Spices go a long way in transforming a recipe. In this recipe for Holiday Spice Oatmeal, we used ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to infuse simple oats with those classic holiday flavors. It’s sure to warm you up on a chilly winter morning.
Spices go a long way in transforming a recipe. In this recipe for Holiday Spice Oatmeal, we used ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to infuse simple oats with those classic holiday flavors. It’s sure to warm you up on a chilly winter morning.
Total Time: 10 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 5 min.
Yield: 4 servings, about ½ cup each
2 cups water
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground turmeric (optional)
1 tsp. raw honey (optional)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Latkes are delicious. But most recipes call for white potatoes, lots of oil, and sour cream. We used sweet potatoes to create a healthier version of a traditional favorite that your family will love.
Total Time: 50 min.
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Yield: Makes 6 servings, 1 latke each
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled, grated
¾ medium onion, grated, squeezing out as much liquid as possible
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. whole grain Japanese-style bread crumbs (like Panko)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 tsp. olive oil
6 tsp. reduced fat (2%) plain yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Combine sweet potatoes, onion, egg, flour, bread crumbs, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well.
4. Using ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop mixture into rounds and form into patties. Place on prepared baking sheet.
5. Brush the tops evenly with oil; bake for 15 minutes. Flip latkes and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp.
6. Serve latkes topped evenly with yogurt.
Tip: Latkes can be made one day ahead. Follow steps 1 to 4. Cover baking sheet and store in the refrigerator for one day. Bake them right before serving.
Americans tend to approach Thanksgiving like elite athletes preparing for competition, restructuring their lives and eating habits to maximize their performance. There’s only one problem with most people’s plans: “Saving up” (i.e., starving yourself) for a big holiday meal doesn’t work. Under-eating early in the day just makes you more likely to overeat later on, and ultimately take your daily caloric intake to a new high, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. So what does work? Read on. Our hour-by-hour Thanksgiving survival guide will help keep your training program on track, your metabolism in high gear, and your usual post-dinner food coma a thing of the past.
8:00AM: Eat Breakfast
Skip the bagels and coffee cake, and pack your plate with protein. “Eating a balanced, high protein breakfast, such as a couple of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and whole wheat toast, will help you feel fuller longer,” says Gans. Researchers at the University of Missouri agree. In a recent study, they found that participants who broke their fast with 35 grams or more of protein ate 400 fewer calories throughout the day. The reason: Protein takes longer to digest than simple carbs, increasing and extending feelings of satiety.
9:00AM: Work Out
You can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—or you can take advantage of the family-wide distraction to rev your metabolism with a high-intensity workout. (Need inspiration? Click here for mini-workouts you can do anywhere.) “Think of it as ‘earning your stuffing’,” says NYC-based trainer David Otey, C.S.C.S., adding that exercising early in the day will shift you into recovery mode for the rest of it, prompting your body to direct more Thanksgiving calories to replenishing glycogen stores and building muscle than padding your waistline. Plus, independent testing in the Beachbody lab confirms that pumpkin pie tastes better when you feel like you deserve it.
12:00PM: Eat a Light Lunch
Skipping the midday meal is almost as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as moving dinner to mid-afternoon. And while both deserve rethinking—the latter dates to a time before electricity and daylight savings—we’ll focus on the former. Don’t skip lunch. It’s that simple. Let your relatives subsist on water and celery while you guard against overeating later on with a light meal packed with fiber and protein. Our suggestion:Grilled cheese with spinach and provolone.
You earned your stuffing, so go ahead and eat it. And don’t be shy with the cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, gravy, or turkey skin. But establish some ground rules. Here’s a good one: Don’t layer. “You know you’re overdoing it with portions when the only way to fit the green bean casserole on your plate is to put it on top of your mashed potatoes,” says Gans, who offers an alternative plan: Fill half your plate with salad or roasted veggies, a quarter with lean protein (turkey), and a quarter with carbs like potatoes and stuffing. “If all else fails, just make sure to adjust your portions so that you fit everything you want on your plate in a single layer,” says Gans. “Try not to go back for seconds.”
4:30PM: Walk It Out
Rather than relocate from a dining room chair to the living room couch, recruit a few family members to take a stroll outside. “You won’t burn a ton of calories, but you’ll burn more than if you just sat around,” says Gans. Research also shows that a brief post-meal walk can improve digestion, control blood sugar spikes (a prime cause of cravings), and even lower levels of triglycerides (fat molecules from food that are carried in blood and often stored as fat).
8:00PM: Keep Away from Leftovers
Remember what we said about going back for seconds? You’ve already had dinner, so if you feel the need for another meal, approach it like you would a late night snack. Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, sliced apples and nut butter, or a protein smoothie are all good options. Refocusing on healthy eating now will set the stage for the rest of your holiday weekend. “One big meal won’t set you back, but several days of overindulging will,” says Gans. From here on out, enjoy leftovers like you do alcohol—responsibly and in moderation. Click here for 10 healthy ways to turn leftovers into encores.
Regardless of their athletic prowess, most people intuitively understand physical fatigue (or at least the basics of it). Simply put, it’s the inability to maintain power output—the point at which you can no longer pedal your bike fast enough, swing the kettlebell high enough, or find enough oomph to glide past other swimmers in the pool. You might start out strong, but after a while you… just… slow… down. That kettlebell might as well be a Fiat given the likelihood of you lifting it again.
When that happens, we usually blame our muscles for giving out, and that’s a distinct possibility. From glycogen depletion to acidification, plenty of things can contribute to localized muscle weakness. What a lot of people don’t realize is that physical fatigue can also be a symptom of a larger issue. It might feel like your legs quit after too many burpees, but the problem might not be your quads—something else might be going on that keeps your entire system from living up to its potential.
One possibility is a phenomenon called central nervous system fatigue (also known as CNS fatigue or plain ol’ central fatigue). The theory is that overtraining symptoms—including chronic fatigue, reduced athletic performance, and longer-than-usual recovery times—can stem from wear and tear on the complex of nerves in your brain and spinal cord (i.e., your CNS) that control the movements of your body.
You can think of your CNS as a city electric grid and your muscles as factories in the suburbs that demand a disproportionate amount of energy. Eventually, their demand overwhelms their power lines, causing local power failures and system-wide energy shortages. Even if your muscles wanted to sustain their output, they can’t because their power supply is compromised. Scientists demonstrate this phenomenon in the lab by stimulating a muscle’s motor nerve directly, producing induced contractions that are stronger than the subject’s voluntary ones. The takeaway: There’s more potential for muscular work than the brain can muster. In practice, such fatigue manifests as a lazy, sleepy, overall weakness that kills the motivation to lace up despite (in theory) having received enough rest.
While central fatigue is an extremely viable explanation for overtraining issues, it does have a checkered history. Experts spent much of the 1990s misidentifying and over-blaming it for poor athletic performance (sort of like the sports equivalent of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome). But central fatigue is not just slang for feeling bad or having an off day at the gym. Numerous studies have confirmed that something, or more likely some things, potentially interfere at a cellular level with athletic performance following sustained exertion or excessive training.
Central fatigue should not be confused with peripheral fatigue. According to Emma Ross, head of physiology at the English Institute of Sport, when it comes to peripheral fatigue, “we’re talking about a reduction in the muscle’s ability to generate force.” This reduction can be due to any number of physical processes, such as the buildup of lactic acid or the depletion of fuel stores. The key is that it’s happening in the muscles themselves. Central fatigue, by contrast, is marked by impairments happening upstream of the neuromuscular junction. In other words, problems occur before the nerves even connect to the muscles in question.
Ross and her team have found that central fatigue can torpedo performance by 15 percent. In practical terms, that means your competitors have a 15 percent advantage if they avoid it and you don’t. “It is now really well established that central fatigue happens,” says Ross. “And it occurs because exercise—particularly continuous, prolonged, high-intensity, endurance-type exercise—elicits changes in the excitability of the motor cortex and in the brain’s ability to drive the muscle fully.”
Exactly how strenuous exercise causes those changes is a matter of debate. The most accepted theory was outlined in a study by Belgium researchers in the journal Sports Medicine. The short version is that it involves an uptick in levels of the sleep-related neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) brought on by a drop in blood levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), as happens during exercise. There’s a cascade of biochemical processes that explain why this could be so, but suffice it to say that while it may not be the whole story, the shifting BCAA-5HT ratio seems to be a key component.
There’s also some debate as to whether central fatigue is even a bad thing. After intense effort, the condition could simply be the body’s way of throwing up a caution sign and forcing us to cool our jets before we inflict serious (and perhaps permanent) damage on ourselves.
The situation also becomes a bit tricky in competitive sport, particularly in endurance activities like running, cycling, rowing, and swimming, all of which involve pushing physical limits to achieve a new, superior level of “normal.” What’s needed in endurance training is a controlled approach to such redlining so you don’t fry your circuits. Broadly stated, working at or near your max regularly but infrequently is a good thing, but doing so too often will take a toll.
“There is some central fatigue that occurs with almost every strenuous exercise session, but this usually goes away relatively quickly,” says Mark Davis, Ph.D., director of graduate programs in applied physiology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. It’s more pronounced with extreme workouts/competitions, such as marathons, triathlons, or three-day combat missions, but the body usually does a decent job of dealing with it. You might take a little longer than usual to recover fully—especially if tissue injury is involved—but recover you will.
For competitive athletes, this is an expected part of training, says Davis. But if that training isn’t managed properly, it can quickly shift from an acute issue to a chronic problem with the athlete stuck in a perpetual cycle of central fatigue. That not only makes training suck, but it’s also a real bummer on race day.
How do you avoid becoming a fatigue slave? The first steps are creating an intelligent, periodized training plan, logging enough hours of sleep, and prioritizing. You can also mitigate the risk with a few key diet modifications. If scientists are right about the serotonin connection, eating sufficient carbs and BCAAs as you train should help keep your brain from taking on too much of the sleepy stuff. Good BCAA sources include whey and casein proteins, beans, beef, chicken, and soy. A dash of caffeine and maintaining normal blood glucose levels also helps, as does tweaking your diet to fight inflammation (e.g., by increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 rich fish, and reducing your intake of refined carbs and trans fats). Some supplements can also help, including quercetin, which studies suggest is a potent anti-inflammatory.
Overall, David believes, central fatigue is for the most part inevitable. Nearly everyone who performs intense workouts with will experience it. But with appropriate training, rest, and nutrition, it doesn’t have to get in the way of achieving your goals.
Time for some Black Friday BARGAINS! These are available from November 23rd to December 1st while supply last. Here are a few of our favorites – just click their name for more information about each one and to purchase.
Eggnog. Pumpkin pie. All-day movie marathons. The holidays have a way of making even the most resolute exercisers stumble. Some holiday traps are obvious, like marshmallow sweet potato casserole (just say no to seconds). Others are more insidious (using whole wheat bread does not make stuffing healthy). But by far the greatest obstacles to staying lean are our own misconceptions, says Rebecca Rick, M.S., RDN, a sports dietitian at eNRG Performance in Littleton, Colorado. Here are four of the most common ones, and four easy solutions to help you greet the New Year slimmer and stronger than ever.
Myth: Americans gain an average of 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and January 1st
Fact: Most people don’t plump up during the holidays. The average weight gain is around 1.7 pounds, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Your move: Don’t obsess about what you eat, but do be strategic about it, says study author Jamie Cooper, PhD, an associate professor of food and nutrition at the University of Georgia. If you overindulge during Thanksgiving dinner, don’t sweat it—but also don’t gorge on leftovers for days afterward. Freeze extra food to eat in small portions during the next month or two. “Be careful about how and what you eat at holiday parties as well,” suggests Cooper. “If you’re going to a potluck, bring a healthy dish, because then you’ll know you have at least one nutritious option.” (Our suggestion: Roasted fennel and farro salad.)
Myth: You’re too busy to work out
Fact: “You’re not—especially during the holidays,” says Dale Wagner, PhD, an associate professor at Utah State University who studies holiday weight gain. Sure, high-calorie meals make you sluggish, and cold weather makes outdoor workouts unappealing. But if you’re cashing in extra PTO days in November and December, you probably have more hours than usual to sneak in a workout despite an increased demand to play Candy Land and watch The Grinch, says Wagner.
Your move: Get creative about burning calories. “Look at additional free time as an opportunity to do things that you normally wouldn’t do,” says Wagner, who suggests cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with family or friends instead of, say, sitting around the fire or television. Performed at moderate intensity, cross-country skiing torches as many calories as cross-country running (643 calories per hour on average for a 150 pound individual), while snowshoeing is similar to hiking (379 calories per hour on average).
Myth: If you’re already fit, you’re less likely to plump up
Fact: Being in shape doesn’t shield you from the effects of overindulgence and inactivity, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Yes, you have more “metabolically active tissue” (i.e., muscle) than most people. Yes, your metabolism operates in a higher gear if you work out regularly. No, those benefits don’t last long or protect you from a 3,000-calorie meal, like the average Thanksgiving dinner. “Generally, the benefits start to fade after a few days,” says study author Dale Schoeller, PhD, a professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin. Stretch that out to two weeks, and your belly fat can rise by 7 percent, according to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Your move: Stay focused. You don’t have to do the workouts you normally do, but do something (like the activities mentioned above). “And if you can, increase your step count to offset the caloric cost of indulgences,” says Schoeller. A brisk 30 minute walk can burn approximately 154 calories. An even better goal is to increase your total daily step count. Shoot for at least 7,500 steps a day, and do at least 3,000 of them at a cadence of 100 steps per minute, suggest researchers at the Walking Behavior Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Myth: Whatever weight you gain, you’ll lose in the New Year
Fact: Odds are you won’t. Although most people only gain a pound or two during the holidays, the majority of them never lose it, according to scientists reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine. Not only do most people not follow through with their resolutions, but they also don’t curb their eating habits. Indeed, people tend to buy more calorie’s worth of food between January and March than during any other time in the year, according to a study by Cornell University. Why? Because while they buy more healthy foods, they don’t cut back on the unhealthy ones. “It’s called ‘cognitive bias’,” says study author David Just, PhD. “You pick up more veggies than you did last week, feel good about it, and reward yourself with a treat.” The result: A higher net caloric intake.
Your move: Treat grocery shopping like vacation packing: Make a list, determine what’s essential, and leave half the remaining items on the shelf. That should give you enough indulgences to satisfy your cravings without inflating your bottom line (just so we’re clear, that’s a bad thing in the context of weight loss). Also, keep your grocery lists stored on your phone so you can figure out which high-calorie foods you indulge in too often, says Just.
Enter for your chance to win a FREE copy of Hammer and Chisel on December 1st!
People always ask us what our weeks are like, well here you go. Here is our week in review for November 8th, 2015.
As the oldest of four children, I was a pretty responsible kid. I felt I had to grow up faster than most because we had a large family, and things were tight. I grew up watching my parents having to deal with trying to provide for all four of us and sometimes it meant putting us ahead of paying the bills.
I remember coming home and the power being off because the bills were late. While I appreciated the fact that they put us ahead of everything else, it instilled in me a fear of never having enough money or not being able to pay the credit card or electricity bill at the end of the month. I became a child that saved money for as long as I could remember. I was always very aware of what I spent and still am.
I wish I could say that I have let it go, but I haven’t. I still think about money almost every day. I could have 2 million dollars in the bank right now, and it would never be enough, I would still stress. I have, however, learned not to let it control my life as much as it used to.
Honestly, it has been our Beachbody business, NC Fit Club. For the last seven years, we’ve grown it to a successful 6 figure business that grows each year. Having the extra income has helped that stress diminish. It’s allowed me to cut back my hours as a dental assistant, from 4 to 2 days a week. When I cut back my hours, that scared me to DEATH, but I knew that by doing so, I could focus more on what Todd and I are passionate about (helping people) as well as being more available for our daughter, Carly. It was incredible to me how fast I was able to make that money back.
Because of NC Fit Club it has allowed us to save, pay down debt and do things I never thought would be possible, especially with Carly. Beachbody Coaching has become such a blessing in our life, and I can’t even imagine where we would be financially if we had said no to this opportunity.
If you’re a single mom out there, this opportunity could provide money for groceries, utilities, or just a date or family night out. It could be a car payment, or savings account for your child’s college fund, whatever it could be for you, it’s an opportunity, an opportunity to make a change financially that could alleviate some stress while also changing people’s lives. Trust me I know.
I realize that this isn’t for everyone, but if this sounds even slightly appealing to you fill out our coach application and I’d be happy to tell you more about it.
Much like blenders and marbles, digestion and exercise simply do not mix. When you work out, your blood wants to flow to your extremities. When you process food, your blood wants to assist your stomach. And when you try to do both, you’re inclined to do neither well. In short, your mom was right (although not necessarily for the reasons she thought): You should wait a while after lunch before you go swimming. When it comes to exercise, an empty tummy is a happy tummy. (Unless you’re a diabetic. Consult your doctor.)
Blood flow isn’t the only issue here. Even if you wanted to knock out some plyo while macking on a Royale with cheese, your body has ways to actively sabotage your efforts, and it isn’t afraid to use them. It’s primary method of action: Your nervous system.
At the risk of over-generalizing, your nervous system has two sides. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for “fight or flight” functions. It kicks in when you’re under stress (e.g., during hard exercise), releasing a cascade of hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol that prime your body for action. Your parasympathetic nervous system, meanwhile, is in charge of your “rest and digest” functions. It’s also responsible for healing.
The problem is that when your sympathetic system kicks in, it shuts down your parasympathetic system, including anything that isn’t mission critical for the task at hand. Have you ever had to urinate when something stressful popped up, causing you to completely forget about your need to whiz? That’s your sympathetic nervous system in action, and it treats your digestive process the same way. Since the food in your stomach doesn’t provide an immediate survival benefit—and yes, your body assumes your life is at stake if you’re exerting yourself strenuously (why else would you do something like that?)— it hits the kill button on digestion to support your attempt to fight or flee. If you’re walking or cycling leisurely, you’re fine—you’ll continue to digest what you ate. But if the going gets tough, your digestion stops going. Whatever is in your tummy will just sit there—and you’ll probably feel it.
Don’t confuse exercising on an empty stomach with training in a fasted state. An empty stomach means you’ve given yourself enough time to adequately digest your food. That can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the size of your meal. Being in a fasted state means you’ve gone without eating for somewhere on the order of 12 hours (typically overnight). At this point, your food has not only been digested, but the fuel it supplied has been largely depleted, leaving your blood sugar low and your liver glycogen wanting. In this situation, your metabolism shifts and you’re more prone to burn fat—but the benefit has more to do with athletic performance than weight loss.
Timing your pre-exercise feeding to avoid these conflicts is easy. The general rule is to wait 3 hours after a full, balanced meal. Wait 2 hours after a lighter meal where the nutritional balance is skewed toward carbs (e.g., half a turkey sandwich and a glass of juice). Wait 1 hour after a similarly carb-rich snack, such as a glass of chocolate milk. For anything less than an hour, keep your snack below 100 calories and focus on fast-absorbing carbs (e.g., half a banana).
People always ask us what our weeks are like, well here you go. A new feature we call “Week in Review”.
We had the honor of meeting and listening to Eric Thomas (E.T. the Hip-Hop Preacher) when he was in Charlotte the other week and he spoke about something, that his new book will go into great detail about, which was how your VALUES effect you reaching your goals. Now this can be applied to many areas of your life; business, spiritual, marriage, but today I just want to hit on how it can effect just your fitness goals.
So what he talked about and had us do, was go home and write down 10 Values that we want to live by. He calls it your 10 Commandments for Success! If you’re ambitious and creative you could do a list of 10 Commandments for just your fitness life and 10 more for your marriage, etc. But I’m going to guess that in most cases, you’ll have a list of 10 Commandments that covers all areas of your life.
So my suggestion and what I did and have always done (for the last 7 years) is have 2 of my values reflect my fitness goals. For you 1 may be enough or you may have more than 2. One of mine is “I will eat 85/15” which means I will live by the rule of 85% clean and 15% treat. The other one is “I will workout at least 4-5 times a week”. I normally exceed that, but it’s a value on my Commandments list anyway.
It’s simple! Live by that list and you will reach your goals! When you go to the refrigerator at 11 pm and want that chocolate ice cream or pudding or whatever, ask yourself “Is this in alignment with my list of values?” If you’re 30 lbs overweight, for example, guess what? Your values are out of whack!
You know that person who you see at the coffee shop or grocery store and you think, “Man I wish I could look like that!” and you feel that sense of comparison or jealousy comes over you….that’s on you. What that should say to you is, the person who you wish you were more like, values their health! They value how much they exercise, they value how much they eat and what they eat! You can’t expect to reach your fitness goals and get healthy if you don’t make it a part of your VALUE SYSTEM if 1 or 2 of your “Commandments” don’t hold you accountable to where you want to be.
If I go to a bar with the guys before a Panthers football game and a lady comes up and talks to me or hits on me (and no this didn’t happen, it’s an example…but if it did), and my #1 value is to be a good husband to Alisha, then I have to remove myself immediately from the situation. It doesn’t align with my values. If you sit there and watch tv and don’t make time for your workouts or decide to start tomorrow instead of today….you’re in violation of your values! Your values will keep you between the lines, your values will be there as the voice in your head when no one else is around that says “YOU KNOW BETTER”.
Look, this isn’t rocket science, it’s not hard to do…but it’s easy not to do and therein lies the problem. Most people don’t do it, they just go through life letting whatever happens, happen. They leave it up to world to decide their fate and if it works, then great! If it doesn’t work, then it must be somebody else’s problem.
Do a list of values and create your 10 Commandments, and if fitness goals are something you want to reach, then you better put the values into your commandments that will hold you accountable to getting there. I promise you, if you’ll follow the map and stop trying to detour and re-create the rules as you go and just do what your values say to do, you will succeed.
I would LOVE to hear from you and if you want someone to help you and keep you accountable, send us an email and let’s connect. Share with me your goals and the values you’re willing to put on the list and let’s get there together. I love nothing more than to surround myself with other people who want to live the same kind of life as me, who want to make a change and make it stick. It’s why I’m drawn to the people who we connect with because I feed off seeing them succeed. One of my values is to help other people achieve success in their life. So I have a feeling our values probably fall into alignment. Reach out to me now, I’m serious.