A blog about life after weight loss.

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Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and while everyone enjoys time with friends and family, and a couple of days off work, if you are trying to lose weight or stay fit, the annual feast can be intimidating. To help you make it through Thursday without a food coma, here is your Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide!

Skip the morning parade and hit the gym. Be honest; you don’t really want to spend your Thursday morning watching giant cartoon character balloons and C-list celebs tie up traffic in New York City, so why not use this time to sneak in a workout? Many gyms are open, albeit briefly, on Thanksgiving, and a little morning exercise will get your metabolism going and create a nice last-minute calorie deficiency before you belly up to the big kid table.

If you are out of town for Thanksgiving, exercising can be a bit trickier as you don’t have the familiar confines of your regular gym at your disposal. Weather permitting, you can visit your or your spouse’s old high school and jog around the track. Not only will this burn calories but also the trip down memory lane will conjure up memories for the two of you to talk about.

Snowed in? We’ve got you covered. Find a nice open area. With extended family loitering around, this task might be a touch difficult, but an empty basement or even bedroom will do. Alternate between bodyweight squats and pushups, doing three to five sets of as many reps as you can.

Turkey Day Tip: If you want to amp it up a notch, find some household items like a bottle of liquid laundry detergent to hold while you do your squats.

Eat a healthy pre-feast snack. This might seem counterintuitive to eat before you eat, but hear us out. Lots of people don’t eat all day, knowing that they have an avalanche of food in their future. The problem with this method is that your body goes into starvation mode and when it comes time for Thanksgiving dinner, you feed your face until your pants are too tight and you nod off on a recliner while your nieces and nephews draw all over your hands and face with every colored marker in the box. Trust me, I’ve been there.

If you allow yourself a nutritious snack like a bowl of fruit, a plate of veggies, or a cup of yogurt and a banana before the big show, you will be less likely to overeat. Plus, there is the snowball effect. Starting the day with healthy choices establishes momentum for more healthy choices. As an added bonus, you won’t wake up with a rainbow on your face.

Eat pilgrim portions. Fight the impulse to stack turkey on top of turkey, build a mountain of mashed potatoes, and scoop helping after heaving helping of stuffing on your plate. Take a cue from the times of the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Indians didn’t have the luxury of riding horseback to Wal-Mart or any other grocery superstore to buy in bulk. Take just enough to satisfy you, not stuff you. When it comes to turkey, one serving is 2-3 ounces, about the weight of a deck of cards. For your sides, use the eye test. You know how much is too much. Once you have cleaned your plate…

…Play the waiting game. After you have finished your reasonably sized plate, wait a while. Watch some football. Help clean. Talk to your great Aunt Gert about her hip replacement. Give your body some time to digest instead of immediately filling your plate again. If you are still hungry after 15 minutes or so, go ahead and eat a little more, but commit to eating less food than you put on your first plate.

Draft Your Dessert. We are not going to tell you to skip dessert, we aren’t. As a matter of fact, we are looking forward to dessert the most. Treat your dessert choice like you are drafting a fantasy football team—take the best player available. If you are dying for a slice of pumpkin pie, have one. If cookies are more your thing, by all means, eat one. But here’s the catch. Your fantasy dessert draft has only one round. Pick the treat you like the best and eat one helping of it. Leave the rest alone. They might taste fantastic and give you the sugar-rush you need to avoid a Thanksgiving nap, but they won’t be worth the time it takes to burn off the calories on Black Friday.

You can do this. If you follow these guidelines, Turkey Day will just be a speed bump on your fitness journey, not a complete detour. Make healthy choices so you don’t have to put a bigger pair of pants on your Christmas wish list.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sprinting to 2013

In six weeks, 2012 will be over and Baby New Year will be wearing a sash that reads “2013.” This time of year, many folks put their fitness into cruise control, using the convenient excuse of the holidays to relax their gym routines and stop watching what they eat. But why not enter the New Year with some momentum? It’s not too late to set some achievable fitness goals and reach them before New Year’s Day. Unless of course, you follow the Mayan calendar and believe the whole ship is going down on December 21. In that case, eat up.

But I digress.

Hear are my end of the year fitness benchmarks and my current progress in reaching them.

Do 200 pushups in five sets. Full disclosure: I got a head start on this one. I set this goal for myself about three weeks ago after I read a Men’s Health interview with actor Joel McHale. He told the magazine he does 200 pushups a day, and light bulb went off in my brain. I had to try to meet that mark. I chose five sets arbitrarily, for the most part. I figured five is an easy number to remember and would make the exercise challenging. I am sure if I removed the five-set cap, I would have hit the mark by the end of the first week, but where is the fun in that?

The great thing about pushups, besides what they do for your chest, back, and arms, is you can do them anywhere. No equipment is necessary; all you need is a little space. My current number to beat is 180.

Start 2013 at 180lbs or less. I have less than four pounds to go to reach this goal, but as any weight-cutting wrestler will tell you, the last few pounds are the toughest. To help me get there, I am drinking less alcohol, eating more vegetables, recommitting to cardio, and closing the kitchen after dinner. At present, I am devising a strategy to get through holiday parties and meals without packing on the pounds. Of course, I will share it with you once it’s ready.

Finish Oil by Upton Sinclair. This is obviously a mental health goal, but a health goal nonetheless. Reading activates parts of your brain you don’t normally use, and personally I find I am more creative if I read regularly. At over 500 pages, Sinclair’s treatise on the conflict between idealism and pragmatism is a daunting task. I was rolling right along until things picked up a bit at work and I lacked the mental stamina, but I am trying to carve out at least 30 minutes on most days to finish the novel before year’s end. Expect a “Brain Food” review once I close the book for good.


Carpe diem, everyone. It’s not too late to run a 5K or try to beat your one-rep max on the bench press. Don’t quit on this year, don’t quit on yourself.

Now, time for you to weigh in. What fitness goals do you have for the end of the year? Do you have any suggestions to help me reach mine?

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Brain Food: Hot Dogs, A Little Marketing, and A Lot of Fun by Mike Rudd

My friend and college roommate Mike Rudd wrote a book recently. Part memoir, part marketing trade book, Hot Dogs, A Little Marketing, and A Lot of Fun, contains food for thought that you can apply to whatever line of business you are in, and more relevantly, your life. You can also apply it to your fitness routine. Here are some takeaways, or “Carry Out” items as Mike calls them in the book, that you can use to live a healthier, happier life.

Challenge Yourself to be Remarkable. Mike, who works for a sports talk radio station in Columbus, Ohio, writes about giving his clients innovative, creative marketing campaigns. He uses the metaphor of “climbing a mountain with no peak” to illustrate how he pushes himself to be better every day. We need to have the same attitude when it comes to fitness and weight loss. Look to the horizon, and we you reach it, look to the next horizon. Set goals, accomplish them, and set new ones. We can all push ourselves to run a faster mile, lift heavier weights, do more pushups. Everyone has to room to improve.

Follow Your Passion. When describing how he chose where to intern, Mike writes of targeting companies that interested him instead of companies that would build a nice, shiny resume. Thus, he snagged a position at an alternative rock station. You can burn calories doing exercises you actually enjoy! If trail running gets you juiced, go for it! If you have always wanted to participate in a 5K or tried CrossFit, give it a shot. You don’t have to limit your workouts to the elliptical or the treadmill just because they are convenient. If you have fun, you’ll look forward to working out, and will have better results. Which brings me to my next takeaway…

The Power of Positivity. Mike is one of the most positive, enthusiastic people I know. He is a one-man pep band. His attitude is infectious and influences everyone he meets. Like your wallet or cell phone, positivity is something you should take with you everywhere. Don’t think “I hope I can get through this workout,” but tell yourself “I’m about to crush this routine!” Look in the mirror and say, “I am going to lose weight!” Then, make it happen.

A breezy, lighthearted, accessible read, Hot Dogs, A Little Marketing, and A Lot of Fun is available in paperback and electronically on Amazon. Do yourself a favor, and pick it up today. It will inspire you to approach everything you do with a new level of enthusiasm. And you will probably have a hankering for hot dogs.


Low-Calorie Tailgate Snacks! Score!

We are squarely in the middle of the NFL season, and for many people that means one thing: tailgating. Football fans across America—ourselves included—will wake up early on a Sunday (of all days) to get a good buzz going before cheering their hometown team.

On its painted face, tailgating is silly. Think about it. We wake up to an alarm on one of the two days every week that we don’t have to, only to eat copious fatty foods and get a little drunk. In some cases, a lot drunk. It just doesn’t make sense.

Here we are going to watch some of the best athletes in the world compete against each, but we can’t do it until our senses are properly dulled. We are about to witness something special, but we don’t want to be all there for it. No one preps for a marathon by staying up for two days drinking Mountain Dew and eating Sour Patch Kids. Just sayin’.

So why do we do it? The answer is simple: Tailgating is a hell of a lot of fun. You go outdoors with your friends, throw some corn hole bags, and have a good time on a Sunday afternoon. What’s wrong with that?

Still, you don’t want a few hours of tailgating to reverse several days of eating healthy and exercising. Whether or not you drink is up to you. We do. But know that beer and liquor are just empty calories, and to keep hydrated and make sure you are with it for the whole game, mix in some water. You’ll take some ribbing, but you’ll thank us for it.

As far as food goes, we have a low-calorie recipe for mini caprese salads that is delicious and way more nutritious than normal tailgate fare. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 block of soft mozzarella cheese
  • 1 container basil leaves
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bag of garlic parmesan Pretzel Crisps
  • 1 bottle balsamic vinegar

Making these delightful little snacks is easier than explaining the false start penalty. Place a nickel-sized hunk of cheese on a pretzel crisp, followed by basil, followed by half a cherry tomato. Sprinkle on balsamic vinegar and you have a snack with flavor more explosive than a last-second touchdown! Happy tailgating!

Our most recent tailgate buffet.



Fitness is Never Done


We love Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up. His oddball observations are hilarious, but he is wrong about this one. The work of fitness is never done. Can you ever be fit enough? That’s like asking if you can have too many vacation days.

Everyone can improve their health and fitness, everyone has calories to burn. Everyone has goals. At the very least, everyone needs to work out to maintain their fitness. We see this as a positive. Every day is an opportunity to get better.

There is no such thing as done.