An Overview of the Total Body Conditioning Plan (TBC4)

Here is an inside look at part of a training session from the 4-Week Total Body Conditioning Plan (TBC4). For more of an overall review of the 28-day plan please look here. The TBC4 Plan begins with an assessment and offers short, high-quality strength training options, HIT cardio sessions and nutritional strategies over the course of four-weeks. The TBC4 Plan focuses on changing ones mindset when it comes to exercise and diet.

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be”  John Wooden, former UCLA Basketball Coach

Fitness Assessment

Making the commitment to exercise regularly while focusing on specific diet strategies are two important steps. The basic concept is to use the plan as a template to bolster that commitment and hopefully “ingrain the habits into your brain.” There are 6-steps to follow over the course of the 4-week plan and five of those steps have specific game plans. Each game plan needs to be incorporated into your life-style in order to be successful. The 6-steps talk about the importance of changing mindset, performing an assessment, adding in more daily movement, getting stronger and leaner and finally, the value of getting more sleep. By the time you complete your 28-day plan, you’ll improve not only your health and fitness, but more importantly, exercise will develop into a habit.

Strength Days (3x/week, <30:00 sessions)

Focus on primary movements including the Squat, Deadlift, Loaded Carry, Lunge, PushPull and Trunk Rotational exercises. The key takeaway here is to master these basic movements before increasing any type of volume. Build up to completing 2-4 sets of each exercise using a load that enables you to get 8-20 repetitions per set. If you end up working for time instead of reps, aim for 30-60 seconds of work per set and perform the exercises in a circuit fashion for about 30:00. The goal is three times a week and if you have a long history of working out, you have the option of progressing to every other day. If you’re new to the game, try only 1-2 circuits, 1-2 days a week and add in plenty of recovery between bouts of exercise. The volume of work (sets x reps x load) will depend on your ability and training history.

Cardio Days (3x/week, 15:00 sessions)

Focus on short, challenging, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) when it comes time for cardio workouts and these can be done on a bike, elliptical, treadmill, swimming, on a rowing machine or running. According to Len Kravitz, a researcher at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, “HIIT adds up to 15 percent more calories to the total calories expended.” That means if you’ve worked off 550 calories doing HIIT, you can reasonably expect to burn at least another 83 calories post-exercise. The HIIT sessions should include alternating formats using the following two protocols. One option, is to use a 4:00 warm-up followed by interval work using a 1:2 work to rest ratio (i.e. 30-seconds of maximum effort, 1:00 lower intensity) x 5 rounds, then a cool-down for 4:00. The second option, includes a 4:00 warm-up followed by a 30-20-10 protocol. This means 30-seconds of easy work followed by 20-seconds of moderate intensity work and then 10-seconds of maximum effort for a total of one-minute. Repeat this for 7 rounds followed by a 4:00 cool-down. Both of the workout protocols should take you about 15:00. The exercise intensity will depend on your ability and training history. The TBC4 Plan recommendation is to wear a heart rate monitor during workouts especially if you’re new to exercise.

Nutritional Strategy (8 Diet Pillars)

The TBC4 offers 8 Diet Strategies to follow during your time spent on the plan. These include: Diet Strategy #1 – Drink more water first thing in the morning. Diet Strategy #2 – Never skip breakfast. Diet Strategy #3 – Don’t drink your calories. Diet Strategy #4– Be aware of processed foods. Diet Strategy #5 – Decrease your added sugar and salt intake. Diet Strategy #6 – Be aware of portion distortion. Diet Strategy #7 – Eat more fruits and vegetables. Diet Strategy #8 – Decrease your calories prior to bedtime. For an in-depth look of each please read here.

Game Plan: Follow the 8 Diet Strategies each day. Focus on reducing added sugar. A goal for women is <100 calories (25 grams) a day. A goal for men is <150 calories (38 grams) a day. Increase the amount of daily fiber. You can use the exact same number in terms of daily gram that is recommended for added sugar, as your goal.

The following is an example of part of a training session for someone other than a novice.

(Part of) Dynamic Warm-up

Mountain Climber (perform in “slow motion”) As movement competency improves the individual would progress to a faster pace for repetitions or time.

Weighted Step-Ups

Inverted Row


Hammer Curl/Squat/Press

Hanging Abdominals

Some of the Unexpected Benefits of Beet Juice

If climbing Mount Everest is on your bucket list, you may want to add beet juice to your grocery shopping list. A recent study by Bakker et al. published in Nitric Oxide suggests that drinking beet juice may help prevent symptoms of altitude sickness like headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, poor appetite, and insomnia.

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The onset of high altitude illness occurs when your brain and other body tissues are starved for oxygen. As elevation increases the partial pressure of oxygen in the air decreases, meaning there is simply less pressure to move the oxygen from the air into our lungs, blood, and body tissues. Standing atop Everest at 8848 meters (29,029 ft) would feel like you were breathing 6% less oxygen than compared to sea level! Beet juice is a natural source of inorganic nitrates, which are metabolized inside the body to nitric oxide.

Nitric Oxide is essential for normal functioning of the vasculature and is a potent vasodilator, allowing for greater blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues. Bakker and colleagues hypothesized that drinking beet juice might prevent the reduction in artery function that typically occurs at high altitudes. Their study participants drank either beet juice or a placebo and ascended from 1370 m elevation to 4200 m elevation. As expected, participants on the placebo experienced a decline in artery function, measured by an ultrasound test called flow mediated dilation (FMD). Amazingly, when participants drank the beet juice the altitude-induced drop in FMD was prevented! In addition to increased NO production and vasodilation, beet juice might also help prevent altitude sickness by improving the efficiency of oxygen usage within the mitochondria of the cells.

Researchers have found that the body can produce more energy per molecule of oxygen consumed when supplemented with beet juice. The application of this finding has been tested among athletes who have consistently shown the ability to race faster in time trial style events and to go longer before reaching exhaustion by adding beet juice to their pre-competition regimens.

Therefore, if you are an athlete competing at high elevation, you really want to get on the (beet) juice. If you plan on hiking, skiing, or climbing mountains, the safest way to acclimatize to the altitude is to ascend slowly. Your body has natural compensation mechanisms that help you adjust to the “thinner air.” However, it can take weeks before these fully kick in. To boost your body’s acclimatization process, prevent high altitude illness, and feel as spry as a mountain goat in the Andes, follow these dietary strategies:

• Eat at least 8 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, especially leafy greens and berries which are high in micronutrients and antioxidants.

• Avoid high-fat and heavily salted foods, as they can actually impair arterial function by slowing blood flow and decreasing NO production.

• Drink enough fluid to ensure adequate hydration but do not over-hydrate. The best way to monitor fluid status is by the color of your urine which should be clear to pale yellow in color without any foul odor.

• Avoid alcohol which can interfere with respiratory function and disrupt normal sleeping patterns.

• Pack BeetPerformer Beet Juice in your backpack and drink a can daily to wash down your GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts).

Tara Martine, MS, RD, LDN is the Health Promotion Registered Dietitian at Tyndall Air Force Base and the female overall winner of the 2014 Savannah Rock N’ Roll Marathon.  Tara earned her BS in mathematics from The College of William and Mary.  She holds a Master’s degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  She is a member of The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics as well as the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition practice group.  Her areas of expertise include sports nutrition, weight loss, and plant-based nutrition.

What to Know About Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s immune response and attempt to heal itself after injury however, it may also be the underlying cause to most autoimmune diseases. Chronic inflammation occurs over time from long-term stress on the body. Some contributing factors include diet, lack of exercise, stress, and excess weight. Dr. Zach Bush the creator of gut health supplement, RESTORE, explains how inflammation can affect our health.  Dr. Bush is a triple board certified physician who became keenly aware that biotech environmental factors are embedded in our soil, water, and the air we breathe, all relating back to our gut, which can affect our overall health.

According to Dr. Bush, anyone who has chronic problems such as headache, digestive problems, fatigue or joint pain, should consider being evaluated for inflammation.  Inflammation can also be silent.  People can feel just fine and the inflammation can be affecting their heart, blood vessels, brain, digestive tract and joints.

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There are a couple of simple blood tests you can take to determine if you have generalized inflammation.

Test # 1 :ESR – Erythrocyte, or red blood cells, Sedimentation Rate

Inflammation causes excess protein which circulate in the blood stream and some of them can coat red blood cells.  When you put the red blood cells in a test tube you can determine if they are coated with protein by how fast they settle.   For women the normal range is 0 – 20 millimeters per hour (mm/hr).

Test # 2 :hsCRP –  High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein

There is one specific type of protein that circulates in the blood stream. This test determines how much of it is in your blood stream. The normal range is less than 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L).

Both are simple blood tests that any naturopathic or medical doctor can do.

If the tests show up positive, you have significant inflammation.  Additional diagnostic tests may need to be done to identify where the inflammation is coming from.

If the tests show up negative or normal, you may still have inflammation. Dr. Bush suggests looking at diet and lifestyle to determine which factors may be contributing to inflammation such as refined processed foods, saturated fats, etc. Dr. Bush and a team of scientist came up with an antidote to modern agriculture practices. Made in the US, RESTORE is a soil-derived, scientifically-backed mineral supplement that creates a firewall against toxins entering the gut wall. RESTORE helps create a biological environment for good gut bacteria to grow and flourish, to support improvement of overall health.

Zach Bush MD was President of his medical school class at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center with his MD, and later became Chief Resident for the department of Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia.  Over the last 12 years Dr. Bush has continued to further his medical and basic science knowledge — he is among the few physicians in the nation that is triple board certified, having completed training and certification in three fields including Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Hospice and Palliative care. He has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the areas of infectious disease, endocrinology, and cancer.

He uses RESTORE in his clinic, Revolution Health Center, and has seen clinically significant improvements in patients with Leaky Gut Syndrome, Gluten Intolerance, Autism, Type 2 Diabetes, Autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Understanding the Difference Between Types of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can seem confusing – some are considered “good” while others are deemed “bad.”

Dr. Neal Malik, MPH, RDN, CHES, EP-C, a core faculty member at the School of Natural Health Arts & Sciences at Bastyr University in California, explains that processed carbohydrates (sometimes called refined carbohydrates) are lacking fiber, as well as many important nutrients such vitamins and minerals. Consuming these processed carbohydrates may lead to a spike in blood sugar, and is often associated with a number of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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It’s tough for even the most health conscious eaters to know for sure which carbohydrates to avoid, and which can have great health benefits. Dr. Malik breaks it down below:

  • DO incorporate whole grains into your diet. These include whole grain breads, pastas, cereals, brown or wild rice and quinoa. They are minimally processed and therefore provide more nutrients and fiber than their refined counterparts.
  • DON’T drink soda. Most people forget that sodas are full of carbohydrates. They’re main ingredient is sugar, which is an extremely processed carb!
  • DO eat lots of beans and legumes. These foods contain plenty of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. They can also increase feelings of satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer.
  • DON’T sip on fruit juice. One whole orange is not equal to one glass of orange juice, so you are getting several times the recommended serving amount without the satiety. Even 100% fruit juice contains fructose (a sugar and therefore carbohydrate) which is absorbed and processed by the body quicker than if one were to eat a whole fruit.
  • DO eat sweet potatoes. The bright orange color signifies that these carbohydrates are a wonderful source of Vitamin A and fiber.

Additional Reading

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes.

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff Volek, PhD, Stephen Phimmey, MD

Beware of Pokemon Go

In the era of the Internet and global information sharing, certain things become rapidly popular. As a matter of fact, they are popularized so fast on a global scale that having not heard of them can only mean you came from another planet yesterday. This is exactly the case with the “Pokemon Go” app, which has exploded in popularity.

There are two ways we can measure its popularity. The first one is app installation – according to the Digital Vision blog, Pokemon Go was installed on 5.16% of phones in the U.S. by July 8 (it was released on July 6), becoming more popular than Tinder (2.4% of phones). The other measure metric is the number of daily active users and about 60% of those who have installed the game on their phones open the app every day, which shows the game’s addictive nature.

Pokemon Go has managed to drive people outside in search for wheedles, zubats, rattatas, and pidgeys. They are enjoying the social aspect – getting outside, meeting new people, exploring, and gaining different experiences.

However, when something causes an instant mass craze, one cannot close one eye and stay blind to all the negative sides of a certain phenomenon.

Famous psychotherapist and psychiatrist, Carl Jung, said that “every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”

If we try to apply this principle to the year 2016, that is to the lives of us and our contemporaries and all the advanced technological aspects contained in them, we must ask ourselves: what are the downsides?

The game uses a map-like layout and augmented reality, so peoples’ safety is endangered due to the need for looking down at your phone. William Bratton, New York City Police Commissioner, commented that people are putting themselves at great risk because of the Pokemon Go craze. Two men were injured by falling off an ocean bluff, while some got robbed while walking the streets in pursue of Pokemons. A 15-year-old girl was hit by a car while playing the game which “took her across a major highway at 5 o’clock in the evening, which is rush hour.”

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Even though no games are 100% safe (people break their bones while skateboarding, snowboarding, and cycling), being injured in the street while seduced by the augmented reality of a smartphone game won’t teach anyone responsibility. If you still plan to go out and catch these little digital creatures, keep your head up more and wear reflective clothing tape at night so you don’t get hit by any speeding vehicle.

Also, there are two major security risks when it comes to installing the game on your smartphone or iPhone.

#1 – Pokemon Go users are required to use their Google credentials in order to log in. It was noted that the game and its developers have complete access to the users’ Google accounts once they log in, which makes the “privacy violation” bulb start blinking. This means (at least in theory) that Niantic, the firm that has developed the game, has complete access to all content within the Google accounts of their players (photos and videos stored in Google Photos, Google Drive based files and Gmail-based email), which is concerning. If you are using the app, be aware of the permission you give it when you install it.

#2 – Beware of malware-infected versions of the app. Because of its enormous popularity, hackers have already managed to post these infected game versions on file sharing services. After you install it, hackers are able to access your phone via a backdoor, allowing them to copy any data from your phone and use it to commit cybercrime.

The best recommendations we could give you regarding the Pokemon Go app are: keep your head up and stay safe, because no game is worth getting injured or losing your life over, stick with the known app stores and don’t download the app from file sharing services and unknown third party app providers.

Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull. He blogs at

The Best Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Surge

A fitness tracker on your wrist can tell you your current heart rate, how many calories you’ve burned, how far you’ve walked, and even how many steps it took you to get there. Some can measure how you sleep, sync with your phone, and let you share stats with friends and rivals online. The one thing it won’t do is make you any healthier. You have to do that. But knowledge is power: Applying the information a good fitness tracker provides to make a few healthy changes — like walking a little farther each day, or using the stairs instead of an elevator — can help you reach your fitness goals faster than you would without.

A good fitness tracker should offer easy access to all the information you need about your daily routine — and help you make informed decisions on ways to improve that routine. It’s that simple. So to find the best fitness trackers, we looked for the ones that made it as painless as possible without sacrificing statistical accuracy. The Fitbit Surge topped our list: It performed well in our accuracy tests across multiple types of exercises and body movements, and it was easy to use straight out of the box, with a just large-enough built-in display. It costs a not-cheap $250, but we think it’s worth it.

If you’re an endurance athlete looking to take your training to the next level — or a data nerd who loves to get dirty with stats — our runner-up, the Garmin Vivoactive HR (also $250), is your best choice. From heart-rate tracking to elevation changes, to all-day activity monitoring, the sheer volume of accurate data it pumps out will give you the most to work with to better your training, especially for activities like running and biking.

If you’re worried about information overload (or you plan on going swimming with your tracker) try the Mio Fuse, our budget pick. At $99, it’s the cheapest option of all our top picks — and the most basic — but it’s still accurate, dead simple to use, and completely waterproof.

How We Found the Best Fitness Tracker

We started with a list of 78 fitness trackers. (That’s every one we could find on the market.) Then we spoke with several fitness experts to determine the most important features for an effective fitness tracker, which helped us narrow down our list to seven to actually use and test.

We Dropped Trackers that Didn’t Wirelessly Sync with Mobile Devices

The best fitness trackers shouldn’t rely on a smartphone to capture the data you need — but mobile devices do come in handy when a tracker is paired with them. The screens are bigger and easier to see, which makes the fitness tracker’s software easier to navigate (and it’s less awkward to bring to the gym than a laptop). A wireless Bluetooth sync also allows your phone to collate and analyze raw data from the fitness tracker in real time, too, which allows you to compare your current workout to past ones mid-exercise to (theoretically) push your limits a little further each day. Smartphones also let you log your calorie intake throughout the day, allowing you to make more accurate assessments of how many calories you still need to burn to meet your goals. Most fitness trackers can do this — even weak ones — so if a tracker lacked Bluetooth-syncing capabilities for either iOS or Android devices, we cut it.

Our Pick for the Best Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Surge Accurate and comfortable, the Fitbit Surge is also extremely easy to use.

The Surge was one of the most accurate fitness trackers we tested, and at $250 was about average in price for high-end fitness trackers. Using its GPS-tracking feature, it measured the actual distance our testers traveled the best, tied for second in heart rate monitor accuracy, and ranked fourth overall in our step-counting test, behind our other two top picks.

That fourth-place step counting finish doesn’t sound so good, does it? It consistently undercounted our steps by about 10 to 15 paces from what our testers actually walked during each 100-step test. But honestly, we didn’t mind so much: It’s not a significant deviance from the exact number, and if anything, you’ll know you always walked a little extra to reach your goals. The Surge is also decent-looking and comfortable to wear, feeling more like a normal watch than a small computer strapped to your wrist. Our testers had no reservations or complaints about wearing it all day, and the battery lasted about seven days before needing to be recharged.

Close-up of Fitbit Surge Fitness Tracker

Fitbit is almost synonymous with the term fitness tracker at this point, but it turns out that it has that reputation for a reason. Fitbit’s software, especially its mobile app, was by far the best of any of the trackers we tested. It doesn’t gather quite as much different types of data as our other top pick, the Garmin Vivoactive HR, but Fitbit’s software does a much better job organizing that information. We were impressed by the common-sense, clean workout interface, and the Fitbit app is well-organized and inviting, analyzing and displaying information in digestible, usable ways. It was by far the easiest and most intuitive interface to get to know.

Screenshots of Fitbit app for Fitbit Surge Fitness Tracker

Fitbit’s app offers easy-to-read stats as well as challenges if you and your friends want to get competitive.

The selectable watch faces were also easy to navigate. You can choose from a number of workouts on the tracker itself; get text notifications; and easily check steps, mileage, and heart rate. All of our other finalists could perform these tasks, but the Fitbit’s interface was the most straightforward for each function. For example, one of the Fitbit’s watch face options (called “Flare”), elegantly shows your activity over an hour. Parts of the hour in which you’ve had a higher heart rate will display higher on the interface — a cool feature that allows you to keep tabs on your hourly activity without much effort, and isn’t available through any other fitness tracker.

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Why Working Out at Harvard University Stadium Never Seems to Get Old.

Running, walking or bounding up the cement stairs at Harvard University stadium, the second oldest college football stadium in the country, for many people including myself, never seems to get old. Case in point, you can travel to Cambridge, MA on any given weekend morning and you’ll see all types of people, male and female, young and old, moving through their workout at the stadium built-in 1903. The oldest stadium by the way can be found on the campus at the University of Pennsylvania, built-in 1895.

I found myself at the stadium once again with my friend, Dino, working out early on a recent Saturday morning. As always, there were other fitness-minded enthusiasts who ended up alongside us who were also walking or running the 15-inch high cement steps that include 31-steps, from bottom to top, organized in 36-sections (see video). The steps are typically used as bleacher seats during Harvard football games and other sporting events. The idea is to run or walk each step up to the top and then try to recover as you make your way to the bottom before repeating the meditative sequence. The goal is to traverse around a horseshoe layout designed stadium, moving from section one through section thirty-seven. By the time you’re done you have climbed approximately 1,147 steps. There are also a smaller flight of red-colored steps between each section that you can choose to use — and which if you’re smart — you’ll use on the descent to recover before ascending back up using the big boy steps. If you’re new to stadium stair workouts then your best option would be to start on the smaller red steps until your fitness level improves before supplementing with the bigger steps that are about double in height. Why? because of something known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which you will experience if you do too much too soon.

I believe it was Harvard’s legendary crew coach, Harry Parker, fresh from the 1960 Olympic Team, who started taking his teams there during that same year using stadium running as part of their year-long training program. Since then many coaches have adopted his methodology and have continued the tradition. There are amazing stories of high-level athletes running all the stairs, twice, in the same amount of time that it takes an average, fit person to complete them once! Individual athletes from other sports soon followed and then came people like you and me.

My first experience doing stadium stairs as a workout in Cambridge dates back to the summer of 1988 when I was working at a nearby health club in Harvard Square. The club and historic stadium were within walking distance of each other. In retrospect, it’s interesting to think about all the energy I have expended sweating through hundreds of workouts throughout the years, which for me includes more than four decades. Workouts consisted of either individual sessions or accompanied by family, friends or on special occasions, with large groups of members from area Koko FitClubs. During all that time I realized that it never once seemed like the same old workout; each time it seems fresh and exciting when I make the forty-five minute drive back to the city with the world-famous zip code of 02138. I can remember in my mid-20’s taking private clients to workout 3–4 times a week over at the stadium. I can remember one time walking back over the Larz Anderson Bridge following a stadium workout, crossing the Charles River and then waiting at the intersection at Memorial Drive for the lights to turn green. I remember feeling spent and then happened to look down at my legs that were shaking uncontrollably. Talk about overloading your neuromuscular system. Back then I had no problem running the whole stadium while today that may not happen but I do take pleasure in watching my daughter, Julia who run in college, take charge and own the stairs, like I once did, running all 37 sections. She has heard the stories of me putting my wife, Robyn, on my back, on our second date, and walking up to the top when I was just a few years older than her. Or another memorable time when I was in the middle of doing a stair workout with my buddy, Michael, when a helicopter landed in the parking lot of the stadium and out walked multimillionaire Malcolm Forbes and who to our surprise, came right over and said hello and asked us “how was the workout boys?” That was 1990 and not too long afterwards he passed away at age 70.


Workouts like stadium stairs are a great activity to do individually or with your family and friends. It’s especially nice though when your kids end up loving it and can work out with you. Maybe one day they will take their children there for a visit and continue the tradition. The only thing that continues to grow old, however, is us and not that great, iconic, cement structure that contains so much history and so many of our memories!

8 Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss Based on a 20-Year National Study

To learn more about the science of weight loss, researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) as a long-term study project back in 1994. There are currently more than ten thousand people who have joined in the project. Researchers compiled self-report data from subjects who have successfully maintained weight loss and the finding were published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.

The results from of the data showed that 90 percent of NWCR participants were still maintaining at least 10 percent weight loss 10 years after losing weight. These people had various ways to achieve that, but they also used eight common strategies, including:

  1. They eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet primarily prepared at home. On average, they consumed 1,306 calories per day, with only 24.3 percent of calories from fat.
  2. They eat breakfast. Studies have shown that regular breakfast is associated with low BMI.
  3. They have diet rules for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Their food intake is very consistent from day-to-day.
  4. They exercise about 1-hour a day. About 75 percent of people expended at least 1000 calories/week in physical activity. Walking is the most common exercise used.
  5. They regularly drink low-calorie or no-calorie beverages, especially water. Only 10 percent of people drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
  6. They weigh themselves on a regular basis. Regular self-weighing may serve as an early alarm for weight regain.
  7. They spend limited time on watching TV. Most of them watch TV fewer than 10 hours a week.
  8. They sleep 7 or more hours a night. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to be obese.
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We know from research and our personal experiences that there are no “one size fits all” strategies for successful weight loss maintenance but these eight behavioral tips can be used as tools to develop a customized approach to maintain a healthy weight.


Raphaelidis L. (2016). Maintaining Weight Loss: Lessons from the National Weight Control Registry. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12: 286-287. doi:


The National Weight Control Registry, Providence (RI).


Strengthen Your Abs and More with this Four Exercise Core Series

Walk into any gym across the country or look no further than Facebook or Instagram and you’ll see it all when it comes to exercise and various movement patterns especially body weight and core exercises. The questions you should be asking yourself though when looking at all these videos or pictures, is it coming from a credible source? is it going to help me improve my performance? and more importantly, will trying it actually hurt me?

Rather than trying to focus specifically on abdominal or core exercise, think about performing full-body type movements that will engage your core. That can be everything from squats, to overhead pressing movements, to Olympic-style lifts to loaded carries. Because guess what, your core is constantly being utilized during such movements and the reason why they are so efficient is because the whole body is performing in concert and functioning as this kinetic chain, from your head to your toes, rather than segments trying to work individually and we all know training our body that way is not optimal.

There may be times, however, when you would want to focus more on this group of muscles that make up your core for circuit-training programs, dynamic warm-ups, a plank-challenge or when your trying to recover from an injury. The following exercises that make up my core series, in my opinion, are some of the safest, more productive, movements you can do, unless you have been told by your physician or physical therapist that a specific movement is contraindicated. One of the first things that you should notice, in all three videos and one photo, is the position of the spine. The spine is kept relatively “straight” throughout the movements; there is not a lot of spinal flexion as seen with traditional sit-ups. When rotation is brought into play, the lower (lumbar) spine has minimal movement and the pelvis is held in a neutral position.

These movements can be performed for a desired amount of repetition or for time. As your fitness level improves you could progress and complete the full core series back-to-back in a circuit fashion.

Core Series 1: Birddog progression. Make sure your wrist is directly under your shoulder and your knee is positioned below your hip before you start. Keep the hips level throughout while performing the movement slowly. Pretend your balancing a cup of hot coffee on your backside. If this is a new movement for you – start with birddog – simply hold the extended arm/leg for reps or time.

Core Series 2: Russian Twists. The key take away here is to stabilize the hips and get the rotation from the mid-back (thoracic spine) not the low back (lumbar spine). If this is a new movement for you take away the medicine ball. When you’re able to hit your desired reps or time then progress to using the med ball.

Core Series 3: Roll-outs. Start with a short range of motion then slowly increase the distance you rollout. Again, work for desired reps or make it time based (i.e. 30-seconds of work).

Core Series 4: Plank. Position hands directly below shoulders. Think of your body as one straight line from the ankle through the knees/hips/shoulders through the ears. Look slightly beyond your finger tips. Engage your core, contract the buttock and thigh muscles. Beware of your neck, avoid excessive flexion or extension. There are many progressions you can eventually add to this position. Build up to holding the plank position for 2:00 though before getting fancy and trying a weighted vest or bringing in any shoulder flexion or hip extension.