Archive of ‘Tips and Tricks’ category

Come Clean To Get Lean!

As a trainer I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years all in search of the same thing, to get fit and Healthy. More than that, these people, like myself want to not only feel good, but they want to look good. Looking good is the “icing on the cake,” evidence that you have achieved your goal of fitness and health in many cases. But most of all, it’s the ultimate reward.

Unfortunately, looking good is usually the last in line. Often people begin to feel the positive results of working out and getting fit before the actually see them. In addition, many people conquer the workout thing before they conquer the food thing. In fact, many believe that because they are workout out so hard, the rest should just follow.

That’s not exactly how it works. In fact, you’ve probably heard it before, “food is 80% and workout is 20%.” This really is true. You could work out for hours everyday but if you don’t eat right, you’re never going to see your hard work. You could have muscles galore, but if they are covered up by fat, you’ll never see their beauty! Even the smallest layer of fat can disguise those hard earned muscles.

If you want to get lean, you have to come clean! What I mean by this is that until you are truly honest about what and how much you are eating, you will never fully realize that beautiful body underneath the surface. It is a well know fact that most people underestimate their calorie intake by 300-500 calories minimum. Can you imagine if you are taking in that overage daily, you are fighting a battle that you will simply never win. And trust me, that is a conservative figure. Most people are eating far more than that.

In addition, many are under the impression that Healthy, vegetarian, vegan and organic eating is somehow calorie free. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with clients that include them making statements like “but I eat all organic” or “I eat totally healthy.” While that is great and all, just because you eat organic doesn’t ensure you will lose weight. It’s all about really coming clean (being honest) about what you are consuming and then making changes to your diet accordingly and staying consistent.

So if you are ready to come clean to get lean, let’s get started. For the next week, write down everything you eat, noting the exact quantity. Read food labels so you are aware of serving size, calories, fat, sugar etc. Better yet, use a free App on your phone, computer or IPad. My favorite is It is a free app that tracks all of your food, whether you are eating out or at home. It allows you to put in the exact serving size and even shows you all your nutritional values so you can have a full picture of what you are putting into your body. I guarantee that you will be shocked by what you are consuming. And remember, you must include every bite and morsel!

I had a client recently that was struggling with weight loss. When I asked her to describe some of her meals, we quickly discovered that while she was eating healthy overall, her portions were too large and her simple carbs were much too high. While she was eating a lot of good protein and veggies, she also was consuming a lot of food that had hidden sugars. Again, just because is labeled organic or “healthy” doesn’t mean it is sugar free or low calorie.

Fast forward a week after this client “came clean” with what she was really eating, made the appropriate changes (in her case cutting portions, sugar and eating at regular intervals) and she has already seen amazing results. While it wasn’t necessarily easy, “coming clean” and making changes never is, the end result is well worth it. She is currently in her second week of her new plan and is adjusting to any feelings of hunger, feeling confident and optimistic and losing weight at a safe and healthy rate. Want to get lean and mean? Then come clean!




Breakfast Of Champions!


A big breakfast is often referred to as “a breakfast of champions.” Well, I don’t really think it’s the size of the breakfast that matters as much as what is in it. I mean if you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for many reasons and when it’s done right, it really is a “breakfast of champions,” or better yet, what champions are made of!

I can’t believe that in this day and age I still hear people say things like “I’m not a breakfast eater!”  I mean that’s like a person saying, “I didn’t know I should wear sunscreen!” Trust me, I’ve heard that one too. I just heard a client of mine last week say she doesn’t eat breakfast. At least she knew that she should, she just hadn’t made the move to start doing it. Baby steps!

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. People who eat breakfast find it easier to manage their weight and stay on track. A good breakfast will start your body and mind off on the right foot. When you start your day off by making good choices, the rest usually follows.

People who skip breakfast tend to have a more difficult time losing weight and often make poor food choices throughout the day. When we skip breakfast, our blood sugar drops and our metabolism slows. Plus, putting off eating is a sure fire way to guarantee that you will be ravenous later in the day which will likely result in making poor food choices and over eating.

Not a breakfast eater? Well not everyone is, but if you want to feed your body so that it  can perform at its best then you may want to learn how to be a breakfast eater. This doesn’t mean you need to start pounding pancakes. In fact, quite the contrary. Remember that old phrase “you are what you eat?” Well I believe it’s true. If you eat a big heavy breakfast, you are going to feel big and heavy. So choose wisely and eat like the champion you are!

“A healthy breakfast should be a variety of foods like whole grains, low-fat protein or dairy sources, and fruit,” says Andrea Gorman, MS, RD, manager of clinical nutrition at Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. “All these food groups provide complex carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat. This combination of nutrients can delay hunger symptoms and keep you feeling full throughout the day.”

 Healthy Breakfast Ideas:

Healthy cereal – there are plenty of high protein, high fiber cereals on the market theses days. Top your cereal with fruit and skim milk and you’re good to go. Watch your portions though, as calories can get high fast.

Greek yogurt and berries – Greek yogurt (low fat and low sugar) is packed with protein. Top it with berries which are full of antioxidants and maybe even some nuts and you’ll be full for hours.

Homemade Smoothies – while I am not a fan of places like Jamba Juice or juice it up, a homemade smoothie can be very healthy and is great for people on the go.

Oatmeal – I’d eat it everyday if I could! Oatmeal is good for you and makes you feel all warm inside, what could be better? Top it with banana and walnuts for a full breakfast.

Egg whites – love them! I do eat these almost everyday. They are the best “bang for your buck” in my opinion if your looking for lots of good high protein food for very little calories. However, I know that some fear the idea of going without the yolk. If this is you remember, baby steps! Have one yolk and a few whites. Add some veggies for a killer omelette. Need it to go? Put it into a low carb tortilla and make a breakfast burrito.

Cottage cheese – a lot of people think cottage cheese is too cheesy. It can be. However, it packs a lot of good protein and calcium, is easy and when you add a little fruit to the top, it cuts down the cheesiness a bit and is super yummy!

Whole grains – everyone loves a piece of toast topped with peanut butter. Just make sure it is whole grain and it will not only be heather but also keep you full longer. I like orowheat English muffins. They pack 9 grams of protein, lots of fiber and are only 120 calories! Add some fruit and a glass of milk and your done.

Due to my hectic schedule, I’m all about meals that are what  I call “all in one meals.” In other words, food that has it all! My Banana Protein pancakes have whole grains, Protein and fiber and are low in calories, high in nutrition and can be eaten on the go. I make a big batch of these on the weekend when I have a bunch of black bananas and then eat them all week long. I put a couple in a zip lock Baggie and then heat them for a minute in the microwave when I’m ready to eat. I’m getting my egg whites, Oates and fruit all in one meal. Check out my recipe if you are looking for a breakfast that is quick, easy and healthy. Plus, your kids will love them.

You can’t ask your body to perform well if you don’t give it the proper nutrition. If you want to ensure that your body goes the duration, start it off right with a good breakfast and the rest will follow.

Create Accountability


So it was a marathon day for me. Huge program at work starting, clients booked back to back, split shift, kid pickups, you name it. When I finally got a chance to breath late afternoon, before heading back to work for another stint, I realized that I hadn’t worked out and at the rate I was going, it want going to happen. Given my level of stress, probably brought on by my day, I knew that I needed a workout. However, as much as my mind was saying “yes,” my body was screaming “no!”

Sound familiar? Well, the easy thing to do would be to simply forgo the workout. However, if I was to do this every time things get busy, I’d be missing a lot of workouts. However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t about to just jump up and workout. I knew I needed help! There was no way that I was going to make this workout happen without it. But most of all, I knew I needed it given my level of stress and all the food I ate during Super Bowl yesterday!

What to do, what to do? Call in backup of course! I immediately got out my phone and made an appointment with a friend/co-worker for a workout prior to my evening shift. Doing this creates accountability, a strategy, and makes things happen. I told my friend what time I’d be there, what I planned to do and told him that I needed his help keeping me motivated. He was quick to oblige. Remember, friends don’t let fiends skip their workout!

Therefore, the next time you want to ditch your workout, drop the excuses and make it happen. We all have a ton of excuses and as much as they may be real excuses, they are simply that, excuses! If you want to make it happen, get on the horn, make a plan and just do it!

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper


As a trainer, I spend a pretty good portion of my time talking to clients and other information seeking individuals about food and diet. While trainers are not nutritionist by any means, most good trainers have a vast knowledge of nutrition. I myself have dieted for competition, sport and general fitness for most of my life and have successfully helped many clients lose weight over my career. So while it may not be within the scope of practice,” it is common and just a part of being a trainer.

 The other day I was talking with one of my regular clients regarding his diet and was trying to drive home the importance of tracking his food so that he knows what he is consuming and can create a negative energy balance resulting in weight loss. In an effort to make my point, I told him to think of the quote “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a peasant.” My client thought the quote was clever, made sense and was easy to remember.

As I’m sitting here remembering my conversation with my client, I realize that this isn’t really the quote. The real quote is “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” I figure I was close enough and at least it had the same meaning right?! One thing I know for sure, no matter how you put it, it makes sense and is really effective when it comes to losing weight.

Why you ask? Well there are many reasons. It all goes back to the idea of tapering your calories. First off, if you eat a larger breakfast, you have more hours to burn it off. You’ll also feel full and not reach for a snack to satisfy your cravings. Breakfast is the one meal that you can pack in some carbohydrates since they give you energy and you’ll burn them off. So grab some oatmeal, high protein cereal or Greek yogurt and fruit and go for it!

From a biological standpoint, your body has lower ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry during the day, making you feel more satiated, especially after a good breakfast. In addition, breakfast eaters have been said to have significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose, and fat in their blood, which may help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease according to research.

Lastly, it only makes sense to eat a smaller, lower carbohydrate, high protein dinner because you have less time to work it off and will store any extras as fat! Dinner should consist of lean protein and veggies in the ideal world. And if you were tapering appropriately throughout the day, you will be satisfied with this “Pauper” sized meal!

So if youre looking to drop a few pounds, “Eat dinner like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a peasant.”

Rescue Me from the Holidays!

So just when we thought that the Holidays were over and we could finally get back to business, here we are in the midst of yet another Holiday. My kids just went back to schools last week! Sure it’s only one day, but it is sure hard to get back on track with these kids hanging around! I love them and all, but enough is enough.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the Holidays and all of our favorite traditions like baking every treat imaginable, I’m ready to reclaim my non-bloated, lean and athletic body. The thing about the holidays and all of our favorite holiday food is that when you eat bad, everything else follows. You exercise less and do everything in excess, good or bad! And I don’t know about you, but until those kids are solid back in school, it’s easy to come up with excuses to eat pizza, skip workouts etc.

Well, no more “bad Santa” for me! Since this last couple of weeks of the Holidays has really made me feel bad from way too much over indulging, I’ve been strategizing my “get it back together” plan for quite some time now and there is no time like the present. I’ve devised a list of some of my tips/tricks, plans and strategy below in case you want to join my in getting back on track!

Tips and tricks for getting back on track:

  • Start fresh by getting active. What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for your entire day. If you start active, you’ll stay active. If you start eating heathy, you’ll likely continue eating healthy. Therefore, choose your activities wisely and set yourself up for a great, Healthy day!
  • Clean up and clean out! This is the perfect time to clean up and clean out all the bad stuff that you’ve over indulged in over the past few weeks. Time to send all that temptation packing! Send it to your husbands work and let the vultures at it. If it isn’t in your house, you can’t eat it!
  • Give up the booze. I’ll have to admit, this one is hard for me for once. While I’m not a big drinker, I’ve learned to enjoy a good glass of red wine this holiday season and will be sad to see it go. However, I know that when I drink, I eat more and don’t make the best choices so it must go! Worse, alcohol is full of sugar which goes right to our waistline. Be gone booze!
  • Jump on the water! It’s very common that when you eat bad, your water intake falls off too. Most good habits in fact suffer. One of the best ways of all to cleanse your body and re-set in a way is to increase your water intake. For best results, don’t just increase it, drown yourself in water! The more you put in, the better you’ll feel as it will keep you full, flush you out and make you feel pure and Healthy.
  • Go lean and clean. As much as I hate to throw away a good leftover, I’m done with the bad food and ready to start clean. Therefore, either toss out the leftovers or give them to someone that can afford to eat them (like my skinny teenage boys.) commit to make your meals, lean and clean from this point forward. I’ve already planned a nice protein salad for dinner for my hubby and me.
  •  Build a Healthy menu and cook, cook, cook! The best way to ensure you’ll eat good and get back to your fit and Healthy self or get fit and Healthy now is to plan, prepare and portion out. Cook a lot at one time so you are prepared for anything and don’t have an excuse to eat bad.
  • Make a goal. There is no better time then the new year to come up with a new health and fitness goal. Don’t call it a New Years resolution, we tend to not keep these! Call it a goal and treat it like just that. People who have real, specific, observable and measurable goals are more likely to meet them.

I hope you’ll join me in getting back on track in the new year and reclaiming our beautiful Healthy bodies that serve us best.

Cheers to a fit and Healthy 2014!

7 Healthy Eating Trends for 2014

What new health food trends are on the horizon? Which ingredients will be in health food stores everywhere? And what will restaurant menus be peddling? Here’s the scoop for 2014.

Cauliflower is the Next Kale

Cauliflower is taking a page from the kale playbook and stepping up its game. As with its leafy green buddy, culinary enthusiasts are finding new and exciting ways to use the nutrient-dense veggie.

Local and Sustainable (Again)

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Culinary Forecast, local is big (or would that be bigger?) in 2014. Locally sourced meats and seafood and locally grown produce top the list.

Smaller Portions, Smaller Price

Just sneaking into the top 20 of the National Restaurant Association’s list of trends is a call for portion control. Consumers are looking for less, and whether it’s about budgets or waste, smaller portions are a better idea for patrons’ waistlines.

Breakfast Goes High-Protein

A survey conducted by ConAgra Foods found that 82 percent of those who eat breakfast do so at home. Topping the list of preferred choices: high-protein options like Greek yogurt and eggs.

Homemade Soda

Forget about sugary cans and vending machine bottles. Thanks to bubble-injecting devices like SodaStream, those crazy about carbonation are mixing their own concoctions with everything from fruit juice to alcohol to herbal tea. More homemade sodas, including cocktails for the grown-ups and treats for the kids, are in style for the year ahead.

Allergen-Friendly Nation

The gluten-free craze has meant an increased awareness of all types of food sensitivities and allergies, making it a bit easier for those who suffer from them to navigate various food choices at restaurants and grocery stores.


According to Google, the most searched recipe of 2013 was (drum roll, please) … chili! Classic comfort foods will always be trendy. There are plenty of ways to lighten up this hearty classic in the New Year.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.