FitITproNews: Helping you lose weight

In this week’s newsletter

My Atkins Experience. Journey of becoming a fit IT guy. Body Makeover Formula. Neglected Muscle Groups: Calves. More Filling (but) Tastes Great. Working out again after lockdown. Strengthening Nails.

The scale never lies, but it doesn’t tell all of the story. Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash


Editor’s Corner: My Atkins Experience

Mitch Tulloch is the Senior Editor of FitITproNews and a recovering fat IT pro who lost 50 lbs in midlife and is now on his way to becoming a fit IT pro. Mitch is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies who has authored or been Series Editor of numerous books/ebooks from Microsoft Press. Mitch is also the Senior Editor of WServerNews and writes frequently for TechGenix.


Hey everyone! Welcome to the April 2021 issue of FitITproNews, the world’s only newsletter devoted to helping “recovering fat IT pros” make progress on the journey towards strength and health!

This month’s newsletter starts off with a short article by myself detailing my experience with the Atkins Diet Program several years ago. Overstressed IT pros like ourselves can often greatly benefit from utilizing the products and services offered by companies that focus on helping people lose weight and keep it off. Next comes a guest post by Netherlands-based IT expert Raymond Comvalius who shares how using a pedelec has helped him lose weight and regain his fitness. Lana Khazari then provides a step-by-step formula designed to help you take action towards losing those pounds or kilograms you want to shed. IT pro bodybuilder Robin Camp then continues his series on neglected muscle groups by talking about the calves. Next up is Kris Lall who ponders about whether sugar is really as bad as many of us often believe (and why we believe this). Personal trainer Kris Kane then guides us on how we should approach our first post lockdown workout session in the gym. And finally Sarah Trammel explains how frequent handwashing, which has become a common occurrence during this pandemic, can take a toll on our fingernails and how we can manage this problem.

But before we get to the articles by our regular columnists and guest contributor, let me briefly share my own experience with following a weightloss program that often gets a bad rap in the media. And for those of you with short attention spans like me, the TLDR of it is this: Atkins saved my life.

I’m 5 foot 11 inches (1.80 meters) and have always been a bit on the flabby side. For example, I like to tell people that my favorite sports in high school were chess and bridge. Actually my favorite sport was eating!

My weight really started ballooning when I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). The stress of my job together with having to constantly learn new technologies drove me to find my solace in food. My weight soon shot up to 250 lbs and I had constantly sore knees and was buying my clothes at “big and tall” stores.

Things got even worse when I started my own business, and soon my doctor was warning me that my blood pressure and cholesterol were getting into dangerous territory. So I looked around for a solution and soon found the Atkins diet, which appealed to me because it pretty much allowed me eat as much as I wanted (of the right foods) and still lose weight. My results from following that diet were amazing! In two months I lost almost 30 lbs. My knees stopped hurting, my blood pressure returned to normal, my cholesterol and triglycerides returned to the normal zone. Atkins had saved my life.

I also discovered that I had to buy a whole new wardrobe! I ended up throwing out every piece of clothing I had except my socks and shoes. I remember asking a colleague how much they thought it cost to lose each pound of weight you want to lose. She replied probably not very much, and I responded with $100 per pound, which shocked her. Then I explained that losing 30 lbs meant I had to spend $3,000 on a whole new wardrobe: suits, dress shirts, trousers, casual shirts and slacks, belts, windbreaker, raincoat, even new underwear.

Losing a lot of my flab motivated me to begin doing weightlifting using (what I found somewhat heavy at the time) rubber-covered 5 lb dumbbells. Yes, back then I was your archetypical bloated spider-armed FAT IT PRO. I also bought an exercise bike and started spending 30, 40, 60 or more minutes every day burning off calories.

Eventually through a combination of regular exercise and carful eating (less carbs, more protein, healthy fats and a few vitamins and supplements) I managed to lose almost 55 lbs and began the process of transforming myself from a fat IT pro to a fit IT pro. I’m still not as fit as I want to be, but I’m slowly getting there (though stress from the pandemic has set me back a bit).

My message then is this: If you are a fat IT pro and have tried losing weight without success, look around for a weight control business or organization that provides products and services that can assist you in achieving your weight loss goals. The one I tried worked for me, but there are others out there you can check out and try using.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of this month’s issue of FitITproNews and feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered — we love hearing from our readers!

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor


GUEST POST: Journey of becoming a fit IT guy (Raymond Comvalius)

Raymond Comvalius is an independent consultant/trainer from the Netherlands. He has authored multiple books on Windows and security and regularly presents at IT Pro events. You can find him on Twitter at @NEXTXPERT and on LinkedIn at His website is


It was about 10 years ago that I stopped doing sports after a wrist injury doing racquet ball. I gained some more weight and was not happy about it at all. But what could I really do about it. I was 40+ and had never been able to lose weight. Then I started working with an old colleague who was really fund of sports. Running, cycling and others. We talked a lot of tech, including all sorts of gadgets. Then at a certain point in time he told me about the Speed Pedelec. It is an e-bike with a higher speed limit. He often used his road bike to do his 30 kilometer commute. Something, I thought, I would never do.

After our conversation about the speed pedelec, I decided to give it a try. My commute at the time was a 25 km ride. On a normal bike it would take me little more than an hour. On a speed pedelec, just over half an hour. I booked a test ride, and got hooked on the spot. This was so nice. Riding a bike at high speed with less effort. Now I would be able to move a bit more after I kind of quit doing sports. This was not about losing weight at all. This was about getting a more healthy life style. So I took my bike to do the commute. It was so much fun and I gained a better condition while doing it. But then the surprise came. After about three months, I noticed that my pants were getting a bit loose at the waist. I paid little attention. But after six months there was no escape. I needed new pants. And new shirts. I bought some new clothes and kept riding the bike. While doing that, I kept losing weight. In the end of the year I lost 15 kilos and required a completely new wardrobe. After about a year I moved to a new job, with a bit longer commute. I didn’t care. As much as I enjoyed the rides.

Riding the bike in the morning and taking a shower before starting to work at the office, gave me a fresh start. In the end of the day, the 1 hour ride was perfect to leave the working day behind. It was kind of a meditation moment. A moment in the day that you can refresh your mind. Just turn the pedals and move for 40 to 60 minutes. By the time you arrive at your destination, there has been this moment that you could reshuffle things in your mind. Ready for the next part of the day.

And this was not the end of the story. I managed to keep doing the bike commute for about five years on a regular basis. Not always five days a week. But I tried to keep a minimum of two days the least. That was until the beginning of the year 2020. In the beginning of the year. We had no clue of what COVID-19 was about to bring. My wife sent our son to the gym for a first appointment with a personal trainer. He had been struggling with his weight for years, and she thought it was time for a next step. And I was supposed to help him with this.

I was up for a new surprise when we first met the trainer, when he said: “I am looking forward to work with the two of you.”. There I was, doing the muscle workout twice a week with my 18 year old son. We were lucky that we managed to continue training outdoors during the lockdown periods and I noticed significant progress for both of us. Now after a year, I gained like five kilos. I assumed these were Corona kilos, but my trainer convinced me that is weight gain is primarily from muscle growth. That’s a new first time experience for me :-).

Now I am up for another new post-Corona wardrobe. My shirts are tight again. Not at my belly, but on the thighs, chest and arms. Here I am 50+ by now and more fit then I have ever been.


Body Makeover Formula (Lana Khazari)

Lana Khazari is a Technical Support Analyst for the Corporation of City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Precision Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and a Yoga 200-RYT Instructor. You can find her online at


If you are ready to get motivated and take action towards losing some pounds or kilos or maybe gaining some lean mass, and yes COVID did not help any of us this year, you first need to figure out how much you actually should be eating.

If weight loss is a goal and you aren’t losing weight, the answer is too much. Sometimes, instead of measuring the calories we consume, we pretend that the carbs or wine is why we pile on the pounds. We like to assume that we are eating ok. The truth is that we are overeating.

I had a client who claimed that she was broken and could not lose weight no matter what she tried. I had her start to log her intake into My Fitness Pal, and she realized she was eating upwards of 2500 calories a day. She was adding more oils to her cooking than she thought she was and drinking many of her calories in drinks and lattes. It all adds up. Unless there is a medical reason you cannot lose weight, the only explanation is that you are not in a calorie deficit. When you are, it is impossible not to lose body fat.

To figure out how much you should be eating, follow either the lbs or kg formula below.

  1. Determine your current weight _____
  2. Determine your current percentage of body fat _____


TIP: Estimate your body fat by looking at this photo comparison by doing a quick google search or looking at the image I’ve pinned here:


  1. Calculate your body fat mass (BFM) _____


Pounds (LBS) Kilograms (KG)
BFM = Body weight in lbs x (% body fat)/100 BFM = Body weight in kg x (% body fat)


  1. Calculate your lean body mass (LBM) _____


Pounds (LBS) Kilograms (KG)
LBM = Body weight in Ibs – fat mass LBM = Body weight in kg – fat mass


  1. Determine your activity factor ____


  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): 1.000
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days per week): 1.200
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 6 -7 days per week): 1.375
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6 -7 days per week): 1.55
  • Extra active (very hard exercise/sports and a physical job): 1.72


  1. Determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) _____

BMR is the rate at which your body burns calories to keep you alive!


Pounds (LBS) Kilograms (KG)
BMR = (9.82 x LEAN BODY MASS) + 370 BMR = (21.6 x LEAN BODY MASS) + 370


  1. Determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) _____

TDEE is the number of calories you burn in one day. You would add your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) with the calories you expend exercising or moving around.


Pounds (LBS) Kilograms (KG)
TDEE = BMR x Activity factor* TDEE = BMR x Activity factor*


TDEE is the number of calories you should be eating to maintain the status quo.

  1. Set your desired calorie intake ____


  • Fat loss: 10-20% below TDEE
  • Maintenance or muscle gain: eat at TDEE or slightly above for more aggressive gain.


Before you jump in, change your calories, or maybe you don’t even want to, it would be a fun experiment to log your food for one day to see what you are doing now.

MyFitnessPal (MFP) can help you to compare the calories you’re consuming now to the number of calories you should be eating. You can easily track intake by downloading the MFP app by clicking here. This app allows you to scan a barcode of an item, input a thing you’re eating automatically, or choose to do so manually. You can also click MFP’s instructions on how to add food and drinks to your diary.

You will also require a food scale to ensure measurements are accurate. I bought this food scale from Amazon, and it has lasted for years. Something to keep in mind is that MFP will automatically remove calories for an exercise or activity logged. Your activity levels are factored into your daily calories, so ignore that.

After doing this exercise, you can compare where you are versus where you want to go. You have calculated your weight and body fat. You know how many calories you should be eating. You know how many calories you are eating. And this is a great starting point to creating your body transformation goals.


Neglected Muscle Groups: Calves (Robin Camp)

Robin Camp works as tech support for an Orthodontic Practice Management Software company called New Horizons Software ( As a professional photographer on the side, Robin does fashion, glamour weddings and more in his spare time ( You can also now find him working out on Instagram at


How often do you train your calves? They assist you every day with the simple act of walking, balancing, stepping up on your tiptoes for that high shelf. In the gym they support your body during squats, deadlifts, ANYTIME you are on your feet, and yet, how often do you train your calves or even see anyone else training them?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is famed for his calves but he did not start out that way. After losing a bodybuilding competition and having it pointed out that his calves were a weak point in his physique, Arnold turned to bodybuilding legend Reg Park for advice. He then started focusing on his calves.

Eighteen sets of calf exercises, SIX days a week. Schwarzenegger, in his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding said, that to turn around his calves cost him 600hrs of training, yet that training was so effective he was accused of having plastic surgery and calf implants.

Now, 99.5 percent of us are not interested or even going to contemplate putting QUITE that much work into our calves, in fact if we are worried about our calves, most of us will be contemplating plastic surgery before 600 hours of calf specific training. Yikes.

Made up of three heads, the calves are a rather amazing muscle if you think about it. Every time you take a step your muscles are supporting your bodyweight. And this is the crux of the problem. Your calves are already use to supporting your bodyweight repeatedly throughout the day, so you really need to step it up if you want to see some improvement.

Why train calves though? Whether you are a casual runner, a sprinter, a casual gym rat or a serious meathead, calves help with sprinting, balance and supporting our weight.

So where to start depends on what you have available to you. Some SoCal lifters were known for walking in the sand with their gym partner on their shoulders, or for doing donkey calf raises with two to three people on their back. It works in a pinch but probably not the safest.

So, start with unweighted, (bodyweight only) calf raises. Standing up, slowly raise your body with your calves until you are on tippy toe and slowly lower yourself down. Do 20 to 30 reps, rest a minute and repeat for two more sets. If you are not severely uncomfortable the next day, step up to weighted exercises.

In the gym there is usually a variant of a Donkey calf machine (Donkey calf raises are performed bent over, this focuses the calf raise even more on just the calf than a standing and takes pressure off the spine) sometimes you will find a sitting calf machine. The most common however is a standing calf machine in which you stand in with pads on your shoulders. If none of these are available, check for a hacksquat machine, you can use these for calf raises even though they are meant for squats. The key though regardless is to go for 15-20 reps.

If none of these machines are available, you can still hit your calves, just grab a decently heavy set of dumbbells and stand there and do calf raises.

As you start to notice improvements, or if you just want some more variety, try this. Do a set with your toes pointed forward, rest, then point your toes out at an angle, rest and do a set with your toes pointed towards each other. This will target all three heads, the outer head and the inner head.

Stay healthy and have fun!


“Do not let yourself be contaminated by others’ ideas of what is best for you. Cast aside the shackles of destructive thinking.” -Kai Greene-

“If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.” -Dwayne Johnson-

“If you can’t do something smart, do something right.” -Jayne Cobb-

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” ~Alfred Pennyworth~


More Filling (but) Tastes Great (Kris Lall)

Kris Lall works as a product manager in the tech industry for an enterprise software manufacturer. As a youngster, Kris was consumed with soccer before technology came along. Now he’s consumed with both. You can find him on Twitter at the not-too-surprising handle @krisoccer.


I recently heard that sugar is universally liked by humans because few things in nature that are sweet (and usually contain sugar) have proven to be harmful to humans. So the theory goes that over the many thousands of years as humans have been consuming sweet things, our taste has evolved to savor the sweet flavor of sugar. Seems like a reasonable theory, especially if you look at the amount of sugar in the foods we’re eating and drinking today.

And to illustrate the point for us desk jockeys, who doesn’t have easy access to multiple sources of the sweet stuff, both in the office and at home? Prior to the pandemic, I recall several candy dishes located outside of a few colleagues’ offices, and some co-workers that had been staying away from sugar for health and fitness reasons would choose a different path to various locations in the office to avoid the tasty temptation.

While sweets may not be poisonous when ingested, it seems to be a universally held notion today that sugar is, at least to some degree, bad for you. Hmmm. I thought it was fat that was supposedly killing us?

The office candy dish can make eating healthy snacks more challenging! (Credit: Will Scullin under Creative Commons 2.0 license)


During my research on this topic, I uncovered some interesting facts, including that when sugar was under fire a few years back for its potentially negative health effects, the sugar industry diverted attention away from the “sugar is bad for you” supposition and supported a “fat is bad for you” campaign that consumers still collectively believe today. One “sponsored” study in particular came to the conclusion that fat was the main culprit, while giving sugar a clean bill of health. Others tried to re-focus attention back on sugar, but the damage to fat’s reputation had been done.

Sugar has in fact been implicated in the heart disease and obesity epidemic and medical experts have even determined that sugar is more addictive than cocaine! Yikes. Almost sounds like it should be banned. Regardless people’s efforts to shun the sweet stuff, data shows that we’ve significantly increased our sugar consumption over prior generations, with fluctuations in consumption in recent years as people have responded to the truth about sugar.

So should we be eating sugar or not? And if so, what’s the right amount? Opinions differ, of course, but if you have any unresolved health issues, it could be time to evaluate your sugar consumption. It’s relatively easy to determine how much sugar the food we consume contains, as it’s noted on food packaging. Simply track what you eat for a couple of days and get a count of the amount.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends an added-sugar limit of 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men. This translates to between 6 and 9 teaspoons or 24-36 grams of sugar per day.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of what becomes part of our belief system comes down to whether we trust the channels through which we get our information, whether it’s the old guard (radio, TV) or the new guard (social media, Google/Bing search rankings). We do know that when money is put into marketing messages, it influences public opinion – case in point, the widespread belief that fat is more unhealthy than sugar.

As a fan of all things chocolate, I have to be aware that the main ingredient in most mainstream chocolate products is sugar. The good news is that we have many more tools at our disposal that enable us to track what we ingest, more sources of information to challenge traditional views, and access to workout facilities to counteract the effects of not eating right. Like a lot of things, perhaps the best advice would be to consume sugar in moderation – and when you get back to the office, perhaps plot some new, longer routes that help you avoid the sweet temptations.




Working out again after lockdown (Kris Kane)

Kris Kane is a North Yorkshire based personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. You can find him on Instagram at @koachedbykris and also view him professionally on LinkedIn at


This week gyms in England are finally able to open their doors again, which will see many return to hitting the weights, keen to start building that summer body.

Although some people might have kept training at home, the level of stimulus just won’t be the same as having the full range of equipment most gyms have.

This graphic shows some tips that everyone can consider when returning back to gym based weight training after having time off:

If the gyms are still closed where you are, hopefully it won’t be much longer! Use the remaining time to start getting more active so it won’t be as much of a shock to the system when the day comes 🙂

If you are at a loss as to where to start with your gym training and want some guidance, I have a “back to the gym” workout guide with a selection of workouts for you to go in focused with a plan in mind:

Just drop me an e-mail at [email protected] or via my social pages where I will be posting more tips on training, nutrition and mindset:

As always, good luck with your progress towards your goals, and let me know if you have any questions.

Stay safe! –Kris.


Strengthening Nails (Sarah Trammell)

Sarah Trammell is an application analyst at a university in Georgia. She became interested in health and fitness issues when she began making diet and lifestyle changes to lose weight back in 2007 and learned even more when trying to track down what to do about other health issues beginning in 2011 with not much input from doctors. You may follow her blog at


The COVID-19 pandemic has us all washing our hands probably more than we ever have. If you’re like me, a food allergy may have you washing your hands more than the average person. Hand-washing, bathing, and other day-to-day activities can take a toll on our nails. Here are a few things that have helped me improve the strength of my nails:

  • Limiting hand-washing. This one is pretty difficult for me because I have to be careful in how I handle food, dishes, and utensils due to my food allergy. Allergen residue that can get onto my food either through my hands or other items, such as dishes and utensils, can cause food reaction symptoms. I’ve had to evaluate my hand-washing to see where washing my hands may not be necessary. I won’t wash my hands if I feel I won’t be directly touching the food I’m eating, or I won’t wash food packages before opening them if I’m not touching the food itself.
  • Using cuticle oil nightly. This one has made a huge difference. I brush the oil onto the nail and cuticle area of each finger and then rub in the oil. However, I have to be careful not to let the oil rub off onto other things as I get into bed. I use Sally Hansen’s Nail & Cuticle oil,
  • Taking shorter and cooler showers. This one is another difficult one for me. I love taking piping hot showers. However, I would spend too much time in the shower, and apparently taking such long, hot showers was taking its toll on my nails. Since I’ve started using cooler water to take a shower, I’ve been taking shorter showers, and my nails have been getting stronger. To clarify, I don’t take cold showers. The water temperature comes pretty close to lukewarm. While it’s not terribly uncomfortable, it’s doesn’t feel so good that I want to continue staying in the shower.
  • Using hand lotion throughout the day and at night. I apply a hand lotion, usually Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker,, after washing my hands or when I feel my hands need some extra moisture. At night, I put it on before I use the nail oil.
  • Eating a balanced diet. Before correcting the nutritional deficiencies and imbalances in my diet, I remember my nails getting very weak. Improvement in nail health was one of the benefits of correcting those nutritional issues. For me, the key things were balancing copper with zinc, balancing iron with vitamin E, and taking a properly-formulated multivitamin, which is, for me, Women’s Centrum,


In addition to the things I’ve tried that have helped, here are things I’ve tried that have not worked. Interestingly enough, they are things a dermatologist recommended when I complained to him about my nails:

  • Biotin. The dermatologist wanted me to try 5,000 mcg of biotin to help strengthen my nails. Knowing I don’t do well with high-dose supplements, I decided to try the smallest dose I could find locally, 1,000 mcg. Within a couple of weeks, I had to stop because my acne started getting worse. A few years later, I decided to try a 300 mcg biotin supplement I found online, but I also ended up stopping it after several months. I actually felt better after stopping it, so even that low dose was probably just too much for me.
  • Nail-strengthening polish. My dermatologist, when he recommended the biotin supplement, also recommended nail-strengthening polish. It appeared to help for a while, but the issues began anew over time. My research seemed to indicate that polish and removers have the potential to cause harm to nails. While there were guidelines on how to use the polish and remover appropriately, I felt it best to stop using them altogether. Besides, the nail oil and lotion are a lot easier to use.


Hopefully, if you’re having trouble keeping your nails strong, you can try one or more of the tips above if you haven’t already to see if they will help. Alternatively, you may need to stop doing the things that I found have not worked in order to get stronger nails or prevent other problems.


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us at [email protected] today!


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