Tag Archives: eating healthy

My Meal-prep Dirty Little Secret

So I can’t remember the last week that we actually ate all of the food I prepped on Sunday.  Invariably – life happens.

A teen’s event was not planned for.  A worship meeting goes long.  An opportunity to roll presents itself.  Something happens that prevents us from eating what is in the fridge and dictates that we are going to grab something from a restaurant somewhere.




So when for the 3rd week in a row I was about to throw out baked sweet potatoes and chopped peppers, I decided to find a new way to utilize these staples of our week.

Enter:  Sweet Potato Bird’s Nests

These take a bit longer than I would like since the potatoes I use are already baked and take a while to crisp up like I like them but they are awesome.  I will definitely be making these regularly and for sure will do this with a sweet potato hash as well.   Video and the recipe are below.

See the Video Here


  • Pre-baked sweet potato (each potato yields approximately 4 “nests”)
  • Pre-diced Red Onion
  • Pre-diced Red Pepper
  • Pre-diced Green Pepper
  • Pre-diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until onion is translucent but peppers are still crisp.img_3452
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables and mix well.                                                          img_3450
  5. Transfer a spoonful of sweet potato mixture to each muffin mold. Press the mixture up against the mold until it is approximately ¼ inch thick leaving a cavity for the egg (to be added later).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
  7. Adjust the oven to broil (still at 400 degrees)
  8. Crack one egg for every sweet potato being baked. Add egg to the cavity created by the mold.
  9. Place muffin pan back in oven. For soft yolk eggs remove after 6 minutes.  For hard yolk eggs, remove after 12 minutes.

You have probably noticed that I did not give quantities of potatoes and peppers.   Because this recipe was conceived around leftovers, whatever you have left over will determine how much to use.  You can always cut up more peppers to meet your potato supplies (like I did when I created this one).


When you are in the business of helping people achieve their healthiest life, you spend a lot of time talking about food.  Now, it is one of my favorite subjects so I don’t mind at all but one thing that does drive me a bit nuts is hearing from folks that say;

“It’s just so hard to eat clean on the road!!”

Let me get this out there now – No it isn’t!!

It really all comes down to choices.  What choices?

The choice to eat ‘Clean’

We really do need to define what ‘Clean’ means but that is for another post.  In the meantime, you need to decide this before you ever leave for your departing flight.  If you commit to eating right before you ever leave, you are 100% more likely to actually do so (please note that I just completely made up that statistic).

Seriously though, making the decision in advance does dramatically improve your chances of actually following through.  You are much less likely to end up on the wrong side of the rest of these choices if you have already decided to eat clean.

The choice of where to eat:

This is huge.  A restaurant that specializes in grilled seafood is way more conducive to your commitment to clean eating than Burger King.  Sure it may mean that you need to drive a few miles out of your way rather than stumbling across the parking lot to Ruby Tuesdays but in the end it is worth it.

Pro-Tip: I have found that it is also easier to eat clean in the restaurant rather than your hotel room.  This includes take-out orders, which almost always end up wrong (and cold).

Pro-Tip 2:  The exception to the above Pro Tip is the grocery store.  The grocery store is a great option for picking up a clean meal you can take back to your room.

The choice of when to eat:

So I may be preaching to myself on this one but your food options at 11:00 PM are vastly different than at 7:00 PM.  Take that into account as you are planning your day.  Set yourself up for success rather than trying to figure out “Whatever is easy” as you hit your hotel at midnight.

The choice of how your food is prepared:

Grilled over fried.  Baked over sauteed.  Sauce on the side.  Rainbow of colors vs. monochromatic.  If you are trying to eat clean, you should already know most of this but every time you order anything, you have the choice.

However, with all of these choices, the most important one is the choice to not to accept the lie that eating clean is hard to do.  It really isn’t.  It just takes a bit of planning, being willing to order off the menu and the choice to make it a priority.

Lessons from a near death experience….

So Facebook was kind enough today to remind me that four years ago on this day, I was testing for my black belt in American Karate.  It was a night that I do not remember and one that I will never forget.  That was the night I discovered I had an Atrial Flutter.  It was a night that started a week long hospital stay that included medically induced comas, CAT scans, EKGs and eventually a cardiac ablation (want the full story?  Read it here).

“You do realize you almost died, right?”    –     Dr. Kevin Wheelan

Even though I had just awoken from a 36 hour medically induced nap, couldn’t remember large sections of the previous 48 hours, had two black eyes and was sore everywhere – the severity of my situation did not really hit me until I heard my cardiologist reinforce those words.

The days are now few and far between when I do not think about how lucky I was to survive.  They are also few and far between that I do not think about the lessons that experience taught me.

Prioritize your health:  If I had not made a specific effort in the 18 months leading up to the test, I firmly believe I would not be here today (did you read the link above?).  The majority of the leading causes of death in America are due to preventable diseases that can be controlled/prevented through diet and exercise……so DIET AND EXERCISE!!!

Listen to your body:  If I had not been so hard headed and determined to do whatever it took to get my black belt, I would not have ended up in the hospital.  I knew early on in my test that something was off.  I think I even knew a couple of weeks before that during one of my training sessions.  If I had really listened to my body, I would have had it checked out.

Pay attention to what you fuel it with:  One of the questions that the medical staff asked me repeatedly was did I fuel up with Monster or Red Bull or place energy drink name here.  They only asked me about drugs once.  That crap puts people in the hospital regularly, I avoid it like the plague.

Prepare for the worst:  I have been fortunate to have good guidance on planning for the inevitable.  If I had not made it, Joy and the boys would have been taken care of.  However, not everyone is in that boat.  If you aren’t, get there.  We are not promised tomorrow but we are promised that those around us will have to carry on.  Take care of them.

Bonus learning – If you are in the Dallas area, immediately go to www.lifefight.org and become a member.  Should you or anyone in your family ever need their services, you will thank me.  We spent months of effort and thousands of dollars avoiding a huge medical bill that is completely avoidable.  Think of it like AAA for your family should they ever need air ambulance service.

Pray like it depends on Him:  Between this event, Joy’s Breast Cancer diagnosis, Tyler’s Papilledema and Charlie’s depression, we have learned to pray in earnest around here.  My prayer life got immensely deeper as I recovered and gave thanks daily.   With it came a deeper peace I had not experienced to that point in my life.  Pray like it depends on Him…….because it does.

Now are those the only things that I learned, of course not, but they are the ones that have stuck with me and I think about almost daily.  Knocking on deaths door will change you.  Hopefully I can have done enough knocking for all of us to learn the lessons.

The things you need to bring to Summit that you might not be thinking about.

So we all know that my day job keeps me on the road about 80% of the time (you didn’t think I named this blog after the movie did you?)  Well over the course of the last 15 years, I have identified a few key things to bring with me on trips like the one upcoming this week to Nashville.  For those of you who are not aware, this week 25,000 or so Team Beachbody coaches will gather for great learning, workouts, company updates and of course FUN!!!

While the lessons/guidance below is specifically targeted for the Beachbody audience, anyone who attends any conference can benefit from the lessons below.  So here we go, here are few things you can do now to make sure your experience this weekend is top notch!!!

Plan Ahead:

I cannot overemphasize the need for this in order to make the most of your time.  Look at your track and commitments.  Think about how you are going to get from place to place, outfit to outfit and get the “extras” like visiting The Core in.  If you have not been before, talk to the other coaches in your organization who have as to what was most impactful to them and prioritize.  Then plan on not only the session times but also the waiting time.  Trust me, you do not want to be showing up to anything last minute this week.

Make Single Servings:

If you are anything like me and Joy, you are not even going to consider making it through this weekend without Energize and Hydrate.  However those tubs take up a lot of room in a suitcase.  That is why I always make individual servings in small zip-lock bags before I head out.  The individual packets let me “dump and shake” without any mess to clean up or tub to lug around.  Anything that is left over just gets put back in the tub when I get home (actually for me, I just take it on my next trip).

Pack a……

Water Bottle (that doubles as a shaker bottle):

shaker bottle

This is probably the most important  thing you can remember.  It is going to be hot.  We are going to be working out.  There will be 25,000 of us running around.  The convention center will do their best to keep up with us but in my experience at large conferences, they rarely do.  If you have your own water bottle with you, you can always run to the fountain or restroom and fill up.  Bonus points if it has a built in filter.

Might I also recommend that it double as a shaker bottle?  That way you are only lugging one around with you and saving space in your luggage.

Dish washing soap


This one just got added to the list this year.  Think about it, if you are going to use the same bottle for 4 days, you are probably going to want to wash it out.  There is no really good way to do that in a hotel room unless you bring your own dish washing soap.  Just grab a small travel bottle (the kind intended for shampoo, etc) and fill it on up.

Drawstring Backpack

cinch backpack

This is actually just under water bottle in order of importance for me.  With all the running around we are going to do at Summit, these are so handy.  Yes that Coach purse is beautiful but do you really want to bring it on to the streets of Nashville during the super workout?  Didn’t think so.

And guys, this goes double for you.  This fantastic little bag, that packs to nothing in a suitcase, will enable you to bring your phone, wallet, notebook, room key, etc without worry of them falling out of your pockets.  Something that has happened to me multiple times.

Small Wallet

You are not going to need your full wallet with you.  Especially during events like the Super Work Out.  Get a small wallet that will fit your ID, bank card, medical ID and a small amount of cash.  That way, God forbid, if something does happen, it is not your entire life that is missing.

Multi-plug Charger


As someone who stays as many nights in hotels a year as he does at home, trust me on this one.  There are never enough plugs (at least handy ones) in a hotel room.  Now, if you are sharing a room, divide that under-abundance by at least 2.  This small little device is a life saver.

Bonus tip:  Carry it with you to the sessions.  That way, if you need to charge during the sessions, you can always offer to plug it in so multiple people can charge with you.  It is all about being neighborly!!!

Portable battery chargers

battery charger

These are not just for Pokemon Go!  You already know your phone is your life.  The last thing you want is to be leaving the Billy Idol concert (you did qualify, right?  No, its not too late!!), when you pull out your phone to call Uber just to realize it is dead.  Another example of where the weight and space they take up is totally worth it.



As a first time attendee you may be tempted to just “go check it out” rather than go full throttle in participation (I am referring to the 80’s party) – trust me, go full out.  When else as an adult do you get to play make believe like this anymore?

Large zip-lock storage bag

I am talking the storage bags that go under your bed, not 1 gallon freezer bags here.  Your workout clothes are not going to be smelling the most rosy by the time you pack up to head home.  And believe me, you don’t want your bag to be smelling like your workout clothes (have you tried fitting your suitcase into the washing machine before?).  Pack up all those smelly clothes into the bag, zip it up and then IMMEDIATELY UNPACK THEM WHEN YOU GET HOME.

Bonus Tip: Throw a dryer sheet in your suitcase before you leave home.

So there you go, my tips from a RoadWarrior on what you can pack to help you make the most of Nashville and Summit.  Now, this does not even scratch the surface of the things you should have already thought of (like a notebook for all the great ideas you going to glean) but I hope it will help with the more obscure.

Can’t wait to see you all in Nashville!!!  I will be the one in the Leopard Pants with Team #RisingPhoenix!!

Get the most out of your RealWorld Experience!!


Yep, it is that time again already, the annual RealPage User Conference aka REALWORLD 2016!!!

Now this is going to be my 6th RealWorld Conference (how can that possibly be?).  For those not in the know, RealWorld is the conference specifically dedicated to RealPage and their partners where we showcase the latest developments in the industry, the product improvements being delivered/developed and most important, thank our partners for their continued partnership.  It is 3 days of networking, learning, previews and fun but let’s face it, it is also long days, longer evenings and tight schedules.  In order to make the most of the sessions and travel fit, you have to have a strategy to thrive.

This is also my 3rd year of providing a few of my tips and tricks to not just surviving the conference but really making the most of it for both education and fintess.  So here are my RealWorld rules to live by:

Tip #1: Plan ahead:

I know I say this every year but I cannot over emphasize this one enough; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  If your plan is showing up at the conference and “figure it out” you are in for a rough time.……not going to happen.  There are just too many great options of sessions to attend and fellow RealPage users to meet.  If you don’t plan ahead you are guaranteed to miss a ‘can’t miss’ session and for sure your workout is not going to get done.


So if you haven’t already, go download the RealWorld App right now.  Seriously, I’ll wait.

Now, immediately start adding your must attend sessions to your calendar.  Might I suggest ‘Stack the Deck with Business Intelligence’ on Tuesday morning as a starting point?  I hear the speaker for that one is sub-par but the material should be great!!

Once you know when your ‘Can’t miss’ sessions are, you can fill in the rest of the time slots for meetings, networking, product demos and down time.

Tip #2: Stay hydrated:

water bottle refill

You know you should normally be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Well , this year we are at the beautiful Wynn hotel.  If you have never been to a conference at this hotel, I will give you fair warning, it is a long way from the rooms to the conference center.  A LONG WAY!!  So you are going to be walking more than you normally do and potentially imbibing on an alcoholic drink or two in the evening, and oh yeah, this is all happening in the middle of the dessert.  I am going to recommend you up your water intake from the standard 8 glasses.  Trust me, you will thank me when you are waking up on days 2 & 3 of the conference.  Now this is where planning comes in again.  I find that it is a very rare thing to find a conference center that keeps the water pitchers/bottles full throughout the conference.


You may not always be able to find a nice chilled bottle of FIJI but you can usually find a water fountain to fill up your own bottle.  And if you are anything like me, you find an empty water bottle strangely motivational.

Tip #3: Recharge:

weary traveler

This will look different for each of us but I find I need a point in my day to recharge more than just my phone.  For me, it is time in the gym.   I can get my head on straight and work all the kinks out that I am feeling from standing all day.  For others it is a power nap in the room, others it is 15 minutes in the sun out by the pool.  Whatever it is that recharges and helps your re-center your mindset, make sure you have time built in each day to accomplish it.

Now we also need to think about that phone, so don’t forget your mobile charger!  We want to hear your thoughts throughout the day (follow the hashtag #RWconf2016 to join the conversation).

Tip #4: Eat well & Eat often:


Make sure you take the time to eat like you should.  Do not sacrifice the quality of your diet because you need to rush somewhere.  Stop by the store on the way to the hotel and grab some snacks for the room (don’t get me started on the mini-bar options for $10 bucks each).  Put a bar in your purse.  Throw an apple in your bag for later in the day.  Your body needs fuel to thrive vs. survive.  Give it what it needs.

Bonus Tip:  Most hotels that host conferences have pretty good gyms.  Gyms where they actual stock fruit for the taking.

Tip #5: Have fun:

If this is your first RealWorld Conference, you are in for a treat.  It is a blast, especially the party on Monday night.  Although not themed this year, in the past we have celebrated the lives of people like Dr. Seuss or given our best superhero impersonation.

wolverine ABDr. Seuss

The party is a celebration of our partnership with all of you and we pull out all of the stops.  This year promises to be a lavish affair….even if Wolverine will not be showing up.

Bonus Tip #6:

For those of you who are runners (or are even thinking about running), I cannot recommend skipping the treadmill in the morning enough.  Running the Las Vegas strip in the early morning is in my top 5 runs in the country.

Seriously, the people watching is unbelievable!!!

In fact, even if you don’t run, wake up a bit early on Monday or Tuesday and head out for a walk.  I promise that not only will you feel better but you will have conversation topics for the rest of the day!!

Time for me to go pack and finish my presentations but hopefully I will see you at RealWorld!!

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)



  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro



  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

The Art of Aging Gracefully……Screw That!!!

I am going kicking and screaming all the way……just being real.

I agree with Tony Horton who recently proclaimed to CNBC that Aging is for Idiots .  I see no reason to allow Father Time to have his way without the fight of his life.

Now with that said, I have had some recent reminders that I am not the young guy I used to be anymore.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago I heard the following statement while visiting a BJJ gym in LA:


“Yeah, you’ve got that ‘Old Man Strength’”

What!?!?!  Old Man Strength!?!??!!  How about just ‘strength’? Then I took a long hard look around the mat and realized, I was the oldest on the mat by at least 5 years (OK, maybe 10).  That lead to the realization that I could count on two hands how many folks I had rolled with this year that have me beat in age.  How did this happen?  How am I suddenly the ‘old guy’?

Oh, and then there is work……


“I can’t believe you have a child that is driving!”

Not quite sure how to react to this one.  Is it because you can’t believe I could be old enough to have a 16 year old child?  Or is it because you cannot believe that my gene pool would be able to produce an offspring with the mental capacity to control a motor vehicle effectively?  I really hope it is the prior although the later certainly is in question.

And then there is Facebook….


“When I grow up I want to be like you and your wife!”

This coming from a thirty-something fitness enthusiast.  You see, Joy and were both presented with the opportunity to audition for the next Beachbody Infomercial for The 21 Day Fix Extreme program by Autumn Calabrese, an opportunity we both jumped at.  So just us and 11,000 other Beachbody super fans are a part of a Facebook group where we regularly post specific assignments and encouragement.   Looking at the feed in this group is inspiring, motivational and humbling as well as a gut check.  You see in this group, I am definitely raising the median age (my wife however is ageless so she is having no affect ).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while aging chronologically is inevitable, how you age physically is absolutely a choice.  Not much is within our control any more; politics, economics, job stability, Brexit and the thoughts of others affect us daily but we have zero control over them.  What do you have control over?

  • What you feed your body – are you giving it whole foods in the right portions?
  • What you feed your mind – are you reading regularly? Does the subject matter challenge you?
  • Moving your body – You know the First Law of motion…..a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Be in motion – whatever that looks like for you.
  • Effort – Are you giving it everything you can?
  • Consistency – see that whole First Law of Motion thing above

So yeah, we all grow older but how we grow older is a choice.  I choose to embrace Old Man Strength and to control what I can and not place undue worry on what I can’t.  Now if I can just find someone to help me with my old man wardrobe…….