Kevin Haslam

Kevin Haslam

Kevin Haslam is an author, blogger, freelance writer, and health/fitness expert originally from Delran, NJ. Fit Mind, Fit Life is his first self-published work, and he has previously been published as a journalist/columnist with the Locable Publisher Network, hibu Community Magazines, Patch, Journal Register, Gannett, LIVESTRONG.com, Rivals, and other publications/websites. He currently resides in Conshohocken, PA.

15 Daily Slimming Snacks to Add to Your Fat-Burning Arsenal

34595738_mSnacking is a big problem in Western culture. Some diets call for four to five meals per day, while others only call for two to three. The diets that favor more meals, generally say to go smaller, making two meals a “snack.”

The problem is our perception of what a snack actually is. Let’s take an example from one of my favorite snacks: the soft pretzel (I’m a Philly guy, what can I say?). This doughy delight averages close to 400 calories for a full-sized serving. If I am trying to lose weight, and I’ve determined that I can only consume 1200 calories per day for the first leg of my diet, my snack has already taken up 1/3 of my daily consumption. That means my next two meals can only be approximately 400 calories each.

Indulging in that “snack” basically just replaced a meal. We have to start rethinking what a snack is. If you are hungry and another glass of water just didn’t cut it (watch my free video to learn why water is so crucial to your fat loss goals), opt for a healthy snack that will only cost you 60-100 calories at most. That should generally tide you over until your next meal.

The best way to snack is to do so on low-calorie, high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that leave a sense of fullness. Here are the top five low-calorie, high-fiber snack options in each category:

Fruits

  • Raspberries – 8 grams of fiber, 64 calories per 1-cup serving
  • Pears – 5.1 grams of fiber, 51 calories per medium-sized item
  • Apples – 4.4 grams of fiber, 55 calories per small-sized item
  • Blueberries – 3.5 grams of fiber, 40 calories per 50 berries
  • Strawberries – 3.3 grams of fiber, 2 calories per strawberry

Vegetables

  • Carrots (raw) – 3.6 grams of fiber, 52 calories per 1-cup serving
  • Red bell peppers (raw) – 3.1 grams of fiber, 46 calories per 1-cup serving
  • Tomatoes (raw) – 2.2 grams of fiber, 32 calories per 1-cup serving
  • Brussels sprouts (cooked) – 2 grams of fiber, 28 calories per ½-cup serving
  • Cucumber (raw) – 1.5 grams of fiber, 45 calories per small-sized item (unpeeled)

Whole Grains

  • Ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal – 5.9 grams of fiber, 168 calories per 1-cup serving
  • Air-popped popcorn – 3.5 grams of fiber, 93 calories per 3-cup serving
  • Whole-wheat crackers – 2.8 grams of fiber, 87 calories per 5 crackers
  • 100% whole-wheat bread – 1.9 grams of fiber, 81 calories per 1 slice
  • Brown rice – 1.8 grams of fiber, 108 calories per ½-cup serving

Really? Yuck!

I know what you’re thinking – some of this stuff may seem bland. So, here are some tips that won’t sacrifice your waistline for taste.

The fruits – any of the above fruits can be dipped (or mixed) into a 6-ounce mixture of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and one packet of stevia (or Truvia; but don’t use the “in the raw” stuff). If your new “parfait” isn’t cutting it, you won’t miss the granola if you substitute some slivered almonds (5 tablespoons should suffice as a serving).

Carrots, peppers and cukes, Oh My! – these staple vegetables are good on their own as their flavors are strong enough to suffice for some, but for the person that needs her dip-fix, I recommend a Yogurt Cheese Dip, which appears in my favorite 17-Day Diet, but can also be found here. It’s so simple, you’ll be making it every week!

But Mom… I don’t wanna eat my Brussels sprouts! – oh yes you will when you try roasting them. You may want to save this diet hack for your weekend afternoons at home, as reheating them won’t be as satisfying. The scent may also be a deterrent at the office for those with sensitive nostrils. Here’s a simple recipe:

1. Spray a cooking/baking sheet with an olive oil-based spray and preheat the oven to 350-400 degrees.

2. Wash the brussels sprouts, peel the outer leaves, cut off the bottoms, and half them.

3. Mix with olive oil (1 tablespoon per serving), salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

4. Bake for 15-25 minutes (until browned and crispy, but not burnt of course).

This is how I enjoy them, but I read recently at The Fitnessista’s blog to add grated Manchego (a Spanish cheese and a personal favorite of mine), along with lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Do as you wish.

Tom-ate-O/Tom-ott-O – This may be the easiest one of the lot. Grab a cutting board and cut the tomato into 8 pieces. Throw it in a container that will withstand the cold of a refrigerator and pour a liberal amount of organic, fat-free Italian salad dressing (or make your own) over the tomato. Let this sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and enjoy (with a fork). If you’re from Jersey and can grab a local tomato in the summer, you’re in for a real treat!

Cereal – so you’ve heard all the hype against High Fructose Corn Syrup, right? And you want to stay away from it? Well, if you grab the type of cereal above, and mix it with unsweetened almond milk and a packet of stevia, you should be in the clear.

Rice – easy solution here: low-sodium soy sauce. A tablespoon will suffice as a serving. Don’t go higher than that, as the sodium content is still very high, even if you get the low-sodium kind.

Share your favorite snack-hacks from the above list or from your own recipe stash in the comments below.

Step-by-Step Solution to Calculate Your Way to a Beach Body

8307256_mIf you expect to stand a chance in getting the beach body you always wanted, you need to first educate yourself on how the human body works.

First and foremost, it’s a calories in-calories out process in which we should operate. You can exercise all you want, but if you are only burning 3,000 calories throughout the day and eating 5,000 calories, you will not get the same results as if you burn 2,500 calories and only consume 1,500 calories.

We naturally burn a certain number of calories per day by just living. This can be most accurately calculated by figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR (it is the rate at which energy is used by an organism at complete rest, measured in humans by the heat given off per unit of time, and expressed as the calories released per kilogram of body weight per square meter of body surface per hour).

 

Generally, the calculations are quite accurate, unless you are extremely lean but muscular, or extremely obese. This is because BMR does not consider muscle-to-fat ratio.

To Calculate BMR

For women: 655 + (4.35 × weight) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age) = BMR For men: 66 + (6.23 × weight) + (12.7 × height) – (6.8 × age) = BMR). 

So two examples to give you an idea:

155-pound female, 5-foot-8, 27 years old

655 + (674.25) + (319.6) – (126.9) = 1,521.95 (calories burned just by living)

190-pound male, 5-foot-7, 27 years old

66 + (1183.7) + (850.9) – (183.6) = 1,917 (calories burned just by living)

Weight Maintenance

From here, you can use the Harris Benedict Equation to calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. The calculation is based on lifestyle/activity:

Maintain Your Weight

Sedentary: BMR x 1.2 Lightly active 1-3 days/week: BMR x 1.375 Moderately active 3-5 days/week: BMR x 1.55 Very active 6-7 days/week: BMR x 1.725 Extremely active (physical job + exercise, or double the amount of training): BMR x 1.9

Using the same figures from above if the female is lightly active: 

1521.95 x 1.375 = 2092.68 calories consumed to maintain current weight

And if the male is sedentary:

1917 x 1.2 = 2300.4 calories consumed to maintain current weight

On the same end, and to the point of both ideas described above, when it comes to diet and exercise, some of us might totally overestimate how many calories we burn in a workout in comparison to how many calories we consume in a meal. This is why it’s vastly important to be educated in this topic.

PAY ATTENTION: “If you want to lose fat, a useful guideline for lowering your calorie intake is to reduce your calories by at least 500, but not more than 1000 below your maintenance level,” according to BMI-Calculator.net. “For people with only a small amount of weight to lose, 1000 calories will be too much of a deficit. As a guide to minimum calorie intake, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women or 1800 calories per day for men. Even these calorie levels are quite low.”

Burn, Baby, Burn

So now you know what you need to do to lose pounds each week, but like I said, how many calories are you burning during your workouts? A semi-accurate way is a heart rate monitor, although I wouldn’t recommend spending your money here. You could also use your trusty cardio machine’s readout, but that’s just an estimate.

Brian Koning posted a great article back in 2012 (and revised it in 2014) that reveals the Journal of Sports Sciences’ formulas for each gender.

Calculate Calories Burned

For Men: [(age x 0.2017) – (weight x 0.09036) + (heart rate x 0.6309) – 55.0969] x (minutes/4.184) = calories burned For Women: [(age x 0.074) – (weight x 0.05741) + (heart rate x 0.4472) – 20.4022] x (minutes/4.184) = calories burned

So in the same example above, the female’s heart rate 160 beats per minutes (bpm), and she worked out for 60 minutes:

[(1.998) – (8.89855) + (71.552) – 20.4022] x (14.3403) = 634.55 calories burned

And the male using the same bpm and time as the female:

[(5.4459) – (17.1684) + (100.944) – 55.0969] x (14.3403) = 489.36 calories burned

By the Numbers: Food

Of course you will also need to know how many calories are in your meals if you want to go that route. There are plenty of apps out there, but I find them to be less accurate (unless they are confirmed by the USDA). These apps also are high in name-brand foods, like processed products and restaurant menu items.

If you can swing it, calculate your meals based on the USDA’s recommendations. Here is the tracker from the department’s official website.

Now you are equipped with the tools to strengthen your goals (and your muscles, *wink wink*). Sound like too much work? Beach bodies take some effort, but there are ways to go through a diet and exercise program without religiously counting your calories. I personally enjoy doing it as it’s a great way to stay on track. It’s not always the answer, however.

In Fit Mind, Fit Life, I discuss the importance (and strategies) of portion control and identifying fullness vs. satisfaction, and many other tips, tricks and mind hacks that supplement the 7-step process I’ve developed to help you achieve your ultimate body image. These principal methods will certainly help you manage your personal journey, so I suggest you check it out!

What is the biggest struggle you are experiencing in achieving your beach body? I want to help. Tell me in the comments below.

The 3 Milestones You Must Reach to Lose Weight

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The principle of forming rituals or habits is a popular one in the self-help world and is commonly used to help those who want to increase personal productivity – yes, even weight loss. I agree with many of my mentors … The tactic of forming rituals is vastly important to making the achievement of success easier and faster.

I do disagree, however, with the premise that the two terms “habits” and “rituals” can be used interchangeably. I believe the two terms are entirely different, and they should be used differently as an integral part of your plan to lose weight and look great.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the two terms are steps 1 and 2, but first, I would like to define the two terms as they appear in the dictionary:

ritual – any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

habit – an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Do you see the difference here?

A ritual, to me, is a customary act, created for a select set of circumstances, such as in religious acts. However, a ritual can always be changed and updated, and there is no real end result.

A habit, on the other hand, results in the involuntary formation of continued action after a set period of time.

There is no guarantee if you create yourself a nice daily ritual that it will automatically form a habit for you. There are plenty of factors that could cause you to give up. I’ve been there, and it’s my job to make sure you know what it takes to avoid this danger.

So how do you execute the plan using these as your first two steps? Let’s break it down:

Step 1: Create the ritual. Look, I don’t want you spending too much time on this. If we dabble too much in the countless amounts of information at hand, we quickly fall into a deep zone of analysis paralysis, which is the act of continuously looking for a better answer or solution without taking any definitive action.

Therefore, take just 15-20 minutes of your day today to sit down and hand-write out one daily ritual to get you moving toward better health and/or fitness. You can always change or update your ritual down the line to better suit your needs. For now, we must focus on action!

Your daily ritual should look something like this: “Every day, I will wake up at 6:30 a.m., wash my face and brush my teeth, have a hot, lemon water, put on running shoes, stretch, and go for a 2-mile run.”

Or, in less descriptive terms:

[frequency of ritual (every day)] + [initial action (wake up) @ time (6:30 a.m.)] + [set of steps (wash face/brush teeth, hot lemon water, shoes, stretch)] = [end result (2-mile run)].

Step 2: Form the habit. Contrary to the 21-day habit theory many self-help gurus preach, I believe it’s actually a 60-day process for your mind to get fully used to your new ritual and make it a habit. If you’ve followed your ritual for 60 straight days, it should feel totally natural.

The habit you have created has finally fully taken form at this point. You should feel as though things are happening automatically. Putting on your running shoes and doing your pre-run stretch won’t be a daunting task anymore. You will just do it, with much less resistance than you experienced in your first few weeks.

The next phase of this step is crucial: using your willpower to overcome the rare low-energy days, or better yet, using it during your workouts.

Willpower is a funny thing. In the beginning, without even knowing it, you were using it to simply get up earlier than normal and get right to your workout. Once that process becomes a habit, you don’t need your willpower for it anymore. It’s a habit!

For example, you’ve automatically put on the running shoes and stretched, and you are now out for your run. The willpower you have can be used to help you increase your intensity. As a result, you could improve your pace by 15 seconds each mile.

Using your willpower in this way is both inspiring and beneficial. Now that you have more energy, less mental resistance, and presumably less weight to carry around, your exercises will feel easier. You will get through a workout still feeling like you accomplished something great, still challenged, and still tired, but it will not be as tough anymore.

Step 3: “The Healthy Addiction.” I am aware the word “addiction” is tied to a negative connotation, so I preface its explanation by adding the phrase “healthy” to it.

What does all of this mean? Once you hit a certain mark in your journey, you will naturally begin to feel something different about the way you are going about doing things. This new feeling is actually your brain accepting your new lifestyle and feeling good about the results you have achieved.

When you miss a workout or cheat on your diet on a regular diet day (not a cheat day if you have one), then your brain will now make you feel uncomfortable, or even guilty, about the mistake. Not only that, but your brain will crave a workout and begin to want you to eat healthy foods like greens and plenty of water. Once you get to that point, you’ll know, and things will be so much easier!

So during this time, I want you to really hone in on what you want to improve upon in your current regimen. Imagine what you will look like and how you will feel at the end of the next 30 days. Share your current results with your social media network, amongst your friends and family, or even your coworkers. You should be proud to have made it this far!

The habitual practice of your ritual will stick from this point forward. Again, there’s always a chance you fall off the wagon, but the chances are far less once you’ve arrived here. That will be the difference between fit now and fit for life.

Leave a comment below to share your ritual with me. The beginning of your newest endeavor is all too inspiring, so I hope to see plenty of comments pouring in.

I’m Here. What’s Next?

You have landed on my blog for any number of reasons:

  • You’re tired of your current situation and are looking for fresh ideas to change your life
  • You are looking for new ways to motivate yourself to get to the next level in your fitness regimen or workout
  • You’ve tried many conventional diets only to find short-term success in keeping the weight off
  • Someone told you I was awesome
  • You’re a friend, family member or acquaintance

Thank you all for stopping by! Now what do you do?

Even after writing Fit Mind, Fit Life, I’m still amazed at how many fad diets, “get fit quick” schemes, and unconventional ideas about dieting and exercising.

It is the mass confusion and information overload in this industry that inspires me daily to want to find the solution for the greater good. A major part of that solution begins deep in our brains, where our most subconscious reactions stir, wanting to keep us from “hurting ourselves” or disrupting our routines.

So, this is why this website exists.

I know the difference between the truth and the mass media’s idea of selling you exactly what you want, but delivering little-to-no long-term results. I know the marketing in much detail, and I also know how it feels to be subject to it – the pain wanting to lose weight or flatten the belly with too much information at hand and very little real guidance. Not only do I know the tricks and methods of the industry, but I know why our minds find every way to fall prey to them, and most importantly, how to fix the problem in many different ways.

Not everyone in the business world is out to make us fat, however. It’s a shame. Here in America, many of us need to feed our families, but we don’t have the time, or worse, the money, because of an economy and job market that demands more of us … because of a new world that demands we respond to every ding, chirp and vibrate.

We’re almost forced to visit the drive-through. We have no choice but to beef up our beef with hormones, blanket our fruits with pesticides, raise our fish in farms, because we just need more.

However, those of us who want to live healthy have endless options and have a tough time sorting through the crap.

This is why you constantly see these dangers being perpetuated onto society, and again, it’s the inspiration for this blog, and for my products.

My goal is to help you lose fat and gain muscle as simply as possible, with as many tools in your arsenal as possible – both mentally and physically – without all of the clutter and misinformation. My goal is to void the constant doubts you feel when you plateau or have a hiccup in your plan. That means less stress, less obsession, and more energy!

I want to help you look your best and feel alive again. I hope you enjoy what you read and as always, feel free to contact me with requests on topics to write about. I’m always looking to serve you better.