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Arturo writes:

Q: I am 33 yrs old, 5'8", 200lbs, married with 3 children, 1, 8 & 11.  I work 12 hour rotating shifts and am struggling with sticking to a workout and diet.  Currently I am doing Atkins (in my 2nd month).  My biggest problem is that I hate vegetables, and don't eat many of the meats allowed on Atkins.  I do not like steak, fish (most types).  I have tried and tried to acquire the taste for steaks and for common vegetables like squash, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. and I cannot enjoy the taste of them.  Mostly they make me want to gag.  Unfortunately on this diet that is my main source of food.  So I am miserable with the diet and trying to stick to any type of regular workout is nearly impossible.  I know all about making time and being determined, but sometimes your set aside time has to be set aside for unexpected things.  I haven't given up, but I'm not very happy right now.  When I married I was 34" waist and no gut.  Now I have a little pooch that just won't go away.  Trying to do sit-ups and crunches or any ab routine is very hard.  And on top of that I'm always tired because of my rotating work schedule. Is there anyone with exact or similar circumstances that could be of help?

A: Wow - 12 hour rotating shifts and 3 kids. I'm not sure I could have stuck with Atkins for two months and I hope you continue to stick with a low-carb way of eating. If you are having such trouble with Atkins, why not try reading about other low-carb diets - maybe you'll find a closer fit with one of them.

Eating protein is more than eating steak and fish. Have you tried eggs? Eggs are very versatile and budget conscious. What about hamburger, ham, bacon, pork or chicken? If you don't like fish, what about tuna or shrimp? Have you ever eaten a fire grilled salmon steak? Perhaps you only need to change the preparation of a few foods and to make them more palatable. Protein can also be found in foods other than meat - tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, bean curd, peanut butter, almond butter, egg whites, cheese and yogurt are a few alternate sources.

If you don't like vegetables such as broccoli, squash and cauliflower, then stick with mixed green salads and the vegetables you do like. All types of salad vegetables are Atkins legal. Try marinating red and yellow peppers and grill them with a marinated chicken breast, or slice up the chicken breast (or pork) and stir fry it with water chestnuts, green onions, mushrooms and peppers - try adding just a few broccoli florets or a handful of squash and see if you can stomach the vegetables when they are mixed in a dish. Make a crust-less quiche and add very finely chopped broccoli - you may find that the taste of the vegetable is hidden by the eggs and cheese flavor. One of my favorite meals is fresh green beans, boiled until tender with 2-3 bacon slices added to the pot. Have you tried eating broccoli, cauliflower or your vegetables covered in cheese sauce?

Regarding exercising to target your ab area. If what you are doing is too hard, try an exercise such as yoga or Pilates, or a series of simple stretches you can repeat to music. The best exercise is walking - if you have breaks at work, instead of sitting down and drinking a cup of coffee or chatting with co-workers, get up and walk the halls or around the building concourse. Start parking at the back of the parking lot and walking further to the front door of work, Wal-mart or the grocery store. Put then baby in her stroller and walk every afternoon or early evening after work or dinner.  Get the older kids out in the park with you and walk the bike trails.  The main thing to remember is don't try to stick with or dwell on something that doesn't seem to be working - try new things until you hit on what works for you.

Q: I've been reading a little bit about food labels. What does GMO and GWO mean?

A: GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. GEO stands for Genetically Engineered Organism. When a food has been genetically modified or engineered, its genes have been rearranged. These types of food are not yet regulated and there is no guarantee that these types of food are safe.

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