Archive | March 2014

True Champions Practice What They Preach!

I am finalizing my interview with David from David Vale Fitness this morning.  I urge you to log on to and discover his remarkable health transformation for yourself.

E: Okay David, because you succeeded in conquering your health challenge, would you mind telling our readers what you found to be the most important aspect to health?David Vale and family

D: Pairing together fitness and nutrition is so key to success. I do believe that proper nutrition is 70% of the equation and equally as difficult to achieve. One can simply lose padding with proper nutrition alone. But total health must include some aspect of physical exercise.

E:  So true because muscle efficiently burns fat.

D:  Right. Physical exercise should be incorporated at least 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes each time. But, this does not have to be something one dreads or monotonous activities that are easy to lose interest. What I seek for my clients is a balance of cardio, resistance, body weight, and interval exercises throughout a week. Simply put, I want folks to get their heart rate up a couple days a week and I want folks to use their muscles the other days.

 E:  And what should people expect from this type of workout?

D:  This balanced approach will strengthen heart and cardiorespiratory health, increase bone density, recruit muscle growth and joint strength. This also increases calorie burn and reduces the risks of atrophy, osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes. I encourage folks to keep an open mind, try new things, and find that type of exercise that clicks with you. For me it was home-based workouts like P90X and running. But this can also be gardening, brisk walking, group fitness, or things that you naturally do around the house.

E:  Anyone who goes onto your website will be impressed that you truly practice what you preach. You are an inspiration to many who have a lot of weight to lose. Can you tell us a little about how you accomplished this tremendous weight loss goal?

D: Thank you so much for these kind words. I do what I love and love what I do. But, if you had told me three years ago that I would be writing a blog, teaching fitness classes, or would be an inspiration for others, I would have called you crazy!

E: You obviously had a great support system surrounding you. Any encouraging words for our readers on that?

D: Here’s the truth: it takes work and support. It took work by me and support from my family and friends. And focus – there are folks out there that for some reason don’t want you to succeed. Ignore all that.

I achieved success through the combination fitness, nutrition, and accountability. I consistently exercised using the 2 day rule (I don’t skip more than 2 days in a week). Nutrition was an evolution and the toughest part for me. I made incremental changes each week where I sought to replace a poor food choice with a healthier alternative. For instance, instead of fries, I would try a veggie or baked chips. Over time, my palette changed to where I went to a fully clean nutrition plan like the one I described previously.

E: If only more people would understand that as people stay away from the junk, the less their body craves it physiologically!

D:  Exactly! And for accountability, I sought out friends and others online that have either already gone through a health change or had a similar interest. My wife is a Dietitian, so we always have great meals and foods in our house because of her influence. But, I had to learn how to eat right when she wasn’t looking. When times got tough (and they will) it was key to have this group to be accountable to and to lift me up. Now, I lead these groups and provide that support system for anyone who desires a healthy lifestyle.

E: I appreciate your openness David, in overcoming a personal challenge. I know it will also assist many with conquering that dreaded muffin top area too! No doubt, forty years from now, you will still be as much of a personal testament to clean, positive living as you are today. I so appreciated your time in answering one of my favorite follower’s question. Thank you.


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10-12




Aspiring to Conquer Muffin Top Mountain

Today we continue our interview with David Vale of David Vale Fitness,  who really lives what he professes:

Ellie: Yesterday we discussed the basics. Today I’d like to talk about something that’s probably a gimmick, like those new exercise machines I’ve seen at trade shows. They promise great results but reminded me of the old exercise machines with the mechanical belts that didn’t make someone lose anything but their money. Can’t remember what they were called . . .

david vale individual photoDavid: Funny! I can’t remember what the name is either. I also remember the butt rumblers that you would sit on. I have heard of folks buying home machines and losing about 1450 .. dollars that is!

A machine typically has a singular function and exercises one body part. The reality here is one’s body will adapt to that one exercise, become more efficient at it, and eventually lose its effectiveness. This will also place focused stress on the body parts used which leads to a greater possibility of injury. Remember to include a balanced exercise plan that incorporates cardio, resistance, body weight and interval exercises. One really needs to find a balance and a mixture of exercises to train the entire body including upper muscles, legs, core, synergistic and functional moves, and cardio.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone starts somewhere. If that somewhere is an elliptical or treadmill, that is awesome! Once one finds success being consistent here, then I would look to introduce additional or different exercises.

E: Well, what about basic walking?

D: Walking is great. And often times this is a great place for folks to start out. Over time, however, walking can get monotonous, so I would suggest finding some variety through a music playlist, recruiting some friends, changing the scenery, or adding intervals of brisk walks or jogs based on ones ability or comfort level. The risk with walking is that it does burn less calories, which means it will take longer to get rid of the extra padding. This could discourage folks or cause them to lose focus. To offset this, one can also hold light weights, increase pace or intensity with hills/inclines.

E: Would you discuss a common question I receive about fat, please? Does fat stay in one place as many believe or continually circulate throughout our system?

D: Generally speaking, people carry weight differently and often times in concentrated locations. Women tend to carry it in the thighs and rear. Guys tend to carry it in their lower bellies. Genetics also plays a role where it is carried too.

E: Hot spicy foods are thermodynamic and burn calories in a small way and water-based foods are very beneficial. Any hope of losing through specific food choices?

D: Certainly. As long as those specific choices are not part of a fad restrictive diet that is limiting or not sustainable. I guide folks to a clean nutrition plan filled with lean meats/alternative proteins, legumes, grains, superfoods, fruits, veggies and a focus on real food.healthy food

E: Your personal weight loss transformation was incredible! Tell us a little about that please.

D: I used to count calories, but do not anymore. Now, I count ingredients and purely focus and simple, natural, and local (if possible) ingredients prepared with simple cooking techniques such as grilling and roasting. Eliminating or greatly reducing processed, refined, fried, high sodium, sugary drinks and fast food are very important. I also seek out foods that have anti-inflammatory qualities. My meals contain a balance of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) with typically a lean protein/legume, grain, 2 veggies, and fresh cut fruit.

E:  I totally agree that’s a sensible approach.  I’m sure you stress water as essential as well?

D: Water is so important and we tend to neglect it. Switching to drinking water only is an easy way to reduce bloat and melt away a couple of pounds very quickly. Plus it gets one away from drinking that dreaded sugar filled soda pop.

E: Absolutely! People don’t understand how detrimental soda is to weight loss, but that’s an entire blog on its own! Tomorrow we’ll conclude our interview and David will tell us how he overcame a health challenge with the help of his family. Always remember; God gave us life, we should live it gratefully and abundantly!

“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1Timothy 4:7b-8)

Ridding Ourselves of the Muffin Top!

I was asked recently by one of my lovely followers (who will remain anonymous due to the question) regarding the challenge we sometimes face: the Dreaded Muffin Top (and I’m not discussing overfilling the cupcake pans!) No, I am speaking of that challenging area just above the hips that seems to overlap our jeans. How do we rid ourselves of that horrible, unflattering area?

So being a nutritional counselor, not a fitness instructor, I turned to an expert. If like me, you admire people who “practice what they preach” then David Vale of David Vale Fitness, is certainly one of those people.David Vale photo


“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” ( 1 Corinthians 9:27)

After facing chronic health issues, David needed to make a choice: He decided to take control of his life; losing 60 pounds through clean nutrition, consistent fitness, and accountability. This not only transformed his physical health and appearance, but also changed his mental outlook with positive energy and a happier attitude. Now as a husband, father, Certified Fitness Instructor and Online Fitness Coach, he assists others in reaching their goals. I urge you to discover for yourselves how much he has overcome by logging onto his blog and see for yourself.


So I approached him for his expertise when facing this particular fitness challenge and he graciously subjected himself to one of my world-famous, probing interviews:

Ellie: David, thank you for helping my readers who, over time, seem to accumulate “extra padding” around the middle and above the hip area. Are there any specific exercises that would target this area?

D: This is a very common question that I encounter. Unfortunately, spot reduction or targeting specific areas of the body to lose weight is a common myth. The adage that Abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym is true. Exercises will help one burn calories, but proper nutrition needs to accompany exercise in order to be effective at reducing the “padding.”

E: (thinking): Great! Eat for nutrients! That’s what I profess! Thumbs up David!

D (continuing): However, that does not mean this area should be neglected from an exercise standpoint.

E: Rats, if only it were that simple. Well for example – how about using small weights? Are stretch bands of any value? Stretching side to side?

D: In exercise terms, it is very difficult to isolate a particular targeted spot. Sure, if you want stronger calves, work them a lot. But spot reduction is difficult. What I usually do for my clients is consider approaches that incorporate the core, provide synergistic moves to provide a balanced approach. In fact this area of the body from the hip flexors to just below the chest (the Core) is critical to exercise and strengthen. Building a strong core will make every other aspect of exercising easier, enable greater endurance for functional daily activities like laundry, yard work, etc, and prevent injury.

E: Personally I have always disliked floor calisthenics but if that’s the only way to rid myself of a pesky muffin top . . . do they work?

D: There are certainly many exercises to strengthen the core. The best part, you can do this without doing dreaded crunches. You can use body weight exercises, and do this up to 3 days a week. Exercises include leg lifts/scissors, planks, side planks, standing elbows to knees, high knees jog in place, and seated side to side twists to name a few.

As David has demonstrated, if he can do it, you can do it too! We will continue our interview tomorrow, discussing among other items, if certain exercise machines are gimmicks.

Is This Actually A Diet?

I want to dedicate this particular post to my blogging friend,  for her insightful point regarding my chocolate pill post recently: people will fall for anything!

Does anyone remember when Oprah Winfrey, to prove a point for her popular television show in the 1990s, set up a totally fictitious diet center in a local shopping mall?  That ‘diet’ consisted of th[7]eating only hot dogs and ice cream.  How silly . . .  who’d fall for that?

Well . . .  actually . . . over 40 people signed up in three days! It certainly proved her point that people will desperately believe anything and we must be wary of diet scams.

The question one has to ask is, why???  Surely they couldn’t believe that consuming sodium-filled, chemically-laden, saturated-fat, processed meat and dairy  (5-22 grams  of saturated fat per 1/2 cup in ice cream – and who only eats a 1/2 cup?) would produce the fit body of a healthy person? Isn’t health more important than weight loss?

Unfortunately not to some. Research states that the diet industry is a $50-70 billion dollar (who can keep up, it keeps rising) industry. Many are looking for a quick fix, even at the expense of their health. They are literally dying to be thin! Nutritional education, physiology, overcoming challenges, establishing lifelong strategies are certainly more conducive to health than a quick fix.

Hebrews 13:9 “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.”

People are desperate and will waste their time and money on any chance that it might work for a short time. No fad diet is lasting and some can actually harm the bio-rhythms of the heart and metabolism.

Do you believe this is how God meant for us to eat?  I sincerely doubt it!  The Israelite’s followed God’s strict dietary laws in Leviticus, primarily for the safety of its people. There were no refrigerators, ice, running water, instant hand sanitizers or other sanity measures in place in this age. With all of our self-professed superior knowledge we fail to eat better today than in biblical times.

If some would believe anything, even be swayed to follow a ridiculous dietary plan, don’t you wonder how many would fall for another false prophet when he arrives? This is another reason to keep your family’s faith grounded in the Word of God. Remain strong!

1 John 4:1,  “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Chocolate Pills Now? Really?

Honestly, what next? Yes it is wonderful that the nutritional world has finally caught up and acknowledged what God always knew, that chocolate is beneficial, but why pills? The sheer luxury of chocolate soothes the soul. Why deny yourself the pure enjoyment of a beneficial piece of chocolate?

choclate pillsDark chocolate contains valuable nutrients, that’s a given. Antioxidants also protect us against damaging free radicals because it is infused with disease-fighting flavonoids which boost the immune system. Some studies even claim that chocolate contains more flavonoids than any other food. Nice to speculate, but I don’t believe everything I read. In a huge world of nutritious choices, that statement could be debatable at any time. Granted chocolate might be, in its most unchanged form, but who is going to chow down on natural cocoa beans? Perhaps in this way, pills could be useful but why deny yourself the pleasure of mouthfeel?

It is factual, however, that dark chocolate  will lower your blood pressure, thinning your blood and improving blood flow to the brain and heart. This makes blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. Two Italian studies discovered that participants who consumed 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily lowered their insulin resistance.  Don’t you wish you could have participated in THAT study? This was probably due to chocolate’s high chromium content which regulates our insulin sensitivity. As Hippocrates noted, make food your medicine. “So take a square of Ghirardelli and call me in the morning.”

Dark chocolate increases the serotonin levels in our brain so if we are feeling depressed, we might find our brain’s hypothalamus subconsciously nagging us until we give in to this soothing, tranquilizing chemical ingredient. Our brain is recommending chocolate for our own good! If you are under the false belief that chocolate is bad for you, then you begin to feel guilty. That is why chocolate has erroneously been called a “guilty pleasure.” Chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine, which stimulates the same feelings as being in love. This chemical releases endorphins which make you feel happier, so now can you understand why you unconsciously run to chocolate for comfort?

Chocolate also contains potassium, magnesium, iron and copper which benefit heart function. Copper also allows our hair to remain its natural color longer and iron protects against anemia. Remember the old wives tale that consuming chocolate was bad for your teeth? Well, just the contrary; chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel.

The first cocoa beverage was simply ground cacao beans and water, enjoyed by the natives of South America. Enticing to me, who enjoys chocolate as dark as it gets, but it wouldn’t be to most people. The most beneficial antioxidants and flavonoids are found in chocolate containing 60% cacao or above, so strive to purchase these for increased health benefits.

Chocolate calories varies but one average piece of high quality dark chocolate contains approximately 55 calories, 5 grams of fat (3 grams of this is saturated = about 3/4 teaspoon) and also healthy monounsaturated fat. It even contains 1 gram of fiber. Vanilla will boost the flavor in dark chocolate without adding sugar. Forget purchasing white or even milk chocolate for it has fewer nutrients. And please understand that dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation.

Would I recommend chocolate pills?  Only if chocolate is a trigger or addictive food; meaning you can’t stop at one piece. Otherwise enjoy God’s wonderful bounty and don’t waste your money.

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:2)  

Get Rid of Your Asherah Poles!

As I was reading a devotional last evening, I came across an interesting passage from 2 Chronicles 24 which I thought was relatable to society’s unhealthy environment today.

“After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.  They abandoned the temple of the Asherah polesLord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.” 2 Chronicles 24: 17-19

Judah’s king Joash was only seven years old when he took over the throne of Judah. He was counseled wisely by a priest named Jehoiada for as long as that priest lived. Unfortunately after he died, other statesmen of Judah came to see Joash and persuaded him not only to abandon the building of the temple, but to worship the Asherah poles meant to glorify the idol goddess, Asherah.

God however, did not immediately abandon Judah because of this idol worship. He sent holy priests to warn and persuade them to turn from their wickedness and once again worship the true LORD. Not only would the people not listen, but they stoned the faithful priest Zechariah to death, when he proclaimed that God had finally abandoned them due of their unfaithful behavior. Not one person listening to Zechariah stood up for Truth.

Now what in the world, you might be thinking, do these verses have to do with society’s health? Well, I can show you several which correspond to our culture today.

Up until the 1940s, people were not obsessed with thinness and beauty as we are today. Nowadays we worship beauty! Sometime during the ’50s, outer attraction became the main focus and inner beauty took a back seat. It got worse. What once was a desire to look like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean has slowly melded into Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Do you find them attractive? I don’t. One shouldn’t look on any earthly person as a role model or strive to mimic them as our young people do today. Encourage children to look toward our Lord for our character aspirations, not celebrities. Celebrities should not be Asherah poles.

Another consideration is one my nutritional and fitness friends can relate to. As a health practitioner, do you sometimes feel that you are a lonely voice promoting truth within a world of weight loss fallacies? When you see a patient or client disregarding your sound advice, doesn’t your heart grieve? Failing to recognize physiological truth, they worship culinary Asherah poles. Today everyone declares what is right in their own eyes and that includes consuming unhealthy foods. Since each is accountable for our own actions, one can choose to eat healthily or pig out on Big Mac’s daily. One reaps what he sows. Is that God honoring or another Asherah pole?

My last thought is that it didn’t take Joash long to be influenced by ungodly people despite all the Godly Truth he received at the feet of Jehoiada. Are we so easily persuaded by others when we know what we should do? Do mind-influencing magazines, celebrity spokespersons or television advertisements influence you? Does the melody, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” or any other outside persuasion make us run to our own Asherah pole?

As parents we are required to train and guide our children in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6) Direct them to Christ – not worship an ungodly Asherah pole.