Wedding Weight Loss Tips

The Questions I Wish I Asked my Grandfather Before He Died

In 2009, my grandfather passed after a long bout with diabetes and heart disease. While preparing to launch my podcast, I can't help to think of the one interview I never did. Ironically, the time was there to do it. I called him every day for over three years with the exception of four days (until two months before his passing....not an exaggeration). I guess I saw the writing on the wall. Despite those phone conversations, I never took the chance to ask him the questions that still keep me wondering.

The Questions I Didn’t Ask

-When you were seventeen, your mother passed, and then your father nearly one year later. Tragic losses at such an early age. How did those moments shape your perspective in life, and how do you believe they steered your path? How have those experiences changed your interactions with new people? What was the greatest lesson from each of your parents that still resonates today?

-You married my grandmother, and you were drafted for the Korean War shortly after. Describe the day you found out that you were drafted. Did you receive a letter or phone call? Where were you standing? What were the first thoughts that crossed your mind upon learning this new fate?

-Lying on your cot at night while stationed in Germany during the Korean War. The unofficial Korean War officially ended three months earlier, but you were still serving in the army. What thoughts passed through your head while trying to sleep? Did you believe that the war truly ended? What uncertainties did you fear?

-People were shocked to hear that the president JFK was shot. In that period of US history, the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. added to an unsettling spirit. What was your perspective of such a time? Where does that period fit into your life span that started in the 1930’s?

-What was your morning ritual? Did you wake up the same time each day? Did you have breakfast with all five kids? Did you follow the same regiment daily? When you were operating at your best, how did you structure the days of your weeks? What were the rituals or routines that helped you to create your best self and best performance? What is one habit everyone should begin today?

-Tell me a story about one of your most memorable rejections in the beginning days.

-As a 7th grader, you mentioned in a church bulletin that you wanted to become an engineer when you “grow up”. Fast forward nearly a decade, and that was, indeed, what you became. What sparked your interest in the industry, and who was your mentor? Did you consider pivoting towards another career at any point? If so, what were you considering? Do you ever wonder what it would’ve been like to be in that career instead?

-How did you choose a personal or professional project, and how did this approach change over the years? What were the highlights of your career? If you did an autopsy, what are the takeaways?

-Is there a line or passage in a book you’ve read over a lifetime that still resonates today? Has there ever been a moment in your life that led you to say, “Something has to change”? If so, how did you respond?

-You have met many interesting people and checked off several impressive career milestones while working as an engineer at Santa Fe Railroad, and then for the city. What valuable lesson would you share with my two-year-old son, your great-grandson, Preston, and why?

Personal Trainer Wisdom: In our pursuit for wisdom, we often overlook the resources in front of us. My grandfather was an incredible person that certainly shaped who I am and my approach today. Although I can’t ask him these questions, I will do my best to no longer overlook the lessons that surround me daily.


1 Life Lesson I Wish I Would’ve Listened to as a Child

I try to live without regrets, but I often wonder how different my path would’ve been if I followed all of the important “life lessons” taught to me. Although I absorbed quite a bit as a child (and teenager), here is one lesson I would pay more attention to if given a round two.

Hug everyone.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: As I mention this lesson, I now fear that my neighbors will think Ill chase them down the block for a hug. Why not? Everyone deserves a hug! I’m not sure every stranger would welcome my open arms. A hug isn’t always welcomed, and I’m mindful of that. Nevertheless, I know that the root of being is interaction and hugging is an emotional manifestation of this philosophy.

Although I’ve always realized the importance of physical interaction, I’ve been guilty of isolating myself at times. Call it insecurity or a simple way of protecting myself. It minimized my intimacy with people in all types of relationships-friendships, romantic relationships, family relationships, etc. Should I blame myself? My family didn’t hug much (although the love was apparent) and I didn’t see many examples of this affection growing up (known by me as “Eastern European Love”: a stoic emotional exhibit of love but present in its own way).

Words of love are enough, right? Not sure anymore. Something is missing: Vulnerability. The alternative to hugging, lying on our backs like a dog, isn’t the socially acceptable exhibit of this intention for humans. Hugs are the next best thing. It is a statement of: “I trust you,” “I’m letting down my guard,” and “I accept you”….and who doesn’t want that love? My verbal language of love was useful but not complete for many years. My new hugs truly represent a new level of comfort with the people I love or don’t know very much, and my life is enriched as a result. I'm not a perfect hugger, and I still draw the line on hugs with complete strangers, people who don't show signs that they're interested in hugs, or hugs extending beyond a minute (and, yes, I did just say that). It's a work in progress, and I look forward to reaching new (and longer) hugging heights in the next decade!

Photo Credit: Indy 100 .com: Could hugging a person be the life lesson most of us have overlooked?


4 Healthy Substitutes for the Foods I Crave the Most

In a healthy diet, you most likely need to steer away from your favorite foods including pasta and ice cream. Is there a way to still indulge without feeling guilty? You bet! Here are my top four substitutes that will convince you that they’re the real thing!

You no longer have to stare at pictures of ice cream.

You no longer have to stare at pictures of ice cream.

Luna and Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Ice Cream

Ingredients: Coconut Milk (Water, Coconut, Guar Gum), Agave Syrup, Coconut Cream, Dried Coconut, Coconut Extract, Vanilla Extract. 

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Why I like it: It’s a non-dairy product with all of its fat coming from coconuts. While you still need to be mindful of your serving size since it has 22g of fat and 16g of sugar, it will satisfy your craving for a milk-based product (which is more inflammatory). Alternative to the alternative: Any all-fruit sorbet with no added sugar. 



Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce

Ingredients: Distilled Vinegar, Aged Cayenne Red Peppers, Salt, Water, Canola Oil, Paprika, Xanthan Gum, Natural Butter Type Flavor And Garlic Powder.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: I love buffalo sauce but it’s typically 1 part butter, 1 part hot sauce….a no, no for an ideal diet. Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce is the best tasting alternative on the market. You can add it to anything. Be mindful of your amount. It packs 460mg of sodium per serving. That’s a big chunk of the recommended 1500 mg of sodium per day in a healthy diet. Photo Credit: Live kindly. co

Bringing pasta back to the healthy table!

Bringing pasta back to the healthy table!

Banza Elbows Made From Chickpeas

Ingredients: Chickpeas, Tapioca, Pea Protein, Xanthan Gum.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: No way around it: All pasta is highly processed and loses some of its nutritional value through the heating process. The Banza pasta noodles give you a higher dose of the valuable fiber and protein (14g) than the white AND wheat noodle options. It also contains only four ingredients and avoids toxic additives and preservatives in other boxed foods. Cooking tip: Boil the noodles until they’re al dente and then quickly rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process (otherwise they’ll soften too much). 

Time for sausage!

Time for sausage!

Beyond Meat Beyond Sausage

Ingredients: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Refined Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Contains 2% or less of: Rice Protein, Faba Bean Protein, Potato Starch, Salt, Fruit Juice (For Color), Vegetable Juice (For Color), Apple Fiber, Methylcellulose, Citrus Extract (To Protect Quality), Calcium Alginate Casing. 

Personal Trainer Wisdom: My Lithuanian and German ancestors may scoff at the idea of a sausage substitute but Beyond Meat has magically found the recipe to convince you it could be the real thing. If your focus is a diet with less inflammation and cholesterol, this may still satisfy part of your sausage craving. Disclaimer: Like the pasta recommendation, it’s still a highly processed product, and it contains 500mg of sodium and 12g of fat. Photo Credit: The Happy Pear on Twitter


A Simple 10 Phase Progression for Weight Loss

Here is a simple progression to weight loss. You can start at Phase 1 and add the next phase (each in 1-2 week increments) until you reach your goal or separately test each phase until you determine what affects your weight the most. Although I prefer a primary focus on nutrient-dense options, a caloric deficit seems to be the most desired first step for many clients. No matter how you approach this progression, try to seek a sustainable combination of efforts based on your needs (and it doesn’t need to be perfect).

Please note that I haven’t mentioned anything about fitness. Based on fourteen years of experience, I haven’t found a positive correlation between sustainable weight loss and killing yourself in the gym (unfortunately and fortunately). Many factors affect the caloric exchange between nutrition and fitness-making it very difficult to determine real numbers (e.g., the machine claims you burned 600 calories when you only burned 325 calories for reasons related to YOUR body). Although the answer to weight loss is simple, it doesn't mean it's easy. I hope this structured approach will minimize any frustration. Good luck! Be diet strong!

Phase 1: Cut your total caloric amount by 25% without changing the substance (the type of foods that you’re eating).

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Unfortunately, a caloric deficit isn’t scientifically enough to lose weight….but it can help initially if you’re overconsuming. Your body could only process so much food at once, and the rest is converted into fats, triglycerides, and more. Sidenote: You’re only creating a deficit based on your current habits. Most people tend to consume far more calories necessary (1300-1700) for a sedentary lifestyle. By cutting 25% of your current calorie load, you are simply getting closer to this mark.

Phase 2: Cut down your caloric intake until you reach a range of 1300-1700 calories per day.

Phase 3: Cut down your caloric intake until you reach a range of 1300-1700 calories without exceeding 300-500 calories per meal.

Phase 4: Eat 3-4 meals per day with 3-5 hours in between each meal.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Timing is everything, and it usually takes 3-5 for proper digestion and absorption. You want to avoid eating more food than your body can process at a given time (you know what happens then). At the same time, you want to limit any nutritional deficiency (who knows how your body will compensate). Do you ever feel stuffed or starved? Do you typically take more or less than 3-5 hours in-between meals?

Phase 5: Eat 3-4 meals at the same time each day.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Your body wants to be an efficient machine that operates on autopilot. Most of the time it depends on its biological clock - a blend of natural and reinforced forces. With this being said, you can train your body to efficiently release a flood of hormones to help you utilize the fuel you feed it at the same times each day. You already did this in grade school when you ate lunch at 11:37 every day and still felt the hunger pangs at the same time over your summer break. The principle also applies to your efficient recovery while you sleep each night. Your body will naturally wake you slowly over the course of 3 hours prior to your waking time. Going to bed at the same time every night will reinforce this habit and wake you without an alarm clock at the same time as well!

Phase 6: Substitute half of every meal and snack with vegetables (anything plant-based).

Phase 7: Minimize one of the big five weight gain culprits by 25%, then 50%, and finally 75% over two weeks. If weight loss begins, continue. If not, try a second item from the list until you’ve attempted them all.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Our bodies are equipped to handle quite a bit. Like the rest of nature, the human body has boundaries, too. The following items have been scientifically proven to cause weight gain, inflammation, and more. Determine your sensitivity to each of the items and figure out what you can truly get away with.

· Grains including whole grains or all-bran products (breads, crackers, rice, cereals, etc.)
· Processed foods (products with additives and preservatives; genetically modified foods; or anything else not in its whole, natural form)
· Dairy (butter, milk, and cheese processed from animals)
· Alcohol, refined sugar, and artificial sweeteners
· Animal protein with high levels of saturated fat (red meat, pork, wild game, etc.)

Phase 8: If minimizing each of the weight gain culprits separately up to 75% hasn’t led to weight loss, it may be time to make a similar effort with 2 or 3 of your most common choices on this list.

Phase 9: Try a perfect diet with all of the phases over two weeks.

Phase 10: Discuss your efforts with your doctor and test for deficiencies, diseases, or disorders.

Photo Credit: Deco Healthy Living .com-Will the inches drop off with the use of your fork and knife?


4 Quotes That Changed the Way I Approach my Day

While reading Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors, I often find many useful insights to integrate into my life. None have been more valuable than these four quotes.

”Live. Give. Forgive.” – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Live, give, and forgive are three simple words that have steered me away from too much ego, anger, and pain. Extending beyond my “ego” not only has enhanced my life with thought-provoking experiences but the intent of “giving” has led to a new purpose and foundation of empathy. Although it’s always a work in progress, forgiveness is also equally important and has been an extension of this new empathy (as well as acceptance).

”One distraction I’ve learned to avoid is consuming media that’s just telling me things I already know and agree with.” – Julia Galef

Personal Trainer Wisdom: A thorough dissection of the information I often seek out from the media reveals my tendency towards pundits that support my personal perspective. How can I become more enlightened if I don’t identify my tendency to focus on the familiar and examine multiple paths of thought? With a heightened state of awareness, I know I can identify these trends before I foster my typical narrow perspective. I realize that I don’t need to agree with all positions, I should respectfully consider all factual evidence to create a fair judgement (not an unsubstantiated opinion or the typical pundit rhetoric).

”When something goes badly, I don’t automatically assume I did something wrong. Instead I ask myself, “What policy was I following that produced this bad outcome, and do I still expect that policy to give the best results overall, occasional bad outcomes notwithstanding?” If yes, then carry on!” – Julia Galef

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Life is a series of processes that often intertwine with many controlled and uncontrolled factors, as well as interesting coincidences. The results may become surprising outcomes. Despite any result, the process warrants an examination for the sake of replication or avoidance. It may help me help avoid many false positives.

”The moment I start one of these three behaviors—blaming, complaining, or gossiping – I become negative. It’s a sign of avoiding what I am responsible for: my life.” – Aniela Gregorek

Personal Trainer Wisdom: When I blame, complain, and gossip, I now realize that I’m negatively spewing rhetoric beyond the basic awareness of a challenge or problem. I may still express disgust or distaste of an identified state of being or result. Anything beyond the initial reaction, though, I require myself to change or avoid it. My blaming, complaining, and gossiping are nothing but fruitless forms of disrespectful banter contributing to a negative atmosphere (even if it’s directed at something negative itself). Instead, I try to start from a place of compassion and empathy.

Photo Credit: The Happy Pear on Twitter