Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Bare Basics Workout

Whether you’re on the road, under budget or just need a break from the weights and gym dates…this workout offers the variety and intensity you crave.  You don’t need any equipment or fancy gym memberships!  This full body routine will increase your heart rate and help you drop excess body fat when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, including a nutrient-dense diet and rest. 
Complete two rounds of each set then complete one final round of each cardio movement.  Rest as little as possible to keep the heart rate up.  Warm up 3-5 minutes beforehand.  Modify as needed.
  • High knee run - 30 seconds
  • Alternating reverse lunges with arms overhead - 30 seconds
  • Full arm plank - 30 seconds
  • Burpees - 30 seconds
  • Squats with forward arm press as the legs extend - 30 seconds
  • Wall sit - 30 seconds
  • Jumping jacks - 30 seconds
  • Pushups - 30 seconds
  • Forearm side plank - 15 seconds/side
  • Jump squat - 30 seconds
  • Full plank with shoulder taps - 30 seconds
  • Side to side squat - 30 seconds 
  • Mountain climbers - 30 seconds
  • Lunge with right knee raise and core rotation to right - 15 seconds, then switch sides
  • Plank walkout with 2 knee drives - 5x
This post was originally featured here:

The Work-Workout Balance

Work hard and the results will come, right?  Kind of.  If your goal is to get in shape, then yes, you will have to work hard in the gym (or wherever you fit in your fitness).  But you will also have to manage your diet and make sure your sleep schedule is on fleek.  Likewise, there is more to it when it comes to your making “gains” in your career. It takes long hours, evening social events, and sometimes lengthy travel in order to make progress and move upward.  So what happens when those requirements interfere with your gym time and your promise to replace beers with banana-spinach protein shakes?  The following solutions will ensure you overcome those pesky barriers to success. 
The Problem:  Happy Hour
The Solution
It’s been a long day filled with phone calls, emails and meetings. You’ve made some final decisions regarding a big project while texts from your indecisive friends pop up on your phone.  Pizza or burgers?  Outdoor beer garden or indoor with flat screens to watch the game?  The only decision you want to make is what time to leave the office.  One of the problems with happy hour, is it rarely lasts an hour.  It might turn into dinner following your after-work drink, which then turns into “one more” after finishing the entire burger and fries you ordered because your alcohol-influenced self read it on the menu as “protein.”
-Avoid showing up to happy hour on an empty stomach.  Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the impact of the alcohol, and decrease your ability to resist that plate of nachos.
-Have a snack beforehand.
-It’s also a good idea to be the last one to have the first drink.  The later you begin your happy hour, the less alcohol you will likely consume throughout the evening.
The Problem: Burning the Midnight Oil
The Solution
Maybe you're up with the birds to catch that rush of endorphins that you chase at the gym. Maybe you're up late every night, replying to every email and reviewing every power point slide of your presentation. If you can relate to either of these, or (worse) both, there's a chance you're not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you'd rather burn fat than "midnight oil," prioritizing your sleep is a must. The quantity and quality of rest you get has a direct impact on your mood, energy levels and the hormones that support muscle growth and control your appetite. Having trouble calling it quits?
-Unplug at the same time every night to develop consistent sleep habits.
-Retire from the phone, computer and TV so you can recharge your body along with those devices.
-Consider using an eye mask to reduce the impact of light in your room.  Even a subtle amount can affect your melatonin levels, a hormone which plays a role in weight control and immune health.
The Problem:  The Vending Machine and Food Delivery Services
The Solution
Remember when hunger struck and you instinctively ran to the vending machine to grab a snack? With countless food delivery services, you might find yourself grabbing your phone just as quickly as those Gardetto’s.  Overcome endless, convenient food options and a bottomless burrito bowl by filling up with these tips.
-Schedule healthy food. The convenience of many smartphone apps makes order food fast, easy and efficient.  Use this to your advantage! Know which restaurants or meal delivery services offer nutrient dense options.  Many of them offer customized options such as gluten-free, nut-free, Paleo and vegetarian.
-If you’re eating out, don’t be afraid to create your own “meal” of side dishes.  A few of these “micro-meals” can add up to create a well rounded lunch.  Aim to include a protein, carb and veggie.  An example might be a baked potato, loaded with steamed broccoli and cottage cheese.
-Go with the tried and true "old school" method of packing your own.  And keep snacks at your desk! 
The Problem:  When (and where?) to Workout
The Solution
There's an increasing number of hotels and workplaces that provide gyms and wellness programs. Whether you're on the road or at work, there are countless opportunities to workout regardless of what your HR department might offer. Many companies provide free access to onsite gyms, or discounted memberships to one in your community. Onsite fitness centers, or those at a hotel, may not be "all inclusive" but the most important part isn't the amount of equipment or how new it is, but what you do with it.  Regardless of where you are or what equipment you have access to, keep the following in mind.
-Implement activities throughout your workday.  Think planks, wall sits, and stair climbs!  Never underestimate the significance of staying active.  Before roll your eyes and think “I’ll pass on burning the 10 calories,” take into account the energy-impact, how it will contribute to a quick mood boost.  It might also be exactly what you need to prevent a trip to your co-worker’s candy jar.
-Keep a pair of gym shoes and workout clothes in your office. While you might not have access to a shower, you never know when you might be able to get outside for a quick walk or outdoor circuit.  Check out The Bare Basics Workout for an equipment free routine you can do anywhere.  
These tips, along with commitment and an open mind, will help you achieve progress and bring you closer to your fitness goals despite work-related obstacles. What are your favorite ways to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle when balancing responsibilities at work? 
This post was originally featured here:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Timed Track Workout Series

Are you an athlete? Or do you consider yourself to be anything BUT an athlete? If you answered yes to that second question, it's time to shift your perception!

I never considered myself an athlete. In fact, my mom signed me up for high school tennis as a way to be "social" and "break out of my shell." While it served its purpose, it also broke my ego--when the tennis coach ordered a double X t-shirt for me. 

Regardless, I've overcome my negative mentality and social awkwardness (though if you're an introvert like me, you'll understand you still crave that alone time to reflect and energize). In recent weeks, I've asked myself "what can I do to mix up my routine? I work so hard in the gym and have hit a plateau." Physically and mentally. Have you ever felt that way?

My solution...the Timed Track Workout Series! I'm going to be heading to the track at least once a week for an outdoor workout...and, yep, it's going to be TIMED. Truthfully, this concept brings back memories of tennis practice where we did bleacher runs, alternating with laps around the track, performed dreaded suicides across the court lines...and, my least favorite, Indian runs (are they still called that?). But, if you're not feeling "nervous" every now and then, are you really doing anything to make progress and initiate change?

I'll be adding routines along the way, but for now, start with what's listed. If you cannot access a track, run around the block. If you don't have NuBells, use dumbbells (though the NuBells ARE PRETTY COOL). If you don't have dumbbells, use body weight.  Whether it takes you 33 minutes or 57, whether you walk or run...just START. Be sure to record your time and watch yourself progress as you incorporate this into your routine. 

1 lap
Reverse lunges - 20 total
Side plank - knee to elbow 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

1 lap
Squat with shoulder press - 20
Full plank with side knee drive - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

1 lap
Front lunges - 20 total
Plank walkout with pushup - 5

1 lap
Lunge with knee and biceps curl - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)
Side plank with hip lift - 10/side (complete all then switch sides)

Beginners: Complete 1 round
Intermediate/Advanced: Complete 2 rounds

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amaranth Pizza "Pasta" Wraps

This recipe was inspired by amaranth, a whole-grain, gluten free staple unique to the Aztecs.  It contains all of the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains.  Amaranth is a complete protein and is extremely versatile! It adds protein and texture to this delicious baked dish.

1 Spaghetti squash
2 1/2 c. Vegetable broth
2 t. Garlic powder
2 t. Italian seasoning 
2 t. Onion powder
2 T. Olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
5 low carb wraps
1 1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese
2 c. marinara sauce
1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese (as topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Split spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and place it face up in a baking dish with 1/4 c. of water.  Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool, then use fork to "pull" out spaghetti-like strands into bowl.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil.  Add amaranth.  Reduce to simmer and cook for approximately 25 minutes.

Mix seasonings, olive oil,  1 1/2 c. cheese and tomatoes in bowl with spaghetti squash.  Coat baking dish with cooking oil and begin to fill each wrap with mixture, rolling and stacking alongside each other.  Top with 2 c. marinara sauce and remaining 1/2 c. cheese.  Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Breast Implant Illness: Q & A With SJ McShane

We all have that one friend.  The one who shares a similar outlook.  Who lives a similar lifestyle. Who has similar goals.  And whom you've never met!  That's right.  Sara-Jane and I have been "social media friends" for quite some time now.  She's been a source of inspiration and advice for nearly two years.  So when she recently shared a very personal story, I felt compelled to interview her and help her educate others, providing women with the knowledge and resources they need to make educated decisions.

Name:  Sara-Jane McShane 
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Career: Licensed Massage Therapist, Fitness Writer, Personal Trainer

"Breast Implant Illness is a sickness that affects hundreds of thousands of women's lives.  It's placed in the autoimmune category, as implanting can trigger a vast variety of autoimmune symptoms/diseases in women.  The foreign object in the body can aggravate the immune, but more importantly, there are 40 plus chemicals in the implants that have been known to seep out or "gel bleed" into the system causing very serious side effects.  We are told the implants are "safe" but, time has proved that to be false.

Multiple women who explant due to illness are shown their implants post surgery, and many of them contain mold.  100 percent of women will develop a "capsule" around their impact.  This is the body's way of fighting the foreign object.  The capsule is made of body tissue and when tested, has been shown to host harmful chemicals and silicone, even with saline implants as they have a silicone shell.

Dr. Barnett of Sarasota, FL states 'two out of three women who come to me ill gain their health back post-explant.' Thankfully, I am one of them."

Megan: What is your favorite way to stay active:
SJ: I absolutely love the outdoors, especially the mountains. I could hike all day! I also love to take my workouts to the trail for a trail run, and to an outdoor track for sprints.

Megan:  How's life? What are your hobbies and what are you most passionate about?
SJ:  Life is great right now! I'm very passionate about helping others, I hope to do that for the rest of my life in any way I can.  My hobbies are fitness, outdoor activities, nature, animals, cooking, writing and refurbishing old furniture.  And if eating is a hobby, I should mention that!

Megan:  What is your typical day like?
SJ: I have a full time job at a spa, I write for fitness magazines and do some personal training and nutrition coaching.  My schedule is different every day which I like.  A few days a week I food prep, and my workout times and days change as my schedule changes.

Megan: Was it always that way?
SJ: No, not at all.  IN fact 11 years ago before I lost almost 30 pounds, I never prepped food, ate clean or trained!  I had completely different jobs and desires. Life is so much better now a days, and I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Megan:  What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your life?
SJ:  The biggest obstacle I've overcome in my life is encountering BII, Breast Implant Illness.  It's a topic that had not been discussed in the past, but is now starting to surface rapidly.  Hundreds of thousands of women have suffered and are currently suffering from autoimmune illnesses due to implants.  Be it the foreign object disrupting the body's immune response, or the 40 plus toxic chemicals that make up the implant (silicone and saline), women are connecting the dots.  This autoimmune disease can take your life away and is extremely debilitating.  You can lack all energy and develop all sorts of horrible side effects such as abnormal heart beats, body rashes, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, weakness, muscle twitches and much more.

Megan:  What was life like leading up to that occurrence?
SJ:  My life before I was sick was great.  My energy was over the top! Sometimes I would workout for hours outside just because I had the energy and loved the feeling.  I could balance lots of tasks at once.  I was extremely motivated, writing for a handful of fitness magazines, working and still wanting to do more.

Megan:  A lot of people reference a turning point when they knew they needed to make a change.  Did you have one? How would you describe it?
SJ:  My moment of rescue was when I found my support group for Breast Implant Illness.  From that moment forward I knew what I had to do.  I explanted (implant removal) and almost immediately, my body began to feel "normal" again.  I'm not sure there are any words to fully describe that feeling.  To have been sick for so long and to feel like myself again is completely priceless.

Megan: Is there a particular person or resource that you looked to for inspiration and help?
SJ:  My inspiration and help came from God.  I asked him to show me what was making me so sick, to show me what was taking my life away.  Eventually, I found a support group called "Breast Implant Illness by Nicole."  Each and every girl in that group had the same symptoms as me, and post implant removal gained their health back.  They have been an amazing support through all of this.

Megan:  What are your current goals?
SJ:  My most important goal right now is to get my strength back.  Before I got sick, I was able to "lat  pull" 100 pounds--just under my body weight.  I ran my first half marathon, I completed a sprint triathlon and my "farmers carry" for strong man training was 105 pounds in each hand.  Feeling strong is indescribable and I can't wait to be there again.

Megan:  What advice do you have for others who are going through a similar situation or difficulty?
SJ:  The  best advice I can give to other women suffering from BII is to keep a great support system around you that understands exactly what they are going through.  Just like any other illness, having others around you that have walked down the road is very important.  Right now there are lots of BII support groups for anyone suffering, which is great!

Megan:  What, if anything, would you do differently?
SJ:  A few months ago I would have said "I would have never opted to have implants!"  But, now, I wouldn't change a thing.  As I said before, I love helping people.  Without this experience I wouldn't be able to help other women from making the same mistake.  I wouldn't be able to lead sick moment o the proper information.  Since coming out with my story, "The Ugly Side of Breast Implants," I have hundred of women contact myself and our support group, many of them sick or has implants removed due to illness.

Megan: Looking back, how has this experience strengthened you?
SJ:  Fiercely!  To know what it's like to be weak makes me so much stronger today. I understand people's pain differently. I can sympathize with them better and to me that's a form of strength we all need.  I know all of the bad is being used for the good.

Looking for additional information or resources?  Visit Healing Breast Implant Illness or click here to join the Facebook support group.  You can also read Sara-Jane's cover story from Natural Muscle & Fitness magazine by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cardio-Cable Core Workout

If you're like a lot of gym enthusiasts, you may have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill that turns to hate after ten minutes. And the long, slow upward climb on the stepmill feels like a trek to reach the top of Mount Everest. As a result, I created this core-inspired cardio cable workout. It's a great way to get your heart rate up while focusing on full body, particularly the abs and back, movements. Complete three rounds of the following with minimal rest. Treadmill work should be done around a 7/8 on a scale of 10 (modify by walking briskly, jogging, sprinting, and/or using the incline!). For the cable movements, use a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete the reps with good form. Overall, the routine should take close to 30 minutes to complete. 

Treadmill: 5 minutes

Mountain climbers: 30 seconds
Cable low to high woodchops: 15x

Burpees: 30 seconds
Standing cable rotations: 15x/side

Jump squats: 30 seconds
Lunge with knee and cable row: 15x/side

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Italian Crunch Salad

This salad is infused with a lot of flavor and a ton of nutrients! Stimulate your tastebuds with Amore, feed your muscles with all of the protein provided by the tofu, and stay full by indulging in healthy fats.

Baked Tofu
1 package of drained tofu
3 T olive oil 
3 small squeezes of Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste

2 c Spinach
1 T sunflower seeds
2 T walnuts 
1/3 c shredded cheese

2 T olive oil
2 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 t onion powder
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t minced garlic
3 small squeezes of Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tofu into small cubes. Mix olive oil and Amore then pour over tofu to coat. Bake 20 minutes, flip tofu, bake 20 more minutes. 

Prepare spinach and salad ingredients.  Top with desired amount of baked tofu.  Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hustle. Rest. Repeat.

In a world that encourages you to "just do it" - with no excuses, while going hard, after hustling (and before grinding), a rest day can feel like giving up. Years ago, I supported the notion of working out seven days a week.  I was convinced that every workout had to be as difficult, if not more so, than the previous.  Over time, physical stress accumulated and the outcome was a herniated disc. Since then, I have found balance at the gym and in life.  Some days I feel my strongest after completing a couple of pull-ups.  Other days, all I need is a set of dumbbells, my XBAR and some warm weather to feel on top of the world after completing a backyard bootcamp. 

When you avoid listening to your body, your body will speak up.  Usually, in ways that stop you in your tracks--literally and figuratively.  The following are examples of what can happen when you over train and under restore.
  • Injury
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Excessive weight loss or weight gain
  • Mental fog
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Loss of energy
  • Muscle aches and pains that do not go away
If you're running your body like you run a business, ask yourself "what's my bottom line?"  Is the risk of working 24/7, 365 days a year worth the reward?  What are you gaining by pulling all nighters and pushing deadlines? 

The Fuel Your Fitness Method embraces activity, nutrition and restoration.  Dedicate at least one day per week to restoration.  This might mean staying in bed until 11am.  Or taking a yoga class.  Restoration is meant to calm the body and calm the mind.  Avoid doing anything that requires a great deal of energy.
Over time you will discover the balance between pushing yourself and knowing when to back off.  Embracing restoration will improve your self awareness and your ability to listen to your body. The next time you think about going hard...ask yourself if what you really need is to go home. 

Feedback? Suggestions? Comment below. I'd love to know your favorite way to restore.  For more information about online and in-person training programs, click here.