Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hollywood Trainer Mike Torchia Taking Health, Fitness To The American People

Ftness trainer Mike Torchia helps Hollywood actors get into shape

What a delightful treat I have for you today here at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog! Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite actors and actresses get into such fantastic shape for their movie and television roles? Well, the guest I had the privilege of interviewing today is one of those behind-the-scenes people involved in helping them get their body ready quickly for an important role.

His name is Mike Torchia and he is also on a one-man mission to help turn the tide of obesity and metabolic syndrome around in the United States through his latest project called "Operation Fitness." Mike has truly gone through all the emotional and physical highs and lows in his personal life concerning this subject, so he knows how it feels to be on both sides of the spectrum. You will feel the intense devotion this man has for diet, health and fitness in his interview with me today.

1. Today we have with us a very special guest from the world of fitness named Mike Torchia. Mike is one of those "trainer to the stars" to help whip them into shape for an important movie role or to get them back on track physically. Tell us about some of the famous people you've worked with and what you were able to do for them.

I am a personal trainer specializing in preparing actors in an extremely short period of time for their roles. My program includes maintaining their conditioning throughout the filming, as well as providing on-going training when desired.

Some of my accolades include:

- Worked with Matt Damon in preparation for “The Bourne Identity”, and turned him into a lean mean fighting machine.
- Helped Kim Cattrall of “Sex and the City” overcome a severe back injury and to maintain her fabulous body.
- Transformed Kevin Spacey into amazing shape for his role in “American Beauty.”
- "Cosby" kid Raven Symone to firm up and lose weight for her new hit TV series.
- Trained and designed a health & fitness regimen for Al Pacino.
- Motivated and trained Rosanne Barr to take off over 40 pounds for her 50th birthday.

I provide a comprehensive program, which includes, motivational training, fitness conditioning, physical rehabilitation, nutritional counseling, and vitamin/mineral/protein supplements. On-location training, private workout studios, customized fitness trailers, gym design and installation are part of my services. Gourmet chefs, and massage therapists are available by request.

2. Your motto is "leading the way to a healthier lifestyle" and that phrase encompasses everything you are doing as a trainer and fitness coach. What are some of the basic elements of a "healthier lifestyle" that people could easily begin implementing in their life to make big changes that will improve their weight and health?

I understand that not everyone has the time to train like a Hollywood star preparing for their next role, so I work with each client to establish personal fitness goals that fit their busy life. My personal touch begins with examining each individual’s fitness needs, utilizing the best training method, dietary plan, and exercise frequency in order to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

Since people’s schedules vary and there doesn’t seem to always be time to do what we want, here are some tips: First set your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Then, you have to assess your physical condition. Now, establish healthy eating habits such as eating balanced meals and predominantly consuming carbohydrates from fresh, natural and preferably organic sources. High fiber cereals, fruit, yams, green vegetables and brown rice are all good examples.

Try to consume the bulk of your carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch. Also, some source of high quality protein such as meat, fish, eggs and low fat dairy products should be consumed with every meal. In addition, it’s important to consume foods with good oils, such as almonds, fish, avocado and the like, because it’s essential for hormone production, healthy joints and proper digestion.

In the simplest form it is basically the combination of burning more calories than you’re ingesting. One way would be to go to your local gym and have a good certified trainer design a workout and instruct you how to properly train your body. In addition, increasing activity is important to burn more calories. Whether you’re parking your car further away in the parking lot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or jogging a few extra miles a week, taking daily brisk walk, bike riding or taking up an active sport.

Contrary to what the burgeoning diet industry would have us believe, it is far more important health-wise to be fit than thin. Studies published in a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that obesity alone didn’t increase the risk of heart disease. An obese woman who was physically fit had a low risk, while a lean woman who was not physically fit had a relatively high risk. An overweight woman who can play a round of golf, swim, and do yard work has a lower risk of heart disease thana thin woman who can’t do those activities, the researchers found.

Physicians need to start paying attention to measures of fitness rather than simply focusing on body weight. We should emphasize the need for those who are overweight to become more active; this will not only lead to natural weight loss, but to greater overall health.

3. You recently kicked off an ambitious nationwide campaign to help fight the growing epidemic of metabolic syndrome. Researchers in just the past year have "connected the dots" and found that all of the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome are the same ones that are remedied by the low-carb lifestyle. Talk about the role of sugar and other refined carbohydrates on the body and what you recommend for people struggling with obesity.

You should stay away from sugar and refined carbohydrates because it raises the insulin level and creates fat storage. Sugar is very powerful and is considered to be as potent as a drug and very addicting. You must slowly reduce your sugar and overall carbohydrate consumption over a period of weeks and even months. Once your body is normalized, try to consume fresh fruit, only in the morning and stay away from juices. Consume complex carbohydrates, which are high in fiber so they’ll fill you up quicker and provide you with the energy you need for your daily activity.

4. The web site for your new "Operation Fitness" campaign is located at What do you hope to see accomplished through your campaign (awareness, measurable change, increased business, etc.) and do you think it will happen? Why or why not?

I truly believe "Operation Fitness" will inspire people to make the necessary transitions for them to create a healthier lifestyle. There is a need for a resource for sensible information, so we can become a healthier nation. People can finally stop suffering and will become healthier and radiate positive energy. Men, women and children will be liberated and free to ascend as we were meant to from the beginning.

I know firsthand the pain and difficulty millions of people suffer from dissatisfaction with their own bodies. Low self-esteem is a devastating result. I have spent my life overcoming it and have become an authority in the field of health and fitness through years of studying, teaching and living it. I’ve worked with many celebrities and have won several national titles in the sport of bodybuilding, including Teenage Mr. America, Collegiate Mr. USA, and Mr. California.

I have devoted my life to finding a safe solution for obesity and to helping people create a healthier lifestyle. Everything I have learned and experienced over the past 30 years gives me reason to believe that we can make the transformation of this nation a reality in our lifetime.

The ill health so many suffer from now is neither fate nor destiny. We can turn it around and literally give our children a new world, a bright future; one which feeds their potential and nourishes a rich quality of life.

5. Because obesity has become such a rampant problem in America today, you have focused your attention on the youth and children to educate them about proper nutrition and healthy living so they will make good choices as they become adults. What are some of the ways you are doing this and keeping it interesting and fun at the same time?

The “Operation Fitness” program teaches kids how to work out and eat properly while using their imagination and integrating fitness into their daily routine. Kids will learn more about proper nutrition, exercise and problem solving in a fun, dynamic, young and inspired way.

The sessions begin with team leaders giving kids a motivational pep rally. Next, the kids go through a warm up, essential to preventing injury and maximizing performance. The kids then perform a series of exercises followed by a run through an obstacle course. A cool down is next consisting of a variety of stretches and breathing exercises. The final part of the session is a healthy eating "question and answer" session. Every eight weeks there is a fitness challenge for the kids and every participant receives an “Operation Fitness” certificate signifying their level of achievement.

6. The United States really is a different place today than it was say 50 or 100 years ago. Can we really blame technology for our growing weight problem or have we just not learned how to adapt yet to a society less dependent on manual labor as we have in the past?

Poor nutrition and a lack of daily exercise have been the leading causes of the rise in obesity. The problem is most people would prefer to just take a pill and poof, get a new body. Well, it doesn’t work that way. You need to eat sensibly and select types of activities that will stimulate your body and most of all, your mind. So many people fall prey to those slick advertisements selling the new diet pill or devices that promise to give them drastic results in no time at all. This reminds me of that old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!"

7. The common belief among many is that they can get all the vitamins and nutrients they need in fruits and vegetables without the need to supplement their diet. But you and I both know the once-rich resources found in our soil have been depleted which necessitates us to find alternate means for getting the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. What kind of supplements do you recommend people take who are experiencing symptoms of metabolic syndrome? How about fruits and vegetables? Are there any that are healthier to consume than others?

It’s essential to take a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (men over 40 years old should the take iron-free formula). In addition, lipoic acid, probiotics, omega-3 oils, green drinks, and antioxidants will help people who have metabolic syndrome. Also, try to consume low glycemic fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, blueberries, all types of melons, broccoli, spinach, string beans and all other green vegetables.

8. As a former 400+ pound man, I know what it feels like to live inside of a body that makes you literally sick to your stomach. The mental anguish that a weight problem causes brings on feelings of depression and angst that lead to more overeating to soothe the pain. It's a vicious cycle. How do you convince someone who was in the situation I faced not that long ago that weight loss success can be attained and better days are ahead for them?

I would like to tell you a story about a boy named Michael...

At the age of 14 years old, a little boy wearing a basketball uniform walks in the door of his house depressed and sad. He quietly hangs up his coat while his mother is in the kitchen cooking a pasta dish for supper.

She asks him how the game went and what happened, trying to look like she is unaware of his depressed look. Her son walks over to the kitchen table, sits down and with tears in his eyes tells her how his coach went back on his promise to let him play during the season and that today, during the last game, humiliated him by calling him "fat and slow" and once again, kept him on the bench.

He then runs into his room and comes back with a flyer for a weightlifting gym at the local YMCA with a photo of a muscular bodybuilder. He’s determined to show the coach and all the kids who made fun of him how he’s going to change his body and look just like this man so that they stop making fun of him. He begs his mother to let him join, pointing to the man in the picture.

His mother agrees, wanting to encourage him and takes him that next morning to sign up. She says goodbye as he walks into the weight room. He’s in awe of all the equipment and the noise and some of the bodybuilders who look just like the picture. Unfortunately, the boy sits on a bench confused and lost.

One of the bodybuilders notices the sad little boy, walks over to him and offers to teach him how to build up his body. The boy’s eyes light up and they walk off towards the weight room floor. When he finished showing him how to perform all the exercises correctly, he sat down with him and explained you can build big muscles with lifting weights, but you must eat correctly to burn fat. He said “you are what you eat” and patiently taught this young man about healthy eating habits.

In exchange for his help, he made the little boy promise to pass on what he had learned from him; to continue on by inspiring other people to make exercise and eating right part of their lives.

That's the end of my story about Michael, but guess what? I am “Michael” from the story you just read. I was a determined young boy. I know firsthand the pain and difficulty millions of people suffer from dissatisfaction with their own bodies. Low self-esteem is a devastating result of obesity. I have spent my life overcoming it and have become an authority in the field of health and fitness through years of studying, teaching and living it. I became driven and determined to make a change. I will always be grateful for that weightlifting coach who changed my life.

9. Your program's training system is quite eclectic with various exercise techniques, including Pilates, yoga, weight training, cardiovascular conditioning, and stretching. Getting people physically active who have likely been dormant for the majority of their lives can certainly be a challenge. How do you get people started exercising regularly enough until they reach the point that they want to do it on their own?

There are hundreds of fitness methods in practice today, and I work with each client to determine which technique best meets their physiology. A fitness regiment is not complete without a proper diet, and I design a dietary strategy that does not leave you feeling hungry all the time. I am a gourmet chef as well as a trainer and I redesign recipes for foods that are not typically considered diet food.

Roseanne Barr fell in love with my chocolate Fudge Brownie Cake. She couldn’t believe that this decadent dessert could fit into her new lifestyle. Developing greater fitness levels and rapid weight-loss requires frequency, and I understand that a busy lifestyle can make consistent workouts difficult. That’s why I conduct home and work calls to meet my clients’ personal needs.

Studies have shown that it takes just five weeks to make something a habit, whether it’s good or bad. You need to inspire a person to start making the necessary changes to create a healthier lifestyle. But, most importantly, you must do it slowly. Then, you must encourage them to start reducing any unhealthy foods or snacks and start adding in healthier options. Next, start to get them to become more active and slowly structure an activity/workout schedule where they will do daily activities and exercises and slowly incorporate them into their day.

Gradually over a period of weeks, I help them form a well-structured workout and meal plan for them to follow. By then it’s 5 to 6 weeks and they have become addicted to their new lifestyle.

10. I have a lot of people visit my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog at every level of weight and fitness proficiency. Share your best motivational pitch to that person who is feeling hopeless, desperate and ready to give up on weight loss forever. What do you say to that person?

My passion to help and inform stems from the fact that I was once an obese child. I am a living, breathing example that it is possible to turn your life around and become a healthier, more positive person. I see so much ill health as absolutely preventable. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer—when we as individuals and a nation embrace a new way of living, those conditions will be discussed more in history books than front-page news.

You can e-mail Mike Torchia at

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