How To Kickstart Your Day(And Metabolism)

How To Kickstart Your Day(And Metabolism)

Breakfast. The Cornerstone Of a Healthy Metabolism.

I know, you don’t have time… there’s a million and one things to do before you leave for your busy day. That doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice your health & well being because of one meal.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~Sun Tzu

No matter what your goals are, if you don’t fuel up properly you won’t make it to the end.

“I know I should eat healthy, but I don’t have time” or the more famous “I grab a banana/bagel/apple/(insert food) on the way out the door and eat it on my way to the office” type of thinking is the noise before the defeat. Getting a nutrient balanced breakfast(sorry, coffee doesn’t count) is not easy… trust me, I understand, I’m up and out the door before 4:45 every morning!

Like I said before, breakfast is the cornerstone of a healthy metabolism. There’s a rule I like to stick with, 30 Grams of Protein within 30 Minutes of waking. This is a surefire way to get your metabolism going for the day and prevent a number of metabolic disorders, it also keeps your energy topped off for the day, so you don’t have to reach for that 4th cup of coffee at 10am!

So, now that you have a basic understanding of the importance of properly fueling up for your day, here’s a simple way to make sure you get your protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake quick and easy( did someone say minimal effort and time?) during your busy morning routine. Although, making a less busy morning routine would be ideal, let’s start small and we’ll work up to the harder stuff… After all, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Now, this doesn’t seem difficult on the surface, but the discipline to keep at it every day long enough to create a habit is what will really make all the difference.

Now, on to the simplest breakfast you’ll ever have to (not) cook.

Overnight Oats

There’s some key building blocks to this that shouldn’t be changed. If dairy is a problem for you, it will be difficult to meet the same amount of calories, although most people are okay with the Greek Yogurt, make sure you know your body and what it can handle before you do more damage to your digestive system!

While almond milk or full fat coconut milk are substitutes, they don’t offer the same amount of protein or probiotics found in Greek Yogurt. So if you can, make sure to include it in the ingredient list. Sticking with a high quality brand helps, so no Great Value or knock offs here, after all, your health is worth more than the few extra pennies you save by going with a “store brand”. Also, avoid using soy milk on a regular basis, every once in a while is okay, but you’d be shocked how much soy is in foods you eat daily and like anything else, it can have adverse health effects if too much is consumed. Plus, soy is right up there with corn in terms of being GMO and laden with pesticides…

Foundational Ingredients:

Steel Cut Oatmeal.

Why Steel Cut? According to men’s health: “Steel-cut oats, like those found in McCann’s Irish Oatmeal’s metal tins, are almost fully intact, including the bran. As such, they’re high in fiber, burn off slowly, and will keep you feeling full for hours. “The more whole the grain, the longer it takes for the body to break it down,” explains Kleinert. But few people will spend the 30 minutes to make a pot of hot cereal in the morning. Skip the time suck by cooking a pot, freezing it in individual portions, then simply thawing and heating it.”

Now, letting these sit and soak will take care of the cook time, so the whole spending 30 minutes to cook it thing is kind of out the window, plus, the longer soak will make the oats easier to digest. It’s a good idea to soak/sprout all of your grains before cooking them.

Plain Greek Yogurt

Why plain? Mainly, there’s no added sugar(which we’ll be adding in form of fruit, honey or maple syrup). You really don’t want to be spiking your blood insulin first thing and having that crash later on in the morning anyway… kinda defeats the purpose of doing this whole breakfast thing.

Organic Whole Milk(Or Almond Milk/Full Fat Coconut Milk)

I try and stick with the milk if possible. Make sure you can handle it though, last thing you want is to be huddled up in a corner(or on the toilet) just to get a few extra grams of protein and fat… Almond milk or preferably Full Fat Coconut Milk are other options if dairy is out. I know most people hate the flavor of coconut, however, I’ve found once your a few bites in it really isn’t that bad.(I’m not a coconut fan myself…) The issue with almond milk is kind of twofold 1.) the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions that people absorb the nutrients in milk and milk products better than they do those in plant-based milks(from Livestrong.com and 2.) without getting into too much sciencey stuff, there are ingredients in almond, soy, and rice milks used to thicken them(texture is an issue with some people) that is thought to cause health issues related to digestion(i.e. inflammation of the “gut”). So, if you can stomach it, go with the Organic Whole Milk or just skip the milk and stick with the yogurt, using water instead.

Chea Seeds

Yup, you got it right, just like the commercial we all remember – Chia Pets! These little seeds are loaded with fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids in addition to them being a great digestive aid. A big bang for your buck here.

Honey/Maple Syrup

I personally like to stick with the maple syrup here. It seems that a bit more honey is required to get the taste right, and that means more simple sugars. Now, honey has several health benefits and shouldn’t be avoided at all costs, but you should play around with the ratios here and maybe even do a hybrid. I typically get honey in other times throughout the day, like my favorite post workout desert – peanut butter & honey toast. Either way, your better off than throwing a lump of sugar in the mix!

The Portions

  1. ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt.
  2. ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats.
  3. ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice.
  4. 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal.
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  6. Pinch of salt.
  7. 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup.
  8. Slivered Almonds(optional)
My Own PB&J Concoction 🙂

These are just the basic ingredients, and you can go crazy from here, anything from a PB&J to chocolate Peanut Butter Banana, or whatever other concoction you choose to cook up.

Personally, I like doing the above ingredient list with some raisins and a 1/2 serving of Muscle Gain protein powder and my girlfriend prefers to mix it up and put no protein in hers, but it takes no extra time to mix em all up at once.

Once you have the ingredients combined in a mason jar, mix them up with a spoon or by shaking then put the whole thing in the fridge to enjoy in the morning. I find that if you want a nice toasty warm breakfast microwaving for 1 minute, stirring, then about 30 or so seconds gets it to a nice “just right” temperature, but you’ll have to experiment with your microwave’s cook times.

Remember, this is something you want to do within a 30 minute window of waking up, it’s an easy way to get breakfast nailed down and takes barely any time to either cook or consume in the morning. We typically like to do at least 3 or 4 days worth of these little guys to keep us on track, otherwise someone forgets breakfast(it’s not me…).

A little hint that will help you make this a habit is to do this consistently for at least a month, after that, 90 days, once you’ve done something for 3 months basically it is a habit and will be extremely hard to break. So, come hell or high water stick with it and make it happen and watch the difference it will make in your energy level, strength(if you’re into that sorta thing), and body composition(if it’s a goal of yours).

Some More Recipes 🙂

  • ½ c old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed
  • 1 tbsp. all-natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter powder
  • ½ banana, diced
  • ¼ c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ scoop protein powder**
  • 2 packets of Truvia (or sweetener of choice) Dash of cinnamon Honey
    Source: www.bornfitness.com

(Sample Recipes from Wholefully.com 8 classic overnight oats recipes below)

Chocolate Peanut Butter

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxmeal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Banana Chocolate Chip

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ½ ripe banana, chopped or mashed
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips

Tropical Fruit

  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk (in the can)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax meal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple
  • ⅓ cup chopped ripe mango
  • ½ ripe banana, chopped or mashed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut
It Ain’t About That…

It Ain’t About That…

I remember hearing this thing on a motivational type video a while ago…

I can’t remember who said it, or even if it’s exactly what he said, but I loved the idea behind the one bit that stuck with me.

It was something like this:

Folks, it ain’t about that…

Deep, right?

Here’s the thing, as with most anything, getting “in shape” or belonging to a gym, etc… really isn’t about what you think it is. I mean after all, if we all knew exactly how to do what the pros do, we’d all be pros, right?

So change your mindset. Here’s how we are told to think, and this also turns TONS of people away from what does work(and what matters) toward things that DON’T WORK (and don’t matter)

There’s no treadmills or cardio equipment…
Good

The equipment is rusty and I think that’s tape not vinyl on the bench press thing over there…
So?

It looks like they raided a scrap yard to get their gear.
And your point is?

The main stream wants you to think things are a certain way. With all of these “overnight” or “2 week” transformations, it’s hard to tell what actually works. I recently heard something by Dan John(you should check his stuff out by the way) that really hit home for me…

After your (insert length of time) challenge, then what?

I believe Dan used 90 days and asked about day 91, but the important thing is does it keep working? The answer is usually, if I’m honest, no.

Remembering that Everything Works (for about 6 weeks…) you should keep in mind that the things most people tell you that matter probably don’t.

Here’s the thing I challenge you to do the next time you’re considering someone’s advice.

-Are they trying to sell you something(equipment, supplements, programs, etc.) and if so, what are the (real) results.
-Did they follow their own advice to get to where they are?(or would they be willing to)
-Did the people who (said they) used the program/equipment/miracle pill actually use it and what do they look like now(after they’re done with said protocol). Think “where are they now”, you know, that child celeb/one hit wonder thing…

Remember, it’s not about the shiny new weights…

The gym may not be clean, it could be cold and dimly lit, the weights might be worn/rusty, or the instructor may be homely or unkempt(okay, that could be a deal breaker) but in the end, it’s all about the results your going to get for your well invested time.

I know people who train out of their freaking garage and are stronger, leaner, and generally “more fit” than 90% of the gym going population who show up to use the treadmill & stepper. In fact, some of the “godlike” figures we’ve come to compare to from ye old times were carved out using nothing more than heavy, awkward, objects and typically strength(not weight loss) was the goal.

Okay, I can’t not put this here, because 1. I love Jim Gaffigan 2. It’s hilarious 3. It’s true 4. It immediately popped in my head when I typed stepper…

Honestly, the focus should be somewhere else than what we are told you “should do” to get in shape. Seriously, unless you have a full time photoshop, a team of people prepping your meals, or dedicate every waking hour to your training, you won’t be on the cover of a magazine with your shirt off or in a swimsuit… Also keep a few things in mind

It’s not about being the best…
…being the skinniest…
…being the strongest…
…being the most muscular…

It’s just not about what you are told to think it is.

What it’s really about is being better.

Be better than you were the last time you stepped in the gym, do a little extra than what’s expected and you’ll get the extra results. It’s really that simple.

I saved this for the end, in case anyone read this far…

Programs that take the longest to get the results tend to have the longest lasting results.

Stop with the fly by night infomercial workouts and products and do something that works – Move Better. Get Stronger.

Live by that and I can guarantee that your results will stick around far longer than that veggie smoothie cleanse you did (for 2 of the 14 days) and couldn’t stick with.

Stay Strong My Friends.

~Justin

The Strength Principle

The Strength Principle

Over the past weekend of training with my Hapkido Instructor (Master Dan Piller) we had a chance to explore what makes us, well, us….
(at 9,000 ft above sea level!)

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In other words, we explored what makes us stand apart from the crowd of martial artists all claiming there’s is the best…

This, of course, was meant to apply to Hapkido and particularly how Master Piller(and I agree with his stance on this) likes to see things done. In short, the idea behind the art(and the main principle) is that anything you do should be able to work on a non-cooperative(typically stronger/meaner) opponent – i.e. train for reality.

I found an inextricable link between what I do as a martial artist and what I do as a fitness professional.

The idea behind the training.

I’m a firm believer in one thing, no matter what you train or do, have some damn principles – and you need to stick to them.

In martial arts, I mentioned it above, in fitness, it’s almost identical. Train For Reality.

Here’s my “Principles” behind what I do:

Hapkido: The Way Of Coordinated Energy(the literal meaning of the art) is based on the principles of Yu(The Theory Of Flowing Water), Won(The Theory Of The Circle), Wha(The Theory Of Harmony).

The reason these aspects are so important to our art is simple – anyone can do a “technique”, however, the technique done without all 3 of these principles applied to it is much more likely to fail than if they were applied(especially against a larger/stronger opponent or attacker, remember, reality).

“It is better to practice a single technique 1,000 times than practice 1.000 techniques only once” is a great quote from my Hapkido instructors manual. And if you read between the lines, you should find a simple fact that is not so obvious to most people…. each repetition should be better than the last in some way, striving for perfection one step at a time.

I like to think of this as “Mindful Repetition”, keeping in mind the idea that “Practice Makes Permanent”(or “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”).

I could honestly go on quite a bit more than most of you would care to read…. so let’s move on to the next set of principles…

Fitness: **Important Reminder** Fitness(as defined by Dan John) is the ability to perform a task. It is NOT an indicator of health or any such nonsense, in fact, some of the most “Fit” individuals are the least healthy(look at NFL players after they retire if you’re still missing the point).

From this point we should determine some simple things – throwers are fit for the task of throwing(not swimming), just as swimmers are fit for the task of swimming(not throwing), well, you get the point. Keep this in mind no matter what you’re “training” for. Oh, and if you think you’re going to be able to “Train For Anything”, I refer back to Dan John who reminds us that if you’re going to prepare for anything, you might want to prepare for building a spaceship out of dental floss, or fighting off a great white shark with a plastic knife.(I’ve paraphrased this of course, if you want the actual quote, check out Dan’s book “Intervention” or check out any of his blog posts on various, well known & respected, fitness web sites)

With that out of the way, the first, and in my opinion, most important, thing you need to establish is what do you want to be “fit” for…

In other words, you need to find something that fits with your overall vision/goal.(this applies to martial arts too…)

Once you have that established, create a plan and stick with it… please, no “prepare for anything” nonsense… I think we covered the reasons why already…

If you don’t know what to do – Here’s what I suggest: TRAIN TO GET STRONGER.

This involves much more than you think… First, you learn HOW to move, THEN move with heavier weights, progressively, and eventually work up to more complicated versions of the movement(or more difficult bodyweight movements).

Also, sometimes you need to be resourceful… I hear things like this all the time from friends/aquaintences who like to opt out of improving themselves physically when they really need it(even though in reality they don’t want to put in the work…. you know who you are)

“But I don’t have access to weights…”

To which my response is:

You can apply this ‘principle’ to training without weights as well with bodyweight training. It’s a great way to get stronger, it’s easier on your joints, and it teaches you how to create tension once you start progressing to the difficult versions of the movements.

In fact, I hear this type of thing from people all the time when it comes to conversations about fitness and mind bogglingly(at least to me) self-defense. They’re called excuses, and they won’t lose those 5 pound, tone your muscles, or protect you in any way, in fact they accomplish nothing – they especially prevent you from having a set of principles to live/train by, so let’s dispense with them already, okay?

Sometimes, you just need to start where you are to get where you’re going(so please, don’t tell me you need to lose weight before you start working out…)

Back to the idea of Mindful Repetition

Keeping in mind “Practice Makes Permanent”.

If you want to continue to train, become stronger, faster, whatever – you need to focus on technique…. there is no exception to this rule, and it’s why professional athletes are professional and amateurs are, well, amateurs.

The person who spends their time on how they do things is always going to be a better(i.e. more fit for the task) than someone who is JUST DOING THINGS. Talent without skill is useless, yet skill without talent is invaluable to your goals. Talent will always take a backseat to skill(again, mindful repetitions).

Before I go off on another tangent, I’ll wrap up with this….

No matter WHAT you do, the principles you apply need to focus on pursuing perfection.(AGAIN – mindful repetitions. If you aren’t progressing, you’re moving backward.)

This “principle” thing is also a great way to figure out if something is actually worth doing.(or at least if the people helping you are aligned with your overall vision/goal)

-Starting a Martial Art? What’s the instructor/organization’s mindset for the long haul?(do they stop training you at black belt? It’s sad, but it happens all the time)
-Switching career? Is there room to advance within the company?
-Looking for a “personal trainer”? What’s their ability to help you progress after you’ve met your initial goals? Can they make suggestions? Can they help you plan/execute?(you’d be surprised how many can’t even accomplish their own goals, or have none…)

These are the type of questions to ask yourself before starting in on something significant, which, in my mind, is anything you do with your time. We only have so much to dedicate to doing things outside of just making a living, it’s hard to find balance(a constant struggle of mine).

After all, why would you want to take up your precious time doing something that doesn’t directly improve you? Remember, anything worth doing, is worth doing well. And if you keep that mindset, the sky’s the limit my friend.

Stay Strong!

~Justin