Thursday, March 31, 2011


For some reason I am really anxious about tomorrow's monthly weigh in. I'm not sure why, maybe it has to do with me gaining weight last month. I stayed away from the bad food for the most part ( 4 days of bad eating) and with the exception of 2 days, I stayed within my calorie range. I'm really hoping for a good weigh-in and that I was able to drop at least 10 pounds. I would like to drop the 5 I gained in February and drop another 5 for March.

That's really it, nothing else for today. I'll blog tomorrow after my weigh-in.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I've Learned A Lot

It’s been slightly over a year since I joined the gym and started this blog. I’ve learned a lot of things over the past year but the one thing that I learned the most is…

This weight loss stuff is hard work!!

It makes me sick now to see all the TV ads touting the next great pill or program (yes I’m talking to you HCG). It makes me mad they will no doubt make millions on the desperate who want so bad to lose weight the quick easy way.  It bothers me so much because last year I was one of the desperate. I wanted the quick way out like so many others. What you say? A diet where I eat no carbs and can destroy a pound of bacon and lose weight, yeah I’m on board! A pill that after I eat fatty foods will melt away all the fat…hell yeah, I’ll buy that! No diet, no exercise, just a drop of this magic elixir and I still lose weight…where do I sign up! Sadly NONE of those options work. Listen, just please listen to what they are promoting and you too will realize that it’s no secret.  Here’s a little snippet from very popular diet supplement website right now:

“Taking small daily doses of HCG(approx. 125 IU to 200 IU) can result in weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs per day, and often more, when accompanied by a low calorie diet of approximately 500 calories.”

Ok now, let’s make one thing clear. A 500 calorie a day “diet” is the secret here that is helping you lose weight. A 500 calorie day “diet” is also going to leave you hungry, depressed, with little energy and let’s face it…grumpy as all hell. But, people will buy this, lose a bit of weight and say WOW this stuff actually works! Then a month or so (or less) after the “diet”, the weight will come back on and the person will say to themselves, I really need to get back on that diet because I am gaining all this weight back. Of course you are gaining the weight back. You are back to eating the way you were before you starved yourself on 500 calories a day!

Shhhhh….I have a secret for you.

I’ve discovered a new diet plan that will not only help you lose weight, BUT it will also save you money! And for the same low price will make you feel better about yourself, lessen depression, make you healthier and improve your overall well being! But wait, there’s MORE! All this is accomplished with no pills AND you can eat more than 500 calories a day!

What’s that…you want on board, you’ll pay anything??!!

I knew you would say that. So let me tell you what this new “diet” plan is. It’s called the Eat A Bit Less Than What You Do Now and Move a Bit more Than What You Move Now Diet Plan!! AND IT’S FREE! It’s not a bestselling plan yet because once people start it they realize one thing! It’s also a ton of hard work! You see, for the low low price of free you need to do a few things.
  • You need to commit to the program long term
  • You need to move, you need to drop some sweat on the floor 
  • You need to eat less than what you currently do now (but NOT starve yourself)
 In my opinion, if you are currently used to taking in 4000 calories a day and you all of a sudden drop that to 1200 calories a day, you are going to fail. Your body is going to be in a constant state of hunger and unless you are being watched 24/7, you are going to binge whenever you get the chance. So if you are used to 4000 calories a day, why not drop that to 3000 and add some healthy choices into your meals. Then after that drop it a bit more and stop going out to eat. See what I’m saying. Work your way down to where you need to be, this isn’t a race. And if all this time you are getting some exercise in, you will lose weight.

Yes ladies and gentleman, this weight loss stuff is hard work, and you will only get out of it what you put into it. But I promise, if you give it your all, you will see the rewards. Not only that, but the chances of you keeping the weight off improve dramatically if you do it the right way.

Skip the sales ads on TV. The only weight you’re going to drop from them is in your wallet. I know, I’ve been there done that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kitchen Scale Review (EatSmart Precision Pro)

EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Scale
Today is my review of the EatSmart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale. This is the first review in a series of reviews I’m going to do. Hopefully this series will lead into the launch of my new site; The Review Board.  
I enjoy cooking and I love kitchen gadgets, so this was a fun review for me. I’ve also been meaning to buy a kitchen scale so this was the perfect opportunity for me to run this through some tests (I love testing).  I should also note that EatSmart was kind enough to send me this, BUT I have purchased EatSmart products in the past (Bathroom scale) and all reviews done by me are honest no BS reviews. If a product is great I will tell you, if it’s crap, I’ll let you know that too.

With all that being said, let’s get on with this.

The EatSmart Precision Pro Scale’s measurement units are g/oz/kg and lbs and it comes in a few color choices (White, Red, Black, Silver and White/Chrome).  With the product dimensions being approximately 8”x6”x1.5”, it’s a nice compact scale that will fit nicely on your counter or easily stored away. The one thing that set this above some of the others is that the weight capacity maxes out at 11 lbs or 5kg. Most of the other scales I looked at maxed out at about 6 lbs. I’m not sure I will ever max this out but it’s nice to know I can drop a turkey on here if need be…or measure other things……
Widget being measured

Some other features of this scale include:
·         Automatic turnoff after 3 minutes (tested –works)
·         2 year full warranty (I have not tested their customer service yet)
·         2 AAA batteries included
·         Tare function (tested –see review)

EatSmart says that this scale is accurate to +-1 gram. Well, I’m not one to take their word on that so I needed to put this through some tests. The first test was to take a product that I already knew the weight of (Chobani yogurt cup 6.0oz) and measure that. The total weight came out to 6.5oz. To be as accurate as possible I also measured the empty container (emptying it was fun) and the lid. That came to .5oz exactly, so this scale passed that test with flying colors. 

EatSmart scale passing the Chobani test

Next I measured some sugar in grams and some flour in lbs and kg. The sugar came out exactly accurate but the full bag of flour teetered back and forth between 5lbs and 5.016. Well after realizing that I measured it in the original bag, I had to put a bowl on the scale, “tare” the bowl to zero and measure again. This time it measured 5.001 pounds and the kg was right on with 2.26. A bit of a discrepancy there, but that could have been my wobbly table.

So far I was impressed, but there was still one more test. I am going to be using this mostly while set to ounces so I wanted to do 1 more test on that setting. Using the tare feature (let’s you set a containers weight to zero) I placed a measuring cup on the scale. This would allow me to fill the measuring cup to 8oz and then see if the scale matched. So I slowly poured water into the cup and the scale started to measure and rise immediately. When I got close o the 8oz mark I had to go drip by drip to get an accurate measurement. As you can see form the picture, the water line is at 8oz and the scale says 8oz. Wow, I was pretty impressed.
8oz exactly
All in all this is an accurate scale. I had one discrepancy but even if that was the scales fault and not mine, it still held true to EatSmart’s claim of +/- 1gram. The scale is light and plastic so I’m not sure it could really take too much of a beating, but then again I don’t know too many people who play catch with their scales. So to wrap this up,  I would feel very comfortable recommending the EatSmart Precision Pro Scale to anyone in the market for a kitchen scale. Thanks again to EatSmart for the chance to review this and if you have any further question, please feel free to ask.

If you're a vendor and think your product can withstand an honest straightforward review, just submit a request to me via email or contact me via Twitter @VinnySlavin.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Very Beginners Guide to Protein Shakes

**Before I begin today's super awesome mostly OK post. I would like to direct your attention to my new banner. Yup it's new, super cool and it's all thanks to Anda over at

I’ve been doing a lot of research over the past year on all kinds of health and fitness products. I’ve read up on everything from multi-vitamins and superfoods to building muscles and workout routines. There is one product though that it seems everyone has a different opinion on and there is so much to choose from, that it makes it hard for an n00b like me to figure out what to use or should I even use it at all.

Protein Powder/Shakes

That’s right folks. Try doing a search on protein powder and you will get hit with a plethora of information that will keep you reading for weeks. Not to mention that the information is so skewed by brands pushing their own products that it’s very hard to decipher what is truth and what is pure product pushing sales nonsense.

Well this is where I’m going to pay it forward a bit. I have been soaking up information and getting inspired by so many blogs this past year that I wanted to do my part and give out some useful info. Not just the usual whining about a gain or cheering about a loss, but some actual solid info I can pass on to you as a way of saying thanks. With that being said, please keep in mind that I am not an expert what-so-ever and I encourage you to do your own homework and consult a doctor before taking any kind of health/fitness supplements. This is just a kind of guide to start you off on your search for a good beneficial protein power/shake.

So, let’s begin…..
I want to try a protein shake, but I have no clue where to begin!

 Everyone needs protein. Whether you are losing weight or gaining muscle or just toning and maintaining. We all need protein. How we get it and how much of it we get is where the confusion comes in.
You can get your protein from your obvious sources like meats, eggs, fish and some veggies (yes I said veggies). Or you can grab it in the form of a drink. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, I’m not going to drink my calories. For the most part, I don’t blame you. Stuff like Slim Fast and the Carnation Instant Breakfast stuff, to me is just silly. Most of them do nothing to fill you up and most of the time they are filled with crap. But protein powders can be different. Protein drinks are not really made to be meal supplements. They are there to give you the protein you need for your muscles (among other things) and as an added bonus they fill you up and do it with less calories than eating the same amount of protein in a regular meal.

Ok, so what brand of protein powder should I try and what should I look for?

To keep this post from sounding like a sales ad I am going to keep brands out of it, but I can tell you what you should look for so you can make an informed decision when you go out looking.
1.    It should taste good! Seriously, I know this sounds obvious but if you don’t like the taste you are not going to drink it. You might try to stomach it a few times, but in the long run you’ll just stop taking it. Some places will even let you try it if you ask. Or ask around and see what others like.

2.    Make sure it contains at least 5g of BCAAs (Branched- Chain Amino Acids)and other amino acids.  I can’t go into all of them here but read up on them, you’ll be glad you did.

3.     Know what the source of the protein is (Whey, Soy, Casein etc...). I’ll go into the different types later.

4.    Read the nutrition label just as closely as you would read any other food label. You want to make sure you are getting the most protein for your buck/scoop. If a protein powder says you get 24 grams of protein per serving and the serving size is 3 scoops…leave it be, because most of what you are getting is filler. Look for something that gives maybe 24g per 1 scoop. This way you know you are getting more protein for your buck. Also look at calories, cholesterol and what sweetener they use. I stay away from anything with aspartame.

5.    Of course price. Do yourself a favor and shop around. What you can find in the popular health stores is usually much cheaper online. There are exceptions of course like sales and what not but for the most part buy it online.

Alright, so I’ve picked a brand. But now there are so many kinds of Protein to choose. What’s what?

Let’s go over the different types of protein.

1.       Whey Proteins: This is the most popular of the proteins right now because it’s a naturally complete protein. Meaning it’s loaded with EAAs and has the 3 BCAAs that I talked about earlier.  It’s also “quick acting” or “fast absorbing” as you will see on most of the containers these days.  Most whey protein powders now-a-days are made lactose free, so if you are lactose intolerant this is for you. Whey is one of two major dairy proteins and accounts for about 20% of the protein in milk.

2.       Casein Proteins: This protein is 80% of the protein in milk making casein the dominant dairy protein. It’s also a slower acting or “time released” protein because the body absorbs it and digests it at a slower rate.

3.       Soy proteins: This is the vegetarian protein and it contains all of the required amino acids in fairly decent amounts.

4.       Egg Proteins: Eggs…come on.  We all know eggs are a fabulous source of protein. They are loaded with EAAs and the protein quality is nearly unbeatable. They are a great alternative to the other proteins out there.

5.       Whole Milk Proteins: What we all know and most of us love. The powders are dried with most of the fat and carbs removed.
When should I be drinking my Protein Shakes?

To fully understand this you should really know more about why you are drinking them in the first place. You already know you need protein to help muscles grow and repair body tissue, nails and so on.  But do you know how protein does this, especially when concerning your muscles? Well, while you actually in the process of lifting weights you are not building any muscle. The muscle building process actually comes after you have worked out. During your weight training you are actually making tears in your muscle tissue. It’s these tears that are helping to grow your muscles.  After your workout the repair process begins on those tears and the growing begins. This is where your protein drink would come into play the most.
There is some debate on when is the best time to drink protein. But the one time almost everyone agrees on is right after your workout. This is when your muscles are recovering and therefore will benefit from the protein the most. The other beneficial times are debatable, but right when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed are two common answers.

Should I drink certain kinds of protein during certain times of the day?

Well let’s take it from what you have learned about the different kinds of proteins. Obviously since whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein, you would want to take that right after your workout (within 1 hour). Seeing I live about 5 minute from the gym I take it as soon as I get home. Others will leave some pre measured powder in their cars and drink it right after working out. Some people also take the whey right before working out as well. I’m not keen on this, as I am dollar conscious and would rather take it when it will benefit me the most and that is right after your workout.

As for taking protein in the morning and at night, I would say it’s safe to use your proteins with casein in it. The casein as you learned, is a slow release protein and when taken (especially at night) will slowly release the protein to your body over time. This is why I believe that one of the popular shakes…we’ll call it Muscle Cow Juice (so I can say I didn’t mention a brand name) is not the best for drinking right after your workout, but better taken in the morning or at night, seeing as it contains casein.

Another popular thing to do is blend or “stack” your protein shakes with other stuff. Some mix the shakes with fruit others some syrup, and the serious athletes also stack with other amino acids like L-Glutamine. Some will also stack with creatine and well... many other things.

 How much protein should I be getting?

How much protein you get daily really depends on your age and weight. The average adult woman may need about 46 grams (1.6 ounces) daily while the average man may need about 56 grams (1.9 ounces) per day. 

For those who workout and are hoping to build muscle, some experts believe consuming about 1 (.03 ounces) to 1.5 grams (.05 ounces) of protein powder for each pound of lean mass a person has. For example, if a man weighed 180 pounds (81.64 kilograms) and had 10 percent body fat, he would multiply 180 by 10 percent, getting 18 pounds (8.16 kilograms). Subtracting the 18 pounds (8.16 kilograms) from his total weight, he would realize he had 162 pounds (73.48) of lean body mass and should consume between 162 (5.71 ounces) and 243 grams (8.57 ounces) of protein powder and protein-rich food on a daily basis.  (Number info taken from

Are you going to wrap this up? It’s getting kind of long.

You’re right; this is getting a bit long so I am going to conclude this here. So as I’ve said earlier, this is not a total information packet on protein. There is always more to learn and when it comes to putting stuff in your body I recommend you do your homework and learn as much as possible. I will say though that I think taking a protein shake is a good idea to help you along in your fitness goals.

I hope I was able to give some decent info to anyone that was as curious as I was about protein shakes. I would also love to hear in the comments how you use protein shakes (if at all).  I always love to hear comments…good or bad. :) Also if you have any other questions please feel free to ask. I don’t claim to know it all (by far), but I can almost always find the answer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Official Weigh-in and Feb Wrap-up

I would like to make this short and sweet so I can try to move past it and into March with a clear head. So for the sake of full disclosure here it goes.

My February wrap-up goes like this. I ate too much, binged too many days, didn’t move enough and as a result I gained 5.2 pounds for the month! Yup…you heard right. In fact, I went as far as to change the batteries in the scale and move it to different parts of the floor to weigh myself. Still 5.2 pounds gained. I’m sure I could sit here and come up with a ton of excuses as to why this happened. But in the end it boils down to bad decision making on my part. I’m not really sure how I can have such a big gain in February but have a loss in Nov and Dec, but hey, this is what happens when you take your eyes off the prize.

I beat myself up big time yesterday for it. Most of the beating was in the form of binge eating and silently calling myself names and just overall feeling like a loser. After all, I have not been losing a ton of weight each month (about 5 pounds a month), so gaining 5 pounds set me back 1 month. I pretty much stayed off Twitter and honestly didn’t feel I deserved to even participate in #fitblog last night. I felt I let my fitness followers supporters down.  I spent most of the night reading blogs to try and calm down, which worked to an extent. I still went to bed feeling sick and depressed.

Today, as I write this I’m feeling better.  I made a great breakfast choice (fruit smoothie), took my fish oil and vitamins and I am getting ready to hit the gym. I realize that for me, this isn’t just a daily battle, but a battle every meal. I have to make good decisions every time I go to eat. I also realized this past month that I can’t be trusted around trigger foods yet, even after a year.

So, that is my wrap-up. I wish I had better news but I’m just going to move on, push hard in March and hope I can get those 5 pounds off and then some.

Weight loss totals:
Starting weight: 320 pounds
February weigh in: 279.4
March weigh in: 284.6
Total loss so far: 40.6 pounds! 35.4 pounds
Short term goal: 260 pounds (19.4 pounds to go!) 24.6 pounds to go
Long term goal: 200