Thursday, March 29, 2012

Top 4 Ways to Start an Exercise Program to Lose Weight

Many people are at a loss as far as how to start a consistent exercise program.  So the purpose of this post is to give you the top 4 ways that I’ve found to start an exercise program from scratch.

  1. Do it yourself – either at home or in a gym.  This is what I did.  Having been a track athlete in High School and a walk-on football player in college (albeit for one semester), I knew about working out.   I did some google searches & youtube searches.  I ended up doing circuit training weight lifting workouts, which I will talk about in a separate post.
  2. Hire a personal trainer.   Again, if you don’t know where to start, that’s where a personal trainer comes in.  There are a variety of personal trainer options available.  Now-a-days, you don’t have to meet with a personal trainer face-to-face!  There are several products online, as well as downloadable apps that do this for you!  Examples include Fitbit and Cyberfit360!
  3. Join a bootcamp.  Bootcamps typically combine cardio, weight training, and circuit/interval training which is considered the best way to lose weight (more about how I’ve done this in later posts).  I go to a free bootcamp in my home town 2x per month.  Oh – that’s another tip: Many bootcamps offer at least 1 free session!
  4. Purchase an exercise program!  My faves are: any program that involves kettlebells (KettleWorx and RKS), P90X (which I’ve done some of their exercises that are posted on youtube as part of some of my circuit training workouts), and the INSANITY WORKOUT  (I've also done some of their exercises that I found on youtube).

#1 Tip for Faster Weight Loss

Well, here it is!  My #1 tip I found for faster weight loss: weight lifting!  Why, because weight lifting sped up my metabolism.   I also combined weight lifting with a cardio component, which I’ll discuss in a future post.

There are numerous articles on the internet that talk about this.  Here's one article that provides an overview about weightlifting for weight loss.

Here is an excellent article that talks about how weightlifting helps you lose body fat, and alters your body composition.  Note:  This applies to men & women!

The Role of Eating Habits in Weight Loss 

Have you seen any of those exercise infomercials?  Every single one of them has some type of diet plan or eating habits plan in addition to the workout.  Why, because they know that if there’s no control in your eating, you won’t lose the weight.

Looking back, I see that’s what happened with me – my eating habits were conducive to losing weight! [Duh! I already lost 30 pounds before exercising! LOL!]

So that is my advice to you.  Make sure your eating habits are conducive to losing weight.   Otherwise you may experience the yo-yo effect (lose weight/gain it back). 
My hope is that you would see similar results if you do what I did.  Alec Baldwin avoided sugar and started exercising & he saw similar results!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Guess It's Time to get on a Scale!

I've had a lot of people tell me that I've lost weight recently, including my workout partners!  I guess they might be right - all of my clothes are loose.

I think I might weigh in the 180's.  If I'm in the low 180's, that means I'm nearing the 100 pound loss mark!

I don't have a scale, so I'll have to find one - LOL!

So when I weigh myself, I'll let y'all know the results!

P.S.:  I've been super-busy lately, so the posts had slowed down.  But I have a lot of things in the works!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breakfast of Champions!

Well, okay, maybe not.

But I decided to "earn" this breakfast by having an intense workout this morning.  Now, I'm in Phase #3 of my weight loss.  So I don't workout to lose weight - strange as that may sound to some.  I workout for a purpose.

And now, my purpose for workouts is to build/enhance power and explosion.  I'm jumping ahead of myself, the nuts and bolts of that statement will be discussed when I get to Phase #3 in the blog.

My workout lasted about 45 minutes.  I think I do what some call "interval training."

My workout consisted of a warm up, then 5 stations where I perform "supersets."  A superset is where I do 1 exercise immediately followed by another.

I allocate 5 minutes per station.  The goal is to do as many supersets in 5 minutes as possible, with the goal being 3 sets minimum per station.  When the 5 minutes are up, I take about a 15 second break or so and go to the next station.

Here was the workout:

  • Warm-up:  1/2 mile on the treadmill in about 4 minutes, followed by stretching, then into supersets described below.
  • Station #1:  Jump rope (5 sets of 50) supersetted with 5 sets of 20 situps.  On even sets of jump rope, jump on 1 leg, alternating legs on every 10 jumps.
  • Station #2:  Stiff Leg Deadlifts supersetted with alternating lunges (I did these while holding a 25 lb weight)
  • Station #3:  Bicep curls supersetted with tricep curls with a curl bar (I actually added this at the last minute because my next station was being used at the time
  • Station #4:  Inverted rows (I did this one resting my feet on a bench) supersetted with fishtails.  Fishtails: remain in the push-up position and jump your legs from side to side, 10x each side = 1 set.
  • Station #5:  Burpees.  I was only able to do 2 sets in 5 minutes.
  • Station #6:  Elevated side plank dumbbell reach (note: it's similar to this exercise on youtube, except I'm elevated b/w 2 benches); supersetted with bench jumps.  I was only able to do 2 sets in 5 minutes.
  • Cool down with stretching.
And here is my breakfast reward:

Steak (left over from yesterday's dinner), herb scrambled eggs (seasoned with basil & pepper) cooked in extra virgin olive oil, and orange slices!  Yum!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Xcellent Dinner Idea!

I may have to join Pinterest.  I saw a great "pin"  on my Facebook page that read: "Eat Right Rule: If your food can go bad, it's good for you!  If it can't go bad, it's bad for you."

I thought of that when I went to Sprouts (one of my favorite stores) and bought some zucchini and yellow squash that were on sale for 99 cents/pound.

I had some top round steak that was thawed out & needed to be cooked, so I threw together this dinner!

Here it is:

  • Broiled top round steak (seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning & thyme - no sugar in it of course)
  • Cut up and sauteed zucchini & yellow squash
This was the 1st time I had ever sauteed zucchini & yellow squash.  1st I diced about 1 tablespoon of onion and sauteed it with extra virgin olive oil in the skillet.

Then I added the cut up zucchini & yellow squash, and cooked it covered over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Oh yeah, for seasoning, a used a dash of season salt (no sugar in it of course), allspice, and basil.

After the squash was soft, I added a sliced tomato.

Let me tell you - it was very, very good!

Oh, and for "dessert" about an hour later:  I ate some raisins!

As I've said in a previous post, one of the benefits by default to avoid sugar & high fructose corn syrup was that I eat healthier!

Product Review: Mountain High Yogurt

I really like eating plain yogurt.  For me, it is a key staple for breakfast and/or dessert since I stopped consuming added sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

I have tried various brands of yogurt.  I have to admit, one of my absolute favorites is Mountain High Plain Yogurt.  I prefer the fat-free version, but sometimes the store is out of them.  When that happens, I buy the low fat version.  And if they're out of that, I buy just buy the Plain Yogurt.

Mountain High Yogurt is smooth and creamy.  I also like that it doesn't have that "sour" taste to it.

Of course, the other great thing about yogurt is that it has live and active probiotic cultures.  That is good for your digestive tract.  Mountain High has 5 of these active cultures.  I do know that there are some yogurt brands that have 8 active cultures.  Maybe that's a drawback to Mountain High - I don't know, that's not really something I pay attention to.

The other really cool thing about this product is the recipes on their website - which are categorized and easy to follow!

I definitely plan on trying some of these recipes.  Needless to say, the smoothies initially caught my eye! Obviously I will weed out those that involve added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, as well as artificial sweeteners.

There are also a lot of recipes on this website that provide excellent ideas for sugar/high fructose corn syrup replacement!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Peach Mango Smoothie Recipe

I did a track workout earlier this evening, had a nice post-workout meal (leftover baked chicken, raw broccoli, cut up tomato -  sorry no pic: didn't have my camera on me) and was ready to sit down and relax.

My bananas were getting a little ripe, and I had bought a couple of mangoes the other day (they were on sale), so I decided to make a smoothie!

Here's the recipe:

  • 1 sliced Medium - Large Banana (I like it a little ripe)
  • 1/2 of a cut up mango
  • 1/4 cup of sliced peaches (I used them from a jar that was packed in 100% juice - but fresh peaches - which are not in season right now, are great)
  • 1/2 can of 100%  frozen white grape juice from concentrate
  • About 3 and 1/2 cups of crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of plain yogurt ( I use pro biotic yogurt, preferably low fat or fat free)

  • Place white grape juice concentrate, crushed ice, and water in blender and blend until smooth
  • Add banana, mango, and peaches to blender, and blend until smooth
  • Add yogurt to blender, and blend until smooth

Makes about 3 - 16 oz servings

 And it tastes very good!  Side note: Smoothies are my favorite desserts!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ready for Phase #2 of My Weight Loss

My transition to Phase #2 from Phase #1 was really by accident.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I felt new energy when I was chasing my young daughter around and I realized I wasn’t tired.

My digestion improved – I didn’t have that bloated feeling anymore.  And of course, my cravings were under control – I didn’t have the late night 2nd meals anymore!

Not only that, I feel like I created healthy eating habits that will hopefully last a lifetime – and this occurred by default – as I said in a previous post!

So with this 2nd Phase, I’m going to introduce and talk about the #1 tip I found that enabled me to lose weight at a faster pace.

Sensa (TM) Diet Product Review

If you're wondering - "why is he reviewing a diet product - since he didn't diet?", I'll let you know later in this post - so please keep reading...

I had never really heard of Sensa until it came up on the first page when I googled  the words “lose weight without dieting” for my blog.  I decided to click on it and see what it’s about.  Before I tell you why I’m reviewing this product, I’ll briefly describe what Sensa is about.

According to Sensa’s website, Sensa is a product that looks like crystals (patented technology called tastants) that are sprinkled on food, and when ingested activates hunger centers in the brain to let you know that you’re full.  Hence the nickname “the Sprinkle Diet.”

With Sensa, a person is allowed to eat anything they want, but when they sprinkle the product on their food, the consequence is that they’ll eat less – since their brain is “tricked” into letting them know they’re full.  Sensa’s website offers a 30 day free trial, after that you sign up for auto-ship  for a 2-month supply of the product for $89.99. 

Why I’m Reviewing this Product

My number one reason for reviewing Sensa is this:  Sensa’s website cites a clinical study that the average weight loss is 30.6 pounds in 6 months.  I lost over 30 pounds in 4 months.  Plus, I didn’t have to buy a weight loss product for $90 (or $270 to try to match the results of their 6 month study) to accomplish that.

Another concern I have about Sensa is that people can eat anything they want – they just end up eating less.  But what if the food eaten is bad for you?  I mentioned in a previous post that one of the benefits I saw in Phase #1 of my weight loss was that I started eating healthier.  And this was by default, not be willpower!

My Conclusion

I’m sure this Sensa Diet has worked for some people.  But as I wrote in my 1st blog post, I have been complimented about losing weight the right way (and even stress free way).  And  I’ve kept it off, without buying weight loss products!

Vita Coco Coconut Water Product Review

My calves have been cramping near the end of my track workouts (sometimes in the middle of the workout too).  My training partners & I suspected that the culprit is not being hydrated enough.

Let me say that I am not a Gatorade drinker, because Gatorade has sugar in it.  Now I know there is a new Gatorade out without sugar, but that might be for another review.

I started hearing about how Coconut Water has way more potassium than bananas, and more than sports drinks.  Since coconut water is also “natural”, I decided to give Vita Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water a try.

Vita Coco comes in several flavors.  I had the Peach & Mango flavor.

Not only did it taste good, but it did not disappoint on the hydration aspect.  I drank some during my 10x 100 Meter workout.  In a typical workout, I would start cramping around the 6th 100 Meter.  But that didn’t happen this time!

I definitely plan on using Vita Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water more often.  This stuff isn’t cheap, so I may look at ordering it in bulk from Amazon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Motivation Reminder!

Sometimes you need to be reminded of your "why."  For example:  "Why am I losing weight?"

Well, here is my reminder!


And This!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dr. Oz and This Picture

I was reading an email today from Men's Health Magazine that talked about Dr. Oz's 25 Greatest Health Tips. 

Tip #13 is Lose the Beer belly!  The tip said to take a measuring tape around the body level of your belly button. So that's what I did:

Dr. Oz said the result should be less than half your height.  I'm about 5' 11" tall, so my waist should be under 35.5 inches.

Well looky there...if you can see it, the reading is just under 34.5 inches.  Woo Hoo!

Of course when I was at my "Sumo" weight, judging from my pants size back then (and my hanging stomach), this measurement would have been at least 44 inches!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Top 5 Benefits to Avoiding Sugar & High Fructose Corn Syrup in My Diet

This is probably the most important post for Phase #1 of my weight loss.  Here I will talk about the top 5 benefits that I realized from avoiding sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) during Phase #1 of my weight loss. 

The Benefits are summarized below.  The videos below expound on these benefits.

Benefit #1:  I drank a lot more water.  This was not by willpower, but by default, since the sources for sugar & HFCS were eliminated!

Benefit #2:  I ate less food.  Again, this was not by willpower, but because my body started to let me know when I was full, so I stopped eating.  No more late night cravings that I felt like I had to satisfy!

Video #1:  Benefits 1 & 2

Benefit #3:  I started eating healthier.  This was not by willpower, but by default, after eliminating the sources of sugar & HFCS.

Benefit #4:  I started losing weight.  I lost 30 pounds in 4 months without exercising! 

Again, this was by default, meaning, I wasn't monitoring my weight or anything.  The weight just started falling off - my clothes were getting too big!  Check out my Weight Management Timeline for Phase #1.

Also, click here to see my "Before & After" pics.

Benefit #5:  I had more energy.  Before starting Phase #1 of my weight loss, I would get tired walking up the stairs.  After Phase #1 of my weight loss, not only would I have energy going up the stairs, I would play with my young daughter & not get tired!

Video #2:  Benefits 3 - 5

Turns out these benefits also fit into the K.I.S.S. method - Keep it Short & Simple - where they happened by default, not by willpower.  If anything, the hardest part was making the initial decision to avoid sugar & HFCS, then figuring out what to eat & drink instead.

Hopefully, I've provided enough info on this blog about what to eat/drink instead of consuming items with sugar/HFCS in it. 

Click here for ideas to replace sugar & HFCS.  And remember to keep up with the blog for recipes ideas and other updates!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dinner Ideas Without Sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup

When it comes to dinner, I usually eat meat, vegetables, and sometimes a starch.  Of course, the main key is for what I eat to be free from added sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

I know there are some people that read that might be vegans or vegetarians, and that's fine.  I'm sure there's a lot of great stuff to eat that doesn't have sugar of HFCS in it.  If you have ideas, please share!

Here's examples of some recent dinners:

Pan-fried Pork Chop with spinach, broccoli and cut up tomato

The broccoli and spinach were actually leftovers from the previous day.  The vegetables were bought frozen.  

The pan-fried pork chop was made by seasoning it with a touch of season salt (no sugar in it of course), thyme, sage, and marjoram.  It was fried in about 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.

Baked Chicken breast with baked potato and broccoli/carrot/cauliflower mix

Broiled Chicken breast with spinach and baked potato

Of course, there are endless combinations with steak, fish, and even hamburger - although I don't eat hamburger very often.  The beauty about vegetables is there are lots of them, and they are good for you.  

Product Review: Think Thin Protein Bars

I discovered these bars one day after my track workout, when I went to the supermarket looking for some type of protein bar for recovery.  This was the only protein bar I found that did not have sugar in it.

Let me tell you this bar is flat out awesome!  Or to put it another way, it is da’ bomb!  This bar has 20 grams of protein in it, which is more than all the other protein bars that were sold in the supermarket, including the ones with sugar in it!

These bars taste good!  Oh, and did I mention that the bars are gluten free?  I know that is a concern to some.

My only purpose for eating this bar is protein recovery immediately after a workout – which is my recommended usage.  And it definitely fulfills this purpose!

There are different flavors.   My favorite is the White Chocolate, which is hard to find in stores.  Other popular flavors are Chunky Peanut Butter and Creamy Peanut Butter.  For the chocolate lovers, there’s  Dark ChocolateChocolate Fudgeand Brownie Crunch.  

I have found that is cheaper than buying these from the supermarket.   So click on the flavors above if you want to read more reviews and if you decide to purchase some. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Celebrity Weight Loss

In this Section, I will feature celebrities that have lost weight the same way (or similar) as me.  I say "similar" because most celebrities don’t go into the detail of “how they did it” like I’m trying to do on this blog.

The 1st one I’ll feature is Alec Baldwin.  He’s the guy in the Capital One Credit Card commercials, among other TV roles (30 Rock, etc.).  He lost 30 pounds in 4 months (which is what I did).

Read his story here.

Breakfast Ideas for Replacing Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

I hear a lot from people that they cannot give up sugar.  I also think that many people don’t realize that a lot of the food they eat has high fructose corn syrup in it.

I can relate.  The 1st thing that came to my mind was no more waffles or pancakes!  But rather than focus on the negatives (what I can’t eat), I chose to focus on what I can eat!

So like I said in a previous post, the key to Phase #1 in my weight loss was to find some replacement foods for sugar & high fructose corn syrup.  Take a look at this video of my suggestions.

Suggestions include:

  • Plain yogurt mixed with fruit – I usually do bananas + peaches, or strawberries, or mangoes, etc.  You could even put nuts in it.
  • Grits (sometimes even with eggs)
  • Scrambled eggs – eat with a tortilla.
  • Fruit:  Examples: cantaloupe, bananas, grapefruit, etc.
  • Cream of Wheat – Sometimes I sweeten it with pure maple syrup or honey.  Also like to season with nutmeg & cinnamon
  • Oatmeal:  I sweeten this like I sweeten Cream of Wheat.
  • Note:  I have not been a cereal eater, but there are cereals out there with neither no sugar nor high fructose corn syrup

So these are 7 ideas, enough to get you through the week.  What suggestions do you have?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar in Your Food: 2 Simple Steps

In keeping with my Phase #1 Weight Loss K.I.S.S.  (Keep It Short and Simple) theme, here are 2 simple steps that I found to avoid HFCS and Sugar in what I eat:

Step #1:  Learn to read food labels.

This is the key step!  Some manufacturers try to get hip with this and disguise sugar especially on the labels.  So if it also has these names sucrose, glucose, cane sugar, cane juice, dextrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, malt syrup, crystalline fructose in the label, I don’t eat it!  And sometimes I have to periodically refresh myself on the sugar disguise names!

Why I don't Eat Mayo!

Spaghetti Sauce!

 And of course, remember, if it has High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar in the ingredients, don’t eat it regardless of the calories, or whether it says “all natural,” etc.

Step #2:  Learn what to have as replacement foods. 

 I actually learned this the hard way as I wrote about in Initial Struggles.  I will be posting lots of ideas and foods that I eat as time goes on.  In the meantime, check out an example from the videos below.

Replacement Food Ideas!

So I followed these 2 steps, and the weight was falling off, without exercise!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

4 Unexpected Sources of Sugar

Like HFCS, refined sugar is in many items that we consume.  Common sources of sugar include:

Baked Mixes
This includes cakes, pancake mixes, muffin/cornbread mixes, etc.

Pancake Mix - Sugar on 4th line

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix - Sugar on 2nd line

This includes the obvious such as ice cream, pudding mixes, cake icing, etc.

Enough said.

There are many, many cereals sweetened with sugar, even those not thought of as being sweet cereals, like Kelloggs Corn Flakes.

Sugar is on the 1st line of Ingredients

Unexpected Sources of Sugar

Although unexpected, it is very common.  If you read about my Initial Struggles, I was very surprised to find sugar in crackers!

Club Crackers: Sugar is in the 4th line in the Ingredients

There is a push by some manufacturers to state on their product that it contains no high fructose corn syrup.  Well the problem is that it contains sugar.  Example condiments with sugar include salad dressings, ketchup, many spaghetti sauces, and mayonaise.

Sugar is in the 1st line of Ingredients

 Says it's rich in Omega 3 ALA but...

Sugar is located in line 3 of Ingredients!

All the fruit drinks labeled "fruit cocktail" have either sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup in it.  Some have reduced sugar, but they still contain sugar nevertheless.

Baked Goods
Bread, muffins, and bagels all fall under this general category.  Also, just because a baked good is low calories doesn't mean its free of sugar!

Sugar = Bad!

By sugar, I mean added sugar or refined sugar, not naturally occurring sugar in fruits.  If you google sugar and obesity, over 33 million results will come up.  It is no secret that our increased consumption of sugar has contributed to obesity.

There is a relation in our bodies between the amount of sugar consumed, the amount of insulin released from our pancreas, and the amount of fat stored because of the sugar consumption/insulin secretion.  It all adds up to weight gain and potentially other bad side effects (diabetes, etc.).

Some experts have even gone so far as to call for a tax on sugar (like alcohol) because of it's bad effects.

Like HFCS, I didn't know all the bad effects of sugar, just that in general it was bad for you.  I could see how all the sugar I ate help contribute to my sumo weight!

Friday, March 2, 2012

8 Common Sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a man-made sweetener from corn.  As I pointed out in a previous post, researchers have indicated that HFCS may be a cause for obesity.

HFCS is everywhere in what we consume on a daily basis!  Here are 8 common sources of HFCS:

HFCS is typically found in sodas and in bottled/canned juices.  A common place for soda consumption is at restaurants, particularly fast-food restaurants.  There are still some juices out there that are sweetened with HFCS, even though there seems to be a push by manufacturers to tone down HFCS in their products.  Of course many of these juices still have added sugar, which is another topic altogether.

This includes ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, honey Dijon mustard, etc.

"Sweet" cereals are particularly known to contain HFCS.

Enough said!

Commercial Baked Goods
Bread, muffins, bagels and pastries all fall under this category.  HFCS is also known to extend the shelf life of baked goods.  Also, many fast-food breads contain HFCS.

Frozen Desserts
This includes items like popsicles, frozen pies, etc.

Fruit Flavored Yogurt
Many people believe that just because it's yogurt, it's ok.  Well not in this case!

Bottled, Canned, or Jarred Foods
Under this category we'll lump syrup, some canned fruit (not in 100% juice), jelly, cranberry sauce, etc.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) = Bad!

When I started Phase #1 of my weight loss, I didn't know about the dangers of HFCS.  I just knew it was bad for you.

HFCS is a man-made sweetener made from corn and is 6x sweeter than cane sugar.  There are all kinds of detailed explanations about HFCS.  All I know is that it is found in the majority of the items that we consume on a daily basis.  [See some subsequent posts for examples.]

The other thing is that when you consume something with HFCS in it, your brain doesn't get a signal that you're full.  So as a result, you just eat and eat and eat.  You also feel hungry at times when you shouldn't be!  So you keep eating!  All of this helps explains how I got to my sumo weight!

By the way, one thing I forgot to mention was that at my sumo weight, I felt bloated and/or constipated after eating.  I hope that's not TMI! LOL!

Here's a good article about HFCS.  Here's a study conducted by Princeton on the dangers of HFCS.