Tuesday, December 02, 2008


We had our 2nd Annual "Running with the Turkeys 10k" on Thanksgiving Day. About 20 hearty souls showed up to enjoy the little course that I had layed out for them. I told them there would be a couple little water crossings along the way and to be ready. Well, most of them know me and knew this meant they might be swimming. And yes, they were right. It rained the night before and all through the morning of. I was a little nervous that it might be a little too muddy but decided to give it a try. What's a little mud amongst friends? The mud wasn't too bad and the rain let up but when we got to the water crossing at the half way point, it was a raging torrent! Yikes! So, rather than have everyone cross there I decided to do it up stream over a bed of reeds. It was still waist deep but not as strong. I stood midstream to make sure that no bodies floated away. Everyone made it across with only a couple people going under and Jeff Martini, of course crying like a baby!;-) I got what I thought was everyone in around 9:20 AM, only to find out we still had 2 lost in the canyon. Great, there goes my mimosa drinking time! I had about 8 bottles of champagne and OJ at the end. I went back out and couldn't find them so decided I'd better go guard the mimosas with Martini, Fran, Doug, Nancy and the rest of the crew back there drinking. I think Jeff White, Marnie, Pam, Eldar and I finished off most of the cocktails about the time the 2 lost runners showed up. Asia and Chuck has spent 3 1/2 hours running back and forth in the canyon. Not fun! Sorry guys! All and all, race turned out extremely well and everyone had a great time! Oh, our first runner in was our oldest, Doug, at 51! He's a machine and a die hard Gut Check fan! There's all kinds of fun stuff out there to challenge yourself. Just look! "Never stop playing like you're a kid!" Stay tuned for our 1st Annual "Gut Check Challenge" coming up Feb. 28th. Don't miss out!
Joe Decker

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday MOTIVATION for my friends on the East Coast


If ya wake up in the morning and it's cold, nasty and raining, DON'T look out the window and go, "Ah man, I'm staying in bed, it's to bad out." Open your eyes, listen for the rain and the wind, find it, jump out of bed, hit the floor for 20 clap push-ups, jump up and throw on your running clothes and add an extra scoop of coffee to your morning cup. What you have here is an opportunity. Yes, an opportunity to only get stronger. You don't get stronger continually training in perfect conditions. You get stronger and tougher by training in adverse conditions, like cold, wind and rain. Use this opportunity. Don't let it pass you by. Know this. Somewhere much colder, hotter, windier, nastier, there is someone out there with a FIRE in there gut that has been up since 4 AM pushing the envelope knowing that most people won't brave the conditions. Be that person! "ADVERSITY BUILDS CHARACTER!" Oh, and gives ya big brass metaphorical cajones! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My new Atlas Stones


After lunch yesterday, my neighbor Kevin and I headed out to my garage to work on some more man-style strength training toys - Atlas Stones! It's amazing the amount of joy one can have creating a large egg shaped rock. I wonder if this is how a proud rooster feels?! We made quite a mess but had fun while doing it. We did get plenty of stares from the neighbors. Probably because my 500lb tires were sitting out too. I'm sure they've got to wonder what the hell I'm up to!;-)
Anyway, checked on my large rock children this morning and it looks like they'll be ready for debut this Friday! I can't wait. Ah, to hold them in my arms as they rip the flesh from my forearms! Just can't wait!haha..I've even attached a photo for ya. There will be more to come!
If you have any questions about getting some of your own, let me know. I'll be glad to help. Have fun!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Do as I say - and even as I do

How many times have you found yourself telling people, "Do as I say, not as I do." Most likely plenty of times. Being a Fitness Professional I constantly get asked questions concerning eating and exercise. My motto is, "work hard and play harder!" This means I love to run, lift weights and stay active, but on the flip side, I love to drink wine, eat pizza and smoke the occasional cigar. As you can see, opposite ends of the spectrum. But hey, I'm an extremist.

This has been all fine and dandy until lately. Sometimes life passes us by and we just go with the flow. It's easy to get caught up and then tell yourself, "well I'm not that bad." Compared to what or who? In 2000 I broke a Guinness World Record and followed it up with some other crazy events like the Raid Gauloises, the Badwater 135, the Marathon des Sables, the Tough Guy Challenge and other fun stuff. But even extreme and challenging stuff has started to fade.

I know I'm getting older and I will slow down, but wait, not yet. A couple weeks ago I got on the scales and the dial screamed - 203lbs?! What the ....?! Ok, I'm not a big believer in the scales. But 203?! I tell myself, "We need to start thinking about this." That same day I'm out for a jog and a guy probably 10 years older and 10 lbs heavier than I am passes me on MY running trail. Ok, gotta catch him and show him who's boss. Ok, faster legs. Uh-oh, can't catch him. Feel like I'm going pass out. What the ....?!

Time for the wake up call buddy! My little speech of, "Do as I say, not as I do" has finally caught up with me. Too much wine, pizza and cigars. Ok pal, time cowboy up. But where to begin?

And then it hit me or at least I noticed it on my bookshelf. Five years ago I published a book with Penguin Publishing Company called "The World's Fittest You." It's about a fat out-of-shape guy, which is me, that turns his life around to become a Guinness World Record Holder. An amazing story, if I do say so myself!;-)

I grabbed it from the shelf, copied down the shopping list, and looked over the workout program. Time to get the party started as they say and follow my own advice.

I've now been following the eating and exercise program that I wrote five years ago and feel great! I've lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks and my strength and endurance have increased. If only it could tell me how to grow more hair!;-)

Remember next time you tell someone, "Do as I say, not as I do" that maybe some day you may have to step and actually "Do as you do" yourself! And it's actually not that bad. Try it!

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Don't Pay the Ultimate Price for Ignoring Your Arteries

Atherosclerosis is what our parents and grandparents used to call hardening of the arteries. It involves the gradual deposit of fatty substances called plaque along the inside of our arteries. As plaque builds up over the years, it can result in blocking the blood supply to one or more parts of the body.

Yet only about half of Americans understand how dangerous atherosclerosis really is, according to a recent Harris survey. Part of the reason is that most people don’t experience any symptoms until it’s too late. Heart attacks kill 600,000 Americans every year.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that atherosclerosis is also highly preventable. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk:

1. Get fit: A great starting point is getting up off the couch and exercise. While it may be tempting to just dive into a new workout routine, you should always check with your doctor to make sure your training plan is right for your current medical condition.Depending on your personal situation and general health, your doctor might recommend a program specifically geared to weight loss, building muscle mass or improving tone.

2. Make necessary lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes can be difficult because they often involve changing or eliminating certain things we really enjoy. I love Mexican food, but I also know that if I don’t moderate my intake, I could be facing weight gain issues.

There are other lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis. Quitting smoking is always in season. And keeping an eye on your LDL cholesterol is another way to good heart health. (LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that can result in more plaque deposits in your arteries. It only takes a little bit of homework to make sure your diet is low in cholesterol.)

3. Talk with your doctor: Sometimes, you need a little more than diet or exercise to maintain proper heart health. Sometimes it’s genetic and there is not a lot you can do about it. In those cases, there are a number of medications you can discuss with your doctor that can slow down the process of hardening arteries.

A simple aspirin can reduce the chance of blood clots formed by platelets that can clump together in the bloodstream. Some statins have even been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis. There also are anticoagulants like heparin or warfarin that can thin your blood, thereby helping prevent clots.

Remember there is no magic bullet when it comes to keeping your heart muscle and cardiovascular system in good shape. A combination of appropriate lifestyle changes and talking with your doctor about diet, exercise and the use of medications can put you – and keep you – on the road to maintaining a strong and healthy heart.

For more information about heart health, go to:

Us against Athero: www.athero.com
American Heart Association:
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4440
Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com
Healthology: http://www.healthology.com/
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/

Joe Decker is recognized as "The Worlds Fittest Man" because he is an ultraendurance power athlete, renowned fitness trainer, motivational author and speaker who has helped thousands of women, men, children and seniors get into shape and lose weight. Once overweight and out-of-shape, Joe transformed his body and his life through an amazing journey from fat-to-fit. In 2000, Joe broke the Guinness World Records® 24-hour Physical Fitness Challenge to help inspire and motivate people to get fit. He recently authored the book, The World’s Fittest You, which outlines how anyone can get on the road to a lifetime of physical fitness with hard work and discipline.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!"

The Barkley 100 Miler has come and gone. Just like that it's over. Still, I find myself sitting here some what dazed and confused, trying to figure out what exactly happened to me.

December 26th, 2007, I send my application in for Barkley 2008. I'm doubtful that I'll even get in due to the popularity. A couple weeks later I get an email from Gary Cantrell with this very memorable line, "Hi Joe, be careful of what you wish for." Being a young strapping man I let this comment slide. How tough can it be?

I put together what I consider to be a pretty comprehensive training program for the upcoming race. I spend weekend after weekend running local hills and trails. Many of the hills aren't that tall but really, how tough can Barkley be? I've been to Himalayas for crying out loud.

The weeks roll by and Barkley is almost here. Nicole organizes a surprise Barkley fundraiser event and invites many of my friends. Great people, good times and it's time to go.

Saturday, March 22, I land in Nashville, rent a car and off to Wartburg TN I go. Roll into Frozen Head State Park about 5pm in the evening. Set up my tent, organize race gear and I'm ready to go. Uh-oh, need a map of the park. Ranger Michael pulls up and we chat. Great guy. He has an extra map at the station and goes to get it for me. Very cool. Now I'm ready to go scout come first light.

Sunday morning, I awake to temps in the 40's. Yikes, this is cold for a So Cal boy. Takes me a couple hours to get things organized and ready to go. Gotta have my coffee, eggs and bacon first. Necessary gear - check, compass - check, map - check, I'm ready to go or so I think. I know how to navigate using a map and compass. Used to do it all the time when I was with the 10th Mountain Light Infantry Division. Should be no problem even though that was 15 years ago. I head out on the trail and find Book 1 no problem. This is going to be easy. The next portion is unmarked trail meaning no orange blazes or road signs. Now the real navigating test begins. Within an hour I find myself terribly lost. Use the map dummy. Uh, I can't even find myself on the map. This could be a problem. It's getting cold, don't have much food or the necessary warm clothing. Now I think, great some Girl Scout troop is going to find your frozen carcass out here come spring. Survival mode takes over. Using my compass I shoot an azimuth in the direction I think I need to go to return to camp. Unfortunately this means wading streams, busting through briers and climbing impossible inclines. Onward I stumble for a couple hours only to eventually come across the trail that I needed 4 hours ago. Nice job stud. Hurriedly I make it back to camp to lick my wounds and get ready for day two. It's got to be better.

Monday morning I awake to about an inch of snow on the ground and frigid temps. Ok, this is officially no fun. Be tough ya big wimp. Ok, yesterday was a disaster but it'll be better today. Right? Let's hope so. Out I go to pick up the trail I stumbled upon towards the end. Got it. Onward I go. Ok, not so bad. Orienteering skills are coming back. I find Books 2 - 7. It's a great navigating day. But wow, is this trail brutal. Are we really supposed to run this?

Tuesday morning comes, still cold and now I have a sinus and lung infection. Thanks irony, just what I need while climbing mountains is to be out of breath. Ok, only 3 more books to go. Off I go and have no problem finding them. My map reading is back. It's about time. Feeling confident. No problem.

Wednesday. It's taken me 3 days to locate and cover the 20 mile loop that is supposed to take me less than 12 hours. This could be an issue. I decide to wake at 0430 hours and attempt the entire 20 mile loop in the reverse direction. A little voice asks, might this be just a little too many miles on your body this close to the race? Let's see, 13 miles on Sun, 20 miles on Mon, 10 miles on Tues and now another 20 miles today. Hmmm, 63 miles less than a week before the race. Yes, this could be an issue. Do I risk over training or the possibility of getting lost during the run? I decide to risk the over training. I've put in lots of hill training before hand and should be fine. Unfortunately I make the wrong decision. The climbs along the way are no problem, but the insanely steep descents start to make my knees sing. And it's not a very pleasant tune. I've never had patellar tendinitis but have read about it in books. Lucky me, I feel all the symptoms that I've read about in my own knees as I stagger back into camp. I'm worried but what can I do. Ok, two days to go, get plenty of rest and you'll be fine by race start on Sat.

Thursday I pick-up Jeff Martini at the Nashville airport. Luckily Jeff has volunteered to come and crew for me during the race. Thanks Jeff. We head to Darnelles to buy more supplies. We're ready to go. I've got plenty of coffee, pb & jelly, POP Tarts, Snickers bars and everything else. Jeff has plenty of beer and lighter fluid to play with the fire while I'm gone. We're set.

Saturday morning comes. The big day is here. We awake around 6am to a cold thunderstorm that has continued throughout the night. Great. This is Barkley for ya. Expect the worst weather. Now I know what they mean. Jeff makes a hot breakfast. I get all my gear ready to go. Nerves are on edge. They blow the ceremonial conch shell to signal one hour until race start. It's almost here. What to wear? I decide to wear my Army pants that I trained in rather than shorts. This will turn out to be a bad call. Food is packed, water bottles filled and we line up at the start.

8:41 AM and Gary lights the official race starting cigarette. And we're off. Loop 1 goes smoothly. I find all the books and am back in camp in around 9 1/2 hours. Way ahead of schedule. Unfortunately it's now much hotter than the previous days and my clothes are soaked with sweat. I know that I have to change into dry clothes or I'll freeze during the colder night temps. No more pants but shorts should be fine now. Wrong. This will turn out to be a very painful lesson. I also decide to leave my jacket behind thinking that a lightweight long sleeve shirt is enough. Wrong again. Off I go. The sun sets quickly, the temperatures drop and it begins to rain. Uh-oh, it's getting real cold all of a sudden. Just move faster I think. This should work. It does for awhile. I get out my new REI flashlight. Time to test you out. Another HUGE mistake. You don't test out new gear during a race. Batteries go dead in about an hour. I change them. These go dead. I change them. Last set, they go dead in about 15 minutes. Oh crap, it's cold, rainy, very foggy, extremely dark and I'm under dressed. Nice job Einstein. I've got 10 miles to go and only have a very crappy headlamp that can penetrate about a foot into the thick fog. I stumble on. Through brier bush after brier bush I go. My body eventually shuts out the pain inflicted from each cut. They begin to feel like being emerged in warm water. Ok, this is probably not good. I'm up, I'm back down, I fall sideways, I fall forward and I fall backward. This is ridiculous. It's virtually impossible to stay on my feet in the rough terrain without light. This is what ya get for pulling such a moronic move. I want to strangle the salesperson that sold the light. Luckily for me I'm able to hook up with Blake that has done the race before. He has a good light and let's me follow along. Half way down Zip Line ridge I slip off a wet rock, fall about five feet and feel my already sore right knee twist painfully. I knew it right then that my Barkley race was over. You're done buddy. No, this can't be. Try to shake it off. I stumble on and am able to cover about 5 miles in 6 hours.

Even though I still have enough time to continue on for the 3rd loop and a possible 60 Mile Fun Run finish, I know that it's not worth it. I might have considered it at an ordinary 100 miler but not at Barkley. Quit. Drop out. I've never had to do this before. But this is what I now must do. Wow, what a hard pill to swallow. I feel completely fine and know that I could go on if only my knee wasn't throbbing. Gary comes by and I give him the news. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the first nor will I be the last. I head up to the race HQ and let the bugler play Taps for me. Ok, this really sucks.

So, what exactly happened the last couple weeks? It seems like a whirlwind. What just occurred? Still trying to sort things out. What an absolutely incredible, wonderful, powerful, painful, discouraging, enlightening experience. Am I depressed or upset that I didn't finish Barkley? I don't think so. I actually feel a little giddy maybe even happy. Why you might ask? Even though I didn't complete the 5 loops that I so desired, I did learn a considerable amount about myself out there on the trail. They say adversity creates character. If that's true, my character just doubled. Also, I now have something to look forward to next year. Barkley is my personal mountain to climb or ocean to cross. I told Gary that I'll continue to come back year after year until I complete the 100 mile course. It might happen next year or possibly never. Regardless, I have a goal, a challenge, a dream. I think that this famous line from the movie Fight Club sums it up best, "I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid, then I ran some more!"

A special thanks to Nicole for holding down the fort while I was gone, to Jeff Martini for hanging out in the woods with me, to all the people that supported me with this crazy endeavor and to Laz for making this friggin' insane event known as The Barkley possible. Thank you all!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Who's afraid of the dark?!

For the past few months I've been training for the Barkley 100 Miler http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley/index.html that takes place March 29th. It's considered one of, if not the toughest trail race in the world. Only 6 people in 20 years have finished. So, I've been training my butt off with big dreams of possibly finishing this monster.

I went out to Cuayamaca State Park last Saturday in the afternoon to put in a 50 Mile Training run by myself. I get out there, park my Harley and ask the Ranger if it is ok to leave it there while I go for a run. She asks how far, I say 50 miles. She then asks, "All at one time?" I say yes, hopefully be done around 1-2 AM. She says, "You're going to be out there after dark?!" I say yes. She says, "OH! That's when the Big Boys come out!" I know she means mountain lions. I try to act like I'm not scared but now she has planted the seed!

I take off, it's a beautiful afternoon. I'm at the edge of the Anza Borrego Desert when the sun sets. Absolutely breath taking. Now the sun is down. No problem. I'm an ex-hunter/ex-soldier/all around tough guy. I ain't scared of the dark or any old mountain lions. No sir.

As the time goes by in the dark, I hear the normal forest critters. Coyotes howling in the distance, owls in the trees and other normal noises. No big deal. It's pitch black without a soul in sight. I'm completely alone. For some reason I keep thinking, "that's when the Big Boys come out!" Darn it, I can't get it out of my head!;-)"

Then it happens, about 10 PM I hear a far off scream that sounds like a woman being strangled. Having heard it before, I knew the sound. It was one of the Big Boys announcing his arrival! Goose bumps crawl up my neck but I try to convince myself it's no big deal. For some reason that always becomes difficult when you're alone in the woods.

I notice that my pace has increased, dramatically! I still have roughly 20 miles to go and the first 30 took me about 7 hours. Great, I've got about 4-5 more hours I'm telling myself. I'm leaping streams in a single bound, running up hills that I would generally walk and pretty much hauling some serious butt. It's funny how this just happens.

Need less to say, instead of 4-5 hours, I make it back to my Harley in a little over 3 hours. Probably a new course record! I'm sweating profusely, my lungs are heaving and my legs are smoked. After I catch my breath, I stand up, collect my composure and try to make sure that no one has witnessed my mad dash out of the woods. Good, no one around.

It wouldn't have mattered anyway. "I'm not afraid of any ole mountain lion. I always run 4 minute miles during my late night trail runs!" Right?!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

San Diego Summits Training Run

39 Hours without sleep, 52 Miles of peak summiting, 17,000 ft of elevation, pushing your body to it's limit - PRICELESS!

"If you ain't livin' on the edge, you're taking up to much space!"

-Checkout the videos in order from top to bottom. I was unable to video the first peaks due to the darkeness. It was one heckuva an adventure. Get out there and enjoy your body!

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Overcoming Adversity

Isn't it funny how when things are starting to go well that life throws you a curve ball? It never seems to fail. For instance, you're saving money for something cool and bam, your transmission goes out on your car causing it to catch fire. Or you start dating someone cool and hot only to find out that they're on 5 kinds of anti-depression and bipolar regulating medications! Can you say R-E-D-R-U-M?!

That brings me to my dilemma. I recently got invited to the Barkley 100 http://blog.washingtonpost.com/why-we-compete/2007/04/curiosity_1.html
Put together a killer training program and kicked it off like a champ. Things are going great and then bam, I throw my back out during a routine lifting session. Ok, can't walk for a couple days and I'm bed ridden in a fetal position. Finally better and I jump back in. Step it up, things are going awesome, bam, I crack a couple of ribs playing capture the flag with kids. Don't even ask.

So today is a big training day. I had planned to leave my place around 8 PM tonight and take off to the woods. My goal was to drive to seven peaks around San Diego and run them all. Start with Cuyamaca Peak, then Viejas Mtn, El Capitan, Cowles Mtn, Iron Mtn, Woodson Mtn and finally Black Mtn. All this continually with no sleep. Sounds like a good time, right?

It did, but that's where the cracked ribs come into play and there's my dilemma. Ok, it hurt's to breath, sleep and bend over. I'm thinking I should probably wait until I feel better. Then it hits me. What would John Wayne do? Actually I ask that all the time. He would drive on. No whining or crying. Plus I've now decided, I can't think of a better way to train for the world's toughest running event that breaks the world's best runner's bones each year than to do it all ready broken. I'm starting to realize that my cracked ribs may actually give me a training advantage. Anyone can train healthy, now do it when you're broken.

Maybe life is actually fair. Maybe it throws these curve balls at us not to keep us down but to pick us up. Wow, in just a short amount of time I was able to turn what looked to be an excruciatingly painful experince into an incredible opportunity. I just hope my ribs are as understanding.

Life is short. Play hard.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Super Foods"

I found this in an article by Ed Bruske of the Washington Post. Here are 16 "super foods," depending on which authority you choose to believe. According to the latest advice, these foods are super because they contain loads of vitamins and minerals and help fight cholesterol and keep us healthy. I try to incorporate all of these into my eating regimen most days of the week. How often do you eat these "super foods" each week? Put the list on your refrigerator and give it a try.

-Black beans
-Blueberries
-Broccoli
-Dark (not milk) chocolate
-Oats
-Onions
-Oranges
-Sweet potato (or pumpkin)
-Salmon (preferably wild)
-Soy
-Spinach
-Tea (preferably green)
-Tomatoes
-Turkey
-Walnuts
-Yogurt

Sources: "12 Best Foods Cookbook," by Dana Jacobi; "SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life," by Steven G. Pratt and Kathy Matthews

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I'll start Monday!"

As a kid, growing up on a farm in the Midwest, every year my Dad would tell us that he was going to start his eating and exercise program come January 1st. As you can imagine, another year would roll around and eventually Dad would postpone his resolution until it was the following year.

Well, it's 25 years later and Dad still hasn't started that program yet! Like most of us though, he does have good intentions. Resolutions and truly changing your life can be difficult. You've had years to develop bad habits and let them spiral out of control. How do we then keep that promise that we've made to ourselves to take control or our eating, exercise and our life?

Many times, just like Dad, we only half-way commit. We know in the back of our mind that we're not seriously ready to make the change. Change only comes with serious commitment. You've got to take a good long look in the mirror and decide that you are 100% ready to make that change.

Next, you've got to set realistic goals and develop a plan of action. There's a saying that goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!" You can do this. Yes, it will take hard work and dedication but many times the things that we value most in life are the things that we've worked the hardest to obtain. You are worth it.

I keep my weekly exercise and eating report on the refrigerator. It's one of the first things that I see in the morning. This helps to hold me accountable and keep me motivated. Here are the links for the very basic reports that I use.
Weekly Exercise Report -TRAINING SCHEDULE
Weekly Eating Report -TRAINING SCHEDULE

Hope they help. Remember, you can do this! No one is more important than you. Take control now before you end up a habitual offender like my father. Still luv ya dad. Oh, and you're starting Monday, right?!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

10 Worst Foods of 2007

This is a great article written by John McGran, Food Writer and SparkPeople Contributer. Check it out. How many of these foods have you tried?

1. Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger

I’m an East Coast kind of guy, but I realize there are no boundaries when it comes to bad foods. So, for this review, I took the advice of 19th Century newspaper editor Horace Greeley who urged, “Go west, young man, go west.” The Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger will gun you down with 1,130 calories (600 from fat), 66g fat (100% of your Daily Reference Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DRV), 150mg cholesterol, 2,540mg sodium (110%DRV), 83g carbs, and 47g protein. I’m beginning to understand why it’s called the Wild West! Sorry boys, but I’ll take the 3:10 to Yuma… and then the next plane to good old Philly, land of cheese steaks and soft pretzels over this one!

2. Pizza Hut Double Deep Pizza

These Double Deep Pizzas are handcrafted by loading an entire pizza with twice the toppings of a medium pizza, plus 50% more cheese and then wrapping the crust over the top to hold all the toppings in. I tried two slices of the Meaty variety. According to the Pizza Hut Website, I also opted for 1,160 calories, 72g fat (110% of your recommended Daily Value), 28g saturated fat (140% DV), 3g trans fat, 200mg cholesterol, 3,980mg sodium (166% DV), 62g carbs, and 62g protein. In all fairness, the suggest serving is one slice (1/8 the medium pie) but who eats a single slice? Not me.

3. El Monterey XX Large Chimichanga

While shopping at Wal-Mart here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I noticed Spicy Red Hot Beef & Bean Chimichangas in a cooler near the deli. They looked suspiciously like my 3-for-a-buck burritos of yesteryear—only bigger and a tad more costly. While a standard burrito wraps a filling of meat, beans and/or cheese in a flour tortilla, a chimichanga is a meat-filled tortilla…deep-fried. The key words "deep-fried" may explain why my mushy 10-ounce XX Large Chimichanga did a Mexican fat dance on my diet to the tune of 920 calories, 57g of fat (15g saturated, 1g trans fat), 40mg cholesterol, 1,140mg sodium, 83g carbs, and 22g protein. Ay, caramba! It's a good thing I only had one.

4. Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble

As Mr. Bad Food, I’ve seen plenty of bad nutrition numbers in my day. But I never saw anything as heart-stopping as what I found on the Denny’s Website one day. It was my stomach that turned upside down when I checked out the nutrition numbers for Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble. Denny’s could be charged with “salt with a deadly weapon” for serving a breakfast entree that packs an unbelievable 4,170mg of sodium! (The Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium is 2,400mg.) The Meat Lover’s Scramble will also shake you down with 1,280 calories, 71g of fat (21 saturated, 0 trans), 565mg cholesterol (the RDA is 300mg), 103g carbs and 54g protein (RDA is 50). By the way, the RDA for fat is 65 grams, so you are taking in more than a day’s fat, cholesterol and sodium in a single meal! So if you find yourself at a Denny’s and someone recommends a scramble, take my advice and scramble for the door!

5. Hardee’s Country Breakfast Burrito

The word burrito sounds like a term for a little burro. If you don’t want to make an ass of yourself—by scarfing down 60 grams of fat with your first meal of the day—then steer clear of the Country Breakfast Burrito at Hardee’s. The king-sized breakfast burrito is cobbled together from two omelets, five hashrounds (their cutesy version of hashbrowns), cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. The omelets that fill out the tortilla each contain two eggs, crumbled sausage, diced ham and bacon bits. Now, if you’re hungry for 920 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, and nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium for your morning meal, dig in!

6. KFC Chicken & Biscuit Bowl

The clever cooks at KFC devised a way to toss together an entire chicken dinner in a single bowl. According to the KFC Website, the new bowls are “a blend of mouth-watering KFC flavors and textures all layered together.” A blend…a jumble…a clutter…Call it what you will. But after checking out the nutrition facts, I call the Chicken & Biscuit bowl a great way to flock up your diet! Their nutrition guide says that the Chicken & Biscuit dish will bowl you over with 870 calories, 44g of fat (11 saturated, 4.5 trans), 60mg cholesterol, 2,420mg sodium (101% of your recommended daily amount), 88g carbs, and 29g protein.

7. Starbucks Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème

When is a coffee drink not a coffee drink? When it comes with calories and frothy extras you’d expect to get with a milkshake! Oh, and when it doesn’t even include coffee! Case in point: The 24-ounce (that’s Venti-sized in Starbucks lingo) Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème served up at your local Starbucks. This drink is made from rich chocolate, chocolate chips and milk, and is blended with ice, and topped with whipped cream (optional), and chocolate drizzle. With 670 calories, 22g of total fat, (12g saturated fat; 0.5g of trans fat), and 107g of carbs, it only sounds like a coffee drink. The 12 grams of saturated fat is equal to the saturated fat you get in a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder with Cheese… but the sandwich packs 160 fewer calories than the Frappuccino!

8. Pizza Hut P’Zone

It takes two hands to handle a Pizza Hut P’Zone. The problem is—according to the nutrition info on their website—it should also take two people! Yes, despite the fact their TV ads showed a bunch of hungry guys chowing down on whole P’Zones, each super-sized dough pockets of meats, cheeses and sauce is considered TWO SERVINGS. The nutrition numbers… doubled for those of us who consider the P’Zones one-meal wonders: P'Zone Classic: 1,220 calories, 46g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 130mg cholesterol, 2,700mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 60g protein. P'Zone Pepperoni: 1,260 calories, 48g fat, 22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 140mg cholesterol, 2,980mg sodium, 140g carbs, 6g fiber, 64g protein. P'Zone Meaty: 1,380 calories, 58g fat, 26g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 160mg cholesterol, 3,460mg sodium, 144g carbs, 8g fiber, 70g protein.

9. Wendy’s Baconator

The term “Baconator” sparks images of an action flick featuring a leading man with a terribly thick Austrian accent. But if you’re planning on ordering Wendy’s newest blockbuster, think again. I can picture it now: A seatbelt-straining drive-thru customer grabs his grease-stained bag of beef, bacon and fried potatoes, and before driving off to feast upon his Baconator, he shouts to the drive-up window jockey, “I’ll be bawk…for my defibrillator paddles!” Then, just before he zooms out of earshot, the server leans out of her window and yells back at him: “Hasta la vista, flabby!” OK, so it’s poor scriptwriting. But it’s also poor dining to indulge in this Wendy’s double cheeseburger on steroids. The Baconator boasts two beef patties, two slices of cheese and SIX slices of bacon! Do yourself a favor and terminate your urge to order this beast of a burger. The nutritional numbers for the 10-ounce Baconator: 830 calories, 51g of fat (22g saturated, 2.5g trans fat), 170mg of cholesterol, 1,920mg of sodium, 35g of carbs, and 57g of protein.

10. Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam

Ads for Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts used to feature the tagline, “$2.99…Are you out of your mind?!” Now that the restaurant chain has launched ads for its new Extreme Grand Slam—a breakfast platter piled high with three strips of bacon, three sausage links, two eggs, hash browns and three pancakes—they might want to change it to, “You’re ordering a Denny’s Extreme Grand Slam…Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!” The Denny’s Website urges customers to “fall in love with breakfast all over again.” It then offers up its latest line of “Breakfast Cravers” platters—dishes packed with the artery-clogging goodness of not-so-lean meats. Cases in point: The Meat Craver’s Breakfast and the Steak and Cheese Omelette. The nutritional numbers for the 21-ounce Extreme Grand Slam: 1,160 calories, 64g of fat (17g of saturated fat), 560mg of cholesterol, 3,750mg of sodium, 102g of carbs, 4g of fiber, and 45g of protein.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Gift of Health thru Fitness & Commitment

This is an article written by a mentor and very good friend of mine, John Philbin. John is the owner of Philbin's Athletic Training Center in Gaithersburg, MD and the Former Redskins Conditioning Coach. I've learned a lot from him. Maybe this can help you too. Enjoy!

It is with great pleasure that I share this information at the request of my good friend Ken Harvey, former All-Pro for the Washington Redskins, whose commitment to fitness and excellence I deeply respect and admire.

In my career, I have trained many professional, world class athletes and among them was Ken Harvey, who I was fortunate enough to train as a conditioning coach for the Washington Redskins and have since worked with Mr. Harvey on numerous ventures since his retirement. In response to his request, this is an effort to provide some general guidance and right hand rules to achieve better health through Fitness and Commitment.

I have dedicated my athletic, professional and education to health and fitness. As a former Olympian and owner of a family fitness and athletic training facility in Montgomery county www.philbinsatc.com. my business has given me the opportunity to assist athletes with improved performance and guide people on methods to change their lifestyles so that they can achieve what ever it is they want to accomplish as a personal goal.

Over three decades I have trained thousands of people with different aspirations and goals. Some of the most notable clients were Redskins such as Darrel Green, Tre Johnson, James Thrash, Brian Mitchell, John Riggins, Joe Theisman, and Trent Green. Interestingly, all of my successful clients, athletes and non-athletes, have similar personality traits when it comes to achieving their fitness goals. I would like to share with you Philbin’s top 10 personality characteristics for success;

Top 10 Personality Traits for Success

1) Set Realistic Achievable Goals – In order to succeed at a goal you must have a plan of action that is broken down into small incremental objectives. These objectives must be realistic, achievable and need to be written down so that they can be reviewed on a daily/weekly bases and adjusted if necessary. It is personal accountability to yourself.

2) Make the Right Choices – You must be conscious and aware of the choices you make when it relates to achieving your daily objectives. This takes mental discipline and many times sacrificing certain things that you normally would enjoy but know are working against your daily objectives. Eating habits for a majority of people are the most challenging. Prioritization

3) Seek Out Expert Advice - Before engaging in a physical fitness program seek out expert advice and start with complete physical and guidelines from a successful personal trainer. Personal referrals will be your best advice. Don't spin your wheels, do the wrong things and find yourself getting discouraged. Get engaged.

4) Build a Support Team – In order to succeed there must be a support team around you willing to encourage you and make your actions accountable. These people must also be willing to tell you when your swaying off track and must be prepared to do what ever it takes to keep you on track. Hard love ... Support

5) Don't Justify the Wrong Actions – It is all too easy to justify certain actions (choices) that work against your goals (objectives). If you choose to do something that you know is wrong then you are only hurting yourself and disappointing everyone else on your support team. Make the right choices! Dedication

6) 90 /10 Rule – Ninety percent of the time you should work extremely hard to accomplish your daily and weekly objectives. Most of us find making life style changes (habits) very difficult so we allow for a ten percent off track concession. Consistency

7) Karma & Respect – Believe in yourself and what you are trying to accomplish. Creating good "Karma" around you helps develop a successful atmosphere that is critical for success. Always respect everyone elses efforts no matter who they are or what they do for a living. Confidence

8 ) Unfulfilled Promises - All too often people start a fitness program (New Years resolution) with great enthusiasm and commitment. After 6 to 8 weeks the excitement starts to fade and it becomes work (50% drop out). Unfortunately, only 30 percent of these new programs will survive after 4 to 5 months and only 15 percent after 8 months will have created a healther lifestyle. In my opinion creating significant lifestyle changes (habits) takes 18 months or more. Hard decisions for personal improvement.

9) Fear of Failure – A very common personality trait for all successful people is the fear of failure ... this drives people to go the extra mile and sacrifice whatever it takes to accomplish daily objectives and reach their goals. Fear comes in many forms i.e. hating anything less than first, proving to someone that you can do it, redemption, materialistic satisfaction, repercussions from not meeting a certain standard, awards and accolades. Failure is not an option ... Fear is a great motivator.

10) Perseverance - It is inevitable that there will be extreme challenges and obstacles to be conquered along the path of success but those who persevere will eventually make positive lifestyle changes that will improve the quality of life. Be a fighter ... enjoy life!