Category Archives: what you eat

Everyday It Is Simply About Making Better Choices

Little choices go a long way. Last week I decided, as I was drinking part of an afternoon Pepsi, that I would give up sodas for the month of March. It’s not a big thing. And as I was amazed to learn from the container, the entire 20 oz drink only has 250 calories. I don’t know what I thought it had, but that number didn’t seem scary. Still I am off the sodas. And this one is going to be easy for me.

I’m taking a step towards my fitness and health goal and away from the bad habit that put the Pepsi bottle on my desk in the first place.

I love a coke every now and then. But the rush of sugar is really what I’m craving. And sugar cravings are the enemy. One coke during the day and I’m going to be craving sugar for the rest of the day. Nope. Not this month.

I find ways to substitute other things for the things that are less beneficial. For example today I wanted my Pepsi but instead I am having a bubbly water. Same ice, same cool drink, same bubbles, zero sugar. That’s an easy substitution. And while 250 calories doesn’t seem like a lot, over the course of a week, drinking say 3 of them… That’s what I’m cutting out.

250caloriesI’ve had success before, going cold turkey on things like sugar, caffeine, so this is not going to be hard. But it is a step towards my fitness and health goal and away from the bad habit that put the Pepsi bottle on my desk in the first place.

Now, what am I going to have for lunch?

It’s always how much and what you eat. Yes, exercise, but watch your intake. You can’t out exercise a poor diet. Not possible. Eat better. Drink better. Walk further. And keep going.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

My Perfect Breakfast

In an effort to streamline my life and fitness routines I have begun eating a very simple breakfast. Normally, I have a few spoonfuls of Greek Yogurt and some granola. I wanted to look at the differences between eating my FIT granola with yogurt or 2% milk, as that is also an available staple in my house. Here’s what I found.

First the yogurt. Add the healthy pro-biotics, yogurt is an easy win. But how does it stack up against 2% milk?



5 grams of fat in 2% milk and 120 calories. I guess that’s better than 8 grams in whole milk.

8 grams of protein and 11 grams of carbs. While the yogurt has 20 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbs. And yes, that’s a lot of added sugar to the yogurt: 20 grams vs. 11 grams for milk. But in my book the less fat makes up for the added sugar. Let’s see how the granola adds to the total.


Fat 2 grams, Sugars 3 grams, Protein 3 grams. A pretty solid mix. So for my morning meal the milk or yogurt makes a nice medium for the granola but has 60 more calories than the milk. I eat the FIT versions of granola which have less added sugar.

Eat well. Eat breakfast. Eat less.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

What Are You Drinking This Summer? My Silver Bullet Coffee and Dreamsicle Smoothie

Well, I started out with trying the Bulletproof Coffee, but I got lost at the starting gate. I liked the idea of not blowing up my blood sugar and energy with my first two cups of coffee, but I didn’t think the idea of meal replacement via butter and coconut oil was such a great idea. So I modified a bit to something that really works for me. I call it Silver Bullet Coffee, partially in homage to the Bulletproof idea, but also referring to the NutriBullet on Amazon blender I use to bring it all together. Here’s the process.

Cold or hot, I use my NutriBullet blender to mix extra goodies into my morning and afternoon coffee. Blending the mix gives the best taste, in my opinion.


  1. Organic coffee (caff or decaf depending on your needs)
    Organic Coffee Company – Java Love / Keurig Cup
  2. Teaspoon of raw coconut oil. (source of calories and smooth internal functioning) Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  3. Small teaspoon of Maca Powder (be careful with this stuff, start slow, build up. If you get too revved, dial back the Maca Powder first.) Navitas Maca Powder
  4. One shake of organic cinnamon, for taste. Organic Cinnamon
  5. 4 oz. of 2% organic milk.
  6. Ice.
  7. BLEND and ENJOY.


Same ingredients over ice. BLEND and ENJOY. Occasionally for the cold Silver Bullet I will skip the coconut oil, since it clumps.


When it’s hot outside and I need a treat. But I’ve had all the coffee I can handle, I make my dreamsicle smoothie.

  1. Ice.
  2. Small scoop of orange sherbet or mango sorbet
  3. 1/2 teaspoon of raw organic honey
  4. 10 raw organic almonds
  5. 4 oz. of 2% organic milk
  6. 6 oz. of non-fat vanilla yogurt

Surviving the Next Month of Holiday Indulgences

Ah, the turkey day is behind us. Now we just have to deal with frenzied shoppers, clogged internet connections, and family. No worries.

I celebrated my 52nd birthday yesterday along with a wonderful slice(s) of pumpkin pie. I held out all of October and November (with on slip) for this delicious family tradition, the pie. If I were stuck on a desert island and I could have 1 dessert it would probably be some form of ice cream, but if you must have cake or pie for a birthday, this is the ONE. I sampled the pecan, but only to confirm my annual favorite.

And I will admit, that after eating a nice slice of pie I felt a bit sick about 20 minutes later. Shock to the system? Too much sugar? I don’t know. I had paced and portioned my turkey and dressing all in order to have room (non-stuffed me) for the pie. It was delicious. It was the best I can remember. And…

I am setting my dessert target on the pumpkin pie, and with that my sugar fiesta is over.

I’m glad thanksgiving is over. I love the food. Love. It. But there are so many traditionally delicious side dishes that it’s very hard not to over eat. I did good this year. And today, Friday (no Black Friday shopping for me) I’m going to do a noon workout at my tennis club. Let’s burn off a bit of that meal, shall we?

I don’t regret my indulgence. In fact, the planning for pie gave me strength to turn down so many other desserts in Oct. and Nov. I simply compared their tastiness with the pie I wanted and it was easy to pass.

This morning I ate the last slice for breakfast. And again, I’m not feeling all that awesome. Interesting. I wonder, as I get further and further from sugar addiction, how sugar may be even more symptomatic as I eat it. Will I become sugar adverse? That might be a great thing.

Today, I give thanks again, that I can jump back on plan. That at 52 I’m still jamming along pretty well, with no major complaints. And I’m looking forward to the same feast in Dec. this year. I am setting my dessert target on the pumpkin pie, and with that my sugar fiesta is over. Now I think I need a nap. Is that the sugar as well?

Take the Next Step,

John McElhenney

related posts:


Winter Wellness Question: To Tea or Not to Tea?

Looking for a warm beverage during a cold day I began experimenting with decaf coffee and various teas. I went to the store and grabbed a couple Keurig boxes without reading the ingredients. I mean, we’re talking tea and coffee, right?

Here’s what I learned after I spit out the first sip of the “chai latte.” (I didn’t notice the latte part, I thought it was chai tea.

First the chai tea I was familiar with from Twinnings.


Okay, that’s looking good. But the one that I bought on my recent run to get more… Um, a “latte…” was an entirely different beast. I was fooled by the packaging which looked very similar. I was so sure of what I was buying that I didn’t read the ingredients.


Yeah, well it’s got coconut oil, that’s good right?

The taste was more like ice cream than tea. How many different ways can they say sugar? (1. sugar, 2. glucose syrup, 3. modified food starch, 4. sucralose.) Not so yum. A couple phosphates and one dioxide, and I wasn’t in the mood.

In looking to get healthier we can trip into areas that look promising but are loaded with bad stuff.

My anti-desert willpower is strong. I skipped my daughter’s birthday cake and ice cream. I’m saving it for my pumpkin pie. But when I was invited to dinner with my mom and brother at a local tex mex restaurant… Well, let’s just say I had some chips and queso. I did stop after one chicken fajita knowing that I would be heading into stuffed land if I proceeded. An extra lap around the lake tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be amazing.

The holidays are for eating. But we can do a bit better by not over eating, and when given a choice, eating only the things we know are healthy. As the weather has turned cold it’s harder to get motivated to work out. And the cold weekend afternoon on Sunday called for a nap rather than a walk.

Get back up tomorrow and go after it again. And pumpkin pie on Thursday, after NOT gorging myself on turkey and extras.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

related posts:



Wellness Quest: It’s the Little Things and the Big Things

We all know that getting our vitamins and nutrition through whole foods is the best way to go. For those of us who know we’re not doing as well as we could there are supplements. And then there are the little things we can do to improve the foods we do eat.

The Little Things

  • Adding Flax and Bran to everything. Why not? It adds some crunch to my yogurt and organic breakfast flakes.
  • Drinking filtered water. Pure water is hard to find sometimes, but my ZERO WATER filter system is always around. And I take it with me sometimes when I know I’m going to be at a hotel for a few days. Water that tastes like pool water isn’t very nice and it’s actually really bad for you.
  • Parking at the outside edge of the lot. Walk a bit more. (Buying groceries might be the exception, if you’ have a  lot to carry.)
  • Going for the lower-sugar alternative, always. But beware of artificial sweeteners as they may be worse for you than the sugar you are trying to avoid. (Yep, no more sugar-free gum, EVER!)
  • Buying organic produce and products when possible. Sure they are more expensive, but taking micro-doses of toxic chemicals out of your system is worth it.

The Big Things

  • One pint of ice cream isn’t going to wreck your health. 5 in a month might significantly impact it. If you’re going to binge on something sinful, make sure you commit to get back on your program. On frappacino may lead to your craving for another one tomorrow. If you slip down this slope, it might be best to never indulge in frappacinos.
  • Meats and fresh vegetables over grains and sweets. We never eat enough vegetables. And ORGANIC is the way to go here as well. Again, it’s worth the cost.
  • Watch for hidden sugar or even plain-sight sugar everywhere and reduce your consumption. I was in an organic grocery store last night with a craving for yogurt. I wanted to add my yogurt and oat bran mix back into my routine. But as I was browsing the endless varieties of “whole” “natural” “greek” “low-fat” “geuten free” yogurt I was hard pressed to find one without added sugar. And yes, pure cane sugar is better than corn syrup in theory, but it’s all sugar in the end. One “organic” brand of strawberry yogurt had 29 grams of sugar in one small cup! WHAT?
  • Get up and move, often. Yes, we sit too much. Yes, we don’t get enough exercise. Okay, so let’s use our fitbit/fuel/fitness tracker to actually motivate us to MOVE. In the course of my day I often move between two or three locations in my house. And I try to walk around a bit between large tasks. It’s always a good idea to exercise. The key is finding something you love to do. (For me that’s tennis and walking around a local lake with my tunes blazing.)

We’re all about finding the balance. It’s not ONE thing you do it’s a combination of all the LITTLE and BIG things you do. Add a few more good things and subtract a few of the bad things. Then do it again.

2/3 of the way through November without a major slip. (I did buy and devour some light salt organic popcorn last night, but it was a reasonable splurge.) Give yourself the break your body needs by eliminating the toxic chemicals in your diet. Lower your sugar intake. And get up the next day and keep going, regardless of your results or expectations.

Yesterday I settled on some kind of high-protein and low-sugar yogurt. It had 11 grams of sugar for a single serving. Then when I got home I added my oat bran and ate a half a serving. DELICIOUS!

It’s not about hitting your goals, it’s about living a healthier life, continuously.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

related posts:

image: adding the little things, john mcelhenney, cc 2104


Holiday Belt Loosening Habits; Not This Year, Baby


Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.32.39 AMWhat are you eating for the holidays? Oh my. The chart above shows that of the 1.3 pounds average people will gain this year, half of that weight will be put on during the next six weeks.

Here’s what the article says.

Most people don’t gain weight overnight… it happens slowly, over years and decades. But the rate is uneven throughout the year and spikes dramatically during the holidays, a time when people tend to binge on all sorts of delicious holiday foods and eat much more than their bodies need.

The problem is that sometimes people don’t lose all the weight back. They might gain 3 pounds, but only lose 2 after the holidays are over, leading to slow and steady weight gain over time (11).

In fact, a large percentage of people’s lifetime weight gain can be explained just by the 6 week holiday period.

Crap. That’s amazing. I picked the right time this year to start my new program. I skipped right past the Halloween madness with great resolve. And I’m heading towards turkey-day with the same idea.  I’m going to have a piece of my favorite pumpkin pie. And that’s what I’m looking forward to on Thanksgiving day. And outside of that “reward” I am sticking to my plan. Sure I might have a snack or two, but the big holiday desserts and feasting is not going to be a part of my joyful season.

Gone are the afternoons trying to stay awake to watch the football because I’m so bloated and tired from the turkey and dressing. Nope. Let’s take this one season at a time. I’m starting now. And that 50% of my weight gain is going to be loss instead.

What are you going to do to keep from adding the holiday weight? The weather is colder, it’s harder to get motivated if you’re primary exercise is outdoors. I’ve got to keep getting creative about how to get moving and keep moving. And passing the peppermint ice cream night after night. Even a taste for me, would be a slip at this point. I am powerless over the holiday pink ice cream from local creamery, Blue Bell. My daughter craves it, so we’ve got a half gallon. But this year, it’s all hers.

I can imagine how much I love my pumpkin pie and that’s enough. I will admit the ice cream haunted me all night last night. I wanted a taste. I had an apple.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

References and Inspirations:


Excuses, Temptations, and Laziness Along the Path to Wellness

I passed through the gauntlet of Halloween and all its sugary horrors to some complacency on my part. While the basket of candy in the front room did tempt me with shiny wrappers and promise of good feelings, I was able to turn that craving off with my determination. The smaller stuff, the easier temptations that are always around a much harder and insidious.

This couple of weeks I had zero pizza, and zero conscious sugar. All WINS. At the same time, I ate a number of things simply because they were there. I was tired, or starving, or lazy and I went for the easy snack.

Again, this time it’s no reason to beat myself up, but more information about having good healthy stuff on-hand so the Triscuits aren’t so alluring. In years past I would eliminate the unhealthy foods completely from my pantry. But my kids starved. I do better now. I still try to limit their junk food (and we all do really well on this) while providing as many healthy options for them.

Another thing begins to happen this time of year as well, as the weather gets colder, and the daylight savings time is dropped, it’s easier not to exercise. And in my case, I’ve just picked up a new client with a large amount of work. So it’s time to shift my strategy a bit as well.

Exercise whenever it’s available. No excuses. If I CAN go I need to go. There are always going to be interruptions in my plans. And with added client work there will always be meetings that will take priority over my noon workout. But that’s no reason not to walk right after the meeting, before it gets dark and cold.

I have to admit the time change throws me more this time of year. My bio-clock still wakes up at 5am, thinking it’s 6am. It’s dark outside. And if I fight it and try and go back to sleep for an hour I wind up waking up 3 hours later, and LATE. That’s no good. So even the time change had thrown a kink in my simple plan. No worries.

Learn. Evolve. Do better.  And each time I fall off the plan, get back up and congratulate myself on the “learning.”

This week I’m going to be ready for the complications. I’m going to stock up today on a few more of my healthy snacks. (Organic: Honeycrisps, tamari-roasted almonds, granola w/out added sugar) And I’m going to hit the trail and the courts as often as I can. If I get in two workouts one day, that’s cool, because the deadline maybe coming that will take an entire day out of my schedule.

I’m not lazy, but I do occasionally opt for the rest day. And when snacks are available that don’t meet my healthy criteria they are hard to deny when I don’t have any better options.

Always keep your options healthy. Always keep getting back to work. And when you can get out and exercise, do it. Always.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney



GOOD READ: What I Had To Unlearn After Studying Nutrition – Mind, Body, Green

A few more details on those “smart eating” blue diamond almonds.


Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white hygroscopic spray-dried powder.[1] Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless. It is commonly used for the production of sodas and candy. It can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of other processed foods. – wikipedia

The Great Sugar Conspiracy: An Open Letter to Food Should Taste Good

DEAR FTSG (aka General Mills):

I know you’re thinking I’ve gone off the deep end with conspiracy theories and such, but hear this. Sugar is being packaged and sold to us as health food. Well, in health food. It seems if like the organic marketers think if they put words like cane, and pure, even organic, in front of the word SUGAR they are somehow giving it an uplift.

This is going to spoil my chances at becoming a Food Should Taste Good blogger, but here goes.

This bag of chips looks healthy enough. In fact, the premise of the entire company is healthy, whole, ingredients. Even the bag looks healthy.


But somewhere, not hidden at all, inside the ingredients list is this.


There it is, just below Flax Seeds and above Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and Quinoa. But flipping the bag over, it strangely enough, doesn’t list sugar on the front of the bag, but it does list those other seeds.


But they’re not selling the value of sugar, they are selling the value of organic ingredients and “good taste” at any cost. I guess, that’s the idea. Their branding speaks otherwise, as if they are looking out for us by using whole ingredients. And yes, I suppose “cane sugar” is a whole ingredient, but is it necessary in a chip, for good taste?

Or is it something about the addictive qualities of sugar, that makes these chips even more irresistible than they would be if they also had a promotional benefit, “contains no added sugar.” I’m not sure. But I’m sure that it was hard not to keep eating these chips, after my first 10.

And guess what, 10 chips is the recommended serving, so let’s look into that for a second. According to the bag, a recommended serving of the chips is around 10 chips, or 1 oz of chips. Guess how much sugar is in 10 chips? It’s a nice round number: 1 gram.  So here on this nicely packaged bag of very environment, organic, koshur, conscious chips, we have 24 grams of sugar to go along with our 24 oz. of chips. WHAT?

I’m sorry, that’s not reasonable. I mean, it’s reasonable if you’re Nabisco or General Mills, but the entire platform of Good Food is the health benefits. And guess what? CANE SUGAR is added to every single product they make.

I guess that’s what makes it taste so good. But at what cost?


I’ve sent my question to Good Food via Twitter, I’ll update you on their response. I did not submit my name or blog as an influencer. (grin)

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 1.46.57 PM

Seriously, there is NO reason for cane sugar to be in every chip they make, unless they are partially owned by a sugar manufacturer, or corporate farm entity. They are so anti-GMO that seems unlikely, but what gives? What’s the conspiracy?

I put a chip clip on the bag when I put it back in the pantry. I was tempted to put the entire, expensive bag of “cookies” in the trash. I guess I still can, even as they are calling me back for more right now.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

I encourage you to ask the about their #sugar agenda on their social channels. Let’s take this social. What’s up with your addiction to sugar?

FTSG Chips

Update: Still no word from FTSG, but in their privacy statement I found this little slip.  Either a left over remnant of a copy and paste from the General Mills site, or we’ve uncovered a bit more of the Sugar Conspiracy.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 6.36.16 PM

Leading to this little gem of information:

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 6.41.48 PM


The Big Organic Myth

I’m not sure how many bananas it would take to get sick, but I know there’s a lot of sugar in a banana.

I believe that organic farming is the future of our sustainable future. But big organic, or corporate coopting of organic as a”brand” is a problem. When General Mills and Dole buy organic farms and simply absorb them into the corporate assembly line of big organic, they often lose some of what made them philosophically organic, and they begin to resemble their corporate owners, just carving back the pesticides and inhumane processes just enough to remain being labeled as organic.

In the same way, organic food products shout their ORGANIC greatness to us on every box side. And yet, my cereal this morning, when I looked at the ingredients, seemed a more like suped-up Frosted Flakes than health food. 10 GRAMS of sugar? Why?

sugars-organic And I should have put the box back in the pantry, but… I was lazy. And I ate it anyway.

This is a cereal that my daughter has grown fond of. And when I first got it for her, I was happy she had chosen something healthy. She’s been vacillating between being a vegetarian and not for over a year now. And I’m 100% in support of her efforts, and we always plan ahead so she has plenty to eat for dinner.

Even though a quick run down of the ingredients show a lot of great organic parts and pieces, it is clear this is not really health food. It’s organic (big organic) junk food. Yes, it’s possible to go completely ORGANIC and still eat a lot of crap.

Today I made a lazy decision to eat this “very tasty indeed” cereal that looks great on the packaging. Yes, I’m in marketing and branding, so I know what they are doing. It’s fine. But it’s not healthy. It’s technically organic, but from the ingredients all the way to the cardboard box, it’s not all that good for you.

In my case, the challenge is to go for less sugar. Even the natural sugar in the things I do eat. I’m not sure how many bananas it would take to get sick, but I know there’s a lot of sugar in a banana.

And I’ve been told so many times that I need to stop drinking milk, that I no longer hear any of the suggestions. Oh, I try them from time to time, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, all “organic.” But I’m either too stubborn, or uneducated to learn what’s bad about my organic non-fat milk. Well, except for the 6 grams of sugar. But I can deal with that at the moment. I’ll just keep putting less of it in my coffee.  Time to read the Milk 101 post. It says they put a lot of crap in all “low-fat” products, and most of it’s bad for us. Even the organic folks, who are just business people after all, are feeding us a lot of sugar and other things that aren’t good for us. Sure, evaporated cane juice is better than corn syrup, but not by much.

I can’t even eat sugar-free gum any more. (frown) Back to the basics: whole foods, water, and … coffee with some organic milk (for now).

Take the next step,

John McElhenney

Aside: Oh well, there go my sponsorship opportunities from the organic food industry.