All Posts by Coach Dean

Zucchini Soup?

There is a lot of Zucchini out in the world right now - true story! Personally I think that's a good thing, because there are so many tasty ways to prepare this versatile veggie. 

But Zucchini Soup?

Yup! 

Garlic, ginger and onion mean it's flavorful and packed full of nutrients, and it can be served hot or cold.

Another special thing about THIS particular recipe is it is just one of almost two dozen included in our next edition of our Cr8 Your Plate meal planning service. which you can now try out free for 30 days. 

Every month you not get only amazing recipes, but we create the meal plans and shopping lists for you. You can access them online through the Modernmeal software platform, get downloadable copies, or both. These are nutrition coach designed meal plans, designed to help you fill your plate (and your belly) with what you need for your best health - all for as low as $15 a month. You are practically stealing them at that price! 🙂

Subscribe to Cr8 Your Plate here, and then collect that Zucchini and get cooking!

- DC

Zucchini Soup

  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, divided 
  • ½ medium onion, chopped 
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic 
  • 4 medium zucchini, chopped 
  • 4 cups chicken broth (homemade is preferred) 
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1 tsp. sea salt 
  • Ground black pepper, to taste 

Heat ½ tbsp. coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, then smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife or the bottom of a glass and add to pan. Stir often and cook until the onions and garlic are soft and golden, but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the other ½ tbsp. coconut oil to the pan, then add the zucchini. Stir to coat the zucchini with the oil, and then cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. 

Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Let the zucchini cook 45 to 60 minutes until it’s very soft. Carefully, purée the zucchini and broth in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. If you’re using a blender, work in batches, filling the canister only halfway each time. Pour the purée back into the soup pot and add ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook on low heat, 5 minutes, just to combine the flavors. 

Enjoy!

When Life Gets Turned Around

Do you like routine? For things to go according to plan? For smooth sailing?

For the most part, that describes me perfectly. Make a plan and stick to the plan. Make a list and check it off in order, one at a time.

Unfortunately there is usually something that gets in the way.

It's called LIFE.

The project gets changed, an appointment doesn't show up, a vendor doesn't come through, Nancy and I get into an argument, or if you ask my kids the worst of all, the internet goes out. The horror!

It's no secret that all of this causes STRESS.

When you walk into the gym to train today, you are going to notice the training board is different. It's out of order. The warmup is on the right and the training is on the left. It's unfamiliar. I think it's the first time in 11 years I've written it up that way. It may be uncomfortable. It may even stress you out a little. It was done on purpose. 

Contrary to popular opinion stress is not a bad thing. We actually need stress to survive and even thrive.

Too MUCH stress though, and we start to break down. Emotionally, physically, psychologically - all of it.

But it's not like you can't do something about it. The "stress monster" can be tamed. Every day when you walk in the gym, train appropriately, and recover well, you are helping tame stress.

You are building RESILIENCY. Toughness. The ability to bounce back.

And it's not the only thing that we can do to address stress. 

Healthy Eating is not optional when you want to tame stress and build your resiliency muscle. The way our bodies function at the cellular level has everything to do with our quality of nutrition. Most disease and death in the United States can directly be linked to lifestyle choices - inactivity and lousy eating habits. The human body has some inborn resilience, but eventually all the excess sugar, fat, calories and alcohol is going to cause it to break down. 

So let's do something about it.

Today registration opens for the 2019 Fall Fat Loss Challenge.

This FREE challenge is designed to help you break the habits of poor nutrition through 4 very specific ways:

  1. Creating Awareness
  2. Recognizing Full
  3. Nourished not just "Fed"
  4. Hormone Regulation and Decision Making

We want to work on breaking the cycle of Emotional Eating, and build resiliency through a healthier body.

There is no drug known to man that is as effective as regular exercise and proper nutrition.

No pill, potion, or lotion will undo poor exercise and nutrition habits.

Your Stress isn't going away. You can't drink it out of existence or eat it under the table. I've tried. Maybe you've tried. It doesn't work. My former 280 pound self will tell you that.

Let's do something better.

Something that is proven to work, every time it's tried, and doesn't come with any side effects.

Except feeling better, if that bothers you.

I don't think it does, why is why you need to head on over and join the 2019 Fall Fat Loss Challenge right now.

See you there!

- DC

Take The “Toenail” Fitness Test

Can you cut your own toenails?

What is the matter with you Dean?

Long story, but stick with me here.

To be honest, I never even had thought about it before. Of course I can cut my own toenails!

So how did my new found interest in foot hygiene get started? When I started reading the book "Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or die trying)".

The author, Bill Gifford, is talking about some of the things that indicate how well we are aging, and how such things are tested. One of those tests we have talked about a number of times, balance. Specifically the ability to balance on each foot for 30 seconds each is a validated measure of aging. Blah, Blah. Heard it all before.

But the toenail thing caught my attention.

He was talking about another huge indicator of where we are in the aging process; Mobility.

And while we've talked about that too, I just had never thought about it in quite those terms. Not being able to touch my toes? I've had that challenge my whole life.

But not even having the flexibility to reach and cut my own toenails? Is that even a real thing?

Ummm yeah, it is.

That frightens me. I don't want to have to subject someone else to that task, never mind anything having to do with other bodily functions and hygiene tasks.

And for those of you who like your pedicures, I get it. But not being able to cut your own toenails is different than enjoying a bit of pampering.

It's funny how your goals and priorities change as you get older. I mean I still want to hike and bike, and lift heavy weights. 

But now I've added to that list.

I want to be able to cut my own toenails until the day I drop dead, which will hopefully be doing something really fun. 

And it ain't going to happen on it's own. I know that I am going to have to consistently work on my strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility; now and always.

I don't have the luxury of taking days, and weeks, and months off from training at a time. The older we get the faster we lose those things and the harder they are to get back. Gotta stay ahead of the curve.

Nobody wants to cut your nasty toenails either. 🙂

We are in this getting older thing together. So keep making it happen.

Don't quit. Don't ever give up. Don't ever stop trying.

We are with you.

- DC

Monday Motivation and Inspiration!

Some of use "climbing a mountain" as a metaphor, and others of us actually go out and climb mountains! The amazing Don Harty is just one of the many dedicated hikers and climbers in the Cr8 Fitness family, and recently he had the opportunity to do an amazing trip to Mt. Whitney in California. 

Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48, with an elevation of 14,505 feet. For perspective, our own Mt. Washington here in NH has an elevation of 6,288 feet. Yeah, Whitney is BIG!

I "borrowed" the following account from Don's Facebook Page. If you want to see even more beautiful pics, you should check it out

"Had the hike of my life yesterday. Kate Koonz and I hiked up to Trail Camp on Friday. I carried a 45 pound pack for the six mile hike because of the weather extremes on Mt Whitney. After a night in a cold tent with gusty winds Kate and I struck out at 6:00 AM up the Mt. Whitney Trail. During the first 2 miles up the section of trail affectionately known as the 97 bleeping switchbacks. The altitude hit me between the eyes. At around 13,000 feet I could not get enough oxygen in my lungs to power the body. I would climb for 20 steps and have to rest. It was during this stretch that I seriously considered quitting and going back down. Fortunately for me, Kate pretended that she was exhausted as well so I kept on plugging. We finally reached the ridge and actually descended 500 feet to join the John Muir Trail and then for the next 2 miles ascended at a more gradual rate up to the summit on Whitney at 14,505 feet in elevation. The five mile hike included a few traverses through snow fields that were 2-3 feet deep. By the time we reached the summit I was more beaten and exhausted than on any previous hike. We spent an hour on the summit and then headed down for the 11 mile hike back to the car for a total of 16 miles on the day. Unlike a hike last month on Katahdin where I left my dad’s ashes in the glove compartment, I brought the Old Man up with me and sprinkled them at the summit of a mountain that was on his bucket list but that he was never able to climb. We got out of the woods at 8:30 by flashlight and headed back down to our rental cottage in Lone Pine. How exhausted was I? For those of you that know me well this should tell it all. We picked up a pizza and a six pack of beer to bring back to the cottage and before I went to bed I drank only about 3/4 of one bottle. That’s exhausted. Today we drove Through Death Valley to Las Vegas. The temperature hit 121 degrees. We stopped at Badwater which at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America. So in less than 24 hours Kate and I stood at the highest point in the lower 48 states as well as the lowest point. California is a state of extremes. looking forward to heading home tomorrow."

Don sent us a couple pics and this very kind message:

"Good morning Nancy & Dean
Below is a picture of me at the summit of Mt. Whitney yesterday. It is a picture that would be impossible without the contribution that the CR8 program has made to my physical fitness and conditioning. My lungs were struggling at the high altitudes but the legs never missed a beat. Thanks for all you do."

I don't know about you, but I am inspired. I will be 53 years old next month, and Don's got a few years on me. Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought 40 was ancient? I'd like to think it's just now that I have really even got warmed up, and there is much adventure that awaits. Guys like Don make me want to make it happen.

And truthfully, it is really cool to see that "MTXE" shirt reaching new heights, literally. I just went out to see the 6:15am training crew, whose tradition is to wear that shirt every Monday, and sure enough, there they were. "Mental Toughness & Extra Effort" will carry you far.

So what mountains do you want to climb? Maybe it's a real mountain, like Mt. Whitney. Or maybe it's another adventure that you have been putting off for too long. As long as you are above ground and breathing there is still time. I started my first business in my 40's, and my second in my 50's. My wife's Uncle Carl skiis big mountains in his 80's, for crying out loud. Do you really want to sit on the couch (that could be a metaphor too) for the rest of your life? 

A little "tough love" here. It ain't gonna happen by skipping workouts, eating a bunch a crap, and watching TV until all hours of the night. I don't make the rules, but I do know what happens when you ignore them. I am talking to me as much as I am to you.

Get Up. Get Started. Get Going. 

There are mountains to climb.

Race you to the top!

- DC

The Only Way is the Best Way

It was pretty early in my life I first heard this maxim:

"The best way out is always through"

When I was younger I thought I knew everything. Now that I have over 5 decades under my belt, I realize just how much I still don't know. Some would call that Wisdom. 

Maturing into wisdom causes us to realize that most times there is no "easy" way to success. Yet we still try to find shortcuts, "hacks" and tweaks to get where we want to go just a little bit faster. We think WE are the one who is going to make lots of money without working hard, get great sleep every night and still drink 6 cups of coffee a day, and get into the best shape of our lives without consistent hard exercise.

The result is that 10 years down the road we are still broke, tired and overfat. Does that sting a little? I wish it had stung me earlier in my life than it did, because that last sentence is autobiographical.

For many years of my early adult life I chased the quick way to results; whether it be the next great business "opportunity" or the newest supplement to lose 50 pounds. We (and I) allow ourselves to be manipulated by slick promises of "quick and easy", even though deep down we know better.

You know when results came? When I stopped chasing and starting working. Hard, consistently and with purpose. The dirty little secret a lot of people don't want to hear is that most successful people didn't get that way because they were lucky. They didn't steal it, and they didn't take shortcuts. They put their head down and got after it.

That doesn't mean we stop learning and take advantage of things that can make life a little easier. I have no desire to head down to the pond to wash my clothes; the washer and dryer work just fine, thank-you. But stepping on a machine and jiggling weight off isn't going to happen.

If you want the ultimate shortcut, here it is. Plant this thought deeply and permanently in your mind. You cannot go around, over, or under. The best way out; out of whatever "lack" you have in your life, money, fitness, health, relationships; and into success, whatever that means to you, is to do the hard work it takes to fight your way through. 

The good news is you don't have to do it alone. Your Cr8 family has got your back.

Let's make it happen together.

- DC

Have You Downloaded Your Summer Cookbook Yet?

Let see...

Summer?

Hot?

Don't want to cook indoors?

Coach Nancy has a solution?

It's called the "Great Grub to Grill" cookbook, and it's packed with "grill-ready" recipes that will not only get you out of the kitchen, but add some serious flavor to your summer!

From Poultry to Pork with flavors ranging from Spicy to Sweet, there is sure to be your new favorite summer recipe in this beautiful book.

And It's absolutely FREE!

Just enter your first name and email address below, and you will be sent your own copy faster than you can say "Humugity"!

Enjoy!

Change Your Stars

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill

I love that quote, and I need to be reminded of it often. I am NOT an optimist by nature. I wouldn't call myself a pessimist either, though. Probably I would describe myself as an analyst. Take a look at what's going on around me, size up the situation, and if there is a problem to be solved, try to figure out a way to solve it. I think you lean optimist when you think that way.

And I think analyst is different than being a realist. To me there is a hint of resignation to the situation in that description. Nancy would probably agree I a bit too stubborn to just accept things the way they are. Why do I have to just accept it? I can at least try to do something about it, right? 

You learn pretty fast in life that you can't control every situation. But you are far more in control than you think you are. One of my favorite movies is "A Knight's Tale", starring the late Heath Ledger. I know it's fictional, but there is a big lesson in there. Ledger's character William is from a poor family, and his father, knowing he cannot take good care of him, sends him to squire for Sir Ector. At a tournament Sir Ector dies, and William disguises himself as Ector and wins the tournament. And so begins an elaborate ruse as the poor William fakes being nobility so he can enter tournaments, and starts winning them. Of course there are bad guys and beautiful girls along the way, like any good adventure story.

One tournament finds him close to home, and he finds his father, now blind and even more destitute. In a touching scene William asks his father "Can it be done father? Can a man change the stars?" His father gently and resolutely replies, "Yes William. If he believe enough, a man can do anything."

And that's exactly how William Thatcher becomes Sir William.

Just a story? Maybe. 

But I've had the privilege of seeing many people change their stars. Lose massive amounts of weight. Be able to flush their once necessary meds down the drain. Make weak muscles strong and achy bones healthy. 

They do it because they believe they can. Because they are problem solvers. Because when life knock them down they get up just one more time.

Change The Stars. Change YOUR Stars.

I believe in you.

Coach Dean


I Don’t Feel Like It

I didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. I didn't sleep well, had a lot on my mind in the middle of the night, and was kind of cranky.

I didn't feel like training this morning. The thought of getting under the bar for some heavy squats just wasn't doing it for me. 

I didn't feel like writing this article. Sometimes the words and thoughts just don't come, and I didn't want to wrestle with it.

And I did all of it anyway.

Why?

Well it really does not change the situation to stay on bed and mope. So I got up, did some reading and office work. When I saw Nancy I matter-of-factly told her I was in kind of a bad mood. "Noticing and Naming". Doesn't do any good to ignore it and bite someone's head off because of it. She responded kindly, gave me a little room, and everything is cool. 

Next was taking Andrew to work and then hitting my workout with my Monday training partners, who I always enjoy seeing. Did our thing, warmed up, and then got under the bar with a weight I had missed the last time I attempted. Couldn't get one single rep. Today I successfully completed every set and every rep on the training plan. Feels good.

And this article? It gets a lot easier to put a few thoughts down when I open the computer and start typing, rather than milling around the house ignoring the fact that Monday mornings is my writing time. And while these few words may not exactly be on par with Socrates, I hope the lesson I learned (or re-learned) this morning is that while we are emotional people, being driven solely by emotions is usually not a good idea, and if I didn't do something every time I didn't "feel like it" not much would get done.

In a few short hours, just by taking some action in spite of my feelings, some real productive things happened, not the least of which is I feel better.

My mood is better. 

I demonstrated to myself I am getting stronger.

And you get to share in my boundless wisdom. Ok, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. 🙂

The next time you "don't feel like it"?

Do it anyway.

Because that's where magic can happen.

Let's get moving!

Coach Dean

Too Good Not To Share

Josh Hillis is the kind of guy who makes you smarter just by reading him. The following quote is in an article he wrote about Brie Larson, who plays the superhero Captain Marvel in the movies. (You can and should read the whole article here.

"The irony is that people tend to get better results when they’re focused on process based goals (like doing the work) instead of outcome goals (like looking a certain way).  Paradoxically, people who over-value the end result often get disheartened and quit, when they don’t hit their goals fast enough, or maybe miss a milestone on the way to their goals.  They get thrown by each and every (normal) bump in the road.

On the flip-side, people get awesome results when they simply focus on doing the work.  When people just focus on doing the work:

  1. The do more work
  2. They do higher quality work
  3. They do more consistent work

If you just focus on doing the work in the gym every day, you’ll get stronger.

Also, you might find it to be more empowering, more fun, and have a drastically more positive impact on your relationship to your body.  Instead of being entirely focused on some idealized body standard, your gym work can simply be an expression of being the kind of person you want to be."

When we take hold of this concept it changes everything. When we can stop trying to live up to some 'ideal" (usually perceived not real) and simply focus on "doing the work", training becomes more enjoyable. When we accept that results aren't instant and we are in it for the long haul, training really is more fun. When we look at exercise as a practice, rather than something we are instantly going to be good at, training is a lot more enjoyable. 

Think about it this way. You don't earn a black belt in martial arts until you have practiced for years. And nobody walks into the dojo thinking they will earn theirs in 3 months. We need to have the same mindset in the gym. Lifting takes skill, which requires practice. Training your body to get into the right position, create proper tension, produce stability and mobility in the right places. Practice. Practice. Practice.

And it's so worth it. There is genuine joy when due to your repeated efforts everything comes together and it feels easy. When the chin goes over the bar, when the Turkish Get-Up flows smoothly, when the bar loaded with more than your bodyweight breaks off the floor in one smooth motion. It's poetry. 

Results will come. But as Josh says, to be successful we need to do more work (practice), which in turn creates higher quality work, and we need to do it consistently enough to maintain our skill and flow.

Bumps in the road do happen. But don't let them throw you into the ditch. Slow down, correct the wheel, and get back on course.

Let's make it happen together!

Coach Dean

Random Recovery Week Ramblings

1. 2757.6 miles and 44 hrs 42 minutes is a lot of driving in 9 days

2. I never knew the etymology of the word "bunk"...until now (unless this sign is just, well, bunk!)

3. Nancy is in way better cycling shape than me. 

4. North Carolina has the twistiest roads I have ever driven on. My motorcycle would have been preferable to the minivan. 🙂

5. One of my favorite authors is buried in Asheville

6. The Biltmore House is really stunning. The history is amazing, the architecture and engineering is incredible. 

7. George Vanderbilt was truly a visionary. He purchased over-used farmland and was instrumental in creating the first managed forests in the United States. After he died, his wife Edith sold the majority of the acreage to the US Government for what is now Pisgah National Forest. One of the most stunning things we were told was that at one time, when you stood on the back verandah everything you saw in every direction (over 15 miles out) was owned by the Vanderbilt's. 

8. Exercise equipment has been around for awhile. Check out the various "toys" in the Biltmore House gymnasium. Barbells, dumbbells, Indian clubs, a rowing machine, a cable pulley machine. Even one of the first massage showers, which they called a "needle bath". Really cool for this gym geek to see!

9. North Carolina is really beautiful.

10. It's good to be home - see y'all soon!

Coach Dean

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