This work is dedicated to the three most important people in my life, namely my wife, mydaughter, and my dad. To my amazing wife, Jamie, you are my rock and none of this would havebeen possible without your patience and understanding during the countless hours spent studyingfor school, writing this thesis, and working full-time from dusk till dawn every day for threeyears. To my new baby girl, Stella Grace, born in December of 2007, may you learn to love life,to never be afraid to fail, and to have the courage to pursue your ambitions with passion, an openheart, and especially an open mind. Last but certainly not least, to my dad, you have always beenmy greatest fan, from the time I was born. In a way, I have you to thank for all of this, becauseyou were the one that taught me about the importance of exercise and nutrition long beforecollege when I was just a kid. You also instilled in me the belief that anything could be achievedthrough hard work and dedication. I hope you will consider my graduation as a tribute to you.