Tag Archives: teamscivation

3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy

Want to be more productive every day? Want to create some momentum early in the morning and keep the ball rolling throughout the day? Tired of feeling slow and lethargic? Here are a few easy ways to stay charged up and in control during the day.

1. Balance Your Blood Sugar

If you want to keep your energy stable throughout the day then you need to first look at what you’re eating and when you’re eating. If your breakfasts consists of a bagel with cream cheese, a coffee and some fruit, then you’re looking at a perfect recipe to crash in 4 hours or less. Loading up on carbs might feel great at first because it spikes your blood sugar and consequently, your insulin, but once your insulin goes to work, your blood sugar may crash leaving you feeling sluggish. Balance your blood sugar by eating 1 small portion of complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.) multiple times throughout the day to keep your blood sugar balanced.

2. Control your Caffeine Intake

Even I have this problem. I physically can’t wake up in the morning without a cup of coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, but 5 hours later I’m back to feeling mentally cloudy. An easy solution to this problem is to start off with a cup of coffee and then switch to a couple cups of green or earl grey tea throughout the day. Reason being that tea has less caffeine than coffee, and it’s a much more mild sense of stimulation (for me anyway). Waking up with 1 cup of coffee, having a cup of tea 3-4 hours later, and then another cup 3-4 hours later provides little rushes of caffeine throughout the day, almost like a continuous drip. I’m not very sensitive to caffeine so this works great for me and I can still sleep at night as long as I stop by 4 or 5 pm. Tailor it to your needs.

3. Get At Least 15-20 Minutes of Exercise During the Day

Some people get their best results exercising first thing in the morning and some people need more time to wake up. What’s always worked best for me is working out anywhere from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in regards to increasing my energy throughout the day. I do 15-20 minutes on my “rest days” of either stretching/barrel rolling or light-moderate cardio. That’s all it takes to stimulate some blood flow, increase your mobility and feel more alert for the next few hours. Try it out, you may even find that it works better than a cup of coffee for you.

Check out my Instagram for awesome workouts and meals! Like my Facebook page.

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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!

20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

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20 Minute Full Body Home Workout

It’s the coldest time of the year and you don’t want to drive to the gym, let alone go on a jog around the neighborhood. What’s your next best solution? A quick, 20-25 minute full body, fat burning, muscle building home workout. There are times where I’d rather light myself on fire and run to the nearest body of water than run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. That’s why I put together a very simple, yet effective, at home workout that will boost your metabolism, tax your muscles, and best of all, save a lot of time and hassle.

Take a 30 second break between each set and each exercise. If you find the workout too easy you can perform two exercises in a row and then take a 30 second break, or increase the reps/time of each exercise.

1. 100 Push-Ups

Perform 5 sets of 20 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.
or
Perform 10 sets of 10 pushups with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

2. 100 Bodyweight Squats

Perform 5 sets of 20 squats with a 30 second break between each set. If you want to make it harder, jump at the end of each squat and once you land go right back into your squat.

3. 100 Reverse Lunges

Perform 5 sets of 20 reverse lunges, alternating legs, and make sure you drop that back knee all the way to the floor before returning to the starting position.

4. Planks

Perform 5 sets of 30 second planks with a 30 second break between each set.

plankpic

(note: the picture above is a TRX saw plank in action. When you perform your plank you want your shoulder to be in line with your elbow)

5. 100 Leg Raises

Laying on your back, raise both of your legs keeping your legs straight until your legs make a 90 degree angle with your torso. Perform 5 sets of 20 reps, or 10 sets of 10 reps, taking a 30 second break between each set.

Give this workout a shot and let me know how you like it! As always follow my instagram and my Facebook page for more workouts, meals, and advice.

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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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Easy Egg Scramble

This egg scramble packs 3 servings of vegetables, 4.4 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein in one easy breakfast! Pair it with two organic turkey sausage links or patties and your looking at closer to 40+ grams of protein. This is a staple muscle building meal in my meal plan because of its high protein, high vegetable, low fat and low carb profile. Not to mention this meal is very satisfying and keeps me full for 3 or more hours. This recipe is super easy and only takes a few minutes to cook.

Ingredients
1 whole egg, 3 egg whites (scrambled)
1 cup of raw spinach
1/2 cup of diced onions
1/2 cup of diced bell peppers
1 cup of steamed red potatoes (chopped)
1/4 cup of reduced fat cheese
1 tbsp. hot sauce

Instructions
1) Coat a skillet with olive oil cooking spray
2) Add 1 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of diced onions, 1 cup of chopped steamed red potatoes and 1/2 cup of bell peppers to the skillet on medium heat
3) Cook until the onions are golden and the spinach is wilted
4) Add your 1 whole egg, 3 egg white mix and scramble until thoroughly cooked
5) Add 1/4 cup reduced fat cheese and scramble until the cheese is melted
6) Plate and add 1 tbsp. of hot sauce

Egg Scramble

Nutrition Info
Protein: 31 g
Carbohydrates: 23 g
Fat: 9 g
Calories = 297

Nutrition Info with the Organic Turkey Sausage Patties
Protein: 43 g
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fat: 15 g
Calories = 407

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Follow me on instagram and like my Facebook page. You can easily stay on track using a 6 Pack Bag. I use the Expedition 300 for work and the Innovator 500 for 10-12 hour work days.

3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

If you’re actively trying to live up to your New Year’s Resolution by doing hundreds of crunches or buying products that “target belly fat” you might want to read on. I personally hate crunches because of how ineffective they are compared to other core workouts. My opinion has always been that if I’m spending 1 hour at the gym every day, I want that hour to be as effective as possible. One person’s 45 minute workout can be more effective than another person’s 2 hour workout depending on how they treat their time. Not only are crunches far from the best core workout (in my opinion) but by the time you’ve made them an effective workout you’ve spent a good deal of time (figure 5 sets of at least 20-25 reps). So you might be asking yourself why I’m anti-crunch and you might even be arguing with me in your head that I’m wrong. I encourage you to consider how our core is designed. Our core is meant for stability and rotational movement. In daily activity our core is used when we rotate our torso or hips, when we’re thrown off balance (or to keep us in balance), and to keep our body stable. Nowhere in our day to day activities are we confronted with the task of having to do 100 crunches, so why would that be the best way to train our core? These methods below are exponentially more effective at providing a more effective core workout to really sculpt your midsection.

1. Stability Exercises

These are probably my personal favorite exercises because they’re the most engaging and entertaining to me. I love anything that involves balancing on a  bosu ball, stability ball, medicine balls or TRX. If you don’t have access to any of that equipment you can train for stability by performing an exercise with one leg off the ground. You may not get a shredded 6 pack from these exercises alone but they provide a great foundation for you to advance from AND they serve a purpose in your daily activity. I also love stability exercises because you can progress easily by decreasing your stability, adding weight, increasing the time of each set, or adding in new challenges. You can regress easily by increasing your stability, decreasing your time of each set, and keeping the exercise basic. Here are some great stability exercises you can use:

Plank
Stability Ball Plank (Plank with your feet on a stability ball)
Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on a stability ball)
Double Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on one bosu ball and your feet on another)
Stability Ball & Bosu Plank (Plank with your hands on a bosu ball and your feet on a stability ball)
Medicine Ball Push-ups (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands on medicine balls)
Medicine Ball Push-ups on All Fours (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands and feet on medicine balls)

Perform 5 sets of any of these exercises for 30-60 seconds each. When one exercise becomes easy over time, progress to the next exercise or make your current exercise more difficult by adding weight or a challenge.

jen core

2. Rotational Movements

Because our core is engaged when we rotate our torso or hips it’s important to train for those motions in our routine. Try adding a few of these rotational exercises to your ab routine and see how they stack up compared to crunches.

Windmills
Half Kneeling Medicine Ball Lateral Toss
Bicycle Crunches
Russian Twist
Stability Cable Chop
Rotational Overhead Medicine Ball Slam

This is how athletes are trained to build their core strength because Performance Coaches know that crunches don’t add up to better performance on the field or court. EXOS calls this Pillar Training but you can call it working smarter.

3. Slow Down and Breathe

This is a common mistake I see a lot of people do when they’re working their core. 100 poor quality sit-ups will not get your further than 50 slow and controlled sit-ups. Slow down your movements, focus on really engaging your core, and most importantly breathe. In fact, for many core exercises, the slower you go the better. Powerlifters, mixed martial artists, and other athletes use breathing techniques for specific movements like deadlifting, swinging a tennis racquet, or throwing a punch. It’s important that you focus on how you’re breathing (or not breathing) during your exercises to make the exercise more effective. Inhaling is going to tighten up your core making it more stable in exercises like squatting or medicine ball pushups. Exhaling is going to loosen your core by decreasing pressure. Try it now in your chair. Inhale and tighten your core and record how that feels, then exhale while keeping your core tight and record the difference. It’s important that you catch yourself holding your breath during exercises or breathing wrong entirely (exhaling when you should be inhaling and vise versa).

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or comments feel free to start a dialogue!

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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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