Tag Archives: diet

The ‘Dad Bod’ Myth

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist” – Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects

So lately there has been a lot of chatter around the ‘Dad Bod’ and how it is actually more attractive than a lean physique.  This all started from a Blog post (the pesky bloggers ;-} ) by a student at Clemson University, Mackenzie Pearson, who was commenting on the interests of her roommate when it came to the male physique.  To give credit where credit is due, you can read her post here.  Since this was posted back in March of 2015, I have seen it covered by MSN, The Today Show, Health, GQ, ABC, CBS and CNN.   Ms. Pearson should give a clinic on how to pick a topic to go viral.

But Seriously??  This is a thing?!?!?

Pearson defines the Dad Bod as a ‘nice balance between a beer gut and working out’ – I call it a medical tragedy waiting to happen.

AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Where do I even begin?   It is especially troubling to me that the men she is describing in the blog are not even dads.  They are young men who should be in their prime.  I can confidently say that the majority of the people that I see on my Facebook feed look considerable different now than they did in high school/college.  I know I do.  They call it your physical prime for a reason.

Dear Frat Boy – Your ‘Dad Bod’ is trying to kill you!!  Literally.

Now I am not at a single % body fat, I enjoy my wine and beer but I also know that I cannot allow myself to have any excuse to carry extra weight around, especially around my mid-section.  You see, that fat that is around your middle is known as Visceral Fat – and it is the most dangerous to carry around with you.  It actually directly increases your chance at developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even sleep apnea.  How?  According to WebMD, here’s how:

  • Abdominal fat breaks down easily into fatty acids that are processed by the Liver and your muscles. Neither of which likes the material it is breaking down.
  • When the liver breaks down the fatty acids, your LDL levels (the bad Cholesterol) spikes.
  • When your LDL levels spike, insulin becomes less effective – causing blood sugar levels to spike (read: increased chance of developing diabetes)
  • Hormones released during the processing of the fatty acids also create constriction of the vasculature system – leading to heart disease and potentially stroke.
  • Even the sheer weight and volume of the fat can push against your diaphragm and result in difficulty breathing and if severe enough, sleep apnea.

Now ladies, I have a specific message for all of you.  Do not let us get away with this excuse for not taking care of ourselves.  This is not about getting to the point where we will be staring in the next installment of Magic Mike but we should want to be around for as long as possible.  Besides, who said all dads were soft and pudgy?  Last I checked, Hugh Jackman, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Craig, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Gossling and even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson are all dads.  If we are talking about their examples of ‘Dad Bod’ – then I am all in.

I think my sister in law put it best “This is just an excuse for Frat Boys to party on the weekends”

Happy Father’s Day and I will see you on the road!!

Travel like a 2 year old!!

All across America today, families are getting ready to hit the road for the Memorial Day weekend.  According to AAA, this unofficial start of summer will see more than 36 Million people on the roads.  For most this means drive through, gas station and convenience store food that is overloaded with salt, sugar and preservatives.  But it doesn’t have to be, you can travel different!!

You can travel like a 2 year old.

If you are a parent, I want you to think back to when you had a toddler.  If you are not a parent, I want you to think about any parent you have ever seen traveling with a toddler.  When you are traveling with a toddler, you bring everything but the kitchen sink to keep them occupied and happy.  You sling a bag over your shoulder that has a capacity the rivals anything Mary Poppins or Hermione Grainger were ever seen carrying.  Toys, extra socks, towels, books and………….A SNACK BAG!!

Why is it when we get older we stop carrying a snack bag?

Now I am not advocating that you pack a Tupperware full of Goldfish and Fruit Snacks but packing for your health is a smart idea for everyone, not just the little ones.  A snack bag is one of the key things that I bring with me on every trip, every trip.

So what do I pack?

  • “Granola” Bars – I personally prefer the Kind and Clif varieties but pack whatever works for you. Just be sure to watch the calorie and ingredient lists, some bars are nothing more than well marketed candy bars.
  • Nuts – You can get single serving packs of Almonds in all kinds of flavors or you can just pack your own small servings.
  • Jerky – Great way to get protein in the bag that won’t spoil
  • Peanut Butter – There are several brands of peanut and almond butter that is sold in individual servings. Great with a piece of fruit from those dreaded conveniences stores.
  • Shakeology – I take the individual packets so when I am pressed for time and looking for something more substantial than a snack that I am not a the mercy of the drive through or the airport concession.

image

Now my list is focused on what will make it through TSA at the airport.  If you are heading out in the car, this list expands exponentially with the simple addition of an insulated lunch box or small cooler.

So get out there and enjoy the holiday weekend but remember to pack that snack bag!

See you on the road!!

Pressing the Reset Button

Do you ever get to the point where you feel you just need to press the reset button on life?  I do and I am there right now.

One of the dangers we all face as RoadWarriors is the anonymity we have.  If your travels are like mine, you end up in a different city every night, seeing different people along the way.  For me this means being alone in a sea of people.  Constantly making acquaintances but never really developing relationships is one potential pitfall of the RoadWarrior life.  We were designed for connection not seclusion.

It is amazing how social you can be without making any real connection with anyone. 

This is not a good place for me mentally and it reflects in my choices.  It becomes easy to stop being disciplined about diet (“Sure, I’ll have the fries with that”).  It becomes easy to skip a work out (“One missed workout is not going to kill me”).  It becomes easy to have that extra glass of wine (“I’m not driving anywhere”).  It becomes easy to sink away.

Put that cycle on repeat and then ‘suddenly’ you have a set of choices that have become habits that are hard to break.  That’s when it is time to hit the reset button.  No one ever said you had to wait for either New Year’s Day or the start of Lent to evaluate and change some things in your life after all.

Here is what my reset button looks like.  It is spending the next 30-days being hyper focused on ensuring that my daily actions reflect the lifestyle I am preaching and desire.  So for the month of April (no this is not an April Fools’ joke) I am going to be eating clean, working out daily, increasing my average sleep time, abstaining from alcohol and sharing the journey with all of you.  I know myself well enough to realize that I need to fill my time alone with healthy activities otherwise it is all too easy to fill it with those that degrade my health.  Scarily enough, I consider blogging on the healthy list and I also know I need the accountability that making something public creates.

So I am choosing to bring you along for the journey by blogging daily on how the journey is progressing.  I’ll be tweeting meal choices and the work out of the day.  I will share with you where the wins were, where the stumbling blocks arose, the pitfalls you should avoid if you choose to follow along and (hopefully) the results in mental and physical health.

Will I feel better?  I can’t imagine any other outcome.

Will I reinforce good habits?  I better, that is the whole point of this exercise.

Will I end up over sharing?  You can almost certainly bet on it.

So let’s get this trip started and I am looking forward to seeing you on the road.

The Dreaded Day Trip

I have a love/hate relationship with the ‘Day Trip’.  I love the way they look on the calendar.  Morning flight, midday meeting, return flight the same day and finally sleeping in my own bed, all within a single day.  Heck, I can even tell my lovely wife that I will be “home that day”

The problem is I do not live my life on paper

As I write this, I am sitting on the first flight out to Chicago.  I will also be on one of the evening flights back in to Dallas tonight.  Nearly 6 hours of travel time for a 4 hour meeting, of which I am only leading an hour of.  It is days like this that make me want to banish the ‘Day Trip’ from my calendar forever, or at least severely restricting the geographies I am willing to schedule these life sucking journeys to.

You have to have a strategy in place to stay RoadWarrior fit!!

There are so many pitfalls that the Day Trip puts in your path from a health and fitness perspective.  They really are just evil.  Let’s take a look at them and how to avoid them.

Disturbed Sleep Schedule:

For me at least, a Day Trip involves a very early flight (today’s departure time was 6:43 AM) and a late return (I am landing at 10:00 PM).  That meant I was up at 4:30 and will not be heading to bed until probably around midnight assuming that there are no delays heading home.  That makes for a very long day and more importantly, for very little sleep.  There are thousands of studies that show the importance of sleep to both physical and mental health.  I rarely get my full allotment of sleep before or after a day trip.

Coping Strategy – Get to bed early the night before

I know you saw that one coming and to be truthful, I suck at this one but it is a must.  You know you are not going to sleep on the plane so make sure you get your Z’s in the night before.  Need help making this happen, click here

Lack of Exercise:

I truly wish I was the type of person who got up early in the morning and exercised but alas, I am not.  The only times I work out in the morning is when I either have a late afternoon flight or the weekend (and even then we are not talking about early mornings).  Packing so much travel time in one day often means I am breaking the first rule of being RoadWarrior fit:

Rule #1: Do something, ANYTHING, everyday!!

When you are already scheduled to wake up at 4:30 it is really hard to set that alarm and stick to it another 30-60 minutes earlier.  3:30 wake-up call just to get an exercise session in?  C’mon, not happening.

Coping Strategy – Plan for the down time

There are times I have been able to work out on a day trip.  I have been known to walk airports for the hour before my flight.  I know which airlines clubs have fitness facilities in them and this trip I even packed my workout clothes and shoes to get a workout in at the Hilton in O’Hare (great gym that is accessible from the terminal) but in over a decade of travel, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE DONE THAT!!

hilton gym1

If you know you have a Day Trip in a particular week, plan to exercise around it.  None of us can or should do a true workout every day.  Your body needs down time to recover so use these days wisely.  Get a great workout in the day before (it will help you sleep also) and make sure you get one the next day.

Crazy Diet:

At 5:00 in the morning, I am not going to be breaking out the cookware to make the healthiest of breakfasts so I am usually grabbing something to go.  Now I am talking fruit and shakes, not Poptarts so let’s not get too crazy.  However that is usually followed up with a ‘working lunch’ (read: local sandwich shop or my favorite, Pizza) and a dinner at the airport.  Most of the time, this is breaking my last rule for staying RoadWarrior fit:

Rule #5:  Never eat somewhere that you could at home!!

In other words, I try and avoid the chains as they are about easily replicated food and very rarely about the quality nutrition we should be looking for.  That is not very easy to do when you are dining at the airport.  So very often I end up having a shake for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch (especially if I am presenting – it is really hard to present and eat at the same time) and another protein bar at dinner.  That may sound like the next fad diet but I can assure you, it is not good for you in the long run.

Coping Strategy – Get a good breakfast

You can have a great breakfast without waking the entire house up.  Prep your food the night before so it is ready to go in the morning.  I love breakfast tacos and these heat up in the microwave very easily.  Pair an English muffin smeared with Peanut Butter to a bowl of berries and greek yogurt.  You get the point but make sure this one meal is complete and at least you know you are starting the day well.

Sedentarism:

Yes, I just made that word up but take today as an example.  Between the car rides to and from the airports, two plane rides and the meeting with the client, I am sure I will be sitting for at least 12 hours today.  12 HOURS!!!  That is how you get DVT people, no really, it is.

Coping Strategy – Move every chance you get.

Pretty self explanatory.

It is Just Rude:

Picture for a moment my wife’s version of these trips.  She is awakened at 4:30 AM by me trouncing around the house getting ready to leave, the dogs waking up and being active with me.  She is then left to fend for herself with the boys all day including getting them ready and off to school, playing chauffer for various events, making and cleaning dinner, monitoring homework and being disciplinarian when needed.  Then at the end of the day, having me reenter life like the conquering hero right before (or sometimes well after) everyone heads off to bed.  Sounds like a great day, right?  Wrong.

Now, I understand the desire of parents of younger kids to be home in time to tuck their kids in to bed.  That also relieves some of the stress on your spouse if you can handle that portion of the day but my kids are teenagers.  I can assure you that they have NO DESIRE to have me tuck them in at night and the stressful part of the day is not bed time.

To put it simply, my wife hates Day Trips

Coping Strategy – Communicate

I have been known to just ask my wife if she would prefer a day trip or if I should just head out the night before.  I also try and make sure I have something in the crockpot that morning so that dinner is just that much easier for her.  Acknowledge that these trips are probably just as hard on your spouse as they are on you.  Believe me, they will appreciate the effort and acknowledgement.

So there is my argument against and my tips to help survive the Dreaded Day Trip.  I think everyone is healthier and happier if you can tag a night on somewhere (I prefer the front end of the trip) but if you can’t at least there are some ways to mitigate the damage.

Safe travels and I will see you on the road.

Being Resolute

Calvin

So it is the second week of the year.  The holidays are over, vacations are complete, the airports are becoming sane again and being resolute in the commitments we made over the new year may be becoming a bit harder than we expected.  Making resolutions always seems really easy, being resolute is another story entirely.  If you are like most Americans, your resolutions centered around 1) health 2) money and/or 3) relationships.  So as a RoadWarrior, how do we ensure that our resolutions become habit?

You decide in advance what you will and won’t do and we only make decisions once.

The problem with most ‘resolutions’ is they are focused on the end results and are not date specific.  In order to achieve them, we need to focus on the steps that will get us there, this is where the RoadWarrior Rules come in to play.

Let’s hypothetically say your resolution was to lose 10 – 15 lbs.

The first thing you need to do is to set a date.  When are you going to lose this weight by?  Don’ just ‘Begin with the End in Mind’, clearly define when is the End arriving?  A date is what moves a resolution to a goal (we’ll talk about moving the goal to a lifestyle later).

Next we need to set the activities (rules) that need to be followed and excluded until the goal is achieved.  This is exactly what the RoadWarrior Fitness rules are all about.  They are the Guardrails that set you up for success in your health journey on the road.  As a quick review:

  • Do something….anything….every day!!! – I really don’t care what it is. Run, lift, do Pilates, hit up a Beachbody DVD, walk the local mall/tourist attraction or train at a local martial arts studio.  Heck, I have been known to run on the treadmill in the Admirals Club and have been caught running stairs in the airport.  If you are doing more than a day trip, you need to be doing something active.
  • If you see fruit, eat it – Often times when you check in to your hotel, there are apples on the counter. Or in the gym, there is a basket of fruit.  Or in the airport gift shop, there is a refrigerator with various fruit options.  Pretty simple rule, see it….eat it.
  • Don’t eat anything fried – For the most part I avoid anything fried while on the road (there is a wonderful place in Fort Lauderdale that has lobster corndogs that I make an exception for though…unbelievably good and you can check them out at coconutsfortlauderdale.com). What this also means is I do not do ‘cheat meals’ on the road as my cheat meal usually involves something fried.  Those are saved for being at home with the family where we can enjoy it together.
  • Workout first, then you can have wine – I love red wine. I believe there is a reason that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine… just sayin’.  However, my rule on the road is I will not have wine (or any other alcohol) if I have not had a workout first.
  • Don’t eat in any restaurant you could eat at at home – The restaurants you find at home and on the road are chains. They are all about systems and duplication.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I want quality and nutrition.  Ask the front desk or Yelp/Google/Urban Spoon about whom to go eat with.  Every region of the country has a specialty that when prepared right is fantastic tasting and fantastic for you.

Being resolute is a matter of being prepared more than disciplined.  Preparation allows you to avoid areas of temptation and put the actions that lead to success first.  These are my rules regarding healthy living on the road.  Start with your goal and set up the rules that will lead you to success in savings, improving your relationship, spending more time with you kids, whatever.  Be resolute.  Be better in 2015.

See you on the road.

Picnic Parents

It’s a phrase my wife coined a few months back to describe how we approach dining around the crazy schedule that is life with a middle and high school students.  You see, our lives revolve around evening wrestling, kickboxing, karate, orchestra, band, youth group….you get the point.  Life runs as a million mile an hour and unless we have a plan, we are running through a drive through.  I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten Subway or Chipotle in the stands of some event.  Not that there is anything wrong with it but there is a better way.

There is a better way!!

Joy and I finally figured out during this year’s football season that we do not have to buy from the concession stand.  And get this, the food we were allowed to bring in……did not have to come from a fast service, franchised restaurant.  We finally figured out that we could make game night, date night and bring our own picnic.  Ok, I may be stretching to get credit for ‘date night’ on these evenings but we definitely eat better than most.

We bring our own food and are usually the envy of all around

The menus for the various events varies greatly from day to day but there are a few things that are consistent that make the ‘picnic’ a whole lot easier to pull off.

  • You are packing a meal – not packing for an Everest Expedition:

Ok, I may just be preaching to myself here but picnic dinners do not need to be 7 course meals.  Think all-in-ones.  Soups, stews, salads, tacos, etc.  The less your guests have to deal with in regards to utensils and plate-ware, the better.  There is a time and place for putting together a ton of options, this is not it.  (Andrew:  read that again, THIS IS NOT IT)

  • Invest in a soft sided cooler:

I cannot recommend a cooler that is soft-sided and can be carried like a duffel bag enough.  A rolling cooler is too big and bulky and the lunch box sizes are too small to feed the family (unless you are packing one for each member of the family).  I picked mine up as a give away from a golf tournament years ago but we have definitely put it to good use.  Just as importantly, it makes you focus on only what will actually fit in the cooler (Andrew – read the above point again).

  • Plan to eat cold food:

In my work life I do presentations for a living, often over lunch.  What I have learned is that I need to order something that will taste good cold.  Why?  Because by the time I get to eat, it is going to be stone cold anyways.  Same holds true for the picnic parent event.  For example, most wrestling matches start at 5:00.  We will typically not eat until 6:30ish.  Unless it is something in a Thermos, it is going to be cold.

  • Invest in portioned Tupperware and Thermoses:

We use these all the time but especially as picnic parents.  Everything is portioned out at home so when someone is ready to eat, we just pull out their Tupperware/Thermos.  No plates, no bowls, no serving a portion of this or that.  Think frozen dinner only healthy and tasty.  It also allows you to customize each meal to the particular diner.  For example, my wife primarily eats vegetarian.  My youngest son would live as a carnivore if we let him.  I can pack two different meals easily and everyone is happy.

  • Cut up everything in advance:

Yes, I do realize you are not 3 and yes, I do think you can cut your own chicken but have you ever seen someone try and balance a plate on their lap while trying to cut up food?  Make it easier on everyone and just cut it up in advance.

So there you go, the secrets to making picnic parenting work.  I look forward to seeing you at the next game and seeing what you brought to enjoy on your ‘picnic’.

Failing to plan is planning to Fail

Sometimes I feel like all I do is plan to be on the road.  What clothes are clean?  What toiletries do I need to replace?  What’s the weather going to be like at the destination?  These are all things that readily run through my crazy road warrior head but the planning is not just limited to what I have to deal with, I also pay attention to what is going to happen back on the home front.

I am the one in the family who does the grocery shopping and meal planning.  It has become a bit of a Sunday tradition/therapy for me.  Sit in the morning with the coupons, see how much I can save while shopping and then spend the afternoon cooking one good meal to start the week as well as staples that can be thrown in the microwave throughout the week.

Where I have fallen short is not having a plan that is flexible and varied

Not to say the least about communicating that plan to my beautiful wife so that she might be able to execute on said plan.  I leave to eat restaurant meals throughout the week and leave the family at home with all kinds of ‘options’ but nothing solidified.  So in the bustle of wrestling practices, weightlifting, orchestra rehearsal, kickboxing and karate, the family is stuck grabbing whatever is ready in the fridge/pantry or making a Shakeology before racing out the door.  It is not the ideal and quite frankly, it is my failure.

You see, meal planning is not an issue for me.  I have no problem coming up with a plan for the week.  I also have no problem communicating it, where I lack is including creativity/variety in the plan.  I would eat the same thing all week without issue.  I enjoy structure and familiarity.  My family would appreciate eating something besides grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli though.  I needed a solution that met all of our needs.

So I themed each day of the week

This gives me the structure I work best within but challenges me to vary the menu from week to week.  So here you go, here is my weekly ‘meal plan’:

Meatless Monday – Pretty simple to explain and especially appreciated in a house where one of us mostly eats vegetarian.

Taco Tuesday – Food delivered via foldable, edible container.  Could be Fish Tacos, could be Asian Lettuce Wraps.

Wet Wednesday – Soup!!

Throw it out Thursday – This day is all about the leftovers.  We are terrible about eating them unless we set a day aside to make sure we do.

Fishy Friday – Something from the sea (to be transparent, we eat fish at least 2-3 times a week already)

Sizzling Saturday – My day to fire up the grill

Sumptuous Sunday – I usually have more time to really try something different and time consuming.   This is normally the day I try and emulate something I have had on the road as well as cook for the rest of the week.

Each day is supremely flexible in the fact that we can use what is on sale, try new recipes, make it ahead and take it with us (coming soon on this ‘Picnic Parents’), make extra for lunch the following days, accommodate both vegetarian and meat lovers……you get the point.

Most importantly, it sets everyone up for success!!

The only step I have added to the normal routine is to be sure that the meal plan (including recipes) is printed out for the week.  Cut and paste from the websites/Pinterest boards that are relevant for the week…..I may even try putting together a shared board for my wife and I for the week……huh, just thought of that one.  Thanks!!

So remember, while you are about to race out for the week, your family is hunkering down awaiting your return.  Do everything you can to make their week as successful as yours!

See you on the road!!