The first step to eating smart and preventing weight gain in the New Year begins with the shopping cart.  From the moment you step in the grocery store, be sure to stock up on power foods before anything else.

1.  Hit the fruit and vegetable isle first.  The is one of the most important choices you can make to maintain your health.  The darker the color for vegetables in general, the higher the nutrient content.  Romaine lettuce, for example, has six times more vitamin C and eight times fore vital A by weight than iceberg lettuce.

2.  Choose beef that is labeled with the words loin, 99% fat free ground beef, leg and round cuts.  Pork should be purchased as tenderloin, leg, shoulder or canadian bacon.  Veal is generally all lean unless it is ground.  Choose poultry without skin, ground breast of turkey/chicken and lean white meat (chicken breast) over dark (legs & wings).  Opt for fresh fish, frozen filets or shellfish over breaded or fried varieties.  Deli meats should be broiled, baked, lean (at least 95% fat-free) and free of injected oils or nitrates.

3.  Choose non-fat, skim or 1% milk fat dairy or non-dairy alternatives.  The calcium content of low-fat dairy products is still equal to or greater than that of full-fat products.  You’ll still get bone-building nutrition but without the extra fat.  If you prefer non-dairy items, almond milk, soy milk and flax milk are good options.

4.  Fats.  The more liquid a fat, the better!  When you are shopping, look for unsaturated fats and oils (olive, canola, safflower, grape seed extract or corn oil) over lard, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated soy bean oils.

5.  Dressings and Condiments.  Look for low-fat or fat free dressings, fat-free mayonnaise, reduced fat peanut or nut butter, low-sugar jams and jelly, low-sugar syrups and sugar-free gelatins and puddings.

6.  An average supermarket has well over 30,000 foods in the store.  The ones they want you to buy are often high in fats and carbohydrate and usually stocked at eye level.  Be on guard for tempting cookies and candies, high-sugar cereals, pre-packaged snacks and chips, packaged baked goods, cake mixes, pies, breads, pastries, sugary sodas, pre-made pizza, fat filled frozen dinners and most boxed foods.

7.  Never, never shop on an empty stomach.  Make a power food shopping list and stick to it.  If you keep it up, your body will love you forever!



Boost Immunity, Reduce Stress and Fight Common Ailments with YOGA

Practicing yoga can help unite the mind and body in a way that fosters health and well-being.  Numerous studies have shown that yoga positively affects the body’s musculoskeletal, circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems.  Yoga can also increase muscular strength, balance , flexibility, precision of movement and tonicity while reducing the risk of injury commonly found in contact sports and high-impact exercise.

Additional good news!  Yoga’s influence on health is gaining increased recognition in mainstream medical circles.  Studies from the Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts Medical Center conclusively show that yoga and meditative relaxation boost immunity, reduce stress and aid in the healing of many chronic illnesses.  This is why many prestigious hospitals and wellness centers now offer yoga classes to their patients. Powerful proof that yoga is beneficial to our health!  Ready to give it a try?

Yoga for Immunity and the Common Cold – Downward Facing-Dog


Yoga helps keep the immune system strong on a day-to-day basis using poses, asanas, to lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system.  It also strengthens your resistance to viral and bacterial intruders that lead to infection.  Recommended asanas (like Downward Facing-Dog, Camel Pose, Child’s Pose, Supported Bridge, Cobra Pose, Back Bends, Forward Bends and Twists) also condition the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulate the lymphatic system to release toxins and bring clean, oxygenated blood to the organs.

Yoga for Insomnia – Standing Forward Bend


If you have difficulty falling asleep, stress is a likely culprit.  Regular asana practice can reduce tension and help you wind down when it is time for bed.  Calming asanas such as forward bends, twists, simple inversions, lying with your feet elevated or up on the wall and gentle breathing can all help with insomnia.

Yoga for Back Pain – Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend


When it comes to back pain, consistent stretching of the low back and hamstrings are your best bet.  Backaches can result from injury, overuse or mis-use, but the prime culprit often lies in mis-alignment.  A constant tug-of-war between your abdominals pulling the pelvis forward and the hamstrings counter pulling the pelvis back.  Yoga poses like the Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend give the spine and opportunity to lengthen horizontally while the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles lengthen vertically, thus reducing pressure on the back.  Another good way to stretch the low back is to lie down while drawing your knees into the chest and lifting your nose toward your knees (like giving yourself a big hug).

Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Cobra Pose


Mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be treated with asanas that facilitate wrist rejuvenation and counteract repetitive movements, stress and strain on the upper back, neck, shoulders, hands, arms and wrists.  A regular practice of yoga can strengthen these areas and reduce overall physical stress by teaching you how to be aware of your posture, alignment and breathing – how to sit, lift, stand and stretch – when performing activities that contribute to CTS.

Yoga for Strained Eyes and Blurry Vision – Corpse Pose


Blurry vision, distorted vision and stinging dry eyes are common in individuals who sit at a computer or mobile device for more than three hours at a time.  It is also common in individuals who study, read or do paper work for extended periods without a break. The best remedy – dim the lights, lie down and take a break.  If you are in an office setting and you cannot lie down, force yourself to get up and stretch at least once for every hour spent at the computer.  Close your eyes, quiet your mind, practice deep breathing and let your mind relax!

Two Great Suspension Training Exercises

Top Picks for Upper Body Conditioning and Core Strength

1.  Suspended Side Plank:  Lower suspension cables so they hover about 12-14 inches off the floor.  Using your forearms for support, place your feet into the suspended cables.  Move your upper body into a push-up position.  Gradually rotate (spiral) to one side.  Hold  position for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.  You can alternate repetitions between each side or perform multiple sets (8-10 reps each) on one side before switching to the other side.


2.  Angled Push-Up on One Leg:  Raise suspension cables to armpit height or above.  Grasp the cable handles and move forward into a leaning position.  The greater the lean, the harder the exercise.  Lift one leg keep it elevated throughout the duration of your set.  Perform 12-15 push-ups, or as many as needed to reach a state of momentary muscle fatigue without losing your form.


Intro To The Schwarzbein Principle for Weight Loss

Sometime ago, I read a book by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. and Nancy Deville entitled “The Schwarzbein Principle – The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy and Feeling Younger.”  From my perspective, I found their material quite interesting and factual.  Much appreciated was an approach that did not suggest fad dieting, miracle pills, potions or weight loss gimmicks.  Just clean, healthy eating with real foods designed to decrease the metabolic aging process, balance hormonal response and improve overall sense of well-being.  Fast forward to 2013 and I have sense read many, many books advocating the basic guidelines presented by Dr. Schwarzbein and Nancy Deville in 1999.   The following are key elements to consider:

  1. To maintain hormonal balance, particularly insulin, and hunger control,  you don’t want to skip meals.  When you skip meals, a number of things can happen.  You can become mentally unfocused, tired, and blood sugar levels can drop. When they drop too low, a person may start to get light headed, dizzy, sick to their stomach and feel the urge to eat even more at their next meal.
  2. Try to eliminate the consumption of man-made, artificial, processed and packaged foods.  These items contain food substitutes, chemical compounds and preservatives that are not good for our bodies.
  3. Try to eat real foods in their most natural state (fresh fish, tofu, pasteurized milk, whole cottage cheese and yogurt, nuts, seeds, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, lean meats, eggs, flax seed oil, olive oil, 100% all natural nut butter or peanut butter, brown rice, non-starchy vegetables).  Real foods spell healthy food.  They provide our bodies with good nutrition for healthy living.
  4. Eat a variety of good fats, real foods, non-starchy vegetables and protein at each meal.  Note the phrase “at each meal.”  The combination will not only provide you with essential nutrients and productive enzymes, it will help to satisfy hunger between feeding.
  5. Avoid taking too many over-the-counter medications, drugs, excess stimulants and refined alcohol.  Many of these contain by-products which are filtered through the liver (hopefully) and stored as toxins in our fat cells.
  6. Exercise on a regular basis.  Regular varies from individual to individual.  For myself, I try to stay active on most days of the week.  Five to six is my personal exercise goal.  Two to three days/week is beneficial.  One to two days/week is better than no exercise at all.

Believe me, these simple steps can have a major impact on your health and well-being! If you live a fast-paced and busy lifestyle (eat most of your meals out side the home) try following the 80/20 rule.  Follow the steps eighty percent of the time, give yourself a break twenty percent of the time.  Enjoy life and be good to your body!

Understanding Food Labels

Understanding how to read a food label will help keep you abreast of wise food selections for yourself and your family.  For  consumers, it breaks down to an applicable knowledge on product packaging.  Digging deeper and looking at the nitty gritty of ingredients going into our bodies.  Mainly, the amount of fat, sugar, sodium and artificial flavorings that are hidden in products you buy.

For example, did you know that the label on a Kid Cuisine Fried Chicken Dinner says it is “88% fat free” but the actual fat amount is close to 50% of the fat a child should eat for the entire day?  Some labels list the percentage of fat in the product by weight rather than calories of fat per serving.  To find the calories of fat per serving, simply multiply the total grams of fat by 9.  Look at the total number of calories per serving compared to the total number of calories from fat.  If it is over 30%, buyer beware!

Real Fruit Additions.  Did you ever notice that the package on Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars say “made with real fruit” but the actual amount of fruit per bar is only 1/50 of an apple?  Any inclusion of fruit, no matter how much or how little, allows the manufacture to say it is “made with real fruit.”  I would rather buy something without fruit and add my own later.

Wheat and Whole Wheat.  Did you know that the words “wheat” or “whole wheat” on a label don’t guarantee the flour is whole grain?  Nabisco Whole Wheat Premium Plus Saltines, Nabisco Wheatsworth, Pepperidge Farm Hearty Wheat and similar “whole wheat” crackers all have more white flour than wheat flour.

Oat Bran.  Did you know that you would have to eat almost 28 bowls (over 3,000 calories) of Post Honey Bunches of Oats cereal to get as much oat bran as you would in one bowl of hot, oat bran cereal?  The packaged name of a product does not necessarily justify the ingredients that are in the product.  Real oats are much healthier and less expensive than some of the top-brand, packaged cereals.

Beef Franks and Fat-Free Hot Dogs.  Did you know that a standard beef frank labeled 73% fat free has over 12 grams of fat and 130 calories per serving?  As a consumer, you might notice the label and automatically think “this beef frank must be ok – it’s low in fat”, right?  Once again, remember to look at the number of fat grams per serving.  In this case, 12 grams.  12 x 9 calories/gram = 108 fat calories in one beef frank with 130 calories.  The hot dog is really 83% fat.

If you would like additional help in understanding the new food labels, please call or email our office.  We’ll take you on a tour of the shopping isles and teach you what to put in and leave out of your cart!

Body Fat Measurements – Common and Easy Methods Available Today

Body composition measurements provide individuals with an estimate of fat-free mass relative to fat mass in the body.  Several methods are currently being used by practitioners today:  Skin Fold Techniques, Bioelectrical Impedance, Body Mass Index, Near-Infrared, Hydrostatic Weighing, Dual Energy X-Ray and Circumference Measurements.  For convenience and practically, skin folds, bio-impedance, body mass index and circumference measurements are the most commonly used methods employed in the health and fitness industry today.

Skin Fold Techniques measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat on various sites of the body.  The measurements obtained are converted into an equation to predict percent body fat and lean mass.  Skin-fold techniques are quick, noninvasive and inexpensive, but the accuracy and reliability of using this method can vary based on the technician’s skill, type of caliper being used and precision in measurement.

Bio-Impedance (BIA) is a noninvasive, easy and fast way to estimate body composition.  Individuals simply stand on a BIA device, or hold a BIA device that passes a low dose, single frequency current through the body.  BIA measures the body water’s resistance to that electrical current.  An individual with a greater percentage of body fat will have a greater resistance (slower flow) of current than a person with less body fat.  Lean tissue, muscle, has a greater percentage of water and can conduct an electrical current faster than fat.

Body Mass Index is a number based on a person’s height and weight.  BMI is noninvasive, quick and easy, but the standard error of estimate exceeds 5%.  To avoid confusion, BMI does not offer a % of fat.  It is a calculated number correlated to being “overweight” or “underweight”.

Circumferences measure distances (inches or centimeters) around certain parts of the body:  Arms, Legs, Chest, Waist, Hips, Buttocks, and Neck.  Like skin folds, circumference values can be used in equations to predict percent fat or whole body density.  This method is a great way for practitioners monitor site-specific reduction, but is not as accurate as Skin Folds or Bio-Impedance.

Iverson Fitness and Wellness Consulting uses a comparative approach to body composition analysis by incorporating several of the most common methods listed above.  Our bio-impedance analysis retains excellent reliability and accuracy, followed by circumference measurements for site-specific comparison.

New % fat health standards for men and women.





Young Male




> 22%

Middle Age Male





Older Male





Young Female





Middle Age Female





Older Female





Fitness and Nutrition – Facts and Myths (Part II)

Continuing with my topic on the Top Ten Questions Most Commonly Asked as a personal trainer, exercise and nutrition consultant, here are five more teasers to Test your Diet, Exercise and Nutrition IQ.

  1. True or False:  A person trying to lose body fat should stick to cardiovascular exercise.
  2. True or False:  Taking extra vitamins will help pep you up if you are fatigued.
  3. True or False:  There is good scientific evidence that caffeine is safe when consumed in moderation.
  4. True or False:  Athletes need more protein in their diets than the general population.
  5. True or False:  A day-long fast now and then is a good way to cleanse your body and possibly lose some weight.


  1. False:  Both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training are essential for maximizing body fat reduction. Cardiovascular activities commonly referred to as “aerobic exercise” require a sustained use of oxygen over a prolonged period of time and do prompt fat burning at the cellular level.  Resistance training exercises burn fat through anaerobic pathways.  Anaerobic pathways are not reliant on sustained activity, but still burn fat calories at the cell level.
  2. False:  The use of vitamin supplementation is so prevalent today that there is now a wide acceptance of the benefits for consumers.  Yes, vitamins are essential to our daily nutrition for metabolic processes, but taking extra vitamins – mega dosing – will not pep you up unless the vitamin supplement has been compounded with some form of stimulant.  Vitamin B, in particular, is a water soluble vitamin known for energy metabolism.  Some individuals report less fatigue when taking a  supplemental B complex according to recommended dosing, but not when mega dosing.  Any excess above and beyond what the body can absorb and use will be removed by the kidney and excreted as waste.
  3. True:  There are several studies that indicate caffeine may improve endurance and enhance performance when consumed in moderation.  The beneficial effect of caffeine lies with its ability to increase the release of fatty acids for oxidation and transport during work.  Too much caffeine, however, is accompanied by increased diuresis, agitation and nervousness.
  4. True:  Current recommendations for protein intake in the general population range from 10% to 35%, or 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.  Athletes and body builders, depending on the frequency, intensity and duration of work, may require up to 50% more protein than sedentary counterparts.  Although protein is needed for muscle growth, maintenance and repair, eating more protein will not help you build more muscle.  The only way to build more muscle is with exercise!
  5. True:  Fasting for a day can give your digestive system a break and allow your body to rid itself of toxins and possibly lose some weight if the fast is conducted in a safe and effective manner.  If you have any issues with blood sugar, it is safer to choose a  juice fast or clear broth fast over a total elimination fast.  If you decide on a fast and do lose some body weight, it will most likely have come from water or stool elimination over body fat loss.  The intention of a fast should remain with purification (physiologically or spiritual) and cleansing within the body over starvation for weight loss.