Posts Tagged ‘Calorie Tracking’

Exercise: Insanity Max Interval Circuit Calories

Burned: 1082

Total Calories Burned for the week: 1,748

Weight Watchers Daily Points Used: 42 of 42

Weekly Points Used: 10 (29 left for the week)

Activity Points Used: 0

Activity Points Remaining: 17

Successes: I did okay. I took my son to the doctor, thankfully he just has bronchitis and an ear infection. That meant a late supper, so just grabbing something quick was my only option. I got a burger. Not the best option, but there were plenty of other options that would have been a lot worse.

Failures: Just the burger. Pretty much an okay day.

Outlook for today: I have everything planned out for the day, so I just need to stick to it. I also already got my workout in which makes my frame of mind so much better. I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Figuring out a diet plan to use can be a real head-scratcher.

Figuring out a diet plan to use can be a real head-scratcher.

If you’re reading this, you either want to stay healthy or you want to get healthy.  Part of getting healthy for many people is to lose weight. For many of these people, they will turn to different programs to help them in that goal. Because so many people are looking for help, the diet and weight loss plans have turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. There are so many different programs and products, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one will work for you. I’ll also tell you if I think it is going to end up being a fad or legitimate.


Sensa is one of the newest programs out there and may make the least sense to a lot of people. Supposedly, you can just shake their product onto whatever it is you are eating and still lose weight. No calorie tracking, no giving up eating anything you like, just shake it on your food and watch the pounds fall off. But what exactly is it? I did not actually know so I did some research. Here is what had to say about it.  To sum up what they say, Sensa supposedly uses something called “tastants” to make people feel fuller. The smell of them as you eat whatever it is your eating is supposed to make you feel less hungry. There is no scientific data to back this claim up. To me this sounds kind of fishy.

What exactly is Sensa?

What exactly is Sensa?

Verdict: Sounds too good to be true, Gotta call it a FAD.

Right Size Smoothies

Much like Sensa, Right Size Smoothies claims to give maximum results with little to no change in your diet. It’s very similar to the Slim Fast shakes (do they still make those?) from years ago. You replace one or two of your meals a day with one of their shakes and you will supposedly lose weight. So how does it work?

The main ingredient in these smoothies is Appemine, which is an appetite suppressant. This appetite suppressant does work, so can we automatically assume that this product works? Not necessarily. While an appetite suppressant helps, it does not contain a fat burner which is something most people look for in a diet aid. I have no doubt that it helps keep you less hungry, it won’t actually help you shed pounds. I think it can help, but I would not use it as a primary means of weight loss.

One word of caution: When trying to find some pictures of Right Size smoothies, I came across a number of bad reviews, not for the effectiveness of the product, but for the fact that the company does not appear to be as honest in their marketing practices when they advertise their free 30 day trial. You can find some of these reviews here. I have never bought their product, and I cannot speak for the honesty in which they conduct their business, but I found a number of places with similar reviews. I would talk in detail with a sales rep about how the 30 free trial actually works if you plan to go that route.

Verdict: It has potential, and there are a number of success stories. It’s a tough call. I’ll go with LEGITIMATE, but I’m attaching lots of strings to that.


An example of a Nutrisystem meal.

An example of a Nutrisystem meal.

Nutrisystem took the diet world by storm a few years back. Main reason they have been so successful is because they sell simplicity with weight loss. You don’t count calories, you don’t have a special plan to follow, you simply eat the food they send you and lose weight.

So how does this one work? They talk about the glycemic index, and they do use it, but what it basically boils down to is calorie counts. The meals total for 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,500 for men.

There are lots of positives. The meals are balanced pretty well nutritionally, and they keep the calories low. Participants don’t have to focus on counting calories and take a lot of the thinking out of it. They do make it simple.

That is also a negative though. It’s great that they make it simple, but you aren’t LEARNING how to eat better. You don’t learn how to make smart choices off of a menu. You don’t learn how to prepare healthier meals. Critics say that people have a hard time keeping the weight off, but I can’t say that I have first hand knowledge of that happening.

Verdict: It’s definitely LEGITIMATE, but be proactive if you decide to use Nutrisystem. Make sure you are educating yourself on what constitutes healthy eating while on the plan.

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig has been around a lot longer than most people think. It started in Australia in the early 80’s, and it came over here to the United States in the mid-90’s. It received lots of attention when Kirstie Alley lost lots of weight using the program. She did gain a lot back, but there have been plenty of other celebrity spokespeople for Jenny Craig that have lost weight and kept it off, like Valerie Bertinelli.

Some of the Jenny Craig Meals

Some of the Jenny Craig Meals

What makes it different from any of the other ones? It has three levels and three elements. Level one is to eat anything you want, just watch portion size. Level two is to increase your activity level. The third level teaches you how to maintain some semblance of balance so you can maintain the weight you lost.

The first element is food. They want you to learn how to control your portions, prepare healthy meals, and make smart choices while at restaurants and parties. The second element is body. They try to help people get to an activity level that will not only help them lose weight, but also to maintain a healthy body weight. The last element is mind. The Jenny Craig plan has one of the best support programs in the weight loss industry. There are local meetings you can attend with a coach, but there is also a 24/7 hotline you can call at any time to get coaching and support.

The most important part of the Jenny Craig plan is the prepackaged meals. This is where I get lost with Jenny Craig. The prepackaged meals show you what a healthy portion size looks like, but it can often be hard to make the transition from prepackaged to ones you eat on your own. Our eyes can often deceive us. This is where the counseling comes in. If you’re not sure if it’s a good portion, ask for help if you are still on the plan.

Verdict: Much like Nutrisystem, it is very LEGITIMATE. The one thing that makes this better is the support system. it should be enough to help you lose the weight and keep it off.

Weight Watchers

A day in the life of Weight Watchers

A day in the life of Weight Watchers

The Grand Poobah of diet programs would be Weight Watchers. It’s been around for a long time, and there is a reason for it. Lots of people have had positive results. If you have read anything else on this blog, you know I use it. I explained briefly why in this blog entry.

Weight Watchers now has two options for people to consider. Meetings and point tracking or online only. The meetings are an accountability and coaching element to the program. You attend a meeting once a week where you are weighed and updated on if your daily point total will go up or down. I’ve never been to one of the meetings, so I am not sure what all they talk about in the meetings.

The online only portion is less expensive, but you still get access to the points system and the tracking. The negative is you don’t get the coaching or the accountability. I have a blog where I report my weight so I use that as my accountability. I also take note of where I mess up each day in my fitness updates, so I am less concerned with the coaching.

The biggest advantage this program has over the other ones is that you are making the choices about what you eat. You are preparing the meals. You see how much of a change adding something unhealthy to your diet can be. You also see how good it can be to replace it with a healthier alternative.

The biggest drawback to Weight Watchers is figuring out how they calculate their points. It asks for four of the nutritional components of your food: fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. When you put those items in the calculator, it gives you a point value. I don’t know how much of any of them constitutes a point. They don’t figure calories into it either, but if something is high in carbs or fat, it’s probably going to be high in calories.

I use it for the tracking. There are lots of tracking programs and apps available, but if I don’t pay for it, I am much less likely to use it. It works for me, but I can only speak for myself.

Verdict: Also very LEGITIMATE, just don’t go right off the program once you hit your goal. Once you reach your goal, you will have your points adjusted to allow you to maintain your weight. Get used to eating like that before you go off.


The most important aspect with any of these programs is to follow them RIGOROUSLY. If it means eating only their food and supplementing with fruit and vegetables, you need to do that. Every time you venture outside of it, you run the risk of it not working. If it requires you to track everything you eat, you have to track EVERYTHING you eat. The less honest you are, the less likely it is to work. Do what they tell you!

Can you do all of this on your own? Absolutely. The point of these programs is to help you learn what it is like to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. They are tools. A tool can only work when it is used properly. Sometimes a tool isn’t needed to get a job done, but if you need one, use it!

Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all your fitness dreams come true!


I talked about some things you could do to exercise in this blog post. I thought today I would take a moment and talk about the differences between Cardio and Weightlifting. They are both extremely important for your fitness levels, and regardless of whatever your fitness goal is, you should try to incorporate both into your exercise regime.

Cardio Exercise

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Cardio exercise is often thought of as what people do when their primary focus is losing weight. To a certain extent, that is true. Cardio work is the best way to burn calories, but that isn’t the only thing it is used for. Remember, cardio is short for cardiovascular. What cardio does is get your heart pumping at a higher velocity than it normally would. This is what causes you to burn calories. In the process, it strengthens your heart. You can be the model of perfect health, but you still need to incorporate cardio exercise into your daily workout routine to keep your heart strong.

But what if you only want to gain muscle, will cardio work make you lose weight? It might, but that goes back to eating the proper amount of calories based on whatever you are trying to accomplish. If you are happy with your weight and simply trying to convert fat into muscle, then make sure you are eating enough calories to balance out the calories that you burn.

Cardio is a great way to lose weight, but it is so much more than a weight loss tool. EVERYONE needs cardiovascular exercise to maintain a level of good health. If you haven’t started, I would suggest you start incorporating into your workouts as soon as possible.


Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Many people think weightlifting is only for people who want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And just like those who think cardio is only for people who want to lose weight, this is also not correct. The most efficient part of your body that burns fat is muscle. You can lose weight without lifting any weights, but it will take longer, and I don’t believe you will be real happy with how your body looks after you hit your goal weight. If that happens, you might be tempted to lose even more which could put you at an unhealthy weight because you don’t weigh enough.

How much weight should you lift? That is where it gets a little bit more complicated. You need to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish first. Everyone should push themselves when lifting so that it is a struggle to get the last two or three reps in before you stop. If you want to stay thin and lean, go for a weight that you can get around 12 reps in per set. If you are trying to put on a lot of muscle, up it to a point where you can only get in about  8 reps per set. The difference in weight is substantial. You’ll find that it would differ by 10 to 15 pounds.

If you are trying to lose weight and have heard that you don’t burn too many calories by weightlifting, there is some truth to that. You can still burn calories with weightlifting. If you want to see the calories fly off, make sure you take as little time as possible between movements. If you can keep it to less than a minute between movements, you are going to burn calories and a lot of them.

How I Do It

I hate cardio and love weight lifting. Even though I hate it, I still do cardio though. One of the nice things about the current program I am on, Insanity, it kind of combines the two. You burn lots of calories while working some key muscle groups at the same time. Weightlifting I enjoy because those results are sometimes more visible, at least on my arms it’s more visible. I also like the added strength I get from doing it.

Whatever your goals are, make sure you are doing both. There is a lot of different ways you can go about getting both your weightlifting and cardio work done, just make sure that you make it a priority to do each of them. The results will surprise you if you haven’t done that up until now. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Most Americans are going to spend this Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of either the 49ers or the Ravens, the Super Bowl is a part of Americana that many participate in. It’s also a time when a lot of Americans overindulge on junk food, and healthy eating habits fly out the window for at least one night. To make it even harder, many people watch the game at a friend’s house and a party is made of the event. So if you are trying to lose weight or are afraid that you might put on some extra pounds, what should you do? Here are some things that might help you

  • Find out what food will be there ahead of time. If you are hosting, you are in a position of power because you will provide the majority of the food. You can provide some healthy options if you are doing so, but I wouldn’t do just healthy stuff. If you do, some of your invited guests aren’t in the same frame of mind as you and may go elsewhere. If you are going somewhere else, ask the host if they could let you know what everyone is bringing. If you know what food will be there, you can plan ahead about what and how much you want to eat.
  • Use a small plate. It’s one of the most effective methods to controlling your eating. The smaller the plate, the less you can put on it. You will probably make fewer trips to the food table and your brain will think it is eating more.
  • Pay attention to the game. If you don’t really care about the game, or if you are only attending the party because you want to socialize with your friends, then you may be more tempted to graze the food table more than you like. If you are watching the  game and paying attention, you will be less inclined to eat just because the food is there. In a related note, pray that it is a good close game. Noting quite like boredom to make people eat for no real reason.
  • Listen to your body. If you start to feel like you aren’t hungry anymore, then stop eating. Don’t keep your plate around you. Throw it away and don’t go back again. It’s not always that easy, but it can be done!
  • Watch how mush you drink carefully. If you don’t drink alcohol, this won’t be a problem. If you do, sporting events seem to be a great excuse for  a lot of people to do way too much of it. There is very little redeeming qualities when it comes to your health when consuming alcohol, but it doesn’t mean you have to be completely free of it to stay healthy. One or two drinks won’t hurt too much. If you really want to avoid the temptation, volunteer to be the designated driver. That will ensure that you don’t drink too much to begin with.

A little bit of planning and forethought can meant that you have a fun time without consuming too much food at a Super Bowl party. You will feel a lot better the next day if you do! Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all your fitness dreams come true!


The Last 10

Posted: January 25, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
Tags: , , , , ,

Regardless of what your fitness level is right now, if you are actively trying to shed pounds, you will eventually get to a point where you need to lose 10 to 15 pounds to reach your goal. If you are still a long way from that point, you may have heard how difficult it is to get those last few pounds. If you just got there or you are like I currently am and only trying to lose 10 or 15 pounds, then you may already know how elusive those few pounds can be. But why is that? There are a couple of reasons it can be so hard.

Small changes make a big difference… at first

When I first started losing weight, I was a robust 260. I decided to exercise six days a week by doing 45 minutes on a stationary bike every day before I went to work. I also did three days of moderate weight lifting. By exercising as much as I was, consuming anything less than 3,640 calories would allow me to lose weight. That’s a lot of calories to still be able to lose weight. I made some small changes at that point.

  • I tried to cut down on my portion size slightly.
  • I replaced the sugar in my coffee and tea with Splenda.
  • I made sure that all calories I took in came through food, not drinks.

Those three small changes brought my caloric intake down to anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000. That amount of calories factored in with how much I was exercising meant I was losing 2-4 pounds a week. I lost 15 pounds the first month I tried. When you have a lot of weight to lose, being disciplined will cause the pounds to fly off with a small amount of changes.

You have to change throughout the process

Those changes lasted for a long time. I continued to see weight drop for about 8 months. The amount I lost, though, continually got smaller. Of the original 80 pounds I lost, 60 were during those 8 months. The last 20 were by far the hardest.

I really didn’t do anything different after those initial changes to lose weight until I got to the point that I needed to lose another 20 pounds to reach my goal. By that time, my weight had dropped enough that I was going to have to reduce calories in other places or I was no longer going to see any weight loss. That’s what makes it hard. I had spent the previous 8 months making minor changes, now I had to really make examine what and how I ate if I wanted to get where I wanted. Thankfully, I did.

I found ways to cut calories and eating back. There were times that I recognized that I was only eating because I wanted to, not because I was really hungry. I also had to choose to eat chicken when I might want a burger. I also had to remember to practice some self-control when having something that wasn’t healthy.

The risk of plateauing

These last few pounds are when people see plateau. This is also where people become frustrated. For a while, I was steadily losing weight every week and month. That didn’t always happen at this point in my adventures with weight loss. There were times when I didn’t lose any, or worse, went up.

Plateauing will cause people to become so frustrated that the give up the whole process and just stop trying. Some get so frustrated that they go back to their old habits and start gaining it back.

If you have found that you just can’t seem to get rid of those last few pounds, or if that’s all you want to lose to begin with, really take a hard look at what you are currently doing. If you aren’t tracking what you eat, you might want to start. If you are, check and see if you are being as diligent as you need to be. Make sure you are pushing yourself when you exercise. You can get there, just don’t give up. I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


If you are actively trying to lose weight and struggling, are you keeping tabs of everything you eat? And I don’t just mean your meals, I mean every bite of food you put in your mouth. If you aren’t doing this, you may have just discovered the reason keeping weight off is such a difficult task.


Most People Underestimate

If you battle weight problems, you probably don’t realize how many calories in a day you take in every day. I know I wasn’t. I thought I was pretty close to around 2,000 calories a day. After I read about the value of tracking food, I tried to remember everything I ate over the previous three days. What did I find? The three-day average of the calories I took in was 3,100! That is 1,100 calories more than what I thought I was eating. Someone once told me that the average person underestimates how much they eat by 500 – 700 calories a day.

But it’s so hard

Most people think it is hard to track their weight, but most of those same people haven’t researched it very thoroughly. In all likelihood, you have a smartphone. If you do, it has a place for you to download apps. You can find multiple FREE calorie counting apps for almost every smartphone. Many of them have extensive databases to pull from when entering your food. If you want to track, there are plenty of ways to do so.

How I track my food

There is no set way to do so, you just need to find one that is right for you. Like I said in an earlier post, you have to have motivation if you want to get in shape. I discovered that I am not going to track like I should unless I am paying for it, that’s why I use Weight Watchers. I do the online only program, not both online and meetings. I just need an effective way to track my what I eat and activity. Here is what a typical day for me looks like.

2013-01-15 10.23.51

You’ll notice that Weight Watchers doesn’t use calories, they use points. You’re point total is determined by your current weight, and you are assigned a daily point value. Everyone (at least as far as I am aware) gets an additional 49 points to use throughout the week should you exceed your Daily Point Total. If you exceed that, you can use the Activity Points you have accumulated throughout the week through exercise or other activities.

Interestingly, Weight Watcher doesn’t figure calories into your Point Total. When determining how many points something is, they ask you for Fat, Carbohydrates, Fiber, and Protein. It looks like this when you enter it from their iPhone app.

2013-01-15 10.44.51

Once you have calculated the points, you stick them in your tracker and it’s done. If you don’t know the Nutritional Information, they have a fairly large database to search. It includes many restaurants as well. If I can’t find what I am looking for, I use the My Fitness Pal app to get the information I am looking for. It is a different Calorie Tracking app, but it has a larger database off food. I used to use it, but I got bad about tracking things in it simply because if I don’t pay for it, I don’t use it.

If you still can’t find the item, try to find something similar and estimate. It’s better to track SOMETHING and be slightly off than to eat something and not track it at all. It’s better to overestimate than under, but underestimating is better than not estimating at all. Here is a shot of searching for something from Lenny’s Sub Shop.

2013-01-15 10.41.20

The list is a lot longer, but that is all that will fit on the screen. If you are looking for a really good tracking app that is free, you can’t beat this one.

Results will follow


If you are still in doubt, try tracking for a week. If you track everything, even bites, I’d be surprised if you don’t see some results. As a warning, it can be a shock to see just how many calories you eat everyday, but let’s be honest, if we didn’t need to be shocked, we probably wouldn’t need to lose the weight.

I hope this helps. If you have some tips as well, I’d love to hear them. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all your fitness dreams come true.