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Does Vitamin D help you lose weight?


"Hello! I keep hearing that Vitamin D helps people lose weight and that a lack of Vitamin D causes people to gain weight. Is this true? How can a Vitamin make people lose weight?



Hey Samantha!

Well the good news is YES, Vitamin D does help people lose weight and yes it is equally true that a lack of vitamin D also causes people to lose weight.

How does it work? Well it is very complicated, but I will break it down for you so you can understand all the things Vitamin D does.

#1. Vitamin D regulates how the human body stores fat for the winter. During the summer when people are outside (hopefully exercising outside) their body absorbs sunlight on their skin and the human body absorbs that sunlight and then your kidneys creates vitamin D. You don't actually need to eat food with Vitamin D in the food, although that helps too.

#2. Whether you eat the Vitamin D, get it from sunlight, or even from a Vitamin D supplement, the end result is that Vitamin D triggers a fat burning mechanism in your body and gives you more energy. It basically acts like a catalyst causing your body to burn more fat, make you more energetic, and then the extra energy being used causes you to lose weight.

[What actually happens is our skin absorbs UVB radiation from the sunlight and uses that energy to make Vitamin D which goes into our blood; The liver converts the Vitamin D in your blood into Hydroxy D - and then Hydroxy D does the rest of the work.]

#3. When the human body has a lack of Vitamin D (from sunlight or other sources) what happens is the opposite. The human body starts storing up fat for the winter. Basically this is our Cro-Magnon Man genes at work, telling us that we need to store up fat for the winter.

#4. A lack of vitamin D also makes people more hungry. They start eating more than they need to in an effort to store up extra fat for the winter. You don't even consciously know you are doing it, but your body is sending signals to your brain (and vice versa) telling you to eat more because "Winter is coming."

And yes, that was totally a Game of Thrones reference.

Vitamin D also has numerous other health benefits including disease prevention by boosting your immune system, stronger bones, boosts insulin production, and helps prevent heart disease and diabetes.

Fish, vegetables, fruit and milk are all excellent sources of Vitamin D. So eat all those healthy foods during the winter and you will see results around your waistline. And if you get a chance to go someplace sunny for a vacation during the winter, take it!

To learn more on this topic I recommend reading the following two posts:

All About Vitamins - What do they do?

Winter Weight Gain and What to Do about It

8 Fun Autumn Exercises

Want to get outside and exercise? Don't let the cooler weather slow you down. Autumn is arguably the best time of year to exercise outside - less sunburns, no heat exhaustion, no snow, beautiful colours. And unlike Spring, no mud from all the rain.

#1. Go Hiking in the Woods - Take your camera, the family dog, friends and family with you. There are plenty of locations in or near Toronto you can visit. eg. Try visiting Hilton Falls near Milton Ontario, just west of Toronto. The conservation area has both hiking and cycling paths, and a waterfalls you can walk behind.

Hilton Falls

#2. Go Cycling in the Woods / Pretty Neighbourhoods in Toronto. Two of my favourite locations to cycle through is Rosedale and the University of Toronto campus. (And yes, you can still take the dog with you.)

#3. Go Swimming at the Beach - September and early October is still warm enough to go swimming. Or try out one of Toronto's many indoor pools.

#4. Go Canoeing / Kayaking - You can rent canoes and kayaks in several locations in Toronto. Also makes a fun activity for a date or a family outing. If you own your own kayak or canoe, even better - but if you don't then you can also rent them.

#5. Baseball / Softball - The cooler temperatures make for great baseball weather. So even if you're just playing catch with a friend or practicing your swing at the local ball diamond, baseball is a good ol' fashioned fun activity. Don't like baseball? Try road hockey, football, archery, golf, tennis, basketball and a dozen other sports you can do outside.

I even found an "archery baseball" portable target people can use for playing an amusing game.

#6. Ultimate Zombie Tag / Capture the Flag - the game of children has been transformed into a sport for adults. Think larger scale games of hundreds of adults playing tag or capture the flag or similar games. The rules are simple, and it makes for an amazing good time for friends who want to join in for such large social / sporting activity.

In 2011 the website organized a large urban Capture the Flag event in downtown Toronto in the financial district / Toronto City Hall. Recently in NYC they also organized a "Lightsaber Battle", as well as "Pillow Fight Days", Bubble Battles and other silly events.

Note - You don't have to wait for NewMindSpace to organize an event. You could just organize your own or find a different group that organizes similar events.

#7. Rake Leaves + Leaf Fight / Leaf Wrestling.

Step One - Pile all the leaves together.

Step Two - Fight like tigers playing together!

(The above photo was too cute NOT to add here.)

#8. Cleaning out the Garage - Just kidding. That isn't much fun. But it is much more fun what you can do with your garage during the Autumn (and Winter) once you've thrown out some junk you don't need. It gives you more space to put a hockey net or two, to store your kayak, baseball bat/gloves/balls, bicycles, walking sticks,

500th Post - Browse the Best of Cardio Trek from the past 3.5 Years


500 posts already?

Well, it has been 33 months. I started Cardio Trek in December 2011 and it has become incredibly popular as exercise and dieting websites go - and fueled my personal training / sports training business.

Let us take a moment and look back at some of the most popular posts / topics:

Nose Exercises Vs Rhinoplasty

Honestly, the popularity of all the Nose Exercises pages is a bit of a blip. When I first wrote it my main concern was boxers who had suffered nose injuries - but evidently there is a much bigger population of people out there who feel insecure about their nose shape and want to make their noses smaller, thinner, less bumpy, etc. Smaller, thinner and longer can be done by exercising the muscles inside the nose - less bumpy? Sad to say, but that is often cartilage issue and cannot be fixed with nose exercises.

10 Ways to Trick Yourself into Burning Extra Calories

Sounds easy right? They are. Basically it is just ten little tips and tricks that allow you to burn more fat.

20 Ways to Tighten Skin after Weight Loss
and Weight Loss + Loose Skin

For people who have lost a lot of weight the above two posts have become very popular. Not just for people who lost weight through diet/exercise, but also for women who recently gave birth to a bouncing baby and want to shed the extra skin from their pregnancy.

How to get a Thigh Gap

Honestly, as beauty standards go "thigh gaps" and "panty bridges" are a bit silly as a measurement. Want to feel beautiful? EXERCISE and EAT HEALTHY and stop looking in the mirror so much.

Motivational Quotes for January

I find new motivational quotes every month, but the January 2013 post is the most popular of the quotation posts. Want to read more? Subscribe to Cardio Trek via email to receive updates when new posts appear. See also Motivational Exercise Quotes from March 2012, another popular one.

Anatomical Terms for Athletes

Ever had a personal trainer refer to a part of the body using a word you didn't know? Well my handy guide to which parts are which is one of most popular pages on Cardio Trek.

25 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

I love articles like this one. Ways to get my clients and subscribers to get outside, motivated, and exercising on a regular basis.

Marilyn Monroe's Diet and Exercise Routine

Hey, it is Marilyn Monroe. No explanation needed for why this post is so popular.

Note: Popularity wise Cardio Trek will surpass 600,000 hits sometime in October.

Buy Exercise Gift Vouchers for Xmas

Not sure what to get your loved one for Xmas 2014?

How about some personal training or sports training sessions?

Thus if your loved one has a weight problem - or even if they do not (they might just be a Katniss or Rocky fanatic) you could get them personal training sessions, archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons or even ice skating lessons.

Contact me at to learn more about my gift vouchers.

Autumn Cycling

The Fall months are arguably the best time of year to go bicycling. And it is a great time of year to do something with the whole family.

It is not too hot, not too cold, you can wear a hoodie or a short sleeved shirt (or both), and the chance of rain is minimal.

The cooler temperature means you can cycle harder and faster without overheating.

Visually the scenery becomes quite brilliant too, so take your camera with you as you cycle through pretty neighbourhoods in Toronto - or take the bicycle with you as you visit locations near Toronto.

One of my favourite places is Hilton Falls near Milton. It has both hiking and bicycle trails. And with the waterfalls as part of the scenery it makes for a fantastic place to stop and enjoy the wonder of nature.

Hilton Falls is one of the few waterfalls in Ontario which you can walk around behind the waterfalls and then plunge your arm into it. The Hilton Falls Conservation Area has multiple bicycle trails of varying intensity. More than enough to challenge experienced cyclists - and plenty for fun for people new to cycling in the great outdoors.

I am already planning another trip back there in October when the leaves will be different colours.

There are many other fun locations to go cycling in the region around Toronto.

Things to take with you:

Camera / cellphone

Water / Sports Drink


Umbrella (not for the rain, for walking around behind the waterfalls - trust me on this one)

Depending on where you are going you might also wish to take a map with out. A proper paper map is easier to read than your phone app. So if you are going on a bicycle / wine tour of the Niagara wineries, take a map with you - and don't drink and ride!

Spinach, one of the world's healthiest foods

A single half cup of cooked spinach (90 grams) contains a lot of nutrients - including many of the nutrients people need and often lack in their unbalanced diets. It makes a great way to rectify that problem by re-balancing your diet.

Note: 90 grams of cooked spinach is only 8 tablespoons.

vitamin K 493.6% of your Recommended Daily Intake

vitamin A 52.4% of your Recommended Daily Intake

manganese 42% of your Recommended Daily Intake

folate 32.9% of your Recommended Daily Intake

magnesium 19.5% of your Recommended Daily Intake

iron 17.9% of your Recommended Daily Intake

copper 17.2% of your Recommended Daily Intake

vitamin B2 16.2% of your Recommended Daily Intake

vitamin B6 13.9% of your Recommended Daily Intake

vitamin E 12.5% of your Recommended Daily Intake

calcium 12.2% of your Recommended Daily Intake

potassium 12.0% of your Recommended Daily Intake

vitamin C 11.8% of your Recommended Daily Intake

fiber 8.6% of your Recommended Daily Intake

phosphorus 7.2% of your Recommended Daily Intake

And many more nutritious things in a single half cup of spinach.

And if you're thinking "yuck", remember a half cup is only 8 tablespoons (or roughly 4 heaping tablespoons) - which means you get all that nutritional value from eating a mere 4 gulps worth.

Spinach is also high in antioxidants (which prevents / fights cancer, and slows down the aging process).

Spinach also fights inflammation of the digestive tract - so if you have problems with that region, this is a good food to be eating.

Spinach is especially valuable for fighting prostate cancer. And getting rid of constipation, and for fighting stomach ulcers.

According to various nutritional groups, they list spinach as being the world's most healthiest foods. Other groups list it in their top 5 or top 10 - the exact placement varies on the organization, but its constant presence in the top 'whatever' lists of healthiest foods shows that it deserves to be there.

Spinach also helps prevent osteoporosis. This is because it contains a combination of vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium - all three are needed for healthy bones.

Unlike other veggies, cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits. Half a cup of spinach is actually more nutritious than 3 cups of uncooked spinach. (Raw spinach is too hard to break down by itself, it needs to be cooked so the nutritional value is released.)

Blended uncooked spinach is another good way to eat spinach - it also breaks down the fibre and makes it more nutritious.

Baby spinach or smaller leaf spinach is the healthiest of spinach to eat.

A little spinach goes a long way. Add just a bit to your pasta for some extra flavour and reap the health benefits.

September 2014 Exercise Quotes - Robin Williams

Robin Williams was a huge advocate of bicycling and exercise overall. Here are just a few inspirational / exercise quotes from the comedy legend.

"Why do they call it Rush Hour when nothing moves? Except all the cyclists zooming by like everyone else is standing still!"
- Robin Williams

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
- Robin Williams

"I was going to say diet and exercise, but the love thing's good too."
- Robin Williams (in Battle of the Smithsonian)

"Cricket is basically baseball on valium."
- Robin Williams

"I love running cross country....On a track, I feel like a hamster."
- Robin Williams

"And I love to ride my bike, which is great aerobics, but also just a great time for me to think, so it's like this terrific double bill."
- Robin Williams

"And if we bury you *** up, I have got a place to park my bike."
- Robin Williams

"I'm strong to the finish, 'cuz I eat me spinach."
- Robin Williams (in the 1980 film "Popeye")

"Death. To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish. To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies. To become extinct. Curtains, deceased, Demised, departed And defunct. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a herring. Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits. The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep. God’s way of saying, 'Slow down.' "
- Robin Williams

We bid a fond farewell to Robin Williams. He was a truly unique inspiration to millions.

12 Steps of Becoming a Healthier Exercise Machine

#1. Eat healthy, and you will be better able to exercise more. Healthy eating = more energy, more muscle and your internal organs will be happier and healthier too.

#2. Avoid smoking and alcohol. The cigarettes just hurt your lungs and the alcohol damages you heart, liver and kidneys.

#3. Exercise a little bit every day. Even just 6 minutes of cardio per day can have a dramatic benefit for your overall health. Making the effort to exercise 6 minutes x 365 days equals 2190 minutes of exercise per year you would not have gotten otherwise.

A 200 lb person who jogs 6 minutes every day burns approx. 100 calories each time. That is 219,000 calories burned in 1 year. Or 62.57 lbs of fat burned. So yes, 6 minutes per day really can make a huge difference.

#4. Take up a sport that you can really sink your teeth into. No, I am not saying you become like Luis Suarez (soccer legend who likes to bite people), but I am serious about people finding a sport they love which gets them outside exercising at least once per week. And the sport could be anything - axe throwing, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, competitive dog running, etc. It doesn't matter. Just do it.

#5. A little weight lifting never hurt anyone. You aren't going to bulk up like Hulk Hogan by lifting a few small weights. But you will build extra muscle (which is handy to have) and stronger bones - which will stave off osteoporosis in your old age.

#6. Eat healthy snacks that you love. eg. I love carrot sticks. I cannot get enough of them.

#7. Remember it is not your body that is stopping you from exercising. It is your brain that is too weak willed. Summon the courage and just exercise anyway, regardless of what your brain tells you what you can and cannot do. Start slow and let your body pick up steam as exercising becomes easier as the months go by. Before you know it you will be shedding pounds, adding a little muscle and tossing out your old clothes for new clothes that is tighter fitting.

#8. Be positive about yourself. The people who fail are often the people who are negative about their own abilities to succeed and thus sabotage themselves mentally. Stay positive, stay focused - if you fall off the wagon, just get right back on it without blinking an eye.

#9. "The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a first step." But you need to have the willpower to finish the journey, and the courage to keep going even when the going gets tough.

#10. Stop hanging out with people who insult you. They are not your friends. Make new friends along the way as you change your life for the better. Strangers are only people who have yet to either become a friend, a rival, or an enemy - and most people are not that bad and most likely enjoy having new friends.

#11. Share your exercise / sports passions with friends. Who doesn't want to take up axe throwing, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, competitive dog running, etc?

#12. Hire a personal trainer in Toronto - because we make lots of free lists like this one just because we really care about the health of our clients. Want to become healthier? We can help you! I don't care if you hire me, but you can always hire someone - even a friend - who can help get you set on the path to healthy exercising.

Archery Testimonials X 5

Five testimonials from a selection of my archery students.


"I am so grateful for your tutelage. I will refer you when I come across someone interested in [your archery] services."

- Joseph Ian Z.


"This has been an awesome experience and I can see why people say you are #1 archery instructor in Toronto. I will be coming back for more lessons, but first I want to go buy a compound bow and then you can teach me how to tune the compound bow during the lessons. Thanks again!"

- Barry D.

Note - I was unaware that I am being called the #1 archery instructor in Toronto, but sure, if that is what people want to call me I am okay with that title. I am not going to go shouting it from the rooftops however. Humility is better for your aim.


"Hey man, thanks again for the lessons. I learned a lot from you. I am going to be buying my own bow and maybe a 2nd one so I can get my girlfriend into it. I might end up bringing her back for lessons as well."

- Jake T.


"Thanks again for the lessons. Patrick and Ryan really enjoyed learning from you and I am amazed at how quickly they learned how to shoot 10s. We will definitely recommend you to our friends. As per your suggestion we have already enrolled the boys in Boy Scouts so they can get some archery practice that way too. See you next Summer!"

- Mary-Lee and Jason G.


"Thank you again for teaching me and my boyfriend. He is now demanding we buy our own equipment so we can get into archery on a more permanent basis. We had a wonderful time and look forward to shooting more zombie targets in the future."

- Andrea L.

Below - Elvis teaching archery during a clip in the film "Tickle Me".

Want a fun target to shoot at? Zombie Elvis. :)

Dieting - How much dieting is actually necessary to achieve results?



I have noticed in the past that sometimes people don't actually diet or exercise that much and yet still manage to shed the pounds they were looking to shed. What are they doing differently? How much dieting [or exercising] is actually necessary to achieve results?

- Vanessa R."


Hello Vanessa!

Honestly, it varies with the person obviously, but the quick and easy answer is "not that much".

People can sometimes achieve amazing results just by reducing their caloric intake to the recommended amount for their body type (if they were over eating this will be more difficult for them to do because they will get cravings for their favourite foods) and combining their new "reasonable and balanced diet" with an exercise routine - something simple like jogging for 30 minutes every day or doing yoga for 30 minutes, or swimming, bicycling, or any kind of cardio activity.

30 minutes out of every day is a tiny portion of the 1,440 minutes a person has available in a day - we use 480 minutes just for sleeping. 30 minutes is only 2% of your day, but that 2% can make amazing differences if you use it for exercising.

For food it is all about calories in and calories out. The average female only needs approx. 1800 calories per day, and the average male only needs about 2000 calories per day. The exact number a person needs varies with their body type and their level of physical activity, which is usually based on their occupation. Athletes for example often consume 2500 to 3000 calories per day because they need the extra energy. But for the Average Joe, those numbers are unnecessary extra calories.

Unfortunately many people often eat out at restaurants, order pizzas, snack on junk food, etc - and their diet might be closer to 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day.

Let's pretend you're a man who we will call Average Joe who only needs 2,000 calories per day. At his normal weight he weighs 170 lbs.

But Joe likes eating junk food regularly and consumes closer to 2,100 calories per day, but he is only burning 2,000 calories per day during his daily activities.

Now here is the important part: 1 lb of fat is 3,500 calories.

Ergo if Joe keeps eating an extra 100 calories per day he will gain 1 pound every 35 days. He would gain roughly 11 lbs of fat in a year - and possibly start developing health problems if he does this over many years without changing his routine. In a single year (plus overeating during Xmas) he might go from 170 lbs to 185 lbs.

But lets pretend that Average Joe decided he wanted to reverse the process. By going on a healthy diet, and only eating 2,000 calories per day.

Joe's weight would then stabilize and stop going up. He would stay at 185.

Now he could try reducing his diet to 1,900 calories (or lower, which is problematic for your health if you go below 1,500) and would lose weight doing that (some of that would be muscle mass however, due to a loss of protein in his diet).

A better solution for Joe is to maintain that 2,000 calories / day routine - but ADD more exercise to his routine.

So for example if Joe weighed 185 lbs and then got into cycling and cycled 6 miles (or 10 km) every day then he would burn approx. 350 calories each time. (Note: It takes approx. 25 to 30 minutes to cycle that far at a leisurely pace - it isn't even cycling that fast.)

At 350 calories per day Joe would lose 1 lb (3500 calories) every ten days.

Which means Joe could be back at being 170 lb "Average Joe" in only 150 days.

And have more muscular legs to show for it. So truth be told he might actually be closer to 175 lbs, because he might put on 5 lbs of muscle (or more).

Note also that Joe could have also just skipped the diet and gone straight to cycling. At 2,100 calories - 350 calories, Joe would be losing 250 per day. Or 1 lb every 14 days. Thus it would take him longer to lose the weight, but he would eventually achieve his results (and still be able to enjoy the snacks he loves).

Eventually Joe would reach his goal and then would actually need to either decrease his cycling or increase his eating habits to balance his exercise activities with his diet. Preferably with healthier food so he puts on more muscle.

He might even add weightlifting to his exercise routine later - becoming a cycling and weightlifting aficionado. No longer is he "Average Joe". He would become "Hunky Joe".

So yes, back to Vanessa's question, people can make dramatic changes with relatively minor (but permanent) changes to their diet and exercise routine. It is really just a matter of math. Calories in vs calories out.

Note - The guy in the photo below is just a model. His legs are too skinny to be a cyclist.

Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!

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