Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Sunday Sloppy Joes

Just when I thought we were out of the woods with the food holidays, here comes yet another opportunity for extra calories ... super bowl parties.

While you might just treat this day as a throwout day, particularly if the rest of your week has been clean, here's a recipe that both tastes great and is 'fairly' low in fat:

Turkey Sloppy Joes

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups dices onions
1.5 pounds of ground turkey
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
10 to 20 turns of black pepper

Preparation: Saute onions over medium heat until clear. Add Turkey and brown. Stir in red wine, increase heat, and cook until the wine is reduced to 1/4 cup. Add remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for several hours. This long simmer works best in a crock pot, which will also conveniently serve.

Serve on whole wheat buns. Top with a dollop of yogurt, or cottage cheese, if desired.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Superbowl Sunday & the Spread Office

It's Superbowl Sunday!

And while I originally wrote Pitt 27 AZ 10 on the downtown whiteboard, it's never safe to take the favorite in the big game, so I'm now predicting
Arizona 16

Pittsburgh 9.

But the whole event reminded me of a topic around workplace ergonomics I've wanted to address for a while now. It's called the spread office. In college football, the offensive trend for years has been the spread offense. With it, offensive teams use formations that use the entire width of the field. The theory is that it spreads defenses thin in enough to create mismatches in places where talent doesn't match up well.

Many teams run it very well.

While we're not looking for mismatches in your office, the Spread Office does offer an opportunity to be more physically active in an otherwise inactive desk job.

Using the entire width, height, and depth of your office space (spread out) allows you to use your body more which will, in turn, increase blood flow, increase energy levels, and burn a few calories!

Here are my top 10 Spread Office suggestions:
  1. Move all filing cabinets to the far end of your office area. Place them conveniently out of reach so that accessing them requires either scooting over on your chair, or a short walk & squat.
  2. Place your desktop accessories (stapler, tape dispenser and 3 hole punch) atop of one of these filing cabinets. You will now be required to similarly either scooting over on your chair, or walk a short distance to access them.
  3. If your bookcase isn't in a fixed position, move it across the office floor as well. Place frequently referenced books, manuals and other documents in this 'remote' bookcase.
  4. If your bookcase isn't movable, place frequently referenced books, manuals and other documents into or within the most remote location (tall or wide) possible.
  5. Place your desktop calculator on the surface of your desk furthest to your right so that you need to rotate, at a minimum, 90 degrees to use it
  6. Place your inbox on the surface of your desk furthest to your left so that you need to rotate, at a minimum, 90 degrees to access it.
  7. If you have a desktop printer, place it behind your monitor so that you need to stand or reach around your monitor to reach it. If that's not a practical location, put it on a surface at at the physical end of the printer cable ... perhaps on top of one of your 'remote' bookcases. You may need to do some shopping, but you can get 25' printer cables.
  8. Put your pen cups/holders on a shelf above your desk so that you need to rise from your chair to access them.
  9. Upgrade your phone so that it can reach all corners of your office. You can get either a really long cord, or a cordless phone. Then, move the base or handset of your phone to a location that requires you to either swivel your chair, stand to access it. And unless you're typing on your keyboard during a call, take it standing up!
  10. Substitute a stability ball for office chair a few hours per day. They're under 50 bucks and can significantly improve your core strength and posture.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why Fitness Programs Fail

It's late January now, and you've been making your way to the gym 4 days per week for 3 solid weeks. Not only do you hate the crowds, and hate the treadmill, but you haven't lost a single pound of weight. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Expecting to loose 25 to 30 pounds by summer suddenly doesn't look so promising anymore ... especially after the fruitlessness of all that hard work.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common January scenario.

What is going on here, and why?

First, the good news: you're making more progress than you think. The most difficult part of becoming fit is simply fitting it into your busy life. Now, there are lots of tips and tricks for doing exactly that, but if you're attendance is good now, you've cleared (at least temporarily) the hardest hurdle. Credit yourself with a win.

Second, the good news gets even better, because you have lost some body fat ... you just don't see it because you've been measuring body weight (on your scale) and not body fat (done with skin fold calipers). In fact, one of the biggest mistakes people make when beginning a fitness program is not having fitness assessments taken at regular intervals. Especially at the beginning of fitness programs where lots of physical adaptations are taking place: bone densities are increasing; neurological pathways are being formed; and muscle tissue is growing. All of this is terrific, and increases your metabolic engine, but it also ads lean body mass to your frame that frequently offsets the body fat loss, so you don't see that change on the scale!

And that becomes discouraging.

But don't let it be: you're doing better than you think. I have eight more tips like this all queued up for Saturday's 2:00 PM Seminar, but you'll have to come by to get the rest of the story!

I will, however, leave you with one more good one.

Focus on Pure Fitness levels for February. This is actually something best done at the very beginning of an exercise program, but will help keep you motivated for the next few weeks. Particularly if you want to loose weight, pick 3 fitness related goals that have nothing to do with the scale: total pushups; distance traveled in 6 minutes on the treadmill; resting heart rate; total body weight squats; crunches in one minute ... whatever. Never mind the reading on the scale for the next 4 weeks; just focus on fitness. If your build it, the weight will come ... off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frozen Friday Fitness

It's always been a few degrees cooler than actual, but I just had to capture the near nothingness on my deck's thermometer this morning. Officially, it was -27 at the airport, though my reading was -35! I have never personally seen this little red on it in the 16 years we've had it!

So, what's a Minnesotan to do when it's 20 below outside?

Well, as it turns out lots!

Here are my top 10 things to do when it's nothing short of damned cold outside.

  1. Defrost your freezer. Box or bag up all of your freezer items an move them to the garage, deck, patio, or your car. They will stay plenty frozen for the 12 or 15 hours it might take to defrost your freezer. Hopefully, you'll need to take a flight of stairs or two in the process to burn a few calories! And while you're at it, thaw out and prepare at least one of the items you bought because it's good for you, but you just haven't gotten around to preparing. We all have them, and you know what I'm talking about: liver, frozen brussel sprouts ... that bison steak. Also, check the expiration dates on anything pre packaged. If it's expired, just throw it out!
  2. Drink. And drink a bunch ... of water! Temps this cold reduce humidity levels indoors and out. Heating systems dry it out even more! And because of the cold, most of us don't seem thirsty, so we tend to hydrate less. Got a slight headache? Maybe you're dehydrated. Sip on a hot cup of green tea, or a cup of hot water if you need something warm in your hands. Otherwise, plan to consume at least 8 ounces of water before each meal today.
  3. Bake some squash or yams ... the more yellow or orange the better. In 20-some years of working with clients on diet, the yellow and orange vegetables tend to get neglected more often than almost anything else. Technically classified as caretenoids, they are low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, and a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium. They are also a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese. Complete nutrition facts here, for baked with added salt, so you can/should reduce your sodium intake by cutting back on (or eliminating) the added salt ... especially if hypertensive. Plus, your oven will add some heat to your home!
  4. And while the oven is hot, Roast some pumpkin and squash seeds. Low in Cholesterol, they are a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Iron and Copper, and a very good source of Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese. This food is, however, high in fat, especially saturated fats, so you'll want to sprinkle them on salads use sparingly in other dishes.
  5. Go to the gym! With the New Year's resolutes out in full force, it's guaranteed to be warm and humid in there! Or call Fitness Together if you don't like the crowds or humidity, but really want to heat it up!
  6. Book a trip to someplace warm ... like hot enough to require that you shed some clothing. Facing an immediate deadline for exposing otherwise well covered body parts will help keep you focused this Winter. Click here to connect with my good friend Renata at AAA for some travel tips.
  7. Get some sun. Rarely does it get this cold with a lot of cloud cover. Grab a book, your notebook computer ... or whatever ... and find a sunny window to sit near for an hour or two. Some physicians believe that a good portion of our winter ailments are due to sun derived vitamin D deficiency.
  8. Women, schedule your annual breast exam. While October is breast cancer awareness month; if you missed it then, schedule it now.
  9. Men, check your prostate. While heart disease is still your best chance of checking out early, cancer is #2 and colon cancer is one of the likelier villains. Very treatable when caught early; very deadly when not. Pick up the phone right now and get it scheduled!
  10. Register for my Fitness Fundamentals Seminar NEXT SATURDAY! You don't need to go or call anywhere cold; just click here to book your seat! Or, refer a friend, co worker or family member to the seminar and pick up a Free Fitness Together Personal Training Session for each seminar registrant you refer!

So, even though it's not (Rio de Janeiro forecast) 80 degrees outside, there are still plenty of things to do to stay fit and healthy!

Navigating the January Gym Jams: top 10 tips

It happens every year. One of the top New Year's Resolutions year in and year out is getting fit and living healthier. Tens of Thousands of Resolve Resolutes join gyms to make it happen. Most of them will be gone by March, but they're here now, and cannot be neglected. Here then, are my 10 top tips for making your workouts effective within the present river of resolutes.

  1. Go Early. Way early. Particularly on the weekends, traffic in the bigger, busier fitness centers doesn't really get annoying until after 9:00AM
  2. Plan for working bodyparts instead of specific exercises. You will regularly bump into unexpected contention for equipment as you navigate through your workout. Make lemonade out of lemons by training the same bodyparts on new/different equipment rather than wasting time waiting around for your 'regular' equipment to free up.
  3. Give your self a bit of extra time to deal with diversion & distractions. More people and less equipment availability will mean more 'hunting' time than normal. Add an extra 10 minutes of time to your workout to handle the unexpected.
  4. Exercise by proximity. As you are finishing up with an exercise, don't look further than you can throw your towel for the next piece. Chance are, if you need to walk more than 50 steps to get to your next exercise, it will be gone by the time you get there.
  5. Don't go too far from your equipment. Be sure to leave a towel & water bottle on your equipment to help mark territory.
  6. Turn around slowly, and always look before turning. Neophytes are unpredictable and carry bars, plates, and dumbbells in unimaginable ways. Save yourself a headache and look before moving.
  7. Perform large and multiple muscle group exercises. They burn more calories and can better optimize your workout time by hitting more muscle tissue. Additionally, they tend to be among the least used pieces of equipment in the gym. Examples here are good old fashioned flat bench bench presses; barbell squats; and Barbell Rows.
  8. Plan to do some cardio both at the start of and at the end of your workout. The warmup and warmdown are both important by themselves, but in planning for two cardio events you'll double your chances of getting the equipment you prefer.
  9. Don't expect that loaded bars are being used. Gym newbies are notorious for leaving bars loaded even after long abandoned. If you see equipment that appears to be abandoned, it probably is. Stand nearby your potential find, and look in 360 degrees for anyone willing to make eye contact with you. If you don't see anyone, just ask someone near you if they've seen anyone on the equipment. If they haven't, consider it yours!
  10. Don't go at all! You'll still need to exercise, but use January and February to broaden your fitness experience with outdoor activities. It's been an outstanding year for both snow (cross country skiing, and snowshoeing) and ice (most outdoor rinks were open 2 weeks early this year).
Or, Give me a call and we'll train you in private to avoid all of the above!