Leap Day Workout

It’s Leap Day and here’s a workout that you’ll remember until the next Leap Day.

This is a very dynamic plyometric workout with lots of jumping, so make sure you’re prepared for this intensity and impact on the body.  If you haven’t been doing plyometric workouts regularly, don’t make this one your first.

Begin with a solid dynamic warm up.  Examples of exercises you can include in your warm up are lateral lunges, reverse walking lunges with an overhead reach, bodyweight squats, skipping, and Frankenstein walks. Here’s the workout.  You’ll do each exercise 29 times and then repeat the circuit as many times as you can in 29 minutes.  Take as much reast as you need to make sure you’re safe, but only as much as you absolutely need.  Your goal is to keep your heart rate up, not to get a full recovery.  Happy Leaping!

  • 29 Speed skaters
  • 29 Frog jumps
  • 29 Rotation jumps
  • 29 Lunge jumps
  • 29 Bench hopovers
  • 29 Jumping jacks
  • 29 Box jumps to burpee

Happy Leap Day!

To cheat or not to cheat

I was asked recently if I believed in the idea that you should have a “cheat day” in your nutrition program.  It’s an interesting question and one that requires some explanation. So, here goes.

First, figure out what’s really important to you when it comes to “dieting”.

  1. Are you trying to look freakin’ awesome, get down to sub 10% body fat, get seriously cut for a bodybuilding contest, etc.? Good for you.
  2. Or, like most people, are you looking to get healthier, feel better, get stronger, and generally just look better naked? Great.

Depending on which route you choose, you’re going to have to adhere to a different level of discipline. Neither is better or worse, just different from the other.

If you’re in the first camp, you’re going to have to follow a very specific diet plan to get to those levels.  It doesn’t happen by magic, or at least without serious pharmacological support.  (You don’t think Arnold looked like that with just a protein powder, do you?). 

Most people fall into the second scenario, and that’s just fine.  Nothing wrong with that.  In this case, I believe that you should not diet, in the traditional sense of the word.  If you are trying to follow a very specific diet from a book or other source, and eat only the foods on that plan with no deviation, you will fail. Instead, I believe that you should learn to eat like you’re going to eat for the rest of your life instead of how you’re going to eat for a short time period. 

It’s not rocket science. It’s quality protein and more vegetables and healthy fats.  It’s shopping more on the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the interior.  This of it this way. If you can imagine the food in it’s natural state, it’s probably better for you. Ever see a Twinkie patch? Didn’t think so.

Good nutrition is a lifelong pursuit and a lifestyle, not a short term event. When it is treated as a short term event, people ultimately fail and revert back to old, bad habits.

Cheater. 10 yard penalty!
Cheater. 10 yard penalty!

That’s probably more than you were looking for and doesn’t really answer the question at hand, which is should you have a cheat day?

So, here goes:

Assuming you’re like most people and getting crazy ripped isn’t that important to you, eating “clean” 100% of the time is not realistic, so treating yourself with something you normally wouldn’t eat is inevitable.   For some that might be an extra piece of bread with dinner and for others it might mean a cookie.  If you’re watching your calories and you choose to have a 200 calorie treat, that’s 200 fewer calories you have for food that gets you closer to your goal.  Just factor that into your overall nutrition and realize that everything you do either gets you closer to or farther from your goal.  If it’s truly important to you, stick to the plan. 

The idea of a cheat day is that it’s supposed to “reset your metabolism”. I haven’t seen enough evidence to back this up and believe that most people would take this too literally and turn it into a 3-day binge on chocolate cake.  As a result, you’d end up undoing a week or more of progress.

A cheat day? I don’t think so.  A treat factored into the overall context of your goal as a reward for long-term compliance with your plan? Go for it.

Are you reaching your goals? Here are 4 ways to do it.

I was talking with someone recently about tracking activity and calories.  After explaining what would need to happen to get the desired results, this was the response:

“I’m not going to do that. I’m fine and that’s just not going to happen”.

OK.  That’s your choice, but you’re going to have to accept the reality that it will take longer to reach your goals.  My old boss used to say, “you get what you measure”.  If you don’t have a way to measure your progress, you’ll never know when or how long it will take to get where you’re going.  You’re just guessing.

On the summit of Long's Peak
I had this picture in my mind every day while training for the climb

Information gives you a realistic picture of how much weight you can expect to lose and how long it will take to accomplish the goal.  Here are four ways you can stay on track toward your goals.

1. Be clear. Before you begin tracking the progress toward your goal, you’ve got to have a good goal.  Your goal must be crystal clear. You should be able to create a picture of what your goal looks like. A goal like “lose weight” is junk. It’s meaningless.  Think differently. How will your life be different when you’ve lost 10, 20, or whatever number of pounds you want to lose? What will you do with your life that you aren’t able to do today? If you really want it, find a picture of your goal and post it on your bathroom mirror. Each day when you brush your teeth you’ll see your goal.

2. Know how much you need to eat and keep track of what you eat. Everything, no exceptions. Yes, it’s boring and a pain in the butt. But you’ll have a much better idea of what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat.  These are important things to know. Without this info, everything else is just a guess. You’ll probably be surprised at the number of calories you’re taking in, as long as you’re being truthful with yourself. You’ll also find that you eat certain foods in certain situations. If you’re a data geek like me, you can use a device like a BodyMedia FIT to take control and achieve your weight loss goals by knowing how much you burn.  If you’re a member of LifeStyles Fitness Center, you have access to a great tool called DotFIT that can help you with this part of the process.

3. Get a heart rate monitor. This little device will tell you if you’re really working or if you’re just kidding yourself.  I use mine religiously.  There are times when I might think I’m working hard and I’ll check my monitor, only to realize that I’ve got a long ways to go.  Here’s an article I wrote about how to select a heart rate monitor.

4. Have someone you’re accountable to.  That’s where a good trainer can help you.  We’ll ask questions, observe, develop plans, and push you to try things you might not do on your own.  Ultimately, our goal is to help you reach your goal.

Put these four things in place and you’ll be on your way to reaching your own goals.

Quick and Easy Chicken Salad Wrap

Quick and simple chicken salad wrap
Quick and simple chicken salad wrap

One of the biggest excuses people make for not eating a better lunch is that it takes too much time. Today I’m going to give you a quick idea that takes less than 5 minutes to make and cost less than $2.

Combine this wrap with a yogurt and glass of water and you’ve got a great lunch!

The ingredients list below is about what you’d find in one wrap. In the video below, I use a little more cheese and salad dressing because I’m maxing enough for 6 wraps. But, I’m not using 6 times the amount of cheese and salad dressing as is shown below so those two numbers are likley a tiny bit higher in the ingredients list and nutritional breakdown that what you’ll find in the actual wrap. That’s a good thing, but the difference in the end is small.

  • Chicken (2 oz., canned-1/2 can)
  • 6″ wheat tortilla
  • Cheddar cheese (1 T.)
  • Tomato (diced, 1 oz.)
  • Light salad dressing (1 t.)

1. Mix the chicken, cheese, salad dressing, and tomato in a bowl.
2. Place on the center of the tortilla
3. Fold ends and roll the tortilla.
4. Enjoy!

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Carbohydrate: 16g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 27mg
  • Sodium: 570mg
  • Protein: 18g