NOTE: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider for any and all health/wellness relating questions.

The other day, I was talking to a buddy who is wanting to get back in shape. His asking my advice about cardio is what inspired me to write this. This article is an appeal to all to consider shadowboxing as a viable cardio option (either in addition to or in place of running). First and foremost, shadowboxing is more about visualization and creating a mindset of success than weight loss. It creates discipline and gets your mind and body in good shape. It is a great alternative to running. Here’s why:
Shadowboxing is low-impact on your joints, thus eliminating debilitating pain from running.
Shadowboxing also sculpts, tones and develops the upper body in ways that running simply can’t (e.g. developing the major and minor muscles of the upper body and trunk).
Shadowboxing also creates a sense of empowerment and self-confidence- in the case that you would need to, that you could hold your own in a fight. You get a better sweat going in a shorter period of time, plus you can pace yourself a little better in shadowboxing in place of running.

Running has been around since man learned he can get to where he wanted to go faster (or to escape dinosaurs trying to eat him). Running is almost unbeatable in its weight-loss potential. It’s also unmatched in its overall health benefits. Running can…
Strengthens bones and tendons
Improves heart health.
As you can see, both shadowboxing and running have great benefits. In my opinion, both shadowboxing and running can be used to give “the 1-2” to fat and health problems. Or you can use them separately as standalone exercises that will get you in shape. It takes a while and it takes faith in yourself, time to prepare and to begin. Both shadowboxing and running takes guts and mental fortitude. It’s not pretty most of the time. It hurts. It is inherently challenging. It’s not supposed to be easy. Then again, anything worth having or worth fighting for is not going to be easy at all. You can find a few free workouts online if you’re interested, starting with the links below.
In closing, no matter which one you choose, you will be better off if you are active and doing it. You will be better off for making health a priority. For those of you who follow and read my columns, blogs and articles… here it is.
Be disciplined, hungry and humble enough to learn more about you and your body. Don’t rely on articles, gadgets and trends to get it done for you.
Be astute and savvy enough to take workouts and diets and tailor them to your needs. It’s your body… it’s your life. Take ownership of your health.
Reading, doing and preparing are just three of the basics that will help you win in life.



Cutting Carbs Is a BAD IDEA

Ask someone how to lose weight quickly, and chances are, they’ll respond with “cut out carbs.” The reason behind that is the fact that cutting out carbs does cause fast weight loss. But that doesn’t mean fat loss, and cutting out carbs could be causing your health some harm. Fitness Expert Kente Bates gives you the skinny.

There’s no two ways about it, if you get rid of all the bread, pasta and potatoes from your diet, that scale will go down. Add so-called junk food to that restricted list, and the losses will be even greater. If you take it to the extremes of banning even “healthy carbs” like fruits and certain vegetables too, then you’ll drop kilos at a rate of knots.

And voila – all of a sudden you’re a weight loss guru. One guy mocked my assertion on hard work, gleefully and mockingly sneering “cutting carbs is all it boils down to”.

What most on the cutting carbs bandwagon fail to see… while cutting carbs does usually bring about weight loss, this doesn’t necessarily mean fat loss. And no carbs should cost you your good mood and high energy levels.

While there may be instances where you may need to cut down your carbs, there should never be any reason to take them out completely. Low-carb diets aren’t sustainable, and cutting them will end up making you fat.

Let’s look at why.

What are carbs?

We all know what foods contain carbs, but few of us actually know what carbs are – that is, one of the three main macronutrients, the other two being protein and and fat.

Your body uses carbohydrates as its main source of readily available energy. It can use protein and fat to make fuel, but this process takes far longer and is much less efficient. In other words, your muscles, organs and brain love the stuff.

When you eat carbs, they’re either used (more or less) immediately for energy, or they’re stored as glycogen in your muscle cells and liver.

Why a low-carb diet might seem like its working 

Ninety-five per cent of us will have tried cutting carbs before, and within this 95%, almost all of us will have seen weight loss in the first week or so*. While this seems epic, don’t fret – because weight loss isn’t fat loss.


When you cut carbs from your diet, your body turns to its stored carbohydrates (the glycogen in the muscles and liver we mentioned earlier). At any one time, you can have as much as 500 grams of stored glycogen, and each gram of glycogen holds around three grams of water with it. This means if your body has to use up all its glycogen for energy because you’re not eating carbs, you can lose up to two kilos (0.5 kilos from glycogen and 1.5 kilos from water) within a few days. But this is not fat loss.

The general public eat a crap-ton of carbs! Think about it – your typical breakfast might include toast, cereals or juice, sandwiches, wraps or bagels at lunch, plus sugary coffees, chocolate bars and fruit throughout the day, then some kind of starch with dinner. That’s a lot of carbohydrates.

By suddenly cutting these out, you’ll put yourself into a calorie deficit where you’re consuming fewer calories than you burn – and it’s creating a calorie deficit that causes weight loss, not the fact you’re not eating carbs.

The perils of swapping bread and potatoes for butter and pistachios 

Most people who cut carbs replace their starches and sugars with low-carb vegetables and proteins. That’s great. What’s not so great is when a low-carb diet turns into a high-fat diet because you’re swapping out your starches for high-fat foods such as coconut oil, nuts and seeds, avocados and full-fat cheese.


There’s nothing wrong with these foods per se, fats are far more calorie dense than carbs (containing nine calories per gram, whereas carbs have four calories per gram). So swapping out carbs for fats can be surefire way to reverse any calorie deficit and turn it into a surplus, undoing any work.

Two slices of bread, 100 grams of cereal, a medium sweet potato, a banana and a flapjack bar come in at 800 calories altogether. But the same calories from fats is a much smaller volume of food. In fact, 100 grams of mixed nuts and 1 and-a-half tablespoons of olive oil is all you’ll get for the same 800 calories.

The mistake low carbers make is to drastically ramp up their fat intake, and while it’s true you can eat a little more fat if you’re cutting carbs, it’s much easier to over-eat fat than carbs. And if you go into a surplus of calories, you’ll gain fat.

When you add in the fact that you’ll feel like crap for the first week or two of going low carb, and that low-carb diets are insanely difficult to stick to long-term, it’s safe to say that such a drastic approach is not a good one.

Why carbs are crucial

You can survive without any carbs in your diet, but there’s a difference between survival and getting what you want- results.

If you want to lose fat optimally, maintain your strength and energy, and lose weight and keep it off, carbs are critical. That doesn’t mean you can stuff your face with muesli, chips and spaghetti though. You need the right amount of carbs – and preferably at the right times.

How much should you be eating?

Your carb intake should be based on your activity level, as carbs are your main source of energy, the more active you are, the more you need. The best way to do this is to base your carbs off your total calorie intake.

For weight loss, men need roughly 24 to 30 calories per kilo of bodyweight per day, while women need 22 to 26 calories per kilo. The more active you are, the higher your multiplier, so guys training hard four or more times per week for instance should go for 28 to 30 calories per kilo. Within that, you can tweak your carbs to your total calorie intake.

While no food should ever be banned completely, it makes sense to choose more nutrient-dense carbs and ones that are higher in fiber – so whole-grains like brown rice and quinoa – as well as white and sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. These should make up at least 80% of your carb intake, then you can have 20% leeway for more junk-style carbs.

Carbs can be eaten at any time, but for optimal results, eat most around your workouts. Before training they’ll be used for energy so you get a better session, and post-workout they aid recovery.

Carbs: your new best friend 

You will lose weight on a low-carb diet (at least in the first few days, which includes a large portion of water). But that alone doesn’t make this the best dieting approach. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy to gain fat when going low-carb, plus you’ll feel tired, irritable and hungry, all of which mean a low-carb diet isn’t only unnecessary, but potentially damaging to your long-term health and fat loss too.

Look at carbs as a macronutrient that will need manipulating from time to time, depending on your goals and activities. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of quick weight loss- always think for yourself. Get to know your body and what works best for it. Are you on the go all the time, training hard virtually every day and looking to get stronger and build muscle? Then carb up!! Carbs are not a bad thing!!

Are you on a fat loss quest, a little on the lighter side, and maybe not so active day-to-day? You can still eat carbs, you just may want to ease back on them slightly.

As always, the extreme approach doesn’t work. What works is a method that’s based on you – your goals, your body type, and your preferences. Knowing your body, label reading and hard work to achieve your goals are the way to win. These are the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!



Keto Diet: The Basics and free Keto Diet ebook

In the past few years, the Keto Diet, along with ketones have exploded in popularity due to the discovery and exposure of them on several health shows, such as Dr. Oz and The Doctors. Just as with anything else, some people love and swer by the Keto Diet, while others are not as trusting, souring on the diet as a whole. This article is about the basics of the Keto Diet, a few pros and cons and a free ebook link.
NOTE: This article (and this site) is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your medical care provider for any and all health-related questions.
Here are the basics of the keto diet:
This diet (and its many varieties) boasts of turning the body into a “fat burning machine. It is based on getting the body in a state of ketosis, or a survival mechanism that burns fat when food intake is low (akin to surviving starvation).
On this diet, the consumption of high-carb foods will produce glucose (easiest molecules in body to use as energy). Glucose is processed by insulin to mainline the glucose throughout the body via the bloodstream. Fats are stored as they are not needed- the glucose is the preferred energy source. Cutting carbs will induce the body into a state of ketosis, hence “Keto”.
The idea of a properly maintained Keto diet is to get the body in a constant state of ketosis or fat burning primarily through cutting carbohydrates.


The Keto Diet in all of its forms offer quite a few health benefits. Here are a few of them listed (you can look up the rest via the links provided at the end of the article).
Brain health and brain function
Weight loss/maintainence
Greater proportion of weight loss will come from abdominal area
Reduction of Blood Pressure
Reduction of Blood Sugars and Insulin
Appetite Suppression

With its burgeoning popularity plus its benefits, the Keto diet will no doubt become more popular as time goes on. On the other hand, experts critically pan the Keto diet, citing it is unsustainable for sustained weight loss. One sticking point the experts will point to is the excessively high fat content of the diet itself (upwards of 70-plus percent) is diametrically opposed to the longstanding USDA recommendations that fat content of all food top off around 30-35%. There is no evidence that the Keto diet will lend to sustained weight loss, primarily for those battling diabetes and heart disease.
All in all, the Keto diet is not going anywhere. Please do your due diligence and determine if the Keto diet is right for you.



Flu Season 2017-18: Stats and What to do About It

In the spirit of “The Total Self”, this article is all about health. The following stats and figures are from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA), Plus I throw in some pointers on how to avoid the flu this year.

NOTE: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult with your primary care provider for any and all medical or health issues.

This flu season has been one of the more brutal ones in recent memory. Maybe you got the flu shot and it didn’t affect you. You may have been among the many who swear against the flu shot and you didn’t get sick. In any case, here are a few statistics on the 2017-18 flu season compiled by the CDC:

  • Only 2 of 5 Americans in the U.S. received the flu shot by early November 2017.
  • 6% of all persons 6 months and up received the flu shot.
  • 8% of all children 6 mths-17 years old received the flu shot.
  • 5% of all adults 18 and up received the flu shot.

Among children, flu vaccinations were similar across the board of all racial/ethnic groups with one exception- non-Hispanic children of other/multiple races had higher flu vaccination coverage than non-Hispanic Black children.

  • Among adults 18-49, vaccinations decreased by 3.7% in the 2017-18 flu season compared to the same period of time in the 2016-17 flu season.
  • Among Hispanics, vaccinations decreased by 7.7% in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.
  • Unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of contracting the flu virus and transmitting the virus to others, some of who are at risk of having the flu/severe illness.
  • 3 of every 5 people 6 months and over in the U.S. were not vaccinated by early November 2017.

Here are statistics on mortality rates due to the flu:

  • A total of 101 influenza-related deaths in children occurred throughout the 2016-2017 flu season, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time since the 2014-2015 season that the number has exceeded 100.
  • Each year, between 4,000 and 50,000 people are specifically killed by influenza, and most commonly it’s caused from a variation of an influenza A strain virus.
  • Influenza B strains tend to occur later in the season and be of the more mild variety.
  • Influenza claims between 3000 and 49,000 lives annually.
  • Over 10 billion USD is spent yearly combatting and treating the flu.


With these statistics, what can be done about this? Here are a few pointers to help you not get sick:

  • Your body needs sleep. Your immune system will not function properly without proper rest.
  • Eating healthier. Your body needs the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals to ward off the flu.
  • Water Intake. Increasing water intake is crucial. During the winter months, water intake falls precipitously. Go beyond the government-recommended 8 glasses of water per day. (I would estimate a healthy 200-lb adult male would need at least 12-15 glasses of water daily). Alternately, try snaking on water-based foods also to keep hydrated.


In closing, and I am sure you’ve seen this already by now- the flu is no joke. This flu season has been brutal! Stay healthy people. Optimum health is fundamental to a vibrant life.

Staying healthy is a huge part of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.





Sleep Disorders- Facts and Exercise/Techniques

In this article, we are talking about sleep. Facts and a new sleep exercise. REMINDER: This article is not a substitute for the sound medical advice of your primary care provider. Did you know that at least 25% of all American adults suffer from insomnia? The true cost of the lack of sleep is as follows (according to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center):

  • Direct costs of sleepiness and lost productivity on the job is estimated between $16-$20 BN (USD) annually.
  • Drowsy drivers account for at least 125,000 to 150,000 crash incidents reported by police annually in the U.S. alone.
  • At least 45-50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders- and at least 75% of these go undiagnosed.


Sleep is very important. Though the body and mind have monitoring and defense mechanisms to keep the body aware of surroundings during sleep, the true purpose of sleep is to reboot the brain and heal from tiredness, stress or even small injuries. If you’re anxious, overcaffeinated, stressed out it can and is very difficult to get the sleep you need and deserve, especially when you are dead tired.

There is a sleep exercise that has been reported to help. The 4-7-8 Method, formulated by one Andrew Weil M.D.. Dr. Weil is a pioneer in integrated medicine using holistic healing methods. The 4-7-8 Method is as follows:

  • Breathe out. Assume a comfortable position in your bed (or anywhere), Breathe out slowly, puckering your lips as if you’re about to whistle, making a soft “whoosh” sound.
  • Inhale and count to four. After exhaling, close your mouth, inhale and count to four (a slow count- thousand-one, thousand-two, and so on)
  • Hold your breath and count to seven. As much as possible, hold your breath until you reach a seven count. If you can’t reach that… try a four or five-count- but build it up to the seven count.
  • Exhale and count to eight. Exhale. Pucker up and exhale again, this time to an eight-count.



NOTE: Remember to use your nose to inhale and exhale out of the mouth. Keep the ratio at 4-7-8 while doing this exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get 4-7-8 the first few times. Keep at it until you achieve 4-7-8. This relaxes the body and makes it much easier to fall asleep.

This technique and others like it are “natural tranquilizers”.

As always, consult your primary care provider before starting this or any other health maintainence regimen.




About Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. http://

Breathing: Three Exercises.;eepmedicine/factsaboutsleepdisorders

Depression in Humans: What are the differences and HOW to defeat it



Is depression different amongst humans, whether they be male, female or nonbinary? In so many words, yes. As far as symptom patterns tend to play out, they will usually fall in line with the two major genders. For women, the symptoms are more readily visible (i.e. crying, overeating) as for men, the symptoms are more subdued (i.e. working to excess, drinking/abusing drugs, working out to excess). In any case, the symptoms of depression may in fact hit men harder due to lifestyle choices and extracurricular activities.

Here are the top 5 signs of depression for men:

  • Self-medication (abuse of controlled substances, abuse of alcohol and abuse of medications)
  • Escapism (working more, working out to excess, retreating into more ‘childlike’ pastimes such as video gaming, LARP, etc)
  • Irritability
  • Risk-taking becoming a regular part of life (reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
  • Becoming controlling, violent and/or abusive



Studies show that women are 3X as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression than men are and are at least 2X as likely to seek treatment for it. Here is a list of the top 7 causes/triggers for depression in women:


  • Puberty (biological and social fallout from it- not fitting in, body image, etc)
  • Premenstrual difficulty
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Perimenopause/menopause
  • Trials and tribulations of life itself
  • Accompanying conditions of depression (anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders)


Why the differences?


Obviously with traditional gender roles for the main two genders being as they are, women are afforded more avenues to get help and to communicate their feelings. Men are taught to “man up”, to be “strong” and to shun help. For men, them seeking help is often a result of not being able to function correctly (in some cases not at all) as the symptoms of depression interfere with life itself.


What to do about it


Whether you’re male, female, nonbinary or anywhere within the gender spectrum, the treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Please know that it will take some research, patience and working with your mental health provider to develop the action plan to defeat depression. You and your mental health provider will have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work moving forward. As for the side effects of the medication(s), most of the side effects will go away on their own, usually within the first 3-6 weeks of taking them. As always, listen to your body and alert your mental health provider in lieu of any complications.




Gorman, J.M. “Gender Differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication”. Gender medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109

Winkler, Dietmar et al. “Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks”. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24

“Male Depression: Understanding the Issues”. Mayo Clinic (2013)

“Depression In Women: Understanding the Gender Gap”. Mayo Clinic (2016

Best Exercises for Teens


This article is about the teenagers. That period of rapid growth and maturity. Experimentation and lessons learned. It can also be about fitness and wellness, which is right in our wheelhouse. Do you (as a parent, coach or teacher) have a teen who is not really adjusting well to fitness? Maybe he/she is a hardgainer, or the teenager has a very low metabolism. I have a list of very easy (and very good exercises that can help turn the tide in the favor of fitness) exercises that can make a difference in a teen’s life. As always, seek the advice of a physician. This article is not a substitiute for sound medical advice or opinion. Now, the list.

The best exercise routine consists of three basic components: 1) aerobics, 2) strength training and 3) flexibility/ stretching.
Aerobics: aerobic exercises quicken your heart rate and breathing, and are good for your heart.
Some great aerobic exercises are: rowing, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, swimming, running, dancing, tennis, biking and boxing.


Strength training: strengthening your muscles allow you to be able to increase your endurance. Also, muscle burns fat better, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.
Pull-ups, push-ups, rowing, running, squats, crunches, biking, any type of weight lifting
Flexibility: A flexible person has a lower chance of getting sprains and strained muscles
Dance, ballet, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics
How do I know what exercise is best for me?
Pick something that you find interesting – if you hate running, don’t run!!!
Do you like to work out alone? Or with a group of people?
Ask a coach or gym teacher how you can get involved with a certain activity or sport
Talk to a doctor if you are unsure whether a certain exercise plan is right for you
Why is exercise so good for you?
Exercise produces brain chemicals called endorphins that make people feel happy
Exercise helps people sleep better (just don’t work out right before you want to sleep!)

It keeps your body at a healthy, managable weight
Lowers your risk for certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
Keeps your bones strong – so no osteoporosis when you are older!
Helps you lose weight

How much exercise should I be getting?
Experts recommend that teenagers work out for at least one hour every day. The exercise should be “moderate to vigorous”.
Is there such thing as exercising too much?
Yes, and it is called compulsive exercise. Because teenagers’ bodies are still developing, they need enough calories to support that process. Exercising too much burns all the calories necessary to develop and function properly. Too much exercise is also a sign of a possible eating disorder. It is also possible to train too much for a certain sport. High school athletes should not train more than five days a week, and should have two or three months of rest per year. It is not recommended that you exercise with an injury – it will only retard the healing process.

Also, exercise is a great way for teens to discover things about themselves, socialize with others and to be able to see themselves in a different way. In closing, with the obesity epidemic in America today really hitting the teens hard, exercise for teens should be mentioned as a way to help them build for the future. Exercising is free, and should be a basic part of anyone’s life, especially for teens. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.