Tag Archives: health

Budgeting Your Supplement Plan

You just enrolled in a gym membership, bought some new workout gear, invested in a Personal Trainer or started a workout program, and you’re mentally committed to eating clean. What next? It’s time to look for some supplements to help you hit your goals faster. One small problem though, there are billions of brands and products, which ones should you buy? For this beginner’s guide, we’re only going to use the very basic supplements that you’ll want to consider and we’re going to do it on a budget.

1) Whey Protein
– Take 1 serving after your workout or consume it as a meal replacement.

Whey protein is a fundamental muscle building supplement that you should have in your plan. I only buy my whey protein from reputable sports nutrition brands like Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, BPI and Scivation. You can find these brands on amazon, bodybuilding.com and some are even in CostCo. Generally, the brands that I mentioned offer a variety of flavors anywhere from your basic chocolate and vanilla, to more exciting flavors like cinnamon roll, red velvet cake and s’mores! I typically stick to the basics, but you can use the more exciting flavors for baking high protein foods as well as making shakes. My goal is to spend less than $50 on about 60-70 servings. That means I’ll be able to make my $50 investment last me 2 months instead of buying the most expensive whey protein at GNC that honestly isn’t going to make much of difference for you results-wise. In short, stick with a good quality whey protein from a reputable brand and get it on sale.

2) Pre-Workout
– Take 1 serving 30 minutes prior to your workout

If you’re very caffeine sensitive you may want to avoid these products. If, however, you can handle a few cups of coffee without having a complete anxiety ridden meltdown, you’ll do just fine. I use the same rule when shopping my pre-workout mixes: reputable brand + good quality+ on sale = Happy Alex. I try to spend $15-20 max on my pre-workout supplements and I want them to also last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). I’ve been successful doing this with Cellucor’s C4, Neon Sport’s Volt, and Muscle Pharm’s Assault. These are generally mild as far as stimulants go, which some people may dislike, but if you’re just starting out or aren’t really looking to invest $50 into a month supply of pre-workouts than these are some really good options. Of course, you can always stick to coffee but pre-workout is kind of like a friend that pulls you off of your couch and forces you to go to the gym in beverage form. The pre-workouts I listed contain roughly 150 mg of caffeine, have a few vasodilating amino acids, and beta alanine, which is a fatigue defeating amino acid. It’s like if your coffee drank an even stronger cup of coffee.

3) BCAAs
– Take one serving during your workout (mix with water and sip throughout workout).

Branch-chain amino acids are an absolute game changer when it comes to decreasing fatigue, building muscle, improving hydration, and burning fat. You won’t feel the effects of BCAAs like the stimulating effects of a pre-workout but overtime you may notice that you’re able to workout longer, with more intensity, without feeling fatigued early on. Before I became sponsored by Scivation I used my same rule as  my pre-workout rule. I would spend roughly $15-$20 and have it last me 6-8 weeks (30+ servings). Scivation makes 11 flavors of BCAAs including one option that you’ll love if you’re trying to avoid flavors/sweeteners/dyes/etc.; Scivation Raw BCAAs. Try filling up a shaker bottle with ice, then pour 8-12 oz. of coconut water, fill the rest with regular water and add your scoop of BCAAs for a tasty, potassium packed sports drink.

I’m stopping here because I think this is enough to really cover your basics and it’s very manageable to budget. You have a pre-workout ($15-20/month), an intra workout ($15-20/month) and a post workout ($25/month) that should only run you about $55-$65/month. You could potentially get those costs down further but I don’t like compromising the taste or quality of these products for the sake of a few dollars.

Hope this helps! If you need any advice feel free to comment.

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How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

People tend to look at me like I’m from another planet when I show up to work with a backpack that holds my gym clothes, laptop, 3 meals, water bottles and accessories.
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The truth is that I’m not only saving hundreds to thousands of dollars every year by doing this, but I’m also staying conscious of my health goals. Nothing is up to chance for me. I have health goals, financial goals, and education goals. The only way you achieve your goals is if you plan and execute that plan as flawlessly as possible. As far as finances go, these are a few reasons why I think planning and prepping your meals in advance is important:

1) You Can Budget Your Weekly Grocery Trips More Easily

When you plan your meals in advance you can estimate the price it will cost to make every meal. This can be extremely helpful when trying to balance your budget by estimating how much money you’ll spend on groceries every month. When you know what you’re going to eat in advance it expedites the process of shopping for groceries, saving you time, and you can shave off a few dollars by buying specific items in bulk (nuts, eggs, grains, etc). Even if you’re only able to shave $50 off of your monthly grocery costs, those savings will add up to $600 per year.

2) Pennies Now, Thousands Later

If you’re one of many Americans who habitually buy lunch, coffee, or snacks every day, those little purchases can add up. Here’s an example, let’s say that you buy lunch every day that you’re at work and it costs you $10 on average. 10 dollars per day multiplied by 5 days per week multiplied again by 52 weeks in a year comes out to $2,600 spent on lunch per year. Now, if you were to prepare your own lunch in advance you could spend less than $2 on a balanced meal for lunch and that would only cost you $480 per year. That’s an annual savings of $2,120!

3) Enjoy Yourself While You’re Out But Be Conscious

When you follow a strategic meal plan to accomplish your health & fitness goals you’re less likely to eat out at restaurants, and if you do, you’re more likely to cut out pricey alcoholic beverages and appetizers that don’t fit your plan. Cut out dining all together and you’ll save another $4,800 per year if you spend roughly $100 per week on alcohol and dining out. This doesn’t mean the end of your social life though. You can still enjoy fine dining by preparing home cooked gourmet meals before going out to an event.

With the right budget and a little planning you should be able to eat well every day, never be hungry, and save a lot of money at the same time.

I got my meal prep bags from 6 Pack Bags. My girlfriend uses the leather pocketbook that looks like a Kate Spade bag but also holds a few meals. Check ’em out. Tell them I sent you.

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How to Be More Time Efficient

What if you had more time to accomplish everything you needed in 24 hours? I often hear someone say to me “there’s not enough time in the day”. It definitely feels like that at times, right? But what if we could double our free time for the day? Considering, if we sleep 8 hours a night, we really have 16 hours in every day to really be productive, we only have a few options. We could sleep less, but that isn’t our healthiest alternative and being sluggish for our conscious hours doesn’t coincide with our goal of being more productive, so that’s out. Here are some tips I’ve developed from working 10-12 hour days without feeling overwhelmed and underachieving.

1) Multi-Task the Little Things

Humans aren’t supposed to be great multi-taskers right? Maybe that applies to more complicated endeavors but does it really apply to the little things?  I know of a lot of people who listen to audio books on their commute to work or while they workout. That’s a perfect example of getting two tasks done at once. Another great way to save time is to clean WHILE YOU COOK. “Clean as you go”, as I was taught in my food service classes. By the time your food is done cooking you’ve already put all of the ingredients away and cleaned your surfaces. If you live through your basic routines with a “clean as you go” mentality, by performing two tasks wherever competently possible, you’ll save yourself from wasting time on the mundane tasks.

2) Plan. Plan. PLAN.

If I could use one word for this entire blog I would use “plan”. I would have it tattooed across my forehead, my chest, my forearms and plastered on my car. Plan your week out, make a schedule for your day, plan your meals, structure your routine, and write out your workout in advance. We plan for events but we treat each day like a mystery that needs to unfold minute by minute. When your meals are planned you save time grocery shopping,  you don’t need to leave work to get lunch, you don’t need to stare at a menu and decide what you want. When your meals are prepped in advance you don’t need to wait at a restaurant for someone to make your food, and then pay 5x what you could’ve made at home in less time. When your day is planned you know exactly what to focus your attention on and for how long. You can prioritize your tasks. There are people that I see every day that complain that they’re tired or bored. These same people are always flustered that they have so much to do and there isn’t enough time. You don’t get to be bored in this century. There’s a seemingly infinite amount of information on the internet that you could be learning. Plan your working days out so you can exceed your potential. The days that you don’t work, be more spontaneous but still have a goal. Plan.

3) Double down on your commute

This can tend to be hard but it seems to be up to the Traffic Gods most of the time. Nevertheless, Google Maps generally will tell you exactly what your commute will look like before you even get in your car. Choose the route that takes the least amount of time. If you’re expecting delays on your train ride, get your laptop ready or bring a book that can actually teach you something that you should know (finances, fitness help, diet help, spiritual guidance, etc). I know that may sound ridiculous but between sitting on a train twiddling your thumbs, looking at memes on Instagram, or choosing to learn about yourself or how money works or what’s going on in the world, I think the best use of your time would be choosing to educate yourself in some way.

4) Superset your workouts

Some people get to work out for 2 hours a day. Most people don’t. Research exercises that allow you to get a killer workout in 30-45 minutes if you really need to save some time. I always tell my clients, you’re better off doing 20-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training than walking slightly fast on a slightly high incline for 90 minutes, yet I see people doing that every day. You could cut your workout time by 66% and see better results if you do this.

5) Get your breakfast and clothes prepped the night before

This is pretty simple but effective. Choose your outfit for the following day, the night before and leave it close to your bed. When you wake up everything you need will be right there waiting for you. Now that you’re dressed, grab a healthy breakfast that you can bring on the go with you. My favorite breakfast on the go is a whole wheat pumpkin muffin (I’ll post that recipe soon), and my coffee that takes all of 15 seconds to make using a Keurig. I leave for work at 5 am and I arrive there happy, caffeinated, and fed…and clothed.

6) Be productive while you relax

When you finally have the opportunity to lay down and watch TV or listen to music, don’t spend that time stressing about what you have to do tomorrow. Spend a few minutes coming up with a game plan and you’ll sleep a lot better because you’ll know exactly how to tackle tomorrow’s challenges. You have a calendar app on your phone. Use it. Don’t want to? You have a notes app on your phone. Use it.

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6 Ways to Improve Hydration

Your health hinges on how seriously you take staying hydrated. Your body is made up of 60% water, so staying hydrated should be of the utmost importance to you regardless of your health goal. My whole fitness career began with a $5 shaker bottle filled with iced water. You need water to burn fat, build muscle, and to have your brain and organs work effectively. Here are 6 ways you can improve your hydration:

1) Commit to drinking 24 oz. water before having breakfast.

If you’re willing to hold off on having breakfast until you finish your first 24 oz. of water for the day, then you’ll be taking your first productive step in improving your hydration first thing in the morning. You won’t believe how easy it is. Fill up a measured water bottle with cold water and aim to drink 4 oz every 10 minutes (24 oz. in the first hour you’re awake). Also, when you start your day on a healthy foot, you’re more likely to continue to make healthier decisions throughout the day.

2) Limit your caffeine intake.
Opt for decaf tea during the day to reduce the consumption of diuretics without sacrificing the helpful antioxidants.For every 6 oz. of coffee or tea you drink, drink another 6 oz. of water to make up for the diuretic effect of caffeine. I personally need to have caffeine first thing in the morning just to feel alive but afterwards I won’t have any caffeine until at least 5-6 hours later. That’s enough time for your body to fully metabolize the caffeine so you don’t overwhelm your Central Nervous System and crash later in the day.

3) Develop a plan that fits in your schedule. If your goal is 1 gallon per day then there are a few ways to go about dividing up that gallon:

– You can bring the whole gallon of water to work with you and sip it throughout the day (yes some people do that).
– You can fill a 24 oz. shaker bottle or water bottle 5 times per day and divide those servings up to fit your schedule (my preferred method).
– If you generally reach for a plastic water bottle, which are roughly 17 oz, it will take 18 servings from that bottle to hit your goal. Nothing’s impossible, but get ready to make a lot of trips to the water fountain.

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

4) Eat water rich foods.

I’m sure this comes off wildly unhelpful but if you reach for foods with a higher water content (fruits, soup, etc.) you’ll be able to improve your hydration faster than if you’re always reaching for salty starches and chugging water to catch up.

5) Try making your own flavored water or “detox water” concoctions.
This is a trick I see many people who dislike drinking plain water do. Add lemon, sliced cucumbers, lime, mint leaves, berries, and ice to your water in any combination that you think you’ll like the most and enjoy the flavors infusing in your water. The idea is that the water soluble vitamins will diffuse into your water branding it “Detox Water”. I haven’t done the research to confirm that’s accurate, but at the very least you’ll have tasty water with the potential to increase your micronutrient intake.

How to Detox Without Buying Expensive Products

6) Keep your beverages ice cold.
Studies show that we tend to drink more often and in bigger servings when our beverages are refrigerated or iced. Try filling up a shaker bottle or large water bottle with water and ice before you go to bed and leave it in the fridge. Now you can start your morning with 24 oz. of ice cold water to rehydrate after 8 hours without fluids.

Check out Scivation and 6 Pack Bags for products and recipes that can help you get started!

6 Ways to Improve Hydration

Your health hinges on how seriously you take staying hydrated. Your body is made up of 60% water; to improve hydration should be of the utmost importance to you regardless of your health goal

My whole fitness career began with a $5 shaker bottle filled with iced water. You need water to burn fat, build muscle, and to have your brain and organs work effectively. Here are 6 ways you can improve hydration easily on a daily basis:

1) Commit to drinking 24 oz. water before having breakfast.

If you’re willing to hold off on having breakfast until you finish your first 24 oz. of water for the day, then you’ll be taking your first productive step in improving your hydration first thing in the morning. You won’t believe how easy it is. Fill up a measured water bottle with cold water and aim to drink 4 oz every 10 minutes (24 oz. in the first hour you’re awake). Also, when you start your day on a healthy foot, you’re more likely to continue to make healthier decisions throughout the day.

2) Limit your caffeine intake.
Opt for decaf tea during the day to reduce the consumption of diuretics without sacrificing the helpful antioxidants.For every 6 oz. of coffee or tea you drink, drink another 6 oz. of water to make up for the diuretic effect of caffeine. I personally need to have caffeine first thing in the morning just to feel alive but afterwards I won’t have any caffeine until at least 5-6 hours later. That’s enough time for your body to fully metabolize the caffeine so you don’t overwhelm your Central Nervous System and crash later in the day.

3) Develop a plan that fits in your schedule. If your goal is 1 gallon per day then there are a few ways to go about dividing up that gallon:

– You can bring the whole gallon of water to work with you and sip it throughout the day (yes some people do that).
– You can fill a 24 oz. shaker bottle or water bottle 5 times per day and divide those servings up to fit your schedule (my preferred method).
– If you generally reach for a plastic water bottle, which are roughly 17 oz, it will take 18 servings from that bottle to hit your goal. Nothing’s impossible, but get ready to make a lot of trips to the water fountain.

How Meal Prepping Can Save You Thousands

4) Eat water rich foods.

I’m sure this comes off wildly unhelpful but if you reach for foods with a higher water content (fruits, soup, etc.) you’ll be able to improve your hydration faster than if you’re always reaching for salty starches and chugging water to catch up.

5) Try making your own flavored water or “detox water” concoctions.
This is a trick I see many people who dislike drinking plain water do. Add lemon, sliced cucumbers, lime, mint leaves, berries, and ice to your water in any combination that you think you’ll like the most and enjoy the flavors infusing in your water. The idea is that the water soluble vitamins will diffuse into your water branding it “Detox Water”. I haven’t done the research to confirm that’s accurate, but at the very least you’ll have tasty water with the potential to increase your micronutrient intake.

How to Detox Without Buying Expensive Products

6) Keep your beverages ice cold.
Studies show that we tend to drink more often and in bigger servings when our beverages are refrigerated or iced. Try filling up a shaker bottle or large water bottle with water and ice before you go to bed and leave it in the fridge. Now you can start your morning with 24 oz. of ice cold water to rehydrate after 8 hours without fluids.

Check out Scivation and 6 Pack Bags for products and recipes that can help you get started!

Healthy High Protein Recipes

4 Healthy Meals in Under 30 Minutes

People often remark that eating clean and meal prepping takes too much time. You come home after an 8 hour day and the last thing you want to think about is cooking your meals for tomorrow. Here are 4 super easy-to-make meals that take minimal time or skill to prepare. These meals are satisfying, healthy, low cost, can be carried in a tupper ware and some don’t even require reheating. Enjoy!

1) Banana Walnut Greek Yogurt Parfait

4 oz plain Greek Yogurt ½ oz of roasted walnuts 1 small banana sprinkle cinnamon, truvia, & nutmeg
Calories = 228 PRO: 13 g CHO: 26 g FAT: 8 g 2) Peanut Butter & Jelly +

Protein Milkshake

2 slices whole wheat bread 1 tbsp. peanut butter 1 tbsp. concord grape preserves + 1 scoop whey protein 8 oz. vanilla almond milk
Calories = 393 PRO: 37 g CHO: 41 g Fat: 9 g

3) Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

4 oz. grilled chicken (sliced) 1 cup of spring mix lettuce ½ cup of sliced bell peppers ½ cup of sliced red onion 1 tbsp. hummus 1 tbsp. balsamic dressing 1 tsp. olive oil
Calories = 182.5

PRO: 25 g CHO: 6 g FAT: 6.5 g

4) Philly Cheesesteak Omelet

3 oz. sliced sirloin steak 3 egg whites ½ cup of diced bell peppers ½ cup of diced 1 slice or ¼ cup of reduced fat cheddar cheese * add salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. ketchup
Calories = 291 PRO: 34 g CHO: 5 g FAT: 15 g

Back Pack Coolers

For more advice check out instagram.com/acurtis_fitness.