The SIN Group 7-Day Weight Loss Challenge – Part 2

Did you find Part 1 to be a real eye opener? Were you surprised when you started to realize how often you’ve been eating on the go or eating when distracted?

Or both?

Now that you’re beginning to bring your attention to the activity of eating…actually enjoying the process of chewing and tasting your food…let’s talk about eating with attention and intention.

Part 2 or our weekly challenge is a straightforward 3-Parter.

Soooo, is that really a 5-parter?

Part 1 – Please make an effort to continue sitting down, undistracted, to eat. Put down your fork/spork/spoon/sammich between bites and resist the urge to reload until your mouth is empty.

Part 2 (New Stuff) – Now that you’ve become aware of WHAT you’re eating, can you look at your overall diet and make one healthful addition/substitution? Maybe you decide to drink a glass of water before each meal. Or add a serving of fruit or vegetables. Or trade a highly-processed food (granola bar/boxed cereal) for a less processed food (rolled or steel-cut oats with fruit). Remember that you are choosing to introduce ONE SPECIFIC improvement for this week.

Part 3 (More New Stuff) – Now that you’ve become aware of WHAT you’re eating, can you look at your overall diet and eliminate one habit/food item that leads you away from healthful living? How about drinking one less carbonated/sweetened beverage per day? Or banishing Double Stuff Oreos from your pantry? Or avoiding the company breakroom on Pizza Party Fridays? Remember that you are choosing eliminate ONE SPECIFIC habit/food for this week.

And here’s the part where we get to talk…let me know your plans for this week’s challenge. Your ideas might also be helpful to others in the SIN Group.

PS Part 4 – Please share today’s post with a friend in need.

The SIN Group 7-Day Weight Loss Challenge – Part 1

In previous posts, I laid out the basic nuts and bolts of nutrition and calories. I furthermore suggested that making incremental lifestyle adjustments will lead to long-term success for people seeking to improve their health and fitness.

In keeping with this one-foot-in-front-of-the-other philosophy, I’m happy to announce the kick-off of our first-ever Strength in Numbers Weight Loss Challenge!  In general, I don’t get too excited about weight loss challenges but since I made this one up, I’m wildly enthusiastic about it.  Additionally, initiating this challenge gave me the opportunity to use the irresistibly sexy phrase ‘weight loss challenge’ in the title of my post …which is guaranteed to generate far more views than I usually expect.

What I am suggesting will indeed be a challenge…but may seem too simplistic to be effective.  I promise you, however, that it will be an eye opening experience that will ultimately lead to more healthful, more enjoyable eating.


The Strength In Numbers 7-Day Weight Loss Challenge

Day One – Today, prior to putting anything food or beverage in your mouth, acknowledge it. Say to yourself, “I am eating a handful of peanuts as I head to the car.” or “I am eating a bowl of chips as I watch TV.” or “I’m drinking a delightfully fruity sangria”. “I’m sitting down to a dinner of salad, lasagna. I’m eating a second helping of lasagna”.

Day Two –  Continue to acknowledge food and beverages. Additionally, you’re going to sit down, preferably at the kitchen table, before you eat or drink. That means you won’t be snagging a cookie to eat on the run. No standing in front of the open fridge eating out of a Tupperware container. Put down your phone, book, crossword puzzle. No driving, Facebooking or TV watching. (Socializing with the people with whom you are dining is allowed and encouraged) Just sit with your food. Notice and enjoy.

Day Three – Continue with the previous challenges while we ratchet up the degree of difficulty. Put down your fork/spoon/chopsticks between EVERY mouthful. Yes, while you are chewing, sit with your hands in your lap or on the table. Resist the urge to load up your eating utensil with the next bite. Enjoy what you’re CURRENTLY chewing.

Days Four-Seven – Repeat – Acknowledge what you’ll be sitting down to eat and enjoy it one bite at a time.

I’d love for you to give this a try. And I’d love to hear from you when you do!

Everything You Need To Know About Nutrients

In a previous post, we established that a calorie is a unit of energy. Our bodies require energy in the form of food in order to carry out cellular functions.

Now that we’re clear that all calories are the same, we need to start becoming savvy as to whence the calories cometh.

Calories (energy) can come from fats, carbohydrates and proteins, a.k.a., MACRONUTRIENTS. 

Calories (energy) pal around with equally important little friends known as MICRONUTRIENTS

Before we go any further, I’m going to make a bold statement here…

It is my firm belief that the people who concern themselves mostly with nutrition and very little with calories, will find themselves, GRADUALLY AND WITH GREAT PLEASURE, eating for performance and maintaining a healthy body composition throughout their lives.


I think it would be swell if every one reading this would commit that little gem to memory. Write it in black permanent marker on your frontal lobe, folks, and refer back to it every time you find yourself in a restaurant or grocery store, seated at a dining room table, standing in your pantry , staring into the refrigerator or standing wherever you might be thinking to put food in your mouth.

The above statement pretty much summarizes my entire diet philosophy, so we’ll be revisiting it soon and often.

So let’s get comfy and start talking nutrition.

Disclaimer: What follows is extremely basic and simplistic on purpose. It covers just about everything most people in search of improved health and fitness will need to know.


Macronutrients…where calories call home…

Carbohydrates – Fruits, Vegetables, Pastas, Rice, Oats, Bread. All of them are broken down to basic sugars which are stored in your muscle, brain and liver cells to be used for exercise and brain function.

Proteins – Meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts, fish. Mostly utilized for cellular repair and maintenance and hormone regulation.

Fats – Oils, butter, lard. Fats are essential for nervous system function and development as well as vitamin absorption.

Here’s a visual of those macronutrients which includes overlapping to indicate that foods typically aren’t just one category. For example, meats (mostly proteins) also contain varying amounts of fat and even some carbohydrates.



Micronutrients…friends and associates of calories…

Vitamins – Organic substances, available to us in food, that are essential for normal bodily growth and function

Minerals – Non-organic substances, available to us in food, that are essential for normal bodily growth and function.

Helpful visual…


Look familiar?

And that’s all the further we’re going on this subject here at the award-winning Strength In Numbers website. In my life, I have found that the more time I spend gathering information beyond what will get the job done, the longer I put off getting down to business.



I’m not going to leave you hanging, however. Our next post will feature a friendly, easy-to-access discussion of energy and nutrition intake management.


Everything That You Need To Know About Calories

All calories are the same. EXACTLY the same.

Calories are delightfully definable and reliable little characters who wish to remain indistinguishable from their calorie counterparts.


Fortunately for us, a calorie is a simple thing to understand…A calorie is simply a unit of measure defined as:

 The amount of energy required to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree. 


Since our bodies aren’t in the business of boiling water, how is this information useful to us, the consumers of calories?

Well, for starters, the definition puts calories in perspective. Calories are a predictable unit of measure…completely neutral. They aren’t good, bad, friendly, unkind or anything in between.

Merely a simple unit of energy

Simply stated, the energy in the calories you consume is used to power a multitude of cellular functions. Unused calories are stored.

Isn’t that nice and straightforward?

It would be convenient if we could just be happy and healthy with that little bit of information. But here’s the thing…

Calories are neither discerning nor judgmental. As such, before you go putting them in your mouth, you’re going to want to know something about where those calories live and who they’re chumming around with.

And that’s what we’ll be looking at in the next exciting episode:

Everything You Need to Know About Nutrients!





How to make working out sound even less like fun than it already does.

During a recent annual physical, my doctor was gathering basic health information,

“Do you participate in at least 30 minutes of purposeful exercise 3-5 times a week?”

I admit that, as an almost-famous personal trainer/group instructor/nutrition coach,  I was a bit taken aback by this question. So, after a dramatic ‘psssshhhh!’, I looked her straight in the eyes, and said,
girl please
But, because I am well-mannered, I think my response sounded more like,

“Why, yes I do exercise regularly.”

Her query was reasonable but it  irritated me because of the qualifier that followed the question…

“Now, when I say ‘purposeful exercise’ I don’t mean cleaning, mowing the lawn, washing the car, grocery shopping or that kind of thing.”

Let me get clear on the definition of ‘purposeful’…

If I were to drive to the gym, purposely pick up 25 pound dumbbells then hike around the weight room for 60 seconds, I can count that as exercise.

But picking up a 50 pound bag of dog food from the pet section of Farm and Home, carrying it to the checkout, tossing it into my car, then, once home, hauling the bag up the stairs and dumping it into the officially sanctioned Kody Food Bin, isn’t exercise?

If I were to participate in an hour-long bootcamp 7 days a week, then spent the remaining 161 hours of the week slumped on my sofa binge watching Breaking Bad reruns, would I be healthy?

Conversely, if I never set foot in a gym but I worked construction, walked my dog daily, rode my bike on weekends and ate mostly unprocessed foods, would I be unhealthy?

Obviously, I understand my doctor’s need to encourage regular physical activity. But the tendency of health care professionals and fitness trainers to prescribe or sanction 150 minutes of purposeful exercise per week not only sounds dreadful, it absolutely misses the point, which is…

Purposeful exercise should be purposely focused on building strength, stamina and stability. So, when you leave the gym you’ll have the energy and ability to purposely carry out the many purposeful activities of your purpose-driven life.
After purposefully and regularly exercising for a few months, you’ll probably be feeling pretty confident about pursuing completely pointless activities like cycling, dancing, bowling, gardening, canoeing, sightseeing…
fun stuf

Simply The Best

Have you ever been so engrossed in a well-written novel that you are oblivious to all that’s happening around you? Or have you paid too much money to sit front-row at the Farewell Tour of your favorite rock band? Screamed yourself hoarse at a championship sporting event? Discussed the subtle, fruity undertones of a high-end craft beer/glass of wine/chocolate truffle? Sighed wistfully while watching an HGTV custom-designed, kitchen remodel?

“YES!” you answer.

Because it’s rewarding, amazing, enthralling, fascinating etc. to either watch a true professional at work or to experience for ourselves, the results of his or her experience, talent, passion and endless hours practice, practice, practice.

Neither the best-selling novelist, rock legend, sports professional, brewer/chef/chocolatier, nor the sought-after craftsman got there by accident. Or by wanting it really badly. Or by envisioning it. Or by following someone else’s step-by-step guide to success.

You didn’t see the novelist sitting at her computer, day after day, writing, writing, writing, deleting, deleting, deleting, editing editing, editing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.

writers block

Or the Olympian who got up at 5:00 am every day to perform 2-hours of the same drills he’s been doing at 5:00 am every day for the last 10 years.

Or the musician’s meticulous attention to the smallest detail which led to late night practice sessions and retake after retake in the recording studio in pursuit of the precise sound.

You get to enjoy the one or two hours when the YEARS of practice all come together. Or experience the perfection only attained after years of rejection and perseverance.

You follow where I’m leading with this?

Recently, I mentioned my aversion to weight loss/fitness “Before and After” photos. Because, where the heck are all of the “During” pictures?

The ones that should be called, “The months and years of the not-very-interesting, baby-step improvements that sometimes led me to scream with frustration and other times got me pumping my fists like Rocky Balboa. The long periods when I was being very intentional and working hard but I couldn’t see improvements. Those times when I didn’t feel strong, when I wanted to give up but I just kept plugging away, believing in the process while I created the life I wanted.”

Oh, those pictures!


Exactly 99.999999999999% of our lives happens in between the photos, performances, publishings and presentations.

The process isn’t always fun, glamorous, easy or immediately rewarding. But what a story you’ll have to tell.


Never Change

 I don’t like the word ‘change’ – especially as it pertains to fitness and health. Someone who suggests that you need to change (in any way) is implying that who or what you’re doing now is wrong, bad, embarrassing, annoying…etc. Therefore, we’ve come to realize that changing ourselves or habits is inevitably going to involve uncertainty, discomfort, denial, doom, gloom and yuck.
I prefer to think of the health journey as an exciting array of opportunities… The opportunities to try new foods, invitations to experience new activities, chances to build strength and endurance, freedom to feel great physically and emotionally.
Doesn’t that sound infintely more interesting than preparing to grit your teeth and buckle down to make the difficult changes necessary in order to improve your Body Mass Index and Lipid Profile?
I usually avoid suggesting that fitness clients should pose for ‘before’ pictures or document their weight or measurements. Obviously, I understand that people like to track measurable results when they are working hard to make improvements in their health so I’m not dead-set against such things. But I don’t ever want to lead someone to believe that their current stats are something which should or will be looked back upon with disdain.
If we’re always looking forward to when, ‘when I weigh 140 pounds/run a 5K/wear a size 10/fit into my high school prom dress”, we miss taking delight in the present.
So rather than making a point of discussing and documenting all that needs to be changed about someone, I’d rather focus on all that’s right. Then we can talk about the many opportunities available to aid in improving our eating and exercise habits while maintaining our individual dignity and awesomeness.

Everybody’s Working For the Weekend! — You Deserve Treats And Cheats. Or Do You?

Welcome to a repeat performance of one of the web’s best posts of 2016…Enjoy!

The weekend is here…you’ve been good all week…eating nutritiously, hydrating often, exercising regularly…and now it’s time to kick back and enjoy yourself.

Before you dive headlong into a 2-day gluttony-and-sloth-fest, I’m going to ask you to tell me exactly what you did to deserve to eat pizza until you hurt. How precisely did you earn that pint of Ben & Jerry’s? Why do you have the right to indulge in too much beer and Cheez Kurls?

To my way of thinking, the only people who deserve to eat like that are the ones who kick puppies, scare small children and shove old ladies.


What I’m getting at is that mistreating your body is not even remotely akin to presenting yourself with a hard-earned reward. Glopping up your digestive, circulatory and endocrine systems with 12 Snickers bars and a gallon of chocolate milk while you are piled on the couch watching 50 Shades of Grey for the 19th time is a punishment not a present.50shades


I would suggest that you likely deserve a lot better! You deserve to eat well, exercise regularly, and relax at the end of your busy week. You’ve earned the right to make your healthy a priority.


You will never find peace with food, exercise and other healthful habits if you are continually viewing them as virtuous, righteous, pious or difficult to attain/sustain. Because as soon as you start believing that you need to get serious, buckle down, dig in your heels and grit your teeth in the pursuit of health, you’ve missed the point. You are trying to rely on willpower and self-control which NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER works long-term.


I don’t recommend that people pledge allegiance to some random expert’s plan, program or specific schedule for eating, exercise, sleep or hydrating because I believe that you need to learn, and DO, what’s best for you. And I have every bit of confidence that you will do just that when you decide to make your health journey a priority.



This is the foundation upon which my best-selling nutrition seminar is built. I’m so looking forward to introducing this unique approach to a sold-out venue in Sparta, Michigan beginning on Tuesday April 16.

sold out crowd

Thank you for liking and sharing today’s post.

‘Change’ Is A Four Letter Word

Changeverb \ˈchānj\

  • to become different
  • to make (someone or something) different
  • to become something else

Recently, I’ve been making an effort to discontinue using the word ‘change‘ when discussing  health and fitness issues. Because I do not believe anyone needs the pressure, anxiety or doubt that accompanies the call to “become (someone or something) different”. As a health advocate, I’m definitely NOT hoping to inspire someone to become someone other than who they have grown to become.

I find that I’ve been saying ‘change’ when, really, I am referring to growth, improvements, discoveries and explorations as they relate to our ever-unfolding health journeys. Most importantly, I think most of us will agree, the word ‘change‘ sets off very loud, danger-ahead, red-alert warning signal that something unpleasant, uncomfortable and undesired is on the way.


Let’s say, for example, that you decide (or your doctor tells you) to change your diet and your sedentary lifestyle. Most likely, you will have a good long talk with yourself before you buckle down and steel yourself against the deprivation, denial and suffering that surely lies ahead.


What if, instead, you chose to make small improvements in your daily eating habits…maybe spending a few extra minutes in the produce department discovering exciting new options? Maybe you would explore new ways to prepare your vegetables (steamed, grilled, stir-fried…). And maybe you would find that you love kale and spinach. Or not. But it’s worth a shot.


What if you decided to discover how you feel when you start your day with a bowl of oats, nuts and fruit as opposed to a giant jelly doughnut washed down with a super-sized mocha frappuccino?  If you realize that you feel more energetic and satisfied, you can choose to start everyday that way. If, however, oats aren’t your thing, you could try eggs. You don’t have to change anything about yourself…you’re just being adventurous knowing that you always have the freedom to stay or return to your current course.

If you realize that you are not moving enough every day, you have many options that don’t include unpleasant, time-intensive commitments to drudgery.hateexercise

You could buy a gym membership… lift weights, dance Zumba, utilize cardio equipment or, best of all, join one of my highly anticipated, sell-out Strength In Numbers classes.

Walk your dog or ride your bike through your neighborhood. Learn ball room dance or karate. Join a cycling group, swim class or German polka club. You might discover that you love to move.

If not, your couch and TV will welcome you back.

Health equals Freedom in my dictionary. Opportunities to expand your horizons abound. Don’t get hung up on ‘change‘. Just get out there and take a chance that you might find that yourself touting the benefits of eating quinoa and swinging kettle bells.

Have you recently made a healthful discovery? Maybe you’re planning to try something new? Or maybe you have a ‘change-gone-wrong’ story you’d like to share.

Inspire us with your story…I always welcome your comments and questions.