Quote of the Week – 27 Feb

“Don’t complain, 80% of people don’t care and 20% of people are happy you have them” – Lou Holtz

When you complain, the brutal chances are the person you’re talking to doesn’t care. This doesn’t have to be because they are mean people, but when you’re working out it should feel uncomfortable, for everyone. Complaining about how much pain you’re in or how sore you are will cause the other person to roll their eyes because they are feeling the same thing. There are also the people who are happy you are complaining because it makes them feel better about themselves. If you complain about being unable to lose weight, they will be happy you’re overweight because it makes them feel better about their weight. Then the only benefit of complaining is for the other person to feed off of your complaints. So when it doubt, stay positive and keep your complaints to yourself.


The SAD Diet

The SAD diet is exactly how it sounds, sad. This diet has been proven to directly increase your chances of coronary heart disease, risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and has an overwhelmingly negative impact on our health. The SAD diet, also known as the ‘Standard American Diet’, is simply a representation of how the average American citizen eats.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated fats, low in fiber, high in calories, high in processed foods, high in sugar, and low in plant-based foods.[i] Americans eat grossly too few vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, while refined grains, sugary beverages, frozen entrees, and sugar/candies are off the charts with consumption rates that are thousands of percentage points above the recommended USDA amount.[ii]

How did America get to the point where SAD is the norm? There are several theories behind why our diets have become so poor over the years, one being fast food prominence and marketing. In 2012, McDonalds alone spent 2.7 times as much on marketing than all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined.[iii] Meanwhile, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion which is the USDA’s sub-agency to the American that promotes dietary guidelines to the public has a total budget of only 1% of McDonald’s advertising budget.[iv]  This fast food culture also brings us convenience that we otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s easier to grab a quick unhealthy meal than it is to take the time to plan and cool healthy foods. Some will also claim that unhealthier foods such as the $1 menu at many restaurants are cheaper than healthier alternatives which makes it a better option for less wealthy families.[v] While there is some truth to this, I believe this comes back to education considering I know how to make plenty of healthy meals on a very low budget.

Regardless of how it happened, the Standard American Diet is now roughly 63% processed foods, 25% animal foods, and 12% plant based foods, and sodium intakes are more than double the recommended daily value.[vi] The American diet has taken a complete 180 from the diet our body thrives on. How do we fix this? Fixing this starts with you choosing to eat real foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. We can learn to eat healthy ourselves and then inspire others to do the same.

For the skeptics

I often enjoy answering questions on Quora, and when a question about the SAD diet was asked, one of the responses by a reputable source was that the SAD diet is “a straw man fantasy used by orthorexics to criticize the eating habits of those they deem to be inferior.” I wanted to talk about this a little bit. The definition of ‘orthorexia’ is the obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy, and this is often considered as a mental health disorder. If you take a straight macronutrients approach to health, then I can see this argument. Basically if you want to maintain your weight you can eat anything in moderation, and thus stay relatively healthy. The same person that posted this answer to the Quora question claimed to have lost 35 pounds while eating dessert everyday, which is possible but not recommended. His stance is simply the calories in calories out approach to health, which is great for weight control, but doesn’t account for the concerns my article discussed. He believes that no matter how you eat you can control your weight, which is true to an extent but still neglects to take into account health concerns outside of your weight. The Standard American Diet is what is used to explain the increase in medical conditions such as obesity and hypertension in the U.S., and has nothing to do with an obsession with healthy eating or inferiority. It is a causal relationship between societal health observations and nutritional studies, not us nutritionists looking at people who eat relatively poorly as inferior.

Author: Scott Van Hoy – Click Here to view the author’s profile


Quote of the Week – 20 Feb

“If Not You, Then Who” – Unknown

Nobody is going to step into your life and give you the keys to success if you are unwilling to explore and learn. Nobody is going to be able to push you to exercise and push you until it burns if you’re not willing to put in the effort. Nobody is going to force you to eat healthier if you don’t have the self-discipline to give up junk food. Nobody is going to do step in and make it easier for you to reach your health goals. Only you can make a positive change for yourself, so if it’s not you, then who?

Quote of the Week – 13 Feb

“Expectations Determine Whether or Not You are a Success of a Failure” – Unknown

First off, if you fail to set high expectations for yourself in the first place, then you have failed before you started. Always start by giving yourself a challenge and a method to reach your health goals. However, if you set your expectations too high, then you have also made yourself a failure before beginning. If your expectations are unattainable, you will constantly be chasing the impossible, and the constant failing will eventually break you down. That is why it’s important to have realistic yet challenging expectations. Be hard on yourself but not so hard that you lose motivation. Then when you finally meet your challenging expectations, that is when you can say you have reached success.

Click Here to view quotes from previous weeks.

The Impacts of Running

A few years ago I was training for a marathon, and I was feeling great throughout my training. I had just run my best half marathon time while training a couple weeks prior, and I was excited to get outside to do a 12 mile training run. The run felt great, the weather was beautiful, and I was in the zone. Then at mile 10, without changing anything in my stride, a sharp pain went straight through my ankle and I could barely walk. As a runner, I still tried to power through and managed to jog about another half mile, until finally I gave up and limped the rest of the way home.

So what happened? The short answer is I stress fractured my ankle from overuse. The longer answer dives into the anatomy of the human body, the stresses that are exerted on it, and the limitations of what we can endure without injury. After my injury (and a second stress fracture a couple months later), I began to wonder what kind of forces act of the human body while running, and whether or not it’s good for us to run for longer distances.

Any time you take a step, your body experiences a force that is greater than what it experiences while standing. A typical jog/run will exert between 2 and 4 times your standing force on your body. This means if you weigh 100 pounds, a single impact during a run will cause enough force to make you feel like 400 pounds. Your body does its best to absorb this shock to your body. The muscles in your legs act as a shock absorber, and the stronger your muscles, the less impact you will have loaded straight to your skeletal structure. This is why it’s important to weight train your lower body. Having weak or tight ankles or calves could lead to stress fractures in the foot and lower legs, which is what happened to me.

Shock absorbing shoes and insoles can help reduce the impact on your body, and has been scientifically proven that it helps reduce injury, but there could be some downsides to this. When you put on supportive shoes, the support and shock absorption that your muscles are adapted to provide are no longer needed. This triggers your body to weaken those muscles, and if you’re not careful, if you lose support in your shoes your muscles may not be ready to support the impacts of jogging the next time you go.

Another common technique runners use is they will run on softer surfaces to reduce the impact on their bodies. Scientists from the University of Calgary wanted to test this and see if impacts on harder surfaces such as concrete caused more injuries than softer surfaces, such as running on grass. The results were fairly surprising. They discovered that there wasn’t a noticeable difference in injury frequency when running on a softer surface rather than a harder surface. This could be because the cause of injury is more centered around an individual’s muscular and skeletal structure, rather than the force of the impact.

If you’re a walker or a runner it’s impossible to avoid the impact forces of the exercise, but you can reduce them by wearing supportive shoes or insoles. Also, impact activities such as basketball, running, or dancing typically produce an increase in skeletal mass, and are good ways to increase bone density to decrease your chance of stress fractures. Perhaps the best way to keep yourself from a running injury is to keep your lower body muscles strong and loose. The smaller muscles such as the ones in your ankles and calves are perhaps the most forgotten and important when it comes to preventing impact injuries. So for my runners and walkers out there, make sure you are staying ahead of any potential injuries by training your lower body muscles. If not you may end up like me, doing every cardio session on a stationary bike for months while my ankles healed.

Thank you for reading! If you want to learn more about the science behind walking and running impacts, check out these two peer-reviewed articles that I referenced when writing this article:



Obesity is Not Just a Health Issue – Things Worth Sharing

2 Weeks to Health predominately focuses on trying to get our readers on the path to a healthier life, but we have an underlying movement to try to reduce obesity one person at a time. Obesity not only affects the mental and physical health of individuals, but it also has security and economic outcomes. The amount we spend on healthcare can be greatly reduced if we all vow to live healthier lives. Imagine how much money we could save if we didn’t need to spend money on prescription medications, visits to the doctor, and other medical treatments. In this TEDx talk, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling discusses the effects of obesity on national security and the economy.

‘Things Worth Sharing’ is the portion of the website where I share interesting and useful health and fitness articles not written by 2 Weeks to Health. Nothing is advertised, everything is awesome.

Quote of the Week – 6 Feb

“If you want to succeed, you have to commit to it wholeheartedly” – Unknown

Many of us are afraid of commitment. Whether it’s commitment to a new significant other, a new pet, your work, or your health, commitment can leave us feeling vulnerable, like we’re going to miss out elsewhere, or even make us feel trapped. Commitment is also scary because we are required to take away time from one area of our lives, and transfer it to a new commitment. But commitment is necessary for something as fragile as the human body. Our bodies, unless tended to continuously, will not stay healthy unless we fuel it with good foods and exercise. That is why we must wholeheartedly commit to living a healthy life. Because without complete commitment, any health gains will be swiftly lost when our fear triumphs over previous efforts.

Click Here to view quotes from previous weeks.

How To Stay Motivated

Create a vision board:
Dedicate a bulletin board or part of your refrigerator to posting your goals and progress. By seeing your goals and progress physically posted on the wall, you will never have an excuse to forget a workout. This board could also include recipes, meals for the week, and motivational quotes or pictures. It’s simply a space dedicated to your health! If physical boards aren’t your thing, try making a blog, or using social media. By posting your goals and progress online for your friends and family to see, you will become more motivated to show everyone how good of a job you’re doing.

Set SMART goals: Make sure your goals are SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You want your goals to be more than “I want to lose weight.” Instead, it should sound something like “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months by running 3 days a week and going to yoga 2 days a week”. This is more specific, it’s measurable (you can weigh yourself), it’s attainable (2 months is plenty of time), it’s realistic if you’re willing to put in the work, and you set a time frame to complete it in. If you don’t set goals that are SMART, you won’t know when you hit your milestones, which may begin to demotivate you.

Take it one day at a time: Your goals should lay out a medium to long term plan for you, but your focus should be on the current day. Don’t get caught up and overwhelmed by everything you need to do over the coming months. When you wake up in the morning, have a plan for your day that will help reach your goals, and execute that plan with 100% effort. By taking it day to day, all you will every need to reach your goals is one more workout.

Recognize progress: Sometimes we work hard to reach a health goal and we appear to be going nowhere fast. If you wanted to lose 30 pounds in 6 months and you only lost 10, it can be a very demotivating experience. But the way I look at it is you lost 10 pounds and are making progress toward that 30 pound mark! Any progress is progress, and recognize that as long as you keep working hard you will keep making progress regardless of how slow. It’s all about your health, and if there is progress, keep it going!

Make it fun: To a lot of people exercising and eating healthy is a fate worse than death. It really doesn’t have to be painful, and should be a lot of fun! Becoming a healthier person doesn’t mean you need to go out and run for miles or eat tofu for every meal. One of the best ways to improve your health is to find a hobby you are passionate about that is a workout by itself. Then any time you go have fun, you are improving your body. Some fun and healthy hobbies are hiking, swimming, and most sports will make the list.

Keep the ‘why’ in mind: It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. The ‘why’ is the core of intrinsic motivation. For some people, knowing why they want to get fit is an easy answer, for others, it’s a bit more difficult. An easy answer may be to look good for the summer. A more difficult answer may be they want to feel better, but ‘feeling better’ is hard to measure. So the ‘why’ should be SMART just like your other goals. Regardless of your reason for wanting to live a healthier life, hold onto it. Add it to your vision board and look at it every chance you get. It’s the people who never lose the sight of why they are exercising and eating healthy that will ultimately reach their goals.

Watch motivational videos: It’s amazing how much motivational videos can alter the way we think. They discuss the core of our desires and the difficult actions that it takes to get there. Every motivational video is different, but after watching any of them I always have the desire to reach my goals and start right after the video ends. Watching a motivation video before a workout will put you in a mindset of action to achieve your goals. You can click here to view the top motivational videos on YouTube.

Reward yourself : When you hit a goal, make sure you reward yourself. There are a lot of different ways to do this, and they range from small items such as being allowed to watch your favorite TV show after exercising, or large items such as once you lose 40 pounds you will go on a cruise in the Bahamas to show off your new body. Regardless of the method you choose, set rewards for yourself for each of your goals or milestones and don’t let yourself get the reward until you reach the milestone, no cheating. This will motivate you to keep working to perhaps eat some ice cream for dessert or go to the movies and get popcorn and soda as a reward.

Author: Scott Van Hoy – Click Here to view the author’s profile

A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise Volume 2: Weight Loss Basics

As important physical fitness can be in establishing overall health, I personally view it as a mere supplemental piece to the absolute essential concepts of nutrition. Understanding what role caloric intake plays in the overall scheme of energy expenditure is something that is relatively simple to understand and can truly reap tremendous weight loss benefits for beginners and experts alike. Other more complicated topics such as macronutrients, supplements, and performance related nutrients aren’t as important for beginners, and thus will be discussed in future articles.

For a beginner, it all begins with the concept of Total Energy Expenditure (TEE). Total Energy Expenditure describes the three major bodily processes that utilize the calories we ingest from the foods and beverages we consume. Take a look at the chart below:


As you can clearly see, the three main components of TEE are Basal Metabolic Rate, Physical Activity, and Dietary Thermogenesis (also known as the Thermal Effect of Feeding). By far the biggest component of energy use is the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It uses up a massive 60 to 75 percent of the total energy the human body uses, and I think of it as “Life Energy” because all of these calories are utilized in the maintenance of proper organ function,  the regulation of internal body temperatures, and much more. Basal Metabolic Rate does not require a single movement to burn calories. In fact, it is a measurement of how many calories an individual burns over a 24 hour span by just sleeping or sitting. This rate is different for everyone and is affected by age, lean body mass, body size, height, weight, and other physiological processes. There are several BMR calculators online, and a quick google search will allow you to discover a relatively accurate estimate of the number of calories your body burns by simply maintaining itself.

The next biggest component of TEE is physical activity, and this is the only component of total energy expenditure that you have complete control over. Participating in exercise, regardless of its intensity, increases energy demands placed on the body. In order for the body to satisfy the requirements of these demands it uses the energy from calories ingested from food. Think of Total Energy Expenditure as a test and physical activity is thirty percent of that test. If you don’t take it the best you can get is a 70. If you do well, you burn more calories, and thus lose more weight, or can eat more food.

The final component of TEE is dietary thermogenesis. This is a very scientific term to simply describe the energy required to digest food, and thus I think of it as “Digestion Energy”. This is for the most part completely out of your hands, and your body will burn ten percent of total calories ingested autonomously. It is possible to manipulate this number by eating frequent meals, but overall this will not make or break much.

How Weight Loss Works

Now that we know how the energy ingested from food is utilized, we can understand exactly how weight loss works.

Total Calories Ingested (TCI) – Total Energy Expenditure(TEE) = Net Caloric Deficit/Surplus

If (TCI-TEE) is > 0 Weight will be gained (Caloric Surplus)

If (TCI-TEE) is = 0 Weight will be maintained

If (TCI-TEE) is < 0 Weight will be lost (Caloric Deficit)

If you subtract total calories burned in a day (TEE) from the total calories you ingested from food (TCI), you will arrive at a number that represents your net caloric value. If this number is positive you have a caloric surplus, meaning you ingested more calories than you burned and thus will gain weight. If the opposite occurs and you have a negative number, you have a caloric deficit. This means you burned more calories than you ingested, resulting in weight loss. If the number is zero, you will neither gain nor lose weight as you have burned the same amount of calories that you have ingested. To calculate exactly how much weight is gained or lost, you take the surplus/deficit amount of calories and divide it by 3500. For example, if you had a surplus of 700 calories, you would gain 700/3500 (.2) pounds.

Putting it All Together

Now that we understand exactly how weight loss is achieved, I think providing an example of calculating energy balance would be helpful. So let’s observe a sample of my own personal daily caloric receipt to understand this better.

Alex’s Caloric Receipt

Breakfast                    +400

                                                                 Lunch                           +650

                                                                 Dinner                          +500

                                                                 Snacks                          +250

                                                                 BMR                              -2078

                                                                 Exercise                       -400

                                                                 Digestion                      -180


                                                               Caloric Deficit of 858 calories

As you can see, I ate three total meals throughout the day, and two snacks in between these meals for a total of five meals. The way you figure out the caloric values for each of these meals is to ensure you are tracking the calories that are portioned for the serving size you consume. For example, if I was eating a serving size of chicken (one piece) I would see on the back that this relates to 425 calories. You must do this for every meal you eat or drink, and at the end of the day tally up the total amount of calories you consumed. However, if you are busy, or just lazy like me, you can use one of several phone applications that will not only do all the math for you.  All you have to do for these apps is search what you ate, tell them how much you ate, and then it will tell you exactly how many calories you consumed. It will also keep track of your calories for the day. If we add all the calories from my meals together, we get a total of 1800 calories, and this number represents by total calories ingested for the day.

Now that we figured how many calories I ingested, it is time to figure out how exactly I calculated my total energy expenditure. If you do a quick search on Google for “Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator” you will find an abundance of websites that will ask for your height, weight, age, and gender. If you are willing to provide this information, the websites will give you a rough estimate of your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This rate stays relatively constant and only changes with increases in the things mentioned above (age, height, weight, etc.). After plugging this information in, my estimated BMR was 2078 calories. In addition to our BMR, we still have to calculate my Dietary Thermogenesis (Digestion Energy) and my physical activity to see exactly how many calories I burned. Digestion energy is simply about ten percent of the total calories you consumed. So for this, I added the calories consumed from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks (1800) and then multiplied it by (.1) resulting in 180 burned calories. As far as calculating exercise goes, you can either purchase a heart rate monitor and it will measure your burned calories, or you could also use apps made for phones that will provide an estimate of how many calories you burned during your workout based off what you did and how long you did it. Add all three of these things together, and you will get your total energy expenditure.

Although these numbers were artificially created (except for BMR), you can see that I subtracted my ingested calories from my total energy expenditure to find out that I was at a calorie deficit of 858 calories, which would be amazing. If everything were to stay exactly the same (highly unlikely), I would burn a total of 6006 calories in one week, and thus lose approximately 1.71 pounds in that week. I calculated this number by multiplying my daily caloric deficit by seven and then dividing that number by 3500. Generally, most people try to be at a deficit of 500 calories per day, because this means that they will burn exactly one pound a week.

Weight loss, as you can probably see, is a very inexact science for someone who isn’t necessarily an expert in nutrition like most of the population is. It relies heavily on technology measuring ingested calories, tracking how many calories we burn in workouts, and our Basal Metabolic Rate. However, understanding how weight loss work is incredibly important, and learning how to track calories really can make a tremendous difference for people who struggle with their weight. With a little precision and discipline, a new and better life is completely attainable!

Author: Alex Perelló –  click here to view his bio and other articles

*As a certified personal trainer, I am to make explicitly clear that I am not a qualified to create individualized dietary plans, and I am not necessarily a nutrition specialist. However, I have taken several college courses on nutrition, received several basic nutritional guidelines while studying for the certification, and have years of experience of personal research. This article reflects some useful information I have discovered through these endeavors.