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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.

Creative Mayhem for April Fools’ Day

on Tuesday, 28 March 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

The electric hand buzzer, the camera that shoots water when you go in for that special ‘close-up’ or convincing your best friend it’s really Sunday when the calendar says Thursday: these are just a few of the tools available to you on the world’s most mischievous day of the year.

If you can’t quite think of the perfect way to flummox a friend, confuse a coworker or prank a pal, here are some suggestions:

Spice up a boring day at the office by planting a garden in a co-workers keyboard or installing an air horn at a door protector for the office restroom.

For a quick and easy April Fools’ prank, just take a cup, write an ominous message on it like: “Do not open unless you plan to kill it!” and leave it upside down on your victim’s desk.

A trick that’s been making the internet rounds is to paint their bar of soap in the bathroom with nail polish. No suds? Wonder why.

There’s no reason to leave the kids out of the act either. Simply open a bag of their favorite snack, replace the contents with a different equally favorite snack and enjoy their confused looks.

For a quick bit of watery fun, take some electrical tape and tie down the trigger on the sprayer on the kitchen sink.

There’s no sense in letting a perfectly good holiday go to waste, so enjoy a little creative mayhem this April Fools’ Day.

How Does Marriage Change Your Tax Return?

on Tuesday, 21 March 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If the sound of weddings bells are in your immediate future, you probably have a million things on your mind. From picking out the right dress, to choosing the best venue to figuring out how you’re going to pay for it all, you have your hands full. But once you’ve said your ‘I do’s’, there are some other things you’ll want to look at— namely your first joint tax return together.

The first decision to make is whether you’re going to file jointly or separately. Filing single or head of household is no longer an option. For lower-income couples, filing jointly is usually the best option, since with ‘Married Filing Separately’ you are no longer eligible for valuable tax credits such as the Earned Income Credit or the American Opportunity Credit for education expenses. On the other hand, you may want to file separately if your spouse has a business, owes back taxes or child support.

If you decide to file jointly, the process is fairly straightforward. You just combine your assets together and use the ‘Married Filing Jointly’ columns instead of the ‘Single’ column when calculating your tax credits.

Things become a little more complicated when your new spouse makes significantly more than you do. Many of the credits you’re used to getting have income phase-outs built into them, meaning the greater your income, the less credit you get. Under certain circumstances, you might even end up owing for the first time in your life.

Marriage isn’t just about two people becoming one happy couple. Saying your ‘I do’s’ means your incomes, assets and liabilities are also tying the knot.

For more information consult your tax professional, or visit the IRS website for additional tax tips.

National Pi Day

on Tuesday, 14 March 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

While some dream all year of a white Christmas, mathematics aficionados around the country have their own celebration to plan for. It’s National PI Day, observed appropriately enough every year on March 14th.

Pi, if you don’t remember from your geometry class, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It’s a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. The first significant digits of the number are 3.14, which makes March 14th (3/14) a perfect day to celebrate it. As an added bonus, it also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Pi Day was first organized by physicist Larry Shaw in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. The observance grew from there. Even Google got into the act in 2010 with one of its famous Google Doodles, the Google logo with circles and mathematical equations superimposed over it.

So how do you celebrate Pi Day? You eat pie (or Pi), of course. To kick off the inaugural Pi Day, Shaw and his colleagues marched around the large circular space of the Exploratorium consuming as many fruit pies as they could. 

The town of Princeton, New Jersey, where Einstein lived for over twenty years, also has numerous events like pie-eating and mnemonic recitation contests, not to mention an Einstein look-a-like competition.

If you prefer a more low-key observance, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate, including Pi key chains, t-shirts, hats, buttons and more.

You could even calculate out Pi just for fun. As of this writing, the number has been computed to over a trillion decimal places.

Happy 3.141592653…

Winter Family Sports

on Tuesday, 07 March 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

You may have read about playing sports as a family, you know- the bonding, the togetherness, the getting to learn life lessons together. But that’s for summer right? In the winter, family sports means gathering up the beer and soda, the chips, dip and popcorn along with the spouse and kids and settling down in front of the TV to watch the Super Bowl.

Well, even though it’s cold outside, there are still plenty of ways you and your family can get together for a little competitive exercise.

The first part of the list is obvious. Skiing is a popular winter activity. There’s nothing like hurtling down the slopes at 40 mph to get your heart rate up. And there are plenty of easier hills to be found if you’d like something a little tamer. Snowboarding is another alternative. Since the techniques are surprisingly similar, if you can surf, then you can snow board.

For a variation on the family hike, why not try snow shoeing? It’s as easy to learn as walking, so virtually anyone can do it. Since it doesn’t require any lessons, and you can strap most shoes onto your existing boots, it can be a great way to get a family workout at an affordable price.

No snow? No problem? Check out these 52 ways to play outside in winter without snow.

Just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean your family can’t get out and get some exercise. There are plenty of creative activities to keep your kids entertained, while making family time more enjoyable.

Winter Nutrition

on Tuesday, 28 February 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

We're all aware of the tendency to overindulge our stomachs during the holidays, but what about the rest of the winter? Is there something more we could be doing with our normal diet at this time of year?

Well, those shorter days sure don’t help. Who wants to come home to a dark house and have to cook? The good news is there are plenty of quick tricks you can adapt in the kitchen to have a healthy dinner ready in no time!

Use a slow cooker. Add the ingredients in the morning, come home to a meal that's ready and waiting. Soups, stews, casseroles, and more can be prepared this way - and there are plenty of great recipes available online.

One of the easiest ways to prepare your vegetables is to steam them, and if you chop those larger veggies into bite-sized pieces, it's pretty quick too. Click here for some great ideas on preparing steamed vegetables.

If you suffer from winter depression, you may need to increase your vitamin D and your folic acid levels. Seafood and mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, and spinach is a good source of folic acid. This spinach and seafood ravioli dish contains all three ingredients, and is sure to become your new favorite winter comfort food.

And don't forget those rich-in-vitamin-C citrus fruits. They're also full of fiber and antioxidants.

Who doesn’t love great food? Spending a little less time on the sofa and a little more in the warm kitchen with all those delicious cooking smells might make the winter seem a lot less depressing.  

Saving for College

on Tuesday, 21 February 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

“How to save for college” generates almost 50 million results in the Google search engine. And it's no wonder - parents want the best for their children, and hope that a good education will help them find a good-paying job later.

So what's some of the best advice the internet has to offer on the subject of saving for college?

Qualified Tuition Programs:A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions. It is designed to encourage saving for college costs, and as long as they are used for eligible college expenses, the earnings in the 529 plans are not subject to federal tax. For more information you can contact your broker or visit the College Savings Plans Network.

Roth IRA:Like a 529 plan, you contribute after-tax money. After five years, investment earnings can be withdrawn tax-free and penalty-free to pay for qualifying college expenses. Another plus for using this method to save for higher education is that if your child decides not to go to college, you can still use the money for your retirement.

Financial Aid:Students can apply for federal financial aid. There are also student loans, scholarships, and other types of student aidavailable.

When’s the best time to start? The answer is as soon as possible. Regardless of what school your child chooses, planning for it early and often will give them their best chance to achieve their educational goals.

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