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The Cost of Living: A New Way to Look at Dieting

piggy bankWe live by rules in every part of our life – finances, marriage, work and government, to name of few. But, we expect NOT to live by rules when it comes to food. For some reason we think those kind of rules are bad, unhealthy, limiting, no fun, unfair, damaging and inconvenient. Why would it be any different than the rules we have with our finances? We fully understand that we are expected to work for our paycheck, and we are expected to pay our bills – and, if we don’t, there are serious repercussions.

Since we are expected to not spend more than we make, most of us live on some type of budget. Well, in the same way you must budget your money, you should also budget your food. If you eat more than you can “afford” to eat, you will have repercussions to your actions. Those repercussions come in the form of weight gain and health issues.


The Problem

Think of how someone manages a business. It doesn’t matter how much they profit, if they don’t also consider their loss. It’s the balance that matters. In the same way, it doesn’t matter how much you “work” (exercise) if you are still eating more than you can afford. Every extra pound of fat “over the limit” is a sign that you have been irresponsible with your body account – your loss is greater than your profit. You are, essentially, living “in the red”.

The only difference between overeating and overspending is no one repos your car or takes your house. Your “punishment” is the extra baggage you have to lug around and the evidence you see of your past actions in the mirror every day. So that’s the bad news. The good news is, you can erase the debt! You can literally work off the hole you got yourself into just like we work off financial debt – by working hard, going on a budget, and sticking to it until the debt is gone.

The Price

Say No to Bad FoodWill you have to make sacrifices? Of course. Will you be able to live the way you have been used to living? No. So go ahead and get your whining out of your system and get over it. I’ll be honest with you, a lot of things have to change. But that is a good thing. The way you have been living got you where you are now. And, if you are overweight, I bet you are not happy where you are now. So why would you want to continue doing things that always give you the same bad result?

fitness motivationWhen I look at my credit card balance, I forget what I even bought. I wonder how in the world I ever spent that much money. The fine dining and the clothes (I already given away to Goodwill) are gone. It all comes with a price. Now I’m paying it off – and, quite honestly, it’s not fun. BUT I know the reward once I do pay it off. I understand I am paying the price now for what I couldn’t afford earlier – and in many ways, that is exactly what we are doing with our weight. The extra work we have to do in the gym, and the sacrifices we have to make out of the gym are all part of the process to reach our goal.

The Reward

How do you stick to this new budget and not give up or give in? The key to success is to constantly remind yourself of the big picture. Instead of thinking about what you are missing out on right NOW, you must think about what you would miss out on LATER if you don’t stick to your plan.

If you have a weight issue, I challenge you to rethink the way you treat food. Like your spending, indulging in the extras should be an occasional treat – not a daily habit. Rules are not evil, they are there to protect you and they are healthy. It’s living without rules that is the most damaging. If you are overweight, you are experiencing the damage firsthand. So,every time you are tempted, remember the repercussions for doing what is wrong and remember the reward for doing what is right. Focus on what you are working toward – and don’t you dare let anything get in your way!

12 Diet Tips

Best Diet Tip of All Time

Eat What You Can Burn

A FIVE GUYS burger with fries = 1,460 CALORIES. That could take 14 MILES to WALK OR RUN OFF!

Know what it takes to erase extra calories:

  • 1 Tall Salted Caramel Latte  = 1 Hour Power Walk
  • 1 Side of Chili’s Cole Slaw = 1 Hour of Yoga
  • Side of Ranch Dressing at Subway = 3 Mile Jog
  • 1 McDonald’s Medium French Fries = One Hour of Zumba
  • Dairy Queen Dipped Chocolate Cone = 1 Hour of Kickboxing
  • 1 Boston Market Broccoli & Cheese Soup = 1 Hour on the Elliptical
  • Duncan Donuts Mocha Coffee with Cream = 1 Hour on the Treadmill at 4mph
  • 1 Slice of Little Caesars’ Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza = 1 Hour of Aerobics Class
  • 1 Panera Everything Bagel with Light Veggie Cream Cheese = 1 Hour of High Impact Aerobics
  • 1 Steak & Shake Medium Cookies & Cream Shake = 1 Hour of Boot Camp AND 1 Hour Power Walking
  • Chili’s Bottomless Tostada Chips & Salsa = 1 Hour Running at 6mph (10-minute miles) AND 1 Hour of Aerobics

6 Lunches that would take 2+ hours to erase:

NIX: 1/4lb GrillBurger with Cheese: 540 calories
Medium Fries: 310 calories
FIX: Burger with 1 piece of bread, no cheese & no mayo: 340 calories.

#2 MCDONALD’S: 890 CALORIES (No Drink)
NIX: Quarter Pounder with Cheese: 510 calories (they don’t list topping calories
Medium Fries:  380 calories
FIX: 6 piece nuggets for 280 calories or the Grilled Chicken BLT Ranch loaded for only 380 calories.

#3 WENDY’S: 1,000 CALORIES (No Drink)
NIX: Wendy’s Single with Cheese: 580 calories, 33gms of fat, 220 calories just from the bread
Medium Fries: 420 calories
FIX: Wendy’s Single without mayo & 1 piece of bread: 420 calories

NIX: Big Cheeseburger: 570 calories
Medium Fries: 450 calories
FIX: Get a Chicken Fajita Pita for 320 calories instead.

#4 SONIC: 1,130 CALORIES  (No Drink)
NIX: Cheese Burger with Mayo: 800 calories
Medium Fries: 330 calories
FIX: Get the Grilled Chicken sandwich instead for 430 calories

#5 BURGER KING: 1,170 CALORIES  (No Drink)
NIX: Whopper with Cheese: 760 calories, 40gms of fat, 240 calories from the bread, 140 calories in mayo
Medium Fries: 410 calories
FIX: Whopper with no mayo & one piece of bread: 500 calories

#6 FIVE GUYS: $1,460 CALORIES  (No Drink)
NIX: Cheese Burger: 840 calories (not including toppings!)
Regular Fries: 620 calories
Heavy Hitting Toppings: Mayo (100 cal), Cheese (70 cal), Bacon (80 cal), BBQ Sauce (60 cal)
FIX: Scratch the bread, cheese & Mayo & add veggies and jalapeno peppers for TONS of flavor less calories!

Instead of thinking about food as calories, we should look at it as required work to erase. READ MORE

Stop the Fatcation: 6 Tips to Prevent Vaca Weight Gain

Fatcation/fatˈkāSHən/ (n) While on vacation, you do more getting fat than sightseeing.

I just got back from a fatcation, I mean vacation. 😉 Vacations can be scary for dieters, but just because you go on vacation doesn’t mean you have to take a fitness vacation too. You can still have a ton of fun, try new foods and “cheat” while not completely losing your mind – and your progress.

Here are 6 tips to help control your vacation eating – and help you bounce back quickly once you get back home.

tasting1. Taste, don’t gorge. More is not always better, but when you are on vacation, it’s fun to taste foods you normally don’t eat. Key word: Taste! Grazing all day is actually better than pigging out a couple of times a day. When you are on vacation, share plates and appetizers so you can taste more, but eat less.  

2. Be picky. Just because something is sitting on a plate in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it. I actually ordered 3 meals that were a disappointment to me. After I tasted it and discovered it wasn’t what I hoped, I just opted to skip it altogether because it wasn’t worth the calories to me. If you are trying to lose weight, it pays to be picky. If it’s not worth 1-2 hours in the gym to burn off, then it’s not worth eating.

 hotel gym3. Make room for more calories. When I say “make room”, I’m talking about making room for more calories. We typically consume a lot more calories on vacation than we do when we are back in our normal routine at home. However, many times people workout less. If you are watching your weight, account for the extra calories you are eating and try to stay active so you can “afford” the extra calories. Whether you hit the hotel gym, go for a jog, or you just try to walk everywhere instead of taking a cab, increasing your activity while on vacation will help you decrease your chances for vacation weight gain.  

4. What happens on vacation stays on vacation. What I mean is, the overeating, drinking, laziness, etc ends when your vacation ends. It’s very easy to let your vacation habits come home with you. Instead, make a mark in the sand and decide to jump right back to your normal routine as soon as you get back. So, as soon as you get home, hit the grocery store and start planning and cooking for the week so you are ready to eat clean again.

oops5. Forgive yourself. I’ll be honest, I feel fat as a cow right now. That’s how I FEEL. Is that reality? No. I know good and well there is no way I can erase months of training and hard work in just a few days. Can it set me back? Sure, but if I hit it hard (with both diet and training), I’ll be right back where I want to be in no time. That’s the reality. No matter how bad you feel, forgive yourself. Realize, it’s just a vacation. You deserved the break and, often times, you will even hit it HARDER when you get back. Ironically, it’s those kind of cheat days that can make you double your intensity and the drive you need to take your routine to a new level.  

fitness goals6. Set new goals and guidelines. In order to reach a goal, you need to have a goal to strive for. Once you’ve set a goal, you need to plan to get there and that requires setting some rules. Often times people set some pretty stiff rules but they have just as many exceptions as they do rules. For instance, they diet and train hard all the time except for special occasions or weekends. The problem is, many people have a lot of special occasions. Between dinner dates, birthdays, Holidays, events, etc – someone can easily have something that interrupts their routine every week if they are ont careful. My suggestion is to not allow for any cheating for 3-4 weeks so you get a really good powerful start. Then schedule one cheat day. Then go right back at it. Once you get closer to your goal, your cheat meals can be closer together. Setting rules like this keeps you accountable and on schedule to reach your goal.

Why Losing Weight Gets Harder as You Get Thinner

When someone starts a new diet and workout routine they often feel the have a disadvantage but, when someone is overweight, they have more going for them than they think. On the flips side, thinner people actually tend to struggle with weight loss as the get closer to their goal weight. Here are 4 things you need to know about calories and weight loss.

1. Heavy People Burn MORE Calories at Rest 
Many people who are overweight think their metabolism is slower than skinny people. The truth is, it takes more energy to run a heavier person. The more you weigh, the more muscle your body needs to carry you around. This is why heavier people typically have more muscle mass and burn more calories. You may feel sluggish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a lower metabolism or are burning fewer calories than a thin person.

NOTE:  250LB person that is lightly active with a slow metabolism burns approximately 3,500 calories a day.  Read the rest of this entry

Are Your Snacks Sabotaging Your Fat Loss Success?

snackingI don’t know what it is about feeling the need to snack at night, but I think most of us struggle with our eating after 5pm more than any other time of the day. So what do you do when you want results, but you want to snack?

The answer really depends on your goal. If you want to reach your goal fast, then snacking almost shouldn’t even be an option. For me, I’ve always allowed myself a 200-calorie window for 100-calorie popcorn, string cheese or beef jerky. But if I want to take things up a notch, even 200 calories can add up to nearly 2 pounds of fat not lost by the end of the month.

snackingUnfortunately, most people graze. They will have a small handful of nuts. Then they may grape a few grapes. Then they decide to pop some popcorn. Before you know it, they have a sweet tooth. It can really get out of control quick, so rules must be in place.

First, let’s look at the facts. You don’t NEED to eat. You probably just ate dinner an hour ago and are actually full. So the one time you don’t really need food, is when you want to eat more food. Does that make any since at all?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself so you can start setting some rules in your home.

post goals1. Decide what your goal is. Put your goal in plain site – on the fridge or on the pantry door. Write notes to yourself of the things you are going to quit doing like this picture. You need something to remind you what you are working for when the snacks try to distract you.

2. Decide how fast you want to reach your goal. Keep track of how you are doing. Whether you track calories on an app like I do (I use LoseIt) or you mark off each day you are on target on a calendar. Once you determine how fast you want results, track your progress along the way.

3. Decide ahead of time what you will or won’t allow. Are you going to go without completely or just limit your snacks?

4. Set a caloric limit on your evening snacks and stick to it. I suggest putting a cap on how many calories you are allowing yourself to eat. That way you have a strict cut off. Otherwise, you will keep having “a little more”.

5. Make a rule that you will not eat ANYTHING unless you count up the calories first. This way, you stay in tune with what you are eating, and the “damage” you are making. Here’s the reality – every calorie you eat is ultimately reflected on the scale. If you don’t want to be frustrated every time you weigh yourself, and you want to gain control of the scale – then learn to gain control of your snacking.

Here is a list of just a few snacks and the equivalent weight loss you would have if you skipped that item. If you are on target all day for weight loss, but exceeded your goal from snacks alone, this is how many more pounds of fat you’d lose each month if you were to forfeit them. REMEMBER: Most people have more than one snack a night, so you can see how quickly this adds up. You can also see why people slowly gain weight – the same happens in reverse.

controlling the scale27 Chips & Salsa = 2 3/4 lbs
1 cup of low-fat ice cream = 2lbs 
2 glasses of wine or 2 beers = 2lbs
1 small pack of pistachios = 1 1/4 lbs
100 Calorie Popcorn = 3/4 lbs
2 cups of grapes = 1 1/2lbs
1/2 cup almonds = 3 1/4lbs
10 crackers & 2oz cheese = 3lbs

6. BEFORE you take your first bite of anything, ask yourself “What do I want more? Get faster results or to taste more food?” Are you really going to allow snacks to sabotage your waistline? Seriously, you won’t die if you don’t snack – and the results you want so badly will come SO much faster! Get a grip! (this is really me just talking to myself!)

7. Just say no. I think most of us work so hard to figure out a way to still snack, when maybe what we need is to stop our bad habit to begin with. If you are snacking every night, you are stuck in a habit. Make a snack a treat – not a nightly habit.

8. Aks for accountability. Tell your family your goals. Ask them to not let you snack. This way, when an hour goes by and you’ve already changed your mind, and talked yourself into having a snack anyway, you have support to help talk you back out of it.

I will winLast night I had to talk to myself using these above tips too. Although I am very disciplined throughout the day, I train hard, I count calories – I still fight the snack attacks at night just like most people. I literally had a conversation with myself – and the part of me that wants results won.

In the big scheme of things it’s SUCH a SMALL sacrifice!! And, despite how successful I was last night, I will indeed most likely have the same exact conversation tonight until I get in a better habit of controlling my snacking – but the fit me will win the fight! 🙂

10 Fast Food Diet Tips

10 fast food diet tipsIf you are dieting, or just trying to make healthy choices, ordering a health meal from a fast food chain can be challenging – but not impossible.

Let’s be practical here. In this fast-pace world, sometimes we need a fast-pace lunch. Unfortunately, new dieters panic at the thought of having to eat fast food because they think that means they don’t have a lot of choices. Or worse, they think it means complete failure.

The truth is, fast food chains give us more healthy choices than ever. We just need to order smart. It’s just up to us to do some investigative work so we can make the best choice possible.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep your calories low and your spirits high while dieting on the go.

10 Fast Food Tips for Dieters:

1. Go simple. The fewer ingredients the fewer the calories.

2. Go small. Avoid biggie sizing meals just because it’s a good deal. Believe me, you will eventually pay for it.

3. Avoid bread. Bread can account for 200-300 extra unnecessary calories. Try to get the majority of your calories from whole foods, instead of processed fillers.

4. Know what you’re eating. Don’t play guessing games when making your order. If you want to be sure you get results, be sure about the food you are eating. An average low-calorie meal for a dieter should be between 300-400 calories.

5. Don’t drink your calories. Stick to water, unsweet tea or diet coke. Drinking liquid sugar is just plain silly.

6. Salads aren’t always low-calorie. Just because something looks healthy, doesn’t mean it is healthy. A salad can easily add up to be more calories than a burger if you are not careful.

7. Think with your mind, not your stomach. Don’t let yourself get so hungry you can’t think straight. Many people blow their diet simply because they are starving by the time they face the drive through menu.

8. If you don’t love it, skip it. Removing one slice of cheese, or one condiment, can save you 100 calories or more. Prioritize the toppings you love, and skip the ones you can do without, to save calories.

9. Share your findings. Help others by sharing your healthy discoveries so other people can also benefit too. Education is key to success.

10. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Although you will likely find some foods you are pleasantly surprised with, many times people will continue to order something when their gut is telling them something isn’t adding up. Listen to your gut, not your taste buds.

30 Days of Motivation: You Can’t Afford to Eat That!

We think about what we can, and cannot, afford to spend all the time – but do you ever wonder what you can afford to eat?

eating a cheeseburgerThere are just as many repercussions to eating more than you can afford to eat, than spending more than you can afford to spend. In addition to weight gain, many unnecessary health issues stem from poor eating habits. Yet, we rarely see food in that light.

If menus placed the required exercise to erase each item, I believe we’d change our mind about what we wanted to eat pretty quickly. But, out of sight means out of mind. The same way work adds value to money, physical work adds value to a calorie – and unless you track it, calories will remain valueless, and meaningless.

Next time you decide you want to cheat on your diet, don’t try to decide whether you deserve it or not, decide whether you are willing to work it off or not. Because, eventually, you WILL have to work it off just like you would have to pay off a bill. Whether you have to work off the weight gained from irresponsible eating, or you have to work off the damage it has done to your health – believe me, you WILL pay eventually.


The cost and calories in the above graphic are for a regular Five Guys Cheeseburger. I calculated the calories burned doing sit ups using To test what YOU can afford, log your calories and activity daily. Just for fun, try looking up exercises on the LoseIt app and see how long you would have to exercise to erase some of your favorite foods.

In 2013, let’s not just eat healthier, let’s eat smarter!

30 Days of Motivation: Does Your Diet Need More Muscle?

Protein shakeIf you want to tone up, you need to put more muscle in your workouts – and in your kitchen. The problem is, most people don’t know how much protein they eat – or how much they need. Well, after you read today’s blog, you will not only know “your number”, but you’ll know how and when to take it too.

First, I want to hit some key pointers.

1. Budget your protein intake. Before you start gulping down protein, you want to make sure you realize you are also gulping down more calories. Many people who start a fitness program hoping to lose weight and tone up ADD protein to their diet, but forget to SUBTRACT calories from carbs and fat. Another words, they are increasing their protein AND calories. Then they wonder whey they GAINED weight trying to get healthy. If you need to lose weight or lean out, remember that adding protein to your diet is great, but you have to account for the extra calories – and protein shakes and bars can add up fast if you aren’t paying attention.

2. Know when to take it. Protein is not a good source of fuel. That’s why marathoners carb up, not protein up. Protein is best for repair. So, the 2 best times to take protein, besides getting it in whole foods throughout your day, is post workout and before you go to bed. Our body is most receptive to absorbing protein within 30-40 minutes of your workout, and it needs protein to help our body repair muscle while we sleep.

protein shake3. Know how to take it. If you are taking protein post workout, you want to pair it with simple sugars to help speed up absorption so you can use the protein in that 30-40 minute window. For instance, a protein shake with water and honey, or protein with orange juice would be a good post workout shake. Any other time, you want to slow digestion down so you can absorb as much nutrients as possible. The longer it’s in your stomach, the more protein you absorb, and the longer you’ll stay full. In this case, adding milk or peanut butter is helpful.

4. Know your number. GNC put together a cool calculator to help people know how many grams of protein they should take a day. Note that it also gives you a window – minimum to maximum. For example, my number is 95 – but my range is 78-111. For me, the only way I can get that much protein is to supplement. I can get about 60 or so grams of protein in whole foods (I’m not a big meat eater) and then I supplement with a couple of shakes or a shake and a bar to reach my daily goal. CLICK HERE to find YOUR number.

my protein number

Today’s Mantra:

2013 feed for fuel

30 Days of Motivation: Eat Clean, Look Lean

closet eaterI don’t know who we think we are fooling when we think we can get away with eating crappy food, or eating too much food, just because no one sees us. The only person you are really fooling is yourself.

Quit “acting” healthy and BE healthy. If you really want to get results this year, it’s time to be honest with yourself and deal with your food demons. It’s time to clean up your act because your food should look as lean and healthy as you want to look.

Come out of the closet

There are 2 signs someone doesn’t have control of their diet:

1. They workout all the time. Do you know someone who is constantly at the gym, yet still struggling with their weight? Maybe YOU are that person. Does that make you a bad person? No, it just means you are super disciplined with exercise – but it can also mean that you are not disciplined enough with your diet. If you manage your diet better, you could relax a little and not have to workout so much. To get the best results, you should be as disciplined in the kitchen as you are in the gym.

2. They are gaining weight, or not losing weight. You can complain all day long, or tell me all the reasons you are not losing weight, but weight loss comes down to one thing – calories in vs. calories out. And, 9 times out of 10, it’s not what you are doing but what you are eating. A simple fix is counting every calorie you eat for 7 days straight. If you lose weight, then you know you have been eating more than you thought.

This year, get control of your eating – so you can get control over your body.

2013 Eat Clean

30 Days of Motivation: Put Your Body on a Budget

over budgetIn the real world, it really doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how much money you make, if you spend it all – or spend even more. What really speaks the most is the balance you carry. This also applies with our body. When it comes to food and calories, most people are constantly going over budget and eating more than they can afford to eat. Instead of racking up dept, you pack on the weight.

I know, you are probably thinking, “I have no idea how to track calories” or “that sounds like a pain”, but if you think for one minute that managing calories is not your thing, then maybe it’s time to make it your thing. Balancing my checkbook isn’t my thing either, but I do it because it’s a necessary part of life . It’s not an option. Since I like my lifestyle, my house and my cars (and don’t want anyone to come pick them up) I’m forced to keep a close watch on what I spend. So, I live on a budget.

NSF check

Unfortunately, no one will repo your body. No one charges you an NSF fee every time you eat a meal over budget. Nope, your only punishment is weight gain – and that’s not enough punishment for some people. Most people wait until things get so bad, like getting deep in debt, before they decide to fix it. That’s not a good place to be, but it’s where many of us find ourselves when we face the New Year.

calorie managementWe overspend and overeat at Christmas, and now it’s time to work it all off. It’s simple as that. Complain all you want, but you lived the highlife, eating whatever you wanted, and now it’s time to pay for it. Like financing a big purchase, you basically “financed” many pricey meals and like paying anything off, it will take time.

Your body is your bank account, and they both require a little math. I use the LoseIt app to help me with the math of tracking calories. In the process, you’ll discover where all your calories are going and begin to make better choices using the information you learn along the way. Here’s a few screen shots of the LoseIt app, made for iPhone and Android. It also is available online.

lose it

Get Serious

If you want to get serious results this year, you need to get serious about calorie management. It takes a little work, but it will be worth it! Stay accountable this year – and stay on top of your body account!

Learn more about calorie management with my Get pFIT Handbook

calorie management

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