Posts tagged better food choices

Can you smell what the Crock Pot is cooking?

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Crockpots are one of the best inventions ever. I like to start things off with controversial statements like that.

It’s so easy! You can set-it-and-forget-it, and somehow whatever you end up with always tastes amazing. Just try not to follow my set-it-and-forget-to-plug-it-in method.

It is football season at our house. My son plays and I coach his team, so we don’t get home until 830 at night. Not really time to cook dinner, eat, and shower for the early risers under our roof. So football season is also Crock Pot season.

Last year my wife did one of the greatest things ever. She went to a Wild Tree party where they made a bunch of Crock Pot meals and then froze them. We lived off those things for the whole season, it was glorious.

We got started back on the Crock Pot train with a simple, but delicious one last night. Put lean ground beef in on low until the meat is browned. Then add a diced sweet potato and black beans. You stir garlic salt in, squeeze a lime on top, and then cook that on low for a few more hours. About 15 minutes total prep time.

What is your favorite Crock Pot meal? If you are looking for some new recipes, here is a great link to check out.

77 Crock Pot Meals

The web site Greatest gives you 77 different meals you can do in the Crock Pot. It covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, sauces, even vegetarian options. Pretty awesome.

Go forth and Crock Pot my friend.

Building Bock Three- 7 Steps For The Best Rest

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Raise your hand if you get enough sleep? Not too many hands there, I know mine wasn't up. But I am constantly working on ways I can improve my sleep/rest, which will lead to better recovery,  which will lead me to getting better results with those first two building blocks we have talked about.

 

Here are just a few things that studies have shown that lack of proper sleep can cause:

-snack more after dinner

-eat more junk carbs

-fat cells age, making you more likely to gain weight and get diabetes

-a decrease in alertness and increase reaction time, making you more likely to be in a traffic accident

-increased levels of stress, anger, sadness, and depression

 

So here are 7 tips to help improve sleep quantity as well as quality.

1. The single most important thing you will need is a good bed

In my opinion a great bed and mattress are well worth the amount of money they cost. Think about how much time you spend in that bed over the next 10-20 years. A very worthwhile investment, so get a good one that works for you.

2. Create a good sleep environment

Keep the noise level down as low as possible, as dark as possible, and keep your room cool (to my wife this means 87 degrees, for me it is 48 degrees). The research shows around 68 degrees is an optimal temp. Sometimes my wife reads these e-mails, fingers crossed today.

3. Get a routine

You know the basketball players that dribble twice, kiss their cross medallion, wipe the sweat off their forehead, do 4 clap jacks, and then shoot a free throw? No? Okay, just know that you need a routine to help you wind down and relax before you go to sleep. This can be reading, listening to soft music, taking a bath, praying, some light stretching. Just find a calming activity you do every night that will be your body's signal to shut it down for the night.

4. What about when you have to get up in the middle of the night?

The number one thing is to avoid frustration. If you have been trying for more than 15 minutes and nothing is happening, get out of bed and do some sort of light activity (eat a light snack, drink a glass of milk, read something boring) with the lights dimmed. If your mind starts working a hundred miles per hour on things you need to do, keep a notepad next to your bed and write down the things on your mind. All of these are designed to take your mind off things and not be so frustrated at yourself for being awake.

5. Stay away from pills!

They are the absolute last resort. There are times when you need them, but research has shown that using a good sleep routine is more effective than pills.

6. Some things that can mess with your sleepy time:

* Too much food, especially fatty, rich food. These take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Spicy or acidic foods in the evening can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.

* Too much liquid. Drinking lots of fluid may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.

* Alcohol. Many people think that a nightcap before bed will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.

* Caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.

* Smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep.

*Electronics. Turn the electronics off at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed time and keep them away from you as you sleep. Our gadgets can suppress melatonin, keep your brain alert (and you awake), and all the beeps, buzzes, and chirps can wake you up in the middle of the night.

7. And of course, the best thing you can do is exercise!

Our bodies are not designed to sit around all day with zero physical activity. I have a saying about kids that applies to adults too. When in doubt, wear 'em out. Moving more and sitting less will help improve your sleep quality.

 

Some of these may seem obvious, but the idea is to do ALL the steps to optimize your sleep. Not just the ones that come easy to you. Good luck and get some rest tonight!

It’s just too much!!!

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I was a chaperone for a church youth trip this past weekend. We took the kids to a conference called Motion that was held at the BJCC in Birmingham. It was amazing, overwhelming, and I don’t think I slept more than 6 hours total the whole time we were there. Sleeping on the ground is rougher than I remember. Hashtag feeling old.

Something one of the speakers said really stuck with me He said that knowledge is doubling every 5 years (some sources say every 18 months). So every 5 years the amount of knowledge the world knows DOUBLES. I think that is so crazy!

Like many things that is a two-edge sword. On one hand that means everything you need to know about health, fitness, nutrition, exercise or anything you want to learn is out there for you.  On the other hand, there is a lot of garbage out there.

In your every day life think about how often you are bombarded with TV commercials, plugs on Facebook, radio ads, and Spam e-mails for weight loss advice, products, and services. I Googled weight loss yesterday and it came back with 270 million results.

How do you know what is legit? There are a few things that have always worked and will continue to work forever. The basics are not sexy or exciting but they are effective.

Are there great supplements out there? Absolutely.

Are there weight loss systems that help people? Yes!

Are there diets that work? Every day people are successful with any number of different ways of eating. But ask yourself these questions first before you try something crazy: -Could I work out harder and be more active (especially outside of your workout) overall?

-Could I eat more foods that I prepare and eat out less?

-Do I take in a lot of empty calories? (junk and processed foods, soft drinks, alcohol)

-Does my body need more sleep at night?

-Is my stress level too high?

That is a very oversimplified list, but if you answered yes to the majority of those I would start there. Exercise, proper nutrition, recovery, and stress management are building blocks of your health. If one of them is off, it negatively impacts the rest of them.

Where do you need to start? Pick one building block and start there. Over the next few e-mails I will break down each of the building blocks.

Let’s get back to the basics, so we don’t have to sift through all the confusion that is out there.

Lessons from a crepe myrtle (weird, but worth the read)

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All fun and games until they are viciously attacking your sidewalk

It's been a life long dream of mine to write a fitness post crepe myrtles. Today that dream comes true.

 

There is a crepe myrtle in my backyard that has been plaguing me. It looks awesome, but it drops its petals on my sidewalk, they stick to the bottom of my shoe, and then I track them into my gym.

 

So I started off solving this problem by continually sweeping out my gym. Take that myrtle! As you can guess, that didn’t really solve the problem. I was sweeping those petals out every day.

 

So I really got smart and swept the sidewalk where the petals were sticking to shoes. Listen I didn’t graduate high school with a 2.3 GPA by being a dummy. But guess what? The petals just kept acomin down and that became my new daily sweeping chore.

 

But if I really wanted to solve the problem, I should the sweet spot where all this is coming from right? By trimming up the branches that hang over the sidewalk I could prevent all this from happening.

 

There is one caveat for that though. It is not my crepe myrtle. I can trim the ones that I can get to, but there are some that I can’t. I will just have to make it work.

 

I am a little slow in learning this stuff, but I see the same thing with people with their nutrition and exercise habits. People that try to exercise like crazy to overcome a poor diet.

 

Then they switch to strict nutrition habits, but then the exercise habit starts to fall off. It becomes too much to handle.

 

So how do you get to the sweet spot of exercise and nutrition? By changing your mindset.

 

Don’t try to outexercise a bad diet. That is impossible.

 

Don’t put yourself on some crazy, restrictive diet that makes you miserable. The sort term results you get are not worth it because it is not sustainable and you will gain all the weight back.

 

The sweet spot is found where you find some form of movement that you enjoy and you can stick to. Then you find a way of eating that nourishes your body, makes you feel good, and actually tastes good! When you add consistent, effective exercise to consistent, effective nutrition you start seeing tremendous results. And these are long term changes that will stick around.

 

Then there is the things that are out of your control, like rogue crepe myrtles, thyroid issues, or genetics. If you can’t control it and nothing you can do will change it, then it is time to let that go. You just do the best you can with what you got.

  Don’t get down on yourself and don’t use it as an excuse to quit. Just do your best and keep your focus on what you have the power to change.

How the sausage is made (weird motivation)

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If you want to become a vegetarian, I recommend you look into how sausage is made. You will probably become a vegetarian that day.

Nobody wants to think about the "behind the scenes" type of stuff that goes into making something. I went through a sausage making experience with my business this week.

I put out a video on Facebook this week called "Who we are and what we do" that explains kind of how boot camp works. This video was a little over one minute long. So that is how long it took me to put it up there right? Not even close.

That one minute video took me so many takes for so many different reasons. I stuttered, started talking nonsense (more than usual), I filmed half my face, and the list goes on and on. It took me 45 minutes to get one minute of content.

Then all you have to do is upload it right? Yep, that is if your internet is working. Anybody else have issues on Wednesday? Good times.

When I finally got my internet back and got the video uploaded, I worked on getting captions put on the video. Did you know that 85% of videos on Facebook are watched with the sound turned off? Now we both know and that is why I spent another 30 minutes figuring out how to put captions on the video.

What is the moral of this story? Other than hire someone who knows what they are doing.

The main point is this:

Even though it seems like it takes forever to see a tiny bit of progress, you are still moving forward! It is still working. You are doing something right, don't give up now.

Don't get discouraged because you "only" lost 4 pounds and it seemed like it took forever. 4 pounds of fat is about the size of a 2-Liter bottle. That is awesome progress!

 

Next time I do a video, I will be able to do it faster because I found out that a squat rack makes a great camera holder. And I will be more efficient at putting the captions on the video.

You keep at it too. I've seen it happen over and over for people. They are plugging away, plugging away, and then the weight and inches start coming off like crazy. That happens because they stayed the course, found out what exercises worked for them, what types of foods their body thrives on, and never gave up.

You can do it too, keep making sausage.

Skin in the game

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Are you familiar with the term “having skin in the game”? Most sources credit Warren Buffett for making it popular. He was talking about investing his own money into the first fund he started.

It basically means you are invested and committed to the process.  Because, let’s be honest, when something is free we do not place the same value on it as we do on the things that we pay for.

It is why I can’t go to buffets. Because I WILL get my money’s worth. No way would I eat that much if I went over to someone’s house for dinner.

That is why I put a price on the 28 Day Vegetable Challenge. Nothing crazy, just $15, but enough that the people participating in the challenge will take it seriously and really commit to it.

Committing to consistency is the main thing I am looking for. Consistently is the key whether you are eating vegetables, exercising, or any number of things you might want to improve.

28 days, 28 different vegetables and how to prepare them, why you should eat that particular one, how to prepare them, store them, and a daily recipe for each vegetable. The goal is to make it fun, add the accountability, and get you at least one new vegetable that you will eat on a consistent basis.

The challenge starts on Wednesday, June 28th. I would love for you to be a part of it. You can reserve your spot below:

 

28 Day Vegetable Challenge 

“Change your life in 8 minutes”

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Meal planning may seem monotonous (because it is), but the pay off is worth it. Think about what happens when you do not have anything planned a meal, time gets short, and you are hungry?

Fast food, pizza deliveries, microwave salt licks. (No Lean Cuisines are not good for you).

What if instead of spending 8 minutes a week looking into a fridge hoping healthy food would magically appear, you spent that time productively? Take some advice from dietitian Keri Glassman's article "Change Your Life in 8 Minutes".

Here is what she suggests doing with your 8 minutes:

-Write out your challenges for the week (birthday celebration, busy kid's schedule, girls' night out, etc.) and then write down a plan to overcome the challenges.

 

-Plan your dinners at home around your schedule for the week and then create a grocery list to go with them.

 

-Write a list for work snacks, and add them to your grocery list.

 

-Schedule exactly when you are going to go to the grocery store and then follow through.

 

I would add, you could spend your time ordering groceries on-line.

If you notice, not one of those is the actual food prep or cooking we all dread so much. This is formulating a food game plan for the week. It will save you time, money, and calories just by having some kind of plan.

If you do have time left in your 8 minutes, Glassman suggests you could:

  • Make a pitcher of iced lemon water to store in the fridge.

  • Chop the veggies you have around.

  • Mix a healthy salad dressing to keep in your fridge.

  • Portion out healthy snacks, like nuts, into little bags.

Nutrition is just like working out. When you have a game plan of what you are going to do, you get much quicker results without wasting your time. Make that plan today!

Overwhelmed and Discouraged

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In Monday’s post I talked about how discipline can equal freedom. Then I offered 4 tips on how to increase your self discipline.

 

Today I want to give you a little warning about what happens when you let your discipline begin to slip. This is something I have seen in my life as well as the lives of the people I work with.

 

Maybe you’ve been working really hard, so you decide to take a day off in your workout routine. Then you decide to take off a couple of more. Next thing you know, you have not exercised in a month and you feel awful.

The same thing can happen with healthy eating. You cut down on the shopping, prepping, and cooking food at home. That leads to more eating out and more fast food.

 

With both of these scenarios it gets harder to come back because you feel so far away from where you used to be. You dread starting over at your workouts and you can’t imagine fitting meal prep back into your busy schedule.

 

The best way to prevent this is to recognize when you first start to slip. Everyone needs rest days, so missing a workout here and there is no big deal. Eating out is not a problem and is a very enjoyable part of life. Just be cognizant of when the occasional deviation from the plan becomes a regular thing.

 

What about when you feel like you are so far away it’s not worth starting back? That is when you have to break things down into mini-goals. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.

 

A mini-goal could be exercising one day this week. Just one day! Maybe eating out one less time per week. One less day! You know you have found a great start back goal, when it seems so easy it is ridiculous. That is actually what you want!

 

It is all about creating mini-successes for yourself to build momentum and stay motivated. When you get to where you are consistently working out at least 1 day per week, add in another day. Eat out 2 fewer days per week, after 1 per week becomes an easy habit.

 

It’s never too late to get back in the game. There’s time, but why wait? Do something today, that your future self will thank you for.

Your spark can become your flame

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Sometimes all it takes is one little spark to ignite a flame. It's the same way with getting started on a healthy lifestyle. One action step at a time. Picking out a specific action and making it a habit. Think about what you would like to change the most. -Your weight? -Your endurance? -Your strength? -Your eating habits? -Your energy level? What is one thing you can do this week to ignite that fire and start conquering your struggles? Here are 20 examples of what that one thing could be:

1. Get the junk food out of your house 2. Set an alarm and stand up for 5 minutes every hour 3. Avoid fast food this week 4. Eat one healthy meal today 5. Take a 10-minute walk 6. Use a foam roller for 10 minutes 7. Floss (it adds 6 years to your life) 8. Stretch for 10 minutes 9. No liquid calories today (soft drinks, alcohol, coffees, etc…) 10. Commit to one workout

11. Turn the TV off and go to bed an hour earlier 12. Take 10 minutes of absolute quiet by yourself to de-stress 13. Find someone who will keep you accountable (friend, trainer, group) 14. Go buy some new workout clothes or shoes 15. Write down your goals where you will see them daily 16. Rather than creating excuses for not getting healthy, create a plan 17. Start a sleep routine you will do every night 18. Eat a vegetable you've never tried this week 19. Take a picture of yourself and do your measurements so you can track the amazing results you are about to achieve 20. Cut ties with a negative person (AKA energy vampire) in your life The list could be thousands of things, but I want you to think of one specific thing you will commit to TODAY to take action on. Pick something you know you can do, keep at it until it becomes a habit, and then target your next goal.

Let's get this fire started.

The dangers of that peanut butter life

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Most of these posts I write are lessons I am trying to teach myself and I think others could benefit from. Today’s post is no different.

I have two examples of how hidden calories can become a problem. The first one is one I did to myself, the second was one that I did to my wife.

Both of them involve... peanut butter.

Did that sound really dramatic? I hope so.

I noticed this week that I have a habit that could be dangerous if I was trying to cut down on my caloric intake. Every time I make my son a peanut butter sandwich I give myself a bite of peanut butter for the effort. That can add up considering that 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is 200 calories.

I also make my wife protein shakes on a regular basis. She asked me how much peanut butter I used and I realized it was way more than she does when she makes her own.

Maybe an added 100-150 calories here and there does not sound like a big deal, but it can add up. Especially if you do it consistently over time. An extra 150 calories per day would lead to a 15.6 pound weight gain in a year.

Three things to learn from my mistakes.

First, is to watch out for the BLTs. The Bites, Licks, and Tastes that you put into your body. All the little bites you take when cooking, licking spoons, and other taste tests you do count.

Second, is that it matters who prepares your food. That is why it is crucial to prepare your food as often as you can. Restaurants do not have your waistline in mind when they prepare your food. Their main mission is taste, so calories can pile up pretty quick.

Third, is that small changes can work for you or against you. I mentioned above about how they can work against you. But those same pounds you put on, can be taken off by eliminating 150 calories/day. You could eat 150 calories less, burn 150 off, or a do a combo of the two.

PS- Peanut butter is still delicious, I regret nothing.

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