12 Keys to Looking and Feeling Your Best


I’m 58 and feeling great! And I believe that I do because I have a healthy lifestyle.

Studies back this up! Healthy habits DO make a big difference. According to studies, people who met criteria for all FIVE HABITS have the benefit of longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men (if they had these habits at age 50). People who had none of these habits were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

The five healthy habits are 1) Healthy diet: high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, and low in unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.

2.  Healthy physical activity level: at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity daily.

3.   Healthy body weight, BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.

4.   Smoking: never having smoked.

5.   Moderate alcohol intake: between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men.  1 drink = 14 grams of alcohol =That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Here are a dozen simple keys to looking and feeling your best too:

  1. Make up your mind. Decide that you are going to change your ways, accept the changes and make peace with them. Partial commitment leads to partial results and consistency is the key to success. Remember that to maintain a healthy weight and health, you must eat properly, consistently and include movement into your life forever. Your goal should be life-long changes, not quick fixes. Your health is forever.
  2. Think before you eat. When choosing food, honestly assess what you’re putting into your body. Ask yourself, “Will eating this food help me reach/keep me at my goal?” If not, make a better choice.
  3. Focus on eating more “produce” and fewer “products”. A person is far more likely to improve their healthy when they eat fresh whole foods versus those that are processed and come from a bag or box. My secret weapon against aging? Greens! Scientific research has shown greens to be strongly correlated to longevity. Raw leafy greens such as kale romaine, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens are the most nutrient dense of all foods.
  4. Eat for purpose, not solely pleasure. Eating for pleasure is a uniquely human experience. Be sure that the food you eat is good for your body, not just your taste buds.
  5. Create healthy habits. The food we eat is often part of our regular habits. Replace poor food choices with good ones regularly and you will create healthy habits. You’ll feel better when you eat properly and ultimately discover how less than optimal food choices negatively impact your energy levels and sense of well-being.
  6. Take your workout outdoors. There are multiple benefits of exercising in natural environments. Greater feeling of energy, lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and release of feel-good endorphins. My dog Champ (in the above picture) and I hike at least once a week!
  7. Don’t skip meals. To stoke our body’s furnace and keep the fire hot, it’s essential to eat periodically throughout the day (ideally every three to four hours). Drastically reducing calories and skipping meals force your body into starvation mode, decreasing your metabolic rate and reducing your energy levels as an automatic conservation mode. And overwhelming hunger can lead to poor food choices based on taste and convenience rather than optimal nutrition.
  8. Honesty’s the only policy. Be honest with yourself. We all splurge once in a while but denial about extra calories can lead to regular overeating. Even half a cookie has calories—count them!
  9. Weigh in for one week. One of the most valuable tools for successful weight management is the weighing and measuring of food. While you may think you know exactly how much you are eating and what the calories and macronutrients are, our portion sizes tend to increase gradually over time. Dust off the scale and your food journal and keep track of what you eat, when and how much for just one week. And weighing yourself once a week is also a proven way to monitor your weight and do something about it before 2 pounds turn into 20.
  10. Move it to lose it. Daily activity is essential for optimal health. Incorporate movement into your daily activities by parking a little farther away from work, taking a short walk during lunch or after dinner, washing your own car—the opportunities are endless. Of course, moderate exercise (30-60 minutes per day) is ideal, but these activities of daily living can really boost your body’s calorie-burning abilities and your body’s ability to move as you get older.
  11. Take your multi. No matter how great your diet is, you just can’t get the nutrients you need from food alone. Take a balanced multivitamin and mineral formula to make sure your body gets what it needs when it needs it.
  12. Mix it up. Most of us have certain routines or exercises that we really enjoy because they’ve just become second nature. Unfortunately, when you get good at something, your body adapts. And when your body adapts, it burns fewer calories while doing that activity. So be sure to keep your body guessing by changing up your routine every two weeks or so. If you need help in changing routine, I’d love to help you do it in a safe, effective and fun way.Impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the US populationCirculation, April 2018.The population health benefits of a healthy lifestyle: Life expectancy increased and onset of disability delayedHealth Affairs, August 2017.

    The combined effects of healthy lifestyle behaviors on all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysisPreventive Medicine, September 2012.


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Body Composition and Weight Loss: What’s the Real Goal?

When someone says they want to “lose weight”, it is important to understand that body “weight” consists of both lean body mass (muscle) and body fat and the real goal should be to gain muscle and lose body fat. Muscle is easily lost when someone undergoes a diet without professional guidance.

Lean body mass consists of muscle, bones, organs, other tissue, blood and water. The muscle tissue is the part of your body composition that helps you to burn calories.

Extra body fat is dangerous because it greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases, so obviously it is beneficial to reduce extra body fat.

The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. As you get older, the size and strength of your muscles naturally decrease which in turn slows down the rate at which your body burns calories.

But with a professional well-designed strength training program, you can build muscle which burns more calories than fat, tones and shapes your body, and helps your body to function more efficiently throughout your daily activities.

So, instead of “losing weight”, the goal is to get your body fat percentage to a healthy range and to build your muscle. To build muscle it is important to get regular physical activity that includes strength training to build muscle along with a healthy diet plan that allows you to lose the fat without losing precious muscle. Get professional advice so you get the results you want!

Strength Training + Calorie Reduction = Fat Loss + Muscle Gain

A Real Life Example

jana before side view


Jana 632015


Here is an example of the power of an excellent workout and healthy eating plan. These are the stats of one of my female clients that I have been working with for one year.

When we started training and nutrition counseling in January 2015 her total weight was made up of 45.23 pounds of fat and 101.16 pounds of lean weight.

Today one year later, her body is composed of 36.92 pounds of fat weight and 105.08 pounds of lean weight.

She lost 8.31 pounds of FAT and gained 3.92 pounds of MUSCLE! This is extraordinary and you won’t get these results planning your workouts and your nutrition by yourself or with the help of anyone not well qualified.

My client had “only” a 4.2 pound loss, but notice the large decrease in inches she had in her “trouble area” her waist, abdomen and hips. A total of over 7 inches lost! This is significant and she is thrilled with how her clothes are fitting better and how she looks in a bathing suit with the loss of fat around her middle and the increased tone created by the strength training.

Date 1-8-15 1-8-16
Height 5’8  5’8
Weight 146.4 142
Age 48 49
Neck 13 12.25
Arm 10.5 10.5
Wrist 5.75 5.75
Waist 33.5 31.25
Abdomen 38 35
Hips 40.5 38.5
Thigh 21.75 22.5
Body Fat 30.9% 26%

My client’s results are consistent with that demonstrated by research studies.

Here are three as examples:

-What may happen when someone reduces their calorie intake and does not exercise? In this study diet alone resulted in a 2.4 pound LOSS of precious muscle but diet and exercise resulted in a 1 pound GAIN and the most fat lost.

Effect of Diet and Exercise on Weight Loss and Body Composition

Zuti, W.B. & Golding, L.A. The Physician and Sports Medicine. 4 (1): 49-53, 1976.

Diet Exercise Diet & Exercise
Weight (lbs) -11.7 -10.6 -12
Fat (lbs) -9.3 -12.6 -13
Lean mass (lbs) -2.4 2.0 1

-In this next study we see that the cardio and weight training group lost the most fat, lost the most weight and increased the most muscle.

The “30 minutes of cardio only” group lost a total of 3.5 lbs.; 3 lbs. of which was fat and a half-pound was muscle loss.

On the other hand, the “15 minutes of cardio + 15 minute weight training” group lost 8 lbs. with an actual fat loss of 10 lbs. and an increase of 2 lbs. of lean body weight.

Resistance Weight Training with Cardio Training Improves Fat Loss

Wayne Westcott, Ph.D, Fitness Management. Nov. 1991.

Endurance Training (30 min) Endurance (15 min) & Weight Training (15 min)
Weight Change (lbs) -3.5 -8
Fat Change (lbs) -3 -10
Lean mass Change (lbs) -0.5 2

Resistance Weight Training During Caloric Restriction Enhances Lean Body Weight Maintenance

Ballor, D.L., Katch, V.L., Becque, M.D., Marks, C.R., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 47(1): 19-25, 1988.

The group that weight trained and dieted lost more fat than the groups that either dieted or weight trained alone. This study also demonstrates that weight training can maintain (or increase) lean mass while dieting.

With diet and weight training, more total weight was lost and more fat was lost and lean mass (muscle) was preserved.

Control Diet Weight Training Weight Training & Diet
Weight (kg) -0.38 -4.47 0.45 -3.89
Fat (kg) -0.07 -3.56 -0.62 -4.32
Lean mass (kg) -0.31 -0.91 1.07 0.43


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Client Success Story: Vicki

Vicki before sideVicki Side After 11615
vickie before frontVicki After 11615

Vicki Before (in white) and After (in gray)

This is Vicki, one of the clients that I have been assisting for several months now.

She initially wrote to me, “I was always skinny as a child and young adult but since having two kids, I never lost that post-baby weight and feel like I have been expanding ever since. I have high cholesterol and blood pressure too. I am struggling with what healthy foods to eat and keep the right balance of nutrition for my family”.

We started with an initial fitness assessment. Her strength was minimal at first. She was only able to do one push up. I am happy to say she is capable now of performing 20.

Since she had never formally exercised so we began with a simple program to introduce her to weight training, cardiovascular exercise and stretching. We gradually increased the amount of exercise and the complexity of the exercises as she got stronger.

To address her weight loss goals and how to feed the whole family nutrition and delicious meals we began with assessing her diet with a food journal. Seeing what she was actually eating and her patterns allowed us to determine some changes to make. She began with adding more vegetables to meals and selecting healthy menus to try. She has now compiled a recipe book of all the recipes that she has tried and that she and her family like.

Her progress to date is 16 pounds lost, 12.75 total inches and 4.2% body fat. Most notable were the 4 inches lost around her waist and 2 and a half inches off her hips! And remember the increased number of push ups she did. That is an indication of muscle mass gain.

It will be interesting to see the results of her next doctor’s visit. I’m guessing that her blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels have improved as well.

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