You lucky readers! Today’s post is a guest post by my charming husband Charlie! He’ll be giving you the background on how he set his goals. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!

Charlie’s Assessment Results:

Charlie

Resting pulse Normal
Resting BP Normal
Body Mass Index Overweight
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

 

 

Well, I’m was somewhat surprised by the results of the assessment. While I knew I’d been carrying around an excess of weight, I never think of myself as physically fit or in good cardiovascular shape. I do work out on a regular basis but it’s more of a sporadic schedule – I have not had a specific focus in some time, so I’ve basically just been sampling from the buffet table of exercise – and from the actual buffet table, it seems, based on my numbers. I’m at least 15 lbs overweight at the moment and my flexibility has suffered. My cardio is actually pretty good – but I tend to train that more often than I do anything else.

IMG_0592Charlie’s Story: About 5 years ago, I realized my health might actually be important! I was a truck
driver at the time – working 12+ hours a day, eating terribly, sleeping little and being quite inactive when I was not working. I started having back and knee issues – mostly due to sitting so often and being overweight. So I started working out – slowly at first, building endurance and strength, and increasing as I could. Eventually, I started using the P90x program and watching my food intake, which helped a lot! Once I completed that, I started weight training – heavy squats, deadlifts, bench presses, etc. – compound exercises, mostly. This fixed all my health issues!

Fast forward a few years – during which I began/achieved my quests to become a Firefighter/EMT and a husband – and my diligence in keeping my physical fitness at top level has dwindled. I still work out several times a week, but not with the intensity I used to. Added to that is the fact that I haven’t been regulating my diet in any way for a couple of years. Poor habit + poor habit = poor results. So, time to fix it!

Charlie’s Other Concerns: I have a history of knee surgeries and issues that I don’t want to exacerbate by ignoring my health. As stated above, I’ve had more issues/pain in my knees as my weight goes up, historically, than when I’m lighter or more active, so I need to keep my weight in check.

While my health is clearly important, equally so is my fitness for my career – and the folks I serve. I have a responsibility to the public to be capable of getting someone out of a burning building! Also, ever tried dragging a charged fire hose through a house? No picnic, that. And, while that, admittedly, is not a particularly frequent event, it’s a possibility. More often, though, I’m helping someone who has fallen and needs assistance or lifting gurneys with sick folks – and that takes strength, flexibility and conditioning, too.

And my pants are more snug than they used to be. That’s annoying. I like my pants. I don’t want to buy new ones.

Charlie’s End Game: My end game will essentially have me back in “fighting shape” – lighter on my feet, more flexible and with more practical strength than just weightlifting strength. I’ll be able to button my pants without thinking about shopping for a bigger size. And it involves me having more energy, because I’ve taken care of my body and am proactive about nutrition and fitness.

Charlie’s Goals: Of course, as a man, I want to absolutely crush my goals. And I instinctively want to set pretty high standards. So I’m going to do that. Here they are:

  1. Lose 20 lbs (bringing me down to about 180 or so)
  2. Increase my cardiovascular fitness from Excellent to Superior.
  3. Improve my flexibility by doing more yoga!
  4. Fit back into my wedding pants (they are too tight, now)

That covers my main goals. I’ll share my plan when it’s done! Thanks!


My Assessment Results: In case you missed the last post (or forgot!) I’ll remind you of how my body composition and fitness assessments turned out.

Resting pulse Elevated
Resting BP Elevated
Weight + 7 lbs from my normal
Body Mass Index Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

My body composition overall is pretty good, with the exception that I happen to be up 7 lbs from what is normal for me, and I happen to know that it is not muscle gain.

My muscular endurance and flexibility have hung in there pretty well, but my cardiovascular system is asking for help!

My elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are showing that my body is having to work harder to move blood throughout my body by beating faster and generating more pressure than it should have to. Definitely an area I want to improve!

 

My Story: I’m suffering from desk job-itis!! I have worked at a desk job for the last 2 1/2 years and it has definitely taken its toll! For most of the last 2 years I have made it a point to go for a 30-minute walk at lunch at least 3-4 days per week, but it clearly wasn’t cutting it for keeping my cardio up to snuff. I’ve tossed in yoga and weight lifting along the way, which makes sense in my results, as my muscular endurance and flexibility are still okay.

The last 2 months or so have been particularly bad for my inactivity, because I was still working full-time at my clinic and spending out-of-work hours preparing to open my practice. I made the choice to temporarily prioritize that over my fitness and now that I’m no longer working full-time I’m ready to turn that around.
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My other concerns: As part of my desk job-itis, I have developed some postural issues from muscle imbalances. It’s hard to “stand naturally” when posing for a picture of your posture but I tried here.

See how my neck and shoulders tend to roll forward a lot, rounding my upper back? My chest muscles are tight and my upper back muscles are weak from all of my hunching over a computer screen (and phone and books).

The other notable issue with my posture is that, because of the weaknesses in my back, I tend to let my lower back arch forward. The midline of my hips should be further back, nearer to my spine so that my spine is a bit more neutral to protect my back.

On top of this, my hip flexors (the muscles in the front of my hips) are tight from all my sitting and lack of moving, so they are causing my pelvis to tip forward and down. They need some stretching.

These are all things I would like to make goals to address!

My end game: I often ask clients to describe their “end game” – what are you going for? Describe what life looks like when you’ve met all your health goals. How do you feel? What do you do?

For me, I want to be strong and healthy. Strong enough to push and pull my own body weight and then some. Strong enough to surprise other people, but mostly surprise myself. Capable to protect myself. I want to be healthy in that my lifestyle supports my body in what it needs to function well – nutrition, sleep, movement, and flexibility. I want to be healthy to do my part to prevent risk factors or chronic conditions. I want to be healthy enough to “go out and do.” By that, I mean no matter what opportunity I’m given, I’m able to take advantage of it and am not held back because of my lack of health, lack of strength, or lack of endurance.

 

My Goals

Using the information above, I have created the following goals:

  1. Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
  2. Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
  3. Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
  4. Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.

In part 2, I’ll show you how I turn these long-term goals into a plan!

 

 


Alright, folks…a couple of days ago I ran my husband and myself through my Body Composition and Fitness Assessments to help us create our wellness goals for the new year. We have both put on a few over the Christmas season between less exercise (me) and more treats (him). We both are ready to see where we’re at, get on a plan, and meet some goals! The assessments we did include:

Body Composition

  • Body mass index
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis for body fat/lean mass
  • Skinfold caliper assessment of body fat (for comparison)
  • Waist & hip circumference
  • Upper arm & forearm circumference
  • Thigh & calf circumference
  • Waist-to-hip ratio

Fitness Assessment

  • Cardiovascular fitness assessment (submaximal step test for estimated VO2max)
  • Muscle endurance assessment (push-ups and curl-ups)
  • Flexibility assessment (sit-and-reach box)

 

With his permission, I’m posting the assessments of our results here. We each completed everything, with the exception of the skinfold calipers. I can’t complete that assessment on myself, so I left those out of my assessment. For Charlie’s, I averaged his BIA and his skinfold caliper results. I also included measurements of resting vital signs like pulse and blood pressure. Since he is a firefighter, he was able to take my vital signs. Here’s how we each made out compared to recommendations:

 

Becki

Charlie

Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +15 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Normal Overweight (note here: husband lifts weights, so his muscle mass drives this number up, but he does also like Christmas cookies…a lot)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Good

 
Check back to see how we take these results and turn them into goals, then turn those goals into a plan!


dsc_1572Since my new practice, i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness, is offering a $20 discount on my Goal-Getter package to help you meet your New Year’s goals, my next project is going to be something a little different. Both my husband and I are going to show you what the Goal-Getter package is all about by laying out our own nutrition and fitness goals and documenting our journeys to goal-get them! Alright, alright…enough punning.

Husband and I will start off with the body composition and fitness assessments to test where we are at now, then use those results to create goals. Based on those goals and our individual personalities/lifestyles, I’ll make a nutrition and training plan — i’mPowered-style — and we’ll follow it. You’ll get to watch the journey!

Stay tuned – I’ll post the results of our “before” assessments soon!




When it comes to selecting the “best” alternative to dairy milk, it somewhat depends on your intended use for the milk. Different milk alternatives work well for different purposes, as I mention below. Some of these alternatives are thin, some are thicker, some have nutty or earthy flavors, while others are sweeter and lighter tasting. Unfortunately, I neglected to take note of the cost of each of these, though I recall them all being around $4 per 64-oz container.

One important nutritional detail is that, for someone who is avoiding dairy for one reason or another, it can be much more difficult to get in daily recommendations of calcium and vitamin D, since those are found in the highest concentrations in dairy milk (naturally and fortified, respectively). Each of the milk alternatives I tried has been fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

The second thing to watch for when selecting a dairy alternative are added sugars. These alternative milks frequently come flavored (vanilla or chocolate) and even the “original” versions are often sweetened. I tried to go with unsweetened options whenever I could to avoid added sugar.

  1. Trader Joe’s Rice Drink

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For drinking, this was my favorite. Even unsweetened (10 g sugar per serving), it has a semi-sweet flavor and does have a mild rice taste (which I loved!). This “milk” is more watery and less thick than others like soy or cashew. I suspect that it would not work well in cream-like sauces or soups as it is probably too thin. Nutritionally, I don’t really have any complaints. It is made from milled brown rice, but don’t go looking for the fiber benefits of brown rice here — it’s just for the flavor.

In a nutshell: Tasty for drinking, nutritionally sound (watch for added sugars in other brands though). Probably too watery for recipes needing a creamier option.

2. Pacific Hemp Non-Dairy Beverage

img_1031

This was my second favorite milk alternative for drinking, but that is likely because I forgot to specify to my husband to pick up unsweetened hemp milk. This particular product is sweetened with brown rice syrup, bringing the total grams of sugar content to 14 per serving, which is slightly higher than the amount of natural sugar found in dairy milk (12 grams). It has significantly less protein than dairy milk. The flavor of hemp milk reminded me a lot of cream of wheat, believe it or not, and not in a bad way. This milk is about the consistency of fat-free dairy milk and would probably work fine in any recipe using regular milk.

In a nutshell: A unique, earthy, cream-of-wheat type flavor and a pretty typical dairy-like texture. Watch out for the amount of added sugars.

3. Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk

Photo from www.walmart.com

The taste of this milk was ehhhhhh….okay. Nothing to write home about, but tolerable. It was definitely thicker than regular dairy milk is and it worked delightfully in this alfredo sauce recipe. It had a very slight flavor of cashew and was just a tad more bitter than regular milk. This would probably be my go-to dairy alternative for cream-based recipes.

Notably, this cashew milk is only 25 calories per serving and no grams of sugar, even natural sugar (since cashews don’t contain carbohydrates). If you’re carb-counting or looking at losing weight, that could be a nice option.

In a nutshell: Great for recipes and tolerable, though not enjoyable for drinking. Very low in calories and contains no sugar.

4. Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk

Photo from www.silk.com

Welp. I don’t have much good to say here. I was actually looking forward to drinking soy milk because I really enjoy flavored soy milk and the nutty flavor it adds to hot chocolate or pumpkin steamers. Unfortunately that yummy flavor is not the same without the added sugar. Unsweetened soy milk was blech. I used the whole darn carton but mostly in recipes. I drank a couple of glasses but ick.

Texture-wise it is similar to cashew milk in thickness and works nicely in recipes. Nutritionally, it has slightly fewer calories than fat-free dairy milk and quite a bit less sugar. The original version has about the same amount of sugar as dairy milk.

In a nutshell: Not for drinking (at least for me). I might use it in recipes.


In general, most of my dairy-free friends said that they do not try to “replace” dairy so much as just eliminate it and eat other things. Even so, I wanted to test a variety of products to find dairy-free versions of things that I could recommend to my patients/clients. The following are my reviews of the yogurt-like products I tried during my dairy elimination:

  1. SO Delicious Coconut Yogurt Alternativeimg_1028

    This yogurt was actually delicious. The yogurt had excellent flavor, texture, and sweetness. The coconut milk gave it a hint of a coconut flavor but despite my distaste for coconut, it was not overtly offensive. Nutritionally it isn’t great because, like many flavored yogurts, it contains a significant amount of sugar (18 grams) in the form of cane syrup and because of its coconut milk base, it carries more saturated fat than a nonfat dairy yogurt or different plant-based yogurt. It does include probiotics.

    In a nutshell: Tasty but high in sugar and expensive. A little higher in saturated fat than I would like.

  2. Almond Dream Yogurt Alternativeimg_1027

    The flavor of this yogurt was not exactly superb, but definitely tolerable. The texture was a bit thin compared to dairy yogurt, but the flavor was alright. I think my ultimate thought about this product was…meh. It has the same amount of sugar as the SO Delicious Coconut Yogurt and has no saturated fat. This yogurt cost $1.79.

    In a nutshell: Unremarkable. Tolerable but not worth the price tag. Nutritionally slightly better than coconut yogurt, but still high in sugar.

  3. Coconut Dream Yogurt Alternative 

    img_1026

    I came at this yogurt hopeful, because I had really enjoyed the SO Delicious coconut yogurt the week before. What a letdown! This coconut yogurt was very thin, and I apply that description to both the taste and the texture. It had a significant “fake taste” similar to the aftertaste with artificial sweeteners, despite the fact that it doesn’t contain any. Nutritionally, this yogurt is the same as the SO Delicious brand. This was also $1.79.

    Summary: Blech. No thanks.

  4. Silk Soy Yogurt Alternative 

    img_1029

    This was my least favorite yogurt, but I have to say it was a pretty close tie with the Coconut Dream. The soy yogurt texture was a little gritty but okay. I really did not care for the earthy flavor of soy mixed into the yogurt. I barely got it down, and this darn yogurt cost me $2.49! I guess the good news is that of all of the yogurt alternatives I tried, this one had the least amount of sugar (13 grams) and no saturated fat.

    Summary: Nope. Nope. Nope.


As of Wednesday, I completed my 2-week dairy elimination and Thursday marked the first day of my dairy re-introduction. I haven’t been able to write much as I’m in a play (it premiered Thursday!) that has kept me pretty occupied with tech/dress rehearsals.

So generally, after a 2-week elimination of a suspected symptom-causing culprit, it is customary to complete a gradual reintroduction to assess for an increase in symptoms. Thursday, I added in a single dairy-containing food, and Friday I ate two, today three, etc.

Thus far I have noticed no improvement in symptoms since eliminating dairy. In fact, my second week in my throat clearing and phlegm seemed to get worse. That happened to be the week in which I selected rice milk as my beverage of choice and ate rice a handful of times. I suspect that maybe rice might be causing my symptoms. Perhaps I’ll do a rice elimination sometime to check.

I have identified several great products that have actually made dairy-free life not only tolerable but enjoyable! I’ll be posting product reviews soon (after the play is over). Alright, I’m off to break a leg!


My dairy-free friend Valerie made a recommendation for an alfredo sauce recipe from Silk’s website. She came over today and we made it!

Did you know Silk® has a ton of tasty recipes, like this one for Fast & Easy Fettuccine Alfredo? https://silk.com/recipes/fast-easy-fettuccine-alfredo

Photo courtesy of www.silk.com/recipes

It came out deliciously – almost better than my normal dairy-inclusive version! It smelled and tasted just like regular alfredo. We made the pasta with cashew milk and took the liberty of a couple of adjustments. Here’s the modified recipe I made (you can add any kind of meat or fish for protein as well!):

Ingredients

  • 16 oz fettuccine
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk (or soy milk)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella-style shreds
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. While fettuccine is cooking, saute chopped onion and garlic over medium heat in 1 Tbsp oil until fragrant and translucent.
  3. Remove onion and garlic to separate dish and reserve.
  4. Add remaining oil to pan and stir in flour and stock. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in cashew milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
  6. Whisk cornstarch into 1/4 c. cold water and stir into sauce.
  7. Add vegan cheese and return to simmer. Allow to thicken, stirring constantly.
  8. Stir in onion and garlic and pour over prepared fettuccine and stir well. Top with chopped parsley for garnish.

Recipe modified from https://silk.com/recipes/fast-easy-fettuccine-alfredo.