Author: David Yochim

Ray’s Sugar Free BBQ Sauce Review

If there is one food I have to admit to missing from my former life when I was still consuming sugar, it has to be BBQ. Whether cooked at home, or in a pit style smoker in a restaurant, I have considered myself quite the connoisseur. And of course, having been raised in Kansas City, you can bet my favorite “Q” is KC style. Smoked meats cooked to perfection and then slathered up with a sweet sauce to compliment the savory seasonings of the rub. There is an art to smoking meats, and in Kansas City, we have perfected that art .

For a good store bought BBQ sauce, I always enjoyed Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces. However, I quit using their sauces when I quit consuming sugar. When it comes to BBQ ribs, for me it is akin to eating meat candy on a bone. I can gorge until the point of bursting when it comes to good BBQ ribs.

I also like to mix a little Sweet Baby Ray’s into my baked beans, especially when I cook them in the smoker with the meat. After mixing up my bean sauce, I cover them with bacon strips and then place them into the smoker until the bacon has crisped and the sauce has begun to caramelize a little bit. Sometimes, I also stir in bits of whatever meat I have smoked into the beans for added sweet and savory meat flavor. I could write a book on this subject, but I think you might now be able to make a good educated guess that I really enjoy BBQ. I have to say, I am looking forward to smoking some meat now that I have found a truly worthy sauce that is also free of added sugars.

I admit, I kind of expected a fairly weak sauce being as most sugar free sauces I have tried in the past have been somewhat weak. What I found with both the original and hickory flavors was that Ray’s advertisement is spot on with their claims. If I had not known better,  I would have sworn that I had just sampled their sauces that do contain sugar. These sauces are indeed sweet, smoky, and tangy. And best of all, they are also thick as a good BBQ sauce should be.

This delectable sauce is sweetened with allulose which is  a naturally occurring low-calorie sweetener found in certain foods such as dates, figs, raisins and corn. Allulose is not metabolized into glucose when consumed which is why it does not contribute to blood glucose or insulin levels and is almost calorie free, containing only 0.4 calories per gram. If you are concerned about gastro-intestinal upset from sugar alcohol, this sweetener is not one.

I am in no way connected to good people at Sweet Baby Ray’s. I have always enjoyed their sauces and love the fact they have produced a truly good sauce that is also sugar free.

The Fraud of Social Media Influencers

social media influencer making video

If you are one who pays attention to social media influencers for health and fitness advice, just stop it. Looking at Instagram fitness models and others like them for inspiration is akin to girls of past decades looking at their Barbie dolls with envy of their figures. You are  not going to become like them without extreme dieting, drugs, surgical procedures, or a combination of each. It just is not going to happen naturally.

Some Social Media Influencers are Not What They Appear to Be.

Some of the super hot fitness models you see on sites such as Instagram are not what you think. In fact, some of the biggest name models you can find there are actually male to female transsexuals. I have no problem with that, except for the fact if  you are a biological female, you are not going to achieve the same results as these ladies.

Drugs, Surgical Procedures, and Extreme Dieting

 No matter their gender, performance enhancing drugs are common with fitness influencers on social media. What you have to understand is many of them are not just taking diet pills, in order to get lean. Trenbolone is the drug of choice for a lot of them.

Trenbolone  is an Anabolic Androgenic Steroid that was first created by German Lifesciences brand ‘Hoechst-Roussel’ as a veterinary product. Trenbolone is designed to build muscle while simultaneously ridding the body of fat. This drug is very efficient at what it does. However, Trenbolone is a powerful drug, and any conversion in the body is going to bring serious consequences to your health. Many of these fit and trim looking models are going to actually die young from the use of anabolics.

Surgical procedures are quite common with these social media influencers. One popular, transgender female on Instagram has not only had breast and glute implants. She has also had ribs removed in order to give her a curvier, more female like appearance. The removal of ribs is a permanent procedure. Ribs do not grow back and cannot be replaced. Even under the care of a certified and experienced surgeon, it is a dangerous procedure and the risks of complications are high.

When you see pictures of a social media influencer with a very low body fat percentage, this is often accomplished not only with drugs, but through extreme dieting. These practices are actually not good for your body. Some of those extremely lean models have also lost too much essential body fat which we actually need for good health.

Essential fat is exactly that. This fat is essential for your life and a healthy body. This fat is found in your:

  • brain
  • bone marrow
  • nerves
  • membranes that protect your organs

Essential fat plays a major role in hormone regulation, including the hormones that control fertility, vitamin absorption, and temperature regulation.

According to the American Council on Exercise, women need at least 10 to 13 percent of their body composition to come from essential fat to be in good health, while men require at least 2 to 5 percent.

body fat chart

While you might think that extremely lean and muscular bodies look great, many of these people are not actually healthy. Additionally, if you are losing enough fat to have an effect on your essential body fat, you are going to feel very poorly. Getting that lean is not sustainable and you should never consider trying to get there.

Lastly, you have to keep in mind that social media influencers do what they do as their full time job. You will find that some of them are promoting their images in order to sell you worthless diet and fitness plans for hundreds of dollars per plan. They will sell you a plan that is difficult to follow, and when you do not get the promised results, you are simply poorer for their scam. Save your time and money my friends.

The Flip Side to The Extra Lean Social Media Influencers
Four obese women

First, I have to say that I cannot, nor will I tolerate bullying behavior out of anyone for any reason. I do not want anyone to ever feel shame about their body, but there is something that must be said about “Self Lovely”, “Fat Acceptance” or any other means of promoting obesity as being a healthy choice. It’s not a healthy choice no matter how you feel.

There is now a trend with social media influencers who are promoting obesity as being a healthy thing when nothing could be further from the truth. There are influencers now who claim to be nutritionists that are saying it is perfectly okay to eat not only what you want, but also how much of it you desire. For example here are a few excerpts from one of these social media influencers:

“Stop telling healthy people they are unhealthy due to the size of their body.”

“But listening to your body, and eating whatever, whenever you are hungry will start to heal the trust of your body”

“Did you gain weight in the last year? Cool, me too.”

“So if you’ve gained weight, thank your body for protecting you, instead of shaming it.”

I will never tolerate anyone fat shaming anyone in my presence. Because we truly care, our mission at David’s Way to Health and Fitness is to help people with weight loss and weight management. People who have obesity, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Many types of cancer
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

What these social media influencers who promote obesity as being healthy do not tell you is they are only trying to feel better about themselves instead of doing what is right for themselves. Their health is at risk, and while there are medical therapies that can address most of the cardiac risk factors associated with obesity (such as medications for diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol), losing weight will move all of your associated risk factors in the right direction.

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight is the key to living a longer, healthier life.

Easy Weight Loss

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Disclaimer: Before beginning any new diet or fitness plan, always consult with your doctor.

Cheating Yourself With Cheat Meals

woman unpacking fast food meal

I am just going to be blunt and say that if you are enjoying cheat meals while trying to lose weight, you are only cheating yourself. Sure, you may have success with weight loss for a little while, but sooner or later, you are going to put that lost weight right back on. Seriously, if anyone tells you that you should eat cheat meals at least once a week, they do not have your best interest at heart. Or, they simply do not have the knowledge, nor experience to be advising anyone about weight loss.

Successful Weight Loss Requires Lifestyle Change

I will never spare your feelings when it comes to weight loss by telling you what you want to hear. What I will tell you is the simple, hardcore truth that successful and permanent weight loss requires a lifestyle change. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you cannot continue eating as you have while becoming overweight. When you eat cheat meals, what you are doing is an attempt at keeping a portion of your former life that you and I both know was not good for you in the first place.

Alcoholics can’t have occasional drinks. Ex-smokers can’t enjoy an occasional cigarette. Alcohol and tobacco are addicting, and so are a lot of the foods you have enjoyed over the years. Like an alcoholic, if you had no control over certain foods in the past, what makes you believe that you will have any control over those foods in the future?

You’re not, and you know it.

Alcoholics can’t have the cheat drink. Ex-smokers can’t enjoy the cheat cigarette. The obese can’t enjoy the cheat meal. You only cheat yourself when you do.

Doing the Caloric Math of Cheat Meals

No matter what you may think about weight loss, it all comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn.

You might feel otherwise, but facts don’t care about feelings.

You have to eat fewer calories. Weight loss does not work when you enjoy those cheat meals, or cheat days. Just because you ate at, or under maintenance all week, it does not mean that you can splurge for one or two days. The calories in a day are important, but what really counts is the average of how many you have consumed all week. That cheat meal, or cheat day can quite easily push you above the maximum calories you require to lose or maintain weight. None of us are special snowflakes that can change the laws of thermodynamics my friends.

Now for the simple math equation:

If you need to eat 1600 calories a day in order to lose one pound per week, your weekly sum is 11,200 calories. Anything more than this weekly sum will cause you to gain weight.

Now we will throw in a cheat meal and see where it takes us:

You eat 1600 calories per day for six days of the week, then on Saturday you have a cheat meal by going out with your friends for pizza. This should be no big deal since you have done so well all week long. However the math does not add up for successful weight loss.

1600 calories times 6 days equal 9600 calories.

If on Saturday you ate 1000 calories between breakfast and lunch and then consumed another 2500 to 3000 calories while out for dinner with your friends, you have consumed  3500 to 4000 calories that day. Or, for the week you have consumed 13,100 to 13,600 calories.

13,600 calories minus 11,200 calories equal a difference of 1900 calories over your maintenance needs. Or when we consider that it takes only 3500 calories over your needs to gain 1 pound of fat per week,  that cheat meal means you will gain one half pound of fat. Do this cheat meal routine each week for a year, and you will gain 28 pounds in that year when you were trying to lose instead. Now, consider what you are doing to yourself if you have two cheat meals over the weekend.

Facts don’t care about feelings.

You have to do yourself right all the time, or you had better be good at planning in your cheat meals. Since cheat meals are the last vestige of your former obese lifestyle, you really need to quit cheating yourself out of good health altogether.

10 Tips to Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau

Brain Gut Connection

illustration of brain

How aware are you that there is an actual brain gut connection?

Tied together they are akin to a super computer.

For most of history, our bodies have been viewed by doctors as complicated machines built with independent parts that come together to make a whole. The thought was, that like a machine, if you took proper care of your body, it would last about 75 years. But, you had to ensure it was always fed the proper fuel and maintained in order to get there. When your body broke down, you can have surgical procedures and medicines to get you back into as optimal operating condition again as possible.

The problem though, is over the last 40 to 50 years, our health has been taking a downturn, and the old ways of thinking about our bodies is now recognized as being outdated. We now have health problems that are not always easy to diagnose and fix. Doctors can no longer explain away our ailments by blaming a malfunctioning organ or gene. We now have a health problem where the regulatory mechanisms that help our bodies and brains adapt to our rapidly changing environments are being impacted by our changing lifestyles.

When it comes to our health and wellbeing, it is painfully obvious that our lifestyles of today are making us obese and unhealthy. It is not enough to think that you can simply reduce your calories and your weight is going to decrease. When it comes to your obesity, you must think of treating yourself as a whole. This is where the brain, gut connection comes into play.

The Brain Gut Connection

Our brain and gut are part of a mechanism that works as a whole. They are not independent of each other.  The brain gut connection regulates our food intake, metabolism and body weight, our immune system, and the development and health of our brains. What ties the brain and gut together are the microbes that live in our gut. This gut microbiota and the signaling they produce from their vast number of genes constitute one of the major components of the regulatory systems.

The entire medical field has actually done an extraordinary job with certain acute diseases that come on suddenly. Our medical community should be applauded for how well they have done with treating infections, heart attacks, and surgical procedures. We now have diseases that can be cured through the use of antibiotics. Internal organs can now be replaced through routine surgical procedures. The problem is, the minute engineering details of our body’s individual parts that make the machine work is still somewhat of a mystery. Even so, our medical professionals are quite optimistic that even the most chronic and deadly health problems will eventually be solved.

We Have a Problem!

The medical community has relied heavily on broad spectrum antibiotics to treat, or wipe out disease causing bacteria. Collateral damage from the use of antibiotics has become an acceptable risk of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

As a society, our thinking about medical treatments has become too simplistic. We get sick, and we want cured and care very little about the underlying cause of our sickness. We just want the doctor to fix us, and for them to do this quickly. Now, people will not change their lifestyles to fix themselves as long as they  can get medicines to lower their high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Because these approaches have worked, there has been too little emphasis placed on changing the approach to treating them.

Nor has there been enough pressure placed on patients to do anything themselves to order to help themselves.  Not enough emphasis has been placed on the brain, gut connection that plays a role in most of what ails us. Most of what ails us can be prevented if we as a society were willing to give up the self destructive lifestyles we have adopted.

Modern medicine needs to make some changes, as do we the people who rely on the medical community when we become sick with chronic ailments. Despite all the advances we have seen in medicine, there is actually little progress in treating chronic pain conditions, brain gut disorders like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and mental illnesses including neurodegenerative disorders.

Our Declining Health

Since the 1970’s there have been new challenges to our health, and a good portion of that is related to our rising rates of obesity. With the rise of obesity has come metabolic disorders, autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases, asthma, allergies, and diseases such autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Disease.

The obesity rate in America has risen from 13% of the population in 1972 to 35% in 2012. Today, 68% of our population is either overweight or obese, including 17% of our children ages 2 to 19. At least 2.8 million people each year die as a result of being overweight  or obese. Now, let that number sink in for a minute. Around the world, 44% of diabetes, 23% of ischemic heart disease, and 7 to 41% of cancers are a direct result of being overweight or obese. When does it all end?

What is the role of the two most critical systems in our bodies?

When it comes to maintaining our overall health, the gut (digestive system) and brain (the nervous system) cannot be ignored. The brain gut connection is not a myth that can be ignored my friends. This connection is a biological fact and an essential link that needs understood when it comes to our whole body health.

We all know that we chew and swallow our food which is then transported to our stomachs where it is further broken down. In our stomach the food is broken down with mechanical grinding forces assisted by concentrated hydrochloric acid before dumping the food paste into the small intestine. Inside the small intestine, the calories and nutrients are absorbed by our body. Once this is complete, what remains is sent to the large intestine and later excreted from our bodies. Pretty straight forward and simple, right?

Actually, that is a simplistic explanation of what happens when we eat. But it ignores the brain gut connection.  Our brain and our gut are intricately connected with each other.  Realizing this, we should know that this system is actually rather complex and powerful. When we feed our gut, we are also feeding microbes that exist within it. And these microbes are now known to influence our basic emotions, our pain sensitivity, and our social interactions.  You probably never knew that your gut instinct was a real thing did you? The complex connection between our brain and our gut plays a role when we make some of the most important decisions in our lives.

The brain gut connection is hardwired in the form of anatomical connections between the brain and the gut. This connection is facilitated by biological communication signals carried through our bloodstream. My friends, your gut is actually far more complex than just a place to process the foods you eat.

Our gut actually has capabilities that surpass all your other organs and even rivals that of your brain.

Did  you know that your gut has its own nervous system which is known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) which is referred to as your second brain? The ENS is comprised of 50 to 100 million nerve cells, or as many that are contained in your spinal cord.

The immune cells that live in your gut make up the largest component of your body’s immune system. There are more immune cells living in the lining of your gut than anywhere else in your body. This gut based immune system is capable of identifying and destroying a single species of bacterial invaders that make their way into our digestive system when we consume contaminated food or drink. Out of trillions of benevolent microbes in your gut, small amounts of lethal bacteria can be identified and destroyed. This is why it is critical for us to keep our gut microbiome in balance and good working order.

Are you aware of all the endocrine cells that contain up to 20 different types of of hormones that can be released into the bloodstream if called upon? Also, did you know that the gut is the largest storage facility for serotonin in your body, and not the brain? 95% of the serotonin in your body is actually stored in your gut.

In numerous articles here at David’s Way, we have discussed how the foods we eat affect our serotonin. Serotonin is the signaling molecule that plays a crucial role in the gut-brain axis. Serotonin not only controls our moods, it also is essential for normal intestinal functions, such as the coordinated contractions that move food through our digestive system. Because of the widespread involvement in our brain systems, serotonin is the main target of the major classes of antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

What Happens When the Brain Gut Connection Become Out of Balance? 

The foods we eat, and the lifestyle we live are responsible for the balance or out of balance conditions of our gut microbiota. When you eat and drink just anything your heart desires on a regular basis, you will eventually throw this system out of balance and your health will suffer. When we get our gut microbiota out of whack, we can experience several gut disorders. One of these is a direct result of treatments with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria, remember when I mentioned collateral damage?

Antibiotics get our gut microbes out of balance and can result in Clostridium difficile colitis. C-Diff for short. When this sickness occurs, the diversity and abundance of the guts normal bacteria are diminished which allows the invasion of C-Diff. When we get C-Diff, we get gut inflammation and diarrhea. When our gut microbiota is not right, we also become susceptible to disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or the brain-gut disorder irritable bowel syndrome.

As much as 15% of the world wide population suffers from IBS, altered bowel habits, and abdominal pain and discomfort.

You Are What You Eat

Your gut gathers information about your food and your environment every millisecond. It does this even as you sleep. The well being of your your gut microbes depends on the foods that you eat. No matter what you eat, these microbes will use their enormous amount of information stored in their millions of genes to transform partially digested food into hundreds of thousands of metabolites. When we make poor food choices, microbe-produced molecules induce a state of low grade inflammation in their target organs, which has been implicated in obesity, heart disease, chronic pain, and degenerative diseases of the brain.

It is a fact that we need to take care of our brain gut connection. Science is showing how the integrated gut microbiota-brain system is being kept intact, or not fully intact, by the foods that we consume. The foods we consume can either keep us healthy, or they can leave us vulnerable to a growing number of diseases.

How you live your life is your choice. Choose wisely.

Loraine’s Cabbage (Mock) Spaghetti

Photo by David Yochim

What in the world is Mock spaghetti? Well, obviously it is not spaghetti which is really just a vehicle that carries the delicious sauce to our belly’s.

I am not normally a fan of cooked cabbage, but my beautiful wife Loraine discovered that if you chopped cabbage, cooked and drained it, and then added it to her homemade sauce, the cabbage did not impart too much flavor as, it was just a part of the flavor profile as a whole. It also has a soft texture to it just like spaghetti. This recipe might just be the perfect way to add cabbage to your picky eaters diet, and have them enjoy it. This meal is also perfect for the diabetic in your life as it contains zero added sugar and is low in carbs.

This recipe makes 8 servings:

Calories: 208   Carbs: 16.2 grams total  10.9 grams net   Fiber: 5.3 grams   Fat: 9.3 grams Protein: 15 grams

  • 1 pound 93/3 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp. crushed garlic
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1.75 cup (1 can) diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chopped cabbage
  • basil and oregano to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  1. Chop the cabbage, place in a large microwave safe bowl and cook until done. Drain and set aside.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion in olive oil with crushed garlic until the onion is soft and then add in ground beef. Cook until beef is done, and then drain.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients, including the cabbage and let simmer for a half hour before serving.

This dish is as simple as it is delicious and healthy. Let us know how you like it!

Hydration in the Summertime


woman drinking water

Do you only think about hydration when you are feeling parched in the summertime heat? Or, is hydration  something you consciously think of as a part of your healthy lifestyle?

Either way, you should know that how well you hydrate your body is as important as the foods you eat. Your body contains something akin to primordial life, in that half of our body weight is made up of a briny fluid that gives us life. This briny fluid bathes, cushions, and lubricates cells, tissues and organs. It is what gives our cells their shape, and provides their substance. It forms the internal watery highway that transports nutrients, wastes, hormones, and other substances throughout the body. Your hydration is kind of important to your health and wellness.

Hydration Equals Life!

Early on in our school years, we learn the importance of hydrating our bodies. We learn that if we become too dehydrated, that we will die. Just staving off dehydration is not enough, you need to take in enough water to carry out a variety of metabolic tasks in your body such as making enough urine to carry away toxic by-products of digestion and metabolism. Good hydration also maintains proper blood volume, prevents body salts from becoming too concentrated, and replenishes whatever water we lose through the course of the day.

How Much Water Do We Need?

The average person requires about a milliliter of fluid for every calorie they burn. This equals approximately eight 8 ounce glasses of water for a 2000 calorie a day diet for maintenance of weight. However, the amount of water you need is also individual to your needs. Those needs are largely dependent on your diet, environment, and your activity level.

  1. Diet. If you are one who eats lots of fruits and vegetables, which contain a good amount of water, you might not need to drink as much water as someone who does not eat these foods.
  2. Environment/Weather. When the temperatures are comfortable, we might only lose about 4 pints of water in a day. We lose this water through our skin when we perspire, through the moist air we exhale, and of course through our urine output. Of course, when we are uncomfortably hot, we lose a lot more water. Conversely, we also lose a lot of water during the cold months of winter when the relative humidity drops and the dry air draws water from us.
  3. Activity. And of course, the more we move our bodies, the more water we lose from it. As your muscles burn glucose, they generate heat. This extra heat must be dealt with or we risk cooking the temperature sensitive proteins that make you be you. Sweating is our natural cooling mechanism that lowers the extra heat we generate when we are moving our bodies. As it forms on your skin and evaporates, it carries heat away.

When we are very active with a workout, or just work in general, we can lose up to a quart of fluid per hour. Because we do not always realize when we are becoming dehydrated, we should drink when we are thirsty. Drink before we become thirsty. And drink enough to keep your urine consistently clear or yellow rather than bright or dark yellow.

Our thirst is not always a good guide to rely on to gauge our level of hydration. By the time we feel thirsty, we might already be dehydrated. This is a problem when we are working or playing hard in the summertime heat. We often do not realize that our hydration is running on empty. The older we get, the bigger problem this becomes as older folks do often become dehydrated while never realizing it.

The Consequences of Dehydration

The consequences of becoming dehydrated range from life threatening to mildly irritating. Extreme dehydration can be deadly, and occurs mostly in children and older people during very hot weather. This is also a problem with endurance athletes. Minor dehydration can simply make us grumpy and tired. It also can make it hard to concentrate. And lastly, chronic dehydration can be a cause of constipation, and may lead to kidney stones and bladder cancer. The bottom line is it is imperative that we always keep our bodies well hydrated for a plethora of reasons.

Heat Cramps, Exhaustion and Stroke

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Health Maintenance 101

Health Maintenance 101

The picture you see above is of me and my daughter from about ten years ago. That was from a period of time when I was not at my healthiest. I was overweight, my blood pressure was elevated, my cholesterol and triglycerides were high and I was prediabetic. So, for those who have never seen me at my worst weight, yes, I do know the struggle of losing and keeping off undesirable body fat. In that picture, I weighed in at about 240 pounds at a height of only five foot seven inches. I was carrying too much weight, and beginning to feel the affects of it.

How did I get so out of shape?

Well, the obvious answer is I was not only eating too many calories for my daily needs, I was also eating and drinking too many of the wrong foods and drinks. I was in the recovery process following a spinal injury, and was also suffering from depression and PTSD. I wasn’t lazy by any stretch, I was just not taking care of my nutrition, nor my body as I should have. I was consuming massive amounts of calories each day to fuel my training in powerlifting. Although I was physically stronger than ever before in my life, internally, I was a train wreck. I was self medicating my depression with food and drink, and believed I could out exercise my bad diet. The trick was on me, as my health was beginning to suffer.

Not only were my blood pressure high and my blood labs beginning to show bad readings, I also suffered from horrible acid reflux which would wake me up gagging almost nightly. The acid reflux was bad enough that it made my sinuses run constantly like a waterfall down the back of my throat, and I was always coughing as a result of it. The result of not properly maintaining my body was taking a toll on me. I have learned through the school of hard knocks that health maintenance is the key to our well being. If we do not care for our bodies, no one else is going to do it for us.

Health Maintenance is Imperative!

As you can clearly see, there is a big difference in the way I look now compared to the first picture above. I am lean as a result of living a lifestyle centered on healthy nutrition and exercise. I went yesterday and had my annual checkup with my doctor, which includes having my blood labs completed as well. I get checked out as a part of my healthy lifestyle initiative each and every year.  This is a part of my health maintenance that is always my first priority in life. We care for our cars, and homes. Our cars get oil changes and tune ups on a regular basis, it only makes sense we do the same for our bodies. When we do not take the time, nor the worry of our health maintenance, we will always find ourselves paying the piper at some point.

We were not meant to sit idly by while feeding our faces and then expecting someone else to fix us at some point. Yet, this is exactly what we do. Humans seem to want to live vicariously in the moment without a care in the world, that is, until we get sick. Sadly, most of what ails us, is entirely preventable through good nutrition and exercise. But life is easier while chilling with Netflix while eating a large bowl of ice cream or your treat of choice.

And, why is it that people will go to the doctor for prescriptions, yet never want to follow their doctors advice to change their habits? I always wonder if it even occurs to some people that their sky high medical expenses could be entirely eliminated if they would only choose to live their lives more wisely. For me, I can honestly say that I always knew better than to live how I was living. The problem was, as many do, I was self medicating my depression and PTSD in the hope of making it all feel better. Fortunately, I had an epiphany one day and decided that I must do what was necessary to repair my health in order to not die young.

It is imperative that people understand that poor nutritional habits are just as dangerous to our health as being a smoker. If you are at a weight to where you can’t move your body without wheezing and getting out of breath, you might as well be smoking since the results to your body are the same. You are out of breath because your body has to work too hard to move around, and your heart is not strong nor healthy enough to do so with ease. Think about this the next time you look at a sack of cookies or a cake.

The ill effect of eating poorly is like those of smoking in that the effects often take years to catch up with us. This is the problem with living only in the moment and not looking into your own future. If you could see yourself in the future morbidly obese and unable to take care of your basic functions of life, would you care better for your body? Or, will you continue on the path you have chosen for yourself?

Health Maintenance Works!

Yesterday at my annual check up with my doctor, my blood pressure was 108/64 with a pulse rate of 66 bpm. My blood pressure when I was heavy averaged about 140/89.

I have weighed 240 pounds with a body fat percentage over 30%. Today at almost 58 years old, I weigh 180 pounds with a body fat percentage of 10%.

I no longer suffer from chronic acid reflux since my belly fat no longer squeezes stomach acid up into my esophagus.  Additionally, without the extra belly fat, I can now bend over and tie my shoes without having difficulty in breathing. The weight of the fat on the chest wall decreases the amount of room for the lungs. It also pushes up on the diaphragm, restricting its movement, particularly when bending over or lying down. Carrying around extra weight is work.  Excess fat is known to constrict the lungs, which makes it harder to breathe!

Although I still suffer the effects of depression and PTSD, it is not as bad as it used to be. Studies have shown that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies have also found that unhealthy diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke. It is a fact that when you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus.

You don’t have to make every healthy change immediately. You may find it easier to take it week by week. The important thing is that you begin doing something for your health maintenance. It may take days or week before you start to feel the mood-boosting effects of a better diet, depending on how many changes you implement. But, it will happen.

The Importance of Knowing Your Blood Lab Numbers

Yesterday, all of the readings from my blood labs were well within the healthy ranges where they should be, except for two of my liver enzymes which were slightly elevated. By catching these slight elevations, I had more testing to rule out disease, or to verify damage to my liver from my days of alcohol consumption. The good thing is, if there is something wrong, it is being caught early.

I also am being routinely screened for colorectal cancer. This type of cancer is the most treatable form there is when caught early enough. The problem is, most people do not want to undergo a colonoscopy to find out their colon health. The good news is, you do not have to do that anymore. Now, you can collect a small stool sample from home, and simply mail it in to a lab for analysis.

I highly recommend that everyone gets routine checkups by their doctor. As with good nutrition, you may feel as if you can’t afford this. To that I say, “you can’t afford not to”. Trust me when I say that medical bills for chronic illness or disease far outweighs what it cost for a little bit of preventive health maintenance. Take care of your body!

Feeling Weak, It’s Your Diet

Maintaining Weight Loss

Mean Mister Ghrelin Attacks

Woman with hunger pains

Have you ever had ghrelin attack you so hard that it felt like a punch to the gut, and the only way to relieve it was through eating? If you have ever struggled with obesity, you know that you have experienced this. When ghrelin attacks, it is enough to drive us insane until we begin chowing down on something delicious. I know this from my own personal experience with binge eating. Ghrelin is no joke, but it can be tamed.

What is Ghrelin?

Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells our brain it’s time to eat. This hormone is produced in the stomach and travels through your bloodstream to your brain where it tells you that it is time to eat. It’s what makes you feel hungry. The main function of ghrelin is to increase your appetite, consume more food, and to store those excess calories as fat.

Ghrelin affects your sleep/wake cycle, reward-seeking behavior, taste sensation and carbohydrate metabolism. When our stomach is empty, it produces and secretes ghrelin which enters the bloodstream and then travels to the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which governs your hormones and appetite. The more ghrelin you produce, the hungrier you get. Ghrelin attacks with a viciousness for some of us, but it can also be controlled with a bit of knowledge and effort on your part.

Managing Your Ghrelin

Ghrelin is an important hormone that does more than make us “HANGRY” when it attacks. Ghrelin also regulates glucose homeostasis by inhibiting insulin secretion and regulating gluconeogenesis/glycogenolysis. Ghrelin signaling decreases thermogenesis to regulate energy expenditure. Ghrelin improves the survival prognosis of myocardial infarction by reducing sympathetic nerve activity. Ghrelin prevents muscle atrophy by inducing muscle differentiation and fusion. Ghrelin also regulates bone formation and metabolism by modulating proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts. (1)

Obviously, ghrelin is important to our health, but it can also be detrimental when it gets out of control. When ghrelin attacks and you let it keep winning the battles, the result can be found with your obesity. So, how do we fight this war from within?

  1. Get proper sleep. Most people really need between seven to nine hours of good sleep. Anything less than seven hours increases our production of ghrelin while decreasing the hormone leptin which tells our brain that we are full. This is an important component of keeping our bodies in balance.
  2. Manage your stress. Chronic stress leads to overeating, poor food choices, increased alcohol consumption and impaired sleep. In a study from 2016, exposure to stress was shown to alter the ghrelin levels and alteration in ghrelin levels significantly affects neuro-endocrinological parameters; metabolism-related physiology, behavior and mood. (1) Make your world small by engaging in stress reducing activities like being outdoors, exercising, meditation, journaling, prayer, being creative and surrounding yourself with loving friends and family. These are all ways of decreasing stress and balancing ghrelin levels.
  3. Exercise. Regular physical activity improves overall hormonal balance, weight and a sense of wellness. Before beginning any new exercise routine, always be sure that you first have your doctor’s approval.
  4. Eat whole foods and quit eating foods with added sugars, and processed foods! Follow our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness and learn to eat  a proper balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, all within your caloric needs.  When you crash diet, or restrict your calories too much, ghrelin levels increase and poor food choices and cravings will increase.
    • Protein can slow gastric emptying and provides satiety. Adding protein to your meals helps with satiety by improving leptin sensitivity.
    • Consuming healthy fats can also decrease ghrelin levels. Healthy fats that contain omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty fish, chia and flax seeds and nuts will boost leptin and keep ghrelin in check.
    • High fiber foods stretch your stomach and balance your hunger hormones.
    •  Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and sugar-sweetened drinks, which can impair ghrelin response after meals

When ghrelin attacks, don’t be a victim!

It is not uncommon to feel like the odds are stacked against us when it comes to achieving sustainable weight loss. But, it’s important for you to understand that we actually do have a great deal of control over our hormones, as they do respond in our favor to dietary, exercise and stress-related changes we make. Your aim when it comes to losing weight is to focus on setting up a healthy food environment that encourages nutrient-dense eating, managing stress, moving our bodies consistently and making smart food choices long-term.

How to Stop Food Cravings!

Does Cortisol Make You Fat?

Depressed woman

Does cortisol make us fat, and if so, is there anything we can do about it?

Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands found just above your kidneys. It is an important steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids. The production and release of cortisol is regulated by your pituitary gland and the hypothalamus located in the brain.  When our stress levels rise,  the adrenal gland releases cortisol and adrenaline. This release triggers an increase in heart rate, and energy levels to prepare your body for stressful situations.  While this response is entirely normal, prolonged elevations of cortisol levels can bring about several negative effects in the body which include:.

  • weight gain
  • high blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • changes in mood
  • irritability
  • flushed face
  • thinning skin
  • difficulty concentrating
  • insulin resistance

Elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to overeating, and of course we know what overeating leads to. Cortisol makes us fat simply because it triggers us to eat too much. Studies have found an association between a higher cortisol response and a higher amount of belly fat in men and women, but is there anything we can do to control this?

Make Your World Small!

Or in other words, do everything you can to reduce those things which cause you stress. Learn to take a moment to reframe in your mind why a situation is stressing you out. Ask yourself if the situation is truly having an effect on your life, or are you just annoyed more than anything. If a stressful situation is not actually affecting your well being, then learn to just let it go. Some circumstances are just beyond our control, they might not actually affect us. It is necessary to your health to not allow outside influences to bring you down. Life will always bring about stress, we cannot control this, but we can control how we react to it. By focusing on awareness of your mental and physical state, you can become an objective observer of your stressful thoughts, instead of a victim of them.

Get Your Sleep!

Chronic sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, or shift work have been associated with higher cortisol. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help to keep cortisol in a normal rhythm. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed, and staying off your cell phone right before bed are effective strategies to getting proper sleep. If you suffer from lack of sleep, give your doctor a visit. You might need to undergo a sleep study.

Exercise Your Body!

Always be sure you have your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.

Aim for 150–200 minutes of low- to moderate- intensity exercise each week. Exercising regularly can help you better manage stress and promote good health, which  has been shown to lower cortisol levels.

Maintain a Healthy Diet!

For better or worse, our nutrition has a direct effect on our cortisol levels. Research has shown a strong relationship between a healthy gut microbiome — all the microbes living in your gut — and improved mental health. Therefore, consuming foods to support a healthy gut may help reduce stress, anxiety, and improve your overall health.

Regular consumption of added-sugar results in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations.

Maintain Healthy Relationships!

Relationships with friends and family can lead to happiness and to stress. Spend time with those you love and learn to forgive and manage conflict for better emotional and physical health. If you know that an individual is toxic, get them out of your life as much as humanly possible. Do everything you can to not allow others to bring you down.

Have Fun and Laugh!

Laughing promotes the release of endorphins and suppresses stress hormones such as cortisol. It’s also linked with better mood, reduced stress and perceived pain, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.

Does Cortisol Make Us Fat?

Yes, cortisol can make us fat, but we do not have to allow this. To keep cortisol from making us fat, it is incumbent that we learn to take control of our lives. We cannot always control what happens around us, but we can exercise control over how we react to circumstances.

For more about cortisol and stress eating, read this wonderful article by Brenda Sue!

Causes of Stress Eating and Possible Prevention

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Cherry Picking Weight Loss Advice

healthy vs unhealthy food choices

If you want to successfully lose weight, you cannot cherry pick weight loss advice!

It confounds me sometimes how people will ask how to lose weight, then totally reject the advice they are given. If you knew how to lose weight, you wouldn’t be asking how to in the first place. You know this to be true. Additionally, people need to understand that losing weight in and of itself is not enough. They need to understand also how to keep those unwanted pounds off of their bodies permanently.

In my experience, I have had people get angry when I have told them to quit eating foods with added sugars, and processed foods. I’ve had people flat reject the idea of weighing, measuring and tracking their food intake. It is what it is, if these angry people ever come to understand that I am telling them what they need to hear, I am still there for them if they come back to me. However, I am never going to waiver on my advice, nor am I ever going to feel bad about angering would be weight losers with my advice.

You have to make a permanent change to your nutritional lifestyle if you want to be successful at weight loss. There are truths you are going to have to accept in what this lifelong endeavor requires of yourself. You have to make permanent changes my friends, it is as simple as that.

Calories in/Calories out

You are going to have to consume fewer calories than you expend in a day. It is as simple as that.  The laws of thermodynamics apply to everyone my friends. Our bodies use the calories we consume to fuel our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

There are three main bodily processes that burn calories:

  • Basic metabolism. Your body uses most of the calories you get from food to sustain basic functions, such as your heartbeat. 
  • Digestion. Around 10–15% of the calories you eat is used to power digestion. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and varies based on the foods you eat.
  • Physical activity. The leftover calories you get from your diet are meant to fuel your physical activity, including workouts and everyday tasks like walking, reading, and washing dishes. (1)

If the calories we consume equal our BMR needs, our weight remains stable. If the calories we consume are less than we need, we lose weight. When they are greater, our waist lines expands. There is no getting around this.

When we exceed the caloric needs of our BMR, those extra calories get stored as glycogen, or as fat, in our bodies for later use. Weight loss is always a matter of caloric deficit, no matter whether your calories come from carbs, fats, or protein.

It is only to your detriment if you reject this piece of weight loss advice.

Stop Eating Foods With Added Sugars!

Just get over it, what you want to eat is not helping you to have a healthy body. Any weight loss plan that tells you that it is alright to continue eating added sugars, are not there to help you. They are there to take your hard earned money instead. These weight loss businesses do not truly have your best interest at heart, and will tell you what you want to hear to draw you in. If you reject weight loss advice to give up added sugars, you might as well resign yourself to remaining fat if you refuse to change.

There is zero nutritional value to adding sugar to foods. Yes, sugar makes them taste delicious, while also making us feel good. But there is no health benefit to consuming it. In fact, the inverse is true in that sugar causes inflammation in the body which is the precursor for many modern chronic ailments and diseases.

In the Standard American Diet (SAD), the top sources of added sugars come from soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. And added sugars can also be found in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.

Everyone loves sweetened foods, but the effects of added sugar consumption include higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. All of these conditions are directly linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Now, just how good were those cookies and cakes?

Additionally, when we consume added sugars, especially in sugary beverages, it contributes to our weight gain by tricking our bodies into turning off its appetite-control system. Because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods it becomes too easy for us to add even more empty calories to our diets. Find something else to drink other than sodas and anything else sugar sweetened. I know and understand this piece of weight loss advice is tough to hear, but you don’t need added sugars!

Added Sugars Spike Insulin/Insulin Spikes Body Fat!

When we eat too much sugar, it usually makes us feel poorly afterwards. This is a result of hypoglycemia. Or in simpler terms, your pancreas has pumped out insulin to get your blood sugar in order, and once the insulin has peaked, your blood sugar will drop off. Which makes you feel sickly. But, there is also more at play than this. Insulin causes us to also get fat when we constantly have high levels of blood sugar.

The weight loss advice we give at David’s Way to Health and Fitness comes from hours of study and research my friends. From our studies we know that our pancreas secretes insulin as a result of the carbohydrates in our diet. This occurs primarily to keep blood sugar under control. However, insulin also works to orchestrate the storage and use of fat and protein. Insulin ensures that our muscles get enough protein to complete whatever rebuilding and repair that may be necessary. Insulin also helps us to store enough fuel to function between meals.

Because one place we store fuel for later use is in our fat tissue, insulin is the regulator of fat metabolism. Insulin accomplishes this through two enzymes. The first is LPL, lipoprotein lipase.

LPL sticks out from the membranes of different cells and then pulls fat out of the bloodstream and into the cells. If the LPL is on a muscle cell, it pulls the fat into the muscle. If it is on fat cells, it simply makes the fat cell fatter.  How this happens is LPL breaks down triglycerides in the bloodstream to their component fatty acids., and these fatty acids flow into the cells.

 Being as insulin is the primary regulator of fat metabolism, it is also the primary regulator of LPL activity. Insulin activates LPL on fat cells, specifically the fat cells of our abdomens. The more insulin we secrete, the more active the LPL on our fat cells become.  The result of this is more fat gets pulled in from the bloodstream and placed into our fat cells for storage. Insulin also happens to suppress LPL activity on our muscle cells which ensures they do not have many fatty acids to burn for fuel. The result is fatty acids do not get released from fat cells when insulin levels are high. These fatty acids cannot get taken up by our muscle cells for fuel. They just end up back in our fat cells, if they even escape them to begin with.

The second enzyme insulin utilizes to regulate fat is Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HPL). This enzyme is even more critical to our storage of fat. Just as LPL works to make fat cells fatter, HSL works to make fat cells leaner. It does this by working inside of fat cells to break down triglycerides into their component fatty acids. This action allows fatty acids to escape fat cells into circulation in the bloodstream. The more active our HSL, the more fat we can set loose to be burned for fuel.

The problem is, insulin suppresses HSL which prevents triglycerides from being broken down within our fat cells. Insulin keeps the outflow of fatty acids from fat cells to a minimum. It actually does not take much insulin to cause this suppression, so just think how suppressed this becomes when you live on sugar. When insulin levels are elevated, even just a little bit, fat accumulates within our fat cells!

I often hear people speak of living their lives in balance while they are munching away at foods that will keep their insulin levels totally out of balance.  If you want your life to be in balance, your body must be in balance internally.

Insulin turns on a mechanism in fat cells to pump glucose, the same as it does in muscle cells. This action increases the amount of glucose our fat cells metabolize. This action in turn increases the amount of glycerol molecules floating around in the fat cells.  These glycerol molecules then become attached to fatty acids which becomes triglycerides. This means we can store more fat. To ensure we can store all of this fat, insulin works to create new fat cells just in case the ones we already have become full.

To add insult to injury, insulin signals liver cells not to burn fatty acids, but to repackage them into triglycerides, and then ship them back to our fat tissue. In short, everything insulin does increases the fat we store and decrease the fat we burn. Insulin works to make us fatter, therefore it is incumbent upon you to control your insulin through healthy dietary habits. You do this by not consuming foods with added sugars.


In closing, here is how that chain of events occur:

  1. You think about eating a meal that contains carbohydrates.
  2. You begin secreting insulin.
  3. The insulin signals the fat cells to shut down the release of fatty acids by inhibiting HSL, and taking up more fatty acids via LPL from the circulation.
  4. You start to get hungry, or hungrier.
  5. You begin eating.
  6. You secrete more insulin.
  7. The carbohydrates are digested and enter the circulation as glucose, causing blood sugar to rise.
  8. You secrete still more insulin.
  9. Fat from the diet is stored as triglycerides in the fat cells, as are some of the carbohydrates that are converted into fat in the liver.
  10. The fat cells get fatter, and so do you.
  11. The fat remains in the fat cells until the insulin level drops.

You can reject my weight loss advice. That is on you if you do. However, your feelings and opinion are not facts, and the simple truth is, your feelings and opinions are not going to get you down to a healthy body fat percentage or weight.

Weight Loss Tips for 2021!




(2) Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It, Gary Taubes