About Me

I have been a teacher of fitness and health for thirty years. In 1989 I was certified for personal training with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine. I had a gym in Santa Barbara for eight years. Co-owned and created a spinning bike company which manufactured bikes for five years. Also I have worked with nutrition companies for twenty years. Along with many wonderful non famous people I have trained many celebrities, and members of the Royal Family. My own athletic past consists of long distance running, long distance cycling, cross country skiing, down hill skiing, rollerblading, hiking, sand running, track work, and weight training. I have authored two fitness columns in local papers, and have been writing this blog since January 2010.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reading Food Labels

Reading food labels are important if you want to be assured of getting healthy foods into your body. Most people know about the calorie count when reading food labels, but there is a lot more information for you on these labels if you are able to understand what they mean.

All food labels are based on a 2,000 to 2500 calories a day diet. This is an assumption that the average daily diet is 2,000 to 2500 calories a day. 

Knowing that our population is 66% overweight, and 33% of those are obese, helps us to understand that many people are not sticking to the 2000 to 2500 calorie a day diet that will help them to stay lean and healthy.

The average persons basal metabolism is approximately 1500 calories.  Label makers assume that you will add another 500 calories of activity, and that is how they come up with 2000 calories.  When 2500 calories is used, they assume that is for males.  Unfortunately our basal metabolism varies with age, activity level, and male or female status.  It would be difficult to lump everyone into the 1500 calorie a day basal metabolism and call it the norm.  If you are overweight, non active, and or older, your basal metabolism could be much lower.   


When you see a percentage of how much your daily values are such as sodium, fat, or fiber that is only correct if you are eating 2,000 calories a day.

You also need to note the serving size. If it says a 1 cup is a serving, and you have two cups, you need to double all the fact information on the label to apply to the amount that you ate. Usually serving sizes are very conservative, smaller than what many of us eat. So when it says 200 calories per serving, and you eat double the serving, you must double the calories that you are counting, along with all of the other info on the label.

If the fat percentage on a label reads more than 30 percent, it is not a healthy choice if you are trying to lose fat, especially if you are eating more than the serving size recommends.

If a label says "fat free" it has to by law have less than 0.5 grams per serving. If it says "low fat" it must comply with 3 grams of fat or less per serving. If it say "lean" it must have less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and no more than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

If the label says "light (lite)" it must have 1/3 or no more than half the fat of the higher calorie. higher fat version. Hopefully the higher version is not over the top with fat. When a label says "Cholesterol free", it must have less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol, or 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.

Your cholesterol intake should be under 300 milligrams in a day for a healthy diet. Your sodium intake should not go over 2400 milligrams in a day for optimum health results, and if you are over 50 they say it should be no more than 1400 milligrams per day.

When reading the ingredient list know that the ingredient that is listed first is what the product has the most of.  For instance in many processed cereals the first ingredient might be bleached flour, the second ingredient might be sugar. That means that this cereal has mostly bleached flour, (non nutritious) and sugar (also non nutritious) in it. Not a good choice if you are trying to be healthy and lean.

If you are reading the ingredient list and find words that you do not know, or cannot pronounce, it is probably not a good choice to eat. Many processed foods have preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavors and colorings, that you just should not eat if you are looking for healthy choices.

Natures foods do not need any labels. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh lean proteins, are assured to provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and amino acids that are pure of the negative health effects of processed foods.

Read your labels if you are eating processed foods to make sure that you are making healthy choices. You will find that many things that you have been eating, and thought were O.K., are simply not. Choose health by taking control of what you are eating. Educate yourself by reading the labels!

Wishing You Health and Happiness,




Monday, October 10, 2011

Cross Train for Better Results

Cross training is the best way to train if you want to lower your risk of injury, and keep boredom out of your exercise regime.     Cross training is using a variety of training methods to achieve your fitness goals.

You must do cardiovascular exercise along with strength training, and stretching to have a complete fitness program.  You can achieve more than one of these objectives by performing just one exercise.  For instance, if you are hiking in an area where there is steep terrain, you will not only receive benefits for cardiovascular exercise, but you will be getting strength training for your legs and butt as well.  You can find a spot to do a few sets of push ups along the way, and you have worked much of your body with this one hike.

Perhaps the next day you will decide to do some weight training, and cardio on the treadmill, concluding with a few yoga poses.  The following day you do a fast paced walk, followed by a stretch.  The day after that you do a bike ride, several minutes of plank exercise, and a floor stretch.  Take a kick boxing class, or a jazz dance class for your next day of exercise.  This is cross training.

Cross training not only helps you to avoid injury and boredom, it helps the body to keep from acclimating to one activity by using fewer calories and energy to do it.  Cross training confuses the body and doesn't allow this acclimating process to happen as easily.

There are only so many ways to train your bicep, shoulders and other body parts safely.  Sometimes we have to be O.K. with a certain amount of repetition when it comes to training the body.  Avoiding crazy "fad" exercises in the fitness world is a good idea most of the time.

Strength training can involve free weights, weight machines, the exercise ball, and resistance exercises like the plank.  Running, biking, hiking, rollerblading, skiing, gym machines, aerobic classes, swimming, and walking are exercises that work for cardiovascular training.  The key is to "like" the exercises that you are choosing.  If you are doing something that you really hate, you won't want to do it.  Find the things that you enjoy to create your cross training program.

 I recommend that you always hike with a friend, or friends, as it is safer to do so.  Many people are more motivated to exercise with somebody, rather than go it alone.  Find out what works best for you.  If you need a work out buddy, find a partner that is not going to flake out on you.  Make the commitment together to get into shape, and then keep each other accountable to your fitness schedule.

Cross training can make your exercise program much more enjoyable.  Lowering your risk of injury is a great plus.  This happens because your body is using different muscles, in different ways, and not overusing any particular muscle group.  Elite athletes sometimes experience injury due to the fact that they are performing the same sport or exercise over and over again, creating fatigue and weakness in areas of their bodies.  They must do this to be the best at their particular sport, but most of us do not need to over use our bodies in this way.

Create a cross training program for yourself to avoid boredom, and lower your risk of injury.  You will have better results and enjoy your workouts more when you add in variety.  It all adds up to being fit, healthy, and looking great! 

Wishing You Health and Happiness,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Have you ever heard of the saying, "You are what you eat"?  It is important to understand why you should be eating more of nature's foods, rather than eating processed, fast, or junk foods.  If your diet consists mostly of those types of foods, in relationship to "you are what you eat", you will have a body that is run on chemicals, preservatives, and food that has little to no nutritional value. 

We know that processed foods have chemicals, preservatives, white flour, white sugar, and most give us little to no nutrition. The number one reason we eat is to fulfill the need for nutrition in our bodies.  If you are eating foods that have no nutrition, you are defeating the purpose for eating.

If you think that fast food, junk food, and processed foods taste good, it is only because you have trained your taste buds to like that kind of food.  If you stopped eating those types of foods and just ate fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and mostly natures foods, you would find that eating junk food, fast food, and processed food, would not taste good to you.  We train ourselves to like the food that we eat most of the time.

Many restaurants and fast food places are mandated to show their fat gram and calorie count of the foods on their menus today.  It is amazing what has happened.  People who actually see how fattening and high in calories these foods are, end up choosing the lower calorie and fat choices on the menu.  These establishments have been forced to put healthier choices on their menus so that we have the choice to eat healthy or not. 

Seeing how many calories, fat, and sodium that are in the foods sold in fast food, or chain restaurants helps us to understand why we have 65% of our population over weight and 33% of adults who are obese.  We really need to understand what we are eating is literally killing us. 

It is not just calories that we are interested in, we also need to care about the quality of those calories. We need fat in our diets, but the kind of fat we ingest should come mostly from vegetables such as olive oil, avocado's, and nuts.  Fat from pasteurized butter and lean animal proteins should be eaten in moderation.

It takes 3500 calories to gain or lose a pound.  It is easy when choosing items from a fast food or chain restaurant to eat that many calories in one meal.  Most of us need somewhere between 1500 and 2500 calories for the day, depending on your sex, body fat percentage, activity level, and metabolism.  Eating 500 calories a day more than you burn will cause you to gain a pound in one week.

When reading the food labels on processed foods, you will find many ingredients that you may not be able to pronounce, and may have no idea what they are.  If we are what we eat, do you really want to eat ingredients that you are not sure what they are?  Not if you are looking to be healthy. Dr. Memhet Oz says, "If the ingredients on a label would not be in your pantry...don't eat it."

Remember that "You are what you eat" when you are choosing your foods.  If you are wanting to be healthy, lean, strong, feeling good, and looking good, choose natures foods for the bulk of your diet.  Then you can be proud of saying, "I am what I eat!".

Wishing You Health and Happiness,