Exercise Caloric Claims: Don’t Believe Them

century ride

It seems that every exercise video or fitness program claims that if you buy their system, you can burn up to 1000 calories in an hour. If that were the case I would be able to eat brownies every day and still lose weight (I wish!). Note the key words they use in their sales pitches:  up to, may, can, possible…etc. Unless you weigh a lot and have large muscles, it’s incredibly unlikely that you will burn 1000 calories in a mere hour of any type of exercise.

Here’s some data that I thought was interesting and quite eye-opening from WebMD’s calorie counter:

If you weigh 115 pounds & do high-impact aerobics for 1 hour you will burn 420 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and do high-impact aerobics for 1 hour you will burn 676 calories (even at the higher weight, this person doesn’t burn 1000 cal/hr)


If you weigh 115 pounds and Rollerblade 8 miles in 1 hour you will burn 241 calories (That’s it? Yikes!)
If you weigh 185 pounds and Rollerblade 8 miles in 1 hour you will burn 388 calories


If you weigh 115 pounds and walk 3 miles in 1 hour you will burn 238 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and walk 3 miles in 1 hour you will burn 383 calories


If you weigh 115 pounds and weight-train for 1 hour you will burn 289 calories (OMG! That’s all?)
If you weigh 185 pounds and weight-train for 1 hour you will burn 464 calories


If you weigh 115 pounds and do yoga for 1 hour you will burn 191 calories
(They’re probably referring to easy yoga!)
If you weigh 185 pounds and do yoga for 1 hour you will burn 308 calories


If you weigh 115 pounds and clean for 1 hour you will burn 194 calories
If you weigh 185 pounds and clean for 1 hour you will burn 313 calories


From this data you can see that the less you weigh, the fewer calories you burn. This is why it’s really hard for tiny folks to lose any weight at all, and why it’s easier for heavy folks to lose weight quickly. Even though this information is from WebMD, a reliable site, they’re approximations. A younger person with denser muscles will burn more calories than a senior citizen even if they are the same weight. Age, muscle mass, metabolism, and how often you move when you’re not exercising has an effect on calories burned. My husband kidded me that he burns more calories lying on the couch reading the paper than I do in a one hour high-intensity plyometric workout.

Photo: Jojo crossing the finish line on a century ride (100 miles). Now that burns some serious calories!

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan Salad Dressing

Vegan Dressing

I’m really picky about salad dressing, but this Miso Sesame salad dressing is delicious. A friend of mine bought me a bottle and told me it was her favorite and now it’s my favorite too. The ingredient list is short and contains all good stuff: miso, honey, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, spices and salt. The calories are low too. Two tablespoons are only 50 calories and two grams of fat. Shake, shake, shake and pour it on!

Should you get the flu vaccine?

flu shot

Last year’s flu knocked me off my feet. It was the second worst flu I’ve ever had. The only foods I could keep down were fruit and nuts and I ended up losing a pound a week (I guess that’s the upside of a virus!). My muscles were so weak, that my knees would buckle upon standing; I had to grab onto something to prevent falling to the ground. This year I’m seriously considering getting the flu shot (this would be the first time) because I don’t want to be out of commission like last year.

Here’s some information that will help you make your decision whether or not to get the flu shot or the flu mist (I’m still undecided):


  • Multiple-use flu vaccines contain thimerosol, which is a mercury-based preservative used to stabilize the vaccine and to prevent bacteria growth. Mercury is a toxic metal, but this small amount is not supposed to be harmful. There are single-use flu vaccines that do not contain thimerosol. These are sealed, and only used once so there’s little to no risk of contamination.


  • The flu spray does not contain thimerosol, but it is a live, although weakened, virus so you can get contract the flu from the spray. Those that are pregnant, are diabetic or have asthma are advised not to get the flu spray since it contains a live virus and because these individuals typically have a compromised immune system.


  • Since a new, clean needle is used for each person, there is no risk of contamination from someone else in regards to the multiple-use vaccines. The vials have a rubber stopper and needles are used to draw in the substance.


  • The virus is dead so you cannot get the flu from the influenza vaccine. Some people think they caught the flu from the flu shot, but it takes about two weeks for your antibodies to protect you. If you get the flu, even after receiving the flu shot, the reasons you still got sick could be that you were exposed to the flu before you were inoculated, you caught a different flu strain, or you caught the flu before the antibodies could protect you.


  • Vaccines, just like foods and prescription drugs can have serious side effects in some people. Sometimes the risk of getting vaccines is safer than getting sick. It may depend on your risk factor. It’s not always a simple yes or no answer so you’ll have to make that determination.


Vaccine risks and which people should not get the flu vaccine:
The flu shot can trigger the onset of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a painful illness that can cause paralysis and death. There is no cure for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, only treatments. To test for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, spinal fluid would need to be withdrawn and sent to a lab. Spinal fluid withdrawal can cause headaches up to a weak, back pain, and brain bleeding. Yikes! A blood test can be performed to look for an antibodies such as one called GQ1b, although this test doesn’t seem to be common.

Even if you don’t have GBS, you may not be in the clear: An article from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health states that “it is biologically plausible that immunizations may be associated with subsequent GBS… the benefit of vaccines in preventing disease and decreasing morbidity and mortality, particularly for influenza, needs to be weighed against the potential risk of GBS” (1). The CDC concurs, “On very rare occasions, they (people) may develop GBS in the days or weeks after getting a vaccination. Anyone can develop GBS; however, it is more common among older adults. The incidence of GBS increases with age, and people older than 50 years are at greatest risk for developing GBS.”(2).

The NY Times articled dated September, 23, 2013 disagrees that GBS is caused by vaccines: “…the swine flu and the regular flu vaccines used today have not resulted in more cases of the illness.” This information was obtained by a 12-year study listed in the Oxford Journals abstract titled: “Lack of Association of Guillain-Barré Syndrome With Vaccinations.” Their conclusion: “In this large retrospective study, we did not find evidence of an increased risk of GBS following vaccinations of any kind, including influenza vaccination.” Even though that’s quite a long study, it’s still one study. My theory: it’s a risk. I know I’m going to get the flu since I get it every year, but I don’t know if the flu shot’s effects on my system will be worse than that of contracting the actual bug.

If you are sick, allergic to eggs, or have GBS, don’t get the flu vaccine in any form. For more information, contact your doctor, CDC or go to www.flu.gov.

(Sources: Mayo Clinic on-line articles, Vaccine Information Statements from the CDC and U.S. Dept. of Health & Services, Scripps Hospital Nurse, Scripps Clinic internal medicine doctor, CVS nurse practitioner, Neurology/About.com, NY Times)

  1. “Vaccines and Guillain-Barré syndrome” Complete article found at:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388722 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).
  2. Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), Questions & Answers. Complete article found at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/guillainbarre.htm

Free Wellness Programs

cute dog

Certain hospitals and some insurance companies now include wellness or healthy lifestyle programs that are either free or low cost. For instance, Scripps provides weight loss tools, diabetes support groups (support groups of all sorts), free Zumba dance classes, a Heart Healthy Nutrition Class, a Nutritional Medicine class, and a session on Managing Chronic pain, all free; and that’s just a small sampling of what they have available.

It’s about time that preventative care is being encouraged and it’s importance realized. You’re paying for your health insurance so get the most out of it. Look into what they have to offer; it could make your world a whole lot healthier and happier.

Photo: I saw this cute 3 year old dog the other day while running errands. The owner was nice enough to let me take her picture. Too cute!

Blast Away Stubborn Fat

Muay Thai

To tap into those stubborn fat stores, high intensity exercises such as box jumps, sprints, jump rope, high-knees, boxing and kickboxing will do the trick. These types of workouts will make you sweat and maybe even make you see stars, but if you want 6-pack abs, that’s what you’re going to have to do. Stop thinking about it and do it!

Photo: Jojo & coach Mando’s exhibition Muay Thai fight

Tap Out Exercise Video Review

TapOut set

If you want to work out at home and like exercise videos then you might want to look into Tapout. You don’t get to knock anyone out but you do get to learn the correct form on all sorts of martial arts moves. There’s some strength involved but it’s mainly cardiovascular. These exercises are really fun. I’ve worked out to all of them numerous times and I’m always panting and smiling. The coach Mike Karpenko is entertaining, but he needs to eat a brownie (he’s too skinny!)

Each video is under an hour which makes them all doable. There’s 13 different videos that come in the package which includes: Muay Thai, Competition Core, Ultimate Abs (it’s really not that hard), Legs and Back (not much of a leg workout but super great to strengthen your back), Plyo XT (it’s not really plyometric like Insanity or P90X Plyo, but still a heart-thumping workout), Strength & Force Upper Body, Cardio XT (this one is super hard and really boring), Ripped Conditioning, Buns & Guns, Sprawl & Brawl, Yoga XT (this one works your shoulders like no other yoga I’ve tried), Cross Core Combat, and the instructional video: Strike Training.

All these videos come with a resistance band and one leg band. I suggest getting two bands, each with a different resistance. One reason for the two sizes is that some exercises are too easy and some are too hard. You also want one that’s stronger so when you get used to the exercises, you can increase your weight-loss and strengthen your muscles (otherwise you’ll plateau and won’t get any further results).

The leg band is a thin piece of rubber that you place around your ankles for the leg workouts. It works great for about three minutes until it rolls up your leg into a string and starts tearing your skin. It’s really painful. See if they offer a better quality one than you get for free, or buy a good leg band at your local sporting goods store.

All-in-all I give this series a two-thumbs up. The videos are really fun, a great deal for the money, and provide intense cardio workouts.

Love Peanut Butter but Hate the Fat? I can fix that!

peanut butter and powder

I love peanuts and peanut butter but nuts have a lot of calories and fat for such a small portion. I found an organic peanut butter powder that has 24% fewer calories and 1/10th of the fat. The downside is that the powder has more sodium, half the protein (which is not much to begin with), and contains coconut sugar. Whenever manufacturers lower the fat, they typically add sugar and salt.

I normally only buy peanut butter that contains one ingredient: peanuts. If you’re looking to lower fat and calories, this is a great alternative. You also only need a fraction of what you would normally use. For instance, if I’m making a smoothie with peanut butter, I add 1 tbsp. which has 8 grams of fat and 95 calories. To get the same peanut flavor with the powder, I only need 1 tsp. which is a mere 8 calories and .25 grams of fat. Not bad!

You can use the peanut powder in your smoothies, to make Pad Thai peanut sauce, or add to make a chicken peanut soup. You can buy peanut butter powder at specialty stores or at markets that cater to healthy living. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

 2 TBSP Peanut Butter                                     2 TBSP   Peanut Butter Powder

190 calories                                                     45 calories

16 grams of fat (wow!)                                 1.5 grams of fat

5mg sodium                                                     90mg sodium*

4 net carbs                                                       4 net carbs

8 grams protein                                              4 grams protein

 *Remember that you’ll use less peanut butter powder since it’s concentrated. If you try this and come up with your own recipes and ideas, please share them.

Don’t Let Exercise Make You Fatter

exercising at a CrossFit Gym
Adding exercise and cutting back on calories is supposed to lead to greater weight loss, but many studies don’t support this theory. What?!!! Those studies are flawed, right? Well, some people may have been eating more calories since exercising leads to an increase in appetite, but there’s more to this. Let me explain. When some people put in a workout, they “…compensate for their increased energy expended by increasing the time spent sleeping, sitting and lying down during the day.” You’ve probably seen me write that you need to exercise AND do your normal household chores. This phenomenon of not losing more weight by adding exercise to a lower calorie diet also explains why you keep hearing to take the stairs, park farther away, and to stand instead of sit. This is why it’s important to keep moving. Our bodies were meant to be in motion.

I admit that I’m guilty of being lazier on days that I exercise harder. After a good cardio workout on a Saturday morning, I’m more apt to lay on the couch and watch TV for the rest of the day. I know two friends that go for long runs every weekend and that’s all they do on that day. On their running day, they won’t even make plans to meet me and my husband for dinner because, they said, that would be too much effort.

On two the days I don’t do cardio or weight train, I go for walks and clean the house. Now that I know that one exercise session won’t bring about fat burning results that I once thought, I’ll make sure to get off my butt and move about more on my workout days.

(Source: Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance, 2nd Ed. Quote found on pg. 188)

Know what you’re eating

allergy medications

Anyone who has food allergies knows that allergens are added to the strangest items. Dishes that have never been a threat, now are since chefs are trying to be innovate to create new flavors. For instance, derivatives of milk are in chalk, mints, gum, fake crab and French fries. Some cooks butter the steaks and coat the grill with butter instead of oil. A waitress at P.F. Chang’s said their meat, including chicken and shrimp, are soaked in milk. On a television show called Dinners, Dine-Ins and Dives, a chef cooked pulled-pork in a vat of spices and cow’s milk.

Many Indian dishes, that people think of vegan, are made with yogurt and ghee (clarified butter). Italian minestrone, a soup made with white beans, vegetables and pasta is sometimes cooked with a cheese rind. Many white breads are made with non-fat dried milk.

You just never know where allergens are lurking. When dining out I always have to remind myself to ask the wait staff if any dairy is in the dish I ordered, even if it is a tofu and vegetable stir-fry.

Healthy Fall Vegan Treat

baked pumpkin

Today I turned a pumpkin into a snack. I had my husband taste it because he’s much pickier than I am and he said it was good so here it is:

1 small pumpkin, cut in half, seeds and strings removed

maple syrup

a few dashes of cinnamon

a few dashes of powdered ginger

a handful of unsalted, chopped roasted peanuts

4 chopped mint leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour maple syrup into the pumpkin cavity so that the bottom is covered, but don’t fill too high. Add cinnamon and ginger. Mix spices and syrup in the pumpkin with a spoon. Cook for 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Add chopped peanuts and mint. Eat with a spoon.

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