I think a lot about a lot of stuff…… And because of that fact, I realize that there are many things in this life that I have adventured through that have served me well and many things that haven’t. I read another blog recently that outlines the 10 or so things in that particular author’s experience that seemed to improve his life. This got me thinking (again)……I have a lot of those lists stored in my head. So I figured I would “steal” his idea, and come up with my own list…….The idea is stolen, but the list is mine!! Anyway, I thought I would kick off this blog with the 10 things in the fitness/nutrition/workout area that I think have improved my life….(now please note that I am writing about the fitness/sports performance/nutrition area…….not regular old life………that list would be a little different)
1. Protein Shakes
Seriously, they have. I know they have always been around (well at least for the last 15 years or so) but recently, the protein shake has gotten a lot better. We all know, or should know the benefits of including protein in our diet….and if not; I will cover that at another time. Just trust me on this…….you are better off with a lot more protein in your diet than you probably think or are presently getting. The protein shake is quick, fairly inexpensive and easy to make…. (Not to mention very filling and good for you.) Before I left my “other job” I lived on protein shakes. My excuse back then was that I didn’t have the time or ability to make regular meals. And you know what? That was true. But even now, when I find myself with plenty of extra time and a plethora of good, whole foods, I still find myself scooping out the powder into my shaker bottle and quickly making myself that meal. After all, the ease, convenience and cravings for these different flavors are more then good reason for me to do this. Clean up is simple, and I always know EXACTLY how much protein, fat and carbs I am getting with each shake…..and oh yea, how many calories I am getting. Try that with a cheese omelet! When you are working out a lot, need that protein, and are on the go, these are a must. And get yourself a few good shaker bottles. They go a long way.
2. Greens Plus – http://www.greensplus.com/
I mean I try to get my daily intake of good, green veggies, but let’s face it, even on my best days, I probably don’t get enough. Well life got easier in this aspect. Greens Plus is a supplement that can help you meet your veggie needs and keep you very healthy, not to mention very convenient way. Not the best tasting stuff in the world, but you will get past that if you are creative. This stuff basically has a TON of green veggies ground into powder form and is full of more vitamins, minerals, Pytonutrients than you will probably get in a few days worth of eating. Generally speaking, most protein foods (meats, eggs, cheese, etc.) are very acidic and your body needs to neutralize that acidity. Greens Plus is a great supplement to help neutralize those built up acids in your body because it is highly alkaline. Normally your body will neutralize the acid on its own by robbing your bones and muscles of these nutrients. Also, acidosis can lower the levels of your muscle building hormones. We don’t want that ever. Take home message: if you are going to eat a diet high in protein (which you probably should or do) you need to neutralize that acid for better health (and better gains in the weight room!!). Basically you can throw a serving of this in your morning protein shake and you are good to go. Many people (including myself) don’t like the taste all that much so I find it easier to mix it with water and chug!!
3. High Intensity interval Training (HIIT)
This stuff or this method, I should say is not new, but the concept and information around its benefits for fat loss and more so, its health benefits are fairly new to the fitness world. HIIT is the best way to get rid of fat, keep muscle, and actually improve cardiac health. The best part of this?? It takes 10-15 min and you are done. Now those 10-15 min are very intense, but the point is, no more jogging for miles on end and not getting anywhere with your body. I will write in a future article about HIT and the “why and how” around it soon. But take my word for it, or even Google it yourself……..this is the future of fat loss training. The cool thing is that certain athletes have been training this way for a long time. Maybe that’s why many of our athletes are lean and in great shape!!
4. Feeding……….I mean eating 6 times a day
Who doesn’t like to eat?? Well I guess some people don’t, but I do and most people do……The concept of eating more small meals a day compared to the traditional 3 a day is making its way into the mainstream. Books and articles have been written about it, and hell, if you have spent any time around me in the last year, you have probably heard me talk about the benefits and importance of it. You see, when you feed, or eat more often, your metabolism works harder more often. When that happens, you burn more of your food, and better…..more of the fat. You are less hungry, have more energy and enjoy more of the day. Why?? Cause you get to eat more!! Well that’s not the only reason. When you eat more often your body gets more available fuel, which turns to energy more throughout the day. Muscles are being fed and fat is being metabolized. Now, does this mean eat whatever and how much we want, 6 times a day?? Of course not. But I am assuming you are interested in your health, so eating better would be the priority. All I am saying is let’s do it more often. Since I started eating this way over a year ago, I lost about 22 pounds of fat (yes, true story) and my days are filled with energy….I don’t want that afternoon, after-lunch nap anymore (although I do take a quick nap here and there………..more on naps some other time). But the point is, I have much more energy and can get a lot more done. Workouts are better, protein requirements are being met, and its fun. Now, with all of that said, you have to be organized and plan ahead to make 6 meals a day work. The number one reason people “can’t” do this is because they make stupid excuses like “I just don’t have the time to plan out 6 meals”. BS!! It takes a little extra time on a Sunday night and you can plan for the entire week. After all, shouldn’t your health be a priority?? In the future, I will post a detailed blog on just how you can go about eating smart, 5-6 times a day.
Yea that’s right TiVo!!! I know, you are sitting there wondering how TiVo can be mentioned in a blog about 10 things that have improved my life in a fitness/health way……..Let me explain….. I will admit it, “I like watching TV”. I said it!! But being active, working and doing the other things that really matter (Like planning your meals) takes time and usually shows are missed. TiVo enables you to go do things and STILL get to watch those shows. Better, you can fast forward through the crap, which in the long run, gives you more time to work out, cook, shop for food, prepare your meals, read dumb blogs…………etc….. I won’t go into how the TiVo works….cause if you don’t know; you need to get out more!! You will never cop out of a workout to watch a “must see” show, when you know it will be there when you want to watch it. The TiVo has helped me add hours to my day, when I would literally be wasting them watching something that I thought I couldn’t miss. I guess the other answer would be to just not watch TV. At this point in my life I am not ready to give up TV. So until then, TiVo it is. I can workout any time I want……Watch my shows when I am done.
Or any MP3 player. Working out gets to the point of being boring sometimes. Sometimes, people need a kick, some motivation…music can do just that. I love music and I love listening to loud, intense rock or rap. My IPOD goes to the gym with me each day, whether I use it or not, I know I have it. The other great thing is that I never get sick of my music and don’t have to burn CD’s like the old days (I can’t believe burning CD’s is now considered “old”). Anyway, one more thing I love are Pod casts. I download a few of them and when I am working out on the bike or stretching, I can listen to them and catch up on what is out there.
7. The internet:
Yes, my third piece of technology on this list about fitness…….but hey, the internet is a vast, wide open network filled with endless information about fitness, nutrition, sports medicine, sports performance. I am always checking out the latest news on supplements, training programs, nutritional science, etc…. Going to the library is so 90’s. Now, log in, surf it up. The biggest caution about the net is to be careful what you read and what you believe. Just as there is some GREAT information out there, there is also CRAP out there. You have to be smart enough to read things from reputable sources and stay away from chat rooms, and message board forums. Not that all forums are bad, they are not. But many are filled with so called experts that don’t have a degree to their name or worse than that, no practical experience in fitness other than training at the local Gold’s gym and learning all of their secrets from steroid injecting freaks who can bench 400 pounds. So the message is to surf and find great places to get information. I will also include GOOGLE in this section. One in the same. There isn’t much you cant Google these days and come up with something.
8. Mix Nuts
Great source of GOOD fats, protein, and fiber. They are very healthy and extremely easy to carry with you anywhere you go. I make good use out of mixed nuts everyday. Raw nuts are the healthiest. I prefer raw and lightly salted. By the way, I am not talking about Peanuts here. They are not really nuts after all. I am talking about almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and Brazil nuts (usually). If you are eating healthy, trying to lose or maintain weight, and need a great snack, get some mixed nuts. Warning; they are not cheap!!! You can pay anywhere from $6.00-15.00 for a small jar. But your health is worth it.
9. Fresh fruits and Vegetables from the farm:
One of the greatest things I found once I moved back to NJ was the incredible amount of farms in the
Southern NJ area. These farms are full of almost every summer fruit and vegetable you can think of (and crave), and they are available at a low cost all summer. I had to add this to my list because the availability of local, fresh grown produce is a tremendous resource for complete health. You don’t have local farm markets you say?? That’s OK….almost every city or area has places that ship in fresh fruits and veggies. You might pay a little more for them, but the taste is worth it alone. I could eat fresh roasted peppers all year, not to mention the vast amounts of blueberries, apples, and spinach that are always available somewhere. One of my rules that I follow for weight maintenance and health is to include at least one vegetable with every meal. Whether that is throwing peppers in your omelet in the morning, or having a mound of fresh spinach leaves with your chicken at lunch……include veggies with each meal!!!
10. Foam Roller
Have tight muscles? Do you have knots in your back? Are your calves always tight? Do you feel really sore and stiff after a hard workout? We beat ourselves up all of the time. Whether you are an accomplished athlete or a weekend warrior…….even if you are just some average Joe who likes to workout hard at the gym, you need to take care of yourself. So what is the answer? Self-myofascial release and deep tissue massage on a foam roller. If you have never seen a foam roller please check them out. You can buy one for about 10 bucks on the internet and with a little practice, they are real easy to use. Foam rollers are one of the best things to come around the fitness and health industry in a long time. Foam rollers help to breakdown soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue…..both of, by the way, are prevalent in most of us in many areas of our bodies. The harder we play, or have played, the more we need to foam roll! In a future article I will outline some of the most effective foam rolling techniques for all kinds of common problem areas that people experience. I will also outline a routine that can be used with this device.
Again, take this list for what its worth. These are ramblings from my mind, but with that said, these 10 things have truly improved my fitness, health and well being. Are there other things? Sure…….probably many that I have forgotten about too.
What does your list look like?