Tag Archives: food

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!!

What would you give up?

Welcome to the Lenten season!!  That wonderful time of year when some choose what vice they will give up in order to worship the One who gave up everything for them.  If your Twitter/Facebook feed is anything like mine is, it is filled with people either disclosing their vice of choice or professing what indulgence they will do without until Easter.  All of this sacrifice got me to thinking, what would I really like to ‘give up’ (read ‘purge’) from my life?

What would a Road Warrior like to give up if we really could?

So in honor of Lent, here is my top 40 list of things I would more than happily ‘fast’ from this Lenten season:

  1. Flights that depart prior to 7:00 AM: They look great on the calendar.  “I’ll be able to spend the night at home the night before the trip” is a great way to convince yourself you are doing something special for your family.  Reality is they want to kill you when you are getting ready at 4:30 in the morning.  This is a no-win scenario any way you cut it.
  2. Turbulence: Seriously, if I wanted a roller coaster ride, I would head to the nearest Six Flags park.
  3. Sitting in coach: Yes, I am spoiled but if I get to make the list, sitting in coach is one of the first things I would be willing to ‘give up’ for Lent.
  4. Foam Mattresses: I sincerely would like to introduce whoever invented these beauties to karate mat.  They deserve a good kick in the head.
  5. Airport Food: Yes, there are some good spots but for the most part it is abysmal.
  6. Weather Delays: Hey – this is my list and I get to declare that there are no more delays due to white flaky stuff falling from the sky.Calendar
  7. 3 day trips that span 3 time zones: Seriously, why can’t we book multiple appointments in the same time zone (let alone the same city)?
  8. ‘Day Trips’ lasting 16+ hours: We seriously need to reevaluate what constitutes a ‘day trip’.  Just because you can get to/from a market within a 24 hour period does not necessarily mean you should.Ceiling Height
  9. Hotel ‘gyms’ that consist of a treadmill and a broken down StairMaster: And putting a paper note of apology on the broken treadmill does not make it any better.  Fix the equipment for God’s sake.
  10. The casual traveler who thinks the RoadWarrior life a glamorous one: Really?  Yes, I get to ‘see’ lots of great places.  As long as you define ‘see’ as a path that consists of the Airport, hotel, client office followed by a return visit to the airport.
  11. Taking flights on a non-preferred airline: I fly one preferred airline for a reason (see #3).  I would like them to fly direct from every possible location to every possible location.  Is that too much to ask?
  12. Compact Rental Cars: I hesitate to call half of these cars.  I don’t know how Europe deals with it.
  13. Sunday Travel: I sincerely HATE this.
  14. Friday Return flights: Second only to Sunday departures.  Sundays and Friday are made for family and home.
  15. Conferences: Oh if one could only dream of this world.
  16. Hotel rooms without coffee makers: This is just mean!!
  17. Hotel up-lighting: I realize you want the building to look good from the exterior but if we could manage to find a way to not have a metal halide light equivalent to the sun pointed directly into my window, I would appreciate it.
  18. The forgotten toiletry: There is always something I miss replacing.  Couldn’t a magical fairy replace it for me without my involvement?
  19. Out of Office: Why even bother?  I am always Out of the Office.
  20. Emails from your travel booking system: Yes, I know my trip is upcoming.  So is the one you will email me about tomorrow.  STOP!!  You are just filling up my email box.
  21. TSA Security Line Banter: Yes, I know I need to take off my shoes and belt.  I even know that I am not allowed liquids or gels in containers larger than 4 oz.  I do not need to be continually educated about the procedures as I stand in line to go through the Pre-check line for 20 minutes.denver-tsa-line
  22. Travelers who travel once a year who are TSA Pre-checked: Why did you even bother?   You waited way longer for your interview than you would have going through security.it will fit
  23. Travelers with no sense of special awareness: No, your overstuffed ‘roll aboard’ is not going to fit in the overhead compartment on this Embraer Jet.
  24. Overhead compartments in an Embraer Jet: Really Embraer?   There is not even room for my jacket on the left hand side of the plane.
  25. Clueless casual travelers: (Sensing a trend now?) People – shoes come off, all metal and electronics out of pockets and liquids out of the bag.  It really is not that hard and by the way, look back up at #20 – we have been listening to them tell us this for the last 15 minutes straight.
  26. Barbie Ironing Boards: I paid good money to sleep in your hotel room.  Please provide me an ironing board that actually allows me to iron my shirt.
  27. Something forgotten at home: As hard as I try, there is always something I miss at home.  I get the text from my wife and just want to crawl into the fetal position.  I really could do without this.
  28. Booking 9 AM meetings that start EST when you are actually in PST: This one is completely self-inflicted but dear God, I have got to pay more attention to when a call starts relative to where I will be sleeping the previous night.
  29. Co-workers scheduling calls that start immediately after you land: I realize that the time was ‘free’ on my calendar but seriously, do I have to put an appointment on my calendar that says ‘walk through airport’.
  30. Rental Car Shuttle buses: I know it is impractical but man I wish every rental car pick-up was on airport property.
  31. Unrealistic per diems: I am not an extravagant traveler by any means but sometimes, the hotels that you can get for the company per diem are just not up to snuff.
  32. Expense reports: I know, I know. The aps that are available now make this way easier but I still do not know a single RoadWarrior who enjoys this process.
  33. Useless upgrades: I cannot tell you how many times I have been ‘upgraded’ to the suite level at hotels when I am checking in at 1:00 AM and checking out at 8:00 AM.  Thanks for the extra sitting space that I will not use.
  34. On Demand Movie Preview Channels: I never order them (I have Netflix after all) and as much as I like Mario Lopez, I really don’t need to see him every time I turn on the TV.
  35. Brown Food: Why is it that restaurants (hotel and airport restaurants in particular) serve mainly brown food?  Is it really that hard to make a salad?  There has to be more green than brown food out there, right?
  36. Promotional emails: From everybody.  I am pretty convinced that Southwest Airlines monitors your flight schedule and purposefully sends you an email while you are in flight so you will think about them when you land.
  37. Office get-together emails: It is just mean to send me an email about the leftover bagels/donuts/pizza/happy hour that is going on in the office today.
  38. Slow airport wi-fi: When Jerry Jones built the new Cowboy Stadium, he wanted to be sure that it had the bandwidth to support over 100,000 people posting to social media at the same time without lag.  Airport IT Directors, please take note.
  39. Checked bags: No one needs this drama and time suck.
  40. Worrying about any of this stuff: Life is too short to allow any of the above to affect you.  Love others as God loves you and enjoy the journey.

Hope you got a chuckle at one or two of the above.  See you on the road!

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”

Body Image – What’s your standard?

The holiday season is officially upon us, summer is officially over and for some, this comes as a relief.  For others (like me) it marks the end of our favorite season.  The kids are out of the house and back in school.  Football is back in full swing and the temps are starting to come back down which means there is no need to worry about how the bathing suit fits for another 7 months or so.  Somebody cue up the Kool & The Gang!!

Every year when we transition in and out of summer I am always fascinated with the obsession around the bathing suit.  With people across the nation fretting over the concept of the ideal body I want to ask you, What’s your ideal body?

Who do you spend your time looking at?  For some it is the models on the cover of the magazines.  Others, it is the folks that they see in the gym every day, you know the ones that seem to literally live there.  For me, it is the fighters who train their body to sustain an abuse that I hope you and I never know that I look at the most.  It is an image that I probably should not be so focused on but we are all friends here so I’ll put it out there.

UFC

I spend A LOT of time paying attention to the fighters.  Their training techniques.  Fight results and the news reports around the fights.  These athletes are fittest of the fit.  They have a body fat % that can be measured in the single digits, they train up to 4 times a day and have positioned their bodies to withstand the most abusive physical demands you can imagine.  And yet somehow they are my benchmark.

I have a problem….

When it comes to body image, I have always said I have one particular goal.  I simply want to fill out a T-Shirt well.  I don’t want to be huge but I want to be fit……and then I watch a UFC fight.  These guys are in the prime shape of their lives.  Other than the heavyweights, I would guess that the average body fat % is about 7%.  Tack on 2 – 4 weeks of weight cutting (read: losing up to 25 lbs and dehydrating themselves to the brink of death) and these modern day gladiators present a statute that is completely impossible to keep, even for them.  Doesn’t mean that I still don’t have that mental image in my head every time I run, lift, roll or step on the mat…and it is not healthy.

The reality is I am a 43 year old man who will never step foot inside an Octagon.

Sure, I spar.  I roll.  I train but I am never going to test myself the way these athletes do.  I am also not on the variety of performance enhancing drugs/supplements that these athletes are.  There is literally no way I can achieve the standard they set.  However I still regularly find myself trying to.

  • I don’t have the testosterone level they do.
  • I don’t have the time to train multiple sessions a day
  • I am not dedicated to that purpose
  • It is not my profession…………but yet I still compare myself to these professional athletes who train for a living.

I think I finally know what girls and women around the world have been dealing with for decades.  How can we possibly achieve the standards we see in the media (even without the prolific airbrushing)?  We can’t.  The standards are not realistic and we are picturing the top .001% of the population (probably even more remote than that but still…..) as the ‘standard’.  So give yourself a new standard to measure yourself against.

Measure your future self against your current self.  The only one you are in competition with is yourself.  Simply be better tomorrow than you are today.  That is the gold standard.

Stuffing Nests – OMG!!

So I have been trying to find some new ways to use all of the Thanksgiving left overs this year (not that I don’t love a good Turkey sandwich on sourdough but….).  Between this desire and watching way too much Chopped, I was on a mission to find non-conventional ways of using everything.  Of all the ingredients, the stuffing was giving me the most grief, so I decided to try something new.  Utilizing the stuffing, I made nests for eggs to poach in.  The result?  Phenomenally good.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Scoop a heaping tablespoon or two of leftover stuffing into each tin, molding the stuffing to the shape of the pan leaving a well for the egg to join the party later.
  4. Place in the oven for 5 minutes allowing the stuffing nest to begin to brown.
  5. Individually crack an egg for every nest into a bowl and pour into the nest (beware, there is a strong possibility you will have more egg than nest area – be sure the yolk makes it in before it is full).
  6. Return to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove each nest from the pan and plate topping with your favorite fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • Leftover stuffing
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh herbs of your choice