bike food
Did you know that most recreational athletes that sign up for an endurance endeavor with a main goal for weight loss, are in fact flabbergasted that even with the increased physical activity, weight loss does not come easy, in fact many even gain weight. There are a number of reasons for this:

1. the positive reason is because the new athlete may be losing fat, but gaining muscle fiber. Muscle being denser than fat, offsets the scale from budging, but the athlete is getting leaner…

HOWEVER, this is not the case for every new athlete – many actually gain more fat – the common reasons:

2. Offsetting the calorie burn with calories consumed (in other words a calorie deficit is not created even with the many extra hours of training)

3. Not fueling properly – many athletes trying to lose weight decide to skip the pre work out calories, and the during work out calories thinking they will burn more fat this way, or that they will have these calories after the work out anyway, so why have double?
– research shows that athletes who do not fuel their workouts land up eating way more calories post work out than they would have if they fueled earlier.

REMEMBER: without fuel you will not burn fat… glycogen (immediate source of energy) that comes from carbs, is required to create the flame for fat to burn in… without consistent replenishing of glycogen, fat will not burn effectively. This ultimately results in muscle burn instead!!

So enjoy that pre work out carb!! what are some of the pre work out meals you find work best for you…



One of my biggest challenges, not only with my own personal goals, but also with many clients, is to get to the bottom of the age old obscurity of sugar cravings. It’s not rocket science, right? Just don’t eat it ! Right? But oh we all know it, and live it day after day, it is just not that simple.  Why? Because the physiological response to sugar is like an addiction. Sugar temporarily elevates the levels of various neurotransmitters and endorphins. The “feel good” chemicals, serotonin and dopamine are released when sugar is metabolized, giving a sense of pleasure.  Sugar cravings therefore, are best explained as an addiction to endorphins which is a reaction similar to the high of a drug addict.

So is this addiction a serious or dangerous for that matter?  The answer is both yes and no. Our bodies do need sugar. The required fuel for the brain, is in fact glucose.  The metabolism can thus effectively metabolize what we eat and provide the energy source required thereof.  The key phrase here is “amount required.” The danger takes effect when the amount of sugar that is consumed is way more than required for the optimal source of energy. Furthermore, sugar that is refined has no nutritional value resulting in empty calories. Calorie dense yet nutrient free foods if make up most of ones diet, will lead to an array of health problems from overweight and obesity to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few.

As noted, sugar is used an energy fuel which is needed by the brain. The down side is that it causes blood sugar to rise, and as quickly as it rises, it plummets back down, resulting in the physiological need for more sugar to get it back up, and the vicious cycle of craving sugar begins. It is like a rollercoaster set in motion, swinging from hyper to hypoglycemic reactions (a pendulum of high to low blood sugar levels). This is the body’s homeostatic response to stable blood sugar, in other words, trying to keep the body in balance. Unfortunately the physiological overcompensation is what causes our uncontollable cravings.

This does not mean to say that you should be on a low carbohydrate plan to avoid cravings, in fact, it is quite the opposite. For one thing, it has already been stated that the required fuel for the brain is carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, so avoidance of carbs is unhealthy in itself. It is it the amount of carbs that is relevant, as well as the type of carbohydrates eaten, that will reduce sugar cravings.

Trying to cut calories by reducing carbohydrates tends to increase sugar cravings.  Sugar substitutes like Splenda and sugar alcohols are use by manufacturers to enable them to market lower sugar or lower net carbs on the label seemingly offering a more attractive product for dieters. Be wary – firstly the jury is still out on the long term safety of these substitutes. And secondly, sugar alcohols have been found to actually have a negative effect on blood sugars. We are then back to square one; the pendulum swing in blood sugar in a day is what leads to the vicious cycle of cravings, trying to satisfy them with foods that trigger and result in more cravings.  In other words, sweet things make you want to eat more sweet things, and although artificial sweeteners are calorie free, they are not helping with reduction in cravings whatsoever. Furthermore, sugar alcohols have a tendency to cause gastrointestinal distress in that they induce diarrhea and flatulence.

Net carbs is also a marketing “con” so to speak. Supposedly, net carbs, a term coined by Atkins Nutritionals, is defined as the net value of carbs once fiber has been removed. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is no such value: carbohydrates are carbohydrates, whether they are made up of refined sugar, starch or fiber, and every gram of carb has four calories.  So do not let low carbohydrates fool you in your endeavour to reduce cravings. Manufacturers have simply replaced regular carbs with sugar alcohols and sweeteners.

Craving sweets is often an indication of a deficiency in certain nutrients. Chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulphur and tryptophan are often the culprits and eating a rainbow of color is a simple solution.  Broccoli, grapes, legumes and chicken (chromium), Fresh fruit (carbon), fish, eggs, legumes and chicken (phosphorous), cranberries, cauliflower, kale and cabbage (sulphur) and turkey, liver, lamb, sweet potato and spinach (tryptophan).

One last point on preventing the energy swing which is the main culprit of sugar cravings has to do with timing of intake. Waiting too long to eat or grazing all day (not waiting long enough to eat) has a similar effect to that hyper and hypoglycemic response mentioned earlier. It is during the steep peaks and valleys in energy that one feels lethargic and emotional. At these times the physiological response is to eat sweet things. Furthermore, we justify allowing ourselves to eat the treats and sweets that stimulate a pleasurable response, with stress and emotions (as if we deserve the pleasure). This only leads to guilt and depression. Evening out the peaks and valleys is the solution to curb those debilitating cravings.

In summary, the details thus far reflect on the amount of carbs, sources of carbs and timing of meals in combination as a solution for erasing sugar cravings. Practically worded, eat fresh fruits to satisfy a sweet tooth, get the refined sugars out of the body to aid in stable blood sugars,  avoid high sugar or processed products, like candy, soda, fruit drinks, pastries, etc., replace the “processed” products with foods that come from the earth (grains, legumes, potatoes)  and avoid artificial sweeteners. Make sure you get a rainbow of color in your daily intake. All the colors found in fruits and vegetables represent the vital vitamins and minerals that if lacking, will stimulate cravings.




So there is no better time to focus on healthy food and lifestyle choices. What you choose to eat today, and everyday, and the exercise you engage in, will affect yourfuture well-being. First and foremost, a great start would be eating a variety of foods and Colours!

Yes, eat a Rainbow a day since each colour in your food represents a different phytonutrient (micronutrients coming from plants, vitamins and minerals), and that does not mean M&Ms or skittles.

Did you know that you can make your day more nutritious by simply increasing your vegetable intake?


can increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body receives. It may seem challenging to add extra veggies, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips!

♥ Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir- fry or soup. Then add other foods to complement it.

♥ Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.

♥ Include a green salad with your dinner every night.

♥ Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, and casseroles.

♥ Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce or lasagna.

♥ Order a veggie pizza with mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.

♥ Use pureed, cooked vegetables such as potatoes to thicken stews, soups and gravies. Grill vegetable kabobs as part of a barbecue meal. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.


Take your routine outside!

The weather is warming up, so take it to the streets or nature trail or park! There are endless exercises you can do outdoors. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Sprinting intervals. Vary intervals with different intensities. Examples: Sprint 20 seconds, walk 20 seconds, repeat 5 times. Jog 40 seconds, sprint 10 seconds, walk 10 seconds.

Uphill: Make good use of any hills to sprint up, use your arms to help. Walk back down.

Squats and lunges: Feel it in thighs, calves and butt. Squats can be done 1 or 2 footed; feet together or split stance; controlled and slow or fast and powerful; one continuous movement/held at the bottom. Lunges go forwards/backwards; walk and lunge or on the spot; wide/narrow.

Push ups: Push up against anything. The floor, a bar, a bench, with your feet on a raised platform (e.g. bottom of a slide), or an even higher platform to give you a vertical push up. Try all different angles to work different areas of your upper body.

Which Salad Should You Have? Take a Look!

Restaurant                                                              Cals                                 Fat (g)                         Sat fat (g)                     Sodium  (mg)


Fried Chicken salad,             1060                     75                         21               2130


Fried Chicken salad,              640                     40                         16               1220

w/o dressing


Fried Chicken Salad              900                      42                        12               3100

Pecan Chicken Salad           1020                     60                         11               2020

Panera Bread:

Chopped Cobb Salad            500                       36                        9                 1120


Apple Pecan Chicken           580                       37                        9                 1590

Let’s Talk Breakfast!

If you and your kids regularly skip breakfast due to lack of time or wanting more sleep, remember that eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will save you time in the long run!

♥ By recharging your brain and your body, you’ll be more efficient in everything you do.

♥ Kids who skip breakfast are more tardy and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis…

♥ Skipping breakfast strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies  show overweight and obese children, adolescents, and adults are less likely have breakfast each morning than their thinner counterparts.

♥ Missing meals, especially breakfast, can make weight control difficult.

Breakfast skippers eat more food at the next meal or munch on high  calorie snacks to reduce hunger.



Loaded Spinach Salad


8 eggs, 6 c spinach, 4 T Blue Cheese Dressing divided, 8-ounce can beets rinsed and sliced, 1 c shredded carrots, 2 T chopped pecans, toasted


Place eggs in saucepan; cover with water. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook at lowest simmer for 10 minutes. Pour out hot water, run cold water over eggs until completely cooled. Peel eggs, discard 6 of yolks, chop remaining yolks and whites. Toss spinach and 2 T dressing in large bowl. Divide between 2 plates. Top with chopped eggs, beets, carrots and pecans. Drizzle with remaining 2 T dressing.  Add additional veggies for variety and color!

Nutrition:   300 calories;    13 g fat ( 3 g sat , 6 g mono );    216 mg  chol;     26 g CHO;    22 g pro;     8 g fiber;    823 mg sodium;    592 mg   potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (240% daily value),   Folate (35% dv), Vitamin C (30% dv), Calcium (15% dv)


You can  target one area of your body for  weight loss  

This is a myth, pure and simple… No matter how much exercise you do for a specific region of the body, it’s physiologically impossible to lose body fat in a targeted area. Worse yet, the areas of your body that gain fat the fastest are the last to see it go. Fat is lost or gained throughout the entire body.  Furthermore, the  last area where people tend to lose fat from is the areas where they gain it first. So for most men, the abdominal region is the most difficult area to trim, while in women, the hips, buttocks, and thighs are the trouble spots.

Just keep on moving… those areas will eventually respond to all your hard work if you are consistent, persistent, and motivated.

How to Form Lifestyle Habits

Ilana Katz MS, RD, CSSD

Challenges are embraced, and once decided upon require the extra effort to ensure getting to the finish line. Does your resolve weaken before success? Do you risk stalling?  Do you focus on outcome instead of process? Do you consider yourself an “all-or-nothing” individual?  If you answer “yes” to either of these two questions, you may need to make more of your efforts habit-forming rather than forced.  Athletes who are consistent with good habits are the most successful.

Athletes, or anyone for that matter, sustain momentum by embracing small, frequent victories.  The all or nothing mentality tends to trigger disappointment time after time, because of interruptions and interferences beyond individual control  (for example, you backed your healthy, pre-planned lunch that fits into your new eating goals but at lunch time, you find someone stole it out the office fridge).

Successful habits worth forming:

  • Become a morning exerciser: after hours exercise more than often does not happen. Schedules change, family, social and work obligations shift constantly. Research has proven that people who make exercise first thing on the agenda get hooked on the feeling of accomplishment before the rest of the world wakes up. Furthermore, the morning workout  results in a rush of endorphins.  
  • How to make this routine: Progress from just a couple of mornings a week. Knowing you can “sleep in” some days, makes getting up on the days you have committed to, much easier. Routine includes the night before: Get to be early enough the night before ;  Lay out your gear (all of it, clothes, sweaters, fuel belts, water bottles, etc); set coffee machine on automatic (something to look forward to); put the alarm out of reach.
  • Become buddy accountable: find a partner in crime.  Nothing keeps you from pressing the snooze button knowing someone is relying on you.  Furthermore, having social time with your besties, while working out together makes it fun.
  • Be Patient:  All new behaviors can be out of your normal depth at first. Habits require resetting the body clock and planning for the time before they stick.
  • Eat more color: Nutrient packed fresh earthy food are not only low calories, but their high-quality carb sources power workouts and daily living. Their anti-oxidants and other micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) keep the metabolism working at its best.   How to make this routine  Don’t choke down the so-called superfoods just because they are super, rather make sure they are your super. Pick up the produce that you actually like and want to eat, even if it’s more expensive or not as much of a superfood as the well-known ones (like Kale, acai, beets, etc).  When you buy these foods, plan them into your meal plan, don’t just let them turn bad because you couldn’t find a recipe that calls for them. Smoothies are a great alternative.
  • Snack Smart: Trade high calorie snacks, like chips and candy, for high nutrient snacks, like fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. Some great examples are carrots and hummus, apples and nut butter, tuna on cucumber slices, edamame and egg whites scrambled in a cup.

  • Cook at home more often: research shows that two or more restaurant meals in a week can add up to an extra 5 pounds of body fat per year. Master some easy kitchen basics for starters, without needing to turn into a top chef. You will be amazed at how controlling your own food choices helps you feel in control of life stressors in general, including your budget (cooking at home is always cheaper!). Some easy ways to make this routine is to look for quick easy cooking videos online; gear up your kitchen with the basics (knifes, cutting boards, pots and pans, Tupperware, and common ingredients like herbs & spices, olive oil and salt & pepper).
  • Take time to research motivating recipes:  you can often find restaurant favorites in recipes online or at the very least, something similar. This way you will control the caloric and fat intake as you prepare your favorite dishes yourself. Plan time in your schedule to shop and go to the store with a list, stick to it.

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep may be the one thing that has the most impact on making challenging actions routine. Everything seems unreachable on a sleep deprive mind. Sleep allows the recharging organs, repairing muscles and releasing hormones for rebuild, strength and nerve connections.  Lack of sleep has been linked to every limitation you can think of (low energy, injury, moodiness, weight gain, dis-ease and disease, to name a few). Most adults require 7 – 8 hours every night. Easy ways to make this routine include declaring bed time sacred; unplug all electronics, prepare for “night time” ahead of time by dimming the lights, closing the curtains, put on PJs, stop eating, eliminate the caffeine
  • .
  • Eat breakfast everyday: glycogen, your first source of energy, gets used up during the night keeping your body functioning, so you are typically waking up on an empty tank. Breakfast is replenishment as well as setting the tone for a healthy day. Studies shows that breakfast eaters can accomplish optimal body composition easier than those that starve all morning. To make breakfast a habit, start off with something small, even if it’s just a piece of fruit and then begin to balance it out with some protein or good fat like a few almonds, nut butter, Greek yogurt. Think outside the box of traditional breakfast foods (anything is fair game, even leftover salmon and quinoa from last nights’ dinner).
  • Pre Prep meal plans and meals: – spend a low activity day preparing a weeks’ worth of food (particularly breakfasts0, from overnight oats, or using a slow cooker to cook once, eat multiple times.
  • Move More: Even athletes sit on their butts most of the day, especially those with day jobs. Making an effort to stand and walk during working hours reduces the risk of tight muscles, injuries, bad posture, weight gain, etc.  Making moving around a habit by keeping track with an activity monitor (such as pedometer, apple watch, fit bit, etc).  Use the tracker to look beyond daily goals of a set step count like never allow more than a two-hour period of sitting. Remind yourself by setting alarms on your phone or computer to stand and walk around the room at minimum. Some ideas are to stand and greet anyone that enters your office, pace while on the phone, hover in the back during a meeting (if appropriate of course).
  • Treat yourself to a rest/break day. Have a day in the week that you can look forward to. If you have developed a great habit of a consistent work out and eat well routine, find the pleasure in something you love as a treat. It helps to not indulge everyday, as well as provides the energy for constant motivation. A rest in the workout routine enhances recovery and reduces injury. A break in eating perfectly allows keeps the habit of a healthy lifestyle to stick. A great definition of “D.I.E.T” is Don’t Indulge Every Time

In conclusion:

Habits are brain behavior hacks. Make them ingrained and they will turn to auto-pilot mode.   Respect your “WHY.” Write it down and monitor and embrace the benefits. Schedule your “WHY.” Block time in your calendar for your new behavior. Blab about it by asking friends, family and supporters to hold you accountable and even go as far as join you in your quest for habits of success. And finally, make sure your surroundings support your efforts by removing triggers of your bad habits to make the new ones visible and possible.



Is your scale the boss of you? Really, are you allowing this unforgiving, inanimate demon to constantly determine your moods? I ask this of many clients almost daily, and believe it or not, I get a defensive nod, and a “yes, of course!” Why people? Jokes aside, I do understand why, since I too have known to be a slave to a scale. Oh yes, and shamefully, I too allow that scaly, dumb thing determine my self worth. But I am done… I am ready to give you all a break. I am offering a plea bargain here – trade the scale in!! Open your mind, soul and mood-swings to more up-to-date, smarter devices, such as yourself,  mirrors, and clothes. Hey, I am not turning in my food police badge here, and neither is this a journal entry from my deepest, darkest soul search. This here is my curtsey to ol’ faithful science and Ilanalogic (an emerging scientifically evidenced phenomenon). Are you ready for the mind boggle?


To be fair, before I totally dis the scaly dumby, I will offer some credit, where credit is due. It is good for one thing, and that one thing is the determinant of scientific concept called gravity. Gravity, yes, the force that pulls objects towards earth.  In other words, if you were to weigh yourself on the moon which has no gravitational forces, you will weigh approximately only 20% of your current earthly weight. Moving to the moon seems to be a good weight loss option then, right?  Wrong! You will take yourself with you. If you have diabetes, you will still have diabetes. If you have high cholesterol, you will still have high cholesterol, Your body fat, will be your body fat. Ahhhh, but your weight will be less…mmm… would you still want to live on the moon with the same body fat?  (Darn, I guess I am not moving to the moon after all). So does that put the scale in its place yet? Do you now realize that when you lose 10 lbs in a week, or gain 3 lbs in a day, what you are losing or gaining is not fat, but simple a gravitational pull to the earth? It is in my nature to further define this gravitational pull to the earth, so that we can finally send all our scales to the moon (rather than ourselves).


Definition of weight can be “Ilanalogically” broken down into 3 distinct matters: Undigested matter, body water, and muscle mass. I dare you to study these each individually to get on my bandwagon. Firstly UNDIGESTED MATTER, known to the layman as poop  (I am not shy, dietitians speak of this daily, it is what we do.)  Undigested matter is created from the food we eat, so if we eat less on a day here and there, we will weigh less on a day here and there, since less poop will be created. Yes, all those unanswered questions can be finally put to rest, you know the ones: “is it possible to lose 2 or 3 lbs  by tomorrow?” Sure it is, just eat less today than you usually do, and matter of factly, you will lose a gravitational pull of poop to the earth. It may even be 2 to 3 pounds less if you eat that much less. Your metabolism has not risen suddenly, your body composition is mmm status quo, and your health has not magically improved over night.

 I hear you… many of you are itching to point out that I do not typically eat that much to begin with, so cutting back by 2 or  3 lbs of digestive matter in one day is not quite possible, huh? Well this brings me to my second component, and that is WATER. Did you know that 60 – 70% of your whole being is water? When you eat, the absorptive matter is attached to water which is transferred in the body. Do not forget, everything has weight, and every particle of weight is a component of gravity, and our scales measure gravity, in this case water.  Did you know the word carbohydrate means “glycogen” (storage of carbs) plus “hydrate” (the 3 – 4 molecules of water attached to the carbs). Quite mind boggling, huh?  So eat less carbs, and the initial response by your body is weight loss, because there is an absence of water that would normally be in those carbs.  Now eat hardly any food, in other words a low calorie diet, or a diet that does not equate in calories to your needed calories to survive (your basal metabolic rate), and what do you think will happen? Your body will begin to use up the glycogen stores to the point of depletion, and once again you will lose weight !! Let me be clear – this is not fat loss! You have not magically raised your metabolism, you have not drastically improved your health, and your body fat is once again, status quo.


This brings me to the third component of weight, MUSCLE. Unfortunately, the greatest component of weight loss, particularly on too-low calorie diets, is muscle mass.  Too low calories causes deprivation of nutrients, carbs, protein and also vitamins and minerals necessary for an effective metabolism. I say unfortunate, because loss of muscle also means loss of your most metabolic active tissue. Loss of metabolic active tissue translates into training the body to store more fat.  You may very well ask why do you not burn more fat in a state of deprivation. Although this seems like the a logical step, fat cannot burn unless there are carbs present. The by-product of carbohydrate metabolism is the oxygen in which fat burns.  Depriving yourself of the right amount of carbs will shift the body into finding the most available energy source for survival, and that is muscle.  Once again, you are losing something that has a gravitational pull to the earth – weight !!  And again, you have not lost any fat, you have not improved either your metabolism or your health… in actual fact, you have trained your body to store fat, and are going further and further away from the original goal of health and fat loss.  Literally, it would be to a point of no return, since muscle mass, although the easiest tissue to lose, is the most difficult tissue to rebuild.


So now back to the original question of what is the value of the scale (unless you have already thrown it away, in which case, good for you!!) No longer are you going to scream with joy and accomplishment when your weight goes down in one day (sorry I took that illusion away), but neither are you going to tantrum in defeat, failure  and wonder “why why why!!

I hope I have somewhat eliminated the awe of a 2 – 4 lb weight shift from day to day.  Ilanasology should have explained the normalcy of this, and it has nothing to do with fat loss.  If you are still not convinced that the 4 lbs you gained overnight is not fat, then get out your calculator:  One pound of fat is 3500 calories. This means that to gain 4 lbs, you would have to eat 14 000 calories, and although some of you may snicker, I doubt that you ate that for dinner.  Similarly, if you are convinced that the 4lbs you lost within a day or two is because you have been a perfect angel on your eating plan, then again, get out your calculator.  Realistically it is viable to lose 1 – 2 lbs a week but a 10 lb fat loss in one week would equate to a 35 000 calorie reduction over the week. Not really rational, is it?

 So now that the technical stuff  has bogged you down, there is one simple take home focus, and that is that you can realistically lose 1 – 2 lbs of fat a week. With that said, if you are not willing to give up your dysfunctional relationship with the scale, at least consider “dating” the scale. And by that I mean, set up a date or two with the scale, play hard to get, keep your distance, and do not let that dumby become a mood swinger. Keep the scale at bay, and date night should be at max once a week. Well, maybe not date night, since the dumby is more effective in the morning. Weigh in at the same time and under same conditions on each date, meaning no clothes.  Always put yourself first! No really – YOU are your best critic for your success and continuous motivation. Look in the mirror,  pinch your firmer muscles for a reality check. Do you feel good. Are you feeling fit and healthy.  Get in touch with your feelings, since they are the real proof in the pudding (and no, not mmmm pudding). Are your rings slipping, is your skin feeling tighter, are your muscles shapely, and do your clothes feel loser.  You know when you are eating well, sleeping optimally, de-stressing. So never let your scale tell you any differently!