• Get Fitness Together

  • Blog Posts

    February 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728  

Get in a Quickie to Avoid Holiday Stress and Weight Gain


There’s nothing like a quickie to get your morning started right!  Or pick you up in the afternoon!

Or punctuate your day in the evening!

Exercise Quickies, that is.

You see, December is one of the toughest months of the year for Fitness Professionals. As if busy lives, work schedules, and family affairs weren’t enough, extra travel, holiday parties, out-of-town guests, and office gatherings all add to the daily grind. Making time to exercise is always a challenge, but this added pressure can be a nightmare for trainers trying to keep their clients on track!

Of course, in the blinder-ed world of a Fitness Professional (because no matter what the question is, exercise is almost always one of the best answers), we’d argue that if you’re life gets so stressful that you don’t have time to exercise, you really can’t afford to NOT exercise. Indeed, exercise is the ultimate anti-anxiety medicine.

So, before you blow off your workout in lieu of yet another gluttonous holiday party, consider rolling through December distractions with Frequent Exercise Quickies!

Here’s how it works.

Rather than spending your normal 75 to 90 minutes working out 3 or 4 days per week this month, plan instead for training 4 or 5 days per week (one extra day) for just 40 to 50 minutes (less time per workout).

Normally, we coach clients (and you should plan) for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes warming up before your workout and 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular work following your session.  Along with your 45 minute training  session, this gives you a standard 75 to 90 minute workout.   Normally.   And while that doesn’t seem like a huge time commitment to us (after all, isn’t your health, sleep, and appearance worth it?), it can certainly seem intimidating when there’s cooking to be done, the in-laws are inbound, and you have an unfinished gift shopping list.

A 45 minute workout, on the other hand, is short, sweet, and mentally conquerable.
Indeed, just showing up is the hardest part!

Heck, it’s not even a workout … more of a workoutling ... a workout too small, cute, and incomplete to be a real workout. Get in, get it done, and be on your way.  The key, of course, is that if you reduce you cardio and resistance workout volumes, you’ll really, really need that additional exercise quickie per week!  Quickies are only acceptable if you get more of them into your week!

Training for 45 minutes 4 times per week (200 total minutes) instead of 75 minutes 3 times per week (225 total minutes) also has other advantages.

For one, you raise your metabolism one extra day per week. Not only do you burn calories while exercising, but you’ll burn additional calories recovering from the exercise after your workout. And this extra day of recovery effort more than covers for the reduced total volume (25 minutes).

Additionally, the 4th workoutling per week gives you one more boost of energy to make it through stressful days, and another shot of endorphins to make the holiday stress more tolerable.

If you’re training with FT, your session pace is always quick and with aerobic elements, but if you’re getting your (regular or extra) workoutlings on your own

… keep these things in mind for effective exercise quickies:

  1. It’s just 40 minutes, so plan for being seriously committed for the entire workout; it goes fast!
  2. Rest no more than 1 minute between sets
  3. Drink plenty of water
  4. Perform mostly compound exercises that incorporate a lot of major muscle groups
  5. Wear your headphones, and don’t make eye contact with anyone else in the gym (no time to get pulled away into a conversations)
  6. Look ahead, and plan your next exercise before you’re finished with your current one
  7. Have an alternate exercise in mind with alternate equipment to keep you moving should your equipment get taken before you get there (and good training for the January gym jams)
  8. Go relatively light with high repetitions (20+) on the 1st set of any exercise (the abbreviated warmup will increase the risk of injury, so you’ll need to warmup in-line)
  9. Plan for no fewer than 10-12 repetitions on any exercise (again, making the workout more aerobic in nature to compensate for reduced cardio)

Looking for another way to get in a Great, Quick Workout?  

Try our Small Group Personal Training Sessions! 

Eating Too Little Contributes to Weight Gain


That’s right, eating too little at the wrong times can actually have a negative effect on your weight loss efforts.

Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day weight loss is still a very basic calorie calculation: weight lost = calories out – calories in. Consume more than you burn and you gain weight. Burn more than you consume andyou loose weight. Simple math.

However, eating too little at critical times of the day, like breakfast or prior to exercise can actually have a negative effect on your ability to loose fat.

Skipping breakfast, for instance can create a hormone imbalance that triggers the body to go into”starvation mode,” and consequently triggers the body to store more fat than it otherwise would by reducing your metabolism. Not good.

Further, as the day progresses, this hormonal imbalance unnaturally increases appetite to the point where you’re far more likely to overeat for your next couple of meals according to the Journal of American Nutrition. That’s even worse.

Eating too little prior to exercise is another frequently made mistake.
Whether you’re heading to the club to lose body fat, add muscle tone, or just feel good about yourself, it is critical that you have a small pre-workout meal.

And here’s why.

Energy for exercise always comes from a blend of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. But fat sources only work at very low intensity levels, and carbohydrates are quickly utilized and must be constantly replenished.

So, while you might hope that your body will always use fat as an energy source during exercise, stored fat is metabolized ONLY when you are either sedentary or exercising at a very, very low level of intensity.  You will, indeed, burn more calories when you exercise at more rigorous levels, but you’ll burn no more fat. Check out my Heart Rate Zone Training to Look and Feel Fantastic report for LOTS more detail on this.

Most exercise is aerobic in nature. The energy source that will help you work harder to burn more calories, and work more efficiently to recruit additional muscle fibersis carbohydrates.  Unlike fat, which is stored as fat, carbohydrates are stored in the blood stream, muscle tissues, and organs as glycogen and glucose (and, technically ATP at the cellular level, but we’ll ignore that for now).

These immediately available “sugars” are your primary energy source for exercise… at least until they’re gone, which can be in as little as 20 minutes, depending on your metabolism and the nature of your exercise. Once the supply is spent (metabolized to exercise), your body needs to replace those spent sources with new sources .. .your pre-workout meal.

So, when you’re consuming your pre workout meal, you’re really filling your gas tank for the second half of your workout.

If you get it right, you’re in good shape for high energy levels and higher levels of intensity during the second half of your workout.  If you get it wrong, you’ll “hit a wall”, struggle with even moderate intensities, and ask your body to metabolize less efficient sources for energy, like proteins. That’s right, even if you’ve got 30 pounds of body fat to loose, if your body needs energy sources beyond the immediately available carbohydrate sources, it doesn’t convert your stored fat, it converts proteins!

Unfortunately, it gets worse yet, for if those proteins aren’t in your bloodstream (from a consumed meal), your body converts stored proteins …your muscle tissue … through a process called catabolism.

And if you are catabolising you will almost certainly gain fat because maintaining lean body mass is a key factor in loosing body fat!

So, (ahem), here’s the skinny on your pre-workout meal. You don’t need to have much, but be sure that you have a few hundred (200 to 400, depending on your body weight) balanced calories between 30 and 60 minutes prior to exercise. This window will vary from person to person (and your hydration levels and prior daily food intake), but 30 to 60 minutes ahead of your workout is a good place to start. A well balanced snack should consist of approximately 25% protein, 65% carbohydrate and 10% fat. One half of a peanut butter sandwich and half a banana handle this perfectly.  Or a yogurt and a few crackers.

This pre-workout requirement is also well recognized, and aggressively marketed by the nutritional supplements industry (Cliff, PowerbarGatoraide, etc.). Products from these suppliers also nicely handles the requirement.  However, just be sure that you consume the product far enough ahead of exercise for benefit: it takes most digestive systems 30 to 40 minutes to move food to the bloodstream. Consuming these productsduring exercise is almost always too late for any benefit for exercise shorter than 90 minutes.


Looking for more healthy tips on eating right and proper nutrition?Ask me about our New Nutrition Together program!

10 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Personal Trainer


I had the good fortune of chatting with a middle aged woman from Minneapolis at last Saturday’s Divorcing Diva’s conference.

She wasn’t looking for training, but had stopped at our booth primarily for a signature on her card to be eligible for a drawing.   One thing led to another and we talked for almost 30 minutes about diet, exercise, scheduling, and personal training.

As it turns out, she trains at Lifetime.  Four days a week.   But before I could ask her how that was working out for her (she had somewhere upwards of 50 pounds to loose by quick inspection), she went on to volunteer a few things about the trainers there at Lifetime.   She had lots of complaints about how they were all 20 somethings that “knew it all,” but didn’t really “understand a middle aged female body,” and really just “… didn’t listen well on the whole.”

I felt sorry for her in no small way.  Unfortunately, she was right, and I operate in an industry where expectations are frequently unmet.  I’ve interviewed the kind of trainer she was talking about, and see them in action myself as I make my way around to the big box clubs in town.

We didn’t get any realistic leads from our booth, but it made my day to be reminded that we’re not that trainer.   I personally handle recruiting and training and the client experience here at Fitness Together.  My staff is the best of the best, and they push each other to get better.  And I’m the ‘parental guidance’ that’s missing from the big and little box trainers.  Who’s training the trainer there!?

And I had afew more thoughts, so here then are my

… Top 10 Tips for Finding the Right Personal Trainer.

1. There is no licensing requirement in most states. Unlike chiropractors, nutritional consultants, and massage therapists, Personal Training does not require licensing. It’s been suggested that states require licensing for the entire 25 years I’ve been in the industry, but it never seems to find any traction. In fact, you don’t need a degree, nor do you really even need a certification to operate as a Personal Trainer. You yourself, in fact, could call yourself a Personal Trainer and no one with any authority could force you to drop the declaration. While all of our trainers do have degrees from 4 year programs in exercise science related fields, and it does in fact make them better trainers, some trainers get along just fine with practical experience and energy. Simply recognize that without formal kinesiology and physiology training, you do assume higher risk of injury.

2. That said, most Personal Trainers will at the least boast certifications. And what a mess! You’ll see ACE, AFPT, NSCA, ASCM, and UBYA along with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of others. It’s a verifiable alphabet soup out there, and unless you’re actually in the industry, you really wouldn’t know the difference between a B6T from CYA and an Advanced Certification from NTSE. I’ve personally completed a few myself, see them daily on applications from trainers, and even I get confused! Some certifications, like NSCA an ASCM are very technical and difficult to obtain. Others are web based and can be completed with just a few hours on the internet! And even then, authenticating the certificate will be a challenge. So, you’ll need to do some research and don’t be shy about directly requesting a copy of your potential trainer’s certification. If certifications are all your trainer carries for credentials (unlike an actual degree), be sure to go online and look at the curricula. Oh, and be sure to ask about the currency of their CPR certification.

3. Nutritional Education is normally not part of most programs. In fact, even the degreed programs our staff has completed are light on nutritional education. And trainers will be all over the map on nutritional advice. Be extremely cautious if your trainer-to-be spends a lot of time pitching supplements. First, many states, Minnesota included, prohibit the ‘prescription’ of diet unless you are a licensed nutritionist. But a lot of trainers make significantly more profit from pushing and selling supplements than they do from training. If you find your trainer recommending more than a single supplement per day, or a month’s supply of pre and post workout supplementation, your best bet is to simply walk away.

4. Training women is much different than training men. I’ve run into a lot of male bodybuilders over the years who make Personal Training their profession. Highly accomplished themselves, a lot of these guys know a great deal about training young male athletes, and are quite good at it. But it takes an entirely different type of training, and an entirely different style of personal interaction to work with women, children, seniors, or special needs clients. Training an athletic, healthy 20 -something is much, much, much different than training a 50 something woman who hasn’t done much exercise in the past 20 years! Make sure that the trainer you interview has experience and positive results with someone just like you!

5. Personal and Professional Boundaries vary significantly. Dating your personal trainer is completely unprofessional. We had a trainer on staff a few years ago who came in with a fresh haircut. He looked good with it, and I told him so! He responded that he “…had just learned that most personal training clients fantasize about their trainer, and that if our clients were going to fantasize about him he at least wanted to look good!” Honestly, I can’t confirm the statistic. And I don’t know why clients sometimes tell us the things they tell us … we’re really not psychologists! But with regular, close contact, and regular (sometimes overly) personal conversations, the illusion of a friendship sometimes surfaces. However, if your Personal Trainer is a true professional, dating … and even casual fraternization … is completely over the line. A true Personal Training Professional begins and ends his relationship with you with your training session. Directly ask your personal training candidate what her policy is on dating clients.

6. Scheduling issues are likely to exist. Anyone who’s worth training with is going to be busy enough to be at least slightly unavailable to train you at your preferred time. At least initially. For FT MSP, we normally wedge the 1st few weeks of training into a mutually acceptable, but awkward schedule for new clients. Over time, things eventually converge to at least mostly acceptable for the client. As you might expect though, before and after work hot spots will always be on the schedule. Be sure to check your would be trainer’s schedule for the next few weeks before writing your check.

7. Turnover is extremely high in this industry. Due primarily to the lack of parental guidance mentioned above, Personal Training is an extremely high turnover industry. One statistic recently showed an average trainer turnover of about 6 months. Because, like you, I need to get out of my office to exercise, I personally see this kind of turnover all the time at the big boxes where I exercise. Very few trainers work independently these days. Most are employed by and paid through their fitness facility. When they leave, any unused sessions they still owe you will likely get brokered to other trainers in the facility. This could be good (perhaps even great!), or bad, but you need to ask about turnover and session transferability should your training candidate move on. And what if the trainer you hire simply doesn’t work for you? Personality friction sometimes exists. If a few sessions go poorly, can your unused sessions be trained by a colleague? Or sister facility across town?

8. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Anyone who promises you that you’ll loose 25# in the next 25 days is selling snake oil. Oh, it can in fact be done, but it won’t be safe, and it won’t be permanent. If your ultimate objective is to incorporate safe, permanent, positive changes into your life, be sure that your trainer understands that. Be sure that you’re clear about your goals, and don’t let your don’t let your trainer change them into dreams. In fact, one of the most unfortunate consequences of how most trainers are now employed is that those that do well in the big box gyms do so primarily becausethey can sell better than other trainers. And one of the reasons for why turnover is as high as it is is because thousands of highly skilled, enthusiastic, would-be exercise professionals are horrible at selling. It is truly tragic that schools are churning out skilled exercise professionals, and the 1st thing their employer asks them to do is become a salesperson! So, if it starts to feel like you’re being ‘sold’ something from your potential trainer, chances are that she’s better at selling than she might be at training. If you’re not answering a lot of questions, but are instead listening to a lot of promises, you’re talking to the wrong person.

9. Do the research. I like to compare hiring a trainer to hiring an orthodontist. If you don’t have teenagers, this won’t make complete sense, but a trainer, like an orthodontist is someone who …

  1. You will see very frequently and need to at least like a little bit;
  2. Needs to have acceptable availability with your schedule;
  3. Is reasonably easy to get to several times per week. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic for 40 minutes just getting to your trainer. You’ll be late frequently, and you’ll also come to dread the event, which will eventually reduce your attendance, which makes reaching your goals nearly impossible; and, finally …
  4. Needs to have proven results for patients with your specific background and goals

So, be sure to ask for and call several references. Make sure that those references are like you. Ask them about scheduling, results, nutritional advice, and socialization policies. Ask, as well about basic things like personal hygiene. Are they always cleanly shaven, with fresh breath, and without body odor? This might seem like it’s getting a bit too personal, but I can assure you, you don’t want a trainer in your face with bad breath or body odor. And very, very few people will actually volunteer that her trainer has BO unless you specifically ask them.

10. Find out who the boss is. Who do you turn to if your trainer crosses that personal/professional boundary? Towhom is your potential trainer eventually accountable? What is the background of the guy in charge? How long has he or she been in business? And whatabout their professional network: what professional and business associations do they belong to? What is their presence in the community like? What is their wellness sphere of influence like? Do they work with and have strong relationships with other wellness professionals in massage therapy, chiropractic care and nutrition. A quick google of the boss’ name can give you a lot of information!


Unselfishness’ Edge in Exercise Programs


Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  

– Vince Lombardi

I have a bike race on Saturday.  On Tuesday I needed a short, hot spiky interval workout to prepare and condition my body for clearing the flood of lactic acid soon to be heading my way!

I’ve done this type of interval training plenty of times before … on the bike, on the treadmill, on the elliptical, running hills, etc.  But on Tuesday morning, with that deliciously crisp fall air still hanging around, I headed for the rink for some open hockey.

Hockey’s an ideal game for short, hot, spiky interval training: skate hard, blow up, get off the ice and recover.  Winning (or trying to win) the race for a puck is a very quick way to find the Red Zone.  Do it again and again and again and again and you’ve got a nearly perfect hot spiky interval workout!

But what makes my engagement with the game truly unique, and why it is particularly effective for me in this way has mostly to do with mostly sucking at hockey.

I did not grow up playing the game in an organized way (I began playing at 41) , so when I jump into a local game, I’m almost always the least skilled player on the ice.  What happens next is, I think, fundamental human nature: recognizing my limitations, my primary <ahem> goal is to simply not be THE liability on my team.  It’s rare that I hit the net with the puck, so above all else, I don’t want to be THAT GUY creating the turnover or easy goal that let’s my team down.

I’ve worked extremely hard in individual workouts throughout my life, but almost never as hard as I do when my team is counting on me, or when I’m cycling in a group sprint ride.

  It isn’t necessarily for everyone, but I think group exercise is valuable in at least a limited way for most folks.

I still prefer to train mostly by myself for lots of reasons, but on occasion,  what is helpful to my overall program, and what I NEED most is someone ELSE to count on me.

And THIS is way I’m so excited about the upcoming Rollout of our Small Group Training Program!  

We now have a way to deliver well managed personal training in a small, teamwork-like environment!

PACK WEEK IS THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 26TH!

Limited space still available, but call now if you want to jump in!

Reinvent Yourself!


Having worked with clients who want to change themselves and change the way they live for almost 30 years now, I’ve never really paid attention to the Reinvent Yourself hoopla.  

In my sheltered, blindered world almost everyone we work with wants that! 

So when I did a google search on “Reinvent Yourself” this morning, I was truly amazed at what I found.  1st, there were about 1,100,000 results.  Hmm.  That’s a lot.   Not only that, but the 1st page of results had a Success Magazine Article: Ways to Reinvent Yourself; a reference to a Tim Ferris Interview; and a More Magazine Reinvent Yourself Convention link

Dang, that’s pretty trendy, if not heady stuff!

But the best news is this: if you’ve ever wondered if the path you’re on is heading too much uphill, or if the life you live is simply missing too much, you don’t need to travel to New York, or spend hours in front of your computer, or wonder any more.

I’ve partnered with Kristi Hemmer of 168Coaching and we’re delivering a Seminar on

Reinventing Yourself here in Minneapolis on Wednesday, September 14th! 

Register by September 11th and get 40% off –  just $15 by Monday! 

       ReInvent Yourself!           

Design a new life and lifestyle for yourself!

Mulligans are do-overs in golf.  A second chance to hit that winning drive down the fairway without a penalty shot.   If you could have a mulligan in life, what would you do over?  

How would you do it over?

What’s stopping you?

Join Kristi Hemmer of 168Coaching in partnership with Randy Zarecki of Fitness Together and Vital Vitality for a 120-minute interactive workshop in which the focus is on you:  relationships, fitness, travel, career, community, wellness, lifestyle, family, and more.   And how you can “Reinvent yourself” without a penalty shot.

This workshop includes:

More Details and Regisration Information Here

Conquering Carbohydrates Part 3: The Complex Carbohydrate Conundrum


A few weeks ago, we posted Carbohydrates For Dummy’s Part 1: Saccharides and Such. 

A week after that we posted Part 2 of the Conquering Carbohydrates story: an introduction to Complex Carbohydrates.

Then came a few distractions and the Annual Fair Foods Blog, but we’re back on track today  with the 3rd and final part of the Conquering Carbohydrates Conundrum.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

If sugar, starch, simple carbs, complex carbs, and ne t carbs weren’t enough to test your meddle, two other sometimes confusing carb-centric terms to contend with are Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL).

Glycemic Index simply ranks foods on how quickly they affect glucose levels in the blood stream.  Developed in Toronto in the 1980s to help doctors prescribe diets for diabetics, foods that quickly elevate blood sugar levels have a high glycemic index.  Foods that increase blood sugar slowly have lower glycemic indices.

In addition to Diabetics, Athletes also tend to be highly aware of blood glucose levels to both prepare for and recovery from intense exercise.   Regular exercisers can also benefit from an awareness of blood sugar levels, however, because the of the effect cortisol has on glucose metabolism when you are low on blood sugar.

You might think that you’re doing yourself a favor skipping lunch, when in fact, doing so triggers your body to generate more cortisol.

Cortisol … the “your under stress hormone” counteracts Insulin production and reduces the metabolism of glucose.  The result of this is disproportionately more fat storage in anticipation of famine!  Additionally, the increased Cortisol increases appetite so you’re more likely to overeat at your next meal!

It would be great if you could simply categorize carbohydrates into glycemic index groups that fit nicely within some saccharide category, but the truth is, it’s somewhat of a frustrating memorization exercise.

Take roots.  Carrots & yams (both simple carbohydrate foods) have relatively low GIs of 39 and 51, respectively, while potatoes have GIs as high as 85!   The difference here is that potatoes are very starchy.

So, starchy means high GI then?

Not quite. Plenty of other starchy carbs, like Oats, Bran, Rye and Barley are actually quite low in GIs scoring in the 20s and 30s.  Similarly,  wheat and most rices also score fairly low (50s), while brown rice pasta has an exceptional and soaring 91!

And then there’s fruit.  Unless I’ve missed something, no fruits are starchy.   They’re fibrous and watery, but not starchy.  But here’s the rub: some fruits have very low GIs, like grapefruit (25), plums (39), and apples (38); and some fruits have moderate GIs, like mangos (56), apricots (57), and raisins (64).  Why then, does watermelon have a sky high GI of 72?

It makes no sense, and in the end, you must simply memorize or carry GI tables with you to get it right!   Here’s one build for the sometimes-popular South Beach Diet.

Attempting to solve this mystery steps in Glycemic Load.

As it turns out, part of the reason why inconsistencies exist across the simple to complex carbs GI spectrum is related to quantity consumed.   For example, a single piece of hard candy (nearly all sucrose) will trigger a smaller glucose response than a bite of a banana.  But if you consume 2 cups of each, the candy outpaces the banana quite quickly!

What’s more, Net Carbs also have a role.  As mentioned above, the fiber content will affect digestion speed, which, in turn, effects blood sugar fluctuations.  So, in the late ‘90s,  the Glycemic Load became a more popular way to determine food effect on blood sugar, defined as the percentage of GI times Net Carbs:

Glycemic Load = Glycemic Index / 100 x Net Carbs

Got that?  Well, before you start looking for a smart phone app to calculate GL, have no worries, many nutritionists have simply done the math for you with tables they’ve built themselves.  In fact, one of my all time favorite nutrition sites, NutritionData.com doesn’t list GI at all, but instead lists an Estimated Glycemic Load number for most of it’s nutritional listings.  The values are estimated simply because complete data on GI and Net Carb values simply hasn’t yet been compiled for all foods.

What you also need to know about GI vs GL numbers is that a high GL number could be a low GI Number:

Within the heavily debated carbohydrate controversy, exists a separate embedded micro controversy around GI and GL.  As with carbohydrates, many experts propose low GI/GL diets within the weight reduction context, while others staunchly oppose it.  A 2008 German study, for instance, actually found that low GI/L diets actually correlated to higher bodyfat results.

Withstanding GL wizardry, one food category that emerges consistently high in the GI tables is highly refined grains, particularly those in baked goods.  French bread, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, rice cakes, and many breakfast cereals ALL SCORE very high on GI tables.

Refined Grains and Added Sugars

Refined grain products (cookies, cakes, cereals) also suffer from two other significant problems: added sugars and nutrient deficiency.

In fact, according to the  USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the single largest problem with many American diets is, indeed,  these refined grain products.

Not only do they trigger a short, spiky bust in glucose, but they are also reasonably ‘empty’ calories with very few micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  To make matters worse, they frequently include added sugars to make an already unhealthy food even more caloric.  Sometimes inclusive of saturated and/or hydrogenated fats as well, and well, these products are really quite evil to health and fitness professionals.

The Carbohydrate Conundrum: What to do?

With all of this going on, it’s no wonder the general public is confused about carbohydrates and their dietary relevance.  Here then is my professional recommendation on the topic.

First, if you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s orders, not mine.

For all the rest of us:

  1. The easiest way to defuse most of your concerns about carbohydrates is simply to exercise more!  Not only will you metabolize more calories in doing so, but other hormones involved with exercise and exercise recovery help keep cortisol and insulin balanced.
  2. Recognize that carbohydrates are, above all else, your body’s primary fuel source.   While it’s true that your body always metabolizes a blend of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, carbohydrates are your primary fuel source.  If your engine is just idling, back off on the fuel!
  3. Adjust your complex carbohydrate intake with your anticipated physical activity
    1. If you are sedentary, you need very complex few carbohydrates.  Most of your energy will come from stored energy sources (glycogen and body fat).   Eliminate most complex carbohydrates from your diet to avoid gaining body fat.
    2. If you are active, you need some complex carbohydrates.  Try to get most of your complex carbohydrates early in the day, typically before 2:00 PM.  Switch to mostly simple carbohydrates after that.
    3. If you are regularly exercising, or an athlete, you need a LOT more carbohydrates. Get most of your complex carbs early in the day, but do include moderate quantities later in the day.  Don’t hesitate to include higher amounts in your diet if you have a high intensity exercise event the following morning.
  4. Eat a wide variety of and large quantities of fruits and vegetables.  Follow the seasonally available produce and you’ll get plenty of variety.  Make sure you get at wide variety of color in your diet.   A lot of people miss out on the yellows: squash, yams, yellow peppers.
  5. Try to incorporate more legumes into your diet: green beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans; etc.
  6. When choosing complex carbohydrates, focus on whole grains, and high fiber sources.  Steel cut oats, whole wheat, and wild rice are good examples.
  7. Always avoid or minimize highly refined grains, particularly those with added sugars.  MOST of the grocery store bakery fits into this category: cookies, cakes, pies (it’s the crust), french bread, muffins, and doughnuts.   What’s worse is that many of these will also include partially hydrogenated fats.
    1. Avoid or eliminate them if you are serious about your health.
    2. Heart disease is still the #1 cause of death for men and women in America and these fats are deadly
Did I Miss Anything?   What’s your burning or unanswered carbohydrate question? 

A funny, but instructive story about two women and the value of a training partner …


My wife Shirley was looking for a new activity to fill the void of her recent retirement from women’s hockey.  My new business acquaintance Kristi was new to town and looking for local things to do.

As a fitness pro, it was easy to suggest that the two of them connect for some exercise!   So I introduced them to each other.

They went back and forth for a week or so on options and venues from mountain biking to hiking and eventually settled on a run date about 7 days out.

What happened next shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.   It also reminded me of the importance of two concepts critical to fitness success: an impending deadline and a trusted training partner.  

I’ve long tried to impress people on the significance of a training partner: someone to hold you accountable to simply showing up, and who is impervious to your many excuses for not exercising!

Sometimes your partner is your personal trainer, but it can just as well be a buddy on the same fitness excursion as you are.  In looking back at the years I was most competitive as a body builder, and then at the years I was competitive as a mountain bike racer, I was always at my best when I had a consistent training partner.  Always.

Neither Shirley nor Kristi had been running much before the date was set, but THEY BOTH RAN 3 TIMES INDIVIDUALLY in the week prior to the meetup run date!  3 times each, in all likelihood, that neither would have run had the date not been set.  

Maybe it’s the sometimes subtle competitiveness in all of us that won’t allow us to be the weak link on a team.  Or maybe it was the sense of urgency created with a firm run date on the calendar, even if only a casual run for two unacquainted women.

Who really knows?

What I do know is that establishing that deadline and committing to a training partner, even if only for a day, is one of the true secrets of Fitness Feng Shui!