The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2008 issue 6



A Bunch of Weight Loss Tips

We as Americans have gotten way out of control with our eating habits and weight.  You've seen most of these tips before in just about every health and fitness magazine or internet site but they are well worth the review.  See what you can incorporate into your daily routine!

  • Avoid fad diets and just eat 3 "sensible" meals daily with adequate fruit and vegetables.  The changes you make should be lifestyle changes (ie. FROM NOW ON) and not just a "diet".
  • Portion control!  Going from 4 slices of pizza to 2 works.  Cut down on seconds.  Try this: leave at least 1 bite of food on you plate of your regular meals.  Psychologically it helps you to practice some discipline.  Using smaller plates, forks and spoons is a good trick too!
  • Limit fats and high-fat foods as well as sugar
    and soda.
  • Make it light!  Beer, soda, etc...  If you have to have it, diet soda and light beer have much less calories than their counterparts.  Alcohol has a lot of calories itself, so try to limit the amount that you have in one sitting, or the frequency that you drink.  I went from dark or regular beer to light beer and cut back on how often I treated myself.  It's an acquired taste, but you get used to it.
  • Exercise daily!  Include resistance training in addition to cardio and you'll lose more fat, look and feel better, AND you'll actually be able to eat a little more.  Each additional pound of muscle burns an additional 50 calories per day!
  • Be aware of your social situations and habits that lead to overeating.  Try to avoid or prepare for these situations.
  • Keep you snacking in check and if you do snack, try to choose wisely.
  • Solicit help from your family and friends to support your lifestyle change and goals.
  • Calories are what you need to watch.  With 3,500 calories equating to a pound of body fat, make better choices about what you put in your body.

    • Fat = 9 calories per gram

    • Alcohol = 7 calories per gram
    • Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
    • Protein = 4 calories per gram
  • No more deep fried foods!  Try some steamed veggies on the side, or a baked potato if you have to have that spud fix.  OK, so now I have a few chicken wings once in awhile, but I still haven't eaten a full order of french fries in about 4 years! 
  • Forget about the chips and especially the dips!  Pretzels are much less damaging and rice cakes are even better (the flavored ones aren't bad).
  • Whole wheat bread instead of white.
  • Substitute egg whites or egg beaters rather than eating those yokes.  You'll save yourself that extra fat and cholesterol. 
  • Mustard instead of mayo.  Never really liked it much, but you get used to it.
  • Get rid of the empty calories.  That means all that crap that you eat that has no nutritional value.  Candy, ice cream, cake, etc.. should only be used for a special treat... like when you hit a fitness goal.
  • Drink lots of water.  Water is an appetite suppressant, essential for your body, and helps flush your system.
  • Reduced fat, light, or fat free foods are better alternatives also.  Hot dogs, salad dressings, there are many foods that have light alternatives so that you don't have to give them up all together.  All I can say is that you have to try them first.  Some are tolerable and even good... others are simply not worth it in my opinion!
  • Read the labels on the food... then decide on the best choice for that snack or meal.  Pay particular attention to the calories and fat content and whether or not there are "smarter" alternatives. 
I would recommend that you not try to do all of this at once.  Just add a tip or three every week or so until you get accustomed to it.  When I first started changing my eating habits, it took a while to get used to it.  The bottom line is that you want to make changes that you will continue FROM NOW ON.
It is sometimes better to cut back by eating smart than trying to tackle a difficult "crash-diet" that can set you up for non-compliance, frustration, and eventually failure.  Discipline and personality will play a large part in this decision.  Know what you're are capable of but challenge yourself to succeed!

Homework Assignment

Ok... so who's up for a challenge?  If you drop what you're doing and read my eNewsletter as soon as you get it, then today should be the beginning of June.  I'm giving you until the end of June to 'complete' your homework assignment.  Plenty of time if you got the stones for it!

So here's my challenge for you:  for the next 4 weeks, make a promise to yourself (and to me).  Either give something "bad" up for a month, or start something "good".  Just so we're clear here, bad=crappy foods and good=exercise.   Tomorrow morning, get up weigh-in, and write it down... along with your promise... that's the start of your progress chart.  You think I'm kidding?  Studies have shown that when you are serious about it and write this stuff down you have a better chance of committing to it and following through.

Hang on... here are the guidelines.  If your promise is intake related (ie. stuff you're cramming in your mouth) then you can't pick something that you only have once a week or less.  I'm talking about a daily habit or choice that you make that could be improved upon.  If your promise is exercise related, then I'm expecting 30 minutes or better of SOMETHING.  Whether it is a brisk walk, a piece of cardio equipment, or weight/resistance training... stick with it 3 times a week for the entire month of June.

The article above has several ideas for dietary changes you can make.  Unless you're really tough, you don't have to do them all.  Just pick one or a couple that could be somewhat challenging, but that you feel you can stick with.  Big goals that you bomb on in the first week aren't going to cut it! 

For exercise, you want to focus on the challenge.  Whatever you choose... the benefits of exercise are in TRAINING your body by pushing it a little further than you are used to on a regular basis.  That is how your body adapts to training.  You don't want to over-do it, but you don't want to under-do it either.  A good rule of thumb for cardio is to use the talk test.  This is where you can hold a conversation, but not carry a tune.  In other words, you shouldn't be hyperventilating, but you should be almost there... where you can still talk.  For resistance training... if your target number of repetitions for an exercise is 10 then you should be struggling when you get to 9 and the 10th should be a real challenge.  Once you hit your target without a struggle, it's time to increase the weight.

Now set yourself a reminder to send me an email ( at the end of June... let's say the 29th.  What I'd like to know is what you gave up or started doing, what changes that you may have seen as a result, and generally how you feel.  If you have any questions between now and then, let me know.  My intention here is for you to dedicate yourself TO YOURSELF for the month of June and see what kind of impact that you can make.  What have you got to lose... besides the obvious?!  So who's up for the challenge?

... to be continued


Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Declined Spiderman Push-up


OK.. I'll fess up... I don't do this exercise on a regular basis, but I do like it and it looks kinda cool!  Decline push-ups are actually a great bodyweight exercise for working your upper chest.  The important thing is for you to keep your back completely straight and not let it sag in the middle as you do the exercise.  By alternating bringing a knee to your elbow during the down motion of the push-up, you add some oblique (side) work to the exercise.  From a calorie burning perspective, you get your most bang for your buck with compound exercises that are working multiple muscles (moving multiple joints)


Target:  chest, shoulders, arms, sides (pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps, obliques)

Count:  4 count

Description:  Starting in the "up position" of a push-up with your feet elevated on a bench or chair.  Lower your self down while bringing your knee to the side by your elbow.  Return to starting position and complete the same motion with your opposite knee.  That's one rep.

Safe Pregnancy Workouts

From time to time I get fitness questions from friends and family regarding exercises and workout tips, often times these questions are regarding how to exercise when you're pregnant, or if you've just delivered your bundle of joy.  For the past few months I have been researching pregnancy fitness and have also come across some really informative websites that I will cover in a moment.  Here is a great high-level response to the question of pregnancy workout guidelines (courtesy of

The exercises you can do during pregnancy depend on your health and how active you were before you became pregnant. If you were not active before pregnancy, this is not the time to start an extremely strenuous exercise program. However, swimming, walking, or prenatal exercise classes are great places to get started. If you exercised before pregnancy, there is no reason you cannot continue, within reason.

Before you begin any exercise program, discuss it with your healthcare provider. The two of you together can plan an exercise program that is consistent with your current level of fitness and health conditions.

Safe Exercises
Swimming, brisk walking, prenatal exercise classes, and stationary bicycling, low-impact aerobics, tennis, golf, bowling (be careful of back strain later in pregnancy), strength training, yoga, stretching.

Exercises to AVOID
As your uterus grows and your abdomen gets larger, your sense of balance may be affected. This is also not the time for contact sports where you could fall, injure yourself, or be struck in the abdomen. Therefore, avoid these activities: scuba diving, water skiing, basketball, softball, baseball, horseback riding, and snow skiing/boarding.

As I mentioned, I have come across several very useful websites that contain a wealth of information as well as exercises.  In addition to, I have found and to be very useful.  Most of these sites allow you to sign up for free email newsletters for pregnancy fitness.  In the interest of fitness, I of course took advantage of this benefit.  So now I get emails once or twice a week with greetings like "Pete, are you sick of struggling with morning sickness?" or "Pete, are you tired of feeling fat and unattractive?".  Ah... the things that I do in the interest of fitness!

Live Longer

The overmedication of Americans has been a hot topic in recent years. In fact, according to an article recently published in Business Week the number of prescriptions filled by adult and elderly Americans is 12 and 30 a year, respectively. Unfortunately, most people continue to avoid making recommended lifestyle changes that have proven to reduce risk for disease and disability. Instead, the influence of big pharmaceuticals furiously fuels the belief that drugs hold the key to both long life and better quality of life. Not so fast! The results of a recent study strongly suggest that drugs are not a prominent factor in whether you will live an exceptionally long life.

Researchers at Harvard University say there are only two factors consistent with living to be 90: exercise and not smoking. This conclusion was made after reevaluating information obtained from the Physician's Health Study, which was completed in 2006. This particular project followed 12,000 male doctors over 26 years to track the effects of aspirin and beta-carotene on health. They were unable to draw conclusions on those variables.

Although medications have proven effective in treating a variety of diseases they don't appear to be responsible for helping you live longer. This information serves as a reminder that encouraging physical activity for the masses will take persistence. Most Americans continue to view physical exercise as an inconvenience.

John Carey. (2008) Fewer Pills, Longer Life. Business Week

It's Go Time!

Ok, raise your hand if you are still procrastinating with your "I'm going to start" promise to yourself.  How long ago did you make that promise?  When you made the promise did you say "tomorrow" or "next month" or maybe even "as soon as school gets out".  Well, it's June now... no time like the present!

When I was deciding on a name for my personal training business, I wanted to ensure that I picked something with meaning.  If you noticed I purposely spell it TODAY! Fitness with the emphasis on TODAY!  In other words, when you make that "I'm going to start" promise to yourself, don't project it out where you don't have to think about it right now... Start TODAY!  Even if you start small and add to it, at least you are starting.  Whether your goal is diet/nutrition related or exercise and fitness related... something is certainly better than nothing!

So let's take a moment to think about this... kinda like wishing on a star.  What is your "I'm going to start" promise to yourself?  If it's diet related, at a minimum you can certainly replace that soda with a water today, or maybe pass up that afternoon candy bar while you prepare for your lifestyle change.  There's plenty of little things that can start you off and help you get mentally prepared.  If your goal is exercise related, then drop and give me 20!  I've mentioned it before, you can do a set of push-ups, a set of bodyweight squats, and a set of bicycle crunches at a minimum and it is still better than sitting around just thinking about it.  If you do that every other day, then start adding to it, you'll be on your way to putting together a good total body routine!  Either way, the point that I'm trying to make is that it's time to take action and fulfill that promise to yourself... It's time to Start TODAY!

For prior issues of this newsletter go to  

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action,
and discipline that enabled us to
follow through.
" - Zig Ziglar

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