Grilling Season is Here!

With the warm weather and longer days, it’s a lot more enticing to get out the grill.  Just because you’re grilling, doesn’t mean that it can’t be healthy.  Here is my latest creation from my little Weber grill.

No Bun Sirloin Burgers:

  • 2 lbs of ground sirloin
  • 2 tbsp of lite soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Form into patties, place on the grill. Cook until done. Top with whatever you want. I used slices of tomato, avocado, spring mix greens, and natural ketchup. Easy.

Grilled Mixed Veggies:

Cut up whatever veggies you like. Add some healthy oil (canola, olive, coconut etc.) and black pepper, toss together in a bowl. Place in pan and grill until done.

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Here’s what it looked like before I devoured it all:

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Note: If you worked out prior to eating this, you could include some good carbs, like a whole wheat bun a small sweet potato.

 

 

Time Management

Time Management

This year, I made a goal of reading 4 books on personal development. A huge goal, I know, but reading recreationally is something I have not enjoyed since I was in grade school when I read the Goosebumps series. I think reading some of the novels that were required in high school killed fun reading for me.

In February, I noticed that I still had not picked a book. I know a few people that listen to audiobooks, and I thought that would be more realistic for me.  I spend a couple hours a day in my car driving between appointments with training clients, so I switched from listening to sports talk radio, or the same popular songs over and over to listening to books.  Little did I know I was choosing quadrant II activities over quadrant IV (see below for explanation).

The first book I listened to was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen R. Covey.  It’s a best seller, and I am sure many of you have read it before I have.  He spends a good chunk in the beginning on dividing our time into quadrants. “Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves.”

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important

 

I

–          Crisis

–          Deadlines

 

 

II

–          Exercise

–          Faith

–          Personal/Professional Development

–          Family time

Not Important III

–          Emails

–          Some phone calls

 

IV

–          Facebook

–          TV

–          Time wasters

 

His biggest point is that we spend too much time on things that are urgent, rather than important. We need to dedicate more time to the things in quadrant II.  The things that fall into quadrant II are what help us grow.  I really like this quadrant because it includes what I do for a living! “Sharpen the Saw”, is the 7th habit. He claims we need to spend time on things that help renew us in each of physical, emotional/social, spiritual, and mental categories. These relate back to quadrant II on the time management chart.

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” One of the biggest things I took away from the book was that we need to make the important things happen. They renew us, they help us be the best version of ourselves. It is so easy to fill our day with things that don’t really matter. Why not exercise for 15 minutes in the morning, instead of spending 20 minutes wasting your time on Facebook, or watching the same news stories 3 times through about the shootings or robberies that occurred overnight?

We are all guilty at one time or another of wasting our time.  If exercise is important to you, schedule it.  Still doesn’t happen? Hire a trainer for more accountability.

 

 

 

 

 

Home Gym Essentials

Whether you need to accumulate equipment over time, or money is not a concern, you can make a nice home gym on just about any budget.  In my opinion, this list of equipment is a must:

TRX Suspension Trainer

This is where I would start.  You can get the most versatility out of this “gym in a bag”.  You can work your pulling movements, pushing movements, squats or lunges, and work your hips and core with this.  You just need a good place to anchor it to.  You can get away with using the door anchor that comes with it, but as you get more advanced, you will need to have it anchored where you can be directly under the attachment, or go beyond the attachment point.  In my house, my basement is unfinished, so I use an I-beam.

PowerBlock Dumbbells

You pretty much need some form of external load to use with your exercises, so you need these. These are pricey, but think about how much money and space you save if you buy these instead of several pairs of dumbbells. Regular dumbbells are at least $1.00 per pound. If you are a woman, you can probably get away with buying a pair that go up to 40 lbs. per hand.  If you are more advanced, buy a set that can go heavier. If you are a man, you can start with a 50 lb. set, and then buy expansion kits that can make them go to 70, 90, and even 125 lbs. per hand.

Adjustable Bench

You need a bench.  It should adjust from flat to a few different angles for incline. You don’t need to get a commercial grade bench; it’s just going to be you using it so you won’t have to worry about meathead kids tearing it up doing stupid stuff. Just make sure it can handle a decent load. I’ve seen benches with stickers on them saying they could only handle 250 lbs., I weigh 200 lbs., so I could only use 50 lbs. when laying on it!?! I think that company is trying to keep you weak. I personally use the bench PowerBlock makes, it gets the job done and can hold 550 lbs. You’ll be able to do a variety of pushing, pulling, single leg squat variations, and hip thrusts with a bench.

Adjustable Kettlebell

Same reason as having adjustable dumbbells, you’ll save money and space if you have one of these.  Regular kettlebells average $1.50 to $2.00 per pound when you buy them.  Exercises that you need a kettlebell for are swings, goblet squats, and Turkish Get-Ups just to name a few.

Medicine Ball

These are a great modality for power development, and very versatile. If you have a concrete wall to throw against, you can do chest passes and rotational throws, or just use a partner. You can also slam them on the ground.

Adjustable Plyometric Box

For people more advanced, you can use a plyometric box for box jumps, single leg hops, and depth jumps. Just about anyone can use a box for step-ups. You’ll want something that at least goes as high as your knee.

Resistance Bands

If a cable machine is out of your budget, you can use resistance bands to do most of the exercises you would do with cables. These are also portable, so you can take them with you on business trips and vacation to get in your workouts.

Sliders

You don’t have to buy the official “val slide” that was marked up because it’s fitness equipment. Just buy the set of 4 sliders at your local hardware store for $8. You can work your legs and core very well with sliders, and just like the resistance bands, they’re portable to take on your trips.

My Thoughts on Nutrition

As I continue to learn more, I have changed my thought process on things related to training and nutrition, and in some cases, I’ve changed my mind more than a few times.  I’ve used websites like myfitnesspal or the dailyplate to track food and count calories, trying to get people to stay under the recommended calorie intake for what their needs were calculated to be.  I’ve even used services that generated meal plans for my clients, breaking it down to what and how much to eat for every meal, and generating a shopping list to take with them to the grocery store.  That all sounds great, but none of those methods worked long term for ANY of my clients.

I’ve learned that it is best to keep it simple.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that there is more than one way to fix someone’s nutrition habits.  Not everyone needs to eat 5-6 small meals per day.  Not everyone is hungry in the morning. It’s also ok to eat late, it doesn’t all turn to fat when you go to bed. In fact, eating some protein, especially with casein in it, can help you recover when eaten close to bed time because it breaks down slower and lasts while you sleep. You can buy casein as a powder, or it is naturally in foods like cottage cheese.  To be honest, I was probably doing the whole square peg, round hole thing. Everyone is different. If you aren’t hungry in the morning, I’m not going to tell you to eat a big breakfast. If your schedule is crazy and you can’t stop every 2 hours to eat, then 6 small meals a day probably won’t work for you.  I want my clients to learn to be intuitive with eating, listen to their bodies, know when they are actually hungry, and learn to stop at feeling 80% full. Sometimes when you feel tired, you might actually be dehydrated. Instead of grabbing a donut or an energy drink, maybe you just need to drink water.

I think the best way to start making changes is taking what a person is doing currently, and coach them to make small improvements over time.  Behavior change experts have figured out that people who make drastic overhauls all at once, are less likely to still be doing those behavior changes one year later, versus people that change one behavior at time.  If you want to see awesome results ASAP, like if you are getting married in 6 weeks, then short term fixes are ok.  Just realize that you’re probably not going to keep that up.  I want to help coach my clients to do the little things, so that they don’t end up yo-yoing.

“Practice daily to build skills. Build skills to achieve goals.” Success is the sum of several small victories.  Try to think of process goals instead of just outcome goals.  For example, focus on how you can get to your goal, instead what your goal may be.  Keep the end in mind as your vision to keep you going, but the process is what you can control every day.  Here are some examples of small changes/process goals:

  1. Practice eating slowly
  2. Recognize when you are actually hungry, not just bored or stressed
  3. Drink more water and less fruit juice, soda, and alcohol
  4. Eat more lean protein at each meal
  5. Eat vegetables at every meal
  6. Eat less processed foods
  7. Make your own food, rather than dining out.

All of the above are examples of process goals that will lead to you losing fat, gaining lean muscle (if you are weight training), and feeling better. Focus on eating slowly first for two weeks. Reevaluate to see if you are actually doing that. If you’ve mastered that, great, if not go back until you can master that one skill. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next skill. Keep working on these skills, and build your momentum.  You’ll get on a roll and get one step closer to your goal every day.

Salmon Fish Tacos

I haven’t posted a recipe in sometime, so I thought I would share what I made the other night. Every month, I set a budget, and I like to stick to that budget, especially with food.  I had some frozen salmon fillets to use up, and my wife Kelly, hates how the house smells when I cook fish. So I thought that spicing the fish up a little would tone down the smell, as well as opening the kitchen window and putting the range on full blast. So this was inspired out of concern for my wife’s overly sensitive sense of smell and trying to use up what I had.  I found a recipe online and made a few adjustments.

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  1. Cut 1 lb of salmon into cubes, and toss the cubes into a 1:1 mix of cumin and chili powder.
  2. Dice up 1 small yellow onion and cook in a large pan until they are translucent.
  3. When the onion is done, add the salmon cubes and cook for a few minutes, do not overcook, chewy salmon is no good. Turn down the heat.
  4. Open 2 cans of Rotel with green chiles, drain them a little and to the pan. Continue heating until the whole mixture is warm.
  5. Add some lime juice over the pan.
  6. Scoop out some of the salmon taco mix and fill a couple low-carb soft tacos. (You’ll have enough for a few meals with 2 people)
  7. Chop up some cilantro and top off each taco for more flavor.
  8. Add some avocado or guacamole, and some good salsa and there you have it!

A Glimpse of What I do

When I tell people that I do mobile personal training and group training, I often get responses like, “What do you do with your clients, P90X, Zumba?”  I’ve never done Zumba, and never do I plan to.  P90X, I don’t know anybody that actually completed the whole program, I think those DVDs are collecting more dust than burning calories. I also get questions like, “Do you just have like 5 lb dumbbells and some bands?” Whether they are kidding or not, I think it’s important that I make it clear what I actually do with my clients.

What I do is integrative fitness programs. We do core work, strength work, conditioning, mobility work, and explosiveness.  Each client’s program is personalized to their goals, needs, and abilities. “Computer guy” and an “athlete/meathead” will have different needs based on posture. A dad in his 30s who plays recreational men’s hockey will have different goals from a retired mom in her 60s. I’ve trained people to get ready for the police academy and state trooper school, high school athletics, recreational athletes, and of course the average Joe and Jane for losing body fat and gaining lean muscle.  Here is a glimpse of some of my favorite exercises I do with my clients (and myself).  Don’t mind my training space; I work out in my unfinished basement. Someday it will look better and be my man cave…

Sandbag Hang Clean

DB Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS)

3 Point DB Row

2 DB Single Leg RDL

Single Arm DB Bench

Ab Wheel Roll Out

Battle Ropes

So as you can see, I can do exercises that you would do at a gym, in the convenience of your own home.  You can progress to heavier and heavier weights, my dumbbells go up to 18 times heavier than 5 lbs.  On a RFESS, that could be 180lbs, on one leg.  That would be about equivalent to a 360lb back squat (another topic called the bilateral deficit).

Recap: Complete Shoulder and Hip Training Workshop

A few weekends ago, I went to a workshop in St. Louis that was put on by Dean Somerset and Tony Gentilcore.  Now I don’t expect you to know who they are unless you are in the fitness industry, but they are each kind of a big deal. Tony is cofounder of Cressey Sports Performance in Boston, MA. They are a big deal in the baseball community, training several professionals in the MLB.  Who better to learn about the shoulder from than people who train elite pitchers?  Dean is based out of Edmonton Canada, and is a great resource for hips and core. We spent a whole day on the shoulders with Tony, then another day on hips with Dean.  Here are a few take home points that will change what I am doing with my clients:

  1. I learned how to better assess someone’s shoulders and hips. These assessments alone can help dictate program design.
  2. Breathing drills are not hokey. I witnessed with my own eyes how you could get more mobility or range of motion in someone’s shoulders or hips without even stretching. Breathing can help reset your posture and activate your core.  I’ve tried this with a few clients that have shoulder pain, and it made it better!
  3. I got great information on how to program design for the “computer guy” vs. “meathead”. There are variables to consider for exercise selection based on their different postures.
  4. I learned how to better coach clients through lots of different exercises. I learned that external cues are more effective than internal cues. For example, to get your spine positioned correctly before doing a squat, I used to say tilt your pelvis posteriorly (nobody know what that means unless they have my background).  Using a cue like “bring your belt buckle towards your chin” is more effective.
  5. Not everyone should or could squat “a$$ to grass”. Not everyone has the same hips, structurally speaking, and therefore stretching will not get them deeper into a squat because bone is hitting bone.  If it’s not a structure problem why someone can’t squat deep, then it’s a motor control problem, which is probably core related.

I felt like I drank from a fire hydrant all weekend, but it was totally worth it.  I took great notes and have been studying them so that I can put all that knowledge into application.  I’m looking forward to all the benefits my clients will get from what I learned.

Changes to Make in Your Diet

Many people are all or nothing when it comes to working out or eating better.  Research shows that this type of behavior usually doesn’t lead to long term results.  Instead, you should focus on making changes slowly, so that they become habits and not just a temporary fix. If you view these changes as temporary, the weight will come back. Try making one of these changes and mastering it for a week or two. Then make another change. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you are in it for the long haul, not just a couple weeks.

    1. Add vegetables at every meal. Vegetables are full of fiber which helps digestion and keeps you feeling full on few calories per serving.  They also pack a lot of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals you need.
    2. Avoid added sugar or refined carbohydrates (soda, white bread, pasta, etc.) Eating excess carbohydrates leads to imbalances in your hormones such as insulin which leads to fat storage, preventing you from utilizing the fat already stored in your body for energy.
    3. Eat lean protein at every meal. Protein helps you recover from workouts and build lean muscle. It also helps you feel fuller, longer. When restricting calories trying to lose weight, it helps you maintain your muscle mass, so that you lose more weight from fat and not muscle.  Having more muscle mass keeps your resting metabolic rate higher, increasing your overall metabolism.  You should strive to eat 1 gram per pound of body weight every day.
    4. Drink more water.  You should drink half of your body weight in ounces per day.  Example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you should drink 100 oz of water per day. If you are more active or are outside in the heat, you may need more. Hydration helps with many bodily functions, afteral your body is about 60% water.
    5. Limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks a week.  Alcohol disrupts sleep and adds empty calories into our diet.
    6. Eat fish 1 to 2 times a week. Adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet decreases inflammation in your body.  Also, there are studies that show fish oil helps turn on genes that promote your body to metabolize fat.
    7. Spice up your food with spices instead of high calorie sauces.  This will decrease your calorie consumption while still giving you flavor.
    8. Add a protein supplement, fish oil, and a multivitamin into your diet.  If you don’t get enough protein, regularly eat fish, or eat enough vegetables and fruit, this is your insurance policy.
    9. Eat frequent, smaller meals.  Eating more regularly helps you avoid cravings where you might grab the most convenient foods, most of which are unhealthy.

Meal Planning

Many people will ask me about what I eat (naturally because I am the fitness professional), so I wanted to share what I’m eating this week and strategies that I use so I am successful.

  1. Make time in your schedule so that you make food in bulk for several days, so that healthy food is ready ahead of time and you avoid the drive-thru.
  2. Use seasonings rather than heavy sauces on your food to add taste, this saves on the calories.
  3. Modify your favorite recipes to make them healthier, such as substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. Just look around the web and you can find ways to make healthier recipes from people more savvy in the kitchen than myself.
  4. Utilize a crock pot so that you prep a meal in the morning, and you will have a fresh, home cooked meal ready when you get home at the end of the day.
  5. Have snacks that are readily available, like nuts, veggies with a dip (plain greek yogurt with ranch or dill seasoning or humus), Lara Bars, Kind Bars, cottage cheese etc. (low carb snacks)
  6. Drink lots of water, you may just be thirsty instead of hungry.
  7. Don’t go the grocery store hungry, you’ll buy food that’s not good for you.
  8. Keep poor food choices out of sight, instead keep good snacks where you can see them.
  9. You have to treat eating right like a chore or a job, it takes planning and preparation.

Breakfast: (I make every morning)

  • Breakfast Sandwich
    • 1 Ezekiel bread English muffin toasted
    • 1 slice of Low-Fat Swiss Cheese
    • 3-4 slices of lean deli ham
    • 1 whole egg
  • Clementine
  • Coffee
  • Water

Snack: Veggies and Dip (makes several snacks)

  • Dill Dip
    • Natural plain Greek yogurt
    • Packet of dill seasoning mixed into yogurt
  • Cut veggies
    • Assorted bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sugar snap peas
  • Water

Lunch: Mini Meat Loafs with Green Beans and Mashed Sweet Potatoes (makes several meals)

  • Mini Meat Loafs
    • 2 lbs lean ground meat of your choice (sirloin, turkey breast, chicken)
    • 10oz frozen chopped spinach thawed
    • 1 onion finely chopped and sautéed
    • 1 8oz mushrooms finely chopped and sautéed
    • 10 baby carrots finely chopped
    • 4 whole eggs beaten
    • 1/3 cup coconut flour
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp pepper
    • 2 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • Combine all ingredients and mix by hand in a large bowl
    • Portion out into 2 muffin pans (18 total) and bake at 375 F for 30 min
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
    • Peel and chop 5 sweet potatoes and boil in a pot until soft
    • Drain them and then mash in a bowl until you get the consistency you want
    • Add butter and cinnamon to taste
  • Green Beans
    • Take a bag of frozen green beans and microwave it in a microwave safe dish according the instructions on the bag
  • Water

Protein Shake: (post workout)

  • 6-8oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein isolate

Dinner: Spanish Chicken on a bed of Quinoa (makes several meals)

  • Spanish Chicken:
    • Spray the inside of a crockpot with coconut oil
    • Combine
      • 5 lbs cubed chicken breast
      • 1 lb Italian Chicken or Turkey Sausage
      • 1 red bell pepper chopped
      • 1 onion chopped
      • 1 small can of low sodium tomato paste
      • 2 small cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies
      • 1 10-14oz jar of artichoke hearts (drained)
      • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
      • 1 tsp oregano
      • 2 cloves of garlic minced
      • Sliced olives (optional)
    • Cook on low for 6-8 hrs
  • Cook a whole box of quinoa in a rice cooker or according to the stovetop directions
  • Water

Tips From the Trainer

  1.        Making changes in your diet does not happen overnight.  You need to educate yourself and put it into practice.  The more you do it, the easier it will get and it will become a habit.  If you have been eating poorly for a long time, breaking those habits can be hard, after all it has been proven that sugar is addicting as it excites the same areas of the brain that drugs like cocaine do.
  2.        Allow yourself to have a couple cheat meals a week.  You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to eat perfect every day for a long time.  The key is moderation and not overeating.
  3.        Make eating right convenient.  One of the biggest reasons people eat poorly is that usually poor food choices are easier or faster, all you do is poor it out of a box or tear the wrapper off of it.  When you have more time in your schedule, cook healthy meals ahead of time so that they are ready to warm-up when you are hungry.  Make healthy snacks, like a homemade trail mix with almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, and coconut flakes.
  4.        Make being active a habit.  Exercise needs to become like brushing your teeth, you just do it.  Even if you only have 30 minutes, you can still get in a great workout that will raise your metabolism.
  5.        Drink lots of water.  Proper hydration will keep you more focused, help prevent soft tissue injuries, and it helps digestion and other bodily processes.  Maybe instead of grabbing that 500-700 calorie coffee drink, you were tired because you were dehydrated?
  6.        If you find yourself grazing in the pantry or fridge, ask yourself first if you want to eat because you are bored, or if you are actually hungry.
  7.        Last but not least, set a goal! Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed if you have a lot of weight to lose. Start with a small goal, like lose 5 lbs in one month to build your confidence and get the momentum rolling.