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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.


on Tuesday, 20 November 2012. Posted in Fitness Equipment

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, the kick-off of the holiday season.

But for a few years, it was known as Franksgiving – when a well-intentioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to change the holiday date – and inadvertently set off a ball of confusion.  

From the beginning, the actual date of Thanksgiving varied a lot in the early days of America – and wasn’t necessarily celebrated every year. It took a formal proclamation from the first presidents to make a Thanksgiving happen.   Finally, in 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued his own proclamation – that Thanksgiving would occur on the final Thursday of November on an annual basis.

And so it was…until 1939. That year, Thanksgiving fell very late in the month – November 30th, to be exact. So retailers put pressure on FDR to move Thanksgiving up a week – because then, as now, Thanksgiving was the signal to start Christmas shopping and merchants did not want to see a shorter buying season.

FDR complied and named the second-to-last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving that year. The opposition party, the Republicans, yelled loudly at this break of the 76 year-old tradition, and FDR was actually compared to Hitler for forcing this change on the country. Overall, Americans opposed the plan 62% to 38% as it raised havoc with football schedules and holiday travel plans – as the change in the date was done in late October.

That year, Thanksgiving turned out to be a real turkey, with chaos ensuing over the date. In 1939, 23 states accepted the new date, 22 states stuck with the old and 3 states actually celebrated on both days. 1940 and 1941 saw more arguments and more state splits over the actual date of Thanksgiving – until FDR finally reached a compromise with Congress and set the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, the date which still stands today.

So let’s give thanks that we actually all agree on which day we celebrate Thanksgiving. And, by the way, studies have shown that extending the length of the shopping season doesn’t actually make people spend more on presents.

Gluten Free Diet

on Tuesday, 13 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Healthy Nutrition

Whether you do it for health reasons or simply because it’s a personal choice, maintaining a gluten free diet can be a challenge. And while controlling what you eat at home is one thing, doing it while dining out is dining out can seem more challenging. However, as more and more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease, more restaurants are providing gluten free options. So if you decide to dine out, here are five tips that can help.

1. Eat something before you go.

The hungrier you are when you look at the menu, the more likely you are to be guided by your stomach instead of your head. If you’re not at home, keep some small snacks in your purse or briefcase for emergencies.

2. Do some digging.

Even if you know exactly which grains and foods you should be avoiding, you may not know everywhere they might be hiding. Visit some gluten-free websites and search for areas where you’re likely to find “cross-contamination” and avoid those foods.

3. Research the restaurant.

Many restaurants are now providing gluten free menu options and many now post their menus online, so you can know in advance what your menu options are. If you’re considering a restaurant that doesn’t have a website, call and ask them to fax you a menu. If you can’t find anything you’d feel comfortable ordering, consider switching to a restaurant with more gluten-free options.

4. Ask questions.

If you know you’ll be going to a restaurant that worries you, call the restaurant in advance and ask to speak to a manager. Tell him or her that you have celiac disease and ask what he or she recommends. An Italian eatery or other restaurant that serves pasta may allow you to bring your own gluten-free pasta and prepare it and serve it with their own sauce.

5. Talk about it.

Tell your server that you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy and explain what you need. If the server seems unable or unwilling to help you, ask to speak to the manager.

Prepare yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, and you should be able to enjoy the occasional meal out without any issues.

Energy Savings

on Tuesday, 06 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

It’s already getting pretty cold in most areas of the country – and winter’s just around the corner. Here are some tips on how to save on those big heating bills that are also looming in your future.

  • Cook your meals in a microwave instead of a conventional oven. You’ll use 55% to 65% less energy.


  • Run full loads of laundry in your washing machine. Heating water generally accounts for 15% of your utility bill – so you can save big by not washing a couple of things at a time.


  • Ceiling fans can make a room warmer. Hot air rises - and a ceiling fan forces it back down to warm the part of the room you’re actually in, rather than the roof warm!


  • Plug gadgets like TVs and DVD players in power strips. You can turn them all off at once, rather than let them run and suck up energy 24/7.


  • Get a furnace tune-up. Heating systems need to be serviced on a yearly basis to make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible.


  • Seal up any openings in walls, doors or windows with tape or caulk – especially if you have a drafty attic. As we noted, hot air rises and you can lose up to 50% of your heat from it escaping up there.

Stay warm and we’ll see you next week.


on Monday, 05 November 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Do you have your Halloween costume picked out this year?

Last year, the average person spent $72 on Halloween, as opposed to $66 in 2010 and $56 in 2009. That shows the effect of the economy – will this year reflect the so-called recovery?

Halloween’s origin is traditionally linked to ancient festivals of the dead – but more likely, it’s an offshoot of the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose name meant, roughly, “summer’s end.”

So if it was all about the seasonal transition to winter-like weather, where did all the spooky stuff come from? Well, the ancient Celts believed that the border between our physical world and the spiritual one became a very, very thin one on Samhain, meaning spirits, both harmless and harmful would come and play on that day. So costumes and masks were employed to impersonate the not-so-friendly ghosts and avoid being attacked by them.

The name “Halloween” first began to crop up in the 16th century. And believe it or not, the pumpkin was not the designated vegetable when it came to creating Jack O’ Lanterns. No, instead, large turnips were hollowed out and faces were carved in them to also ward off the evil spirits. In America, however, pumpkins were bigger and more available than big turnips

Some other fun Halloween facts…the most popular trick-or-treat item is a Snickers, the largest pumpkin in the world weighed 1385 pounds, and, according to superstition, if you look in a mirror at midnight on Halloween, you’ll see your future spouse.

By the way, on that last one, if you end up just seeing yourself - guess you’re the only one who’s a fit companion for you!

Fat Burning

on Tuesday, 23 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness, Fitness Training, Weight Loss, Weight Training, Strength & Conditioning, Fitness

If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve turned to some sort of cardio workout like the treadmill or elliptical machine to help you shed those extra pounds. If so, you’re not alone. Around the world, millions of people spend countless hours logging hundreds of miles walking, jogging, climbing bicycling and running in place, all the while hoping their in-the-gym journeys melt away pounds and body fat.

The sad news is, a lot of them really are going nowhere.

Today, some personal trainers have completely eliminated traditional cardio workouts from their programs because they believe those endless hours on the treadmill are nothing more than a waste of time. Fitness experts have been cited in numerous articles for several less-than-glowing reviews of cardio, claiming cardio machines grossly overestimate the number of calories they burn, that cardio does not lead to dramatic weight loss and that it may actually increase hunger and cause people to eat more!

Great. Then what exactly should you be doing to burn fat?

The answer appears to be a combination of strength training and interval training.

Strength training, which includes training with free weights and resistance devices, works by building muscle mass, which then boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more fat all day long.

Interval training involves traditional cardio exercises, like pedaling a bike or running on a treadmill, but alternating quick bursts of high intensity exercise with longer, lower paced intervals instead of maintaining a steady, moderate pace. This cuts down on fatigue, allowing you to burn fat – and calories – faster.

Alternate interval and strength training every week, and you should see great results –plus it’s a lot more fun than spending hours on the treadmill!

Saving Money

on Tuesday, 16 October 2012. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

With the severity of the recent recession, many stores are offering more incentives to shop than ever before – coupons, financing deals, free shipping and so on. But, according to a recent article in TIME magazine, those so-called “deals” might not be saving you any money at all. Some things to consider:

Coupons – Coupons are never a bad idea when you use them to get a brand you’d buy anyway. But they’re often used to entice you to buy something more expensive than usual. For instance, if you save fifty cents on a four dollar bottle of salad dressing, that doesn’t help if the normal brand you buy is only $2.50. To really use coupons effectively, you have to jump from store to store and from brand to brand – and it comes down to what you think all that time and effort is worth.

Low or No Financing – You may see big offers for 0% financing if you buy a big screen TV – but if you don’t pay back the entire loan amount before the 0% period runs out, you could get hit with an interest rate of around 30% of what’s left of the debt. These stores are counting on you not being able to pay back the amount in the agreed time – after all, that’s why you need the financing in the first place!

Free Shipping – Like coupons, this is often used to make the consumer spend more than they had originally intended. Usually, you have to buy a certain amount to get that free shipping. Say it takes $50 of purchases to get the free shipping from an online retailer – and you were only going to buy a $30 item. The incentive to not pay an additional few dollars in shipping might cause you to spend $20 more at an online store.

The Non-Stop Sale There is a lighting fixture store we always pass – and the joke is, they always have a giant 20% or 30% sale going on. Some stores act like everything is always at discount – but the fact is hardly anyone pays list price and these places are just pretending their normal pricing is a huge savings for you.

So, before you go for what looks like an obvious deal, make sure it is actually a deal – and we mean for you, not for them.

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