How to Salvage Even the Worst of Diet Days

Starting off, I know this post might ruffle some feathers because I still will be talking about eating processed and fast food. By no way do I think any of these foods are the best choice to be eating; however, we have ALL had that day where all our plans go to $#!t and we end up eating at places we might not normally eat. This post is about how to minimize the damage while still eating at different “junk food” locations.

Think of it as a Eat This, Not That kind of post. No one is forcing you against your will to go to McDonald’s, but if you happen to end up there, how can you make the smartest choice?

What if your kids REALLY REALLY want to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream, and you just HAVE to get something? Yes, the best option would be to politely say, no thank you, but I personally haven’t figured out how to do that yet when it comes to ice cream.

For the purpose of this post, we will be following Person A, and Person B, and we will see where they end up at the end of the day. Calories are listed, along with amounts of carbs, protein and fat (in grams).

So you decide to start your day at Starbucks. Ready to buy a triple vente mochalattefrappa vanilla coffee? Think again.


A) Vente Salted Carmel Mocha = 473 calories – 74 carbs, 18 fat, 14 protein

B) Grande Skinny Salted Carmel Latte = 130 calories – 19 carbs, 0 fat, 12 protein

***Don’t drink your calories. You came to the coffee shop for a quick kick of energy in the form of caffeine, not for your early morning dessert. Make the smart choice, leave out the added sugar and heavy cream, and get your caffeine fix without the added calories***

Next on our day of fun comes breakfast! Let’s stop at Denny’s, ‘Mericas Diner! Ok lots of choices here, but they have this “Fit Fare” menu… must be healthy. I’ll take the Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast, right off the Fit Fare Menu!

Wedding at Denny’s? #Merica!

A) Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast = 750 calories, 131 carbs, 14 fat, 29 protein

B) Fit Fare Loaded Veggie Omelet w/ Fruit Cup Side option = 420 calories, 51 carbs, 13 fat, 29 protein

***Just because something is labelled healthy or fit, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice still. When it comes to breakfast, try to be as anti-American as possible (this might get me on a watch list or something?). The traditional American breakfast is SO carb heavy that one can easily meet their carb goals for the entire day if they aren’t careful. Cereal, toast, pancakes, muffins, bagels, waffles = ALL CARBS! Your first choice should be a protein source (eggs in this case). Starting the day with protein will set you up for success. If there is an option to add on a side, always pick the fruit or vegetable option. This should be an automatic response.***

It’s the lunch hour and you are crammed into your co-workers van. “Hey guys, mind if we stop at McDonalds?” He says as he takes a gulp from his 36 oz. Super America Mt. Dew from yesterday’s lunch break…

A) Double Cheeseburger, Large Fry, and a Medium Coke = 1140 calories, 153 carbs, 47 fat, 31 protein

B) Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Kids Fry, and a Water = 460 calories, 56 carbs, 11 fat, 34 protein

***Yes, I realize you could be even healthier and get a salad instead of fries. Or if you are a male trying to get more protein in the day, another grilled chicken sandwich might be a better option. The point I am trying to make here is damage control. If you just NEED to eat some McDonalds fries, the kids portion is more than enough. A large fry is over 500 calories alone, while the kids option is only 110 calories. BY making this simple swap alone you are saving 400 calories from your daily intake, and still getting a little bit of those salty fries.

Also, same thing as at Starbucks, don’t drink your calories! A medium fountain soda is right around 200 calories. Combine this with a dessert before breakfast from the coffee shop and you have drunk over 600 liquid calories for the day! These calories are of ZERO benefit to you and your body. I can’t stress this enough.***

It is now 3pm at work, you are crashing, you think you are hungry (but its really just boredom or stress?) Time for a healthy snack! Kashi granola bars sound healthy.

A) Kashi Granola Bar – 130 calories, 21 carbs, 4 fat, 6 protein

B) Nothing OR Chocolate Milk Whey Protein Shake made in water = 130 calories, 5 carbs, 2 fat, 25 protein

Maybe a little overkill…

***Equal calories here, different macronutrients. By having some protein for a snack, you will be more satiated (full) versus eating a quick carb source. This should tie you over until dinner. Also, maybe you aren’t hungry. Take a second to reflect on what is going on in your day. Are you stressed out? Are you just bored at your desk? Food won’t fix that. Go for a little walk to the drinking fountain, fill up your water bottle, and take some deep breaths. ***

You are driving home from work and your spouse calls. “Hey honey, we have so much going on tonight, I am going to pick up Pizza Hut for dinner. What do you want?” Sigh…

A) Two pieces of hand tossed, large, pepperoni and sausage pizza = 660 calories, 98 carbs, 26 fat, 30 protein

B) Two pieces of thin crust, large, pepperoni = 560 calories, 56 carbs, 28 fat, 24 protein

***This is a tough one here. Even by switching to thin crust and only one fatty meat, you only save 100 calories. You could get a veggie pizza option here, but would the kids eat that? If so, then do that. However, if you have to get one pizza for you and one for the kids, there will likely be leftovers – and we don’t want leftovers sitting around for later. Another option here could be to politely recommend to your spouse/person offering to pick up pizza, to grab a pre-made rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, along with some type of veggie. Saves time, and a ton of calories!***

Just when you thought your diet day from hell was over, juniors tee-ball team is hitting up DQ for Blizzards! You know that ice cream is not on the plan, but you just can’t say no…

A) Small DQ Reese’s Blizzard – 580 calories, 74 carbs, 21 fat, 13 protein

B) Kids Vanilla Cone – 170 calories, 27 carbs, 0 fat, 4 protein

***Another option here is get nothing, enjoy company and your kids, and maybe steal a bite from someones treat. Especially if you are person A in this case, you have had more than your fair share of food for the day. Also notice that Blizzard is a SMALL! 580 calories in a SMALL! Holy crap!***

The day is over. That was crazy. Now I will be the first one to say that neither one of these people had the best day when it comes to food choices. But lets take a look at the daily totals:

A) 3733 calories, 551 carbs, 130 fat, 123 protein (269 grams of sugar)

B) 1873 calories, 214 carbs, 54 fat, 128 protein (76 grams of sugar)

Person B ate at all the same places as Person A, but had almost 2000 fewer calories, 340 less grams of carbs, less than half the fat, and a little more protein!

The power of choice can be huge, especially when it comes to making decisions about what you will eat at some of the less healthy locations out there. It can be done.

Remember, we all fall off the wagon sometimes, it’s not your whole life, it’s only one day. You haven’t thrown everything away ($100 to anyone besides my best friend who gets that reference).

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Stay healthy my friends,

How to Approach Starting a New Lifestyle: Weight Loss Programs

I have been fortunate to work for a great and very unique gym over the past 3 years, and more recently an internship at a hospital with several weight loss plans through its Comprehensive Weight Management Program. For people who have struggled with weight their whole life, or even more recently, these programs can be very beneficial in turning their life around.

However, the hardest part about changing your life for the better can be just starting. There are many reservations that people may have about starting a weight loss program, and they are very normal. The following points are my personal opinions on how to approach getting your life back on track with a weight loss program.


1) Good Things Don’t Come to Those Who Wait, But to Those Who Work

I read a variation of this on Facebook post this morning, and this is what sparked my brain to write this post. You can watch as many weight loss tv shows, read as many inspirational stories, or look up hundreds of healthy recipes, but until YOU actually make the physical choice to change your life, all this watching and reading will do nothing.

Many people see losing weight as daunting task and if they have a lot of weight to lose, this can seem impossible.

I assure you, this is not impossible. Yes, it takes time, hard work, and commitment. These are all things that signing up for a weight loss program can help with. While working for Hybrid Athletic Club, I quickly realized that this gym was different from most others. The commitment from trainers, dietitians, kitchen staff and even some of  the front desk showed 110% commitment to helping people transform their lives in a very positive way.

Finding the right program can be hard, but look for one that provides a strong support system, not negative judgement. Find a program that will hold you accountable if you struggle with working out or eating right everyday.


2) Invest in Your Health Today, So You Can Enjoy Your Wealth Tomorrow

Many people see the cost of weight loss programs, trainers, or meal plans as a financial cost.

Rather, they should view them as an investment. Sure, you could workout on your own at home or a park for free, but will you push yourself out of your comfort zone to see results? Signing up for a proven weight loss program can seem expensive at first. However, it is one of, if not, THE best investments you can make.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 11.53.18 AM

If you eat out a lot, go to the coffee shop everyday, like to go out and party…think about what you spend on that. If I told you that you could take some, if not all of that money and invest it in something with a 100% guarantee of positive returns, wouldn’t you do it? Keep track of the money you spend on these things, and I promise it will add up to an amount that you could easily afford a weight loss program.

Also, the cost of being obese can be a troubling amount in itself, and this is something that only gets more expensive —> See Here

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3) There is no “start” and “finish”…Only a New Beginning

Don’t think about signing up for a program as a quick fix.. Rather, think of it as a jumpstart to a new you. Whether it is a 12 week program, or a 6 month program, it doesn’t end there. Remember, it took a while to gain and maintain, it will take a while to lose an maintain. Do not think of this as a negative thing. It can be hard making changes to your lifestyle, but once you get in the groove with the help from others, it will become second nature.

Think about when you started, or helped your kids start brushing their teeth. At first it seemed like such a chore, day after day, morning and night, such a pain. After a while, it became second nature, and now (hopefully) you do it 2-3 times a day everyday without even thinking twice.

After the program ends, you may be able to self-motivate yourself to continue your new lifestyle or you might need some more accountability and support. Either way, don’t think of it as “the end”. Sign up for group exercise classes, bootcamps, zumba, whatever you are into.


If you find yourself slipping into old bad habits, this is normal. Stop as soon as possible, and think about all the hard work you put in to get where you are. Think about what worked to keep to on track before, and go back to it.

Starting a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming, take it one step at a time. 

  1. Find the right program for you. Look for a program that will hold you accountable, provide support, and motivation.
  2. Look at it as an investment, not a burdensome cost. Write down what you spend weekly/monthly/yearly on things like fast food, coffee, eating out, new shoes, drinks, etc. and see how that compares to weight loss programs in your area.
  3. Think of it as a beginning to a new you, not a start and finish.
  4. Now get up, and start Step 1!

Overweight or Obese? It Will Cost You More Than Your Health…

“Being healthy is expensive!”


Not so fast my friend, being unhealthy may be putting a much larger dent in your wallet (both physically and figuratively I suppose)


The health cost of being overweight or obese is widely known throughout the United States, especially among health professionals. Many chronic illnesses and issues such as diabetes, heart issues, bone and ligament pain, etc. can originate from being overweight or obese. Sometimes, these issues are not enough to persuade people to change their current lifestyle choices down the path of being overweight or obese. In many aspects, money can be a much greater influence on people’s life decisions.


The National Institutes of Health released an extensive review article in the Obesity Review Journal in January of 2011 on the direct medical and healthcare costs of being overweight or obese in the United States. After reviewing 33 journal articles, NIH researchers concluded that the average annual cost of being overweight is an additional $266 and the annual cost of being obese is $1723, with a total aggregate cost of overweight or obese is $199.3 billion (1). Unfortunately, the percent of Americans that are overweight/obese is on the rise. Currently, 66% of Americans are overweight (BMI > 25) and 32% of those Americans are obese (BMI > 30). Researchers have concluded that if our country stays on the current path of weight gain, 86% of Americans could be overweight by the year 2030, with 51% of them being obese (2).


If you are overweight, obese or are just trying to prevent yourself from getting there, invest in your future life of health and wellness and start making those changes TODAY! You will feel better, your body will be lighter, and your wallet may feel a little heavier in the end.





1. Tsai A, Williamson D, Glick H. Direct medical cost of overweight and obesity in the USA: A quantitative systematic review. Obesity Reviews. January 2011;12(1):50-61.


2. Wang Y, Beydoun MA, Liang L, Caballero B, Kumanyika SK. Will all Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic. Obesity. October 2008;16: 2323–2330.

SNAP Challenge: Summary

First things first, I want to note that yes, I did not do a full 7 days of eating, but I can promise that I had plenty of food left at the end of day 6 to make it through one more day. The reason I did not complete the final day was because unfortunately I came down with Strep Throat and was not able to eat much the last 2 days.

Some of my final thoughts on this past week of eating off of $32.00…

  1. It was hard…but very feasible
  2. It was a boring diet…but healthy
  3. My average breakfast prep time was about 7 minutes
  4. My average lunch prep time was about 4 minutes
  5. My average dinner prep time was 10 minutes

And in the end, I only lost 1 pound.

I feel like with adding a little more variety week by week, and using some foods as “carryover” foods from week to week, there would be so many more options through out the week of eating healthy. Over time, I know I have acquired many different spices, seasonings, sauces, etc. that have easily lasted me months (some spices probably close to a year….)

The biggest key in saving time when making these meals is BULK PREP. Take advantage of time that you do have to make large batches of rice, beans, quinoa, oats, etc…which will last you through out the week and can be eaten hot or cold.

I feel that with just a little more education and awareness of healthy eating on a budget, it can be done with a little perseverance and creativity…

Maybe I’ll blog one of MY “normal” eating days just to compare…once I’m back to 100%.

SNAP Challenge – Day 6: Dinner and Final

Unfortunately, I have come down with a wicked cold, possibly the flu. I woke up this morning with an even worse sore throat. Since this my last day, I will stick it out an finish it up. MY dinner last night was 2 tilapia filets, and 1 medium sweet potato. It was pretty basic prep. I just pan seared the filets and microwaved the sweet potato.


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Calories: 374

Carbs: 35 grams

Fat: 4 grams

Protein: 49 grams

Final Day Stats:

Calories: 1550

Carbs: 184 grams

Fat: 27 grams

Protein: 146 grams

Cholesterol: 749 milligrams

Sodium: 1698 milligrams


SNAP Challenge – Day 6: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6 started pretty standard, nothing exciting here… 3 eggs, 1 cup veggies, 1/2 cup dry oats.


Prep Time: 6 minutes

Calories: 397

Carbs: 37 grams

Fat: 17 grams

Protein 25 grams

In between breakfast and lunch, I got my 2 servings of fruit in. Had one banana at 10AM, and an orange after my workout around 1PM along with a half cup of low fat cottage cheese.


Todays lunch was a filling, high protein lunch. 1/2 cup quinoa, 6 oz of tuna, 10 chopped carrots, a little diced onion, and a Tbsp of mustard. DSC00062Stats:

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Calories: 400

Carbs: 37 grams

Fat: 4 grams

Protein: 50 grams


SNAP Challenge Day 5: Lunch and Dinner

On Friday, I ended up going back home for the weekend, but was stil able to eat according to my SNAP foods. Before hitting the road on Friday, I had 1 cup quinoa, and 1 cup red kidney beans. When I got home for dinner, we were actually having fish, brocoli and rice. Pretty standard meal for my family, and it just so happened that these were the same foods I’ve been exclusively using for the past week. I dont have a calorie count on my day since I was away from my computer and not able to enter my data into a program. I should take this moment to say, I have been using as my calorie counter. It is a great database for everything weight loss and nutrition, I highly recommend checking it out!

SNAP Challenge – Day 4: Dinner

Dinner tonight was pretty big since I lifted legs today. Traditionally this is the day that I eat almost everything and everything that I want. The legs obviously contain the largest muscles in the body and thus demanding the most nutrients for adequate recovery/growth. I pretty much just threw a bunch of stuff on a plate and devoured it. 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup kidney beans, 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes and a side of 1 cup of cottage cheese. 

DSC00060Dinner Stats:

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Calories: 558

Carbs: 111 grams

Fat: 4 grams

Protein: 43 grams



SNAP Challenge: Day 4 – Breakfast and Lunch

Pretty standard breakfast today, 2 eggs, 2 whites, 3/4 cup oats, 1 cup mixed veggies, and water. I figure no picture is needed since there already are 2 pics of the breakfast of champions on here.


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Calories: 438

Carbs: 51 grams

Fat: 13 grams

Protein: 32 grams


Eggs for Muscle, duh bro!

Eggs for Muscle, duh bro!

My early snack was a whole banana as well


So lunch was pretty interesting…since I was craving sushi, I decided to try and make “poor mans sushi” by rolling rice and tuna up in cooked spinach, after drying it out…this was an epic fail. So it turned into “Mike’s Exploded Sushi Roll Supreme”  3/4 cup brown rice, 4 oz tuna, 1/2 cup spinach, 5 carrot sticks, few onion slices.

Exploded Sushi Roll

Exploded Sushi Roll


Calories: 377

Carbs: 50 grams

Fat: 3 grams

Protein: 38 grams

Oh, and it tasted nothing like sushi…go figure!

SNAP Challenge – Day 3: Dinner and Final

For dinner tonight I went with the classic tilapia, 1 cup brocoli, 1 cup brown rice (I prepared 2 cups of dry rice earlier). I decided to pan-sear the fish this time with a little garlic and lemon-pepper seasoning. Turned out a little better than the microwaved stuff from Monday.



Dinner Stats:

Calories: 351

Carbs: 48 grams

Fat: 4 grams

Protein: 30 grams

I also had a snack of 1/2 cup cottage cheese just now…mmm casein protein…


Final Stats:

Calories: 1248

Carbs: 155 grams (50% of calories)

Fat: 21 grams (15% of calories)

Protein: 111 grams (35% of calories)

Cholesterol: 487 mg

Sodium: 1600 mg

Fiber: 21 grams

Even though these calories were much lower than what I wanted, and need, it makes sense because today was a non-lifting day for me. All I did was 30 minutes of light cardio, and a ton of sitting on my @$$… I never really was hungry, especially early in the day after that breakfast. It has been shown that eating most of you calories at breakfast will lead to lower consumption through out the day and successful weight loss. Along with that, eating eggs at breakfast has also been shown to lower hunger through out the day. These plus not doing my usual high intensity weight training, it makes sense that I really didn’t get hungry, even by eating about 1000 less calories than I am used to.

I am finding myself starting to miss some foods though. I would love to have a sandwich or some of my main guilty food addiction, sushi…giant-sushi-roll