Tag Archives: diet advice

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.


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 firefighterfitnessllc@gmail.com

Have Your Hot Wings and Eat Them Too: Figure-Friendly Upgrades to your Football Favorites!

Football season is here again, and with it comes hot wings and cold beer! Unfortunately, however, it can also bring unwanted calories and extra fat. Instead of sacrificing your favorite football fare in order to watch your waistline, try these easy upgrades that will allow you to enjoy your favorite game day dishes without the extra side of guilt.


Hot and Healthy Baked Buffalo Wings:

  • 3 lbs. chicken wings and drumsticks
  • 1 tbs. margarine
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bleu Cheese Dressing:

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • scallions to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and lightly grease a baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, season the wings and drumsticks with salt and pepper.

3. In a sauté pan over low heat, melt margarine. Add thyme and garlic and simmer for 3 minutes. Add hot sauce and stir.

4. Pour mixture over chicken and toss to coat. Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. Combine Greek yogurt, bleu cheese, and scallions in a small bowl. Mix well and refrigerate.

6. Transfer chicken to baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, turn over, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Baste wings occasionally while baking.

7. Remove pan from oven, and allow wings to cool slightly. Serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks, if desired.

*1 serving of regular chicken wings: 800 calories! A serving of our Hot and Healthy Baked Buffalo Wings: 377 calories

Not So Naughty Nachos:

  • 1 16 oz. can black beans
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 1/2 bag baked corn tortilla chips
  • 1/4 head shredded Romaine lettuce
  • Greek yogurt
  • Shredded cheese of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place beans and 1/2 jar of the salsa into a food processor and combine until chunky.

3. Place chips on baking sheet. Add chunky black bean puree and spread corn, tomatoes, and remaining salsa on top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in oven until cheese is melted.

4. Remove nachos from oven. Add shredded lettuce on top. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

*1 serving of loaded nachos with beef and cheese: 570 calories! 1 serving of our Not So Naughty Nachos: 250 calories

Sinless Potato Skins:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 10 oz. bag of lettuce
  • 2 scallions
  • 4-6 slices turkey bacon
  • 4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.

3. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook onion for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add scallions and spinach, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, until spinach has wilted.

4. In another sauté pan, cook the turkey bacon until crisp and transfer to a paper towel to dry. When cooled, chop into small pieces and reserve.

5. When sweet potatoes are cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice each potato in half and scoop out the inside of each into a bowl. Add cream cheese, milk, salt and pepper and mash together until smooth. Using a pastry brush, coat the outside of each potato skin with vegetable oil. Fill each skin with the filling and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Transfer skins back to the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden and skins are crispy.

6. Top with turkey bacon bits and serve.

*2 potato skins with cheese, bacon, and sour cream: 160-180 calories. 2 Sinless Skins: 120 calories

Skinny Cilantro Chicken Quesadillas:

  • 2 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tbs. reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 10 in. whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat Pepper Jack cheese

1. Preheat grill to medium heat.

2. Rub chicken breast with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill, turning over every 3 minutes until fully cooked. Allow to cool, and cut into thin slices.

3. Mix cilantro, yogurt, and sour cream in a small bowl.

4. Cover one-half of each tortilla with chicken, scallions, and cheese. Fold tortillas in half and transfer to the grill. Grill until tortillas are browned and crispy, and cheese is melted (about 1 1/2-3 minutes per side). Slice each quesadilla into 4 wedges and serve with cilantro cream.

*1 regular chicken and cheese quesadilla (4 slices): 970 calories! Skinny Cilantro Chicken Quesadillas: 238 calories



Back to School and Back on Schedule: 7 Tips to Stay Fit this Fall

Like it or not, summer is starting to wind down, and with the return of fall comes the return of our hectic schedules. Kids are going back to school, summer office hours are coming to an end, and it becomes more and more difficult make room in our daily routine for healthy habits. Studies show that people consume an average of 200 calories more per day during the fall season than they do in the summer months. Perhaps this is due to less outdoor activities, more on-the-go snacking, or simply that we no longer have the need to be bikini-ready when the weather cools down. Whatever the reason may be, keep that fall flab at bay with these 7 tips to keeping that bikini body all year long. It may not be autumn just yet, but these tips will help you to be prepared when fall is in full swing.

1. Plan healthy weekday meals ahead of time.

Between work, school, and extra-curricular activities, there’s not always time to prepare a healthy dinner every night. Avoid the diet-derailing drive-thru by planning quick and healthy meals at the beginning of each week. Do your grocery shopping over the weekend, and make a list of everything you will need for dinner that week. Meals don’t need to be complicated to be healthy. Pre-cut, frozen vegetables can be a great time-saving alternative to chopping up fresh veggies, and they retain just as many nutrients. There are also some great recipes online that require five or less ingredients and only 15-30 minutes of prep and cook time. Check out www.allrecipes.com for some quick and easy ideas. The crockpot is another great way to prepare meals that require little work and cleanup. Also, consider doubling up on each recipe so that you can save leftovers for later.

2. Reinstate Routines

During the summer, we tend to allow ourselves more time to relax, sleep, and participate in activities that we often feel we don’t have time for come fall, but these things are essential to good health. The key to keeping up these healthy habits is to schedule them into your day. Adequate sleep is a vital part of staying healthy, so set a nightly bedtime and stick to it. Power down your laptop and turn off your TV when bedtime hits, so you won’t be tempted to stay up late flipping channels or surfing the Internet. Do the same for your workout routine. Pick a specific time during the day, whether it’s in the morning, during your lunch hour, or after work to hit the gym, and schedule other priorities around it so that you always have time for a little exercise. Even if you only have fifteen or twenty minutes to spare, remember that every little bit counts. The trick to having time is to make time, so planning ahead will help to keep you on track.

3. Pack a Healthy Lunch

Instead of hitting up the nearest fast food joint on your lunch break, try packing yourself a healthy lunch to bring with you to work. Pack it the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. Not only will you be saving calories, but you’ll save some cash as well.

4. Manage your Stress

It’s no secret that schedules can be stressful, especially at the end of summer when trying to re-adjust to a regular routine. Stress can do damage to your health, however, and can contribute to weight gain as well as heart problems in the long term. Keep your stress levels in check by finding something to help you cope when things get hectic. Check out a yoga class, meditate, or take a short five to ten minute break whenever you feel stressed. Not only will doing so clear your head and help you feel more focused, but you’ll likely avoid other unhealthy habits such as stress-eating to help yourself cope.

5. Do Something Physical Every Weekend

When the pools close and the weather cools down, it’s easy to start spending more time indoors in front the TV, especially after a long week. But instead of vegging out all weekend, plan to do at least one active thing. The weather is beautiful this time of year with fall colors and milder temperatures, so head to the park for a walk and a picnic, check out your local farmer’s market, go hiking, or take your bike out for an afternoon ride.

6. Don’t Go Long Periods Without Eating

When running around between work, errands, and kids’ school and sports practices, it can be easy to go long periods during the day without food. This can have a negative effect on your diet if you end up eating the first thing in sight or over-eating at the end of the day. Avoid running on E by bringing healthy snacks with you on the go. Choose light but filling foods such as almonds, fruit, whole wheat crackers with hummus or cheese, or low-fat, high fiber granola bars that can be easily tucked into a purse or briefcase, but will keep you from feeling famished during a busy day.

7. Eat Breakfast Everyday

No matter what your day entails, you should always make time to eat something before heading out. Not only will eating breakfast jump-start your metabolism and give you energy to power through your morning, but eating breakfast has been proven to boost brain function and prevent weight gain. Choose a healthy breakfast with a combination of protein and whole grains, such as a cup of whole grain cereal with almond milk, a whole wheat English muffin with egg whites and low-fat cheese, or a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana slices.

Now, get outside and enjoy the last few days of summer! 🙂