How Much Money Do You Waste On Supplements?

01/11/2018

We’re deep in the throes of post-holiday ordinariness and Resolution Season. Not quite the middle of January, so most people haven’t given up on their resolutions. Yet. (Note: that’s unscientific speculation on the part of yours truly.)

Grocery store ads are replete with healthy food, fat burners, energy boosters, basic fitness essentials, and other “health” products.

Are any of these products worth the cost? Nicole Akers delves into the subject of wasting money on vitamins and supplements in her latest blog post, Stop Wasting Your Money on Vitamins and Supplements:

medications-money-cure-tablets-47327-Nicole Akers

http://www.wetalkhealthy.com/stop-wasting-money-vitamins-supplements/

Nicole blogs frequently at WeTalkHealthy.com. She also has some healthy recipe books you will enjoy.

I’m not a pill taker. I down a pain killer reluctantly. And I do take a multivitamin daily as an insurance policy against a day of poor nutrition or inconsistent eating. Oh. And a baby aspirin per my physician, since my family has a history of heart issues. But that’s it.

Supplements… just one. Protein powder. Why? It’s faster and more convenient than having to cook something early in the morning when I’m battling cats and the clock to get to my first appointment. And it’s most convenient as a post-workout fuel when mixed with simple sugar. My favorite concoction is lemon lime Gatorade and vanilla flavored protein. It’s a tolerable taste.

Do you swear by any vitamin or other health supplements? Let me know in the comments.

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When is a Fitness Room Not a Fitness Room — Or — “How to Make Chicken Salad Out of Chicken…” WAIT! I Mean: “…Out of a Complimentary Fitness Room Breakfast”

08/11/2015

Spontaneous vacations are a ton of fun for Kathy and me. We love to drive. We also love to drive to wherever the wind — or road — takes us.

On the first day of our trip to Kathy’s sister’s new place in North Carolina earlier this month, we enjoyed a beautiful drive along the unbeaten path of western and southern Indiana. Early evening, we stopped for a milk shake just north of Louisville (hey, it was vacation). We contemplated where to spend the night as we half-planned our itinerary for the following day.

As we left the parking lot, the skies began to cloud up, but we had no idea what was in store.

The beauty and serenity day came to a screeching halt the second (and I do mean the second) we crossed the Ohio River. Buckets of rain and ferocious wind rocked us as we crept along Interstate 65. It was one of the nastiest thunderstorms either of us ever remember driving through. We exited the highway twice to catch our breath. After the second attempt to make meaningful progress, we were ready to find a hotel… STAT!

We landed at a La Quinta, courtesy of the Hotel Tonight mobile app. Wouldn’t have been our first choice, but it became our oasis for the evening. The room was decent enough. It was reasonably quiet, but best of all, we weren’t traveling down the road surrounded by a wall of water and wind.

And they offered a complimentary breakfast.

I approach these complimentary breakfasts with a grain of salt (no pun intended). Hampton Inn has clearly set the standard for the average traveler with a complete breakfast buffet — none of this “continental breakfast” stuff — and the other chains do their best to imitate Hampton, but most don’t even come close.

The La Quinta was no exception.

In their defense, the hotel was under renovation. Their breakfast bar area was completely closed off.

Fitness Room Breakfast 4

Fitness Rule #7: Only one stale, tasteless sweet roll per workout.

 

So they moved the fitness equipment out of the fitness room. That’s where they set up the breakfast bar.

The juxtaposition was priceless.

My photos are awful. I didn’t want to get other guests into the shots and I took them hastily.

The photo to the left shows one of the containers of sweet cereal, the sweet rolls and muffins, sitting under the Fitness Center Rules sign.

Rule 6: Unsupervised use of this facility by children is prohibited.

That’s just way too funny.

 

But the point is that you can make chicken salad out of… well, I can’t say that in a family setting… so… you can make good choices, even at a bad complimentary continental breakfast buffet.

And the good choices are not always as obvious as conventional health and fitness wisdom would lead you to believe.

Temporary location or not, the breakfast fare at La Quinta was rather standard for a non-Hampton complimentary breakfast. So the excuse of not having their usual digs only goes so far.

A more complete view of the "dry cereal and starch bar."

A more complete view of the “dry cereal and starch bar.”

Three cereals. All sweet.

Really?

And if you really need to spike your blood sugar, not only do you get simple carbs with ultra-processed wheat flour, you also get a significant helping of sugar on your pastries.

At least one of the cereal choices was raisin bran (why the cereal makers find it necessary to add sugar to a cereal with raisins is beyond me). Adding milk gives you a nice dose of protein.

So there’s Relatively Nice Choice #1. If given the choice of three sweetened cereals, choose the raisin bran. Low-fat or no-fat milk gives you a decent balance of semi-decent-quality carbohydrate, some fiber, and lean protein.

If you can choose unsweetened Cheerios (or similar toasted oat cereal), either that or raisin bran. What you sacrifice with sugar in the raisin bran, you probably give up in a gram or two of fiber.

Don’t ever forget your fiber!

Fitness Room Breakfast 2

Water, milk, and juice, yogurt (in the container), fresh fruit.

Quick quiz. What’s the best choice here if you have to pick one — and only one — for breakfast?

Water?

Always important, but you need calories.

Juice?

Probably not. All the fiber is processed out of the finished product. You’re left with sugar. And once you drink it, a spike in your blood sugar. Prepare for a quick energy crash. (With the water, you don’t have to worry about an energy crash. You don’t provide your body with any energy to begin with!)

Fresh fruit?

A better choice, but probably not the best choice pictured. Bad: lots of sugar. Good: fiber, which will moderate the blood sugar crash. But no protein.

Yogurt?

Here’s the good: protein. Here’s the bad: added sugar. Fiber: likely minimal or nonexistent.

Leaving us with the best choice on the table…

Milk!

No fiber, but the sugar content is natural, not processed added sugar. You get healthy, lean protein. And if it’s low-fat, you get a little fat, which is also essential in the digestive process.

And then you get your fiber later.

(But… don’t forget your fiber!)

Fitness Room Breakfast 1

The delectable hot food selection, condiments, and some hard boiled eggs!

What do you do with this? Biscuits and gravy, baked or fried potatoes (not sure… probably microwaved), and hard boiled eggs.

Best choice by far: the hard boiled eggs. And yes, the whole egg, yolk and all. The fat and cholesterol content of the yolk is unfairly maligned and actually contains essential nutrients that comprise a healthy diet.

Here’s what I did with this table and the rest of the breakfast.

I started with raisin bran and milk and three hard boiled eggs.

The hard boiled eggs were hard as rocks. Likely overcooked and they tasted like they’d been in the refrigerator for … oh… a month or so (editorial note: just kidding!).

That was a turn-off, but I don’t throw away food unless it tastes like poison (or Brussels sprouts; or chickpeas). So I sauntered back to the hot food and ladled some gravy on top of the eggs, which I had cut into bite-sized pieces.

I was pleasantly surprised at how light the creamy gravy was. I’m sure it was packaged. But it was tasty. It improved the taste of the eggs and filled me up.

None of these items were my first choices. But it fulfilled my objective of getting:

  • lean protein (milk and eggs… oh yeah, and the gravy)
  • starchy carbohydrate (the bran flakes, raisins, milk, and gravy)
  • fibrous carbohydrate (the bran flakes)

I’ll say it again. Do not be fooled by the fat in an egg. It’s good for you.

Not pictured: the coffee bar, which also included some packets of instant oatmeal, loaded with sugar. If instant, plain oatmeal is an option, that is also an alternative to raisin bran and Cheerios. It’s processed, but will generally provide a couple grams of fiber.

All right… Kathy and I are back home again. We survived the Smoky Mountains and more heavy rain on our way there, but nothing close to that first night.

On our trip, we stayed at several Hampton Inns. They do breakfast right, providing a larger variety of food, including cooked old fashioned oatmeal, and some healthy options along with the usual fare. Could be the subject of a separate piece some day…

The big view of a Hampton breakfast buffet.

The big view of a Hampton breakfast buffet.

(Still, I couldn’t wait to fix my own steel-cut oatmeal this morning. I really missed it!)

 


It IS Your Fault!

12/01/2014

I have HAD it! ENOUGH with the commercials telling me that it’s not my fault.

IT IS MY FAULT.

And…

IT IS YOUR FAULT.

Does anyone take responsibility for anything any more?

This is crazy!

You can’t lose weight but it’s not your fault.

You can’t find a job and it’s not your fault.

You’re addicted to junk food and it’s not your fault. It’s the potato chip’s fault. Oh. And advertisers. And the evil manufacturers. Probably even the president of the company!

You can’t perform in the bedroom and it’s not your fault.

Your child’s behavior is not your fault.

Your divorce is not your fault.

Your crappy password is not your fault.

Neither is your lousy golf swing.

Even being buried in credit card debt is not your fault.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to blame you for everything that happens to you. Don’t confuse me with the guy who blames the woman who is raped or abused. Don’t think I deny medical evidence of uncontrollable weight issues or physical incapacity. Don’t discount what I have to say because you know people who had ‘this condition’ or ‘that misfortune’…

That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about being willing to take a little personal responsibility.

Sometimes, when you can’t lose weight, it’s because you don’t really want to lose weight.

Sometimes, when you can’t stop overeating, it’s because you don’t want to stop eating.

Sometimes, when you’re unhappy with the way your body looks, it’s because you’re really not motivated to do anything about it.

Sometimes in life – and I dare say, quite often – it IS your fault!

It’s not because you can’t. It’s because you won’t.

We live at a time when culture and society want to explain away any and every negative experience as just another injustice done to us. We can’t help our reactions. We can justify our actions by what it happening around us or to us.

And none of it is our fault.

Bullshit.  (pardon me)

I’m sick of it.

If you haven’t noticed, we live in a world of propaganda. You have to search for real news. You need to dig deep to evaluate whether what you’re hearing is fact, or someone’s interpretation of what happened, or has been deliberately skewed to make you think a certain way.

Children cannot be trusted with the facts any more. They have to be taught how to think, what to think. Powers of reason are trampled in favor of popular thought.

And when I say children, I’m not limiting the definition to preschoolers and early grade school. Middle school, junior high, high school curricula are peppered with propaganda.

Even colleges and universities trample honest reason and debate.

What’s wrong with us?

Being taught what to think. Personal responsibility takes a back seat to being taken care of… because we can’t take care of ourselves?

Is it possible that we can’t lose weight because we eat too much?

Is it possible I eat too much junk food because I enjoy it?

Is it possible I could learn how the body works and make changes to my lifestyle that can help me get and stay healthier than I’ve ever been in my life?

Can you?

I challenge you to try.

In my early forties, I changed the way I ate. I studied, evaluated, and experimented with every popular diet and “eating plan.” I learned that what and how I ate made a difference. I learned that I could eat what I wanted to eat, within reason, but I also discovered that choosing to eliminate certain types of food from my diet made a significant difference in how I felt.

I changed the way I approached fitness. No more run around the racquetball court for an hour and think I’m in great physical condition. I learned that my concept of cardiovascular exercise as a fitness tool was all wrong. I learned why strength training was not just for meat heads and egomaniacs, but an essential part of long-term health.

I eliminated post-lunch drowsiness, my chronically cold hands and feet, and many minor physical ailments. I didn’t get sick as often. I ate more and felt better than ever. I actually even liked the way parts of my body looked that used to disgust me.

I learned that certain people weren’t born with a good metabolism and that I could even change mine.

And I can change yours, too.

Don’t want to change?

Then maybe it IS your fault.

I’m not always this cold. In fact, ask my clients. I never come across like this working one-on-one with them. But I heard “it’s not your fault” one too many times today.

And I snapped.


“The Episode” – A Night That Changed My Life

09/03/2012

I don’t suppose any school night at our house was typical.  Usually, we were racing from a girl scouts function to basketball games or vice versa, or some meeting at school or church, or all of the above.  Oh!  And wolfing down some fast food grub or snacks at the basketball game.

I don’t remember if this particular night, the night of “The Episode,” was a school night, but I do remember that I was playing racquetball in the morning and looking forward to it.  And it turned out to be a most important night on my personal transformational journey.

I always looked forward to playing racquetball.  Still do.  I enjoy the competition and camaraderie.   At the time, I’d been playing with the same group of crazies for… ten, twelve years?  Crazies?  Well yeah, who else gets up to play racquetball and take verbal abuse at 5:30 every morning?

Since we moved to Winthrop Harbor, it was more challenging to navigate the logistics.  The Southlake Club was 25 miles away.  When we lived in Gurnee, I played three or four times a week.  Not so often any more.

But tomorrow morning we had a doubles match scheduled at 6.

Late on this particular evening, dishes done, kids off to bed, I was not feeling well.  My stomach ached most of the evening and I was growing more uncomfortable with every passing moment.

Now, I will spare you all the graphic details, but most of you’ve been there.  Gastrointestinal distress, you don’t feel like socializing, you don’t feel like reading, you don’t feel like doing anything.  It would be nice if you could simply pass out and wake up when it was all over.

There are… ah, certain… “things” you wish would happen so you can just get on with the rest of your life.

Well, nothing was happening except I was getting increasingly uncomfortable.  The gastric distress intensified and I didn’t sleep one minute.  Heck, I couldn’t even lie down!  Most of the night, I groaned and paced the floor, trying not to wake anyone.

Remember Violet Beauregarde, the gum-chewing young girl from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, who blows up like a balloon from eating an experimental piece of candy and needs to have the blueberry juice squeezed out of her?  Or Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” where Terry Jones plays Mr. Creosote, the restaurant patron who eats so much food he finally explodes after eating an after dinner mint?

Maybe I should have eaten an after dinner mint and saved myself a lot of grief.

But then I wouldn’t be able to tell you this fabulous story!

You might have guessed.  I didn’t explode.  But after an endless night of misery (about eight straight hours of excruciating pain and “things” that happened that I won’t relate) and thinking I quite likely could explode, my early morning trip was not to the racquetball courts, but the emergency room.

So Kathy drives me to the ER.  Wouldn’t you know, on the way there, my pain begins to subside.  By the time the ER doctor finally sees me, my pain is gone except for a few fleeting memories.  Sheepishly, I recount my story; the doctor discusses possible causes, and says after a routine vitals exam, he’ll send me on my way.

Uh oh… not so fast.

“You have an irregular heartbeat.”

Next thing I know, I’m flat on my back on the gurney, staring into the glare of the bright fluorescent lights, wondering what the heck has happened in the last 12 (or so) hours.

“What’s wrong with me?  I take care of myself.  I exercise (translation: play racquetball two or three times a week and basketball on Saturdays during the summer, and one touch and one tackle football game every year).  This can’t be happening.  This happens to Dad, but not me!”

Further tests and a stress test a few days later concluded that “The Episode” was not heart-related.

We never pinpointed the cause of “The Episode.”  Doctors speculated that it may have been gall bladder related and possibly related to the high fat meal I ate that night.  Nothing conclusive.

“The Episode,” however, completely changed my life.

More about that in my next post.


Introducing… Me!

08/29/2012

Hi everybody.  My name is Dave Kwiecinski.  I live with my beautiful wife, Kathy, and the youngest of our five children, Martha, in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois.  Take a look at a map… we’re at the corner of Lake Michigan and the Wisconsin state line.  See us waving to you?

I’m a “recovering CPA” who still prepares income tax returns every spring (keeps the mind sharp).  When I graduated from high school (many, many moons ago), I was convinced that I would make my living as a writer and author.  That’s all I wanted to do with my life.

College has a way of reshaping expectations and aspirations.

I wish I could blame it on the drugs, but I didn’t take ’em.  No alcohol either.  Not enough anyway.  But something made me do “accounting.”

Well, not something… someone.

Me.

I’m analytical, have a head for numbers, the rest is history.  Early into my career, I knew I had made a mistake and kept trying to “fix it.”

Over the last 32 years (yikes), the one constant theme of my life has been taxes.  Tax prep.  Consulting.

One more constant.  The unquenchable desire to help people.

Getting Kathy through nursing school, five kids, three in diapers, helping her through some major health issues, school activities… weeks blurred into months, months into years… it was easier to remain a CPA through it all.

Fast-forward to the late 1990s.  A minor health scare resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

Much ado about nothing, but to make a long story very brief, it was the catalyst to a second career as a personal fitness trainer and a new goal: to live to age 100.

Not just limp along, mind you, and gasp out my last as I crossed the “Age 100” finish line, but to live, to thrive, and to matter… all God-willing… until I’m at least 100 years old.

I have a lot to give, so much to share, and there’s so much I wish to experience, it’ll take that long to fit it all in.

————————–

In 2004, I became a personal fitness trainer.  My new career journey began as a classic “rep counter” at the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Illinois.  My practice has evolved into a variety of specialties, from working with clients suffering from debilitating disease, such as Parkinson’s and MS, helping the “unwell” move closer to optimal health and away from preventable diseases on the life cycle continuum, to simply helping those of us in our “middle years” cope with the ravages of time’s assault on our physical structure and those looking to transform their bodies for whatever reason.

I don’t own a gym or a studio.  I make house calls.

I will write more about how I provide solutions for you in a future blog post.  For now, I simply want to introduce myself.

————————–

I still aspire to be a writer.

The next leg in my own personal transformational journey commences today.

I will assist many more of you virtually than I can individually, in a one-on-one setting, so I am entering the world of online business to search for people hurting and seeking solutions to their physical challenges.  This will fulfill my lifelong expectation that I would live my life as a writer and author, a dream sidetracked by misplaced ambition, then life circumstances, and personal choice.

My choice now is to bring me back to my center.  And thus help hundreds, perhaps thousands of you… not just a handful… at a time.  I have a lot to give, so much to share, and I still have that same unquenchable desire.  To help you get what you want.

Let me know about you.  What are your expectations for your life?  How can I help you achieve them?  Send me an e-mail: dave@davekfitness.com.

I cannot wait to help you.


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