Get Your Day Started Right!

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It literally means to break the fast. After eight hours of sleep we must re-fuel. Sleeping is rest but your body does not stop working. Often people communicate to me that they don't like to eat in the morning or they don't have the time. This is understandable but your health is worth trying a new habit!


This breakfast may seem gourmet but it really very simple and takes very little time.



Open Face Egg Omelet

  • whisk two eggs in a bowl

  • chopped green scallion

  • two sliced mushrooms

  • two cherry tomatoes halved

  • in one pan on low heat drizzle some olive oil then add eggs

  • in another pan on low heat add vegetables and stir fry

  • plate the eggs and scatter veggies on top of eggs

  • salt and pepper to taste


Blueberry Banana Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

  • 1 Banana

  • 1/2 cup juice (your choice)

  • 2-4 cubes of ice

Enjoy!

Spencer Nation: Forte Fitness Client

It is hard to put into words just what the people that comprise Forte Fitness have done for me. I can remember being 19 years-old and being nearly 300 lbs., on the “fast track” to a half-lived life. I was afraid of the gym, avoidant of real physical exertion, and I was ashamed when I looked at myself in the mirror. I wouldn’t face my situation for what it was: I had never really embraced any fitness in my life. I remember the day I decided that something had to be done; the day my 42” pants no longer fit. It was June of 2014. I’d heard about Forte (under a different name, but the same management) from a friend, who told me that it was a non-judgmental environment with friendly staff. It sounded like the right type of place, considering my fear of exerting myself physically around others, especially in a gym-like environment. My friend’s words, I discovered, rang true. I met Kyle Johnston (at the time the manager of Forte) who talked me through the process and answered any and every question I had, all with a smile on his face. From the beginning, I was placed with a trainer who knew anatomically what needed to be done to get me to where I wanted to be, through both physical and nutritional education. Over the months, I came in and sweated it out, never once having any doubt that the people working with me didn’t know what they were doing. I would stay at Forte for a few months. I had started my journey.

To make a long story short, I ended up coming back to Forte in August of 2018, nearly 4 years later. In that time, I had my own ups-and-downs. I had sporadically put on weight and taken it off, put on muscle and then let it atrophy, changed my diet only to end up putting junk fuel back into my body’s engine, and I’d seen the hills and valleys of my own mind when it came to changing just who I was. I’d had hundreds of personal training sessions, met dozens of various gym staff members, and gotten a lot of perspective on my situation. I knew this would be the last time, that a permanent change had to take place if this was going to last. I came back to Forte because, after all those gyms and various trainers, after all those years, I remembered the people at Forte. I remember how they treated me. I lost 80 lbs. in less than 70 sessions. I can remember the day it started. Russ, my trainer, pulled me aside - when I thought that I was cursed, when I didn’t know just what I was going to do with myself – and he took the time to help me realize that changing one’s body is about much, much more than just what is physical, than what is corporeal. Never once did he ever doubt me, never once did he ever say that I couldn’t do this or that I couldn’t do that, and never once did he ever stop trying to help me become the person I am supposed to be. I would liken very similar statements to every single person I’ve dealt with at Forte. I have met and been among truly great human beings, people who bring out the best in one another and in themselves. Day in, day out these individuals show up, faces grinning & eyes brilliant, seeking out to help others in any way they can. I am very fortunate to call some of these people my friends now. There is no place or group of people that I would rather expel my blood, sweat, or build upon with. All of this in a little spot, a few rooms, down by the riverside.

If you’re asking yourself if this is worth it, it is. Few endeavors in life are worth the sacrifices and pain that accompany something like changing one’s mind and one’s body. You will be in pain, you will be in doubt, and you will want to quit. When those times come, and they will come, you’re going to be glad that you had people like these to push you forward. There is no doubt in my mind. The only question is: Are you ready?

Sincerely -

Spencer Nation

Finding Balance!


Balance is everything. We humans spend our entire lives searching for balance, whether it's eating a balanced meal, balancing our checkbooks, or finding balance in how we spend our time. It just so happens that one of the most overlooked and arguably one of most important keys to health is balance.  To have a truly functional body we must have balance.  As we age it's imperative that we are working to improve our ability to balance.

Think about a toddler before learning how to walk. Most of the time spent prior to learning to walk is finding the balance point. It is only after gaining control of their movements - finding the balance point - that the toddler is able to put one foot in front of the other. Just as it is important for the toddler to maintain a certain level of balance, it is equally important that we as humans continue to work at building a body that can maintain balance for a lifetime. 

The strength, control, and agility that comes from improved balance assists us in our daily lives more than we know. Whether it's athletics, playing with the dog, chasing down an Uber, or simply walking up a flight of stairs balance is essential. A good sense of balance and a strong awareness of one's body in relation to one's surroundings aid in reaction time reducing the risk of injury.


As a trainer I have often found that many people are not even aware that their balance is diminishing.  A loss of balance can truly sneak up on people as we age. 

I want to challenge you to try these simple balance exercises today!

1. See how long you can stand on one foot. A good goal would be 30-45 seconds.
2. Try walking on your tip-toes. Next time you find your self checking the mail give it a go!
3. Cross your legs while standing in one place. Try this for 60 seconds. To make it even harder try standing on the tip of your toes.
4. Walking heel-to-toe in as straight a line as possible. 

5.  Can you complete 5-10 walking lunges per leg.  
5. How long you can hold a plank? Aim for between 45-60 seconds. 


Core strength and balance go hand in hand. To build a strong core resulting in a healthy level of balance incorporate ground based exercises like variations of lunges, squats and deadlifts.  After all we live on our feet! Don't be scared thinking these are exercises for massive weight lifters.  These are movements that we all do in regular life and can be modified for anyone.  


Give the challenges above a shot.  If you notice a deterioration in your balance now is the time to address the issue!  If you can begin an exercise program on your own, great!  If not, a personal trainer even for a short period of time can make a big difference.  Your quality of life and independence is worth it! Go find your balance!

I Love Breakfast

Eggs

  • boil for eight minutes

  • chill in bowl of ice water

  • serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and red chili flake 

Asparagus

  • steam in 1/2 inch of water for 2 minutes 

  • season with olive oil and sea salt

Oatmeal

  • follow oatmeal directions on box

  • top with mixed nuts

  • season with cinnamon, sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil and honey

Cutie

  • peal and divide clementine

Enjoy a great day after a healthy breakfast!!! 



Can You Touch Your Toes?

I often hear people speak about flexibility.  Frequently people believe flexibility is about being able to touch your toes.  People state they need to stretch more.  They probably should. But, they are stating this with the idea that if they stretch more they will be more flexible. This is only partly true.  

Flexibility primarily has gender and genetic set points.  Females in general will be more flexible than males. The female hormones estrogen and progesterone play a role in opening the birth. These same hormones in most cases will cause all other joints to become more lax. Testosterone makes joints tighter.  Therefore, males having higher testosterone levels are generally less flexible than females.  

Is being able to touch your toes the bench mark of flexibility? 

It certainly is not bad if you can touch your toes; however, it is not necessarily bad if you cannot.  Flexibility needs to be understood more in terms of range of movement and mobility. The ability to move in all planes of human movement for the general tasks of daily life and movements specific to activities you enjoy.  

I am sure you have experienced stretching and the sensation of a greater degree of flexibility. On the other hand, I am sure you have also felt this new found flexibility quickly dissipate and return to your normal state. For decades people believed weight lifting caused a loss in range of movement making one less flexible. Improper, unbalanced weight lifting programs could have this result. However, a well designed weight lifting program is the best way to create flexibility, range of movement and mobility.  

Each muscle has an opposing muscle, for example the chest and back, the quadriceps and hamstring, the biceps and triceps. When opposing muscles are trained in balance a healthy range of movement around the joint is developed. Balance is not always 50/50. The correct ratio between a quadriceps and a hamstring is 3:2. This means if one performs an exercise that is primarily quad dominant, and 30 total repetitions are performed, then 20 repetitions of a hamstring dominant exercise should be performed as well.  

Too loose makes one injury prone and too tight makes one injury prone. Proper balanced weight lifting is critical to building a body that is not too tight or too loose. 

This does not mean don't stretch. The best time to stretch using static stretching techniques is after running or weight bearing exercise when the muscles are very warm. Before any workout the best method to warm up involves dynamic stretching, which includes the following types of movements: knee hugs, walking quad pulls, walking bent knee toe touches, easy leg swings, walking lunges, and walking side lunge.  

By all means stretch! But, do it at the end of your workout. Truly to really build a functional body incorporate weight bearing movements into your fitness routine focused on developing all muscles in balance.

 

Raw or Cooked

Raw or Cooked? Which is better? 

The answer to this question is that it is complicated. Some plants are more nutrient dense raw but others are at their best when cooked. This is not an exhaustive list but check it out.

 

Asparagus 

Cooking asparagus breaks down the fibrous membranes which in turn allows for greater vitamin and folate absorption. 

 

Broccoli

Broccoli in its raw form delivers very high doses of sulforphane which is a cancer fighting compound.  However, many people do not prefer it raw and a lightly steaming still delivers a good punch of the cancer fighting properties.  

 

Carrots

The carotenoids in carrots are more biologically available for absorption when cooked. Carotenoids fight chronic diseases. 

 

Onions

Like broccoli the cancer fighting sulfur compounds are more readily available when consumed raw. Use them as a condiment to add flavor to salads, tuna fish, rice and beans, eggs and more.

 

Red Bell Pepper

Often the color of a plant tells you which vitamin is most prevalent in a plant. This is certainly true for red peppers. Red plants are generally high in vitamin C. The vitamin C in red peppers is more readily available in its raw form. With their sweet taste red peppers can be enjoyed alone or with hummus, salads, eggs, as a side, or simply chopped and added to just about any dish!   

 

Tomatoes

When tomatoes are cooked the human body is more able to absorb the lycopene.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is good for your brain and your heart.  Obviously great for pasta sauce but try it over eggs or a grass-fed burger! 

 

This is good information to know to make better use of these plants.  However, the most important thing to do is eat a variety of plants at every meal! 

New Year's Resolution Tips

The New Year is here! At this time of year most people become a little more reflective. We tend to evaluate different areas of our life we would like to improve. And for many folks a big area of evaluation concerns one’s health. I am sure many of you reading this article had sincere plans to make 2018 the year you finally took the steps to improve your health. Although many people sincerely felt this way, the odds are probably that only a few actually did achieve their goals. Why is this?

As I have trained people over the last 25 years I am convinced that all of you really do want to change your exercise habits. However, there are real life reasons why it does not happen, and our busy lives are number one. Most folks are working so hard on their relationships, careers and parenting that by the time you have taken care of everyone else there is no time left to take care of yourself.

So, how can you make 2019 different and dedicate this year to your health??? Here are three suggestions that I know work because I have personally seen many people apply these three tips and many have lost 20 - 100 pounds, blood pressure has improved, cholesterol levels have dropped, bodies are more functional, and people are eating more healthfully.

1. Set Exercise Appointments with yourself.

Whether you are a busy professional, busy mother or both your day is filled with appointments with other people. You certainly would not be disrespectful and miss a scheduled appointment. Set exercise appointments with yourself and give yourself the respect you give others. Don’t miss your appointment! When life happens and you miss a scheduled appointment you must reschedule your missed appointment. There are 168 hours in a week. You can do this!!!

2. Set Specific, Realistic, Measurable Goals. Begin with what works for you.

This is an example of a specific, realistic and measurable goal for January – exercise 3 times per week for 15 minutes. Set it in your calendar with date, exact time of day, and your exercise plan. Three times per week is 12 exercise sessions of 15 minutes for the first month. If you miss simply reschedule your exercise appointment and make sure by January 31 you have exercised 12 different days for 15 minutes. Maintaining your exercise volume each month is a major key. At the end of the month reflect and re-evaluate making changes to your goals. It could be 13 exercise sessions of 20 minutes each. The key is simply to get started, set a goal that is specific, realistic, measurable, and attainable for you to build on.

3. ACCOUNTABILITY!!!

Accountability is essential to keeping your exercise appointment with yourself. But for most accountability to self is not enough.  It’s too easy to rationalize something else is more important. Different people are successful with different forms of accountability. For some simply investing in a gym membership is enough, for others having a friend or a group you are committed to exercise with, and for others a higher degree of accountability is needed, for example, a personal trainer. We all spend a great deal of money on health insurance, which is not health insurance at all. Taking care of one’s health through proper nutrition and exercise is true health insurance. The simple key here is get the accountability you need. If a friend works, great! If a group works,
great! If you know you need the highest level of accountability, I suggest investing for 12 weeks in personal training and then re-evaluating. Look at it as if you are taking a class to invest in your health. We have all invested in education to better our lives; so, it just makes sense to do the same for our health. The secret is accountability to a coach, mentor, guide, someone who is committed to your commitment and impervious to your excuses.

We are all well aware of the health crisis in America related to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and a host of other preventable diseases. Make a commitment to the three tips above and you are on your way to receiving the benefits of exercise and healthy eating habits. When you are physically fit you will feel better, sleep better, overcome stress, work better, communicate better, play better and live better! Make 2019 the year you really DO something about making a lifestyle change that will improve your quality of life for years to come!!!

Three Reasons For A Plant Centered Lifestyle of Eating

1.  Plants are good for you! The main reason to consume a plant centered diet is disease prevention. The risk for cancer, heart related diseases, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases are all reduced by a plant centered diet. The China Study, one of the largest nutrition studies ever conducted in conjunction with Cornell University, found that each time an animal product was removed from the diet disease rates went down.  One of the greatest discoveries of a plant based diet is that it can reverse heart related diseases, diabetes and in some cases autoimmune disease symptoms. You don't need to eat meat. Plants are more nutrient dense than animal products. There is enough protein in plants - vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.  A plant based diet improves one's immune system, energy levels, and longevity!


2.  A plant based diet is good for the environment! The carbon footprint of a meat eaters is 3.3 tons per year.  Over half of that footprint is caused by eating meat. Plant based farming is better for our soil, water purity/conservation, and air quality.  Plant based farming reduces the deforestation of plant and animal habitats. If you choose to eat animal products choose to eat from local sustainable pasture raised animals when possible.  


3.  A plant based diet is easier on the wallet! Simply put the most expensive food products we purchase at the grocery store are animal products - beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.  A dinner of brown rice and beans, a side of broccoli, a salad and fruit for desert is much less expensive than a meal centered around meat. It simply costs more money to raise a cow than to raise a broccoli!  


Carlo Petrini founder of Slow Food - Buono, Giusto, Pulito - states the greatest political act we make each day is what we choose to eat! 

Omnivore? Carnivore? Herbivore?

What kind of eaters are humans??? I believe a simple understanding of the design and evolution of our digestive system provides some very logical clues.  


First some definitions:


Omnivore – eats plants and animals 

Carnivore – eats animals

Herbivore – eats plants 


Let’s start with our teeth. We have the teeth primarily of a herbivore. Our teeth are designed / evolved to consume plants. Someone may say but what about our canine teeth? Aren’t they designed to rip and tear meat. Not really, our canines are nothing compared to a dog or even a cat. Human canine teeth are more suited to carrots, apples and other tubers.  


Now we head down the digestive tract. If you have a dog you have most surely experienced feeding your dog, taking the dog for a walk and within five to ten minutes the dog is going to the bathroom. Not so with us humans. We eat and the digestive process is much longer. Why? A dog is a carnivore. A carnivore’s digestive tract is a short straight tube. Food is in and out. Humans are primarily herbivores like a rabbit. Our digestive system is a long and winding tube.  


Humans are primarily herbivores. We have one enzyme, pepsin, which allows us to break down animal products during digestion; otherwise, we would be entirely herbivores. Without cooking, grinding, and curing meat humans would have struggled to eat meat at all. 


What conclusions should we draw from this? The greatest volume of the food we eat should be plants. The idea that we were hunter gatherers is a bit misconstrued.  It is more accurate to say we were gatherer hunters. Hunting is very difficult and our ancestors did not have the luxury of modern weaponry. Hunting would also have been calorically too great an expenditure. It was much more efficient to gather plants.  


When you look outside you will notice quickly most plants are green. In general, green plants are more nutrient dense. Therefore, make the greatest volume of your food consumption green plants, then all the other colored plants, then fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, potatoes and lastly a little bit of animal products.

How my great, great Grandfather lived to 105

My great, great grandfather lived to 105. He died in mass in the small Italian village of Frassinoro located high in the Appenine Mountains outside of Modena, Italy. A staple of the diet in this area of Italy is "Ribollita”.  


My daughter Julia and I love to make Ribollita together in the fall and winter months. Ribollita basically means re-boiled. It is great the next day when the water is fully absorbed.  

Begin by chopping up several vegetables - lacinato kale, swiss chard, parsley, one leek, zucchini, one peeled chopped potato, smash a garlic clove, and rinse a can of cannellini beans. Next finely chop a carrot, celery, and onion in equal proportions.  This makes the "sofritto" or the base of the Ribollita.  Put the carrots, celery, and onions in a hot pan with olive oil. Get the olive oil hot first. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir on low heat until the sofritto is translucent. Next add enough water to cover the sofritto and add the potatoes, bay leaf, a parmigiano reggiano rind, the smashed garlic clove, and leek let cook for 12 minutes. Then add water as needed to cover the Ribollita. Taste the broth and add salt as needed. Then add the the leafy greens and cannelini beans. It is then ready in 3-5 minutes.

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Traditionally, a hearty crusty bread is put on the bottom of one's soup bowl. Cover the bread with the Ribollita. Season with grated parmigiano reggiano and big drizzle of olive oil. If you choose to add bread, Neidlov's wholey whole wheat is a great choice! 


Buon appetito! Cent' Anni!

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