Rev Your Engine


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From Ask A Doctor.

Small steps add up!!!


Fill-er Up


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I just came across a snippet on Yahoo! titled “7 Foods That Tell Your Body “I’m Full!””.  I’m a fan of not feeling quite full, and think that the challenge for some is to re-program their mind-set from one that always seeks to “be full” to one that can happily exist being “a little hungry”.  However, as with anything balance is the best path forward, so knowing what foods help your body (and mind) ‘feel full’ can only be a good thing.   Here are the seven called out in the Yahoo! piece.


  1. Lentils
  2. Avocados
  3. Apples
  4. Hot Anything
  5. Dark Chocolate
  6. Eggs
  7. Nuts

These are a few of my favorite things, but I must admit that I wish I had ever experienced actually craving an apple.

Small steps add up!!!


The Fast 5


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Want to drop 5 pounds the easy way?  You probably don’t have to make any changes to what you eat for chipotle-chipsbreakfast, lunch or dinner.  All you have to do is eliminate high calorie snacks, soft drinks and appetizers.

Since buying my Fitbit, I’ve been taking a baseline of my calorie burn vs. intake each day.  Now I’ve actually been a pretty healthy eater for the past 20 years and wasn’t looking to lose any weight when starting the evaluation process.  However, while taking this baseline it made it very clear how easy it could be to hit my ~2,200 calorie / day target. and how easily it could be missed with just one or two bad choices.  Take for example my dinner at Chipotle last week.  I always order a very healthy rendition of the Burrito Bowl with Chicken, brown rice, black beans, lettuce, and guacamole (no dairy).  This burrito bowl is filling, tastes great, and comes in just around 710 calories.  I’m fine with a 710 calorie dinner, particularly if it’s that tasty and the calories are all working for me.  However, I do allow myself a few dietary izze-sparkling-juice-2vices, and since chips and salsa are two of my favorite things, so I am no stranger to a side of tortilla chips to accompany my burrito bowl.  They’re also incredibly tasty.  When I went to enter the side of chips into my FitBit Log, I was blown away.  These “empty calorie machines” come in with an average of 570 calories per order.  So, the little side dish that went along with my meal almost doubled my calorie intake that evening (from 710 to 1,280 calories).  Does this mean I won’t ever get tortilla chips at Chipotle, absolutely not, as I said I do enjoy and allow myself the decedent, salty, crispy calorie bombs from time-to-time.  However, I will do it much less frequently, and within a better understanding of my total caloric intake over a given day.

Things like sucking down 1 or 2 sugary sodas at 180 calories each (x2 = 360 empty calories), sharing an bloomin-onionappetizer before dinner (e.g. 800 calories in a Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse), or nibbling on a bag of potato chips mid-afternoon (each little bag has similar calories to a sugary soda), can completely destroy an otherwise reasonable meal plan.

So what?  Well, assuming you’re eating relatively well and hold the other aspects of your regimen constant, eliminating some of these high calories sneak attacks and holding everything else constant would be an easy way to lose 5 pounds in just a few weeks.

Try it.

Small steps add up!!!

Great Advice from Tough Mudder


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From a real Tough Mudder fan, I wanted to share 5 Weight Loss Tips You Can Put Into Action ASAP from Tough Mudder HQ.

87- Word To Your Mudder

They include:

  1. Wash It Down With Water
  2. Shut The “Lites” Off
  3. Remember “Less” Ain’t Always More
  4. Pull the Salad Switcheroo
  5. Get Caffeine Without The Calories

I particularly like number two.

Small steps add up!!!


Going FitBit


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So I’ve had a Nike Fuelband since they introduced them.  I literally pre-ordered my first, have had a few and fitbit-flex-xlhave amassed 4,000,000+ in Nike Fuel since.  I found the band really cool looking, and love the idea of daily steps, fuel, and activity goals.  Over the past few months however, Nike has buried the Fuelband functionality of their web-site within layers of marketing “sell”, there have been countless data syc issues, and I heard recently they are going to discontinue the Fuelband and focus on fitness software as well as their core fitness shoe/apparel business.  Given these factors, it is time to make a change.

I did some research to refresh my knowledge of products on the market, read reviews, and sampled the web applications.  The winner, by far in my opinion, was the FitBit.  It’s about 33% less expensive than the Fuelband, their website is simple, loads quickly, has a better ‘sense of community’ relative to Nike, and the band looks good.  In addition, the devise and website does a much better job of capturing total health.  This includes FitBitDashtracking how well you’re sleeping, calories in, calories out, water consumed, active hours, weight/BMI, and steps.  It also has goals for each of these elements and does a nice job of patting you on the back and ringing the alarm when you hit a goal or new achievement.

I’m all in and really enjoying being a new member of the FitBit community.  I still use my Nike Running app, as I believe it’s a simple, robust tracking, music and motivational tool for indoor/outdoor runs, but everything else is now FitBit.

Small steps add up!!!


Start Now


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Mr. Ziglar knew what he was talking about.  Why not get started now.

Also, in the spirit of health and pursuing what makes you happy, I have been working on a photography project “Project 365”, where I post a photograph each day for 2014.  If you want to check out my work, please visit SoCal Mark’s Photostream on Flickr.  I’d love to hear from you.  Health includes finding your passion and enjoying the ride.  Cheers!

Small steps add up!!!

Shabu Shabu


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I went to lunch at a restaurant called Joon Shabu Shabu with a good friend and colleague today.  He’s worked with me for theshabushabu past few years, and is moving on to a new company and new adventure.  Over the past couple of years, he’s also committed himself to improving his health, creating and living a healthy lifestyle, and it’s worked.  He makes good choices, and strings a number of ‘small steps’ together on a consistent basis to be more healthy.  Today we walked about a mile to/from lunch, and had a really nice time.

If you’ve never had Shabu Shabu, which means “Swish Swish” in Japanese, it’s a great way to eat a tasty meal that is great for you.  Highly recommended!

To my friend, Randy, here’s a quote as I wish you the best with your new company.  “If you go out looking for friends, your going to find they are very scarce.  If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Small steps add up!!!


I Hope you Dance II

13002625273_f7b4771d0e_zOne of my first smallsteps2health blog-posts was titled “I Hope You Dance”.  It was a message about ‘opting in’, living life to the fullest and a tribute to a friend and colleague Alan who lost a long, hard-fought battle with cancer.  As I’ve noted before in my blog, health isn’t just about what you eat, lift, or how often you get your heart moving.  It’s also about attending to your needs, seeking fulfillment in relationships and with your spirituality.  I personally think it includes living life to the fullest, and with no-regrets.  We don’t all come into the world with the same set of variables, nor into similar circumstances, and the world can be a real challenge to navigate – – let alone do so in a healthy manner.  And for some, it can simply get too heavy.

Unfortunately, a dear friend of my family took his own life last week, after years of battling depression and bi-polar disorder.  His childhood was very challenging, and frankly I never really knew the nuances of his childhood, where the demons lurked, because my friend was a warm, generous, larger-than-life guy, who outwardly seemed “always up”.  He worked hard to manage a really solid career, and was the husband and father that set a high bar in terms of love, encouragement and support.  While he always battled his demons, going through protracted periods where he could hold them at bay, as a few variables in 14157661555_7b1e4ef19a_zhis life began to change (e.g. kids moving out of the house, job changes, etc.), the scales began to tip and his depression began getting the best of him.  And eventually, he chose to tap out.

While it hurts me to think of my friends last days and moments, I know he lived the best life that he could, and that he made the lives of his wife, children and all who knew him better.  So, I’ll remember to hug my wife a little harder, my children a little longer, and remember to be an engaged active friend to those I love.  I’ll also, remember my friend, and even though the ending was too soon, and tragic, while he was here, he was “all in”.

There’s song by Lee Ann Womack called “I Hope You Dance.”  To be honest, I’m not a big fan of country music, but I love this song and would like to share a few lines with you…

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small, when you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance.”

You were a warm and generous friend, and a great family man Scott.  Rest in peace.

Small steps add up!!!

The Law Of Effect


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T220px-Edward_Thorndikehorndike’s “Law of Effect” (1905) stated that,  “responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again in that situation, and responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation.”  It’s one of the core tenets of behavioral psychology.  It’s not rocket science.  Behaviors that are followed by a positive (satisfying) effect tend to be repeated, and behaviors that are followed by a negative (discomforting) effect become less likely to occur.  In extreme cases, negative consequences will completely eliminate or extinguish a behavior.  While it’s probably quite clear that Thorndike was onto something with his law of effect, it may not be clear how this relates to health.  I think it has a very interesting, perhaps inverse, link to both physical fitness and diet.

To be healthy takes effort, and there’s a psychological hurdle that anyone has to overcome, before the “satisfying” benefits outweigh the “discomfort”.  In essence, any successful “health turnaround” requires enough motivation and commitment to stick with the new, healthier routine for 60-90 days before the law of effect begins working in your favor.  However, when you begin trying to eat healthy you often feel like crap, are constantly fighting strong cravings, and you may actually be in state of “poor diet withdrawal” as your body expels the built up toxins.  And when you start a work-out routine, your positive-dog-training-tipsmuscles ache, your throat may burn (when running), and you feel every single moment of pain as your body tells you, “you really haven’t been doing enough of this activity, so you’re going to pay for it”.  Thordike’s law kicks in, and although you want to look and feel better, sitting on the couch, eating a pizza and watching Modern Family makes you happy immediately – – so this much easier habit is more likely to be repeated.

It’s not an easy gamut to run, but I think understanding the hurdle and building a plan to tackle it may help you win the war, even if you lose a few battles along the way.  The goal is simple.  Begin taking enough small steps when it comes to nutrition and fitness, so that you begin feeling “better” (aka start building a stockpile of healthy “satisfiers”).  Fight through the cravings and pain for 60-90 days, and the way you look and feel will improve, and the “pain” will lesson.  Before you know it, you will have flipped the “Law of Effect” so that if you were to eat something you know is bad for you, or miss a workout, you’ll feel like @#$@!  And, on the contrary, eating healthy and working out will feel great (as will the way others respond to you).  When the “Law of Effect” working for your health and not against it, you’re on the right path!!!

Small steps add up!!!