Category Archives: Nutrition

Nutritional Related Posts

The Key To The Healthy Lifestyle – Do What Works For You

When I titled this entry, I chuckled at its simplicity and duh factor. But at the end of the day, staying fit and healthy is a mental challenge, and you need to provide yourself the best method to stay in the game. Based on your daily life filled with work, family, social, financial, and other worries, it’s not as simple as it may seem. My last blog post was about resolutions and how I feel they can be a recipe for disaster as you can set an unrealistic goal for yourself based solely on a date on the calendar.

My definition of living a healthy lifestyle is one that you will see everywhere – good nutrition and exercise. It all starts with good nutrition, because no amount of exercise will offset bad nutrition. With that said, I have changed my viewpoint on nutrition, based on my change from a cardio based eat low-fat low carb mentality to a resistance training with some cardio and tracking macros approach. I find the latter to be more sensible, as it allows for more flexibility with the enjoyment of food. With bodybuilding, simply put, you calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which will provide you calories to eat to maintain, and then adjust your eating habits if you want to lose weight or gain mass (cutting and bulking in the bodybuilding world) by eating 10-20% above TDEE to bulk and 10-20% below TDEE to cut. Using an app like MyFitnessPal has been an invaluable tool for me, as I can control my weight fluctuation based on my daily food intake because I know pretty accurately what I am eating. You have to eat every day, so smart nutrition is a daily work-in-progress.

Exercise is the wild card, because each of us have different abilities and circumstances. You may like running, or weight training, or cycling, or indoor cardio, or taking fitness classes. There are almost endless possibilities in what you can do to stay fit. I could sit here and tell you based on my research that resistance training is probably the best method to stay fit, as you can use resistance training to gain lean muscle while still enjoying heart-healthy cardio benefits, all of which will help you with weight control. I’ve spent 26 years actively “working out” – started with a Nordic Track, did lots of cardio for decades with the elliptical, running, spinning, etc. Now I am weight training, using cardio only for its heart benefit and doing such 1-2 times per week. Muscle burns fat as well if not better than spending 1 hour doing cardio that might burn 400 calories, whereas after a weight training session your body continues to burn fat. I’ve proven this to myself, as I can control my weight better now than I used to on the cardio train.

At the end of the day, when I mentor others with their fitness goals, my only true objective is to find a program that a person wants to do every day. Regardless of all the research out there comparing various forms of fitness, if you are doing any form of fitness, it’s better than doing nothing at all. I may not personally like to run, but if that’s your thing, then you should be doing it. Exercise for me is a release. I enjoy it as it helps clear the mind and give me a sense of accomplishment, all the while knowing I am doing something good for my body.

Alcohol And Weight Training (Or Even General Fitness & Health)

For the past 7 weeks (of a 12-week decision), I made a choice not to drink any alcohol as part of my first time ever weight training program. Can I hold out for another 5 weeks? Hell yeah – it’s easy for me. But, will I? Should I?

In my case I only drink rum. From a health standpoint, rum has been linked to reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. I have no proof on that, nor do I deem it important enough to find research studies on the subject. There is more widespread belief that a glass of wine a day is beneficial. But alcohol dehydrates, and when trying to gain mass/muscle, you strive to have your muscles hydrated.

Here’s my take on alcohol in relation to my goals. I’m not training to compete, so I’m not taking my fitness to the degree a competitor would. But, I’m trying to maximize any potential gains by being smart with nutrition. That being said, there “may” be room for an occasional drink, but it has to be planned for. Alcohol is known as “empty” calories. There’s approximately 70 calories in a shot (1 oz.) of rum. At home you can control your pour, but at a bar, one drink might be 2 ounces or more. When you are weight training to build muscle, you major concern is the tracking of macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fat. In addition, based on scientific calculations, you want to achieve a specific daily calorie intake. So all that rum does is add calories and nothing else. And at the end of the day, excess calories is what makes you gain weight. Therefore, if I plan to go out and have a drink, I will assume an average of 2 ounces per drink (at my local watering hole, one drink is more than that) and have to figure about 150 calories of zero beneficial nutrition. That means in order to meet my daily macronutrient and calorie goals, I’ll have to make sure the rum calories are not in addition to my daily intake as calculated. I prefer to get my daily calories from healthy food sources (now that I am consciously thinking about and tracking nutrition).

For me, alcohol is more a social thing. I love the taste of chocolate. I like the taste of rum, and I don’t mind the “buzz” of a drink or two. But as I’ve progressed with my healthy lifestyle, alcohol doesn’t have it’s own place anymore – it’s just an add-on. I anticipate that only at particular parties or social events, I may have a drink and milk it all night. Other than that, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my “regular” Friday and/or Saturday night drinks. This past 7 weeks I’ve seen how easy it is not to drink alcohol, and I truly do not miss mornings of lethargy after a 2+ drink night.

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.