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Sweden Rejects “Low-Fat for Health” Dogma

22 Jul

Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogma in Favor of Low-carb High-fat Nutrition

Finally. It would be nice if the United States would follow Sweden’s lead. It would appear that a national case study of the US population for the past 40 years would suggest that the low-fat dogma has been an absolute failure. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, various cancers, etc. can be attributed to the high-carbohydrate, low-fat lifestyle.

Last month, Time Magazine published a great article explaining the low-carbohydrate research that has been available and it has also been apparently ignored for several decades.   There seems to be some momentum that maybe the “fat is bad” mantra is wrong (except for trans-fats) and it is healthy to eat healthy fat sources while minimizing/eliminating sugar, starch and processed white flour instead. But that would also require the FDA to admit that they were and have been wrong for so long, and there’s too much money in Washington DC to allow that to happen so easily. I still hope to see it happen.

Skratch is Here!

11 Feb

If you are an avid endurance athlete, hiker, recreational athlete, or you just feel the need for a sports drink to stay hydrated and help your athletic performance, then you may be interested in trying Skratch by Skratch Labs. We asked the developer of Skratch, Alan Lim, why do you call it Skratch? He said that it is because it is made from scratch. It is quite possibly the most all natural sports supplement on the market. Just mix it with water and it is already to go.

Check out more information about Skratch at their website, http://www.skratchlabs.com/.

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How the Trainers Eat, vol. 5

15 May

Sometimes you just feel like a little Indian food, right?  Well that was the case for me this past Sunday.  While nothing beats a good dahl, I like to keep my Indian food free of grains and legumes as well.  Instead, you get something like this:

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Curried Chicken with Kale and Broccoli with Indian Spiced Beets

Curried Chicken with Kale and Broccoli

Serves 3-4

1-2 T. virgin coconut oil

4 large chicken thighs, chopped

1/2 large yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Hot Madras curry powder (I used McCormick brand)

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

2 stalks broccoli, chopped

1/2 can coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large pan, warm the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped chicken pieces until starting to brown.  Sprinkle liberally with the curry powder to taste.

Once the chicken has turned white, add the onions and garlic, and continue to cook, 5 minutes.  Add the vegetables and stir to coat.  Turn heat down to medium and place a lid on the pan to steam the vegetables.  Occasionally stir.  After about 5 minutes, add the coconut milk and stir to mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft, dish is ready.  If you want a less “wet” dish, take the lid off, turn the heat to high, and boil off some of the liquid.

Indian Style (Yellow) Beets

Courtesy of Catalyst Athletics

 

Total cooking time for this fantastic Sunday night feast?  About 45 minutes.  What are your favorite ethnic dishes?

What is your Spark?

9 May

Twice a year, all of our staff get together to read and dissect a book; these are usually not directly related to fitness, but instead subjects that will get us thinking.  At the end of the day, though, we DO become better trainers and coaches because the topics help us improve our skills as: goal managers, psychologists, motivators, and health promotors.  Last month we discussed the book, “SPARK: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” by Dr. John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman.

 

Generally speaking, Dr. Ratey discusses the connection between physical activity and cognition.  While very science forward, this is an approachable book that should be required reading for anyone who wants to think and reason clearly, and stave off the mental decay brought on by aging, mental disorders, and inactivity.

 

The biggest take-aways:

1 – All stress is not bad.  Proper stress – even at the cellular level – is actually beneficial.  It is what helps to stimulate the body.  Judicious and properly applied stressor will make us healthier and more able to handle dangerous and debilitating circumstances in our futures.  Miniscule amounts of toxins in the foods we eat actually make us more capable of fending off disease.

 

2 – Age is not a deterrent.  We can improve at the cellular level and increase brain size at any age.  Aging really at its most basic view is the body’s cessation of regeneration and growth.  By exercising, we are not only improving our muscular and cardiovascular systems, but increasing neural connections and positive hormonal and neurotransmitter levels in our brains.

 

3 – The same general principles apply to most of everything we do and how we can change, correct, or influence our circumstance and environment to improve our lives.  Whether it’s dementia, anxiety, depression, or addiction, exercise, both physical and mental, can help ameliorate and control these problems.

 

4 – Inactivity is the ultimate killer.  Lack of physical activity will rot not only our bodies, but also our brains and cognitive abilities.  Just like slowing aging, physical activity helps to (re)build pathways in our brains that make us more productive and improve focus and attention.

 

5 – Exercise is a great way to bolster our mental faculties, regardless of the task at hand.  The hormonal and neurotransmitter cascades that occur after exercise help to “grow” our brains and leave them in an environment more capable of learning and retaining information.

 

Now before you get intimidated by thinking that this means that you have to go out and train for a marathon or throw 1,000 pounds over your head, know this: a little is better than nothing, and every little bit more is beneficial.  Taking your current state, adding just 30 minutes of brisk walking daily is enough exercise to make improvements – in your physical health, but also in your thinking and mood.  Try a new sport, add an after-dinner walk with your spouse, or come in for an additional 30 minute session each week.  These will all help you on your path to improving your life and vitality.

The Power of Rest

1 May

Here at FIT, we are always encouraging clients to set goals to work towards.  In the busy world that we all live in, however, these goals are unfortunately often undermined by “life events” and other time constraints that derail us.  It’s amazing though, that sometimes these life events are just what we need to help push us over the edge in our performances and other goals.

Be it fat loss, a faster 10k time, or bigger numbers in the gym, it is important to set realistic and attainable goals.  All of us are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T method goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.  We systematically help our clients work towards these goals with what we do in the gym, as well as guidance for the other 120+ hours per week outside of the gym (and sometimes even with homework).  Recently though, we had a client who took a three week vacation and still managed an incredible feat when she returned to her workouts: a 15% increase in her deadlift!

 

This client had just gotten back from a 3 week vacation overseas, with nothing more than the occasional run as her mode of exercise; along with lots of eating, drinking, and touring through western Europe.  What wasn’t astonishing was her admission that she her body weight hadn’t changed at all while gone – this is actually pretty common – but rather her performance that day.  She warned me that, “this is my first workout back, so be gentle on me.”  If any of you know me, you’ll know that I’m always looking for the best possible performance out of our clients (the best of what they’ve got that day).  We started slowly with the deadlift, but gradually she started to put more weight on the bar, and get closer to her prior 1 repetition max (1RM).  When all was said and done, she had surpassed her old 1RM of 100kg (210lb) and topped out at 120kg (242lb)!!  That’s an incredible improvement any day, but after being gone for three weeks?  That’s amazing.

 

This performance really got me thinking, and my response was, “That’s the power of rest.”  While that got a good chuckle out of the rest of the Crossfit class, it was very true.  While exercise enthusiasts often use exercise to “destress” from the daily bombardment of emails, errands, kids, etc., we coaches are keenly aware that exercise is itself a stressor.  Now, it can definitely be a beneficial form of stress, but as far as the body is concerned, stress is stress.  What this normally hardworking client didn’t totally recognize, was that by taking those 3 weeks off to relax, recharge, and divert her attention to other endeavors, she was lowering her total stress load.  What that meant was that upon returning to the gym, she was totally re-invigorated to workout, and her body was ready (and able) to take on the stimulus of a hard workout and make extraordinary progress.  In physiological terms, this is what is called super-compensation: resting after a period of intense training results in improvements beyond the previous trajectory from the training stimulus.  Translation: allowing one’s body to rest after continued bouts of hard training may result in even better results than expected.

This client definitely benefited from super-compensation, but there are other “feel good” reasons for her improvements: she was more enthusiastic to hit the ground running upon returning to the gym, and her body wasn’t stiff, sore, or tired from recent workouts.  It’s a common thread that I try to repeat to clients: you can’t just keep beating the body up and hoping for improvements.  Rest, recovery, relaxation; these are all important aspects to making gains (whether increases in weight lifted or decreases in pant size).  Our stress levels have a chance to return to normal, all our bodies’ aches and pains subside, and our enthusiasm to challenge ourselves increases.

 

So…next time you are sitting down with your coach to discuss your goals or upcoming plans, keep the power of rest in mind.  Good luck with your next challenge!

We’ve got you covered for Lunch!!

25 Apr

In case you missed it, we have great new food options to help get you through those busy days.  Not only does the food taste great, but it’s individually packed and frozen to give you a quick and easy way to get the right amount of food, and do it quickly!

I wanted to give you just a couple of ideas about what we have available for you in the freezers at FIT:

Chicken Roja with Sweet Potato Salad

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs with Stir Fry Vegetables

Brasato Sauce (Braised Beef with Rosemary, Shallots and White Wine) over Spaghetti Squash

Beef Bourguignon Stew with Mashed Cauliflower

Turkey Sausage Breakfast Hash

The meals come in 5 oz. ($13.30) or 8 oz. ($19.75) protein portions with a great tasty 7 oz. side of vegetables.

Don’t forget to pick one up on your way out the door for breakfast or lunch!

 

What Clients are saying:

“I never thought I would like cauliflower, but with the beef stew, it’s great!”

“Those meals were delicious; my daughter loved it!”

“Really easy way for me to get a quick healthy lunch in”

 

Talk to the front desk or Matt to find out more information and take home a delicious pre-made meal.

 

Almost Done with the Whole30(60)!

26 Mar

So we are almost done with our challenge now, and I haven’t heard from too many of you lately.

How are things going?!

What has been the biggest challenge for you to date?  Have you figured out any good ways to get past this challenge?

What has been your biggest insight so far?

For myself, my first time through the Whole30 it was that I wasn’t as “tolerant” of dairy as I thought I was.  I generally stay away from the stuff, but sometimes like a little feta mixed into salads for saltiness and texture.  

Any new favorite foods?

After trying the Whole30, I discovered that I actually really liked zucchini and beets.

Any big Whole30-approved attempts for Passover or Easter?

If only there was an easy way to make gluten-free Matzo right?

What have you been cooking?

Here are my latest attempts in the kitchen:

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

Spaghettin Squash Bolognese

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

New York Strip and Carmelized Mushrooms with Braised Greens and Pureed Yams

We’d love to hear from all of you as we wind down to the end of the challenge.  And stay tuned for a post this weekend on how to navigate the post-Whole30 landscape and get back to the “real world”.

Hint: it doesn’t involve adding back in MOST of those foods

This food stuff is great!

19 Feb

We had a nice turnout on Sunday at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market (and apparently a couple near misses – sorry to those we didn’t get to chat with).  Kendra and I were there handing out recipes and answering questions, as well as getting awesome insights from other challengers.  While the morning started out kind of cold and foggy, we were blessed with nice sunny morning to walk around and pick up delicious produce other well-sourced foods.  For those that were present, what did you pick up?  Any new and exciting ingredients that you are looking forward to trying?  If so, please share those in the comments!  I bought two new foods that I am very excited to try – ground goat meat and yucca – stay tuned for pictures and recipe for how I prepared these.

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Additionally, we have had some great looking food pictures from clients near and far (we have a couple correspondent challengers from at least as far as Chicago!)  Without further delay, here are those great photos.  Hopefully they will get you thinking about other foods and combinations you can try.

How are we doing otherwise, everybody?  We are now a full 2 weeks into the challenge.  What has been the hardest part/easiest part?  Any foods you thought you “didn’t like” that you now can’t get enough of?  Any new favorite cooking methods?  Are we remembering to spice our dishes so that they are exciting and tasty?

Please add your thoughts and reflections to the comments below.

Clearing up a few questions regarding the Whole30 (60) Challenge

7 Feb

We’ve had great participation from many of you on the challenge so far; as well as some awesome success!

  • 4 pounds lost in the first 3 days
  • 7 pounds lost in the first 2 days
  • More awareness about food choices
  • Being more vigilant about reading food labels

There has also been some really good conversations that have led to questions that might help all of you:

Can I cook with wine, beer, etc?

When you cook with alcohol, the ethanol (what makes it boozy, and what we are avoiding) is burned off, so not present anymore.  With that said, beer and most spirits DO contain grains, so they should still be excluded.  For flavor, it is OK to cook with wine and grain-free spirits (tequila)

What if I don’t want to eat eggs every day for breakfast?

Eggs are a great option for breakfast – they are packed with protein, are quick, can be cooked in a number of different ways, and lend themselves to a vast number of different flavors.  With that said, though, they do not HAVE to be your food of choice for breakfast.  I often find myself eating leftover chili for breakfast, or sausages that I have grilled up the night before.  In essences, it is important to get away from the constructs of what “breakfast foods” should be.  They can be anything!  Play around with how you season your foods, and you might just find that your ideal breakfast is actually seared chicken thighs rubbed with cinnamon and coriander along with sauerkraut and avocado.

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

Maybe a little Salmon Hash instead of eggs for breakfast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really hungry.  Why isn’t this working?  You said I would be full.

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Often times when eliminating grains and legumes from our plates, we forget to refill that space with more vegetables, and possibly larger portions of protein.  Make sure that you are getting in AT LEAST 2 different vegetables at each meal (even breakfast).  What I always say is, “set your protein, and then FILL your plate with vegetables.”  This will add satisfying protein and fat to your meal, and physical bulk in the form of fibrous veggies to keep you full.

Why is my thirst “off”?

Since we have eliminated ALL processed foods, your sodium intake has probably dropped immensely.  Because of this, you might not be as thirsty as you were previously (salt craves water in the body).  What you CAN do, is salt your foods a little bit, as you’ll need a little anyways.  You are also taking in more vegetation, which also has a good amount of water inherently in its composition, possibly keeping your thirst down.  

You might also be MORE thirsty.  As the grains and starches have been removed from our plates, our bodies will naturally release water (partly responsible for the great early weight loss).  This will make us more thirsty as we try to recreate that internal hydration status that we have become accustomed to.

Keep the questions coming, and keep hammering those tasty Whole30 meals!  The pictures have been looking great, as well as all of the enthusiasm.  Please let us know if you have any questions along the journey.

We have some great cooks!

6 Feb

Way to go all!  We’re only at day 3, and already there are some great looking dishes from many of you.  Here is just a sampling of all of the delicious food so far.

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Tri-tip with Sweet Potato Hash

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Shrimp Fried (cauliflower) Rice

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Bratwursts with Broccoli Slaw

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Chicken Casserole

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Roasted Chicken, Cabbage Slaw, Broccoli, and Sweet Potato Coins

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Roasted Chicken, Asparagus, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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Seared Hanger Steak with Roasted Crisphy Brussels Sprouts and Fennel

 

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