Fitness & Wellness

 Is Sugar Ruining Your Health

 Is Sugar Ruining Your Health

Is sugar ruining your health? The answer lies in how much sugar you eat and in what form. Do you eat processed foods? Are soft drinks the main way you hydrate? Is a candy bar your favorite mid afternoon snack? Some sugar is healthy. Lactose, sugar from milk products can be healthy. Fructose, the sugar from fruit also can be healthy. It’s only healthy when it comes in its natural container, fruit. Unfortunately, manufacturers have found a way to produce HFCH—high fructose corn syrup—and that it’s an inexpensive way to add sweetness and flavor to the foods they sell, so now it’s in everything. That means that the average American is loaded with sugar and that excess is what affects your health.

Sugar is addictive.

While there’s lots of argument among scientist as to just how addictive sugar is. Some scientists equate it to the addiction to opiates and cocaine or act as a gateway drug to alcohol and controlled substances. The article written by authors from the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas, James J DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist and James H O’Keefe, a cardiologist stated that sugar has many of the effects of cocaine and other addictive substances, triggering the reward and pleasure area in the brain, altering mood and leading to the intake of even more sugar. While other scientists refute the animal study, one thing is certain, when you eat sugar it whets your appetite for even more. It spikes your blood sugar levels and leaves you hunting for anything sweet a few hours later when that spike drops to rock bottom. It also releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain, which can also make it very addictive.

Sugar consumption leads to obesity.

Obesity has now surpassed smoking as the leading cause of preventable death. Not only does sugar add extra calories with no extra nutrients, it has an effect on the body that promotes fat accumulation. This effect comes from a specific type of sugar, fructose. Unlike glucose, the simplest of all sugars, fructose doesn’t trigger activity in the area of the brain that tells the body it’s had enough to eat. It also doesn’t cause the hormone ghrelin to lower. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. You’ll eat more and feel less satisfied when you consume products with fructose and HFCS is in about everything today.

Even though it was hypothesized long ago, people scoffed at this idea until now.

Until recently, saturated fat has been blamed for cholesterol problems, even though the potential of sugar being the problem was revealed as long ago as 1972. British professor of nutrition named John Yudkin wrote a book called Pure, White and Deadly stating that it was actually the evidence led directly to sugar. Not only did the food industry set out to destroy his reputation, they joined forces with prominent nutritionists of the time and it worked. Today, we know that sugar, not fat has more potential to trigger heart disease and diabetes. After all, saturated fat was a staple in diets in the past, but until the 1920s heart disease was relatively unknown. When sugar became a popular additive to all foods, it began to increase. The same is true for diabetes.

  • Sugar is a prominent cause of tooth decay.
  • Sugar boosts insulin levels and that can be a major contributer to cancer.
  • Sugar can trigger and promote inflammation, which contributes to a number of different health issues.
  • Sugar suppresses the immune system and leave the body subject to a host of diseases and conditions.

What's Your Holiday Fitness Plan

What’s Your Holiday Fitness Plan

If you’re dreading the holidays because you know you’ll be exhausted, exercise less and eat like there’s no tomorrow, you can avoid all that with a holiday fitness plan. Your holiday fitness plan should include not only times to exercise scheduled in, but also options for exercise. You should plan ahead for those parties where every bite you take is a full day’s worth of calories! When you have a plan of action, you’ll be more likely to slide through the holidays without gaining a pound and maybe even losing one or two.

Put your workout on your calendar.

Make your workout an appointment, but have a backup plan. If you have it as an appointment, you’ll postpone a shopping trip and go to the gym more readily than you would if you don’t. There are some things that take priority. If you receive a note from school about your child’s play at the last minute and it’s during exercise time, the play takes top priority because family always comes first. That’s where your backup plan comes into play. Have a workout for home you can do in the morning before your day starts. Resistance bands are great for home workouts and they’re inexpensive and store easily.

Get the kids involved with your workout.

Everything is hectic and sometimes those we love most get left out because we’re trying to do more for them. When you’ve spent the day preparing for the holidays, plus work and family, you need to take a breather. It’s time to play an active game with the kids, go outside for a walk to see Christmas lights or even workout together. They’ll enjoy it and you’ll get a workout too.

Plan ahead for the big dinners.

Eat a little less the day before and after the holiday, but don’t starve yourself. You can eat later breakfast right before you leave for dinner, so you don’t gobble down everything in sight. If you’re making the meal, have healthy snacks to nibble on while you’re cooking. If you have a choice of plates and the dinner is buffet style, use the smaller plate. Expect to overeat and don’t deny yourself a piece of dessert, just remember portion control and go back to healthy eating the next day.

  • Fill up on greens, salads or veggies at the dinner table. Get a double helping of vegetables and say no to the dinner rolls.
  • Drink a glass of water before the meal to fill you up.
  • Plan a walk with the family after dinner. Most people will appreciate moving around and you won’t be tempted to nibble longer.
  • Stack the freezer with meals ahead of time so you won’t be tempted to stop at “Quickie Burger” for the family dinner. Reheating is also far faster than waiting in the drive through line.

Do You Need A Break?

Do You Need A Break?

There are two reasons that you might need a break from your workout. The first is that you haven’t given your body adequate time for recovery between sessions and it’s taken its toll. You’re out of sorts, cranky, exhausted and running on empty. Instead of busting stress, the workout is creating it and leaving you feeling worse afterward. You need at least one to two days of rest with no heavy exercise so your body has a time to mend.

If you’ve hit the wall, give yourself permission to take it easy for a day or two.

Instead of doing your normal routine, spend the time walking in the park, away from the gym. You can do stretches or other flexibility exercises that won’t task your body, but it does need rest. Burn out is the quickest way to end an exercise program, so take this time off so you can come back refreshed and ready to go.

If you have pain, not just aches, you need to take time to investigate the cause.

You’ll notice the difference between pain and aches. One is unbearable. I had a wrist injury that took months to heal when I first started out because I didn’t give that muscle a chance to heal. I kept pushing through thinking it was just minor, until I could take the pain no longer. It took months before I could do the movement without pain even after resting. Stop when you feel pain. Normally, it will be in just one muscle group, so you can switch to a different type of exercise and give those muscles a rest.

You may not hate all exercise, just the ones you’re doing.

That’s typical if you’re working out at a box gym where you go from machine to machine and possibly do a few body weight exercises or lifts. It’s time to add some variety to your workout. That’s why I love mixing workouts with kickboxing. Kickboxing is a complete exercise but it’s fun. If you workout one day and kickbox the next workout, you’ll get good results but you won’t get bored. Vary your workout or it will turn to drudgery. Remember, active sports and dancing are good exercise too.

  • When you start to notice you’re not focused, take a day off and go for a brisk walk. You’ll get the exercise you need and come back to the gym renewed.
  • Work with a personal trainer who will vary your workouts and make sure you do enough to get maximum benefits, but not so much as to leave you burnt out.
  • Change things up a bit and go to the gym with a partner. It makes it more social and more fun.
  • See a doctor if you have chronic pain from working out or can’t shake that tired, exhausted feeling even after a rest from the gym.

It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done

It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done

If you’re grossly out of shape or overweight, it may seem like too big of a goal to tackle. You must remember, it always seems impossible until it’s done. It can be done taking it one step at a time, which is why you need to break the goal down to mini goals that are not only less intimidating, but get faster results. You have to focus on smaller steps. Babies don’t just jump up and run across the room. They first crawl, then stand aided, next unaided and finally take a few steps. It takes babies 18 to 24 months to learn to run, yet they don’t give up because they never learned to feel defeated or overwhelmed.

Start with your big goal and break it down to smaller ones.

Big goals are exciting, at least for a short time. Then you consider accomplishing them and it looks almost impossible to do. You need to break those goals down to manageable steps that are easier to tackle and which reveal the results quicker so they’re not only less intimidating, you get the motivation of accomplishing them sooner. A weight loss goal of 100 pounds could be broken down into 10 lb every five weeks goals or even 4 pounds every two weeks. Both are good and occur quick enough to be motivating.

Get a plan of action.

The plan of action is the most important part. It’s the baby steps to help you along the way until you can run. One of the most important parts of a trainer’s job is to create this plan of action. Your most important part is to follow it. Know that if you stick to this plan, you’ll see the results you want. Your main focus should be on the plan not the results and while you’re doing, just trust that the results will arrive. One reason I love kickboxing is that it changes your focus on the activity, not the weight loss.

Ways to boost your results.

You can ask for some “extra credit” assignments that don’t take place in the gym. The assignments may include taking a brisk walk daily, using the stairs and not taking the elevator or carrying several bags of groceries to the car rather than using a cart. (You need plastic bags or cloth bags with a handle you can hang over your arm to do this. Paper bags are just too awkward.) Living an active lifestyle outside of the gym gets you into shape faster.

  • Throw away the remote and start changing those channels by hand…better yet, get active and don’t watch TV at all.
  • Have fun and accomplish your goal. Weight loss is more than looking good, it’s feeling good and enjoying life, too. Don’t wait until those pounds are off to have fun. Take up a sport, go out dancing or come on in and kickbox and you’ll forget how intimidating the goal is and just have fun.
  • Keep your focus on your workout and healthy eating. You can control that directly. The number of inches you lose or pounds you lose are only indirectly controlled.
  • Don’t weigh yourself every day. It’s a huge mistake that can lead to discouragement.



No matter what you choose to do in life, you must follow a system that allows you to access new opportunities. The way that you go about chasing your goals should be strategic. I say that because I know people who have succeeded in something strictly in a serendipitous way. They fell into it and had no idea they were about to become successful. While it’s great and works sometimes, ultimately, the results are not really what they were searching for in the first place. Setting goals in life require you identify the actual goal first. Then you start the steps to reach it.

Create the goal, then take a long look at it.

You really can accomplish anything you set your mind to do if that’s what you want. There’s always a price to pay for everything and you have to be willing to pay the price. You must have a solid understanding of what it takes to get there before you begin. If you want to be an attorney, you have to decide if you are willing to give up the time to classes and study for several years to reach the goal, only to work hard to start a practice or get a well paid job. If you want to lose 20 pounds and several clothing sizes, you have to make sure you’re willing to pay the price of the energy and commitment it takes to working out and the effort it takes to change your eating habits. Of course, if you don’t, there’s also a price to pay down the road.

Don’t give up on your goals.

When you accept the challenge you are in for the long haul. For a fitness goal, it isn’t for one day or one week. It should be for a lifetime. Of course, for many people reaching the goal will end the journey. When you commit for a lifetime, it becomes a lifestyle change. To make this less daunting, commit to the goal and reevaluate once you reach it.

You’ll succeed when you do the first two.

Even though success is important, the journey to it is just as important. The ability to commit to a goal is as or even more important than the outcome of success, because success will occur when you make a firm decision and commit. Of course, the successful completion of the goal makes it all worthwhile and drives you tackle even more difficult tasks.

  • When you don’t make a firm decision about achieving a goal, your just making a wish.
  • Commitment to a goal means you won’t let anything stop you from carrying out the steps to reach the goal.
  • Sometimes, no matter how committed you are, something stands in the way of your success. It doesn’t take away from your plan or commitment, it just means you have to evaluate the steps to reach it and make adjustments.
  • When making a decision, if you say, “I’d like to do X” rather than “I will do X,” you haven’t made the decision you need to succeed.

Suck It Up So You Don't Have To Suck It In

Suck It Up So You Don’t Have To Suck It In

I’m an avid people watcher. I enjoy watching how people interact and try to figure out how close they are and how genuine they are. I always have to laugh at men with paunches who immediately pull in their stomach when approached by an attractive woman. In one case, I swear the guy was going to pass out trying to keep that tummy sucked in for more than the minute or two conversation. That’s where getting fit is at its best. Had the man been fit, there would be no need to work that hard, because he already would have put in the work to flatten his abdomen. You have to suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in at other times.

It’s not forever.

Seriously, I’m not making light of how difficult getting fit can be. The workout will wear you out, particularly in the first few weeks, but it’s hard just for 45 minutes to an hour and not constantly. Work to get past the difficulty and know it will get easier each time you do it. Focus on five minutes at a time. That means you work toward your maximum for five minutes. Give yourself a bit of a rest and go at it again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to go ten minutes, then far longer.

Work hard and then go back to step one to see how you did.

I love to show people how far they’ve come. Since the workout becomes increasingly more difficult, sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’ve made any progress. Here’s where tracking becomes important. At the end of the first workout—or any workout for that matter—identify what the hardest task in the exercise was. Be specific. If it had to do with weights, list the weight amount of weight and number of reps. If was an endurance exercise, note the exercise and length of time. In two to three weeks go back to that step and do it again. You’ll be amazed at how you progressed.

Is the weather too hot or too cold to leave the house?

If you’ve ever missed your appointment for a workout because the weather was rainy and cold you’re sabotaging your success and being a bit of whimp. Not working out because of the weather, you’re too tired, you’ve had a stressful day or you want to see the end of a TV program won’t get you to your goal. The children’s Christmas Special, “Santa Clause Is Coming to Town,” has the perfect song to represent making a change. It’s called “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” While it might sound silly, when I’m faced with a difficult task, it runs through my head and I get started.

  • Don’t let a small setback get you down. If you can’t accomplish the entire challenge of the exercise, do as much as you can and try again the next day and the next until you can.
  • The workout should be hard to do. If it’s not, you need to talk to your trainer to make it more challenging.
  • Tell yourself every time you’re struggling that you’re getting better and better. It helps.
  • Learn to enjoy the feeling of waking up muscles that have been asleep for years.

Results Happen Over Time Not Overnight

Results Happen Over Time Not Overnight

Whether you’re painting a room, growing a garden or honing your body to perfection, it’s easy to want to rush the final outcome, but it all takes time. That’s especially true when you want to sculpt your body toward the perfect you. You have to remember, results happen over time not overnight. However, there are other ways to mark improvement and change than just the final product. These will keep you motivated until you do lose the 30 pounds, replace fat with muscle or achieve whatever your final goal is.

Congratulate yourself on smaller gains.

It may take a while for your body to respond to your efforts enough for you to easily see the results, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get an “atta’ boy” along the way. Track your workouts, including notes on how you felt during the workout. You need to start with a benchmark measurement of a specific routine or movement. Were you out of breath after the first minute? Did you have the strength to lift a certain amount of weight? Test areas of flexibility and record the results. After working out two weeks, repeat your tests and record the results. You should see some big improvements.

Get an A for effort.

Unlike a participation ribbon, giving yourself credit for extra continual effort is actually important. If you work out to the max regularly, you deserve to get credit for the effort. You have to be honest with this one or it won’t be a valuable tool. At the end of every workout, record the minutes you worked out—not including resting minutes—and how hard you pushed. Give yourself a three if it was extra hard, two for about average and one for simply going through the movements. Multiply the minutes by the number for your daily score. Get extra points for exercise or activities outside the gym. A fast paced 20 minute walk would give you 20 times your effort score. Try to increase your score every week.

Take a picture it lasts longer.

In this world of 1,000 daily selfies, there are actually good reasons to take a photo, besides just posting them on social media. Get a close fitting and more revealing workout outfit—specifically to measure your progress. Make it cheap because you may only use it for this purpose. Find a location in your home that has a piece of furniture or other item in it to get a prospective of your size. Find a location for the person taking the picture to stand that you can relocate easily to insure the distance is the same. Once a week or every two weeks, put on the outfit and stand on your mark with the photographing friend on theirs and have a picture taken. Use your phone and keep a log with the date and time of each picture. You could have your own version of the incredible shrinking man or woman as you lose weight.

  • Relate your improvement to every day tasks. Did you have to rest a while before tackling a second flight of stairs and now you can do two without a problem? Give your self a gold star.
  • Make the results suspenseful. Don’t weigh yourself, but use your “fat” jeans to tell you how you’re doing. Find a pair that you can’t zip up unless you lay on the floor and work toward being able to easily zip them while standing up.
  • Focus on healthy eating by learning one or two new recipes a week. Track the new recipes—but remember a side of chips or fries isn’t allowed. The whole meal plan must be healthy.
  • Be patient and follow the plan your personal trainer gives you. Know that it will work if you work it hard and do what it takes. Don’t worry about the results, just worry about the workout.

What Gets You Up In The Morning?

What Gets You Up In The Morning?

What gets you up and makes you look forward to a new day? If you’re dragging through the day, with one day like the next and nothing that gets you excited, it’s time to make a change. If you’re already a member and reading this blog, you probably know how much more enjoyable kickboxing is, over traditional types of workouts. It’s my love and I hope I bring the same excitement to others. I do see people looking forward to their time in the gym, which you don’t normally see at other types of workouts.

Do something that sparks excitement in your life.

Of course, I’m going to use kickboxing and exercising as an example, it’s my life’s work. When you workout, you burn off the hormones created by stress that can leave you feeling numb and depressed. As you work harder, your body tells your brain to create other hormones, ones that make you feel good. Eliminating stress hormones and boosting the “happy” hormones can lift your spirits. It can make all the difference in your outlook in life, giving you that spark of excitement that makes you look forward to each new day.

Get energized with exercise.

Sometimes, you’re simply too tired to care. That’s another way exercising and eating healthy helps. It won’t take long before you notice that tasks that took you an hour previously, now take far less time. You won’t feel as exhausted at the end of the day and have the energy to look forward to other activities. Even if exercising and kickboxing aren’t your thing, they can help provide you with the extra boost so you can find that special something.

Feel good about yourself as you tone up and shed pounds.

Feeling self-conscious can stop you from trying many new things, one of which may be that special something that makes you look forward to each day. Kickboxing is extremely good for building lean muscle mass and helping you to lose weight quickly. That can improve your self-image. It also gives you a sense of purpose as you learn each new move and a sense of accomplishment when you complete those perfectly, whether in the ring or not.

– There’s a great deal of comradery in kickboxing classes. Sometimes, that’s all you need to make the day a little brighter.

– You’ll build self-confidence and walk taller. Walking taller not only comes from the improved self-confidence, it also come from improved posture. Either way, you’ll build personal respect and learn how to defend yourself.

– I’ll help you learn how to eat healthier. It won’t be dieting. Healthier eating is a way of life, so the pounds you shed won’t return.

– If you fall in love with kickboxing, like I did, you’ll find there’s always something more to learn and always ways to improve. It can be the “get-you-up-and-out-of-bed” solution you’ve hoped to find.

Simple Diet Mistakes

Simple Diet Mistakes

If you’re having problems losing weight, you may be making some simple diet mistakes. There are so many fallacies and misinformation in the world of healthy eating, you can’t help but believe one or two. Losing weight isn’t easy, but some people make it far more difficult by skipping meals to save calories or starving themselves to lose weight. Of course, those skipped meals build the appetite to ravenous proportions and then too many calories are consumed. Starvation diets can actually slow the metabolism, making weight loss harder.

Rigid restrictions or a whole day of cheating can slow your progress.

It goes both ways, sticking to a restrictive diet, no matter how healthy or letting yourself have an unrestricted cheat day, can be equally devastating to your weight loss efforts. A cheat doesn’t mean you start cheating and eating everything in sight from the moment you wake up until the time you go to bed. Instead, it means having one serving of your favorite foods that you can’t normally eat. There are benefits to having a cheat meal. Check out the blog on the benefits of a cheat meal.

Even if food is a healthy choice, you can’t always eat unlimited amounts.

Some foods, like nut butters, are good for you. However, they’re higher in calories. There are limitations on the amount you should eat. Seriously, some of those are delicious, but if you spread a half jar of cashew butter on several apples throughout the day and eat it for snacks, you’re going to gain weight. Fruit is also good for you, but if you replace all veggies and only eat fruit, you’ve made another mistake. Fruit is high in sugar and gives you a big boost. It also causes a huge crash. Too much fruit makes your blood sugar fluctuate dramatically. Eat it with protein and fat….like cashew butter….just not in excess.

Limiting the kind of vegetables you eat and cooking them wrong.

Of course, you know that eating veggies is good for you, but not if it’s just potatoes…in the form of potato chips. You need a wide selection of colors and types of vegetables AND the way they’re prepared is extremely important. If you must cook them, steam, broil or grill them. You can also use them in soups, since the nutrients are left in the water for the soup.

– Skipping breakfast is a huge mistake. It can jump start your metabolism for the day. One study showed that when you eat is just as important as what you eat.

– Weighing yourself too often is not only a big mistake, it can also be quite discouraging. In order to see how much you really lost, you need to weigh just once a week or once every two weeks.

– Doing the same workout routine. If you don’t change your workout frequently, you’ll plateau. The body becomes too efficient at doing specific moves and burns fewer calories.

– Failure to plan ahead. At first, particularly when you’re first learning to eat healthy. It takes planning. Planning meals, grocery shopping and snacks can keep you on the right path.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Learn From Your Mistakes

When Thomas Edison was asked about the 10,000 failures he had before he created the incandescent bulb, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You can equate mistakes with that quote and learn from your mistakes. When you make a mistake, don’t despair. Pick yourself up and start over, making adjustments. It’s easy to learn when you make a mistake when you kickbox. Your opponent takes advantage of it and you end up paying for that error. Practice, learning to make countermoves all require you to do something and remember that move that didn’t work, so next time you know what not to do.

You’re not doing anything challenging if you don’t make at least one mistake.

While I have some extremely good students who learn very quickly and absorb all the comments and techniques, even they make mistakes occasionally, especially when they’re learning something new. If you remain static, you’ll never make a mistake, but you’ll never grow and evolve either.

Consider the mistakes of the past when it comes to weight control.

Losing weight is hard, but you can do it. When you learn the healthier way of eating, always compare it to the diet that put the weight on in the first place. Were you grabbing fast food and eating on the run? Did you skip meals and then gorge on high calorie foods? There are a number of habits that people develop and foods they become accustomed to eating that made weight gain inevitable.

Never say never.

You may not have been able to lose weight, stick with an exercise program or get back into shape before, but that doesn’t mean you can never do it. You just haven’t found the right motivation, program help or guidance. Too often people believe that their past dictates their future. Rather than learning from mistakes of the past, they give up completely. YOU CAN SO WHATEVER YOU SET YOUR MIND TO DO.

– One of the nicest things about our program is that everyone is supportive and believes that in order to learn, you have to make a few mistakes.

– Once you learn to grow from the mistakes you make, rather than use them to block growth, that transfers to other areas of your life to help you be more successful.

– While everyone has some limitations, those shouldn’t stop you from trying…AND SUCCEEDING! We’ll believe in you until you can believe in yourself.

– While dwelling in the past won’t help you, noting the mistakes you made and learning how to avoid them will. Don’t let a lot of time pass before you analyze those slip ups and learn how to overcome them. You’ll forget many details and spend too much time in regret.