Member Spotlight | A Father and Daughter Unstoppable Duo

Member Spotlight | A Father and Daughter Unstoppable Duo

“My basic goal is to keep fit and above ground as long as possible so I can enjoy Wednesday spin classes with my daughter! Exercise and good nutrition are the keys for a long and healthy life.” 

Peter B.

LAF Member

Current Fitness Goals

Kathryn B.: Now that I’m retired from the world of professional cycling, I still continue to keep fit on a regular basis but with a lot less intensity & racing! I ride 3 days a week, do yoga 3 days a week, and I always leave the door open to mix it up and go hiking, swimming, running, lifting, etc.

Every Wednesday, my dad and I meet for Cycle Zone spin class at LA Fitness in Tucson (East). We call it Spin n’ Din… we work out then grab dinner. It’s a highlight of my week to do spin class with my dad, who is 82. Our instructor Lainna is great and we’ve become friends with “the regulars” in the class.

My dad is too humble to admit it, but he inspires a lot of people in the class. They’re motivated that someone in their 80s is there working out with them. I’m inspired too. It brings a smile to us all when he calls out “whoop! whoop!” and sings along with the hip-hop workout music. It makes me laugh every time he sings along!

It’s also such a great message that his presence imparts on us – it doesn’t matter how old you are or how fast or slow you go. Fitness is all about showing up, pushing your personal limits on your own terms and doing what you can. My dad proves that by being there. Being able to work out with my dad absolutely makes my day. 

Peter B.: My basic goal is to keep fit and above ground as long as possible, so I can enjoy Wednesday spin classes with my daughter! Exercise and good nutrition are the keys for a long and healthy life. Less stress will also help one along the way.

How has personal training impacted or changed your fitness routine?

Kathryn B.: Now retired from two decades as a pro athlete – triathlon & cycling – I no longer use a personal trainer, but I do keep tabs on the latest fitness advances. The personal trainers at LA Fitness are always engaged, upbeat & knowledgeable. It’s great to see them working with clients of all ages and abilities.

Peter B.: I have not utilized personal trainers but would recommend one to those initially embarking on an exercise program. I have observed the trainers at LA Fitness and note their high qualifications as well as attentiveness to clients. For those seeking competitive training, I would encourage them to look into The Leukemia Society’s Team in Training program. They train you over four months to participate in an endurance event of your choice, providing excellent training schedules, advice and group/team support along the way. One’s competition is oneself, to maintain training and discipline and to go the distance. It is open to anyone of any fitness level and with a charitable purpose as well. I benefited from and greatly enjoyed this program for many years, beginning in my youth (age 66).


If you could give others one piece of advice, what would it be?

Kathryn B.: When it comes to fitness and workouts, my advice is to try everything once so you know what’s out there! Whether it’s spin class or Zumba® [class] or pick-up basketball or swimming, I encourage you to step outside [your] comfort zone and try everything once! If you’re used to going to the gym alone, try a class. If you always take classes, try a one-on-one personal training session or use a cardio machine that you’ve never touched before. I think it’s really healthy to mix things up and try something new.

Peter B.: I would direct my comments to those who have heart issues or wish to avoid them. Had I not been very fit ten years ago when I barely escaped cardiac arrest after a buggy (virus) ate at my heart, I wouldn’t be here now. Had I not engaged upon a regular and moderate exercise regimen during my recovery, I wouldn’t be doing so now. My advice: get off the couch and get the heart pumping each day mixing strength and aerobic training. Personally, I prefer the Erg (rowing – gets 70% of body muscle and is very aerobic), swimming and cycling; all smooth and easy on old bones.

Also recommended for all is a book entitled “Younger Next Year” which provides great motivation and understandable medical/physiological information on how and why exercise and nutrition act positively on one’s body, right down to the cells. It explains how ten years can be added to one’s life. Again, get off the couch and go for it!

Social Handles:

  • Twitter/Facebook: @kathrynbertine & @pbertinesr  
  • Instagram: @Kathryn_Bertine

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Recommended Nutrition Apps from an Expert

Recommended Nutrition Apps from an Expert


What nutrition tracking apps do you recommend? There are so many and I want to know more than just calories.


I’m glad you want to see how your present intake meets nutritional goals! The most comprehensive way is to use a diet analysis program with an extensive database, preferably based on the USDA’s Food Composition Database. Finding an app that can do what computer software or a website can do may be a challenge, but you can get close since the database is public domain and can be accessed by app developers for free.1

Track by Nutritionix is comprehensive, boasting the largest verified food database.2 Consider MyFitnessPal, one of the top dietitian-recommended apps.3 If at goal weight, you may want to focus on nutrients not calories, like Foodility does.4 Calorie Counter by FatSecret offers the ability to see your average for the month, giving you an overall picture.5 Which app you choose may also depend on cost, ease of use, user reviews, and other factors tracked or calculated. Yazio includes an extensive exercise list6 while MyPlate Calorie Counter also helps you keep track of water intake.7

Don’t forget that to get an accurate assessment or your diet, tracking several days is best. Enter everything you eat and drink, the amounts, the actual method of preparation, and all condiments for at least 3 days. The more detailed and specific you are in entering what you ate, the more accurate the report will be. Technology is improving, and the ease is tempting, but don’t exclusively rely on photographic or scanned UPC label inputs.

Though assessing your diet can be an impetus for change, there is no need to constantly analyze what you’re eating every week. What you do with the information gleaned is more important than religiously recording intake. We could all stand to replace smartphone minutes with activity anyway!

Disclaimer: Author and Fitness International, LLC does not endorse or promote any particular nutrition app. Those mentioned are for reference and comparison only.



– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Flat Ab Summer Foods

Flat Ab Summer Foods

Lying back on that beach towel feeling the sun’s warmth and seeing the pool or waves in the distance over your toes is one of the best feelings of the summer season. Don’t let your belly get in the way of that view! Of course, no food targets one specific body part, but these six types are helpful to combat the deposit of intra-abdominal visceral fat (see picture) that wreaks havoc on your ab definition.

Broccoli and other nutrient-rich non-starchy vegetables like green beans, cabbage, and peppers. 

Consuming more vegetables equates to having less belly fat and keeping it off. For a group of 175 overweight Latino youth, such vegetable consumption corresponded to 17% less visceral fatty tissue.(1) Danish women that consumed more vegetables and fruit had less gains in waist circumference over a 5-year period.(2)

Beans and other high soluble fiber foods like sweet potatoes, oats, apples, and carrots.

Over a five year period among over 300 African-American and Hispanic-American adults, greater intakes of dietary soluble fiber corresponded with less increase in visceral fatty tissue.(3) A smaller study showed that abdominal skinfold thickness was lower for men with higher fiber intakes.(4)

Lettuce and other lower carbohydrate/ketogenic-acceptable whole foods like nuts, avocado, and eggs.

In a small study over a two-year period, people who followed a very low-calorie ketogenic diet had a greater reduction in waist circumference and visceral fat compared with those on a low-calorie diet.(5) A more modest carbohydrate reduction (43% of calories vs. 55%) still proved effective to lose more intra-abdominal fat for 69 overweight American men & women over two months.(6)

Take heart if you don’t respond to a low carbohydrate diet! Whether low carb intake is beneficial for belly fat loss may depend on your genetics.(7) That’s right – your DNA could determine whether a high-carbohydrate diet (55-65% of calories) might suit you better.

Pork tenderloin and other unprocessed high protein foods such as eye-of-round beef, poultry breast, and fish fillets.

A small study of obese middle-aged Americans showed that a high protein diet (>30% calories) consumed over 6 meals per day resulted in lower abdominal fat after a full year, compared to a heart-healthy diet (15% protein; 3 meals).(8)  For Danish adults, higher intakes of red meat were associated with a smaller increase in waist size over a five-year period.(2) However, higher consumption of processed meat and poultry in women was associated with larger increases in waist circumference.(2)

Sardines and other calcium & vitamin D rich foods such as cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and fortified juices and cereal.

Over a year-long period, the more calcium women consumed the less visceral fat they gained.(9) For Danish women, consumption of high-fat dairy related to smaller increases in waist circumference.(2) Among Canadian women, higher intakes of vitamin D were associated with lower abdominal fat.(10)

Coconut oil, and other sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) such as palm kernel oil, dry coconut meat, and raw coconut meat.

MCTs may reduce visceral fat and waist circumference by increasing energy expenditure, satiety, and fat oxidation.(11) They are rapidly metabolized compared to long-chain fatty acids, having less chance to be stored as fat.(11) A review of six studies involving MCT that measured visceral fat showed that all six resulted in more abdominal fat loss than controls.(11)

Ready, set, go! Start NOW eating these six belly-flattening types of food to get your six pack abs in time for summer. Hit the gym, too — then you can feel comfortable kicking off your shoes and hitting the water (or lying next to it).


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How to Create a Meal Plan

How to Create a Meal Plan


Given that you don’t offer meal plans, how do I to put one together myself? Is it okay to find a good balanced day and just repeat it?


For several Living Healthy blog posts, I have provided a sample menu to help readers see how different foods might be included to meet their goals. These are never meant to be repeated day in and day out, although (with a multivitamin/mineral) one probably won’t end up with a deficiency if you did. The best residential foodservice of highest nutritional quality strives not to repeat menus weekly, but perhaps monthly. By switching the sides, at home I certainly might prepare my favorites meals more often.

Most often when building a client’s meal plan, I don’t start with trying to meet RDAs for all micronutrients. (Gasp!) Unless there is a specific medically therapeutic diet they need to follow, we’ll work with larger parameters first, then fine-tune the plan. Most people are familiar and comfortable with calories and macronutrients, so we translate those into common food servings among different food groups.

Tailoring your own plan rather than following a preset menu means a greater likelihood of adhering to it, thus greater success. Assuming you readers are healthy adults who can control portions*, here’s my advice to construct your own sensible meal plan:

Step One

  • List out all the fruits and vegetables you like and what form/preparation. Try to include all colors of produce. Keep in mind the season/harvest so you can get them fresh.
  • Name all the whole grains you can cook or are willing to buy prepared.
  • Identify 5-7 other complex carbohydrates (usually starches) you’ll eat.
  • List the lean proteins you like and what form/preparation.
  • Decide how many servings of low-fat milk and yogurt you’ll consistently eat daily or weekly.

My short list:



Whole grain


Lean Protein






soy sausage

nonfat milk


bok choy




plain Greek




bran cereal


vanilla yog.


green beans

brown rice

wheat bread









Step Two

  • Fill in a fruit or 1-2 vegetables for every meal that you’ll schedule.
  • Include a whole grain or complex carbohydrate with each main meal.
  • Add a dairy and/or protein to your first meal of the day.
  • For snacks, write in leftover combinations of a protein or dairy plus a carbohydrate source (fruit, vegetable or starch).
  • Include an unsaturated (plant-based) fat where needed as topping or condiment.
  • Be sure there is a lot of variety to support nutrient adequacy.
  • Depending on your goals and lifestyle choose whether to incorporate an occasional “extra.” (If you know your caloric intake, keep it to less than 10% of your daily total calories.)

My one-day example:






broccoli slaw

green beans

plain Greek yogurt


corn cob

sweet potato


soy sausage

chicken breast

pork tenderloin

garbanzo bean (hummus)

nonfat milk

mayo in slaw





2 Milano® cookies

olive oil in hummus

Step Three

  • Shop accordingly so you can follow your plan!
  • Remember to be flexible and have alternates available.
  • Plan ahead for travel or dining out.
  • It’s fine to make changes and additions to your meal repertoire or incorporate new recipes.
  • Enjoy!

* If you aren’t good at managing portions and feel you need to count calories, I’d suggest using a meal-planning service or app. For a specific nutrient goal, restriction, or to treat a medical condition, it is best to work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and follow the advice of your physician.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

Member Spotlight | Competing in an NPC Bikini Competition 6 Months After Giving Birth

Member Spotlight | Competing in an NPC Bikini Competition 6 Months After Giving Birth

“Nothing worth having ever comes easy. There will be obstacles, nay-sayers and failures but with hard work and persistency success is possible.”

Nastassja W.

LAF Member

My name is Nastassja Williams. I switched over to LA Fitness from another big box gym after feeling ashamed and embarrassed after losing a lot of weight, only to gain it back a few months later. I was looking for a fresh start and LA Fitness was the perfect fit. I trained here in preparation for my wedding last year and for my entire pregnancy up until the day I gave birth. I like to think that staying active helped with my speedy 2.5-hour labor and delivery.

During pregnancy, even with working out and eating clean, I still gained 40 lbs. and was at my heaviest at 193 lbs.

After giving birth, I was determined to not only “get my body back” but to feel good inside and out and set an example for my daughters. I trained hard every day waking up at 4 am. In addition to being a full-time nurse practitioner, I am a wife and also the mother of a teenage daughter and newborn.

I am proud to say that I am 6 months postpartum, down 67 lbs., and have just competed in my first NPC bikini competition. The outpouring of love from family, friends, co-workers, strangers and postpartum mommies has been overwhelming and humbling. 

I feel so compelled to share my story and let people know that anything is possible. I remember standing in the mirror one-week postpartum thinking that this would never be possible.

The most rewarding moment came last week when my teenage daughter woke up at 4 am and asked if she could join me at the gym then afterward said she had a good time and could we do it again. Now that moment right there made the ENTIRE journey worth it and I had the best workout ever.

My goal in life is to uplift and inspire the most important girls in my life – my daughters.

My fitness goal initially was to hit my pregnancy weight, then it changed to my ideal body weight of which I have now surpassed by 4 lbs. 

My fitness goal now is to maintain. We all know that losing it is far easier than keeping it off. I try to set periodic goals for myself to prevent complacency. I have always wanted to participate in a triathlon.  I plan to train for all aspects of that at LA Fitness. 

My advice would be that nothing worth having ever comes easy. There will be obstacles, naysayers, and failures but with hard work and persistence, success is possible. 

Disclaimer: Some slight edits may have been made for grammatical reasons and/or clarity. 

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