Ahhhh… about those “cheat meals”

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I am dedicated to follow a strict regimen of monitoring daily calories consumed and burned through exercise using the Lose It! app as well as recording protein/fat/carbohydrate ratios. I almost never allow myself a “cheat meal” – OK – Thanksgiving and Christmas perhaps. But for me a “cheat meal” doesn’t consist of sweets i.e. cookies, cake, ice cream etc. nor do I gorge myself on huge portions. Maybe I’ll eat a little more of the good stuff or eat it prepared in a way that I otherwise don’t normally do. Last week we hosted missionary-friends from Peru in our home for 5 days. Of course we took them to the Peruvian section in town where we all enjoyed Peruvian cuisine including tostones (fried plantains) chicharrones de pescado (fried pieces of fish) and fried yucca (like French fries but yucca is not a potato but a starchy vegetable.) There was so much food on my plate that I shared a third, ate a third and took a third home for the next day. And I suppose that’s the best way to “cheat” – in moderation. (When I got on the scale on Monday morning I hadn’t gained a pound!)

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“There is no finish line”

Last night “PAP Upper” was on the schedule for P90X2. My wife had a meeting at school so I was home alone with the girls. “Oh daddy can we do P90X with you?” My older daughter asked. “Sure,” I answered, “But it’s a tough workout. Think you can handle it?” Stupid me! They more than handled it. While I did pull-ups using a band, my older daughter did real pull-ups on a chin-up bar. We had a great time together encouraging each other. The ease with which they completed the workout reminded me how much youth is a factor in being in shape. Nevertheless, being fit in your 50s is what this blog is all about. And like that old Nike advertisement reminds me: “There is no finish line.”

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Healthy pancakes – seriously!

P90X creator Tony Horton has commented on people who eat pancakes for breakfast: “They blob on the butter and cover them with syrup – that’s not breakfast it’s a birthday cake! Why not go ahead and put a candle on it!” I have a better idea; improve the pancake and chuck the butter and the syrup. Here’s how. Combine in a blender; 4 cups of instant oatmeal, 4 scoops of vanilla whey protein powder and a tablespoon each of baking powder and baking soda. Mix at lowest speed until all solids are blended and the oatmeal has been reduced to a flour-like consistency (about 1-2 minutes.) In a separate bowl combine 4 mashed very ripe bananas – the softer the better – 1 cup of vanilla or strawberry no-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup of liquid egg whites, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of either Skim Milk Plus or fat-free vanilla almond milk. Using an electric hand-held mixer slowly blend the solid mixture with the liquid until it is smooth. Cook batter on a non-stick pan or a non-stick electric pancake skillet set to 325 degrees; 4 minutes per side. They’re great with almond butter, peanut butter and sugar-free Smucker’s preserves or a little honey. So good you’ll want to slap your grandmother! (Keep them refrigerated until ready to eat and heat in a microwave. They go pretty quickly in our house but I’ve taken a dozen with me on vacation and they remained fresh for a week.

(Nutritional information: Each pancake contains approximately 116 calories; 1.4 g fat, 17.6 g carbohydrates 8.3 g protein.)

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P90X2 Phase III – “Post Activation Potentiation”

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This week I started Phase III in the P90X2 program. Depending on the day of the week, it’s a series of upper or lower body exercises; one weight-training move followed by several explosive plyometric moves and one final more moderate move. There are two groups of four exercises repeated four times with a one-minute water break in-between. On Monday I did the P.A.P Lower Body. I was soaked in sweat. Yesterday it was the P.A.P Upper Body. Again, I was soaked in sweat. “It’s like running a 10K race,” Tony Horton says on one of the DVDs, “but your sweating like this in your own home, watching the TV!” The reward: A healthy dinner!
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Eating your veggies

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Green Giant is sponsoring an “Eat your Veggies” challenge through the fitness/health app Lose It! Users of the app who opt in to join the competition get 1 point for every 50 calories of veggies consumed daily. I love vegetables. I find all sorts of ways to eat them either outright or hidden among other foods. I mix broccoli florets in with whole wheat pasta for a flavorful low calorie vitamin and fiber boost. Here’s another idea. If you have a blender,  you can make a delicious fruit smoothie with yogurt, a scoop of whey powder and a pear and cinnamon or strawberries and a banana. But why stop there? Throw in a chopped carrot, a stalk of celery, and a cup of kale or spinach. You almost won’t taste the veggies but they’ll be there just the same providing all those vitamins, minerals and fiber. 

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A better way to spend your lunch hour

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Despite what fitness program I am involved in at home; whether P90X or currently P90X2, I usually spend part of my lunch hour at the local gym either in a 30-minute spin class or on an elliptical machine for 40 minutes. I prefer the elliptical workout as it is impact-free, works both the arms and the legs, and affords me a ringside view of any one of five flat panel TVs overhead where I can catch up on the latest news, sports and what’s happening on Wall Street. In short, I can exercise the mind and body at the same time while taking a break from the routine flow of phone calls and e-mails in the office and burn some calories as well. Although not the best exercise to do as a steady diet – you need to mix it up and make sure you’re weight training as well – nonetheless, the elliptical machine provides a good workout for the heart and lungs. Check out the results of today’s workout. Using my MIO Alpha heart rate monitor watch synced with DigiFit on my iPhone, you can see the calorie burn obtained from a 40-minute workout.  

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A day of rest

Sundays are the one day of the week I have a hard time not falling asleep after our mid-afternoon dinner. Could it be that when God created us and “rested on the seventh day” that he put in all of us the same biorhythm that He himself possesses? I have often wondered if my insatiable desire for a brief power nap right around now isn’t a natural phenomenon of being human. Even the P90X program suggests that the last day of the week be a day of rest for recovery. Yet, despite today being Sunday, I find it to be one of the busiest days of the week. I rarely exercise on Sunday unless I can squeeze in a bike ride in the late afternoon. But that only happens when we don’t have an afternoon service in our church – which only occurs during months when there are five Sundays. Despite a self-imposed prohibition on Sunday exercise, my Nike Fuel Band gets a good workout and I guess I do too. That’s because I play guitar in our church’s praise band. All that strumming and singing and walking around the platform really does burn the calories. So take a day off to rest. God designed our bodies to work six days and rest on the seventh. You will be that much better and stronger for it!

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