July TBFers of the Month: Joyce and Jeff Wagner

This couple! Their dedication, hard work, and body changes over the past months are why we chose Joyce and Jeff (cameo by Sebastian!) as our TBFers of the Month for July! 

Joyce had become unhappy with her body after having their first son and decided to do something about it. After committing to dietary changes and regular exercise, she knocked off 30lbs. After finding Throwback, she continued pressing to her desired weight and is now down over 70lbs since giving birth! Since Jeff started coming to class two months ago, he lost 8lbs and his cardiovascular endurance has approached the levels he maintained while in the military. 

The couples craves their exercise sessions now, and have even instituted ’45-second challenges’ into their daily routine, seeing who can do the most reps of a given exercise in that time. Their willingness to find a way to fit their workouts in is highlighted by their Sebastian handoffs (Joyce takes the 6:30am, Jeff the 7:30am) in the morning so they can each fit a class into their busy schedules - Joyce works from home for a logistics company and Jeff is now a full-time student after serving 6 years in the Army. Say hi to Joyce and Jeff when you see them and class..but don’t even think of challenging them to a squat-off! Congrats Joyce and Jeff! 

  • Name: Joyce Wagner
  • Hometown: Dededo, Guam
  • University: NYU
  • Favorite Exercise: I like mountain climbers and med ball taps because I'm surprisingly fast at them, but I've recently started liking jump rope even though I'm not awesome at them yet
  • Favorite Throwback Recess Game: Probably TBF Corn Hole
  • Favorite Movie from Childhood:  It's a tie between Kindergarten Cop and Teen Witch 
  • Favorite Throwback Jam: Jump Around by House of Pain
  • Name: Jeff Wagner
  • Hometown: Shelby Twp., MI.
  • University: NYU
  • Favorite Exercise: The push-up because I can do them fast but rowing because it's a great overall body workout
  • Favorite Throwback Recess Game: TBF Corn Hole
  • Favorite Movie from Childhood:  Commando
  • Favorite Throwback Jam:  Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

1. What inspired you to want to make a change in your exercise habits?

Joyce: I was in decent shape in my 20s. Then I got married. And THEN I had a baby. Pregnancy was fun, but it was rough on my body. I gained about 70 pounds by the time my son was born, and though the first 20 fell off, I had trouble getting myself motivated enough to lose the rest. It was really depressing, and though I exercised a little, I really didn't kick it into high gear until early 2015 when we booked our first family vacation to Turks & Caicos. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being the biggest I ever was on a beach in a swimsuit.

Jeff: In 2014, I was medically retired from the Army because I had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Having gone through surgery and then rehab, I knew that staying fit was key in fighting this disease. So, when we moved to NYC, I started going to tons of classes to stay fit. But, being that I was a full time student as well as a new dad, exercise soon took a back seat. Fast forward to this year, I noticed that Joyce (my wife) had been killing it and lost a lot of weight, which I'm super proud of her for. Then I started to notice that my pants were fitting a little tighter and I got on the scale....and damn was I out of shape! In fact, this was the heaviest that I have ever weighed and I also noticed how winded I would get from doing things that I easily could have done in the past. So I decided that I needed to get my butt back in shape not only to feel better but to keep my heart healthy.   

2. What changes (in your body and fitness level) have you noticed most since starting Throwback / your new exercise routine?

Joyce: I was on classpass for about 8 months and while I lost a good amount of weight, I had plateaued until I switched to Throwback full time. In the last 6 months, not only did I lose the last bit of baby weight I had been struggling to lose, but I am also the smallest I've been since maybe high school. More than that, though, I am the strongest and fittest I've ever been in my entire life. There are a lot of physical things I didn't know or think I could do that now seem pretty normal to me. 

Jeff: Since starting Throwback two months ago I have lost 8 pounds and my cardio levels are close to what they were when I was in the military. I'm definitely a whole lot stronger and I can actually start to see the muscle that I had covered up with bacon cheeseburgers...lol. My doctor has also noticed that my HDL levels are higher than they have been in a while.

3. If you could share one diet tip, what would it be?

Joyce: I guess it would be to not think about healthy eating as a diet, but as a lifestyle where you try to make as many good choices as you possibly can. A diet implies that you are supposed to restrict yourself to "being good," but only for a set amount of time in which you can go back to eating whatever you want after you've hit your goal; but if you think about it in terms of making small changes that eventually turn into habits, it's a lot easier to keep on track and not completely regress. 

Jeff: Too hard to pick just one, so I will give you what has worked for me. First, watch your salt and sugar intake. Read the packaging labels, that's what they are there for. Second, drink plenty of water. I try to make a habit out of drinking a glass of water before every meal. Not only does it help fill you up, it also helps with digestion. Third, make life changes. What I mean by that is don't just go out and start the newest fad diet that you heard about. While it might work while you are doing it, once you you stop it you will gain back all the weight you lost and maybe more. Last but not least, practice moderation! If you're going to have a cheat meal make sure it's just a meal and not the whole day.  

4. You can't be perfect with the diet all the time... What is your favorite cheat food? 

Joyce: Pizza!

Jeff: Bacon cheeseburger with and egg on it and cheese fries

5. What do you enjoy most about Throwback?

Joyce: Ahh! It's kind of difficult to choose. I guess saying I love the atmosphere would encompass everything I love about Throwback. I love that from day one, everyone (teachers and students) has been so welcoming and encouraging and fun. I never felt like I shouldn't be there, no matter what my skill level was. It also helps that when things get hard, I can look up and David Hasselhoff gives me a thumbs up.

Jeff: This is also one of those questions where I can't pick just one. Incorporating competition into a workout is a genius idea! When I was a kid I was always really skinny and it wasn't because I ate right or even "worked out" in the conventional sense. I would just go outside and play sports all day with my friends and that's the awesome thing that Throwback has hit on. Not only are you getting a great workout in but the friendly competition pushes you to try harder and reach that next level. So, it doesn't matter if you're in the best shape of your life, you will still get a great workout in and if you don't then that's your own fault. Also, everyone there is very nice from the instructors to the classmates which I find key to any type of class I take.

6. Any workout ideas, contests or events you'd like to see incorporated? (serious or humorous)?

Joyce: I like the idea of Super Summer Fridays where classes are just comprised of all Recess games :)

Jeff: I would say to incorporate drinking with some of the games but you guys beat me to it and started that a few weeks ago....lol!

The Only Nutrition Tip You’ll Ever Need to Hear

Three words… Eat. Less. Sugar.

That’s it.  If you seriously reduce your sugar intake and exercises regularly, you'll see greater results than through any weight loss tip you’ve ever heard, whether it’s avoiding gluten or eating less bacon.

But it’s much easier said than done.  I blame corporations, lobbyists and regulators for the difficulties we all face in maintaining a healthy weight.  A lot of us try to eat better, but in many ways that’s more difficult to do today than ever before.

Sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.  Recent science has demonstrated that fat does not make you fat… sugar does!  If you believe sugar should not be regulated, you would have a hard time convincing me why any other substance, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, MDMA or even cocaine or heroin should be regulated at all.  I would argue that today, sugar is far more damaging than all Schedule 1 drugs combined.

Sure, sugar in reasonable quantities probably won’t hurt you and natural sugar found in fruits is fine.  But, it’s becoming more and more difficult to consume reasonable quantities of sugar.  Bloomberg had good intentions by trying to curb the soft beverage intake of New Yorkers.  If you want to buy a Coke, the smallest option is a 12oz can which contains 44g (~15 packets) of sugar.  Bloomberg was trying to limit the size to 16oz which would be the equivalent of eating 13 sugar cubes.  Decades ago, the largest soft drink you could buy was a 7oz bottle.  But now, 42oz, 64oz and even larger sizes are pretty standard. 

portion sizes.jpg

Soft drinks have been blamed more than other sugary substances as contributing to the obesity epidemic for a couple reasons:

  1. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are now the primary source of added sugar in the typical American diet
  2. Your body processes liquid sugar differently than solid forms.  This is your body on liquid sugar.  Pretty disgusting 

But it’s not just soft drinks that are bad.  Some so-called ‘healthy foods’ are actually some of the worst things you can eat.  Many salad dressings are nothing more than sweet syrups and some fruit juices can be worse than candy bars and donuts.  Cereal and many fruit smoothies and yogurts are also loaded with added sugar.  Then there’s the fruit that you can order at fast food and casual dining restaurants – they marinate it in high fructose corn syrup!  Here are some other foods where the amount of added sugar will surprise you.

We all eat it because we aren’t sure how bad it is for us and because it’s almost becoming impossible to avoid.  Just like with the soft drink example, corporations have steadily been increasing sugar portions over the past 3 decades.  We have less choices for unsweetened foods and for smaller portions.  As much as 80% of food items in US grocery stores now now contain added sugar.  This chart says it all…

Calorie consumption.png

And it’s all been done because food and beverage corporations know that sugar is addicting and because of the incredible lobbying power of the sugar industry (it is often referred to as the second most political commodity in the world – after oil).  Politicians are very sensitive to protecting these businesses, and tailor regimes to do that.

If you’re skeptical of any argument for regulating sugar consumption, consider the following:

1.       It’s one of the most deadly, if not the most deadly, substance on this planet

Medical research is coalescing around the conclusion that sugar is the leading cause of obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  Nearly 70% of US adults are overweight and 36% are obese.  There’s a direct link between obesity and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in this countryHeart surgeons are now speaking out that sugar, not fat, is the culprit for heart disease.  Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in this country and the #1 leading cause in some countries, including Mexico.  12% of US adults are currently diabetic and that is supposed to increase to 15% by 2020.

2.       It’s extremely addicting

Maybe even as much as cocaine.  Consumption of sweet foods and sugary drinks triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which is the same response that the brain has to stimulation by sexual arousal and narcotics. We’ve all experienced cravings for certain sweet foods and drinks, even when we are not hungry or thirsty. Also, many (if not most) people who are overweight or obese continue to eat sugary substances even if they realize that it is contributing to their calorie intake and weight gain.  Remember that the less sugar you consume, the less you'll crave it.

3.       The costs to our economy are enormous

Obesity accounts for 20% of US national health expenditures and diabetes and metabolic syndrome account for a similar figure.  That means 35%–40% of healthcare expenditures in the US go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.  Obesity and diabetes have a combined economic cost of $450 billion annually - greater than the economic costs associated with all illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, combined.  

Sugar costs.png

Deeming certain drugs ‘illegal’ but imposing no standards on sugar is somewhat hypocritical.  Reducing sugar consumption could have the greatest impact on shrinking the healthcare costs in this country – we’re #1 in the world by a longshot and we’re also the biggest consumers of sugar.  All Americans would enjoy a reduction in health insurance premiums and less of their taxpayer dollars going to Medicare to treat the sick.  Less difficulty maintaining a healthy weight would just be an added bonus.

Many statistics used in this post can be found in this Credit Suisse research report.

Written by Ryan


See our Diet Progressions post for tips on waning yourself off high sugar foods. 

Gluten-Free Diets are Stupid

If delivering a speech about this topic, I would probably take a tone like this... 

We’ve all been hearing a lot about gluten-free lately.  You probably have some friends that swear by it and maybe you’ve even jumped aboard the gluten-free train.  Well, despite the two of us maintaining fairly healthy diets (at least during the week), gluten-free is something we’d never try and is actually pisses us off to hear how food corporations have fooled so many Americans into thinking this is a smart way to eat.

There’s a lot of confusion about why gluten is bad for some individuals.  Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye.  Some people have a celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder that destroys the intestinal tract, or wheat allergy that means gluten must be eliminated from their diets.  But only 1 in 133 people have this problem!  For the rest of us, consuming products with gluten can actually be good for your health.

You might be thinking, ‘But the people I know who have gone gluten-free say it’s made them feel much better!’ Well that may be true, but it’s not because they stopped eating gluten.  It’s because this diet forces them to bypass many processed and chemically enhanced ‘cheap’ carbohydrates found in desserts and snack foods.  People mistakenly attribute feeling healthier to no gluten.

To make matters worse, going gluten-free can be dangerous.  Ingredients in whole wheat, rye and barley (such as fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc) are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.  Gluten-free products contain very few of these nutrients but tons of calories.

Food corporations are capitalizing on this craze by introducing gluten-free products that Americans mistakenly identify as healthy options.  Gluten-free is actually a $4+ billion a year industry!  But since gluten is often replaced with oil, butter and eggs, these products may have less nutritional value but more calories. 

ABC provides some good examples: ‘A slice of regular whole wheat bread contains about 69 calories, 2 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of fat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional database. Depending on the brand, a slice of gluten-free whole wheat bread may have 20 to 30 more calories, double the fat and half the fiber.’

A gluten-free lifestyle is expensive too – both financially and socially!  Throwback recommends you stay healthy by limiting your junk food intake, especially heavily processed foods and items containing white flower, corn and sugar.  Don’t go nuts – bread, pasta, Mexican food and sweets are just too delicious to avoid all the time.  But don’t spend your hard earned dollars on more expensive, nutritionally inferior sans-gluten foods unless you truly are allergic. 

And check out some other foods that get a bad rap, courtesy of Business Insider.

Written by Ryan