I”m baaaack, and more enhanced than ever!

I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve added anything here. I’ve been a little busy. Since I had my hip replaced three years ago, I’ve had to re-learn how to walk not once, not twice, but three times. The first time was after my hip replacement. It was kind of strange that something so simple and natural as walking could take a concentrated effort to learn how to do again. During a physical therapy session a few months after my right hip replacement, I found out that my left knee didn’t like all the changes going on. A tear in my left meniscus blew up and caused my knee to do the same. All that inflammation made my left leg looked jacked, too bad it was twice the size as my right one. Unfortunately I was inpatient and opted for arthroscopic meniscus surgery versus doing physical therapy for the knee. Meniscus surgery has about the same success rate as physical therapy. The surgery went well, but my knee didn’t agree. It threw my osteoarthritis into high gear in that knee. After the meniscus surgery in late 2018, six months after my hip surgery, I still had to do PT do learn how to walk on my new blown up knee. Fortunately my right hip had healed enough that it could withstand the rigors of post surgical knee PT. After a few months of PT and some hyaluronic gel shots in the knee, the swelling became manageable and I was able to create a new normal walking pattern. Unfortunately I was fighting a holding action as my knee was never going to get back to fully normal. The osteoarthritis in my left knee had deteriorated most of the cartilage and left three quarters of the joint with bone on bone interaction. I was just staving off the inevitable knee replacement, which happened in February of 2021, just what you want to do when Covid cases are at their peak. After the surgery was the third, and by far hardest, time I had to re-learn how to walk. I can say from experience that the recovery from a hip replacement is a walk in the park compared to that of a knee replacement. It took about four months before I was able to walk naturally again and not feel stilted. Don’t get me wrong, I was walking plenty before that, averaging over 14,000 steps a day, but it wasn’t until four months after surgery that it felt the same as the right knee while walking. It just kicked in one morning while walking to work. It was the strangest thing. I was halfway to work before I realized I was walking normally again. I still feel the difference between the two knees while walking, but I don’t have to concentrate on how I’m walking anymore. The body is a strange and mysterious system.

So now I’m a combination of titanium and steel. It’s really cool going through metal detectors. The journey has been difficult, educational, and rewarding. That last comment might seem strange, but read on and you’ll find out why I say that. So what are my limitations? My squat pattern is only at 95%, I still have a few degrees of knee flexion to go, but I’m confident I’ll be able to do a full “ass to grass” squat by the end of the year. Knee extension is even with my right knee, so no issues there. My deadlift is up to 300lbs for sets of fifteen. My goal is to beat my personal record of 425 by next summer. I’m taking it really slowly on my back squat, but I did a set of fifteen with 175 last week. I’m hoping to work back up to the 300lb range. I haven’t tried running yet. When I do it will be huge, since I haven’t been able to run in years. But I’m confident I’ll be able to do that soon. Not that I’m looking to start any long distance running, but it would be nice to be able to do some beach sprinting again.

Am I talking about all the stuff I can do to brag? Maybe a little, but during this process, with my joints deteriorating, having them replaced, and rehabbing, I learned a tremendous amount about myself and what the body can do. One of my biggest take aways, and a mantra I had to use during the hard times, was to focus on what I can do, and not what I can’t. I tried not to focus on the limitations caused by the pain and lack of mobility in my joints. It wasn’t always easy, and some days I sucked at it, but I always tried to keep in mind what I could do, and push the limits of the things that were painful or hard. It was especially tough at times knowing that no matter what I did before surgery, my joint wasn’t going to get better. The best I could do was to keep my deteriorating joint functional and try to minimize the pain. What I’m realizing now that I’m on the mend from my knee replacement is that all that work trying to stay functional actually made me a lot stronger and mobile than I knew. The pain and the limited mobility masked the gains. I’m surprising myself with the things I can do and I’m not fully healed yet. While my right knee will never be “normal” again, with continued focused effort I believe I can get it pretty damn close. As far as my titanium right hip goes, most days I forget it’s not the original equipment.

So I’m back and excited about the future again. I’m not just counting down the days to my next joint replacement. I’m not just dealing with pain that’s not going to get better. Every day I feel incremental changes in what I can do with my new and improved after market parts. My body has been enhanced, both mentally and physically, from my new parts and the process I went through to get them. I don’t regret any of what’s happened because this journey has led me down a path I didn’t know existed, and has helped define the direction of my Health Coaching practice. Most days I spend helping people overcome the pain and suffering that come from living the standard westernized lifestyle. Helping people identify and overcome the self inflicted injuries and inflammation that lead to lifestyle related diseases. Without all the pain and suffering I went through on this journey, I would have never gone down this path, so I’m fortunate to have had this experience. Now it’s time to move forward with renewed passion for what I get to do everyday. Aside from the charge I get from helping people move better and hopefully pain free, I get to go to work every day in my gym clothes. I literally work in a playground of gym equipment that I play with to explore different ways to move and stress the body in ways it was meant to be stressed. If it isn’t the coolest job in the world, it’s got to be right up there.

I am titanium, or at least parts of me are.

Although I am reluctant to share my life on social media, I feel this is significant enough to put out there.  On Tuesday, June 5th, I had a right hip arthroplasty, or total hip replacement. The pain started just over three years ago, in the spring of 2015, just weeks after I ​hit a personal best deadlift of 425lbs.  Genetics, poor movement patterns, inflammatory diet, years of heavy weighted squats and deadlifting, and 7+ years of walking steel decked navy ships have taken their toll. My education about the inflammatory effects on joints that a poor diet can have, and the chronic deteriorating effects poor movement patterns have on joints, came too late to save my hip. Over the past six months, as my hip had deteriorated rapidly and limited my ability to move, I had to focus my working out on what I can do, and try not to lament what was no longer possible. It has been quite a humbling experience for me, as I am used to being very mobile and capable

Salzburg, Austria, May 2018

of pushing, pulling, lifting, and putting down heavy things, and generally being able to move very dynamically.  I believe in the adage that strong people are harder to kill, and I have tried to make myself as fit and strong as possible, not only so that I would be harder to kill, but also to be able to enjoy the activities of daily life in a much more robust manner.  Health and fitness are part of my identity, and the deterioration of my hip  led to a loss of both health and fitness as the constant and increasing pain had taken a toll on me both physically and mentally. I am not one to take any kind of medications, prescription or over the counter, however, the increasing pain led me to have to use both and they have wreaked havoc with my normally dependable gastrointestinal system, which also wreaked havoc on my body and my psyche.   In the days before the surgery, I have to admit that I was a bit anxious about losing some of my original parts, but i was also eagerly awaiting my surgery as it brought the promise of alleviating the daily pains that moving brought. Also, the surgery would mark the beginning of a new, and hopefully hip pain free existence that will lead back to being healthy and fit again.

My surgery went well, and I was up and walking with the assistance of a walker within a couple of hours of getting out of surgery.  I spent only one night in the hospital and was home in my own bed the day after surgery.  The hardest part of the whole ordeal was the removal of my catheter (thank goodness they inserted it while I was asleep in the operating room).  The staff at Virginia Beach General couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive to my needs.  All in all, the whole process was as seamless and pain free as it could possibly have been.

While at home I used a walker to get around for the first four days, and then I ditched that for a cane.  I am still using the cane, but only minimally.  I expect to be able to ditch that within a week or so.

I am now on day 13 post surgery and I have a brand new titanium hip, which still freaks me out a bit, but it seems to be working well.  I had my first post op appointment with my surgeon this morning and he seems very pleased with my progress.  I’d like to say I’m pain free, but I can’t say that yet.  Only 13 days ago my surgeon cut a 10 inch long hole in the front of my upper thigh, pulled all the muscle, nerves etc… out of the way so he could reach and dislocate my hip, cut off the top of the femur, scoop out the middle of the bone and shove a big piece of metal inside, then ream out the socket of my hip on my pelvis and shove a metal insert into the hole, then slap it all back together and glue me back up.  This may sound kinda rough, but that’s essentially what was done.  So no, 13 days later I still have a bit of pain, but I can walk pretty freaking well.  I only have a slight limp, and that gets less every day as I get stronger.  I stopped taking the prescription pain killers 10 days after surgery and am currently only taking Tylenol for pain.  I suppose I could have kept taking the prescription oxycodone, but my current pain is less that what I was experiencing before the surgery, and it gets less everyday.  Besides, pain is the body’s way of communicating with you and giving you feedback on how everything is working.   The pain killers only mask that feedback mechanism and don’t let you understand how you are really feeling. So I’m feeling some pain, but it’s good pain.

One major lesson I’ve learned in this experience is that it is much better to be healthy and fit before any major surgery.  It helps with your recovery.  I am doing things only 13 days after surgery that it usually takes months for some to achieve.  While walking with only a minimal amount of limping and pain, I am also able to do chair squats, reach down and touch the floor, get up and down off the floor, do lunges with my left foot forward, and while laying down bring my right heel up and almost touch my glute.  I attribute these milestones to my almost daily myofascial release and stretching work, as well as my daily squats and lunges prior to my surgery.  Strong people are not only harder to kill, but they recover faster also.

The reason I’m sharing this story is that I know I’m not alone.  I started my health coaching practice to pay forward the gift I received in having found my way to a healthy and fit life, after being down in the pit of despair that being obese and unhealthy can be.  The progressively debilitating pain that I experienced as my hip deteriorated was similar to the pain I felt when I was obese and unhealthy.  As the physical pain increased in my hip, my psyche started to deteriorate.  I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.  As my health suffered and my weight increased, I started to get those old feelings of despair that I felt when I was obese.  Fortunately, hip surgery, while being a major surgery, has a relatively short recovery period.  I know that each day, as I get stronger, the pain will dissipate until it eventually goes away.   I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it looks beautiful.  When I was obese and unhealthy, I not only couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I couldn’t even imagine one existed.  Pain is Pain, whether it comes from a musculoskeletal issue or whether it is caused by the debilitating effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Either way, the only way to a pain free existence is to take positive steps forward.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is admit you’re in pain, especially when that pain is perceived to be self inflicted.  Being chronically overweight or obese, constantly feeling unhealthy, not being able to do the things you want to do because of your weight, health, or fitness level, these things can cause constant, unrelenting pain to the body.  Don’t wait another day, take some steps forward to help you get out of that pain.  You’ll thank yourself when your on the other side.

I know the hardest part for me going forward will be to let my body heal and to not over do things as I start feeling better.  My surgeon told me that my new hip is on a lease program for the first six weeks, and that he still owns it, he’s just letting me borrow it, so I have to listen to him.  After six weeks, if I’m good, he’ll release me into the wild.  I’ll try my best to abide by his desires, but I make no promises.  I hope the elation of being able to walk without pain doesn’t get the best of me.  In the interim, I’m being released on a limited work release program, so I’ll start working with clients again later this week.  I’m truly looking forward to a pain free hip.


(These videos were taken about 18 hours after surgery)

So, what’s the best workout?

I get asked that question all the time.  The most common refrain I hear is “I’ve seen your workouts and I could never do that.”   It’s as though I’m doing things the average person couldn’t do.  The problem is, I’m not doing things the average person can’t do, I’m doing things the average person doesn’t do. There’s a big difference.  I’m not some physical specimen that defies human genetics like  Chris Hemswochris hemsworthrth.  I’m an average 56 year old who has slowly adapted over years of working out to be able to do some slightly above average physical activities for my age.  My body has adapted to doing a lot of functionally useful movements, which in turn makes me less likely to get injured while performing my activities of daily living.  I do a lot of pushing, pulling, squatting, and lifting heavy things, but the key is to not limiting myself to any one modality of working out.  One of the core principles of physical fitness is the SAID principle, that is, specific adaptations to imposed demands.  The body goes through a stress, recovery, adaptation cycle for all different types of stimulus imposed. The body will adapt to the stimulus your are putting on it, but once your body has adapted to that stimulus, no more change will occur until you change the stimulus.  There are a myriad of ways to change the stimulus such as doing more weight, reps, sets, intervals, changing he leverage, changing the rest time between sets, changing the time under stress, or the interval periods.  Tweaking any of these variables will create a different stimulus for the body and thus create a new adaptation.  Unfortunately, there we do have genetic limits, so short of using pharmacological help, your adaptations will be limited to your bodies genetic potential.  So if you weren’t born with the genes to have the physique of Chris Hemsworth, blame your parents.  Fortunately, most of us have a long way to go to reach that genetic potential, which leaves a lot of room for growth.

Getting back to the initial question, what’s the best workout?  My first answer is, the one that you’ll actually do on a regular basis. If you have been relatively sedentary, you’ll want to start with some cardio (walking, treadmill, elliptical),.  Concurrently you’ll want to build up some core strength and stability.   After you build up some base conditioning and have built up some core strength, you can venture into some movement based resistance exercises.  Whether those are body weight exercises, banded exercise, weight based exercises, or a combination, doesn’t really matter (all are forms of  resistance training) as long as you take it slowly and stay focused on proper movement patterns.  You don’t want to create any chronic conditions by loading poor movement patterns, so this beginning period is crucial for creating good movement patterns and avoiding injury down the road.  Muscles will start adapting relatively quickly because they usually recover quickly from the imposed stresses, but tendons and ligaments don’t adapt as quickly, so take it slow and don’t increase the stimulus so quickly that the tendons and ligaments don’t have time to go through the recovery and adaptation process.  If you go too fast you will create some kind of chronic tendinitis.  I have done this, and it’s not fun.  Proper recovery from tendinitis takes a long time and is very frustrating, so I can’t emphasize enough to take it slow. Once you’ve built a good base of cardio and resistance training, you can start venturing out into a variety of different exercise modalities.  You can combine your cardio an resistance work and do HIIT (high intensity interval training) type training.  I personally like HIIT because you can combine any number of different modalities into an anaerobic workout that doesn’t require a lot of time and keeps things interesting.  An increasingly popular form of HIIT training is crossfit.  This combines a stressful HIIT type workout in a social setting.  You can use TRX, kettlebells, steel clubs, maces, TRX rip trainer, slosh pipes, sand bags, land mines, slam balls, tires, chains, farmers walks, sprints and an almost endless variation of body weight exercises to create a HIIT workout that will both tax the body and mind.  The real beautiful thing about HIIT training is the long lasting endocrine effect it has on the body.

The stimulus provided by exercise elevates the stress hormones in your body.  Exercise can range from easy stretching and yoga type work up to a hard core crossfit workout.  HIIT and heavy weights elevate stress hormones, which is critical for creating adaptations.  Growth hormone, testosterone, endorphins, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), cortisol and aldosterone all increase during exercise.  All exercise puts the body into a state of crisis by endangering the oxygen supply to tissues, increasing body temperature, reducing body fluids and fuel stores, and causing tissue damage. Intense exercise creates endocrine and defense reactions that are similar to those elicited by low blood oxygen, high blood carbon dioxide, acidosis, high body temperature, dehydration, low blood sugar, physical injury and psychological stresses. Hormonally, your body basically freaks out and then it brings out the big guns to deal with the problem so that it’s forced to adapt.  Not only is the adaptations created by HIIT style workouts greater, but you can do a HIIT workout in much less time compared to a long cardio or weight session at the gym.  Along with the physiological effects, HIIT workouts create other adaptations such as:

  • losing body fat (while retaining lean body mass)
  • strengthening the cardiovascular system
  • developing sport-specific energy systems (e.g. training for that weekend warror team)
  • developing “work capacity” (i.e. the ability to tolerate a high level of intensity for a longer period)
  • improving fat and carbohydrate oxidation in skeletal muscle
  • developing “mental toughness
  • challenging the fast twitch muscle fibres — the fibres that are great for strength, power

So what I think I’m saying here is that while the best workout is the one  you will do regularly, my go to workout is definitely a HIIT workout. So lift, push, pull and run with heavy things, you can’t go wrong.  img_2403

Why can’t I just exercise all these extra pounds off?

  • “If I just burn some more calories, those extra pounds I put on will just melt away.”
  • “I’ll go ahead and have that extra slice of pizza/cake/pie, I’ll just work it off at the gym.”
  • “I know I shouldn’t have dessert, but I can just put a little extra time on the treadmill.”

Exercise is not weight control

Do any of these sound familiar? If you’re healthy and at your desired weight and fitness level, there’s nothing wrong with saying these things to yourself occasionally.  If you’re an athlete who does daily multi-hour conditioning type workouts, you can probably get away with poor eating habits for awhile. If you’re not either of these type of people, well, how often are you saying these things to yourself, and does it work?  The answers are altogether too often, absolutely not.

When you rely on exercise only to achieve and maintain your desired weight, you will fail over the long term. I know this may come as a shock to some of you, after all, if  you’re burning more calories than you are consuming, you will lose weight.  That’s correct, to a certain point, but eventually your body will adapt, and if you are still eating a poor diet, you will stop losing weight.  Also, the concept that a calorie is just a calorie, whether consumed or expended, has been debunked in clinical studies many times over.  The quality of your calories is critical to your ability to lose weight, or more importantly, in how fast you gain weight.  If you don’t learn to eat well and to understand the importance of   proper nutrition to your overall well being, when you eventually go through periods in which you can’t exercise, what do you think will happen?   If you haven’t guessed yet, you’ll put on weight.  It’s a common tale, told by many a former athlete.  But not just athletes.   Often, when a person decides to get off the couch and attempts to get fit and healthy, they want to get immediate results, so they embark on a vigorous exercise program.  This is a good thing.  They’re excited about taking the first steps and they jump in with both feet, usually without professional help.  After about 4-8 weeks, the initial motivation starts to wear off, (This is why gym use skyrockets in January, and tapers off by mid to late February) and the daily grind of working out sets in.  Old habits start to look good, the siren’s song of the couch calls to you, that is of course, if you haven’t gotten injured yet. So you’ll revert to your former health and fitness patterns that led you down the path to being unhealthy in the first place.

So what’s a person to do? Stop exercising?  Of course not. Exercise is critical to your overall health and well being.  Maintaining a healthy activity/exercise routine is important to keeping your body moving well and your endocrine system in homeostasis.  The real answer to long term weight loss and a healthier lifestyle is your diet.  But that’s not so easy to change because our dietary habits are hardwired in our brains.  Our daily diet and nutrition habits are deep seated and not so easy to change.  So start small.  Find the low hanging fruit.  We all have those eating habits that we don’t know why we do them, we just do. Maybe they give you a little stress relief, like keeping candy in your desk at work to help you through those stressful days.  Maybe it’s something you’ve been doing so long you can’t even remember when you started, like grabbing a couple swigs of juice or milk every time you go by the refrigerator.  Either way, they are generally habits caused by some kind of cue that you aren’t consciously aware of, which sets of a routine that is adding poor quality calories (usually sugar related) to your daily diet.  So start small, don’t try to make “big” changes in your diet habits.  Identify a couple of these small habits and the cue that sets them off, then come up with a strategy to disrupt those habit loops with a routine that won’t be so bad for you, such as taking a walk every time you get a craving to reach in your desk and grab a piece of candy.  If you can successfully disrupt a small habit loop, you can use that to build up to disrupting bigger habit loops. Studies have shown this type of strategy to very effective in creating larger lifestyle changes.  The best time to start down the road to health and fitness is now, so what have you got to lose?  Give this strategy a chance and see what happens.


So you love you some Sushi.

Sushi, sushi, sushi, I love me some sushi.  It’s a staple of some people’s diet.  It’s healthy (ish), it’s fresh, no preservatives, what’s not to like?  What if you weren’t sure what kind of fish was on your plate, how would that effect your love of sushi?  Most people react to this by saying “I trust my sushi guy,  he wouldn’t sell me any of the fake stuff”.  Weeeellllllll, not so fast.  It seems that maybe the sushi you’re eating isn’t always what your sushi guy is telling you.  I’m not saying he’s purposely deceiving you, he probably doesn’t know himself.  For that matter, the fish you buy at the grocery store, or the fish market isn’t always what it’s labeled.  It’s scary and sobering to read the results of a study conducted in 2012  by the non-profit organization Oce

sushi 3

ana (Oceana.org).  According to the study, your chances of getting properly labeled fish at a sushi restaurant is not so good.  As a matter of fact, the seafood industry as a whole is enveloped with fraud.  According to the studies findings, ” Everywhere seafood is tested, fraud has been found”.  Below are some of the key findings, you can read the who study at (Widespread Seafood fraud found in New York):

  • 58 percent of the 81 retail outlets sampled sold mislabeled fish (three in five).
  • Small markets had significantly higher fraud (40 percent) than national chain grocery stores (12 percent).
  • 100 percent of the 16 sushi bars tested sold mislabeled fish.
  • Tilefish, on the FDA’s do-not-eat list because of its high mercury content,
    was substituted for red snapper and halibut in a small market.
  • 94 percent of the “white tuna” was not tuna at all, but escolar, a snake mackerel that has a toxin with purgative effects for people who eat more than a small amount of the fish.
  • Thirteen different types of fish were sold as “red snapper,” including tilapia, white bass, goldbanded, jobfish, tilefish, porgy/seabream, ocean perch and other less valuable snappers.

So what’s a sushi lover to do?  Personally, much to my family’s consternation, I haven’t been to a sushi restaurant since I read this study.  There’s just no way to know what your’re actually eating.  Based on their findings, it didn’t matter whether you went to the most expensive sushi place, or the corner sushi guy, your chance of getting mislabeled fish was the same.  If you must have your sushi fix, be careful when ordering.  Stay away from red snapper, and  white tuna as they are the most frequently mislabeled fish.

So what about getting the seafood special at your favorite restaurant?  This again is a tough one.  According to well know food author, Larry Olmstead, the seafood industry is “so rife with fakery — both legal and illegal — that it boggles the mind”.   A good rule of thumb is to buy what you know can be caught locally.  It will give you a better chance of getting what it’s labeled as. When looking to buy seafood to cook at home, follow the Olmstead’s advice from his book, “Real food, fake food”:

  • Whenever possible, buy your fish at a local fish market and buy the whole fish, that way you know what you’re getting.
  • Whole foods has a decent handle on their logistics chain, so their record on mislabeling is better than most.
  • Big box chains such as Costco, Sam’s, and BJ’s command large enough buying power that they can dictated standards for their suppliers, so they have better quality fish than your local grocery store.

Sorry if this is depressing to hear.  The amount of fakery in the food world is scandalous at best, but the more you know the better you will be able to get a handle on what you’re putting in your body.












I want to get healthy, but today’s not a good day to start because…

I CAN’T…..

There always seems to be a reason we give ourselves for not starting down the path to health and fitness.  When we rationalize these things to ourselves, they make perfect sense, and let us off the hook for not getting started, or maintaining our health.  Since we are our own harshest judges, we must come up with some convincing arguments to get the judge to let us go without punishment.  It doesn’t always work, but at least it gets the judge off our backs until the next time.  Here are some of those arguments, and reasons the judge shouldn’t let you off the hook.  It’s hard to conquer  your can’t, but until you do you’ll never get back on that path to health and fitness.  Tell the judge not to let you off the hook this time.

“I can’t get healthy or exercise because…”

“…it’s just a crazy time in my life right now” – Life is always crazy.  That’s normal.  Accept your life the way it is and figure out how to work in a healthy lifestyle into your version of crazy.  It’s not an all or nothing proposition.  Every little bit helps, so start somewhere, anywhere, just start.

 “…I’ve got a knee/hip/shoulder injury.” – Who doesn’t.  How does that stop you from eating healthier?  Eat healthy and learn to work the parts of the body that aren’t injured, but keeping the body moving is critical to maintaining health.

“…I’m travelling a lot for work.” – Use hotels that have a decent gym.  Rubber bands, body weight workouts.  Travelling isn’t a reason to not maintain a healthy diet or to exercise, it’s just another challenge to work around.

guilty as charged jpeg

“…I don’t live close enough to a gym/can’t afford a gym/don’t own equipment.” – You don’t need a gym.  There are plenty of body weight routines available on the internet.  Kettlebells, sand bags, slosh pipes, used tires, sledgehammers, these are just a few of the relatively inexpensive workout implements you can use to get great workouts at home.  I’ve made plenty of my own workout implements over the years to know you can make your own stuff pretty inexpensively.

“…I’ve got family coming for the holidays and need to clean/shop/cook.” The holidays come at the same time every year so they cannot surprise you. Your friends and relatives can survive without your attention for a little while so you can take care of yourself.

“…this is a busy season for me at work.” It’s okay to taper down your normal exercise routine, but don’t just stop altogether. It’s incredibly hard to restart once you’ve completely stopped.  Plus, working out can help alleviate stress during a busy time at work.  Don’t use food to help alleviate that stress during a busy time at work, use exercise.

“…it’s just too hard to get in shape and stay healthy.” Raising a child is really hard, I’ve done it twice. There are lots of things in life that are really hard, yet we do them because we know the reward at the end is worth the trials and tribulations.  The really hard part is getting started.  Just get started and don’t look back.


“I can’t eat healthy because…”

“…my kids/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend will not eat healthy foods.” Yeah, this is a tough one.  We all have those folks in our life that might not want to participate in your efforts to eat healthier and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Let them understand that by taking care of yourself by getting and staying healthy, you will be a better father/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend.  Don’t force them to eat the way you do, or exercise with you, but when they see your success they’ll probably be asking to participate.

“…I don’t know how to cook.” Then learn. It’s a critical adulting skill. Healthy cooking doesn’t require a chef’s training.  Google University has plenty of videos and recipes to help you get started.  Just jump in, and realize that you’ll make a mistake here and there, and that’s okay.  You’ll figure out what you like and how to cook it, and you might have some fun along the way.

“…I hate vegetables/fruit/plain water” Don’t force yourself to eat things you don’t like just because you think they’re healthy, but understand that this is always a learned response, and it can change. Humans never naturally hate things that sustains , it’s a learned response. You may have had a bad experience with a certain food once in your life, and now you can’t even think about that food without having a negative response.  So don’t give up on healthy eating.  Go find a vegetable or fruit that you do like—or at least don’t hate—and start there. And, this is really important, keep trying new and different things. We try a healthy food once and if we don’t like it, we never have it again. I’ve learned through my cooking experiences that there are many ways to prepare food that can change the way it tastes.  Figure out different ways to prepare foods and you may find that some foods you thought you hated aren’t so bad.

“…I love chocolate, wine (absolutely not a health food), doughnuts, ice cream, pizza etc., too much.” Being healthy doesn’t mean you’re entering a monastery and living the life of monk.  Indulging your bacchanalian side occasionally is not only okay, it’s healthy.  It’s when you’re consuming those things on a daily basis, or as a part of your regular diet that they can have their cumulative negative effect on your health.  So indulge every once in awhile, just don’t let these things become habit.

Healthy math, it’s good for you

“Why do I keep gaining weight?  I eat right, I exercise, I take my multivitamin, what gives?  I do everything Dr Oz recommends, I follow the latest fitness trends, I eat all the latest “superfoods”, I do regular cleanses, I just can’t seem to find fitness-maththe magic formula.”

Do you know someone like this? Is that someone you, or your significant other.  This scenario is altogether too common.  Just look at the magazine rack down at the grocery store and you’ll see all kinds of articles on the latest fad to help you lose weight.  There are many “Gurus” out there willing to sell you the latest magic pill to instant weight loss and a happy and healthy life, and the worst part is that the public keeps buying their snake oil.

As in most things in life, keeping the ideal weight is about maintaining a delicate balance.  As a matter of fact, in technical parlance, this is referred to as Energy Balance (EB).  It’s a fairly simple equation, EB is equal to Energy Intake (EI) minus Energy Expenditure (EE).  This simple equation is the key to weight maintenance, and yet it is such a complex minefield.  Wait, I didn’t know I was going to have to do math to stay healthy!!  Don’t worry, it’s not that hard.

EI is just what it sounds like, the amount of calories you take in on a given day.  There are a myriad of issues involved with EI, from what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat.  Unfortunately those issues in and of themselves would take up extensive print, which I will address in future blogs, but today I’m going to focus on the other side of the equation, energy expenditure.  Since calories are the way we measure energy, I’m going to talk about how many calories it takes to keep the engines going and keep you functioning and able to perform your activities of daily life.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR),  thermic effect of food, activity thermogenesis, these are the three components that make up EE. BMR is the amount of energy your body requires for vital function at rest without food.  Basically, the energy required to keep the lights on and the heating and cooling system working.  This accounts for about 60-75% of your daily EE.  This can vary depending on age, gender, body type, and body composition. (yes, lean muscle burns more calories than fat, sorry, I don’t make the rules)  The greatest effect you can have on BMR is by changing your body composition, and that won’t happen overnight, so this percentage doesn’t vary that much on a daily basis.  The thermic effect of food is the energy your body uses to digest, absorb and store the food you’ve eaten.  This will have some slight variability based on your body composition, and the foods you eat (lean muscle requires more energy) and accounts for between 5-10% of your daily EE, but again, it doesn’t vary that much on a day to day basis.

So what’s left? Activity Thermogenesis.  This is a technical word for getting your body moving.   This accounts for 15-30% of you daily energy expenditure, and unlike the other two components of EE, it is highly variable on a day to day basis, varying within individuals by as much as 2000 calories a day.  Activity thermogenesis can further be broken down into exercise activity, and Non Exercise Activity (NEAT). If you’re a gym rat like myself, it’s easy to keep your exercise activity pretty high, but what if you’re not.  What if your the type that hates to get sweaty? Well, based on the self appointed fitness guru’s, you have to get sweaty to “Shred” those pounds away.  You have feel the burn to lose that muffin top.  Not so fast.  According to the latest research, you don’t have to undertake the latest exercise fad, or the latest diet fad, to have a major effect on your weight, you really just need a  minor tweak to your diet, and some new NEAT habits , and you will make a huge, long lasting, change in your weight.

How can this be?  That ripped, zero percent body fat fitness celebrity told me I had to buy their product to get fit and lean.  While great for marketing, it just not the reality.  There’s no magic involved, there are no special pills, and you don’t have to buy and new fitness equipment or diet aids in order to get to your healthiest weight.  However, there is a little basic math.  Let me go back to the energy balance equation, EB=EI-EE.  Let’s say your daily energy needs are 2,500kcal and you have been maintaining your current weight, but you want to start losing weight.  Without changing you dietary habits, If you started expending an extra 250kcal per day, with 3500 kcal per pound of weight, you would lose 1/2 pound per week (250×7=1750). So how can you add to, or change your NEAT to get to this extra 250 kcal.  Small changes can make a big difference.  If you’re like everyone else, your too busy to exercise every day, your daily exercise consists of walking from your front door to the car, and then from the car to your office.   By the time you  leave work, rush to the grocery store so you can feed the kids, spouse, cats, dogs etc.., do some cleaning around the house, and take care of everyone else’s needs, your wiped out.  Not a whole lot of room for extra activity.  So you’ll have to be creative to work in some extra calorie burning. Small changes make a big difference.  How about taking a quick walk around the block in the morning before work, or take a walk around the neighborhood as soon as you get home, before you get too wrapped up in the myriad of tasks you have to complete.  Walk for half an hour at lunch time.  Rather than holding meetings at your desk, do a “walk and talk” around the office.  My favorite, and something I do habitually, is to pace while I’m talking on the phone.  Park your car as far away from your building as possible. Never take elevators, escalators or moving sidewalks.  These are just a handful of ideas to help you burn a few extra calories a day, I’m sure you could come up with a few more that would work with your lifestyle.  An extra 250 kcal a day is 1/2 pound a week.  That’s not a huge number, and over time it will add up.

So losing weight is just a simple math problem.  Yeah right.  If it was that easy everyone would do it.  While it’s not rocket science, it is a simple math problem, unfortunately with some extremely complex variables.  Burning an extra 250kcal a day is not that big a stretch for most people, yet it could have a large impact on your life.  If you coupled that with a 250kcal reduction in energy intake, (one less fancy high calorie coffee like drink product) you could drop a pound a week.  While this approach won’t get you “shredded”, or “ripped” or any of the other adjectives used by the latest fitness guru hawking stuff on T.V, it will get you to your ideal weight and health level, if that’s your goal.  Let this new year be the one where you get control of your health and fitness by making small changes. Remember, Small changes make a big difference.

What’s a “Health Coach”?

I’ve been asked this question many times, “What’s a health coach?” I had the same question the first time I saw that title.  It’s a relatively new type of certification that for me filled in the missing pieces of my education to better help my clients achieve true long term health and fitness.  So what the hell does that mean? It’s not a simple answer.  In order to achieve optimal Health and wellness you need to be able to balance the three legs of the health triad; diet and nutrition, mind/body/stress balance, and exercise/ movement.  Most wellness or fitness programs only address one aspect of the health triad, sometimes two, but very rarely do these types of programs address all three aspects of health that are required to achieve and sustain long term health.  Since health and wellness exist on a continuum and  are not static, you must constantly be addressing any area of health that might be getting out of balance in order to maintain good health.  This may sound like a lot of work, but once you have the tools, its not only easy, but it’s also fun.

Summer 2010, In need of help but in complete denial Summer 2016, transformation complete

A personal trainer, or in  my case, a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), has knowledge about the physical fitness and exercise aspects of the health and wellness triad, but those types of certification programs typically don’t address the diet/nutrition or mind/body/stress aspects of health and wellness.  As soon as i finished getting my CSCS certification I realized I was missing some key information that I felt was need to truly help people succeed in realizing and maintaining their health goals over the long term.  I researched all the various education offering that address these issues and decided to pursue a certification as a Certified  Health Coach (CHC) through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  After completing my CHC certification I felt I finally had the tools I needed to help others attain and maintain the physical and lifestyle transformation that I have been so fortunate to achieve.

So why hire a health coach?  After all, plenty of others are able to transform their lives without a health coach.  Why spend the money.  That’s what my former self would have said. Well, now that I’ve been through the transformation process, I wish I knew then what I know now, it would have been a lot easier, and taken a lot less time.  It’s as simple as that.  I want to help others transform their lives by passing on the knowledge that I have gained, both through personal experience and formal education, and by being a Health Coach, I can do that.  So if you’re ready to transform yourself, if you’re ready to undertake the hardest journey of you life, if you’re ready to acknowledge that maybe you need help achieving your health and fitness goals, hire a Health Coach and let me show you the easiest path to success.

Look, up in the sky, its “Superfood”.

Potatoes are the latest food to get elevated by the media to “superfood” status. How awesome is that?  You can now eat potatoes unabashedly. The media, most likely spurred on by the potato growers association, has decided this past week that potatoes are great for you and deserve this new status.  Articles like this on from  Huffpo (6 Reasons we should be calling the potato a superfood) have been extolling the virtues of this newly designated “superfood”.

NPrinto more shameful glances as you have your baked potato slathered in butter and bacon bits. No more guilt for having that second helping of fries with your bacon burger.  Go ahead and eat your potatoes with gusto, they are now “superfood” and are good for your health.  Three cheers for potatoes; Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah.

I know what you’re thinking.  How did the lowly potato go from calorie dense starchy carb that you should eat in moderation to the latest superfood?  What the heck is a “superfood” anyway?  If there are “superfoods”, are there “arch nemesis foods” like in the comic books.  These are the things I think about when I can’t sleep at night, so others must have had the same questions.  Since I failed to come across any food group designated “super” during my nutrition studies, I decided to dig a little to find out what it was all about.  I used to think superfoods were some media driven idea that gave them a cool headline to print to get the attention of the unwashed masses.  It turns out, I was pretty much right.   The “superfood” designation is a marketing/media concept to try to bring attention to certain foods that someone has decided aren’t getting enough street cred and need media attention.  Generally, “superfoods” are particular food items that are nutrient dense and are unusually high in vitamins and minerals and are considered extra healthy (I’m not sure what they are comparing these foods to when determining the relative health effect).  They might have large quantities of antioxidants, phytochemicals, dietary fiber or healthy fats, which are all considered beneficial for overall health.  They are what our and grand parents generation would have called, food, but in today’s media driven society they have been elevated to make them suave and sexy.  They are usually plant based, but there have been some protein based “superfoods” such as salmon.  By being designated a “superfood”, a simple run of the mill food item can garner lots of media attention and become an acceptably healthy part of one’s diet.  Just look at the potato.  It’s gotten a bad rap lately, being blamed for making people flabby and unhealthy with all those extra calories and starch, but now it’s a superfood, ergo it’s healthy for all.

Don’t get me wrong here, there’s nothing wrong with adding potatoes to your dietary regimen, in moderation, and without all the additives or extra processing that tends to nullify it’s healthy benefits.  Sorry, that cup of sour cream with bacon bits that you add to your baked potato is still unhealthy for you.  Deep frying potatoes, or for that matter deep frying anything, is still incredibly bad for your overall health.  Just because the food you’re deep frying is a “superfood”, it still doesn’t make it good for you.  Slathering your potato skin with a cheeselike substance, ranch dressing and bacon bits, is still bad for you. So what’s the point of having “superfoods” if they aren’t going to offset the “arch nemesis foods”?  I agree, it kind of sucks.  The way it should work is that the “superfoods” cancel out the “arch nemesis” foods so you can eat all the good tasting “arch nemesis food” stuff you want and just cancel out the bad effects with the yucky healthy “superfood” stuff.  Unfortunately that’s just not how a healthy diet works.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

So whats the point of having “superfoods” if they can’t kick the ass of the bad guys?  Well, I guess the point is that in order to get healthy, you have to replace the bad stuff in your diet with “superfoods”, and by bringing attention to the healthy benefits of certain foods, maybe you’ll try them and add them to your diet.  At least that’s what I get out of the media hype surrounding superfoods.  Just bear in mind that a healthy diet consists of a variety of foods in the right quantities to meet your macro-nutrient needs.  There is no single food item that can swoop in and save your diet. Consuming too much of any one single food item can throw off the balance of your diet and be unhealthy.  So don’t get too caught up in all the media hype surrounding “superfoods”.  Not even the now “Superfood” potato can save the day if you have poor eating habits.  Only a consistent day to day effort of eating healthy will save your health.

Sometimes, we all just need a good ass kicking.

When asked what is the one thing to which I most attribute my success in transforming myself from an average overweight middle aged American male with metabolic syndrome, to a healthy fifty five year old American male who takes no drugs to control lifestyle diseases, it is this; I kick my ass on occasion.  What I mean is that, on occasion, I have to force myself to work out. when I really, really, don’t feel like it.  Today, I needed some ass kicking, so I took myself out to the woodshed for good a whuppin’.  I am not a drill sergeant kind of coach.  I don’t get in people’s faces yelling at them, spittle coming out of my mouth Jillian Michaels style.  I don’t like when someone gets in my face yelling, so I surely won’t do it to someone else.  However, there are days we all need a little boot in the butt, and the best one to be doing that kicking is you.   We all have those days that we’re feeling a little down, a little tired, no energy, you just feel like curling up on the couch and watching Friends re-runs.  Today was one of those days for me.  I was dragging my surly butt around,  I just didn’t have any oomph.  I almost bagged working out; almost.  I figured I would just do some foam rolling and stretching and see what happened.  It’s not thimagese first time I’ve had to force myself to get my butt into my workout room and do something.  The funny thing is, more often than not, once I get moving, I end up having a great workout.  Today was one of those days.  I started with a little myofascial release and stretching.  I hit the speed bag for a few minutes to get the juices flowing.  I danced around with my indian clubs, mobilizing my shoulders and upper body.  I still was feeling a little blah, so I thought I would do a few double unders with my jump rope.  After the first fifteen or twenty, something kicked in, and I was off to the races.  I did a hundred double unders and was breathing so hard that I forgot I felt like crap.  So I started to really workout.  I did a HIIT workout of 25 ball sit ups, 10 dips, 10 twisting kettlebell hi-pulls, and 25 double unders.  I figured I would do a few rounds and see how I felt.  By the third round I was feeling pretty bad, but this is typical for me.  My body needs few rounds before I get into my groove.  I thought I might get five rounds in, but after five rounds I felt pretty good, so I just kept going.  I finished seven rounds for 490 reps, and when coupled with my 100 double unders buy in, I did 590 reps today.  Not bad for a day I was feeling like curling up on the couch.  More importantly, my mood changed.  The endorphins kicked in and I don’t feel down anymore. I still feel like crap, but in a good way, kind of like Rocky did at the end of his first fight.  He got the crap kicked out of him, but he felt good about being done with the fight.  My point is that for long term health, you can’t let your down mood be an excuse to skip your workout and curl up on the couch.  Sometimes you just need kick your own ass, and hopefully, like me, you’ll be glad you did.