Book Review: Fat Chance

Looking for a good book? This is one MUST READ book! I enjoy listening to podcasts while working sometimes. My favorite podcast is Vinnie Tortorich, America’s Angriest Trainer. I HIGHLY recommend you listen to his podcast and then go out and buy his bestselling book, Fitness Confidential. I will be doing a book review of that very shortly. Vinnie has always recommended Dr. Robert Lustig’s Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease on his podcast and after IMLP I finally had some free time to pick it up and finish it.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

I’ve read a lot of books within the past month and Lustig’s is by far the best one to read. I think this book should even be a required reading book in high schools and college. That’s how much I think everyone needs to read this book. Go buy it. Now!

Who is Dr. Lustig? Well, he is an internationally renowned pediatric endocrinologist who has spent the past 16 years treating childhood obesity at some of the top hospitals in the world, such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Sooo… I would say that he knows his shit better than those Jillian Michaels and Dr. Oz characters.

Dr. Lustig became famous for his at-the-time, very controversial you-tube video called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” And, yes, I think you should watch that too. Fat Chance documents the science and politics that have led to the current obesity pandemic that no longer just affects the United States, but the entire world. I went on a medial mission to Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 2011 and I was surprised beyond belief the number of overweight and obese people and the number of fast-food joints in those countries. Hell, Costa Rica has a Denny’s!

Lustig reveals and outlines all the bad research that has been conducted over the years by the government and big food. Personally, I think a lot of those scientists who were involved in many of those studies should have their PhD’s removed. It’s rather disgusting how many people will sell-out to the food industry and politicians. Ok, end rant.

The book begins by setting up a valid argument why the government’s view of “calorie in, calorie out” is bullshit. I hate that term. When discussing food with my clients I always ask them “what is a calorie?” No one has yet to answer correctly. It’s because we have been brainwashed over the years to think of food as calorie in, calorie out. That’s how you’re suppose to lose weight, right? Wrong! Believe me, I was one of those people for a long time too, but the more I read (from reputable and educated sources!!) the more I learn that I have been completely duped all my life. Lustig is an endocrinologist meaning that he is a specialist in hormones and the biochemistry of the human body.

Lustig talks a lot about hormones, ya know, since he gets hormones. Hormones have a profound effect on our metabolism and how we view food. Fat Chance outlines ways to readjust our key hormones that regulate hunger, reward, and stress. That is done mainly by eliminating sugar. Sugar is an addictive toxin to our bodies. We live in a society today that thinks dietary fat is bad. Low-fat this and low-fat that. Well, guess what happens when you remove fat from food products? The food tastes like crap and the manufactures pump it full on sugar. Read the book and find out why sugar is bad for you. I’m serious, do it.

The evolution of nutritional science is what really fascinates me. Back in the early to mid-1900’s we got the science right. And then big food and some idiots got involved. The leading cause of death today in the United States is heart disease, but in the next decade or so we will see that shift to diabetes and other metabolic-related diseases, which heart disease can be considered one. In 1957 John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist, postulated that a dietary component caused heart attacks. By 1964, through natural observation studies he theorized that the consumption of sucrose was associated with heart disease. Yudkins published numerous papers on the biochemistry of sucrose and was the first person to warn us that excessive consumption could lead to heart disease, diabetes, GI diseases among other diseases.

Now, back in the United States we have Ancel Keys, a Minnesota epidemiologist. In the early 1950s Keys spend some time in England where we witnessed a large rise in heart disease. The typical English diet consisted of high fat and high cholesterol items, such as fish and chips. He noticed that those who are well fed in both the US and UK were those who could afford meat, but also seemed to suffer the most from heart disease. In the 1960s and 1970s Keys published numerous studies indicating that heart disease patients had higher cholesterol levels than non-heart disease patients. In 1980 Keys published his “Seven Countries” study, a 500-page paper that concluded that dietary fat was the single cause of heart disease. Which, the United States government and medical community has since run with. However, there are four major problems with his thesis.

The first being that his Seven Countries study started out as a Twenty-two Countries study. The seven countries he used in his study were: Japan, Italy, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, and the US. The relationship between dietary fat and heart disease looked quite convincing when the data was plotted. However, when he plotted the other countries (Austria, Ceylon, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland), the correlation was almost non-existent. He also actively chose not to include indigenous tribes, such as the Inuit, Tokelau, and Maasai and Rendille, who eat only animal fat and have the lowest prevalence of heart disease on the planet. How’s that for science? Second, the role of dietary fat in heart disease is complicated by trans fat, which has signficant scientific studies to link it to metabolic syndrome. The use of trans-fats peaked during the 1960s and most likely were not considered a variable by Keys.

Third, if you look at the correlation itself, it is a problem. Japan and Italy eat the least amount of saturated fat and have the least amount of heart disease. But, they also eat the least amount of dietary sugar out of all the countries included. How do you know if it’s the sugar or the fat causing heart disease? Fourth, Keys admits that he correlated sucrose with saturated fat, but it was not important enough to him to remove sucrose from the equation. When one completes a multivariate correlation analysis, a common statistical tool that determines whether A causes B regardless of the impact of C, D, and E, one has to do the calculation both ways. In other words, Keys would have had to hold sucrose constant and show that dietary fat still correlates with heart disease. Basically, Keys used bad science. And then the government took it and ran with the idea.

This is just one of the studies Lustig discusses in his book. He discusses many more that are just as interesting. The end of the book concludes with two sections. One is on the personal solution and the other is on the public health solution. I absolutely loved the public health section because I am a public health professional. In society today we have this notion that obesity is an individual problem. That person eats too much, doesn’t exercise and it’s their fault they are fat. Lustig will tell you that’s rarely the problem. The public health section discusses ways as a society that we can conquer the impending obesity pandemic.

Overall, you will be crazy not to read this book. Out of all the books I have read this year, this is by far one of the best ones out there. It will change your view of nutrition and the obesity epidemic. Lustig gives you the science that backs up his claims. This isn’t a diet book written by some bimbo Hollywood trainer on how to lose 10-lbs in 10 days. It’s a real book based on real science that will open your eyes and mind to the current nutritional crisis in the United States.

What are you waiting for? GO BUY THE BOOK! 🙂

~ Happy Training!

The Day I Swallowed a Bug and Puked on my Bike


Yup, you read that title correctly.

On Sunday I had a 3 hour ride and the weather was beautiful! I was psyched to get out on my bike. I decided to head out towards the Baldwin/Sebago area to hit up some rolling hills. The first hour of the ride was intended to be my warm-up/endurance zone, followed by 2 x 20 at half-Ironman zone, and then wrapping up with an 1:10 of zone 2 endurance riding all the way back home.

My goal of the ride was to improve my power VI and make it “perfect” so my coach can give me an “A.” If you don’t know what that means, then go buy a powermeter! 🙂 In layman term’s I need to learn to ride at a steady pace throughout the entire ride – keeping power low as possible while climbing and pushing the watts on the downhills. I’m getting there, but I still have a lot of work to do. However, my cadence is improving rapidly. I’m a former gear masher and over the course of the past year or so I have been working hard to spin instead of push weight. The ideal cadence for a triathlete is between 80 and 100 rpm, with the “golden number” around 90 rpms. Spinning the legs versus mashing gears will save your legs for the run.

The first hour went by quickly. I wasn’t sure at first on what to wear. It was sunny and it the 60s. I settled on wearing cycling capris, a long sleeve cycling jersey and a thermal shirt underneath. I brought gloves with me in case I needed them, but I didn’t. Yay, Spring! I had to stop every 45 minutes to 1 hour to stretch out my hip. With all the climbing my psoas (especially the right side) were cramping up. Luckily my bum knee held up just fine (at least for the bike portion). I rode out Route 113 for 1.5 hours and then turned around and headed back towards home. Later this spring/summer when my mileage increases I plan to ride up 113 to Fryeburg and back. Possibly all the way to the New Hampshire border and back. That should be a good 100+ mile ride. 🙂

Shortly before the incident...

Shortly before the incident…

Anyway, at the 1:30 mark I turned around. And it happened shortly after that. I hit a slight downgrade and started to push the power downhill. I was cruising at about 30 mph minding my own business (and apparently with my mouth open) when a giant bug flew into my mouth. Actually, I think it skipped my mouth and went right to the throat. Obviously it caught me completely off guard. It happened almost instantaneously too. I have a major gag reflex and a swallowing a giant bug will trigger it. I puked up the gel and Ironman Perform that I had just consumed about 10 minutes before all over the cockpit of my bike and all over myself. Great! I’m sure that all the cars that drove by me got an awesome sight. I bet they all want to be triathletes now too. Not only do we piss on our bikes, but we puke on them too! Yay!

And this is pretty much how it went down...

And this is pretty much how it went down…


But, seriously. Worst experience ever on the bike. Lesson learned – keep mouth shut while riding to avoid ingesting large insects. I cleaned my bike up from the gooey, sugary mess and attempted to wipe myself off and then started pedaling again. My tummy was still doing flip-flops for a while afterwards, but other than that I felt fine. During the last hour of the ride the wind picked up a bit since I started heading towards the lake. Other than that it was a rather dull last hour home.

My transition run on the other hand was not a good run. I managed to run 15 of the 20 minutes before my knee really started to hurt. I decided to play it safe and walk the remaining 5 minutes. Let’s hope this knee gets better soon! PolarBear on Saturday! Eekk!

~ Happy Training folks (and remember to not eat bugs on your rides)! 

The Plague That Doesn’t End…

Remember this?

Only the lyrics have been changed to this:

This is the plague that never ends.

It just goes on and on my friends.

Some people started getting it not knowing what it was,

And they will continue being infected forever just because…

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about my weekend plague. I thought it was just a cold that would go away after a couple of days. Boy, was I wrong! The ugly thing morphed into a full on head cold/sinus infection that pretty much left me feeling like shit for over two weeks! I finally decided that I needed drugs so yesterday I adventured over to the doctors to demand antibiotics. Of course, I had to call my insurance company to see if my coverage was still good through the end of the month. It was. Thank God! Luckily my doctor was good and gave me some antibiotics. I wasn’t leaving unless she prescribed me something. When reviewing my medical record she noticed that last year at this time I went to see she for the same exact thing. I guess this head cold/sinus infection is an annual occurrence. Lucky me.

I was lucky that this past week was a rest week. And my week was just that – rest. I managed two half-ass workouts before I felt like death. On Sunday I attempted to complete my 2-hour trainer ride. I got to the hour mark and quit because I was getting extremely hot and dizzy. I figured it would be best to hop off my bike before I passed out. My intention was to complete the second hour after I got home from work. However, as my work day went on I started feeling really crappy and as soon as I got home I bee-lined to my bed.

Monday I was able to complete my workouts on my schedule! Yay! The next three weeks my volume is picking up so they are big weeks I don’t want to miss. Monday I was scheduled for a 30 min spin before an 1:35 run. I was surprised how well my body handled the workout. I was a bit nervous when I headed out on my run incase I died half way through it. I left the gym and just explored the area for over 9 miles. I am actually going to be coaching a run group this summer at the gym so I was scouting out the area for potential routes. I definitely found a glute-brutal hill for hillwork! 🙂

Now that the antibiotics have kicked in I’m hoping to hit the pool for a workout tonight. That could be interesting!


~ Happy Training!

The Weekend Plague

Last weekend I had a fabulous weekend full of fun and friends for a great 26th birthday celebration. This past week began strong with renewed motivation for training. My job situation got a little more stable and I have leads on affordable health insurance plans so that is a huge stress relief. My new Garmin 910XT came in the mail on Wednesday so I was more than excited to try out my new toy this weekend. However…

karma is a bitch

On Thursday I started feeling really nausea throughout the day but I just chalked it up to being related to the recent changes in my diet and also stress. When I’m super stress it tends to affect my tummy and GI track. Then on Friday I had a long day of work between two jobs and I just started to feel like shit. My head felt like it was in a vice and my throat was beginning to get dry and sore. Yup, I totally caught the latest cold that is going around. As always, epic timing to boot. I was pumped for my big weekend of training, which included my first outside ride of the year. Obviously, none of that happened.


I spent a majority of my weekend in bed or the couch watching movies or sleeping. And maybe devoured a pint of ice cream. I did have to work a few hours each day so that was kind of a bummer, but such as life. I did manage a 1 hour ride on the trainer before I felt like I wanted to die on Sunday afternoon. My coach told me not to stress about it and do what I can. I felt the need to burn off the ice cream I ate so I guess it counts?

Today begins the beginning of my rest week. I’m also currently at home sick. I was hoping that I would feel better and be able to get in a quick run today, but alas my body (mainly my head and left ear) has told me that staying in bed all day is a much better plan. Grrr… I’m crossing my fingers that I kick this cold very very soon and hopefully it is the last one of the year. Because I just realized that Ironman Lake Placid is less than four and a half months away!! FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS!! As in 14 weeks! EEEKKK! Time to get down to business!

Now, please go away cold. I really hate you. Thanks.


~ Happy Training!

The Perfect Jeans vs. The Perfect Man

Thursday was a sad day. I ripped my favorite pair of jeans. The inseam of my jeans ripped all because I have these damn things called Thunder Thighs. Grr.. Of course, I can’t like the cheap Old Navy jeans. I have to buy the expensive designer jeans from an Old Port boutique because those are what fit my thunder thighs and small waist.


This is actually the second pair this has happened too so I’m now on the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans. First all, I really hate shopping. Unless it’s for fitness and triathlon stuff…

I braved the crowds at the mall on Friday night to try on jeans. Yeah… I left emptied-handed. No bueno.


Then I realized that finding the perfect pair of jeans is almost as hard as finding the perfect man! You “shop” around trying to make it work with multiple guys trying to find the perfect fit. You want the one that’s going to make you feel comfortable like you’re wearing old comfy sweat pants, but one that also makes you feel and look beautiful. And then of course if you have short little legs like mine (and a pair of thunder thighs) then even the short or petite sized jeans are still too long! Oy! Can’t win in life.

So I’ve decided that searching for the perfect pair of jeans is as elusive as finding the perfect man! They are few and far between. But honestly, I’m not looking for perfect. Just someone (and a pair of jeans) that can put up with me (and my dog). That’s all I ask!

Story of my life...

Story of my life…


Anyway, training is going well. I’ve managed to complete a majority of my workouts each win. VICTORY! I completed my first FTP test of 2013. And, I don’t really want to talk about it. Major drop of wattage. Blah….

~ Happy Training!


The Top 10 Characters at the Gym

AUTHORS NOTE: This is supposed to be funny! If you are offended by this in any way, shape or form, then I am sorry that you don’t have a sense of humor.

Chances are you have been to a gym at some point in your life. I’ve been to quite a few over the years, but no matter where you go there is always the same sort of people there. The gym is much like the mall. It is great for people watching. Every gym has its characters. This is a collection of my favorites over the years. (Like I have said before though, I applaud anyone who makes an effort to exercise to stay healthy)

1. The girl who has to put make-up on and does her hair BEFORE she works out.

2. The guy who does ninja moves on top of a medicine ball (okay, they are really balancing exercises and I’m honestly quite impressed by his skills. I have yet to try in fear of breaking my nose against the wall)

3. The trainer’s posse of adoring fans

4. The annoying people who are “exercising” on the treadmill while talking on their cellphone and, of course, there are no open treadmills when you need to get your run in!

5. The creepy old dude who stares at woman’s butts while they are doing squats

6. The meatheads!

7. The guys who flex in the mirror thinking they are hott shit

8. The short little dude who walks around the gym in his sweatsuit carrying a gallon water jug and talking to all the women but never seems to workout.

9. The young girls who barely wear anything and always seem to exercise next to the cute guys and when the cute guys move they follow them…

10. The crazy chick wearing tri shorts doing chin-ups, running drills down the aisle, throwing medicine balls at the floor violently, and yelling at the gym trainer who has set his TRX wrong! (Oh, wait… that’s me 🙂 )