weight gain

The Personal Trainer's Guide to Staying Healthy While Traveling

Many of my personal training clients fear that they will sacrifice their health and weight loss goals while traveling. Fear not! Here is my quick guide to maintaining what you worked so hard for!

Don’t touch your face without washing your hands

Whether traveling by planes, trains, or automobiles, you most likely are hanging out in well-populated public places….which increases your exposure to bacteria and viruses. While I don’t think you should hole yourself in a closet for the rest of your life, I do advocate some boundaries. The first rule of staying healthy on the road is resisting the urge to touch your face without washing your hands. You might be surprised to learn how often you touch your lips, nose, and eyes each day. Each swipe of your hand gives germs access to your system. Considering that you’re sharing doorknobs, railings, counters, and faucet handles, your hands are constantly in contact with the world. Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to touch your face until you wash your hands.

Use disinfecting wipes while flying

Have you ever witnessed airline staff members wiping down tray tables and seat belts? Me neither. On average, each plane will see at least 2 flights each day (and we don’t know what special germs were left behind for us). Most likely, you will eat and/or drink off of the tray table….which makes cross-contamination easy. Before you sit, quickly wipe the seatbelt and the top and bottom of the tray table for 20 seconds. The little things that we overlook are the ones that affect us the most.

Always carry a water bottle

Too often, a cause of our exhaustion and hunger is dehydration. With the constant access of junk food on the road, it’s easy to convince yourself that you need an indulgence as a remedy (when all you need is a simple sip). Make yourself a rule: Any time you’re tired or hungry, drink 4-8 ounces of water and reassess. You might be surprised what you’ll find.


Usually your vacations are jam-packed with tourists activities….which rarely meet your minimum requirements of healthy physical movement. While I wouldn’t expect you (or my personal training clients) to exercise several hours per day during your break from reality, replacing your cab/uber rides with walks will still help you maintain your health and possibly weight loss. Believe it or not, walkers do lose weight while eating their way through Italy. Walking is the easiest way to move on the road and a great way to immerse yourself in new neighborhoods while keeping your engine revved up. Keep your senses alive and rise beyond the seat!

Split food

Enjoy the best of a dining experience while shrinking your portions: Split with a buddy! Instead of ordering 2 separate entrees (which are probably big enough for 3), share an entrée and an appetizer. This foodie approach is an easy way to enjoy more than one taste of the local culture while avoiding a belt-busting experience.

Finding a running group in the city that you’re visiting or signup for a 5k

Running is a global phenomenon that connects many cultures. Find another way to connect with the community that you’re visiting and find a local meetup for runners. What a neat way to participate in a social workout in a new environment! Google “running groups (insert location)” or “running clubs (insert location)” and extend yourself! You can also signup for a random 5k to enhance your workout too!

Make your food count with the ChefsFeed phone app

I always say that if you’re going to do it, do it well. Since my wife Sammy is an event sales manager in the restaurant industry, you probably know that I’m referring to restaurants. Exploring new dishes is a way of life-my life-and it tends to direct my travel choices. I can give you my normal personal trainer speel on following a true vegan lifestyle to achieve optimal health (even though all of us should). Instead, I’d rather try to persuade you to change your relationship with food. Stop eating just to fill up and eat with intent instead. Use the ChefsFeed phone app to strategically celebrate the favorite dishes and restaurants chosen by local chefs. Type in your location and sift through the many recommendations from the host culinary experts. It is possible to still meet your health goals while enjoying the best of life. You just need to be mindful and selective. Thanks for this suggestion, Carol!

Photo Credit:
Wanderlove. com –Can you wander and still keep your health in mind?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
The Personal Trainer's Guide to Staying Healthy While Traveling
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

“Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" Review

This is a great top 5 list of why counting calories may be a huge waste of time while trying to lose weight (from the MSN article “Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss”).

1. You likely have no idea how many calories you actually need.

In order to accurately count calories for weight loss, you’d need to know your basal metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns each day simply to stay alive and keep all your systems running. And unless you’ve done indirect calorimetry, which I can almost guarantee you haven’t—it involves lying with a mask on, hooked up to a very expensive piece of machinery for a prolonged period of time to measure your oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion—you really are playing with arbitrary numbers. Although it’s the “gold standard” of figuring out how many calories you use per day, like anything else, indirect calorimetry can have flaws.

Yes, you can approximate the number of calories you use in a day via equations and apps, but that’s all you get: an approximation. If even the “gold standard” machine can be wrong, then why let some app or equation determine how much you should be eating?

Personal Trainer Wisdom: As I’ve mentioned before, we can’t necessarily rely on the caloric approximations provided by our favorite tech tools. They are what they are-estimated guesses based on typically less-than-personal factors.

2. You don’t know how many calories your body is absorbing from food.

Let’s say that by some miracle, you know exactly how many calories you need to eat per day for weight loss. That’s great, but you’re not out of the woods, thanks to the question of absorption.

We used to think that since 3,500 calories equal a pound, every time you eat 3,500 extra calories beyond what your body needs, you end up gaining that weight. Now we know better: Not all calories are equal like we thought.

Everything from how your food is processed to how much fiber it contains determines how many calories you’re absorbing from it. Even the bacteria in your gut may play a part in how you digest food and how many calories you derive from it.

For example, you’ll absorb more calories from cooked meat versus raw, and peanut butter versus whole peanuts. Due to size differences, one sweet potato varies in calories from another before you even take it off the shelf at the store. Calories absorbed is a complex business that’s light years beyond any calorie-counting app on the market.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Another reminder that not all calories are built the same. Do you really know how your body interacts with the foods that you eat? You most likely never studied the differences and now is the time.

3. Calorie counts on packages aren’t necessarily accurate.

But wait! Even if you know how many calories you need and how many you’re absorbing, you’re not done! In fact, the Food and Drug Administration allows up to 20 percent margin of error in the numbers on those nutrition labels you likely rely on to count many of your calories. Meaning, that 250-calorie snack you’re eating might actually have 200 calories—or 300.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: If you’re calorie counting, you’re most likely living on the edge of too much. I recommend a large buffer zone in case the calorie count on the packages are as inaccurate as this article claims.

4. Counting calories can encourage you to ignore your hunger cues.

Focusing entirely on calories, instead of the quality of the food you’re eating and how you actually feel before chowing down (hungry, bored, stressed, etc.), can wreak havoc on those precious hunger cues you’re born with. Whether you’re eating just because you “have calories left,” even though you’re not truly hungry, or you’re not eating because you’ve “gone over” your calorie allotment for the day, but you’re actually still hungry, you’re doing the same thing: ignoring what your body is trying to tell you.

Trust your body, because it knows what it needs a lot more than some random number or tracker.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Ultimately, your physical cues will determine the type of foods you should eat and how much. The more in tune with your body the more optimal you can operate it.

5. Calorie counting adds to the misconception you can “work off” the food you eat.

One of the things that angers me most about calorie-counting apps is the impression they give that you can exercise yourself “back into the green.” Going over your “calorie allowance” again and again because you think you can burn off the transgressions? Nope. Your body doesn’t burn off food calorie-for-calorie like that.

A 2014 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine emphasized that “it is where the calories come from that is crucial” in determining whether your body is tempted to store them as fat, use them for energy, or apply them to some other mechanism, the study authors explain.

Plus, if you do routinely overindulge then try to work it off in the gym, you’ll be exercising for a very long time, depending on the size of the junky meals you’ve eaten. This, in turn, may cause you to become hungrier…and eat more. Vicious cycle? Definitely.

The good news is that when you only overeat from time to time, your body can handle those extra calories without making you gain weight. It’s when you overeat on a more frequent basis that you can get into weight-gain territory.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: The “calories in vs. out” theory has consistently failed my personal training clients for the last 12 years. Too many factors affect how the calories are consumed and expelled to deliver a convenient formula. Once again, err on the side of caution by choosing the most nutrient dense foods while remaining active every day. It doesn’t get more simple than this.

Photo Credit:
Self.com–Can we really get away without counting calories?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" on MSN.com (Self).
"Here's Why Counting Calories Really Isn't Necessary for Weight Loss" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

37 Snack Ideas for Weight Loss (And You Won’t Be Bored)

As a personal trainer, my personal training clients always wonder what quick and healthy snack options will help them lose weight. With a little research (and tasting), I’ve compiled this master list to guide their (and your) choices. Please keep in mind that “snacks” are really filler foods or indulgences that rarely meet your entire nutritional need at a given time (such a tease!). You’re probably seeking food because you’re hungry, and a small meal is most ideal (even if it’s only 100-300 calories). Since you now eat with intent, you want to choose a nutrient balance of vitamins, fiber, protein, fat, and more.

The snacks/small meals below are perfect examples of delicious, on-the-go options that satisfy your hunger and nutritional needs without adding to your waistline. Be sure to bookmark this list in case you’re looking for something to prepare at home or pickup in-between appointments. I’ve included a number of meal delivery services as well. Finally, check out the "Ideal Weight Loss Plate" below to help you choose combinations beyond this list.

At-Home Ambition

- Kale, black bean, red pepper flakes, and avocado bowl
- Spanish spinach with chickpeas
- Hummus and tabouli salad
- Chickpea salad
- Mixed olives, almonds, and minced garlic tossed in a little tahini sauce
- Roasted chickpeas and carrots with lemon and tahini sauce and crushed almonds
- Cashews with sliced apples
- Pistachios with a banana
- Kale chips with jalapeno hummus and lemon
- Hummus with chia seeds and sliced bell peppers

Eating on the Road

- Tacos: Corn tortillas, avocado, black beans, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo
- Bowl: Black beans, pinto beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, tomatillo green-chili salsa, guacamole

- Bowl: Hummus, tomato and cucumber, fresh vegetables, red cabbage slaw, sumac onions
- Bowl: Tomato and cucumber, red cabbage slaw, sumac onions, tahini

Lyfe Kitchen
- Edamame hummus with seasonal vegetables
- Fish tacos with seasonal fish chayote slaw, avocado, cilantro, green onion, chipotle aioli, corn tortillas, salsa fresca
- Roasted curry cauliflower with brussels sprout petals, roasted grapes, capers

Protein Bar
- HI-5 Smoothie: Coconut milk, kale, spinach, cilantro, and pineapple blended with crushed ice
- Market Smoothie: Coconut milk, kale, romaine, spinach, celery, apple, ginger, cucumber, parsley, lemon, and lime
- Sweet Greens Smoothie: Coconut milk, pineapple, apple, spinach, romaine, kale, celery, ginger, cucumber, parsley, lemon, lime

Pret a Manger
- Moroccan lentil soup: A bold soup packed with hearty lentils and chunky vegetables, with a handful of spices and a dash of balsamic vinegar to create an authentic Moroccan
- Black bean soup
- Mediterranean Mezze Salad: A colorful salad loaded with falafel, butternut squash, harissa chickpeas, beet hummus, dukkah, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint
- Veggie Fiesta Salad: Black beans, charred corn, jicama & zucchini slaw, cubed pepper jack, avocado, pickled red onions, cilantro & lime over a bed of romaine and spinach

- Superfood Soup: Vegetable broth, quinoa, kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, red onions
- Salad/Bowl: Spinach, kale, almonds, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, mushrooms, roasted peppers, sesame seeds, beet slaw

Left Coast Food and Juice
- Jimmy Ching: Napa cabbage, romaine hearts, snow peas, crunchy quinoa, cashews, green onion, mint, sesame seeds, chinese mustard vinaigrette
- Robust Rosa: Kale, spinach, roasted broccoli, red onion, roasted tomato, toasted hemp seeds, avocado caesar dressing

True Food Kitchen
- Charred Cauliflower: Harissa tahini, Medjool date, dill, mint, pistachio
- Seasonal Ingredient Salad: Brussels sprout, butternut squash, cauliflower, white bean, pomegranate, toasted mulberry, horseradish vinaigrette
- Ancient Grains Bowl: Miso-glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow pea, grilled portobello, avocado, hemp seed

Sweet Green
- Spicy Sabzi: Organic baby spinach, shredded kale, spicy broccoli, raw beets, organic carrots, bean sprouts, spicy quinoa, basil, Sweet Green hot sauce, carrot chili vinaigrette (ask for no roasted sesame tofu)
- Bowl (build your own): Organic mesclun, bean sprouts, spicy broccoli, hot chickpeas, toasted almonds, local apples, lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette
- Bowl (build your own): Organic arugula, basil, shredded cabbage, raw beets, toasted almonds, spicy sunflower seeds, carrot chili vinaigrette

Caffe Baci
- Grain Salad: Organic kale & spinach, citrus marinated northern beans, tri-colored quinoa, pickled red onion, toasted sunflower seeds, citrus vinaigrette on the side
- Grilled Vegetable Salad: Native, grilled seasonal vegetables, balsamic vinaigrette
- Tomato Salad: Fresh vine tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, fresh basil, red wine vinaigrette, Italian spice blend

Meal Services

- http://www.sageeatschicago.com
- https://www.fittinglydelicious.com/
- https://www.purplecarrot.com

Photo Credit:
Purple Carrot .com – Could this be the snack that helps you lose weight and satisfy your hunger on-the-go?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
37 Snack Ideas for Weight Loss (And You Won’t Be Bored)
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" Review

If you still believe in the “Calories In/Calories Out” theory (and you’re still not losing weight), you’ll want to read these reasons why you should rethink your approach (from the Business Insider article "The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?").

In glaring black-and-white block letters on the side of your favorite cereal, they vie for your attention — calories. Yet while they're the most prominent part of a nutrition label, calories don't tell the full story.

That's according to registered dietitian and nutritionist Nichola Whitehead, who says the most important thing to look for on a nutrition label is not the calories, but rather the ingredients.< br>
"It's what you're putting into your body that counts," says Whitehead.

While calories can provide a very rough estimate of how healthy something might be, they leave out a number of important factors. Calories don't tell you, for example, how satiated or full something is going to make you feel, how beneficial it is for your digestion, or whether it contains the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy skin, hair, and nails.

This guidance can be applied to whole meals as well as processed foods.

Take the following two breakfasts as an example. Meal one consists of a piece of wheat toast with butter, a couple scrambled eggs, and a coffee. Meal two includes a bowl of frosted cereal in low-fat milk, a glass of orange juice, and a coffee. Both meals have almost exactly the same number of calories.

While they tally up identically as far as their calories are concerned, the two plans are far from equal.

The cereal and juice meal is based around sugar and refined carbohydrates, which the body breaks down quickly, creating a constant need to refuel with caffeine or a snack. The eggs and wheat toast meal, on the other hand, is what Whitehead would call "balanced" — it contains the right mix of proteins and complex carbohydrates that your body needs to be properly fueled in the long term.

Because they score high on something nutritionists refer to as the glycemic index, essentially a measure of how a food will impact your blood sugar levels, foods like processed cereals, white bread, and white rice fall into a category known as "empty calories." Foods like this will "give you a rapid amount of sugar, but you’re going to feel hungry shortly afterwards," says Whitehead.

This is where ingredients play a key role in sizing up the content of what you're eating. When you see things like sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or white flour listed as the first ingredients on a food, that can be a good indicator that it's not going to keep you full or energized in the long term. Instead, look for things like whole grains, lean proteins (chickpeas, beans, or chicken breast), and vegetables.

"It's what kinds of foods you eat that matters when it comes to how healthy your body is, how satiated you’re feeling, and how much energy you’ve got," says Whitehead. "Calories are just a tool."

Personal Trainer Wisdom: “A caloric reduction in your diet will automatically result in weight loss” is the biggest weight loss myth that still resonates in the minds of my personal training clients. I don’t blame them. Less food intake, the more weight loss. In some cases this is true. For instance, if you typically consume 3000 calories per day and cut out 500 calories, this dramatic drop may result in weight loss… initially. There will be a point, just like it has for my personal training clients over the last 12 years, when that will stop, though.

Your body is a very complicated, efficient piece of art that depends on a base of dietary fuel. While you can function on a filler-food diet, it doesn’t change the body’s nutrient-dense requirements. What happens when you don’t choose nutrient-dense foods? Secondary systems will be recruited by your core system to compensate for this deficit. You may continue to release the hunger hormone, ghrelin, until it receives what it needs. Your body may also slow down your metabolism to preserve what it has received and/or minimize the stress to itself.

On the flipside, you most likely will be increasing your blood sugar levels with an onslaught of refined (simple) carbs and increasing the amount of inflammation in your body, too…2 important factors that will also affect your ability to lose weight.

Furthermore, as the article describes above, the combination of calories play a pivotal role in digestion and absorption. What does this mean for you? Any diet that requires a single food as a meal, solely on liquid (unless it is a smoothie), fasting, and an abundance of inflammatory foods/drinks (dairy, grains, processed foods, refined sugars, red meat, and alcohol), may stop your weight loss, increase your weight, and compromise your health.

Photo Credit:
NetDoctor.com –Should we consider a bigger picture when reading a nutrition label?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" on MSN.com.
"The Most Important Thing to Look for on a Nutrition Label Isn't Calories, According to a Dietitian?" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.

"40 Habits Making You Hungry" Review

Instead of looking at why you’re not losing weight, you may want to look at what causes your endless hunger. Here are the top reasons why from the Zerobelly article "40 Habits Making You Hungry”.


All that talk of breakfast being the most important meal of the day rings truer than you might think. In the morning, your body’s concentration of hunger hormone ghrelin tends to be higher than during the rest of the day. However, when you skip breakfast, you’re putting off the uptick in satiety hormone leptin, keeping you famished and more prone to grabbing something unhealthy when you finally do eat. In fact, research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting reveals that average weight individuals who skipped breakfast and then looked at photos of food chose high-calorie treats more often than those who had eaten a morning meal.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: I think the most important point in regards to skipping breakfast is the one that’s missing: You create a deficit in your body when you deprive it of the fuel it needs while skipping breakfast. The body hacker will argue that fasting will cause the body to employ its backup system to assist a person with his or her weight loss. Let’s consider this for a moment as truth. Maybe you will lose weight because your metabolism has “lit” up (not simply because of your calorie reduction). Is this a long term result? Wouldn’t your body return to its set metabolism once your habits stabilize? Wouldn’t the risk of malnutrition, fatigue, and additional internal organ work be enough to encourage you to do what you’re simply avoiding: Eating a balancing diet when your body demands it? Your body is an efficient machine. Let it work the way it should.


Eating snacks to tide you over between meals can help prevent binges later on, but if you’re grazing all day long, you might be making yourself hungrier. Research published in the January 2016 edition of the Journal of Nutrition reveals that grazing didn’t actually curb the appetite of study participants. Grazing all day may also make you more likely to forget what you’ve eaten, contributing to a higher total caloric intake.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: If you’re eating with intent, grazing doesn’t exist…and your appetite will be satisfied. Again, this is another theory related to the speed of your metabolism. Ironically, this failed attempt can lead you to a deficiency and the mindless eating of calories.


Catching some Zs may not be the most calorie-burning activity you do all day, but it can make a major difference in terms of your hunger. Research published in the December 2004 edition of PLoS Medicine reveals that inadequate sleep triggers the body’s production of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, while suppressing the production of leptin, the hormone that signals satiety. Couple that with the increased stomach acid production — a feeling often mistaken for hunger — that many people experience after a sleepless night and you’ve got a recipe for some serious munchies.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: If you’re going to continue to run the machine without rest, it will continue to demand fuel. Are you willing to wear down the parts without maintenance? If you sacrifice sleep, you’re sacrificing your body. Time to ease off the coffee, relax a bit, and hit the hay.


Canned foods may be convenient and economical, but turning to them on a regular basis might be the reason behind your persistent hunger. Not only can salty canned foods increase thirst, which is often mistaken for hunger, research conducted at Carleton University in Ottawa reveals that the BPA in certain food packaging can decrease the body’s leptin receptivity, making it harder to determine when you’re satisfied.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Sodium is a hidden killer and it finds itself in many of your packaged goods. Be especially mindful of most pasta sauces (500-800 mg per serving) and canned fish (300 mg per serving). if you trying to staying in the recommended range of 500 mg of sodium per meal.


If you think that end-of-the-day drink is helping you wind down, think again — it might just be making you hungrier. Not only does alcohol have an inhibition-lowering effect, making you eager to eat, even when you’re not particularly hungry, it can also disrupt your REM sleep, leaving you poorly rested and more prone to grabbing convenience snacks to tame your rumbling tummy.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Most important, you achieve the most physical recovery during REM sleep...something you shouldn’t take lightly. Try to minimize anything that will affect this important time of night.


Whether you’re tapering off your antidepressants or have finished a prescription for painkillers after surgery, finishing a medication can have a serious effect on your hunger level. Many medications, from those that treat chronic pain to those designed for individuals with ADHD, can have appetite-suppressing effects. Unfortunately, when you finish your course of treatment, your old appetite can come back in full force, so it’s important to pay particular attention to your food choices if you’re weaning off your meds.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: No matter the medication always be mindful of your physical self while starting or weaning off a regiment. Essentially, you are changing your chemical balance - a shift that could lead to a number of effects including fatigue and weight gain.

Photo Credit:
Zerobelly.com –Will one cocktail before bed make you hungry?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "40 Habits Making You Hungry" on Zerobelly.com.
"40 Habits Making You Hungry" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.