If you have managed to navigate to this site, you are likely interested in moving 4ward into a healthier lifestyle.

Whether looking to become "hella fit", or merely surfing around the web "for the hell of it", I hope that my experiences are helpful as you determine your own fitness goals.

Please be aware that I am not a doctor, full-fledged personal trainer, or licensed nutritionist.  I'm just one guy who managed to turn his life around in a big way over a decade ago,...sharing my background while offering some tips on how I reached, and continue to maintain, a level of overall health and fitness.

I was always the typical "husky" kid growing up,...or "big boned" as my mom would say.

"Big boned". What does that even mean, right? Whatever the clinical classification, I maintained this form
throughout elementary school, and I have all the awkward class photos to prove it.

Endless exercise and unhealthy starvation took off the pounds in junior high so that high school began a
new chapter. Tennis, cross country skiing, and biking helped keep things in check,...until the college years.
Those freshman 15 were more like 30, and there was a gradual climb as studies and extracurricular
pursuits took priority over,...my health.

Graduated, moved to LA, got caught up in starting a career, and again neglected myself by making poor
nutritional choices (ie: the convenience or cheapness of drive-thru and take-out options) while remaining
sedentary in front of a computer at the office,...all day, late at night, and most weekends.

The result? Tipping the scales at nearly 350 by my late 20's. Easily winded, quick to overheat and sweat,
difficulty bending over, cramming myself into public seating or restaurant booths, never feeling good in
clothes and embarrassed by popping buttons, avoiding social gatherings with friends, and ultimately just
uncomfortable in my own skin.

Something had to change, and I finally resolved not to enter my 30's obese. From January 4th 1999 thru
to the year 2000, I managed to drop 138 pounds through a lifestyle change that found me exercising my
body daily while eating from a selection of foods I prepared myself, closely monitoring every ingredient.

Since that initial push in the right direction, I have dropped even more weight, leaned up, built up my
endurance, lowered my blood pressure,...and become quite literally "half the man" I used to be.

There were no magic shakes, staples, bypasses, pills, teas, or prescription drugs involved. Just the usual
boring combination we hear repeated so often:

Eat Healthy and Exercise

That's it. Nothing expensive, complicated, or potentially life threatening. We all have the ability to make
these changes and adopt a better lifestyle. It isn't a one-time deal, but a life-long commitment. I've signed
on and am anxious to welcome anyone else who'd like to join me in supporting the efforts of us all.

As I've mentioned before, I am no expert in much of anything. Just some guy who finally took the clear cut,
foolproof advice those of us with weight issues have long been offered.

Having been asked many times over the years "what did you do?", I am providing information about my
own history, and the rewriting of it, so that others might find something useful to help them achieve their
individual fitness goals.

I avoided pictures in my 20's, though there is a small collection that captures my "livin' large" years.
Those shown feature smiles, though I remember always feeling very self-conscious and uncomfortable
in public, or at social functions. The pictures of me that exist are mostly taken at business events or
ceremonies such as friends' weddings, when pictures cannot be avoided.

Something that always did make me feel a bit better, strange as it may seem, is when friends would
make general "fat jokes" or weight comments (never at my expense, mind you). That they could be with
me and not be so overly preoccupied with my weight to avoid these topics made it feel as if they saw me
for more than my super-sized exterior. While I was always hyper aware of these references, with
thoughts being focused on my unhealthy appearance nearly 24/7 in those days, I found some comfort in
knowing it was not a defining characteristic to those that cared most about me.

As mentioned in the bio, at age 29, I had finally had enough and devoted a year to losing a dramatic
amount of weight through,...what? That's right: Eating Healthy and Exercising

My 30's were a much more enjoyable time, due mostly to feeling as if I "fit in". Living in Los Angeles, so
much emphasis is placed on "standing out" in a crowd of beautiful, perfectly chiseled people.
To me, there is nothing better than just blending in. If I can walk down the street or eat at a restaurant
without raising eyebrows or turning heads,...that's when I'm happiest.

Unfortunately, there is one downside to losing such a significant amount of weight: skin doesn't just snap
back after being stretched out over many years. After living with what appeared to be a flappy-skinned
Shar Pei dog hanging around my midsection, I finally made the decision (10 years later) to have this
reminder of my former self removed surgically.

The belt lipectomy procedure I had involves making an incision entirely around your middle beneath the
hanging skin (hence "belt"). Excess skin that will no longer retract is cut away, and the top edge pulled
down and sutured at the waist. During this process, a new opening for the belly button is made so that
this earliest of our life's stitches can remain intact, albeit repositioned.

The above photos show me days before surgery, after having stuck to a decent workout routine for a year
in preparation. Below is a photo taken just weeks after surgery, with the crinkly excess skin removed,
though much swelling still present.

If considering this procedure, allow yourself a couple weeks of recuperation at home, two months of
wearing a waist binder (reduces swelling) while returning to most of your normal routine, then a month
or so of light exercise (walking, hiking, biking) before feeling 90% again. At that point, while there are
still some numbness and newly connecting nerve sensations, you should be able to do just about anything
you would have done before surgery workout-wise. For me, abdominal exercises were the most difficult
to resume given all that had been done in this area, though working through the initial discomfort
has helped facilitate the speediest recovery.

The image below was taken 9 months after surgery, AND following 5 months of circuit weight training
combined with intense cardio spinning classes taken up to 5 times a week.

Having the skin removal surgery instills a great deal of confidence, as there is no longer a feeling of hiding
beneath your clothes, tucking pendulous folds of skin into the top of your pants, and creating bulges that
are leftovers of your former self. What one does with their bodies following surgery makes a tremendous
difference in the level of happiness that can be achieved. For me, it provided additional motivation to
further improve myself, as I could finally see the results of my workout and weight toning efforts.

Still don't enjoy having my picture taken, though no longer find it to be quite so torturous an experience...

If good health and fitness came in a pill, we'd all be in great shape and live long lives. Don't ya just
wanna punch people when they say stuff like that? Still, there is a point to be made. No one ever said
that living a healthy lifestyle is easy, and I'm surely not gonna lie and say it is either. It takes a bit of
work, good choices, pre-planning from time to time, and...finding forms of exercise we enjoy enough
to maintain throughout our lives.

While I was losing weight during my 29th year, I did my best to mix things up so that I was never bored.
New exercise videos (yes, VHS - it was the late 90's afterall) became a reward, replacing treats such as
pizza, burritos, french fries, and ice cream. Fair trade, huh? Along with daily riding of a stationary bike,
I followed pre-recorded classes taught by all the usual suspects: Susan Powter, Tony Little, Jane Fonda,
and Keli Roberts, who offered up a variety of step classes, toning with weights, stretching, Pilates,
upper body, lower body, and ab workouts.

On average, I exercised between one and two hours per day, sometimes in the early morning
before work, sometimes after, and often a combination of the two. While riding my bike, I would wear
headphones and watch movies or VCR'd television shows to distract me while pedaling. Definitely made
it easier to sustain rides of 45-90 minutes,...especially for a big guy like I was.

Of these exercises initially geared toward fat loss, I have maintained quite a few, though in slightly
different forms. Cardio is something I've always been able to do on my own, especially when combined
with movie watching while on a stationary bike. Frequent "riding" is sometimes alternated with one
of those ol' Keli Roberts step videos (now transferred to DVD). The toning with weights picked up again
over the past couple years with the help of personal trainers to teach me about how muscles work.
Just now branching out on my own for the first time in two years in order to maintain what I've managed
to achieve as far as general toning and strength. Still have a lot to learn, though doing my best to
continue the program mapped out with the help of trainers.

Cardio has now been consumed with spinning (indoor cycling) classes, of which I have taken up to
5 a week for nearly a year. My enjoyment of this intense, concentrated heart and muscle workout has
led to my becoming a certified spinning instructor, and I am now beginning to lead classes of
my own. On average, spinning is credited with burning between 500-800 calories per 45-60 minute
session. That is one heck of a calorie return on your relatively short time investment!

Regardless of my workout routine, the most important thing is to find what works for you, whether
it be jogging, hiking, biking, swimming, playing individual and/or team sports, enrolling in group classes
at the gym, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing,...or any number of hybrids from the aforementioned activities.

There is something out there for everyone,...including you. So go find the exercise that you enjoy most!

As for nutrition, the biggest change I made way back in 1999 was to take control over what I eat.
Rather than rely on what restaurants and processed food manufacturers choose to label "healthy", "lite",
"low fat", "sugar free", or "reduced sodium", I took it upon myself to guarantee these qualities.

Of course, the easiest way to do this is to cook for yourself, and I have shifted toward fresh choices and self-prepared meals in an effort to control what goes into what I eat.

Following are the basic guidelines I try to follow:

Avoid foods low in nutritional value, and eat with a greater sense of purpose
When given an option, choose the healthier, more beneficial one (ex: brown rice rather than white)
Stock up on healthy foods that also happen to be ones you truly enjoy so that you stick to the plan
Need to indulge? Try a not-so-unhealthy snack (air popped popcorn, no-sugar added dried fruit, nuts)
Choose a rare day to satisfy any "health challenged" cravings, and get them out of your system

Prepare two or more recipes in large quantities on the weekends
Choose at least one recipe that is more of a universal addition to a variety of items (ex: tomato sauce)
Reduce fat, sodium, empty carbs, and sugar so you can enjoy meals with less need to measure portions
Take advantage of storage containers and your freezer
Divide portions ahead of time for grab 'n' go convenience
Keep ingredients handy for simple mid-week meals you can easily make

I will continually update this site with recipes I've found, made up, and tried. Take a look in 4RECIPES
under CONTENTS at the bottom of each page for what has been posted so far.

I am a vegetarian, though this is obviously not required in order to follow the above suggestions and eat more healthily. For me, what started as a 3 month test of wills has turned into nearly a decade and a half lifestyle choice that I don't anticipate changing. The added restriction helps me by turning "eating" into conscious nutrition planning, as there is a greater need to choose wisely and combine ingredients so as to ensure sufficient intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

As mentioned above, there will be times (special occasions, parties, limited options out in the world) when it is difficult to adhere to the above "rules". Even the best pre-planner will have days when a healthy meal or snack is not readily available, and...well..."one's gotta eat". Not only that, but we should allow ourselves the occasional enjoyment of things we truly love.

On days such as these, I grant myself a bit of a "free pass" to indulge in the treats I avoid 99% of the time. Be it ice cream, baked goods, pizza, candy,...whatever the preference...I try and consume a few of them on days when I know the on-going plan will surely hit a bump in the road. The good news is I usually feel not-so-great the next day, having eaten things my body no longer recognizes. This feeling makes it very easy to revert back to "normal", so it is somewhat of a built-in fail-safe.

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NutritionData Food Nutrition Facts, Calorie Needs, and BMI Calculation

Vision Fit Full Gym • Personal Training • Group Spinning, Circuit, Core, and Sculpt Classes

Burn Studio 24 Seat, Tiered Indoor Cycling ("Spinning") Classes

Dr Kevin Brenner Post Weight Loss Surgery • Excess Skin Removal

Preparing 4 Launch

Nope,...that's not a type-o for "lunch". Got some tofu chillin' in the fridge for later.

Over the past few months, I have finally gotten around to collecting some thoughts about my major weight loss a decade ago, and the journey toward better overall health and fitness ever since.

Knowing that all of this information will soon be put out there for those who may have similar struggles is very exciting,...and at the same time a bit terrifying. Proof-reading through pages I wrote weeks and/or months ago brought it all back for me last night. Some things are tougher to revisit than I had realized, since much time has passed since I was that "other person",...and in certain ways always will be.

I think anyone with an addiction, or challenged motivation for change (as with me back then), never completely gets the monkey off their back. There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about my health, fitness level, weight,...and how these things affect the way I look and feel. We all see ourselves a bit differently than those around us. For me, it takes seeing photos others have taken to truly gauge how I'm doing on this journey, and sometimes I actually feel okay about,...and can just fall into the same, natural "geez, I'm ugly" reactions that we all have upon seeing images of ourselves. Well,...except for all of you ridiculously hot and attractive folks out there - you and your mirrors know who you are - Haha!

Anyway, today is the day this homegrown site "goes public" as they say. Still feeling a bit nervous about it, though am hoping that it makes an impact, provides some decent advice, useful information, or just lets others in similar situations realize they are not alone. There are others out there who are struggling with the same issues as you, and I for one would love to help support your efforts if I can.

Hate to end with a cliche,...but if I can do it...

Lemme know what ya think - Scott

Oatmeal Spice Cookies


2 Cups Mashed Banana (or 2 Bananas)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Oats (Slow or Quick Cook)
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (or Unbleached)
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Cup Raisins (or Chopped Dried Apple)
1/4 Cup Soy Milk (or Dairy, Almond, Rice)

A Brief History

My mom has this recipe for a sweet, crunchy cookie called an "Oatmeal Crispy" that has always been a family favorite. Not sure where she found it, but what I later discovered when baking them myself is that the "crispy" quality is a direct result of combining 2 full sticks of butter with a cup of sugar over heat. Turns out this lite 'n' crispy cookie was anything but what its delicate appearance would suggest.

One of my tricks when rethinking nutrition a decade ago was to start with recipes I had always loved and modify them into something much healthier, hopefully still retaining a sense of what I liked about them in the first place.

This oatmeal cookie hybrid came about much later, perhaps only a couple years ago when longing for a snack or "treat" to enjoy with afternoon coffee. The main objective was to find a substitute for the abundance of fat (butter) and sugar that held the otherwise healthy oats and bits of fruit together.

What was that sweet, adhesive solution? --- Banana

The consistency of the banana filled in for the butter, and its natural sugars satisfied with subtle sweetness. Now for the proof of concept...


Start by mashing (2) bananas in a bowl until they have a thick liquid consistency, then mix in the vanilla extract. Set this mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and cloves. I tend to use the slower cooking multi-grain oats (usually called "old fashioned" or "5 minute"), though the "quick oats" will absorb liquids faster and may be preferable if you want less of a raw oats taste and consistency. It's all a matter of taste.

Add the banana puree to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in the raisins, or you might prefer to chop up some dried apple rings (no sugar added) as they also complement these flavors nicely. Pour in a small amount of milk to help with stirring this thick mixture. Allow to sit about 10 minutes so that the dry ingredients absorb the moisture of the banana.

Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and flatten into the shape you'd like them to bake (due to the removal of sugar and butter, these cookies will not spread much as they cook). Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes (ovens vary).

The finished cookie will be medium-to-dark brown much like a banana bread, and have somewhat of a cake texture rather than the original's naughty crunch. Still, the banana, mixed-in fruit, and spices make them just sweet enough to serve as an afternoon treat or quick breakfast snack on the go!

Tart 'n' Tangy Broccoli Slaw


1/3 Cup Orange Juice (about 1/2 an orange)
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Minced Shallot (or Green Onion)
1 Tablespoon Dark Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Grated Ginger
1 Teaspoon Coleman's Mustard (or Dry Mustard)
1 (10 Ounce) Bag Broccoli Slaw

Coarse Salt (optional)
Coarse Ground Black Pepper (optional)


This broccoli slaw recipe is an incredibly healthy, low fat option for lunch, a side dish, or as a satisfying, crunchy snack to get you through the afternoon. It's also quite tasty, with its blend of tart vinegar, spicy mustard, sharp ginger, and sweet orange juice,...just enough to make your taste buds forget you're eating something nutritious!

Before listing the preparation steps from the Food Network website page (care of their health-conscious chef Kathleen Daelemans), I wanted to point out a few modifications I've incorporated over time.

Instead of shallots, I use green onions. They are easy to chop, usually have other uses for me (salads, etc), and the dark green portion adds a nice colorful pop for presentation,...which matters little when preparing for myself, but good to know when bringing to a picnic with friends.

Also, I always watch my salt intake and never add it when cooking, though I feel there is enough good flavor in this slaw not to miss it. Likewise, I have recently started using dry mustard powder rather than a store-bought mustard so that I can avoid sodium and other preservatives. Lastly, I sprinkle my slaw with coarse ground black pepper since I enjoy the extra bite.

The recipe suggests marinating the broccoli in vinegar for "as long as you can", then serving immediately once everything is incorporated. I usually double or triple the entire recipe and store it in the fridge. It's my opinion that the flavor only tends to get better over time, and the slaw remains crunchy. One large batch can last for a few days of lunches in my experience.

Okay,...now for the official directions:

Combine orange juice, vinegar and shallots in bowl you'll be serving slaw in. Add good pinch of salt. Let stand 5 to 20 minutes, as long as you can. Whisk in sesame oil, ginger and mustard. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add broccoli slaw to bowl, toss to combine. Taste once more. Serve immediately.

Chunky Tomato "4DaHella" Sauce


Tomatoes, Diced
Crushed Red Pepper
Fennel Seeds
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil

Grated Parmesan topping (optional)
Nutritional Yeast Flakes topping (optional)


I never follow a specific recipe for my tomato sauce, as it is more about adding vegetables you like, avoiding those you don't, and seasoning to your taste buds.

I start by chopping several cloves of fresh garlic and a couple yellow onions (medium). Since I choose not to add sugar, I slice a few handfuls of pre-peeled "baby" carrots to slightly sweeten the acidic tomatoes. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot, heat on medium stovetop, then toss in the garlic, onions, and carrots. Saute until the carrots soften, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add the chopped bell peppers, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes (both to taste), and cook for about 5 more minutes.

You can dice up some fresh tomatoes, or add enough cans of diced, no salt added tomatoes until the ratio of tomatoes to other veggies is to your liking. Reduce heat and cook on low, stirring frequently.

I find the longer I can slowly simmer this mixture the better, as the canned tomatoes take a while to break down and create a well-incorporated, yet hearty sauce. I prefer that everything remain somewhat chunky with discernible veggies rather than cook all the way down to the consistency of a store-bought sauce. When I've opted for fresh tomatoes (love the grape-sized variety since they only require slicing in half once), I simmer for a much shorter period of time to take advantage of that "just cooked" taste.

Before serving, tear (or kitchen scissor) several fresh basil leaves in, then stir to warm them up and mix the flavors.

This sauce is great over traditional pasta or polenta, though I most often brown green veggies (broccoli, asparagus, or brussels sprouts) in a stovetop fry pan and stir some sauce in with those. Also good (for vegetarians like me) over diced, cooked tofu. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese, or...prepare yourself...nutritional yeast flakes, which are high in protein, B vitamins, and essential amino acids.

The more sauce you prepare, the more easy meals you'll have ready to go whenever! Store in your fridge or freeze in smaller containers for a day when you don't want to cook,...which might be just about every day, huh?

Winter Lentil Soup


4 Leeks, white and light green parts only
1 bunch Kale
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 28-ounce can whole (or diced) Tomatoes, drained
6 cups Water
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup Brown Lentils
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
12 fresh Basil leaves (optional - though recommended)

Grated Parmesan topping (optional)
Nutritional Yeast Flakes topping (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher Salt (optional)


Slice each leek in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons (about 2 cups). Place in a large bowl of cold water and swish to remove any grit. Drain and pat dry.

Remove the stems from the kale. Stack the leaves on top of one another and slice them crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips; you'll need 3 cups.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the kale, sweet potatoes, lentils, thyme, salt, pepper, and basil (if using). Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Spoon into individual bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan (if using).

Tip: Basic brown lentils retain their shape better during cooking than pricier red and yellow lentils, so they're terrific for soups. You can substitute green lentils, which taste slightly peppery.

To Freeze: Omit the Parmesan. Let the soup cool, then ladle into large resealable bags, filling each one halfway. Store for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Warm in a covered saucepan over medium heat for 20 minutes. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan (if using).

Recipe Courtesy of Real Simple Magazine