It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s shockingly effective at helping people eat healthier, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The researchers found that people who recorded everything they ate for a week lost six more pounds than people who didn’t. Don’t bother buying a notebook—smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and Eatly make recording what you eat easy. All three also sync with third party fitness trackers, helping you gain a more holistic view of your health and daily activity.
Even if you don’t have kids, you’re bound to run into them at some point during the holidays. Watch how they move, and copy them. Why? All of that crawling, rolling, rocking, and deep squatting can dramatically boost your mobility, which is the key to unlocking greater strength, according to strength and conditioning coach Steve Maxwell. No toddler around? Do the following “toddler roll” exercise to instantly open up your chest and shoulders, and release tension throughout your body.
Toddler Roll: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and your arms extended above your head. Look over your right shoulder, reach back across the midline of your body with your right arm, and roll onto your back (don’t push off with your legs). Continue looking in the same direction as you reach across your body with your left arm and use your core to roll onto your stomach. Roll back to where you started, and repeat in the other direction. Continue rolling from side to side for 3 minutes. Click here for a video demonstration of the exercise (and to see how quickly the mobility benefits kick in).
You already know the dangers of grocery shopping on an empty stomach. (And if you don’t, take a look at your receipt the next time you shop hungry.) But Cornell University scientists have added a new twist to the classic advice: Eat a piece of fruit before you hit the supermarket. In their study, people who ate an apple before they shopped bought 28 percent more produce than those who had a cookie. They also bought fewer unhealthy items overall. The reason: After eating a healthy snack, your subconscious continues to steer you in the same direction, say the researchers.
This is a two-parter, yes it’s December, and it’s a popular theme, but it’s true!
First, Give Back to Someone Else
I challenge you to give back to someone less fortunate than you. We team up with our coaches and adopt a family for Christmas and find a family that needs help and we team up and help them. This year it’s a single mom of 2 amazing kids, who was in an abusive relationship and is now out of it and trying to rebuild her life and her kids’ lives. Somebody once told me that “God will only give you what he knows you can be responsible for”, whether you believe in God or not isn’t the point, it’s the principle of “do for others as you want them to do for you”. You can call it karma if you want.
Second, Give Back to Yourself
I want you to examine yourself over the next couple of weeks. Think back on 2015 and ask yourself how it went? Are you where you want to be? And not just from a physical and health standpoint, but from an ENTIRE life standpoint. I can promise you if your health is out of whack or you’re overweight etc., it’s a direct reflection on other areas of your life. Nine times out of ten, when your checking account is out of whack, your marriage is out of whack, you’re at a job you can’t stand, it bleeds over into every part of your life. It’s like cancer that eats at you and all of your happiness.
I want you to make a commitment to yourself to change it. Doesn’t have to be drastic, take baby steps. Pick one area of your life you want to fix. I’ll use fitness as an example because that’s what we do. Don’t wait to January 1, when it’s popular to commit, do it now! Start over the next couple of weeks to make small changes every day, SO that come January 1, you’ve primed yourself for success, you’ve begun to lay the foundation in which you can build upon. Below is a video I encourage you to watch. Much like Shaun (my soul brother) Eric Thomas is a huge inspiration to me. Alisha and I had the pleasure to finally meet him a few weeks back, and I use his books and videos with our coaches to help us “stay on track” and get better. I want you to be better in 2016 and if you decide to invite us on the journey with you from a fitness standpoint, or you decide you want to coach and give back while also taking control of your life, we’ll be honored to be your co-pilot. Enjoy the video.
If you’re a desk jockey, your best lunch option will always be the one you prepare yourself (it gives you more control over what and how much you eat). But if you have to order it, do so from your office, then walk to pick it up. You’ll eat healthier, and consume an average of 114 fewer calories, according to a recent study in the journalAppetite. The reason: Ordering remotely removes sensory cues, especially smells, like the irresistible aroma of pizza and pastries.
Skipping just one workout can initiate a downward spiral, increasing your odds of skipping another one by 61 percent, according to British researchers. The solution: Think smaller. Instead of trying to carve out time for one long workout, do two or three short ones. “In so doing, you’ll boost motivation, eliminate ‘too busy’ as an excuse, and accelerate both muscle building and fat loss,” says Chad Waterbury M.S., a Los Angeles-based exercise physiologist. Click here for mini-workouts you can do anywhere.
“A few high-calorie meals during the holidays are not going to sabotage your fitness goals,” says trainer and Look Great Naked author Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, adding that people get too caught up in the minutia of weight loss (e.g., how many calories they burn in a single workout, or how many they consume in a single meal). A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. “As long as your diet is dialed in 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent,” he says.
What do Americans look forward to most during the holidays? Spending time with friends and family, according to a recent Pew Research poll, which found that 69 percent of people put socializing at the top of their holiday wish list. Leverage those social opportunities to stay in shape: Not only does exercising with a buddy boost motivation and exercise adherence, but it can also help you exercise 24 percent longer — especially if your partner is slightly fitter than you are, according to a recent study at Michigan State University.
“The burpee is the quintessential total-body conditioning move,” says Andy Speer, C.S.C.S., owner of Soho Strength Lab in Manhattan. “You get an upper and lower body burn, eccentric and concentric muscle stimuli, mobility work, a core stability challenge, and a cardiovascular pump — it’s like packing an entire workout into a single exercise.” Science agrees: 30 seconds of burpees is just as effective as an all out sprint when it comes to boosting all aspects of fitness, according to a recent study at the University of Georgia. But don’t stop there. “See how many you can do in 5 minutes,” says Speer. In each minute, work for 40 seconds, and rest for 20 seconds (exercise instructions below). “Really attack 40 second work periods, and each time you do the challenge — I recommend every week — try to do more reps,” says Speer. “Not only is this an excellent test of total body fitness, but it’s an excellent mini workout in itself.” In short, it’s the perfect do-anywhere, anytime sweat session for when friends, families, feasts, and other holiday festivities conspire to keep you from working out.
Burpee: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Lower your body and place your hands on the floor. Kick your legs back into a push-up position, perform a push-up, and then quickly reverse the move, bringing your feet back to your hands. Jump up. Begin your next rep as soon as you land.
There’s nothing better than coming home to the smell of a delicious dinner that’s been slowly cooking all day, especially when you don’t have to toil away in the kitchen for hours to make it! Throw all the ingredients for these turkey meatballs into a crock pot in the morning, set the timer, and indulge in a warm, hearty meal that night.
Total Time: 6 hrs. 22 min. Prep Time: 20 min. Cooking Time: 6 hrs. 2 min. Yield: 6 servings, 3 meatballs each
1 lb. raw 93% lean ground turkey
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt), divided use
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup whole grain Japanese-style breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
Combine turkey, ¼ tsp. salt, pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, and cheese in a large bowl; mix well with clean hands.
Roll mixture into eighteen 1½-inch meatballs. Set aside.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add half of meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until meatballs are browned on each side. Place browned meatballs in a 3-quart slow cooker.
Repeat with the remaining meatballs. Set aside.
Add onion to same skillet; cook, over medium-high heat, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
Top meatballs with cooked onion, tomatoes, oregano, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt; cook, covered, on low temperature for 5 to 6 hours, stirring once or twice.
Go ahead and indulge your cravings. Take a break from working out. But return to your normal diet and exercise program the next morning. A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent.
You may have heard people talk about a runner’s high or being in the zone. Sport psychologists call it flow state, but it all means the same thing: it’s the moment in time when you both feel and perform your absolute best. On average, people can easily access about 65% of their absolute strength. When you get into a flow state, you have the opportunity to push your strength to its absolute threshold. In this state, you’ll jump higher, lift more, reach farther, and hold poses longer – all while loving every minute of it!
The state is the result of your brain releasing five brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters into the body. To easily explore the differences between them, let’s enlist the help of some old friends: The Muppets.
Dopamine most closely resembles Elmo. Enthusiastic, engaged, and always wanting to experience new things, Elmo continues to seek adventure and creativity. Even when he doesn’t have all the skills necessary to do what he wants, he focuses and gets physically energized to perform the best he can.
Norepinephrine can be compared to Animal. This wild drummer is full of intense energy and keeps himself locked on select targets (e.g. the drums) which keeps all other distractions at bay.
For endorphins, we can look to How to Get Into the Fitness Zone Bear, the group’s resident comedian who wants nothing more than to relieve everyone’s pain and produce pleasure with his jokes
Anandamide is Gonzo, that daredevil who takes pride in everything that he does. Gonzo doesn’t often let fear get in his way of experimenting with new acts. In fact, his positive state prepares his body for even the most painful and ill-advised performances.
Lastly, serotonin is the one and only Kermit the Frog, the Muppet everyone calls upon to help them cope with adversity. He’s also good at giving everyone warm and fuzzy feelings long after the show is over, despite being cold-blooded.
When you’re in a flow state, all five of these neurotransmitters act as powerful painkillers and allow you to physically and mentally reach new heights.
Here are three things you can do to help yourself achieve a flow state:
Clear Process Goals. Flow is not about having clear outcome goals such as finishing a workout or losing 10 pounds. It’s about using clear goals to help you stay in the present moment. Before you’re about to perform an exercise, set a clear goal. It could be one more rep, five more seconds, lifting two more pounds, etc. Clear process goals center your mind, narrow your focus, free you from distractions, and create self-confidence.
Get Feedback. The more you know how you’re doing and the faster you can course correct any issues, the greater your chances of finding flow. While performing each exercise, quickly assess your technique and effort. Ask yourself if there is anything you should correct or if you can give more effort. When you can quickly and immediately assess your performance, you can also quickly and immediately figure out if anything needs to be improved for the next set. With this tight feedback loop, you continue to stay in the present moment, feel in control and energized, and believe in your ability to push your limits.
Challenge Yourself. Understand that your attention will be most engaged when you choose an exercise that is just above your current ability level. Tasks that are too challenging elicit fear and self-doubt. Tasks that are too easy make room for distractions.