The IronPlate Guide to Self Love

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February is the month of love. There’s even a well-known special day set aside for us to show our loved ones how much we care about them, but there’s someone else you should “show the love” to this month (and every other month): YOURSELF!

At IronPlate studios, one of our mottos is helping you “become the best version of you there is.” This doesn’t just mean helping you with physical changes to your body: it means helping you from the inside out so you can be happy with your body, mind and spirit to give you the confidence and the drive to accept, face and overcome new challenges. All too often, we focus on our flaws and the things we want to change about ourselves. We overcommit to social engagements and put in long hours at work or at home caring for loved ones. While this can sometimes be beneficial in helping us develop and grow, it can also lead to health problems such as fatigue, anxiety and illness. Even if we want to, we can’t fully give our love and respect to our family, friends, jobs, etc. unless we love and respect ourselves. Those that take time for themselves have a better sense of well-being, confidence and even overall health.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
– Buddha

Make sure to set aside some time… just for you.

Make sure to set aside some time… just for you.

Learning to love yourself:

  1. Acknowledge your strengths.
    - What are you good at?
    - What are some things you like about yourself?
    - While it’s important to be aware of our weaknesses in order to grow, we often dwell on them and forget what makes us great!

  2. Change the way you talk/about yourself.
    - If you’re constantly making negative comments about yourself or your appearance, soon you’ll start to believe only the negative.

  3. Try Journaling.
    - Write your own freestyle or look for one already written with prompting questions.
    - Try answering three questions a day with this worksheet: https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/self-esteem-journal

  4. Accept compliments.
    When was the last time you actually accepted a compliment with gratitude instead of coming back with a comment of denial, self-insult, devaluing, looking for more reassurance or transferring the credit to someone else?

  5. Set aside some time — no matter how short — for just you.
    - Exercise session, yoga, meditation, catch up on your favorite book or show, meet up with friends, etc.

  6. Appreciate the little things.
    We often get so busy we forget to embrace and cherish the small things that happen to us each day. Take a couple minutes at the end of each day (could be right before you go to sleep or while you’re in the shower, etc) and reflect on the little things that made you happy that day.

  7. Pamper yourself
    Enjoy a massage, mani/pedi, a night out with loved ones, some time alone.

Including daily self love and positivity helps us feel confident, refreshed, rejuvenated and able to fully share our love and attention with the ones we care about both on Valentine’s day and every other day of the year.



The IronPlate Guide to Meal Prep

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Meal prep can seem daunting to people just starting on their wellness journey.  When we hear the word “meal prep” our minds immediately visualize a single day spent cooking all of the meals for the week and dividing it into a bunch of containers with perfectly portioned food.  While this can be beneficial and maybe ideal for some people, for other others it may seem more like a serious time commitment rather than saver. Meal prep doesn’t necessarily mean you spend one day a week in the kitchen and the rest of the week reheating your meals.  If that works best for you great! If not, a little forethought and planning can go a long way in helping you prepare your meals each day.

I like to think of meal prepping the same way you would think about preparing for a meeting or presentation.  You wouldn’t give your boss or colleagues an important presentation you hadn’t prepared for. Instead, you would:

  1. Create a plan

  2. Gather all the facts and data necessary to make your points

  3. Organize them into a thoughtful order, and

  4. Practice what you are going to say.  

The same holds true for meal preparation.  Most of us go to the grocery store with at least some idea of what we need to buy for the week, especially if we are feeding more than ourselves.  The more we plan out the easier the rest of the week will be. If you’re just starting out with meal prepping, pick the meal that gives you the most trouble.  Breakfast? Your on the go snacks? Dinner? Pick one or two of these to focus on first and, as you get more comfortable you can plan more.

Steps to Meal Prepping:

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Step 1: Plan: Take a calendar, a sheet of paper, or your phone and write out what recipes you plan to eat for the week or even the month. (Keep the easiest meals or meals you can do the most prep work for on days you’ll be the busiest)

Step 2: Gather: Create a grocery list for the week and stick to it.  

(if the “bad aisles” are too tempting for you, try ordering only what you need online so you can avoid seeing the temptations-also a time saver! )

Step 3: Organize: Take a look at your calendar for the week.  If there are any days that will be particularly busy, try to prepare the meal as much as possible ahead of time.

  • Choose a crockpot meal that can be ready when you get home

  • Pre-measure out all your ingredients so they’re ready to be poured in

  • Wash and chop veggies so they can just be pulled out

  • Marinate your protein prior to freezing it

  • Pre-portion your on the go snacks

  • Pre-slice protein for specific recipe before putting in the fridge or freezer.  

  • When making things like quinoa for a meal, you can make extra and freeze into convenient portions for a later meal

  • Leftovers are your friend!  Cook more than you need to take leftovers for lunch the next day or set aside as a freezer meal you can pull out when your in a pinch.

Step 4: Allow for some flexibility.  You can only prepare so much before life happens.  Use the tools at your disposal to make the best of the situation handed to you.

Step 5: Practice: If you’re not used to planning out your meals and are more of a fly by the seat of your pants type of person, this is going to take some getting used to.  It will get easier the more you do it and maybe even make you more adventurous to try new meals!

As with most things, the more you can plan and prepare, the easier your week will go and the more successful you’ll be on your journey!  Reach out to your trainers at IronPlate to help get you started!



Healthy Superbowl Snacks

Your healthy habits don’t have to stop just because you’re attending a Superbowl party. You can still treat your tastebuds while staying on track and enjoying the game (or commercials). Here are some of IronPlate’s favorite options:

Buffalo Cauliflower
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1t garlic powder
1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2” florets (organic!)
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce (feel free to sub with Sriracha)
1T extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray aluminum-coated baking sheet with oil.

  2. Combine the water, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.

  3. Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place on the baking sheet; bake for 25 minutes or until starting to brown. While the cauliflower is baking, whisk together the hot sauce and olive oil in a small bowl.

  4. Remove cauliflower from oven, put in a bowl and mix together with hot sauce. Serve hot with celery and no-fat blue cheese dressing. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Meatballs
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 2-3 hours | Servings: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds lean, grass-fed ground beef
2 eggs
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups pasta sauce (preferably homemade, but we like Victoria’s marinara, which has no sugar added)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl combine the egg, oregano, onion, garlic, salt and pepper to the ground beef. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands to combine.

  2. Form this mixture into meatballs about 1" in diameter and set aside.

  3. Pour two cups of pasta sauce into your slow cooker. Add meatballs on top of sauce and cover with remaining sauce. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, until meatballs are firm. Enjoy!

Boss tip: For even better texture, you can brown the meatballs in olive oil before adding to the slow cooker

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Chunky Chili

INGREDIENTS

1 lb 90% lean ground beef (ground turkey works well too)
1 medium onion chopped (I usually use half onion)
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) diced tomatoes undrained (I personally like the ones with green chilies for extra spice)
1 can kidney beans
1 can northern white beans
1 can chickpeas
½ cup salsa
1T chili powder
1 ½ tsp ground cumin

Optional to taste:

1 jalapeño, minced, with seeds
Ghost pepper salt (pinch)
Pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet at medium-high heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat

  2. Add all ingredients to the crock pot (I drain and rinse all my beans prior to putting them in).  

  3. Cook on low for 5-6hrs.

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Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe avocados
1/4 onion finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped (optional)
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro
1-2 teaspoons of lime juice
salt to taste
1-2 tomato finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel the avocado and remove the core.

  2. Mash the avocado in a molcajete until it reaches your desired consistency.

  3. Add the onion, jalapeno, cilantro and tomato and mix well.

  4. Add lime juice and salt to taste.

*Eat with your favorite vegetables instead of chips


IronPlate's Truth Series: Carbohydrates

Some people say they’re “addicted to carbs,” while others profess to “not eat carbs after 6pm.” But what are carbohydrates and why are they such a constant source of debate and argument?

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients and are the sugars found in starches, dairy, fruit and grains. They are made of of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen and are the body’s preferred source of energy (stored carbs are referred to as glycogen). Where they become tricky is that there are many different types of carbs and how they respond in the body varies depending upon the type.  

Generally speaking, carbs are classified into either simple or complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are either mono- or disaccharides (one or two molecules of sugar) versus complex long chain carbs which are three or more.  Examples of each are listed below:

Simple Carbs
Fruit
Dairy 
Sugars found in candy, baked goods and syrup

Complex Carbs
Beans
Grains
Breads
Potatoes 

Understanding carbs is also about understanding how they are absorbed and how much the body can hold. Simple carbs are absorbed more rapidly than complex, which in turn, spikes insulin levels. Generally speaking, this is undesirable when looking to lose weight as insulin also promotes the storage of those carbs, and if that fuel tank of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is full, it can be metabolized into fat. You see, the human body can only store a finite amount of glycogen at any given time, and any spillover essentially gets turned to fat. And as we all know, the fat fuel tank is infinite.  

All carbs are not bad, but understanding which ones might be better at certain times and understanding portion sizes play a huge role is the key to conquering the carb phobia and making them work for you.  Carbs can be helpful in order to fuel workouts and for satiety, but too much of a good thing is not helpful.  They also can be useful in acting as a glycemic shuttle for amino acids during the anabolic window (2 hour post-strength bouts) which helps to replenish muscle tissue of glycogen and amino acids for reparation. This helps in the whole quest to increase muscularity and tone.  

Some tips to ensure you’re getting the right types of carbs and proper timing of carbs are as follows:

  • Pair your carbs with a protein - it will slow down the glycemic response.  

  • Be mindful of portion sizes of your complex carbs. Fill up on fibrous veggies instead at most meals. 

  • Save a high glycemic carb (like a banana) for post-workout along with a protein. It will help drive those amino acids from the protein to muscle cells for quicker, more optimal repair and replenishment.  

  • Don’t fear carbs - they can aid and be worked in to any weight loss regimen. They do not need to be avoided.

  • They are not addictive - don’t sweat that you might need carb rehab.  

  • For most meals, stick to low glycemic, unrefined complex carbohydrates like brown rice, oats, yams and quinoa.  

  • Give up any refined carbs like sugar, soda, baked goods and candy. They serve no purpose.  

To reiterate, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and dietary fats, that are necessary in order to maintain ideal function in the human body. They can aid in any strength and/or weight loss program and can, in fact, be beneficial. Giving up carbs forever is not realistic, so don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, learn about them, understand the differences and what they do in the body and use then to your advantage.   


Stay tuned for Truth Series: Dietary Fats coming up on our blog.  And always!  Email us at info@ironplatestudios.com with any questions.


On Track Through The Holidays

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So we made it through Thanksgiving relatively unscathed. (Or maybe you didn’t… don’t beat yourself up; get back up!) Just when we think we’re safe and getting back into our routine, the holiday invites start rolling in. Parties here, family gatherings there, co-workers bringing in tasty treats. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and fall back into that all or nothing mentality, but it’s important to remember you have a strong support system here at IronPlate and are capable of enjoying your holidays while sticking to (or close to) your healthy  routine.

Let’s focus on adjusting your routine and mentally preparing for the holiday season.

Redefine your workout

Perhaps you normally have an hr to devote to your workout, but now you’re wondering when you will sleep let alone workout. We get it. There’s shopping and preparing to be done and events to attend, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Just because you can’t commit to the full hour now doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You can cut the length of your workouts by increasing your intensity. Try a 15 minute workout before you jump in the shower for the day. Take 15 min on your lunch break and get the blood moving. Keep an eye out on our Instagram and FaceBook pages for some quick workouts to get you through the holidays.

Exercise early

You may not be a morning person but for a short time you can do anything!  Just knowing you don’t have to get up early forever helps, especially if it means you’re continuing to work toward your goals. That early morning workout also give you time to yourself before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

Change the way you shop

Although online shopping is so convenient, it feeds into our sedentary behavior. Shopping IN STORE allows you to move and maybe even get a little cardio in. Try:

  • Speed walking from store to store.

  • Park as far away from the entrance as possible.

  • Shop local. Go into your town and walk shop-to-shop to find the perfect gift. You’ll get fresh air, have fewer crowds, be able to take in the holidays decor and be getting some exercise!  

Family Fun Activities

Just because it’s cold and snowy out doesn’t mean our outdoor fun has to stop!

Sledding, ice skating, snow shoeing, skiing (downhill and cross country) are all family friendly activities that require some fitness. Still not into going outside? Try some more active board games like: Charades, Twister, scavenger hunt, Cranium Hullabaloo, Hopscotch, or dust off that Wii you haven’t used in years, etc.

Plan indulgences

You’ve heard this before. Although it seems the holidays sneak up on us, they happen EVERY year. Come up with a strategy for the month to deal with your busy schedule and temptations. (Your IronPlate trainers are here to help!)

Examples:

  • If you have a slew of parties to attend, pick your favorite to splurge on, and be on point for the rest. One event won’t throw you off, but continuous indulgences will.

  • Scout out the food before taking your plate and decide what will be worth it to indulge on and what you should pass on. This way you’re not loading your plate the first time you see everything.

  • Take time to mingle and enjoy friendly conversation before going back for more food.

  • Listen to your body — are you truly hungry?  

  • Eat normally leading up to an event or occasion and drink LOTS of water.

Remember what the holidays are all about

Holidays are NOT about the food. They are about spending time with people you care about. Take time to reflect on why the holidays are important to you and what else you enjoy about them (besides the tasty treats). Remember that and enjoy the conversations and activities with friends and family. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget about the temptations.

Above all, don’t let your fitness and nutrition add to the list of things to stress you out this season. The more you plan ahead and make peace with the decisions you make, the less likely you’ll be to completely fall off the wagon. Reach out to your trainers or peers for help if you need it!

IronPlate's Truth Series: Protein

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It’s common knowledge that we need to make sure we get enough protein in our diets — especially those of us in the fitness world on a quest to build more muscle and tone — but do we know why we need it? Do we know how much we need in a day?  And do we know what foods are rich in protein…?

Proteins are one of the three macronutrients which are simply long chains of amino acids that the body requires in order to do a lot of cool things. Think of protein as a long chain, and the amino acids are each link. Those links can be laid out a lot of different ways, therefore, there are a lot of different types of proteins. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but building muscle is not on the top of your body’s to-do list when it comes to the distribution and usage of protein. Your body requires those amino acids (the “links”) to also build skin, nails, hormones and enzymes in the body and then if it has some leftover, well, then it will use that overage to help out build those guns you’ve been working on. This is why it’s imperative to take in extra protein when you’re training as compared to your sedentary counterparts.  

“How much protein is enough?” one might wonder. It can be confusing with loads of different recommendations out there and various calculations but according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the people who credential Registered Dietitians and Sports Dietitians), for those engaging in higher levels of exercise, a good rule of thumb is 1.2-1.4g/kg bodyweight for endurance athletes and 1.6-1.7g/kg bodyweight for strength athletes. The recommendation for regular non-exercising folks is .6-.8g/kg bodyweight (for comparison purposes).  

Example:
5’6 female, 140 pounds (63.6 kg)
Endurance requirements: 89g protein daily
Strength requirements: 108g protein daily

There are other “methods” for calculating needs out there including assuming 1g protein per pound of bodyweight. So in the case of our 5’6 female, that would amount to 140g protein daily.  But the issue there is for most people who are not professional athletes and have families and jobs and obligations, that can be a hard number to attain. As a registered dietitian, I would then recommend somewhere around the 100g range for this particular client and see how that goes for a period of time. Make sense? 

“So that’s just great - I need 100g of protein daily, but what foods do I need to eat?” Proteins are rich in all of your meats, poultry and seafood including flank steak and all red meat, chicken, turkey shrimp, salmon and white fish as well as other animal proteins such as eggs and dairy. But there are other plant-based sources of protein such as beans, tofu (soy protein), seitan (protein from wheat), vegetable and rice protein supplements amongst some others. However, the protein content is not as abundant as in animal protein sources, so combining both sources is always a great idea in order to meet your intake, and maintain variety in the diet.  

Making sure to get enough protein in is no easy task. It requires planning and time to shop at the store. Looking ahead at your week and knowing what meals you’re going to prepare will create success. Some tips to make sure to get enough protein are as follows:

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  • Start the day with eggs, egg whites or overnight oats made with protein powder.

  • Plan all meals around your protein source and build around it.

  • Have a few protein rich snacks such as greek yogurt and cottage cheese on hand for in between meal snacks.

  • Add legumes such as chick peas and lentils to salads.  

  • Include variety and experiment with some protein sources you may have not tried like cooking scallops at home or a plant-based protein that you’ve never had (such as tofu).

In summary, proteins are one of the three macronutrients along with carbohydrates and dietary fats, that are necessary in order to maintain killer function in the human body. Protein in particular, is needed in order to build muscle and create that lean, toned physique you’ve been working for. It’s very important to understand that all proteins are not created equal, and taking in a variety of different proteins daily, and making sure to have a protein at most meals is super important for your health, bodily function and progress in the gym.  


Stay tuned for Truth Series: Carbohydrates as well as Truth Series: Dietary Fats coming up on our blog. And always feel free to email us at info@ironplatestudios.com with any questions!




Staying On Track This Thanksgiving

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It’s getting colder out, and the promise of warm comfort foods and holidays centered around huge traditional feasts can make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Unfortunately, this time of year can be a nightmare for those trying to make healthy dietary changes to their lifestyle. We often find ourselves putting normal dietary habits on pause with the expectation that we’ll get back on track in the New Year. This mentality can seriously sabotage our health and fitness goals. Thanksgiving, a holiday whose entire day is planned around food, can be especially difficult to get through unscathed and can be the gateway to our derailment. Every year the same tips and tricks on what we can do to stay on track through the holiday circles about, but how realistic is it that you’ll follow all of them?

It is also hypocritical to suggest my clients follow a huge list of do’s and don’ts and not follow them myself. Hey, I’m human and love this holiday just as much as the next! How strict you have to be on Thanksgiving — and all the ones that closely follow it — really depends on the timeframe of your current goals. If you have a specific and upcoming deadline, then I am sorry to say, you’ll have to be significantly more strict with your Thanksgiving day this year. If you are a little more flexible with your timeline, then the good news is you can relax a bit.  One day of indulgence won’t completely throw you off track. The key words here are ONE DAY. Often times Thanksgiving dinner involves more than one meal: the appetizers before dinner, alcohol before, during, and after dinner, and leftovers for days following. This is what really throw us off track and sends us on our downward spiral for the remainder of the holiday season. I’ve compiled a short list of “Dos and Don’ts” that I believe are attainable, allow you to stay on track and allow you to enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Do: Make a predetermined plan on what you will eat and/or drink and what you will avoid.  Stick with and make peace with those decisions. Whether you limit your portion sizes, or the types of food, or set no limits whatsoever, is all fine.  Just make sure those decisions are realistic, won’t make you feel guilty afterwards, and that you have a plan in case you feel yourself veering from those decisions.  Let your trainers at IronPlate Studios help you navigate and prepare your plan based on your personal goals.


Tips for Before/During

  • Don’t skip earlier meals to “save room” for big dinner.

  • Don’t fill up on pre-meal appetizers.

  • Savor every bite and eat slowly.

  • Start the day being physically active: get your usual workout in, run a turkey trot, try a turkey burner workout or class, etc. (Check out IronPlate’s “do from anywhere” Pre-Thanksgiving and Post -Thanksgiving turkey burner workouts!)

  • Take a post-meal walk with your family.

  • Avoid foods you can always eat and enjoy the ones you only get once a year.

  • Hydrate!


Tips for After

  • Get right back on track with your normal routine.

  • Don’t feel guilty. This often leads to more poor decisions. Learn from the way you feel and apply it to your future challenges.

  • Make smart decisions with leftovers. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for healthy leftover recipes.


Remember:  Listening to your body, and making healthy changes that work for you is a constant learning process. Each success and failure teaches us what we are capable of and where we might need improvement. Reach out to your friends at IronPlate Studios to keep you on or get you back on the path to success.



Fitting Fitness Into Your Life

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The majority of us want to be healthy. It’s not that we don’t know how, or what to do, it’s that adding something new or different to our routine takes work. If we aren’t in the correct mindset then we don’t put forth the effort necessary to make that healthy change. One of the first things we learn as trainers and coaches is how to assess a client’s “readiness to change”. You’re readiness is measured in 5 different stages and allows us to predetermine the likelihood you are committed to making the change. Once we figure out your starting stage, we are able to formulate a plan to help you on your path to success. The five stages of readiness are as follows:

  1. Pre-contemplation: The person has no intention to change or take action within the near future. In this stage, people are usually uninformed about the consequences of their behavior or they may have failed at previous attempts to change. They may avoid seeking information that would help them change their behavior.

  2. Contemplation: The person intends to change within the next 6 months. He/she is aware of both the positive effects and the negative effects of change. This can cause uncertainty as to which approach to follow and result in procrastination and the inability to make a move to change. This person is not ready for an action program.

  3. Preparation: The person plans to take action within the next month. He/she has usually prepared and has a plan of action.

  4. Action: The person has made significant modifications in his/her behavior and way of life.

  5. Maintenance: The person is not working as hard as the person in the Action mode, but is working to prevent a relapse. The person is confident of continuing to change.

Where do you fall? Anyone that seeks out help from a personal trainer or nutritionist is at least in the preparation stage. If you fall into the contemplation stage, you can start your fitness journey but seeking out advice from a personal trainer or nutritionist who will be able to create an attainable roadmap to start you on your journey to fitness. From there you can move into preparation stage and with the help of your coach, set a date to move into action. Our job as personal trainers and coaches is to guide you from your current starting point to action and ultimately maintenance stages. So how can we do that?

  • We take your large goals and break them down to smaller stepping stone goals leading you to your ultimate goal.

  • We help you look at your overall schedule and figure out where you can squeeze a workout in.

  • We help you lay out your workouts for the week or month and plan around any upcoming challenges.

  • We teach and prepare you for unexpected challenges.

  • We can help teach you to fight back against your excuses.

  • We can be the person who holds you accountable for completing your workouts.

  • We push you out of your comfort zone to prove to you that you CAN do more.

We can only guide you however. We can’t force you to make the change. The desire has to come from you. In order to fit fitness in to your life, three things need to happen:

  1. Priority: We can’t be with you 24/7 and force you to complete your workouts. The ultimate motivation and drive has to come from YOU. We can give you all the tools and tricks in our arsenal, but if you don’t make your health a priority in your life, it will easily be tossed aside to something else you’d rather do. Find out what drives you and use that to motivate yourself.

  2. Routine: Create your new routine. Without creating a new routine, working out will never become a habit and be harder to schedule into your day. (See Setting Routines Blog post)

  3. Schedule: Add your workout to your personal calendar or daily to do list like you would any other appointment or meeting. You’ll be less likely to book over the time slot if it’s already filled.

Set yourself up for Success

Prioritize

Pick an activity you’ll enjoy

  • Make it a game: There’s a bunch of fun apps out there that can take your mind off the fact that you’re working out. One example:  An app called “Zombies, Run!” Simulates zombies chasing you. You’ll hear their footsteps and breathing speed and slow in interval patterns that trigger you to run faster or slower so the zombies don’t catch you.

  • Try classes: They are actual scheduled events and provide motivation from teachers and others around you.

  • Work out with a friend. (just make sure you actually workout and don’t waste too much time chatting)

Make it a competition.

  • Programs like MyFitnessPal allow you to compete with your friends for the number of steps you do in a day.

  • Set a goal to run a 5k, do x amount of push-ups, etc.

Join a team sport

  • You’ll meet new friends and have a commitment you can’t miss out on.

Include kids/family/pets

  • Go for family bike rides, walks, hikes, play a game of tag, etc.

  • Your pets need exercise too! Take them along on your cardio workouts

Time doesn’t have to be an enemy

  • Short workouts can be just as effective. Almost everyone can squeeze in 20 minutes somewhere in the day!

  • Several 10-15min workouts throughout the day can sometimes be more beneficial than one longer one.

Routine

Start small and add more as you go

  • New to working out? Start with committing yourself to just 3 days a week. Add a 4th day as a bonus day.

Add fitness to the most convenient part of your day.

Look at your schedule.

Figure out what time of day will work best.

Plan ahead

  • Schedule each workout like you would any other appointment

  • Create a weekly or monthly fitness plan and add it to your calendar. That way, if something does come up, you’ll have a visual of the rest of the week to see how you can accommodate changes to your schedule.

See if your employer will allow for some flexibility in your work hours.

  • Maybe your employer will let you take a longer lunch in exchange for coming in earlier and/or staying later. Or they’ll let you come in late or leave early in exchange for staying late or coming in earlier.

Get rid of the excuses:

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If you’re not 100% committed to adding fitness to your life, you’ll always be able to find an excuse to skip your workout. Stay positive and focus on the things you CAN do, no matter how small, to begin to make the change. Be patient with yourself. Change doesn’t happen overnight, adding something new takes time and commitment. Consult with your IronPlate Trainer either online or in person to help get you set up on the right track.

The IronPlate Guide to Eating Out

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Eating out at restaurants with your friends or family is one of life’s pleasures, and it can also be a crucial part of your professional life. You shouldn’t have to give up or avoid eating out because of your new healthy lifestyle. You can still enjoy dining out, while being mindful of what you eat if you follow these simple tips.

Before the meal:

  • Take a look at the menu online ahead of time.

    • This will give you time to sort through the menu free of distractions or outside pressure.

    • Ask your trainer to take a look with you to come up with some healthy options together.

  • Look for keywords* that can help you make the best decisions on your meal.

  • Don't skip meals the day of to save calories.

    • Doing so will most likely cause you to overeat later. If you eat as you normally would throughout the day, you won't be thinking with your stomach and you'll be able to make better choices.

  • Have a large glass of water before your meal. (as soon as you get there or before you arrive)

    • The water will make you feel good and slightly full, helping you to make better choices.

At the Restaurant:

This is the important part. Stay STRONG! Choose carefully. You can have a meal that is both delicious and healthy!

  • Don't fill up on the free appetizers (tortilla chips, bread, etc). This is where not coming to the restaurant starving will come in.

  • Do fill up on salads and vegetables.

  • Do ask for dressing on the side.

    • Choose an oil-based dressings. (Italian, Balsamic, etc.)

    • steer clear or the creamier dressings. ( Ranch, Creamy Caesar, etc)

  • Do: Broth-based soups.

    • especially those with vegetables or beans which contain healthy nutrients. (watch out for cream based soups)

  • Do: Customize your order.

    • Meals do not need to be exactly as they appear on the menu.

    • Ask for double veggies instead of starchy side.

    • Ask or look for Grilled instead of fried, Lettuce wrap instead of a bun or bread, etc.

  • Don't feel the need to clear your plate.

    • Most restaurants offer much larger portions than needed.

    • ask for a to go box with your meal and immediately put half of it in the box. (out of sight, out of mind!)

    • share a meal with a friend.

  • Skip the alcohol.

    • Alcohol is an easy way to pack on the calories without even realizing it.

    • If you must consume alcohol, choose lower calorie options such as spritzer or drinks mixed with Seltzer water.

    • Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. This will both slow your consumption of alcohol down and keep you hydrated.

  • Dessert: The best option is always to skip the desert menu, but it you must indulge:

    • Look for a sorbet, fruit cup, skim cappuccino, herbal tea.

    • Split with friends so you get a few tastes, but not the whole thing.  (Many times dessert portions are also larger than recommended.)

After the meal:

  • Don’t go straight to bed when you get home. Give your body a time to digest the food you have eaten. It doesn’t digest well when you are asleep and you may feel even more hungry in the morning as a result.

  • Do enjoy a brisk walk to burn off a few of those calories you’ve just consumed and some fresh air to refresh your mind.  

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*If you find yourself grabbing a spontaneous bite to eat, don’t panic and don’t use it as an excuse to blow off all of your hard work.  Take a look at the key words below. Preparing yourself with these key words and the tips above, will help you navigate the menu to make the best possible choices available to you.




Setting Routines

Adding something new to your well-oiled routine is a challenge at first, but with consistency, over time, it becomes another habit of your daily life.  This is also true for adding exercise or making changes in your diet. Change is hard, but if you are ready for it, there are steps you can take to make it easier.  

In 2002, researchers at New Mexico State University studied 266 individuals who worked out at least three times a week. They wanted to know why these individuals exercised regularly and continued to keep it as part of their routine despite anything else that was happening in their lives.  Each individual had a variety of reasons for beginning their routine; to relieve stress, finally had free time, get healthier, etc., however, the reason 92% of them continued to exercise was that it made them “feel good”.  Their bodies craved the reward of the increased endorphins and/or sense of accomplishment they felt tracking their continued progress. (2) What does it take to get to the point of craving the reward?

  1. Mindset/Motivation
    You have to be in the right mindset to be able to make a change.  You need to have a strong desire for this change to be part of your life. Do you really care about this habit?  If yes, why? What is your motivation?

  2. Ignore your inner excuses
    Our body prefers to make things easier for us. When something is habit, or routine we do it without thinking. Adding something new to a routine requires us to be aware of our actions, which is challenging at first. Because of this, we tend to come up with all kinds of excuses as to why something won’t work. Shifting your focus from reasons you can’t do something, to what you can do with the resources available to you, will help you limit your excuses.

  3. What is your reward?
    What is your reward for the behavior you are adding? Do you feel good after your exercise or eat a healthy meal?, Feel less stressed?, Have more energy?, Feel more satisfied with your new diet?  Find out what it is that gives you satisfaction during the behavior as well as once it’s complete. This is your reward.

  4. Make conscious decisions and stick to them
    Example: You are trying to eat better but are meeting friends out for dinner or drinks.  Before you go, don’t deprive yourself of enjoyment, but set preplanned limits for yourself. Maybe you will only have two drinks, or you’ll avoid the drinks but have dessert, or appetizers, etc. Make peace with the decision you have made so you don’t feel guilty later. It’s OK to indulge in small doses, part of this process is learning what is worth the enjoyment and what isn’t.  Be careful not to let peer pressure increase your limits when you get there. This can make you feel guilty and trigger “all or nothing” response causing you to overindulge.

  5. Don’t talk about it
    This goes hand in hand with #4.  If you’re trying to eat better, don’t stand around the food table at a party and announce to everyone nearby: “I shouldn’t be eating this” or “I’m only allowing myself to have…” or “I can’t have those, I’m trying to…insert excuse here…”.  These statements welcome comments from your peers such as: “Oh live a little!”, “A little won’t hurt you!” etc. You’ll find that very few people are going to be supportive of your statements and consciously or unconsciously try to talk you out of your preplanned limits.  Once you’ve made your decision stick with it, don’t make a huge deal out of it and you’ll find people won’t notice or judge your actions either way.

It takes humans an average of 66 days for a new habit to become routine.  The actual range can vary person to person to be anywhere from 18-254 days.  That huge range covers less than a month to a little over 8 months! So don’t get frustrated when after a couple weeks, you still find yourself struggling to get that habit to stick.  When creating a new habit, we have to keep repeating our new routines to train our brains to make it an automatic. To do this we use something called “The Habit Loop.”

The Habit Loop

  1. Cue/Trigger: triggers brain to initiate a behavior

  2. Routine or Response: actually performing the behavior

  3. Reward: feeling after completing the behavior, achieving the goal or performing the response

For your behavior to become a habit, all of 3 of these must happen each time the behavior is performed.

For this example, our new desired habit will be working out before work.

For this example, our new desired habit will be working out before work.

Cues:

  • Create a visual cue:

    • Keep sneakers in plain sight or a place you have to step over them to get to your next location

    • Lay your clothes out in a convenient location prior to going to bed

    • Sleep in the clothes you plan to work out in

    • Put the scale where you’ll see it first thing

    • Hang your goals somewhere you see multiple times a day

  • Get rid of potential excuses

    • In the winter set the thermostat so the room is warmer by the time your alarm goes off.  You’ll be more likely to get out of bed if you’re not freezing when you wake up.

    • If you know the weather will be bad, set up appropriate clothing ahead of time or prepare a workout to do at home

    • Go to bed at a reasonable hour (this may involve creating a second habit)

    • Create a chart to check off once your workout is completed.  Leave it in a place you will see multiple times a day.

    • Take to a blog or social media to have a base of people to report your progress to

    • Schedule your workout on the calendar, similar to how you would another meeting.  

  • Tie it in with a current habit

    • Your current routine is, alarm, shower, breakfast, and then work.

    • New routine will be: alarm, workout, shower, breakfast and then work.

        • *Trigger-Alarm, New habit-Workout

    • Get up at same time every day regardless of whether you’re working out or not.  Eventually your body will adapt and you will routinely be ready for that early AM workout.  

**This may be trial and error to find what works for you.  Consult with your trainer, friends or family for suggestions and support!

Routine/Response

You have performed the new behavior. Take note of how you feel before, during and after.

Reward

What is your reward for completing your behavior? Feeling of accomplishment? Happy to be done for the day? Better mood? Increased strength? Better sleep? What is yours? Write it down.

Eventually this is what your body will desire and crave cuing you to continue your behavior.  

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It’s important that despite everything, you continue to repeat this loop until your habit is formed.  You don’t have to be all or nothing however. If time is an issue one day, even an abridged version of your routine will be helpful making your new behavior a habit.  For example: If you have an early meeting and can’t do your originally scheduled workout, try at least a modified version. Do a couple push-ups, squats and/or sit-ups quick before jumping the shower.  This helps cue the brain that your loop is still intact. Loop: Alarm, workout, shower, breakfast, and then work.

Sometimes when creating a new habit we aren’t aware of all the parts that are involved in making it routine. Something such as starting a new job is always awkward at first and can take up to 6months or longer for us to feel comfortable and familiar.  We keep at it because we have to, in order to get our paycheck (the reward) to pay for the things we need. Prioritizing time to work on diet and exercise as an important part of your day will help it become something you soon won’t have to think about but automatically do.  

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”- John C. Maxwell

If you’re serious about making a change in any aspect of your life, know that time, hard work, and consistency are key.  If you stick with it, the reward will be a new involuntary habit.



Sources:

1) https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

2) “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg







Having a Healthy Halloween

When we think of Halloween, the first things that come to mind are candy, costumes and trick or treating. For those trying to lose weight or stick to their healthy diet, this time of year can be torturous. Temptations and reminders of Halloween treats seem to be everywhere we look… seemingly starting earlier and earlier each year. Instead of dreading all the temptations, use the holiday as a fun way to get creative with the things you eat!

Here are some tips on how to survive Halloween, as well as some pictures (courtesy of Pinterest) of fun ideas to bring to your next Halloween party, classroom or even to make at home for family and friends. 

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TIPS

Don’t buy candy ahead of time

  • Wait until the day of trick or treating to buy the candy you’re going to hand out.  That way it won’t be a temptation in your house for longer than it needs to be.

Buy less than you think you’ll need

  • Worst case you have to stop handing out candy a little early.   

  • Best case, you’ll be left with much less.

Buy candy you don’t like

  • This way you won’t be tempted to eat it before or after you hand it out. 

Donate left over candy

Make a conscious decision prior to buying candy or going to an event on what you are going to allow yourself to eat and stick to it.  


Happy Halloween!

What happens when we sit all day?

Our bodies are designed to move. Our ancestors were nomads, hunters and gatherers, farmers, pioneers, and explorers. They rarely sat and were physically active most of the day. Now thanks to modern technology we don’t have to work as physically hard as our ancestors. As nice as this may be, our current lifestyles may actually be killing us.

It’s estimated that the majority of us spend at least 60% of the day, if not more, sitting which is having serious impacts not only on our health but on the structure of our bodies. A new term “actively sedentary” has been developed for those that spend the majority of their day sitting but still get in some type of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. Some studies are showing that 30-60 minutes of activity isn’t enough to counteract the rest of the days sedentary behavior, and the side effects (of that sedentary behavior) could be equivalent to smoking cigarettes. Don’t go quitting your gym membership just yet though, as some other studies say 60-75 minutes of intense physical activity most days of the week is enough to offset our behavior. Much more research is needed, but we can all agree that moving more only helps us. By now, we are all well aware that sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can lead to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity among other things. What else is happening to our bodies when we are sedentary or even “actively sedentary”?

MUSCLES:

Chest:  Because we often slouch forward, hunching our shoulders and caving in our chest, our pectoral muscles get tight. This affects the muscles in our back that oppose our pectoral muscles causing them to stretch and weaken and our pectoral muscles to tighten. Over time, the back muscles ( Posterior Deltoids, Trapezius, and Rhomboid muscles) that pull our shoulders back allowing us to have good posture are no longer efficient, leading to “round shoulders” and “hunch back” look.

Neck/Back: Holding your head and neck forward strains your cervical vertebrae stretching spinal ligaments and causing bulging of your discs. It can also cause headaches, jaw pain and nerve impingement which can cause radiating pain down one or both arms. 

Hips: Your hip flexors (iliopsoas muscles) get tightened and shorten with prolonged sitting. These muscles are responsible for lower back stabilization. When tightened they cause your pelvis to tilt anteriorly pulling on your lower back and could be causing your lower back pain and any radiating pain down one or both legs. 

Glutes: Sitting causes your glutes to become inactive, weakening them over time. Your glutes are a power house responsible for the movement of the hip and thigh and stabilization of the knee. Without their strength, other muscle groups try to compensate for the loss and are overused causing you to move less efficiently which leads to injury.

Core: Because abdominal muscles engage less when sitting than standing, there is increased pressure on your lower back. The less engaged your abdominal muscles are, the weaker they become putting more strain on other muscle groups (aka lower back) to stabilize. This can lead to poor lifting mechanics and further joint issues if not addressed. 

 Our bodies are pretty amazing. They are smart enough to adapt to imbalances that we create. Our body is constantly trying to make things easier and more efficient. Unfortunately, this amazing adaptability isn’t always best mechanically and physiologically which can be a detriment long term. One small imbalance in our bodies can have a chain reaction on the alignment and functionality of the rest of our bodies. 

ORGANS:

Heart: In a sedentary state, there is less need for blood and oxygen to be pumped through the body, so your blood flow is slower allowing more time for fatty acids to build up and clog your arteries.

Pancreas: Sedentary behavior affects your body’s response to insulin in as little as one day. The pancreas releases higher levels of insulin causing elevated resting blood glucose levels and ultimately leads to diabetes. 

Digestion: Sitting after eating compresses our digestive organs, slowing the rate of digestion, which can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and gut microbial imbalances.

Brain: Because you are getting less fresh blood and oxygen to the brain during sedentary behavior, your brain function slows decreasing the release of brain and mood enhancing chemicals. This causes us to feel more sluggish, decreases our focus and concentration, and affects our mood. 




SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

If you already workout, great!  Keep it up. Don’t think that your workout is wasted if you are sedentary the rest of the day. You are still receiving more benefits than if you were to do nothing. With some small changes in your daily routine, you can make a huge difference in your sedentary behavior.


Commute: 

  • If possible, walk or bike to work

  • If you take public transportation stand for part of or all of your commute

  • If you drive, park as far away from the entrance as possible




At the office:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Arrange your office so you have to get up to get something off the printer, fill your water, answer your phone, throw something out, etc. The more times you get up and move around the better. 

  • Schedule a 10 min break from sitting every hour. 

    • Take time to stretch

    • Stand while you make a phone call

    • If possible, use an adjustable desk so you can stand for a bit while you work. 

    • Set alarm or wear activity watch such as Fitbit, that will remind you to move. 

  • Instead of emailing an employee, walk to their desk or office

  • Leave your desk for lunch

  • Take 10 minutes during your lunch break to go for a brisk walk

  • Adjust your workstation to be as ergonomic as possible. 




At Home:

You’re tired from working all day but moving around will actually give you more energy!

  • Do laps around your kids field at practice

  • Stand watching their practice or game (Or better yet, do your own body weight workout while you wait!)

  • Get involved in kids sports/activities, coach or help out with the practice or game

  • Go to the gym, or an exercise class directly from work (You’re more likely to go if you don’t go home first)

  • Cook at home. While prepping your meals, you’ll be standing and moving your body.

  • Get up and move during commercials while watching TV.

  • Walk around while you talk on the phone

  • Housework counts as moving! Pick one or two things to do every day

  • Create active family time

    • go for a walk, hike, bike ride, play in the yard or park, swim, dance, ski, etc.

  • Join a sports team


Stretches: you can help relieve some of the tightness and tension in the muscles affected by sitting all day:

  • For best results do each stretch 2-3 times a day. 

  • Hold each stretch for 30seconds, release then repeat each stretch 2-3 times.




Pidgeon pose

Frog pose

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Butterfly

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Kneeling hip flexor stretch

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Happy Baby Pose

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Pec stretch

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Hanging Shoulder Stretch

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Neck stretch

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Chest opener

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Shoulder shrugs and rolls

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Quad stretch

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Cobra

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References

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2011/01000/The_Problem_With_Too_Much_Sitting__A_Workplace.14.aspx

https://www.livestrong.com/article/507319-muscles-affected-by-sitting-all-day/

https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/05/08/sitting-too-long.aspx

Dr. Julie Fellows, PT, DPT

The Outdoors Makes Us Healthier

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” 

– John Muir, The Mountains of California

 

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I love being outdoors. I love the colors, the smells, the sense of peace I feel soaking in the suns warmth and sounds of nature. Whenever I am stressed or unhappy, a day hiking in the woods always makes me feel renewed.  (Yes, even with my two year old in tow!)  When I train, I often find excuses to take my clients outdoors for a fresh air workout.  For Centuries, people have believed that the outdoors holds great healing power for illnesses, stress, and our mental health. Those who were fortunate enough to have the financial means, wandered to upstate NY, outWest and to the coast to seek cures for whatever ailed them. While nature may not have been a cure all for everything, it did, and still does benefit our health.  

Today’s research indicates being outdoors:

  • boosts our mood;

  • reduces depression;

  • improves sleep;

  • increases energy;

  • enhances self-esteem;

  • decreases our anxiety;

  • makes us feel more grounded and connected with our community and appreciative of nature.

 Additionally, it’s free and easy to take your workouts outdoors.(1)  Unfortunately, according to a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors.  (2) Our jobs, commutes, and running around, leave little time for us to venture outdoors.  Could something as simple as a daily 30-minute walk in the park have significant impacts on our health and wellbeing?  Science is pointing to yes!  New research shows that breathing in phytoncides, which are substances emitted by plants and trees to protect them against rotting and insects, appears to lower stress, improve focus and boost the numbers and activities of the body’s natural killer cells leading to increased immune function.  Phytoncides are also known to reduce inflammation in the body making them to helpful in fighting various diseases.  The benefits of breathing in these phytoncides can last up to 30 daysafter! (3)

Back in the late 1800s, tuberculosis infected an estimated 70-90% of people in urban populations.  Since it then had no cure, it was responsible for killing 80% of those who contracted it. Those with the disease looked to many promising options in order to avoid becoming another statistic.  One of these remedies was taking refuge in the heart of the Adirondack’s under the watchful eye of Dr. Trudeau.  Dr. Trudeau himself was diagnosed with tuberculosis.  He moved himself and his family from Long Island to the Adirondacks to live the remainder of his life in peaceful retreat.  However, instead of succumbing to the disease, Dr. Trudeau noticed significant improvement in his strength and health following his move. He attributed his success to the fresh mountain air, isolation, increased physical activity, and good nutrition.  Dr. Trudeau proceeded to test his hypothesis and confirm his suspicions, which led to the opening of the Adirondack College Sanatorium in Saranac Lake, New York.  The Sanatorium was a rest home to treat and “cure” patients with tuberculosis. Per Dr. Trudeau’s protocol, patients would sit outdoors, no matter the weather, for 8-10 hours a day.  They would gradually increase their exercise duration as time went on, and they followed a strict healthy diet that included three meals a day and a glass of milk every 4 hours. (4,5, 6)  While he didn’t truly cure his patients of tuberculosis, Dr. Trudeau was on to something; being outdoors, exercising, and eating well is beneficial for longevity.  He helped many patients regain strength and prolong their lives.   

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This all sounds great, but the majority of us don’t have the option to quit our jobs and uproot our entire life to move to the mountains.  The good news: you don’t have to!  Even a short 30 minute unplugged stroll around a green space can have immense benefits in lowering blood pressure and reducing depression.  

During the 1980’s, a practice called Shinrin-yoku (“taking in the forest atmosphere”) or “Forest Bathing” was developed in Japan as part of a national public health program. (7)  The program was designed to encourage people to be healthier as well as protect the nation’sundeveloped land.  The belief is, immersing yourself in nature, even briefly, will provide many health benefits.  While this process is more meditative than Trudeau’s all or nothing approach, the idea is still the same: nature promotes healing for both the mind and body.  “Forest Bathing” provides you with time away from your daily “to-dos “and technology in order to reflect and re-center your mind as well as breathing in the natural fresh air.  

“Scientific studies have found the benefits of Shinrin-yoku to include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer (NK) cells.

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mood

  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD

  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness

  • Increased energy level

  • Improved sleep” (8)

Other studies have shown that time spent around green space can also increase your creativity, your connection with peers and intuition with your own body. 

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Take a second to reflect on the last time you enjoyed some time outdoors.  What were you doing? Were you at the beach? On a hike? Enjoying a walk or picnic in a park?  How did you feel?  Chances are you were happy, relaxed and refreshed.  How can you regularly take advantage of the benefits nature has to offer? 

  • Walk to and from places when you can

  • Take a hike or camp on the weekends

  • Stroll through the park or other areas with green space

  • No matter the weather, get outside for even as little as 15-20min.

  • Walk on Lunch break

  • Find time to be by yourself-away from technology

  • Take your exercise outdoors: run, bike, walk, swim, rollerblade, bring your weights outside, improvise a bodyweight workout outdoors at the park, kayak, paddleboard, workout classes at the park, etc.

  • Kids & pets need outdoors too-plan playground trips, family bike rides, family hikes, sports, etc.  

Does spending time in nature hold the magic to cure for all that ails us?  Probably  not, but you can’t deny the changes that happen in your mind and body when you are able to spend some time outdoors away from the hustle and bustle.  A combination of good nutrition and some time spent outdoors exercising and reflecting certainly can’t hurt. 

 

 

References

1. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6360/get-out-5-benefits-of-outdoor-exercise

2. https://snowbrains.com/brain-post-much-time-average-american-spend-outdoors/

3. https://foresttherapytoday.com/forest-vitamins-phytoncides

4. http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/breath/mountain-air/

5. http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/alav/tuberculosis/

6. https://7-5diseases.weebly.com/tuberculosis.html

7. https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/

8. http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

Fitness and Nutrition While on Vacation

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When we go on a vacation, the last thing we want to think about is our fitness and nutrition. We want vacation to be a well-deserved treat to relax, escape and indulge. As it should be! When we get back, however, we often find ourselves wishing we had been more cognizant of our actions. Is there a way to be mindful of our health and still relax our normal habits? Of course!  Our bodies can benefit from a little time away from intense activity and planning. It helps us recover and rebuild both mentally and physically. If you go into a vacation with the mentality that you are going to maintain your current weight, you’ll put yourself in a better position for continuing on with your goals when you return.

 My family and I love to travel. We tend to gravitate to locations that offer plenty of sightseeing and outdoor activities such as hiking. Every year, however (usually to escape the cold- Thanks guys!), we take a trip to visit my brother and his girlfriend in Austin, Texas. For those of you that don’t know, Austin is known for their AMAZING food and “weird” art scene. Even though we’ve been down to visit a number of times, there is still plenty of exploring to be done and delicious food waiting to be tasted. From BBQ to Mexican, to whole restaurants based on doughnuts; the temptations are everywhere. Don’t even get me started on the carrot cake French toast. Drooling yet? Yeah me too. I think it’s time to book another trip…. Anyway, my point is, when we go visit, we know we aren’t going to be eating like we normally do. So what do we do? We allow ourselves the freedom to indulge while being mindful of the rest of the days eating habits and activities. It’s a guarantee that at least one meal per day is going to be out and probably unhealthy, so we try to make the other two as healthy and “normal” as possible. We’ll hit the grocery store when we get in and stock up on things like breakfast foods and healthy snacks. (fruits, nuts, etc.)  Another thing I try to do, both here and any vacation we take, is order a salad appetizer or a vegetable side to go with whatever I choose to eat. I’ll eat those first to fill up a bit, which helps to ensure that I’m not STARVING when my main dish gets to the table. Then I can actually enjoy the flavors of what I’m eating instead of devouring until I’m stuffed.  

The other nice thing about Austin (as with most vacation destinations) is the abundance of things to explore. My husband and I love to be outdoors and Austin does not disappoint. From paddle boarding the river, to hiking the Greenbelt, swimming in the springs, taking a walk or bike ride through the many parks; there is plenty to do, to keep you active and moving while exploring this quirky city. Actively exploring and experiencing your destination without hitting the gym is not only fun, but also good for your mind and body. Do a little research on what may be offered in the area and try something you wouldn’t normally do at home!

Most of the time when you are traveling somewhere new, you are looking do dive into the culture, see the sights, and try the local cuisine. All of this can be done while still being mindful of our health and fitness goals. A few weeks ago, we wrote about focusing on the things you CAN do when you’re not in your normal routine. This philosophy applies here as well. What things CAN you do while on vacation that will keep you on track while still enjoying your experience?

 Plan for your travels

  • Pack healthy snacks for the car or plane (Check out "On-the-go Snacks" blog post for ideas)

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Throw in workout clothes and shoes for days you might be more active or have a chance to squeeze in a quick workout. (sometimes, a change of scenery for a workout can really motivate you)

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Plan Active Sightseeing

  • Walk to your destinations when possible

  • Take a bike tour, hike, try a water sport, ski, or snowshoe

  • Join a group workout:

    • At the park (many offer Yoga, Pilates, HIIT classes, etc)

    • At the beach (early morning or paddle board yoga, Bootcamps, etc)

    • At a brewery or winery (many are offering yoga, or other fitness classes that come with after class tastings)

  • Take a walk after a larger meal

 Plan around your indulging meals

  • Order a salad to eat before your meal, you’ll get a few vegetable servings and probably eat less of the food that isn’t as good for you.

  • Make majority of your meals for the day healthy

  • Stop at a local grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks and foods

  • Share a tasty treat with a friend

 

 

What do IronPlate trainers eat?

Part 4:  Easy advance prep/Freezer meals

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After a long day away from home, the last thing you want to do is prepare and cook a meal. Luckily, you can be prepared for this situation with a bit of advance planning. For those situations when you know you have a busy few days or week ahead, plan your meals by prepping or even cooking them in advance. That way, when you get home the only thing you have to do is throw all your prepped ingredients together and watch it cook, or take it out of the refrigerator / freezer and heat it back up. If you are caught in an unplanned situation, there are plenty of quick easy go-to meal options, as well. Our IronPlate Studios trainers have some suggestions for you!

Kristin Roche

My go to quick meal is frozen shrimp. It only takes a few minutes to thaw, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to take it out before you leave in the morning. Once it’s thawed, sauté in pan with olive oil spray until opaque. Spiralize zucchini (or buy pre-spiraled!) and cook in the same pan with olive oil spray. Add seasoning of choice and squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Caitlin Harrington

I love making a big batch of soup or chili on a Sunday especially in the fall and winter. I’ll take the left overs and put them in separate containers in the freezer for an easy meal I can heat up on the stove or microwave on an extra busy day. If I have nothing in the freezer, my go to meal is usually breakfast for dinner.  

Chunky Chili

1 lb 90% lean ground beef (ground turkey works well too)
1 medium onion chopped (I usually use half onion)
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) diced tomatoes undrained (I personally like the ones with green chilies for extra spice)
1 can kidney beans
1 can northern white beans
1 can chickpeas 
½ cup salsa
1T chili powder
1 ½ tsp ground cumin

Optional to taste:

1 jalapeño, minced, with seeds
Ghost pepper salt (pinch)
Pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

  1. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet at medium-high heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat

  2. Add all ingredients to the crock pot (I drain and rinse all my beans prior to putting them in).  

  3. Cook on low for 5-6hrs.

Friendship Soup

1/2 cup dry split peas
1/4 cup red lentils
1/4 cup pearled barley
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules (this adds A LOT of sodium. I will generally add 1-1 ½ beef granule packets and replace the rest with 1-2 Cup of unsalted beef stock-play around with ratios to taste)
1/4 cup dried minced onion
2t Italian seasoning
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup small macaroni
1 lb lean ground beef
3 quarts of water (may need less depending on how much beef stock was used)
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes undrained

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, brown beef and drain. Add water, tomatoes and first 7 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the macaroni. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until macaroni, peas, lentils and barley are tender. Yields 16 servings. 

*Fun Fact: This also makes a great gift! Layer all the dry ingredients (first 8) in a mason jar and attach the recipe. All the recipient will have to do is add beef, water and diced tomatoes.  (Wrap macaroni in a separate baggy and layer on top since it gets added in later).


If I have nothing in the freezer:

Breakfast for dinner

For a quick meal if nothing is prepared, I enjoy breakfast for dinner!

Scramble 3-4eggs with a handful of spinach. Serve with ½ an avocado, hot sauce and fresh chives.

If I can plan a little:

Pre-marinated Chicken and Steamed Green Beans

I like to marinate chicken in a ziploc and throw it in the freezer. If I know I have a busy day coming up, I can pull the already flavored chicken out to defrost before I leave for the day. When I get home, I pour the whole thing in a pan, and throw it in the oven at 350* for about 30 minutes. I also usually keep microwavable steamed green beans in the fridge (2minutes in the microwave) to eat with the chicken.  


Vince

Beef and Quinoa Bowl

1 cup quinoa 
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup broccoli
1 lb lean ground beef

Cook quinoa as directed on package. Brown beef and drain and discard fat. Sauté mushrooms and broccoli. Mix together. Eat some right away and freeze the rest or freeze it all in individual containers for easy meals to heat up later!

What do IronPlate trainers eat?

Part 3: on-the-go snacks

 

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Q) “What should I eat as a snack if I’m on the go?” 

A) Travel “snacks” aren’t much different than meals we’d normally have. When possible, it’s best to plan ahead around days you might be traveling or out and about. Traveling? Bring a small cooler with healthy snack options or throw things in your travel bag that you don’t have to refrigerate. Often get stuck out? Keep an emergency stash of unrefrigerated snacks in your car, workbag, or office for unplanned busy days. If you weren’t planning on being away, try to make the best out of the options available to you. (Note: You are not limited to these options; these are mere suggestions to help you if you’re stuck!)

Pre-planned travel snacks

Apple & nut butter
Spiced chickpeas
Cottage cheese
Edamame
Hard-boiled eggs
Greek yogurt
String cheese & fFruit
Nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, mixed, etc)
Hummus and raw vegetables
Nut butter and celery
Pumpkin seeds
Tuna and celery

Unplanned snack options

Most gas stations, rest stops, and airports will still have healthy options you can grab. Sometimes you may have to mix and match a couple of things, but knowing what to look for will help alleviate the need for familiar travel temptations.

Nuts or mixed nuts
- try to choose natural, lightly salted or roasted.
- void sweetened or trail mixes with dried fruit and chocolate if possible.
Pumpkin seeds
Roasted chickpeas
Roasted edamame
Cheese and fruit
Hummus and a vegetable Cup
Greek yogurt
Protein bars
Beef jerky

**Be mindful of serving sizes for any pre-packaged product.


Here’s what our IronPlate trainers take with them on the go:

“Almond or nut butter and fruit preserves on whole wheat/grain sandwich thin or 1 piece of bread. It's filling, portable and doesn't need to be kept cold.”

“Walnuts (7 whole pieces or 14 halves= 1 serving) and Pistachios (about ¼ cup=1 serving)”

“I like to keep and pistachios and a protein bar (Quest cookie dough flavor is my favorite)  in my purse for days I’m caught out. If I’m planning on being gone for a long time, I like to munch on Everything Hummus and raw veggies (usually carrots, cucumbers and or bell peppers).”

 “Pre-made protein shake (See Trainers Favorite-Protein Shakes for ideas)”

Adjusting the Dial

DID YOU EVER "MESS UP" YOUR DIET or skip workouts and think, “Well, I've already messed up, no sense in trying to get back on track. I'll start again on Monday.” For some reason we think it makes sense to be all or nothing when it comes to our diet, fitness, and overall health. Why?

I think we tend to view fitness and nutrition as an option that fits in when it’s convenient. In order to make fitness and nutrition a permanent part of our lives, we have to think of it more as a responsibility to our health and wellbeing.

Let’s look at the other responsibilities in your life. Things like sleep, eating, your career, caring for a family, etc. probably take high priority in your life. (as they should!)  What would happen though, if you slipped up in one of these other categories? Didn’t get enough sleep, missed a meal, missed a deadline, or forgot something important related to caring for your family? Chances are you’d find a way to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. You wouldn’t just give up on sleep, eating, your career or stop taking care of your family because of a mistake or slip up. Doing so sounds silly, right? This is how we should be viewing our diet and exercise. So, you messed up a meal, indulged a little or missed a workout. No big deal!  None of us are perfect (or that boring!). What makes a difference is what you do immediately AFTER the screw up, indulgence or missed workout(s). Don’t waste all your previous hard work by continuing to ignore your good habits for a few days, weeks or even months. Life is rarely convenient and if we wait until it’s “perfect” to get back on track, it may never happen. So, we need to be able to weigh our options, adjust our outlook, and make the best of the situation we’re in. Focus on what you can do now to get back on track.

I recently read an article written by John Berardi called, “Why the pause button mentality is ruining your health and fitness.” In this article, he compares our health and fitness habits to dials that can be adjusted instead of switched on and off. The dial works on a 1-10 scale (1=just getting by, and 10=100% in training for sport or event) Most of us will hover between 4 and 8 when trying to accomplish a goal or maintain our current health status. Mr. Berardi explains that at any given time in our life, we may have to adjust our dials to prioritize what is important at that moment, but we should never fully turn the dial off. He says, “Instead of pressing pause, adjust the dial.” This makes so much sense! If we turn the dial off or press pause we may never hit play again. Life will always come up with excuses for us. We have a preconceived notion about diet and exercise, if we can't be all in, then we can't do anything. Instead, know you can’t do EVERYTHING all the time, but think about what you CAN do. Take a look at the diagrams from the article below:

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1-3: Making conscious decisions to stay active even though you may not be fitting in a formal workout
4-5: Maintenance Mode
6-8: Maintenance-looking to make changes in fitness level
9-10: Training for something specific

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I like to look at the nutrition dial a couple of ways:

1) When you’re first starting to make a change in your nutrition, numbers  1-6 are small behavioral changes you can make over time to adjust your nutrition lifestyle. Start at one and slowly turn the dial up every week or couple of weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be cruising around numbers 6-7. Numbers 9-10 again are for elite athletes or if you are training for something specific. It is not practical sustain a dial number of 9-10 long term in any part of our life, nor is it necessary for most people’s goals.

2) Maybe you’ve gone through dial numbers 1-6 and have been cruising around 6-7 for a while, but life has gotten a little chaotic. Look at the dial, and ask yourself which of these things CAN you do to keep you on the healthiest path possible for the time being.

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Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s important to give yourself some time each day to reflect and let your mind wander. Again, life gives us plenty of excuses, but it is so important that we make time for quality time with ourselves and the ones we love.

This doesn’t mean that if you have a deadline or a specific goal in mind for you fitness or nutrition that you can turn the dial down and get results. You WILL NOT get the results you are looking for without putting in some effort. What this does mean, is that when your exercise or nutrition needs to take a back seat to something else that is happening in your life, you can still make choices to prioritize healthier options that won’t completely derail your progress and hard work. For example, when you’re out to eat, you can still choose healthier options. Maybe you can squeeze in a quick ten-minute workout before you jump in the shower. Maybe today your exercise is parking the car a little further away and taking the stairs instead of your usual gym routine. This small change in outlook turns “I screwed up, guess I’ll figure it out later“ to “I accomplished 10 minutes today when I thought I wouldn't have time to do anything!” Or “I ate out all day today, but feel I made the healthiest possible choices.” You can’t control what life throws at you, but focusing on what you can control, helps to take the negative connotations out of your health and fitness goals.

John says in his article, “If you can't do everything, what can you do?” Take a look at your day, week, month and make manageable decisions on what CAN be done. This may mean we have to adjust our dials monthly, weekly, or even daily, but eventually juggling life around our health and fitness will become as simple as juggling around any of our other daily responsibilities.

It is also important to remember not to leave your health and fitness dials at a place that is too comfortable either. Once some of the other aspects in your life have shifted back in maintenance mode, turn that dial back up!  Keep setting new goals and finding ways to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. Reach out to your IronPlate team if you need help. 

To read John Berardi’s article click here.

What do IronPlate trainers eat?

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Part 2: Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a great on the go, or post workout meal when you are looking to lose weight or build muscle mass.  They can provide nutrients necessary to get you to your next meal, replenish depleted nutrients from your workout, and even curb that sweet tooth. 

When building protein shakes, some key ingredients you may want to include:

1) Protein powder

There are a million protein powders on the market with different protein sources and flavors.  Finding the right one for you might require a bit of trial and error.  You want to make sure it contains at least 20g of protein per scoop, tastes good, and digests well.  Also, check the ingredient list.  Try to pick ones with shorter more recognizable ingredients and no added sugar.

Different Types of Protein Powder (taken from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-tips-choosing-best-protein-powder/):

Whey protein is one of the most commonly used proteins and is best for day-to-day use.  It contains all of the essential amino acids and is easily digested. It helps boost energy and can reduce stress levels. Whey isolates and concentrates are best to use after a workout.

Soy protein is another common choice.  It helps reduce high cholesterol and can ease symptoms of menopause for some women. It can also help with osteoporosis by helping build bone mass.

Egg protein, released more slowly than whey, can be taken throughout the day.

Milk proteins help support immune function and enhance muscle growth.

Rice protein, which is 100 percent plant-based, is a good choice for vegetarians or for people who don’t consume dairy products. It’s also gluten-free.

Pea protein is highly digestible, hypo-allergenic and economical.

Hemp protein is also 100 percent plant-based. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

2) A liquid

The most common liquids are water (no added calories!) and unsweetened almond milk, but you can also use cow’s milk, unsweetened soy milk, unsweetened hemp milk, tea, and coffee.

3) Fruit

Adds a little natural sweetness to your shake and gives you healthy carbohydrates.  I generally like to add frozen fruit* instead of fresh to mine to give more of a smoothie feel, but either is fine!

*Be sure to check the ingredients on your frozen fruit to ensure there are no other added ingredients.  Or freeze your own!

4) Pick a veggie

Throwing veggies into your shake is an easy way to fit 1-2 of your servings in. Spinach is usually my go-to, it blends easily, and you don’t really taste it.  Another one that is fun to add in the fall is pumpkin.  Other options include (but not limited to): kale, swiss chard, beets, cucumber, and celery.

5) A healthy fat

Fats added to your shake will help slow digestion and keep you full longer. In addition, we need healthy fats in our diet for energy, to balance hormones, transport fat-soluble vitamins, balance inflammation, and aid in immune function.  Some good options are avocado, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, almonds, and nut butters.

6) Don’t be afraid of spice

Often times I will add cinnamon to my shakes, but plenty of other spices work too: ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, cloves, vanilla extract, allspice, etc. Get creative!

7) Ice

Use 1/2 cup for a cold smoothie consistency.  

*Note: Not all ingredients are necessary, just healthy suggestions to help build and spice up your shakes.  Consult with your IronPlate trainers and nutritionists to help you determine what combinations might be best for your personal goals.

Here’s what IronPlate trainers drink:

Kristin Reisinger

8 oz unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop VegaOne protein (or other plant-based, organic protein)
1/2 banana
1 tbsp peanut butter

or

8 oz unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop VegaOne protein (or other plant-based, organic protein)
1/2 cup mixed berries
Large handful of kale

Kristin Roche

Scoop of chocolate protein powder
½ frozen banana
Splash of iced coffee
8oz Cold water

Caitlin Harrington

1 Scoop chocolate protein powder (currently use Vega Protein and Greens)
½ cup frozen strawberries (frozen cherries work well too)
½ cup ice
Handful of spinach
¾ cup either water, milk, unsweetened almond milk, etc.

Pedro DoAmaral

Whey Protein-grass fed with cacao
8oz Grass Fed Milk
2.5g (about 1tsp) Tribulus*
1 TBSP Raw Honey

*Tribulus Terretris is an herbal nutritional supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine for male vitality, fertility, to increase strength and as a natural testosterone booster

Vince Marrero

2 Scoops Protein Powder (48g of protein)
½ a dragon fruit
½ cup raspberries
½ cup strawberries
Flax seeds
8oz water

What do IronPlate trainers eat?

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Part 1: Favorite Healthy Recipe:

IronPlate Studios is a firm believer that your nutrition and fitness go hand in hand to create optimal results and overall health.  Because of this, we spend a lot of time working with clients to teach them how to build their own customizable meals to match their specific goals and lifestyles.  We believe this approach versus handing out pre-made monthly menus, promotes hands on learning and more long-term success in actually changing one’s lifestyle. 

A couple of questions clients frequently ask us are, “What do you eat?” and “Do you have any recipes?” All too often, we (yes even us trainers too!) get stuck in a rut of making the same meals over and over again week after week. So, we’ve asked a few of our trainers to help us out and present you with some new, crowd pleasing and healthy recipes to try at home! This will be a 4 part series, so keep checking back to our blog each week for more of our trainer’s favorites.  Enjoy! 

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
Caitlin Harrington

Ingredients:

3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 red bell pepper, sliced (seeds removed)
1 green bell pepper, sliced (seeds removed)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray
  3. Place chicken strips into baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder.  Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken and stir to coat
  4. Add tomatoes, peppers, and onions to dish.  Stir to combine
  5. Bake uncovered for 30-35min or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are fork tender.  Serve over 1/2cup of brown rice, quinoa, or in a small tortilla with your favorite toppings. (salsa, avocado, hot sauce, etc)

**One of the things I love about this meal, is that with a little planning, a lot of the prep work can be done in advance (the peppers and chicken can be cut and spices can be pre-measured) for an easy throw together meal at the end of a busy day.  

 

Almond crusted chicken fingers with sweet potato fries
Kristin Roche

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup almond flour/meal
1 T paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Olive oil cooking spray 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray baking sheet with olive oil, set aside
  2. Slice chicken breasts into long strips, 1-2″ wide - trim off any fatty parts
  3. Mix together all of the spices and almond flour/meal in a wide bowl
  4. Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl and dip each chicken strip in the eggs then coat with almond spice mixture
  5. Place coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden

Instructions Sweet Potato Fries:

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into fries (leave skin on)
  3. Toss sweet potatoes in a large bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil
  4. Add seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, chili powder and/or cinnamon)
  5. Place on a baking pan and roast in oven for 20 min.  Flip then roast for another 10 min.
  6. Toss side salad with greens and balsamic vinegar 

 

Steak & Potatoes
Pedro DoAamaral
Simplicity is key with me! 

Ingredients:

10oz grass-fed, grass-finished, pasture raised skirt steak
4 Russian banana potatoes
Grass fed ghee
Rosemary
Himalayan pink salt
Ground pepper
Paprika
Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Parsley

Instructions:

  1. Start by getting a large cast-iron skillet and a chef’s knife
  2. Cut the potatoes into wedges.  (This will allow it to not only cook faster, but absorb some of the oils and spices)
  3. Drizzle the ghee in the skillet.  Coat each potato wedge with ghee in the skillet. (This will help give the potatoes a nice golden brown color along with a crunchy crust.)
  4. Dry rub the steak with salt and spices.  Let it sit for 15 minutes before cooking in the skillet alongside the potatoes.
  5. While the steak sits, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Add steak to skillet alongside the potatoes.  Slide the skillet in oven and cook for approximately 30-45min, checking every 15 minuntes until steak is cooked to your liking.  
  7. At the last 3minutes, sprinkle parsley on top of the steak and potatoes for a nice aroma, a beautiful garnish, and an addition to the taste. 

Warming Up Before Working Out

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We all remember those high socked, polo shirts, inactive, gum chewing (I can go on and on) gym teachers who always sat us down prior to our gym class for some stretching. The old-fashioned reach-for-your-toes-and-neck rolls (sorry to my clients reading this because I make them do this too--but for good reason, I’ll get to that). We were always annoyed because it had to be done prior to those awesome kickball gym classes, or those dodgeball-matrix style workouts. Yet, could those 80’s dress down gym teachers actually be on to something?

Let’s first take a look at what stretching is in comparison to mobility training, flexibility training, and then see how it all relates to a proper warm up.

Stretching is the action of allowing a muscle to be lengthened to its most allowable range of motion. i.e.: Stretching the hamstrings 90 degrees from a lying position is usually the most range of motion individuals can achieve. To stretch we often inhibit other muscles from working to allow for a deeper stretch. This is the Golgi-tendon organ inhibiting other muscle fibers, usually an agonistic one, so the desired targeted muscle can be stretched past it’s normal range of motion. One example of an agonistic muscle is the bicep to triceps’. They are polar opposites of each other.

Mobility training is allowing the joints and tendons to move through an area of space in which they should normally be able to move. This is usually done in the weak links of the human body such as the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, and wrists. It can also include soft tissue, which have a sub-important role in exercise, but still do contribute. Usually mobility training is done to maximize the targeted joint range of motion (ROM), and increase synovial fluid in the joints (gooey stuff that lubricates your joint sort of like motor oil lubricates car engines.)

Flexibility training is a training style solely done to maximize muscular ROM, joint ROM, and decrease tension in muscle fibers as a response from the nervous system. Flexibility training can go much deeper as it is also a tool to stimulate organ function, contract nearby organ muscles to increase lymphatic function of the body and also improve cognition as well as mood.

Now knowing each one’s properties, we have to determine which one is right for the purpose. Knowing what your purpose is has a great impact on which style of warm-up you should do.

Below is a chart breaking down which category you likely fit in based on your goal.

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For the purpose of this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of utilizing all three methodologies for the minimization of injuries and increase of athletic performance in all capacities.

When it comes to training, the optimal way to warm up based on my experience and other science based research, breaks down to static stretching for a specific duration, followed by flexibility training for the muscle groups being targeted during the training session, and lastly a mobility drill to prepare joints and motor control.

To provide an example let’s say we are going to do a heavy leg day training session. Here is how I break it down:

Static stretching comes first, hitting the main muscle groups being worked such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, which will induce greater blood flow, a feeling of low muscular tension, and create kinesthetic awareness. The sweet spot as research has found for static stretching seems to be between 20-30 seconds for the purpose of training. Anything above 90 seconds has shown to reduce performance. Afterwards, we will follow that up with flexibility training to further range of motion in muscles so that we can create a greater muscular adaption during the workout. The flexibility should also be done for both the synergistic (working together) and agonistic (working against or disabled through one another) muscles so that the body does not become anterior or posterior dependant during the workout. Finally, we do a mobility drill based on what body parts are being targeted. In this case, the ankles, the knees, the hip, and the spine. The drill will be dynamic which means it is moving instead of static, creating fluid motion in the joints so they are lubricated, but also allowing all possible rotational movements of the joints.

With this, your body will be primed in multiple aspects. Those aspects being the motor control of muscle fibers, the nervous system output, its efficiency in firing signals to muscle fibers for contraction. The skeletal system will have an easier time handling heavy loads. Furthermore, the tendons and joints will be in a much more prepared state for the eustress associated with athletic activities. With this approach, 5-10 minutes will be used but it is a well spent few minutes to improve performance, but also increase training longevity.

Never go cold turkey into a workout as your chances of injuries skyrocket. After all, training for the long haul is much more important than training without a proper warm up leading to irreversible damage to the body.

-Pedro DoAmaral

 

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21373870
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26642915
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3849057