Category Archives: Diet

Do you remember your second step?

Do you ever look back on a journey and ask “what was the second step?”  No.  Most everyone remembers the first step, the proverbial hardest one, but very few remember let alone talk about the second, the third, the fourth, etc.  Well that is what I want to talk about today.

When I first started focusing on my health and fitness level while traveling, I had to start somewhere, right?  Noone just makes a massive change in everything they do, do they?

Certainly not me.

So where does one start on this journey towards a healthier version of yourself?  Here are the 3 changes I made to start.

Change #1:  Nothing Fried

OK people, don’t underestimate how big a change this really was for me.  I would literally eat burgers with fries or fish & chips every day I was on the road.  Literally!!  So this was the first real change I made.  If it came out of a deep fryer, I was not eating it.

The first change here is funny to look back on but I no longer ordered the fish & chips and went with the burger (or chicken sandwich) instead.  I would then substitute a dinner salad for the fries.  I must have had this combination hundreds of times and still do pretty regularly actually.

Change #2:  Do Something – Every Day!!

With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  They gym there was fantastic.  I think I can count on one hand how many times I actually used it back then.

This change is actually where my guardrail for Workout before Wine came from.  I figured if I wanted to have the extra calories contained in the alcohol, I needed to earn it first….and I really like wine.

Change #3:  Rethink “Free”

Extra (fattening) calories are everywhere for the RoadWarrior!!  The cookie at check-in with the hotel.  The waffle maker and bacon at breakfast.  The evening desert bar in the concierge lounge and THE ALCOHOL EVERYWHERE!!!  Hotel and airlines are very good about making sure their best travelers are well taken care of.

These freebies are anything but free.  It is way too easy to find yourself on glass #3 or desert #2 or having desert every night you travel.  My big change was to eat on the road like I would at home.  I do not have desert every night at home.  I am not having 3 glasses of wine a night at home.

Now notice I did not say I gave all that up.  Nope, I just was conscious in my choices of what I would partake in and what I would not.

So those were my steps two, three and four.  Nothing majorly groundbreaking.  No healthy living overhaul.  Just 3 things I could do every day to get closer to RoadWarriorFit.

So how about you?

What is your next step?

So you think you can’t quit Diet Coke? So did I.

This past month I was lucky enough to tag along with my wife on a Caribbean cruise that she earned through her Beachbody Coaching business.  This was our first cruise so everything about the planning process was new to us and if you have sensed anything about my approach to travel from my ramblings, I am all about the planning to ensure success in fitness while on the road.

If you have not been on a cruise before, you plan for shore excursions.  You plan what dining rooms you will be eating at each night, you plan your nightly shows and you plan…..your drink package.  The options available among the drink packages is ridiculous.

  •  Just water bottles, we got that.
  • Everything but alcohol, we got that.
  • Beer, wine and well drinks, we got that.
  • If its on the boat, you can drink it, we got that.

Heading into the cruise, I had two non-negotiables when it came to a drink package:

  1. It had to include bottled water
  2. It had to include sodas

Truth be told, I am mildly addicted to Diet Coke.

OK – more than mildly.

dca ddict

I probably drink close to 6 12-ounce servings a day if I am being completely honest with myself.  So the thought of not having access to my beloved silver can was not something I wanted to deal with.  So I bit the bullet and upgraded the Beer/Wine/Well package to include both bottled water and soda – potential crisis averted.

image

When we boarded the ship and entered our stateroom, we were greeted to our specialized Royal Caribbean insulated cups, with a special micro-chip that enables the soda machines to function.  I already felt taken care of, the Diet Cokes could flow already!!

We had a phenomenal time on the cruise.  We dined, we danced, we laid on tropical beaches, we snorkeled.  We had the time of our lives but after 5 days, the wonderful crew of the Oasis of the Seas were pretty adamant that we needed to get off the ship.  So the night before we got back to Florida I packed up all of my things, including my new insulated specially  micro-chipped cup) and that is when it hit me.

I had not filled it with soda even once!!

Now my wife has been on me for years to kick the diet soda habit.  I know it is supremely  bad for me to add all of those chemicals to my body but until this point, I could not tell you the last time I had gone 5 days without a soda, including my stint in the hospital after my black belt test (read that story here).  So I was left wondering, why could I do it without thinking on the ship but struggle for years on land?  Here is what I came up with.

  • Patterns are powerful – I did not have a routine on the ship.  Everything was a new experience that required a new pattern.  I noticed as soon as I got off the ship I was looking to hit the 7-Eleven for that silver label.  I had to evaluate my habits (how I drive to work for example) to see where/when the Diet Coke consumption had become mindless and make it conscious again.
  • I had options – On a cruise, you can get basically whatever you want…and get it everywhere.  I have had to set myself up to succeed the same way.  I drank more water on the cruise than anything else because I could get it easily (easier than the Diet Coke actually).  Set yourself up to have other more healthy options.
  • Make it difficult – I think this is the main reason for my lack of Diet Coke consumption on the cruise actually.  The soda machines were not convenient to where we camped out.  It was easier to grab a water than a Diet Coke.  SO i am going to carry that over and not buy Diet Coke any longer for the house (again, making other more healthy options more convenient)

They say it takes 28 days to make or break a habit.  At this point I am 8 days into this journey and have no intention of turning around.  If I can do this, so can you.  Whose with me?  Whose kicking soda to the curb?

8 Foods that are good for you but killing your Testosterone levels

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on how to increase and maintain testosterone levels naturally through exercise, proper sleep and DIET!!  You remember the old phrase – “You are what you eat”?  Yeah, it is true.  Especially true if you are looking to limit your caloric intake but maintain your testosterone levels.

In our bodies every day there is a bit of a battle going on between testosterone and estrogen.  Estrogen in a man’s body leads to fat gain, loss of muscle mass and can actually decrease the effects of testosterone (don’t believe me?  Click here).  In your diet, you not only need to worry about what can lead to higher levels of testosterone but also what would increase estrogen levels.  Pay particular attention to foods that have a high levels of phytoestrogens – a plant based hormone that does a really good job of mimicking human estrogen.

So what are the foods that are often recommended for weight control but are robbing you of the most manly of hormones?  Let’s take a look at 8 ‘good for you’ foods you might want to avoid if you are focusing on your testosterone levels and why you should limit your intake of each.

flaxseed

Flaxseed –

This small seed is often added to food, especially when dieting, to add a lot of filling fiber without a lot of calories and for its benefits in cardiovascular health.  The challenge is this small seed is actually considered to be the #1 way to increase your healthy estrogen levels.  It packs high levels of Lignans (a phytoestrogen shown to directly compete with estrogen in women’s bodies) and should be avoided.

peas

Peas –

Not going to lie, I was not sad when I saw these on the list.  Peas are not my favorite and you will almost never see me eating them by their lonesome.  The fact that they have some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens are just another reason for me to grab another serving of broccoli.

soy beans

Soy beans-

So this is a 4 for the price or 1 category as this also includes Soy Milk, Temphe and Tofu.  These favorites of the vegetarian and vegan clans are contained in just about every imitation meat product known to man.  Soy beans and the various bi-products are another food that are high in phytoestrogens, so much so that peri-menopausal and menopausal women are often advised to up their intake of the wonder legume to increase their estrogen levels.

chick peas

Chickpeas –

Great in Hummus.  Wonderful in falafels.   I even have a great recipe for spicy roasted chickpeas that we will substitute for a protein on meatless Mondays.  Also a great source of phytoestrogens.  If higher T is your goal, avoid them.

beans

Beans –

Yes, they are high in fiber.  Yes, they are high in protein (bring on the muscles!!)  Yes, they can make you feel full for longer (curbing appetite).  Yes they are magic when included in Mexican dishes.  Yes, they are chock full of, you guessed it, phytoestrogens.  Avoid if you can.  Eat in moderation if you can’t give up the 7-layer dip.

alfalfa sprouts

Alfalfa Sprouts –

Just in case as a guy you needed a reason to avoid Alfalfa Sprouts, now you do.  You are welcome.

bran cereal

Bran Cereals –

Have you sensed the theme yet?  Yeah I thought so.

sesame seeds

Sesame Seeds –

Last but not least.  As if you needed another reason to avoid Big Macs while you are trying to put health first but that sesame seed bun is hijacking your attempts at increase your free testosterone.

Please don’t get me wrong about the list above, given the choice between a Big Mac and anything on the list above, pick from the list above!!!  However if you are really focused on your testosterone levels, avoid these and choose other healthy items.  Speaking of which, click here for a list of the top 12 foods you should be eating to help promote testosterone production and retention!!

Food vs. Fuel

Talk to any serious competitive athlete and you will hear the mantra “Food is Fuel”.  It is a simple, true axiom meant to remind the uber fit that it is ok to eat grilled chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables for every meal.  After all, athletic performance and staying ripped is all about the quality of the calories and micro nutrients these amazing athletes take in to fuel the work they need to put out.  My guess is that if you are reading this blog for fitness and travel advice, you do not fit into that category.

On the other side of the equation are those who feel that “family is made around food”.   Relationships are made around the table and more people will enjoy the table if the food is rich and inviting.  After all, life is meant to be ‘lived’ not just endured.  But a diet filled with high calorie, high (bad) fat foods is not good for you or your waist line.

So as RoadWarriors, How do we find the balance between fueling our bodies appropriately and feeding our need for relationship?

It is a balance that I battle daily on the road.

I made a major shift in my approach when I realized that I actually am an Uber Athlete – AND SO ARE YOU!!  Can I bench 300 lbs? – No.  Can I run a sub 5 40-yard dash? – No.  Can I go 5 rounds with the UFC’s best? – No.  But I like to think I am really good at what I do and my nutrition plays a big part in my success.  So how do you blend the two successfully?

Plan ahead:

If you have read just about any of my posts you can sense a theme that centers around this.  I firmly believe that Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  You need to know when you are committed to others and where.  Planning around client dinners is crucial to balancing your diet and having long term success living a life on the road.  If I am having dinner with a client that enjoys steak houses, I am going to limit my red meat and carb intake that day prior to the meeting.  If the night calls for a more adventurous palate (Ethiopian anyone?) I may front load the proteins to make room for the veggie based dinner.  Get it?

Think about your daily totals:

I don’t really track calories.  I do track how many servings of each macro I have had throughout the day.  I use the container system created by Autumn Calabrese.  It helps with both portion control and total servings.  Learn more about that here.  Knowing what you need to consume makes sure you are being intentional rather than reactionary.

Carb timing:

In general, I like to time my simple carbs around workouts and early in the day (Fruits I will eat whenever and wherever).  Carbs turn into sugar and energy the easiest of anything we ingest so ingest them before you need them.  The  later in the day, the less I need the easily accessible energy so tapper them off.  Taking a group for Italian?  Skip the oatmeal in the morning, have a salad loaded with veggies and protein for lunch and then enjoy the garlic bread and pasta that night.

Eating greens early:

The one food group that I struggle with getting enough of in my diet is vegies.  It is so easy to skip these, especially if you find yourself in the hotel lobby restaurant or airport limited service restaurant.  Do yourself a favor, start your day off with a serving of veggies.  My go to is the omelet bar.  Give me all the veggies, heavy on the jalapenos, with just a little bit of turkey sausage.  I make my digestive system work from the moment we are breaking fast.  If I can, I am snacking on carrots, celery, red peppers or some other veggie with hummus or peanut butter in mid morning.  That way if it does get late in the day and I am tracking my servings, I am not forced to have all veggies to get caught up.

Limit alcohol intake:

As a frequent traveler with status, you can find free booze everywhere.  In the lounge, at the hotel concierge lounge, even on the plane.  Remember that your body treats alcohol as a poison and stops processing of anything else until the alcohol is processed.  Imbibe intelligently.  My favorite drink is actually a tonic with lime – looks just like a cocktail without the extra calories or headache the following morning.  That being said, I also love a good craft beer, rich red wine and/or single malt scotch.  Just in moderation.

In the end it comes down to treating your food as fuel when you are on your own and making those special client meals just that, special.  Remember, you are an uber performer in what you do.  Eat like an uber performer.

How does a RoadWarrior ‘Eat Clean’ on the Road? By minding her P’s & Q’s!

Happy New Year!!

As we launch headlong into another year, I am finding myself evaluating the year previous in order to get ready for the new adventure ahead.  Every New Year brings with it the hopes of rejuvenation of spirit, mind and body.  For many that is a new found dedication to ‘Eating Clean’.  But what does that really mean and how can do we make this happen while living a life on the road?

Let’s start with asking a very simple question:

“What the heck does ‘Eating clean’ even mean?”

Seriously, are we just being sure to wash our food first? 

Is it eating only raw, locally sourced vegetable products that are ethically harvested?

It really is such an arbitrary statement…..kind of like ‘organic’ here in the U.S. (Don’t get me started on that one, the scientist in me wants to scream every time I hear this term).   The funny part about clean eating is there really isn’t a specific definition.  In fact, there is not even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it!!  So what do people really mean when they become dedicated to ‘Eating Clean’?

I think the most commonly accepted understanding of the term could be summarized as:

A focused diet around largely unprocessed foods with specific emphasis on whole vegetative produce (fruits, veggies, grains) along with lean protein sources and healthy fats while avoiding overly processed, refined foods and unhealthy fats.

As you can imagine, this definition allows for a lot of leeway in just how strict your diet has to be in order to be considered “clean” but the point of this post is not to come to a universally accepted definition of Clean Eating.   What I want to discuss is how do you actually make this type of a diet (regardless of how strict) work when you are on the road?  It is easy, or at least easier, to keep your diet on point when you are at home – shopping for the groceries, prepping your own meals, packing your lunch, etc.

But what about the road?  How do we carry those great habits we are developing at home and not waste them once we hit the airport?

Simple, you need to mind your P’s & Q’s!!

Plan ahead

I cannot stress this point enough, if you fail to plan – you are planning to fail.  Heading out on a trip with no plan in place is a recipe for meals that involve a lot of brown.  Whether the brown be from the bag the meal is served in or the color of the food itself, you are a long ways from eating anything close to what would be considered clean.  To read more on how I plan for a trip (it is more than just what restaurant is in the hotel) here is a link to my process.  You would never hike into the wilderness without a map or a GPS – don’t travel without an idea of the lay of the land.

Preparation

How your food is prepared makes a huge difference in the quality of the nutrition you are consuming.  Your body is going to have a much better reaction to Salmon that is baked, broiled or grilled than to the same 4 oz filet that is battered and deep fried or “sautéed” (read: fried in a pan vs. a deep fryer) in a cream sauce.

protein portion size

Quantity

The quantity of the food you take in matters nearly as much as the preparation and is where most people struggle the most.  Spend time familiarizing yourself with what an actual portion size looks like.  Think about it, a portion of lean protein is about the size of a deck of cards.  Now think about the last time you remember getting a chicken breast at a restaurant that was the size of a deck of cards as opposed to a small tablet computer.

colored grill

Quality

Order your food like you would if you were buying a box of crayons.  Remember back in the day when all you wanted was that box of 64 Crayons?  You know, the one with the built-in sharpener!!  Your food should be the same way – full of color and vibrancy.  Mix the browns of whole grains with the greens, reds, yellows, oranges and purples of garden vegetables.  I say we take back the phrase “Taste the Rainbow” back from that candy company and put it back on our dinner plates.

Persistence

Stick to these tips for ALL MEALS and not just dinner.  Too many RoadWarriors let breakfast and lunch just “happen” and try and focus on dinner.  Problem is that by the time you get to dinner, you are starving  because your calorie count is so low.  Be persistent in your diet.

Much more on this subject is to follow over as we continue to explore each of these points in more depth.  How about you?  How do you ensure you are able to stay on track with your diet, whether you are on the road or not?  I want to hear from you as well.

Again, happy New Year and Happy “Clean Eating”

There is power in ‘Before’

 

Happy New Year!!!  We have officially said goodbye to 2015 and across the globe people are welcoming in 2016 with hope, encouragement and good cheer.  As most of us turn the calendar forward we also take time to set new plans/resolutions/goals for the New Year.  I (as well as hundreds of others) have written before about how to be sure your resolutions are goals rather than dreams and you can read all about that here.

So if you are one of the millions who have set a new goal for 2016, I want to encourage you to do one simple thing that will help you achieve whatever your new goal is.

Take a before picture!!!

And I am not just talking about those of you with weight loss or body image goals.  Yes, if you have those goals, take that mirror selfie or have a friend get shots of you from all those oh so pleasing angles.

Regardless of the scope of your resolution – take a before picture!!!

But what about those other resolutions?

Better organization – take shots of your office/bedroom/house/inbox as they are today.

Eating healthier – take shots of your normal meals, the pantry, the refrigerator.

Better finances – create your balance sheet.  What are your assets?  What about liabilities?  Create it.  Save it.  Screen shot it.

Improved parenting – find whatever represents how you feel you are not living up and take a picture of that.

I think you get the picture (yep, I went there).  Take a pic of whatever will remind you of where you are today – before your efforts kick in.  So now the question you should be asking, why?  Why document this disaster?

There is power in the concept of before!!!

A before photo indicates there is an ‘after’.  It provides hope and encouragement that your current situation is not permanent and can be changed.

Taking a before photo starts the actual process of change.  You are already taking a small action towards change.  It moves you from dreaming to doing.

No one makes a significant change without stumbling once or twice.  Being able to look back and see how far you have come from that ‘before’ can restore your faith in your ability to change.  Use it as motivation to never go back.

It tells the story of you!!  I have never met someone who has completed a transformation that has not wanted to share it with others to encourage them.  Imagine the additional power your story will have when you have made your transition and literally show others how far you have come.

I have never met anyone who has regretted taking before photos but I have met dozens who regret not taking them (including me).  I wish I had a photo of what I looked like on the karate mat before I lost the 30lbs.  I can vividly see it in my own mind but have nothing to show you all where my journey started from.

So as you set those goals for 2016 be sure to document where you are starting from.  Be sure that you capture the power of ‘before’.

Happy New Year and l am looking forward to making 2016 the best year yet!!

What to buy the RoadWarrior in your life this Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and with it, the gift giving season.  If you either are a RoadWarrior or are close enough to one to buy them gifts, you know that life on the road is just easier when you can carry everything with you on the plane and skip the fun of the baggage carousel.  There is no place I would rather be less than standing around watching the metal conveyor belt revolve around a carpeted island of futility and wasted time.  I avoid it at all costs.  It does not matter whether I am traveling for the day or for the week, you can bet I will be getting it all to fit in the overhead bin so I pay special attention to what I pack in my bag.  Suitcase space is premium real estate and has to be utilized well.

So what are the things that make the grade for me?  

Here is my list, my 12-days of Christmas if you will, of the items that hold special places in my carry on and why.  Feel free to use these ideas for gifts for the RoadWarrior in your life:

 Vibrams

Vibram Five Finger Shoes:

This was probably the first product that I purchased specifically because of the way they travel and the one that I get the most comments on.  Vibrams to put it simply, are awesome and yes, I do run in them regularly.  Now I am not in the camp that is all about minimalist footwear or the camp that wears Five Finger shoes because they will help strengthen the smaller muscles in your feet.  For me, these are all about how much space they take up in a suitcase.  When you wear a size 11 shoe like I do, your tennis shoes take up a lot of space, even if you do stuff them with socks and underwear.  These take up less space than my flip flops and I really do love working out in them now.  I started on the space argument but now don’t think I would ever switch back to traditional shoes.  To shop for your own, click here.

jump rope

Jump Rope:

This is one that travels with me about 50% of the time based on the hotel gym I may be encountering.   All you need is about 10 sq. ft. of space with an 8 ft ceiling and you can get a great HIIT cardio workout in.  One thing to note, if you carry a weighted speed rope like I do, be prepared to be stopped by TSA about 50% of the time.  They are not used to seeing them and often confuse them with a club of some type.  I honestly think the TSA agents are more curious than anything else.

shaker bottle

Water Bottle:

Seems simple enough but I did a whole blog post on the motivating power of an empty water bottle last year.  I now carry a ‘Premium’ bottle with me so that I can have both the benefit of tracking the water I intake as well as being able to utilize the shaker function.

bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth/Sweat Proof Headphones:

I love being able to set my phone on the side of the gym with my other belongings and not have to worry about it falling out of my pocket or me snagging the headphones cord during my work out.  I can’t tell you how many times I sent my phone flying off the treadmill before I invested in a set of these.  I am also a firm believer in having a set of headphones that you work out in and another for phone calls.  I am living, breathing proof that no headphones are truly ‘sweat proof’.

multi

Multi-port USB Charger:

The number 2 priority I place on item selection when it comes to packing is the weight of the time (volume being #1).  When you are traveling with a laptop, iPad, iPhone, bluetooth headphones, etc, etc, etc, that is a lot to charge and a lot of chargers.  One charger, multiple cords.  Less weight.

cinch backpack

Cinch Bag:

You know those cheap backpacks that everyone and their brother are giving away as promotional items and every middle school boy in America is walking around with?  Yep, those.  They are awesome for bringing stuff to the hotel gym, the real gym or even the pool when it is warmer and you either have no pockets or stuff falls out of the pockets really easily (as in every pair of workout shorts ever).

 insulated-lunch-bag-ensures-safe-and-convenient-food-carrying1

Snack bag:

You can read all about the contents here but I always travel with a snack bag, even day trips.  If I am going to invest my time and energy into making sure I get a good workout in, I am going to do everything I can to not sabotage it by making poor dietary choices if I can avoid them.   I always also include Shakeology in my bag as I want complete nutrition options if I find myself in the airport and hungry.

TRX

TRX:

I LOVE MY TRX!!!  However it usually only travels with me when I know the hotel gym that I will be experiencing is beyond lackluster.  This one really does take up a lot of space but especially on short trips, is totally worth it.  I use it routinely at home and on the road and you can get a GREAT workout with this single apparatus.  With the door mount, you don’t even have to leave the hotel room.  Best travel fitness investment I have ever made.

mouthpiece

Mouthpiece:

So this one is pretty specific to the martial artist but it does bring up a good point.  I love to train in martial arts, especially rolling BJJ when I am on the road.  One piece of equipment that is critical to preventing injury is wearing a mouthpiece so I travel with one everywhere I go.  By having my mouthpiece, I can go roll at any school that will have me with little to no notice.  It lets me pursue one of my passions.  For you (or your RoadWarrior) it may be a racket or a club.  Whatever it is, bring it along what you are passionate about so that if the opportunity arises (or you create it), you are not left with the excuse “It is too bad I did not have my……”

So there you have it, the list of my favorite things that may or may not be in your suitcase today.  What makes your cut?  What are the things you simply can’t travel without?

For full disclosure, I am not receiving any type of incentive from the companies that make or distribute these products, with the exception of Shakeology as I am a BeachBody Coach.