Coming Attractions

This is an excerpt from my upcoming fitness book, The Digest: Your Roadmap to Winning The Battle of the Bulge: HARD WORK wins. There’s no way around it. Everything you want in life will be attained through hard work. You must be willing to sacrifice, be willing to be​ sneered at, looked down on. Your goal is your own. Let the haters say their piece. They don’t matter. You​ matter. Your goals, dreams and everything matter. Please remember that you have to put in the work and be willing to pay the price. 


8 Warning Signs of Depression and 10 Foods to Considered Helpful


8 Warning Signs Of Depression Plus 10 Foods Considered Helpful
Infographic © Image sources: see foot of page

Clinical depression is a mental health issue that is often disregarded in the medical community (and society in general!) There is a stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression that people don’t seek immediate treatment once they start noticing signs and symptoms in themselves and other people. However, the truth of the matter is that millions of people are affected by depression all over the world.

According to research done by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects roughly 15 million adults in the US, with two out of three people with depression choosing not to seek medical treatment. The WHO estimates that 350 million people all over the world have depression, with 800,000 people dying each year because of suicide. The mental health burden is one every country should be aware of; just because an illness can’t be seen doesn’t mean the person affected isn’t suffering. Depression is just as real as heart disease or cancer. [1][2]

8 Warning Signs Of Depression: [3][4]

#1 – Feeling helpless or hopeless: Depression is often characterized in a pessimistic worldview – that nothing is going right or will ever go right. People who are depressed suffer from an overwhelming feeling (often fear-inducing) of hopelessness despite being in a world full of endless possibilities.

#2 – Losing interest in daily activities: Closely related to the first symptom, losing interest in daily activities is another warning sign of depression. Along with feelings of hopelessness and helpless is a sudden loss of interest in going to school or work – activities a person does on a day to day basis. Depressed individuals often think “Why bother?”

#3 – Changes in appetite: Feelings of depression can lead to appetite changes – your body may feel hungry but you just aren’t in the mood for anything. Not even favorite food items can improve your appetite. This is one of the main problems with depression – the physical effects it has on the body. Along with poor appetite is dramatic weight loss and compromised immune system.

#4 – Sleep pattern disturbances: People who are depressed often find themselves with a multitude of thoughts that prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep. They can toss and turn for hours but sleep will evade them.

#5 – Mood swings: Mood swings are a major characteristic of Bipolar disorder – which is characterized by periods of mania (extreme happiness) and depression. Chronic mood swings – from happiness to sadness, and even other emotions like anger can signify depression.

#6 – Lethargy: Lack of sleep and deteriorating physical health all add up to a feelings of lethargy – or very low energy. Being tired can be a sign that someone is going through emotional difficulties.

#7 – Behavioral changes: Acting out or being aggressive can also be a sign of depression. Teenagers and young adults who suffer from depression may act out and be aggressive towards others. People who are often described as “troublesome students” or “black sheep” maybe experiencing emotional or mental health problems.

#8 – Focusing and memory difficulties: You will notice that all the symptoms on this list are related to each other – and that most certainly includes this last item. Poor appetite, sleep disturbances, and low energy can lead to problems with memory and focus – resulting in poor school and work performance (which can be seen by others as “acting out”).

10 Foods For Fighting Depression

These foods have been extensively studied and can be helpful:

#1 – Chocolate: The best way to heal a broken heart is through chocolate! You will often hear girls saying that chocolate is a great way to curb sadness – and there is actually scientific evidence that supports that theory! Two different studies have found that chocolate can significantly improve a person’s mood, as well as alleviating chronic fatigue. [5][6]

#2 – Asparagus: You may find the presence of asparagus on this list to be strange but according to research it works! According to a published study by Singh, et. al. in 2009, asparagus has significant antidepressant activity, able to reduce stress and agitation in the test subjects. [7]

#3 – Green tea: Green tea is a great antioxidant – and a great antidepressant as well. Beyond tea’s relaxing properties, a study has shown that green tea was able to have a positive effect on people suffering from post-stroke depression, linked to green tea’s inherent antioxidant and phytochemical characteristics. The results of another study found that there was an inverse relationship between the prevalence of depression and green tea intake in the selected population. [8][9]

#4 – Avocado: It can be hard to find scientific studies that directly link avocados with a lower risk for depression but its omega-3 content has several. One of the most significant studies found that omega-3 fatty acids were an effective treatment for people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and people with undiagnosed depression (but exhibit the warning signs). [10]

#5 – Oatmeal: Oatmeal has high folate or folic acid content, which has been linked to depression management caused by different factors or co-morbidities. In 2014, a study found that corticosterone treatment caused depression, depression that was significantly relieved by folic acid intake. Similar results were seen in a study in 2013 where folic acid was able to combat depression caused by stress and antioxidant imbalance in the brain. [11][12]

#6 – Strawberries: A study in 2012 found that strawberry intake was linked to a decreased rate of mental health decline with progressing age. The study estimated that strawberries were able to slow “mental aging” by two and a half years, attributed primarily to the high antioxidant content of the fruits. While the study didn’t focus on depression, advanced age and a decline in mental health has been linked to depression – something strawberries can apparently help manage. [13]

#7 – Cashews: Cashews are an excellent source of tryptophan – an amino acid that is synthesized by the body into serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose low levels has been linked to depression. A study actually found that people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder had low levels of tryptophan. By boosting your tryptophan intake, you can help reduce your risk for depression. [14]

#8 – Walnuts: A Polish study published last year in 2015 listed walnuts as a significant food item that could help in the management of depression. Walnuts, like avocados, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and can be included in the diet for risk reduction in terms of depression. [15]

#9 – Oranges: Oranges are one of the highest vitamin-C- containing fruits, known for its immune-boosting capabilities. However, ascorbic acid or vitamin C is able to help with depression as well, seen in a study published in 2015. The study found that treatment with ascorbic acid was able to reduce depressive symptoms caused by high levels of tumor necrosis factor. [16]

#10 – Blueberries: A recent study in 2015 by Tan, et. al. concluded that blueberry extracts were able to have positive effects on neuronal and mental health. The researchers discovered that blueberry extracts improved memory and hippocampal expression; the hippocampus being one of the areas of the brain that control emotions. These results suggest that blueberries can also help with the management of depression, which has been strongly linked to cognitive decline. [17]


[1] Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Depression statistics.

[2] WHO. Depression Fact Sheet.

[3] Mayo Clinic. Depression (major depressive disorder).

[4] National Health Services. Clinical depression – symptoms.

[5] Sathyapalan, T., et. al. (2010). High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate may reduce the burden of the symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome.

[6] Scholey, A. & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review.

[7] Singh, G., et. al. (2009). Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models.

[8] Di Lorenzo, A., et. al. (2016). Antidepressive-like effects and antioxidant activity of green tea and GABA green tea in a mouse model of post-stroke depression.

[9] Pham, N., et. al. (2014). Green tea and coffee consumption is inversely associated with depressive symptoms in a Japanese working population.

[10] Grosso, G., et. al. (2014). Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.

[11] Rosa, P., et. al. (2014). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior induced by chronic corticosterone treatment in mice.

[12] Budni, J., et. al. (2013). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior and hippocampal antioxidant imbalance induced by restraint stress in mice.

[13] Devore, E., et. al. (2012). Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline.

[14] Ogawa, S., et. al. (2014). Plasma L-tryptophan concentration in major depressive disorder: new data and meta-analysis.

[15] Muszynska, B., et. al. (2015). Natural products of relevance in the prevention and supportive treatment of depression.

[16] Moretti, M., et. al. (2015). TNF-α-induced depressive-like phenotype and p38(MAPK) activation are abolished by ascorbic acid treatment.

[17] Tan, L., et. al. (2014). Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside and blueberry extracts supplementation improves spatial memory and regulates hippocampal ERK expression in senescence-accelerated mice.

FDA Warns: ‘Don’t Use Spray Sunscreen on Children’

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated that global temperatures are continuing to rise and the world will experience a hotter than normal summer this year. [1] This is why it’s important to protect our skin from the harmful sun damage that the sunny months may bring, especially our children’s delicate skin.There are many sunscreens available in the market today in varying forms, such as lotion, gel, powder, and spray. However, Consumer Reports has advised to discontinue the use of spray sunscreens on children due to the risk of inhalation – based on a statement from the FDA that they have not yet evaluated their safety in comparison to other sunscreens. [2]

Sunscreens often contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are the highly reflective white components of the sunscreen – however these could be inhaled or swallowed by children while they are being sprayed. These chemicals may contain nanoparticles – which several studies have linked to development issues and reproductive problems for females. [3][4][5]

The International Agency for Research on Cancer also classified titanium dioxide as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ which could cause overloading of lung clearance, chronic inflammation, and lung tumors. [6]

Toxic Soup – All Over You

However these are not the only potentially unhealthy components of sunscreens. The “soup” of potentially toxic chemicals found in consumer brand sunscreens has come under harsh criticism from campaigners such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Chemicals such as benzophenone, benzophenone-3, avobenzone, oxybenzone, diethanolamine, triethanolamine (DEA, TEA), padimate-o, octyl dimethyl PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), salicylates, and parabens are common in sunscreens and many of these are suspected carcinogens or hormone disrupters that can be absorbed by the skin and enter the body. [7]

The FDA is still investigating on the potential risks of spray sunscreens, and until the results are out, Consumer Reports strongly urges parents to discontinue the use of these and try other formulations instead.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also warned consumers about marketing strategies by these companies that advertise false efficiency about their products. [8] In their 2015 sunscreen guide, 80% of the SPF products that they reviewed did not deliver the superior sun protection that they promised on the packaging. [9] This means that the sunscreen you’re using could actually do more harm to your health instead of protecting it.

While FDA’s investigation on spray sunscreens is still ongoing, experts are recommending consumers to avoid using these as much as possible.

Here are a few tips to help you protect your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and increased risk on skin cancer caused by heavy sun exposure. [10]

1. Stay in the shade. If possible, avoid direct sun exposure from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., when the sun is at its highest in the sky and the heat is more intense.
2. Cover up. Wear clothes that cover up most of your body such as long shirts, shorts, wide-brimmed hats, pants and parasols to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
3. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
4. Pay attention to how your skin feels and looks. If your skin looks red, has blistered, and feels sore, it means you have been exposed to the sun for too long.
5. Check the UV index before going outdoors so you’ll know what proper measures to take to avoid sun overexposure.
6. Natural sunscreen. Here’s our page that links to a simple, more natural sunscreen formula that skips many of the harsh ingredients:


[1] Ferris, R. 2016. NOAA climate outlook: Hot summer for most of US

[2] “Don’t use spray sunscreens on children”

[3] Sun, J. et al. 2013. Effects of Nanotoxicity on Female Reproductivity and Fetal Development in Animal Models

[4] Ovarian dysfunction and gene-expressed characteristics of female mice caused by long-term exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles. (Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2012)

[5] Silica and titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause pregnancy complications in mice. (Nature Nanotechnology, 2011)

[6] Kuempel, E., Ruder, A. Titanium Dioxide (IARC Monograph)

[7] Healthy Holistic Living – Home Made Sunscreen Formula

[7] Sifferlin, A. 2015. 80% of Sunscreens Don’t Really Work or Have ‘Worrisome’ Ingredients

[8] 10th Annual EWG Sunscreen Guide

[9] TIPS: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort

Why Lifting Matters

When it comes to fitness in America today, there is a unspoken predisposed allegiance to cardio and functional training. While there’s nothing wrong with that, but resistance training has value. Maybe you’re convinced you shouldn’t lift weights because you prefer not looking like The Hulk. Maybe you figure you just wouldn’t like it, since you’re not one of those CrossFit types.

Though I don’t want to be confrontational about it… you’re wrong. Strength training not only builds muscle but can prevent disease, relieves stress and will definitely help you lose weight.

Here are 13 great reasons to include a little work with the weights into your fitness repertoire.

1. You’ll live longer.
While most forms of regular exercise can add years to your life, strength training in particular has big benefits. As we get older, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely, according to 2014 research from UCLA. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” study co-author Arun Karlamangla, M.D., said in a statement. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” And what better way to maximize those muscles than by pumping iron?
2. For better sleep.
Regular exercisers — especially those who truly push themselves — report the best sleep, and weightlifting is no exception. In a small 2012 study in older men, researchers found that resistance training reduced the number of times the study participants woke up during the night, as compared to a control group who performed no exercise.

3. Your progress is so noticeable.
There’s nothing that feels quite as rewarding as setting a goal and crushing it. If you’re new to strength work, you’ll find that a weight you once thought was impossible to lift starts to feel easy sooner than you might imagine. Add to that, you’ll feel like a conqueror.

4. To protect your bones.
Weight-bearing exercise and particularly strength training is thought to increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks among older adults.

5. To boost your balance.
Of course, one major cause of bone breaks as we age is falling. Some of weightlifting’s benefit in protecting against osteoporosis may be improved strength and balance, resulting in fewer falls. Indeed, research suggests that various resistance routines can reduce an older person’s rate of falling by around 30 percent.

6. It can make you happier.
Like many forms of physical activity, a little lifting can work wonders for your mental health. Strength training has been linked to reduced anxiety and depression symptoms as well as improved self-esteem, and it may even give your brainpower a boost.

7. To look better in your clothes.
Now, we don’t suggest you lift weights (or do any exercise, for that matter) solely for appearance — there are just so many other benefits! — but when it comes to slimming down, endless hours on the elliptical may not be getting you any closer to the results you desperately seek. In fact, building muscle may help you lose fat more effectively than simply doing cardio. “If you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training,” trainer Nick Tumminello, author of Strength Training for Fat Loss told Business Insider. “Watch your diet to reveal your shape, and strength train to improve that shape.”
8. To burn more calories.
Simply having more muscle on your frame helps your body burn up extra calories — even when you’re sitting completely still.

9. You can do it in under 30 minutes.
Adding strength work to your regular exercise routine doesn’t have to eat up the tiny bit of free time you had left in the day. In fact, lifting is one area where more is not always better — around 30 to 60 minutes a week, total, is plenty, according to Runner’s Times.

10. And you don’t even have to go to the gym.
We’re using the term “lifting weights,” but the world of strength and resistance training includes a whole host of options outside of what you’d find at the gym. You can “lift weights” with cans and jars you find in your kitchen. You can “lift weights” using only your body. You can buy a pair of five-pound dumbbells and lift along with a DVD in the comfort of your own living room, where the only person checking you out in the mirror is you. In fact, if you’re new to strength training, many moves are safer if performed with just your bodyweight until you can get the hang of perfect form. Plus, many of those machines at the gym aren’t adjustable enough for the wide range of bodies that use them.

11. To run faster (really!)
Or swim longer or bike harder or get better at just about any other athletic endeavor you fancy. Why? Because you’ll be cultivating stronger, more powerful muscles to then put to good use. Also, strength training can help prevent injuries in other athletic pursuits, by helping correct muscle imbalances that in turn throw your form — even just while sitting or standing — out of whack.

12. Aids in heart health.
Despite the name, cardio isn’t the only form of exercise with cardiovascular benefits. A resistance training routine has been shown to lower blood pressure, in some cases as effectively as taking medication. The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for at least two strength training sessions a week.

13. Because then you can wear shirts like this

You can’t ban these guns - Men's Muscle T-Shirt

In closing, this is not a end-all, be-all list. This is another list, a tool to help you meet and exceed your fitness goals.




We at Halcyon Fitness Group are saddened to learn about the passing of one of the forefathers of fitness/wellness, one Dr. Frederick C. Hatfield bka Dr. Squat. A co-founder of the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association, Santa Barbara, CA), Dr. Hatfield was one of the people who helped shape and mold fitness and wellness as we know it today. Here is an excerpt from ISSA’s page (credit goes to ISSA):

The ISSA family was shocked and saddened this last weekend (5/14/2017) by the passing of one of our beloved co-founders, Dr. Frederick Hatfield, also affectionately known in the fitness industry as “Dr. Squat”.

We would like to take this moment to thank our ISSA students and trainers, as well as the entire fitness community for the kind words you have spoken about Fred, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blogs. In this article, we pay our final respects to a legend, a man who shaped our industry and left behind a legacy of excellence for us all to uphold.

If you can measure a person’s life by their resume, then Dr. Hatfield (1942 – 2017) had much success. As I thumbed through the pages of his resume, still incomplete as it does not include his recent induction into the National Fitness Hall of Fame (2016), I couldn’t fathom the depth and breadth of his commitment to and influence upon this industry.

From a 30,000 foot view, Fred was akin to a rock star.

As a competitor, he won his first bodybuilding contest in 1960 and earned many additional sports honors in the years following, including the “Mr. Mid America” title (1976). In 1978 he broke three Pan Am powerlifting records and earned four gold medals in those games. He won three additional gold medals at the North American Powerlifting Championships (1979) and set the world record for the squat that year at 722 pounds. Of course, he then went on to break that record – and many others throughout the years (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986) with his famous 1014 pound squat, performed at the Budweiser World Record Breakers Invitational Powerlifting Championships in 1987, when he was 45 years old.

As a writer, Fred was the founding editor of Sports Fitness – now Men’s Fitness – magazine, which currently reaches over 7.5m readers in print and over 10.9m on He has written more than 60 books and over 200 articles on sports fitness, weight training, athletic nutrition, and sports psychology, which have appeared in such publications as Muscle & Fitness, Powerlifting USA, Muscular Development, and Modern Gymnast.

There is a laundry list of celebrity athletes he trained, including tennis pros, baseball and football all-stars, ballet dancers, pro bodybuilders, figure skaters, surfers, boxers, karate champions, and Olympians. He was the Head Coach for the Men’s Varsity Gymnastics Team at Newark State College from 1972-1973, and U.S. Team Co-Coach (powerlifting) in the 1985 and 1987 World Championships. He was also a Guest Coach for the New England Patriots (1991) and an advisor to professional athletes from the World Wrestling Federation – now WWE (1991-1994).

He had advised and consulted for organizations such as the International Federation of Bodybuilders, U.S. Olympic Committee, West German Bodybuilding Federation, Australian Powerlifting Federation, Children’s Fitness Network, and Weider Health and Fitness, to name a few.

As a professional in the industry, Fred was the cream of the crop, a recognized professional around the world. In 1969 he was cited in “Who’s Who in American Education”. He was elected Chairman, Wisconsin AAU Weightlifting Committee (1977-1980), appointed Associate Editor of Review of Sport and Leisure (1977-1982) and Journal of Sports Behavior (1978-1982). He co-founded the International Sports Sciences Association with Dr. Sal Arria in 1988 and was the President of the ISSA until his passing.

Yes, Dr. Hatfield had an outstanding resume.

But if you were to ask Fred, he would have said, the measure of a person’s success is much more than what they have done.

A resume is a black and white list of honors, awards, positions, titles, and accomplishments. But what you don’t see on his resume are the millions of lives he has truly impacted.

You won’t see the names of his students; from the ISSA, University of Wisconsin/Madison, Bowie State College, and Newark State College – now Kean College of New Jersey, who have gone on to be world-famous personal trainers, powerlifters, athletes, and coaches.

Fred’s resume doesn’t have room enough for the names of all the people who have sought the help of his students to help them gain strength, recover from injuries, perform at higher levels, or compete in various fitness expositions.

The research that he conducted has influenced thousands of researchers since then, but you won’t see their names and the impact his work has had on them, their ideas, and the fitness concepts that have been developed based on his foundational works.

Fred changed millions of lives by sharing his knowledge…but he inspired countless others with his passion for the industry and his endless striving for excellence.

Reading his resume impressed me, but reading your social media posts impressed upon me the kind of man he really was – the flesh and blood human being behind the 24-page resume.

See, Fred Hatfield was so much more than what his resume would lead you to believe.

Throughout social media, many of you expressed a deep gratitude for his contributions to the fitness industry. It was obvious that he was passionate about his profession, but the driving factor behind all of it was his love for people.

Ask his long-time travel partner and co-founder, I’ll tell you that Fred had the same enthusiasm and passion whether speaking to a crowd of 800 in an auditorium or a group of 8 in a small gym. He simply couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for the science and sport of fitness and he was dedicated to teaching it to anyone who would listen.

Many of you reminisced about having briefly met Fred at this seminar or that competition and how friendly he was, even though he was such a big shot.

You mentioned his sense of humor, his words of encouragement, his support, kindness, and generosity; how the strength of his faith was just as inspiring to you as the strength of his character and body.

You might say that if you throw a stone, you’ll likely hit someone whose life has been touched by the life of Fred Hatfield, either through his research, writing, speaking, coaching, or mentoring. Or perhaps a little less directly – through the coaching and training efforts of any one of his hundreds of thousands of students.

On a personal note, I never met the man. But I was inspired by him- by his powerlifting exploits, what he did in building the ISSA, etc. I for one will miss him. A true legend in the fitness game. His legacy will live on in people like me.