Fat Tueday

Don’t be afraid of Fat! 

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Fat often gets a bad rap in the fitness world. Everyone who wants to lose weight, get in shape, and be healthier are always trying to lose fat. Yes, losing fat and replacing it with muscle is how we get healthier. But that does not mean we need to cut out fat from our nutrition plans. In fact, we should be encouraging people to eat HEALTHY fats and have a balance in their nutrition plans. A key to being healthy is balancing your Protein, Carbohydrate, and Fat intake. Your body needs all of them for very specific reasons. The key to a healthy life is making sure you are eating the correct types of Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.

Below is a guide to help you make healthy changes to your fat intake with your nutrition plans:

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You Are Worth It!

Today, January 31, is #BellLetsTalk day. This has become a yearly campaign that helps raise money for Mental Health Initiatives in Canada. $.05 is raised every time that hashtag is shared on twitter, the photo frame is added on Facebook, the SnapChat filter is used, and their social media video is viewed. Get going and share the hell out of that hashtag on social media. This is a great initiative that gets the conversations starting about the impact of Mental Health issues and will hopefully end the stigma that surrounds the topic. Mental Health is absolute key to being able to live a healthy and fit life. Today I just wanted to address the area that always seems to be ignored or wanted to be pushed under the rug.

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Mental Health issues effect millions of people all around the world. It is a dark topic that many people do not talk about because they feel ashamed or scared. They are scared that people will think they are weak or people will tell them to suck it up or man up (both of those are unacceptable words of advice who is feeling down). We need to end the Stigma surrounding Mental Health Issues and encourage people to talk about what they are going through. Lets get a conversation going and help those in need.

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For those of you who are struggling, you are not alone. It is okay to not be okay. Your feelings are valid and you should not be ashamed to feel down, scared, depressed, anxious or any other of the thousands of emotions that you may be feeling. Things will get better, I promise.

Personally, I’ve been dealing with varying degrees of depressions and anxieties since my dad passed away three years ago. My dad was and is my role model and shaped who am I today. I miss him everyday, but I know that every day is an opportunity to continue on his legacy and show people the type of person he was. I’ve felt lost, sad, angry, and scared. I’ve felt like I was just coasting through routines without any joy. I’ve had that cloudy feeling and that feeling as if you’re watching yourself from outside your body. I’ve dealt with panic attacks and crippling anxiety. It’s been a long, tough, daily battle. All that being said, I’m in a great place right now and finally feel like I have everything under control. The ONLY reason I am at a good place in life is because of the help of a strong support system of friends and family. It took me a long time to talk and open up about my feelings because I had those stigmas mentioned above. I was afraid to admit I needed help because of that societal pressure to be strong and push those feelings away. Once I started talking with my family, friends, and therapist, I was really able to get a handle over these feelings and process through them.

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Talking to someone about these feelings that are so personal is extremely tough. People will continue to close themselves off until we end this stigma surrounding mental health. They will put on a false smile. They will say they are okay. They will want to keep to themselves, so if you notice someone is down on themselves or having a rough go of it lately, offer a helping hand. Simply letting them know that they are worth it and you are thinking of them can help ease their mind. Let them know that what they are feeling is okay. Offer them an ear and just listen. Let them talk and show them that you will not judge them. People will process through their own pain and feelings in their own time. Try to not rush them through it. Simply being present and offering to listen and not try to fix them, will help in so many ways.

If you are experiencing any feelings of anxiety or depression, please know that it is okay to talk to someone. Reach out to a loved one or a close friend and let them know you need someone to listen.

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Transform Your Routine

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One of the hardest things about getting in shape or creating a healthy lifestyle is changing your routine and exchanging bad habits for good habits. Humans are very much creatures of habits. We fall into routines that we are comfortable with rarely veer off course. We wake up at the same time most days. We go to the same coffee or lunch spots. We go to the same stores, websites, and entertainment areas. Now, there is nothing wrong with having routines. The problem occurs when those routines are detrimental to our health and fitness. We fall into these bad habits because they are easy (fast food) or convenient. These bad habits start to form and it make it harder and harder to get out of the routine and into good habits. Another issue with routines is that we find our comfort zone. We are attracted to things that seem easy because life can be hard and having  something easy in our daily life provides us a nice break from our hectic lifestyles. Unfortunately, in order to see change and improvement we need to get out of our comfort zones.

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One of my favorite pieces of advice is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It is a piece of advice I received when I was learning about stand up comedy and how we can apply the techniques to our everyday lives. Another piece of advice you’ll see a lot of is “Success begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Both of these quotes are spot on. The first step in changing up your routine is acknowledging there is an issue and you need to change something. The next step is to address these issues by finding ways to change them. This is where stepping outside of your comfort zone comes into play. You need to be willing to see beyond your boundaries and believe that you are capable reaching your goals through these changes.

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Once you have taken these steps, you are on your way a better version of yourself. The next step is to acknowledge that it will take time to change your routines and results will not occur over night. My recommendation is to set a goal of 3-4 weeks of consistent, throughout planning. Pick a habit you want to change and then plan on enforcing that change everyday for the next 3-4 weeks. One example would be a healthy eating goal and you decide to cut out all fried food for that time. Really focus and make sure you stick to these goal. There are a lot of studies out there that say 21 days, 28 days, 66 days, 124 days, and so one are needed to set new routines. Honestly, it comes down to each unique individual. The reason I recommend 3-4 weeks is because it a short-term goal that is manageable. Once you successfully hit the goal, you will look back on the last month and realize that you do not need that old routine or habit anymore. Then the next time you get a craving or urge to fall back into the back habit (like the example of eating fried food) you will have the mindset and mentality to know that you do not need or want that bad habit in your life.

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Now setting these new routines will not be easy. Getting out of the comfort zone and making changes takes a lot of courage. My recommendation and advice to helping you stick with these routine changes is to Remember Your Why. Remember why you started. Remember that idea that was in your head about how your life will improve if you stick with the changes. It can be extremely tough to stay motivated and remember these reasons, so a useful tip would to them down on some post-it notes and stick them to your bathroom mirror and the wall next to your front door. This way you are reminded everyday of why you started this journey when you get ready to leave the house or get ready for bed.

28 Day Clean Eating Challenge:

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Below is simple clean eating challenge that help you set a new healthy routine. It focuses on cutting out unnecessary calories and processed foods, while replacing them with natural and beneficial foods. If you do not feel that you can follow everything in each category, then pick and choose 1-2 items from each to follow. Starting off with a subtle change will help show you that you can achieve your goals. After you complete this challenge, you can then focus on cutting out more items that are unhealthy. Doing these small over time will lead to growth in your confidence that will allow you to continue to push your comfort zones.

5 Simple Slow Cooker Recipes

Whether you are cooking for a family, a group of friends, or meal prepping; you most likely have a crazy busy schedule and just don’t have the time to cook full meals everyday. In today’s society, we are consistently running around and staying busy. The slow cooker (Crock Pot) is going to be your best friend. All you need to do for most recipes is throw all the ingredients in the pot and let it cook for 4-8 hours. You can trow everything in the pot in the morning and when you get home after work, you’ll have dinner ready. Or you can put oatmeal in the pot before you go to bed and wake up to a healthy, filling breakfast.

Here are 5 of my favorite chicken crock pot recipes that are also diet friendly.

1) Balsamic Chicken with Potatoes: Recipe

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2) Chicken Tortilla Soup: Recipe

(Skip the cheese and sour cream to reduce the calories per serving)

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3) Lemon Garlic Chicken: Recipe

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4) Honey Teriyaki Chicken: Recipe

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5) Chicken Fijitas: Recipe

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Bonus Recipes: Honey Garlic Chicken and Vegetables, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

Try a few of these out the next time you know you will have a busy schedule coming up. Planning ahead is key to sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Having a pot of these ready will help you stay away from the fast food options for lunch and dinner, while also keeping the empty calories away. Also, a pro tip, invest in Crock Pot Liners! They will save you when it comes time to clean up.

Have any slow cooker recipes that your swear by? Please post them below in the comment section. I would love to give them a try!

5 Best Meal Prep Apps to help you reach your health goals

The biggest struggle and hurdle when it comes to getting fit and being healthy is staying on top of your nutrition. You will notice that the easy parts of getting fit and being healthy are the workouts and routines you get into. You can plan out and stick to your daily workouts and map all your workout routines, but still not see the results you want. This is because nutrition plays a massive part in fitness and health. If you are not fueling your body properly, your workouts could be pointless. The hardest part about nutrition and sticking to a plan is the easy of access of junk food. No matter where you go or where you work, it will almost always be easy to find junk food. The office break room will oftentimes be the downfall of your new year resolution. This is where meal prepping comes in handy.

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I’m sure you have heard about meal prepping now that you are focusing on being healthy and fit. Every blog, book, article you read will hint at how eating healthy is probably the most important part of losing weight and being healthy. Meal prepping is when you cook a large portion of your meals for the week at one time. This is so that you have healthy food options you can take wherever you go and are ready to eat in just minutes. This is key because life can get extremely crazy and nobody has the time to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday. Let’s be honest, you are lucky if you have enough time to cook just one meal in a day.

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Below are some of the best Smart Phone Apps out on the market that will help you reach your health and fitness goals (not ads, just user recommendations). All of these apps have great collections of healthy recipes to choose from and most of them allow for recipe customization.

  1. Mealine: This app is my personal favorite to use because of how seamlessly it integrates a grocery list, recipes, and recommendations for alterations of recipes. The whole goal of using these apps is to make life easier, and this app hits all the needs that I am looking for with my meal prep.
  2. Cozi: This app is great because it integrates a calendar aspect. You can plan your meals using the grocery list and which days you would like to eat each of the recipes.
  3. Pepperplate: This is a great app for those who are in a fitness or health challenge. One of the new trends is using social media to create groups of support and challenge each other to get healthy. This app allows for you to plan out your meal, make grocery lists, and scale the recipes for the correct amount of people. But the best aspect is the ability to share your recipes and plans on social media with your friends and family.
  4. MealPlan: This app was my favorite for customization. The user-interface allows for full customization of the calendar and really makes planning out the week’s meal easy. It even has an AppleWatch app for those of you have one. Great addition to add in that extra reminder to stay on your plan.
  5. MealBoard: This one is for those people who want meal planning to be simple.The app is extremely user-friendly and not overly complicated. It also does a good job of allowing you to make grocery lists and track your pantry items.

If you are interested in seeing more options, check out this post to see 9 more options. Do you use an App to help you meal prep that wasn’t listed above? Comment on this post and I’d love to check it out.

Zucchini Noodle Chicken Bowl

Looking for a healthy meal but don’t have the time to get fancy and make something complicated? We’ve all definitely been there and it can be frustrating to try to find recipes that are quick, easy, and require few ingredients. One issue I always run into when looking at recipes is that almost all recipes require some sort of spice and seasoning that I do not have and it would be a waste of money to go buy them just for one meal. Below is a recipe that I love to make when I need to focus on eating clean but also need to have it be ready quickly.

Zucchini Noodle Chicken Bowl

This is one of my go-to recipes because it is only 5 ingredients, cooks fast, and tastes amazing. Zucchini noodles are just zucchini that have been spiraled instead of chopped. If you do not have a spiralizer in your kitchen, you can get a cheap one here. The idea here is to have the flavor and nutritional benefits of zucchini, but to create the texture of pasta. This will help trick your mind into thinking you are indulging in a bowl of spaghetti, when in fact, you are eating a low carb, low-calorie entrée. The best part of this is you can load up your bowl with as much zucchini as you want and not feel guilty about eating out of a large serving bowl. Another great thing about the recipe is that I mostly use chicken breast for the protein, but you can always change that up to steak, turkey, fish or any other type of protein so that it never gets old. Check out the ingredient list and cooking instructions below:

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Zucchini Noodle Chicken Bowl with a tomato salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Zucchini (spiraled)
  • 1 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Chop the chicken breast into cubes and cook in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature is 165F and the inside is no longer pink.
  2. Set Chicken aside and let cool
  3. Spiralize the zucchini (if you don’t have a spiralizer, you can simply chop or julienne the zucchini)
  4. Add zucchini into the skillet and saute over medium heat. Add in garlic salt and pepper (Or whatever seasoning you prefer or have handy). Cook until it starts to become slightly translucent. Try not to over cook/steam the zucchini. If cooked for too long it will lose its density and will be mostly mush.
  5. Add zucchini and chicken into the bowl.
  6. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and on top of the bowl.
  7. Finish off the bowl with some garlic salt and pepper
  8. Enjoy a delicious and low carb dinner!

As you can see from the recipe, this is super simple and can be made in under 30 minutes. You can also throw in chili powder or pesto or curry and change the flavor palate so that it never gets old. This is a good trick if you are meal prepping and do not want to be tired of all the food you made for later in the week.

If you are a wine lover and/or want to make this for a special date night dinner, go ahead and grab a nice Chardonnay to pair with this meal!

Hope you enjoy!

 

Health Tip: Cut The C.R.A.P

Just like how Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein had to PUT…THE CANDLE…BACK, you need to PUT…THE DOUGHNUT…BACK! Seriously, put it back. There is next to no nutritional value in doughnuts, cake, cookies and white bread. They may taste great and that sugary snack can get you from lunch to dinner but it does nothing good for your body.

There are about 1000 different diets and schemes to losing weight, being fit, or just being healthy in general, but the one thing they all have in common is that eating healthy is the key. One of the most common phrases you will hear in the fitness community is “Abs are made in the gym, but revealed in the kitchen” and it is absolutely correct. One of the prime examples of this that has been in the new lately is from Tom Brady. The dude is now 39 years old and in the best shape of his life. While most quarterbacks in the NFL are breaking down on almost every other play, he’s slinging the ball around like guys who has never been hit by a linebacker. The main reason for this is because of an overhaul in his diet. It’s absurdly strict and definitely not recommended for everyone, but the point is that what you put in your body is extremely important and affects everything from your weight to your attitude to your energy levels. If you want to read up more about how Brady keeps dominating the NFL, check out this article from Yahoo.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect when it comes to my diet and eating habits, but I know that the healthier I eat the better I feel. A rule that I like to follow is the 80/20 rule. This just means that the I focus on eating healthy and natural foods 80% of the time and I allow myself to indulge in cheat meals 20% of the time. Now those cheat meals tend to be fries, chips, bread, or chocolate. I’m not going all out with fried food and extra fatty food. One way I focus being healthy is by cutting the C.R.A.P. and eating F.O.O.D!

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Cut the C.R.A.P.

Carbonated Drinks: 

By cutting these out, it means that you’ll be cutting out a lot of sodas and drinks that contain chemicals, sugars, and calories that have no nutritional benefit. These drinks are what are considered empty calories. They may taste great and help curve that sweet tooth, but your body doesn’t need them. When your body doesn’t need calories, it stores them as fat for later. This is why those diet drinks that are so popular do not actually lead to weight loss. Your body sees these chemicals/ingredients and doesn’t need them, so it’ll flush them out or store them for later.

Refined Sugar:

That white bread, white cake, and favorite breakfast cereal is doing nothing for you. Refined sugar has zero nutritional value (fiber, minerals, vitamins) and are extremely high in calories. Cut these out by switching to high fiber breads and oatmeal and you’ll notice how you’ll be more full, more often. That full feeling will lead to eating fewer calories and more weight loss.

Artificial Sweeteners/Alcohol:

Artificial sweeteners are those yellow, blue, pink sugar packs you see people loading up their morning coffee with and is one of the main ingredients in soft drinks. If it’s not natural and needs to be created in a science lab, it’s probably not ideal for your body.

Alcohol is another option here. Beer gut is a real thing. No don’t get me wrong, I love to have beer/wine as much as the next person, but alcohol is processed through the liver as a toxin and signals the body to store fat. So this is something you should definitely cut back on or cut out all together.

Processed Foods:

These foods are ones that have additives that allow the food to not expire or have longer shelf lives. Examples being cereal, fruit snacks, dried fruits, mixed nuts, and microwave popcorn. These are great because you can buy them in bulk and not worry about them expiring before you can eat them. But avoid them as much as possible because the artificial ingredients and additives are terrible for your body. There is great article here that explains more about why exactly you need to avoid these foods.

Consume Real F.O.OD.

Fruits & Vegetables:

There is a reason that health professionals want you eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables every day. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs. Replace those fruit snacks, candy, and sugar snacks with unprocessed and natural food. This simple change will boost your energy in no time. You

Organic and Lean Proteins:

The reason you should focus on these is that they are all natural. You know what you are getting when you are eating these organic and lean proteins. Now I’ll be honest, I don’t eat organic that often because they are expensive. So when I don’t eat organic, I look at the labels that and ingredients. The shorter the ingredient list, the better.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids:

Add these into the diet by eating more fish, specifically salmon. Omega 3s are great because they are anti-inflammatory and will help reduce overall swelling.Not only that, but they can help reduce risks of heart attacks and strokes, they can reduce anxiety and depression, and they can help improve sleep. For a full list of benefits, check out this article.

Drink Water: 

If you think you are drinking enough water, you are not drinking enough water. The majority of the human body is composed of water and is the key to life. By drinking more water you will not only have more energy and feel hungry less often, but your skin will clear up and your body will be flushed of harmful toxins. The recommended amount of water you that you should drink is 1 oz per 2 lb of body weight. So if you weight 150 lbs then you should drink 75 oz of water. Honestly, I think that is nowhere near enough. I’d recommend drinking 1 oz per 1 lb of body weight. I weight 155 so that is  roughly 1.25 gallons. When I’m working out regularly, I’ll definitely hit that amount and never have to worry about dehydration.See the image below for just a few of the great added benefits of drinking more water.

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Now, I know that making all these adjustments at once will be tough but they will absolutely be worth it. If you do not feel like you can completely make these changes at once, then start small and slowly work them into your eating habits. I’d love to hear more about other eating habit changes that you have been making that have been successful. Feel free to comment here  or reach out to my social media pages with details. I always love learning new and different ideas to living a healthier lifestyle.

 

Fitness Hack: Boost Your Metabolism

Have you ever wondered how somebody can eat junk food all day every day and not gain a pound? Or how you can eat healthy a majority of the time but still cannot lose weight or fat? Yeah…me too. I remember being in college and watching my roommate eat Kit-Kats and Oreos and not gain a pound, but when I would eat that I would put on a least a few pounds. The reason behind this is pretty complex and there is a lot of science behind it, but simply put it comes down to ones metabolic rate. Some people just burn more calories than other people. Whether it’s from activity levels, height, weight, or just genetics. Knowing your base metabolic rate is key when it comes to trying to improve your fitness (lose weight, put on muscle, etc).

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Super Bowl: Healthy Snack Idea

It’s almost game time! The biggest sporting event of the year is just two days away. Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will be watched by an estimated 120 Million people. If you are like many of those people and myself, you will most likely be watching at a watch party surrounded with friends, family and a lot of food. On average, Americans will consumer 6,000 calories during the 4-5 hour game……yeah that’s the equivalent to how many calories one would burn if they ran a full marathon.

I’ll definitely be indulging more than usual during the game this weekend, but I’m going to try to make sure that there are some healthier options and snacks available. This way I can still indulge in some great food but not worry about what may happen to my waist line. My contribution to the watch party snacks will be a twist on the classic mozzarella sticks. I’ll cooking up some awesome Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks (yea, I’ll be the guy who brings something somewhat healthy and I’m not ashamed). Below is the recipe.

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Eat Clean, Train Dirty

Lately, I’ve been hitting the workouts hard. Improving my speed in my runs, increasing my weight training and trying out new body weight routines. Now this is all fine and dandy, but in order to see results you’ve got to pair the training sessions with consistent clean eating. Focus on eating for a purpose. Check out this quick and easy clean eating dinner I whipped up tonight in 30 minutes:


Ingredients:

  • Frozen Chicken Tenderloins
  • Asparagus (trimmed/chopped)
  • Green and Red Peppers (sliced)

Directions:

  • Bake chicken tenderloins at 375F for 15 minutes
  • Flip chicken and add vegetables to baking tray
  • Finish baking everything together at 375F for another 15 minutes or until the chicken’s temperature reaches at least 170F (I always tend to slightly over cook my chicken to insure there is no risk of food poisoning. Rather have it a little dry  and some salsa or dipping sauces than risk getting sick)