First Try Homemade “Protein” Balls

First Try Homemade “Protein” Balls

For years I’ve attempted to make my own home made protein bar that actually tasted good, travelled well and had healthy ingredients. I have failed many times. Finally, I thought what the heck I’m going to share my failures with the world and use it as a way of educating if I can.

Today I found a “Protein” Ball recipe that was made with nuts and Medjool dates.  I’ve been hoping to include Medjool dates in my final product as it’s a natural sweeter that is also a pretty good binder. I’m sure there are tons of other health benefits since they are so popular these days but I am choosing not to digress into that bottomless pit (you know how nerdy I am about nutrition) and instead stick to the topic at hand.  “Protein” balls.

Some of the more astute of you might be wondering…why the heck is she putting protein in “”?  Here is why:  IM SO TIRED OF EVERYONE CALLING THEM PROTEIN BALLS!!!!  While this recipe is tasty and they do have some protein…THESE ARE NOT PROTEIN BALLS.  These are healthy snack balls or some other similar name that doesn’t imply they are mostly protein.

The same mistake happens with KIND bars (which I love BTW).  KIND bars are not protein bars!  If you check the label you will notice they have 5-7 grams of protein and 8-12 grams of fat, depending on the type of bar.  With fat being twice as dense as protein and allotting for twice the calories as protein, we should more accurately call them fat bars!  Haha I have a feeling that wouldn’t go over to well.

My point is not for you to stop eating KIND bars or not to make these delicious homemade fat balls either.  It’s just important – and here is that ever sought after teachable moment – that you know what the heck is in the foods you are eating.  You wouldn’t eat pizza and say it was your daily vegetable would you? (Ok some people might – including Janet, Julie and probably Mike G who all might even read this). Just do me a favor and when you eat or cook something, take a moment to asses what the macro ratio’s (macronutrients : CHO, FAT, PRO) are so you know how to balance yours throughout the day and according to your training demand.  In other words – pizza is not a vegetable guys!

All that being said, if you are looking for a healthy snack that is tasty, satiating, has some protein and mostly healthy fats, you should try this.  It’s easy to make, stores well and has all healthy ingredients (recipe listed below).  As previously mentioned, most of the calories in this snack come from fat – which is not a crime – it’s the lack of awareness of what is in the food you eat that can potentially sabotage your efforts.

Ingredients

  • Medjool Dates (pitted) – 1 cup chopped
  • Cashews – 1 1/2 cup
  • Coconut oil – 1 Tbl
  • Chia Seeds – 1 Tbl
  • Cacao Powder – 1.5 Tbl
  • Hemp Protein Powder – 2 Tbl

*You can also use other protein powders if you like.

 

Instructions

  • Fire up the food processor
  • Add all ingredients to the food processor, probably should add the nuts first
  • Process away until well mixed
  • If too dry add like 1 Tbl of water
  • Roll into balls and store for later 🙂
  • Yum

Here are the nutrition facts if you want them! Enjoy!

Simple Stretch for Improved Rotation

Simple Stretch for Improved Rotation

This might not look like a stretch but IT IS!

Right now I’m using this mostly with golfers but their is practical application in many other athletic activities. Some form of torso #ROTATION occurs during almost every sport, including running, swimming, volleyball, baseball and martial arts.

As we age the natural rotational ability of the spine is often reduced because we just dont move as much and if we do it’s often repetitive motion in the same plane of movement. Even if you do move in many planes there are often improper patterning/sequencing issues that have developed over time. ALL athletes can benefit from this stretch!

Golfers if you want to improve “lag” this is one stretch you can try.

1) While lying down put one arm straight over head.
2) Reach as far as you can across your body with the other arm as if you were trying to roll over using only your upper body.
3) Let the hips lag behind as far as you can and keep reaching with your upper body for about 60 second
4) Repeat on both sides.

Everyone I’ve had try this says it feel so crazy! Test it out and let me know what you think!

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim: 21 Miles To The Other Side of “Me”

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim: 21 Miles To The Other Side of “Me”

Many of you already know that I went Rim to Rim across the Grand Canyon this year…what an experience!  As you will see from the photos and video, the landscape was breathtaking, the terrain challenging, the heat draining and the storm slightly frightening.  What was most amazing about going Rim to Rim was finishing, looking back over the trail that I had just traversed and experiencing the sense of having accomplished something I’ve wanted to do for many years.  Finishing the rim to rim in a decent amount of time (especially for a non-endurance athlete) and knowing I could do it alone (not planned!) were also great feelings, but all in all I think the greatest thing I learned from going Rim to Rim was finding my way to the other side of “me”.

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When you look at the Grand Canyon from either rim you cannot help but get a sense of scale in how vast and magnificent the earth is and how small we are in comparison.  The views of the canyon are sublime and from each rim and has you travel down, across and up you cannot help but experience the unexpectedly profound silence of the enormous landscape.  Being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon reminded me of the silence of being underwater, almost like in some distant part of the mind you instinctively connected with the fact that the enormous space had once been completely submerged water.

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Once I completed this challenge and looked from the North Rim back along the path I had taken from the South Rim I felt very satisfied with what I had done.  As I expected, when I looked back over the trail I felt accomplished physically, but what was unexpected and even more powerful was the mind-body experience and mental shift that started to take place when I took my first of 49,800 steps across the canyon and continues now, a full month later.

Just like everyone else, I have many goals in life and my share of challenges. The mental (maybe even spiritual?) part of my experience going rim to rim was learning to recognize and address the psychological blocks that prevent me from achieving my goals or overcoming challenges.  At this point in life, I have achieved only some of my most important goals.  One of the challenges that prevents me from reaching some of my goals is being a very distracted person with many different thoughts going on in my mind all at the same time. Being this way is actually pretty fun because you tend to notice many things others don’t and you tend to see the world differently.  But this also means I have a tendency to set many goals at once or start in one direction and then get distracted and go in 10 (or more) directions.  For me, being in a never ending thought tornado means it takes a while to sort through and determine which ideas and thoughts actually align with my goals and aspirations and which are just creative distractions.  Starting and finishing is more like starting and never-ending (as in saga, volume 1,2,3, etc.).  Somehow, in that deep silence I was able to see clearly, in a way I not seen before, what it is that keeps turning me around in circles.

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Going Rim 2 Rim was a “bucket list” idea (one of the 1000’s) I had about 3-4 years ago.  Never did I realize that it would be more than “a cool achievement”.  I didn’t realize how vast and beautiful the Grand Canyon really is, and I never in a million years expected to experience such personal growth from going rim to rim.  Not only did I get to experience unexpected breath-taking views of going 1 mile down and 1 mile up in an ancient dessert-to-mountain landscape, I was able to finish and look back knowing I had just achieved something personally significant.  I had gone start to finish without taking 5000 left turns and circling back 22oo times and I felt it more mentally than anything else.  Going rim to rim helped me to memorize that feeling.

There is another side to this story that include how I prepared for the trek across the canyon, what almost made me decide not to do it, why I ended up going rim to rim alone, the amazing support I received from friends and family and a funny dream that actually spurred me on.   But I feel these details take away from the true lesson I learned on this adventure which was: “how to get to the other side of me”.

We all have goals and and it is in facing our challenges and driving forward toward our goals that we grow, become better and go beyond.  I don’t think I am alone in my sense of accomplishment or the type of experience I had going rim to rim, I’ve personally heard accounts and read many more stories of adventures planned as a goal of physical achievement turning into something far beyond.  Yes, we are all unique and everyone has a different take on life, but I would be surprised if anyone, regardless of our unique differences, would go rim to rim across the Grand Canyon without learning more about who they are as a person and finding a path to another “side” or aspect of themselves, a path to a personal goal or the path to who they want to become.

Recipe of the Month: Not Just Any Pancake

Recipe of the Month: Not Just Any Pancake

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hedvigs/

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hedvigs/

 

If you’ve worked with me personally or have been following me for any length of time, you know that I believe that no one should go through life without cookies, cake and brownies.  Of course, I’m not saying head on over to your nearest drive-thru and binge ~ you’ve also heard me talk about successful, long-term results requiring balance! 😉 And even though it’s ok to have sweet treats, they are the exception not the rule.  

 

That being said…I wanted to share one of the recipes I use that is very easy to make and is great balance between carbs and protein.  Sometimes when I give out this recipe, I get the funniest reaction from clients…one of those faces that is a mix between confusion and the anticipation of something distasteful…but once they try this they all have loved it!  I often have this for breakfast and when I do, I find that it reduces my sweet cravings during the day, especially when I follow up with well balanced meals and snacks later on.  So without further delay, here’s the recipe I’ve been wanting you to see:

 

Power Pancake
Cooking utensils needed:  blender & small skillet

 

Ingredients: FAT(g) CHO(g) PRO(g) CALS
4 med Egg whites 0.4 0.8 14.4 64.4
 1/3 cup Old fashioned oats 2    17.82 3.30 102.3
 1/2 med Organic Banana 0.99 8.91 1.65 51.15
1 tsp Cinnamon 0 2.1 0.1 8.8
Totals 3.4 29.6 19.5 226.7
Total Per Serving (1) 3.4 29.6 19.5 226.7
Optional:
                     -Agave syrup (light)
                     -Butter (small amount)

 

Use a small amount of the coconut oil or Pam to grease the a small skillet.  Add all ingredients to blender and mix on high until ingredients are blended together and smooth(ish). With skillet over medium heat, pour mixture into skillet and cook one side until brown, flip like a pancake and repeat. Remove from heat and serve, putting a small amount of butter and agave syrup on if you choose.  

 

Reminder – while this recipe is really well balanced, too much agave and butter will add both carbs and fat the the overall count of the pancake.  Remember to keep it in balance with your ideal cals for that meal and the amount of each macro you’ve already eaten that day.  Not only is this a great recipe a great choice for breakfast, it is also a perfect post-workout meal.  The balance between macro’s is great for replenish depleted glycogen stores and delivers enough protein to facilitate protein synthesis after a strength training session.
Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Mixed messages and information about metabolic rate and the calories and workouts it takes to burn fat make losing weight a daunting task.  In this post I briefly show the difference between weight loss and fat loss and then hope to get you started determining your own caloric needs by defining BMR and calculate your daily energy expenditure.  These pieces of data will help you find a good starting point for weight loss or body composition goals.

 

Body Weight vs Body Fat %

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The photo on the right is the cross section of three different thighs, all the same size.  The thigh in the middle is made up mostly of adipose tissue (fat) while the photos on top and bottom are made up mostly lean mass.  All these cross sections are of legs that look the same size and while the photos on top and bottom have more lean mass, they will weigh more on the scale.  The man with the very high percent body fat in the middle will weigh less on the scale.   Even though the scale indicates they are “smaller”, the individuals on top and bottom is the same size, is stronger, and has legs that are functionally sound.

 

The Basics of Losing Weight

When I work with clients who want to lose weight or lose body fat, I always start with BMR.  BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and is the amount of energy you need to maintain basic body function while resting.  An accurate measure of BMR is conducted under very restrictive conditions.  The subject must be completely rested (sympathetic nervous system is inactive) but awake, in a temperate environment, with the digestive system completely inactive. It is under these conditions that your energy will be used only to maintain your vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, the nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin.

Basal metabolism is usually the largest component of a person’s total caloric needs. The daily calorie needs is the BMR value multiplied by a factor with a value between 1.2 and 1.9, depending on the activity level.

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*BMR derived from the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation


BMR only represent resting energy expenditure, to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity level using the Harris-Benedict formula, as follows:

Activity Level Activity Factor
Sedentary
Light or no exercise and desk job
BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active
Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active
Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
BMR x 1.55
Very Active
Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week
BMR x 1.725
Extremely Active
Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job plus training 2 x week
BMR x 1.9

This number shows approximately how many calories you should consume to maintain weight. If your goal is to lose weight, remember that basal metabolic rate varies between individuals. Studies have shown differences in BMR when comparing subjects with the same lean mass to be a whopping 28-32% higher than others.  What this means is that calculating your BMR is a starting point for weight loss but some variables are not accounted for in the equation.  

Estimating daily calorie requirements is challenging. While even the best calculators cannot determine an accurate metabolic rate for every individual, calculators based on research can be a very helpful starting point.  These calculators and equations give you a science-based platform to start with.  From there you must use trial, error and careful self-monitoring to achieve your goals.

Exactly What to Eat After Exercise

Exactly What to Eat After Exercise

For most of us, making time for a quality workout requires planning, re-arranging schedules and figuring out how and when to get to the gym each day. And that’s just getting to the gym.  Once you’re at the gym you put maximum effort into your workout so you can achieve your goals.  But did you know that what you do after the workout for a post-workout meal and recovery could be as or more important to your result than your actual workout?

Today I want to share what I recommend eating after a weight training and or weights/cardio combination workout so you can get maximum benefits from your hard work.  Here’s an example of one of my recent strength training workouts:


Workout 6.29.15
protein drink

Warm up:
            1000 Meter Row easy

Set 1:  High Reps
            Barbell Thruster
            Wide Grip Pull-up (assisted)

Set 2:  10 Reps
            Wide Cable Row with split stance
            Dumbbell Shoulder Press on Stability Ball – single arm
            Stability Ball Crunches
            Stability Ball Tucks

Set 3:  8 Reps
            Barbell Row
            Single Arm Sots Press w/kettlebell


Personally, after a workout like this I typically have a meal that combines protein, high glycemic carbs, and a small amount of healthy fat (ratios of 45-45-10 OR 40-40-20). I started having this type of post-workout meal years back when I learned how to balance my nutrition, workouts and lifestyle from a few trusted sources. My rationale for eating a post-workout meal like this is to facilitate two crucial parts of workout recovery and performance:

1) Replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen is the fuel stored in and used by muscles during workouts and replenishing this fuel is important for recovery and future performance. The high glycemic version of carbohydrates digest more easily, stimulates insulin and facilitates protein synthesis.

2) Facilitate protein synthesis – the rebuilding and repair of muscle tissues damaged (micro traumas from training) during workouts. Muscle cell proteins are broken down due to high intensity or prolonged exercise and protein synthesis is the recovery process on a microscopic level.

 

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I’ve gotten great results using the rations I described but recently I’ve been doing some reading that indicates I might need to adjust my post workout meal ratios.  Various articles I’ve read suggest that using a 2:1 or even 3:1 carb to protein ratio instead of my 1:1 carb to protein ratio are the ideal for post workout meals.  From Breaking Muscle: “Research in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism has shown that ingesting protein (0.2-0.4g/kg) and a smaller amount of carbohydrates together (around 0.8g/kg) can”…stimulate an endogenous insulin release that actually replenishes glycogen stores. And in a separate study it was found that “at present, there is no evidence to support the claim that post-workout carbs in any ratio are needed for protein synthesis. Protein seems to be enough on its own.”

 

Based on this research and a few other articles I’ve read, an increase in carb to protein ration makes sense for replenishing muscle glycogen in a post-workout meal but is not necessary when it comes to protein synthesis.

But wait…I’m now telling you to add carbs to your diet when one of the most common things you’ll hear in the fitness industry is that carbs make you fat? Well, it’s true – they CAN…if your eating is out of balance. But when you consume healthy carbs, like non-processed starches and whole fruits the right way (and even “cheat” foods), you don’t have to worry about storing them as excess fat.

Eating in balance requires you to have general knowledge of how much of which type of nutrients you’ve eaten throughout the day. If you’ve overloaded on carbs all morning, you shouldn’t eat a high carb post-workout meal and if you plan to go eat a high carb dinner, stick with the 1:1 ratio after your workout. When you use this strategy, not only does it make your plan “sustainable” — it makes being lean so much easier. Good luck!

Did this article help you? If so, leave a comment and let me know!