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.

‘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.


One Thing You Can Do Every Day To Improve Your Health And Fitness

A semi-humorous commercial asks, “What if one piece of broccoli could protect you from cancer? And what if one push-up could prevent a heart attack?”

This ad assumes that you know how unrealistic and silly it would be to think that achieving wellness is quite so simple.


Guess what? It really can be that simple. Keep reading…I’ve complied a long list of ‘one thing’ you can do to improve your health, fitness and overall well being. Pick any or all of the following actions to do once daily and you will be on your way to a better life.

  1. What if you did eat one piece of broccoli a day? Say you snapped off just one fresh piece daily, washed it and popped in right in your mouth. By the end of the week, you would have eaten an entire stalk. Happily, you aren’t limited to just broccoli. You can try this nifty trick with ANY tasty fruit or vegetable of your liking.broccoli2
  2. What if you walked up one flight of stairs daily? By the end of the week you would have walked up 7 stories! And that might be more stairs than you’ve walked in the past 7 months.
  3. Perhaps you could drink one less soda/beer/sports drink/glass of red KoolAid each day.
  4. And replace it with one glass of water. Maybe you would catch yourself preferring ice-cold lemon water to sticky, sickeningly-sweet anything.lemonwater
  5. What if you walked around the block once before you sat down to watch re-runs of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo? Maybe you would like it so much you would just keep walking right through the closing credits.honeybooboo
  6. Maybe each day you could replace one pasty, white carb with a nutritious whole grain. You might discover that chewing your food is fun. Additionally, you’ll feel full faster and poop better.
  7. Once a day, you could redirect your attention when you feel a less-than-healthful craving for say, a pan full of brownies or a bag of sour cream-‘n-onion potato chips. Over the course of a week, that’s lot of ice cream and chips that didn’t pollute your glorious body. But more importantly, you made a choice and proved that indeed, you could put aside that craving. That might even turn into something you could do 2 or 3 times a day.

Not a complete list but a few ideas to get you thinking.

Now maybe you’re skeptical of this less-than-exciting plan.


She is so full of it

You’re thinking,

“I find that fitness and eating well work best for me when I create an elaborate, unrealistic, time-consuming program that starts with me spending a weekend eating all of the peanut butter, chips and cookies in the house and then re-stocking with lots of lettuce, chicken and Slim Fast. Typically, I find this program to be highly successful for about 3 days after which I throw up my hands in despair having determined that being healthy is too difficult and not a priority at this very busy time in my life. I’m ridiculously sore, tired and hungry as well as frustrated with having to eat differently from my friends and family. So, at this point, I commence to annoying everyone I meet by telling them that this whole business of exercise and dieting is for self-absorbed people who have been blessed with a lot more willpower, money and time than I have been.”


Stick with me, my friend. Truly, there IS Strength in Numbers and we are all in this together.

Welcome (Back)!



The award-winning blog formerly known as I Love My Muscles! is making a much-anticipated, often-requested return.

The most obvious difference is our new and improved name which better reflects the philosophy and mission of our healthful lifestyle crusade.

I hope you will visit often to read about and learn how to create and maintain your best life. Also, please remember to share posts with many, many of your friends, family members and casual acquaintances whom you would like to impress.

I’m so glad that you’re along for the ride!