Ask the Trainer – July-Aug 2015


When trying to slim down for the summer, making changes in your refrigerator and pantry can help. By purging and organizing forgotten foods and unhealthy snacks, you can be more confident about making better choices for your body.

Feng Shui experts highly recommend purging as a way of clearing energy and making space for new opportunities. This same idea of purging, de-cluttering and organizing can also be used to help you drop a few pounds. Organizational expert Justin Klosky, author of Organize & Create Discipline, urges to clean up all areas of their lives, and this includes food. She explains that “When you’re in an environment that is cleaner and more organized, you are much more likely to eat an apple over a chocolate bar.”

You can help facilitate weight loss by cleaning out your refrigerator and pantry and organizing and restocking your shelves with food and condiments that are healthy. Here are 7 steps to making a happier and healthier you this summer.

  1. Get rid of all the food and products that are past their expiration date. These foods are unhealthy to consume and are probably rotten anyway. This includes spices and oils. Spices lose the potency and oils can become rancid.
  2. Get rid of all the junk. Now junk refers to sodas, sugary fruit drinks, chips, cookies, and ice cream. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a sack of potato chips harbors tons of fat, calories, and sodium. By ditching the fat-laden temptations and restocking your shelves with healthier, portion-controlled alternatives, you can trim hundreds of calories from your diet and inches from your waistline. Some of you may live with people who do enjoy such foods. In that case, move those food items out of view. Out of sight, out of mind. Move your healthier options to where they can be easily seen.
  3. Get rid of processed foods. Processed foods are generally thought to be ready-to-eat meals for the microwave or in cans. The actual term “processed food refers to any food that has been altered from its natural state, either for safety reasons or convenience. Processed foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but anything that’s been processed may contain added salt, sugar and fat. Foods such as breakfast cereals, crackers, meat products (Spam, ham and bacon) and microwavable foods contain higher calories and can bust your summer eating program. Furthermore, according to Better Health,, the main reasons to process food are to eliminate micro-organisms (which may cause disease) and to extend shelf life. Processing food can sometimes decrease its nutritional value.
  4. Refill the pantry with healthy staples – Refill your pantry and refrigerator with healthy staple items, like nut flours, honey, nut and nut milks, almond butter and tamari. These are great for cooking and it keeps you from using full-fat dairy, white flour or other over-processed ingredients.
  5. Add healthy quick fixes—having healthy convenient grab and go food is important when watching calories and eating healthy. Some great go-to snacks include puffed brown rice crackers, dried berries, trail mixes (no M&Ms in it!), carrot sticks, and single serving fruits (apples, oranges, pears). Tip: When shopping, go for the outer isles of the grocery store, which contain fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins. Those inner isles house fatter goodies that pack on the pounds.
  6. Fill the freezer – The freezer is a great place to keep healthy proteins such as salmon, tuna, chicken and turkey. They can keep for months when frozen, and so can fresh and already frozen produce. According to Better Health, “Freezing fruit and veg preserves most vitamins, while tinned produce (choose those without added sugar and salt) can mean convenient storage, cooking and choice to eat all year round, with less waste and cost than fresh.” Frozen peas, edamame, strawberries and any other fruit or vegetables can be kept ready for use as a snack or side dish.
  7. Get Organized – Storing food in the see through glass containers at eye level in your refrigerator leads to better eating habits. Why glass? According to the Home Food Safety Organization, some plastic containers with the resin codes of 3 and 7 may contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). You can find those numbers in the little triangle on the bottom of plastic containers. BPA is a chemical used in manufacturing polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, including some food packaging. Since BPA can leach from plastic containers into foods and beverages, especially when the containers are heated, it may pose a potential risk to the environment and your health, notably your children’s health. Glass can be used to cool or heat food safely.       Klosky’s most important tips: “If you buy a big bag of produce, you want to take it out of the big bag and put it into smaller bags” or glass containers. Not only will this allow you to see what you have, you know when it is going bad, and you remember to use it. It will also encourage healthier choices.

Other calorie-saving tips include: using a smaller plate when eating and using brighter lights in your eating area. Dietitian Patricia Bannan says research from Cornell University claims that “the darker the lighting, the more we eat. The more people at the table, the more we eat. The louder the music, the more we eat.” I am not suggesting that you should never go out to a romantic dinner or to a fun party, however, by taking control of your kitchen environment you have a great chance of success.

Please share with me your ideas, tips and tricks that help you make healthier choices.

Whether you want to lose weight, run faster or climb Mount Everest, a personalized program is your best bet in achieving those goals. The hard work is always worth the effort in being successful. Let me know how I can help you with your journey and email any questions you may have to “Ask the Trainer” at And remember “PERSISTENT CONSISTENCY” is the key to success.

Until next time, train hard, laugh often, love passionately and have fun.

KC Carlberg, MPH and owner of Try Fitness Hawaii,

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