keeping a food journal

The only way to be sure you're eating fewer calories than your body burns is to know exactly what you're eating (and how many calories your body burns at rest). And the only way to know exactly what you're eating is to keep track of it.

This is especially true when you are just starting out on your road to losing weight. Your internal, "gut feeling", of how much to eat is out of balance - writing down what you eat and paying close attention to it will help you re-calibrate your gut feeling.

It doesn't matter what format you use; it only matters that you know, with absolute certainty, that you've eaten fewer calories than your target number.

Here are a few types / options to consider:

Spiral ring notebook. It's a little old fashioned, but it still works great. Boot-up time is zero; just open it and start writing.

Computer program. Your computer may not be portable and always at your side, but if you sit in an office all day this can be a great place to keep your food journal.

Spreadsheets, word processing programs, or a note taking application like Evernote or Onenote all work equally well.

Many of these programs are easy to integrate with your phone, so you can use your phone as well as your computer.

Smartphone app. Your phone is always with you, just waiting to do your bidding. You can input the details of your lunch as soon as you've finished eating, wherever your are.

Most of the apps I've sampled also come with a food-lookup option, so you can determine how many calories your lunch had from within the app itself.

Many of the apps have online access as well, so you can view and edit your food journal from your computer, and keep track of your history, from that larger screen in your office.

Bottom line

There are many different methods you can use to keep track of what you're eating. It doesn't matter which one you use, only that you use one.

Can you splurge a little bit at dinner, or have a brownie for dessert? Guessing at the answer could be the difference between losing weight and not.

- Chris Butterworth


mediocre is the opposite of excellence

Terrible seems like it would be the opposite of excellence, but terrible is easy to fix.
  • You didn't workout last week? Pick yourself up and get back on track.
  • You've been eating everything in sight? Stop. Take a breath. Regroup. Re-assess your plan. And get back on track.

Mediocre is much more difficult, in part because you might not even notice it.
  • You've been working out, but maybe not with your desired level of intensity. Or maybe you're getting to the gym sometimes, but not as often as you had planned.
  • You're eating pretty well, paying attention to what you order, where you eat, and how often. But you're not losing any weight. Maybe you're rounding up on your calorie counts, or you might be grabbing a handful of snacks without even realizing it.

It's hard to get down on yourself when you're trying, and mediocre masks how hard you're trying.

Mediocre is frustrating. It robs you of your results. It fills you with hopelessness, and makes you want to give up, because you think you're doing the work but you're not seeing the results.

Changing your habits, and your body, and your health, is hard. It takes commitment, and it takes excellence.

Pay very close attention to your actions, and to your results. Keep a journal. Be reflective. Are you reaching excellence, or merely mediocre?

- Chris Butterworth


fruit juicee - orange banana blueberry watermelon

Here's a summer fruit juicee with some ingredients you might not think to combine, but which tastes surprisingly refreshing together:

  • Orange Juice - 8 oz
  • Banana - 1, peeled
  • Blueberries - approx 2/3 cup, fresh or frozen
  • Watermelon - approx 1 cup, sliced into chunks
  • Ice (optional) - just a couple-few cubes

  • Put all the ingredients into a Magic Bullet cup. (or any other blender device.)
  • Screw on the blade cap.
  • Blend until juicee'd.
  • Enjoy!

orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee

orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee

Nutritional Information:
  • Approximately 300-350 calories, depending on the amount of each fruit.
    • 110 calories from Orange Juice
    • 121 Medium Banana
    • 57 Blueberries
    • 46 Watermelon
    • Calorie counts for fruit provided by

A fruit juicee makes a great whole-food-ingredient replacement for a breakfast or "snack-aisle" snack. It's also terrific for refueling quickly after a good workout.

Give this one a try and let me know what you think!

- Chris Butterworth


getting great results on days you don't want to workout

Some days you just don't want to work out, and there are dozens of reasons why:

  • You're too tired.
    • You went to bed too late.
    • You didn't sleep well.
    • You got up too early.
  • You don't have time.
    • You're too busy at work.
    • You woke up too late.
  • You'd rather go to bed early.
  • You're too sore from yesterday's workout.
  • You don't feel well.
  • You just can't get motivated.
  • You're battery is almost dead, and you can't workout without your music.
  • The weather's no good.
    • It's too hot outside.
    • It's too cold outside.
    • It's raining / snowing / windy outside.

These are all legitimate, yet none of them should be enough to stop you. Sometimes the very best workouts are the ones you didn't want to do.

When you can motivate yourself to get a workout in on the days that you don't want to - even if it's not one of your best workouts, you get very powerful results:

  1. Physically, you get a workout in. From a fitness standpoint, this beats the heck out of sitting on the couch or laying in bed.
  2. Mentally, you get a huge victory over that lazy devil sitting on your shoulder - you get to prove to yourself that you're more awesome than you thought you were.
  3. Surprise yourself. Sometimes once you get started, you end up having a great workout. I've broken a few PRs on days I didn't really feel like running when I started out.
  4. Illness remedy. Sometimes when I'm not feeling 100%, getting a good sweat on helps shake off whatever's been bothering me. On the other hand, if you're really sick, with a high fever and all those other bad symptoms - maybe that's a good day to skip the workout and stay in bed...
  5. Muscle stretcher. When you're really sore from a previous workout, doing a light workout can help stretch out your muscles and ease their recovery.

Missing a workout once in awhile isn't going to change your life. But getting into the habit of not workout unless conditions are ideal will - it'll rob you of your fitness. Let's face it - conditions are rarely ideal, and once you start giving yourself permission to skip workouts, it gets easier and easier to do.

Tell that lazy devil on your shoulder to shut up, then get up and get moving. (before you change your mind!)

- Chris Butterworth


delaying breakfast for good effect

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" - at least that's what I've been told my entire life.

I'm an early riser, and rising early usually means eating breakfast early. It also means, if you're a high energy person, that you're ready for lunch early. Or more to the point, that by the time lunchtime rolls around, you're starving (and ready to eat gigantic portions!)

Recently I made a conscious effort to delay eating breakfast, eating closer to mid-morning rather than earlier in the morning. And it's had a dramatic effect...

Early Breakfast
  • 6:00 - Eat breakfast shortly after waking up.
  • 9:00 - Get hungry. Either eat a mid-morning snack, or fight off hunger the rest of the morning.
  • 12:00 - Lunchtime! By now I'm really hungry, so it's easy to over-order, or to lick my plate clean and start searching for what to eat next.
  • Afternoon - Since I've over-eaten lunch, the same problem is going to persist between afternoon snack and dinnertime; I'll be hungry but I've already eaten too many calories to justify a snack. Then I'll probably over-eat at dinner...

Late Breakfast
  • 6:00 - Drink a small glass of juice, and some water. Let my body start working with whatever energy is still available from yesterday, or it can start converting fat into energy if I'm tapped out of reserves.
  • 9:00 - Eat breakfast, usually a fruit juicee. Plenty of easy to digest carbo calories to give my body a boost of energy.
  • 12:00 - Lunchtime. I'm starting to get hungry again, but not enough to make bad choices. Now it's much easier to order a reasonably sized lunch and be satisfied with it.
  • Afternoon - Since I stayed within my calorie budget, I can eat a small mid-afternoon snack, which should hold me over until dinner.

The golden rule of calorie counting is: "3,500 calories = 1 pound".

The corollary of the golden rule is: "Every 1 pound of fat in your body is 3,500 calories' worth of energy, just waiting to be released."

Give it a try. Delay your breakfast and let your body use all that extra energy being stored as fat. Then see how much easier it is to get through the rest of the day..

- Chris Butterworth


small. consistent. big.

Small, done consistently, becomes big.

We see it everyday, without even realizing it.

  • That guy in your office who used to be a lot bigger? He didn't just drop 60 pounds one day last year - he lost those 60 lbs a little bit at a time over the course of the last year. You just didn't notice it right away because each week's change was so small.
  • That friend of yours who's been posting on Facebook about her first marathon? She didn't just decide last week to run in the race next month - she's been training for it, running a little bit further each week than the last. Heck, she probably couldn't run a full 3 miles without walking on her first training session.
  • Those giant-sized, high school aged people living in your house and emptying the refrigerator daily? They used to be those cute little kids who looked so grown up ten years ago when you dropped them off at their first day of school. Turns out they've been growing and maturing, a little imperceptible amount each day, for a long time.

Today is probably not the day you're going to achieve your goal - your end goal will be the accumulation of lots and lots of tiny victories compiled over a much longer time period.

But today could be the day you lose your goal. Apathy, laziness, and just "not doing it" are the enemies of actions achieving goals.

Keep your eye on that big goal way out in front of you. And keep moving forward, one small step at a time.

- Chris Butterworth


Fit-20 Workout 08-04-15

If I could choose only one 20-minute workout to do, this would be it.

(Although that would be a horrible proposition, because I get bored with workouts pretty quickly, and I love trying new things - but all things considered, this is a great workout that can grow with you as you get faster-stronger-bigger (or smaller - whichever you're going for.))

20-Minute Workout
  • Running - 12 minutes
  • Rest - 1 minute
  • Push-ups - 3 minutes
  • Rest - 1 minute
  • Pull-ups - 3 minutes

  • Set a timer for 6 minutes and go! When the timer beeps, turn around and head home.
  • I use RunKeeper as my timer, with audio cues set for every 3 minutes. I try to make negative splits, where each 3-minute section is faster than the previous one - 'warm up', 'get into the groove', 'pick up the pace', and 'push hard for the final section' - as a way to break out each 3-minute cue.
  • If you can't run for 12 minutes, start out by walking, then by walking with some jogging mixed in, then jogging slowly, before eventually you can run at a faster pace.
  • Jogging slowly should get you about a mile; running with blazing speed could get you two miles. I consider anything in the 1.5 mile (8-minute mile pace) range as pretty fast. 

  • Do as many as you can in three minutes, taking short breaks as necessary.
  • If you can only do a couple push-ups at a time, that's ok. Do a couple, take a short rest, and try to do a couple more. If you still have time left but can't do any more, try doing negatives - start in the up position and lower yourself down as slowly as possible.
  • When you can pump out push-ups with ease, up and down like a piston, doing 90 push-ups over the 180 allotted seconds, you'll be in great shape! Even then you can always add from the Advanced, Core, and Combination section of the Push-ups page.
  • You don't have to be able to do 90 push-ups before mixing in the core work or combination work, but I'd recommend being able to do 30 in a row - slow and steady with great form, before adding in additional difficulty.

  • Do as many as you can in three minutes, taking short breaks as necessary.
  • I currently do three quick sets - pull-ups, chin-ups, and neutral grip pull-ups - with a short break in between each set. (The sets don't take long when you can't even do 10 in a row!)
  • Pull-ups are very difficult when starting out. You can stand on a stool or chair and do negatives (start at the top and lower yourself slowly), or you can use your legs to help lift/spot yourself. Try to use your legs less and less over time, until you can do a pull-up by yourself.
    • Once you can do one pull-up, it's just a matter of time and practice until you'll be able to do two, and from there the sky's the limit!
  • If you can do pull-ups for three minutes straight - you're like Superman, and there probably isn't anything I can teach you about fitness..

Final Thoughts

This is one of those workouts that's very simple, yet can grow with you over time. If you think it's too hard today, keep at it and watch yourself make great progress in a relatively short amount of time. When you think it's getting easier, simply turn up the intensity, just a little bit, and it'll knock you on your butt again!

I've been doing this workout a couple times a week since the weather heated up, and I'm both happy with my progress and frustrated by how much better I want to do. That's a good love-hate relationship to have with your workout..

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

- Chris Butterworth


is mental pain harder than physical pain?

I had an interesting run this morning. I haven't been running much the last couple of months (due to injury, vacations, or whatever other excuse is available), so I knew today would be challenging. I also ran "empty", meaning no food or water in my system* - just wake up and run! But I wasn't prepared for the mental roller coaster that lied ahead.

Here's what I went through:

  • Start - 10 minutes: felt good, better than expected
  • 10 - 20 minutes: felt really good, pushed to a faster pace
  • 20 - 30 minutes: still felt good, but my gps app showed I had slowed down
  • 30 - 40 minutes: felt tired, and started thinking about maybe walking for a bit
  • 40 - 50 minutes: my legs got heavy, and my body kept telling my brain that I should take a break and walk. Why aren't we walking? Walk!
  • 50 - 60 minutes: heavy legs and now cramps in my hips. probably a physical ailment? - maybe I had been running anaerobically earlier, and now I was paying the price for having lactic acid in my muscles. By this point my brain was screaming to stop with every step, telling me I simply wouldn't be able to run anymore.
  • 60 minutes - End: with the end of the run in sight, I was able to tell my brain-body to shut up and finish, and I picked up my pace.

Here's what I learned:

There may have been some physical pain, but the fact that I never stopped running shows that my mind was telling me things that simply weren't true. The pain story in my brain was an embellishment, telling me things were worse than they really were.

Identify the pain:

There's a big difference between pushing through phantom muscle pain and doing actual damage to your body. Internal knee pain (could be a sprain or a tear), shin splints, dehydration - there are some pains that are worth stopping for. It's best if you can know the difference.

* Running Empty

I've learned over the years that I can go 60-90 minutes first thing in the morning without a pre-run fill-up - no water or breakfast. My pace is usually slower, but it gives my body practice at using its own reserves for fuel, which makes it more efficient at doing so. It also gives me a chance to know what my body feels like in these situations, so that when I'm out on a longer training exercise (or hike, or whatever), I have a reference point for what it feels like to be burning your own fuel, or to be on the dry side (flirting with dehydration). I also know how much water it takes to fully re-hydrate during the rest of the morning. (a little more than 1/2 gallon.)

As a bonus, my racing times are always faster, since I'm fully awake and properly fueled up. :)

Thanks for reading; keep moving.

-Chris Butterworth

#Running #MentalPain #RunningEmpty


gluten-free is now gluten-free per new FDA standards

My oldest son has been on a gluten-free diet for almost a decade now, and we've seen the food landscape change greatly during that time. When we started out, my wife would go to specialty stores (or order online) to get ingredients, and then would have to bake any type of bread-like food from scratch (breads, pancakes, etc.) Today we can walk into the local grocery store and choose from several different brands, and several different varieties, of gluten-free foods.

Kind Bars are one of my son's favorites.

However, we're still pretty careful about reading labels, and we've come across a few products labeled as gluten-free but which contained oats. And there have been other times where the ingredients listed looked ok, but the food still bothered my son. We've just assumed there was some cross-contamination going on, or maybe some trace elements in there somehow. But now it makes sense...

Per the Associated Press, via Fox News:

Starting this week, "gluten-free" labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term "gluten-free" had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means.
Under a rule announced a year ago, food manufacturers had until Tuesday to ensure that anything labeled gluten-free contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten - ensuring that those products are technically free of wheat, rye and barley. That amount is generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won't get sick if they eat it.
Currently, wheat must be labeled on food packages but barley and rye are often hidden ingredients.
The standard will ensure that companies can't label products "gluten-free" if they are cross-contaminated from other products made in the same manufacturing facility. The rules don't apply to restaurants, but the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging them to comply.
Gluten-free foods have become big business in the last several years. Millions of people are buying the foods because they say they make them feel better, even if they don't have celiac disease.
Steve Hughes, CEO of Boulder Brands, which owns leading gluten-free food companies Glutino and Udi's, says his company's products all have 10 parts per million of gluten, less than the new standard. He praises the FDA regulations for being a "stake in the ground" that can increase the integrity of the gluten-free market.

So gluten-free now means gluten-free - Thanks, FDA! (and what took you so long?!)

On a side note: the article (and the FDA) puts a big focus on celiac disease, but there is also a large percentage of the autism population whose bodies don't do well with gluten, and I've met many people without any diagnoses at all who have gone gluten-free and say they feel better because of it.

Anyway, today is a win for those counting on the manufacturers' labels being accurate - and for truth in advertising in general..!

-Chris Butterworth


the details make the difference

Last week we spent some vacation time at the beach in San Diego; it's a trip my family takes most summers. Normally we stay within walking distance to the beach. This year, however, we planned a little late and ended up in a hotel about a mile away from the ocean. No problem, I thought - we'll just load the car up with all our gear in the morning, get a good parking spot, and set up camp on the beach for the day. Plus we're saving about $50-$75 per night (I rationalized.)

Except, in the process of loading a bunch of gear (and tired people) at the end of the day, I left 2 wetsuits laying on the rocks next to the car. $60 in rental wetsuits later, and with $400 in replacements waiting for me on Christmas lists, my failure to attend to details looks expensive.

Some things only need to be "good enough", like when I'm mowing/cleaning the yard on a summer day, knowing full well we'll have another monsoon in the next day or two to mess everything up again. At that point, I'm not looking for perfection - I just want the yard to look well-maintained... Good enough.

However, when success is really important, or when the task requires great effort, the details make the difference.

When you're trying to lose weight, it doesn't help to pay attention to your main meals if you spend the afternoon snacking on handfuls of this and that. The few hundred extra calories you're eating could easily be the difference between gaining weight and losing weight, even though you've put so much effort into shopping and preparing good meals.

When you're trying to save money or live within a tight budget, the few dollars spent here and there without being tracked - a coffee here or a beer there - could be the difference between ending the month in the red or in the black.

Of course the big picture matters too. But once you get the big picture right, you're not going to be successful without paying attention to the little things - the details make the difference.

-Chris Butterworth


5 steps to reducing your caloric intake

5 steps to reducing your caloric intake

The road to perfection is a journey of continuous improvement.

"Healthy" is a lifelong journey. Maybe you start out by wanting to lose weight, or by wanting to run a 5k race to support a certain cause. You start slowly, building success one day at a time. Time passes, and your many successes have accumulated into a larger success as you reach your goal. Then what - do you stop? No - you've found the road to healthy and you want to stay on the path, so you raise your expectations and continue moving forward, one success at a time.

Here are 5 steps you can take to reduce your caloric intake:

1.) Get rid of your "Toes"! Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos.. Really, anything in a bag or a box, filled with ingredients you can't pronounce or explain what they are. These snacks were engineered in a lab, not a kitchen, by a big company. That company wants you to buy more product, not lose weight and get healthy. These snacks were created so you could eat them without feeling full, and to be as addictive as possible. Clear your home and office of lab-created snacks and you'll take a gigantic first step forward.

gigantic cheetos

2.) Reduce (or eliminate) your Kryptonite! Are there one or two things you eat regularly that you shouldn't? Maybe you don't even realize how many calories they have. Soda and other sugary drinks are the usual offenders (140 calories per 12 oz can of Coke adds up really fast!) But maybe you're into Snickers, McFlurries, Blizzards, or cheesecake - whatever it is, it's killing you.. Let it go.

I used to drink 3-4 cans of Coke or Dr Pepper each day to wash down my handful or two of Red Vines, for a grand total of about 600 calories per day - wow! I haven't had a Red Vine since February, and I drink a Coke once every couple of weeks (usually mixed with bourbon.)

coke nutrition label

3.) Marginally reduce your meals. This is the new you, right? But you still remember the old you. Every time you sit down to eat, envision what the old you would have eaten, and then only eat 1/2 - 2/3 of that amount. This works even better when ordering food at a restaurant: "Instead of the bacon cheeseburger with large fries and soda, I'll take a hamburger, small fries and an iced tea."

4.) Know how many calories your body uses. The first 3 steps are the low-hanging fruit - they let you get used to paying attention to what you put into your body, and for some people they'll be enough to reach a calorie deficit. But until you know how many calories your body uses, you don't have a true reference point.

Here is a website with a Calorie Calculator. You can input your age, sex, height, and weight, and it will tell you how many calories your body uses as a baseline. ALWAYS select the Activity Level to Sedentary. This is because the site over-estimates the calories burned from exercise.**

Per the calculator, I need 1,852 calories per day to maintain my weight. Now, knowing this, when I eat a 300 calorie snack, I'm able to look at it and think "wow, that's 1/6 of my entire day's calories.."

5.) Count calories. Once you've eliminated the low hanging fruit, and you know how much energy (calories) your body burns each day, you can get serious. Use a website like or (which comes with a great smartphone app) to look up the foods you eat. Keep track of how many calories you're eating throughout the day. Keep a journal so you can see your results, day after day.

I recommend a goal between 1,300 and 1,600 per day, or about 300-400 per day less than your sedentary calorie usage. You can adjust your goal based on your body's sedentary energy burn rate and the rate at which you want to lose weight. A lower daily calorie limit will be more difficult to achieve, but will result in faster weight loss. (no duh, I know.)

Questions, thoughts, ideas? Let me hear them!

-Chris Butterworth

**If you use the calculator without setting it to Sedentary: Let's say I jog 2.5 miles a couple days per week. I'm burning about 600 calories, maybe 900 by the time you adjust for recovery and fat-muscle exchange, but 900 is probably too many. 900 / 7 is 129 per day, so my daily calorie usage should be 1,852 + 129 = 1,981. Yet the calculator, when adjusted to Lightly Active (exercise/sports 1-3 times/week), gives me a reading of 2,122 per day. According to the calculator, I could eat 2,000 calories per day and expect to lose weight slowly. Yet in reality I would be gaining weight over time. Use the Sedentary setting, and know that any exercise will amplify your results.


Daily Diet 08-30-12

Daily Diet 08-30-12

Real world menu choices for real people trying to be calorie conscious throughout their day.

Tips for using the Daily Diet effectively:
  • Have a calorie goal for the day (and every day.)
  • Keep a food journal so you know what you ate (and how many calories.)
  • If you're eating at a different restaurant from what's featured here, do the best with what's available. Look for a similar entre, or read the nutrition guide and order something which fits within your calorie budget.
  • Keep in mind - every pound of fat in your body is 3,500 calories worth of energy, just waiting to be released and burned. If you're still a little hungry throughout the day, that's great - it means your body might just be tapping into that excess reserve.
  • Check out the Daily Diet page for more details, information, examples, and links.

Today's meal plan
  • Breakfast: Cereal w/ skim milk. (Raisin Bran)
  • Morning Snack: Almonds
  • Lunch: Streets of New York - small antipasto salad
  • Afternoon Snack: grape tomatoes
  • Dinner: 1 1/2 Bratwurst w/ mustard (no bun), sauteed green beans
  • Dessert: grapes
Total Calories: 1,200 - 1,400 (depending on portion sizes)

One step at a time, and you'll climb your mountain.

-Chris Butterworth


introducing the Daily Diet series

introducing the Daily Diet series

75% of your weight loss will come from your diet, rather than your exercise routine.

daily diet - grapes

You'd have to exercise at a strenuous intensity level for more than an hour every day, while not increasing your current food intake, before exercise alone has an impact.*  Or, you could simply reduce your calories so you're eating less than your body uses each day, while still eating 3 full meals and a couple snacks per day.

* exact amount of time will vary depending on the number of calories you currently eat - it could be a lot more than an hour!

Of course, I recommend doing both - the benefits of exercise are tremendous, both mentally and physically. In addition, pairing movement (exercise) with fuel-intake (dieting / watching what you eat) will maximize your results.

Why a Daily Diet?

In a perfect world, you would have your own chef prepare all your meals to your exact specifications, using only the finest organic ingredients.
  • You're getting ready for work; suddenly a perfect 300-calorie breakfast appears before you.
  • You're hungry at the office; you eat a few bites of leftovers from last night's delicious dinner.
  • Lunchtime; you go to the kitchen to find your gourmet soup and salad waiting for you...
Yeah, right. The world ain't that perfect. You wanted to lose weight, but you didn't sign up for these extra duties:
  • Shopping at farmer's markets for fresh, organic ingredients. (especially for ingredients you've never bought before.)
  • Packing a lunch the night before, as if you're not already exhausted every night.
  • Spending extra money on meal plans from a diet system.
  • Being limited in when or where you can eat.
If you have a busy life, or your job calls for "eating flexibility", pre-prepared meals may not be an option.
  • You're in sales, and you're out and about all day. Lunch usually consists of whatever is available in-between appointments.
  • You're in management, and you frequently eat lunch with bosses, executives, and colleagues.
  • You entertain suppliers or customers on a regular basis.
  • You travel for business.
  • Your family is busy, and preparing a perfect dinner is less of a priority than getting the kids to practice on time.
Bottom line - you know you should be eating better (and fewer calories), but you don't have time to do the research, buy everything, prepare and cook all your meals, etc. It's simply not practical.

daily diet - pizza

What is the Daily Diet?

The Daily Diet is a real-world example of what you can eat, using "regular food" that most people already have in their pantry, and actual lunch and dinner options from popular restaurants.

The Daily Diet is modeled after the eating plan Dan B used in his success story. Dan patiently and methodically reviewed the menus of the restaurants he frequented, along with adding up the calories he was eating at home (using, and built himself a menu of what he could eat at each place. This allowed him to travel for business, eat with bosses and colleagues, entertain clients, and keep up with his kids, without ever being fussy over which restaurant they went to, and managed to lose weight while doing it.

I realize that not everybody reading this will have the same daily calorie goal / allowance, so this will be a starting point. You're welcome to adjust this up or down to meet your personal needs.

More Information

Some additional thoughts on the Daily Diet and diet-nutrition in general:
  • Frequency - it's called Daily Diet, but that refers more to what you can eat in a day rather than the frequency of publication. I'll most likely publish these diet ideas a couple times per week.
  • Calorie Counting - your daily calorie-goal is a very personal number, based on how many calories your body needs to maintain weight, how fast you want to lose weight, and how much your commitment level will allow.
  • Not sure where to start? has a calorie calculator which lets you select variables such as age, gender, height, weight, and general activity level, and it returns an estimated number of calories your body needs to maintain weight. (TIP - I find it's best to use the "Sedentary" activity level. I think the calculator grossly over-estimates the calories needed based on the levels of activity options.) Once you have your sedentary calories number, you'll want to eat 250-500 calories less than this each day.
  • Adjust with time - give yourself time to see results (a month should be long enough), then you can make adjustments. You probably won't see results the first week (and you'll be frustrated and hungry), but push through. The second week you might see your body change a little bit, or your clothes might fit differently, but you still may be at the same weight. By the time a month goes by, though, you should know whether or not weight is coming off, and you can make adjustments.
  • This is a perfect compliment to the Fit-20 program. We're talking moderate changes - nothing Earth-shattering, and let time be your ally. You'll see great results over time.

I hope you enjoy and find value from the Daily Diet series. Questions, comments or ideas? Please share.

-Chris Butterworth


video - Norseman Extreme Triathlon

video - Norseman Extreme Triathlon

(video below)

Welcome to the hardest Ironman-length triathlon I've ever heard about.

Ironman, not to be confused with Iron Man, is a LONG triathlon race. The distances are standardized, and races are held around the world, with the most famous being the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
  • 2.4 mile Swim
  • 112 mile Bike
  • 26.2 mile Run
  • 140.6 Total Miles - when you see a 140.6 sticker on somebody's car, it means they've done more in 12 hours than most of us have done in 12 months!

The Norseman Extreme Triathlon makes a regular Ironman look pedestrian. In fact, I'd pick these Norsemen (and women) against Iron Man..! Check out this video:

These guys are Viking Warriors - absolutely amazing! Mentally and physically tough as nails.

Couple of thoughts
  1. Health and Fitness - let's not confuse good health with a crazy desire to get hypothermia and/or run up a mountain. Eat right, exercise, focus on general health. If you want to set your sights on something bigger, there are plenty of shorter length triathlons to get you started - google "sprint triathlons" in your area for more information.
  2. Motivation - remember this video as motivation for days when you're not feeling 100%. Just move forward, get through that fjord, climb that mountain.. You'll feel great once you're workout is over and you know you conquered it!

Thanks to Roman Mica at for sharing this.

Train Hard,

-Chris Butterworth


Fit-20 Workout 08-28-12

Fit-20 Workout 08-28-12

I haven't posted a Fit-20 workout in about a month, but I have had a few people ask if I actually do these workouts (or a variation of that question.)

For those of you new to the Fitness Gazette site, Fit-20 Workouts are workouts designed to give you a full-body workout, muscles and cardio, in about 20 minutes, using little or no gym equipment. Ideally you can squeeze a workout in before work, or at lunch, without squeezing your family out of the picture. Click here to see a list of past Fit-20 Workouts.

Personally, sometimes I workout using equipment which isn't readily available (swimming in a pool, or my favorite piece of equipment ever), and other times I workout for longer than 20 minutes. But in cases where I do a Fit-20 style workout, it makes sense to go ahead and share it. Yesterday's was a good one:


Warm up first. 3-5 minutes of whatever gets you ready to go. Then:

4 Rounds, for time, of:
  • 8 Dips
  • 10 Dumbbell Thrusters (I used 20lb DBs)
  • 5 Change-grip Pull-ups. (Do a pull-up. While you're "up", move your hands to a different position. Lower down and do a pull-up from the new position. Repeat.)
  • 8 Push-ups
  • 10 Sit-ups
  • 2 Sprints of 30 seconds - (On a treadmill, I ran 30 seconds each at Level 7, Level 10, Level 7, Level 10.)

I forgot to hit my stopwatch when I started, but I finished in about 25 minutes, maybe a tad longer.

Hope you enjoy it!

-Chris Butterworth


what we can learn from Diana Nyad's attempted 103 mile swim

what we can learn from Diana Nyad's attempted 103 mile swim

Last week Diana Nyad made her 4th attempt to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.

Unfortunately she didn't make it; she was pulled from the water after 42 hours - not because of exhaustion, hypothermia, dehydration, or circling sharks (all of which she was prepared to work through), but because she was stung repeatedly by box jellyfish on her lips and hands.

But as I watch this video of her talking pre-attempt about the process, I'm amazed at how far she's been able to go by using some basic tenants:

From the video, we can gather:
  • Break the 60-hour swim down into bite-sized pieces. "Just do 90 minutes, which isn't hard, then take a break and get yourself ready for another small part." Sure, I couldn't do a 90-minute swim - even on a good day - and you probably couldn't either. But the concept is the same as what we've talked about here before - break your big goals, and your big activities, down into bite-sized pieces.
  • Couch to Fit is a long process. Diana started out by swimming a few laps at a time. But she stuck with it, increasing her distance gradually and consistently, until eventually she was setting world records.
  • You can improve at any age. Diana turned 63 last year. Health and fitness aren't about beating a 20-year old in a sprint; anyone at any age can improve their health, a little bit each day.
  • Dream Big. Diana has accomplished some great swims because she dreams of completing this 103 mile beast. In order to achieve her dream, she needs to make her body a little better, a little more capable, every day. She may never be able to finish her dream swim, but her dream swim has already led her on to greatness. You can do the same thing - dream big, then spend each day moving a little bit closer to that dream.

Slow and steady, a little bit at a time, the process of continuous improvement - getting better each day. It always amazes me, and yet it never amazes me, when I see someone use these basic life principles and turn them into greatness.

Congratulations, Diana. Hopefully you can figure a way across those jellies. Keep dreaming big!

More on the story from ESPN-W here.

-Chris Butterworth


About page updated

About page updated

Fitness Gazette is a little over three months old, and I can't believe how fast my About page got out-dated. I've really enjoyed writing for this site so far, and I've learned more than I could have imagined, but my path is heading in a different direction than I thought it would a few months ago..

So, I updated the About page and I'm going to keep walking along this path. I hope you'll walk along with me. And if you have any feedback, on the About page or anything else, I'd love to hear it.

-Chris Butterworth


eating too much healthy

eating too much healthy

In 6th grade I would ride my bike to my friend Kevin's house in the morning, and we would play Risk or read Garfield comics until it was time to walk to school.

I've remembered this particular strip my entire life - the irony (and ridiculousness) of it struck a chord with me. What's even funnier is that I see people do this all the time.
  • Doesn't matter if it has zero fat, or if the box is labeled "healthy option" - the calories still count.
  • You can't double-down and eat twice as much when you choose the "light" option.
  • 1,000 calories' worth of bacon is still 1,000 calories. (for my quasi-paleo friends out there..)
  • Just because you didn't order your own doesn't give you free reign to take unlimited bites from everybody else's.
The bottom line is always the same: a calorie is a calorie (and part 2 here). Eat fewer to get healthier. Eat better to eat fewer. Look to the long term - good health is a marathon.

ps - check out for more comics and accessories.

-Chris Butterworth


links I like - 08-21-12

links I like - 08-21-12

So many good writers out there, and so little time to read everything! Here are a few of my favorite articles I've read recently - I hope you enjoy them, too.

How to Win Your Life's Own "Olympic Gold", via Stepcase Lifehack. We may never have the opportunity to win an olympic gold medal, but we do have a chance to be like those gold medal winners. They won gold because they elevated their goal (gold medal) to be the most important thing in their life. Tired? Hit the gym. Not feeling it today? Hit the gym. Busy schedule? Hit the gym. Yep, we could all use a little more of that single-minded dedication to our goals.

Crash diets and good habits, by Seth Godin. It's not about the workout plan, or the diet, or even the sales pitch. It's about your habits. Build new habits, even if they're incrementally small, and you can change your life. Sounds familiar. Sounds true.

Another Favorite Running Video, via Barefoot in Arizona. Featuring 5 different running styles you'll see out there on the sidewalks. If you look like any of these guys when you run, click here to see better form..

Unsaturated Fat: "Oh He's One of Those Guys", by Cade at Know My Body. A well-constructed article on the science of unsaturated fat and the history behind it getting blacklisted and replaced by sugar. It's a more than a little unnerving to know the truth about foods is so different from what is being taught by "the establishment". (boy, do I sound like a conspiracy theorist when I read what I just wrote.. time to get myself fitted for a tinfoil hat.)

When Listening to Your Body Doesn't Work, via Mark's Daily Apple. An article along similar lines as the last one - our bodies have been trained to ask for (and receive) food that's not really what we were designed to eat. Somewhere along the way the recommendations got out of whack, and our intake of sugar (and calories) has ballooned. Sometimes we have to do what we know is right, even if it's not what our body is telling us to do..

I hope you're able to find some useful information in there - I know I did.

Happy Tuesday.

-Chris Butterworth


why french fries will blow up your diet

why french fries will blow up your diet

French Fries are one of those challenging foods for most people. You know they're not on the "good food" list, but you don't think a couple fries will add too many calories to your daily total. Problem is, you can't just eat a couple fries; you end up finishing the basket and eating more calories than your goal for the day! Then you carry around the guilt and shame for having done it, and in the end they weren't even all that satisfying.. What gives?

McDonald's french fries

Habits and Calories, that's what gives.


We've been eating french fries as part of our fast food, SAD diet (Standard American Diet) since we were knee high to a grasshopper. Your body knows those flavors so well, you get special feelings (and cravings) just by the mention of their name: McDonald's French Fries - mmmmm, yummy. Jack in the Box fries - you think to yourself "the old ones, or the new ones? and how about those curly fries?" Then you find your mouth watering. Then there are those local hangouts, where the fries are sensational - maybe a sports bar, or a Greek restaurant, or the diner on the corner..?

French fries are about as comfortable as American comfort food gets. Your mind craves them, your mouth orders them, and your hands go about their business of popping them in. You probably don't even give them a second thought. But you should.

It's very difficult to lose weight when french fries are on your menu. Remember, for all the talk about healthy this and low fat that, low carb diets and low protein diets, for the 99% of us who aren't top-level athletes, calories rule. Period. The end. Eat fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day, and you'll lose weight - regardless of what types of foods you eat or where those calories came from.

And that brings us to the second truth about french fries:


Do you know how many calories are in your favorite fast food joints' french fries? I took a trip around the web and made some notes from a few different restaurants' web sites. Check this out:

French Fries Calorie Counts
by restaurant and size

  • Kids - 100
  • Small - 230
  • Medium - 380
  • Large - 500

Jack in the Box - regular fries
  • Small - 330
  • Medium - 450
  • Large - 610

Jack in the Box - curly fries
  • Small - 280
  • Medium - 430
  • Large - 580

In n Out Burger
  • one size - 395

basket of french fries

Five Guys
  • Regular - 620
  • Large - 1,474

Smash Burger
  • Smash Fries - 520
  • French Fries - 460

White Castle
  • Small - 300
  • Medium - 350
  • Large - 600
  • Sack - 770

  • Fat Fries - 380

Chick Fil A - waffle fries
  • Small - 300
  • Medium - 390
  • Large - 520

  • Small - 260
  • Medium - 390
  • Large - 520

  • Small - 320
  • Medium - 420
  • Large - 530


Looking through this list, I can share from my own personal experience that it's pretty easy to eat 500 french fries calories! I've eaten that Five Guys' 620 without thinking twice. And the Chick Fil A waffle fries? Well, that large 520 isn't big enough!

Bottom Line

The point of all this is, when you're trying to keep your calorie intake at 1,300 - 1,600 per day, spending 400 or more on a side dish is not going to help you reach your goals. My guess is if you're eating these fries, you're also stuffing a 600 calorie burger down your neck. (and please don't tell me your washing it all down with a 400 calorie soda...) You could potentially eat a lunch with more calories than your entire daily allowance, which I doubt is what you set out to do.

Dieting is difficult - especially the first couple weeks. You're developing new habits, learning what foods have how many calories, and you're hungrier than you'd like to be. But dieting gets easier - you start to know what foods are safe, and your body learns how to burn fat more efficiently, which keeps your blood sugar more level. And once you reach your goal weight, you get to add back those deficit calories, which, if you continue to pay attention to what you eat, will seem like a ton of extra food! :)

fast food combo meal
Five Dollars - well over 1,000 calories!

If you're really craving calories as part of your lunch, here are a couple options:

1.) 2 Bites. Go ahead and order your fries. Take a couple bites' worth and place them on your tray. Then go through away the rest of the package - in the trash can, where you won't be tempted. Now you can savor every last bit of enjoyment out of those 30-40 calories.

2.) Make your own. Grab a potato and slice it up. (I've even seen french fry cutters at places like Bed Bath and Beyond.) Spread them out on a cookie sheet, spray them with a vegetable oil spray, sprinkle them lightly with salt, and bake them up at 400 degrees. You can eat a whole potato for less than 200 calories.

I hope this helps.

-Chris Butterworth