Staying Healthy on a Road Trip

A few of my clients travel for work and have the hardest time maintaining any sense of routine because of the challenges that occur when being away from home. Today I am driving to Montreal and here is my plan for success to both stay awake while driving and stay healthy while traveling.

My road trip snacks are baby carrots and grapes. Both are low calorie and very easy to reach in and pull out of the bag while paying attention to the road. I also have carrot, apple, ginger, lemon and bell pepper juice I made this morning. I brought my shakeology with me if I need a smoothie along the way. It has a tendency to thicken because of one of the fruits in it so I wait until I am ready to drink it and just stop at a store for some coconut water or ice coffee to mix it with.

Once I get to Montreal my first stop before I even get to my hotel will be the grocery store. I purposely booked a room with a fridge so I can get fresh fruits and veggies to nourish me without daily trips to the store. I know my basic routine will be to have a shake after I workout, a banana and an apple for snacks, and I will make a salad to bring with me for lunch. Dinner will be slightly unplanned. Montreal has a lot of amazing vegetarian restaurants and enjoying life has to be factored into the daily routine!

I already completed my workout this morning before I got my day started and my scheduled rest day is tomorrow so I have a day of rest if I need it. I am doing the Insanity: Asylum workouts so I will stick to my schedule and do that in my hotel room each morning. I am staying at a hotel that is one mile away from the massage school I will be attending so my plan is to run there and back each day too.

Hopefully this will be a successful plan! I have found that making a plan is the key to success but being flexible with your plan is often times even more important. You never know what curve balls life will throw you so being open-minded to changing your plan is sometimes just as important as having a plan.

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What the hell is Boot Camp?!

Untitled designThe other day I was teaching a boot camp class that had a couple new people in it. After class was over one approached me and questioned why I choose to teach boot camp rather than the plethora of other modalities that are out there. My answer was simple – results!

I generally teach boot camps that require a one month commitment. At the beginning and end of the month we take before and after measurements and also do a physical assessment to track progress in planks, push ups, crunches, etc. I have the numbers and data to show that boot camp always works. It works significantly enough that I can confidently say that my program has guaranteed results. I generally never teach the same class twice so my clients never plateau.

I know some people see “Boot Camp” and think “no way”. Some people think it would be way too intense and they are not in shape but that is the whole reason you come to class. Whether I am teaching in Maine, Miami, or Morocco the classes always build a community of camaraderie which to me is even more of a perk than getting in shape. Some of my dearest friends started off as boot camp clients.

Boot camp may have a different interpretation from every trainer/instructor that teaches it. To me it simply means a challenging and ever changing set of exercises that will help improve your cardiovascular efficiency, increase your overall strength, and help you tone and lose weight. In my classes I prefer to use body weight for two reasons. One, I like my clients to learn exercises they can do anytime and anywhere so if I am not around they can still create a workout on their own. Two, your body weighs more than any dumbbell you could lift so you should learn to use your own body in different ways. It prepares you for real world scenarios to use your body as a whole rather than isolating just one muscle. What are you more likely to do – bicep curls with your grocery bags or lifting them out of the car, running up stairs and bending over to put them down. You will be getting stronger and losing weight so exercises can quickly become easier. Strength oriented body weight exercises are push ups, squats, lunges, crunches, etc. Cardio oriented body weight exercises are running with high knees, jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.

Hopefully this answers any questions you may have on what boot camp is. Don’t be intimidated! Even if you have injuries or have never worked out in your life, you are capable. When people have injuries I prefer they book a private session with me to go over modifications of common exercises we do so give your instructor a heads up if you have any concerns.

Hindsight is 20/20

1dd5531b9381852705af503fe68db45dWhen looking back on our lives we almost always find that our hindsight is 20/20. This is also true regarding fitness and nutrition. I haven’t been feeling very motivated with my workouts and have been roaming the grocery store on a daily basis for whatever suits my mood. This is not a combination for success! I am the number one supporter of advanced planning and routine. So while pondering what I could do to get on track and see results the first thing I did was to reflect on what has worked best for me in the past.

Simple questions you can reflect on:

  • What fitness routine or workout have I really enjoyed?
  • When was I in the best shape of my life? What was I doing?
  • What “diet” makes me feel the best?
  • What “diet” have I had the best results with?

I use the word diet in quotes because I don’t think it is good to use the word diet. “Diet” has many negative connotations and you should strive for a healthy balance in your nutritional routine rather than a system of deprivation.

For me the answer consisted of two things. I was teaching a lot of classes and doing the BeachBody program Asylum when I was in the best shape. I really enjoyed Asylum because it was a thirty day program that motivated me to stick to a daily workout plan. The workouts were challenging but I could really see the results in my strength, power, and agility. The Insanity Asylum were my 45-minutes of sanity to focus only on myself and that was a huge blessing. I have decided to start that program again and now BeachBody has an on-demand system so you can watch the videos anytime and anywhere. I am headed to Montreal this week so I wanted to make sure traveling would not interrupt my new routine.

The second thing that really worked for me was Shakeology. It was an integral part of decreasing cravings and because it has all the nutrients I need my body performs at a higher level and just naturally loses body fat. I have never used anything like it. With all my travel I have had a hard time keeping a steady supply but now I have two bags on hand to get back on track. I know I also need to plan out my meals for the week but that will have to wait until I get back from Montreal!

This is a very “BeachBody” related post but what can I say? It works for me.

AMRAP for Beginners

amrap1You can make this workout as hard as you want if you are more advanced but I have also broken down the exercises for very beginners too. This workout requires no equipment so you can do it outside at the park, on the beach or at home. You can save the image onto your phone and pull it out when you need a simple but challenging workout. Even if you aren’t in the mood, try doing just one round of each exercise and see if you are inspired to repeat it or just stop there and at least you did a short workout! I made a YouTube video to take you step-by-step through the beginner variations of the exercises. It is much better to go slow with great form than to speed through them. Take your time, throw on some music you love, and have fun!

 

 

The Importance of Stretching

flexibility (2)I hear the complaints of not being flexible all the time but very rarely do I see anyone that is actually motivated to do something about it. I can only assume this is because people don’t understand the importance of stretching and flexibility.  I also know stretching can feel more like a chore than pleasure and if you don’t know what you are doing then you won’t see much progress.

Stretching has not only physical benefits but also mental, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Some of the tops benefits for me are:

  • Flexibility determines what movements you are able to make and how fast, accurate, and powerful they can be. If you are involved in sports this can be a key to getting an edge over your competition.
  • Flexibility helps your posture become more upright without mental reminders and your body become more relaxed as it reduces overall tension in the body. Better posture also helps you breathe deeper which improves overall health.
  • Flexibility relieves pain, prevents injuries, and helps relieve stress.
  • Flexibility teaches you how to embrace being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Stretching
This is something you can do on your own whenever and wherever you want. All you need to know is the top five stretches that work for you. You could do a google search or you could ask a physical therapist, massage therapist, personal trainer or fitness instructor for recommendations based on your body. I also do skype sessions with clients to teach them a stretching routine and make personal youtube videos for them to follow along with. A small routine can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes a day and will make you feel so much better.

Yoga
Try it on your own, go to a class at a local studio, try a class online with YogaGlo or Gaiam. This is an arena that it is best to do your homework first. Yoga can help you become more flexible but depending on the style of yoga it could be a slow road to progress. Holding a stretch for longer periods of time is when the muscle actually has the time to relax and go further into a stretch to help increase your flexibility. Classes that are quickly moving through the poses will generally take a longer period of time to increase flexibility than classes where postures are being held for over a minute.

Assisted Stretching
This is a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for but it is a way to get instant results. You get what you pay for! All you need is a thirty minute session so it should not be a large financial burden or if you already get personal training you could ask them to do this for the last fifteen minutes of your session.

Thai Yoga Bodywork
This is also a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for. With my experience this is the quickest way to increase your flexibility. I used to do this for the NBA and saw players get more progress in the first week than doing a year of yoga. If increasing your flexibility is important to you and you want lasting change then this is the approach for you.

I hope you find a technique that works for you. Flexibility is important and it is one more thing we begin to lose as we age. Don’t procrastinate on this! It is so simple to add into the daily routine. Start with just one stretch in the morning when you get up and one before bed at night.

Guilt Free Indulgence

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The weekend is here and you feel like you deserve a treat! I know how easy it is for one cheat meal to turn into an entire weekend of indulgence with the mindset that Monday will be a brand new start. That isn’t the best approach though. It is better to try to find healthier options so that you can indulge without the guilt and without any setbacks in your nutrition and exercise routine. This is a recipe I use often when craving a sweet treat.

1 frozen banana
1 can of coconut milk (just the cream)
1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
1 handful of cacao nibs
Blend until smooth and freeze for about thirty minutes to an hour. Top with any superfoods you desire – I used roasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, hemp seeds and chia seeds.

I tend to over buy bananas because I like to keep them on hand for quick snacks and I like to freeze them for smoothies and “ice cream”. As they start to turn brown because I haven’t eaten them in time I just break them into small chinks and throw them into tupperware in the freezer and I always have some on hand when I need them.

Regarding the coconut milk: If you place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or about eight hours, the coconut cream will separate from the coconut water. I turn the can upside down to open it and drain off the coconut water for a future smoothie and use the coconut cream for the dessert I am making.

Make sure your peanut butter is organic and just peanuts and salt. Many companies add sugar or high fructose corn syrup which is completely unnecessary. Other than that, enjoy an all natural version of Chunky Monkey ice cream!

Total Body Tabata

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Short & Sweet workout…well maybe not sweet, let’s replace that with sweaty! Make sure you get warmed up for a few minutes before you get started but that is also why the first exercise is high knees because that will finish off your warm up quite nicely.

Tabata training is performed in intervals working as hard as you possibly can for twenty seconds and resting for ten seconds. During your rest period try to take a couple deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to help slow your heart rate down and prepare for the next round. You repeat this eight times to total four minutes. Take a one minute break in between each exercise. Don’t hold back! You should not be able to work as hard/fast on your last round as you do on your first. If you can that means you are not giving each round 100% effort or perhaps you are a super hero.

High Knees
Low Impact: March in place with high knees as quickly as you can bringing your knee as close to hip level as you can. Make sure to swing your arms too in order to get your heart rate up even more. If you arms are bent at a ninety degree angle then your elbow should be coming up to about shoulder level on the upswing.
High Impact: Run with high knees – same alignment tips as above. You can run in place, around the room, on a treadmill or outside.

Squats
Low Impact: With feet shoulder width apart, sit back as far as you can and try to get your hips down to the same level as your knees. Depending on flexibility and injuries this may not be possible, but go to the point that is comfortable for your body.
High Impact: Take the squats up a notch by turning it into a squat jump. With feet shoulder width apart squat down as low as you can and jump up into the air. Land as soft as you can because landing quietly helps protect your joints instead of jolting them. Try to make the movement fluid by immediately going into a squat rather than pausing in between landing and the next squat.

Mountain Climbers
Low Impact: Got down into plank position on your hands and toes. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Alternate pulling your knees into your chest one at a time and returning the opposite foot back to plank position.
High Impact:  Same as the low impact version but pick up the pace so you are running the knees towards your chest. Remember to keep your butt down! This is still a variation of plank position so imagine your body like a plank of wood and create a straight line from your heels to shoulders.

Bicycle Crunches
Low Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.
High Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet in the air. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide and hold a crunch position with shoulders lifted up off of the floor. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides as quick as you can reaching the opposite leg out as straight and low as you can. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.

Savory Squash

20160107_114907I tend to be a simple eater and this is a simple recipe. If I was cooking for friends or family then this would be a side dish but when cooking for myself this is my entire lunch. I buy the butternut squash that is already peeled and sliced.

Recipe
Container of squash
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/4 cup of pecans
1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until squash is thoroughly covered. Place on baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of pecans and a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and serve.

Fuel for the Burn

barsDo you ever feel like you are dragging through your workout? What you eat is what fuels you and there is a very fine line between feeling energetic and having that food sloshing around in your belly. Here are my top five recommendations for pre-workout fuel.

  1. Multi-grain Toast with Peanut Butter: Go for just one slice of bread with a tablespoon of peanut, almond, or cashew butter. Make sure your nut butter does not have added sugar and is organic. I highly recommend Ezekiel bread as it includes no flour and is a mixture of sprouted grains and legumes with all nine essential amino acids. It can usually be found in the freezer section of your grocery store.
  2. Oatmeal with Nuts & Berries: I use a half cup of oats and top with a handful of berries and a tablespoon of walnuts with a sprinkle of chia seeds and hemp seeds. I like to add a pinch of cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper for their health benefits. Then I just pour boiling water on top until it is the consistency I like.
  3. Dried Fruit & Nuts: This is a good choice if you don’t like the feeling of food in your belly when you workout or if you workout first thing in the morning and need something as quick as possible. You only need about a half-cup to get the fuel you need for your workout.
  4. Chia Pudding: The best ratio is generally 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to one cup of liquid. I tend to use coconut or almond milk but if you aren’t vegan you could use regular milk too. I mix it in the blender with a banana and let it sit for about five minutes before I pour it in a mason jar, give it another stir and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Top with some berries or nuts if you need to change up the consistency and flavor.
  5. Granola Bar: If you are on the go just grab a “KIND” bar or “Lara” bar. Both are whole food options without added chemicals. I prefer to make my own bars so they are fresh, raw and full of the flavors I love. My base recipe is a cup of dates, a cup of almonds, two tablespoons of seeds (chia, hemp, sunflower), two tablespoons of coconut oil and three quarter cups of dried apricots or cranberries. I throw it all in the food processor until it is thoroughly mixed and ready to be spread out and cut into bars.