Friday, December 26, 2008

Do it for Bob

A few years back this article was a great piece of motivation. It was reprinted again, and when I reread it, I felt it was worth sharing.

And for those who aren't aware today is a very important day. It's the day you clean house of all the garbage you've accumulated over the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Throw out the extra cookies, leftover cakes and start getting back into the swing of things. One last hurrah is coming your way on New Years, but there is no reason to wait. People who succeed will not use New Years as an excuse to postpone their road to the better life. Will you?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New York Sports Club Review: First Impressions

This post was inspired by my training at a New York Sports Club this week. As I'm home for the holidays my normal gym on the other side of the country is unavailable, so it's trail membership time at the local gym. The guy gave me some schpiel about trying to lock me in for a full term membership and wasted about 10 minutes of both of our time(that's 20 total minutes for the math whizzes out there). He was a pretty good salesman and probably would have conned most people in to one, but frankly I don't know if having a membership in a town you don't reside in would be all that useful.

As for the workout. I had a fairly simple workout lined up that involved box squats, glute ham raises, forward lunges, one legged box squats and some bar roll outs. I guess it would be considered simple in most gyms, but not here.

The locker room area was pretty nice with all the amenities one could dream of. Honestly I thought it was too nice, and they could have better spent the money on, umm round plates. Seriously all the plates were shaped like stop signs with holes in them. As Lyle MacDonald has taught me, there is no way to keep the power inside the bar if you have plates with holes in them. He's right as everything I tried to lift felt heavier than it actually was.

Try doing a bar rollout with plates shaped like this...

The warm up area was pretty sparse. So sparse in fact was all it had was some as seen on tv ab device that I thought went out with the 20th century and every different sized fitness ball you could imagine in this putrid green color. Sadly there were no foam rollers in sight(*edit* I found a foam roller on day 2!). I don't know how anyone could start a workout without one of them.

One sign I noticed that was pretty cool was that cell phone usage was limited to designated areas. It was as if cell phone users were akin to smokers, and this is as it should be. I hate people that use cell phones in the middle of sets. If you are that important, just skip the workout and get the lipo. It reminded me of a sign that the boys at Cressey Performance hung up after I had left. I believe I inadvertantly provided the frame for that sign. There are exceptions to the cell phone rule, though there are few and far between. One acceptable reason might be that you are making dinner plans with Jessica Alba.

That better be you on the other end, else get your butt back in the squat rack

The center had your standard run of treadmill/ellipticals and bikes all equipped with your very own television. I even saw a girl reading a book while on the elliptical. I honestly get car sick reading, so I'm not entirely sure if this elliptical reading is humanly possible. I quickly came to the conclusion that she must be an alien as that was the only rational explanation. I wasn't able to get a glance as to what she* was reading but I'll just assume it must have been the most rivetting book ever. Anyone else have some ridiculous spottings at the gym, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

My favorite machine by far(sarcasm) had to be this smith-machine-like-contraption that not only was controlled in the vertical plane but also the horizontal. This is to ensure that you actually don't do much of the work at all as the contraption will stablize the whole thing for you while you can pretend you are really strong because you get to use the big boy plates for the first time. I think it would be better served up front right next to the lockers for additional coat rack space.

So the glute ham raises didn't happen as I wasn't able to find any suitable equipment to do them, or even a place to do natural hams. As for the bar roll outs, lets just say I had to substitute another exercise. All in all this isn't a training environment I can thrive in, but hopefully can hold me over through the holidays.

*I'm not well versed in aliens, so I'm not sure if they assume the female human form they actually are female. Maybe they are in fact like slugs and possess the abilities to be either sex.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Should I have burst this guy's bubble?

So the other day I was in the supplement store picking up some post workout goodness and I started chatting it up with a guy who had seemingly been working out consistently for about a month and was ready to step up his game. He had apparently been cutting back his soda intake and felt it was time for some post workout shake.

He then pointed to a magazine that had a roided out, veiny freak on the cover and said "I don't want to look like that."


He then pointed to a men's fitness super ripped lean guy and said "I just want to look like that." I didn't have the heart to tell him that those guys don't look like that all the time, if ever and he would need a lot more than a post workout drink and cutting back on soda. He would also need the help of photoshop and a fake tan, much like that cover model.

Can Joe Six Pack with a desk job look like this?

Anyway my point is that one needs to set realistic goals for the amount of work they are putting in. I don't expect to be a fitness cover model any time soon, because frankly I don't train like one, and I'm not going to take any shortcuts to get there. I think people realistically see these cover model guys, read one article about their diet and training and think "hey, this ain't so bad, I can do that." Well you probably could if you quit your job, spent all your time perfecting your diet, and spent ample amounts of time in the gym and had some good genetics or drugs working on your side. If that is what you want to do then great, but if you aren't going to do those things don't expect to be on the cover of next months magazine. You get out what you put in. It is that simple.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grocery Store Wars

Some people have way too much time on their hands. Gotta love the Cannoli.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trying New Things: Foods & Herb Growing Kit

The theme for me this past week was trying new things. So I picked up a bunch of cool new stuff at the natural food store and Costco that I don't normally buy:

Asian Pear (have to be honest, have no idea what to do with this thing)
Sprouted Grain Bread (despise bread, although a new york bagel sounds good right about now)
Almond Butter (peanut butter guy by trade)
Raw Cashews and Brazil Nuts (usually and almond and walnut guy)
Kale & Mustard Greens (spinach almost exclusively)
Mixed Frozen Berries (usually just go for the straight blueberries)

Dang, I almost made it into the picture

Having a variety of foods in your diet is beneficial for sure. So get away from your comfort foods and try some new things. Who knows you may find you really like something, or at least you'll know you don't ever want to try something again.

I even picked up an herb growing kit. Frankly paying $4 for a sprig of something has always pissed me off(you end up throwing out the rest), so growing some stuff in house will definitely save some dough in the long run. Should be fun as well. Hopefully I remember to water them. If you don't see a picture of them sprouted in the near future you'll know it was a bad idea.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Body Composition Analysis


So I had my body composition analyzed before Thanksgiving Dinner (I wonder what it is now), and over the two tests the both came in roughly the same. This was an assignment per my Precision Nutrition coaching.

Bio-Impedence which isn't really known for its accuracy (especially when dealing with overweight and obese) came in at 12% body fat. Not too shabby. Honestly I thought it would have been a bit higher, but heck it's not all that accurate right?

Next came the fun part with the skin pinching and caliper measuring. With that test I managed a 12.28%. This test is more accurate and I feel a little more confident with this one. My score would fair better if I could get rid of some more abdominal fat, and some lower back fat which tends to be my problem areas. Yey for being an endomorph.

And now for my rant. I think people tend to put too much weight(pun intended) into these percentages and even more so when dealing with the scale. Rather than using this data to analyze exercise and diet habits and make tweak here or there, they become demotivated and mentally defunct.

To me these numbers represent just another way to measure progress. My main marker that I will continue to use is strength and performance, frankly because it's simple and it works. I think this is just something that training at Cressey Performance ingrained in my head. Or maybe it's the constant emails from Tony Gentilcore saying "I will always, ALWAYS tell people that if you train for strength/performance, the aesthetics will follow (assuming they're not eating like a nimrod). You[Gregg] are a true representation of that. It works!"

Tony, what can I say, you've made me a believer. So here is a good list of all the things you can do to measure progress, in decending order of how I value each one.

Strength/Performance - As measured by 1RM testing, or some other form of test that you can replicate and show improvement with. Tony recently blogged about a 225lb bench press test you can check that out here. I personally use things like a box squat, deadlift, bench press and 3 rep chin-up as my markers as outlined in Eric Cressey's book. He also even uses some various jumps with his clients to track progress as well (vertical, broad, etc).

Photos - A picture every few months really lets you visually see progression. Who cares what the scale says when you look leaner, jeans fit better, etc.

Body Composition Analysis - I think I've discussed this enough above.

Girth Measurements - Basically you measure the length around things like calves, biceps, waist, etc to see how the measurements change over time. The only thing misleading about this is if you were to put on a ton of fat your biceps might get bigger, but it's not because of muscle.

Scale - I don't really like to use this exclusively because it doesn't address any change in lean tissue as opposed to fat weight. If someone was trying to get lean it would be pretty difficult using this as the only means of measurement.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Airport Escalator

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday. And for those of you that partook in the black friday Wal-Mart shenanigans, that put a damper on the entire day ought to be ashamed. Traveling back to Long Island to see my family and friends was a treat, but that sure didn't sit right the entire weekend, especially since it happened in close proximity. Anyhow the trip went well aside from the aforementioned and the flight back.

My night flight basically turned into a red eye when delays put me back in Utah after 3am. One thing I did take notice of was after everyone got to the escalators to go to baggage claim their legs would take one step on and instantly left them immobile. Reminds me of this advertisement:

I don't see why everyone needs to make things so easy on themselves. The wheels on my luggage never touch the ground as I carry it to the escalator, where by some modern miracle I put one foot in front of the other and walk up them, as if they were stairs.

We've become habitually lazy because of conveniences like these. So next time try and inconvenience yourself a bit and increase that NEPA (Non-Exercise Physical Activity). Even if your NEPA only amounted to a meager 10 calories a day (it certainly can be more) that would be one extra pound you wouldn't see on the scale upon years end. Simply taking stairs over elevators, parking farther away, carrying luggage, chewing gum, etc can all increase that calorie burn.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eat the Turkey

Just made myself some gunpowder green tea as I'm writing this and I have to say it's quite a treat. As promised I had my body composition analysis this evening, and I'll post the results for you some time next week when I get back.

I know a lot of you are expecting me to recommend you take it easy on Thanksgiving dinner, but frankly I'm going to recommend the complete opposite. If you've been getting your exercise in, and nailing down your food lately, then a free meal on Thanksgiving evening isn't going to hinder your efforts. Just remember the rule of 90%. Dial in your training 90% and dial in your diet 90% and everything else falls into place. Now if you are training for a bodybuilding competition that is another story, but I'll assume most of my readers are weekend warrior types just trying to shape up and stay healthy.

This Turkey knows the importance of vitamin D

And with regards to this wonderful holiday there is no better time for me to thank you, my readers. All of you that read this blog keep me motivated to keep posting, and keep progressing myself. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself. I'll be thinking of you all when I have that first bite of some homemade pumpkin pie.

I'm off to New York to see my family (it has been a while). Wishing you all safe travels, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First Class Fat

It's hard to believe that Canada has ruled that the obese have the right to get two seats for the price of one on an airplane. Check it out here.

With all that extra room maybe "they" can fit in there

Next thing you know, obese people will be getting the following at zero additional cost:
Extra horsepower added to their car because a sports car doesn't perform the same with all that extra weight.
Free Seconds at Restaurants (heck they need to eat more, why should they have to spend more)
Free Custom Car Seats (Why should they be forced to lose the weight when they can have Cadillac provide them with a larger seat at no cost)
A complete redesign to all theme park rides to accommodate bigger butts. You may remember they are already starting to do this.

Now I have nothing against the obese, but frankly this is sending the wrong message, that being fat is acceptable and we're going to accommodate you. We are applying a band-aid to the problem and not really digging into the root cause and getting these people healthy. I don't know about you but knowing I would be paying double to fly home this thanksgiving would surely make me more apt to buy that gym membership because of the net cost savings. Now when I'm flying to Canada, I'll just have to make sure I eat up so I can get that extra seat. "Yes, I'll have the middle and window seat please."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Waiting for the Stars to Align

As I am about to embark on a 6 month journey with precision nutrition coaching, I thought it was interesting getting some of the reactions of the people I told. Knowing that it starts this coming week, my friend was quick to point out that it starts the week of Thanksgiving. I also found this same comment as to why many people hesitated signing up for the program, which worked out for me, because now I got my spot and they didn't. So to get to the point, yes it does start the week of Thanksgiving, but why should that hold me, or anyone else back. There is never a perfect time to start down the path toward any goal. People often say oh I'll start this day or that day, but never get to it because "stuff" gets in the way. Thanksgiving being this week or not, there is no better day to start than today.

The stars will never be perfectly aligned, just do it!

I've taken my before pictures, filled my refrigerator with enough food to get me to Wednesday (I'll be heading back to New York for Thanksgiving) and I'm ready to go. I have to get a professional body fat analysis over the next few days. I'll share the results of that with you when time comes.

Oh, and here is a quick shot of the meal I'll be using between lunch and dinner this week. It's simple, easy and gets the job done.


~2oz. Carrots
1/3 Cucumber
2/3 Sliced Bell Peppers
2 TBSP Walnuts
2 "Light" Cheese Sticks (I still haven't found good jerky out here, the quest continues, but cheese stix are okay in a pinch to ensure I get enough protein in this meal)

This simple snack is loaded with protein from the cheese and some from the nuts. It has fiber from the nuts and veggies. Some good fat in there from the walnuts, and some great nutrients from vegetables.

Don't forget to start today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

High Volume Week is Ridiculous and Santa+Soda=Fat

So looking at the training session on paper I said to myself, you've got to be kidding me(there may have been a bit vulgarity to it). After some speed squats I was rack pulling, and after rack pulling some killer lunges from a deficit. Then a couple fancy schmancy (I assure you that is a word, somewhere) exercises to close it out. All in all it took a couple of hours to complete and rest assured I was pretty beat when I was done.

Fortunately I had a pleasant surprise as I was leaving the gym. The giant billboard outside my gym which usually features some mountain dew, vitamin water, or other random beverage ad had been replaced by yet another random beverage ad...

I pegged him for more of a milk and cookies guy, guess I was wrong

I'm sorry for the crappy image quality but my cellphone isn't the best at taking pictures of towering objects in the middle of the dark night. But you get the point, finally an ad campaign with some truth to it. Santa drinks coke. Santa is fat. You do the math. And those that were doubting my training session took so long can take note of the absence of light around the billboard. Yeah thats right I'm calling out all the doubters.

And in case Santa is reading this, I don't mean any offense. I have been a good boy this year!

C'mon you gotta respect the man who provided you with the original 8 bit NES, super mario brothers, duck hunt and even a power pad. He did this all for a mere plate of my mom's famous chocolate chip cookies and a glass of luke warm milk that had probably been sitting a bit too long. And no it's not the cookies that makes him's the soda. I'm telling you, I saw it on a sign.

Although there was this one year when I found a special package* from one of his reindeer on my roof.

*Special Package = Reindeer droppings, jeez do I have to spell out everything for you?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where am I?

Just wanted to post a quick note that I am still alive and have all intents and purposes of keeping the content coming. That said I have some pretty exciting news. I managed to get in to the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating Coaching Program. It's taught by Nutrition Expert Ryan Andrews and goes for 6 months.

It filled up fairly quickly so I was lucky to grab a spot. The course doesn't start until November 24th, so I can't wait. I plan on learning quite a bit and having a lot to share so stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Truth about Weight Watchers: Part I

Weight Watchers is one of the most popular mainstream methods for losing weight. While many are quick to criticize the program there are some things they do extremely well and this is why they have success.

Social Support - Accountability is extremely important when trying to lose weight. One of the best tips when going on a diet is to get those around you involved. If you can gain the support of those around you, success becomes inevitable. On the flipside if nobody knows you are dieting and you are accountable only to yourself, it's easy to deviate from the plan. This is the one thing weight watchers does so well and makes them so successful. Weekly meetings and weigh ins, though daunting, keeps everyone accountable. Knowing that you are weighing in and that those around you are counting on you will probably make you think twice about having that twinkie and maybe you'll make exercising a priority.

Portion Control - Weight watchers has a clever system which focuses on points for portion control. It basically simplifies calorie counting and assigns a point value to each food. Each day you have a set number of points you can eat. This simplicity lets you keep your calories under control without turning to a food log that can easily turn into a full time job.

A Twinkie is how many points?

Emphasis on Fiber - Foods that are high in fiber tend to have less points, so this plan will have you filling up on high fiber foods thus encouraging consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. All of which are great choices.

You may remember from an earlier post when I talked about how the diet didn't really matter when it comes to weight loss. The most important factor was the adherence to the diet of choice. So whatever plan you choose to follow, follow it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

5 More Fat Burning Tips for You

Today we have a guest post from Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training. This advice is fitting as the holiday season is upon us as that Halloween candy will carry us through to Thanksgiving. Have you thrown out the remaining candy or are you nibbling on a few extra hundred calories a day until it's all gone? Whether you binge on it or graze on it, it's all going to wreak havoc on the mid section. Craig is here to provide some tips to help you get back on track.

At this time of year, we can use every last tip to help avoid
holiday weight gain.

So here are 5 more fat loss tips for beginner & advanced readers.

1) No liquid calories (with the exception of a post-workout drink).

Get rid of all the juices, the sodas, and the sports drinks. Liquid
sugar is the last thing you need when you are trying to lose fat.

You must also limit your alcohol intake - especially if you are
adding mix to drinks...that is a double calorie bomb! A single "Jack and Coke" is over 200 calories (100 calories from booze and 100 calories from mix).

2) No fast food.

Do not eat at fast food restaurants. Even if you choose what you
think is healthy, remember this:

Fast food restaurants are all about profit.

And in order to profit while giving you cheap, quick, and easy to
prepare foods, the quality of the food ingredients will be poor -
especially the protein.

Now you might have read that you can still make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. But you know what, that's just
politically-correct opinion. If it's fast food, it's poor food.

Walking into a burger joint and grabbing a chicken breast on a
white bread bun with a piece of old lettuce and a half-green,
half-pink tomato is "barely" healthy eating.

The politically-incorrect truth is that it's going to take time and
effort to eat properly. You will have to plan, shop, and prepare
healthy meals. You will have to spend time cleaning, cutting, and
cooking your food. That's the truth.

But believe me, it will taste so much better than fast food, and
healthy eating will make you more alert. Eating fast food will make you feel terrible, and will make you want to have an afternoon nap at your desk.

Make one small improvement to your nutrition everyday for the rest of your life.

3) Eat more fruits and vegetables.

If you are eating 2 servings per day, then go up to 4 servings per day by the end of the week. And even if you think you are doing great by having 5 servings per day, you still need to double that (take 2-3 weeks to work your way up to 10 servings per day).

Stick with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables - organic if possible.

4) Eat 1oz of almonds or walnuts per day (1/2 oz in the AM, and the other half in the afternoon).

Most nuts are roasted in oils (possible source of trans fats), so
stick to natural or dry-roasted nuts.

Don't panic...this small amount of nuts won't make you fat, but will fill you up and help you lose weight.

5) Be consistent with your workouts.

And make sure the workouts are efficient and effective. To make it easy for you to follow, stick with the Turbulence Training fat burning workout system.

It doesn't matter if you train in the morning before or after
breakfast, or at night before or after dinner, or at 1pm on days
when the moon is in line with Saturn...don't worry about the
details, just train consistently.

6) BONUS TIP: Go for a walk after lunch or dinner (or anytime you eat a big meal). Research shows this will help you control your cholesterol and triglycerides, plus any movement is better than sitting around watching the TV and snacking.

Improve your lifestyle everyday,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, click here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Are Flu Shots Safe?

Everyone is lining up for the flu shot vaccine, but are they considering the consequences beyond the needle sting? The truth may surprise you.

Sadly this seemingly gross exaggeration is spot on. The typical flu shot contains 25 micrograms of mercury, some dead influenza viruses, formaldehyde, Triton X100 detergent, ethelyne glycol (antifreeze). I don't know about you but last I checked formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, anti freeze in a tiny dose can kill a dog and mercury is something we were told never to play with as a kid.

What may also surprise you is that the shot has a dose of mercury considered toxic to anyone under 275lbs and this is being given to pregnant women and children. No studies have shown that this toxin is safe, yet somehow the companies making these vaccinations are getting away with it.

Patsy Hamilton writes "It is believed that some people cannot shed mercury from their systems and it builds up in their brains causing nerve and brain damage. In addition, some people are allergic to mercury and thimerosal and can experience serious allergic reaction as flu vaccine side effects. Some states have banned mercury from flu shot ingredients intended for use in children and pregnant women. But, while health advocates have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban thimerosal from flu shot ingredients, nothing has been done at this time. Many manufacturers continue to add thimerosal to their flu shot ingredients."

This recent study even showed that the influenza vaccine wasn't even effective at eliminating the flu in children. Also noteworthy is that there hasn't been any noted decrease in flu related death since the vaccination has been used.

Our foods are labeled with a list of ingredients, why aren't we informed about what is in our vaccinations?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween: It Begins

Dude, eat the pumpkin don't wear it, you definitely could use the calories

What begins? Today marks the beginning of crappy eating that will carry through to the holiday season. Right as you are finishing up that last piece of Halloween candy there will be plenty of leftovers from turkey day to fill your tummy. Those leftovers will carry you for a few weeks until the holidays bring cookies and treats a plenty. Overeating for 2 straight months with the only hope in sight being a new years resolution. We all know how those turn out.

Sure go ahead and have a couple pieces of candy today, eat your turkey and pie on thanksgiving and enjoy your Christmas Cookies (or whatever holiday cookies you might be celebrating with). But what if you stuck to a well regimented plan outside of those "free" days. Why wait until new years when you can start building the healthy body you want today. I'd suggest getting on a plan and sticking to it. Start Today.

Any plan will work. You should all know by now I love Precision Nutrition, but seriously any plan will work. A study showed that diet type was of very little importance. The most important thing was that adherence to the diet.

Happy Halloween! I'm starting today, are you coming along with me?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maximum Strength: Phase 3 Reloaded

For those of you wondering why I haven't posted my wrap up on phase 3 of Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength, here is the scoop.

About 4 weeks ago I managed to injure my forearm while bowling. I had to take it easy on my arm for a few weeks, so I decided to change up my programming entirely while giving myself the time to heal. Anyway my arm is about 80% at this point and I decided to restart phase 3 early last week. Hopefully I'll be able to wrap up with some more personal bests.

I've learned a lot as a result of this small injury and I'll try and share some of that with you in the coming weeks. Just know that I did not use my arm as an excuse to just slack off for a month. I got myself to the gym and did what I could to maintain my strength. Consistency trumps everything else. Being a slacker is never an option.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

High Doses of Vitamin D

It's the time of year when the days are shorter and the sunlight becomes sparse. It's also the time of year when people become depressed and their vitamin D stores begin to deplete, coincidence?

A lack of vitamin D can be remidied by getting more sunlight, lying in a UV tanning bed or supplementing with some vitamin D. The latter of which is the easiest for some, especially if you work indoors all day.

Interestingly enough a new study has surfaced in which you can catch up on your vitamin D by taking it in one big monthly dose.

Similar results were had by those following these protocols:
1,500 International Units once daily
10,500 IU once weekly
45,000 IU every 28 days.

It doesn't matter how you get it, just make sure you get it!

So basically for those that can't remember to take pills all that often, just have a system of taking it all in on the first of the month. How convenient! If you'd like to read further about the study you can find it here.

Lacking omega-3's and vitamin d? a pure source of cod liver oil kills two birds with one stone. Just don't take that all in a single monthly dose!

The Hungry Greek Scramble (or Omelet)

A variant of the Hungry Greek - See Below

Lets face it, when you are trying to pack in the protein at breakfast there is a very short list of "traditional" breakfast foods that pack the protein punch. At the top of that list is eggs. Most people find eggs to be boring, but not this time, behold...

The Hungry Greek Scramble


5 Whole Omega-3 Eggs

3 Cups of Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves

1 Medium Tomato
1/4 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1 oz. of Crumbled Feta Cheese
Olive Oil Spray Salt & Pepper (to taste)


Lightly coat the bottom of a non-stick fry pan with the Olive Oil Spray and place over medium heat. Add the Spinach, Tomato and Olives and cook until the Spinach has shrunk. While waiting for the Spinach to shrink, beat the eggs in a bowl. When the Spinach has shrunk add the beaten eggs and stir the mixture around with a spatula, trying not to clump up the Spinach too much. Stir the mixture around every minute or so and when the eggs are close to dry add in the Feta Cheese. Move the scramble around one last time and transfer to a plate when the eggs have reached the desired firmness. Add Salt and Pepper as desired. Serves 2 (or 1
Hungry Greek).


Mixing things up from time to time keeps the taste buds guessing, and keeps boredom at bay. So feel free to mix things up a bit with the options below or get creative with some of your own options. With eggs, the possibilities are endless.

Option 1
. For those that want to up the protein and lower the fat(and calories) feel free to sub in 4 egg whites for 4 whole eggs (that leaves you with 1 whole egg and 4 whites for the mathematically challenged).

Option 2
. Coconut Oil can be substituted for olive oil for those worried about cooking olive oil at higher temperatures. It adds a refreshing flavor that some might enjoy. If you don't like coconut this option is not for you.

Option 3
. I often find that I don't have black olives all the time so I sometimes substitute them for something I do have on hand like mushrooms. I prefer the shiitake variety, but any shroom will do.

Option 4. Make it into an omelet rather than a scramble.

Option 5
. Add some diced or mashed avocado to the side. I like to use a refrigerated avocado because it shortens the wait time to eat your eggs because it cools hot eggs to a tolerable temperature. Try it, the tongue will thank you.

If you like this recipe and want more protein packed fat burning recipes, be sure to pick up a copy of gourmet nutrition, my favorite cookbook. It has meals you never thought you could eat while achieving the body you've always wanted. To get your copy click here

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Food Preparation 101: The Grocery Shopping List

The majority of people that are successful have something in common, they plan ahead. We've all heard the old adage "failure to plan is planning to fail." Making the commitment to plan your food preparation will inevitably lead to better health and a better physique. The first step in planning your food preparation is gathering the food. This quest involves making a simple list, sticking to the list and getting your butt to the store at least once per week.

According to America's Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides “Shoppers making a ‘quick trip’ to the store to pick up a few specific items usually purchase 54 percent more than they planned.” So grab a piece of paper and pen and lets try and get this list right.

Who eats flowers?

Create the list. Your list should be fairly simple. It should mostly be comprised of lean proteins, vegetables/fruits, good fat sources and some nutritious carbohydrate sources. An example might look like this:

You can download the list here.

Stick to the list. Impulse buying accounts for more than 50% of grocery store purchases which will not only lighten the wallet, but fatten the belly. If you spent the time creating the list, you owe it to yourself to follow it.

Now that you have all this food what do you do with it all? Next week we'll address some food preparation strategies to help you plan your meals in advance.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Truth about Flaxseed

Flaxseed has recently gotten a lot of buzz and has made it on to a lot of power food lists. This hasn't come without controversy as recently I've found many people bad mouthing the flax. So come with me on a journey to figure out what could be wrong with this little seed.

How are these little guys causing so much controversy?

Let's look at the macro nutrient breakdown:
22% Carbs
66% Fats
12% Protein

So we have a plant based source of protein, some fats, which about half of is omega 3 fatty acids, and carbs coming almost entirely from fiber. It also packs a hefty dose of zinc and magnesium which most of the athletic population is deficient in.

To me that's pretty darn good and addresses the needs of a lot of people. Most people eat too little protein and not that flax is going to make or break you in that department, but every little bit helps. A ton of fiber which makes you feel full, is linked to weight loss, and something that the average person doesn't get enough of. A plant based source of omega-3 fatty acids, what could be better?

All this great stuff, so where is the controversy.

Well "they" have been saying that flax is useless because the body can't convert omega-3's effectively into EPA/DHA. The turnover is probably a single digit percentage. So is this cause to write off the flaxseed as useless? Heck no! Flaxseed provides a whole host of benefits and just because it's not a replacement for a fish oil (which you better be taking to get your EPA/DHA directly), doesn't mean it's not worthy of a spot in your daily feed. I'd say based on this information flax oil (the stuff Barry Bonds tried to make us believe was the source of his hugeness) shouldn't make the priority supplement list, but certainly keep the seed on the menu. The poor little guy maybe got a little too much hype but this food still packs a healthy punch.

Just make sure you grind your flaxseed as the whole seed won't really allow for good absorption of the nutrients.
Grind your flax like Kim grinds her man

After you are done grinding, sprinkle a couple tablespoons in a bowl of oatmeal, or in a protein shake because this little guy deserves to be on those power food lists and is here to stay. Make sure you refrigerate any left over ground flax or just grind what you are going to use because it goes rancid pretty fast in the open air. Follow those simple rules and you'll reap all the benefits the flaxseed has to offer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Exercise Doesn't Work...

I thought I'd never say it, but sadly it just may be true.

A product of a good exercise plan?

Recent research has shown that exercise - alone - doesn't have much of an impact on body composition. Even if you're doing up to 5 hours a week. However, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. When you combine exercise and the right nutritional intervention, the body fat seems to fly off. To learn more, click here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Burger King Removes Trans Fats Nationwide

Burger King announced it would remove trans fats from its cooking oil, and all baked goods for that matter. Well not really, they said they would make all their foods contain 0g of trans fat so technically they can have up to .5g of trans fat per serving and still label them as 0g of trans fat.

I honestly thought if we could get rid of trans fats the world would be a better place, but instead we are continuing to mislead people with this whole 0g of trans fat nonsense. Make a serving of fries only a handful and then suddenly an average size of fries has a couple grams of trans fat. Most would say it's no big deal, but trans fats lead to a whole host of problems. Maybe you won't have any problems this year or next year, but eventually those bits of trans fat grams will add up and catch up with you.

I hope nobody sees this 0g of trans fat message and interprets it that Burger King is now a viable health food option, because their food overall is still a poor choice. I see rationalizations like this all the time. You get told you can have a potato and suddenly you are eating french fries. Get told burger king has no trans fat and suddenly a whopper value meal is on your fitday tracker.

You can see the full BK story here.

Hey King, that better be trans fat free tanning oil!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Truth about Supplement Advertisements

This interview goes on further to describe how before and after pictures are often taken in the same day. Photoshop goes a long way these days. In short, do your homework before you go spend your dollars on something that is potentially useless. With supplements I like to stick to the tried and true products that have some scientific studies backing them and I take them knowing they are not to provide replacements for healthy foods but to supplement my diet. It gives me that extra few percent and that is all. Your diet and exercise program far outweigh what any supplement will give you.

I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of the Bigger, Stronger, Faster DVD if you haven't already.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When 5 Fruit and Vegetable Servings aren't Enough

For optimum health experts are saying 10-12 servings of fruits/veggies is a minimum. So is it possible to get all these fruits and vegetables every single day?

The average person doesn't even meet the 5 fruit/vegetable serving recommendation and to be honest that isn't all that difficult. It's fairly easy to have 5 servings covered before you even eat lunch with the right strategies in place. Front loading vegetables early in the day can gaurentee they'll be consumed. Think of the person that exercises first thing in the morning. Many argue this isn't the best time to exercise, but who cares. If that is a time you can dedicate day in day out, why not? This works similarly with planning your meals.

So how exactly can this principle be applied and what else can one do to sneak in all those fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat vegetables at breakfast. Start the morning off with some spinach and tomato mixed in some eggs (or other veggies of your choice). Have a piece of fibrous fruit on the side like an apple and you are well on your way to kick starting your day. If you like avocado it makes a great side for this meal. Heck this meal alone will trump the average dieters vegetable intake for the day.
Wheaties can't compare
  • Add berries to shakes. Bridge the gap between your meals with a berry smoothie protein shake. Couple that shake with some greens powder and three easy servings can be had right there.
  • Use unconventional eating methods. Call it lazy or call it efficient. Either way don't feel bound by society's constraints on the way foods SHOULD be eaten. There are plenty of vegetables that aside from a quick rinse need no food prep and you can just shove them directly into your mouth. A few quick and easy veggies are carrots, mini cucumbers, snap peas and even bell peppers. Try eating a bell pepper much like you would an apple. The tri colored ones are sure to satisfy with their subtle sweetness. You can eat a cucumber much like a banana (except it's even more convenient, no messy peel!). Eating spinach directly out of the bag is for the dangerously hardcore.
Go ahead, take a bite
  • Steam Frozen Veggies. Frozen veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh because they are typically packaged immediately and flash frozen. They can be had fairly cheaply and you can feel free to stock up when there is a sale as they keep for a long time.
  • Use Vegetable based condiments. Things like salsa and pesto pack a good punch for your meals and also pack in some veggie servings. Just be careful to check the labels for added sugars and other additives. You'll find most grocers sell fresh salsa and this not only tastes better, it typically has a better ingredient list. Feel free to make your own salsa or pesto this way you can control what goes into it. NOTE: This is not a good way to rationalize going hog wild with things like ketchup because it has a bit of tomato in it.
Using these strategies will hopefully get you thinking about how you can add vegetables and fruits to your own meals. What strategies do you use? Please feel free to post a comment and share.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Manufacturing a Healthy Workforce

A healthy workforce can have a direct impact on production, especially in a dynamic manufacturing environment. Between people calling in sick and even those coming to work when their health is questionable, can have negative impacts in the workplace.

Coming to work sick can not only affect your performance, but also can affect others around you if you are contagious. Small businesses in Michigan have realized this and have taken steps to preventing illness by offering wellness programs. To add incentive to this cause they offer lower health insurance premiums to those that partake in these programs.

The same approach taken to continuous improvement in manufacturing are being applied to health and wellness programs. The MEASURE & IMPROVE phases of the DMAIC model of Six Sigma methodology are being applied in this case.

The same tools to produce a better product are being used to produce a healthier workforce

I still think few companies realize how the health of their employees affect their success. The recent realization of this affect is a direct result of rising healthcare costs.

Again these are all steps in the right direction and I hope other businesses follow suit in this endeavor towards helping their employees live healthy lives.

The article that highlights the thoughts above can be found here. An example of 5S (everything restored to it's place) being utilized in a gym environment is below:

Someone better be using that missing lat pulldown bar as we speak

Friday, October 3, 2008

You ate what for lunch?

Warning this is yet another rant...

Yesterday at work the main dish at the grill in our cafe was the following:

Crispy Fried Chicken Breast
White Flour Tortilla
Served with a side of fries and a fountain drink. And in Utah with fries comes the inevitable fry sauce.

I honestly can't think of a more unhealthy lunch yet people ordered it again and again behind me after I ordered a couple pieces of chicken breast to go with my salad. No vegetables, not an ounce of fiber, some bad fats coupled with fries and a soft drink.

Alright maybe deep fried Oreos are worse, but that's like asking which boy band is better?

Why is it that we(adults) push organizations like the YMCA to clean up their act, force our childrens' schools to ban things like soft drinks and birthday cakes, yet we somehow rationalize that these things are okay for adults because we know moderation. The corporate office and workplace somehow gets a free pass on selling us processed crap. Our vending machines are loaded with it, refreshments at meetings are out of control and even the cafeteria itself is often a lost cause in many workplaces. Well the fact is we obviously don't understand moderation and not only is it affecting us, it's affecting the youth as well and it's shameful. We aren't setting a good example (understatement of the century).

For the first time in history some scientists are predicting our children will have a shorter life expectancy than the generation that came before it. I suggest reading that previous sentence again and letting it sink in. It's time to wake up, hopefully it's not too late.

And since it's friday I should end on a more fun note...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster Movie: DVD Release

September 30th marked the DVD release of one of the best documentaries of our time.

The film did a great job at showing both sides of the steroid spectrum and everything in between. I highly recommend this movie as do the many others that have seen it. Check out the trailer below:

"Steroids. I love 'em if they're on my team!" - Random G-Men Tailgater

Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Effective Ways to Interval Train

Interval training is superior to steady state cardio for fat loss, yet I see people constantly doing steady state stuff when the goal is fat loss. Though I'm sure the reason is because it's easy, it isn't very efficient because you can get a superior workout in less time with interval training. Interval training is alternating a period of work with a period of rest. You could start with a 30-90 work to rest split where you would work for 30 seconds and then rest for 90 seconds and repeat a desired number of times (somewhere between 7 - 10).

When you get bored and are willing to venture out I'd suggest finding a few ways to do your intervals so you keep your body guess, and keep boredom at bay. Here are some of my favorite methods of interval training:

1. Sprints - This is probably the interval training method I use the most. I find some open space at a park and just do some timed sets of high speed running followed by a slow walk. Keep in mind if you are just starting out this would probably be considered "advanced" and you should consider trying a more beginner type interval to start with like bike sprints. To change things up you can sprint up a hill and walk down it or sprint the base paths at a local field.

2. Stair Climbs - Spending some time in a hotel with a lot of floors, or live in a complex with a decent stairwell, then stair climbs can be your friend. There is no need for a treadmill when you have a few sets of stairs because you can get a killer workout in. The method I like is sprinting one flight, walking down and then sprinting 2 flights, and walking down and see how many sprints you get in before you have to quit.

3. Bike Sprints - This is great for beginners because it is low impact. Just be sure to turn up the resistance on your sprints and then take it way down when you go for your rest.

4. Tire Flips - These have become a new favorite of mine since my gym has a varied set of tractor tires. You basically get your heart rate going by flipping this massive tire over for a timed set and then resting. It's pretty cool because it's a total body movement trying to get flip these giant tires.

5. Farmers Walks - These will really test your grip strength. Basically you grab two farmers handles and load em up with weight and walk a set distance. Alternatively you can use a trap bar, lift and start walking.

6. Sledgehammer Training - A heavy sledgehammer is a great upper body interval training method. Slamming the sledgehammer over and over into a tire seems to be the most popular way to do it.

7. Sled Drags - Take a sled, load it up with some weight and get ready to move. These are pretty brutal as it's again total body but really pushes your limits. If you aren't seeing stars after a few sets of these then you probably aren't working hard enough. You probably want to try and work hard enough that you feel a little woozy but you don't want to work so hard you throw up your lunch.

8. Slideboard - Granted this is probably one of the more expensive ways to interval train but it's a great way to get a workout indoors and you can usually just tuck this away under a bed. I was fortunate that Cressey Performance had one of these bad boys (two in fact).

9. Med Ball Circuit - Throwing a med ball around all different kinds of ways can really get you firing on all cylinders and breaking out a sweat.

10. Body Weight Circuits - Mixing up a few exercises and creating a circuit can be a lot of fun and can help you out in a pinch when a gym isn't available. You can do a simple circuit of lunges, push ups, squats (make it tougher with single leg squats), rows. Do 15 - 2o reps of each exercise in a series with no rest. Then take a 60-120sec rest and repeat a couple more times. If this doesn't break a sweat then you might consider adding in some tougher exercises.

Just a couple interval training methods

If any of these methods you scoff at because you feel like they would be too easy you simply aren't thinking outside of the box. Most of these methods you can make more difficult through a variety of ways. You could add a weighted vest for a number of these, or for example carry a light set of dumbbells on your stair sprints. You can also manipulate the working set time and rest time. Longer working sets with shorter rest times are obviously going to be more difficult. Be creative and don't be afraid to mix things up.

How do you do your intervals? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Great Hump Day Debacle 2008

The day was September 17th though I remember it just like it was a week ago. The stage was set for a healthy treat to be a part of our office "healthy lives: colorful choices program" which encourages its participants to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.

Ugh, I can't believe corn made it into this awesome picture!

Every Wednesday they offer a hump day treat to help you get some of the colors in. This week was no different and this is what they offered:

Healthy Alternative?

I quickly emailed the person in charge to see if there was a mistake, but apparently it wasn't a mistake. This was their response:

Thank you for your thoughts and we on the Health Services Team discussed using ice cream for the hump day treat and we decided that we wanted to let associates know that they can still have some treats in a healthy diet.

They further went on to say they used fat free ice cream and a host of fruit options, granola, and coconut to make it "healthy" and it only totaled 160 calories with 3g of fat. Thorough answer but I can't imagine the portions were well controlled. Ice cream sundaes lend themself to a free for all environment.

My concerns further lie in the fact that in an office environment you are bombarded with poor food choices from cakes, muffins, cookies and the like. There seems to be a celebration on a weekly basis. Just this past month in fact I've been offered an oversized muffin 6 times, large cookies 8 times, fat boy ice cream sandwiches 4 times, cake and now this. All in all in this month(which isn't even over yet) I've passed on about 10,000 calories (that's more than 3lbs using the 3500 calorie standard).

Offering a treat like this only makes the problem worse and using the argument that the ice cream is fat free rather than full fat is akin to comparing Nsync with the Back Street Boys or high fructose corn syrup with sugar. Crappy processed calories are crappy calories. I still can't believe people still fear fat. I thought it went out with the 90's but apparently I was wrong.

Now don't get me wrong, I indulge from time to time and agree that having some freedom in your eating plan is important, but using it in a program like this doesn't make sense. We already have means to get garbage food into our system and the program goal should work toward offering the alternative, not more of the same helping to bring us closer to center. And if you are going to have ice cream go all out and have some real ice cream, none of this processed garbage nonsense. That's like saying freakin' when you should have just dropped the F bomb and been done with it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

For the last time I am not on Atkins!

I love how everyone feels they can extrapolate my whole diet when they only see me eat one meal a day. I find that people see me basing my lunch time feeding around lean proteins, vegetables and good fats and I get comments like "oh no carbs for you eh?" or the ever popular "I see you are on the atkins diet?"

First off just because I don't have carbs at lunch doesn't mean I don't eat them. It amazes me how many people feel they need a ton of carbs during the day to get through a light office day at work. I'm sorry I didn't realize you were utilizing all your glycogen storage filing all that paperwork. You better go get yourself a soda because the coffee and muffin you ate a few minutes ago obviously didn't have enough caffeine/calories/sugar in it. C'mon people, it's time to get with it. Nutrient timing is important and if you want those carbs you have to earn them by doing some rigorous physical activity. You don't need carbs to file your TPS reports!

Futhermore, I don't even consider what I do a "diet" persay. Diets Suck! I eat the things I want but time them appropriately.

I was delighted to see this under the cap when I opened the bottle

If I want some starchy carbs they are going to be following my workout. The fact is if you tally up my daily carb intake it's probably about average in terms of what SAD(Standard American Diet) people eat. Granted it comes from good carbs, whole fruits and vegetables, but hey that's just the way I do it. My metabolism feels like it's out of control comparable to five years ago and I'm eating close to 2x the amount of calories I was back then. This increase in calorie intake correlates with the increased energy expendature from strength training and various other forms of activity. Carbs can be your friend if you let them. Otherwise you'll just be another office slave with a gut.

So don't judge people based on what you see them eat in one sitting. We probably shouldn't judge people to begin with, but frankly when you say I'm eating low carb you are flat out wrong. You have to look at the whole picture to make that call.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Utah's Strongest Man 2008

The 2008 Utah State fair held a Strongman competition on September 14th that I was lucky enough to attend. After a day of grueling qualifiers the competitors were asked to come back for 3 more events on a final day 2. The first was a press medley, and that was followed by Dodge Caliber deadlifts. They capped the competition off with another timed medley that involved carrying a 250lb block, followed by a 275lb block and finally pushing a truck to the finish.

The Big Man Deadlifts the Dodge Caliber for Reps (Roughly 900lbs at the bottom)

It was inspiring to see such fierce competition among these strong men. The amount of preparation that goes into these must be intense, from the training, to the eating and the supplementation.

Suddenly sled pushes don't seem all that bad

For your viewing pleasure I uploaded a video of the final medley. Yes that is John Sullivan in the left lane, your eyes are not deceiving you and if you have motion sickness I apologize for my inability to keep the camera still.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

12,000 Calories per Day with Abs: Michael Phelps Diet

You don't need to train like Michael Phelps, you just need to eat like him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So You Want to be a Bread Truck Part II

In the first installment we went over the tried and true methods to becoming big like a bread truck. Lets be honest, those first 10 tips are for the amateurs among us and as we all know you aspire to be advanced. Well I can't promise this will bring you to that level but you'll be an intermediate at least and well on your way. In any case, hopefully part II will give you what you need to take it to the next level.

Don't worry, to get to the next level there won't be any stairs

11. Disturb your sleep. Having negative sleep patterns will affect your hormone output thus making it difficult for your body to regulate your weight. So make sure you fall asleep to the television, or other noise and light inducing device.

12. Eat Cereal. Most people don't realize that after you eat a bowl of cereal you are hungry again in an hour. This is because cereal isn't actually food. It is a food like substance that was designed to cure masturbation. Aside from that it will leave you hungry in the later hours which will allow for more binging. If you aren't skipping breakfast, then hold out as long as you can and then woof down a bowl of cereal. Make sure you are ready to go with something else to stuff in your face an hour later as your tummy will be good and ready.

13. Avoid the Sun. The sun causes cancer, and bread trucks have more skin to absorb those rays of light, so make sure you avoid it at all costs. You want to load up on SPF 9000 and double up with an extra coat. This will ensure your vitamin d levels are catastrophically low. This lack of sun exposure will lower free testosterone levels in your body thus eliminating a key hormone to muscle production. And remember muscle burns calories, and the bread truck is all about saving calories!

14. Eat a boatload of carbs before bed. If you eat carbs right before you go to bed all that energy will get stored as you sleep, you know in your belly. This is a good time to load up on calories because your bodies lack of activity will make it difficult to burn off. And when I say carbs we're talking the good carbs, like ho-ho's, cakes, ice creams, and the like.

Perfect Pre-Bed Snack

15. Hang out with other Bread Trucks. As the saying goes in the financial world your income will likely be the average of the 10 people that are closest to you. Likewise your breadtruckedness will be defined by those close to you, so it's important to have social support en route to your goal. A recent study even showed that obesity may be contagious, so take full advantage. Social support is the reason why programs like weight watchers are so successful. Even the fact that their program isn't all that great, the social support trumps all. If they can do that for weight loss, surely we can do that for weight gain!

When Bread Trucks get together everybody wins!

Well that will wrap it up for this rendition of Bread Trucks. Some may have found this humorous, while others were offended, but the intent was that maybe you learned something. The goal of this article was to bring to your attention how off the wall the most seemingly innocent things we do in our daily lives are. As crazy as some of these '15 rules to being a bread truck' might sound, I see it on a daily basis. If any of this applies to you take the time to re-evaluate what you are doing, especially if you are trying to keep the pounds off. I know when I was a tubby kid I did a number of these things habitually.