Monthly Archives for May 2014

Archives for May 2014

I Hate My Body – Help!

Dear Davey,

I hate my body. There’s no point in mincing words. When I look in the mirror, I’m disgusted by what I see.

You talk a lot about loving your body. It sounds great and wonderful, but how can I possibly learn to love a body that I hate so much?


too-fatHey Lex,

I appreciate your honesty and know that many people, to varying degrees, can relate to your experience.

First and foremost, it’s important to give yourself the gift of professional help. When we are in difficult situations, it’s important to lean on the people who are trained to help us. Reach out.

Recently, I came across an amazing list compiled by the National Eating Disorders Association and Margo Maine, PhD. It’s 20 ways to love yourself, and it goes as follows:

  1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
  2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
  3. Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
  5. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  6. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  7. Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  8. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  9. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
  10. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
  11. Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.  Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
  12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  14. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
  15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
  16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance. Add to it daily!
  17. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
  18. Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  19. Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
  20. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.

After reading through the above list, it’s my hope that at least a few of the points will resonate with you. If they do, put them to work for you. And if you have any additional suggestions, please share them in the comments below!


What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

I’m not the biggest fan of counting calories. Instead, I prefer mindful eating. But counting calories is undoubtedly a strategy that works for many – and has successfully resulted in fat loss and weight management.

Of course, calories vary from food to food. Some foods, especially those loaded in fats and sugars, tend to be very calorie dense. As such, it makes sense to replace those foods with healthier alternatives. To get the most bang from your calorie buck, use the infographic below to see what 200 calories – the equivalent of an afternoon snack – really looks like.

Evoke IG April -final-new

What Is The Murph Workout?


Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy

This week at my CrossFit gym, we tried something that I’d never done. It’s called the Murph.

The workout is named in honor of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. It was one of his favorite workouts – and it’s one of the more difficult CrossFit challenges. It’s a true test of strength, focus and endurance.

The workout is timed. And the idea is to get the lowest time possible.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • 1 mile run

For an extra challenge, it’s recommended that the workout is performed wearing full body armor or a 20-pound vest. While wearing armor or a vest, aim for a time under 60 minutes.

It’s also worth noting that you can partition the pull-ups, push-ups and squats. For example, some Murph athletes break the exercises into 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats. That’s just one of many combinations.

Regardless, the Murph is a workout not for the faint of heart; even for a seasoned athlete, it’s extremely intense. If you’re not there yet, fear not. Being able to complete the Murph workout (in any amount of time) is a great fitness goal to which it is worth striving.

If you try the Murph, let me know in the comments below. That is, if you have energy left to type…

Brick Walls Are There For A Reason.

RandyPausch(500x340)At my crossfit gym in Los Angeles, there’s a great quote about brick walls. It references a now-famous speech by Randy Pausch, a professor from Carnegie Melon University who was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Pausch gave a speech called “The Last Lecture” which went viral on YouTube.

The quote is as follows:

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.

And when we do want something badly enough – and when we go after it no matter what other people tell us and in spite of the obstacles we face – brick walls show us how strong we are. We don’t realize our strength until we’re put in a position that tests it.

By overcoming obstacles and realizing our goals, we have the opportunity to see what we’re really made of. We see our intrinsic greatness, which so many of us choose to hold dormant within.

Don’t be like the other people. Make choices that are bold and in alignment with your dreams and desires. Be strong. And let your greatness shine.

Would Your Try NAKED Crossfit?

zugr7O5For the last month, I’ve been taking crossfit classes. More to come on that in a future post. But this week, I discovered a new branch of crossfit in which exercisers are naked.

The truth is, many crossfitters are already almost naked. It’s not uncommon to see shirtless men in compression shorts or women exercising in sports bras. And if you take a class, you’ll understand why. Crossfit is based on high intensity interval training and it makes you sweat in a way that you never thought possible. After each class, my clothes are soaked; maybe being naked just makes more sense.

Currently, the naked crossfit class is being offered in Denmark – and it currently has 12 male participants. Judging from the pictures, I think I’d probably find it a bit difficult to concentrate and stay focused. But when it comes to motivation, I’m pretty sure that I’d never miss a class. 😛

But what do you think? Would you try naked crossfit? Or are you mortified at the thought? Let me know in the comments below.

Should You Jog In Place At A Red Light?

dont-walk-signI’m sure you’ve seen it before. You’re driving along and someone is running on the sidewalk. They hit a busy intersection and the light is red; to avoid cooling down, the exerciser jogs in place. And you have a chuckle because they look ridiculous.

Most trainers will note that jogging while jogging in place burns more calories than sitting on the couch, the red light dance that most joggers perform doesn’t accomplish much. In fact, there are a few other strategies to try that are far more effective.

If your goal is to have a long, steady-pace run (for example, if you’re training for a 5k or marathon), then you shouldn’t stop running at all. Instead, turn right or left and go down a different block. Zig-zag along your running route and cross when you’re able. Double back if you need to – but don’t break your stride.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to incinerate some calories and body fat, opt for some high intensity interval training. As I’ve said before, it’s the type of cardio that burns fat without muscle – and it’s what I often use in my own workout. It creates some serious results. To make your run into a high intensity interval workout, sprint as fast as you can until you reach a red light. Catch your breath. Then, sprint to the next red light. It’ll kick your ass, but they don’t call it high intensity for nothing.

Another option is using red lights to strength train. When you reach a red light, drop and do push-ups until it turns green. Or, for a real challenge, perform burpees.

Alternatively, you can use red lights to perform dynamic stretches – especially if stretching is something that you usually skip. Dynamic stretches are stretches that you perform while moving, like swinging your leg out or lunging forward and lifting your heel repeatedly.

Or you can just keep doing the red light dance to the delight of passersby. 🙂

Never Diet Again: Mindful Eating!

PrintWhile there’s a time and place for dieting, it’s not the only tool in the toolbox. Rather than counting calories or adhering to a strict diet plan, I practice a strategy called mindful eating.

So what is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is consuming food with intention and attention.

The intention is to care for yourself and to nourish your body. It’s not to pass time. It’s not to satisfy a craving. It’s not to feel better about a problem. When eating, the intention is that the food will give your body the fuel it needs.

Attention is noticing the food you eat. Be aware of its taste and flavor. Be aware of your enjoyment of food. And be especially aware of the effects it has on your body. Paying attention to your food is powerful; and it’s not something that’s easy to achieve when eating in front of a television or computer.

With a combination of intention and intention, you may find that you eat slower. You may be able to distinguish between true hunger and emotional cues for eating. You will also be guided towards healthier food choices that are both enjoyable and nourishing. And you’ll be able to use the food you eat as fuel for a high energy and vibrant life.

In other words, by eating mindfully, you shift away from negative and destructive eating habits and create healthier patterns.


High CO2 Makes Produce Less Nutritious.

wheat-cropFor decades, scientists have noticed a disturbing trend in much of the produce we eat. Over time, the nutritional value of produce has been decreasing. There are fewer vitamins and minerals in the fruits and vegetables we eat. Much of this trend has been explained by soil depletion; modern farming methods are stripping soil of nutrients.

However, soil depletion isn’t the only variable changing the nutritional quality of produce; scientists have discovered that the rising CO2 levels associated with climate change are going to have a large impact.

On one hand, higher levels of CO2 are likely to have a positive impact on the quantity of crops produced. Plants will find it easier to extract CO2 from the air to make carbohydrates. Scientists also believe that less water will be needed for crops grown in a high CO2 environment.

But it’s not all good news.

For this latest study, researchers compared crops grown in normal and enriched CO2 environments over the course of six growth years in Japan, Australia and the United States. Though the current CO2 levels are 400 parts per million, studied crops were grown at the 546 – 586 parts per million level expected within four to six decades. The impact of these levels was examined on wheat, rice, peas, soybeans, corn and sorghum.

With the exception of corn and sorghum, significant drops in zinc, iron and protein were found. The largest of these drops was a 9.3% decrease in the zinc and iron levels in wheat. With certainty, scientists were able to conclude that crops are losing nutrients as CO2 levels go up.

What’s the big deal?

According to researchers, some two billion people live in countries where more than 60 percent of their zinc and iron come from crops likely to be impacted by rising CO2 levels. Already in 2014, deficiencies of these nutrients cause an annual loss of 63 million life years. With nutrient levels dropping in crops due to CO2, that number is likely to increase.

While much of the focus around climate change has been on drought, increasing temperatures and rising sea levels, the impact of CO2 on crops is not to be ignored.

5 Amazing Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout!

Hey Davey,

I’m 19 years old and I used to be really comfortable with my body. However, when I started University nearly 2 years ago I have put on some weight. I think this was due to all the alcohol, junk food and fast food that’s associated with students. I have an exercise bike and a couple of weights. However, I just completely lack motivation to do any exercise. After about 10 minutes of exercising, I find myself exhausted. I was just wandering if you have any tips on how I can motivate myself to do more exercise?

Thanks so much!

374115_312531762152820_819806811_nDear Andrew,

Every now and then, some of us need that extra kick in the butt to get us moving.

The truth is, getting started and making exercise part of your routine is the hardest step. That’s because, as human beings, we are resistant to change. And integrating exercise into our lives means shifting around priorities and schedules; it means making real changes. To help get through this initial period, motivation is essential.

Here are a few motivation techniques that have worked for me:

  1. Ask yourself, “Why is this important?” All of us have our reasons for exercise. Maybe you want more energy. Or better health. Or to look a certain way. Whatever your reason, let this drive you forward. If you want it bad enough, it’ll get you moving.
  2. Think about how you feel after you exercise. Sure, exercise is difficult and sweaty. But after a workout, you always feel great. There’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride – knowing that you challenged yourself and did something great for your body. You know that exercise will make you feel great, so do it!
  3. Do it for your body. Every day, you take in 24,000 breaths and your heart beats more than 100,000 times. Your body works tirelessly to sustain your existence. Your body has given you so much; it’s time to give back. With hundreds of muscles and 360 joints, there’s nothing your body craves more than movement. Honor your body by giving it the gift of exercise.
  4. Do it because you love your family and friends. There are two parts to this. First, exercise extends your life expectancy. As you embrace a healthier lifestyle, you’ll live longer. That means more times with friends, family, nieces, nephews and so on. Second, regular exercise provides a number of benefits (like more energy, better health, improved focus, etc.) that allow you to be the best version of yourself. When you are the best that you can be, you have so much more to offer the people around you.
  5. It’s great “me” time. All us have busy schedules or work, family, friends, personal commitments, appointments and so on. But we also need personal time to recharge and to invest in ourselves – and exercise is a great form of that. It’s an unselfish way to prioritize yourself.

There’s good news, too. Eventually, committing to regular exercise gets easier as it becomes your new routine. For me, it’s a habit. I wake up, brush my teeth and then head to the gym. More than being motivated, I’ve created a habit – and habits are much easier to keep.


How Much Sugar Is Really In Your Food?

Sugar-1Sugar, sugar everywhere. Even in places you might not expect it. Like barbeque sauce. Or vitamin water. Or ketchup. The truth is, our diets are loaded with added sugars.

It’s not always easy to decipher nutrition information on the products we consume. It’s hard to put things in perspective without some sort of context.

Ketchup is a perfect example. One serving of ketchup has 3.7 grams of sugar. That doesn’t sound like a lot – but what does it really mean? First, notice the serving size – which is a fairly modest one tablespoon. Second, know that 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon. Since there are only 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, nearly a third of ketchup is just sugar.

Cow’s milk is another high sugar culprit. One cup of 1% low fat milk has 13 grams of sugar. Compared to the 33 grams in a can of coke, it doesn’t sound like much. But remembering our teaspoon conversion (4 grams of sugar = one teaspoon), that’s more than 3 teaspoons in a single glass of milk! And this is one of the many reasons that I’ve switched to unsweetened almond milk which has exactly zero grams of sugar.

Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. By paying attention to the nutrition information in the foods we eat – and understanding what that nutrition information actually means – we can take the first big step in cutting that statistic.

Why Do Gay Teens Binge Drink?

3111kghWOHLI’m gay. And I don’t drink alcohol.

For a lot of people in the gay world, a proclamation as such is met with suspicion. The follow-up question is usually, “But not ever? Ever?”

Alcoholism seems to run in my family. My great-grandfather was a terrible alcoholic and very abusive toward my great-grandmother and grandfather. As the recipient of this abuse, my grandfather promised himself that he’d never drink. He kept this promise his entire life – even while serving as a bombardier during World War II.

When I was entering my teenage years, my grandfather encouraged me to make a similar promise. And so I did. Aside from a sip of alcohol from my dad’s beer when I was a 4 or 5, I’ve never tasted alcohol.

My story aside, it seems that alcohol plays a very central role in the gay and lesbian community. To be fair, alcohol plays a central role for many people – gay or straight – but, in the gay world, alcohol seems to be an especially celebrated focal point. Where there are gays, there is often alcohol consumption. In fact, according to a study by Laurie A. Drabble, PhD, 75% of gay people identify as current drinkers versus 59% of straights. On average, gay people drink 16% more than straight people.

Just last week, a new study was presented by the Pediatric Academic Society during their annual meeting in Vancouver, BC. It’s the first of its kind to explore the relationship between binge drinking and minority stress experiences – like gay-related victimization and homophobia – in gay teenagers. According to the study, chronic stress caused by difficult social situations can be attributed to higher rates of binge drinking in gay and lesbian teenagers versus their straight peers.

Gay or straight, alcohol abuse is a large and complicated problem. Beyond sabotaging your gym results, alcoholism can wreak havoc on many areas of your life. But studies like these may lead to tailored treatment and prevention approaches rooted in the unique experiences of higher risk populations – including the gay and lesbian community.

What do you think? Do you think alcohol abuse is a big problem in the gay and lesbian community?

Strength Training Myth: More Volume Is Better!

weight-lifterWhen it comes to exercise, more sounds better – but that’s not always the case. Especially when it comes to volume.

Volume refers to the total number of sets and repetitions performed in various exercises. In a nutshell, it’s the amount of work being done in a workout. If you do an additional rep or add another set, you increase the volume.

We’ve all seen men and women perform insane amounts of volume at the gym. They do a zillion sets with a zillion repetitions of a zillion exercises. These individuals are misguided in their belief that more is more – and their results will undoubtedly be limited by this common strength training error.

By pushing volume too high, these individuals are limiting training intensity.

When we talk about intensity, we’re talking about how hard you’re exercising. And there’s no way to do a zillion sets without turning down the dial and making things… well, less intense.

If increasing muscle size is one of your workout goals, keep the volume low and the intensity high. If you can do more than four sets of eight reps of a given exercise, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Crank things up. Not only will you dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend exercising, you’ll signal to your body that more muscle is needed. It’s a time-tested strategy that works.

Are Fake Meats Healthy?

Dear Davey,

I recently became a vegetarian for health and moral reasons and have been eating a lot of fake meat products. Though they are vegetarian, the products try to mimic the taste and texture of real meat. From a health perspective, are these fake meat products any better?


fakemeatDear Jeff,

It’s true that plant-based diets are associated with a number of health benefits – and that most Americans would be well served by cutting their red meat consumption. But not all vegetarian foods are created equal.

When we talk about fake or mock meat products, we’re not talking about tofu or tempeh. We’re talking about vegetarian foods that are specifically created to imitate the look and feel of real meat. Like tofurkey, fakin’ bacon, chick’n and veggie burgers that are intended to taste like meat.

On the one hand, mock meats can be helpful when transitioning to a vegetarian diet. They’re like a stepping stone and can serve as a gateway to a plant-based diet, especially if and individual is craving the flavor or texture of meat. And, because mock meats are entirely vegetarian, there’s no guilt or possibility of animal cruelty.

On the other hand, mock meats really aren’t that healthy. Let’s compare real chicken to the vegetarian product, chick’n. Real chicken is a healthy, lean meat that contains only one ingredient… chicken. Chick’n, conversely, contains the following ingredients:



Masquerading plants as meat takes a lot of processing. Fake meat products often contain many artificial ingredients and preservatives, lots of sodium and sometimes MSG. From a purely health perspective, you’re better off eating chicken.

The reality is, mock meat products are never going to taste like real meat. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I’ve tried many of these products. At best, they’re mediocre. And I don’t think anyone wants to settle for a mediocre diet.

Instead of disguising plants as meat, why not enjoy the delicious flavor that fruits, beans, nuts, vegetables and grains have to offer? Processed vegetables will never taste as good as a burger – but a burger will never taste as good as a fresh, colorful and delicious salad! Rather than settle for a veggie burger, grill up a flavorful portobello mushroom topped with tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. Sandwich the mushroom between two whole wheat buns.

Rather than eat fake meat products that fall short, celebrate vegetables and grains and fruits for the delicious and nourishing foods that they are.


Is Microwave Cooking Unhealthy?

1050057_229626191When we think microwaves and radiation, we think nuclear power plants and specialized space suits. It all sounds scary – and it is. So it’s not wonder that people are concerned about the health implications of microwave cooking.

According to Robert Brackett, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the microwaves used for cooking are many, many times weaker than gamma rays or x-rays. In fact, the changes in the microwaved food occur from heat generated within the food – and not the actual microwaves. As Dr. Brackett notes, “microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food.”

It’s also untrue that microwave cooking is anymore destructive to nutrients versus other cooking methods. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking with an oven, a stove, a grill or a microwave, it’s the amount of heat and cooking time that can impact nutrient loss; heat and water-sensitive nutrients are lost at hotter temperatures and longer cooking durations. Because microwaves cut down cooking time, they can actually help minimize nutrient loss.

Of course, it’s important to use microwave safe containers so that harmful plastics don’t contaminate your food.

Coca-Cola Removes Flame-Retardant Chemical & Everyone Misses The Point.

mountain_dew_bvo_570Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager from Mississippi, noticed a curious ingredient in some of her sports drinks called brominated vegetable oil or BVO.

BVO is a controversial additive which was generally recognized as safe – that is, until the U.S. Food and Drug administration withdrew that categorization. In the European Union, India and Japan, BVO is banned. Interestingly, BVO has also been patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. In a nutshell, there are some health concerns for BVO – especially if consumed in very large quantities.

As a result, Kavanagh started petitions on and beverage companies took notice. Last year, PepsiCo announced that it would remove the chemical from Gatorade. This week, Coca-Cola noted that it’s in the process of removing BVO from its entire line of beverages – including Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca.

These developments are a great victory for consumer power – but I’m not celebrating just yet. The reality is, BVO or not, soda and sugary drinks are completely unhealthy beverages; they’ve been linked to a number of very serious diseases and conditions like obesity, liver damage, tooth decay, kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and more.

When it comes to the whole discussion of BVO in soda and sports drinks, we’re mistaking the forest for the trees. The reality is, soda and other sugary drinks may be just as harmful as the BVO that’s making headlines.

“Eat healthy and exercise” isn’t an attention-grabbing, headline and it’s not something people want to hear. But talking about healthy lifestyles that combine proper nutrition with physical activity is a far more productive conversation than petitioning to make soda minutely less toxic.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.



Do Protein Shakes Work?


The packaging on many popular whey protein shakes and supplements makes them seem like miracle products. It all begs the question: Do protein shakes really work to build muscle mass? Or is it marketing hype?

As it turns out, whey protein has been extensively tested – including a 2001 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise. In the study, 36 males were divided into three groups and underwent 6 weeks of strength training. Compared to the placebo group, men who supplemented with whey protein experienced more lean muscle mass and tested higher on many strength measures.

According the Mayo Clinic, the muscle building claims of whey protein are given a score of “B” – meaning that there is good scientific evidence for this use:

Whey protein has been studied for promoting muscle growth and improving athletic performance. Taking whey protein after exercise may have benefits in both men and women, in terms of improving protein oxidation and blood levels of essential amino acids. Overall, short-term studies have suggested that whey protein increases muscle mass and strength. Some conflicting results have been found in terms of whey protein’s effects on body composition. More research is needed to confirm these results over a longer period of time.

Of course, just consuming whey protein won’t magically grow your muscles. Whey protein supplementation must be in addition to a comprehensive strength training and nutrition program that targets muscle growth. And, too much protein can be detrimental to your health.

In other words, whey protein can be a powerful tool in building lean muscle mass – but it’s just one factor of many.



How Long Does It Take To Get In Shape?

Dear Davey,

I’m 20 years old and my body fat percentage is about 25. By eating healthy and getting enough sleep, how long will it take for me to get a six pack?


Chris-R.-Shirtless-by-Rick-Day-2Hey Ahmed,

By combining a healthy, balanced diet that supports your exercise routine with plenty of sleep, rest and recovery, you’ll certainly improve the way you look and feel.

Most trainers will recommend losing no more than 1 – 2 pounds per week. Although this recommendation may seem slow, remember that fast weight loss is often associated with drastic, unhealthy diet and exercise measures that are both dangerous and unsustainable. Unless you’re being medically supervised, the American Council on Exercise recommends 1 percent body fat loss per month.

Six packs become visible at very low body fat percentages – likely under the 10% range. To move from 25% to 10%, a very rough recommendation would be 15 months. However, everybody and every body is different and there are many factors involved. All of us experience setbacks and challenges – and sometimes we reach plateaus in our results.

While initial losses and body fat may be relatively easy, it’s very difficult to achieve body fat percentages in the lower ranges. You’ll need to exercise often, intensely and follow a strict diet. For a lot of people, this type of exercise and diet plan is unrealistic.

Rather than being motivated by the aesthetics of a six pack, let the other benefits of exercise drive your progress. While there’s no denying that a six pack looks great, we’re not all going to look like Ken dolls. And that’s okay. At the end of the day, a healthier lifestyle means that you’ll feel better, have increased energy, perform better on daily activities and so much more. Six pack or not, those are all great things worth reaching for.