How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

One of the most common reasons for New Year's resolutions gone awry is the lack of genuine motivation. If you continue to fall short of your commitment to read a new book every month, for example, consider your "why." Is it that you're hoping to meet the expectations of other people, do you harbor grand yet meaningless and shallow fantasies, or is there a deeply rooted motivation that drives you? Perhaps you've been looking to broaden your life outlook or learn to write a book of your own. You should always start with your intent and, from that plateau, build a step-by-step action plan.

If your plan is to lose weight, but you know you're not ready to give up those chocolate bars just yet, start by giving up something else. It may help you develop enough will power to eventually toss away those sugary treats. And don't expect to run a marathon on your first day. Instead, plan a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood each morning or maybe a 30-minute jog on the treadmill after work. The key is to avoid overwhelming yourself. Treat your goal like a expedition. Remember, you have all year to get this right. A guilty pleasure of mine is to check out The Rock’s Instagram and other accounts as motivation.

People who have been successful at setting goals understand the power of thinking quantitatively. In other words, attach an achievable number to your goals. Practicing manageable habits is an effective way to stay on track toward a year that ends with your resolutions still in tact. If your goal is to adopt more positive lifestyle, don't expect an attitude change over night. Otherwise, you'll give up within the first week. However, you can slowly build up to that personality makeover by gradually eliminating toxic words from your vocabulary. Along the way, you can keep a log that details your triumphs and failures, which can also be effective in helping you understand how often you spew negative commentary throughout the day.

According to an article in Forbes, success in following through on your resolutions is achieved by "setting smart, effective goals." The problem is most people are more emotional than they are strategic, which explains why they are driven by whatever feeling manifests itself. In an article published in success.com, Mel Robbins explains how to use the five-second rule to overcome procrastination. He challenges readers to, rather than sit there analyzing an idea, act on it within five seconds of its entrance into your thoughts. This is where many of us falter. We sit and ponder something we would like to accomplish until we find a YouTube video, Facebook post to distract us.

Your resolutions need to be meaningful enough to become a priority. Otherwise, how can you expect to sacrifice the things you enjoy in order to take steps toward accomplishing them? Think about what you are missing in your life, that thing that will provide the happiness you've been searching for. If you don't want to be among the 1 in 4 people who will fail at achieving their resolutions, avoid entering the new year blindly. Plan and follow through on goals that truly matter.

-Jason Gordon, USSsportsmachine.com

Jason hails from New York City where he is a marketing associate by day and blogger by night. He is a sports  and health fanatic who tries to marry the two in his writing. Please feel free to reach out to him at jason@usssportsmachine.com

The Ultimate Guide to Grocery Shopping Like a Pro

The Ultimate Guide to Grocery Shopping Like a Pro

The Ultimate Guy’s Guide to

Grocery Shopping

Ok Guys, so lets be honest- grocery shopping is not the most baddass thing in the world. When it comes to what you have to get done in a given week, I’m sure hitting the market isn’t too high on your to-do list. But alas, it is super important if you are a fit dude trying to stay- or get- fit. 

Eating whole, fresh and clean food is vital if you want to live lean and feel strong. As they say “Abs are made in the kitchen”, and I can say that couldn’t be more true (although I don't know who the fuck “they” are). In order to prepare lean, protein-packed meals with tons of nutritious whole foods; you will need a steady supply of fresh ingredients. 

Ideally, you want to hit the grocer twice a week to stay up on all the fresh veggies and herbs you need to be at peak physical badassness. The thing about the most nutritious foods in the world- they spoil REALLY fast (think about a bag of baby spinach- you blink and the stuff is mush). The reason for this is that bacteria ain’t dumb- those little buggers know nutritious food when they see it (thats why twinkies shelf life is measured in eons not months). 

Long story short, You gotta do it, So let’s make this as painless as possible. Here is the ultimate man’s guide to badass (and painless!) grocery shopping:

First off, make a list. Don’t be the guy standing in the aisle aimlessly picking up shit and reading the backs of cans and cereal boxes:

1- you look like an idiot

2- the stock boy hates you because you put items back in the wrong places and all crooked

3- YOU ARE WASTING TIME

So, don't be that guy- make a list. It doesn't have to be super specific or detailed…and actually because I’m such a nice guy, I gave you a list at the end of this thing- so keep reading, big guy. Also, having a list limits the chance you will forget stuff (“dammint! I forgot milk!”)

Now,the layout of the store itself, is pretty uniform- doesn't matter where you go: The outer perimeter is the real GOOD stuff (fresh fruits and veggies, meats, eggs dairy… and beer :) and the inner aisles are filled with processed CRAP (sugary cereals, boxed snacks,candy, soda and chips). So as a rule of thumb, stick to the perimeter and avoid the aisles and you are a step ahead of most.

I don’t know about you guys, but I hit the grocery store like I’m kicking in a goddamn door- I am “smash and grab” as soon as I am in the building- I want to get in and out like the cops are already on the way (think The Ex-Presidents from Point Break). So keeping that store layout in mind can be helpful as you hit the door.

Here is the order I usually attack the layout:

Fresh fruits, veggies and potatoes

Fresh and dried herbs

Beef, chicken, fish

Frozen foods

eggs and dairy

Grains and cereals

oils and nuts and seeds

Beer and water

Fruits

-grapefruit, apples, berries, bananas, avocado

** get this stuff organic. For the grapefruit you want firm and feel heavy, inspect all fresh berries as they tend to spoil quickly, I prefer my bananas firm and starchy, and get a mix of hard and softer ready to eat avocados so you aren't sitting with 6 avos that ripen all at once.

Vegetables

-baby spinach, arugula, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, red onion

**get organic here as well. I get my arugula and spinach bagged and check for spoilage.

Herbs

-rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, ginger root, garlic

always go for fresh

Meat

-80/20 grass fed beef, filet mignon, 99% lean white meat turkey, free range organic chicken breast and thighs

Fish

-wild caught salmon, tuna steaks, cod, flounder, shrimp

Frozen Foods

-blueberries, pineapple, broccoli, peas, 

Eggs and Dairy

-free range omega-3 eggs, carton egg whites, grasped butter, greek yogurt, kefir, sliced swiss, feta cheese, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella

Grains and Cereals

quinoa, barley, farah, steel cut oats, oat bran, brown rice

Oils Nuts and seeds

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), canola oil, coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds,

Alright, of course you don’t eat exactly the way I do, well maybe you should (kidding…not really- eat exactly like I fucking do), so of course you can shop for different items. That being said try and stick to the same genre of these key foods, ie. dark leafy greens, whole grains, complex carbs, lean meats,…you get the idea. Also, I gave you some variety, for example in the grains listing there is like 4 different whole grains I put down- you may like one more than the others- cool. Buy that one. Variety is great but you got to go with the stuff you are actually going to eat (and hopefully enjoy).

Generally speaking, your first big shop is gonna take the longest and be the most expensive because of items like the oils, frozen foods, nuts n seeds- these can be expensive and also last a long time. These wont need to be re-upped each week like the fresh veggies and fruits. Also the meats you can buy as you are going to cook them based on what you feel like cooking. So once you get that first big shopping day out of the way, the weekly upkeep can be really quick and inexpensive.

That being said you can err on the side of excess for frozen and canned foods and you should definitely be more thoughtful when purchasing massive amounts of meats and fresh fruits/veggies. Meat is expensive and guess what? so are organic fruits n veggies so def be more cautious when throwing these items in your cart. Throwing food out is not only a waste of money- it’s not cool. Don’t you know kids are starving? Jerk.

The more consistent you are with a regular shopping routine, the easier and less expensive it will be. You will know the layout of the store like that back of your hand in a couple weeks, you'll learn how much of each item is perfect for you and your needs, and each trip will be quick and painless. Shit, you may actually begin to enjoy shopping once it becomes effortless.

Now that you have all your supplies and know how to get more- prep your meals for the week and get ready to F*KC SHIT UP.

Here is that shopping list I promised earlier… You’re welcome.

Grocery List

Per Week:

  • Fresh seasonal fruit (blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, kiwi)
  • Frozen Blueberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Romaine Lettuce Hearts
  • Baby Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Red onions
  • Orange and yellow bell peppers
  • Non-fat Plain Kefir
  • Greek-style Yogurt
  • Chicken Breast
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Lean cuts of Beef
  • Ground Turkey Breast
  • Fresh Pacific Salmon
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut water

Twice a month:

  • 100% whole wheat/grain bread (>5g fiber/serving)
  • Rice Cakes
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Farah
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • High Fiber Cereal (>10 grams/serving)
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • Frozen Tilapia/Sole/Catfish filets
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh oregano

Keep in House:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Green/Black/White Tea
  • Chili powder
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Canned beans- Black, chickpeas, kidney
  • Canned Vegetables- corn, peas, carrots
  • Frozen vegetables- broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mixed, stir-fry
  • All natural chunky peanut butter

Twice Baked Holiday Sweet Potatoes

Twice Baked Holiday Sweet Potatoes

Everyone always asks me if I "cheat on my diet" and If I have foods that would be considered "unhealthy" over the holidays. My answer is always the same- I eat what I want, when I want and I enjoy myself whenever possible. BUT the big difference is I make the food myself with ingredients that I know are safe and healthy. I fully believe there are no bad foods (real food; not food science)- just foods eaten at the wrong times and the wrong amounts. You have to be able to live and enjoy the foods you eat. The less you restrict yourself in the long run the healthier and happier you will be.

Here is a recipe that has been a hit in my household for every major holiday over the past several years at the Algieri Household. 

12 large sweet potatoes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecan pieces

3/4 cup dried Craisins
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily.

Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Scoop out the insides of the cooked potatoes (careful to keep the skin intact) and place into a large bowl. 

In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until it's buttery, sweet paste.         Add the salt, pecans, dried fruit and fold into the sweet mash. Add the butter, sugar paste to the sweet mash and mix well.

Stuff the sweet potato skins generously with the sweet mash, buttery-sweet paste combination and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the the potato skins and filling are  crispy. Top with marshmallows and broil for 5-10 minutes at 450 degrees or until marshmallow is lightly browned.

Let cool. Serve. Enjoy!  

Staying On Track During the Holidays

Staying On Track During the Holidays

Staying On Track During the Holidays

Ok everyone, so the holidays are upon us… rushing to get gifts, dealing with in-laws, planning family meals, sweets, cookies, candies and desserts lurking around every corner can spell disaster for anyone trying to maintain or get to a healthy weight. This does not mean that healthy eating goes out the window. With a little discipline and some simple planning, we can all make it through this holiday season without losing “the battle of the BULGE”. Here are some tips:

Don’t Cut Corners

Don’t skip meals in preparation for the big holiday meal. This is a great way to set yourself up to overeat. When you go long periods of time without eating (3-4 hours) your body goes into a mini-starvation state. Your body believes it is starving and has a number of physiological strategies to keep you going. Your body tries to make itself as efficient as possible by reducing lean muscle mass because muscle burns fat (energy). It also prepares you for the expected fast by storing body fat for later use. So basically, when you skip meals you body begins to catabolize muscle and stores fat: exactly what we don’t want!  On top of these physiological changes, mentally we feel deprived causing us to eat more when it finally is time to eat. As nutrition and performance guru ,Tony Ricci, would say, "under eating always leads to over eating". Eat normally leading up to your event so you not going into the buffet of delicious food feeling like it is necessary to gorge yourself. Don’t show up to the party famished and you will have a much easier time controlling yourself.

Skip the apps

            It is actually easier to skip finger food appetizers entirely than to just partake in a little. Small amounts of calorically rich snacks add up; you could easily eat and drink close to a 1000 calories before you even sit down for dinner! If you need to nibble on something before the meal, stick to vegetables and soups (watch out for creamy dips and cream-based soups).

Easy on the Booze

Alcohol on an empty stomach does three things: first of all, you will become intoxicated faster (don’t be the drunk guy at cocktail hour); secondly, alcohol is a gastric irritant and can damage the sensitive inner lining of your GI tract. Lastly it causes hypoglycmemia, or a dramatic drop in blood sugar. This is bad because hypoglycemia tells your brain your are hungry and primes your fat cells to store fat.

Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic drinks like seltzer with lime, unsweetened iced tea or even plain ice water.

OK, so we've made it to dinner, now what?...

Here are some staple holiday foods that are actually healthy:

Turkey

White Meat Turkey is delicious and a lean source of high quality protein. 4 oz of lean white meat turkey provides about 34 grams of protein with less than 4 gram of fat (With skin about 8 grams). Turkey also provides important micronutrients like iron, zinc, potassium and many B-vitamins.

Dark meat turkey is also a great source of high quality protein but has a higher fat content…about 8 grams per 4 oz serving. “Dark” in the nutrition world usually imparts other healthy qualities to a food. Dark meat turkey contains twice as much riboflavin and zinc, as well as more than double the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid content

***PITFALL- eating massive amounts of either (or both) white or dark meat turkey. A serving size is 4 oz. about the size of a pack of playing cards. Sure you may want to have 2 servings for thanksgiving dinner as a splurge, just don’t have 5!

Sweet potatoes

This superfood is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A medium sized potato is only 130 calories and contains about 4 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin C, Beta-carotene (Vit A) and Potassium.

***PITFALL- the additives like Brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter can all make this healthy side dish a diet disaster. Add cinnamon, nuts and a touch of brown sugar instead of loading on butter and syrups.

Salad Greens

You can’t go wrong loading up on a vegetable salad before digging into the main course of turkey and potatoes. This will help you feel a little more full before you get to the calorically dense portion of the meal. Also, a salad is difficult to eat fast so it may slow down your initial excitement over a special meal. When you are excited to eat you tend to eat faster and thus overeat.

***PITFALL- careful of the fattening dressings, carby/fatty croutons, and fatty cheeses that top a salad. Stick to balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Ok, so you’ve made it through cocktail hour, appetizers and the main course. You are doing well so far, your clothes don’t feel too tight and you are feeling in control. Then someone says “coffee’s ready, come get some dessert” …and you lose it. You eat plate after plate of cookies, pies, cakes and pastries; you go up for seconds and thirds and then find yourself hovering around the table like a vulture circling a carcass in the desert. When the dust finally settles you feel bloated, exhausted and ultimately defeated…

Dessert can be the bane of your dieting existence during the holidays. Here are some tricks to avoid the pitfall into diabetic disaster:

When it is time for dessert, have a second serving of some of the food from dinner. This will make a base of some nutritious food so you wont eat as much of the empty calories from sweets

If it doesn’t taste great, put it down! We do this all the time: you take a bite of a cookie; you shrug your shoulders as if to say, “eh, it’s ok” then you shove the rest in your mouth. If it doesn’t taste phenomenal it is not worth the calories. Move on to a delicious and satisfying snack.

Have tea or coffee BEFORE dessert. You may not be craving sweets in particular and just some kind of mouth feel. A warm beverage is soothing and delicious. HINT: go easy of creamers and sugar additives

Go to the dessert table, make a plate and sit as far away from the other desserts as possible (preferably out of view). This way the visual temptation is not there and you have your portion of treats in front of you.

Don’t feel like you have to try everything. Sure it is a holiday and it only comes around once a year, but dessert happens all the time! This is not the first chance you have to eat cheesecake and it wont be your last.

OK, so now you have some tips to help you stay on track, without having to hit the track (well maybe you should anyway), to during the holiday season. Happy and Healthy!

-CA

Breakfast: A Cliché?

Breakfast: A Cliché?

Breakfast: A Cliché?

“The Most Important Meal of the Day” 

 

I say cliché, because we have all heard “breakfast is the most important meal of the day, BUT it’s actually true. If we think about the name of the meal, “Break-Fast” it explains the importance of having a healthy nutritious meal to start your day- we are having our first sustenance after the overnight fast that is our sleep. If you think about it that way, you have not eaten in 10-12 hours, and your body is hungry at the cellular level. You want to “wake up your cells” with high nutrient content food that is not too heavy but also filling and balanced. 

 

Another reason breakfast is so important is because it wakes up your metabolism to start the day for your body. Most people wake up and go right for the coffee to wake up their brain, but neglect the body. If you skip breakfast, your body and metabolism are running behind; which can throw off the whole rest of your day’s meals, energy levels, and even your circadian sleep rhythms! You want to think of your metabolism as a camp fire that we want to burn steadily throughout the day. We all know the best way to keep a steady fire going is to periodically feed with small amounts of wood- feed your body the same way. Get the metabolism going as soon as you wake and feed intermittently throughout the day with small frequent feedings. Now you are a fat-burning machine!!

 

Even if you are not hungry in the morning for a large meal be sure to eat something AND that your dish is balanced- DON’T FORGET THE PROTEIN. Protein is very important to keep you feeling fuller longer. Eggs, yogurt, skim milk or even a supplemental powder are great source of protein for your morning start. Think protein, some colorful fruit, and a nutrient dense high-fiber carbohydrate source (oatmeal, whole wheat toast, granola, high-fiber cereals). Don't forget the fat either! A little butter, some avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds can round out and complete your meal. And hey, if you find a way to sneak in some dark leafy greens or colorful veggies then more power to you! 

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Be conscious of the amount of fat in your meal because fats contain 9 kcal/gram as opposed to proteins and carbohydrates, which contain 4 kcal/gram. Doesn't make the fats bad but moderation is key here.

 

The Perfect Vegetable Omelette

 

Ingredients:

2 whole eggs (preferably organic free range omega-3)

2 egg whites

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Grass Fed Butter

Arugula

Roma Tomato

Feta Cheese (low fat, low sodium)

Fresh Basil

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Cooking Instructions:

Combine whole eggs and egg whites and beat vigorously until uniform (salt to taste)

Heat pan to medium-high heat

Add EVOO to pan and allow to heat until the oil shimmers

Add butter until melted

Add beaten eggs and cook until edges begin to raise

Add diced tomato, feta cheese and arugula to center and cover

Fold over the center, shut off heat and allow to sit for a few moments

Plate carefully crack pepper on top and top with fresh basil leaves 

 

Also pictured:

Diced fresh watermelon and pineapple topped with chili powder

Pan fried purple skinned sweet potato topped with cinnamon

halved grapefruit

Black coffee

V-8 low sodium