Monthly Archives: September 2013

Does Your Age Affect Your Nutritional Choices? Ask My Mom.

My mother has brought up an interesting point to me several times regarding my blog. In short, she reads my blog and feels it’s more relevant towards people much younger than she is – a stubborn, hard headed, won’t budge, wonderful loving mother who knows best of 80. She feels that many of my blog entries are pointed to those people who are active. The first time she mentioned that, I thought to myself how much good information I was putting out, and that if she took just one piece of one blog entry and incorporated it into her life that I’d be successful (and she has on several fronts). When she mentioned it again, I really listened and thought a little deeper.

At 53, I make the assumption that I have plenty of life to look forward to (barring “whatever”). I have made the “healthy lifestyle” a hobby of mine (a very strong hobby). A lot of my blogging is based on my nutrition, tying it into how I fuel my body properly to attack my workouts that I do regularly, and to face life at a higher level than others my age. Over the years I have greatly altered my nutritional choices. No longer do I eat pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and candy (just to name a few). I gave up soda (except with my rum), and currently I am alcohol free during the 12-week body building stage I am doing. My son who is 30 views things differently. His concentration is more on his children and economic future (as it should be). He understands the benefits of the healthy lifestyle, but just like myself at his age, priorities of the family come first by nature. He eats fairly healthy, but isn’t focused on it. So what I consider a “cheat” meal/food that I avoid now, to him may just be a thought like “I probably shouldn’t eat that”. I am assuming this because that’s how I was. I’ve always leaned towards the healthy side of eating, but in no way was I strict with myself. Now being an empty nester for almost a decade, I’ve had more time to devote to researching and living healthy.

My mother, at 80, has an entirely different view. The part where she needs to be on a low sodium low cholesterol diet isn’t necessarily a function of age. But the idea of how far to “compromise” nutrition is viewed much differently at 80 than it is at 53. No need to beat around the bush here. At 80 years old, you are in the twilight of your life. The things you enjoy are greatly reduced due to age. My Mom and Dad can’t drive around the country with a camper and boat in tow like they used to. They don’t jump in the car for a day trip to Mohegan Sun. But what does this have to do with nutrition?

My mother does understand nutrition, and she knows how she should eat based on her current facts of life. But food is enjoyment to her, a true pleasure. Therefore certain foods that I’ll say to avoid, she’ll say she enjoys it too much to give it up. Circumstances arise where comfort food or other “unhealthy choices” present themselves. Age may prevent you from doing many things you used to enjoy, yet food is a constant. At our house we don’t have family barbeques often, but when we do I cook for everyone. When all I’m eating is the chicken and salad, she’ll happily dig into the hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Why? Because for the few years she sees herself on this earth (whether it be 1 or 20), she will only compromise food to a point, because it really makes her happy. She has good balance, and although I may say she could do better, I understand her viewpoint. If she was my age I’d probably tell her she was only using excuses, but I believe at 80 her viewpoint is a reality. Give her credit. She’ll only occasionally indulge by either eating too much food or unhealthy foods. The rest of the time she eats salads and other healthy choices.

I can maneuver nutrition discussions with my mother to health reasons, noting why eating particular foods are either beneficial or harmful. I can remind her of her medical conditions that doctors say require a low sodium low cholesterol approach. There is a wealth of information on the subject of nutrition, and I could post link after link. But not here, not now. I know she’s already mindful of her requirements. What she is doing with food isn’t dangerous, so I don’t feel compelled to make her “see the light”. She already understands and “sees the light”, and has found her healthy lifestyle path, one that works for her. That’s what the premise was for me setting up this blog in the first place – find a healthy lifestyle path that works for you.

My Current Daily Nutrition – Bulking Stage

Weightlifting/Body Building in the build/bulk stage requires eating a calorie surplus, in my case calculated to 2,800 calories. In the past year+ I’ve been cooking a lot more because I’ve been researching and focusing on my nutrition. Getting in my daily exercise operates on auto pilot, as I find it easy, regardless of how I feel, to workout daily. Eating is a day-to-day thing. I do not plan out my weeks menu and cook as such. Usually the night before I’ll give it some thought, and I’m always shopping ahead so there are many choices in the house.

Here was my menu today:


My daily Shakeology meal replacement shake. I get a jumpstart on my overall nutrition and calorie goals as this weighs in close to 800 calories. Added to my scoop of chocolate Shakeology – 2 tbsp. each of unsweetened shredded coconut, flax see, PB2 chocolate, wheat germ; 1 tbsp. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa; 2 cups of mixed fruit; 2/3 cup low-fat chocolate milk; 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk.


I went out to lunch today to a nice place in Falmouth, MA called Crabapple’s. I ordered Baked Haddock & Scallops with sides of mashed squash and a fruit cup. I asked to go light on the butter (that’s still engrained in my head – eating lean).



I cooked at home while watching the pre game of Monday Night Football. On the stove I grilled a 6 oz. center cut pork chop – cooked in Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. pica de gallo. In the rice cooker, I mixed 1 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup black rice – served myself 2/3 cup cooked.


Mid morning – 3 oz. baby cut carrots with a tbsp. humus; 1 cup Puffins Peanut Butter cereal. Afternoon – 5 oz. dark meat turkey. Before dinner – bakery bread 1 slice death by chocolate (my cheat for being cheat free last week).


Post workout shake consists of Dymatize Elite Gourmet and Hammer Recoverite. Right before bed (waiting for me in the fridge) – Dymatize Casein and 1 tbsp. Natierra Trail Mix. I drink plenty of water during the day – a minimum of 8 glasses, and sometimes up to a gallon.


I use MyFitnessPal ( to track my food, and do this daily. I find it to be an invaluable tool if you really want to take your nutrition to the next level. I can quickly see my calories, proteins, carbs, fats sugars. All foods originating from home are measured. I do my best at restaurants to estimate portion sizes. There is a margin of error in tracking daily nutrition. I am fairly detailed, but estimating at a restaurant suffices. Sometimes I’ll use the bar code scanning feature of MyFitnessPal to quickly upload a food. The above is just a representation of one day. Foods like avocados, almonds (nuts), salmon, etc. are part of the mix. I don’t eat the same menu every day.

The above logged in as follows: 2,808 calories, 322g carbs, 75 g fat, 243g protein, 28g sat fat, 120g sugar. I’m guessing I could add 100-200 calories for the margin of error.

I’ll probably take away the cereal as that’s added sugar, which I get plenty of eating fruit (I was using it as a starch portion). There are many theories as to the amounts of macros needed to gain muscle mass based upon many factors like weight, where I am currently at 153 lbs.. The most important factors to me are that I’m getting my protein in, timing my carbs for workout fuel, and supplementing where I see fit. You can judge for yourself if you consider this a “healthy” day, but right I’m working hard at fueling my body to gain muscle.

Whether you are bulking like myself, or you are eating to lose weight, the approach to nutrition should be the same. Have fun with it, with the realization of how very important it is to living a healthy lifestyle, more so than the workouts. Exercise and nutrition need to work in unison.

Sunday Dinner – Designed To Fit My Needs

I am currently doing a weight training/body building program at home [Body Beast by Beachbody]. The program includes a meal plan/nutrition guide geared for proper mass building. Per the calculations in the guide, I calculated out at 2,800 calories per day to eat during the build/bulk stage, with a 50/25/25 Carb(Starch)/Protein/Fat breakdown. I do not follow the meal plan, but instead track my progress on MyFitnessPal and use the programs food guide to pick from in addition to my accumulated knowledge on healthy foods.

Tonight I went out food shopping and came across a 3-pack of thin sliced NY Strip Steaks (4 oz. each). I wasn’t thinking about dinner until I saw the steak, and then proceeded to add some dinner shopping to the general list. When the dust settled, the following was my Sunday dinner I prepared for myself:

  • A salad (approximately 2 cups raw) – mixed lettuce, green pepper, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, 2 tbsp. Bolthouse Farms Caesar Parmigiano dressing
  • 4 oz. NY strip (fresh), marinated for 20 minutes in Worcestershire Sauce, onion powder, pepper, minced garlic
  • 13.7 oz. sweet potato cut into wedges, sprayed with approximately 1/2 tsp. olive oil, added parsley and pepper
  • 4.6 oz. pencil asparagus

Prep time was around 25 minutes (while watching football):


Next – heat up the grill for the meat and potatoes! I put on the sweet potatoes first, and flipped them a few times over a 5-minute period before adding the steak to the grill. I steamed the asparagus with a few sprays of olive oil.


Once the steak hit the grill, everything was ready in around 5 minutes. I put all the food on the plate, and had a very enjoyable dinner along with a glass of water (going alcohol free for the duration of Body Beast).


The sweet potato was large and I contemplated eating half of it, but once I dug in, I decided I needed the full nutritional breakdown of the meal to fulfill my daily requirement. To get the best possible results from a body building program, it’s imperative that you fuel your body properly for the best results, those results being the best your body can do.

Nutritional Data Per MyFitnessPal:

717 calories; 22g fat; 100g carbs; 36g protein; 8g sat fat; 25g sugar

I did the best I could loading the proper information into MyFitnessPal.

Challenging Yourself – A Personal Perspective To Find The Fire Within

Don’t let anyone fool you – challenging yourself with working out and eating healthy on a regular basis is a huge undertaking.

I am currently weight training for the first time in my life, and here are my feelings at the end of week #1, as posted in a workout challenge group I am a part of:

This morning I don’t feel too sore since yesterday was rest day, but after Build:Chest/Tris that will change. As you’ve seen me post about a few times this week, I feel differently about the nutrition and it’s effect on my body and mind. I personally don’t enjoy eating this much food. Some of it is physical (stomach) and some is mental (coming from years of a lean approach). Tomorrow morning I will take my 7 day measurements which I’m not looking forward to (I know when I see the weight and BF% I’ll probably just shake my head and turn away mumbling “trust the system”).

Running a calorie surplus is the mental challenge for me. It took me a long time to get to the lean person I was happy with, and to switch mentality from lean maintenance to mass gaining takes a lot of discipline. With that post, I received a nice detailed response which leaned towards that person supporting and motivating me to continue on. Here was my response:

Thanks for the detailed reply. Let me make something really clear – I may voice displeasure with the calorie intake, but I hoped my words made it clear that I have no intention of straying from the system. I’m not adjusting anything from the guide, and will eat the calories with the proper portion %’s. You should understand that I’ve been at this for decades without a shred of outside motivation, no accountability partner, and lots of doubters. My dedication and commitment to my efforts is a fire that burns entirely within, and over the decades the flame only gets bigger.

It’s physically and mentally challenging doing any sort of exercise. Being it’s my first time resistance training, it takes some time finding the proper weight to use while working on keeping perfect form to minimize the risk of injury. Physically, I just push myself where the last rep I can barely complete while keeping good form. It’s the mental challenge that’s most difficult. I have no problem getting my workouts in each day, and I’m sticking to the nutrition plan. The difficult part as I stated above is I have spent years to get to the leaner/harder person I am today, and have approached nutrition to maintain the 150 lbs. and 12% body fat I was at. Now, at 2,800 calories per day, in my first week I gained 3 pounds and 1.3% body fat. I understand that I need calorie excess to gain mass, but it’s still hard watching decades of hard work “appear” to be going down the drain (I know that’s not true). But I have a goal to gain 10 lbs. of muscle, so onward I march.

The point of illustrating my mindset is the mental challenge to keeping up with your healthy routine of fitness and nutrition.  I have self trained myself over several decades to be dedicated and committed to living a healthy lifestyle. I have fought those internal voices that tell me to stop and have ignored the external voices from those who don’t understand, and realized that instead of channeling my efforts externally to find a support system that didn’t naturally exist, I needed to work on my internal support system – The Fire Within.

Get an accountability partner if you can. Hopefully you have many people supporting you. And reach out for motivation when you feel yourself in need. But you must work hard on the fire within, for at the end of the day, only you push that button to exercise and only you can control what you eat. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it since you’re working on being a healthier you.

Sunday / Rest Day – Ahh Yes, The Day You Can Eat. But What Should That Mean?

When Sunday rolls around, echoes are heard: “Sunday”, Rest day”, “Football”, “Yoga” (really). When it comes to food, more echoes: “Beer”, “Barbeque”, “Pizza”. In the half century that I’ve been around, I’ve heard those echoes repeatedly.

Here is my personal Sunday menu today (not including snacks of a gala apple, some baby-cut carrots, and a pop cake with 2 tablespoons of chocolate Better N’ Peanut Butter):



This is the easiest and healthiest way for me to start my day and get in over 700 calories in a chocolate shake, with Shakeology being the core. This get me 1/4 of the way to my current daily goal which makes the rest of the day easier for me. I added Wheat Germ & Flax Seed to my favorite recipe which adds over 200 healthy calories.

Late Morning:

Pre Workout…


Post workout:


This is geared for recovery from the strenuous workout.



Four ounces of turkey breast (I cook whole turkeys and freeze the meat), 2 tablespoons each of hummus and Tzatziki, some deli mustard, lettuce, onions, on pumpernickel bread.



Five ounces of grilled sirloin (a little Worcestershire sauce, Montreal seasoning, and minced garlic), large sweet potato, steamed veggies, and a salad with my choice of a healthy dressing.



Casein protein is slow digesting, and feeds your muscles overnight while you are sleeping (fasting).

This is my typical current daily diet, which has been designed for the Beachbody’s Body Beast fitness program (resistance training with the goal of gaining 10+ pounds of muscle in 12-weeks). Obviously food choices change (except breakfast), but at the end of the day and as of this writing, I am eating around 2,800 calories with a 50/25/25 Starch(Carb)/Protein/Fat breakdown as I am in the Build stage (Build, then Bulk, then Beast (which is Cutting)). I eat very clean (nobody’s perfect), and am currently 1-week into a 12-week alcohol free period. I drink a lot of water – haven’t counted, but I would say I hover around 80-100 ounces per day.

You have choices. When you focus on “healthy”, there will be sacrifices. But those sacrifices are only sacrifices to your senses and to your stomach. With regards to your overall health you shouldn’t associate food choices with sacrifices – when you make smart and informed choices, it’s called healthy choices.

Focus on making healthy choices daily. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as your body will thank you, and you will discover new foods to replace those “sacrifices”.