Basics

Muscle Prep and Recovery Basics

First off, this article is a follow-up to our Ellipse Movement Basics 101 blog post last month. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, please do! It is one of the most informative and important articles for those of you who are working out or looking to get started.

We’ve spent a good amount of time talking about various movement patterns. To move better we also need to prepare our bodies and help them recover.

Just as important as the movement itself is getting the muscles healthy enough to progress. Foam rolling increases blood flow, increases the temperature of the muscle, and works out adhesions. After foam rolling, do your body a favor and run through some stretches/movements of areas that cause you problems or anything that a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Doctor has told you to do.

Use the time in the gym before your workout vs just standing or sitting around waiting to begin! What are the odds that you’ll do specific stretches or movements at home or at any other time? Make it a routine and your body will thank you!

Not sure what stretches/movements will help you the most? Ask your trainer. They can not only answer your questions but likely know areas that could use some TLC based on your form throughout your sessions.

Recovery

Your recovery will also impact your movements and the ability to perform at your highest level. Make sure to get enough shut eye (7-9 hours/night), drink enough water (4-6 cups PLUS, but this varies a lot by body, temperature, and activities), and eat a balanced diet (more vegetables, more vegetables, more vegetables).

Other Tools

In addition to a foam roller, try using a tennis ball for those spots a roller just can’t hit. Need a new approach? Stand near a wall and use the tennis ball and/or foam roller in a standing position to put pressure on the right spot. Use a Theracane for more focused areas or hard to reach areas on the back. On a really sore day, ice your sore muscles for 20 minutes to speed up recovery.

Move better, recover better, and perform better!

Ellipse Basic Movements 101

There are several foundational movements that our training program is centered around here at Ellipse Fitness, and we want to take a moment to break these things down for you. It is ALWAYS most important that we clean up our movement patterns and move functionally BEFORE we consider adding heavy loads.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Packing The Shoulders

Kickboxing, presses, pushes (whether it’s push ups or even while lying down for a chest press) are all better, more stable, and safer when the shoulders are packed.

Try this when standing: push your shoulders as far down and away from your ears as you can, tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Packing our shoulders is easiest to feel and perfect with a farmer’s carry. Roll them back and down as far as you can.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic and explosive hip hinge. There are no arm-lifts or squats in a kettlebell swing. Keep the kb swinging through upper thighs; somewhere above the knees. As it drops toward the knees the back becomes at risk and there is more squatting involved. For single arm? We are not looking for rotation, but maintaining alignment with an offset load.

Shoulder Press

A Shoulder Press and Push Press are DIFFERENT! A push press is started by a “push” from the legs; creating momentum. The point of a push press is to push past a “sticking point”.

When a shoulder press is called for, do a shoulder press…maybe just that last rep that you can’t quite complete can be assisted with a push. Shoulder press, also called an overhead press, should be completed with core engagement.

Squats

Squats are best performed when thinking about the feet first and work up. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grip the floor, putting pressure on the outside of the foot, but also driving through your big toe. Drop your torso between your hips. Come out of the squat by pushing through the outer heel, driving the knees out and tucking the tail (think pointing your belt buckle toward your chin) and breathing into your lower back.

Split Squat

Although there are similarities to a squat, a split squat requires more balance, stability, coordination, and single leg strength. Try this! Start is a kneeling position. Your legs will have two 90 degree angles. From there, stand! Come back down to just a hover or feather touch to the ground. Too intense? Stack a pad or two under your kneeling stance to reduce how deep you have to go.

Pushups

Love them or hate them, Push Ups strengthen our chest, shoulders, triceps, and core (when properly engaged). Not sure you are engaging your core during a pushup? Try a Hand-Release Push Up. Start your body on top of a stacked airex pad or two (or 3!). Hands on either side of the pad, elbows at 45 degrees.

Step ONE: LIFT the hips/engage the core. Then and only then, push through the hands to your full pushup position. Reset each time to perfect your form.

Hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold is a foundation movement patterns from kickboxing, to squatting, to slamming balls on the floor. Knowing how to properly hold the hollow body position will stabilize your core and not only improve your performance, but also keep you much safer (especially your back) along the way! TIP: When fully contracted, your upper torso will lift upward slightly, but it’s only from the flattening of your lower back. You do not crunch. Imagine a strong, engaged position hanging from the pull up bar.

Bicycles

Start with the contraction of a hollow body and THEN begin your bicycle movement. The shoulder blade will peel off the floor. The upper body movement comes from that “peeling”, NOT the reaching of an elbow. Keep the elbows wide and drawn back. Your bicycle legs should move more like stairs than a bike.

KICKBOXING

Boxing/Guarded Stance

Start your boxing strong with a proper guarded stance. You can test your strong stance by having someone giving you a little shove from each direction…you shouldn’t tip! Try it on your friends – with a warning! Your shoulders are packed in guarded position, and hands fisted by the cheek bones.

Pivots

Pivoting in boxing is crucial from a safety standpoint! Pivot your foot so your hips are squared to the bag. Your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder will all be in alignment and you’ll be fully facing the bag. In the end, this not only keeps you safe, but you’ll also get the full power of your hip into your punch and engage more core muscles. Make sure to come back to the guarded stance after each punch and kick!

Round Kick

A round kick starts with the upper leg elevated and the lower leg parallel to the floor; the chambered position. The foot on the floor is turned out slightly. Aim with your shin, not your toe. It’s the snap the gives the most power to the kick. A repeating roundhouse kick will demonstrate the amount of balance and control needed for a well-developed kick. Chamber your leg and fire!

Boxing Punches

You hear the cues in almost every boxing class, but have your punches improved over time? Do they feel more stable, powerful, controlled? Go for an ALMOST full extension. Tighten your fist (pretend you are actually punching someone), turn the palm of your hand down toward the floor, and strive to connect with the pointer finger and index finger.

Visualization in boxing works wonders. If there was someone in front of you and you were punching, would it be with a loose hand? You can get as much or as little as you want out of a boxing workout based on what you put into it, and we don’t mean faster speed!

5-Minute Hacks that Can Change Your Life!

Let’s say you sleep 9 hours a night and work 8 hours a day – that doesn’t seem like you have much time left huh? Only 7 hours in fact, and for most of us we are taking kids to school or sports, cooking food, cleaning, etc to boot!

But let’s break this down into usable units…you have EIGHTY-FOUR 5-minute chunks left of your day. Right now we’re going to ask you to use only SIX of them to better your health and quality of life. Think you are up to the challenge?

1. Listen to Your Favorite Song

Music activates just about every area of that brain that has been mapped so far. If you are looking to calm down, a slow-tempo song that soothes you will help the most. Make sure it’s also in a calm environment where you can hear and focus on the music, maybe put some headphones on and dim the lights. Looking for a mid-day pick me up? Get in the car and crank up the volume on that up-tempo song that makes you want to sing your heart out!

2. Declutter One Small Area

Being organized helps save time in all areas of your life…not searching for those lost keys, documents…appointment reminders! Knowing things are organized also improves your mental focus and reduces stress.

Have 5 more minutes? Take a look at your calendar and organize a busy day. Planning ahead can make sure you don’t miss your child’s basketball game…or your favorite workout!

3. Call a Friend or Loved One

Social connection reduces the incidence of depression, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. The bad news? Social media and text messaging don’t count for as much.

Now we all have that person who we know will NEVER let us off the phone in 5 minutes, save that conversation until you are ready to settle in or maybe schedule a date to meet out for coffee. Call someone you know will understand that you have only 5 minutes and just want to connect for a moment. Watch your mood lift as you hang up the phone!

4. Go to Bed 5 Minutes Earlier

Not tired yet? Read, meditate, pray, or try some light yoga to bring your body into a peaceful state for sleep. Turn off the phone and TV! Getting 7-9 hours of sleep helps prevent heart disease, inflammation (i.e. during recovery from your workouts!), obesity, depression, and stress. Try setting your alarm to actually remind you that it’s time to go to bed!

5. FLOSS!

It is never too late! Your gums may bleed for a couple days but that will subside as your gums heal. Not flossing/cleaning the gunk out between your teeth will cause plaque build-up which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If that isn’t enough, flossing can drastically reduce bad breath…a win-win for everyone!

6. 5-Minute Workout

For starters, just making the decision to work out even for only 5-minutes will ignite the motivation for more! Start with 5-minutes, whether it be stretching, a quick jog, or holding a few planks. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing.

Here is a simple 5-minute workout: Choose a higher intensity move, like speed squats, and run through it in Tabata format. 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds. 1-minute rest or cool down/stretch. BAM! 5-minute workout that will boost your energy, and make you feel accomplished.

Seriously everyone, I just read this entire article aloud. It took me THREE MINUTES!

So Here’s #7 – Read This Blog Post Every Day!

Until you know it by heart anyway, and you have fully integrated these 5-minute fixes into your life.

6 Must-Haves to Deck Out Your Kitchen!

Have you ever wondered how those celebrity chefs always look overjoyed to be running around the kitchen cooking??

Look closer and you’ll notice they have all the proper tools, things are organized and measured out, and you probably haven’t ever seen them do the dishes!

You might have to enlist a friend, spouse or kids to take care of that last one, but this week we’re helping you deck out your kitchen to make sure you have what you need to enjoy cooking and food prep!

Start Simple: Get the Basics

1. Sharp Knives

Make sure you have sharp knives to work with! If you don’t have a good knife sharpener at home, go and get one. There’s nothing worse than trying to cut a tomato with a dull knife – you might as well use a hammer. Preparation time can be cut in half with the right knives!

2. Silicone Cookware

Do you have silicone cookware in your home? If not, it’s a must! Silicone utensils have become fairly commonplace, but now it comes in the form of muffin, loaf, and cake pans – even parchment! The non-stick capability is unbelievable AND it’s dishwasher safe!

Silicone bakeware can go straight from the freezer to the oven, and utensils won’t scrape your cooking surfaces!

*Not sure if it’s 100% silicone? Give it a pinch test. When you pinch the silicone material, if it changes color, stay away. If it looks the same, you are good to go

3. Quality Pots and Pans

Have you ever tried to cook with a wobbly pot on a cooktop? Not only is it annoying, but you’ll get uneven cooking. Still working with scratched up teflon pots and pans you’ve had for 10 years? It might be time for an upgrade!

There are some that swear by cast-iron skillets (*be careful of scratching a cooktop) and there is a “Cadillac” of pans, the carbon steel option is what most restaurants reach for – like cast iron for heat retention, but a fraction of the weight.

Have you ever used a “Chef’s Pan” AKA “Saucier Pan”? With their higher edges they can not only work for standard frying, and sautéing, but also take the place of a soup kettle for smaller batches and are excellent for “one-pan” type dishes.

4. Baking Sheet

Did you know a cookie sheet is defined as a sheet without sides, or just a small lip, and a baking sheet has a rimmed edge? The rimmed edge can be helpful to contain juices and oils for general cooking.

Look for a pan with a 10-18 gauge rating (the lower the gauge, the thicker/more durable the pan) to avoid warping and thus more uniform baking. A good quality sheet with uncoated aluminum can provide a, surprisingly, non-stick environment! You can use baking sheets to make full meals with one sheet a million different ways – just check out this Roast Chicken and Veggies Recipe!

5. Box Grater

With a high quality 4-sided box grater you can make food prep a breeze! The largest setting is perfect for the most common, cheeses of course but also vegetables like zucchini, apples, carrots, onions, cabbage, and more! Even tomatoes if you are using for sauce!

There is the side for smaller shreds. The prickly side for grating things like hard cheese and zesting citrus. The slicing side can take the place of a mandolin in a pinch.

TIP: Freeze cheese for a short time to making shredding easier.

TIP 2: Save your knuckles by purchasing Food Grade Cut Resistant Gloves!

6. Measuring Cups

Did you ever wonder why you need one of those glass type measuring cups for liquid? Why can’t you just use a regular measuring cup?

Standard measuring cups are meant for solids where you can just scrape along the top to get a precise measurement. Liquid measuring cups indicated 1C = 8 oz but it means one cup = 8 FLUID ounces.

Dry ingredients differ in weight, i.e 1C of flour = 4.5 ounces, not 8oz. If your recipe calls for ounces of dry ingredients, make sure to weigh it!

TIP: Yogurt should be measured in a liquids cup.

It Takes More Than an Apple a Day to Keep the Doctor Away!

This week we are highlighting an exciting new App from NutritionFacts.Org called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen.

NutritionFacts.Org is a free website that curates the piles and piles of research out there and scours it to weed out bias, flawed studies, and more to provide short summary videos and articles on every health topic you can imagine.

Recently, they released this FREE app. Rather than food plans, it offers a daily list you can check off of the healthiest foods that are ideally consumed on a daily basis. This week we’ll look at a few of the checkbox categories and offer ways to incorporate them into your diet. Download the app and follow along to add an additional check to your list each day!

Get it here for Apple – or here for Android

Incorporate More Beans!

Blend various types of beans with spices to make spreads for sandwiches or vegetable dips! Add pureed beans to thicken soups! The possibilities are endless!

Here’s a 5-Minute Black Bean Dip!

Add Berries!

Berries can be added to many whole grain-based dishes, like quinoa and kale salads. Have you tried the Costco bagged kale salad with cranberries and pepitas? Yum!

More Flaxseed Please!

Try adding flaxseed to your oatmeal, smoothies, dressings, or anything you’d like adding a slightly nutty flavor too! Packed full of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber!

Eat More Cruciferous Veggies!

Add more cruciferous vegetables to your day like red cabbage in your tacos, broccoli or kale in a pasta dish, or even roasted Brussel sprouts on your salad!

Add Whole Cooked Grains!

For a more filling meal, try adding whole grains like barley, buckwheat, quinoa, farrow, oat groats, or millet to soups and salads!

Simple Tips That Will Change Dieting Forever

Not Sure Where To Begin?

We have all been there. It is time to make a change. You feel like you need to make a major shift in the way you eat. A friend had great success with this or that extreme diet, while someone else you know had terrible results.

There is so much information, and honestly so much BAD information out there with regards to dieting and proper nutrition that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Making drastic changes, cutting, slashing, restricting, etc can lead to a very short-lived diet change for most of us. Try taking it one step at a time and incorporating these basic ideas!

1. Eat Intuitively!

Intuitive Eating is associated with lower body fat and better relationships with food. Eat intuitively by rating your hunger on a scale from 1 (weakness/dizziness has set in) to 10 (you may have to roll me out the door/filled to the point of feeling sick).

Really listening to your body before eating, to determine if you are truly hungry, and while eating slowing down to let your body detect fullness levels, will keep you on the right track with intuitive eating. Try it at your next meal!

2. Think Abundance Instead of Restriction!

Start by adding an additional serving of vegetables to your day. Once that becomes habit, add two servings. When eating intuitively, the vegetables will start to take the place of more calorie dense food choices like starches or junk food!

3. Check Your Portions!

Our friends at Precision Nutrition suggests a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbohydrates, a fist of vegetables, and a thumb of fat for most. If you are still hungry, add another fist of vegetables. Click the image for a great article on portion control!

Still hungry after intuitively eating? Add a small amount of protein. It will take a number of weeks (maybe even months) to work through and find the amounts and timing that works best for you body, lifestyle, and schedule. There is no one-size fits all in nutrition, but start from a baseline and build from there.

4. Don’t Give Up All Your Favorites!

The IDEA Fitness Journal suggests “Flipping” your ingredients. Instead of that traditional burrito, ask for a burrito bowl which puts all the ingredients of a burrito into a bowl instead of a wrap.

Instead of eating ice cream with fruit on top, try a spoonful of ice cream on top of a bowl of fruit!

Instead of a steak dinner with a side of potato and vegetable, try a salad with sliced steak and cubed potatoes on the side.

(Source: Padgett, Cassandra MS . “Nutrition Hacks Based on Hard Science” IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2019: 46-49. Print)

5. Beware of False “Health Food”!

Be cautious of “Food Halos” – foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients that are packaged to appear healthy and may even be lurking in the “health food” section of the grocery store!

Tuna and chicken salads for instance are often laden with heavy amounts of mayo. Making your own? Try swapping out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.

Think instant oatmeal is a healthy go-to breakfast? Be watchful of high sugar levels! Consider using one pack and adding plain rolled oats, walnuts, and berries to balance out the load…even better, start with plain oats and build your own oatmeal so you are aware of what is going into it!

6. Build Healthy Habits!

The most important thing to remember is that building healthy habits and determining the right path for YOUR body will take time. Determine your priority in nutrition. Where can you make an easy change that will have significant results for your health and wellness?

Is it more water every day? Maybe you drink several sodas per day and just swapping them out with water will yield you incredible benefits!

Need to eat more vegetables? To trim out the excess snacking or late-night eating? Work on ONE habit first and do not move on until it’s mastered. For many, this will take at least a week or two. In some cases, much longer.

It may take more time than you’d like – scratch that, it WILL take longer than you’d like – but in the long run when it’s just part of what you do and you are well on your way to your goal, it will seem like a blink in time.

Take it one step at a time…

8 Glasses of Water a Day? THINK AGAIN!

This time of year is often about trying to maintain some semblance of health while being bombarded with treats, rich foods and drinks.

One way to combat this is simply to drink enough, and/or MORE, water! Simple huh?

The science of water has changed some over the past decade, so let’s see if you have the latest facts!

How do I tell how much water is the right amount for me?

Taboo or not, check the color of your urine! If you are properly hydrated your urine will be colorless or light yellow in color. Drinking too much water is rare for healthy Americans who eat a typical American diet.

How much water should I drink each day?

It’s simple to give a solid number, but the reality is every person is different. Water needs are based on your health, your activity level, and where you live. Outside of being sick or pregnant, women’s general recommendations are around 90 ounces per day (74 ounces at a minimum) and 125 ounces for men; BUT this includes water from food consumption as well.

Foods high in water, like fruits and vegetables, will contribute more to your daily intake, typically about 20%. Even coffee, tea, etc is still counted toward your water intake, caffeine or not. Still not your gig? Try drinking broth!

Wait…Coffee counts??

You’ll be happy to know, despite popular the myth, science shows that coffee does NOT dehydrate you. If tap water just doesn’t do it for you, grab that cup of Joe…just skip, or go light, on the add ins because excessive dairy and sugar will certainly not help you feel hydrated.

What about carbonated water?

The latest science shows that carbonated water is just as good for you than still/tap water. Science has shown that carbonated water is NOT bad for your tooth enamel or bones and has been shown to help with digestion!

Is carbonated water too acidic? Well, it’s been shown that your body properly balances the slightly acidic carbonated water via the kidneys, with no additional stress. Not feeling the tap water? Crack open a non-sweetened sparkling water! Check your label just to be sure. Have you tried HINT sparkling infused water? NO sweeteners!

BEWARE! Tonic Water and Club Soda are not the same as carbonated water or Seltzer Water

What about exercise?

In addition to needing water to lubricate and cushion your joints, you need to replenish the water you lose during exercise. It’s important to note, the amount consumed to replace it would not count toward your daily consumption needs. For most, this ranges between 12-24 ounces when working out for less than an hour. When it’s hot/humid, your hydration needs will increase.

Holiday Travel Doesn’t Have to Destroy Your Fitness!

Vacations or business trips can throw our health and fitness goals for a loop, BUT they don’t have to!

Assess the situation: Is this a family trip with regular movement and activity as you explore? It could be best to let your body RELAX, REJUVENATE, and come back to your workouts stronger and ready to go.

However, we have numerous members and guest with heavy business travel schedules that can be harder to manage. This makes knowing how to stay fit on the road all the more important! It’s hard to build a routine and stick with it, so consider building a daily routine for no matter where you are.

It could be as simple as 15 minutes. If you have extra time in the day, fantastic! If not, you are firming up your routine and making strides toward consistent healthy habits.

Stuck in a Hotel?

First off, many hotels have fitness centers with free-weights, machines, etc for you to get a workout in, but even if they don’t that is no excuse to be lazy!

• Grab some paper plates from room service (even cardstock paper can do the job in a pinch). Use them as sliders to add intensity to your lower body mountain climbers, planks with hand or foot slides, slide back alternating lunges, squats.

• Grab a shower towel or belt and stabilize your lower leg lifts, or stretch the towel between two hands overhead and perform 10 get up sit up’s (lay flat with legs wide and straight, sit up with hands/arms extended over your head).

Access to a Pool?

Swim laps! Or if that’s not your thing, try to run laps/move through the water as fast as possible, or stand in athletic stance and move your arms forward and back (in a t-position) as fast as you can with water as resistance and similarly “flapping” arms up and down. The faster your move the more the water will resist you! Move slow for therapeutic range of motion, or bring some speed for high exertion strength training!

Have kids? They love to be tossed around in water and can be a great workout! But safety first!

No Equipment? No Problem!

Body weight can work great! Think pushups, lunges, split squats, dead bugs, plyometrics, and all kinds of other movements we already do at Ellipse! Add intensity by increasing repetitions, duration, or speed.

Keep it Simple: Choose 5 movements and perform 10 reps of each for as many rounds as possible for the time you have.

Or try out these body weight travel workouts we’ve already posted on the blog!
Workout 1
Workout 2

Stash Equipment in Your Luggage!

Get a resistance tube!

• These can easily be tossed in luggage. Resistance tubes usually come with door jambs allowing you to perform most exercises in the convenience of any room! With an anchored tube in a door you can perform tons of exercises including a chest press, row, pallof press, lat pulldown, shoulder press, tricep pressdown, and more. Using your own body as an anchor you can perform resisted squats, lunges, tricep extensions, shoulder press, and more!

• Ask your trainer for demos as needed. Create a workout by choosing a push, pull, lunge, hip hinge, and single leg exercise and perform 10 reps each. Repeat for time.

Get a mini band!

• You can add sumo/monster walks, hip bridge with abduction/adduction, resisted bicycles, standing foot taps, the options are endless!

• Find more band exercises by following these links!

Check out this video for some great suggestions, or this “Perform Better” article for tips on how to blast your glutes!

Hey Siri, Google, SOMEONE! I Need Directions to Fat Loss.

“Fat Loss Happens in the Kitchen!”
…or Does It? Truth is Truth.

Dan John, a celebrity in the strength and conditioning world, an Olympian, educator and author once shared that “fat loss happens in the kitchen.” He passionately expressed how important proper nutrition is regardless of what happens in the weight room, at the gym or even right here at Ellipse Fitness Training Centers.

Blasphemy you say?!

John recommends that people who want to burn fat should eat protein and vegetables and drink water consistently for two years. THEN, let him know how it’s going.

That isn’t the answer we want to hear – I know, but most of us know that ‘truth is truth.’

Let’s argue however, that ‘truth is not truth’ in this case. Don’t worry! Dan John is correct. Fat loss doesn’t happen in the gym, but we are not so sure that it happens primarily in the kitchen either…

Fat Loss Happens…

  1. In the Drive-Thru

  2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

  3. At the Concession Stand

  4. At the Grocery Store

  5. THEN In the Kitchen

  6. Finally…ON YOUR PLATE!

1. In the Drive-Thru

Sure. We plan to succeed, head to the store with the list in hand and meal prep on Sunday like we are supposed to, yet SOMETIMES we run late at work, traffic backs up and advertisements seem to whisper sweet nothings from the highway billboard lies of starting tomorrow, fast and convenient and only 99 cents! The next event of the day is closing in and nothing is going according to plan. THIS is where fat loss happens for many of us…

• Chic Fil A? Try the Market Salad: 330 calories, grilled nuggets, fruit, and super food salads!
• Jimmy John’s? Go for the Unwich: a pickle on the side for crunch, no cheese please!
• McDonald’s? Choose the Southwest Salad, Egg White Breakfast Sandwich, or Grilled Chicken Wrap to help mitigate the damage when you are stuck at this joint!

2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

Depending on the location, chances are there is a powerhouse gas station that has a full restaurant inside. Of course they have hot dogs, taquitos, crunchy salty things, and candy.

They ALSO often have fresh fruit, salads, nuts, jerky, or protein shakes/bars (watch those ingredients! Some are just candy bars in disguise…)

Fat loss happens when we choose right on a consistent basis, time after time. Build the habit into your life!

3. At the Concession Stand

Concession stands should be called “Greasy Carb Stands”. Pretzels and cheese, candy, and soda are more than just empty calories. These foods offer ZERO nutritional ingredients and turn the day into a hotbed of poor choices!

Some may offer healthier options like grilled meats, but game days is the perfect day to stash an RX Bar, Dale’s Bar or Quest Bar in your pocket, purse, or sports bag. Keep some quick-grab goodies in your car’s center console: dried fruit, nuts, jerky, seeds, or protein balls all keep well in the car especially through the winter!

4. At the Grocery Store

Obviously healthy and then not-so-healthy options are both available at our local grocer. Here are some tips to help:

Shop the perimeter of the store. This avoids temptation to throw the dry, processed goods into our basket.
Find the pre-prepped vegetables – even if they cost more to make sure they will be used to munch on or for a quick meal.
Check out the salad bar and get more prepared fresh food. Purchase 2-4 days’ worth of food instead of a week’s worth to avoid spoilage and overeating. Drink a full glass of water before shopping. Shop on a full stomach as often as possible. Make a list and stick to it!

5. THEN in the Kitchen

We eat what we see, and we certainly can’t eat what we don’t have on hand! Keep fresh choices on the counter, and in the fridge, whenever possible. Have some meals pre-portioned and ready to go when you need to grab quickly on the way to work or come home starving!

Become the primary shopper and take control of the food in the house! Utilize Shipt and similar services for shopping if time is short. Your health is worth the extra cost! Put poor choices in the downstairs fridge or on a basement shelf. Out of sight, out of mind is true.

Meal plan. Meal prep. Make food commitments to yourself! It may be tough at first, but with repetition it becomes part of your routine.

6. Finally, ON YOUR PLATE!

What you put in your mouth…this is where the true magic happens. At least 50% of your plate should be vegetables! This may be the most important step towards fat loss and healthy nutrition in general.

What goes on our plate and in our mouth is 100% up to us. Accept full responsibility for this! Our bodies become our journals and the writing doesn’t lie!

Be honest with yourself, stay consistent, and you will be strong and healthy.

5 Ways to Boost Your Breakfast Protein for Better Results!

Breakfast.

Just the word brings about warm fuzzy feelings of coffee, toast, pancakes, potatoes, oatmeal, muffins, and more…carbohydrates.

You may be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find breakfast to be their favorite meal of the day, but there is often one major problem with breakfast – the lack of protein! (and veggies for that matter)

Work to get a protein source at breakfast as well as a vegetable, or least a fruit to pack some extra nutrients in your “most important meal of the day”! This helps to set you up for recovery from your workouts and ensures you are giving your body what it needs to reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in at the gym!

1. Start Simple!

Start easy by making a homemade parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, seeds, and perhaps a dollop of local honey or maple syrup.

Greek Yogurt is a great protein source, but be aware of flavored yogurts!! You wouldn’t believe how much sugar they add into even “healthy” brands.

2. Add Eggs!

Eggs can be as simple as hard-boiled eggs (an Instant-Pot makes these super easy by the way!) or as fancy as a breakfast casserole (think leftovers for the week!). Check out this recipe for a breakfast casserole that combines spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggs, and hash browns for a nutrient packed and high protein breakfast!

3. Add Cottage Cheese!

Cottage cheese can be added to many dishes to add a protein kick, like shakes and baked goods. Especially for those who aren’t a big fan, adding to baked goods is quite good!

Have you tried our classic Ellipse Protein Pancakes with cottage cheese, oatmeal, and egg beaters as the main ingredients?

Or maybe even go as simple as serving cottage cheese and berries with some Kodiak Pancakes. If you haven’t found Kodiak cakes in the store yet, you’re missing out!

4. Add Protein Powder!

So many people count on that quick morning shake or smoothie. Try adding a scoop of protein powder (and even consider a greens powder) to give your breakfast a major nutrition boost!

See the cottage cheese suggestion above as well, because it makes a great add-in to shakes as well to thicken them up and add protein.

5. Add quinoa!

Quinoa? That’s right! Quinoa has 8g of protein per cup – the highest of any grain – and it’s a vegan/vegetarian source of protein!

Try this Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa with cinnamon, pecans, and maple syrup! YUM!!

Or try this Sweet Quinoa Breakfast Bowl!

Break The Fast with Protein

Choose breakfast consciously instead of mindlessly grabbing the same thing each morning! Plan it like any other meal throughout the day.

Try adding some beans to your breakfast burrito or it could be as simple as adding some vanilla protein powder to your coffee in place of creamer (TIP: make sure to cool a small cup of coffee to mix the powder in first so it doesn’t clump from too high of heat. then add the rest after it’s been emulsified).