Monthly Archives for November 2010

Archives for November 2010

What to Eat for Breakfast?

This hunk gives a whole new meaning to breakfast in bed. Yum.

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s no myth! All of us stand to reap a number of benefits by breaking the fast, including:

  • More vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber in your diet.
  • Increased productivity and concentration.
  • More energy to grab life by the horns!
  • Control and manage weight.

But what should you eat? Since I eat breakfast when I return from the gym around 8:00 AM (I eat a banana before the gym), I like my breakfast to aid in my post-workout recovery. Since protein and carbohydrates are essential in repairing and rebuilding your muscles, my breakfasts always contains a combination of protein (eggs, protein powder, Greek yogurt) and carbohydrates (bread, fruits, whole-grain cereals).

But I also like my breakfast to include a good dose of fiber. Fiber dissolves slowly, and it helps the body feel full longer. This is especially great for people looking to control their weight.

Here are some ideas for breakfasts that contain carbs, protein and fiber:

  • Boiled egg, old fashioned oats and an apple.
  • Protein powder drink and high-fiber cereal.
  • Greek yogurt, nuts and orange juice.
  • Whole wheat pita stuffed with boiled eggs, raspberries on the side.
  • Veggies, salsa and eggs wrapped in a pita. Serve with banana.

And if you do exercise early in the morning (like me), make sure you grab something small (like a piece of fruit) before you hit the gym – studies show it gets your metabolism pumping and fuels your body. When you return home, feast on your full breakfast.

Put breakfast to work for you – let me know some of your favorite breakfast ideas in the comments below.

How to Get Lower/Bottom Abs.

The human body is beautiful in all its shapes and forms, but there is something especially sexy about a well formed six pack. As it turns out, the bottom half of the six pack is the hardest part to get. So, here are some tips for developing your lower/bottom abs.

Lose the fat

The lower abdomen is where men tend to store fat hormonally. And it’s the last place that we lose it. This fat is incredibly stubborn – and even if your ab muscles are strong, even a small amount of fat will keep them hidden from view. To develop a leaner midsection:

  1. Strength train. Strength training is the best kept fat loss secret. When you strength train, you build muscle. And muscle incinerates calories – often causing a calorie deficit (more calories out than in) that helps people increase definition.
  2. Eat like a caveman. A healthy diet is key. Exercise is important, but don’t forget that nutrition is the other side of that equation. Lean meats, vegetables, nuts, berries, etc. should take center-stage in your diet. For more information about diet and eating like a caveman, check out my Eating for Fitness program.
  3. Interval train. Interval training is incredibly effective at helping people lose weight. It boosts the metabolism for hours and is several times more effective than running at a constant pace. Learn how to do it.

Increase the muscle

99% of unveiling your lower/bottom six pack is shedding the extra fat. But when the fat is gone, you’ll probably want your abs to pop. To that end, make sure you’re doing ab exercises that target that lower area. Exercises like leg lifts, weighted leg lifts and hanging leg raises will do wonders.

Here’s how to do a leg lift:

  1. Lie on your back on the floor.
  2. Extend your legs straight out and keep your arms at your side.
  3. Folding at the pelvis and keeping both legs together, lift your legs off of the floor.
  4. Lift your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  5. Hold, then slowly lower.
  6. Repeat.

Enjoy – let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! And remember to honor your body wherever it’s at. Six pack or not, you’re beautiful. 🙂

Also – Check out my amazingly cute and body-positive Good Vibes Gym Bag. It just launched today – supplies are limited and I’m offering special savings!

Calculate How Long Your Running Shoes Should Last.

The sniff test is not the best way to determine your shoe's expiration date.

Old or worn-out running shoes could set you up for injury. With each mile, shoes slowly lose their shock absorption ability and the stability is compromised. Much of this can happen even before the shoe’s treads wear out; your shoe may still look new even though it’s in need of replacement.

Here’s how to calculate how long running shoes should last you:

  1. Add up your typical weekly mileage. I run 18.75 miles per week.
  2. If you are an avid runner, divide 400 by your weekly mileage. If you’re not an avid runner, divide 500 by your weekly mileage. For me, I need to divide 400 by 18.75. The result is 21.33.
  3. Divide this number by 4. For me, the result is 5.33.
  4. This is the number of months that running shoes will last for you.

In other words, I need to replace my running shoes about twice a year. Since my last pair was purchased in March, I’m definitely overdue.

Here’s a quick tip to make things easier: Write your shoe’s expiration date on the inside of each shoe with a permanent marker. And when you get a new pair, remember to do the same. It’s an easy way to remember when it’s time for a replacement.

Are you running with worn out shoes? According to this formula, how often do you need to replace yours?

Great Leg & Oblique Exercise: Golf Squats! [Video]

Variety isn’t just the spice of life – it’s a powerful ingredient in any fruitful workout program. From time to time, it’s a good idea to change things up.

Golf squats are a powerful leg and oblique exercise that you’ve probably never heard of or seen at the gym. Which means it’s a good idea to try ’em out and consider incorporating them into your routine.

I put together a short video demonstration. Click below to check it out:

Are You Thankful for Your Body?

Of all the feelings you direct toward your body, how often do you express gratitude?

Many of us are angry or frustrated that we’re too large, too thin, too weak, too this or too that. Some of us feel shame, guilt or even fear about our bodies.

The desire to make our bodies healthier and stronger is positive. But I think that intention is best served in a package of gratitude. If we can be grateful for our body in its current form – and accept it as it is today – then I think our transformation comes from a place of true power. And if you are grateful for your body, then you are more likely to nourish it with healthy foods and actions. It’s an upward spiral.

Gratitude can lift us from a world of low frequency emotions like shame, guilt and anger into the higher frequency emotions of willingness, acceptance and love. It’s like a ladder on which we can climb out of the darkness.

Today, on the day before Thanksgiving, I give thanks to my miraculous human body. And I invite you to do the same. Regardless of where you’re at or what you’d like to change, give thanks.

What about your body inspires gratitude? Let me know in the comments.

Ankle Weights Review

Is it wrong to be best friends with a piece of fitness equipment? If that’s the case, I don’t want to be right. I love my ankle weights.

Ankle weights are just exactly what they sound like: weights that are strapped around your ankles. They generally are variable – you can take out packets of sand (in increments of 2lbs) to make the weights lighter. I ordered a set of 20 lbs ankle weights, which works out to 10 lbs for each ankle.

Ankle weights were developed for cardiovascular exercise – to help walkers and runners build up endurance. If you attach a set of weights to your legs, you’ll discover that you need to work harder to complete the same motion. It’s quite the workout, though it’s not advised for people with knee or joint issues since it adds extra pressure.

As a side note, you can also slap them on while cleaning house or doing errands – they can make a mini workout feel like a mega workout.

At any rate, I have little interest in using ankle weights for my cardio. I do, however, have great interest in incorporate ankle weights into my ab workout. And today, I did just that.

Ankle weights don’t make a difference in every ab exercise, but if you use them while doing leg lifts, reverse crunches, scissor kicks, double crunches and just about anything else that involves lifting or moving your feet, you’ll notice a huge difference. Hard exercises become nearly impossible (depending on the weight that you use) – which is super important when it comes to progression. People have a tendency not to train their abs progressively, and ankle weights help thwart that.

So, if you have any interest in upping the ante of your ab workout, get creative and introduce some ankle weights. I think you’ll be glad you did.

7 Tips to Eat Smart During the Holidays!

This sexy santa could jingle my bells...

The holidays are upon us, but they need not be upon your waistline too. Here are my top 7 tips for eating healthy and staying fit during the holidays!

  1. Wait 15 – 20 minutes before getting a second plate. It takes your body 15 – 20 minutes to feel full after eating – so if you go up for seconds immediately after finishing your first plate, your body may already be full. And guess where that extra food will end up? So hold off for a few minutes and then reassess your hunger.
  2. Know your gym’s holiday schedule and plan in advance. It’s very likely that your gym will have a modified schedule for the slew of upcoming holidays. Visit your gym’s website or give them a call. See how their reduced hours will impact your workout schedule, and plan accordingly. If your gym is closed for a holiday, try to get your workout in the day before – or plan some alternative exercise for that day like biking or jogging outside.
  3. Drink lots of water. Dehydration is often misunderstood by the body as hunger – keeping your body well-watered will help reduce your food intake. Water may not be as tasty as eggnog, but your body will certainly appreciate it more. Replacing alcoholic or sugary drinks with water will greatly decrease the number of calories you consume.
  4. Use an appetizer plate. If you munch directly from an appetizer platter or bowl, it’s easy to eat a lot more than you intended. To avoid this scenario, simply use an appetizer plate and select your munchies in advance. Eat what’s on your plate, and then know when to quit.
  5. Eat an apple before big meals! I used this tip yesterday at my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. If you know that there is going to be a lot of high-calorie and unhealthy food available to you, eat an apple before you leave the house. Apples are a good source of fiber – it will help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat the unhealthy stuff.
  6. Use a smaller plate. If you take a big plate, you’re probably going to put more food on it. Using a smaller plate will help you select more sensible portions.
  7. Be grateful and donate leftovers. Express gratitude that you are in the fortunate situation of having too much food to eat during the holidays. Remember that many people spend their holidays hungry. Instead of storing all the leftovers in your fridge, donate them to someone in need.

The holidays are fun, and the food is part of that! Don’t deny yourself the food you love – just be smarter about it. Happy holidays to you and yours.

Do you have any tips? Share ’em in the comments below!

Corkscrew Exercise for Deltoids/Shoulders [Video]

I’m always on the prowl for exciting new shoulder exercises, and the “corkscrew” is one of my new favorites. You can do this exercise at home (with a dumbbell, medicine ball or weighted object) or at the gym using free weights! Enjoy:

How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb at Once?

I bet he'd be a good source of protein. Yum.

You’ve probably heard – at one time or another – someone recommend that you should only eat 30 grams of protein at a time. The idea is that body can only absorb so much protein at once and that any protein beyond the body’s limit will be wasted.

Though this belief is prevalent, I’ve never found any research that supports it. And on the contrary, there have been a few small-scale studies that suggest there is no advantage in observing the 30-gram limit.

Here’s a better strategy that I’d recommend:

  1. Calculate your daily protein needs. Typical people need about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Active people require .6 grams per pound. And athletes or bodybuilders can require .9 grams or more per pound. Being the 160lb gym addict that I am, I aim for 140 grams of protein a day.
  2. Divide your daily protein requirement by the number of meals you typically eat. As is often advised for fitness enthusiasts, I try to eat 5 meals a day. This would suggest that I should take about 28 grams of protein per meal. If I eat 3 meals, I’d try for 40 grams – with a few extra grams during snacking.

As it turns out, most people will probably get a number around 30 grams. My dad, for example, is 220 pounds and fairly average in terms of his activity level. He’d need 88 grams of protein per day. He eats 3 meals, so that would equal – lo and behold – 29.33 grams. For this reason, I suspect that the 30 gram number originally emerged more as a recommendation than a rule. And then, over time, it took on a life of its own.

Bottom line: Even large amounts of protein can be digested and absorbed, and it appears there is no 30 gram limit. The body will only “waste” protein if you’re taking in more than you need on a daily basis.

Does Cardio Result in Muscle Loss?

Hi Davey

I was just wondering if doing a lot of cardio adversely affects muscle growth?

Thanks,
Kyle

Hey Kyle,

Yes, doing excessive cardio can cause you to lose muscle. But you’d have to do A LOT of cardio to see any real reductions in muscle size. There’s no cut and dry definition for what “a lot” means – and it’s different for different people – but unless you’re doing more than 45 minutes – 60 minutes of cardio, you probably have nothing about which to worry.

Don’t let the fear of losing muscle prevent you from enjoying the many benefits of cardiovascular exercise including:

  • Fat loss
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased bone density
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Temporary relief from depression and anxiety
  • More confidence about how you feel and how you look
  • Better sleep
  • More energy

Moreover, cardio can actually help with your strength training – it improves blood flow and oxygen transport to your muscles, which helps with muscle growth and recovery.

Muscle loss more often occurs if:

  • You’re not eating enough protein. Protein is the building block of muscle. Find out how much you should be eating.
  • You’re not eating enough carbs. Yup. Carbs are needed in the creation of muscles. This is why I recommend eating a slice of bread with a protein shake since so many shakes are low carb.
  • You are not eating enough calories. If you’re starving, your body will remove the tissue that burns the most calories: muscle.
  • You are not training with weights or strength training machines. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!

Hope that helps – and keep up the cardio!

6 Exercises: Show Your Arms Some Love!

Arms. They are good for so many wonderful things. Like hugging your boyfriend – or even better, yourself. We use our arms when we reach for things – like the stars or our dreams. And we use them for practical purposes, like swinging them when we walk and carrying things around.

As it turns out, our arms are very important! And so, today, I invite you to strengthen your arms and express your appreciation for all that they do by trying some of these exercises.

They all involve free weights – barbells or dumbbells. So, unless you have weights at home, you’ll probably need to hit the gym to take ’em for a spin.

Bicep barbell curl

Barbell curls (My absolute favorite for biceps):

  1. Select a barbell and load it with the appropriate amount of weight.
  2. Stand tall and grasp the barbell with an underhand grip. The barbell should be resting at about hip-level.
  3. Slowly curl the barbell upward by contracting your biceps.
  4. Pause.
  5. Slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat.

Dumbell curls

Dumbbell curls (Another great bicep exercise):

  1. Stand in an upright position with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells with an underhand grip, palms facing up. Fully extend your arms, keeping them tight against your sides.
  3. Lift the weights slowly until your hands reach your shoulders. Your arms should be the only muscles working during the exercise. At the top of the motion, contract your bicep muscles.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to your starting position, arms extended and elbows loose. Repeat the exercise

21s (These are great for definition):

  1. Stand in an upright position with your knees slightly bent.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells with an underhand grip, palms facing up. Fully extend your arms, keeping them tight against your sides.
  3. Lift the weights slowly until your forearms are parallel to the floor—about half of dumbbell curl. Pause. Return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 7 times.
  5. Then, start with your forearms parallel to the floor. Curl all the way until your hands reach your shoulders. Pause. Lower the dumbbells until your forearms are parallel to the ground.
  6. Repeat 7 times.
  7. Then, perform 7 complete dumbbell curls—starting at your sides and curling all the way to your shoulders.
  8. Repeat 7 times.
  9. Once you have done 21 curls in total (7+7+7), you’ve completed a set of 21s.

Hammer curls (if you get bored with regular curls):

  1. Stand so that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells with an underhand grip. Let your arms hang down by your side with your elbows loose, not locked. For hammer curls, turn your palms inward so they face each other.
  3. Lift the dumbbells, slowing until the weights reach your shoulders and keeping your wrists locked in position. Your arms and elbows must stay tight against your sides throughout the exercise.
  4. Lower the dumbbells slowly and fully extend your arms back to the starting position. Maintain a straight back
  5. Repeat.

Barbell triceps extension

Barbell triceps extension (triceps exercise):

  1. Pick up the barbell and lay down comfortably on a bench. Keep your upper and lower legs at a 90-degree angle to each other. Alternatively, you can sit (as pictured).
  2. Point your elbows up, holding the barbell behind you. Your upper and lower arms should line up with one another for proper form.
  3. Lift the barbell slowly, fully extending your arms overhead and keeping your elbows as stationary as possible. The barbell should be help up straight over your eyes.
  4. Lower the barbell slowly to your starting position to complete the barbell triceps extension.
  5. Repeat.

Reverse barbell curls

Reverse barbell curls (love for your forearms):

  1. Place your hands approximately shoulder-width apart on the bar and lift the barbell with an overhand grip. Grip firmly, with your thumbs over the bar.
  2. Stand straight and relax your shoulders. Keep your arms alongside your body, and maintain your elbow and upper arm position.
  3. Curl the barbell up towards your chest in a steady, controlled motion. Make sure your elbows and upper arms don’t move from their original position. Focus on keeping your wrists steady.
  4. Pause, then lower the barbell slowly to its starting position to complete one rep.
  5. Repeat.

Any other favorites? Holler at us in the comments below.

How to Lose Weight with Fiber.

Unleash your inner stud muffin with a high fiber diet!

Fiber gets a bad rap – but let’s change that. Why should you love fiber? Because it’s great for release weight. Fiber helps you feel full, which can prevent gluttonous overeating. And for all the pre-menopausal women in the house (anyone?), a high fiber diet can cut your chances of breast cancer in half.

Here are a few simple ways to increase your fiber consumption:

  1. Eat a high-fiber cereal for breakfast. What are you eating for breakfast? It’s easy enough to swap out the Lucky Charms or Coco Puffs for something higher in fiber. And high fiber doesn’t mean sacrificing taste. My favorite breakfast cereal is Kashi’s Autumn Wheat with a bit of honey. Each serving has 6 grams of fiber (24% of the recommended daily value).
  2. Snack on fruit and fiber bars. Fruit (unlike fruit juice) is fairly rich in fiber. Apples and pears have 4 grams of fiber; bananas have 3 grams; dried figs have a whopping 10 grams!
  3. Add beans to your meals. Eat ’em as a side dish, toss ’em in a salad or add ’em to a wrap. There are about 10 grams in 1/2 a cup. And remember, beans are a magical fruit – the more you eat, the more you toot.
  4. Eat wheat bread instead of white bread. White bread has 1.9 grams of fiber. Wheat bread has 6 grams of fiber; you can triple your bread fiber intake simply by switching to wheat.
  5. Meet Amaranth. Who or what is Amaranth? It’s the seed of an amaranth plant, and it’s used as a native cereal in Central and South America. You can do all sorts of yummy things with it.
  6. Bake your own high fiber goodies. Like raisin bran muffins! There are plenty of healthy and delicious recipes that you can incorporate into your life.

But remember – slow and steady wins the race when it comes to adding fiber to your diet. It’s best to increase fiber slowly, as it gives your gastrointestinal system time to react.

Bottoms up to a high fiber diet! ;-P

How Many Sets Should You Do?

People and fitness clients often ask me about the number of sets that they should be doing while exercising.

A “set” is the number of times you perform a group of reps or repetitions. Here’s a quick video with everything you need to know:



The number of sets can largely be influenced by your goals and the amount of time you have available. More than 70% of the benefits of an exercise are realized after just the first set. If you are pressed for time and your goals don’t have you wanting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, this is great news. After two sets, you’ve realized almost all the benefits you stand to gain. The gains on the third and fourth sets are fairly minimal, and are only important to fitness enthusiasts that are looking for maximized results.

New Study Shows Obesity is Contagious.

According to a new study by Harvard researchers, having more obese friends increases your chance of becoming obese.

Alison Hill, the study’s lead author, said, “We find that having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends.” The study goes on to say that the more obese people you come in contact with, the more likely you are to become obese.

Why? Researchers aren’t sure. Before we shrug off responsibility for our health and point fingers at our friends, it’s important to remember that obesity isn’t like chickenpox—it’s not outwardly contagious. But maybe our eating and exercise habits are. Or maybe people make friends with like-minded individuals that enjoy similar activities, foods, etc.

One thing is clear: Americans are getting even fatter. Obesity is defined as more than 30 pounds overweight. Currently, about 1/3 of America is obese. That number is expected to reach 42% in 40 years, and then level off, according to the researchers.

And if our habits are contagious, it’s yet another reason to lead by example!

What do you make of this new study? Do you find that you and your friends share similar habits?

4 Great Leg Exercises With No Weights or Equipment!

Muscular legs like these make me weak in the knees.

Not everyone has a gym membership – and certainly not everyone has the time to take advantage of it. And that’s okay! There are plenty of great exercises that you can do at home using your body weight as resistance.

Four of my favorite body weight leg exercises include burpees, no weight squats, lunges and one-legged squats. Here’s how you can do ’em:

Burpees

  1. Stand with your hips shoulder width apart with your hands at your sides.
  2. Squat down to the floor placing your hands on the ground in front of you.
  3. Shift your weight to arms and kick your legs back and out straight so you are in a plank position.
  4. Jump your feet back in to their original point.
  5. Jump up and landing standing up straight.
  6. Repeat.

How to perform a traditional burpee.

No weight squats:

  1. Stand shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold your hands out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
  3. Keeping your back arched and not hunched over, slowly lower your butt like you’re sitting in a chair.
  4. Continue to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  5. Pause, and slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat.

Lunges with no weights:

  1. Begin with feet about hip-distance apart and step forward with the left leg into a lunge. Make sure the knee doesn’t go over the toes (although it may go slightly over the ankle).
  2. Step the left foot back to meet the right foot.
  3. Lift the left knee up to hip level.
  4. Take the left leg back into a reverse lunge, again keeping the front knee behind the toes.
  5. Push off the left toes to come back to start.

One-legged squats:

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip width apart and arms out in front of you. Raise your left leg out in front of you while maintaining a straight knee.
  2. Tighten your stomach and keep your hips level as you lower your right knee to a 90-degree angle (between the thigh and lower leg) making sure your knee stays behind your toes.
  3. Return to the standing position keeping the back straight and arms out front. Most of your weight should be directed through your right heel during this phase of the squat.

One-legged squat performed with kettle bell.

Cardio or Strength Training First?

Yeah, this doesn't really have much to do with the post. But I'll use any opportunity to inlcude a picture of Tyler Davin.

We know that to get the most of your workout, you should do a combination of cardiovascular exercise (i.e., swimming, running, jogging, biking, etc.) and strength training (i.e., lifting weights, push-ups, etc.). But which should you do first? Does the order matter?

It’s one of the most frequently asked fitness questions of all time.

And, as it turns out, the order does matter. But probably not for the reasons you think.

The old school conventional wisdom holds that strength training should come first. Cardiovascular exercise is taxing, and though it is largely about endurance, it does place resistance on muscles – especially if you’re moving at an incline. If you wear your muscles down from cardio, the theory is that you’ll be less effective in your strength training. This is especially true for your various leg muscles. Cardio can also leave the body fatigued, making it harder to lift weights.

However, recent research from Brigham Young University has demonstrated that performing cardiovascular exercise prior to strength training is more beneficial in post-exercise energy consumption. In other words, if you do cardio first, you’ll burn more calories during the rest of you day. This is an attractive benefit for most exercisers.

So, if your focus is muscle size only, then it may make sense to do cardio last. But if you’re concerned with weight loss or definition, it may make more sense to do it first.

But really, the biggest variable in the equation is personal preference.

I dread my cardio routine. It’s grueling. I want to get it done early, so that it’s not hanging over my head during the workout. Other people enjoy cardio – and they take the mindset of saving the best for last.

I wouldn’t get too hung up on the whole idea – I think it’s much more important to do whatever works for you.

Do you do cardio or strength training first? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

Fish that You’ll Want to Eat: Light and Flavorful Fish Tacos!

I’m excited to bring another post in a continuing series by my good friend and fellow Underwear Yogi, Nick Kindrick. It’s a recipe almost as delicious as he is. Enjoy!

You’re probably thinking… fish tacos, huh?

When many people here in the US think of tacos, they think of those hard corn shells, some ground beef, and some kind of seasoning packet comprised mostly of msg. Or even worse, they think of Taco Bell. The marketing gurus of the 70s did a great job of bringing “Mexican” food to the US, but it’s a far cry from the uber-fresh, light, colorful, healthy and delicious food that real Mexicans eat on a daily basis. This recipe is an adaptation of a dish that is ubiquitous along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Typically, the fish is fried, but baked fish is just as delicious. Hope you enjoy. “Buen provecho,” as the say south of the border.

Baked Fish Tacos with Mexican Coleslaw, Serves 2-3

  • 1 1/2 lb of white fish, such as cod, flounder, tilapia or catfish (make sure all bones are removed)
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in the Mexican/Latin section of your supermarket)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced thinly (seeds and veins removed)
  • 1/2 c carrots, matchstick cut
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely (you may want to remove the thicker stems)
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes
  • avocado, sliced
  • flour tortillas
  • mayonnaise (optional)

Turn the oven on to 45o degrees. Remove the chipotles from the adobo sauce and reserve all but one for another use. These will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for a while (up to 2 weeks). Chop 1 chipotle finely. More if you like very spicy food. Add the chopped pepper to the adobo sauce (the liquid from the can) and pour over the fish. Make sure that the fish is completely covered with the pepper and the sauce. Chipotles are smoked jalapenos and are typically quite spicy. BE CERTAIN TO WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY after touching the peppers if you are not wearing protective gloves. You can let the fish marinade up to an hour if you have the time, but this step is not necessary. Place the fish in an oven safe container, ideally on parchment paper (this will make for a simple clean up).

To prepare the slaw, slice the cabbage very thinly, as you will the onion. Remove the stem, seeds and the veins from the jalapeno and slice into a julienne (matchstick, like the carrots). Once again, BE CERTAIN TO WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY after touching the pepper. Remove the cilantro leaves from the thicker stems and chop finely. Mix all ingredients of the slaw in a medium size bowl and add the carrots. Cut one of the limes in half and squeeze the juice of the entire lime over the slaw. Add the extra virgin olive oil. Add a hefty pinch of salt and mix thoroughly with your hands. The salt will break down the cabbage so it is essential to the salad.

Now bake the fish for approximately 8-10 minutes, per inch of thickness. If you’re using thin fish, this will not take long at all. Most importantly, just be sure that the fish is opaque. If it is not, it must cook more.

As the fish bakes, slice the avocado. Warm the tortillas on the stove or in the oven. This will not take long. Remove the fish from the oven. If you’re using mayonnaise, spread liberally onto the warm tortilla.  Spoon some of the fish on top and place some of the slaw on top of the fish. The sliced avocado goes on top. I usually eat 2 or 3 or 4 or 5… just kidding. Enjoy!

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

Ryan Phillipe, dressed as a farmer, could milk me any day.

This afternoon, I was doing some grocery shopping in my local supermarket. I found myself in the store’s “health food” department, which is really just a few small isles of organic products. I had to laugh the the department’s title, as so many of the organic foods were anything but healthy – including soups loaded with sodium, fat filled burritos and, my favorite, double chocolate chip cookies with 18 grams of fat each.

For many people, the label of “organic” signifies some nutritional benefit. This is a myth; the terms “organic” and “healthy” mean two very different things.

The term “organic food” refers to food grown without most artificial fertilizers or pesticides and in a way that emphasizes crop rotation, making the most of natural fertilizers and ensuring that the life of the soil is maintained. Animals are kept in ways which minimize the need for medicines and other chemical treatments.

In the United States, use of the term “organic” is heavily regulated – and fairly expensive to obtain. Some of the foods you buy from local growers at a farmer’s market are likely organic, though the farmers probably lack the resources to apply for the official certification. At any rate, organic refers to the way in which the product was grown – and not its nutritional content.

Some research has been done to determine if organic products do contain more vitamins and nutritionally desirable compounds. In other words, does an organic orange contain more vitamin C than it’s conventional counterpart? The official jury is still out – studies are still inconclusive on the subject – though most expects will say no. Surprisingly, studies also don’t show any longer term health benefits, like reduced risk of cancer, either. This is a conclusion refuted by organic food advocates.

So, if you want to buy organic food, research would suggest that you should do it for your extended body (this planet) and not your immediate human body. And don’t be fooled into thinking that organic products are healthy, just by virtue of being organic.

Are you a big believer in organic products? Why or why not?

How Big is Too Big?

Like just about anything, working out – and the desire to be bigger – can become an addiction.

You’ve probably seen guys and girls with muscles on top of muscle on top of muscles. I’ve seen guys (like the man in this picture) whose muscles are so large that it interferes with the body’s functionality. You can’t really walk down a street when your thighs are the size of redwood trunks.

I also don’t find it particularly attractive.

How does it happen? Did he wake up on day and say, “I want to be huge!” Probably not. If you’ve ever tasted the sweetness of achieving your fitness goals, you’ll probably understand the slippery slope. Achieving the results you want is intoxicating. For a lot of people, it helps them feel good about themselves. And so it’s much more alluring to raise the bar again and go for even bigger muscles, rather than to switch into a maintenance mode. It’s a state of always striving and never really arriving.

I enjoy working out. I like the way my body feels after I’ve spent 90 minutes exercising it and getting it moving. And yes, I enjoy achieving results. But I try to check myself so as not to let my gym time fuel a real addiction. And as an extra safeguard, I’ve told my friends to wave a red flag if I ever start showing signs of addiction.

Indeed, there is a fine line between being athletic and healthy, and being too big. How big is too big for you?

Dumbbells Vs. Barbells.

This daddy knows that barbells are better for heavier weights.

Dumbbells and barbells are any gym’s staple. So the question becomes: Which is best to use?

The answer is both.

Dumbbells

Dumbbells are great for correcting muscular imbalances. Is one of your arms stronger than the other? When using a barbell or machine, it’s easy to favor the stronger side. But dumbbells don’t allow for such cheating. Since each weight is freestanding, it’s impossible to favor one side over the other.

Dumbbells are also much safer. A few days ago, I was bench pressing with a barbell in the basement of my gym. No one was around, and I was overly ambitious in the amount of weight I thought I could bench. I found myself with 250lbs. of weight coming down on my throat. It’s a dangerous scenario – and one that wouldn’t happen with dumbbells. With dumbbells, you can just release your grip and the weights will fall at your sides; they’re much safer.

For the reasons of muscular imbalance corrections and safety, dumbbells are an especially great bet for people that are just getting started.

Barbells

More seasoned fitness enthusiasts may favor barbells. As you make progress in your fitness program, your body requires heavier and heavier weights to continue building muscle. At a certain point, you reach the limit – not of your chest or legs – but of your grip. You can only grip so much weight in a dumbbell; they are difficult to hold. It’s much easier to grip a barbell with heavier weights. Simply put, barbells are better when you go heavy. And for this reason, barbells are better options for people that have been working out for a while.

I still use a combination of both – though if there is a barbell version of the exercise I’m performing, I tend to favor that. Which do use and why? Let us know in the comments below.