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Fitness Plateau? Check Your Plate

July 2, 2015

Sloan Hemmer (photo above) discusses the REAL reason you can’t seem to lose those last few pounds.

One of THE most common question/complaints I hear in my job as physical trainer is, “I can’t lose those last 5-10 pounds”.  Issues and frustrations you may be having with your fitness regimen most often, like 99.9% of the time, stem from your diet and not what you are or aren’t doing in the gym.

Here is the situation, you are dedicated, you workout and you workout hard.  You have been a good student and have stuck with it but you aren’t seeing the results you want. I can’t say it more profoundly than this, so I’ll put it in bold letters;) you are eating too much and possibly not eating the good stuff that will get you there.

Here are my tips for breaking fitness plateaus and dropping those last 5-10 pounds.

Eat Clean

This means drinking lots and lots of water, eating lean proteins, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lots and lots of fruits and vegetables of all different colors with all different kinds of texture, eating complex carbohydrates, nuts and seeds. DITCH most of the processed foods with refined sugars and eliminate white carbohydrates. . OK, don’t panic, you can slowly reintroduce small portions of your favorites, once you’ve lost the weight.


I can’t impress upon you how important this is especially if you have specific weight loss and fitness goals.  If you like to write, get a pen and paper and write down every morsel that passes your lips along with how much you are exercising.  If you are on the go, there are several great apps; my favorite is My Fitness Pal.It is convenient, doesn’t take much time and has a lot of great tools to assist you.

Set Goals

This is crucial to your success! Write them down and revisit them on a daily basis. This isn’t a hobby-it’s your life. Step up. Create a vision board with your desired weight – don’t stop looking at it –until you see it on the scale. Set  short-term goals (week/months) and long-term goals (1 year or longer).

Change it up

When it comes to your fitness regimen you won’t make the gains you want to if you are constantly doing the same thing. Change is important and change keeps you from getting bored. You might actually discover something you love to do and just never knew it!  Try a class, go outside, buddy up or incorporate interval training!

Health Prevention, Nutrition Bits

How’s your vitamin D level? 9 factors to consider.

May 31, 2015
Picture 4

Within the last decade – researchers have discovered that not only is vitamin D important to your bone health, but as a hormone it regulates of muscle health (including both skeletal and heart muscle), immune response, insulin and blood sugar, and regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism. With so much research pointing toward the importance of vitamin D for our overall health, this newsletter article from the Harvard Medical School caught our eye.

According to 2011 National Center for Health Data statistics, almost one in three Americans has vitamin D blood levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), the threshold that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) says is needed for good bone health. Some experts say even higher levels are needed. Figuring out all the factors that can affect a person’s vitamin D levels is complicated. You can get the vitamin from food (mainly because it’s been added; few foods are natural sources of vitamin D) and by taking supplements (many doctors recommend taking 800 IU of vitamin D3 a day).

But vitamin D is also produced by the body in a complex process that starts when rays in the invisible ultraviolet B (UVB) part of the light spectrum are absorbed by the skin. The liver, and then the kidneys, are involved in the steps that eventually result in a bioavailable form of the vitamin that the body can use.

A review paper about the many factors influencing a person’s vitamin D levels appeared in 2011 in Acta Dermato-Venerologica, a Swedish medical journal. Here are nine interesting factors identified in the paper:

1. The latitude where you live. At higher latitudes, the amount of vitamin D–producing UVB light reaching the earth’s surface goes down in the winter because of the low angle of the sun. In Boston, for example, little if any of the vitamin is produced in people’s skin tissue from November through February. Short days and clothing that covers legs and arms also limit UVB exposure.

2. The air pollution where you live. Carbon particulates in the air from the burning of fossil fuels, wood, and other materials scatter and absorb UVB rays. Ozone absorbs UVB radiation, so holes in the ozone layer could be a pollution problem that winds up enhancing vitamin D levels.

3. Your use of sunscreen — in theory. Sunscreen prevents sunburn by blocking UVB light, so theoretically, sunscreen use lowers vitamin D levels. But as a practical matter, very few people put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB light, or they use sunscreen irregularly, so sunscreen’s effects on our vitamin D levels might not be that important. An Australian study that’s often cited showed no difference in vitamin D between adults randomly assigned to use sunscreen one summer and those assigned a placebo cream.

4. The color of your skin. Melanin is the substance in skin that makes it dark. It “competes” for UVB with the substance in the skin that kick-starts the body’s vitamin D production. As a result, dark-skinned people tend to require more UVB exposure than light-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D.

5. The temperature of your skin. Warm skin is a more efficient producer of vitamin D than cool skin. So, on a sunny, hot summer day, you’ll make more vitamin D than on a cool one.

6. Your weight. Fat tissue sops up vitamin D, so it’s been proposed that it might be a vitamin D rainy-day fund: a source of the vitamin when intake is low or production is reduced. But studies have also shown that being obese is correlated with low vitamin D levels and that being overweight may affect the bioavailability of vitamin D.

7. Your age. Compared with younger people, older people have lower levels of the substance in the skin that UVB light converts into the vitamin D precursor, and there’s experimental evidence that older people are less efficient vitamin D producers than younger people. Yet the National Center for Health Statistics data on vitamin D levels fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that vitamin D inadequacy is a big problem among older people. They don’t show a major drop-off in levels between middle-aged people and older folks.

8. The health of your gut. The vitamin D that is consumed in food or as a supplement is absorbed in the part of the small intestine immediately downstream from the stomach. Stomach juices, pancreatic secretions, bile from the liver, the integrity of the wall of the intestine — they all have some influence on how much of the vitamin is absorbed. Therefore, conditions that affect the gut and digestion, like celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, and cystic fibrosis, can reduce vitamin D absorption.

9. The health of your liver and kidneys. Some types of liver disease can reduce absorption of vitamin D because the ailing liver isn’t producing normal amounts of bile. With other types, steps essential to vitamin D metabolism can’t occur — or occur incompletely. Levels of the bioactive form of vitamin D tend to track with the health of the kidneys, so in someone with kidney disease, bioactive vitamin D levels decrease as the disease gets worse, and in end-stage kidney disease, the level is undetectable.

What are the best natural sources of vitamin D? Besides sunshine, salmon, sardine and shrimp… read on


Simple Steps to Fight Inflammation

May 6, 2015

The Mayo Clinic’s Brent Bauer, M.D. and Harvard Medical School have come to the same conclusion, inflammation in the body is caused by too much saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and refined white carbohydrates. This imbalance causes fatigue, bodily aches and contributes to illness and disease. While exercising is a key component in fighting inflammation nutrition is even more important as are some of these lifestyle choices.

To decrease inflammation, we have combined information form nutrition expert Sloan Hemmer and lifestyle information from Dr. Dale Breseden of the Buck Institute.


Omega-3’s such as salmon, oh how I love thee salmon (miracle food), walnuts, soybeans, chia and flax seeds
Dark berries such as blueberries (fruit highest in antioxidants), blackberries, cranberries and pomegranates
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach (miracle foods)
Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts like walnuts and pistachios
Green tea is not only good for inflammation but has many more health benefits such as lowering your LDL, helping boost your metabolism and fighting obesity due to it’s powerful antioxidant, catechins!

All of the above combined not only help fight inflammation but ultimately helps fight disease, prevent cancer and cognitive decline. As a general rule of thumb, try to consume 3-5 different colors at every meal.

• Exercise for at least 30 minutes, at least four times per week.
• Keep your waist size less than 35 inches (for women) or 40 inches (for men).
• Reduce stress. High cortisol levels, associated with stress, damage your brain. Try relaxing walks, yoga, music, etc.
• Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night (preferably 8).
• Optimize hygiene with regular baths or showers, cleaning under nails, regular tooth-brushing with electric toothbrush, routine flossing; some like to clean sinuses, as well. And for a brain teaser, brush your teeth with your non dominate hand. If you are left handed, use your right hand.
• Don’t smoke.


Kickstart Your Metabolism – Here’s How!

March 4, 2015
Sloan Hemmer: Photo by Jay Tamang

Nutrition expert Sloan Hemmer’s four easy steps to kick start your metabolism.

As we age, our bodies tend to slow down, sag and sometimes fall apart. However you might notice how some people seem to defy age (and gravity). Follow these suggestions and I promise you can be one of them!

Say No to Restrictive Diets
Do NOT, I repeat do NOT put yourself on a restrictive diet ever. This is the most sure fire way to mess with your metabolism. When you restrict nutrients, your body goes into survival mode and starts to hold onto your calories and resets caloric needs in the wrong direction. Once you get back to reality, your body needs even fewer calories to survive and any weight lost, will come back, and then some.

Eat Breakfast
I know you have heard this over and over but are you doing it?  It is THE most important meal of the day and a banana is not breakfast. Breakfast should include protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates.

Get Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest problems when it comes to your metabolism and weight gain.  Those who average five hours or less per night can end up eating an extra 500 calories per day and these calories usually come from processed and sugary foods.

Ditch the Booze
First of all, it is important for you to know about the hormone leptin, which is responsible for energy intake and expenditure as well as fat storage. Alcohol and sugar are two of the biggest leptin inhibitors because they cause your blood sugar to go up, which can (and usually does) lead to stored fat.

Sloan Hemmer: Photo by Jay Tamang