Catch of the Day

10 08 2014

Fish is a great way to receive  your dietary needs of healthy fats. In addition to Omega-3’s, fish is a great source of protein. Here is an easy recipe I found in “Simple Suppers” by Gina Steer. This was easy to make and it tasted great. One recommendation is to reheat any leftovers in the oven rather than microwave to prevent softening of the pastry border.

Fish Puff Tart – (Cook time: 35 minutes) Fish Puff Tart

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
5 oz. fresh cod
5 oz. smoked haddock
1tbsp. pesto sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese, sliced
1 large egg, beaten
freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

Prepare:
 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 8 x 10 in. rectangle.
2. Draw a 7 x 9 in. rectangle in the center of the pastry to form a 1 in. border. (Be careful not to cut through the pastry)
3. Lightly cut crisscross patterns in the border of the pastry with a knife.
4. Place the fish on a chopping board, and with a sharp knife, skin the cod and smoked haddock. Cut into thin slices.
5. Spread the pesto evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell with the back of a spoon.
6. Arrange the fish, tomatoes, and cheese in the pastry shell, and brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
7. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 20-25 min. until the pastry is well risen, puffed, and golden brown. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Reference:
Steer, G. (2011). Simple Suppers. essential recipes; Flame Tree Publishing. p. 48





Sweating It Out

26 09 2013

It slowly emanates from deep within my body. It’s caused by my internal temperature rising. I feel the droplets form on my forehead as my arms begin to glisten in the light. I know I’m working hard and sweating is the cause of my efforts. I continue to push on as sweat appears from the pores of my body. I will get through this no matter how much I sweat; fatigue will not get the best of me.

Rep after rep my arms extend and retract as my body stays in a squatted position. “A workout this will be,” I think to myself. Droplets from my forehead beads into my eyes, but I keep working harder. I don’t let a little sweat stop me. In fact, I invite sweat to come. I know that sweating is the mechanism which cools my body and without it, I would overheat and fatigue will have won.

My back begins to signal that it’s getting weaker and I brace my abs to help my core stabilize. “A couple more reps and I can rest,” I reassure myself. This motivates me to work harder. Controlling my pace, I work on my technique to get the benefits of the labor.

I return to thinking of the other benefits of sweating. Like the elimination of harmful toxins and improved skin tone. I know that sweating also is a sign of increased caloric burn. This leads to weight loss, which is not my goal.

Taking my mind off the task made the last few reps bearable and I hunch over to catch my breath. Sweat drips into my eyes and I wipe them away. I slowly raise my body up and reflect on my hard work. The bathtub, now clean, sparkles in the light and I think to myself, “My wife better be happy with this request.”





Take a Stand and Live Longer: Why Sitting Too Much Could Be Life Threatening

15 09 2013

I wanted to start off this article by saying that I wrote this entire piece while standing, but I couldn’t find a countertop that was high enough for my keyboard to reach my fingers. Therefore, to make my point, I will state that this is a great example of how many people in the world are forced to be confined in a seat for most of their day. Despite a recent surge of articles, news broadcasts, and studies over the past few years, people are still sitting more than ever, and as a result, putting their health at risk, and we’re not just talking about obesity.

We are aware that sitting can lead to obesity and cardiovascular problems due to not enough physical activity. Research has also shown a link between prolonged sitting and depression. The research that should get everyone standing up while reading this piece has been in numerous media outlets that have reported on the health problem of too much sitting; NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, CBS,  Runner’s World, and Time. It is clear that being on your rump all day can actually be life threatening. According to a 2012 research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that those who spent each day sitting for longer than 11 hours were 40% more likely to die earlier than those who sat less the 4 hours a day. The kicker is that even that hour to the gym seven days a week doesn’t cut it. People just need to get up and move more often.

Many people in today’s technology driven world are behind desks tapping away at a keyboard for 8 to 10 hours a day. When we’re not sitting behind our desk, we’re probably still sitting, but this time it’s in a restaurant, car, couch, or even a bathroom stall. NPR posted a clip with advice on Beating the Cubicle. The take home message is to take a stand, not a seat. Stand up, move more, and free yourself from the dangers of begin glued to the chair. As mentioned before, even those who exercise on a regular basis still need to be more physically active in their daily life. A way to do this is to use a watch instead of a pedometer. Counting the number of steps is great if your goal is to take a certain number of steps in 4 hours. However, we don’t do this because we don’t have 4 hours to allocate all at one once to standing. A good recommendation is to wear a watch that has a stop watch. When you stand up, press the start button and stop it when you sit back down. Don’t reset the watch, but let it continue counting by pressing the start button when you stand again and repeat the process. At the end of the day record the time that you spend standing. You’ll be surprised at how little it may add up and even more shocked when we take that number and subtract it by 24 to see how many hours we actually are sitting/lying down.

I’m not telling anyone that they should start buying treadmill desks, or sleep standing up (Did you know that there is not a Guinness World Record holder for someone standing the longest. However, Suresh Joachim holds the Guinness World Record for standing on one leg. His record is 76 hours and 40 minutes.)  We all need to sit once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and kicking up your feet at the end of a long day. The trouble begins when we find ourselves picking up a remote and for the next 4 hours of football, we’re stuck to the couch. Find those little pockets of time to stand and move. I have heard people say that they don’t sleep because they have time for that when they die. I think the same goes for standing. Stand and move now while you still have the chance.

My brother on Mt. Adams

My brother on Mt. Adams, NH





When to Throw In the Towel

7 09 2013

In the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed (who, in case you never saw the films, fights Rocky Balboa in the first two Rocky installments ) decides to fight Russia’s newest boxing sensation, Ivan Drago.  During the big match between Apollo and Ivan, both Rocky and Apollo’s trainer, Duke, know that Apollo is taking a beating and the end result won’t be pretty. Duke begs Rocky to throw in the towel to end the fight, but Rocky, honoring his friend’s request to never stop the match, doesn’t toss the towel. In the end, Apollo takes such a beating that the final blow kills him.

This scene is a great analogy of that human potential trifecta for competitors; body, mind, and spirit. Apollo represents our physical body. Going up against all odds, we push our bodies to the limits. We kep going regardless of the puddles of sweat and painful ache to prove that our muscles can take the constant pounding not only in competition, but also in training. Then there’s the brain represented by Duke’s character. The voice of reason telling us that we should begin to back off or even quit because the result of continuing might be detrimental. Every painful step blasts a signal to our nervous system, letting us know that the body can’t take much more. We think about listening to that voice in our head, but then something else speaks louder. We hear Rocky, our spirit, cry out and tell us not to back down. If we dig down deep enough, we can tell ourselves to forget what the mind is telling us and hold off on throwing in the towel. We are then able to push just a little more, never knowing if the result will be success or utter defeat. We always want to imagine that it’d be the first.

You might have recently seen more articles of runners collapsing during a race in your daily paper or on the news. Headlines warning people of the dangers of long distance running. The stats are in, we do have more people involved in competitions and exercise. There are also reported cases of people getting hurt or evening dying from their participation in long distance races. However, a study by John Hopkins University published in 2012 compared the number of marathon participants and mortality rates between the years of 2000 and 2009 and showed no significant increase in mortality rates compared to the increase in entries.  They also indicated that the data that was collected were from media reports. These findings prove that the death toll of marathon runners are not increasing, but more so, the media attention of these occurences has increased. So why did these individuals have a fatal finish? One possible reason could be related back to our start of this article; the training of our physical abilities or lack there of.

Individuals must know to listen to their bodies when training or competing. It’s also important to have a trainer or coach who also understands your ability level and knows how to progress your training safely. People start to get hurt when they take only the Rocky approach and never tune in to their heads. Undertraining for an event can be as detrimental to your body as overtraining. Those who are getting injured in a competition may be a result of being undertrained and underdeveloped to meet the requirements of the challenging requirements. An article that led to the large research from John Hopkins highlighted a man who passed out during a marathon. Days after, he commented that he was not listening to his body. When training and competing, our state of mind changes and we begin to fight through all the adversaries that come in our way. From the sore muscles, to the dire weather conditions, we tell our bodies that we can persevere. Train smarter and compete smarter, by knowing when to call it quits. Your body, mind, and spirit is a perfect triangle balanced on its point. Knock off one side and the other two will fall also. If your body wasn’t prepared for that last mile hill climb, quitting isn’t failing, but deciding to be wise to come back to it when the complete triad is ready.

As we continue to exercise and train to improve ourselves, it is important to know when the time is to throw in that towel.  Progress your training accordingly and train speifical to your goals. Always modify your exercises if necessary to reduce the wear on your bones and joints. Lastly, ask yourself before running that first marathon, “Have I trained enough and if I come to that point where all is failing, will I know when to stop?”





Listen to the Cookie

7 05 2013

“Finding time to fit a good workout into the day is as hard as the workout,” is a response I get a lot. And to sympathize with these folks is an easier path for many. In a work day, I would say that I get bogged down in my work and find hours slipping by as I loom over my computer to finish a project so that I can cross that off my list. Then I catch my breath and continue to the next project as if on autopilot. Yet, throughout the day there are times when the chance to stop and get in a few minutes of a workout arises and the choice to get up and move is up to me. “I didn’t choose to not workout, my work/time/fill in the blank just didn’t allow me to do it,” a repeated echo rings in my head. “Bunch of bull!” Snuffs out the echo as I am pull myself away from the computer and prepare to exercise.

This scenario is a constant hinderance in our daily life and separates those who move backward in their fight to succeed with those who make positive progress.  We will always be required to make a life altering decision as the seconds past way in our lives, but we are always in control of the choices we make. Allowing ourselves to break under the pressure of excuses and blame it on something other than our lack of defiance over status quo keeps us in a vicious cycle that never ends where we want to be.

Cookie Doesn't Lie

The average person makes roughly 3,500 decisions a day. What to eat, where to go, how to dress, pass the car, say hi to that person…. The list goes on and on, and yet, with one choice taken, the other is left behind. So we can say that we didn’t have the opportunity to choose both. This is true and many people lose ground from choosing only one and not the other maybe because of comfort level, external pressures, or priority levels. However, when we make that choice to not do something, we are in control of this decision and internal factors provide the foundation of this choice. Work did not keep me from taking ten minutes to get up and move around so my muscles could stretch out from sitting for 4 hours straight. No, I told my body that it was not allowed to get up because I thought that I would lose precious time to get my project down. I chose to keep working. As the cookie states, we still choose even if we decide not to make a choice. Make every decision count and never blame that fact that you couldn’t choose your future. You are in control of your free will and to wake up half hour earlier to get a workout in is your choice.





Wrong Way? No, Just Different

13 03 2013

Not Always Wrong, Just Different

If you’ve had an experience where you thought you were doing something, like eating a certain food or dressing a certain way, but then saw people doing it another way and thought you were actually doing it wrong, don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, sometimes a different way might not be the wrong way, but exactly the former; just a different way. Who says that a turkey burger can’t be a breakfast item or that everyone should drive a BMW? Societal norms influence us to think that we all have the same needs. On the contrary, we all need to pay attention to our individual needs to maintain good health.

In 2007, Wesley Shultz et al conducted a field experiment testing whether normative messaging (telling people to practice a certain behavior based on what others are doing) would have mixed success rates in behavior change. They saw that when told to use more energy saving products because a specific number of others were doing it, the number of people converting to energy conservatives increased. Yes, energy conservation is ideal and we would all want to promote this type of habit, but the mere fact that it only took one little message stating that more people were practicing one certain behavior to have the minority feel like they were wrong and change their lifestyle is fascinating. A key point to this case is that in order to see a shift in the masses, the group must be  a minority, hence, the difficulty of getting our overweight country to get back down to a healthy weight (69.2% of adults in US overweight/obese). Yet again, why should we be like everyone else?

When dealing with exercise, we must look at performing a task with blinders on. Not one person is alike and thus not one specific regimen will work for everyone.  The National Academy of  Sports Medicine has a training model that is different than that of the American Council on Exercise. Is one of them wrong and the other right? Absolutely not, because both will reach the same result in the end, although both use different pathways. The same goes when I am asked which one is better for getting toned arms, free weights or machines? Both are two different modalities that lead to the right direction to get lean arms.

The right answer to improving your health is not to follow the yellow brick road that everyone else has followed, but to lay each stone in front of you and test the ground supporting it to determine if it will work for you. So the next time you’re scratching your head wondering if the person next to you is doing it right and you should follow suit, ask yourself if you are still improving your health with what you’re currently doing. If so, then embrace the difference and continue to tread through the unbeaten path to success.

References: 

American Council on Exercise: IFT Model
CDC Faststats: Overweight and obesity http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
National Academy of Sports Medicine: OPT Model
Shultz, P. W. et al. The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms. Psychological Science, 18(5) 429-434. 2007 





The Bodyweight Challenge

7 03 2013
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I was eating my lunch a few days ago and  browsed my Facebook account to see who’s baby picture had plastered my News Feed today. I noticed a notification alert and saw that my friend, Nate, had shared a link (see picture on the left) on my timeline with the comment, “Do all of these. I dare you.” I grinned and was intrigued, so I clicked on the video link and watched what he had sent (click here to view video). I was impressed, wondering if all military men and women could do all 44 exercises. Then I saw some individuals in the background looking as impressed as I and dismissed the thought. After finishing the video, I read what my other friend, Beth, wrote, “And post video when you do! LOL”

There are guys who would try any challenge to prove their Darwinistic status on earth and then there are those who do it because they’re the ones who also would touch the wall that warns, “Don’t Touch, Wet Paint!” I would fall into the latter category of individuals and thus, out of sheer curiosity, I want to prove to myself that these would in fact be the 44 best bodyweight exercises (and yes, to know that I can do them). I will keep everyone posted as I work through all 44 exercises. I will post the final video on Youtube to let my friends know that it can be done.

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

One Arm One Leg Pushup, Check!

In the meantime, this challenge has prompted a great bodyweight workout (see below) for those who are always strapped for time, equipment, or just loaded with excuses to not exercising. Follow the routine for a month, performing two to three times a week. If you feel sore the whole week, start off with once a week till you can work your way to two times a week. After a month, add on another set. You will need to refer back to the video if you are unsure of the exercises.

The Bodyweight Challenge
Perform each group of exercises for specified duration, rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat a second set before moving on to the next group.

Group 1
Burpies – 30 seconds
Hindu Pushup – 30 seconds
Archer Pullup – 30 seconds

Group 2
Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
Hanging Knee to Elbow – 30 seconds
Spiderman Pushup – 1 minute

Group 3
Jumping Lunges – 30 seconds
Hanging Leg Raise to Level – 30 seconds
Pike Roll Out – 30 seconds

*****                                                                                                                     *****
Thank You to the men and women who put their lives before ours to serve our country every single day.
*****                                                                                                                     *****