After seeing the results this program has given people, including some top-notch strength coaches, I think I too will put it to the test in the very near future. I am just not sure if I will do the 3x or 4x/week plan. Thoughts?
Beyond Show and Go, my good friend Jim Smith of the Diesel Crew has created a 16 minute FREE video showcasing technique work, injury reduction, Autoregulation and more. It is some topnotch stuff to help you maximize your training and get the most out of your sessions.
This video highlights his awesome Accelerated Muscular Development Program 2.0, so do yourself a favor and watch this FREE video.
First off today I wanted to mention that my wife and I went with my parents and sisters to pick up our very first Christmas tree together. Though my parents’ tree is about twice as tall and probably four times as heavy, we are still proud of our little 7 footer. We will do a little decorating around the house today and be good to go.
While at my parents’ house yesterday I picked up my dad’s old Men’s Health magazines because you can almost always find some interesting tidbits and articles in there. Sometimes they are excellent, sometimes not so much, but it is far and away the most consistently good fitness magazine out there.
While perusing through the November issue I came across two interesting things:
1. EC gave a nice little dynamic warmup sample for the magazine. It was his favorite combination of moves that apparently he now calls “the Microwave?” I chuckled a little at that, as it was news to me, but the warmup is top-notch. It is simply a walking high-knee hug to a walking spiderman with an overhead reach and hip lift. You can get these moves and many others in EC’s Assess & Correct.
2. There was also an interesting article entitled “The Truth about Salt” by Maria Masters.
When I attended “The Great Fat Debate” at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston earlier this month there was certainly a lot of interesting information put forth by the speakers. Some of it, mainly the stuff by Dr. Lewis Kuller, was awful. He was stuck in 1975 and definitively stated that the only concern should be LDL and apoB and nothing else. He was an arrogant fool who did not provide any information that was newer than 1980.
Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. For any of you who attended or streamed the “debate” (there was no debate, simply four 15-minute talks with a small q & a at the end) I just wanted to put that out there. The study of the causes of heart diseases finally seems to be making some leaps forward, so it is imperative that we don’t listen to people like Dr. Kuller who prefer to retain the status quo simply because discovering new information may discredit what they have been teaching, and that is just unacceptable. For people like him it is easier to just be in denial.
Anyway, in that debate the best speaker, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, gave the most clear-headed and accurate representation of the research and the facts. He declared the focus on total fat and saturated fat to be non-sense. The research just does not bear it out. Though he was a fan of increasing polyunsaturated fats to reduce risk of heart disease, which I disagree with to a point, he was also a fan of reducing sodium intake.
He felt the only information that should be on Nutrition Facts labels should be total calories and sodium content. That’s it. While maybe a little extreme, I understood his point. Which brings me to this Men’s Health article.
“More than 20 percent of American men between 35 and 44 have high blood pressure.” That is a scary statistic and because of it the American Heart Association, Institute of Medicine as well as New York City and 30 others are trying to decrease the salt intake of America. So should you stop adding salt and pepper to your eggs and other meals?
Maybe not. 77% of our sodium intake comes from pre-packaged processed foods and restaurant meals. 77%. Another 12% naturally occurs in food and only 5% comes from home cooking. Still think that little dash of salt in your stir-fry is really the problem? Me neither.
Salt is an essential mineral needed to maintain muscle function and hydration. The Institute of Medicine recommends a little bit over 1/2 tsp of salt per day to help maintain electrolyte balance. What people often do not realize is it is the balance between sodium and potassium that is the real key, not just sodium intake alone.
The body is constantly balancing the sodium to potassium ratio, and it has been shown that an increase in potassium intake can lower blood pressure just as well as a decrease in sodium intake. Unfortunately the vast majority of Americans fall well short of their potassium needs, as well as their needs for the best source of potassium – fruits and vegetables. 1 medium potato contains 25% of your daily potassium needs.
Know what else causes high blood pressure? Being overweight.
To me the real keys to lowering your blood pressure are this:
Maintain a healthy bodyweight
Eat mostly real, whole minimally processed home-cooked foods and meals
Consume lots of fruits and vegetables, ~5-10+ servings per day
That’s it. If you do all of these things and you still have high blood pressure, then you may have some other complications going on and you should talk to your doctor. I am also of the belief that the quality of your salt might have an impact as well, since highly processed conventional salts are sodium chloride and nothing else. More traditional salts like Redmond Real Salt still have a color (pink in this case), have a better flavor profile and contain a bunch of trace minerals, including iodine.
I hope everyone had an awesomely gluttonous Thanksgiving yesterday. If there is ever a day to indulge, that is it. I personally enjoyed some of my aunt’s delicious apple pie, filling myself far beyond capacity. It was awesome.
So today was the first real snow fall of the year up here in Maine. Even with some crappy sleet mixed in, the first snow fall is always a little exciting. Minus the fact that everyone seems to forget how to drive in the snow on the first fall.
I also wanted to mention that Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson are having a sale on all of their collaborative products for 20% off! No coupon needed, it is automatically applied. Check it out.
Anyway, with winter fast approaching and Thanksgiving yesterday, I thought today would be an appropriate occasion to give you some awesome winter recipes. I gathered what I considered to be my three best winter recipes and put them all in one place so they are easier for you guys to find. Enjoy!
Irish Beef Stew
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds of lean beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups of canned beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 table Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
¼ stick pastured butter
1-2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups carrots, ½-inch pieces
2 cups baby portabella mushrooms cut into quarters
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
Add beef broth, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine and bring mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
In another large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes.
Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves before serving. Serves 6.
I made this one on Monday, and it was absolutely delicious. Two bowls of that fills you right up and keeps you satisfied for hours.
My Wife’s Chili
1.5 pounds ground beef or turkey (1-2lbs really, personal preference)
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
2 cans stewed tomatoes (14.5 ounces each)
1 can tomato sauce (16 ounces)
1 can light red kidney beans (15-16 ounces)
1 can dark red kidney beans (15-16 ounces)
1 can chickpeas (15-16 ounces)
1 small can of corn (7 ounces)
2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cook the beef, onion, and green pepper in large skillet, over medium heat with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
In a large pot combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chickpeas, corn and chili powder and cook over medium heat. Do not drain canned goods.
Once the beef, onion and green pepper mixture is cooked thoroughly, add to the large pot. Stir and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Make 5 large or 10 small servings.
This is probably my most popular recipe. I have had lots of readers email me and thank me, though really they should be thanking my lovely wife, for this recipe. Beware though, it does contain a good amount of fiber!
Vanilla Pumpkin Pie
6-8oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp milled flax
cinnamon to taste
nutmeg to taste
Blend & Enjoy!
My mother-in-law made a delicious pumpkin pie that I am going to enjoy tonight, and it reminded of this awesome smoothie. I haven’t had this one in a while, which is too bad because I absolutely love it. For you pumpkin fans out there, this is where it is at!
After all the leftovers are gone, I hope you guys put some of these recipes to use. Have a great weekend everybody!
So I know there has been a serious lack of blogging on here of late. I assure you that I am not a slacker, I have simply had a ton of things on my plate, not allowing me the time to write any quality content. For example it recently took me the better part of two months to finish an article I had started for t-nation, I just did not have the block of time I needed to wrap it up!
I figured that I would give you all a smorgasbord of stuff today, encompassing recent thoughts, nutrition, what I have been up to and more.
1. So while I have not had much time to blog, which is true, a small reason as to why I have been lacking in that department lately is that I was a little burnt out. If you look back over my blogging history my writing over the past few months far exceeded my normal output. While I did enjoy it, it also became more of an obligation rather than a fun exchange of information. So a small part of this hiatus was to refocus and recharge my batteries!
2. I have also been cranking out school work like a champ lately. I had to wrap up two huge projects last week as well as take a test and make a trip to the Blaine House with my classmates. For those of you not from Maine, the Blaine House is where the governor lives, as the Maine Dietetic Association honored the outgoing First Lady of Maine, Karen Baldacci. Karen is a Registered Dietitian and she worked hard to increase the recognition and credibility of our profession in this wonderful state. Below is a picture of my classmates and I with the First Lady.
3. I recently read a “nutrition expert” stating that it is going to be difficult to get Americans off the “meat and potatoes diet” and eating more veggies. They were basically asserting that eating meat and potatoes was a big part of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. This is absolutely absurd!
If more people actually ate meat and potatoes for dinner, we would be much better off. Instead people are eating more meals out of the home, are getting take-out chinese, deep-dish pizza and other calorically-dense over-processed “food”.
To me many people view the nutrition problems of this country through the wrong lens. The problem isn’t the meat, or the potatoes, or the butter or any other currently “evil” food. No, the problem is people eating far too many “edible food-like substances” and not enough actual food. It is definitely difficult to overconsume calories when eating mostly real, whole foods. It can be done, but it takes some serious effort!
Overeating man-made processed crap on the other hand is rather easy. It is specifically engineered to get you to eat more of it. It is designed to excite your brain and encourage you to indulge in overconsumption. Not only that, it is generally incredibly calorically dense, so eating the same volume will greatly increase your calorie intake compared to real food. It also tends to be nutrient-deficient, lacking in fat-soluble vitamins, phytonutrients and more.
We need to change our focus away from specific nutrients and creating new “foods”, and instead focus on teaching people how to get back to basics.
4. One thing that I going to change in my diet is getting more green tea back into it. I used to consume 3-5 cups on a near-daily basis. These days I hardly manage one cup per day. I drink more coffee instead, which in and of itself isn’t a problem as coffee has plenty of antioxidant capacity and health benefits. However after one of my classmates gave a presentation on the health benefits of green tea, it reminded why I used to drink so much in the first place.
While I will still have my cup of coffee at breakfast because I simply enjoy it so much, and will still usually have some coffee before I train, I am going to make a concerted effort to increase my tea consumption during the course of the day. My goal will be to aim for 2-3 cups of a mixture of white, green and black tea per day.
5. While many people think of Tony Gentilcore as the resident Harry Potter and Star Wars expert in the fitness industry, Tony knows all too well that I would utterly destroy him in Star Wars knowledge, with Harry Potter probably being a toss up. For those of you who are not Harry Potter fans, you should be.
My wife and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie last night, and I absolutely loved it. I think David Yates has been the perfect director for these last few. To me he has really captured the essence of the books, and I honestly felt that this was his best effort yet. While it is only half of a movie really, I think it set the stage beautifully for what will be an utterly epic finale next summer.
Just like with the Order of the Phoenix, I think Yates has made a better movie than the actual book itself. If you are even a moderate fan and you haven’t seen this movie yet, what are you waiting for?!?
Could there be a more appropriate picture?
6. I also want to note that I am very excited and relieved to know that my best friend has returned safe and sound from his tour in Afghanistan. We are happy to have you home Nicholas!
A former client and current blog reader of mine emailed me to let me know how happy she was to see me post a picture of my pets. They are rather cute.
She also wanted to hear my thoughts on a new food she had come across – watercress. So I turned to my trusty The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth to see what Jonny Bowden had to say about it. Lo and behold, it was one of his stars of the vegetable group, and he had lots to say about it!
Irish monks used to call watercress “pure food for the sages.” This herb is as nutrient-dense a food as they come, with one full cup providing only 4 calories! That same one cup also provides a solid serving of vitamins A, C and K while also providing a whopping 1,900 mcg of the eye-healthy antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Watercress is a member of the brassica family of vegetables, which also contains broccoli, spinach, cabbage and kale to name a few. This family of vegetables contains isothiocynates, which neutralize carcinogens. Watercress also has contains sulphoraphanes, just like broccoli.
Sulphoraphanes in combination with isothiocynates have been found to work synergistically in preventing and attacking cancer. The combination induces the death of cancer cells, preventing potential carcinogens from causing harm and helping cells to increase their defenses against carcinogens.
All in all, I would say that is one hell of a food, and it would be a great addition to salads, stir fry’s, and more!
So I know that last week was an aberration and that I only blogged twice. I am here today to tell you what I have been up to, plus to soften you up with a cute picture of my dog and cat laying together in my dog’s bed. I have had many readers ask me for more pictures and updates of Lucy, and here she is with our sweet little cat Splanchnic (Anna got her in her first year of dental school, which is basically medical school, hence the name). Well here they are, doing what they do best, being cute.
On top of that, my trusty 1999 Ford Taurus was running into some problems, and with my commute to and from UMaine (160 miles roundtrip) 2x/week and with winter looming, we decided now was the time to trade her in. It was bittersweet for me, as it was once my grandmother’s car, and was the first car I ever owned.
While it certainly was not a looker (I don’t know what Ford was thinking with that design), it certainly got me from Point A to Point B for 4 solid years. In fact, in 2009 alone I put over 41,000 miles on it just commuting to and from CP!
While I will miss that car, my wife and I were able to trade it in for a much nicer, newer and more manly looking vehicle – a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. Safe as can be, plenty of cargo room, decent highway gas mileage (only 1-2 mpg less than my Taurus) and more than capable in the snow, this is exactly what we were looking for.
So that is what we have been up to these last few days since returning from the FNCE conference in Boston on Tuesday night. Needless to say, I hope to be done car shopping for many years. For any of you looking for a new or used car in Maine, I can’t recommend Newcastle Chrysler Dodge Jeep enough. They were pleasant to work with and made purchasing a vehicle a fun and enjoyable, without any hassle.
I apologize for the lack of blogging this week, just been all over the place. My wife and I are currently looking for a used car as mine is on its last legs. We spent all day today shopping around to see what we could find.
With little time to write some content, and since it is currently 10:50pm and I need to be up at 5:00am, I figured I would toss out some recent blogs that I read that I thought were top-notch and deserved your attention.
3. The Twinkie Diet for Fat Loss – Stephan Guyenet. I recently got some emails about a nutrition professor losing weight eating a lot of junk food. Stephan breaks it all down, and some of the best info is actually in the comments section!
This past weekend, actually from Saturday until Tuesday, I was at the American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo. It was at the enormous and beautiful Boston Convention and Expo Center. I am so glad I get the student discount, because it is crazy expensive otherwise!
This was certainly an interesting experience, and I got to hear some great talks on how to succeed in private practice, saturated fat, heart disease, public policy and more. To be brutally honest, I was hoping for more cutting edge information that was unfortunately lacking.
In all actuality the greatest source of information that I found at the entire conference and expo was a simple guidebook from Stonyfield Farms called The Going Greener Guidebook. This book has some absolutely fascinating, unique, and simple ways to be more eco-friendly. Admittedly I could be better about this, so that may be why I found it so interesting.
It discusses things like an Earth-Friendly Diet, how to Green Your Home on a room by room basis, America’s Farms, easy ways to Reduce and Reuse and more. I learned some really neat things from this little guidebook.
When Anna and I buy a home, one thing I really want to do is have a small organic garden. I currently know little to nothing about gardening at all, let alone organic. This guidebook recommends the book Grow Organic, which will show “everything you need, from composting to seed saving.” Other areas of the guidebook give some other simple tips about composting, like using your coffee grinds, eggshells, newspapers and veggie scraps. This will also decrease your trash.
In the Green Your Home section they discuss how turning on your dishwasher at night will avoid peak energy rates, and during the summer this will keep excess humidity out of the kitchen. In the living room they talk about lowering the thermostat, utilizing drapes (in the winter, open them during the day to maximize the sun’s warmth, and at night close them to keep in warmth), utilizing the ceiling fan and more. In the bathroom the tip I found most interesting was to use recycled toilet paper. If every family in the US replaced one roll of conventional paper with a roll of 100% recycled tp, then 423,900 trees would be saved!
Below is an except from myShow and Go Nutrition Guide. I lay out the supplements that I think everyone can benefit from (which are only a handful), and give supporting evidence as to why I think that way.
Today I wanted to give the except on probiotics. While a lot of people consume yogurt on a daily basis, certainly not everyone does. As well more and more people are making the switch to Greek yogurt. While Greek is higher in protein and lower in sugar, two excellent things, it is also more acidic and therefore contains less beneficial probiotics. Supplementing with probiotics is probably a good idea for most people, especially for those with GI issues.
Probiotics are a really interesting supplement. Naturally occurring in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut these probiotics are live microorganisms that impart health benefits on their host. It may seem strange to purposely ingest bacteria, but there are an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms from more than 500 different species in every normal, healthy bowel!
It is important to replace these excreted microorganisms with beneficial bacteria to prevent harmful pathogens like E. coli and salmonella from taking root. The healthy bacteria keep those harmful pathogens at bay, contribute to proper digestion, increase absorption of nutrients, and keep the immune system in optimal condition.
In fact the entire gastrointestinal tract comprises 75% of the body’s immune system, contains more neurons than the entire spinal cord, is the only bodily system with its own independently-operating nervous system (the enteric nervous system), has a surface area the size of a tennis court, and contains more than 500 species of flora which total over 15 pounds of mass!
Keeping that system running at full speed will go a long way to keeping you healthy and fit, as well as improving recovery and performance.
Another point to keep in mind is that many conditions are often treated with probiotics, but precise health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful for particular conditions. From a general health standpoint the health-promoting strains to look for are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which have been studied in great detail. For acute and specific conditions, consult your physician.
Over the past few weekends my wife and I have been quite busy. Fortunately we did take a little time to relax and veg out to one of our favorite past times, movies. We recently watched two good ones that I would definitely recommend.
Kick-Ass was pretty awesome. It is full of glorified violence and surprising language, but all in all I enjoyed it immensely. Think of it as sort of Kill Bill lite, if you are into that sort of thing. It is pretty much every teenage boys’ dream life: become a super-hero, kick some ass and get the girl.
We also watched How to Train Your Dragon. That too was very enjoyable, with a different story line than I was expecting, which was nice. It was just one of those animated movies that hit all the right notes. This is one of those movies that is sure to please just about anyone who watches it, regardless of their demographic.
Just a quick one today on my lunch break, I will return with some killer content tomorrow!