Category Archives: General Posts

It’s a New Year – Hopefully You’re Not On The Resolution Train

It’s been over a month since I made a blog entry. In hindsight, there were probably two driving forces keeping me from making an entry.

One was the thought of the holiday season and its effect on one’s nutrition. As an observer, food plays a major role in one’s nutrition over the holiday’s. There is much weight added to the importance of food in one’s life during the holidays (I don’t mean scale weight, but that too is an issue) – whether it be a family holiday dinner, office holiday party, etc. Many people go to great lengths to put on an impressive and memorable spread. And even if one is conscious with regards to the nutritional value of the foods they create and serve, sometimes it’s just the sheer volume that overrules.

The second, and stronger reason why I didn’t post, is the never-ending train of resolutions. Everywhere I turned, someone somewhere was stating that now was the time to lose weight and get in shape. “It’s a New Year” they say. Motivation spews resolution over the holiday season.

I take a different approach with health concentric motivation, one to me that is simpler and easier to manage. “Lifestyle” is the key ingredient, the major focus. What I interpret in many of the health resolutions I see is a focus contextually revolving around weight loss. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but it’s an incomplete approach and promise, to me a major reason why a majority of the resolutioners only last a month or so. Failure is largely due to unrealistic goals. I believe in that moment you decide to cross that bridge and begin your journey into the healthy lifestyle, that you need to look beyond the goals you set. Weight loss will come with effort. Becoming a more fit version of yourself will come with effort. Your body will follow those efforts. Goals are a great thing – monetary goals, business building goals, personal goals. But those goals should be looked at as benchmarks, and nothing else. There is end point if you truly begin living a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t mean to lessen what you are accomplishing if in fact you made a resolution to yourself and have embarked on your journey. I just hope you see beyond a number you set for yourself. Losing weight is a positive, but doing it by creating lifelong habits with give you a better chance of becoming a healthier you.

Cacao (Cocoa) Powder – Are They All The Same?

Other than the brand name and the several varieties within each brand name (sweetened v. unsweetened, various flavors like Hershey’s special dark) , I used to think all cacao powders were pretty generic. Hershey’s, Ghiradelli, specific store brands – all appeared on the level to me. I generally pick up whatever is available when I’m running low on stock, and use it mostly to add to smoothies and Greek yogurt.

I grabbed a brand I never heard of and brought it home. It looked cool and had the word “superfood” on the label – great combo, chocolate and superfood 🙂 ). When I took the Hershey’s out to compare, I took a quick glance at the nutrition label (I was expecting around 10 calories and 1g of fat for one tablespoon, just like the others I’ve used), and my eyes were opened to the cacao powder world. For a 2 tablespoon serving, 150 calories and 9g of fat.


I had to investigate, me being a chocolate connoisseur. So I emailed Sunfood for an explanation:

Good morning,
I just purchased and tried your product for the 1st time in greek yogurt – great!!
Nutrition question – if I look at the label of Hershey’s cacao powder and yours, why are the calories and fat so much higher in your product where both labels ingredients only say 100% powder?
Thank you,
Jonathan Parker

Shortly thereafter, I received a response:

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for your inquiry. We’re glad you’re enjoying our raw cacao powder and we’re happy to try to answer your question.
The main differences between our cacao powder and Hershey’s is that ours is not Dutch processed (processed with alkali) and ours is kept below a 120 F temperature throughout the process. Because our cacao powder is pressed slowly and with less friction in small batches, I believe that it results in a higher fat content. Essentially, we’re not pressing all the oil out with fast and high pressures that result in higher temperatures. Hershey’s cocoa is first roasted and then Dutch processed, which probably allows more of the cacao butter/oil to eventually be pressed out. Hershey’s also processes extremely large amounts of cocoa with much faster and higher temperature processes. Their resulting cocoa powder is likely lower in fat because of this.
I hope this helps. Please let us know if we can help with any further clarification.
Kind regards

So all cacao/cocoa powders are in fact not created equal. Depending on your daily nutritional goals, using the low heat (minimally) processed cacao powder has many benefits. Here’s just one article I found relating to this:

I have uses for both powders. When I want a quick shot to reach daily macro and calorie requirements, the lower heat processed cacao powder added to Greek yogurt is a robust 290 calories (or 215 calories if I use only one tablespoon). The cacao powders like Hershey’s added to an already loaded caloric recipe adds flavor without affecting it’s overall nutritional value much.

Variety is the spice of life.

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.

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”.