Men’s Health Feature

By Nora Heston Tarte

Healthy living is in. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle building, body contouring, a better diet, or a total health overhaul, San Joaquin County has the resources to help you make it happen. We’ve rounded up three local men, experts in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, to provide tips for a healthier physique. Read on to start your journey to a healthier lifestyle, or pick up tips to work into your current health campaign.


Don King is, well, kind of the king of weight loss. “I’ve been big my whole life,” Don says, adding that he hit 350 pounds as a freshman in high school. Recently, however, he has cut his weight, opened a restaurant, and dedicated his life to healthier living.

Ways to Weight Loss

The path to weight loss isn’t the same for everyone. For Don, it took gastric bypass surgery to get him on the right track. He wasn’t a gym guy and his weight only yo-yo’ed with Weight Watchers. “I got to a point where I hit 598 pounds,” he shares. And that number helped him finally commit to the surgical procedure he’d toyed with for three-and-a-half years. “I was stress eating like nobody’s business and I couldn’t figure out what was keeping me so big,” Don says. “After losing the weight I realized the stress was what was making me eat so much.”

For Don a complete lifestyle overhaul was necessary. He quit his stressful job and opened Fat City BBQ, an award-winning restaurant in SJ County. Less stress has helped him keep the weight off, even while owning a BBQ joint. His core menu items may not be salads, but it is protein-tri-tip, ribs, and pulled pork. He also serves keto meals.

The biggest changes in his life aren’t physical either. With less stress and less weight to carry around, Don says he is living a fuller life, one where he can play with his kids and keep up, participate in family activities, and work a 17-hour day without problems. He’s also more independent.

Gastric bypass was the perfect choice for Don, but it isn’t the only road to weight loss. For most, a mix of diet and exercise will suffice, but one doesn’t work well without the other. Find ways you enjoy to get active, either outside, at a gym, or at home. For Don, playing with his kids is a good source of activity. Then, cook healthy foods, buck processed junk, and cut sugar. It only takes 21 days to make something a habit.

If you need support, find some. Friends and family who can keep you accountable are great, but sometimes a person dedicated to your personal weight loss journey is the best addition. Weight Watchers creates community in weight loss so you aren’t going alone. Don successfully lost 80 pounds on the program. A personal trainer can motivate your positive body change, too.

Meal replacements are helpful for those that need to cut calories. Look at shakes and juices to reduce daily caloric intake. The best ones are low in sugar but high in protein.

Fat City Brew & BBQ
1740 Pacific Ave., Stockton
(209) 323-4920

Eat This, Not That

Replace chips with popcorn

“I like things that have a crunch to them,” Don says.

Replace candy bars with protein bars

Protein bars can mimic a candy bar, especially if the bar has chunks of dark chocolate in it.

Replace sweets with fruit

Fruit can satisfy any craving for cake, ice cream, or candy because of the natural sugar content.

Replace IPAs and dark beers with lighter brews

The flavor may not be the same, but reaching for a Michelob Ultra or Corona Light can keep a beer craving at bay. Darker, heavier beers carry more calories.

Replace pork bacon with turkey bacon

In fact, using turkey as a substitute for most meats is a good rule of thumb. Change out sausage, ground beef, and more with turkey.

Breakfast of Champions

Start your day right with a healthy breakfast. This jumpstarts your digestive system and fuels you for the day-and has been scientifically proven to encourage weight loss.

Keep it simple. Don King makes two scrambled eggs and fresh fruit (his favorites are pineapple and apples) to start the morning.

Start the night before. This overnight oats recipe is a time saver for busy men.

Combine equal parts oats and Greek yogurt (flavor of your choice)

Refrigerate over night

In the morning, top with slices of fresh fruit, granola, and seeds (chia, hemp, pumpkin)

Be trendy. Avocado Toast. This basic meal is anything but. Top whole-wheat toast with half an avocado and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add a fried egg for extra protein.


Fitness isn’t one size fits all. Enjoying your workouts is often the key to finding fitness bliss. There are a lot of options to choose from in San Joaquin County.

“It’s just as important to vibe with the team and members as it is to have top notch equipment,” says Damien Weber, manager of operations for learning and development and a trainer at In-Shape. “Find somewhere you are comfortable that is devoted to creating a welcoming environment while also offering the best fitness solutions for your goals.”

Many gym-goers like a classic facility where they can work out as they please. Choose one with plenty of equipment to work the full body if this is your jam. If classes are more your speed, consider your options. Most gym facilities, such as In-Shape and Twin Arbors Athletic Club, offer classes with membership. However, class-only options such as Orangetheory Fitness or Crossfit 209 may be better for you.

For those who need motivation to get going, consider hiring a personal trainer. Ben Mackie Fitness focuses on trainer-led fitness programs (as well as group classes).

Whether you want one-on-one attention, like to work out with friends, or find solo gym time most appealing, San Joaquin County has options to satisfy your needs-no excuses!

InShape Health Clubs
Multiple Locations in San Joaquin
(209) 472-2450

Twin Arbors Health Clubs
1900 S. Hutchins St., Lodi
(209) 334-4897

Get Active

Check out these local events for the opportunity to work out with your community.

  1. June 5 @ 6 PM – Fleet Feet hosted The Big Run 5K – Fleet Feet Stockton
  2. June 5, 12, 19, 26 @ 5:30 PM – Headwaters Kayak Wednesday Evening Paddle – Lodi Lake
  3. June 8 – Tough Mudder Sacramento – Gibson Ranch County Park
  4. June 14 – In-Shape hosted Zumba SweatFest – Victorville & Vacaville
  5. June 22 @ 9 AM – Headwaters Kayak Wildlife Tour – Lodi Lake
  6. Every Tuesday @ 5:30 PM – Fleet Feet Running Club 3-5 mile run – Lincoln Village
  7. REGISTER EARLY: Sept. 7 @ 6:30 AM – Great American Hero Trail Run – Eagal Lakes

Do You Even Lift, Bro?

If you’re looking to add weight lifting to your fitness routine, don’t just pick up a dumbbell and go. While it may look like there’s nothing to it, safe, productive lifting takes work. Damian Weber, manager of operations for learning and development and a trainer at In-Shape, provides his best tips for first timers.

  1. Consistency is key. When you’re new to a lifting program, every day will be different. At In-Shape, we’d rather our clients follow our program 80 percent of the time for four months than following it perfectly for one month.
  2. Focus on quality over quantity. Training with proper form is more important that completing a bunch of reps with form that is slightly off.
  3. Train to fatigue, not to failure. Fatigue is when you can no longer perform proper form, but failure is when you can no longer perform at all.
  4. Start simply, then progress. Try not to overcomplicate your sessions. As a new lifter, total body and compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, and overhead presses are great.
  5. Pretend the 15-pound dumbbell weighs 100 pounds. Most weight lifting injuries occur when people are grabbing a weight, or re-racking with a rounded back or throwing it up with one arm.
  6. Perfect the plank. A properly performed plank, and its variations, is critical to a new lifting program because power, strength, and stability come from the core.
  7. Start slowly. Start with 2-3 days a week of full body exercises, then increase to 4 days a week when the body is ready, and so on.
  8. Work with a Trainer. Trainers are personal coaches that help you learn your way around a weight room. Members that work with trainers are more likely to reach fitness goals.
  9. Listen to your body. Rest and recovery are important. Start slowly and build up when your body is ready. Progress is better than perfection.
  10. You can never out train a bad diet. You’re not going to see results until you change what you’re doing in the kitchen.

Exercise & Heart Health

Heart disease is the most common cause of death for Men in the United States. As you get older, it’s important to watch your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy amount of physical activity. According to Dr. Ramin Manshadi of the Manshadi Heart Institute, 30 to 60 minutes of regular aerobic exercise 4 times a week can reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce your levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

The Manshadi Heart Institute
2633 Pacific Ave., Stockton
(209) 944-5530

Best Trails in San Joaquin County

Grab the hiking shoes, the bikes, the dog, the family-whatever you choose-and hit some of San Joaquin County’s best trails.

Lodi Lake

This trail is perfect for the family, or for timing yourself on an all-terrain run. Trek the 1.8 miles around Lodi Lake with views of wildflowers. Stay to fish or play in the water-kayak rentals are nearby.

Calaveras River Pedestrian Path

Take a hike near the river. This out and back trail stretches 4.2 miles and is a good option for bringing Fido (as long as he is leashed).

Paradise Point Via Atherton Road

This trail offers similar river views to Calaveras. The 5-mile out and back trail is open to mountain and road bikes. Run early or late-there is no shade on this path.

White Slough Long Loop

Take this 8.4-mile nature loop on a delta levee, which circles private farmland. It’s a flat trail great for runners.

Manteca Tidewater Bikeway

Head to Manteca on bike or foot to take advantage of the 7.1-mile-out and back trail. Many like the bikeway because it’s paved.


Fitness goals are never met unless part of our transformation happens in the kitchen. What you put in your body will dictate overall body composition. Looking to build muscle, support a healthy fitness routine, and lose weight? Protein is key. But Mark Sarale, franchisee for Nekter Juice Bar and Max Muscle, says there’s more to it than that. Read on.

Picking the Right Protein Powder

Don’t just point, click, and add-to-cart. Choose a bulk protein powder that meets both individual requirements and fitness goals.

The most important element of any protein powder is quality. Everyone should be careful what protein powder they take. “There is a difference in the quality of proteins,” Mark warns. “You’ve just got to make sure it’s a good company that is true to label.”

In most cases a protein shake acts as a meal replacement. If weight loss is the goal, choose a powder with zero sugar and carbohydrates that is less than 100 calories per serving. For those looking to gain weight-usually high school kids or those trying to bulk-purchase a 1,000-2,000 calorie protein powder but cut the portion size. Always check the label to ensure the calories are coming from proteins and carbohydrates, not sugar. A good ratio to abide by is 30 grams of protein for every 100 grams of carbohydrates. If you purchase Weight Gainer 2,000, cut the serving to one-fourth for a healthy serving.

Lean muscle builds better without carbohydrates, but for those wanting to bulk up, a powder with moderate carbohydrates will work better. You can look at and similar stores for supplies for this.

Keep this in mind: Whey protein casein is a long acting protein so it will stay in your body longer. Whey protein isolate is good for both pre- and post-workout. Whey protein concentrate is middle of the road. For an overall, well-balanced supplement, buy one with all three. If you are vegan or avoid dairy products, switch to a vegan, plant-based protein derived from pea or hemp proteins.

Max Muscle
4343 Pacific Ave. Suite #C-1, Stockton
(209) 951-6299

Nekter Juice Bar
211 Lincoln Center, Stockton
(209) 636-4694

Spilling the Juice

Protein shakes and juice drinks can pack a lot of nutrients. With so many ingredients to choose from, how do you pick? Start with these seven key items to build smoothies for overall nutrition. Mark Sarale recommends building a few items from this list into any smoothie recipe. Or, go full boar by adding apple or orange to make a (earthy-tasting) power smoothie.

Ginger – good for digestion, stomach, and gut health

Parsley – high in antioxidants

Spinach – one of few vegetables that has iron and potassium. “That’s what Popeye ate,” Mark laughs.

Beets –”I hate beets but the juice actually tastes really good,” Mark says. Plus it’s an anti-inflammatory that helps fight cancer, support weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improve brain health.

Kale – It’s a super-food known for its omega 3 fatty acids, low calories, and many nutrients

Celery – Aids digestion and improves gut health, plus it’s high in fiber

Carrots – High in antioxidants, good for skin

**All available at Nekter Juice Bar

Best Foods to Build Your Body

Good foods are the building blocks for a healthy body. “I like to just kind of stick to the basics,” Mark says. “Protein is the most important thing.”



Leafy Greens



Other Vegetables

Protein Powders


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