Spring Cleaning in the Fall

Every year I attempt a spiritual/material/house spring cleaning in the fall.  I do not celebrate most holidays.  At least not in the same sense as every one else seems to.  I use them more as a moment to take a pause and to reflect.  Reflect on my goals – past, present, and future.  Reflect on my finances.  Reflect on past resolutions – what happened to that fitness I was all about at the beginning of the year.

I usually start on Thanksgiving and my reflections begin with cooking, a lot.  I tend to gain about 20 pounds this four day weekend.  Each day is focused on a theme – traditional, Italian, Mexican, and a random…probably will be German this year.  I cook the traditional but without the turkey – Cornish hens for me…I’m a single dude living by myself, turkeys are too big and provide too much, a Cornish hen – just perfect.  Some mashed potatoes (probably from out of a box because of utility purposes), some veggies of the green variety, a nice salad and a butternut squash soup.  (Grocery list pending.)

Italian Food Day – An attempt at a homemade Alfredo.  I have never done this before.  I’m already excited about it.  How messy could it be?  It’s just a bunch of cheese, right?  Some research on this will definitely need to be done.  Do Italians eat veggies?  Caprese salad?  That counts…

Mexican Food Day – Posole… I’ll need to start this on Italian Food Day, slow cook the meats and bones until the meats melt off.  I have to get some red chili.  And oregano…a ton of oregano.  Maybe make some chili rellenos – soooo good!!!

German Food Day – …..Brats.  Sauerkraut.  Goulash?  Is Goulash German?  I need to look into that.

Four days of cooking.  Four days of reflection.  Four days of meditation.

A Simple Breakfast Smoothie…

1 scoop protein powder(rice, pea, whey)
1 banana
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (almond, cashew, whole)
1 to 2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Throw all ingredients into a blender/ninja/Vitamix (whatever you have) and blitz away!

The protein powder and peanut butter provide a mix of proteins, depending on what kind of protein powder you are using.

The banana:

Amount Per 1 extra small (less than 6″ long) (81 g)100 grams1 small (6″ to 6-7/8″ long) (101 g)1 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) (118 g)1 NLEA serving (126 g)1 large (8″ to 8-7/8″ long) (136 g)1 cup, sliced (150 g)1 extra large (9″ or longer) (152 g)1 cup, mashed (225 g)1 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) (118 g)

Calories 105
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.4 g 0%
Saturated fat 0.1 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 422 mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9%
Dietary fiber 3.1 g 12%
Sugar 14 g
Protein 1.3 g 2%
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 17%
Calcium 0% Iron 1%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 20%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium

The nutritional value of your milk will all depend on the kind of milk you use. Of course, you will want to purchase the best, but forgive yourself if you can only afford the cheap stuff.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, as well as an unusual amount of plant protein.

Amount Per 1 oz (28.4 g)100 grams1 oz (28.4 g)
Calories 138
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9 g 13%
Saturated fat 0.9 g 4%
Polyunsaturated fat 7 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.7 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 5 mg 0%
Potassium 115 mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 12 g 4%
Dietary fiber 10 g 40%
Protein 4.7 g 9%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 17% Iron 12%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 23%

Don’t worry too much about the amount of fat in the chia seeds. As long as you’re not ingesting a cup of chia seeds at a time, the fat content is rather negligible. And it is a seed, the fat is digested easier by the body then say if the fat was coming from an animal source.

Don’t be afraid to experiment some…if you’re feeling like a treat add some chocolate syrup or cocoa powder (the powder probably being the most healthy if unsweetened.)

Enjoy!!

 

Nutritional Facts from a general google search.

3:30 a.m. Workout

My alarm went off at 2:15.  I almost broke my phone to turn snooze button the shit out of it.  After a couple of minutes, I opened one eye and glared contemptuously at the bright luminescence that is my proverbial connection to the world abroad.  “Get up.”  I’m almost positive I was the one who said that…but it could have been the phone.

I took a rest day yesterday.  Today was supposed to be a rest day.  I had convinced myself yesterday through some sort of irrational rationalization that it would be better to stay home and rest.  I ended up tossing and turning for four hours before finally rising and headed to work.  What was the point?  I did not really rest.  I checked in on FB, previewed some work emails, checked my bank balance, etc.  I didn’t rest.  I just laid in bed and pretended to be productive.

Today I ran 2 miles at 19:28 on the treadmill.  I never trust the time on a treadmill.  I believe they are great training devices to learn how to set a cruise speed and just go for long periods of time.  I do not believe they relate a real representation of speed and time compared to what would be performed on a track.  In other words, I can run a 2 miler much faster than 19:28.

Since I didn’t do “arm day” yesterday, it was now “arm day” today.  I prefer to blast arms with simple exercises, varying the lever length occasionally dependant on how my shoulder feels.  (Left shoulder wasn’t feeling too bad today; a bit of twinging but no sharp pain.)  What did I do: shoulder flexion – 10 reps at a light weight, progressing from 7.5 to 10 pounds; curls in ladder fashion, starting with 10 pounds and progressing to 30 using all available weights in between at 10 reps; skull crushers starting at 40 and progressing to 50.  All exercises performed in circuit fashion until I had that feeling of…”yeah, I’m done.”  What is that feeling?  It’s a burn, dull and achy, a bit weak, there’s sometimes this loose feeling in the joints.  It was just time to be done.

I moved on to the cable machines for some specific tricep work.  Mostly press downs, but with varying grip handles.  I prefer the rope handle and the V looking one.  10 to 15 reps, varying the weight to maximize effort but also ensuring that full contraction was achieved.  I mixed a few cable curls in there, but super minimal with those.  Big arms mean big triceps.

I’m glad I kicked my ass out of bed this morning.  Tomorrow is a for real rest day.

Weighed in at: 160.

Leg Blaster

A simple leg blaster workout for you!

5 Rounds for Time (RFT)

10 squats
10 forward lunges
10 squat jumps
10 rear lunges
10 alternating split lunge jumps

Perform each exercise at the prescribed repetitions, i.e. squats = 10, forward lunges = 10, and so on. Once you complete the 10 alternating split lunge jumps, repeat the entire sequence until you have completed 5 rounds. You will want to set a timer. The timer is used to measure how long it takes you to complete the prescribed workout and will be used later to compare times when we do this again.

Post your time and any variations you made to the prescribed workout. For instance, if you modified the reps to 5 instead of 10, let us know. Tell us about how you felt while working out. Were you winded? Were you about to die? Were you the happiest you’d ever been in your entire life because you came to a realization that you were taking control of your life and kicking bad health and fitness habits in the ass? Tell us about it!

If 10 repetitions feel like it might be too much, no worries, reduce the number of reps to 5. I suggest attempting at least one round at 10 reps for each exercise before reducing the number of reps.

If 10 repetitions are too easy, bump up the reps to 20.

This is a burner!! Your thighs are going to burn! Your butt is going to squeeze super tight! Your calves may even start screaming and crying. You might even walk a little bit differently after you complete the workout. All of this is normal and okay. However, if you feel any sharp, stabbing pains in your knee, first look at your knee position to foot position, and adjust so that your knee is directly over your ankle, and pushed slightly to the outside of the foot. Most times, pain in the knee during exercise is caused by the knee being placed in a less than optimal position.

Explanation of exercises:

For the squats pretend you are attempting to sit down in an imaginary chair. Stick your butt back as far as possible. Try to get your thighs parallel to the ground (but don’t worry if you can’t do this, get as far down as you can, even if it’s only half-way.) Sticking your butt as far back as possible will aid in not allowing your knees to go past your toes and helps keep your shins perpendicular to the ground.

The key to forward lunges is to take a ginormous step forward! Not a baby step, a GINORMOUS step! After stepping forward think about your butt going straight down to the ground; this should help keep the forward shin in a vertical position, protecting your knee. Once you’ve lowered to the ground, think: push straight up towards the ceiling through your forward heel. You should feel your butt flex (contract). Then step back to a standing position with feet side-by-side. Experiment with your step forward with this exercise. It may take a couple of attempts before you feel comfortable.

With squat jumps, you will repeat the squat you did before, but when you “stand up,” attempt to jump straight up towards the ceiling. A common mistake with this exercise is to jump as high as possible. Initially, the goal should be to just get your feet off the ground, don’t worry about how high you get. When you land, try to land softly and sink into the next squat with minimal to no pause. This is going to take practice! Don’t get caught up or worried if your movement is not completely seamless. If you need to pause to reset, do so.

Rear lunges are much like the forward lunge, except you will be stepping behind you. These are traditionally a bit more difficult than the forward lunge because they tend to challenge your balancing skills a tad more. Other than the balance challenge, the step you take back should be considerably shorter than the one you took for the forward lunge. Concentrate on keeping your forward knee over the ankle and don’t let it move forward past your toes.

A split lunge begins in the forward lunge with either foot/leg forward (I prefer my left leg forward first.) Lunging down, remember to lead with your butt, you will powerfully lunge up towards the ceiling, leaving the ground with enough height to switch your legs in the air, and landing with the opposite foot forward (for me that would be the right.) This exercise can be challenging, for sure! If you need to reset your positioning each time, then please do so. Don’t start this exercise in a bad position. If you don’t think you can jump, step up onto a box. A “box” can be a commercial box, or a chair, or a stool, or an ottoman. The idea is to step up and leave the ground a bit.

Don’t hesitate to post questions in the comments. Have fun everyone!

4 a.m. Workout

I was tired this morning.  It was difficult to get out of bed.  Most definitely, today was a day to practice my “self-ass kicking” skills.  Sometimes I just have to yell at myself or let’s say, speak firmly in the most motivational way possible to get the hell out of bed.  I was groggy.  Today I began my one cup of coffee a day New Year goal.  I have yet to decide whether that’s really one cup, or if two shots of espresso in one cup are one cup…quandry.

Went on the elliptical for 15 minutes.  That wasn’t too bad.  I have this thing where I start off at 6.5 to 7.0 mph at the beginning, and with every song I’m listening to, I bump it up to the next 0.5 mph range.  I ended up in the 8.0 to 8.5 mph window.

Today was supposed to be a circuit day, however, I ended up doing mostly legs: squat press, leg extension, and curls compounded with walking lunges between sets.  I did a few sets of pec flyes at a relatively light weight with pushups between sets.  My left shoulder is still twinging a bit and I’m being cautious not to irritate more.

All in all, not a bad workout.

Weighed in at 157.

Overnight Oats with the norm Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit

Breakfast is sometimes an easy way to start watching what you eat. There is the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” There is some truth to this.

Even if you eat a late dinner, around 8 or 9 at night, most people are not waking up until 5, 6, or 7 in the a.m. That’s anywhere from 8 to 12 hours that you haven’t eaten. This usually is not a problem for your body to deal with. It becomes a problem when you skip breakfast and don’t have any sustenance until lunch, around 10, 11, or noon. When this occurs you’re talking about not having any nutrition of any kind but what your own body has in its reserve tanks for over 12 hours.

Having no food for over 12 hours signals your body to hunker down and begin rationing its nutrition. Instead of burning calories, macro-, and micronutrients, the body starts to use only the bare minimum needed to function; it’s planning for the inevitable pattern of fasting. The practice of fasting occasionally is usually no problem for the body. However, doing so repeatedly and for an extended period of time can tax the body’s needs, and sends it into a “storing” type cycle. Where normally it would have burned nutritional fuel, it begins to store extra nutrients in case there is the extra requirement of an extended period of fasting.

To forestall this survival mode of storing nutrients…eat your breakfast! The following is a make-ahead simple overnight oats recipe.

Overnight Oats

1 mason jar (pint size works for me, but if you want more make it with a quart)
3 to 5 heaping tablespoons rolled oats (dependant on the size of your jar and how much oats you’d like; don’t use the instant kind of oats)

The following are what I put into my oats, and measurements are from one teaspoon to one tablespoon. (Don’t be afraid to experiment! This is what works for me, and what I enjoy. Mix it up to suit your personal taste.)

Nuts and Seeds:
Salted pumpkin seeds
Salted sunflower seeds
Almonds (I prefer slivered, but sliced works well, too)
Crushed walnuts
Crushed pecans
Chia seeds
Sweetened shredded coconut

Dried Fruit (I cut the fruit up into bite-size pieces; again use what tastes good to you!):
Raisins
Apple rings
Mango (I usually use the chili kind, but plain works great, too)
Apricots

Spices (1/2 to 1 teaspoon):
Cinnamon
Ginger
Clove (careful with this one. It can make your oats super spicy!)
Nutmeg

1 cup (approx.) Almond milk (use whatever kind of milk you enjoy, whole milk works well with this, too)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

The night before, mix all dry ingredients (including spices) into the mason jar. Fill the mason jar with almond milk and vanilla until just below the rim, leaving about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch space from the top. Shake well. Leave in the fridge overnight; a good 6 to 8 hours is best. The milk breaks down the raw oats, nuts, and seeds, making them more easily digested.

You can eat this cold, or warm over the stovetop.

Enjoy!

2017 is over…Let 2018 begin!

Welcome! I hope everyone had a great New Years!

Now that that is over…it’s time to get to work. 2018 is a new year, and all be it cliche, it is time for a new you. New Year’s resolutions are often overwhelming, broad, and not concise or focused. That being said, let’s help each other out.

That’s right, we need to announce our health and fitness goals for this coming year. Go ahead and comment on the goals you have for 2018.

I’ll start…

1. Compete in a Men’s Physique Division competition before 2018’s end.
2. Quit smoking.
3. Be able to: Deadlift 2.5x, Front Squat 1.5x, Bench 1.5x, and Military Press 1x my bodyweight, while maintaining the ability to run 3 miles under 20 minutes.
4. Compete in a local CrossFit Competition.
5. Compete in the CrossFit Open.
6. Run a half marathon sub two hours by 2018’s end.
7. Establish a regular yoga practice; minimum of 3 times a week.
8. Meal prep consistently in order to support my physical activity. Cut my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee daily. Increase my water intake to better promote positive physical feats.
9. Go full-on whole food/vegan diet!
10. Better my mindfulness through meditation, grounding, education, helping others achieve their health and fitness goals, etc.

Don’t let my list intimidate you! Do not think your list of goals cannot be like this, too! Please remember, I have been practicing goal setting for fitness, health, and physical activity for many years. I have a little bit of practice in it.

One of the best ways I have found to establish any kind of goal is to just write it down. Don’t worry about what it looks like. Don’t even worry about what it says. Don’t judge your goals before you have even had a chance to look at them. You have an idea in your head of what you want. Go ahead and attempt to put words to it. Maybe the first time you write it down it won’t sound exactly right; maybe it won’t completely encompass the idea that you’re imagining. That’s okay! This won’t be the last time you’re going to look at your goals. This won’t be the last time you write out your goals.

Throughout the year we will revisit our goals for the purposes of progress checks and to revise them. What you write down initially may be enough to get started. Once you begin to attempt your goal, you may find that this goal is not what you meant to do at all! Guess what? That’s okay! Goals are meant to change. Let them change. You’re constantly changing and so should your goals. Change is constant, change is good!

I can’t wait to see what change everyone would like to introduce to their lives this year!