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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.

5 Simple Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

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

When it comes to making positive changes in our lives, we’re often more likely to come up with reasons they can’t be done, rather than how to make them happen. But many times the only thing that's stopping us is ourselves. Try small changes and give them a chance. You might be surprised how easy they can insinuate themselves into your life and make things better.

Here are 5 easy changes you can start doing this week:

  • Avoid processed foods. When you look at a food label and realize that you probably couldn’t make that food at home because you have no FD&C Red No. 40 or sodium phosphates in your pantry, then that's a food you shouldn't eat.
  • Studies show that wearing a pedometer or activity tracker make the wearer more aware and they really do move more. Try one of those, or download an app like Human to your phone.
  • Have you had any back pain recently? Tight muscles? Poor endurance? Stretching exercises are good for these ailments and many more, including reducing cholesterol in the body. Try this video or one of the many others available on YouTube.
  • Make some soup! Soup is healthy, easy to prepare, great for lunches, and it's easy to make large batches and freeze some for later. Here are some soup recipes to get you started.
  • Did you know the blue light emitted from electronic devices restrains the production of melatonin? Plus it doesn't help if your pals are texting you half the night. Turn off the cell phones and get some sleep.

Here's to you and your health!

Employee or Independent Contractor?

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

If you've been thinking of making a career change, one possibility you may have considered is to go to work for yourself. “Yes!” you may respond. “Be my own boss! Live the good life!”

But is it the good life? Or is it even better than you could dream?

As an Employee:

  • Your job is usually limited to 40 hours a week, and you may have benefits.
  • If you lose your job due to cutbacks, you may qualify to receive unemployment wages.
  • At tax time, if you have employee expenses, you may be able to deduct whatever your employer doesn't reimburse.
  • You can usually count on a steady paycheck.

As an Independent Contractor:

  • You have control over your hours, how much you charge and how you do the job.
  • You may have difficulty finding jobs, or face a lot of competition.
  • You’re responsible for your own health insurance, as well as other expenses such as licensing, training, uniforms, tools, etc. These expenses can be deducted on your tax return.
  • Remember that income taxes are technically due when the income is earned. This means you’ll have to pay quarterly taxes or potentially face a large liability when you file your return. And don't forget self-employment tax - this includes your Medicare and social security taxes.

Remember to contact your tax preparer to discuss your individual situation.

Becoming your own boss requires a lot of forethought, but if you decide that's the path to follow,  we wish you all the best!

Tax Changes for 2017

on Tuesday, 31 January 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s a new year, and with it come new changes to our favorite tax code. So what changes can we expect in 2017? Well, the IRS announced the standard annual inflation adjustments back in October, but there are still a few changes that some people may not be aware of.

Early Filers with EITC and/or Additional Child Tax Credit. Many of the fraudulent tax returns that the IRS receives involve refunds with Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit. In an effort to limit the lost revenue from tax identity theft and fraudulent claims, refunds with these credits will not be issued until after February 15th.

Health Insurance. Prior to this year, proof of health insurance coverage forms didn't have any filing deadlines. 2017 will change that. The 1095A from employers should be filed by January 31st, just like the W-2s. Other healthcare forms like the 1095B and C are due by February 28th via mail or electronically by March 31. For those who do not have health insurance, the penalty will be the greater of 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a maximum of $2,085.

Taxes and FAFSA. While not necessarily reflecting any change on your tax return, the 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid will be requesting tax return information from the 2015 tax year rather than the most recent year. This should certainly ease the anxiety some students feel when trying to encourage their parents to file by the FAFSA deadline!

If you’re interested in some more detailed information, you can subscribe to the IRS's tax tips emails.

Happy tax-filing!

The Value of Reading to Your Children (Even When They Can Read)

on Tuesday, 24 January 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

We know deep down that what children need most is quality time with their parents. Too often though, we find ourselves overwhelmed at the costs and time involved in the extra-curricular activities we feel our kids must do in order to become well-rounded human beings.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a cheap way to take them on an amazing adventure that they'll remember all their lives?

There is. Read them a book.  Here are just a few of the benefits:

Improved Vocabulary.Books expose us to words outside our everyday usage.

Increased Attention Span.While small children find it difficult to sit still for very long, starting out with short stories and picture books can help keep them entertained.

Bonding.Children appreciate the time their parents spend with them, and reading is an opportunity to be close physically too.

Improved Listening Skills and Memory.Often when we read to ourselves, we don't hear the beauty of the language an author might have written, so it's wonderful to hear it actually spoken aloud. Also when reading to kids, pause occasionally and discuss what you're reading. Ask questions, like “what do you think will happen next?” or “what if this happened to you, what would you do?”

Inspire imagination and creativity.Books can take us away to other places, let us meet other people, and show us things we never even dreamed of.

Spend some quality time with your kids tonight with a good book—they'll remember it forever.

Creating (and Sticking to) a Family Budget

on Tuesday, 17 January 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Creating a budget and staying with it is hard work, so it’s no surprise that an estimated two-thirds of Americans don’t do it.  But if you'd like to be more in control of your finances, then it's a necessary evil. Fortunately there are ways you can make budgeting more fun!

We live in an era where your first thought involving any subject may be “is there an app for that?”, and as far as budgets are concerned, the answer is “ABSOLUTELY”. You've no doubt heard of Mint, which will help you create a budget, track your spending, and even pay bills for you. This app is highly recommended by experts, so it will probably do a great job... but if you are looking for a little more excitement in your budgeting apps:

  • Urge. The best way to save money is not to spend it in the first place, and this app will challenge you to resist the urge to spend money.
  • Digit. If you've always wanted someone to watch your spending, then grab your extra change and put it in a savings account for you, this is the app you need.
  • Acorn. While not a budgeting app, Acorn will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the extra change for you.

Creating and using a budget doesn’t have to be some tortuous task only an accountant could love. With these apps in your pocket, the money you save may be your own.

Martin Luther King Day – “What are you doing for others?"

on Tuesday, 10 January 2017. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Martin Luther King Day is not only a chance to honor a great American, but to realize his dream of serving others. Did you know that when he was a boy, King wanted to be a fireman? We all have childhood dreams about different occupations which, for one reason or another, fall by the wayside before we become adults. But we have a chance to revisit some of those childhood aspirations by volunteering on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service!

King “had a dream”—many, in fact. One dream was that we could live in a community where hunger, homelessness, and poverty didn't exist, because we all helped each other out. Why not pursue one of your childhood dreams while serving others?

  • Did you always want to be a veterinarian? Or maybe a lion tamer? Your love for animals would be greatly appreciated at the local animal shelter.
  • Never got around to going to med school? Volunteer at local hospitals, health clinics, or the Red Cross.
  • Think you would you have made a great teacher? Find out by helping at your local schools or libraries.
  • Is the world suffering because you were never a chef? Offer to work at a local soup kitchen, or teach a class on healthy cooking at a community center.

As you can see, occupations from newscaster to farmer could easily be “tried out” by volunteering. Websites like Volunteer Match can help you narrow down volunteer opportunities by interest as well as location. There are even some activities that can be done virtually, like writing jingles for organizations.

This MLK Day of Service, do what you can to make your old dreams, as well as those of others, come true.

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