portion sizes

Portion size!!

Put away those huge dinner plates and settle for a smaller plate and you might be surprised you will end up eating a lot less. Studies have shown that the smaller the plate you use, the less food you will eat without even realizing it.

My goal today is for you to understand what the correct portion size is for different food groups. I like to use the plate method to make it a little more clear. Divide your plate into four equal parts. In the first section you will put your protein food-e.g. meat, beans, eggs, etc. The portion for your protein will be about the size of a deck of cards. The second portion will be your carbohydrate-e.g. rice, pasta, bread, etc. This will be approximately ½ cup portion. So if you choose to eat bread, then you might want to hold off on the pasta. Next is your vegetables, again it is a ½ cup portion size, finally the fruit takes up the last ¼ of your plate with a ½ cup serving. If you can follow this simple guideline, you will eating a well balanced meal with the correct amount of calories.

Television Tactics: Who Needs Cable When You Have A Gym?

How much time do you spend sitting on the couch watching tv? If you’re anything like the average American, it’s likely quite a lot.  According to the A.C. Nielson Company, South Dakota Department of Health, and Wikianswers, average people watch over 4 hours a day.  The importance we give to television entertainment comes at a high cost, too.

First, there’s the cost of time. Think of what else could be accomplished in all that time. You could walk over twelve miles, bike from Pasadena to Burbank and back, go out to see a concert, clean your house and car, or visit a museum.  In the one to two hours it takes to watch other people meet their goals on Biggest Loser, Ultimate Cake Off, or the Bachelor, you could be well on the way to achieving your own goals.

Secondly, there’s the financial cost of watching tv.  Obviously, the service comes with a price tag.  Cable costs take huge cuts out of your income.  Sure you have a billion channels to choose from, but is it really worth what you’re paying?  You can easily spend over $1000 a year on television, movie rental, or satellite services, and at the end of it you don’t have anything to show for it.  The other cost is the cost of being at home.  It’s really common for people to use couch time as snack time.  Cleaning out your cupboard during t.v. watching sessions takes just as big of hit on your wallet as it does your weight loss goals.

Finally, there are significant negative psychological effects that come with watching too much television.  Staying up to watch shows cuts into sleep time and productivity.  These are the obvious detrimental side effects, but there are many more.  It can make you feel helpless, lethargic, and unfocused.  Advertisements can influence you to eat or buy things that are unhealthy.  It can limit your brain productivity, acuteness, and functionality.  This link is a pretty good eye-opener when it comes to some of the effects of television watching.

As an alternative, I suggest spending your time going out and exploring. The money you save in cancelled subscriptions will pay for fun and interactive experiences.  If there is a show or a sports game you must watch, then go to the gym with some ear buds and walk, jog, bike, or elliptical at the same time.  When I watch a game, I always pick a team to win.  Every time that team gets the ball, I speed up to a sprint as if I’m running up the field or court for a pass.  When they lose the ball and are on defense, I slow down and recover as if I am getting in position and holding off the other team.  Not only does this give me a good idea of the percentage of time my team is controlling the ball, it also provides a pretty nice interval-type workout.  I’m keyed into both the game and my workout.

Your homework starting right now is to go a week cold turkey without watching television.  The ONLY exception is watching at the gym while you workout.  Write in your activity log the things you accomplish in the time that you would normally use for watching  t.v.

Choices, Choices: When Little Decisions Mean A Lot

Tonight I was driving home late thinking about all the things waiting for me at my apartment. A nice shower, some emailing, much needed nail painting.  Mostly I thought of my bed and how nice it would be to go and lie down in it and get to bed nearly on time, because that would mean that I would be refreshed, energized, and ready to take on my day tomorrow.  It would mean I would get a really good quality work out in because I wouldn’t feel too tired or lazy to do what I needed to… unlike today.  I swallowed as I digested that last bit.  Today I had busied myself with tasks that filled up my day, but didn’t really need to fill up my day. I put off the workout I’d promised myself that I would accomplish.

My inner dialogue began to kick in. It really was like one of those cheesy sitcom moments where you see an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  “I could still go to the gym and get my workout in,” little angel side of me said.  “But, my stomach feels a little achy and I have to get up so early…” the other side of me reasoned.  They went back and forth.  I needed to get that run in. I needed sleep.  It would be so easy to go to the gym; I had all my stuff with me.  It would be so easy to climb under that fluffy comforter; I was ready to fall asleep.  How nice would it be to log in my miles tonight? How nice would it be to SLEEP! I used to get my workout in at night all the time in high school and college.  That one hurt a bit.

By this time, I had exited and was coming up to a stoplight.  Turning left would take me home, and turning right would take me to the gym.  Somehow, this small decision of which way to steer my car seemed monumental to deciding the core of my being.  Now, there could be no peace.  I turned right.  Instantly, I was so proud of myself.  What a silly thing too.   As I drove to the gym I kept thinking of all the moments that could possibly deter me from my gym workout now.  A phone call, a red light, a u-turn, the knowledge that no one else would know the difference.  None of them did, and I was so happy with myself.  I got to the gym and got in a quality workout, one I can build on. I know it’s small, and it’s hardly worth bragging about.  I realized all this as I was feeling these emotions, but I also realized that it’s these small moments that make me who I am.  There was a sort of scary, wonderful freedom acknowledging that it is my decision alone whether I am fast or slow, fat or thin, strong or weak, happy or sad.  Maybe I was weak this afternoon, but I was strong tonight.  Tomorrow I will be strong again, because this is the precedent I am setting for myself today.

Why protein?

Why protein?

With all the information floating out there about high carbohydrates vs. high protein diets, you may be questioning which diet is actually right for you. Today I simply want to focus on protein and why it is important for your workouts.

Protein is required for:

  1. Build and maintain muscles
  2. Repair damage to muscles,  resulting from exercise
  3. Produce new blood cells
  4. Keep our immune system strong
  5. Manufacture hormones and enzymes
  6. Keep hair, nails and skin healthy

Did you know? One pound of muscle contains 70-105 grams of protein  

Consistent intake of protein is important because protein is not readily stored in your body. So how much protein do you actually need in your diet?

A sedentary individual requires .8 g/kg

For those of you who are regular exercisers, general recommendations lie somewhere between 1-1.5 g/kg depending on the type and intensity of exercise.

To figure out your protein needs:

Take your body weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. This will give you your body weight in Kilograms. Now multiply your body weight in kilograms by (1-1.5) to get the amount of protein you need daily.

For example a women who weighs 125 pounds would need:


56.8 x 1.2=68 g protein daily

Common Foods and their protein amounts:

Food, Amount, Protein

Fish, 3 oz, 21 grams
Chicken, 3 oz, 21 grams
Turkey, 3 oz, 21 grams
Beef, 3 oz, 21 grams
Milk, 8 oz, 8 grams
Tofu, 3 oz, 15 grams
Yogurt, 8 oz, 8 grams
Cheese, 3 oz, 21 grams
Peanut butter, 2 tbsp, 8 grams

Note: Post workout is a great time to take in some protein. Protein is critial after workouts to help repair muscles, one great way to get in the protein you need after a workout is with chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and protein for a post workout snack. I would suggest mixing, 1 TBS of cocoa powder with 1 cup skim milk to get a great protein snack!!!

Look once before your munch!

Food labels are required by law to be on food products, but no food label is going to say, “put me down, I’m really fattening and bad for you, go find a healthier option.” Understanding what is on a food label and what information is important takes some practice and time. Here is a sample food label of a box of Kraft mac and cheese.

 well i tried to post the food label, but after a few failed attempts i decided to post the link.http://www.quitehealthy.com/nutrition-facts/kraft/L218731.html

So if you take a look at the food label you will notice that a serving size of mac and cheese is 3.5 oz and 290 calories. Well doesn’t sound too bad right? Well if you look a little closer you will notice that there are 4 servings per box, and if you are like me, you don’t just eat one serving of macaroni and cheese.  Let’s just say you decided to eat the whole box of macaroni and cheese for your dinner.  This would mean that you ate:

  • 290 calories times 4 servings per box to give you a total of:  1160 calories (which for most people is more than half the total calories needed for one day)
  • You would also be eating 18 grams of fat.  1 gram of fat has 9 calories so this would be 162 calories from fat
  • There are 200 grams of carbohydrates. There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, so 800 calories just from carbohydrates
  • Finally 52 grams of protein. Protein also has 4 calories per gram giving a total of 208 calories from protein.

Carbohydrates, fat and protein are important when looking at a food label, but let’s not leave out the other nutrients.  When looking at items such as cholesterol, sodium, vitamins and minerals, don’t get too caught up in grams but focus more on the percentages.

  • If a product has 5% or less of your daily value, it is considered a poor source for that nutrient
  • If a product has 10-20% of your daily needs, it is considered a good source of that nutrient
  • Finally, if a product has over 20%, it is considered to be a great or high source of that particular nutrient.

As you will see macaroni and cheese doesn’t have much to offer when it actually comes to the healthy stuff. It only has 2% vitamin A per serving, no vitamin C, and only 10% of your iron. However, I would like to point out sodium in particular on this recipe. When you see sodium, think of salt. One serving has 35% of your daily needs. That is a significant portion of your daily allotment. Sodium is needed in the body only in small quantities and too much can be harmful for your health. Most processed foods are concentrated in sodium and therefore most of us get over the daily recommended amount for sodium every day. High amounts of sodium over time can make a person more susceptible to hypertension and heart disease.

We all have our favorite foods that we gravitate towards when shopping, but I want to challenge you next time you run to the store to stop and take a look at what is inside your  food before you start eating it.

Race Ya To The Other Side Of The Country!

Running at a fast pace down the street, the course seems like it is just further than I can make it.  I think I am slowing down so I say to myself, “when I get to that green mailbox, I’ll slow down.”  Funny thing is, when I get to that green mailbox, I realize that I can keep going.  “I’ve made it this far, I might as well go up to that big tree down the way,” I reason.  So I keep myself focused on making it to the tree with a quality stride.  My feet keep moving forward because when I get there, I see a spot another good target down the road.  Before I know it, I’ve completed a challenging workout in a time I’m proud of.

Breaking a challenge into smaller pieces helps us see our progress and stay focused.  Many times we are in the gym, on the treadmill, or traveling the same familiar routes day in and day out.  It’s easy to feel like a hamster on a wheel when we have no visual or concrete evidence of our hard work.  Luckily, we have many fixes to help remedy this.  One of those is taking measurements and staying knowledgeable on where we stand on our weight loss.  Another is the calendars we fill out.  Now we are adding a new, decidedly more fun tool.  We will be walking, running, biking across the country.  Each day we report how far we have traveled, and this website will add it up and show our team and individual cross-country trek progress map-style.

Your assignment is to create an account on that website and join our team, Laces United.  Each day log how far you’ve traveled.  The website shows roadside pictures of where we are and what states are coming up.  We will say to ourselves, “let’s just make it to Kentucky…. Well, we’re at Kentucky, let’s see how fast we can make it to Missouri!”

Entering Training Season!!

Any athlete knows that being great takes sacrifice.  During a sport season, athletes focus their sights on one goal.  Being great at that sport takes commitment, and no serious athlete wants to leave a practice, game, or season knowing that she hasn’t given every thing she’s got.  Competitors in individual sports are particularly relevant subjects to look at.  Running, wrestling, gymnastics, and swimming are a few prime examples that come to mind.  These sports require peak mental and physical fitness for each competition.  They require carefully adapted diets, training, sleep schedule, and psychology for success.

Too often we take for granted the precision of our biology.  We think one stuffed crust pizza, one night of drinking, or one weekend of splurging won’t make a difference.  We think that a day off is just a few extra calories to burn later.  We think a night of staying out late with a full day ahead won’t kill us.  As athletes, we know better. Let’s cut the denial and be honest with ourselves.  It all counts.  We must have precision to have the effects we need.  This is our season, so to speak.  Consider yourself in training mode.

For me, just saying “I’m in training” takes courage, and the constant admittance of this fact is something I take pride in.  When some friends were having a party and offered me a beer, I loved the fact that I could say “I can’t, I have practice tomorrow,” or “I’ve got a race coming up.”  It is a little, constant reminder of my commitment.  A little bit of proof that I am different from the rest of the world.  I know what I want and I’m going to do everything in my power to get it.

Biggest Loser, despite having some noticeable faults, is great for breeding that sort of mindset.  Contestants are constantly barraged with temptations that they have to deny for the sake of reaching their goals.  One particularly cruel incident occurred last season when a young man left the seclusion of training campus to visit his home on his birthday.  Sure enough, he was confronted with a big challenge.  His friends threw him a surprise birthday party at a bowling alley that had all his favorite junk foods, including his favorite birthday cake.  So here we have the disadvantages of old habits, fitting in with friends, being removed from immediate reminders of objectives, and the pressure of making “friends” happy by eating the unhealthy food they had brought specifically for him.  Luckily, that contestant had the fortitude to turn down all temptations out of respect for his goals.  He went on to have a lot of success in his weight loss and made it to the final four or five contestants.

August 1 is right around the corner.  Start out this month with the mentality that we are entering your season.  Don’t leave anything on the table.  There is not such thing as a moment that is not wasted or a calorie that does not count.  This is your time and your chance to see what your made of.  This weekend, start getting used to saying it.  Go to bed early, leave the chip basket alone, drink bottles of water, and hit every workout.  Credit it to your real goals and your new attitude.  You are now an athlete in training.

Eat to Live

Americans have a unique approach to food.  We want the most for our time and money, we want something to do, and we want more than others.  When we want to lose weight, food becomes a stressor.  We look at it as a challenge to hold ourselves back and control temptation.

Other cultures see food as a meaningful and fulfilling part of life that is to be savored, enjoyed, and balanced.

Starting now, try to look at food as nourishment.  Eat with somebody and take time with each bite to savor the flavors and textures.  Prepare food and take joy in the creative process.  Eat at the table rather than eating on the run, on the couch, or standing up.  The new recipe I put up is a healthy and tasty substitute for mashed potatoes that I am confident you will enjoy preparing and eating.  Have a fun weekend!

Balancing Our Budget: Let’s Out-Perform Congress!

Proximity is not the only close connection between our wallets and our bodies.  Finances and health have a legitimately close relationship.  Let’s take on two challenges at once by maximizing our calorie deficit and minimizing our financial one.  All we need is a plan and the determination to follow through.

1. Look back at your last few weeks of spending and calculate how much money you spent on food, vitamin, and drinks. Notice what was superfluous.

2.  Make a menu plan for the week and write down a grocery list based specifically on your needs for that plan. Be precise in amounts.

3. Make a budget based on your grocery needs.  Also, set a limit to meals out and how much you can spend on them.

4.  Grocery shop with your list and any coupons you’ve happened to find for those items (don’t base your list off of coupons, rather, make your list and then see if you can find coupons that match your needs).

5.  Keep track of what you spend and adjust as necessary.

I’ve heard of smokers who put the money they saved by not buying cigarettes each week in a jar or a savings account.  Try putting the difference in the money you spend on food aside and use it as a reward of meeting your goals.  We’ll make the differences in your calorie and monetary expenditures and intake work to your advantage!

Changing the Scene If You Know What I Mean!

Music can be a powerful motivator. Finding a genre, group, or album that speaks to you can carry you further than you might think.  Through years of going through sports, working through injuries, and facing challenges, songs have given me a lot of strength.  Alicia Keys, No Doubt, Kings of Leon, Killers, and Jack Johnson have all at some point or another carried me through tough times.  They’ve gotten me out of bed, pushed me to work harder, and made me smile when I couldn’t on my own.

Your assignment for July 6 is to find music and artists who speak to you.  Go to your favorite music store, put on headphones, and tryout some music.  Get an album that speaks to you and keep it in your music player on repeat!

Now some words from those awesome orators:

And you ask me what I want this year /

And I try to make this kind and clear /

Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days (Goo Goo Dolls- Better Days)

I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways

No message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and then make the change/ (Michael Jackson- Man in the Mirror)

Been looking forward to the future/

But my eyesight is going bad/

And this crystal ball its always cloudy except for /

When you look into the past (Fall Out Boy- Thnks Fr Th Mmrs)

And often times we’re lazy /

It seems to stand in my way /

Cause no one, no not no one likes to be let down (Jack Johnson- Flake)

But I know it’s gettin’ better/

And a change is gonna come my way (Tesla- Gettin’ Better)

And sometimes I get nervous /

When I see an open door /

Close your eyes, clear your heart /

Cut the cord (Killers- Human)


My Body tells me no/

But I won’t quit /

Cause I want more, cause I want more (Young the Giant- My Body)

I got the green light /

I got a little fight /

I’m gonna turn this thing around (Killers- Read My Mind)

I can change I can change I can change

I can change I can change I can change

I can change (LCD sound system- I Can Change)

Run fast for your mother; run fast for your father / 

Run for your children all your sisters and brothers /

Leave all your love and your longing behind. 

You can’t carry it with you /

If you want to survive (Florence And The Machine- Dog Days)

‘Cause we’re living at the mercy of /

The pain and the fear /

Until we dead it, Forget it, / 

Let it all disappear. (Linkin Park- Waiting for the End)

A little sweat ain’t never hurt nobody (Beyonce -Get Me Bodied)

So high the climb /

Can’t turn back now/

Must keep on climbing up to the clouds /

So high the climb Can’t turn back now /

Must keep on climbing up to the clouds (No Doubt- The Climb)

You know a dream is like a river /

Ever changin’ as it flows /

And a dreamer’s just a vessel /

That must follow where it goes (Garth Brooks- River)

Even on a cloudy day,

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-/

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-/ 

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun (Cage the Elephant- Shake Me Down)

‘Cause I am a Superwoman/

Yes I am (yes she is) /

Still when I’m a mess, /

I still put on a vest /

With an S on my chest /

Oh yes, I’m a Superwoman / (Alicia Keys- Superwoman)

Yeah, I think I’ll be alright /

I’m working so I won’t have to try so hard/ 

Tables, they turn sometimes /

Oh, someday… / 

No, I ain’t wastin’ no more time (The Strokes- Someday)

Scars remind us /

That the past is real /

I tear my heart open / 

Just to feel/ (Papa Roach- Scars)