Thursday, May 31, 2012

John Wooden - Quote

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."  John Wooden

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Working Out While Traveling

"No Excuses"…….  A friend of mine has that printed on his T-shirts for his personal training business.    They are words to live by and traveling is not an excuse not to workout.   

I have traveled a lot in my career.   I find that hotels often advertise “a fitness center” that looks great on the web but in reality, it is a small room with a treadmill and maybe weights that go up to 40 lbs if you are lucky.  An uncomfortable setting to say the least.  

When preparing for a trip, I contact the hotel and ask if they have any arrangements with local gyms for access.  I am a loyal Marriott person and found that the majority of their properties have arrangements with a local gym.   For example, the Marriott Courtyard in Rock Hill, SC provides me with a pass into the Omni Health Club.   At the Marriott Springhill Suites in Indianapolis, I can get into LifeTime Fitness in Fishers (which is very close by).     

There are many locations that due to timing (meetings, business dinners, etc.) and due to accessibility, I have to rely on my backup plan for a good workout on the road.  Under these circumstances, I carry in my luggage a SPRI Xertube Ultra Heavy Resistance Band.   It has handles and a piece to place in a door jam.   A band allows you to use your muscles differently.   Muscle confusion is a great thing.  It keeps the body guessing and reacting.   The resistance can be increased by simply moving further away from where it is attached.   Example of exercises you can do in the room with a resistance band include:  Chest Presses, Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, Tricep Kickbacks, Shoulder Presses, Lateral Raises, Front Raises, Upright Rows, Rows, Flyes, Squats, etc.    

Resistance bands can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store.  Make sure you get a pair with handles and it is rated as heavy duty.  In addition, make sure it has an adequate piece to secure to a door as this makes all the difference to be able to do those moves listed above.  

No excuses……….  Workout on the road……..

Stay tuned………….

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beef – It is NOT the Enemy

BEEF …… My favorite protein of all time.    It is NOT the enemy.  

Beef has gotten a bad rap for many years.   Do you recall Oprah and the Beef Industry debate?   Somewhere amongst all the fads in the past 10+ years, “red meat” became an evil of the nutritional world.   Red meat has saturated fat; therefore, it is labeled “bad."     EXCEPT, if you analyze the nutrition in beef, it is one of the most nutritious foods you can consume.

Just a few of the MANY reasons to eat beef:   Beef is VERY rich in complete protein.    Beef is the single best “food source” (not protein powders, etc.) to increase strength and promote muscle growth.   It contains more creatine than any other food.  Creatine is what the muscle uses for a source of fuel/energy during training.   It is also a building block in muscle regeneration/growth.    Beef is loaded with BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), iron, carnitine. potassium, magnesium, zinc, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid - a potent antioxidant),  B6 and B12.

Pick lean beef cuts such as lean ground beef, sirloin tip steak, top sirloin, top round and eye of round.   In addition, I advise going with a beef source that you know.   Try to find one that does not use growth hormones and antibiotics in their beef operations.   

Stay tuned……….

Friday, May 25, 2012

Creamy Basil Dressing/Dip

On our farm, we grow lemon and lime basil plants; I look for more and more ways to use our fresh basil.  This recipe is excellent for taste and healthy eating.   I use it for both a dressing and a dip (with my pork rinds).    ENJOY…


1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ of a freshly squeezed lemon for the juice
¼ to ½  cup fresh basil leaves  (chopped or you can slice lengthwise into strips)  I use a ½ cup as I love fresh basil.
1 small shallot chopped
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
Dash of sea salt

In blender or food processor, combine yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, chopped/strips of basil, shallots, garlic, and salt and puree until very smooth. 

Adapted from  Epicurious  | November 2006

Stay tuned……..

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong - Quote

“My mother told me...if you're going to get anywhere, you're going to have to do it yourself, because no one is going to do it for you.”   Lance Armstrong 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Calf Muscles - Small but Important Muscles

Your calf muscles’ role is elevating your heel and flexing your knee.  These motions are involved in walking, running, and jumping.  The calf muscles are also the heart of circulation in your legs (pumping blood throughout the leg).  

Calf muscles are recruited in all the compound moves that we have discussed earlier in this blog.   However, they are also the most stubborn muscles to grow and strengthen.   Therefore, you might want to give them some additional attention.   

A couple of simple exercises you can do at home (or office) will help develop your calves.   (I advise doing all calf raises without shoes to isolate the muscle more directly.)    Standing calf raises can be performed on a step.    Stand on a step on the balls of your feet.    Stretch down with your heels, down as far as possible in a good stretch.  Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked.   Rise up onto the balls of your feet (think about pushing up with your big toe) and squeeze, moving only at the ankles.   Lower down controlled into the deep stretch at bottom.  That is one rep.   Do not bend and straighten the legs as that will work the quads and take away from the calves.   Only hold on for balance minimally.     You can do both legs at same time or an incredible move is the single legged version.    Use 3 variations of feet placement.  Start with straight, toes slightly outward and toes slightly inward.  This will work the calves at all angles.    Use your bodyweight initially and get at least 15 reps in.   Remember SLOW and controlled.  In time, you can add some weight by holding weight in one hand as you steady yourself with the other hand. 

Seated calf raises can be done in the same manner but sitting on a chair or bench and your feet up on books, wood, etc.  Same concepts apply as standing but again you are working them at a different angle.    With the seated version, you can add weight to the top of your knees to add more intensity to the move.    When I fly for work, i sit in my seat on plane and I do seated calf raises.    I put my feet up on my brief case so I can get the bottom stretch and I do high rep calf raises (since I do not have added weight and I need more intensity – it is ok this circumstance to do high reps).

Interested in a classic exercise for calves?   Walk on your tiptoes.    Seriously, feel the burn in your calves…….

Stay tuned……..

Monday, May 21, 2012

Diet – IS a 4 Letter Word (So don’t think this way..)

Diet IS a 4-letter word.   At some point, everyone decides they want to lose xx pounds in xx timeframe.   Therefore, they instantly think, “I have to go on a diet."   In that mindset, you instantly set yourself up to fail.   True success is not xx pounds in xx timeframe and depriving yourself for short-term change on the scales.   True success is a healthy life (all aspects – weight, exercises, food choices, food consumption timing, stamina, etc.).   No one can “diet” long term (not to mention the destruction it can do to your metabolism and overall health).   However, everyone can make wiser choices for a life long duration.    

Fitness and healthy lifestyle is a journey.   It is not about depriving yourself, so do not set yourself up even with the word – DIET.  

Stay tuned……….

Friday, May 18, 2012

Watermelon Salsa - MAJOR YUMMY

Summertime Delight !!

Watermelon Salsa

• 3 cups diced seedless watermelon
• 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
• 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
• Juice from 1 lime
• 1 red onion chopped
• Dash of sea salt

Combine all ingredients and stir well to combine. Season with sea salt. 
Adapted from  Eating Well:  August/September 2005

Stay tuned………..

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Muhammad Ali - Quote

"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision."  Muhammad Ali

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Plateau – Switch from 5x5

We all reach lifting plateaus.  If we did not, we would all be pushing up thousands of pounds by now.   However, you should not plateau within a specific routine in just a few months.  If you do, then you are trying to increase too much too fast.   Progression is constant, consistent and not meant to take large leaps every week.

As you know from my blog, I am a deep believer in the 5 x 5 program.   In addition, with some variations of each of the key seven moves it should take you several months before you plateau.    However, when you do, you need to refocus for 1-2 months and do another routine.   This challenges and confuses the muscles as they adapt and allows you to continue to make progress.  After 1-2 months, you can switch back to 5 x 5.  

Examples of alternate routines:   5 sets of 3.   This allows you to go heavier and challenges your muscles.    The other alternative I do when I need to change for a month is the 8, 6, 4, 2 routine.   This includes 4 sets.   The first set is 8 reps, then go heavier and get in 6, then heavier and get in 4 and so on.    Both alternate plans use compound moves and you can stay intense.    You are simply changing sets and reps to confuse and challenge your muscles. 

Stay tuned…………

Monday, May 14, 2012

Herbs and Spices - Add Flavor Without Adding Calories

Preparing your foods with herbs and spices will enhance the flavor without adding in calories.  Herbs and spices add color, taste and aroma to our “healthy dishes."   Let's face it. if we can produce these sensations with low-calorie dishes that will make it easier to stick with your new healthy eating habits.

Another reason is the power of antioxidants in herbs and spices.    For example, about 1⁄2 teaspoon of cloves contains more antioxidant than a 1⁄2-cup of blueberries.    In addition, 1⁄2 teaspoon of dried oregano contains the same amount of antioxidant of 1⁄2 cup sweet potatoes.       Cloves, oregano, allspice, cinnamon, sage, peppermint and thyme are the top antioxidants but the list is long.

(Just in case you've forgotten, oxidative stress triggers many chronic diseases.  Antioxtidants help to combat that process.)

As another example, spicy hot additions are known to clear sinuses and spike your metabolism.  

So add some herbs and spice into your eating plan…..  

Stay tuned.........

Friday, May 11, 2012

Soy-Mustard Sauce Served on Steak

This sauce is outstanding on steak ……. ENJOY


1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon Splenda®
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream substitute (This is: no fat sour cream melted and fresh lemon juice squeezed in)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided


Heat a small skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add soy sauce, mustard, and Splenda®; cook 1 minute or until bubbly.  Remove pan from heat. Stir in cream substitute and 2 tablespoon cilantro.  Serve sauce with steak.

Adapted from Cooking Light April 2012

Stay tuned……….

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vince Lombardi - Quote

"Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal."   Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Truth About Heart Rate Monitoring / Cardio Machine Myths

A lot has been written about the importance of monitoring your heart rate when working out, especially when doing cardio.  From built- in monitors on your treadmill to personalized devices that record onto your smartphone, they are a staple in the gym.  But, while they may seem like "standard" equipment, there are a few myths that need busting...

See these links for some interesting insights:

Stay tuned...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Veggies - Cooked or Raw?

Vegetables…. Do you cook them or eat them raw?   As with everything else in nutrition, fitness and training, there are always thousands of conflicting bits of information.   Some “experts” say eat your veggies raw and as many “experts” say, eat them cooked.  

Sorting through it all can be challenging and confusing, but here is what I believe:   Boiling and steaming vegetables not only preserves but also supplies more antioxidants and some vitamins (such as Vitamin A).   The down side is it does degrade some of the Vitamin C. 

Trying to compare raw and cooked food is complicated.   There are benefits to both.  If cooked vegetables will enable you to eat more, then by all means cook your veggies.  There is not a significant “healthier” choice between raw and cooked.   Bottom line is: Eat your veggies.

Stay tuned……….

Friday, May 4, 2012

Heavy Whipping Cream - Substitute

I love to cook and can just about alter any recipe to keep me loyal to my eating style.   One of the recent finds I have discovered is a substitution for heavy whipping cream.    I use no fat sour cream heated in the microwave just enough to make it soft and able to stir.   I squeeze in fresh lemon juice and stir.    This is perfect for making low calorie aioli or sauces.  


Stay tuned…………

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Balance Moves

“Working out” is not just about getting stronger.   It is also about developing balance.  Balance is key to avoiding injury, falls and limitations in mobility and activities (especially as we age).   Having said that, it is still imperative to have adequate strength and muscle mass otherwise there is not much you can do to improve your balance and flexibility.

Some balance exercises that are simple and you can do anywhere include:  
        Walk heel-to-toe – it is as simple as it sounds.  Simply walk with your heel in front of the toes of the opposite foot (as if you are walking the line to demonstrate your sobriety).  Do this for each step you take.
        Stand on one foot.  Be sure to alternate feet.  As you advance, you can raise the foot/leg in the air higher and higher.   
        Stand up, sit down, and walk up stairs – all without holding on to anything. 

The web is full of advanced balance movements (exercises) for every age group and fitness level.    As you progress, I suggest you do a quick search for adding more advancement to your balance training.

Stay tuned………