Archive | January, 2010

Making Good on Your Resolutions

15 Jan

Ask most people what their new year’s resolutions are, and I’d venture a guess that at least 7 out of 10 would list ‘get in better shape’ among their top 3. If the follow up question were “how many times have you made this resolution?” or some derivative, likely at least the same percentage would respond that they have made the same resolution year after year.

New year’s resolutions are great way to reflect on the past year and proclaim your intentions for the year to come. Easy to say but often hard to do. Why do so many find it difficult to make their intentions a reality? Please share your challenges in the poll below so we can address those challenges in future posts.

I was reminded recently that if you give a person a big enough ‘why’, they will figure out the ‘how’ and ‘when’. I can’t think of a bigger ‘why’ than living longer and healthier so I enjoyed the WSJ article, “The Hidden Benefits of Exercise,” With frequent distortions and manipulations of the truth utilized by the media to generate the greatest response, it can be difficult to figure out what’s best. A healthy dose of common sense and some simple facts can provide the answer: regular moderate exercise and good nutritional practices based on whole foods will improve your health, enhance your productivity, focus and mood, aid your ability to fight illness and recover from it. “No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take,” says David Nieman, director of Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, N.C. in the article mentioned above. Add good nutrition on top and you’ll be able to quantify the improvement in your health and well being more meaningfully than simply the absence of illness.

Whatever your intentions, make them a reality and kick this decade off right.

from WSJ article

Day 2 for Tracey

13 Jan

So far so good.  A bit more challenging as my day was everywhere rather than in one place.  Required a bit more thought and restraint but totally manageable.

Today’s menu:

Half an avocado and 2 scrambled eggs

apple, nuts and seeds


grilled chicken breast, cauliflower mash and chard saute

raw cauliflower and red pepper

halibut cooked in salsa over spinach with guacamole and salsa

2 glasses wine

Day 2 of My Paleo Diet

13 Jan

I’m proud to say that I haven’t cheated on the diet, even though it’s only been a day and a half.  My cravings for sugar and more carbohydrates isn’t too bad, but again it’s only been a day and a half.  I did feel light headed and weak during my workout today.  I did 15 rounds of “Chelsea” (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 BW Squats, one set every minute on the minute for 30 minutes) before I had to stop and after resting continued with  6 x 3  snatches at a moderate weight.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Day One

12 Jan

Observation: I ate more today than I have eaten any day in recent history. My explanation is one I use when explaining why weight loss diets have variable success – you spend all your time thinking about food. In this case, I think it was a healthy process as I planned ahead and had plenty of healthy options on hand.

My day:

breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, a satsuma orange and an apple

midmorning: almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds w/a bit of dried fruit

late morning: blueberries

lunch: grilled salmon with steamed broccoli

Dinner: grilled chicken breast; chard saute; cauliflower mash

after dinner: satsuma

Also consumed 36 oz of water which is about 32 oz more than my norm.

Workout: today’s crossfit – no difference in energy, nor performance

60 days and 60 nights!

12 Jan

Where to start… We have many conversations in the back office at FIT about work, training, life, and nutrition.  My philosophy about nutrition has always been that I can out work and out train any and all of my poor eating habits.  But in this industry, and frankly in life, you can’t just talk the talk.  Your actions define you.  So, with a little shove from my friends and the desire to improve my health, my performance and my life, I’ve taken on the challenge to eat using the Paleo Diet for 60 days.

 While I’m excited for a challenge, I have a few reservations.  Culturally I eat a lot of corn, beans and rice.  As you know that is not part of the diet, so Sunday dinners at Mom’s house will have to be modified.  I’m also worried about weekends and eating out.  All the free bread, chips and salsa, etc. will have to be out.   But I’m determined and I will succeed, especially since I’ll be recording my journey and be held accountable by you.  Just a couple of stats before beginning.  I weigh 175lbs and my Baseline time is 4:10. Wish me luck.

60 Days . . .

11 Jan

The things we say in the heat of the moment can often get is in trouble so it’s not surprise that I’m looking back on a back room conversation wondering what I was thinking. Here’s the back story, we are a group of trainers with shared passion but we’re not always in agreement. For years now we have tried to come up with a nutritional philosophy that we could all get on board with as FIT’s recommendation for clients – current stand out for overall health benefit as well as weight loss is the Paleolithic Diet or Paleo. Two of the 4 of the trainers in on the conversation currently adhere to the Paleo diet, the other 2 of us, Jimmy and myself, don’t. The gauntlet was thrown – “I’d bet after 60 days you’d feel better, look better and perform better.” Never ones to back down from a challenge, the next thing you know, Jimmy and I took the bet – each with our own litany of objections and concerns which we felt are likely very similar to those that our clients would express. So, the plan is that starting today, Monday, January 11, we will both independently blog about our diet, experiences, likes and dislikes.  Your thoughts, questions and encouragement are welcome.

My starting point:


I cannot imagine my life without dairy and sugar. I am a mother of 2 small children so convenience is key. My diet does not remotely resemble the one I’ll be adhering to starting today.  I’m currently weigh 126 lb.   I’d like to be stronger and faster.

A sample day:

Few handfuls of cereal and maybe a few bites of one or the other child’s left over breakfast

Grand vanilla nonfat latte

bagel with turkey, cheese and a little bit of mayo

oh yeah chocolate protein bar


5ish oz of lean protein (salmon, grassfed beef, chicken)+salad and/or steamed veggie.

so, I’m good on dinner and that’s pretty much it.

Having said all that, I’m excited about the undertaking and will keep you posted.

Do You Know Jacque About Hunger?

9 Jan

The literature on obesity is not only voluminous, it is also full of conflicting and confusing reports and opinions. One might well apply to it the works of Artemus Ward: “The researches of so many eminent scientific men have thrown so much darkness upon the subject that if they continue their researches we shall soon know nothing”.

– Hilde Bruch, The Importance of Overweight, 1957

The most common complaint concerning weight loss is hunger or feelings of deprivation. The media and latest marketing strategies try to portray their weight loss solution as “eat what you want without any hunger” in some shape or form.

The effects of semi-starvation – a low-calorie diet mixed of carbohydrates, proteins and fats – have long been documented, since at least 1917 by Francis Benedict. He was trying to get his subjects to lose 10 percent of their weight in a month by eating 1400-2100 calories per day, and see if they could adjust and thrive at that caloric intake. The subjects lost their weight, but they were also “constantly hungry”.

Once the deprivation portion of the experiment finished, the subjects were allowed to eat as they wanted. They overindulged immediately, craving “sweets and accessory foods of all kinds”. They regained their weight in less than two weeks, and on average they exceeded their initial weight three weeks post-weight loss.

Hmm. That did not seem like the most effective strategy for weight loss. Sure, the subjects lost their weight, but with the feelings like they were exhibiting, who would want to stay on such a eating regimen? If you are somebody who has tried to lose weight and you did not succeed in keeping it off, does it sound familiar?

Most of us know we should not overindulge on eating, but, just like these subjects, it does not matter, we still do anyway.  The subjects still did, even when the researchers warned them that overindulging is unhealthy. Why would these subjects or anybody want to maintain what appears to be insisting on eating more than is needed?

In the book Good Calories Bad Calories, Gary Taubes describes the “lost” experiments of Jacque Le Magnen of the Collège de France. During the mid-1970’s, Le Magnen published a series of studies from rats that looked at weight regulation and hunger.

Le Magnen’s research resulted in two fundamental observations: 1) The size of the meal determines how long rats will go before they get hungry again, and 2) rats eat to excess during their waking hours, which means their intake exceeds their expenditure of energy, and so they are storing fat during this period of time.

When rats are awake, they are searching for food, eating and building up fat reserves in their adipose (i.e. fat) cells. While rats are sleeping, they mobilize fatty acids for fuel from their adipose tissue and use the fatty acids for fuel. The human body, like rats, uses fatty acids as fuel over the course of time while it is sleeping. It is the concentration of fatty acids in our blood that typically does not wake us up in the middle of the night from hunger. The availability of these fatty acids in the blood promotes satiety and inhibits hunger.

Therefore, this can be summed up as saying anything that promotes the availability of fatty acids in the blood will promote satiety and a feeling of “fullness”. Anything that inhibits fatty acids in the blood, thereby removing the fatty acids and promoting fat storage, will promote hunger.

By the mid-70’s, Le Magnen had demonstrated that insulin, the primary hormone that regulates blood sugar and inhibits fatty acid utilization (promoting fat storage), is the driver of the diurnal cycle of hunger, satiety, and energy balance in rats. At the beginning of the waking hours, the insulin response to glucose is enhanced, and it is suppressed during sleep. This pattern is “primarily responsible” for the fat accumulation during the waking hours and the fat utilization during sleep.

This work is unique because it suggests that hunger and weight gain are a physiological entity rather than a “Set Point Theory”, or a lack of will power – a psychological entity.When Le Magnen infused insulin into rats, it lengthened the fat-storage phase of their day-night cycle, and it shortened the mobilization and usage of fatty acids while they slept. This injection of insulin interrupted their normal sleep-wake cycle of fuel homeostasis by keeping the rats awake and causing them to eat past their normal sleeping hours.

Le Magnen took it another step further: when he infused insulin into sleeping rats, thus, dropping the blood fatty acid concentration, they immediately woke and began eating, and they continued eating as long as the insulin infusion continued. When during their waking hours he infused adrenaline – a hormone that promotes the mobilization of fatty acids from the fat tissue – they stopped eating.

If this is what happens in humans, then this research implies that we gain weight because our insulin levels are chronicly elevated longer than nature intended, with an out-of-balance accumulation of body fat:stored fat ratio. Weight stability is nothing more than an equilibrium between the fatty acids flowing into the energy buffer of the fat tissue and the fatty acids flowing out. What the body regulates, as Le Magnen suggested, is the fuel flow to the cells; the amount of body fat we accumulate is a secondary effect of the fuel partitioning that accomplishes this regulation.

Therefore, if we are concerned about managing our body fat percentage and health, we need to manage the factors that affect our hunger. Le Magnen’s research suggests we need to maintain a circulation of fatty acids in our bloodstream, make them available for muscles to use and keep them out of our fat cells. The primary factor that will inhibit this process is the hormone, insulin. Insulin increases in our bloodstream the most by eating processed starches, sugar, and flour.

Benedict’s subjects ate a high-carbohydrate diet. Scientists had not discovered insulin at this time, so we do not know what their blood insulin levels were. However, because we know the meal composition,  today we know that it was higher than those who eat a low-carbohydrate meal. We have known for forty years that the levels of circulating insulin in animals and humans will be proportional to body fat, but few health recommendations support this knowledge: the US Department of Agriculture recommends eating a diet high in grains, dairy, fruit and low in fat – the Food Pyramid. Thus, people in the United States are one of the fattest populations in the world. Hilde Burch’s quote suggests that we did not have many answers in the 1950’s, and the U.S.’s gaining on the totem pole of obesity does not suggest we have improved since then.

What can you do to minimize your blood insulin levels? There are several things you can do:

  1. Eat nutrient-dense foods such as grass-fed meat, eggs, green and cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  2. Fast for 12-24 hours once per week, perhaps 2-3 times if you need to lose 40 pounds or more.
  3. For alcohol, drink a glass of red wine because it has more nutrients than white wine. Don’t like red wine? SOL…. Avoid anything fermented from grain, like beer.
  4. Avoid sweet foods, even artificial sweetners. These can also “trick” the body into secreting insulin.
  5. Exercise at least twice per week.

By doing the above steps, you will minimize insulin in your blood, decrease your hunger and cravings, and without feeling deprivation, you will decrease your body fat percentage.

“Fad” or Fact: Low-carbohydrate eating and health

8 Jan

Since 1863, following the writing of William Banting’s Letter of Corpulence, physicians would advise their obese patients to avoid carbohydrates, particularly sweets, starches, and refined carbohydrates, and this would continue for the part of the twentieth century. The Stanford University School of Medicine described the diet they prescribed for obesity in 1943, and it was almost the same as the diet prescribed at Harvard Medical School in 1948, which was the same as Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 1950, and at Cornell Medical School and New York Hospital in 1952. The “general rules” were:

1. Do not use sugar, honey, syrup, jam, jelly, or candy.

2. Do not use fruit canned in sugar.

3. Do not use cake, cookies, pie, puddings, ice cream, or ices.

4. Do not use foods which have cornstarch or flour added such as gravy, or cream sauce.

5. So not use potatoes (sweet or Irish), macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, dried beans or peas.

6. Do not use fired foods prepared with butter, lard, oil or butter substitutes.

7. Do not use drinks such as Coca-Cola, ginger ale, pop or root beer.

8. Do not use any food not allowed on the diet and only as much as the diet allows [referring to any other food’s use].

FIT Client of the Month, January ’10

7 Jan

Client of the Month: Judy Madrigal

Age: 59

FIT Family Member since: 6/30/2009

Goals: Increase strength and energy while losing body fat


1. Activities of daily living are easier, such as walking up stairs and getting up and down from the floor

2. Down 1 dress size!
3. Increase energy level

Likes: Body row on the rings

Dislikes: Dumbbell thrusters

PR 500m Row: 2:37, 90 Watts

PR Chin-Ups: Assisted #17 x4 reps

Key’s to success from Coach Karen Moreno:

The key to Judy’s success is a positive attitude.  The first day Judy came in, she made it very clear she did not enjoy exercising. Since that first day, I have seen Judy not only excel in her exercise sessions, but greet each session with a smile and a “Can Do’ attitude.  It has been a pleasure working with Judy and I look forward to seeing her continued success.

Key’s to success in Judy’s words:

When I joined FIT 6 months ago I weighed in at 165 pounds (I am 5’3”) I could not climb a flight of steps without being winded, nor could I bend down and pick up something from the floor.  My level of fitness was probably that of someone significantly older.  It is hard for me to describe how much better I feel after working with Karen.  She has pushed me to do an exercise routine that is never boring or punishing, but just the right level to keep me interested and coming back.  I even added a day because it helped me to perform my daily life functions so much more efficiently.  I feel I finally have my life back.

Chili Soy Carmelized Fennel Medley

6 Jan

Courtesy: Clean Eating Magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

Serves: 4

Hands-on Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


*1 large fennel bulb

*1 tbsp plus 2tsp olive oil, divided

*1lb broccolini (about 1 bunch), tough ends trimmed

*2 medium carrots, skin peeled, and ribboned

*2 cloves garlic, sliced thin, plus 1 clove minced, divided

*1 medium shallot, minced

*1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

*1/4 tsp sesame oil

*2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce

*1 tsp raw organic honey

*1/4 cup balsamic vinegar


1. Cut stems, root end and core from fennel and slice bulb very thin.  Coat bottom of large saute pan over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil.  When oil is hot, add fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.  2. Add 1/2 cup water, broccolini, carrots, and sliced garlic to fennel and cover pan.  Reduce heat to medium and let vegetables steam for 20 minutes, until broccolini is tender.  Remove lid, increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook until nearly all liquid at the bottom of the pan has evaporated.  3. While vegetables cook, make Chile Soy Drizzle: add remaining 2 tsp olive oil to a small sauce-pot over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and shallot, letting them sweat for 2 minutes.  Stir in pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  4. Transfer vegetables to a serving platter, pour drizzle over top and serve.

**Great to serve with chunky white fish, skirt steak or tofu.

Nutrients per 4-oz serving:

Calories 160, Total Fat: 6g, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 7g, Protein: 6g