Category Archives for "Healthy Habits"

You Are Not A Unicorn. Recovery Matters

Recovery Week is April 21 to April 27. Enjoy!

Ever since we opened the doors of our training gyms, recovery weeks have been built into the training schedule. This is not an accident. Neither is it just "vacation time" for Dean and Nancy, although those are the only weeks we can schedule time off.

To me recovery is instinctual. Training hard is taxing on the body and the mind. There is a point where your CNS (Central Nervous System" says NO MORE, and training starts to make you worse, not better. Our goal is that you never reach anywhere close to that point. We were doing "recovery" before recovery was cool, and we ain't a gonna stop now! 🙂

You might be cute, but you are NOT a Unicorn!

In fact proper recovery between workouts is factored in as we design your training program as well. It's one of the reasons we do not have regular training on Wednesdays. Two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off is by design. More is not better, better is better.

As I have gotten older, I have become even more sensitive to recovery. I recently read a book by science writer Christie Aschwanden called "Good to Go". The subtitle is "What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery".

"Strange Science"?

The science of recovery is pretty new, and there are some pretty weird, wild and yet-to-be-proven things that people do to recover. From recovery pajamas to float tanks, the book examines it all.

When it comes down to it, what we are trying to do is recover from the systemic stress that is placed on our body and mind on a daily basis. This is hardly just training stress. Work, kids, traffic, politics, illness - you name it, there are a lot of stressors in life. We want to manage the overall stress load in order that we can achieve physical and athletic improvement. 

The biggest take home I got from the book is no secret - the #1 thing you can do to de-stress, and enhance recovery is sleep. Not always easy, I know. You are talking to a guy whose alarm goes off before 4:00am. I get it. But I do what I can to get as much as I can whenever I can.

I have used a lot of different tools to measure my recovery over the years. Right now I am testing a piece of software called RestWise, which monitors overall training load based on objective measures such as Resting Heart Rate (RHR), HRV, SpO2, and Weight fluctuations, as well as subjective measures such as energy and mood. It's pretty interesting, and they boast clients from pro sports teams and olympic athletes. 

If you don't want to get that fancy, one of the simplest ways to monitor your recovery is to measure and log your Resting Heart Rate every morning when you get up. I use one of these $15 devices to take my pulse and SpO2 every morning - takes about 30 seconds. If your RHR is trending up, it's a good sign your recovery is compromised.

The bottom line. Enjoy your recovery week. It is a purposeful part of your training plan, and just like your don't want to miss workout days, you don't want to miss recovery days. You WILL NOT de-train in 7-10 days, so chill out - you are NOT a unicorn.

If you want more on the science of recovery, keep reading. 

Train Hard. Recover Harder.

Coach Dean

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Our recovery weeks are what I would call Macro-Recovery. In other words we take a planned week off every training phase in order to let the body rest up from hard training and get ready for the next phase.

The Recovery Curve

I saw the recovery curve for the first time during my time with Australian physical preparation coach Ian King. His principles laid the foundation for the way we program, train and especially recover here at Get Fit NH. The principles that work with professional athletes apply to us too!

The following illustrates a “good” recovery curve:

The green line represents what we are all looking for – continual, never ending progress over time. We are getting stronger, faster, thinner, better looking (ok at least that’s what I wish for).

Reality Check – ain’t gonna happen. The process of changing your body is not linear, in fact what we are looking at in an optimal training environment is more of a “One step back brings me Two steps forward”.

A closer look at the chart will help explain what I mean.

The red line represents Equilibrium. This is where your body wants to stay, no matter if your goal is losing fat, gaining lean, or both. As you have no doubt found out, forcing your body to change is hard work – really hard work. When you walk into Get Fit NH, our training is designed to elicit that change. But it’s not as simple as “working out” day after day after day. In fact as I am about to illustrate, training without proper recovery is actually hurting you, not making you better.

The blue line represents the “recovery curve”. Starting at the left hand of the chart all the lines intersect. For this illustration that point is where your first training occurred – you “worked out”.

But what’s going on?

Instead of performance going up, that line is actually heading down – this is what is called Depletion. If you think about it makes sense – you have worked hard, you are fatigued, your body is depleted of nutrients – you are spent!

Don’t worry, your body will get over it, if you treat it right! This is what we call Adaptation. Your body wants to be able to handle the increased demand that was placed on it, and starts the process of getting better.

You are in charge of if and how fast that happens. A few of the factors that influence this adaptation include recovery nutrition, stress levels, sleep habits, supportive nutrition, age, and training history.

The recovery curve continues with Supercompensation. Here is how Coach King describes this process:

“It is only when recovery is allowed that we see the super-compensation effect, the unique phenomenon where the bodies physical capacity is elevated in response to training, in anticipation of another exposure to the same stimulus.” – King, I, 1999/2000, Foundations of Physical Preparation

In other words your body has gotten better in response to your training, a new Equilibrium is established and this state is when we will ideally train again. Our programming at Get Fit NH is carefully designed to give this the best chance of occurring, but as I hope you are discovering, you have a lot to do with this with how you treat your recovery!

As you can see, when things are clicking, this process when repeated over and over means you are getting better and better, the blue line is headed up – pretty cool!

The flip side to all this is what happens when the recovery process isn’t working so well.

This chart represents recovery gone “bad”:

When we continue to train in a state of “Depletion”, regardless of the reason, the adaptation to super-compensation effect doesn’t occur, and instead of getting better, we find ourselves in a downward cycle. This can happen when we train the same muscle groups too soon, when we haven’t taken the steps described above to recover optimally (sleep and nutrition for instance) regardless of time between training, when we train too hard coming off an illness, etc. The last thing we want to happen is new equilibrium to be established in a downward pattern – not good.

The long and short of it is your body absolutely needs to recover from hard training. Consistently training in a fatigued state results in injury and illness. Your body is an amazing machine designed to put up with a lot, but it was also designed to need rest. Recovery weeks provide that rest.

If you want to know more about the recovery tools I use and why you should consider them, hit me up and let's talk.

- DC

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 5

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 5: Quick and Easy Dinners 

Some (most?) weeks we just need easy. You look at your calendar for next week and you just know making it all work is going to be nearly impossible. While you'd love to make a 5 course meal, 5 minutes is probably more like it. 

That's where our quick and easy dinner meal planner comes in. In the case of "crazy week", you need simple, and sometimes popping open up a can or jar is just the right thing to do. Here are some tips for making it easy when "life happens":

1. Always cook more protein than you need. Bake a couple extra chicken breasts or brown an extra pound of ground beef when you are making your meals. That way you can just add some chicken to a salad or add the beef to a jar of a sauce the next day.

2. Sides like Three Bean Salad and Cole Slaw keep really well over 2-4 days, and compliment a wide variety of cuisine.

3. Frozen is your friend. There are so many different frozen veggie combos that can be stir fried or roasted, so don't get stuck on fresh. Freezer to fry pan is a winner. 

4. If chopping, slicing and dicing isn't your thing, most grocery stores sell packages of "done for you" produce in just about any way you can imagine. Stock up on a few.

Check out these simple and delicious meal combos, and don't be afraid to mix and match!

meal planning

Recipes and Ideas

Many of these ideas are self-explanatory; heat a can of beans or shred some lettuce. But we didn't want to leave you hanging, so click here to download some great recipes that go with the meal plan in the infographic above.

Add These Dinners To Your Portfolio

If you don't have an extra meal planning template handy, print one out here, and make a few quick notes on which of these meals you are going to use as your "go-to's". Add this template to your portfolio; you may even want to keep it in the front!

Now that we have started to get a good handle on planning our dinners, next time we'll learn to quickly and easily integrate a healthy breakfast into our plan.

Introducing Jicama

Did you know that I am not normal? And maybe you aren’t either!

And I mean that in a good way.

I’m not normal in the sense that I want to be the best version of the healthiest me I can be. I am constantly looking for ways to challenge myself to become better.

Sadly, that's not normal.

Most people just coast through life not wanting to put in the time or effort to be the best.

Most people coast through life accepting their health as unchangeable. They do what is typical in our society - eat too much, sit too long, go for the easy way out.

I enjoy physical activity! I prep food every week. I care what goes into my body. And I'm guessing but I probably eat more than the average person when it comes to vegetables.

I don't have any hard data on this, but just by talking with hundreds of people, I would guess the average person consumes less than two servings of vegetables per day.

And most of those are the same ones, over and over again.

A lot of people just don't know what or how to cook certain foods.

My biggest challenge doing this over the computer is that while I can tell you all about a certain vegetable, I can show you what it looks like, I can even tell you what is great about a certain veggie... until I can get you to experience it, it’s just to ‘weird’ to even think about.

I’m going to introduce you to jicama today. Just to say it seems a bit odd, but think of the first letter as being an “H”. It looks a bit like an odd shaped potato. In fact you would peel it like a potato and the inside reminds me of a white potato. BUT the similarities stop there. It tastes different, in fact ,you can eat it raw or cooked.

Jashbrowns are a favorite way to cook jicama for rockstar Jennifer.

I peel the jicama, which is a root vegetable, and then slice it into thin French fry shapes. I add these to a taco salad so that I have crunch without a taco shell. My kids love it this way too.

Check out this recipe highlighting jicama paired with cucumbers as a side dish.

Jicama Cucumber Salad with Chili Dressing

  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1-1½ teaspoons chili powder, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced peeled jicama
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Puree vinegar, oil, onion, chili powder and salt in a blender until smooth. Toss jicama and cucumber with the dressing in a large bowl; stir in mint. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the salad with more chili powder before serving, if desired.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 4

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 4: Shopping For Success

Once you have created your meal plans for the week, you'll need to create your shopping list, and then go grocery shopping. There really is no one way to create your list. Some of us like old fashioned paper, and there are plenty of apps online if you prefer the electronic thing.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a sanity check for what's actually ON your list. We should see plenty of lean proteins, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats. If you have more boxes of breakfast bars in your cart than you do packages of broccoli, beans and beef, you need to reconsider.

As one of my nutrition coaching mentors used to say; "Don’t spend your time scavenging the bread aisle for a lower net carb English muffin while your cart is overflowing with Pop Tarts. That’s like mowing your lawn while your house is on fire.”

The infographic below shows what should go in your cart, and into your body, 90% or more of the time. Take a few minutes to check it out. I bet you come up some great ideas to add to your meal plans just from this list.

meal planning

My Number One Grocery Shopping Tip

This is NOT a secret and most assuredly you have heard it before. But it's worth remembering, rehearsing, and getting tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. (Ok, maybe that's going too far. Maybe.)

Don't go grocery shopping hungry. Ever.

I swear when I am hungry cookies jump off the shelf into my cart and a pint of gelato rolls across the floor in front of me. Every time.

And always always always shop with, and stick to, your list. Honor the time and hard work you put into creating it, you'll be happy you did.

Next time I'll reveal my secrets for making dinnertime meals quick and easy!

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 3

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 3: Building Your Portfolio 

Have you ever looked through a photographers or artists portfolio? Dozens, if not hundreds of beautiful prints, displaying amazing creativity and artistry. 

We all know instinctively this portfolio took time and effort to cultivate. Pictures get added and removed as experience and skill increases. The artist learns what appeals to her audience, and it gets easier to get in the creative flow.

You are the artist of your kitchen, and your "audience" is the people you are feeding. The first pages in your meal planning portfolio is the work you have already completed; building individual meals and then your first full weeks meal plan. You are building your meal planning skills, but you are also building momentum.

You see, once you get that first weeks plan under your belt, you can really get rolling. The second week builds off the first week, the third week build off the second, and so on. 

Creating A Month of Meals

As noted, the second week of meal planning is easier than the first, because you are not starting from scratch.

Plan Week 2

The simplest strategy is to repeat last week's plan this week. But you will probably find there were a few meals that just didn’t work for your family. That's ok. Print out a new meal planning template and fill in the ones that did work. Then find another family favorite, add that one in its place and move on.

But, you may be thinking, what about variety? Won't I get bored? Maybe, but probably not. Studies show that most of us eat the same 20-30 foods nearly all of the time. But if you are worried about variety, switch the days you serve a certain meal or switch up the side dish. Don’t forget to make your grocery list now. Week two is done. Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.
 

Week 3

We are on a roll and just getting the hang of meal plans. The amount of time it takes this week will be shorter than the first two weeks. The process gets quicker and easier every week.

With weeks one and two meal plans in front of you, print out a new meal planning template and use them as the basis for week three. Keep the ones you like, replace the ones you don't. Just like our photographer, you are cultivating your portfolio. In general you should be repeating most of your meals on a week-to-week basis. Adjust one or two meals. Don’t go crazy and change up everything that is working. Keep the changes small and consistent. Mix up the side dishes you served with a different meal and move forward. Don’t forget to make your grocery list. Week three is done. Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.

And if you are struggling to make it happen? Don’t give up. Anything new takes a bit longer until we have made the system our own. All this planning will save you time and loads of stress each day, and you are oh so close to making that happen.

Week 4

When you sit down to plan this week, you have three weeks of your portfolio already created. This portfolio will be key to stress free kitchen time now and in the future. After this week you will have whole month of meal plans to mix and match.

Just like last week, we are going to review, and where necessary, replace. Circle the meals your family loved, and cross out the ones that got the "thumbs down". Even if you really want your kids to start eating spinach, don’t force one recipe at them. You’ll find a meal with spinach (or your wish list food item) that your family will eat.

Keep cultivating. How did the new recipe night work? Is there a certain mealtime that you want to mix up? Stick with one or two changes each week. Fill out your meal planner, and then make your grocery list. Remember Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.

Once you have four weeks of meal plans that you like, use them like a revolving door (circular planning).

I have certain days of the week that I always fix the same thing, and my family likes that they have something to look forward to. Other days are crunch days where I need to remember to use a crockpot or have a quick fix meal. The days that I plan to have time to spend in the kitchen I use to prep other meals, make a new recipe, or make two meals at once.

Any time you feel stuck with your meal plans, come back to our basic principles.

  • Plan Dinners First
  • Plan Breakfast Second
  • Leftovers for Lunch
  • Shop with a List
  • Build your Portfolio

One more note. While this might sound silly, it's crucial to your success. Have the food you need for your plan in the house. You can spend all the time in the world planning, but if the food on your plan isn't around when it's time to prep and eat, it's hard to succeed. 

And remember, progress not perfection. Some planning is better than no planning. One meal at a time is all it takes to get started.

Let's go shopping!

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 2

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 2: Planning Your First Week

Now that we know how to go about planning one meal, we can start planning out our first week.

While this might sound like a daunting task, it's simple when you break it down step-by-step.

First, go ahead and click this link to download and print out our simple meal planning template.

Once you have downloaded and printed the template, follow the steps on the infographic below and begin filling out your first week's plan.

meal planning

Here are some tips:

If you find a whole week is just too much to start with: 

Simply scale back and start with just your dinner meals. You will be amazed how having just one meal a day planned out will make you feel. And remember, there is no prize for getting it "perfect". Meal planning really is a skill, and it gets easier the more you do it. And don't forget to start building your "meal planning portfolio" by saving your weekly plans, no matter how complete they are (or aren't).

Build on your skills: 

Once you nail your dinner planning routine down, move on to step 2 and plan out your breakfast, then your lunches. Don't overcomplicate, avoid overwhelm - remember:

Simple is Easiest, Simple is Best.

In Chapter Three will cover how we use our "meal planning portfolio" and continue building our meal planning skills.

Tuesday Tease: S3 2019 Is On The Way!


Can you believe it's that time of year already? Spring is around the corner, and you know what Spring leads to?

SUMMER!!!

And it also means we are getting ready to ramp up for our annual challenge... 

The Sizzlin' Summer Slimdown!

We are stoked to be getting the whole gang back together from the the two best gyms in New Hampshire, Get Fit NH in Concord and Cr8 Fitness in Epsom, for what has traditionally been our biggest challenge of the year.

The goal?

Getting healthier and shedding some unwanted pounds and inches as we head into the summer season.

 Remember this from last year?

Sizzlin' Summer Slimdown 2019
hosted by

All the details are coming soon, but here's just a little snippet to be thinking about. This year the brain power behind the two gyms (Coaches Nancy and Meagan) brought back one of our favorite challenge formats -

Teams of Four! (happy dance ensues)

Why teams? Because we all need someone to lift us up on the down days, and kick us in the pants when we are slacking off. And the truth is we are more motivated to do our best by not letting others down...it's a fact. 

More details are on the way, so really all you need to be doing right now is to be thinking of who you want to team up with, and be brainstorming a team name. Your team could be from your own gym, a mix of peeps from both gyms, or even friends and family (framily?) who don't train with us - yet! 

And don't worry, we'll be flexible with team sizes (from 3-5), and if you need help finding a team, we will assist you with that too!

Cant' Wait!

- DC

Ultimate Meal Planning Guide: Chapter 1

The Cr8 Fitness Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning

Chapter 1: How To Plan A Healthy Meal

Plan Your Meals To Nourish Your Body, Not Simply Fill It Up

Before we can plan a whole week's worth of meals, we need to start with just one meal, and we need to figure out what we are doing all this planning for anyway, right? I mean it doesn't take any planning to go to a fast food joint and fill my stomach, so there must be something more we are trying to do

Here's what I mean.

Good meal planning is more than just about getting rid of the rumble in our tummy. It's about providing nourishment - giving our body what it needs to be healthy and work as it should. There is nothing that has more to do with how healthy you are (and good you can feel) than the food and drink you consume.

Remember Hippocrates? It's ok if you don't, but he is widely considered the father of modern medicine. Here's what he had to say about it;

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"

I don't know if ole' Hippocrates was the first naturopathic doctor, but he knew what he was talking about. We know now what he didn't know; that many if not most of the diseases in the western world are lifestyle related, and a huge part of that is what we eat. Is there a place for medicine? Of course. But I think a worthy goal is to stay off the medications, and in that regard good eating just makes good sense.

With that in mind, take a look at the infographic below. While it's primarily focused on planning a healthy dinner meal, the principles apply to all of our meals.

meal planning

Building Your Meal

You see that we are not shy about emphasizing protein as the foundation for healthy meal planning. Getting enough protein is super important, especially if you are trying to lose weight (body fat). While you will have to eat less calories to lose weight, don't eat less protein. This is a straight path to muscle loss and a weight "rebound" when you are done.

Once you choose your protein source (beef, chicken, pork, etc.), decide on how you are going to spice it up - literally. You can mix and match your own seasonings and spices, and there are also a lot of really tasty spice blends you can buy pre-made in the store. You don't have to settle for plain grilled chicken all the time. You can "taste the world" with a little creativity.

Next on your plate go some healthy fats. Good Fats help keep you full, add flavor, carry fat-soluble vitamins, are anti-inflammatory, and are good for heart health. Get some of the good stuff on your plate with your meals.

Focus on your vegetables next. Veggies provide so many good things - vitamins, minerals, and fiber, just to name a few. There are literally hundreds of vegetables to choose from, and they can be stir-fried, roasted, steamed, sautéed, grilled, sliced, diced, and riced. The possibilities are truly endless.

"Other" carbohydrates are things like rice, grains, beans, and potatoes (starches). There is nothing wrong with these, we just don't want to emphasize them when planning our meals. You can eat a lot of these foods very quickly, they are very calorie-dense, and in excess they can make it hard to lose or maintain weight. 

Here's what your plate should look like, most of the time. If you choose to add starches once in a while, eat less fat and eat a reasonable amount of beans, rice, or potato in its place. 

meal planning

Keep It Simple

The "Super Simple Shopping" list at the bottom of the infographic is designed to get your meal planning ideas started, without overwhelm. If you did nothing more than fill your grocery cart with these items from week to week and keep your cupboard stocked with spices, you would never run out of healthy meal ideas and options.

Ready to keep going? Click the button below!

Dessert Done Right- Peanut Butter Cookie Delight

Peanut Butter Cookies are a favorite of mine but not a favorite to my waistline. There are times though when I would like just a little something to satisfy that sweet tooth. 'Little' being the key word. You see I know myself. If I make a whole batch of cookies, I will eat the whole batch or as many as I can. This dessert is just the right amount and it is packed with protein. It's missing all the sugar, all the flour, and all the extra fat in a real cookie. Don't take my word for it. After you make this recipe, let me know what you think in the comment section below. 

Peanut Butter Cookie Delight

  • 1 scoop Vanilla UMP
  • 1 scoop Cookies and Cream UMP
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • Water

In small mixing bowl combine, Vanilla UMP, peanut butter, and about 3oz water. Mix until smooth. In separate mixing bowl, combine Cookies & Crème UMP and just enough water to make another pudding. Layer the pudding in a serving dish. This will make enough for two. Place both bowls into freezer for 15-20 minutes to set. Remove and try to breathe between bites.

Enjoy Good Food,

Coach Nancy


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