All Posts by Coach Dean

Journalism 101

What to do next?

We already talked yesterday about the importance of tracking your food and beverage choices consistently and accurately. One of the big keys right now is to try to not drastically change your eating habits. Remember, this is a process and changing too much at once will never last.

This does not mean we are giving you the green light to go out and eat McDonalds all the time! If this was what you were doing in the past, it will be beneficial for you to start slowly cutting that out right away!

Instead of trying to eat perfect all the time, just make a very concerted effort to track everything. This is going to give us the data and information we need in order to make good, sustainable changes.

If you make a big change in what you are eating right now while you are tracking it, only to go back to eating exactly what you used to after this week is over, then we really did not make any progress at all.

With that in mind, just write down what you eat and drink for every meal as well as how you felt afterward. If you feel lethargic after a certain meal, make note of it. If you feel like you pepped up after lunch one day, make sure to jot it down. This will help us later on when we look at how to analyze your food journal.

 

How to do it?

This might seem like a useless section at first right? How to keep a food journal?
 

“I just write down what I eat! Sheesh, next section please!”

 

Yes it can be this simple! If you are someone who likes using pen and paper and eat the majority of your meals at home, this will be the best and simplest solution for you.

However, if you are someone who does not eat at home very often and would have a hard time remembering exactly what you ate earlier in the day when you get home, there might be a better solution for you.

If this sounds like you, I am guessing that you have some sort of smartphone in your possession at all times. If you prefer, you can use this as your food journal. Whether it is in a note section on your phone or an app that allows you to track your food choices. The way you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it!

You could even just take a picture of everything that you eat so you can write it down later!

The only thing we would like to steer you away from is getting consumed by and analyzing calories and macronutrient percentages (carbs, fats, and protein). There is a time and place for all of this but right now, we are trying to make it simple and sustainable. Keep track of what you eat, not the specific breakdown of what macros it contains. 

If you would like to go the smartphone route, here are a couple apps that we recommend:

  • Calorific
  • My Fitness Pal
  • Evernote
  • MyPlate
  • Lose It!

Find one that works well for you and your needs!

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Review:

  1. Make sure you are tracking everything you eat and drink.

  2. This can be done on paper or with a smartphone app or by taking pictures for later recording.

  3. Find the best method for you and keep at it.

  4. Don't worry about analyzing calories or food for right now. Just make sure to track!

Follow Along with our Fall Fat Loss Challenge

Today is the start of our 28-Day Fall Fat Loss Challenge, and even if for some crazy reason you didn't sign up for it (it was free, after all), I thought over the next 4 Mondays I'd tell you what we are doing so you can follow along at home.

Here's the habit (or skill if you like) we are working on this week:

Keep a Food Journal Everyday

This habit is nothing revolutionary, but can and will make a big impact.

A lot of us think that we eat pretty healthy and only cheat once in a while. However, if we actually tracked everything that we put into our mouths on a daily basis, we might change our tune just a bit.

Documenting what you eat and drink at every meal will give you a much better look into your true eating habits and not just what you perceive you eat. This can be a very beneficial process.

It usually goes one of two ways:

#1 – “My current eating habits are pretty much on par with what my assumptions were.”

#2 – “I always thought of myself as making decent food choices, but after looking at it for 7 days, I definitely have room for improvement.”

While these two scenarios don't encompass everyone, they are the most common conclusions we see from our clients.

In situation #1, this process helped you focus in on what exactly you were eating and when. It gave you more concrete data than just, “Yeah I think I eat pretty well.”

In situation #2, this process might have opened your eyes to your true eating habits. Maybe before this you thought you only ate dessert once in a great while, when in reality you have 2-3 desserts per week! Now this might be an extreme example but you never quite know what you are going to find out until you actually track something.

Today you need to get a notebook, download an app like MyFitnessPal, or grab a copy of this template and start recording what you ate today.  The process isn't hard and you might need a few reminders today.  Also right now, set a few reminders on your phone to record your food.  

Got it?  

Good!

Have a great day. 

DC & The Fall Fat Loss Challenge Team

Your Private Chauffeur

I have a personal, private chauffeur. He drives me around a lot. Usually it's to places I don't really want to go. I can't seem to fire him. Every time I "let him go" he comes back, ready to "serve" me, happily ready to carry me to new, and all too often ugly, places.

My chauffeur is like a chameleon, and he goes by many names.

Anger. Irritation. Loneliness. Sadness. Disgust. Shame. Envy. Despair.

This driver I can't seem to get rid of?

You probably know him by this name.

Emotion.

You know the sad thing (no pun intended) is that emotions are really a big part of what makes us human. Indignation at injustice prompts us to action, sadness for others causes us to reach out and be a friend. We seek love and joy.

And yet it seems to be part of human nature to focus more on the negative emotions than the positive ones. It's easier for me to get irritated by something or someone and let it fester than reach out and try to make it right. Fear can be paralyzing. Contempt for others is more natural than seeking to understand and be part of their solution.

And the result of all this negativity? Usually no good. When I am anxious, or depressed, or angry I often reach for food. It's my "drug". It's so easy for me to criticize those who abuse drugs and alcohol, but am I any better when I stuff myself with sugar and fat? It is an attempt to feel better, and the problem is that it often works, at least temporarily. Just like drugs and alcohol. 

And in a very short time I don't feel good. Especially about myself.

Look I am just being real here. Just because I am a "fitness pro" doesn't mean I am a robot. Emotional stress can weaken even the most resolved and disciplined among us. 

Which is why I am looking forward to being part of our Fall Fitness Challenge, starting one week from today, Monday September 16, 2019.

Because it's going to give me an opportunity to "re-center" and practice some skills to help me give my "chauffeur" - my emotional eating - an extended vacation.

We humans ARE emotional beings. Which is why we need to learn to recognize which emotions drive us toward making poor decisions revolving around food and drink, and build the skills necessary to process and respond to them in better ways.

If you are not an emotional eater, I envy you. 🙂

If you are, join me for the challenge. Signup ends on Tuesday Sept. 10th, so please don't delay.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

- DC

A Post from a Big Jerk

I haven't been sleeping well lately. Actually I haven't been sleeping LONG lately. I usually fall right to sleep but am wide awake sometime between 2 and 2:30am. I've been dealing with it pretty well, until I didn't.

You know when you're tired and little things that really don't matter turn into big things, if you let them? That was kind of my morning, at least until a few minutes ago, when I came across the video clip below in an article. It's kind of funny how a clip from a fictional character can hit you so hard. All of sudden not having oatmeal in the house and the small contractor screw-up didn't seem worth getting worked up over.

Just a little reminder. People matter. Relationships matter. Not being a jerk matters. Love somebody a little harder today. It will matter.

Thanks Forrest.

- DC

Living Long, Living Well. I’ll Take Both (if I can get it)

I just finished listening to the audio version of "Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or die trying)", by . author Bill Gifford. The book is an interesting history and exploration of all the different (and sometimes downright weird) ways people try to add years to their life. 

I think we have it all backwards anyway. Sure, I am not in any hurry to die, but I don't want to live longer just for the sake of adding birthdays. 

Instead of adding years to my life, I'd rather add some more life to my years, no matter how many I have left.

Instead of being obsessed with (not) dying, I think it's more productive to be some more effort into really living.

Of all the different things that Gifford explored in his book, from vitamins and supplements, drugs, cold therapy, transfusions, the lot of it, there were two things that stood out as credible and evidence based that really seem to add both longevity and better health:

  • Caloric restriction of some kind. Intermittent fasting seems to be the easiest and most sustainable way.
  • Exercising 100 minutes a WEEK adds 7 years to life.

It really is that simple, noting that simple and easy are not the same thing.

There is also good evidence that coffee and red wine are helpful, and maybe a few select supplements and a medication or two. 

Sooo....

Skip a meal once in awhile.

Get moving.

And I am not just being a homer for these things, even though I have long advocated both. I am not interested in doing things that don't matter, but when I find out they do, well then let's get on it!

Nancy and I really do love what we do. Most people know what a healthy meal looks like. But fitting it in to their crazy life? That's a whole 'nother thing. We can help with that.

And the moving part? We believe there is absolutely no reason why men and women in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond shouldn't have access to professional fitness coaching that is challenging and fun, yet appropriate for the realities of aging. PROactively aging is a whole lot better than just, well, getting old. 

Fall is upon us. The older I get the faster the years go by. September is a perfect time to commit (or recommit) to being the healthiest you can be for as long as you can be.

Ready to get started? Click the button below and let's talk about it. We'll even give you Two Weeks of our multiple-time award winning training for FREE. 

Don't just let life happen, around here we Make It Happen!

See you soon,

- DC

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

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