Tag Archive: education

Hypothetical scenario:

You’re pregnant, and you have acne.  You go to your doctor’s office, wait a little bit, and the nurse comes out, “Registered Dietitian Joe-Bob is ready to see you!”  You kind of scratch your head, but decide to go back anyway.  Joe-Bob greets you with a smile on his face.  He says, “Hey, don’t worry about the acne.  I read on the internet that isotretinion clears it right up!”  Little does Joe-Bob know that this drug is known to cause birth defects.  Since you’re pregnant, that’s kind of a big deal. Continue reading

Principles for Application of This Book

Although everything presented in this book applies regardless of what your health or fitness goal is, there are going to be a few modifications due to your current health and fitness level and your priorities.  Your application of this information is going to be different if your main goal is to be able to walk up stairs without difficulty rather than wanting to gain twenty pounds.

The following is a simple algorithm for determining what you need to pursue and how to do it.

Step 1: Determine Where You Are

Now that you’ve decided to start a fitness program, you must understand what health level you are currently at.  This is determined by things like your age, your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, your blood sugar levels, your level of current activity, whether you smoke or not, your weight, and your family’s history of disease.

Before beginning an exercise program, you need to get clearance from a doctor.  Even if you think you’re healthy, there is always a chance that there is an underlying problem that you don’t know about.  The “American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine’s Health/Fitness Facility Pre-Participation Screening Questionnaire” is a good guideline.
The number one rule of health and fitness is to use your head.  If you’re going to take a risk by starting exercise without knowing your beginning health status, you’re literally putting your life in jeopardy.  Your chances of dying of a heart attack are much greater while exercising.  Although regular exercise will later decrease your chance of having a heart attack, you must be intelligent about progressing at a relatively slow rate in order to accomplish your primary goal: be healthy.  If you push too fast or even push at all with high blood pressure, there’s a chance your heart could rupture, and you could bleed to death.  I really don’t say this to scare you.  I simply say this because getting checked by a doctor is absolutely essential if you are unsure at all about your health.  It’s slightly inconvenient, but it may save your life.

Step 2: Determine Where You Want To Be

Regardless of your goal, we will always want to increase your motor control, probably increase your muscle mass, and probably decrease your fat mass.  However, you have to decide which of these three objectives is the most important to you at this time.

What’s your main motivation for choosing this fitness program?  If it’s to lose weight, you probably need to focus on increasing your muscle mass and decreasing your fat mass.  If you’re elderly or just coming out of physical therapy and want to be able to do activities of daily life again, you’ll need to work on motor control and increase your muscle mass.

Essentially, if you need to focus on activities of daily life, then we need to hone in on the types of exercises for activities of daily life.  We won’t neglect gaining muscle mass and potentially losing fat mass, but it’s not the focus.  We’ll probably keep your eating about the same.

If you need to lose weight, then we’ll focus on resistance exercise to build muscle mass in order to increase your metabolism.  On top of that, we’ll also focus on an appropriate level of cardiovascular training.  Exercises for activities of daily life will still be included, but they are not the main issue.  Rather than eating less, you will focus on eating more fruits and veggies.  These foods will help you still be able to eat the same amount, but they since they are low in calories and rich in fiber, they will make you feel full and lose fat.

If you need to gain weight, then we’ll focus on exercise to build muscle mass.  We’ll do enough cardiovascular training to keep your heart healthy, but it will be at the minimum we can get by with.  Exercises for activities of daily life will still be included, but they will not be the focus.  Lastly, you will eat more in order to provide the calories your body needs to create the extra muscle.  In order to do this, you’ll focus more on starchy vegetables and grains.  You need slightly more protein, but you won’t have much trouble getting it.

Step 3: Figure Out Your Short-term Goals

As far as getting there is concerned, you’ll have to take where you desire to be and break it down into smaller, step-wise goals. It is best to make goals for gaining or losing weight no more than two pounds per week.

Step 4: Develop a Plan for the Achievement of Your First Short-term Goal

Now, we’re into the meat of why this book was written.  First, we’ll go over direct application of nutrition.  Although each application is fairly simple, nutrition is probably the simplest.


Frankly, the application of nutrition information is as simple as following the five steps laid out earlier:
1. Plan Your Meals
2. Eat a Variety of Foods
3. Focus on carbohydrates (plant-based foods)
4. Limit Your Intake of Sugar and Fat
5. Don’t Worry About Protein

Now, the only things on top of that are

1. If you want to lose weight, then subtract about 250 to 500 calories out of your diet.
2. If you want to gain weight, then add about 250 to 500 calories into your diet.

Done.  That’s the essence of everything you need to know about how to apply today’s most current research in nutrition.  As long as you’re following these steps, you’re applying pretty much everything that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends.  Any further research on your part would be primarily to answer the questions of “Why should I eat this?” rather than “What should I eat?”.  Further inquiries should be started at http://www.eatright.org/

Resistance Training

Resistance training is any exercise that puts muscles under extra stress in order to make them adapt.  Also, since we have resistance training for muscle building and resistance training for activities of daily life, it is imperative to include both.

For the sake of simplicity and logic, we have broken down every exercise into pushing, pulling, or legs.  In addition, we have broken down every exercise into muscle building or activities of daily life.  In order to achieve optimal benefit for a beginner, the ACSM recommends training two or three days a week using 8 – 10 exercises with 8 – 12 repetitions and being sure to train the whole body at each session.

My take on that is if we are using 8 – 10 exercises, we should balance them evenly between legs, pushing, and pulling.  So, we’ll have three leg exercises, three pushing exercises, and three pulling exercises.  Also, I believe that for most people, a lack of muscle mass is a greater problem for their health than a lack of motor control.  This is because America’s population is two-thirds overweight and one-third obese.

Consequently, I believe it is most intelligent to focus on stabilized exercises for building muscle mass in order to increase people’s metabolisms.  With that in mind, it makes sense to dedicate two out of every three exercises for each muscle group to training for muscle mass.  So, if we take legs as an example, it makes sense to me to use two muscle-building exercises and one activities of daily-life exercise.  Such a creation would be something like this:

Exercise 1.  Muscle-building focus.  Squats.
Exercise 2.  Muscle-building focus.  Dumbbell Front Squats.
Exercise 3.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Anterior reaches.

And then, we’ll apply that model to pushing and pulling as well.  We’ll train the whole body at each session, use three exercises for each muscle-group (pushing, pulling, and legs), and of those three exercises, two will be muscle-building focused and one will be activities of daily-life focused.

However, there will be instances where people need to focus more on learning motor control than they need to focus on muscle-building.  A lot of these instances are elderly individuals, rehabilitation patients, and high-level athletes who already have all of the muscle mass they want.

Although the high-level athletes won’t fall under the category of “beginner”, so they would be training more days using more advanced methods, I still think the principle of focusing more on motor control will benefit them.  As far as the elderly and rehabilitation patients go, we would still use the same template of two or three days a week, 8 to 10 exercises, and one set of each with 8 to 12 repetitions.  However, this time we’ll make it more motor control/activities of daily life focused than muscle building focused.  So, two exercises out of each series of three will be focused on activities of daily life and one exercise will be focused on muscle building.  For example:

Exercise 1.  Muscle-building focus.  Squats (add weight once they have mastered their body weight).
Exercise 2.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Single-legged Squats (as much as they can. Even if that means just standing on one leg without any movement at the hip or knee).
Exercise 3.  Activities of daily-life focus.  Anterior reaches.

Cardiovascular Training

The application of cardio essentially boils down to three things.

1. Start out conservatively!  Err on the too easy side rather than the too hard side.  If you start at walking slowly for twenty minutes, that’s fine.

2. Increase your duration before you increase your intensity.  In order to progress as safely as possible, you should increase how long you walk before you increase how fast you walk/jog/run.

3. Focus on total fat burned rather than percentage of fat burned.  All of the talk about a “fat burning zone” is simply based on percentages.  So, yes.  Walking slowly does burn a higher percentage of fat than walking quickly does.  However, do you care about what those percentages are or do you just want to lose the most fat you can safely lose in a given amount of time?  If you want to lose the most fat you can, you need to work at a level that is relatively difficult for you.  This will also give you heart benefits as well in order to substantially decrease your risk of heart disease.

For the rest of “The Simplified Science of How to be Healthy” go here.

Goal-Setting for Health and Fitness

After a firm understanding of how to achieve health and fitness is attained, one must then progress to being able to translate that understanding into a plan of action by setting and achieving goals.  The following are a few goal-setting guidelines.

1. The goal must be specific and objective.

There is no way around this.  An ambiguous goal will always stay an ethereal concept that cannot be tangibly reached.  As a result, you can never truly tell if you have achieved it or not.  Your goal must be something that a hundred people can look at and all agree that it has been done.  This means that “get in better shape”, while admirable, is too vague to be of much use.  However, “lose three inches around my waist” is specific and objective.  Every person who sees that you wrote in your journal that your waist was 40 inches in January and now it’s 37 inches in April can see that you have actually lost three inches around your waist.

This also means that in order to understand if you have truly achieved your goal, you must be making some sort of record.  Measuring your waist and writing it down on your calendar/journal/computer will only take a few minutes.  Find a way to be sure that you know what you want to achieve and that you can measure how far you’ve come in an objective manner.

2. The goal must be realistic.

Unfortunately, marketers of many health products tell us that if we don’t lose twenty pounds in the first month, we’re doing something wrong.  The truth of the matter is that according to Mayo Clinic and the AND, a weight loss of one to two pounds a week is optimal.  This is because you have to burn 3,500 calories in order to burn a pound of fat.  That means that in order to lose one pound of fat a week, you have to somehow be burning 500 calories more per day than you eat.  So, if you do the math, that’s 1,000 calories per day if you want to lose two pounds of fat in a week.  If any weight is lost in excess of that, it’s likely to be carbohydrate stores in the body, water weight, or muscle mass.  Because of that, any attempt at weight loss should never exceed two pounds of fat loss per week. Continue reading


The basics of nutrition are simple.  Here are the five main principles according to Miami Dade College professor Tim Patton.  I’ve added my own commentary on each, though.

1. Plan Your Meals

This is primarily because a lot of our eating is done without thinking.  This action will bring meal-planning to its proper level of thought, and we will be able to truly understand just how much of what we are eating.

In addition to that, this is to make sure that we aren’t someone who has no breakfast, has a small lunch, and eats a big dinner.  Those people wreck their metabolism because they starve their body when they need energy and then they give their body a feast when they don’t need any energy.  It’s always best to operate under the principle of feeding your body in preparation for the activity you’re about to do.

So, since your breakfast gives your body the fuel for your morning activities and your carbohydrate reserves are likely to be low since you haven’t eaten all night, it’s rational to eat a fairly large breakfast.  Then, since your lunch gives your body the energy for all of your afternoon activities, it makes sense to eat a moderate lunch.  Lastly, since your dinner is only giving you energy for the last few hours of the day, and most people aren’t very active after dinner, it makes sense to eat a small dinner so that you aren’t giving your body a lot of extra fuel to store during your sleep.

2. Eat a variety of foods

On a personal note, I have tried just about every diet out there before I took my first college nutrition class.  After I took General Nutrition and Sports Nutrition, I finally understood that a lot of what I had done before was ridiculous. Continue reading

Lisa’s Cardio

Cardiovascular training is an essential part of any exercise program.  The choice to ignore it is an ignorant one that I have been largely guilty of.  In fact, after my high school sports were over, I largely ignored cardiovascular training because I simply don’t enjoy it.  Then, I met Lisa and it’s her favorite thing since sliced bread, so I did cardio with her.  Now I do it because I want to keep my heart and arteries healthy.

As you can tell, I’m not much of a cardio guy.  Because of that, I asked Lisa to guest-author this part.

Cardiovascular Training

Put simply, cardiovascular training is anything that trains your heart and lungs to perform optimally.  So, the result of it is a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and better cholesterol levels.  Also, it seems to work well in decreasing insulin resistance and therefore decreasing your risk of diabetes. Continue reading

How to Resistance Train

Because of the pros and cons of training for muscle mass vs. training for activities of daily life, we must use them both in order to achieve the most benefit.  Since the concept of training for muscle mass is typically more familiar to most individuals, we’ll use that as our starting point.

However, I need to point out that this writing is almost entirely conceptual.  I’ll make other resources later that explain further how to actually apply these concepts.

Training for muscle mass

Since this book is directed towards the general population, and the general population mainly desires a form of bodybuilding (which is gaining muscle, losing fat, or both), we’ll focus on the concept of bodybuilding rather than using these same exercises for the purpose of strength or power.

According to the NSCA, hypertrophy(muscle growth) is stimulated by using 8-12 repetitions with a 30-90 second rest period between 3-6 sets.  However, the key in exercise selection is that the exercises must be stabilized in order to work only a specific group of muscles rather than the full-body.

In the name of simplicity, we’ll divide the muscle-groups into three major functions.  First, the upper body push.  Second, the upper body pull.  Third, the legs push.  The legs don’t pull because most of us haven’t figured out how to pick up that barbell using our toes yet.

Upper-body pushing includes anything that involves moving an object farther away from you.  It doesn’t matter if that object is a barbell, dumbbell, or resistance band.  As long as you are stabilizing your body and putting yourself in the strongest position to move the resistance, then you are training the upper-body pushing muscles for muscle growth. Continue reading

What Kind of Exercise?

Defining the Terms

Before we get into the physiology of exercise, it’s prudent to take a step back and look at the big picture.  In the fitness realm, there often seems to be a fairly large dichotomy between people training “functionally” and people training “conventionally”.

Typically, we think of people training “conventionally” as bodybuilders doing their exercises on machines or using barbells.  The “conventional” trainers typically have a lot of muscle mass, but their athleticism is limited.

Typically, we think of people training “functionally” as the person standing on a BOSU ball with one foot while doing an alternating dumbbell military press.  These “functional” trainers typically have little muscle mass, but they are relatively athletic.

That’s the old way of thinking.  It is my opinion that that should be abolished in favor of labeling everything as “functional for ::fill in the blank::”  Functional means that something does what it was designed to do.  A functional toaster toasts while a dysfunctional toaster does not.  A functional quarterback throws a football fast, far, and with accuracy while a dysfunctional quarterback lobs a football blindly in no particular direction.

So, for our purposes, I’ve chosen to disregard the “conventional” vs. “functional” debate as fairly inaccurate descriptors.  What is typically thought of as “conventional”, I will call “functional for building muscle mass”.  What is typically thought of as “functional”, I will call “functional for activities of daily life”. Continue reading

Who To Listen To


In this world, you’re going to find that anyone and everyone has an opinion on pretty much everything.  These opinions always vary in quality and education.  The same is true in the fitness field.

First off, it’s necessary to go back to Aristotle’s approach to logic.  He stated:

Aristotle’s “Three Classic Laws of Thought”

1. “A is A”

2. “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive

3. Either “A is B” or “A is not B”

So, essentially, Aristotle set up a system of identifying what is truth.  A fact is a fact.

In the fitness realm, that means that there are some verifiable facts that researchers have found to be true about the human body’s response to exercise.  Some exercisers know these, and some don’t.  Some personal trainers know these, and some don’t.  Despite the disparity of knowledge, that doesn’t change the reality that the facts are the facts.

Essentially, not all information provided to an exerciser is equal.  There are some health professionals who are genuinely professionals.  However, there is a greater number of “health professionals” who are not professionals at all.  They are simply the result of a broken system in which anyone with a few brainwaves can become a “personal trainer”.

As a result of this system, we erroneously classify personal trainers who have spent years studying the human body from the most qualified sources (professors, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and dietitians) as equal to those who attended a single weekend of classes.  Obviously, these two groups should not be perceived to be equal because they are not equal.  It’s something like trying to compare a Harvard Medical School graduate to an Ethiopian shaman.  They purport to do the same thing, but one is far more educated and effective. Continue reading