30,000 steps

Last month we did a lot of walking on our vacation - a lot of walking. My wife's pedometer read 30,000 steps one day, and I'm not even sure that was our longest walking day.

The walking site tells me I walked 15 miles that day, which means I blew through about 1,875 extra calories, if we assume 125 calories per mile. But that doesn't tell the whole story of the day - I could still have either gained weight or lost weight, depending on how much I ate.

So, let's see how I did:
  • Breakfast (600 calories). I brought a bagel with me and grabbed a mocha from the hotel's Starbucks.
  • Snacks (900 calories). I ate a few energy bars during those in-between times. (mid-morning 225, noon-ish 225, 5:00ish 290.) I also had a few handfuls of some of my boys' sweets.
  • Lunch (500 calories). We ate a late lunch, and I split a plate with my wife.
  • Dinner (1,200 calories). We ate dinner at a restaurant, where I enjoyed a full meal - and licked my plate clean!
  • Total Consumption for the day: I consumed about 3,425 calories.
  • Total Calories Burned for the day: I walked off 1,875, plus my normal 1,900 calories per day at rest. Overall I burned about 3,775 calories.

This means I burned off 350 more calories than I ate. 350 calories - that's all - on a day when I walked 15 miles! This helps to make a few points:
  1. It takes a lot of exercise to outrun your daily eating, but it's possible.
  2. I was able to slow-drip food all day long, so that I was neither hungry nor full throughout the day.
  3. Restaurant meals are too big. Even with 15 miles of walking, splitting lunch was the difference between net loss and net gain; I would have eaten more than I burned if I had ordered my own lunch. And that restaurant dinner.. I would have been way on the good side if I had eaten a non-restaurant dinner.

Most of us aren't able to walk 15 miles in a day; it simply takes more time than we have available. But the lessons learned can be applied to our everyday lives.

Move a little more. Eat a little less. Snack strategically. And be careful in restaurants!

- Chris Butterworth



working through a nagging injury

This sucks. 12 days ago I pulled my groin while playing soccer. (What someone my age was doing playing full speed competitive soccer with a bunch of 30-year olds is an entirely different question - one that still needs to be asked, by the way.) I even warmed up and stretched out really well before playing. But this groin thing - this is becoming a sobering experience.

image credit: microsoft clipart

My Story

I've had my fair share of sports-related injuries. Let's see - I blew out my left knee senior year in high school soccer (torn mcl), then I rehabbed it just enough to blow it out again my freshman year of college (torn acl). I broke my wrist skateboarding on a rain-dampened sidewalk, and I tore ligaments in my thumb catching a football at the beach. (Don't ask how that one happened, because I'm still trying to figure it out myself.)

All of those were painful to various degrees, but none of them lingered - I sustained an injury, the injury healed or was repaired, and then I was better. It makes for a boring story, actually. But this one feels different, and I'm getting nervous about where it's headed.

2 nights ago it felt great - no lingering pain, no soreness - so I allowed myself to goof around a little bit at Jason's soccer practice. Not running, or playing, or anything close to full speed - just moving a little more freely. Oops, turns out that wasn't very smart. Yesterday it felt sore again, and today it hurts as much as it did in the days right after I injured it.

Looks like it's time to crawl into a bubble for the next few weeks - no activity for me through the holidays, then I can re-evaluate.

Learn from my story

So let's talk about pain and injuries - when should you "play through" the pain and when should you stop working out?

This is a good time to remind you that I am not a doctor, and I am especially not your doctor. What follows is my own personal opinion after many years of exercising, playing sports, and reading hundreds of articles on various injury topics. Do not take my opinion as licensed medical advice.

Soreness, Pain, and Injury.

When you feel pain, take a minute to listen closely to what your body is telling you. Are you sore from yesterday's lunges? Or did you pull something more seriously?

Does your body "warm up" and feel better as the workout goes on? Or do you find yourself gutting it out through every step?

The sharpness of the pain can also be an indicator. If you get a sharp pain when you move your body a certain way, that's probably more than muscle soreness.

If you take a couple-few days off, does the pain go away?

Some things in your body (muscles, inflamed tendons) will heal themselves given time and rest. Other things (torn ligaments or tendons) may require medical intervention. You might also find a physical therapist &/or a chiropractor who can provide relief and further education about stretches and exercises you might need to be doing to avoid further or repeat injuries.

Bottom Line

We all want to stay fit and healthy, and to get our workouts in. Make sure to warm up before your heavy exertion, and listen to your body regarding pain. Seek out professional advice (doctor, physio therapist) if something doesn't seem right and/or isn't healing on its own.

It's better to take a little bit of time off now and return to full speed, than to be stuck at half speed (or worse) for an extended period of time.

Personally, I'll keep you posted from inside my frustratingly boring bubble. Wish me patience.

- Chris Butterworth


how to build a calorie-counted menu

how to build a calorie-counted menu

Variety may be the spice of life, but it'll also be the spice that drives you crazy when you're trying to build a low-calorie menu!

variety and food groups
Microsoft clipart

The fact is, counting calories is the simplest, plainest, most straightforward way to diet. There are no strings attached, hidden agendas, or proprietary purchases required. But figuring out how many calories is in each piece of food that gets into your mouth is a lot of work - especially in the beginning. (Check out my post titled 6 tips for counting calories if you want ideas for putting a successful plan into place.)

Here's the fastest and easiest way to build a calorie-counted menu:

1.) Divide your day.

Figure out how many eating opportunities you're going to have throughout the day, and divide your calories accordingly. I eat 5 or 6 times on a normal day:

  • Breakfast
  • Mid-morning snack
  • Lunch
  • Mid-afternoon snack
  • Dinner
  • Dessert (I'll skip this if I over-ate during the day or if I'm going to workout at night.)

2.) Look up Every Bite.

It doesn't matter whether you're snacking on a handful of almonds or gorging on a double-double from In n Out, it's critical to know exactly how many calories you're eating.

My favorite site lately has been LoseIt, a website which syncs perfectly with my android phone. I can research calories by prepared meals, raw ingredients, and by dishes served at popular restaurants.

CalorieKing is another site with an extensive database, recommended by reader success story Dan B.

3.) Track Everything!

I don't care where or how you track it, but you have to track it. Word or Excel, Google docs, Evernote, paper and pen - whatever. If you're not writing down every calorie you eat, you're much less likely to be successful.

LoseIt, the app I mentioned above, is another option for tracking your foods. Once you look something up, you can add it as a "meal", and LoseIt not only tracks the calories you've eaten, but also which foods you've added as meals. Then, the next time you eat that same food, you can look up and/or track its calories with just a click or two.

4.) Build Variety Slowly.

Look at my meal plan above - 6 different snacks/meals every day. If I wanted to eat something new and different for every meal, I would need to research the calorie content of every ingredient 6 different times each day! Yuck. You're signing up for losing weight, not a full-time job as a research analyst, right?

Here's a way to build a decent menu fairly quickly:

  • Day 1 - all six meals are new. This day is the hardest day on the plan, and will require lots of research.
  • Day 2 - repeat snacks from Day 1, but build new meals.
  • Day 3 - repeat breakfast from Day 1 and dinner from Day 2; add new meals for everything else.
    • Now, after 3 days, you have 2 breakfasts, 2 snacks, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners to choose from.
  • Begin adding 1 new meal per day, while repeating something you've already researched for the others.
  • Most people settle into about 3 different breakfast options and focus their energy on building variety for lunches and dinners.
  • Within a couple weeks you'll have rounded out a decent menu, which means you won't have to spend any more time researching calories. Of course, you're welcome to continue to add new meals to your rotation.
5.) More Real, Less Processed

Don't worry too much about what types of foods you eat, or about getting a perfect mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The truth is, there is no perfect mix; your body is designed to consume, convert, store, recall, and use whatever energy you give it. This normal body functioning is good enough to do or achieve 99% of whatever it is you want to do. (high-level athletes, body builders, and ultra-marathoners need special modifications that the rest of us don't..)

That being said, processed foods with synthetic ingredients - packaged foods made in a lab rather than a kitchen - have two downside risks to be careful of:

  1. Long-term health. Your body was designed to store and burn calories. Your body was not designed to process chemicals and additives like benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate (msg), partially-hydrogenated oils, etc. etc. Different chemicals and additives affect different people differently, but they have been linked in various forms with weight gain, headaches, upset stomach, and even cancer.
  2. Tricking your body. Remember the old Pringles ad - "Betcha can't eat just one"? Snack manufacturers "build" foods which are designed to make you crave more and feel less full. This causes you to eat more. (and therefore to purchase more, which increases profits.) However, even though you feel less full, you're still consuming calories, and a calorie is a calorie. If you can eat 100 calories of Cheetos for a snack, and then be done - great. But most people can't.

6.) Be Patient, and Be Dedicated!

Building a low-calorie menu isn't easy. Looking everything up can be difficult, confusing, and frustrating. Keep in mind that you're working towards a long-term goal, and that each week gets easier.

The first week sucks - you're hungry, stressed out, and spend the whole week thinking about and looking up foods. The second week isn't much better. But it doesn't take long before you've built out a nice variety of foods you can eat without thinking or researching. And about that same time you'll probably notice your clothes fit a little looser.

Don't give up - put your goal up on a pedestal and work everything else towards achieving that goal, and you will.

-Chris Butterworth


Happy Thanksgiving - my mental, physical, and emotional approach

Happy Thanksgiving - my mental, physical, and emotional approach

This will be the only post I write this week; I'm going to savor the holiday weekend with my family. Hopefully you're able to do the same. And we'll be back to business as usual next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Microsoft clipart

There's no escaping the fact - this is Thanksgiving Week. A gigantic meal, which also serves as the kick-off to a Holiday Season filled with sweets, snacks, and more gigantic meals.

I'm sure the web will be dripping with tips and tricks for being successful, so I'm not going to write too much about that on this one. But I will share some of my personal thoughts on the holiday..

Mental Preparation

I like to take a look at how I've been doing lately before the day even starts, and game-plan accordingly:

  • If I've been relatively successful, I might not mind a set-back day - especially if I'm confident I'll be able to get myself back on track.
  • If I've been struggling lately, Turkey Day might not only be a major setback, it might also serve as the gateway drug to a failed season, and I'll wake up on January 1st with big regrets, big goals, and a big waistline.
  • Exercise - I understand that a Thanksgiving-day workout is great, but even a 500 calorie workout will pale in comparison to how many calories I might eat that day if I'm not careful.

Physical Execution

Once you have a game-plan in place, it's all about execution:

  • I definitely want to get a workout in on Thursday morning. Even if I don't burn off everything I'm going to eat, I know I'll feel better about myself. Last year I ran a 10-mile turkey trot (not fun!); this year I'll take my family on a hike in the local mountain preserve.
  • What gets on my plate - Option 1: small variety. One option is to limit what I eat. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, a little gravy, carrots-corn-peas-beans, and a reasonable helping of a dessert.
  • What gets on my plate - Option 2: small serving sizes. Another options is to have a little bit of everything, emphasis on the little. That way I get all the basics, but I can also try the casseroles, salads, breads and biscuits, and a bite or two of several different desserts.
  • Watch the liquid calories. Beer, wine, sparkling ciders, soda (with or without bourbon)... I could put down 1,000 liquid calories easily. Gotta keep my eye on this one.
  • Get away from the table. Those long, drawn out meals, where everyone just sits at the table and gabs away - I find myself eating just because there's still food on the table. Better to get out - grab a few of the kids and the dogs and go for a walk. Or take a football outside and play catch. It's not that I'm after exercise at this point; I just have to physically leave the table to stop eating!

Emotional Thanks-giving

What are you thankful for?

I spent the first 18-19 years of my life not knowing how good I had it, so the whole concept of "what are you thankful for?" was lost on me. I spent the next 18-19 years of my life focused pretty heavily on the stuff - house, toys, job, investing for the future.. So while I was happy with what I had, and with those people in my life, I was never satisfied. "What are you thankful for" became more a part of going through the motion than it was an actual question - I was happy, but I wasn't thankful.

The last few years have been different, very different. The Great Recession took its toll on me and my family, pounding us financially and emotionally. We've also lost a couple close members of our family. This year, I'll look around the table, and be legitimately thankful - more so than I can remember being at any other time in my life.

  • Thankful for my family - that we've had the strength to stick with each other through some difficult times.
  • For my extended family, and the support and love they offer.
  • That we have a roof over our heads, and a stable environment to call home. (something I've taken for granted my whole life, but which I've learned isn't a given.)
  • For being able to put food on the table, and my kids never having to worry about being hungry.
  • That my oldest son, who has autism, is one of the greatest kids on the planet. If every kid had his heart, friendliness, and compassion, the world would be a far better place.
    • I'm also thankful that he's surrounded by an amazing support team. (extra thanks on this one to my wife, most of all, who spent years assembling that awesome team.)
  • That my younger son, though I haven't always stacked the deck in his favor, has grown and thrived - time after time, in situation after situation.
  • For our health. As trite as it sounds, there are plenty of people who have more to deal with than the basic aches and pains of being in your 40's.
  • For the light at the end of the tunnel, which is burning bright and is easy to see.
  • For those who read this blog, and the digital age we live in. Never could I have imagined being able to learn so much from so many people, as well as having a place to share my opinions with others - from all across the world. All while sitting at my desk. Absolutely amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

-Chris Butterworth


Pepsi Special: fat-blocking soda released in Japan

Pepsi Special: fat-blocking soda released in Japan

In the footsteps of the Weight Loss Pill, get ready for the next wave of ridiculousness - drinking soda to lose weight.

pepsi special weight loss soda

It sounds so simple - add Dextrin to the ingredient list, drink boatloads of yumma soda, and watch your fat get "flushed" away.

I'll hold final judgement until I read more about it, but my gut feeling is to call shenanigans - no way this actually makes you healthier. Generally, consuming man-made ingredients is NOT a step in the direction towards health. (in addition to however many calories are in a bottle of Pepsi Special.)

Look for an update or a follow-up post in the months ahead...

More Information Fat-blocking Pepsi a slimming soda in Japan

Time Magazine: Pepsi's Fat-Fighting Soda: Too Good to Be True?

Global Healing Center: Benefits of Dextrin What is Wheat Dextrin

Fortunately it's only available in Japan at this time. So while the rest of the world is waiting to drink their way to soda-slim, let's stick with the old stand-by advice of eating moderate portions of foods with as few man-made ingredients as possible, and trying not to drink our calories.

-Chris Butterworth


Body Fat Percentage - images by the number

Body Fat Percentage - images by the number

I like using Body Fat Percentage better than BMI as a measure of overall health-fitness-lifestyle.

BMI is an impersonal formula, and doesn't account for bone size/density, nor for muscle vs fat; it treats all people weighing the same weight as the same. In reality this is true, since it was created for (and named for) measuring "body mass", and not "body fat." But it's still disheartening for someone in good shape to hear they're overweight or obese..

Body fat, on the other hand, is just that - how much pure fat is your body storing, as a percentage of your entire body? People in good shape have a smaller percentage of body fat. People trying to lose weight are actually trying to lose fat, which reduces their body fat percentage. (and for 99 out of 100 people, their BMI as well.)

Unfortunately, measuring body fat percentage is a little tricky. There are several methods for doing so, with varying degrees of accuracy, price, and simplicity. And it's not something most of us can do at home.


Marc Perry put together a photo collage of men and women with varying percentages of body fat in his post "Body Fat Percentage Pictures of Men and Women." (click through for more images and detailed descriptions.)

Body Fat Images of Men

body fat images of men

Body Fat Images of Women

body fat images of women

These are perfect - now you can estimate, with your own eyes, what your approximate body fat percentage is. And it might even help you with setting and adjusting your goals as you move forward.

More info on body fat percentage and BMI, from Wikipedia.

-Chris Butterworth


6 tips for counting calories

6 tips for counting calories

The only sure-fire, guaranteed way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn. There are plenty of gimmicks, tricks, and fad diets that say otherwise, but they're either masking the math, or they're not helping you learn to be successful for the long term.

Count Von Count
Who would be better at counting calories than Count Von Count, from Sesame Street?

Counting calories works, plain and simple. But counting calories is hard - it can be time consuming, tedious, and frustrating. (which is why there are so many fads saying you don't need to do this... for a price. Ahem..)

Knowing what to expect, and having a plan of attack before you start, can be the difference between success and frustration/failure. So, with that in mind, here are some things to consider before you start counting calories:

1.) Know Your Number

How many calories does your body need to maintain its weight, assuming little to no exercise?

Each person will have a different number, and that number will change over time, especially if you're losing weight.

Here is a Calorie Calculator which will give you a rough estimate. (Note - use the drop-down arrow to change the Activity Level to "Sedentary", otherwise your results will be off.) Notice how much it can vary based on your individual situation:

  • 25 year old male, 6' 2", 240 lbs: Burns 2,572 calories per day without exercise
  • 40 year old female, 5' 3", 175 lbs: Burns 1,719 calories per day
  • Look at that difference. If they partnered up together and ate 2,000 calories per day, he would lose a pound per week while she gained almost a pound per month!

Next, once you know your number, decide how many calories below that number you're willing to let yourself eat. This is a trade-off between the amount of hunger you're willing to endure and the speed of weight loss..

  • 500 calorie daily deficit equals losing 1 pound per week.
  • 250 calories per day will let you lose 1/2 pound per week, or about 2 pounds per month.
    • This is my personal favorite. I think it's the sweet spot between losing weight fast enough to be noticeable and eating at a pace that's easier to achieve. Getting down near 1,200 calories per day, every day, is tough. Those extra 250 calories can go a long way towards getting through the day.
  • 125 calories per day and you'll lose about 1 pound per month.

If you're going to put this much effort into something, you better know your number!

2.) Know what you're eating

There are plenty of helpful apps and websites available to help you research how many calories are in whatever you might be eating, so there's no excuse for guessing. When your goal is to be negative by a couple hundred calories a day, miscalculating and ball-park guessing could easily be the difference between success and failure.

  • Lose It - Web, Android, and IOS. Look everything up. Save your searches. Track your calories. Sync between your computer and your smartphone.
  • - Website with an extensive list of packaged foods, prepared foods, and raw ingredients.
  • NutritionData.Self.Com - Website from Self Magazine. It's a little busy, but it also has a large database of foods.

3.) Track Everything!

I don't care what method you use - food journal, smartphone app, spreadsheet, Evernote, spiral ring notebook, whatever. If it goes into your mouth, you need to write down what it was, how much, how many calories, and when you ate it. Period.

This practice serves multiple purposes:

A) Motivation. The act of seeing it in writing will make you think twice about eating it. Really. A common thread among personal trainers is "the clients who keep journals succeed; the others don't."

B) Trouble shooting. If you're not doing as well as you expected, it's not because of the math - it's because of the values input into the equation. A look back through your journal can help you find where you might be sabotaging yourself - maybe an extra snack in the afternoon, or you wrote down the wrong number from the calorie website. Whatever the cause, the journal takes any guesswork out of finding the problem, and allows you to fix your error and get back to losing weight!

4.) Simplify.

Every new meal means extra time researching calories. This gets really tiring, really fast. It's better to repeat meals more frequently than you're used to, than to get frustrated by having to look things up 6 or 7 times a day. Get started with a good rotation of a few meals and snacks, then add more, slowly over time.

5.) Exercise.

Your weight loss will come from counting calories, but adding moderate exercise will help in a number of ways.

  • Burn more calories, which speeds up results! Jog 1 mile; burn about 120 calories. Run 1 mile fast; burn about 200 calories (maybe more, maybe less - depending on lots of variables). Fit-20 Workouts can burn a few hundred calories!
  • Helps shape and tone your body. Sure you want to lose weight. But you want to look all sculpted / curvy once you do, right?
  • Gives you a mental surge of energy, knowing you're helping to reach your own goals.

6.) Desire!

  • Counting calories won't be easy, especially the first couple weeks. You have to want this BAD, and you have to be willing to give it 30-45 days. But it gets easier:
    • After the first week, you'll have some go-to items on your menu, so you won't have to spend as much time researching every little piece of food.
    • By the end of the 2nd week, you'll see some results. Even if it hasn't hit the scale yet, you'll notice your clothes fitting a little differently. And that's all it takes - once you see it working, and there are rewards for all that effort, you'll want to push yourself even harder!
    • Efficient Fat Burning - it takes your body more effort to convert fat to fuel than it does to convert carbs, so initially your body is going to send you messages to eat more carbs (you'll notice these messages as cravings and hunger pains.) Over time, though, your body gets used to burning fat, and these cravings will subside.

Never Forget - each pound of fat stored in your body can be used to generate 3,500 calories' worth of energy.

Remember that 40-year old woman in the calorie example above? She was 5' 3" tall, weighed 175 lbs, and needed 1,719 calories to get through a day without any weight change. One pound of body fat can last her for 2 whole days, even if she doesn't eat anything at all.

Let's ball-park that she's about 40% body fat. 40% of 175 equals 70 pounds of fat inside her body. 70 pounds; 245,000 calories of stored energy, just waiting to be used! She could go months without eating a bite of food and be ok.

Put this example back into your own shoes. Will you be hungry throughout the day once you start limiting your calories? Heck yes, especially in the first couple weeks. Will you starve? No chance. Hunger means your body is releasing some of those 245,000 stored calories for energy. Embrace it!

-Chris Butterworth


weekend motivation - triathlon video

weekend motivation - triathlon video

Looking for a little motivation to get out there and make it happen this weekend?

Here's a video showing highlights from the Ironman World Championship (Triathlon) in Hawaii:

Here's the link, as videos don't always come through in feed readers:

Awesome stuff - when I watch this video my adrenaline starts pumping and I'm ready to take on any workout!

swimming in hawaii
image clipped from video

Have a healthy weekend!

-Chris Butterworth


calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight

calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight

I've said it a hundred times on this blog, but today let's hear it from somebody else - somebody who's really smart (an MD who specializes in nutrition.)

From David Katz on the eat + run blog in a post titled "Exercise: of Math and Myth"

"Of course exercise burns body fat.
 If you are like most of us, you once knew this was true, intuitively, and perhaps from first-hand experience. But that was before you knew it was false, because you were talked out of believing the obvious.
You may have been talked out of it by a personal trainer, fitness instructor, or author advancing a pet theory. You may have been told that aerobic exercise is passé, and it's all about resistance training now. Or that exercise increases appetite, and so invariably causes you to replace whatever calories you burn."

calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight
microsoft clipart

He summarizes the article with this one liner:

"I would like to approach all of this with scholarly erudition. So here I go: It's BS!"

Then he gives 3 simple elements to the argument that exercise does, indeed, burn body fat, and that it can cause weight loss (provided you replace fewer calories than you burn):

1. Logic
Olympic swimmers are lean and muscular. So are Olympic gymnasts. I have never seen a truly competitive marathon runner or top ballerina who shops in the husky section. Logically, and observationally, there is an association between high levels of physical exertion and low levels of body fat. We see it all the time. Logic and observation converge to say: High levels of physical activity, be they on the ground, in the water, or leaping through the air, burn fat. Period.
2. Laws of Physics
There is as well the simple fact that exercise is work, and work burns fuel of some kind. Newton either said this, or meant to. Let's move on.
3. Limb Loppers
I have lived it many times, most recently this week—courtesy of a massive oak tree Hurricane Sandy brought down across my parents' driveway. I spent just about all of the daylight hours last Sunday working with my father and my son to cut up and haul away the unholy mess that magnificent tree had become (crashing through a couple of other lesser trees on its way down), and clear the driveway. We did it.
In my case, that meant working without a break for hours, using every muscle in my body to the limits of its tolerance. By day's end, I couldn't lift my hands to my head to wash my hair without the muscles in my arms going into spasm.

He goes on to say he ate the biggest dinner of his life, probably 4,000 calories, and still didn't replace all the calories he burned that day. This is similar to what I wrote a few months ago - do really long, intense workouts like Michael Phelps, and you'll be able to eat whatever you want!

After a few more paragraphs about the science behind calories and metabolic rate, he closes with:

Modern living has completely obscured the levels of exertion native to our bodies, and the quantity of calories required to fuel them. Even those of us who exercise daily are relatively sedentary by historical standards. Consider, for instance, early pioneers who spent day after day clearing trees from fields using only hand tools and beasts of burden.
When we don't like the energy-balance math of modern living, we invent myths to replace it. But all such tales simply obscure the basic truth.
Of course exercise burns body fat—or can. But most of us, most of the time simply don't exercise enough to outrun our calories, and readily out-eat our workouts.

manual labor burns calories
microsoft clipart

That's a great article. (and not just because he's got my back!)

Get your body moving - active and passive exercise during the day. Eat fewer calories. Turn up the intensity. And if you have the time and inclination - push your limits for a little longer.

-Chris Butterworth


snack-time - calories vs nutrition

snack-time - calories vs nutrition

I found this on the blog.

snack-time - calories vs nutrition

A couple of thoughts on calories and nutrition:
  • Paying attention to calories will get you 90% of where you want to go.
  • Calories are simply energy, and your body was made to process, store, and then burn (use) energy, regardless of what form it was in when it entered your body.
  • Some calories (sugars and simple carbs) require less processing than others (fat and protein), but the end result is the same.
  • Some foods are more calorie-dense than others, meaning you will feel more full from the same amount of calories. For example, that plate of fruit in the picture above would be a filling snack. Yet 280 calories of Cheetos would barely take the edge off your hunger. (in the picture above, a Snickers bar is 280 calories, which must be the same as 1090kj.)
  • Nutrition plays a role in that last 10%. You can lose weight by counting calories, even if you eat crap. But eventually a lack of nutrition will cause other problems for your body. Eating a variety of less-processed foods helps you capture more vitamins and nutrients.

What are you snacking on today?

-Chris Butterworth


Embrace the Grind

Embrace the Grind

Alabama football coach Nick Saban

Some things in this world are a grind.

  • losing weight
  • being healthy
  • being successful at your job
  • writing a blog!
  • Anything where the end result is made up of dozens of choices throughout the day, day after day, month after month.

Coach Nick Saban

Nick Saban is a college football coach. He coached the LSU Tigers to the national championship in 2003. Then, after a brief stint coaching in the NFL, he came back to college to coach the Alabama Crimson Tide (LSU's rival), where he won the national championship in 2009 and 2011. And he's currently ranked #1 in the country again, after having just beaten LSU (again) last weekend.

Coach Saban was interviewed on the radio last month, and the host asked about how he can be so successful in a business which can be a such a grind - teaching players, teaching coaches, strategy with coaches, recruiting new players, scouting opponents, devising game plans, coordinating with student advisers, dealing with all the problems that come with a few dozen 18-22 year old boys, etc., etc.

His response: "Embrace the grind."

Achievement Goals vs Elimination Goals

If your goal is to exercise in the morning before work, you only need to battle your inner demons once - you wake up, and have to motivate yourself to get out of bed and get moving. That's it. One battle, and you're victorious for the day.

If your goal is to lose weight, and you're doing this by watching what you eat, you need to battle your inner demons all day long.

  • Bagel with cream cheese and a glass of orange juice? No, just a small bowl of cereal instead.
  • Mocha frappuccino on the way to work? No, small coffee, black.
  • Dave brought donuts into the office? No thanks, I'm fine.
  • Mid-morning snack at the vending machine? Nah, I'll just have a few almonds to hold me over 'till lunch.
  • Lunch with the group, and that pizza smells awesome.. I'll have the small garden salad with grilled chicken strips.
  • Afternoon blahs - a snickers and a Coke sound pretty good. No, better make it half an apple and a glass of tea.
  • Dinner - I'm hungry, and everything sounds good - I want it all. Wait a minute, stick with the plan - I'll have a small burger (with minimal sauces and bun) and a salad.
  • Dessert - I've got ice cream in the freezer, but I'll have a few grapes instead.

Wow - that's a long, exhausting day of winning battles. You don't win the day unless you win every battle. And you don't win your goal unless you win almost every single day, for several months in a row.. What a grind!

Embrace the grind. Know that every time you win a battle, you're on pace to achieve your goal. Relish in the victory, savor it, embrace it.

An Example

Your goal of losing 50 pounds over the next year? It amounts to losing a pound a week, which means you need to be at a calorie-deficit of 500 calories per day, every day, for a year.

A 30-year old female, 5' 3", weighing 170 pounds, needs approximately 1,750 calories to maintain weight. She can eat 1,250 per day to lose her pound per week, or she can eat slightly more if she mixes in some high intensity exercise.

It's a grind. Yes, there are milestones along the way - losing 10 pounds, getting below 150, losing 25 pounds, etc. But none of those stop the grind. Taking a day off, having a cheesecake celebration - anything like that only sets you back.

The grind equals success. Failure to embrace the grind, equals failure.

Embrace the grind.

-Chris Butterworth


Evernote with Skitch for Windows is here!

Evernote with Skitch for Windows is here!

Skitch for Windows is here - you need to download this free program-app right now. (and if you don't have Evernote, you should download that, too.)

You all know how much I love Evernote (it's the first program I open on any device I'm using.) But the lack of Skitch for Windows has been killing me. Ever since Evernote acquired Skitch back in August 2011, I've been waiting, a little envious of my Mac-using friends.

Yes, I've had Skitch integration with Evernote on my Android for a long time, and I've used it occasionally, but annotating an image on a 3.5" screen just isn't the same when you're sitting in front of dual full-sized monitors.

What is Skitch?

Here's a quick "what you should do next" tutorial I created using Evernote with Skitch and about 5 minutes...

That's it - simple as anything. You can now capture what's on your screen, and mark it up to show the important parts, quickly and easily. One more tool in your productivity toolbox.

I bet there are some uses for health and fitness, too.

-Chris Butterworth


what to do with all that Halloween candy?

what to do with all that Halloween candy?

The kids scored big last night - a whole pillowcase filled with booty. (or worse - you didn't get enough trick or treaters and you have bags of candy left over.) Now what?

Halloween candy
image Microsoft clipart

You have options.

  1. Leftovers - GET IT OUT OF THERE! It's a goofy holiday, where kids go out and ask strangers for candy. That's not a good enough excuse for you to ruin your next couple weeks' diet. And besides, the "real" Holidays are just around the corner. Take your candy to the office, or a school. Or just throw it away. But there's no reason for you to be snacking on sugar, day after day, until it runs out.
  2. The Big Binge - Let your kids savor the Halloween spirit and eat lots of candy. Maybe for a day, or a week. Then, once the fun's over, get rid of whatever wasn't eaten. (Isn't there a tradition about a spooky monster who steals kids' candy late at night? There isn't? Well, maybe you should make one up!)
  3. The Slow Drip - Let the kids eat one piece each night for the next week-month-whatever, provided they've done their chores and homework. Yeah, it's candy, but it's something to hold over their head for good behavior..
  4. No Excuses - the Big Binge and the Slow Drip are options for your kids, not for you. No excuses; no reason to eat lots of candy.

It's up to you to make good decisions and set a good example for your family. This can be a great way to set the tone for the upcoming snack season - the first of many good decisions to come. Or it can be the start of that downward spiral, where you'll wake up on January 1st knowing exactly what your top resolution will be.

Be strong - choose wisely.

-Chris Butterworth