New Years Resolutions

The new year is just around the corner which means that millions of people will be making goals to achieve in the next 365 days. One of the most common resolutions has to do with loosing weight and achieving “the perfect body”. Every year I hear countless amounts of people saying that they will loose the excess weight, they will build their muscles, and they will get the six pack they always wanted, but only a small fraction actually see any results. It is estimated that only 8% of people actually reach their New Years resolutions. Why is it so hard reach these goals? I have a few tips that will hopefully make it a little easier to stay on track.

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

My Personal Transformation @alec2austin

The first thing we need to do is realize that small changes can make a big difference. Although you may have a big weight loss goal in mind, making a small change to your diet and exercise plan can make that once out-of-reach dream more attainable. Switching out a snack food for something healthier, not eating before bed, or even simply adding 20 minutes of cardio a few times of week can start the process of reaching your bigger health goals.

Another important idea to adapt when setting a resolution is that instead of just setting a goal, decide on what steps need to be made in order to reach that goal. Making a plan helps you better understand why kind of commitment it is to reach your “dream body.” It is A LOT of work and A LOT of commitment, but that still does not mean that it is unattainable. Once you plan out what needs to be done to loose that extra weight, you need to start applying the changes to your life, but not all at once. Making a lot of drastic changes in a short amount of time literally puts your brain and body into shock, which in turn makes these changes near impossible to adapt. So instead, apply one or two changes at first, and once you have adapted the new changes and turned them more into a habit, you can apply another change or two.

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

Jen Piccolo @jenthefitfoodie

The last important thing to understand when making a resolution is that patience is key. Nothing happens over night, especially when it comes to weight loss or muscle building. There is no quick fix. Living a healthy lifestyle is just that, a LIFESTYLE. You have to adapt new habits to a point where you would rather go exercise than sit on the couch all day; you would rather eat chicken and vegetables than a Big Mac; you would rather go to bed than stay up late and watch movies. To some this may sound weird, but by adapting these habits, I have never felt better in my life. I am happier, I feel healthier, I have more energy, I am more productive, I have better focus, and overall live a more fulfilling life.

Think of it this way… If you have a resolution to lose 50 pounds in the new year, that may sound like a big almost impossible obstacle to overcome. 50 pounds?!?!…. That’s a small child! How can you do that? You have 365 days to reach this goal; 12 months to lose 50 pounds. This actually comes out to about 4 pounds every month or 1 pound a week. Now doesn’t that sound a little easier to do? If you set small shorter goals such as “I want to lose 4 pounds in January,” all of a sudden that big intimidating goal now seems way more doable.

Know that you are not alone and that we all are still trying to achieve our dream bodies. There are resources everywhere to help you get where you want to be. I know you can do it!

I hope this article helps you make next year the best year yet! I will help in any way I can and I would love to hear about your progress. Contact me at with questions, comments, ideas for new topics, or updates on your personal fitness successes.

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

I think most of us have heard the terms ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’ before, but do we actually know what they mean. To make it as simple as possible, ‘Good Carbs’ come from foods that also have a good source of fiber. For example, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc. ‘Bad Carbs’ come from foods with little to no fiber content, such as white bread, white rice, etc. Fiber allows the body to slowly digest the carbs that we consume which leads to more stable blood sugar. If we eat food high in carbs and low in fiber, we quickly digest the carbs which then causes spikes in our blood pressure.
One other major thing to understand about good carbs and bad carbs is the composition of the carbs themselves. When carbs are digested, they are broken down into glucose (sugar) which the body needs for energy. During digestion, the body will break down any carb it is given into glucose; however, because of the fiber and other nutritional value with good carbs, the body is taking in more than just glucose. With bad carbs, the body is only quickly converting the carbs to glucose with no other vitamins or minerals to digest; therefore the calories being consumed can be considered ’empty’ calories and not beneficial.

The moral of the story is:
1. Stay away from foods high in carbs, but low in fiber.
2. It is healthy to eat ‘good carbs’ (aka. foods with vitamins, minerals, and fiber)

I hope this article helped. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or ideas for other blog post, email me at .

A Better Way To Eat Almonds

Did you Know…

You can get more out of your almonds by soaking them in water.

Almonds are one of my go to foods to snack on because they are high in protein, fatty acids, omega-3 and fiber. Almonds are also considered a Superfood because of the high levels of Vitamin E, Antioxidants, and they help curve your hunger. After doing some research I found out that soaking almonds actually helps you absorb more of the nutrients the almonds have to offer, but how?


The brown skin on an almond protects it until the correct levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Because of this, eating an almond without allowing it to get proper moisture makes it harder to digest. When the almond is soaked; however, the outer brown skin is penetrated and the almond releases enzymes. When eating an almond that has been allowed to take in such moisture, you are able to digest the almond more efficiently and absorb the healthy nutrients the almond has to offer.

How to soak an Almond:
This is very easy. It is recommended to put the almonds in a bowl of purified water. Cover the almonds with 2 cups of water per 1/2 cup of almonds. Soak the almonds in the bowl overnight (10-12 hours). After the 10-12 hours, drain the almonds and eat or store them. You can store the almonds in the refrigerator for about one week. The almonds are soft, sweet, and they taste great!

Apparently, if you would like to sprout your almonds, simply soak you almonds overnight and place them in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. After a few days, the almonds should begin to sprout (about 1/8-inch sprout should show). A sprouted almond can be more beneficial than a soaked almond because they are easier to digest and they also release lipase (an enzyme that helps digest fat). I have not tried this, but would like to very soon. If you have, please let me know what you think!

Do you like this post? Do you have any other ideas for posts? If you have any questions or comments please email me at!

Men Need Zinc!

fit man

I was confused at first as to why men needed higher amounts of zinc than women. I honestly didn’t even really know what Zinc did for your body. Here is what I found:

The recommended amount of Zinc for the average male is 11mg per day and the recommended amount of Zinc for the average non-pregnant or breast-feeding female is 8mg per day. Males need more Zinc than females not only because they generally have larger bodies, but a sexual active male also looses zinc through ejaculations.

Again, I knew that Zinc was important, but I had no idea why we needed it. After researching I realized that Zinc is actually quite crucial for your health and well-being! Zinc is found in almost every cell in your body. It helps activate the enzymes that improve your metabolism, fight off infection, improve the strength and complexion of your skin, and play an important part in reproduction. If you do not have enough Zinc in your diet, you may experience fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, and many other unfortunate symptoms.


As I said in an earlier post, most nutritionists suggest getting your nutrients from food rather than supplements. Zinc can be found in many foods such as oysters, red meats, fortified cereals, peanuts, some seeds, dark chocolate, and many other foods. If you believe you are not getting enough Zinc in your diet, consider taking a zinc supplement to try and reach the 11mg per day.

Be careful!!! Zinc is one of those nutrients that you can overdose on! It is suggested to have no more than 40mg of Zinc a day. If you end up going over the 40mg recommendation, many side effects can occur. Some side effects include headache, dizziness, and loss of muscle coordination, nausea, loss of appetite. Too much Zinc also can lead to anemia because zinc interferes with the absorption of iron and copper.

Do you think you are getting enough Zinc in your diet? Do you take a Multivitamin or Zinc Supplement? Do you have any other questions for me? Contact me at!

Vitamins for Women

Healthy Woman
Sorry guys, this post is specifically for the women who read my blog. The next one will be for you.

Obviously men and women are physically different and have different needs, especially when it comes to the amount of vitamins and nutrients they require. Because men, in general, have larger bodies they usually need more of certain nutrients than women. This got me questioning, which nutrients do nutritionist believe are the most vital for women to have?

After doing some research, it appeared that nutritionists almost always recommended getting your nutrition from foods rather than supplements; however, they do highly recommend certain supplements for people who may not be getting all of their proper nutrients through their diets. For non-pregnant women, there seems to be two nutrients that nutritionists frequently suggest supplementing into a diet if you are not getting enough with the food you are eating.

Women who experience menstrual bleeding frequently do not have enough iron in their diets, especially those of which who are dieting and consume less than 2,000 calories a day. Because of this, Anemia is fairly common in women. Anemia is a condition that occurs when there is not enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. Due to the blood loss during a woman’s menstrual cycle and the lack of iron in a woman’s diet, a woman with iron-deficient anemia does not have enough iron to produce enough hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the body’s organs. This will cause fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and multiple other symptoms. You can get Iron from red meat, eggs, fortified cereals and numerous other sources; however if your diet does not allow for the recommended amount of iron (18mg a day) a supplement may be the answer.

Milk and bones

Women are more prone to a condition called osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones which can cause a lot of pain and weak, easy-to-break bones in later years of life. Calcium is highly recommended for women to help prevent this issue. It is recommended that a woman should have 1000mg of calcium a day. To get this amount a woman would have to drink four 8-ounce glasses of nonfat skim milk a day. Of course someone can get his/her calcium in many other foods such as dairy products, spinach, and even fish; however, to have the recommended amount of calcium every day is not easy.

Did you like today’s topic? Do you currently take any supplements? Do you have any other questions or concerns? Contact me at


Lara Bar cherry pie

Lara Bar Cashew

lara bar apple pe
Just a few years ago, I was drinking Redbulls, Monsters, and other insane, high sugar, high caffeine energy drinks in order to get me through my day. It seemed like everyone around me was drinking these artificial drinks to find the extra boost they needed during the day as well. Today, it apprears that many people, including myself, are trying to find more “natural” ways to get their energy. So what are our choices?

One of my new favorite things to do is have a LARA bar. LARA bars are simply made with fruits and nuts. No extra sugars, preservatives, or additives! If you ever come across a LARA bar, look at the label of ingredients! No LARA bar contains any more than nine ingredients (most of them have much less). For example, the Banana Bread LARA bar consists of Almonds, Dates, and Unsweetened Bananas. The Peanut Butter Cookie LARA bar contains Dates, Peanuts, and Sea Salt. Very simple ingredients and very delicious flavors. To view all of the different flavors of LARA bars CLICK HERE. On this website it will show all of the different flavors, and when you click on one of the bars that you may be interested in, it tells you what ingredients are used, the nutritional facts, and also some beneficial vitamins and nutrients you get from the bar.

Another great thing about LARA bars is that people with all different diets can still have them. LARA bars are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and many flavors are Soy Free for people who may have allergies. LARA bars also are Vegan and Kosher for those people who follow strict diets. Every LARA bar consists of Dates and some sort of nut. Because of this, the bars have a good source of dietary fiber, and is high in natural sugars and carbs which give you the energy you need (23-32g of carbs per bar). The nuts give a good source of healthy fats and protein to feed your body, fight hunger, and also provide energy.

Next time you need a little pick me up, consider trying a LARA bar. They are easy, quick, and delicious!

What do you think about LARA bars? Have any other questions? Contact me at



“Organic” is a word we hear a lot these days. We try to eat “organic” and “natural” foods to help stay far away from the processed junk we have been so accustomed to eating. Processed foods have been linked to many health issues including obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and even cancer. With organic foods, we hope to ward off such health problems and live a more healthy lifestyle.

Today I was finally able to drink an entire bottle of an Organic Kombucha drink. I have seen these around for a while now, but whenever I had a chance to try one, I honestly could not get passed the disgusting taste. Today I was able to find one of the Synergy Kombucha drinks, a juice variety of the Kombucha tea, that I was able to finally enjoy. I will admit it wasn’t the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, but it was not bad.

Many of you may be reading this thinking, “What is Kombucha? I have never heard of it.” Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is a fermented drink made of live bacteria and yeast that supposedly has many health benefits. Some claimed benefits have been increasing your immunity, lowering your cholesterol, and improving your digestion.

Kombucha drinks do have helpful probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, and nutrients. In the bottle of Raspberry Chia Synergy Kombucha drink I had today, the only ingredients were organic raw kombucha, raw chia seeds, and raspberry juice. With only these three ingredients, the label still claimed that there is more than 8 times the omega-3s found in salmon, more fiber than oatmeal, and more antioxidants than blueberries. That is very impressive for such a simple drink. Because of the Chia seeds inside, this drink also provided some “Raw Energy.” I will admit that I drank the Kombucha before my workout and it did give me a nice energy boost in order to hit the gym full force.


According to Janet Helm, a Chicago-based dietitian and nutrition communications consultant, “It is a new way to get the beneficial bugs that people are looking for in yogurt, kefir and other probiotic dairy drinks. Kombucha also provides a source of prebiotics, which helps fuel the growth of helpful microorganisms in your digestive track. The black and green tea in kombucha also offers some beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols — although you could get the same with a simple tea bag.”

Now Kombucha also does have some possible downfalls. Although you can buy Kombucha drinks in the bottle at a natural grocers, it is also possible to make this fermented drink in your home. People sell kits in order to make your own Kombucha, but this can lead to some problems since sterile environments and how the bacteria is incubated and kept is unknown. Kombucha teas, specifically home brews of Kombucha, have been linked to some health issues including liver damage and acidosis because of the high levels of different acids. With this in mind, nutritionist suggest drinking Kombucha in moderation. You should not be drinking a Kombucha tea every day, but rather weekly or a few times a month.

One other issue is the taste. Many people who try Kombucha can not get past the harsh taste which is why I was only able to drink the Synergy drink which mixes juice with the Kombucha tea. Although some people find Kombucha to be refreshing, many others find it to be down right disgusting. Kombucha is also not a drink that goes down easily like a glass of water, but rather more like a glass of Orange Juice with pulp. Kombucha tea has floating strings of bacteria in the tea, and the Raspberry Chia tea I had today had many chia seeds floating inside, making it a very weird consistency.

So my overall review of Kombucha is mostly positive. If you can get passed the taste and consistency of the drink, I suggest that you should try drinking it in moderation. It does appear to be a nice natural health source and it contains a good amount of antioxidants, just be sure not to drink too much.

Do you like this review of Kombucha? Are there any other foods you would like me to try reviewing? Do you have any other questions or concerns? Email me at

Obesity in the USA

I was reading about nutrition tonight and came across a website that I thought was very interesting. It is obvious, based on the media we see and hear every day, that obesity is becoming a very big issue in the United States. There are countless reasons and theories as to why this is true, but did you ever wonder where the highest percent of obese people were in the USA? Do you want to know where your state racks up in the rankings? Check out (Click Here) to see where your state ranks among the others. You may be very surprised!

Obesity Map from 2011

I was happy to see that my home state, Connecticut, was the third leanest state of the 50, but I was still surprised at how high some of the numbers were.

    – 15 years ago, Connecticut had a combined obesity and overweight rate of 45.2%. 10 years ago, it was 52.1%. Now, the combined rate is 59.8%.
    – The diabetes rate in Connecticut was determined to be 6.9 (up from 5.5 fifteen years ago).
    – 15 years ago, Connecticut had a hypertension rate of 21%. Now, the rate is 25.7%.

These are some scary numbers, and the sad part is that these are the numbers from the third leanest state! I can not imagine some of the numbers in the more obese states.

If you were wondering, the most obese state was determined to be Mississippi, and the leanest was determined to be Colorado. Where does your state rank?

Do you have any questions or concerns? Email me at

Are you new to the Gym?

Alec Varcas Bicep

I was recently asked to do a post for people who may just be starting out the gym or who may be considering adding exercise into their daily routine. Most people have the same feeling when they join a gym… “What do I do?” You don’t know what exercises to do, you are scared people will judge you, and you don’t even know what your body can handle doing. This post will hopefully ease some of those worries you may be having and give you some tips on how to get a good start at the gym.

First of all, realize that people are not judging you. I personally am proud of you for wanting to make this change in your life! Getting the motivation to go to the gym is the first big step towards achieving a healthy lifestyle. We all started somewhere and we all know exactly what it feels like when you take your first few steps into the gym. We all are in the gym for the same reason, to improve ourselves! I have nothing but respect for everyone who takes time out to make exercise an important aspect of theirs lives.

Now, what do you do at the gym? You walk in and see a ton of different types of people, hundreds of machines and weights, and you honestly don’t know if you should just walk in with your chin held high, run and hide in the locker room, or just turn around and never come back. My suggestion is to first, put your stuff down in the locker room and then ask one if the gym employees to give you a tour of the gym. That is why they are there… to help you! Take a quick look around and learn about the different areas and exercise equipment the gym has to offer! ASK QUESTIONS! If you do not understand something, ask the employee while he/she is guiding you around. The more you understand and grasp now, the better!

I burned 921 calories in an hour...

I burned 921 calories in an hour…

Once the tour is over, it is now time to try out some of the equipment. I personally would suggest starting with an easy stretch in an open area somewhere, and then I would try using one of the cardio machines. Most gyms have treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, etc. and they are all pretty easy to use and understand. These are great to start with not only to get your body warm, but after using one of these machines for a while, I promise you that it will calm you down. You will feel less nervous about exploring the gym and trying out some new machines!

Ok, cardio is over; now it is time to do some muscle training. If you are really not familiar with weightlifting at all, try some of the machines the gym has to offer. If the gym is kept well, all of the weightlifting machines should have directions on how to perform the exercise and it also shows you which muscles the machines target. Start with the machine on a low weight and see if the motion is comfortable. If you believe you understand how the exercise is done, adjust the weight to a more proper resistance and try doing 3-5 sets of an exercise at the machine. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the staff at the gym, or even some other people working out. I have never come across a horribly rude person in a gym that is not willing to help.

Try out a few different machines, and when you feel like you your muscles are pretty tired and you worked them pretty well, it is time to call it a day… you will probably be sore tomorrow :-). Congratulations! You survived your first gym trip!

Now as you are recovering from this gym shock you just put your body through, you should now start researching different exercises you can do at the gym. You have see what machines and weights your gym has to offer so look up some different exercises you can do to target the areas of your body you most want to fix. There are thousands, if not millions of websites and videos offered online. I have been working out for a few years now and I still find workouts from blogs and videos that I would like to try. The more research you do, the more options you will have at the gym!

Now if you are really looking to make some fast progress and would like to do your absolute best at the gym, I HIGHLY recommend getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer can make a plan for you that directly reflects the goals you are trying to achieve. A good personal trainer will be able to keep changing up your routine in order to confuse your muscles and get good results quickly. A great personal trainer will also be able to give you diet and nutrition tips to practice outside of the gym to boost your results even more. Yes, a personal trainer can be expensive, but a few sessions with a great personal trainer can help you get into a proper routine to improve your health and quality of life in the long run. On a good note, if you are not sure about a personal trainer, some gyms actually give a free session with a trainer for signing up, and many personal trainers may work with you for a little time to see if you like their suggestions before you make any commitment to them. Try out a trainer! If you figure out that a trainer is not for you and you are more comfortable on your own, then at least you tried and now you know how you prefer working out!

I hope these tips will help you feel a little more comfortable about joining the gym! Don’t be afraid because there is nothing to be afraid of! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at

Book Review: Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual

Michael Pollan Food Rules

Because I am considering going into the health and fitness field as my career, and because this blog is getting a lot of views, I thought I should try to start really researching more into Health and Nutrition. A friend of mine on the tour recently lent me this book called Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan. Featured at #1 on the New York Times BestSeller list, this book shares basic rules and guidelines for making better choices while eating.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to improve his/her diet. Now I will be completely honest, I am NOT a reader. I have the hardest time focusing while reading, but with this book, it was so easy to get through (Besides, it is only 139 pages, some of which only have a few sentences on the them). Even though this book may be short, it provides 64 general rules that help you make better food choices and help improve your eating habits.

I don’t want to give too much away in my review because I want you to go buy this book and read it yourself, but from what I took away, Michael Pollan suggests many beliefs of those who may follow a Paleo diet (The same diet Tony Grecco, my last Feature Friday Inspirtation, tries to follow). While reading, he frequently points out his golden rule to eating: Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants. It sounds very easy, but he goes into much further detail on what this saying actually means, and how to follow this eating habit. Now from the saying, you may be thinking, “Oh, he is suggesting that I become a Vegetarian or a Vegan,” but fortunately he is not saying that at all! I love the fact that he is pro-omnivore! He tells you to eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. The rules are not aimed toward changing what foods you eat necessarily, but rather toward opening up your mind and observing what you eat. When you observe what you eat, when you are more knowledgable of how the food gets from the farm to your table, and when you are aware of how you are actually consuming your food, that is when you may actually question and consider changing your eating habits.

Heart Healthy

For the three sections of his golden rule, Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants, Michael Pollan gives a set of guidelines in order to help you follow these three steps. He knows that following every rule and guideline he suggests can be hard and a huge change from what you are used to, so he openly suggests picking at least one rule from each section and practicing those in your daily life. For example, the rules I would like to try to follow are:

    Eat Food – It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car AND Avoid foods that have some sort of sugar listed among the top three ingredients
    Mostly Plants – Drink the Spinach Water
    Not too much – The banquet is the first bite

I am not going to explain exactly what these rules mean and how to follow them since I want you to go get the book, but just by reading about how these rules work, and applying them to my diet, I hope to start eating healthier and smarter. I recommend you find which rules you are willing to try out. Some may sound farfetched or too hard to do, but I can guarantee you that you will be able to find some rules that you would like to try. He makes some excellent points and backs up most of his guidelines with reasonings that should hopefully help you better understand the importance and benefit of each rule.

Now go out there and purchase Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan if you would like to start changing some of your eating habits! If you have any questions about this book or my review, please feel free to email me at