Category Archives: Nutrition

Nutritional Related Posts

Challenging Yourself – A Personal Perspective To Find The Fire Within

Don’t let anyone fool you – challenging yourself with working out and eating healthy on a regular basis is a huge undertaking.

I am currently weight training for the first time in my life, and here are my feelings at the end of week #1, as posted in a workout challenge group I am a part of:

This morning I don’t feel too sore since yesterday was rest day, but after Build:Chest/Tris that will change. As you’ve seen me post about a few times this week, I feel differently about the nutrition and it’s effect on my body and mind. I personally don’t enjoy eating this much food. Some of it is physical (stomach) and some is mental (coming from years of a lean approach). Tomorrow morning I will take my 7 day measurements which I’m not looking forward to (I know when I see the weight and BF% I’ll probably just shake my head and turn away mumbling “trust the system”).

Running a calorie surplus is the mental challenge for me. It took me a long time to get to the lean person I was happy with, and to switch mentality from lean maintenance to mass gaining takes a lot of discipline. With that post, I received a nice detailed response which leaned towards that person supporting and motivating me to continue on. Here was my response:

Thanks for the detailed reply. Let me make something really clear – I may voice displeasure with the calorie intake, but I hoped my words made it clear that I have no intention of straying from the system. I’m not adjusting anything from the guide, and will eat the calories with the proper portion %’s. You should understand that I’ve been at this for decades without a shred of outside motivation, no accountability partner, and lots of doubters. My dedication and commitment to my efforts is a fire that burns entirely within, and over the decades the flame only gets bigger.

It’s physically and mentally challenging doing any sort of exercise. Being it’s my first time resistance training, it takes some time finding the proper weight to use while working on keeping perfect form to minimize the risk of injury. Physically, I just push myself where the last rep I can barely complete while keeping good form. It’s the mental challenge that’s most difficult. I have no problem getting my workouts in each day, and I’m sticking to the nutrition plan. The difficult part as I stated above is I have spent years to get to the leaner/harder person I am today, and have approached nutrition to maintain the 150 lbs. and 12% body fat I was at. Now, at 2,800 calories per day, in my first week I gained 3 pounds and 1.3% body fat. I understand that I need calorie excess to gain mass, but it’s still hard watching decades of hard work “appear” to be going down the drain (I know that’s not true). But I have a goal to gain 10 lbs. of muscle, so onward I march.

The point of illustrating my mindset is the mental challenge to keeping up with your healthy routine of fitness and nutrition.  I have self trained myself over several decades to be dedicated and committed to living a healthy lifestyle. I have fought those internal voices that tell me to stop and have ignored the external voices from those who don’t understand, and realized that instead of channeling my efforts externally to find a support system that didn’t naturally exist, I needed to work on my internal support system – The Fire Within.

Get an accountability partner if you can. Hopefully you have many people supporting you. And reach out for motivation when you feel yourself in need. But you must work hard on the fire within, for at the end of the day, only you push that button to exercise and only you can control what you eat. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it since you’re working on being a healthier you.

Sunday / Rest Day – Ahh Yes, The Day You Can Eat. But What Should That Mean?

When Sunday rolls around, echoes are heard: “Sunday”, Rest day”, “Football”, “Yoga” (really). When it comes to food, more echoes: “Beer”, “Barbeque”, “Pizza”. In the half century that I’ve been around, I’ve heard those echoes repeatedly.

Here is my personal Sunday menu today (not including snacks of a gala apple, some baby-cut carrots, and a pop cake with 2 tablespoons of chocolate Better N’ Peanut Butter):



This is the easiest and healthiest way for me to start my day and get in over 700 calories in a chocolate shake, with Shakeology being the core. This get me 1/4 of the way to my current daily goal which makes the rest of the day easier for me. I added Wheat Germ & Flax Seed to my favorite recipe which adds over 200 healthy calories.

Late Morning:

Pre Workout…


Post workout:


This is geared for recovery from the strenuous workout.



Four ounces of turkey breast (I cook whole turkeys and freeze the meat), 2 tablespoons each of hummus and Tzatziki, some deli mustard, lettuce, onions, on pumpernickel bread.



Five ounces of grilled sirloin (a little Worcestershire sauce, Montreal seasoning, and minced garlic), large sweet potato, steamed veggies, and a salad with my choice of a healthy dressing.



Casein protein is slow digesting, and feeds your muscles overnight while you are sleeping (fasting).

This is my typical current daily diet, which has been designed for the Beachbody’s Body Beast fitness program (resistance training with the goal of gaining 10+ pounds of muscle in 12-weeks). Obviously food choices change (except breakfast), but at the end of the day and as of this writing, I am eating around 2,800 calories with a 50/25/25 Starch(Carb)/Protein/Fat breakdown as I am in the Build stage (Build, then Bulk, then Beast (which is Cutting)). I eat very clean (nobody’s perfect), and am currently 1-week into a 12-week alcohol free period. I drink a lot of water – haven’t counted, but I would say I hover around 80-100 ounces per day.

You have choices. When you focus on “healthy”, there will be sacrifices. But those sacrifices are only sacrifices to your senses and to your stomach. With regards to your overall health you shouldn’t associate food choices with sacrifices – when you make smart and informed choices, it’s called healthy choices.

Focus on making healthy choices daily. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as your body will thank you, and you will discover new foods to replace those “sacrifices”.

Vacations – Your Workouts and Eating

Vacation. The time to “escape” from reality and have some fun. But alas, it can also break that nice little routine you may have going with your workouts and eating. So how do you prevent a vacation from a setback?

The answer may not appear simple. There are so many vacation scenario’s – an all inclusive cruise or resort; a trip to a major destination (Hawaii, Paris, The Caribbean, etc.); visit family; camping….and more. Each poses it’s own issues with regards to keeping up with your workout program, and more importantly can really throw curveballs at your nutrition (I was just in Oahu, Hawaii, and the food choices were wide and varied and all so tempting – and I think Hawaii has the best food of anywhere I’ve ever travelled to).

But there is a simple answer. That simple answer is: Think ahead and plan accordingly. Think about your particular trip and what’s available to you, and adjust your plan of attack accordingly.

Here’s a few thoughts on scenario’s I have experienced first hand:

On cruises, many ships have fitness facilities, so there is no problem getting in some sort of exercise. You can jog around the deck or on a track if the ship has one. Also, see the next paragraph for in room ideas. Regarding food, you can order off the menu and ask for less butter etc. Just portion control, and hold back on licking the plate clean if the portions are large, and indulge in a few bites of the delicious deserts instead of devouring the whole thing. I haven’t been to an all inclusive, but I assume it’s somewhat similar.

If you travel to a hotel with a kitchen, great. Make your own breakfast and lunches to save $$, and maybe even a dinner or two. Make something fancy – you’re on vacation. At restaurants, try to order smart. Request cooking in little or no butter, get dressing on the side, don’t get desert. Look for hotels with fitness facilities as many have them, even if they’re small. Buy a set of exercise bands for travelling. You can find discounts at local gyms if there are any. You can jog. If there’s a pool, swim laps for 1/2 hour. You can find simple routines on the internet to workout in your room – combinations of crunches, squats, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks, push ups with variations, mountain climbers, sprinting in place. These are all things that can be done in any room without equipment.

Camping is no different. When you treat yourself to a restaurant, there’s usually healthy alternatives for you. And cooking and camping go well together. Chicken, pork, fish. Salads and steamed veggies. As far as exercising, same as with hotels (minus the fitness facilities). You can bring bikes along. Maybe you’re into kayaking. In my case, I take my exercise mat, DVD’s, and my laptop along and workout at the campsite.

In short, there’s really no need to treat a vacation much differently then at home. Maybe you’re escaping work, or family issues – a vacation is about cleansing the mind. But with your own body, nothing should be different. Nutrition wise it may be more challenging if your only alternative are restaurants, so you just have to commit yourself to ordering healthy and maybe not finishing everything. Any supplements you take at home should come for the ride and be taken every day as you always do. Maybe you have to modify a protein shake if you use a blender, but with ice and water and a shaker cup you should be at a minimum good to go. There is always a way to workout wherever you are. It may not be your regular routine, but something is better than nothing.


Making Your Meal – Be Adventurous

Call me the “wing it” cook. I don’t follow recipe books, nor do I watch cooking shows to learn. One day I probably will (and should) do the aforementioned in order to get a true understanding of seasonings and various cooking methods in order to take my healthy food preparation to a whole new level.

The other night for dinner I didn’t feel like cooking one of my standard 3-course meals (fish/meat/chicken; sweet potato/rice; vegetables). So I opened up the freezer and refrigerator and winged it by just grabbing some “stuff”.

  • Honey Grain Bagel – untoasted
  • Turkey (I cook whole turkeys and freeze the meat)
  • Sliced onion
  • Avocado
  • Sliced Tomato
  • Sprinkling of the Hormel real bacon bits
  • Fresh basil from the garden (I take no credit – my wife does 100% of the vegetable and herb garden)
  • For the spreads – Tzatziki (mayo replacement), garlic hummus, spicy mustard
  • Side of steamed asparagus topped with parmesan cheese

Simple to whip up, and it was tasty & filling.20130722_195512

You end up with some unique tastes when you just whip things together without over thinking the preparation process.

Give it a try – be creative.

Grilling – Summertime, Anytime

I enjoy grilling, and I do it year round. I use a gas grill, and have not used charcoal for a long time (mostly due to clean up and ease of use – call me lazy 🙂 ). I’m not the most sophisticated cook, but even with my simpleton ways I am fairly happy with how my meals come out. Tonight’s dinner was made entirely on the grill, and from prep time to table took less than 1/2 hour.

The main dish was thick cut center cut pork chops. I find the thicker chops don’t dry out as much, and once you sear them they stay juicy. I used a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, some pepper and onion powder, topped with  2 tablespoons of sweet & sour sauce from my local Chinese restaurant. I cut up one very large sweet potato into wedges, sprayed with some olive oil, and lightly seasoned them with pepper and onion powder before grilling for 5+ minutes (no prepping – just put raw wedges onto the grill). The veggies, which were squash & zucchini, were grilled for slightly less time than the potatoes (I bought them already cut up at a farm stand which also included fresh basil, but it would take a couple of minutes to cut up your own). I also sprayed them with a little olive oil.


In addition to pork chops the grill is great for fish, chicken, and of course steak. You can grill corn on the cob and many other veggies too. I personally choose not to eat some of the “staple” foods that end up on a grill just because I’ve taken them out of my “foods that I eat” list – for instance hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausage. Yes, there are compromises when you choose to eat healthy, and although I used to love those foods I’ve learned to live without them.

Use your imagination. The grill produces some very flavorful dishes, as the grilling alone adds an extra flavor on top of what ever seasonings and other toppings you use, more so than the oven or stove. If you don’t have access to a grill, there are pans that simulate grilling. I’ve used those with success also. A healthy grilled meal is a very satisfying one.