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Recovery Day

Salads. They can be limp and depressing.

What even constitutes as a salad? Technically, it is considered to be a “cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables”. That even sounds sad.

Salads are controversial. Most people–including myself–don’t find eating leaves with sugar-y water as a dressing to be appetizing. You and I probably both prefer to eat heafty, filling salads that are easy to make.

This is what I’d like to call a “happy salad.” It’s crawling in calories and foods that will excite you so much so that you’ll look forward to eating it. (Hello bacon!)

Chicken Cobb Salad | 3 servings
6 large eggs, boiled
4 slices Bacon
8 cups spinach
2 cups pulled chicken (poach in water or bake in oven to save calories)
½ cup tomatoes
1 avocado
Salt, pepper
4 tbsp red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp dijon mustard  

  1. Coarsely cut up spinach and place in a bowl. Add in chicken, sliced boiled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and avocado.
  2. Mix salad together. Dress with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix together red wine vinegar with dijon mustard. Dress salad. Enjoy.

One of the things that makes or breaks a salad is the dressing. Mustard is low in calories and is incredibly yummy. But, if you would rather have a more scrumptious dressing, find one that you’ll enjoy but that won’t break your macronutrient bank for the day.

It can be that easy. Currently, I am obsessed with buying cabbage salad bags from Wal-Mart, slapping down a couple ounces of home-made chicken, and calling it a day. Or, if you’re not lazy like I am, you can make your own, like above.

And to all the carb monsters out there–don’t fret! Add in some leftover rice or potatoes to help fill you up. Other than that, any salad should be a green light for you.

Eating your veggies can be hard — but it doesn’t have to be. Find something you like, salad or not, and stick to it. Your body will thank you.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day

Sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in the day to sit down and and enjoy a meal.

Protein smoothies are easy to make, often incredibly tasty, and require minimal clean-up. They’re a staple in most diets, and for good reason.

They can give you a good balance of macronutrients, an easy way to add in vegetables, and allows you to funnel your limited time elsewear.

I have two key protein shakes that I alternate between. Because one of them is a light, fast-absorbing protein shake I love to drink after a hard workout, I use whey protein. Try this post-workout vanilla smoothie on for size:

Easy Vanilla Protein Shake
1 Scoop Whey Protein Powder
1 raw egg (Do it . . . you won’t get salmonella)
½ banana
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup Almond Milk
2 cups spinach
Ice cubes (makes it frothy)
*310 calories | 25g Carbs| 8g Fat| 35g Protein|

However, if I would rather have a protein shake as a meal replacement, I add casein protein instead of whey powder. Casein protein sits in the stomach longer and takes the body longer to absorb, making you feel more full longer. This protein shake currently sits at the top of my “Protein-Shake Tool-Kit.”

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 scoop casein protein
1 banana
½ cup ground up oatmeal (mix in dry blender before adding to smoothie)
1 serving peanut butter
1 cup milk
2 cups spinach
Ice cubes
*570 calories | 60g Carbs| 22g Fat| 39g Protein|

There are a million ways to mix and match your protein shake and tailor it to your needs or preferences. Naturally, the most important thing is to be able to use food to fuel your body so that you’re aiding yourself in recovery.

So, relax. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy your liquid gains!

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day

There’s a huge difference between “living” and “dieting.” Living is eating a full breakfast every morning that leaves you happy and satisfied. Dieting is eating something like a quest bar for breakfast because it fits your macros.

Both are two very different lifestyles. One has slow but deliberate progress, and one has fast but temporary results — but the biggest difference between the two is the emotions that come with each one.

One of the reasons why nutrition companies like Renaissance Periodization/ RP Strength and Hybrid Nutrition are so successful is that they require their clients to eat around 3 cups of vegetables every meal. This makes their clients have more volume to eat, meaning that they feel satisfied.

For example, this is a full meal. I am (very) full after eating this. People tell me all the time that my meals are “too big” and ask if I get worried about being bloated for most of the day. The answer is no — because after I eat this, I FEEL content.

Let’s highlight this type of mentality and transition it towards performance.

If you can’t get a 300 pound squat, do you just stop working out entirely because you can’t post a video of Instagram on it? Absolutely not. Not everything should be about what people can and cannot see. If you hit a squat at 290 pounds, and it feels easy, do you stop and say “okay, that’s near my goal so I’m tapping out.”? No. You don’t. So why do people focus only on how they look and write off how they feel and their energy levels when they are eating healthy?

James Clear, blogger and weightlifter, recently wrote about continuous improvement. He said that if you get 1% better every day, you’ll be 37x more improved than what you were at the start of the year.

The catch is consistency. If you try to get 2-3% better every day (like dieting), you’re likely to rebound and make negative progress. But if you take everything one day at a time and listen to your body, you will exhibit a permanent lifestyle change.

Progress isn’t a completely positive relationship. You have good days and you have bad days. Sometimes, you might even take a few steps backward. That’s okay.

The importance is to maintain your happiness and your desire to do better every day.

So eat healthily and enjoy the life you’re living. That 6 pack is on its way.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day

Sundays are for preparing for a week of success. This means that you might need to meal prep, go to bed on time, and ensure you’re ready to walk into work tomorrow 110% prepared for the week.

Everyone has a sweet tooth. It’s hard to satisfy a craving without blowing out your macros for the day. However, I have a high-protein, naked (frosting-free) cupcake recipe you can eat guilt-free. Make these cupcakes before the week starts to guarantee you’ll have something to look forward to during the week.

HIGH-PROTEIN “NAKED” CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Yields 5 Cupcakes

3/4 cups Kodiak chocolate protein pancake mix
1 scoop of any chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 serving / 14g semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put Kodiak Pancake mix in a bowl with 1 scoop of your choice of chocolate protein powder.
3. Mix in egg whites with chocolate powder mixture. Fill batter up to ⅔ of each cupcake liner, leaving room for the cupcakes to expand in the oven. Once the batter is in the cupcake tins, top with chocolate chips.
4. Put in oven for 8-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan once cooled and enjoy.

*The macronutrient breakdown for all 5 cupcakes is inclusive of the 14g of chocolate chips

FOR 5 CUPCAKES: 450 Calories | 40g Carbs| 9g Fat | 50g Protein
FOR 1 CUPCAKE:     90 Calories | 8g Carbs | 1.8g Fat | 10g Protein

You might notice that you can eat all 5 cupcakes and not break the 500 calories mark. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat all of them in a serving, but if the opportunity presents itself . . . 

Happy Sunday.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day

Things that are certain in life:

Death, taxes, and fearing food.

Food is social. It’s how we connect with old friends or debrief people on our life updates. If you’re trying to eat even the slightest bit healthy, you might refuse to go out with your friends simply to stick to your “clean,” at-home meals. Or–even worse–you’ll hardly eat adventurously when on vacation.

While everything should be in moderation, everything you do should also be at 110% effort. Eating that pizza while in Italy? Vacuum it up. Eating a burger on a cheat day at your favorite place? Shovel it in.

Say you’re meeting friends for lunch. Let’s take a look at a meal you’d get at Torchy’s Tacos.

Left is Torchy’s Tacos Chicken Fajita. If you look strictly at the nutrition, it has a decent amount of protein and a high amount of fat. Is this the best thing for you? No–but overall, it isn’t too bad of a meal. Notice that there tortilla is kept in the chicken fajita. Without the tortilla, your meal here would be off-balance due to the lack of carbs, thus making you more hungry and possibly over-eat later on in the day. So don’t ask for a carb-free bowl–keep the tortilla.

Another key component in this hypothetical meal is that there is no side/ no chips and queso. Torchy’s chips and queso would add another 600ish calories to your meal if you split it evenly with a friend, and would blow out your fat for the day. I’m not saying to not get it. I’m just saying to be mindful when eating socially.

Vacation is tricky. I went on a 15-day vacation to another country and didn’t track a single meal. I didn’t want to limit myself to what I could log on myfitnesspal, because that would seriously take the fun out of traveling abroad.

Since we ate out twice every day, I had two internal rules: one meal was a salad, and one meal was whatever. Here’s an example of what I’d eat in a day:

Breakfast at home would be eggs, ham, and toast. Lunch was a salmon salad with potato and olive oil. Dinner was fish and chips/fries. Both meals were filling and both meals I ate guilt-free. That day I also had some ice cream and went to bed happy.

When I got back from vacation, I didn’t put myself on a calories restriction–I just ate as I did before and made sure to be very consistent with what I consumed for the next two weeks.

At the end of the day, balance is key. Calories are calories. Some are more nutrient dense than others, but when you’re on vacation or out with friends, enjoy yourself.

I will never forget when I overheard someone at Bovine talking about how defeated they were with themselves for eating poorly all week. Colin, passing by, said over his shoulder “Life happens. But it’s your job to get back on the wagon.” And that’s probably the best way to put it. Enjoy yourself and your food. You rightfully earned to relax every once in a while. But it’s on you to get yourself back on track.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

You can’t take it with you when you leave.

We’ve heard it said a hundred different ways a hundred different times. Go ahead, make your billions, hoard your possessions, keep your secret information from the world, but I’ve got news for you: when you leave, you leave empty handed. At least in the literal sense. 

Your money is no good to anyone hidden, unspent or uninvested. Put it to good work. Notice I said work not use. Your possessions may only serve you if you refuse to let them out into the world when you’re gone. All of your information and knowledge is futile if forever hidden and not shared or grown. 

These gifts are meant to be multiplied in goodness, not hidden with greed and scarcity. 

We can share the things that bring us success and happiness. Those things bring abundance to the world. Even if only on a small scale. 

Recovery Day

Time goes by faster in the morning.

I’m no scientist, but I feel like that’s a pretty good theory. The clock sprints in the morning and then slows down and crawls into the evening. This means that breakfast– the underdog and kickstarter to your day– is often neglected.

The only meal I religiously keep consistent is breakfast.

3 fried eggs, 1 cup oatmeal, ½ cup greek yogurt.
It takes me 4-5 minutes to put it together and it keeps me full for hours. Even though I don’t meal prep it, it’s a routine that works for me and that saves me time.

Life’s short and you’re busy. Let’s crank out some breakfast ideas to save you time, energy, and money.
These healthy egg muffins are easily customizable, incredibly yummy, and great to meal-prep.

Ingredients for 15 egg muffins | 3 egg muffins Monday – Friday
2 cups egg whites
6 slices of turkey bacon
6 cups spinach
1 cup of sliced vegetables of your choice (mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.)
2 servings / 56 grams of shredded cheese
Salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice up turkey bacon into bite-size pieces. Place in pan on medium-to-high heat. Cook through, then take off heat.
2. Put sliced vegetables on a pan on medium heat with ¼ cup water. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before taking off heat, add in spinach and mix until softened.
3. Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until well-mixed. Place vegetable mixture in the egg mixture. Mix in cooked turkey bacon. Add in cheese and salt. Pour into paper-lined muffins tins. Place in oven for 7-10 minutes, or until eggs are completely cooked.

Proteins and fats are good and all, but carbs are what keeps people sane. And happy.

After making your egg muffins, chuck them into a meal prep container and find some easy-to-make carb-based breakfast food you can eat with your eggs. Naturally, oatmeal pops into mind.

Ingredients for 5 oatmeal breakfasts | 1 every Monday – Friday
3.75 cups oatmeal
2.5 cups plain / vanilla greek yogurt
1 cup berries
Cinnamon and salt to taste

Put ¾ cup oatmeal in a container. Mix in ½ cup greek yogurt with ¼ cup water. Place in a handful of fruit (can be frozen) as sweetener. Add in cinnamon and salt to taste. Let stand overnight. Mix well before eating.    

The mornings often allow us to digest our to-do list and think about the day ahead. Take time for yourself, plan accordingly, and eat what fuels your body. If you end up saving time, energy, and money in the long-run, re-purpose it for you and your family. Hard work is always rewarded. Eat your food and champion your day.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late.

“If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late. ”
— James Goldsmith 

A friend and I were joking about sports “bandwagons” today as our beloved teams colors, uh, run deep. It made me laugh because of the bandwagon stigma: it’s only cool to early adopters. While that may apply to sports, or fads, or other temporary success stories it DOES NOT apply to us. “Us” being the friend and I’s common ground of gym life. 

Our bandwagon is an interesting one. We literally want you to be happy and stay alive as long as possible or as long as you see fit . . . haha punny. Most people would admit that they like the thought of being alive rather than the thought of being deceased. They also would admit they’d prefer happiness to it’s opposite. These are common human traits and few would contend otherwise. Of course there are moments in life when grief, sadness, and anger are necessary evils, but in terms of a preferred state of the self-union we’re on the same page. 

If those are the things we stand by in our mission statement and the things that form our roots they are also the driving forces in our endeavors whether that be relationships, events, decision making, career choices, fitness prioritization, and even procreation. Basically, we will do the things we want and need to do to make ourselves happy. 

I do not believe our fitness “bandwagon” to be a bandwagon because it is an essential part of creating quality of life and vigor which will literally and directly return one happiness. Not that a bigger lift PR or personal best task time is the driving force of happiness, but the reward it provides on the back end certainly can be. There’s a reality there that far outweighs the opposite. 

Easy example we see more and more of over time: a person’s life is threaten by chronic disease i.e. lifestyle driven illness like heart disease, diabetes, etc. This individual also lives for his/her family. They’d give anything to go to their son’s baseball game and be the obnoxious fan in the stands or toss the ball in the yard, but cannot afford to do so because of an aggressive condition preventing them from the physical effort required to attend such an event. 

Bottom line, we love our family. When those values are threatened we tend to see the intervention as real and weight-bearing enough to catalyze real change. I’m not saying this is full proof I’m just giving you the facts. 

Folks will lie to themselves and put off what could be done today until tomorrow til the cows come home. It’s only when a divine intervention of some sort like a huge fight, family death, or life threatening doctor visit does it materialize into an effort we’d see consistently every day. 

Those types of interventions often bring people to our “bandwagon”. They realize, some quickly others it takes awhile, what they’re getting into isn’t a trick. It works and it can last, but only with effort and consistency. We’re not exactly preaching happiness is guaranteed through what we do or that it’s even a fit for you, just that it’s an option. We can help you find and become the best version of yourself if you’re willing to put the time into it. That’s the only trick. It isn’t guaranteed and even when it does click it’s not guaranteed forever, you’ll still have to work at it; earn it. 

It’s a pretty great wagon to be on. It comes in different shapes and sizes. It doesn’t always have to be ours to a “T”. You can find your own similar wagon that provides you what you’re looking for, but the fact remains the same: it’s not only cool for early adopters. There’s plenty of room. You can get on and off free of judgment. We’d prefer you to stay on for the rest of your life, but will welcome you back any time. 

It’s never too late to jump on our bandwagon. We’ll be here. 

How you see the world may not be how the world is. 

Perception is reality. Better yet, your perception is your reality. 

We all have a lens. Similar to the way a photographer can be creative to almost all end, but is ultimately handicapped by their lens we are handcuffed by the lens we view the world through. That lens could be one of stance, experience, geography, affluence or lack thereof, you name it. We are formed through a series of happenings and are shaped, sometimes only to a degree, as a result. 

It is extremely difficult to understand, have the awareness of, and have the ability to remove or see beyond your lens. Someone of great affluence would have a very difficult time understanding the vantage point and consequential lens of someone who has never experienced financial stability. Likewise, someone with little athletic prowess has never gotten to experience the thrill of speed or strength and cannot look through that lens. 

We can attempt to stomach the idea of a lens, but the nature of it will remain a mystery unless the lens is experienced. That lens can be a blessing and curse all the same. 

My take is that is also effects your view of reality. 

My reality does not involve billions of dollars. I’m not saying it never will, I’m simply saying I cannot look through that lens yet and as a result I have the perception that money stops at a certain figure. 

If your perception is that people are ill-natured and for all intents and purposed “bad” . . . that will be your reality. You will encounter more of those people and the lens you see those people through will often paint them into that reality. 

Stay with me.

You may see the world not only through your own lens and therefore different form someone else, but you may also be seeing the world as it is turned into your own reality via your perception. As together as my wife and I are and as much as we are on the same page in our relationship and the way we are raising our family, our perception of reality is probably vastly different. 

This concept is not meant to be combative or cause frenzy. I simply ask that you accept your vision of the world may be skewed. Not wrong, not right. Just skewed. If we are willing to accept our perception may in fact be solely our perception and the reality of our surroundings varies . . . we elevate the collective consciousness. 

Take that as you may. Shorten that to “be open-minded” if you will. I don’t know. We may not be seeing what’s really there. Don’t be so naive as to think there may not be something more there. Food for thought. 

Character.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
— Helen Keller

You can only hide who you are for so long. Your most natural character will eventually make itself known through the experiences you have and become visible no matter what you do. In a sense, you cannot hide it. If you can, it will be brief. 

Ask yourself a few questions. Answer honestly. If you don’t, you missed the point. Some of the prompts can seem very similar. Avoid answering them as such. Do your best to see each in a different light and provide a quality explanation to yourself. 

Who are you?

Define yourself as a person. What kind of a person are you?

What are your values?

What do you consider to be your non-negotiable characteristics?

When you have defined this information for yourself you will be able to do things with more clarity than ever before. There’s a simplicity to your path with the new data you’ve gained. Some things you’ve defined about yourself will prevent you from doing things that don’t align and push other things to the front of the line. 

Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that will solve all of your problems. It is possible that when answering the questions you get answers you don’t like, at all. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that reality. It simply means you will have times down the road where you’ll need to step into the fire and hold your feet to the coals. Real change doesn’t happen easy, but it does happen. 

Take the answers you’ve gotten and test them. Put them to the grind stone and see if they hold up. It won’t take long for you to find out if, in fact, you’ve been honest with yourself. 

Steel is forged in fire. Nothing ever came easy. If you want to forge something great, great character, great ability, great skill, great talent . . . you have to go into the fire.