You should never eat a food with more than 20% of it’s carbs coming from sugar. In general, this means that we should stick with the complex carbohydrates as they are more filling and slower to digest. While fruit does include sugar and simple carbohydrates, they also have essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, so you don’t need to neglect these foods entirely. Just remember to limit your intake and combine your fruit with a protein to keep those blood glucose levels in check.

Carbs don’t need to seem like the enemy; following these simple rules will help you to turn them into a useful tool toward reaching your weight loss goals in a healthy and effective way.


If You’re in the Midtown Atlanta Area, Come Check Out Firefighter Fitness’ Newest Location!

Firefighter Fitness is excited to announce the addition of our new boot camp location in Midtown Atlanta. If you’re in the Buckhead area, we will still be hosting classes at our Buckhead location, but we are adding evening classes at the Millennium Gate in the heart of Atlantic Station! Now that spring is finally in sight, come work out with us in the beautiful Millennium Gate courtyard and get in shape for summer! The address of our new location is 395 17th St. NW Atlanta, GA 30363 and we meet in the grassy area at the bottom of the steps just below the Millennium Gate. For more information on class times, visit us at or email us at We hope to see you soon!

Back side.Our newest location!