FitITproNews: Overcoming psychological barriers to weightloss

In this week’s newsletter

Editor’s Corner. Becoming the person I want to be. De-load time: Why lift your foot of the fun pedal? Under pressure. Three simple ways to make exercise more enjoyable! Mowing the lawn when the house is on fire. Something is better than nothing. Multivitamins are not created equal. Mailbag. The Toolbox.


Editor’s Corner

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 October 2020 issue of FitITproNews!

I can’t believe that Christmas Holidays are only about two months away. Where did the year go? Something stole it from us (COVID).

Still, the year hasn’t been a total loss. Stuck at home having to do our work remotely has freed up additional time for many of us, hopefully some of which has been spent exercising and not just watching Netflix. The additional stress we’ve been experiencing because of the pandemic has made it harder though for many of us “recovering Fat IT Pros” to stay on track with our weightloss efforts.

I myself have put on about 7 lbs last time I weight myself, which was in early September when I decided to ditch using the scale every morning as it was getting me too depressed. Not sure if that was a good idea or not, but I’m trying a different approach to managing my weight from my usual calorie-tracking approach, and I’ll share it with you in a future issue of our newsletter — if it works.

What’s inside this issue of FitITproNews

This month we have some terrific stuff to share with you as we continue on our journey towards becoming “fit IT pros”. To start off this issue we have a feature article by Mitch Garvis, a well-known IT professional who has done a lot of teaching and writing on tech matters and is both a Taekwondo instructor and a Certified Cigar Sommelier. Mitch has struggled a lot in his life with being overweight (he hit 384 lbs at one point) and he still continues to struggle but has some excellent advice on dealing with psychological problems that can impair weightloss. I often refer to Mitch as “that other Mitch” but maybe I’m the Other Mitch and he’s the real one <grin>. Anyways, be sure to read his story as it’s pretty revealing in its honesty, something we can all learn from.

We also have some great content from our regular columnists to keep you moving forward towards your goals. Robin Camp talks about how we need to slow down occasionally to keep making progress. Kris Lall describes a device called a hyperbaric pressure chamber that could help raise your game to the next level if you’re into any sort of competitive athletics. Kris Kane shares three simple ways you can make your workouts more enjoyable. Lana Khazari reveals a simple truth that can help you cross over from knowing to doing when it comes to losing weight and becoming fit. Jimmy Vo returns to our newsletter and to strength training after becoming a new father earlier this year and has some great advice on making exercise a habit. Sarah Trammel exposes the truth that not all multivitamins are created equal. And we also have some comments from readers in our Mailbag so be sure to check these out as well.

Enjoy 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


Becoming the person I want to be (Mitch Garvis)

Mitch Garvis has worn many hats in the IT industry, but his favorites have been teaching, writing, and helping companies to implement and improve their secure, well-managed infrastructure. In addition to being an IT Pro, Mitch is a Certified Cigar Sommelier, a Taekwondo instructor, a loving father of two, and a doting doggie dad. His blogs are and You can also find him on Twitter @MGarvis, on LinkedIn, and you can find his dog on Instagram @PrincessSophie1.


Hi, I’m Mitch. I am a forty-eight-year-old man who has lived a pretty interesting life. I was made from fresh babies and have been addicted to oxygen since infancy. In elementary school I had a terrible temper and threw tantrums regularly. In high school, I wanted to be an athlete, but that did not really work out for me until Secondary Five, what people who did not grow up in the Province of Quebec know as Grade Eleven. That year I finally made the basketball team! It didn’t matter though… athlete or not, I was still bullied by other kids at school, and by my mother at home. I never had much self-esteem, because every time I had something to be proud of, someone would remind me of how many things I had to be ashamed of.

Some people are overweight their entire lives. They are the ones who get picked last for team sports in gym class and stay on the sidelines when they do not have to participate. I was not one of those kids.

Yeah, I was bullied as a kid… but I got over it. By the end of high school, I was the captain of the basketball team, before going off to join the Israeli Defense Forces. So, can someone please explain how an athlete and a soldier ended up weighing 385lbs? More importantly, how can I make it stop??

It is easy to say that I like food, and that is why I gained so much weight. It would be a load of hooey, but it would be easy. My journey from combat soldier to morbidly obese likely had less to do with food than with abuse and psychology. I could go into more details, but at this point it would not be important or relevant. It’s funny, most of the people who know me — professionally, personally — have only known me fat. I started gaining weight after my discharge from the Army, and never looked back. That was nearly twenty-four years ago, roughly half my life.

What happened to me? When I was in the Army, I was extremely active, so it didn’t matter that I ate a lot of junk food. Frankly, I didn’t wait for my discharge to start getting fat because I was injured, and while I stayed in uniform, I was suddenly a lot less more sedentary. That continued when I got out of the service, and I never looked back. Before I knew it, I weighed over 300lbs… and that was not even close to the heaviest I would get.

The thing is, I still wanted to be active. I tested for my Black Belt in Taekwondo at 320lbs. Over the next two years I would get up to 350lbs, but when I tested for my Second Dan Black Belt I was down to 315lbs. I would get up to 380lbs before I really took desperate measures to lose the weight… I asked my doctor to refer me for bariatric surgery.

Weight gain is part physical and part psychological. I don’t know if every fat person would say that they are psychologically damaged, but I certainly was… or am. After several months of going through the bariatric program, the doctor told me that because of my untreated PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), he would not approve me for the surgery. “Find a therapist, spent a year in treatment, and then come back and see me.” Those were not his exact words, but that was the gist of it.

The weeks after that rejection were extremely painful for me. I had a terrible interaction with my mother. I went to visit her in Montreal that weekend, and we had yet another fight… another in an unbroken series of such fights dating back several decades. I had cut her out of my life once before, but this time it would be the last time. The next time I would see her would be on her death bed.

That last fight with my mother was most painful because I realized that I was, in so many respects, a terrible, horrible, miserable person. In other words, I was just like her. A few days later, standing on the platform waiting for the train to take me to my office, I was thinking about all of the things I would need to do to become a better person. The man I had evolved into naturally was a lousy father and a lousy husband — two ex-wives will agree with that — and just an overall terrible human being. Standing on the train platform, I started thinking about all of the changes I would have to make in my life if I was ever to become the person I wanted to be. It was overwhelming; so much so that without giving it a lot of thought, I tried to walk onto the tracks in front of the oncoming train.

The person who pulled me back was not the first person to save my life. I had a lot of work to do because of him, and I was not going to wait.

I did not get onto the train. I drove to my doctor’s office and was not going to leave until he found a psychologist for me to speak with. I spent two hours with her later that afternoon, and then saw her every week for the next two years.

We decided on what we needed to work on together; most of those goals were psychological. The last was physical. I would have to lose the extra weight I was carrying around.

A year later, I was referred back to a bariatric clinic — a different one from the year prior — and went to the first few meetings. There was one group meeting where we all told our stories, and I did not fit in. They wanted to be able to tie their shoes, walk up a flight of stairs, and things like that. I wanted to run marathons and compete as a martial artist. At my next meeting with the doctor, I asked him if there was a non-surgical option that I could try before going under the knife. He told me about another program, and it was scary… but I was willing to try it.

I started with a non-surgical program at the hospital in March 2017. I started at 365lbs. At the end of July, I weighed 273lbs. I followed the program religiously; I did not cheat once… not a stick of gum, not a cup of coffee. I drank four protein shakes per day, I drank in excess of a gallon of water. I worked out with a personal trainer twice per week. I was feeling great, even though I was still 80lbs from my ultimate goal. I could have continued right through to my goal weight without a problem had they let me.

Say what you want about Canadian socialized medicine, there are huge benefits to it. There are also downsides to it. One downside is that the government puts limitations on programs. I do not know if it was the Canadian ministry of health or the equivalent Province of Ontario ministry, but one of them mandated that you were not allowed to stay on the program longer than twelve weeks. At the end of June, I was kicked off the meal replacements, and transitioned onto real food. The program had taught us how to eat, and for the month of July, I still lost weight. I lost the safety net of the medical team that had been guiding me though, and it became harder… especially when I took a job in Ottawa and moved.

I thought I would be able to continue to lose weight. However, as I lost my stability and comfort of the cocoon I had lived in, I stopped… and I started gaining weight again. Remember the psychological factors I mentioned before? In October I found out that my mother was dying. The woman who raised me, that terrible, horrible, miserable person, was admitted to hospital in Montreal one cold day in November and would not leave the building alive. I struggled with my feelings… and after much pressure from friends, I decided to go see her.

I was nearly 100lbs slimmer than the last time she had seen me; this woman who was lying in a hospital bed with brain cancer had not lost her expert use of the backhanded compliment. “I love that sweater! If only you were slimmer, it would look great.” I left the hospital and went for a smoked meat sandwich.

My mother is not to blame for my reverting to my terrible eating habits. She did not force me to go for deli that night, and over the next few months as she lay dying she did not force me to eat terribly. The night she died I drank… a lot. When I sobered up, I drove to Montreal and would spend the next ten days there. During the week or mourning I would eat all of the bad foods that people brought; I had gained seventeen pounds by the time I drove to Toronto the following weekend. That was January of 2018.

By July of 2019 I hit my heaviest weight ever… 384lbs. I was living in Los Angeles now, and my weight was out of control. My doctor in California referred me to the bariatric clinic, and once again I found myself in a room with people who could not tie their shoes. I had recently earned my Third Dan Black Belt… I did not want to do the surgery.

I found a doctor out of network who offered the same meal replacement plan that I had done so well with in Canada. I would not have the same support as I had in Ontario; I would have to do it on my own. I started the program in August of 2019.

I did not do as well the second time around as I did the first time around. I did not have my group, my team, my accountability. I was living with my girlfriend, and there was always food in the house. I did, however, start. I was not following the program religiously… but I was doing it in fits and drabs.

In May of 2020, two months after the Covid-19 pandemic started, I was single again. I was living alone, and I weighed 328lbs. I decided to start again. By July I was down to 300lbs, and while I was not losing weight at the pace I had lost it at the first time around, I was still losing weight. I started walking, and then jogging. By mid-October — today, in fact – I weighed 275lbs.

I am still not following the program as religiously as I should; I have a lot of weight to lose, but I am losing it. I am walking, I am working out. When I do eat, and I eat off the program far too often, I eat mostly healthy.

I am on a weight loss journey that started a long time ago, but I am forcing myself to stick to it. I slip a lot… There are weeks when I lose seven to ten pounds… and then there are weeks when I gain three to five pounds. I am not on a straight downward path, but the general trend is downward… and I plan to keep going until I can finally take my Army uniform out of the closet and wear it comfortably.

One of the things I do almost religiously is my journal. I write about my weight loss journey every day — even on days when I have gained two pounds. I write because I need to be accountable to someone or something. Today that journal is nearly 275 pages long. 170,000 words of successes, failures, thoughts, and goals.

What are my ultimate goals? I want to get down to my Army weight… and then I want to get under 200lbs. I want to be able to jog and run; I want to be attractive to beautiful women (and the bar for attractive in California is higher than it was anywhere else). I want to be able to say goodbye to my meal replacements for good.

My real goal is to be able to eat and not worry that I gained a pound one day, because the next morning I will be able to exercise and lose it again. I do not want to be addicted to food. I do not want food to rule my life. Will I get there? I have to. If not, then I will have to admit that I am a failure… and that is my worst fear.


De-load time: Why lift your foot of the fun pedal? (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


Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!” -Hunter S. Thompson-

I am a car nut, anything that I own that can go fast, eventually ends up going faster, after all if a little power is good, a lot more is better right? This might not seem relevant to a fitness article, but bear with me here.

One of the hardest concepts to learn on a racetrack is that with proper use of the brakes you can go faster, slowing properly into a corner helps you line up your apex and accelerate out faster than someone who entered the corner too fast can. The person entering the corner too fast is losing traction and speed, trying to keep the car under control, while the driver who has slowed properly is already hitting the gas again. So counter intuitively, slowing down properly, helps you run a faster lap.

So, what does this have to do with the gym? Often, gym rats fall into the same trap that the racer who doesn’t slow for the corner does, in other words, everything is balls to the wall, foot down, never slowing down, tires squealing as the car is pushed beyond its limits inevitably leading to something breaking.

Too make progress in the gym you have to push yourself to your limits, but you also have to slow down occasionally, if you are always pushing yourself to the very edge you will end up in the proverbial wall, unable to make progress, always unreasonably sore, most likely cranky and sleeping poorly.

This leads us to the concept of de-load weeks. Rather than taking a couple weeks off to recover, during a de-load week, you do around 50-60% of your normal load, backing off the resistance and the number of sets. The idea here is to keep yourself active while giving yourself time to recover from those flat out stretches. You do want to keep your diet up during this period too, although you are easing off the pedal in the gym you don’t want to use it as an excuse to back off your dietary progress.

After two weeks, you should find yourself eager to go at it again, well rested, sleeping better and feeling better, The amazing thing about a de-load period is that you will find yourself able to push yourself harder after the rest, I usually hit new PR’s after a de-load period. This allows me to make more progress while feeling less wrung out and makes it easier to hit the gym consistently, and has led to less frequent injuries. The other thing I notice after a de-load week is how much better my joints feel after giving them a break from the heavy weights and high intensity workouts.

So, if you find yourself having to drag yourself to the gym, exhausted and constantly sore, consider a de-load period, your body will thank you. Everyone is different, some can go for 3-4 months at a time before a de-load period, others may do it more often than that, listen to your body, pay attention to your recovery rate and your mental attitude. Above all, keep going and have fun.

-Next time you are afraid to share your ideas, remember someone once said in a meeting “Lets make a film with a tornado full of sharks”- Source Unknown

“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~


Under pressure (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.


A lot of things have to go right for someone to win 23 gold medals at the Olympics. We know the competition is usually pretty good at this event, but sometimes someone comes along who is that much better than everybody. Usually the athlete remains dominant for a limited period of time; however, not with world-renown swimmer, Michael Phelps, who was able to dominate over a span of four Olympics.

We were having a family conversation during dinner recently when the topic came up of how Michael Phelps trained to be the best. Not only was he born with a physique that was built for swimming, he has a winning attitude and was willing to put in the work required to be the best.

Long hours of practice can indeed lead to some level of perfection, but what else could Phelps do to ensure he would remain the best? As Phelps prepared for this fourth Olympics and was facing the disadvantage of age vs. his younger competition, he upped his game by spending his nights sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to simulate a high altitude environment. How could this possibly help?

When the human body is exposed to high altitude, it works harder to produce red blood cells, which generates increasing oxygen for muscles, and should result in an increase in an athlete’s endurance. With a final tally of 28 medals in all, it certainly seems to have worked for Michael Phelps!

And while most IT folks aren’t preparing to compete in the Olympics, there are those that compete at a high level. Over the years I’ve run into many techie athletes who are accomplished in running, soccer, crew/rowing, and table tennis. If this describes you, a hyperbaric pressure chamber may be just what you need to raise your game to the next level (whatever that next level is).

Picture courtesy of Mckeeman at English Wikipedia / CC BY ( –



Three simple ways to make exercise more enjoyable! (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

Mindset — Don’t see training as a chore, this is the time of day you get to work on YOU! Before you do your workout spend a few minutes getting mentally prepared and remind yourself of the health and wellbeing benefits doing this will bring you.

Music — Block out the other distractions at the gym and put your favourite playlist on to fire you up for your session. If you don’t currently train to music, it could make a big difference to your focus and motivation through the workout.

Challenge yourself — Push yourself to progress each session, this could be more weight, more reps, more sets or less resting time. Track and record you workouts so you know what to improve on week to week.

If any of your current training goals involve becoming fitter, leaner, stronger and you want some more actionable tips, feel free to head over to my social pages where I will be posting daily on all things training, nutrition and mindset

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

Stay safe!


[email protected]


Mowing the lawn when the house is on fire (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


The fitness and diet industry is a billion-dollar industry. There is so much information. There are even more solutions to your problems than you know what to do with.

Knowing I’m part of the industry, many people will chat me up about diet misinformation.

I hear:

  • “I was doing keto and it worked but it’s not working anymore, I still cut carbs though”,
  • “Eating too much fruit is not good because of the sugar”,
  • “I have a sweet tooth, so to keep things healthier I often make desserts that are gluten-free”
  • “I use Stevia instead of Splenda in my coffee”

I get asked:

  • Do I count macros, cut carbs, go vegan, or try intermittent fasting?
  • Do I need BCAAs?
  • How about protein powders? What is the difference between whey protein isolate vs whey protein concentrate? Should I consume this post-workout, pre-workout, what’s better?

And on, and on, and on….

These comments and questions are not “bad”. There is a lot of information out there and always more to know. We are drowning in it. For someone starting, it is all very overwhelming. Even for intermediate or advanced beginners, this can lead to distracted and poorly organized behavior.

You can get hyper-focused on ideas like finding the absolute best protein powder with the lowest grams of carbs, eating raspberries because it has a lower GI than blueberries, or only having green vegetables because they are amongst the “healthiest”. Diving into unnecessary details and not practicing necessary core behaviors is “mowing the lawn when the house is on fire”. This great phrase was stolen from my Precision Nutrition Level 2 training.

Applying knowledge appropriately is hard. Combine that with the desire to be instantly gratified because accordingly you should be able to lose “30 pounds in 30 days”. And so you are convinced that things aren’t moving fast enough and look through the next hundred options. And you continue your hunt for the right answers, grasping onto the idea that you are missing that key piece of information stalling you from results.

Researching and acquiring knowledge is also a great way to avoid doing work. Motivated by our feelings of inadequacy we might read another blog post or pick up a new book just to sit atop the pile already collecting dust. Even though our rational mind tells us that knowing stuff is good, if we are often defaulting into “need more knowledge” mode, we are on the defense.

Knowing more stuff usually doesn’t get you anywhere. You wind up with a wealth of information and little to no applicable knowledge. Because your rational mind isn’t solely responsible. Your emotional brain and environmental cues are a large influence on behavior change.

Knowledge bomb – simplicity is the truth.

The biggest challenge is crossing over from “knowing” to “doing”. If you can’t crossover, you are probably extremely frustrated with little to no results. Bring yourself back to the basics. From beginners to advanced, mastering the truly important things is always the requirement.

The unsexy stuff that truly matters:

  1. Structure & regimentation: Daily consistency of behaviors that move you towards your goals. Abolishing the idea of perfectionism and removing childish responses like routine limits your freedom. Structure and routine are foundational and free your time for other important things in life. It can also be very grounding during periods of chaos.
  2. Prepping and planning meals: Eating out several times a week with meals and drinks and balking at the idea of prepping meals in the kitchen is unrealistic and dangerous. Making prepping part of a lifestyle applies here. The reality is that if you aren’t willing to change habits like this one, your weight-issue will not be solved. There are no magic solutions, foods, or supplements. You can eat cake, but you can’t eat cake every night of the week, some planning and prepping are necessary. Another tip is to keep it simple and repeat as many meals as your taste or your family’s tastes will allow.
  3. Measuring accuracy: Tracking and measuring food takes priority, especially at the beginning. You have to understand proper portions no matter what diet strategy you decide to follow. And without getting caught up on tracking numbers and counting every calorie, food quality needs to be considered. A focus on food quality, as in, whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods, and keeping regular meal times helps to loosen the grip on having to weigh and measure everything in sight. It also helps you physiologically which is conducive to fat loss.
  4. Consistent sleep & wake times: If it’s 11 pm and you are still answering emails or cruising the social media channels, you are not making sleep a priority and this is a huge mistake. Quality and quantity of sleep are important and research shows that lack of sleep can lead to compulsive eating or binge eating, increased appetite, and loss of willpower.
  5. Purposeful exercise programmed with progression: I see so many people at the gym engaging in random workouts, from unprogrammed weight training, to spin classes, to boot camps, to yoga. Moving without purpose in mind. And don’t get me wrong, moving is way better than not moving. Exercise is super important, especially when the majority don’t do any at all. However, if you have specific goals having your exercise programming tailored to those goals with elements of progression is better. I had a woman attend my meditation class the other day saying she wanted to lose that extra belly fat and her doctor told her she needed to dial down from all her high-intensity activities – hallelujah! More is not better.
  6. The process is the goal, not the outcome: Only focusing on the desired results will lead to failure. Over and over again, because of the diet mentality, I’ve experienced women misuse the weight scale, become completely discouraged, and chastise themselves. It’s not enough to remind yourself of the results you seek. If you berate yourself, you will more than likely fail. You can’t bully yourself into progress. Instead, constantly remind yourself of WHY you want the results and attach yourself to the motivations there. Focusing on the daily behaviors that lead you to your goal alongside compassion, self-encouragement, and self-support is necessary. Many people feel that if they aren’t hard on themselves, they will not take action. Being compassionate does not mean avoiding responsibility.

The above stuff has the greatest impact on the road to fat loss. Being advanced, I’ve also made the mistake of thinking that I’ve mastered the basics and starting to add more secondary stuff. This had me embracing overwhelm, yet again. An important lesson is that you will NEVER master the truly important things. There is always room for improvement. Before you add more to your tool chest, the core list should always be prioritized. Try thinking of small improvements, adding in one new habit at a time. Focusing on the core behaviors automatically filters extraneous information. You conveniently avoid all that marketing that has you believe you’re doing it all wrong.

And if your mind wanders, let your mind wander back to the simple. Simplicity involves unburdening your life with the unnecessary.

Mastering the “simple” is the right path. Less is more.


Something is better than nothing (Jimmy Vo)

Jimmy Vo is a cyber security professional in the financial sector. He’s a Jiu Jitsu hobbyist and a purple belt under Lucas Lepri in Charlotte, NC. You can find Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyVo


Momentum is a powerful thing, however it takes quite a bit of time to gain momentum and takes much less time to lose it. While checking my workout history for April and May of this year, I only took one week off from lifting. The first two months of my son’s life was very challenging but things settled as we implemented a schedule and routine for the baby. My training for May and June was extremely abbreviated. My goal was just to move. My strength training sessions were only 30-40 minutes. In one of my previous posts, I highlighted my strength and conditioning program. I used the same programming but only did the main lifts and an accessory lift. As you can imagine, I didn’t PR much but I kept the momentum going.

Be open and adaptable

Since I’ve started my fitness journey I’ve never been to a spin class. My cardio mostly revolved around Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Without BJJ training, I was in big trouble from a cardio standpoint. My wife and I decided to get a Peloton because she enjoyed spin classes. I was skeptical since I’ve never done a spin class and I didn’t find riding a stationary bike as fun as locking in a triangle choke.

Since I despise running, I gave the Peloton a shot. I clipped in and the rest was history. Indoor cycling has been a huge part of my workouts since I won’t be back to Jiu Jitsu until there’s a vaccine and a lot of herd immunity. I’d be lying if it was a replacement for a martial art that I love, but it gets the job done.

Habits for success

By July, the baby was three months and sleeping through the night. My paternity leave was nearing an end. I wanted to ramp up my training since I was getting a full night of sleep. I wanted to workout at least 5-6 times a day without impacting work or family duties. I could either do my workouts early in the morning of late at night. I decided on doing 5:30am workouts. My goal was to wake up at 5 and put on my workout gear by 5:30am between Monday through Saturday.

I used James Clear’s Atomic Habit system by making the habit easy. I’m already a morning person and putting on workout gear is easy enough. 100% of the time so far, I ended up working out when I put my workout gear on. I’m on my forth month of early workouts and I can say that the habit has sustained me.

2020 has been crazy for all of us. I’ve had a lot of good fortune to help me get through the pandemic and fatherhood. It’s important that we all keep moving, be open and adaptable, and implement the power of habits. I’ll be looking forward to stepping back on the BJJ mats but until then, I’ll take an alternate path in my fitness journey. Always. Keep. Moving.

Feel free to give me a follow on Peleton (@votek).


Multivitamins are not created equal (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


Take care when choosing a multivitamin. There are many on the market today, and they’re all formulated differently. Depending on your needs, a certain brand may help while another may actually hurt.

For many years, I took a Women’s One-a-Day multivitamin. One thing I finally discovered about it is that it did not contain iodine. It had selenium but not much. I decided to seek out an alternative multivitamin and found one, Nature Made, that contained 100% of the RDA for each of these. There were other differences between the two, but the differences in the amounts of these two nutrients seemed to be the most significant. I felt a huge difference after making the switch.

At one point, after making some major dietary changes, I stopped taking my multivitamin, which ended up being a big mistake. I was having problems that I incorrectly blamed on my multivitamin. I went for a year and a half without taking it, and during that time, I became anemic and iron-deficient. I went back on the Nature Made multivitamin in an attempt to correct the anemia and iron deficiency. Fortunately, I had resolved what was causing the problems before, so I had no issues after restarting it. After being back on the multivitamin for about four and a half months, things were still abnormal. I was still anemic, and my iron levels really had not improved. The doctor who was monitoring me wanted me to take an iron supplement and asked me about an iron infusion, but I wondered if my multivitamin might be to blame. I went to the store to seek out an alternative and decided to try Women’s Centrum. It had 100% of the RDA for iron like my current multivitamin, but it had less of other nutrients that might compete with it. After switching to the Centrum, my anemia and iron levels finally began to improve. My ferritin was the slowest to recover. After being on the Centrum for over a year, my ferritin finally crept into the normal range.

For me, Women’s Centrum worked while Nature Made and One-A-Day, at least how it was formulated in 2011, did not. While I would recommend Centrum highly to anyone, it may not work for everyone in all cases. Factors like diet and genetics may play a role in what works and what does not. For me, it was trial-and-error finding something that worked, so it’s hard to come up with a good list of tips and tricks for finding the proper multivitamin. It may take working with a doctor to test for nutrient deficiencies and/or a nutritionist to go through your diet and figure out where you may be lacking nutrient-wise to come up with what may work best. Genetic testing may be warranted in some cases. However, you may need to rely on your own instincts and research because the professionals don’t always know or they may give bad advice.

Multivitamins are not all made the same, so when choosing a multivitamin, choose carefully. Consider your own nutrition needs, your genetics, and other factors unique to your situation to help you make the right choice. It may help to consult a doctor, nutritionist, or other professional to guide you in this decision. Also be mindful of your own instincts and do your own research, as you may come up with an answer that the medical professionals do not.



In last month’s issue of our newsletter we featured an article by Robin Camp about the supplements he takes regularly and why he uses them. This drew the following response from reader Michael Hallsted:

Howdy Mitch, here is my 2 cents on supplements. Wow, asking the world, et al, what supplements they take is, almost, like asking a room full of geeks what brand of hard drives is the best. Then, I have my exercise minded brother who compares the world of supplements to Alice going down the rabbit hole. Though we all have basic needs that are similar, each person is unique, and what works for one person might have no effect on another. Supplementation is a personal journey, so enjoy the trip.

I have always liked supplements that are generally described as: Helping one to support and enhance the general maintenance, health, and well-being of one’s body. There are many systems in one’s body, and they all need to work together and complement each other to maintain optimal health. That’s always been my goal.

Here is my short list of essential supplements:

  • Klamath Lake Blue Green Algae
  • Hawaiian Spirulina and/or Earthrise Spirulina
  • Japanese Chlorella
  • Kombucha
  • Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein containing Collagen Types I, II, III, V and X
  • Full-spectrum organic hemp CBD oil
  • CoQ10
  • Vitamin C & D3
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Whole food sourced, organic, multivitamin.

My only comment here… somewhere, over the years [but please don’t ask me to remember where] I read some advice column. The question asked was: Where do all those vitamins come from? The answer given was: They come from a lab and are made from chemicals, and are considered “chemical equivalents” to their natural cousins. So, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Or, to use a different analogy for the IT crowd: when you buy replacement printer toners/cartridges, do you buy OEM, or go with a third party vendor’s “solution” that they “guarantee” will work out of the box and perform as good as or better than the OEM printer toners/cartridges. Just something to consider is all.

Thanks again for your newsletter!!

I responded to Michael that I had used Spirulina myself in the past, usually by mixing it in with my whey protein drink, but that it kinda sucks tastewise. I also said I had tried Kombucha but to me it tastes like sauerkraut in a bottle! Michael replied to this with:

With powdered spirulina, I totally agree. The only palatable way that I found was to mix it with kefir milk. I take spirulina tablets the absolute best deal is at Costco:

This, I consider the gold standard of algae, but who can afford it all the time:

With Kombucha, too. I take capsules:

I’ve got a weird body, in that, I cannot drink [properly] anything that is fermented, sparkling, carbonated. I just cannot swallow/drink them without doing some weird simultaneous burp/hiccup thing. So I gave them up a long time ago. So, very first thing in the morning, a glass of water and 3 kombucha capsules feels right for me.

We also received the following email from reader Roger Foisy who is an IT Manager for a company in Florida that manages a chain of hotels and resorts:

Greetings from a Fellow getting fitter IT person, been reading you newsletter a while and one day a while back finally got started, so far about 35lbs lighter and some muscle added. Feeling a lot better. Even built a gym behind my house:

Keep up the work some of us appreciate it even if we take a while to get moving!

Thanks for the encouragement!

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


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