Archive for August, 2011

Lose Weight WITHOUT “Dieting”

I took Ella to the zoo yesterday to see her beloved gorillas (seriously, we’ve never met a 2 year old more obsessed with any animal than Ella and her gorillas).

As we were walking I overheard a woman say to the woman next to her "EVERY TIME (emphasized) I lose weight I always lose it in my feet and my shoes get too big — so I stop losing because I don’t have shoes that fit anymore."


That’s one we’ve never heard — "my FEET are too thin!"

But there were a few things interesting about this.

And the first was the emphasis on EVERY TIME. 

We know from research and working with 100′s of people over the years that most have dozens of weight loss attempts.  Hence the term "yo yo dieting." 

Lose.  Gain.  Lose.  Gain even more.  Lose.  Gain even more. 

At the end of the cycle, you’ve ended up gaining more than you weighed in the first place.

So how do you stop this cycle?

Hint:  It’s not from "dieting" and it’s not through exercise.

After all — exercise usually makes up just 3-5 hours per week (max) — leaving 165 ‘other’ hours.

And, ‘dieting’ — diet should be what you EAT, not what you DON’T eat, which is how most define it.

Sure, these are both pieces to the puzzle … but not the underlying pieces that need to be addressed.

It’s all about behavior. 

When most people think of weight loss, they say "what CAN’T I eat?"

What if you shift that mindset, though, to what CAN I eat?  The answer — a TON!

The key is with long term weight loss success is not focusing on foods.  Not focusing on exercise.  But focusing on the daily behaviors that get you the results you want.

No one ever came to our Louisville Boot Camp and said "Teach me how to squat and do pushups.  And I also really want to eat a lot of veggies and nuts."

No.  But they did come to us … and continue to … because of the RESULTS we deliver.

It’s through the daily behaviors we discuss.

  1. Eat breakfast daily Seems basic, but considering a majority of the population still doesn’t do that, we’ve got to continue spreading that message. 
  2. Eat a quality breakfast So the first step is important, but this one is even more important.  Breakfast can mean a bagel and large Mocha Latte at Starbucks or it can mean eggs with veggies and a bowl of berries.  Big difference. 
  3. Eat a veggie with every meal.  Notice, we’re talking about ADDING foods here, not taking any way. 
  4. Include protein with each meal.  We don’t care as much about the overall quantity of protein; we care how it’s divided throughout the day.  People ask all the time about how much protein they should eat — there are so many factors that play a role with this, it’s not as easy as giving one answer.  But talking about including high quality protein with EACH meal and snack is crucial.
  5. Replace liquid sugar (soft drinks) with zero calorie options.  Bored of water?  Try this — steep some Lipton Mixed Berry Green Tea.  Pour it over a cup full of ice cubes.  Voila, a refreshing spin on plain old water … and tea is loaded with nutrients to boot.

Notice there is not mention of "dieting" in this blog post.  We talk about some food strategies of foods to INCLUDE.  We talk about replacing some things in the diet.  No where to we talk about skipping meals, reducing calories, etc, etc.

Are there more tips and strategies we could share?  Of course.

But these 5 tips above should take you at least 5 weeks, maybe more.  Work on one every day, every single week.  The following week move to the next.  And continue to take it from there …

And that is how you "lose weight without dieting!"

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Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners?

A couple weeks ago I posted a question on Facebook …

Sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Which do YOU choose?

The answers ranged from NEITHER to ONLY stevia to regular sugar, brown sugar and so on.  In other words, they ran the gamut.

Here’s our take.

IDEALLY, we’d say neither.

But since this is the real world, we’ll pick.  And we’d say SUGAR. 


Sit tight.  More specifically than sugar, we’d first say local honey. 

Is it magical with loads of powerful nutrients like some profess?  Nope.

BUT, at least it’s more slowly absorbed than regular sugar and there are actually some interesting data showing local honey (local to your area) may help with allergies and they’re also experimenting with it in healing wounds.  NOTE, we don’t suggest pouring honey on an open wound and hoping for the best.  There’s certainly more to it than that.

Let’s explore this a bit further.

First, adults eat about 22 teaspoons of ADDED sugar each day. That’s equal to washing down a candy bar by guzzling down two 12 oz cans of soda.

Teens are even worse with 34 tsp of added sugar per day.

So instead of washing that candy bar down with 2 cans of soda, add another can on top of that for teens.  EACH day.

Soft drinks are the #1 contributor to this glut of sugar, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pie.  Sad.

Is it weird, then, that our answer to "Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners" is "sugar?"

Let’s step back for a second.

Added sugars are horrible for you.  The majority of the population eats WAY too many.

But we’re not so keen on artificial sweeteners either.  Why?  Well, they’re artificial chemicals that we’re dumping into our bodies and while data is out there that these are safe in certain doses, there’s also been a lot of safety data for pharmaceutical medications like Vioxx, which they ended up pulling off the market for a variety of safety concerns.  Maybe less severe, but certain artificial sweeteners are triggers for migraines and more recently, some data suggests artificial sweeteners affect body weight and blood sugar.

Again, you see the dilemma in that it’s a hard question to answer.

What makes it particularly difficult is the answer "neither" is not practical.

Case in point.  In Louisville yesterday nearly 3000 athletes competed in the Ironman — an event where you swim, bike and run a total of 140.6 miles.  I did it 3 years ago.  It’s certainly not easy.

But you wouldn’t decide on Saturday that you were going to participate in this race the next day.

Likewise, it’s not practical to take someone with a several soda per day habit and say NEVER again will you drink soda.  And don’t think about replacing it with the diet alternative … just drink water from this point forward!

Small Steps = Big Results!

We believe if you currently use a lot of added sugars — soda, candy, cakes, cookies, etc — target ONE of those and change that.

Currently drink a can of coke each morning?

The switch to Diet Coke is a good small step.

Work with that for 1 week. 

The following week, continue with that first step and improve something else too.

Maybe if you’re a vending machine person in the afternoon where you typically grab a candy bar, plan ahead and choose a piece of fruit instead.

Small Changes = Big Results!

Ultimately, continue to drink less and less of the soft drinks and replace them with their diet alternatives.  Then, down the road, again, replace those diet alternatives with something like water with fresh fruit cut up, or use a berry green tea and make unsweetened iced tea.

Lots of options, you just have to think outside the box.

The key overall with sugar OR artificial sweeteners is moderation.  Like we said, neither are great.  Is having 1 sweet treat on occasion going to kill you?  Of course not.

At the same time, don’t rationalize your daily soda and cookie habit as "moderation."

What do YOU think?  Sugar or artificial sweeteners?

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!



Does Barbecuing Cause Cancer?

It’s GRILLING Season!

But there’s some controversy about grilling — is it TRULY healthy?

Is there truth to the thought that barbecuing and grilling can be unhealthy?

Well, yes and no.

We grill regularly — most days of the week from spring – fall.

Not just for the flavor, but it’s a healthy way to cook from a fat and calorie perspective too.  You don’t have to add oil, butter, or other ingredients like you do if cooking indoors.

And there’s little to no cleanup, which might be one of the best reasons of all!

But there has been some talk and controversy — do barbecuing or grilling cause cancer?

Here’s the deal.

Barbecuing at higher temperatures can produce a couple cancer causing compounds.  We’re not saying if barbecue on occasion you’re going to get cancer.  But stick with me.

The two compounds that can be created by barbecuing are long words that have acronyms — heterocyclic amines (HA’s) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s.)

The first one, HA, is created when meat is overcooked or charboiled (burned).  And it’s been shown to cause cancer in animals. 

Then there’s the other — PAH — that comes from the smoke off a barbecue, like when fat drips from the meat onto the hot grill and smokes.  The cancer causing compound, PAH, then can be absorbed back into the food.

Cancer experts suggest that occasional grilled food is safe, but not excessive intake.  The other thing to consider is how you cook your foods on the grill, considering options to minimize any potential dangers of barbecuing or grilling.

Here are 5 Tips to Make your Grilling/Barbecuing Safer (but just as tasty!)

  1. Grill at lower temperatures to reduce the likelihood of charring meat.  On a charcoal grill, wait until the flame dies on the charcoals.  On a
  2. Trim the visible fat off meats before cooking to reduce drippings
  3. Try grilling veggies and fruit – using these as the bulk of your meal vs. meats.  Using skewers is a great way to do this.  Less charring, more nutrients is a true win win!
  4. Marinate meats.  Some have suggested marinades with vinegar, in particular, may "protect" the meat in a way and produce less carcinogens. 
  5. Clean your grill grates regularly – these removes any charring between uses.

Are Organic Foods Worth It?

This question will likely not ever end.

To some, food is like a religion, with people adamantly arguing on one side or the other.  The "low carb" people vs. the "low fat" people.  The "organic" vs "conventional."  It seems as if there’s no room for balance.  It’s good or evil.  Black or white.  There is no gray.  No middle ground. 

We look around to see if people are "on our side" — make sure others support us (social proof is often more important than scientific proof). Pick your sides, join forces with your "people" and stand behind what you believe.  

But here’s the question.  Why isn’t there a "gray" area? Does it have to be black and white?  Case in point.

Organic Foods.  Always "supreme" and worth the extra cost?


This picture is one I captured on a recent trip to Canada.  Organic fries.  Really?

Do we really think that is the issue with fries?  That they’re not organic… it has NOTHING to do with the trans fat or loads of sodium.  Of course, it’s how the potatoes were grown. 

So maybe there is a gray. 

Just because it’s organic, certainly doesn’t make it better.  Organic junk is still junk!

Here’s our take on the topic as a whole.  While some will debate that studies show organic foods have MORE nutrients than conventionally grown foods, there’s certainly not a definite conclusion on this front. 

Sure, some studies DO support that.  Others do not.

But there is more to it than just the nutrients.  Organically grown foods use LESS pesticides.  While we don’t really know how this affects our bodies in years to come, it certainly makes sense that the less of those we can have in our bodies, the better.

Plenty of data does show that farmers who work on or near farms that use a lot of pesticides have higher rates of certain diseases.  The other side of this "argument" is that these are extreme cases, where most people eating the conventional fruit/veggies aren’t getting nearly the dose.

At the end of the day, though, the less we can have overall, the better.

Let’s consider some other points, though.  

Data suggests adults eat around 2 servings of vegetables TOTAL per day.

We’ve had people say to us “I can’t afford organic produce, so I can’t eat more than I’m already eating each day.” 

But our goal is to first get people to eat MORE produce, whether organic or not.

Conventionally grown produce is certainly better than NO produce.  Similarly, maybe outside of the organic vs. conventional debate — we prefer local over organic.

A conventionally grown apple picked the day you eat it is certainly going to have a lot more nutrients than an organic one that has been flown 3000+ miles to get to your grocery store weeks after it was picked.

Take Home Points.

  1. Eat MORE veggies and fruits.
  2. Eat MORE local veggies and fruits
  3. If you’re picking and choosing what foods to buy organic, use the list below.

The list of 12 fruits and veggies below are the list of the *most* contaminated … it’s published by the Environmental Working Group and is called it the “Dirty Dozen”

Very simply, if you’re going to spend more on organic foods, you should focus on THESE 12 that are most commonly contaminated (they are in order from highest to lowest, but they suggest buying organic for any 1 of these 12)

   1. Peaches (most contaminated)
   2. Apples
   3. Sweet bell peppers
   4. Celery
   5. Nectarine
   6. Strawberries
   7. Cherries
   8. Kale
   9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear

*NOTE: The entire list of 47 foods can be found here:

There are a lot of factors in this organic vs. conventional debate – more to come as we continue to learn.

Post a comment — is organic worth the money in your mind?  Hopefully not if you’re deciding between conventional and organic fries. 

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9 Food Swaps WILL Save Your Life

Yesterday I posted something on Facebook that I saw a friend of mine post "No Matter How Slow You Go, You’re Still Lapping Everyone on the Couch."

We always say not to compare yourself to anyone else …

… you’re the only person you can compare yourself to.

But this saying brought on a different meaning.  To me, it basically says "simply get started." 

It doesn’t matter where you are, it matters where you are going.

And the same goes for your diet.

We can debate the "best" diet.  We can split hairs and talk about nutrient timing, the best sugar to eat (or not eat), the choosing the right carbs & fats, if dairy is good, etc.  The list can go on.

But when you’re trying to make change … or improvements … it’s the small baby steps that count.

Focusing on behaviors, not outcomes, will lead to permanent success.

That being said, here are 9 SIMPLE Ways to Clean Up Your Diet …

… not drastic overhauls, but rather simple switches and swaps, that when done consistently over time, will lead to positive outcomes.

  1. Swap out 1 current snack with a piece of your favorite fruit.  Nothing major, but surely powerful overtime.  Do you have that go to snack each day?  Maybe you’ve rationalized that as "I worked out hard, so ‘earned’ this today" or it’s your afternoon go to snack when you’re in a tired slump at the office.  You’ll have to plan ahead for this one, but throw an extra apple, orange, etc in your bag so you’re sure to add it to your diet.
  2. Swap 1 current side dish for a veggie.  Even if you already have a veggie side, add another.  Out to eat?  Ask to substitute the starch for the veggie of the day.  At home, rather than the normal rice, potato, quinoa, etc add a colorful veggie.  Again, small, but powerful.
  3. Swap your high carb breakfast with eggs.  If a bowl of cereal, bagel, muffin, scone, or Pop Tart normally shows its ugly head in the AM, swap it out for eggs.  The protein in the eggs will help fill you up and it’s been shown that when you choose eggs vs. a bagel for breakfast, you’ll lose (or maintain) weight more easily.  And when we look at the research, people are eating just 10% of their protein in the AM and eating most of it at night.  The best approach would be to spread it out evenly throughout the day, though, for the best results.  If you think you don’t have time to make eggs in the AM, make hardboiled eggs the night before, peel them and eat them in the morning with a piece of fruit. 
  4. Swap Chips/Pretzels with Nuts.  Just the other day someone said "I can’t eat nuts, they have too many calories."  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Nuts — pistachios, walnuts, almonds, etc — are amazing for you.  Eating 1-2 handfuls of nuts each day (1-2 oz) will not only help with weight loss, but will improve your health dramatically.  And not only that, but the protein and fat in nuts will help fill you more than the fiberless carbs in the pretzels or chips you’re eating. 
  5. Swap Fiberless Carbs for Lean Protein.  We certainly don’t believe you should avoid carbs.  But we do think you should avoid the fiberless, overly processed ones … and when you swap out these with a healthy protein, it will help fill you up and give your working muscles what they need to repair and recover.  Start with #3 above — swapping high carb breakfast with eggs — and then continue on from there.
  6. Swap 1 Meal Each Day with a Huge Salad.  Don’t think that we’re asking you to only eat like a bird and pick at a small side salad; when we say "HUGE" we mean it like I show you in this video.  This salad should be loaded with colorful veggies, lean protein, a handful of nuts and maybe some beans.  Making this one swap can cover most of the others on this list!  Pretty simple, right?  The key here, though, is to watch all that you put on the salad — everything listed above?  Perfect.  Creamy dressing, cheese, bacon bits, croutons, low mein noodles, etc.  Not so much.  That’s making a good thing bad.
  7. Swap Solid Fats with Olive or Canola Oil.  Solid fats are typically saturated fats.  And while not all solid fats are created equally (big difference between coconut oil and shortening, for example), as a general rule of thumb substituting an oil like olive or canola for solid fats is a smart move for most Americans who over eat saturated and trans fats.  Notice I didn’t say ADD these oils — it’s swap out these oils — big difference.  Just because olive oil is healthy, doesn’t mean it should be added to every food on the planet.  That’s another message of a good message gone bad.
  8. Swap Red Meat, Chicken and Turkey with Fish.  Red meat, chicken and turkey can be great for you … but the right types of fish are even better.  We are not eating close to enough omega-3 fats.  You get those in fish like wild salmon, wild tuna, barramundi, sardines, anchovies and many others.  We need a LOT more omega-3′s and a lot less other fats.  THIS is the most powerful out of all 9 in our opinion considering 96,000 deaths per year are attributed to omega-3 deficiency.  So change up your protein sources to add more fish weekly.
  9. Swap Calorie Containing Liquids for Calorie Free Options.  We drink enough liquid calories to gain nearly 1 lb PER WEEK!  Seriously.  But we’re also not fans of diet drinks that are loaded with artificial sweeteners.  Best option?  Water.  If you find that boring, try seltzer with a squeeze of your favorite fruit.  Even water with sliced fruit or veggies gives it a nice flavor that will make you think you’re in a beautiful spa.  This could easily have the biggest impact on your weight out of all 9 swaps. 

What do you think?  9 Simple Swaps that can change your life.

You’ll feel better.  Have more energy.  Weigh less.  Be leaner.  Be stronger.  And think more clearly among other things.  So, yes, these 9 food swaps WILL literally change (and save) your life.

Here’s the key.  We’re not suggesting today you drop everything and try to implement all 9 of these.  Again, think about the quote at the beginning of today’s blog – "No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch."

One step at a time, focusing on the behaviors rather than the outcomes, will get you to where you want to be.


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