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Doctor Lee's Blog

Musings from The Doctor of Fitness: Fitness Trainer, Nutrition Expert, & Sports Medicine Physician

The purpose of this blog is to write informally for anyone who is interested in fitness, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, sports medicine, and breaking fitness and nutrition news. If you'd like to reach me directly, you can contact me here. Feel free to take a look at my professional bio and my not-so-professional bio.

The Pros and Cons of a Gluten-Free Diet

on Tuesday, 09 May 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Food is trendy, and not just because we’ve been dealing with it in some form or another since we were born. No, by trendy we mean that like fashion, some foods are in style and some are ‘oh so last year.’ One of these new trends is gluten-free eating. If you’ve decided that it’s time to kick gluten out of your life, either because of health problems like Celiac disease, or just for your overall health, here are some things to consider:

If you’re going to simply substitute out cakes, cookies and breads for their gluten-free alternatives, then eating gluten free is not necessarily healthier.  Many of these processed foods actually contain higher amounts of fats and sugars. They’re also more expensive than their glutinous cousins. 

Gluten is insidious. It’s not just in breads and pastries; it can also show up in condiments like ketchup and soy sauce as well as many snacks. A gluten-free diet will force you to read nutrition labels much more carefully, but in the process you’ll become much more aware about the foods you eat.

Eating out can be problematic. Fortunately, since ‘gluten-free’ is now trendy in many places, the amount of choices you have has increased considerably. You’re still better off keeping it simple and sticking to meat, vegetables and basic starches like rice.

The true health benefits of a gluten-free diet come from eliminating processed foods, not substituting them.  It’s a back-to-nature sort of diet that can pay long term dividends for your health.

4 Tips for Retirement Planning

on Tuesday, 02 May 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

A hundred years ago, most people’s idea of saving for retirement was stuffing some money into a jar and burying it in the backyard. And while we can appreciate the foresight of our ancestors, these days the old jar just doesn’t cut it anymore. So how can you gear up for retirement?

Save More Today.  Financial experts recommend saving as much as 15 percent of your salary for retirement. Try doing it gradually, maybe one or two percentage points at a time. If you can, take advantage of automatic deductions at your workplace. If your company doesn’t offer it, do it yourself by setting a date on your calendar, or scheduling an automatic transfer from your checking to savings.

Pay Down Debt.  The last thing you want is to be heading towards retirement, head over heels in debt. Make a point of getting out of debt, even if you have to postpone some things you want.

Consider Downsizing.Take a hard look at what you have, and decide how much of it you really need. Scaling down what you actually need to be comfortable can not only save you money, but also time. Big expensive things tend to require a lot more maintenance. 

Don’t Increase Your Risk Factor.Now isn’t the time to learn how to become a wild and crazy day trader. Don’t go for high end, high-risk schemes just because you’re behind the curve on your retirement savings. You’re going against pros, so the odds are that you’ll simply fall further behind.

It’s your retirement. Manage it so you can spend your time doing what you love, rather than worrying about what you don’t have.

Getting Fit in the Spring

on Tuesday, 25 April 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Winter has ended. There’s a hint of a warm breeze and wait! Is that a crocus poking through the grass? Spring is finally here. 

You may be tempted to go full tilt at the first hint of a nice day, particularly if you’ve been cooped up all winter, but like a car engine your body needs to warm up first.

You’ll want to start gradually. In fact, the first step to a spring exercise program may be to schedule a physical with your doctor to make sure you are ready to take it on. Once you’re cleared, pay particular attention to stretching exercises and work to build up your stamina before you take on a heavy-duty workout regimen.

Your exercise equipment may also need to be tuned up before it’s ready to be put back into action. You may even want to replace some of it. Now is the time start fresh with a new pair of running or cross-training shoes. Likewise, it may be time to upgrade the cheapie pedometer you’ve been using to a more accurate one. You might also consider trading in that old cotton t-shirt for a synthetic one, since modern fabrics do a better job of keeping you cooler and drier.

It’s spring, so there’s no reason not to get out there and enjoy it! Just be realistic about your goals when you first start out, and you’re bound to have a great (and healthy) time.

The Outrageous History of Outrageous Deductions

on Tuesday, 18 April 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Trying to find loopholes in the tax code is nothing new. In one of the earliest examples of getting a tax refund, the legendary Robin Hood would ambush the sheriff’s tax collectors and then give the money to the poor. Not everyone takes it to that extreme, but who wouldn’t like to squeeze a little more out of the tax code? 

Here are some of the more outrageous deductions people have filed:

  • If you want to lower your property taxes in Florida, the best way is to get a cow. Regardless of where you live, slap down a few sheep or cows on your land and you can qualify for the ‘agricultural’ discount on your property taxes.
  • A couple who owed a junkyard put out cat food to attract wild cats. The IRS ruled it a legitimate business deduction since the cats helped keep mice and snakes off the property.
  • One mother was able to get an orthodontist to proclaim that clarinet lessons corrected her child’s overbite. She wrote off the lessons as a medical expense.

Not every attempt at a deduction is successful. Here are a couple that didn’t make the grade:

  • A furniture store owner, now serving time in prison, found out the hard way that the ‘consulting’ fee he paid a local arsonist to burn down his shop in order to collect the insurance payment was not deductible as an investment expense.
  • One gambler was surprised to learn that gambling losses don’t count as charitable deductions to the casino or to the Minnesota state lottery.

As always, for more information contact an experienced and capable tax advisor.

Easter Trivia

on Tuesday, 11 April 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Spring wouldn’t be spring without the pastel colors, spring fever and of course, Easter. After a long cold winter, many people are just as happy to see the Easter Bunny as they would be Santa. With that in mind, here is a small collection of Easter trivia from our Easter basket to yours.

A good egg. Easter eggs go back a long way back— to ancient Egypt in fact, to whom the egg was a symbol of life.

For the birds. The first Easter baskets were designed to look like bird's nests.

Holy cross buns, Batman! The first Easter treats weren’t candy at all, but hot cross buns. They were given to the poor during the month of Lent.

Counting your chicks. Americans buy 700 million Peeps during the Easter season.

Peep, peep! Peeps aren’t hard to figure out. They’re made of 3 simple ingredients: gelatin, corn syrup, and yellow dye #5.

Go Big Red! For many children, red jellybeans are the favorite candy for Easter.

Egg-cellent. In the old days, people were forbidden to consume eggs during Lent. Since chickens weren’t going to stop laying to accommodate the observance, people turned to other methods to preserve them like boiling. And when Easter came at the end of Lent? They had a lot of left-over eggs to eat!

A hunting we will go. According to Guinness world records, the world's largest Easter egg hunt was held in Florida in 2007, where 9,753 children searched for 501,000 eggs.

Happy Easter!

Procrastination and Your Taxes

on Tuesday, 04 April 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.”     —  Mark Twain

Sound familiar? Twain was using the quote to mock some of Benjamin Franklin’s famous sayings, but it can just as easily apply to doing your taxes. Nearly one-third of Americans put off their taxes until the last minute. 

If you’re one of these types of procrastinators, there are a couple of deadlines you should know about. The first one is the most obvious, and that’s April 18th this year. Even if you won’t be able to pay your tax bill in full, you should still file. The IRS assesses two types of penalties, one for failing to pay and another for failing to file. There’s no sense in paying two penalties for one tax bill.

The next type of deadline is the extension deadline. Like the deadline for filing your taxes, the deadline for filing an extension is April 18th. Many taxpayers mistakenly think an extension means extra time to pay their tax bill. It doesn’t. An extension is designed for those who haven’t been able to gather the necessary information to properly file. If you do file an extension, the IRS still expects you to make a good faith estimate of your tax liability and to pay it by the April 18th due date.

Still procrastinating? Filing at the last minute simply increases the likelihood of errors and means you may not be able to take advantage of tax-saving opportunities like traditional IRAs. If you still want to put it off, check out this IRS site about avoiding common errors.

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