Stay in touch Facebook

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.

Your Financial and Tax Health: Not Filing is Not Smart

on Tuesday, 24 March 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you’re like many of us, the idea of paying taxes isn’t particularly appealing. Some people just don’t want to be bothered with it, while others believe the whole idea of an income tax is unconstitutional to begin with. The legality of the income tax was established with the ratification of the 16th Amendment in 1913. Whether you need to file is another matter. In some cases you might not. This interactive tool from the IRS can give you an idea. 

If you do expect to owe a balance, know that a tax liability only gets worse with time. To begin with, the IRS can assess a failure to file penalty of 5 percent as well as add a levy of another 5 percent of any unpaid balance for every month or part of a month that the return remains unfiled and unpaid. It can add up pretty quickly!

The IRS isn’t going to kick in your door on April 16th if you don’t pay your taxes. Long before that you will receive a series of increasingly ominous letters. Ignoring these letters is where taxpayers get into trouble. You’ve probably heard about the IRS placing a lien against taxpayer’s future earnings or even seizing their property or bank accounts. These extreme measures are usually the result of putting off your tax obligations.

Remember that the IRS will never call you, so if you do receive a threatening phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, it’s a scam. If you receive a letter from the IRS, make sure to respond to it promptly. If you’re unsure as to what steps to take, consult a qualified tax professional. Take care of any liabilities as soon as you can. No, it won’t make your tax bill any easier to swallow, but it will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

A Few Tidbits about Saint Patrick’s Day

on Tuesday, 17 March 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Begosh and begorah! Saint Paddy’s Day is upon us once again! It’s that wonderful time of year when leprechauns appear on more than just cereal boxes and we celebrate the Irish in us. Even if we’re not Irish, it a still a great excuse to put on that cool green outfit we’ve been saving in our closet, head down to the local pub for a hearty glass of green beer and break out our Irish brogue. 

So where did all the shamrocks and other trappings come from, and who decided turning the town river green was a good idea? Read on to find out.

Shamrocks are a native Irish plant and are the Irish version of clover. How did they get mixed up in this Saint Paddy’s Day business? Well, when Saint Patrick was converting pagan Ireland to Christianity, their three leaves made an excellent analogy for the holy trinity.

To answer your next question, dyeing the river green started in Chicago in 1962. It takes over 40 pounds of vegetable-based dye to get the water a suitable shade of green. 

Leprechauns may be known for hoarding their pots of gold, but these petite pixies were actually pretty shrewd businessmen. As legend has it, they made their fortune by making and mending shoes. Cobbling is hard work, so they’re understandably stingy about giving away their wealth.

The same can’t be said about those who celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. A recent estimate put the total amount spent on beer alone for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations at nearly $250 million, and that’s before tips. Overall, in 2016 American spent nearly $4.4 billion celebrating the holiday.

And if you’re hungry before you hit the pub, here’s a traditional Irish dish that should go perfectly with that green beer. 

So, happy Saint Patrick’s Day. May the luck o’ the Irish be with you!

Your Financial and Tax Health: Watching Your Paycheck

on Tuesday, 10 March 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

While a tax bill is inevitable for some filers, the reality is that many of these liabilities could have been avoided. In this part of our financial health series, we’ll take a look at one of the more common pitfalls many taxpayers fall into: not looking at their paycheck. 

Back in the day, it was pretty easy to look at your check. After all you got handed one every week that you would then take to the bank. If something wasn’t right, you would notice pretty quickly. With most payroll checks being direct deposited these days, it’s fairly common to only have a vague idea of what’s being subtracted from your income. Ignoring the numbers on your check may save you time on a busy Friday afternoon, but it is not the smartest thing to do.

At some point early in their employment with a company, an employee will be required to fill out a form W-4. This form basically tells the employer how much federal and state tax to withhold from the paycheck. Although it’s only a one-page form, it can be confusing. To add to the madness, the IRS has completely revised the W-4 Form for this year. Here is an FAQ from the IRS so you can get up to speed on the changes. Pay careful attention to the form and be sure to fill it out carefully. If you have questions, contact your Human Resources department. 

There will usually be other deductions from your check as well, such as those for retirement savings and for health care. Make sure you thoroughly understand what is being taken out and why. Some of those numbers can make a big difference at tax time. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t hesitate to make changes. If you do it early enough in the year, you still have time to make a difference. 

It’s your money. Keep track of it by watching your paycheck. 

Your Financial and Tax Health: Contributing to an IRA

on Tuesday, 03 March 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

With the holidays behind us, and winter still holding the land in its icy grip, our thoughts naturally turns toward spring. And spring brings with it the yearly ritual of taxes. In our series on your financial and tax health, we dive into how to navigate the challenge. 

Unfortunately, in the world of taxes, by the time you realize there’s a problem, it’s often too late to do anything about it. All we’re left with is lessons to remember for next year. The one major exception to that rule is contributing to a traditional IRA. It’s one of the few steps you can take after the first of the year to reduce your tax burden THIS year.

Contributing to a traditional IRA reduces your taxable income by the amount you put in— up to $7,000 if you’re over 50 ($6,000 is you’re under the age of 50.) So, if you make $50,000 and make a $5,000 dollar contribution, your taxable income is reduced to $45,000, and that’s before subtracting out your standard or itemized deduction.

Of course, there’s a catch. Your possible deduction might be reduced if you (or your spouse) are covered by a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels. Here’s a table from the IRS to give you an idea if you qualify.

The beauty of this deduction is that you’re not just trying to wriggle out of a tricky tax situation. You’re also saving for your retirement. It’s a win-win! And if that weren’t enough, you can choose to make your contribution for the previous year, all the way up to the filing deadline of April 15th.

Not that’s something to make both you and your bank account feel healthy!

Healthy Eating for Kids

on Tuesday, 25 February 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

If you’re a parent, you already know children can be picky eaters. There’s the kid that will only eat French fries and pizza. There’s the kid that won’t eat anything red. Or the kid who considers the entire meal ruined if there’s a pickle in sight. The list goes on and on.

Getting your kids to eat healthy doesn’t start with them, it starts with you. It’s hard to convince them of the value of healthy eating when you’re chowing down a candy bar and a bag of chips. Set a good example by eating healthy yourself, both at meal times and in between, with your choice of snack foods.

You’re more likely to follow a set of eating guidelines if you have a say in it. That’s why it’s important to involve your kids in planning what’s in the cupboard. Listen to them and take their food preferences into account. Don’t force them to eat something they don’t want. Instead find healthy alternatives to foods they do like.

Family mealtime may seem old-fashioned in this age of cellphones and streaming services, but don’t let all those entertainment options disrupt an important family time. A regular dinner time is the perfect time to introduce new foods, and it helps avoid the formation of unhealthy snacking habits. It may take a little juggling to pick a time that fits everyone’s busy schedule, but the effort is well worth it.

Getting your kids to eat right is a great way to set them up with a lifetime of good health, so try out these tips. It beats chopping up some vegetables into their food and telling them it’s ‘seasoning.’

Healthy Eating for Seniors

on Tuesday, 18 February 2020. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s no secret that things change as we get older. Physical tasks that we once performed effortlessly now take a little more time, and we’re likely to be sore the next day. The same is true with our diets. Our metabolism slows as we age, meaning we need fewer calories. However we also need more calcium to fight the loss of bone density and more fiber to stay regular. It’s tough to recognize these changing needs, which is one reason why nearly one in four older adults have poor nutrition.

A well-balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy as we get older. While our appetites tend to diminish, our nutritional requirements stay the same. That means we need to do more with less. Nutrient rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can supply many of these requirements without the added bulk.

Our immune system weakens as we get older, so it’s important to give it a boost. Foods like citrus, broccoli, garlic and ginger can bolster our immunity. Meanwhile we’ll want to avoid things like mayonnaise and raw eggs.

Like it or not, as we grow older we become more susceptible to chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. While no diet can completely prevent the onset of these conditions, avoiding excess calories, processed foods and foods high in sodium and sugar can definitely help.

Eating right doesn't have to be complicated. Eating a variety of foods from all food groups can help supply the nutrients we need as we age and make sure we get to enjoy our golden years.

[12 3 4 5  >>