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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.

What’s New This Tax Season?

on Tuesday, 30 January 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Yes, it’s that happy time of the year when we crunch numbers, dig up old receipts, sweat a little and then send our yearly financial summary off to be graded by the IRS. So what changes are in store this year?

As with every new tax year, there will be incremental increases in the standard deduction and personal exemption amounts. This article from Forbes provides a good summary of the new numbers for 2018.

So what else is happening beyond these annual changes? 

The tuition and fees deduction will disappear. Previously you were able to claim this deduction as a subtraction to income even if you weren’t able to itemize. The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifelong Learning Tax Credit, two other popular deductions, will remain the same.

Another change is to the Earned Income Tax Credit. While this credit hasn’t been eliminated by any means, it may be a little more difficult to claim. In an effort to crack down on fraud, the new PATH Act prevents the IRS from sending out refunds before February 15th to anyone claiming the credit.

Indebtedness related to home foreclosure will also look a little different. Due to the housing crisis about a decade ago, taxpayers were able to discharge up to $2 million dollars of indebtedness. That will no longer be an option starting with your 2017 tax return.

For more information on these changes, as well as for general tax questions, you can visit the IRS website. As always, if you have concerns, please consult a qualified tax professional before filing your return.

Saying Thanks with a Compliment

on Tuesday, 23 January 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Two, four, six, eight… who do you appreciate?

It may be a family member, your best friend, your coworker or that awesome second-grade teacher you still keep in touch with. Have you stopped to thank these wonderful souls and let them know how much you appreciate everything they do? If not, there’s no time like the present. If you still need a little encouragement though, there’s always National Compliment Day. 

This January 24th holiday, created in 1998 by New Hampshire residents Kathy Chamberlin and Debby Hoffman, was designed to showcase the power of compliments. Compliments can instill confidence in children and adults alike. They can improve the mood around our offices, the efficiency in our homes and the productivity in our schools. If that weren’t enough, they can lead to less stress and healthier lives.

Sounds pretty complimentary, right?

If you’d like to give someone that long overdue thank you, here are some things to remember:

Try to be original. Take some time to reflect on what it is about the other person that you admire and build your compliment from there.

Try to be sincere. Nothing is worse than fake compliments. Give a compliment because you mean it, not because you’re expected to.

Try not to manipulate. The point of giving compliments is to show appreciation, not to maneuver someone into doing what you want. 

So don’t let National Compliment Day pass you by. Better yet, make any day a compliment day and let others know how much you appreciate what they do.

Winter Weather Tips and Tricks

on Tuesday, 16 January 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s cold, snowy and dismal outside. You don’t have to be one of the Starks on Game of Thrones to know winter is coming. In the spirit of the season, here are some ways to get through this chilly time of year.

  • Dryer sheets can do more than make your clothes smell fresh. Rub them on your clothing and even your hair to counteract that pesky winter static.
     
  • Just walking around in the dry winter air can build up a static charge on your fingers. It’s why you get zapped when you reach for a doorknob. Touching a glass or wood surface before reaching for the door knob helps discharge the static, saving you from an annoying surprise.
     
  • Tired of shelling out money for rock salt? Try cat litter to add some extra grit to those slippery surfaces. Since cat litter is really just hardened clay pellets, it's also easier on the environment.  
     
  • Winter is a great time to do some baking. The extra heat from the oven can offer a welcome respite from winter’s chill.
     
  • Enjoy some mood lighting with candles. Not only do they provide the perfect atmosphere, but they produce heat as well. As always, take the appropriate safety precautions with open flame.

Winter may be a tough time of year, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. If you’re not able to hibernate until spring, use these tips to make life easier this season.

Living on Purpose: How Are You Helping Others?

on Tuesday, 09 January 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

In a 1957 speech in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King told his audience: “Life’s most persistent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”  It was a motto that Dr. King lived his life by, and even years after his passing, it can still serve as an example. There is a lot of wisdom and happiness to be found by helping others.

It isn’t always easy. Though we’re told it’s better to give than to receive, giving can often make us feel worn out and even worse - taken advantage of. Here are some ways we can give and feel good about it:

Find something you love and share it.Whether it’s art, music, bike riding or skateboarding, chances are you’re passionate about something. Share it with others. Your love will show through and make the effort more genuine and more fulfilling.

Give to organizations you believe in.Giving for the sake of giving often doesn’t bring us any happiness, but giving to an organization we believe in can lead to a profound sense of accomplishment. We actually feel like we made a difference rather than just checking off a box.

Share in ways that fit you the best.Not everyone is a great public speaker or is at ease going door to door to raise awareness. You don’t have to be. Contribute in a way that makes you comfortable. If you’re a writer, then write. If you’re a coach, then coach. Find your niche and pursue it with passion.

Dr. King believed in serving his community, so honor his memory this year by helping others.

Health and Fitness Resolutions

on Tuesday, 02 January 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!”

—    Joey Adams

No resolutions are made (and broken) as often as the ones concerning our health. At some point we have invariably promised to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more and generally treat our bodies more like shrines and less like industrial waste dumps. So how can we actually keep the promises we make? 

Make it social.It’s not only a lot more fun to exercise with a buddy, but it provides us with extra motivation. You might be inclined to skip a workout, but not if it means letting a friend down. If you’re an outgoing sort of person, you might also consider joining a local running or walking club.

Set definite goals.Whether it’s to fit into that suit you got for Christmas or to run a 3-minute mile, set goals and make sure to write them down.

Don’t get discouraged. While setting goals is great, don’t be disappointed if you don’t hit them as quickly as you think you should. Stay positive and keep working at them. You’ll get there!

Don’t overdo it.One of the most common mistakes would-be exercisers make is to start too aggressively. Build up slowly so you can avoid muscles strains, sprains and other injuries that can derail your workout plans.

Most of all, just keep moving. Even if you can’t compete in a 100-meter Olympic sprint, you’re building your way to a healthier, happier you. The benefits of good health will affect every aspect of your life. 

Here’s to a great (and healthy) new year!

Get Outside and Enjoy Winter

on Tuesday, 26 December 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Once the weather turns cold, many people’s idea of winter sports is going inside, breaking out the hot chocolate (or the beer and nachos, depending on the sport) and comfortably watching the whole affair slouched in their favorite recliner. You don’t have to hibernate for the winter though.  Here are some fun ways to enjoy the chilly season:

What’s the point of snow if you can’t have fun with it? Take advantage of that powdery goodness by making snow angels and snowmen. You don’t have to stick to a generic looking ‘Frosty the Snowman’ either. Be creative and wow the neighborhood.

It might be a winter wonderland out there, but it doesn’t have to be all white. Add food coloring to some water and then freeze it into blocks and other shapes, using ice cube trays, muffin tins, Jell-O molds, or anything else you can lay your hands on. You now have a brilliant pallet of colors to work with. It’s instant ice art.

You’ve probably built snow forts at some point in time, so why not take it a step further and build your own igloo? Think of it as a winter tree house, your little home away from home. For instructions on how to get started, check out this handy guide.

If the options above seem a little tame, you can always try something more extreme like ice golf, shovel racing and or Yukigassen, a Japanese-inspired cross between a paintball and snowball fighting. Regardless of whether you choose to be creative, extreme or both, get outside this winter and enjoy the season.

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