Tag Archives: recipes

5 Keys to Branding Yourself for Success

U R A Brand by Catherine Kaputa is a great business book that applies to everyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur or just looking for the next step in your career. She goes over how smart people brand themselves to get an edge on their competition. An employer probably gets over 100+ applications after posting an open position on a job board. How do you stand out from the rest of those applicants…or do you try to blend in? Blending in might work at first but essentially it makes you a commodity; disposable. You need to build as much value as possible to be competitive. Check out what Catherine Kaputa recommends:

1. Think Different

Study your competition but don’t imitate them. Study what makes them successful or unsuccessful. Think about what you like about their brand and what you dislike; adopt the positive attributes and avoid adopting the negative attributes. Think about what makes you unique and different from the herd and expand on that. If you appear to be the same as all of your competition, then you’re a commodity in the market place.
2. Look for the “Sweet Spot”: Where a Good Idea and Market Needs Meet

Supply and demand is the name of the game. “If you don’t stand for something relevant to the marketplace, you have no value” -Kaputa. Look for a spot where there are few or no competitors, uncover your hidden assets and then determine where there is a need and hit it hard.

3. Choose a Strategy

You need a strategy that gives people a reason for choosing you over your competitor.  There are 10 self-brand strategies you can use to get great results.
1. Be the first
2. Be the leader
3. Take the anti-leader position (go against the grain, think Michael Moore)
4. Own an attribute
5. Use a “magic ingredient” or invent a new process
6. Be an expert
7. Be preferred
8. Set a high price tag (a risky move if you don’t have the skill or experience to justify it)
9. Use your special heritage
10. Own a cause

4. Develop Your Visual Identity

The way you look can influence the perspective of others and often leaves a lasting impact. Who would you trust more, a doctor in ripped jeans, a dirty shirt, and messy hair who smells like cigarettes or a clean cut, well groomed doctor in a lab coat? Think about using one or more of these guidelines to brand your image: clothes, a signature item, a different look that still looks the part, a signature hair style (think Donald Trump), a consistent look, a signature color theme, have a strong presence, leverage your height (think Shaq and Kevin Hart), and staying relevant.

5. Think in Terms of Emotional Engagement

“We form the strongest bonds with the brands we like, identify with, and feel emotionally connected with…”- Kaputa. Think about what the market wants or needs and build an emotional engagement between that and your brand. This reminds me of the Texting and Driving commercials. These work off of a huge emotional response when we see young adults, children, and new parents going about their lives one minute and the next minute they’re involved in a massive, life altering collision. These tear-inducing commercials build a strong emotional engagement with their audience because they relate to anybody who has a car and a phone…which is virtually everyone.

 

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Check out my Instagram and see what I’m doing differently to brand myself. If you don’t see anything, tell me what you think I should to differently!

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3 Mistakes People Make When Cutting Carbs

It’s come to my attention that a lot of people struggle with a few key points when attempting to convert to a low carb diet. Let’s say someone is having chicken cutlet for dinner with a side of pasta and vegetables. Well the breading for that chicken cutlet is going to make up 1-2 servings of carbs and if you’re like most people you probably didn’t measure the amount of pasta you put on your plate. Your dinner alone could contain over 100 grams of carbs without you even feeling like you ate a lot of carbs.

These are the 3 Mistakes People Make When Cutting Carbs:

1. They have no idea how many grams of carbohydrates their body needs to maintain their current weight let alone lose weight.
2. They don’t know how to translate this into meals that provide the predetermined portion of carbs that they need in order to lose weight.
3. They may not know what foods are sources of carbohydrates. Yes, everyone knows bread, rice, and pasta are carbohydrates but few people realize that dried fruit and some starchy vegetables are high in carbs.

I’ve had clients say to me “I’ve been cutting out carbs for a few weeks now and I haven’t seen any results. I can’t lose weight no matter what I do”. Then, when I ask them what a typical breakfast looks like they say something along the lines of “yogurt with granola and fruit”. So what you just told me is that you’re cutting back on carbs but for breakfast you had a sugary protein with carbs and carbs.

In short, here’s my advice

1. Get an Idea of How Many Grams of Carbs You Need

You can use free tracking apps like MyFitnessPal to get a good idea of how many grams of carbs, protein and fat you should be eating, or you can consult with a nutritionist or dietitian for advice. Once you’ve figured out how many calories you need every day and how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat you need every day to maintain your weight, you’ll be one step closer to figuring out how many grams you need to cut to lose weight.

2. Cut the Servings of Carbs You Eat Everyday

Sounds a little obvious right? If you normally eat a bagel every day for breakfast doing something as simple as switching to half a bagel every day is enough to spark some results. This is by no means the most effective method, but it’s a method none the less.

3. Clean Up Your Carbs

Switching from white rice to brown rice probably isn’t going to spark the weight loss you’re after alone but it’s a good place to start. Let me be the first person to say that the commercial where they say “sugar is sugar, your body doesn’t recognize the difference” is the most misinforming piece of nutritional information of all time. Your body absolutely knows the difference between the sugar you get from a piece of fruit and the sugar you get from an iced caramel macchiato. Keep 80% of  your carbs from whole sources like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. They’ll keep you feeling satiated longer and they’re less likely to be stored as fat for a few reasons: it’s much harder to eat 100 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables than it is from candy, they won’t spike your blood sugar as much, and you’ll automatically increase your intake of fiber and micronutrients.

4. Use the Nutrition Info Label on Packaged Foods

A typical serving of carbs is about 15 grams. If you absolutely have to eat a processed, packaged food make sure you look at the nutrition info and see how many grams of carbs are in each serving and more importantly, WHAT IS 1 SERVING? 1 serving size of poptarts is one pastry…nobody eats one pastry. If you never check the serving size on the nutrition info label then you could easily be eating 2x the amount of carbs that you think you’re eating.

If you have any questions feel free to comment on this post. Check out my Instagram for low carb, high protein meals that are easy to make and a lot more exciting than eating salads all day. Like this meal (minus the wine and breadsticks):

surfandturf

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Shout out to my sister, Jackie, for this topic idea. She’s an awesome cook and sees people making this mistakes all the time!

What Should You Eat Post-Workout?

Whether you’re Team Whole Foods or Team Supplements you know you have to eat something after you’re workout. The question I always hear is, “what should I eat after my workout?”. I’m all about getting nutrients from a whole food source, but if you’re in a crunch for time then you may want to consider some different whey shakes and bars because, honestly, peanut butter and celery is not an effective post workout meal even if it makes you feel better that it’s more natural. Here’s what you need for an effective post workout meal: simple carbohydrates, fast digesting protein, and very little fat (and if you have to have it, make it a plant based fat). These are some really easy meals you can have within 30-45 minutes of working out. Some are going to be whole food examples, some are going to have supplements.

1. Grilled Chicken & White Rice
6 oz. grilled white meat chicken
1 cup of white rice

Simple right? Add 1 to 2 tbsp. of a very low fat (3-5 g fat/tbsp.) sauce to jazz it up or just eat it plain…like a serial killer.

2. Whey Protein Shake & Gummy Bears
1-2 scoops of whey protein in 8-12 oz. of cold water
1 serving of gummy bears, gummy worms, Swedish fish or dried fruit

Team Whole Foods is going to boycott my page for this. Remember, 4 out of your 5 meals for the day should be from whole food sources and healthy. I even added the option of dried fruit to this meal out of respect! There’s science behind this, I swear. After your workout your body’s insulin levels jump. At this time your body wants to deliver nutrients as quickly as possible to the affected muscles to begin repairing them immediately. Your muscles need amino acids (protein) and glucose (sugar) as quickly as possible to recover. This is why we’re focusing on having a quickly digestible source of protein and a simple sugar.

3. Eggs & Pancakes
1 whole egg, 3 egg whites
1 serving of pancakes (usually 1/3 cup mix)
1/4 cup lite syrup

Hang in there Team Whole Foods. Again, we have a terrific source of protein to rebuild those muscles and we have a source of simple carbohydrates. If you’re not in a crunch for time after your workout, try this out.

eggs & pancakes

4. Lean Sirloin Steak & Potatoes
6 oz. grilled lean sirloin steak
1 whole baked potato

Steak isn’t my first choice for a post workout meal because it isn’t a necessarily fast digesting protein but it’s still a high quality protein source, so it makes the cut. Our whole baked potato still coincides with our goal of simple carbohydrates.

* These meals are just examples. Your independent macronutrient needs may differ.

I could think of a million other post workout meals that fit this description but I’ll stop here. Follow my Instagram page for more post workout meals and a ton of other healthy meals you can try out. BCAA supplements are another great source of fast digesting protein. I use Scivation Xtend BCAAs during and after my workouts.

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High Protein Parfait in 30 Seconds

If you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast that you can bring to work look no further. This recipe takes 30 seconds to make and is packed with slow digesting protein and fiber to keep you fuller, longer.

Ingredients
8 oz. Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup High Protein Granola
1 banana (6″)
1 tbsp. flaxseed or chia seed
1 packet of truvia

Directions
Scoop 8 oz. of plain Greek yogurt into a bowl or container
Add 1 packet of truvia and stir
Mix 1/2 cup of High Protein Granola with 1 tbsp. flaxseed or chia seed
Layer the granola/flaxseed or chia seed over the yogurt
Slice 1 6″ banana on top of the granola
Serve

Greek Yogurt Recipe

Nutrition Info
Protein: 37 g
Carbohydrates: 55 g
Fat: 8 g

This is a super easy and effective recipe. Try it out and let me know how you like it!

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Whole Wheat Protein Pancake Recipe

Pancakes are hands down one of the most beloved breakfasts in America. It’s hard to say many bad things about pancakes but when you’re trying to find a way to have an incredible breakfast you shouldn’t have to choose between healthy and delicious. That’s why I reached out to my friends at Kodiak Cakes after I saw them earn two offers on Shark Tank. They make a variety of healthful pancake mixes and when I saw they have a high protein whole wheat pancake mix I had to try it. Eventually we worked out a deal where I would get to GIVE AWAY a whole case (6 boxes) of this awesome mix for free to one of my followers on my Instagram and I got a case myself to try. I still make these pancakes at least once a week now and I want to share the recipe and nutrition info with you.

My Power Cakes Recipe

1/2 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water
2 egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:
Pour 1/2 cup pancake mix into a measuring cup
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water depending on desired consistency and stir
Add 2 liquid egg whites and stir
Add 1 tbsp. vanilla extract to the batter and stir
Add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon to the batter and stir
Heat on an oil coated skillet on medium-high until both sides are golden brown

Nutrition Info
Protein: 24 g
Carbohydrates: 30 g
Fat: 2 g
Total Calories = 234

With 2 whole scrambled eggs and 1/4 cup lite syrup
Protein: 36 g
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fat: 12 g
Total Calories = 428 calories

This pales in comparison to traditional pancake mixes which offer higher carbohydrates with little protein that leave you unsatisfied and generally consuming much more than the serving size. Assuming you only have 1 serving of regular pancake mix, here’s what your nutrition breakdown looks like before you drown them in syrup.

Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 40 g
Fat: 1 g

With my Power Cakes mix I not only get a more satisfying, balanced meal that I can portion perfectly, but my carbohydrates are also coming from a more wholesome source (whole grain vs. refined flour). In addition to my large protein serving, I’m also getting 5 grams of fiber to keep me fuller longer.

Check them out at kodiakcakes.com and see if you can find them at a store near you.

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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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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.