How to get back on the fitness track after a holiday

Everyone experiences this in different ways, and a lot depends on the specific holiday, and our travel plans, but there is the constant complaint about falling off the fitness “horse” when a holiday sneaks up on the calendar.

Most Americans believe they put on over 5-pounds over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but the reality of the situation is the average citizen only gains 1-2 pounds over the most popular holidays of the year. The problem is how these holidays don’t make us necessarily gain weight, but they change our habits which leads to more weight gain.

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People stop going to the gym because they are too busy, have to shop or travel, and getting back into their routine is a struggle. This can be the case with almost any holiday, including the 4th of July, but there is good news!!

This is all preventable, if you follow these simple steps:

Know what is coming

Have you ever been sitting there, and the phone rings, and someone calls to tell you about the surprise Labor Day picnic they are throwing in an hour? Of course that hasn’t happened, because it doesn’t happen. Holiday parties are planned ahead of time, so there is no real reason for anything like this to sneak up on anyone. You know what is coming, and that can help you prepare yourself.

Plan accordingly

I’ve written this before on this blog, and will say it again, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Let’s talk scenarios here. If you have a 4th of July picnic, and you know the party starts at 3:00 p.m., do something active that morning. It doesn’t have to be an intense hour of weight lifting in the gym, although it could be, but a nice walk could suffice. This will help you burn calories, and get your body in a calorie-burning mode, prior to heading to the party.

When at the party, don’t get stuck eating whatever everyone else brings. Bring a dish, or two, which is healthy and you will enjoy eating. Take a huge salad, with fixings like raw vegetables, and some cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese. If you are thinking you might be the only person to eat these items, then fine! At least you know what you are consuming.

Be smart with your consumption

Speaking of consumption, you have to be smart with what you eat, and drink. Alcohol doesn’t necessarily make you gain weight by consuming liquid calories, but the impact it has on your body as a depressant can slow down your fat-burning system, causing the other calories you eat to not be utilized as they should. If you want to indulge in an adult beverage, stick to distilled liquors (think Gin and Vodka), which don’t pack the additives and sugar of most drinks. My favorite? The Gin Ricky. Shot of Gin, ice, lemon and lime wedge, and sparkling water. Perfect summer beverage.

As for eating, focus on the protein and vegetables. If someone brought a veggie tray, attack that sucker with a fervor! Go ahead and have a burger, and load the rest of your plate with the salad you brought and some vegetables. If you want to splurge, splurge on fruit and not the carb-loaded pastas and desserts which can derail your work you did earlier in the day.

This may sound strict, but you will thank me the next day when you wake up and actually feel great!

Stick with the plan

This may sound silly, but if your parties are anything like mine, you will have some backlash to your dietary decisions. Comments like:

“Why aren’t you eating a bun?”

“What are you a rabbit? Why are you eating salad?”

“You aren’t going to eat my casserole? What? You don’t like my cooking?”

You have to be able to withstand this barrage and have your reasons in place to counteract these comments. Here are some easy ones to remember for the questions above:

“Why aren’t you eating a bun?”

Answer: “No, just trying to watch what I eat.”

“What are you a rabbit? Why are you eating salad?”

Answer: “Haha, no, just want to watch what I eat.”

“You aren’t going to eat my casserole? What? You don’t like my cooking?”

Answer: “No, your cooking is great, just want to watch what I eat.”

See a trend there? You don’t have to make up excuses, just tell people you are watching what you eat, and if they can’t get over that then that is their fault. If you are reading this you at least acknowledge that fitness, and living a healthy life, is important. If it is that important, then act like it in all situations.

Allow yourself to indulge (a bit)

One of the biggest comments I get is how people think I don’t ever eat food which tastes amazing, but isn’t the best for you. I have one of the worst sweet tooths imaginable, but have learned how to curtail that due to my fitness and physique being more important than that Blizzard at Dairy Queen I love so much.

I eat ice cream. I eat brownies. I eat cake.

The difference between me and those who struggle with their weight is I am able to pick and choose when, how and how much I consume. The cake would be a small piece to most’s standards. The ice cream is often a kids, or small, cone.

Eat well, and enjoy life, but be responsible about it.

Do all of these things to stay on track and get through the holidays without the bulge which often accompanies these holidays.

Share this to get more people to join the revolution!

Fight back Father Time by kicking him square in the teeth

Everyone knows someone who claims they can no longer do the things they used to. Sometimes it is as simple as picking up a heavy object, or running as far as they once could.

Either way, I call Bull Sh!t on these excuses.

I realize Father Time never loses a battle, and the bell eventually tolls for all of us, but it doesn’t mean you have to go down without a fight.

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Jack Lalanne – The Godfather of Fitness

When you age, whether it is starting your 30s, or entering your 60s, you have to realize your body is still an amazing piece of machinery. Like a car, when the car ages you have to take special care of the vehicle. Sometimes things need checked more frequently, but you want to keep this high performance vehicle running as smooth as the day you bought it. To keep with the car analogy, the vehicle will never run like it did when it left the showroom floor, but it doesn’t mean it is going to be placed in a garage with a cover on it just because it is now an older vehicle.

The same can be said about the aging process. You need to take special care of your body as you age, but it doesn’t mean the body is breaking down on you.

I’m 34-years-old, and can still remember the first time I realized I needed to take time to properly warm up before an athletic event. I used to walk to the field, lace up the cleats and go play. Then came a pulled hamstring which sidelined me for a few weeks. From that moment on, I realized I needed to show up early and warm up properly to prevent injury.

I didn’t quit playing sports, just realized my body needed more time to get ready for those endeavors.

It pains me to see people aging to the point of inactivity. The usual excuses abound:

“I would love to play, but this body isn’t what is used to be.”

“I remember when I used to be able to do that…those were the days.”

“Getting older sucks…you just wait!”

I look at people like Jack LaLanne, Gary Player and countless others who have not succumbed to Father Time, but have given the bastard a swift kick in the teeth to show they aren’t going down without a fight.

This is the precise point of the message today. We are all going to die one day, and Father Time will certainly always get the last laugh, but let’s not make things easy on him. Don’t just sit back and watch as your body deteriorates, but get up and move to help your body become rejuvenated! Be the person you want to be. If that means you start to walk everyday to get more energy, or you train your body to get back on the adult softball field, you do what you have to do to get the job done.

If you need help, ask for help. Whether that is in the comment section of this article (I will always answer any questions people may have), or finding a quality personal trainer near you to assist you, but sitting back and doing nothing is a death sentence for your body.

Don’t make Father Time’s job easy…instead kick him square in the teeth showing just how serious you are about your health. Let the revolution rage on…

Fit Dad’s Must-Have Recipe: Buckwheat Pancakes

There are few things in this world that are better than some pancakes first thing in the morning. However, when most people who are even remotely conscious about their health think pancakes, they think “BAAAAAAD”.

They aren’t the best option for those trying to tighten up their waistline, but there are options out there which are a hell of a lot healthier than your traditional pancakes, and easier on the body too.

This is where the Fit Dad’s Must-Have Recipes come in. Periodically, or whenever I feel like it, I will share a recipe our family enjoys which is healthier than the usual alternative.

Quick side note: Our oldest child, and only son, has Type 1 Diabetes, so when it comes to tracking carbohydrates and macronutrients, it is a way of life in our household.

Today’s Recipe: Organic Buckwheat Pancakes

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Recipe:

  • 1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 TSP Backing Powder
  • 1/4 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Milk of Choice (We use Almond Milk)
  • 1 Egg – Separated (Add egg yolks to milk to mix. Whip egg whites, adding gently to mix to help keep pancakes fluffly)
  • 2 Packs Stevia
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 2 TBSP Melted Butter, ghee or coconut oil

This recipe sports a pancake which yields 8.4 carbohydrates per pancake (makes about 20 pancakes…we have 4 kids, we need to make a lot…stop judging.) and plenty of protein to boot.

These pancakes are organic and gluten free, and could have more protein punch to them by simply adding some protein powder to the mix, but be careful with the flavor as it can certainly change the overall taste of the pancakes.

Lastly, I can’t take credit for these pancakes. My wife found, created, mastered and shared the recipe with me, to share with you! So, next time you want to treat yourself to some pancakes, try these Buckwheat pancakes!

Gym Etiquette 101: What in the hell are you wearing?!

Before really beginning this article, I should point out I am a very modest guy when it comes to the way I dress in public. This trend would also bleed into what I wear to the gym. Usually just a t-shirt and shorts work, but in the summer there are times where cut off t-shirts are more than appropriate with the heat.

Nothing out of the norm, but there are certainly some people who push the fashion limits in the gym, both male and female. If you’ve been going to the gym long enough, you’ve seen plenty of these people walking around the weight stacks and bench presses, looking ridiculous.

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This was actually a professional photo shoot at one time…think about that

Here are some of my all-time favorite fashion gaffes in the gym:

  • The string tank top guy – Tank tops can reveal a tremendous physique, but that damn three inches of fabric traveling over your shoulders just covers up too much skin! What do you do? You cut the tank top so you are basically shirtless, but have the tiniest bit of fabric on your body, just so you don’t get kicked out of the gym.
  • Sports bra chick – Look, we get it, you have a ridiculous physique, but that doesn’t mean just a sports bra is now considered appropriate gym attire. Just like the string tank top guy, no one wants to use a machine or bench if your bare skin has been all over it. Oh, and we all know you want the attention, but sometimes you can be more of a distraction than an attraction.
  • Sleeveless Hoodie bro – You want the comfort and warmth of a hooded sweatshirt, but you also want to let your “guns” breath without sleeves. Seems counter intuitive, but people actually wear this in the gym. If it wasn’t ridiculous enough, most of these bros will wear their hoods up over their heads, with their Dre Beats headphones over the hood. Just look in the mirror before leaving your home and ask, “Do I look ridiculous?” and the answer would be a resounding YES.
  • Way too short shorts – This is one of the few fashion statements which stretches over both genders. I’m not one to complain about women wearing short shorts, but even those can be a distraction in the gym. A distraction in the gym means while men gawk at the girl doing bent over rows with short shorts on, I have to wait for him to get off the freaking bench. Sadly, I have seen men wear too short shorts in the gym too. You have huge legs…awesome! No one wants to see your bare legs all the way up to your groins. Man up, and put on some real shorts.
  • Mr. Sweatsuit – While many are simply focused on taking as much clothing off as possible, there are those who are doing nothing but adding clothing. The guy who is wearing long pants, t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, hoodie sweatshirt and a winter hat in the middle of July, all to shed some weight and drop a few pounds while sweating while breathing in the gym.
  • Out of your league – There are always those who attend the gym and try way too hard to fit into the gym culture. Unfortunately for those people, the culture they are trying to fit into is for those who are of the age range of 18-25. Usually not a problem, except you are 42 and just trying to fit in. In other words, don’t fit into that range and you just look ridiculous. Stay off the Instagram fitness pages.

I could go on, as could anyone who has spent any amount of time in the gym, but the moral of this story is simple: Just wear normal, comfortable, clothes.

You don’t need those neon yellow zebra print tights, or the super tight Nike tank top. An old t-shirt and a pair of shorts works just fine. I realize some are there to possibly impress the opposite sex, and the gym is a great place to find a mate, but at the same time what message are you sending with how you dress? Look good, look stylish, but don’t look ridiculous.

This has been your friendly gym etiquette message of the week! Now time to join the revolution…

Getting six-pack abs is actually possible, and I’m not joking

Everyone has flipped through Instagram, a fitness magazine or been watching a movie and seen a man, or woman, who is sporting a ridiculously awesome set of abdominals. It is at this point where most of us think to ourselves, “It sure would be awesome to have abs like those!”

While some might view such a feat as nothing more than a pipe dream, understand it is possible, it just depends on how close you are to reaching this goal. For instance, if you are sporting a lovely ‘Dad Bod’ accompanied by a spare tire around your midsection, it will take a lot of training and dedication to slowly chip away the fat to reveal those chiseled abs. On the flip side, if you are someone who already works out, and just has that top layer of fat to remove, the results could come sooner than you think.

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Before going any further, understand right now to get the lean look most desire takes a lot of work, and a tremendous amount of dedication. You have to fall in love with the fitness lifestyle, not just do it as a hobby, and I realize this is not for everyone. This doesn’t mean you have to eat nothing but grilled chicken and steamed broccoli for the rest of your life, but you will have to make sacrifices to attain these results.

I find these sacrifices to be an almost spiritual experience, but I’m not normal in this regard, or so my wife tells me! To me, the results are more important than the immediate satisfaction of alcohol, or putting a ton of junk in my body.

If you have read this article to this point, you are obviously still interested in making the appropriate actions to seeing the results you desire. Congratulations! Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

To really get your abdominals to ‘pop’, you will need to not only eat extremely clean, but train accordingly to ensure you get the most bang-for-your-buck. Let’s talk what to avoid nutritionally and how to train to maximize your end product.

What to Avoid:

  • Processed Foods – Think anything which comes in a box and/or has a ridiculous shelf-life.
  • Excess Sugar – Say bye to the sugary food, and drinks, which have invaded the average American household.
  • Alcohol – This depressant can wreck your fitness goals. Now, there are some drinks you can have which aren’t as bad, but I’ll leave that for another article.

How to Train:

  • Mix Cardio with Weight Training – Just running, or just lifting isn’t going to get the job done. You need to lift weights and do cardio to truly see the results desired.
  • Do the right exercises – I laugh at people who do a million crunches and that is their abdominal training. A great set of abs consists of upper and lower abdominals and chiseled obliques and serratus anterior muscles.
  • Rest – Often times people over train when trying to get lean, but rest is key to allowing the body to heal properly.

To wrap this up, understand you have to combine great nutrition with great training to really see the results you desire. One without the other won’t hurt you, but also won’t get you the results you desire. Eating healthy might be the biggest challenge for the average person trying to get results, but as I stated earlier, it all depends how bad you want the results.

This is the first step, and, as always, if you have any questions you can feel free to hit me up in the comment section and I’d be glad to help anyone reach their own personal fitness goals!

Join the revolution today!

The Fit Dad’s Guide to working out while traveling

June 21st was the first official day of the summer, and that means one thing for families across the country — time to start traveling.

While Americans migrate to the beach, overseas or to the mountains, most put their fitness goals, and workout habits, on the back-burner during the week, or more, they are away from the homestead.

I once asked several of my clients why they didn’t want to train on their vacation, and their answers always boggled my mind. Here is a taste of what they said:

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Hit the ground running on your vacation to stay in peak condition.

“I just don’t have time while on vacation.”

“No gym. No equipment. No working out.”

“I like to take a week off while on vacation.”

You get the idea, and while scheduling your rest week during your vacation is okay, I wrote about how important rest is HERE, a lack of equipment, or time, is no reason to not exercise during your vacation, and, oh yeah, who doesn’t want to look pumped up while on the beach?!

I thought so.

For the Fit Dad family, we are lucky enough to be going on vacation this summer to a location which has a gym on the premise, and yes, I will be getting up early to get my workout in before heading to the beach, but not everyone has that amenity available to them when they travel.

You could always entertain the thought of traveling to a local Gold’s Gym, you can get a travel pass to get you in for free, or a YMCA, but not many want to travel to a gym on vacation. If you are one of those people who want to stay put, the guide to staying with your fitness goals isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Easy-to-pack Equipment

Here is some equipment which won’t take up any space in your suitcase or bag which will help you stay active, and not lose your gains, while on the road:

  • Exercise Bands – You can get these at any Wal*Mart, Target or Dick’s Sporting Goods store. Some even come in a pack which different sets of resistance for you to use in different situations.
  • Jump Rope – Can be purchased in those same stores, and is one of the best ways to get cardiovascular training in without losing hours from your vacation.

Just Freaking Walk

Who doesn’t love a stroll on the beach? If you are headed to the beach, a stroll on the beach can be a great way to work the stabilizer muscles in your legs, but also an enjoyable part of your vacation.

If you are headed to the higher elevations, walking hills can really get your heart rate up, and if you are going to a major city for site-seeing, you will be doing plenty of walking as you see all the city has to offer.

Up and at ’em

One thing which happens often on vacation is the day simply gets away. We say we will go for a run, or walk, when we come up from the beach, or we will go to the gym after lunch. And what always happens? We don’t go anywhere.

The suggestion here, especially if you have kids, is to get up early, it doesn’t have to be the butt crack of dawn, and get your exercise in then, so you have the rest of the day to enjoy yourself on vacation.

Pick and Choose

Lastly, take a look at your week, or two, ahead and figure out which days work best for you to train. You shouldn’t be seriously exerting yourself seven days a week anyways, so find 3 days where you can take an hour to get your workout in.

If you are golfing early 3 days during vacation, choose the other days to get your workout in. Have a big shopping trip planned during your break? Then plan accordingly for your workouts.

Planning your workouts, like you would plan other activities, on vacation will help you stay dedicated to your fitness goals, without ruining your vacation in the process. Follow this guideline and staying true to your goals is as easy as 1-2-3.

Join the revolution TODAY!!

 

When it comes to changing your life, you have to want to do it

Everyone has that friend or family member who they wish would get in shape, and change their life for the better.

Some of us are brave enough to actually say something to these people, trying, often in vain, to motivate them to be a better version of themselves. And sometimes, it actually gets them started. However, many times the individual who was coerced into going to the gym, or being more active, simply stops.

It doesn’t always happen this way, but why do people just quit? The answer is simple: Because they have to want to do it.

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Dedication and focus doesn’t happy overnight…

Just recently I was reading about a man who had tried for years, often at the urging of family members, to get fit and in shape, but failed miserably every time. He would lose 10, 15 and even over 20 pounds, only to gain it back shortly after. The reason he always bounced back, in a bad way, was the fact he never truly wanted to make the transformation for himself. He did it to appease his trainer, friends and family, but never for himself.

It wasn’t until he finally decided to make the changes for himself, and no one else.

Some never reach this point, but when an individual says they are starting this journey for themselves is when they will start to achieve real, and lasting, results.

Are you reading this and are currently in this situation? Whether you are someone trying to get an individual to make a life change, or you want to make a life change of your own, the ultimate choice comes down to the person who has to do the work. Personally, I’ve begged and pleaded with some to get healthier, and it never happened. It was when I stopped pestering, when they approached me and started to make changes in their own life.

They had to get over their own mental, and sometimes physical, hurdles before they could become committed to bettering their lives. Sometimes this takes time, and can be very frustrating for those who want to see changes in others, but if you’ve voiced your concern and desire for them to get healthier, there isn’t much else you can do.

Just remember, the change you want to see in others, is dependent on those people being ready, and willing, to start this difficult journey.

Introduce them to the revolution…they won’t regret it!