Thanksgiving Day Recap

Hello there turkey. If you are what you eat, then today you are probably a turkey. Did you shock yourself and your digestive system with the amounts of food you were able to devour yesterday? Did you eat so much that if a grizzly bear would have witnessed your caloric intake yesterday, he would have asked “What are you doing, fattening up for winter hibernation?” Don’t feel bad. I ate like an NFL lineman too, but I only weigh 183 pounds.

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Let’s do some roll reversal, I mean, role reversal today. (I must still have food on my mind). I will point the finger at myself and share with you all that I ate yesterday during Thanksgiving dinner, but not before I tell you what I did that morning to work up an appetite. At Full Circle Fitness, here in Silver Spring, Maryland, the owners of the training facility and myself hosted a FREE boot-camp for clients and friends. It was an outdoor 9am boot-camp, and it was cold as hell. Actually hell isn’t cold, so it was cold as standing naked on the highest peak on planet earth. That’s too much. It wasn’t that cold either, but it was cold enough that I remember it being cold.

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The trainers each had a workout station of their own. Each station lasted about 10 minutes and we had the freedom to pick whatever exercises we wanted to have the participants do. Because I knew that many, if not all, of the boot-campers would be eating later that evening like if they were never going to eat again, I decided I would have them do sprints. Most people hate sprints. Most people hate sprints for the same reason they avoid squats and dead-lifts, because they are tough to do. And what is worst than plain old sprints? Sprints up a hill, in the cold, with a prior Marine telling you to “Hurry up and earn your Thanksgiving meal!!”

The hill I had everyone run is just off  to the side of the gym. It’s about 80 yards from top to bottom, but I only had them sprint half the hill at first. We walked to the bottom of the hill, sprinted half way up, or about 40 yards, walked back down, did some jump squats, ran half way up again, walked back down, and did some jump squats again. We did that over and over until time was up, and then I had them run the whole hill, all the way to the top. As they ran their last hill, I ran behind them screaming “Earn your carbs, earn your food, and earn your dessert!!”, like a Marine Corps drill instructor. On a side note, if you’re a youngster out there that happens to be reading my blog, and you don’t like to be told what to do, you’re allergic to exercise, firing weapons for real hurts your eardrums, and you’re not willing to lose a limb or your life for a cause greater than you, the United States Marines is not for you.

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Back to yesterday’s boot-camp. All the participants finished all the stations without a problem. And to work up an appetite, I ran up and down the hills with the participants too. Now back to the Marines. One thing I did like about the Marines is that whatever a senior Marine or drill instructor ordered you to do, chances are they had done it before, or/and they would be right there doing it with you. Leadership by example works and motivates. Who the hell would take my advice if I was overweight, drank soda, ate pizza, and never exercised? No one, that’s who. But yesterday, I must confess I was gluttonous.

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After I got home from our boot-camp, I had a few scrambled eggs and some oatmeal. That was about 11am or so. I decided I would wait until 6pm to eat. That’s when Thanksgiving dinner would be served. When 6pm arrived, I was hungry as a man who had hosted a boot-camp, ran with the participants, and hadn’t eaten in almost 7 hours.

The food was served. I said grace and proceeded to get my grub on. My plate had turkey, gravy, string beans, stuffing, 3 rolls, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. I ate all of it! Have you ever ate so fast you don’t remember what you ate, or how much you ate? Well that’s what I did. I washed it all down with water and then I sat and stared at my plate for about seven seconds. And a thought that can only be birthed by gluttony was in my cabeza. “I’m still hungry as hell!” I surrendered to hunger, and served myself another plate similar in content and quantity to the first. The first plate was health and nutrition, but the second plate was straight up eating just to eat. After finishing the second plate, I felt like a sloth and moved from the table to the couch as slow as a sloth too. Sloths are so slow that if they raced a still shot of themselves, they would lose every time.

A three-toed tree sloth hangs from the trunk of a tree in the jungle on the bank of the Panama Canal

My stomach rumbled and grumbled as I became one with the couch and watched some football. And then, the unthinkable and incomprehensible occurred. Science can’t even explained what happened. I was hungry again! But I didn’t want more turkey, oh no, why consume more protein? I didn’t want string beans either, yuck! I wanted sugar! That’s right! I wanted some type of pie or something, and there it was. Like a dehydrated man feels after walking for days in the desert when he stumbles across some spring water, (I know, their aren’t springs in the desert, but it makes the story sound better. You didn’t think everything in Avatar was real either, did you? Some stories need bull shit.) that’s how I felt like when my sister-in-law pointed me in the direction of pumpkin pie. Wait, it gets better. There was vanilla ice cream too. YAHOO!!!! My insulin levels rose just by looking at both.

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I served myself a slice of sugar, I mean pie, and some more sugar, I mean ice cream. And then, I did it again. I ate so fast I didn’t remember what I had just ate, or how much. So as a reminder, I served myself a second serving of pie and ice cream. It was great! Who here doesn’t like sugar on top of sugar? Crickets, crickets…..I thought so.

So there it is, confessions of a health nut. Once in a while, doesn’t it feel good to hear that others don’t always practice what they preach? It would be like walking into see your shrink and he or she saying “Have a seat, and please get comfortable. Today I will confess to you all my effed up thoughts, emotions, and actions to show you that I am human too”. I haven’t met an infallible person yet. Let me know if you come across one. In the mean time, have some left overs and double up on the dessert. You deserve it, but next week you better exercise your nalgas off.

The Body Mass Index, BMI

Hello everyone. How goes your choose-day, I mean Tuesday? If you are reading my blog here in America, can you believe Thanksgiving is already next week? If you are reading my blog in another country, let me know when you celebrate your Thanksgiving. And if you are not in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving, or you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in America, let me know if you have a day out of the year where you try to stuff yourself with as much food as possible, to the point of an insulin induced coma, and then when you wake up you have dessert. That’s what many of us do on Thanksgiving here in America, and I don’t know how many of us truly give thanks that day. On a side note, I give thanks AFTER I eat because you never know what might happen during a meal. I am not a mobster, but they’re always getting shot up during nice meals. That’s why I say “thank you God for this meal” when I’m done. You just never know. It’s just one of my weird habits I have like pouring milk first, and then the cereal. And occasionally, I wear non matching socks. Uniformity can be b-o-r-i-n-g (yawn like a bored lion). Go ahead and try it. No, not yawning like a bored lion. Go ahead and wear mismatched socks sometime. No one has to know, and every time you take off your shoes you will just laugh. It works for me every time.

Today we will talk BMI. BMI stands for body mass index. It is a basic way of using your height and weight to tell if you are underweight, healthy, overweight, obese, etc. Here is a BMI chart.

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Now according to the BMI chart, my height of 5’11’, and my weight of 183 pounds would give me a BMI of around 25, and a BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight. I can assure you I am not overweight. What the BMI chart does not take into consideration is muscle mass. The chart doesn’t know I workout 3 times per week with weights, hard as hell! The chart doesn’t know I have visible abdominal muscles. The chart only knows the relationship between height and weight. Look at the example below of 2 men of the same height and same weight. Both men are considered overweight on the chart, but only one truly is.

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Most muscular athletes would be considered overweight or obese on a BMI chart. Here is Mike Tyson. At 5’10’ and 220 pounds, Tyson’s BMI is 31.6, and that BMI number would make him obese. This is what Iron Mike looked like in his boxing days at 220, his fighting weight.

Mike Tyson-Stills

You can call him crazy, but not obese or even overweight in this picture. By the way, if you ever do meet Iron Mike, don’t call him crazy because he can whoop your ass.

What often happens when someone is told by a health professional that they have a BMI that labels them overweight or obese is that they immediately Google BMI, and they come across the fact that BMI doesn’t account for muscles, and that having muscles like Tyson above can skew the BMI number in an unsatisfactory direction. With their new information many automatically think “That’s what it is! I have a lot of muscles, and they are heavy. There is no way I am overweight or obese.” And for some, this may be true. But for most, having muscles is not why the scale says what is says, and why the BMI numbers also says what it says.

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Let’s talk muscles for a bit. Yes, muscles are heavy, but so it fat. Muscles are not heavier than fat, just like iron is not heavier than cotton. A pound is a pound, no matter what you’re talking about. The difference between any two substances, elements, etc, including muscles vs. fat, is their densities. Muscles are much more dense than fat is. Below, both weigh 5 pounds, but the fat takes up more space. Muscle on the human body is dense, and BMI does NOT account for that.

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That is why two men that are 6 feet tall and weigh 240 pounds can look completely different from each other if one is very muscular, and the other mainly does arm curls with beer.

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My take on the whole BMI debate, or dissatisfaction with its accuracy, is to just use it as a baseline number. It’s a just another tool that can get you moving in the right direction, if that’s what you need to do. Another simple tool is a waist measurement at the belly button. Take a tape measure and measure around your waist at the belly button. Do not suck your stomach in like your posing for a picture, or taking a selfie! Just relax and measure around your waist. The National Institutes of Health recommends that a man’s waist measurement shouldn’t go above 40 inches and a woman’s should not be higher than 35 inches. And your waist size on your pants is not the size of your waist, like the dude above with the beer belly. I can assure you, and if you look closely you can also see that his waist measurement at the belly button area is much larger than his waist size on his pantalones. That’s why many men can claim that they still wear the same size pants they did ten years ago. What they don’t tell you is that 10 years ago their bellies used to just hang a bit over their belt buckles, but now, they hang a lot more over their belt buckles.

Remember, my blog is not about having six-pack abs or trying to have the body of a professional athlete. This blog is about weight loss, health, and a little fun on the way there. Like I said before, BMI is just a tool, so is your waist measurement, your weight, and your body fat percentage. I will cover body fat percentage some other time. For now, go buy a six-pack of beer, drink up with a friend, and then tape the six empty beer bottles to your stomach. Have your buzzed friend take a picture of you and you can forever say that you once had six-pack abs.

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Yes, It’s Friday! Watchout For Those Weekend Calories.

Hello everyone and Happy Friday! Is it just me or doesn’t it seem like the sun shines a little brighter, and people are just a bit kinder on Fridays?

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And guess what Friday is in the weight-loss world? It’s the beginning of your 3 day challenge that arrives week after week, month after month, year after year, same time, same channel. Many of a good workout and diet week go out the door beginning on Friday evening, then Saturday, and finally Sunday.

It goes a little something like this: Friday evening arrives, you know you have worked hard all week, and because many bosses and some humans are allergic to giving compliments and patting someone on the back and saying “Good job”, you decide you are going to reward yourself that Friday evening for your work efforts. And how do you reward yourself? Well, you could buy a new piece of clothing you have been wanting, but have been too cheap to buy. Or, you could buy a good book in real life or for your Kindle. Or, you could go to the movies, or even watch a movie at home. Or, you could hang out with your BFF. But who wants to do that? That’s no fun. You want to have real fun! So you reward yourself  with food and drink. Adult drink, that is.

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And how easily you forget about all your disciplined weight loss efforts of Monday through Thursday. Monday you participated in a boot-camp. Tuesday you got up early, walked for a half hour, went to work, walked another half hour when you got home, and even had vegetables as part of your dinner. Wednesday you did a spin class. Thursday you did boot-camp, again! And even replaced one of your meals with a protein shake. And then Friday arrived and you started to go a little cuckoo.

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But unlike the bird above, you go cuckoo for more than just cocoa puffs. (Seriously though, aren’t cocoa-puffs da bomb, da bomb diggity, the shit, the shiznit, and effing a-m-a-z i-n-g? As you can tell, I too love me some cocoa-puffs). Your Friday cucko0-ness causes you to have a big ass blueberry muffin for breakfast, a burger for lunch, and then you don’t eat until about 6 or 7pm that evening. And when happy hour arrives Friday evening, you eat everything in sight, between drinks of course. And just like that, on a Friday, you threw away your weeks valiant efforts in the name of health and weight-loss. But it gets better, a lot better.

Remember that spin class or other workout class you were supposed to partake in Saturday morning? Well, because you feel like crap as are result of Friday evenings food and drink, you take a pass on the class, and hit snooze…again, and again, and again. The rest of the day you do this and that, Saturday evening arrives, and the words that have come out of many of an adventurer’s mouth since the beginning of time, come out of yours, “fuck it, you only live once”.

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But you know that you know better. You know that evening you shouldn’t go out and drink like a sailor again, and eat like a football player again, but you deserve it, right? You earned that food. You’re an adult, with adult money that you worked hard for, so you can do what you want. And besides, Monday will be here soon enough and you can start your weight loss routine all over again. But not before Sunday arrives, and you know what Sunday means? More food, maybe a few more drinks, and even dessert, because you deserve it. Friday we eat and drink because it’s Friday. Saturday we eat and drink because that’s what Saturdays are for, and Sundays we eat and drink because the following day is Monday, and who want’s to think about Mondays? Yuck!

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And that my friends is how easily the best of workout plans and disciplined diets are flushed down the toilet. Hey, I am not saying I don’t eat pizza, burgers, ice cream, and sip on liquids that make my esophagus burn from end to end and deletes inhibitions, but I do pick my battles, and I don’t do it every weekend.

So my advice to you is be mindful of the weekends when it comes to calorie consumption. Just like you can’t be financially frugal Monday through Thursday, blow your money Friday through Sunday, and then wake up Monday and wonder what happened to your money, you can’t expect to diet and exercise Monday through Thursday, go cuckoo Friday through Saturday with food and drink, and then wonder Monday morning why you’re not losing weight. Health is similar to money. You invest a little ever day, and in the long-term, you will see some results.

Business Graph with arrow and coins showing profits and gains

About health and money. Many years ago, my grandfather once said to me in Spanish “Problems that revolve around money often times they can be fixed, but health problems, that’s a whole other issue.” True Dat!

Answers to Some Common Weight Loss, Food, and Exercise Questions

1. What’s better for us, walking on a treadmill or walking outside?

Anyone I have trained is probably tired of me begging them, I mean, advising them to walk outside. Walking outdoors is good for you, you get fresh air, you burn calories, you might see something interesting, and you can’t press stop, and stop walking like you can a treadmill. But the biggest difference that I see between walking outdoors and walking on a treadmill is that the treadmill band moves for you, and the ground outdoors does not move for you. Because the treadmill band moves, it moves your legs for you quite a bit, so the amount of leg force used to walk 3 mph on a treadmill is not the same as walking 3 mph outdoors on flat non-moving ground.

Treadmills are a great option for bad weather and to create inclines/hills, but whenever possible, walk outside.

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2. Do protein shakes aid weight loss?

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Protein shakes only help weight loss if they REPLACE a meal, but many people consume them in addition to what they already eat. It takes discipline to say “I am only having a protein shake for lunch”, and it takes even more discipline to actually do it.

3. Healthy Homeboy, were you overweight as a child, or ever, and if not, how did you learn to be lean and in shape?

This is a very common and fair question that I get from friends and clients that have battled their weight for much of their lives. I have always been lean, always. I started having visible abs, yes like a six-pack, in my teens, and even at my current age of 41, my ab muscles are visible. My mother, bless her heart and may she rest in peace, was very strict about food with my siblings and me.

My mother was a house keeper/cleaning lady for wealthy people in Los Angeles for at least 30 years. Because she did some of the grocery shopping and cooking for them, she saw how their children ate. So when I was very young, my mother naturally thought “If it’s good enough for a doctor’s or lawyer’s son or daughter, it’s good enough for my children”, and she fed my brother, sister, and me similar foods she saw upper class children eat. So from a young age I was eating oatmeal (like real oatmeal, not the 1 minute type), eggs, chicken, fish, shrimp, fruits as snacks and dessert, rice, and vegetables. I hated vegetables. My mother and father worked hard to feed my siblings and I healthy. I was even eating multi grain bread back in the late 70’s! Gluten intolerance be damned!!

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Just as important as what I ate as a child, are the things I didn’t eat. We rarely, if ever had soda in the house. My mother was very strict about that. I am not sure how she knew that soda and sugar laden foods weren’t the best things for a growing child, but she knew. Fast food was a rarity in our house, but once in while we did have pizza (Like 2 times per year. Seriously!). I was allowed 3 small ass cookies a day, and if I went over my cookie allotment, that was my ass! Unless it was a special occasion, like birthday parties or some holiday, we rarely had ice cream or cake.

My mother worked more than full-time, and somehow found energy to cook for 3 children at the end of the day. WTF! Oh yeah, my brother, sister, and I couldn’t sit still and we were always on the move playing inside and outdoors when we could, so that helped us all stay lean.

So I guess that growing up, I didn’t eat crap or drink crap, and I was active. And decades later, that “stay lean” formula still works.

4. Is it necessary to workout to lose weight? No it is not. Yes, you read that correctly. Now let me be clear. Working out with weights and doing cardio will accelerate weight loss and has a bunch of health benefits like strengthening your heart, bones, and muscles. But if someone doesn’t want to workout out at all and wants to lose weight, it can be done by restricting calorie intake to 1,500 to 2,00o per day. I would guess that the average amount of calories consumed by an American adult battling weight issues is somewhere in the 3,000 range, if not more. But yes, you can lose weight without exercise. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

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5. We all know eating healthy is important, but is there any other “tricks of the trade” you have for helping people lose weight? Yes I do have some extra ammo for your weight loss efforts. For dinner try to have vegetables, a protein, and water. That’s it! You can’t eat more. Your insulin levels will thank you. The calories will be low, and you won’t wake up burping last nights gargantuan meal. If you have ever woke up, and you were still stuffed from the meal you had the previous night, YOU ATE WAY TOO MUCH!

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Here are some more helpful weight-loss tidbits.

Ladies, don’t eat like a man, unless you want to weigh what a man weighs.

Ladies, don’t drink like a man, unless you want to weigh what a man weighs.

Just because you can stomach something, doesn’t mean you should be drinking or eating it.

Your stomach is not a trash can.

Don’t treat your pet’s health better than you treat your own.

When an overweight dog loses weight, they almost always feel better and have more energy. The same goes for humans.

Humans were born to move. Why do you think we have so many muscles on our bodies?

Food is energy. Fat on the body is just excess stored energy that we consumed, and it’s waiting to be burned off.

If you’re a friend or client trying to lose weight, and I ever catch you entering a buffet, I will stop you. If I ever see you exiting a buffet, I will ask you what you just ate, and then ask you to tell me the truth, and then I will make you walk home to burn off all those calories. lol. You know I wouldn’t do that, but I would be disappointed.

And the last bit of advice I have is to please take control of your food intake and try not to be the 50% of Americans that are projected to be pre-diabetic or diabetic by the year 2020! You read that right, and that is scary. That’s only 6 years away. The harsh reality is that in many instances becoming diabetic or pre-diabetic is strictly a result of a lifetime of consuming too much food. Imagine that, getting a disease, and a bunch of symptoms as a result of too much food. WTF!

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Now that I gave you all this advice and harsh restrictions, I will tell you the same thing my mother told me when I asked her why she was so strict with me and my food. “I do it because I care, but more importantly, because it’s the best thing for you”.

Thanks mom.

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About Calories

Ok, now I have seen it all. I am constantly telling my clients and weight loss soldiers to watch out for the bad things we like to eat like potato chips and chocolate. Well, the R and D department over at Lay’s must really have it in for my weight loss teachings because look at what they have created.

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WTF! Wasn’t double stuffed Oreo’s and cheese stuffed crust pizza enough? Isn’t the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback, with it’s over 2,000 calories, enough? That’s right, over 2,000 calories as an appetizer. Holy Shit!!!

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You would have to walk 15 miles to burn off 2,000 calories. And from witnessing people at mall parking lots, circling the lot and waiting for a parking spot to make itself available, that is close to the entrance, because god forbid they park 50 feet away where there are plenty of spaces, I know we aren’t walking no 15 miles. Hell, we don’t even like walking 15 minutes.

What’s next, donuts filled with cream? Holy caca, they have that too!

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What’s next, deep fried Snickers wrapped in bacon? Holy double shit!

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This is too much? I’m going into diabetic shock just writing this. Someone call an ambulance! But there is absolutely no way, like none, like no chance of a snowflake in hell, that they would take a Krispy Kreme doughnut and make a hamburger with it. Could it be?

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Holy clogged aorta Batman! I actually saw the above at the Maryland State Fair earlier this year. I couldn’t believe my eye balls. You know what? Obviously deep frying chicken, fish, fries, and regular dough to make funnel cakes wasn’t enough to satisfy the human voracious appetite. What the hell, let’s just fry everything.

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Let’s even deep fry the classic PB and J.

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Ok, the ambulance you were supposed to call  to save me from my diabetic shock didn’t arrive in time, and now I am in a hypoglycemic induced coma. And when I wake up, I will go to the other end of the sugar level spectrum and go hyperglycemic, by consuming a chocolate ice cream and peanut butter shake from Cold Stone.

Cold Stone PBandC Shake

This son of a gun has 2,000 calories, and how can I say this? Uhmm…let me think. Oh yeah, it has a shitload of sugar and fat! Here’s what 2,000 calories equals.

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The worst part about consuming 2,000 calories in one sitting is that that is the amount of calories the average adult in America should be consuming in a whole day, but we consume closer to 3,000 a day. Yes, if you are physically active, and by active I mean more than just walking around the mall or Disney World once in a while, you can eat more than 2,000 calories a day. By the way, walking around at the mall or a theme park does not count as exercise, that is called life. Exercise is what you do in addition to life’s physical demands. Construction workers and hiking tourist guides, you are excluded from exercising in addition to your work.

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And pedi-cab workers that I see in many big cities, eat what you want. You guys must burn a bunch of calories, daily. Because you know what burns more calories than riding a bike? Riding a bike while pulling some tourists around.

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Choose your calories wisely, according to your physical demands.