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What I Eat Now

The one thing that people ask me the most is what I eat.  The last time I wrote a post about what I eat was over a year ago.  I often will look for ways to improve my diet or make small changes to hopefully create some big results.  In the past year I quit drinking Diet Coke completely and I have adopted a “eat real food” mentality with my diet.  In my last post. Things I Eat,  I spoke about how I really monitor my diet during the week and then on the weekends I let go a little bit.  I still do that.  Before you all think that I am crazy I am a man of habits and almost every Saturday morning you can find me at the Swiss Chalet in Morristown having coffee and donuts before I go for my run.  I also have dessert with Saturday dinner most weeks. However, monday-friday I adhere to a strict calorie allotment and then Saturday is a cheat day and often Sunday Dinner is a cheat meal as well.  I try to eat for fuel 80% of the time and eat for enjoyment 20% of the time.  That being said I never eat anything that I don’t like.  I look forward to eating and I really enjoy everything I eat but I save the things like sweets for my cheat days.  One of the differences between what I eat now and what I ate then is my focus on eating real foods.  Nothing from a box or a bag.  Basically my motto is if it has a label it is a product and not a food.  In that previous blog I listed things like frozen meals, fast food items such as Dunkin Donuts egg white sandwiches, chips and salsa, greek yogurt, and many other things that I no longer eat.  My old mind set was that as long as I stay under my calories the food doesn’t matter.  Now, I don’t think of food as a diet but as fuel for my lifestyle.  I work out quite a bit and without proper nutrition that would not be possible.  The other switch that I have made is my protein requirements.  My goal is one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. When I wrote that last article protein wasn’t really a concern.  Since I ran the NYC Marathon in November I have cut down on the running quite a bit and been focused more on CrossFit. I still run on the weekends but primarily focus on speed and hill work rather than distance. Nutrition is about abundance and not deprivation.  In order to fuel my current workout style the protein is a major concern as well as good carbohydrate options around my workouts.  Things that I have cut out of my diet completely (Monday through Friday) are cheese, milk, soda, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and anything processed.  Because of my extremely busy schedule and time constraints I do buy frozen vegetables and pre-cooked proteins but I make sure to read the labels.  Frozen spinach needs to have one ingredient only.  Spinach!  Not all of them do.  There are a few items I will also buy in jars and boxes but I have a 5 ingredient rule.  If it has more than 5 ingredients I don’t buy it.  Another rule that I have is that I use spices to flavor food and not sauces.  Sauces have excess calories and are often heavy cream or flour based.  StoneWall Kitchen has a great Salsa Verde that I use a lot on all types of meats.  It has only 4 ingredients which is a much better option than Tostitos salsa.  Basically it is tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro pureed.  Just how you would make fresh salsa at home.  I buy Organic produce whenever I can and I am not afraid of fat.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter (JoeLopez55) you know that I often write about how sugar is the enemy when it comes to diet and health and not fat.  The worst thing for dietary fat is that it is called fat and people associate it with body fat.  I eat butter and eggs every day and steak and avocados once a week.  When I make vegetables I often cook them in bacon fat or use butter to flavor them.  My macronutrient goals are 40% fats, 35% carbohydrates, and 25% protein.  I am up 10 pounds since I ran the marathon on November 3rd but my body fat percentage has stayed the same.  I want to lost about 3 percent body fat so I am in the process of making another adjustment and experimenting with some other diet changes but more on that another day.

Here is a sample day of eating for me:

Breakfast:

5 eggs, 3 cups Kale, 3 slices Bacon, One Sweet Potato, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

Lunch: 

Protein Coffee courtesy of Sparta Nutrition Store.

Dinner:

Grilled Salmon no skin 8 oz, Salsa Verde, 1 cup of Spinach, 1 cup of pureed Winter Squash, 2 pats Butter, Double Espresso, Stevia

After Dinner: 

Homemade Chia Bar, Protein Shake 2 scoops Optimum Nutrition, 1 Orange.

Totals:

Calories                          2,283

Carbohydrates            175 grams

Fat                                   98 grams

Protein                        189 Grams

Fiber                             42 grams

Sugar                            59 grams

 

 

 

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Spartan Race World Championship

We are seeing the race world evolve in front of our eyes. For years there were 5k’s, half marathons, and marathons to test our endurance and stamina.  But why are people putting in hours at the gym just to see the benefits go to waste.  Yes some of us work out for aesthetics but that can only take you so far or motivate you to do so much.  Some of us work out to feel accomplished and to feel able.  We are able to lift things.  We are able to climb things.  We are able to throw things.  We are able to prove our endurance at the same time as proving our strength and at the same time as proving our mental toughness.  The reality is running for 4 hours straight is not a useful skill that we can use.  In real life you will need endurance, strength, stamina, and the ability to use your body in every way possible.  If the shit hits the fan so to speak and the zombie apocalypse is upon us obstacle races are your battle field.  Ok so maybe the zombie apocalypse is a stretch but if you want something awesome and badass to train for to get a feeling of accomplishment like you have never had before start training for a Spartan Race today.

 

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Many of you know that I started doing Crossfit almost a year ago.  Crossfit defines itself as High Intensity, Constantly varied, Functional movements.  Basically there are no single joint isolated movements.  Instead of machines your body is the machine.  This is how our bodies move in the real world.  Never in life will you have to extend your knee without also extending your hip. Our bodies move as a unit and not as a series of isolated muscular contractions.  The Spartan Race is Crossfit brought to life.  Taking all the skills and improvements that you have made from Crosffit and utilizing it in an obstacle course setting.  If you want to add motivation to your workouts try signing up for a Spartan Race.  I would suggest doing it with a group of friends.  Many Spartans work together as teams to get through the course.  If Crossfit is the sport of fitness than a Spartan Race is it’s proving grounds.  Yes Crossfit has the Crossfit games but that is the elite of the elite.  Anyone can sign up for a Spartan Race and really see what you are made of.  From the average Joe to Navy Seals there is a Spartan Race for you.

The Spartan race was voted the # 1 obstacle race by Outside magazine. In a Spartan Race you can expect running, rope climbs, crawling, tire flips, mud, ponds, mud, hills, scaling walls ala Ninja Warrior, mud, carrying sandbags, mud, inverted wall climbs, barbed wire, fire,mud, and just general cool shit.  It’s an adult playground to say the least.  For some people this sounds like hell on earth but for people like me this sounds like a day full of fun.  Where else can you challenge yourself to these extremes and put yourself in real world situations at the same time creating a bond with a group of friends that will last a lifetime.  There is a saying that those who suffer together bond together. CrossFit does that for a lot of people and so does the Spartan Race.   Get out of the gym and complete a Spartan Race with your buddies.  If any JerseyStrong subscribers are interested in doing a Spartan Race use this link to get a 15% discount http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior.

To see the Spartan race course in all it’s glory then tune in on December 7th on NBC sports to see the Spartan Race world championships.  This is the extreme version of what you and your buddies will be doing but many of the same obstacles but done at a ridiculous pace and with more severe consequences.  If you want to see some of the world’s most well rounded athletes doing crazy stunts while tackling a 14 mile course with elevations of 12,000 feet then tune in.  Watch with your friends or Crossfit buddies then sign up for your own race using the link above.  

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As an added bonus for JerseyStrong subscribers anyone who comments on this blog post will be entered into a raffle to receive a FREE entry into a Spartan Race in 2013-2014.  That is a 95.00 value for FREE just for commenting on this blog post.  I do ask that you also share this with any friends you think may be interested. Retweet it or e-mail it a friend and don’t forget to watch the World Championship Spartan Race on December 7th. 

 

Marathon training week 3

This was a strange week. First of all a heat wave hit NJ.

As you can see this heat wave was no joke. 95 degrees every day with high humidity. My strategy was pretty simple. Drink abnormal amounts of water all day long. Run at night usually around 7:00 p.m. When running I make sure I bring water with me. I love my handheld amphibian water bottle. It cradles my hand and I don’t feel like I am going to drop it. My other secret weapon is my cool towel. You may have seen this towel advertised on TV. You wet it, rinse it, then snap it and it cools around your neck. I just tucked it into my neck under my shirt and it was nice and cool on my neck.
For two of my runs on the hottest days I went to Loantaka Park which is a paved trail with a lot of tree cover. That kept me out of the sun. My times were pretty good considering the heat. I made a point to run flat routes this week. It also helped me that this was a scale back week. For my long run I scaled back after two weeks of progress. Last weekend I did 7 miles and this weekend only 5. What does everyone else do during a heat wave? Tell me in the comments.

Monday: Crossfit
Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace and 9 mile bike ride.
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 3 miles and Crossfit
Friday: 15 mile bike ride
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 5 miles

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CrossFit

ImageAfter my two weeks and four intro courses of CrossFit I can say two things for sure.

1.  I am going to be really sore for a while

2.  Overall they do a nice job teaching the movements.

I joined CrossFit to see what all the hubbub was about.  I have always wanted to give it a shot because I did admire the shear intensity of the workouts that I saw posted on their website.  www.CrossFit.com. I have also seen the CrossFit games on TV.  Everyone I see who does CrossFit seems to be in incredible shape and something has to be said for that.  In the end I was curious and just needed a change of pace.  I like to be challenged physically and this seemed like the place to do that.

When you sign up for CrossFit they require a two week and 4 classes intro class.  I attended the past two Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m.  Each class follows a simple format.  Explanation of the workout of the day.  They use a white board to explain what the day’s plan is and how it is going to be done.  They might mention a few keys to look for or a tip of the day regarding nutrition.  Then a warmup which might be a dynamic warmup or a mobility drill but most likely a little of both.  Then the W.O.D. which is the Workout of the day.  The actual workout is usually short but quick and high intensity.  Their mantra is Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.  They openly tell you that if you do CrossFit you will be good at everything but great at nothing.  It is a well rounded fitness program.  You will develop some speed, some strength, some endurance, and some power.  There is nothing that you will not be able to do.  Climb a mountain?  o.k!  Run a 5k?  no problem!  Hop a fence?  easy!  Kill Zombies?  Any day!

The four workouts that I did lasted no more than 10 minutes each.  They said that 85% of the workouts are between 5-15 minutes but some go as long as 40 minutes.  When the workout is done there is a cool down and a recap.  You always write your score or time on the white board when you are finished.  It feels like a community but there is also competition which I like.  It is so different from my old gym where I would put my headphones and and do my own thing.  Here it is like everyone is suffering / achieving together.

My workout of the days were as follows:

Day 1:  Kattleball swings and box jumps timed.  You had to complete 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 of one alternating with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 of the other.  I completed the workout in 5:16 seconds and I was more winded and more sore than I had been at my own gym in months.

Day 2:  Thrusters and jumping pull-ups.  A thruster is a front squat into and overhead press while a jumping pull-up is off of a box and jumping up to the bar and fully extended the arms each time you come down.  The workout was to do 5 rounds of 10 Thrusters and 10 pull-ups.

Day 3:  Deadlifts for 5 reps. 10 Burpees and 250m Rowing.  As Many Rounds as Possible in 10 minutes.

Day 4:  OverHead squats for 10.  Pushups for 5 and full range sit-ups for 15.  AMRAP in 12 minutes.

The coaches are there the whole time coaching technique and stopping you to correct and teach if needed.  The technique and the range of motion took priority over the workout.  All workouts could also be modified or scaled as they called it to fit your needs.  If you couldn’t do a full pushup you would drop to your knees or add a pad under your chest to decrease range of motion while still working on technique.

The 4 days were very logical and sequential.  They went with a top down approach which I would always recommend.  They started with Overhead squats which led to Front squats, High Pulls, Jerk snatches, Hang Cleans, and eventually Deadlifts.  Every movement was taught with an excellent sense of functional anatomy and how the body was designed to move.

If you were teaching these movements to High School kids or really anyone you could no doubt spend more than 4 days drilling them.  Some people spend years trying to perfect their technique.  But you have to remember that everyone comes in at different skill levels plus the fact that people joined a gym because they want to work out so you can’t keep them out of the regular classes forever.  I commend them for making everyone attend the 4 intro classes before entering the regular gym atmosphere.  From all the negative things that I heard about CrossFit I have to say that my experience at Guerilla CrossFit in Morristown, NJ has been overall positive so far.

There are a few negative but not from a standpoint of coaching or knowledge or anything like that.  Just the programming risks.  I still feel that plyometrics and olympic lifts are not meant to be endurance lifts.  They are meant to develop power which is a combination of strength and speed.  When you make these lifts endurance based people can easily lose their technique due to fatigue or just the pounding on the body can result in injuries even if technique is sound.   If the coaches are willing to stop and correct during the actual workouts like they were for the intro workouts than I think this problem can be negotiated to an extent.  The one thing I am not sure of is how many coaches are on the floor during a typical session.  In the intro classes we had a 5 to 1 ratio.  If it is a 20 to 1 ratio then that might be risky.

Bottom line is if you are an athlete who needs a programmed sport specific workout for your sport then I would NOT recommend CrossFit.  There are just too many programming flaws and too much variety to really develop sport specific power. There are risks involved in all activities and if you think of CrossFit like a sport then you realize that no matter what you do there are risks involved.  If a football player gets fatigued in the 4th quarter and lowers his head then he runs the risk of having another player hitting him in the back of the head and possible breaking his neck.  CrossFit is the sport of fitness so If you want to get into great shape and really challenge yourself in all aspects of fitness then I WOULD recommend CrossFit for you.  I know I am going to have a blast with CrossFit and I can’t wait to experience the community of CrossFit and really suffer / achieve together.

What an Amateur Runner Thinks During a 20 Mile Training Run. Warning: Explicit Language.

Mile 1: “My heart is racing. Do I need to slow down? No, this is my pace. Just relax and I’ll settle in.”

Mile 2: “I’m going a little fast. I should slow down. I don’t want to run out of gas in the end. Well, maybe I should keep up this pace while I am fresh. Either way my last few miles are going to be slower. Maybe I’ll just split the difference and run a little faster than my race pace.”

Miles 3-4: “This is easy I can do this all day. No problem. These new sneakers feel great.” (Rosalita, jump a little higher Senorita, come sit by my fire I just want to be your lover, ain’t no liar Rosalita, you’re my stone desire)

Mile 5: “My hip feels a little tight. I hope it doesn’t get worse. What am I going to wear to the marathon? If it’s cold I guess long sleeve T-Shirt and shorts. What if it’s really cold? I guess I have to wait until the week of. When I get back from my college reunion I can start thinking about the logistics of the race.”

Mile 6: Another runner approaches. Look at this guy. I am so much better than him.” Give a wave.

Mile 7: “I can’t wait for next weekend. My reunion is going to be so much fun. I haven’t seen Blair in a while. I wonder who else will be there? I have to try my best to not get too drunk or eat too much while I am there. I don’t want to ruin the marathon with one bad weekend. I am supposed to run 12 miles that weekend. How the hell am I going to do that? What places do I need to show Ann? She’s never been there. I guess just show her around campus and around town. Not much there. “When should I take my first energy Gu? I feel fine now. Maybe 10 and 17. Ann is making Chili for dinner. I can’t wait for that. I love Sunday dinners. I hope she makes Brownies. The ones with the spicy cayenne are so fucking good with vanilla ice cream. I am going to have 3 beers with dinner and finish the week off with an Irish Coffee. I deserve it. I am probably going to burn 3000 calories today.

Mile 8-9: Zone out. Silence for 2 miles and then. “Shit I slowed down quite a bit. Quick body scan. My hip feels a little tight. am I babying it? I don’t think so. I should be fine. My Right hamstring is really tight. Probably because of my hip. Fuck. Why did I slow down? I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I need my first Gu now. Wow Mint Chocolate is not bad.” ( But now you’re sad, your mama’s mad And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money Oh, your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
‘Cause a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance)

Mile 10: Approaching my mom’s house. “Halfway. I need to refill my water.” Say Hi to everyone and quickly head out. “The longer I stop the harder this will be. I just need to get this over with”

Mile 11: “Ok Halfway. That wasn’t too bad. Just do it again.”

Miles 12-13: Approaching Madison High School. “Madison is really good at football this year. I wonder how they would do against a bigger school? I think PJ vs Madison would be a close game. I don’t think Madison could beat Delbarton. I wonder how many kids on Delbarton’s team are from Madison? They have to have at least a few. What if all the skill player’s from Madison were at Delbarton? Then they would be really good. That kid Goodwin is going to Rutgers. Why is he at Madison playing shitty competition? I am sure a few of the privates tried to get him to transfer. Delbarton is going to beat Pj I think.”

Mile 14: Zone out until Jeep Wrangler passes. That is nice. I can’t wait until my lease is up. I think I like the Jeep. Damn my Hamstring is really tight.” Stop at red light and wait for cars to pass ” Holy shit my knee kind of hurts. All on my right side. Probably has to do with my hip. I hate having to stop in the middle of a run.”

Mile 15: Girl on a bike passes me. “Fuck her. She has wheels that’s why she passed me. Try running. Biking is so easy.” UpHill. “Ugh I have to run uphill now after 15 miles. I guess the marathon won’t be flat. Just suck it up you pussy. Stop whining. This is why a marathon is a mental challenge instead of physical. Anyone physically can run a marathon. You just have to run a little more every time until you get to 26.2. Eventually you can do it. It’s a simple overload Top of Hill principle I ran two marathon because I am tougher than other people not because I am better.

Mile 16: Overweight Man running in sandals approaches “Look at this moron. He must have just read Born to Run. He’s going to have an injury within weeks. Time to take my next Gu. Wow Peanut butter is really good. I miss Peanut butter since I banned it from my diet. I was like an addict. I couldn’t stop eating it.” This Gu is really good. I think I’ll bring Peanut Butter to the marathon.”

Mile 17: “Come on I am so close. 3 miles is nothing. I think I have the beginnings of a blister on my foot. Damn that’s not good. I hope it’s not too bad. Maybe the new shoes or maybe I need new socks. Damn. What if that happens during the race? I guess just suck it up and finish. I should buy new socks.”

Mile 18: Runner passes me “Fuck her. She’s not that fast. She is probably running 2 or 3 miles. Does she know I am running 20? Maybe I should tell her. I probably look terrible right now. She probably thinks she is so much faster than me. I bet she has never run more than a 5k.”

Mile 19: “Oh boy. I am slowing down. Hold it together for 2 more miles. How am I going to do 7 more miles? I guess I did it before I can do it again. Maybe if I let this car hit me I can stop. No, that would be bad.”

Mile 20: “My legs feel numb. That can’t be good. Stop thinking negative you asshole! ” Just run. Car makes a sharp turn. “Oh what the fuck! That fucking dick. He couldn’t let me cross the street. Does he know that I am running 20 miles today? Figures that he drives a fucking BMW. What a prick. Ok quick body scan My right hip is sore. My right hamstring is really tight. I think I have a blister on my right big toe. My legs feel numb. My left kneecap sort of felt weird when I stopped. I wonder what that is about.”

Approaching Finish. you got this. you got this. Around the corner and I’m done. Wow. That was pretty good. Body scan again. everything feels ok. That wasn’t so bad. I can walk that is good. I bet I’ll be sore tomorrow. Who cares. That’s the last long training run. Now I can taper. 12 miles next weekend and then 8 and then the race. Shit I better not gain weight while I am tapering. Who cares? Time to shower up and get a Guiness. I love Sundays.”

Random thoughts from a weight loss journey.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about the problem of belly fat versus fat that is collected in other areas of the body.  Belly fat is a more serious indicator of a potential health problem down the road.   Heart disease and stroke being the number one risk from fat around the abdomen.  The U.S. Army has even included waist circumference as a measure to predict healthy potential soldiers.  The used to use BMI and body fat percentage solely.

Now, how do you specifically target belly fat.  The standard answer that a lot of personal trainers will give you is that you can’t spot reduce fat.  For example, if you have fat around your bicep than doing curls will not get rid of bicep fat.  But, there is some good news for people who worry about this excess fat around the abdomen.  If you read my blog you know that I am a runner.  I am running the ING NYC Marathon this fall.  I have also said that distance running is not a way to reduce body fat.  Instead to reduce body fat high intensity sprints and power exercise such as full body olympic movements will help torch body fat.  Well here is where it gets complicated.  A recent Duke University study focused on cardio endurance training vs high intensity resistance training and their responses to visceral belly fat in particular.  Visceral fat is the fat that sits deeper in your belly.  It surrounds your organs and is much tougher to get rid of than subcutanous fat which is more superficial and lies just under your skin.  The Duke study found that endurance training actually helped get rid of the visceral fat more so than high intensity training.  This is why you can sometimes see a runner who has a very “skinny frame” with a higher body fat percentage.  If you look at them in a sweater you might say they are really skinny.  However, if you asked them to take their shirt off you might see some belly fat.  However, because their belly fat is that subcutaneous fat they are not at risk for heart disease etc.  Now. think of the olympic weightlifter with a huge belly.  This guy is powerful but he has the classic “beer belly” look.  He is at risk for a heart attack much more than the runner.

So, what does this mean for you.  If long term health is your goal.  I would try to amp up your cardio.  When I began running I could barely run a mile.  It’s just classic overload principal.  Start slowly and add on a little at a time.  Maybe add 10% a week at the most.  When you first start don’t worry about distance just run for a time.  Say 10 minutes at first.  Then the next week 11 minutes.  A good way to keep you motivated would be to sign up for a 5K or a 10K a few months down the road.  These races are everywhere and they are a lot of fun with other people running alongside you.  If you currently work out 4 days a week then maybe do 2 cardio days and 2 weight training days.  When I was 290 pounds I went to the gym 6 days a week and lifted weights.  I could bench press 340 pounds.    But to work on that overall health and reduce fat you need to focus on diet and add cardio.  Keep in mind however that I didn’t start running until after I lost 60 pounds or so.  Diet is the key to all of this.

Lastly, but probably the most important is diet.  When you are lifting weights you need protein to repair muscle tissue.  However, if you trying to lose weight then you have to worry about total calories.  I always say get to your ideal weight first then worry about shaping your body the way you want it.  I use a smart phone app.  There are a bunch out there.  Loseit, MYFitnessPal, or FatSecret are all good.  MyFitnessPal is my favorite.  If you don’t have a smart phone they also have a website.  Most people will tell you that eating at home is the best way to control weight because you can control the food that you prepare.  However, with these calories trackers you can look up the calories in a menu item at say subway or Dunkin Donuts and make better choices.

This may sound obvious  but many yo-yo dieters just don’t do this.  EAT FOODS YOU LIKE!  If you are chewing carrot sticks and you just hate them then how long do you think you are going to do that?  Find lower calorie options that you actually like to eat.  I can’t answer this for you but there has to be something out there that you enjoy that is not 1000 calories.  If you don’t do this then your diet will be temporary.  You want this to be a permanent change in the way you eat and not a diet.

Cheat Days are a must.  There are things that everyone loves that they just can’t have when restricting calories.  My cheat day is usually Saturday night and sometimes Sunday if I am training for a race.  I will usually have a few beers and dessert on Saturday nights along with dinner.

Don’t diet at special events.  Christmas is not a time to worry about your weight.  If you start to live this way you will always be aware of calories and what the calorie count is.  It will always be in the back of your head.  If you feel that you have control over your diet then go ahead because you can always get back to your routine.

It takes 14 days to create a habit.  I would recommend that when you start this new lifestyle that you are extremely strict for 2 weeks.  No cheat days for at least 2 weeks.  Your body will adjust and you won’t feel as hungry after two weeks.

Eat to not be hungry.  Don’t eat until you are full.  Think about this.  I am a foodie.  I love food but biologically we eat because we need energy.  Our bodies signal hunger.  Once that signal ends than we no longer need to eat.

Eat when your hungry.  If you are hungry Eat!  Usually just a small amount of food will actually end your hunger.

Successful dieters are boring.  They tend to eat the same things over and over again.  Because they know that it is something they like and they know the calories.  It makes it easy and convenient.

Finally, crate your own Eat This not That.  Men’s health popular program that lets you make small changes to your diet that will save you calories each time.  This was probably my number one weapon for weight loss.  For example,  I stop at Dunkin Donuts everyday after work.  I used to get an Iced Coffee and a muffin.  I go from work as a school teacher right to my personal trainer job and needed something to hold me over until dinner.  After learning that a muffin at Dunkin Donuts has 600 calories and a chocolate glazed donut has only 350. I switched to a donut.  How many weight loss guys will tell you to eat donuts!?  But I just saved myself 250 calories a day 5 days a week.  In three weeks if I did nothing else I would lose a pound right there.  After a few months of ordering glazed donuts I also like egg sandwiches.  The Ham, Egg, and Cheese, on an english muffin is 290 calories.  Bam!  I just saved 60 more calories a day.  3 months later they have an egg white flatbread turkey sausage sandwich.  That is 210 calories.  It is basically the same size and it fills me up just as much.  I just saved 80 more calories a day.  From my original muffin I am down 390 calories a day every day of the week.  My original daily snack when I started going to Dunkin Donuts was an iced coffee with cream and sugar and a muffin.  700 calories.  Now I get am Iced Coffee with Skim Milk and splenda and a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap.  for 215 calories.  I did not make all of these changes at once.  That is the key.  I changed one thing and when I got used to it I then changed another thing.  Think about your daily habits and how you can make small changes one at a time.

Coffee with no cream

No cheese on a sandwich.  (would you really miss it)  that’s 150 calories.

Mustard instead of Mayo

Diet soda instead of regular soda

Brown rice instead of white rice.

Weight watcher’s bread vs your regular bread.

Lite beer instead of regular beer.  etc

Find which swaps work best for you and remember choose one thing at a time.  All of these swaps for me took place over the course of several years.  If you tried it all at once then you would miss it too much because you are too close to your old habits.  Start with one swap and then let it become a habit.

Book Review. The Long Run

ImageThe Long Run is a book written by Charles Butler about a NYC fireman / fitness enthusiast named Matt Long.   Matt was one of the first responders during the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.  For a while his parents thought that he and his brother, also a firefighter, might have been missing.  He was on of the heroes after 9/11 who stayed day after day and helped search for the missing. He owned a few succesful bars in NYC the most well known is Third and Long.   After long nights at the bar, no pun intended, he was an avid runner, cyclist, and swimmer.  He considered running his passion.  The book begins with him running the NYC Marathon in the annual battle between the NYPD and the NYC Firefighters.  He finished 4th among all of the Firefighters and set his new personal record for the marathon.  In doing so he also qualified for the Boston Marathon which is an amazing feat.  Any recreational runner will tell you how hard that is.  Matt Long also ran the Lake Placid IronMan and planned on one day qualifying for The IronMan in Kona, Hawaii.

The book goes into great detail on his upbringing from a large family raised in New York.  The author does such a great job painting the picture of Matt as a family man and a firefighter than when his accident happens you really feel for him as if you know him personally.  He seems like the kind of guy who you want to have a beer with and just share some stories/

During the NYC Transit strike  in 2005 Matt was supposed to meet some buddies for an early morning workout.  Because of the strike he has no way to get across town and knew that he would never hear the end of it.  So despite it being Winter time he hopped on his bike and headed across town to meet his workout buddies.  On his way a city bus made an illegal turn from the wrong lane and without seeing Matt he crashed into his bike.  Matt was pinned underneath bleeding profusely with broken bones in his legs, hips, and shoulders.  He need almost 70 pints of blood just to keep him alive and the doctors told his family that he had a 5% chance to live and if he did live he would never walk again.

The book then follows his amazing recovery with something like 30 surgeries to follow.  The severe bouts of depression that follow and of course the moment almost 3 years later where he finally accepts that he will never be the person he once was.  The book even gets into the fact that he wasn’t married and his coming to grips with the fact that he now has serious doubts that he ever would be because of his disability that left him unable to have children.

If the book ended there it would be pretty depressing but the amazing recovery of Matt Long bring him from being completely immobile for almost 3 years to running the NYC Marathon again.  It was a roller coaster ride of a book and is a great read for any runner and any person who is suffering from a lack of motivation.  If Matt Long can run a marathon after the setbacks that he had than I honestly believe anything is possible.  It is a true case of mind over matter.  Matt’s mindset that made him a great athlete before his accident as the same determination that made him a Marathon finisher after the accident. This book was a great read for me and I highly recommend it for any weekend warriors like myself.

The Long Run can be found on Amazon.

2012 ING NYC Marathon

I ran the Baltimore Marathon just this past October so I wasn’t planning on entering another marathon so quickly.  I was going to focus on strength training and some shorter races.  My plan was a Warrior Dash in July, the Men’s health Urbanathalon in October, and maybe a few 5k’s sprinkled in.  However, when I watched the NYC Marathon last year it was pretty amazing.  So, I started doing some research online and finding out a lot about it.  Apparently they are making it harder and harder to get in.  Here are your options to be one of the 40,000 + runners.

Here is how you can apply for next year’s race.

Join a ING NYC Marathon pre-approved fundraising team.  I looked up Livestrong which sponsors a team.  I would need to raise 15,000 dollars for their charity to get in the race.  Although it’s a great cause I have 2 jobs so that wasn’t happening.

Get a professional exemption.  I don’t think my 3:57 time at Baltimore is quite up to par for “Pro” status.

Qualify by completing another approved race leading up to the ING NYC Marathon.  Ok, let’s look up the qualifying times.  New York Half Marathon for my age group.  1 hour and 23 minutes.  Yea not gonna happen.

Lastly you could enter your name in the lottery.  According to the website depending on how many applicants you have between a 6% and a 12% chance of getting accepted.  They do have a rule that if you get denied through the lottery for 3 consecutive years than you gain automatic enrollment the following year.    I decided I might as well pay the 7 bucks and enter my name and maybe 3 years from now I can do my next marathon.  (I recently found out that they are getting rid of the 3 year rule but I didn’t know at the time.)

I play the lottery pool at work all the time and have yet to win that lottery but somehow I won this lottery.  With about an 8% chance I am now running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon on November 4th.  Oh boy now I have to get my mind right to train all over again.  Here are my initial thoughts.

I never really stopped running after my last marathon.  I continued with my normal routine of trail running in the fall / winter and road running when the weather gets nice again in the spring.  NJ typically has bad winters with lots of snow for at least 2 months and I hate running on a treadmill so I usually take at least 2 months off during that time.  This year that never happened so I have been running non stop.  So, to avoid burnout and overtraining I am going to keep running until about June 10th and then take 2 straight weeks off.  During this time my wife and I are going on a vacation so that will work out perfectly anyway.

I still have that Warrior Dash in July but I had to postpone the Urbanatahalon because it is just too close to the marathon date.   In the mean time I am focusing more on speed training.  My runs are anywhere from 3-7 miles but I am trying to increase my pace to about 7 minutes a mile.  I am experimenting with lighter sneakers (Brooks PureFlow) but I don’t want to overdue it because I don’t want an injury.  I am not a typical 120 pounds marathoner.  I weigh about 190 pounds depending on the week.  I am also experimenting with a weighted vest for my shorter runs.  The Nike Sparq weighs about 12 pounds and I have been wearing it on shorter runs of 3 miles or less.  The last thing I have been doing is more fartlek type runs which I tend to neglect when my miles get longer and longer.

Once July hits I will start my official marathon training.  Last time I used Runners World Smart coach app on my phone which worked out great.  I did modify it slightly and I probably will again because I am in a running club that runs out of LifeTime gym in Florham Park.  So on those days I will just do whatever run is on the run coordinator’s schedule.  I enjoy having the appointment of meeting with the group at a certain time.  It keeps me motivated during the hot summer months.  The basic routine of the Smart Coach is 2 weeks of increasing mileage with one week of decreasing.  The beginning of the week are the shorter runs with speed work built in.  The weekend runs are the longest.  During training I will run 4 times a week until the mileage gets up past 12 then I will cut it down to 3 times a week.  I also intend to strength train all throughout the marathon training but less reps and no more than 70% of my 1RM.

With about 3 weeks to go before race day I intend to stop lifting legs all together and with 2 weeks to go I will taper my runs to keep the legs fresh for race day.

It’s always bough to set goals for a marathon because so many things can come into play or go wrong but as of right now I would like to finish around 3 hours and 50 minutes and set a new PR for that distance.  My goals os to be consistent all throughout the race and not have any outlier miles mixed in.  If you read my blog on the Baltimore Marathon I had that one mile which was over a 12 minute pace right as I crested the hill on mile 21 that really bothered me.  Image

So, ready or not I am running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon with about 43,000 other people.  As I get closer to race day I will let everyone know what I am wearing so you can play where’s Waldo on TV.

Trail Running

photo by Ann Lopez

photo by Ann Lopez

I love trail running with my dog Wrigley.  It is a great alternative to a road run which I do the rest of the year. It is also a great alternative to the gym.  A trail run works different muscles than a typical road run.  It provides a cross training benefit which can help keep you healthy instead of injury prone during a long running season.  When you hit the trails you are probably going to run at a slower pace than you would for a flat road run.  I typically run about 8 minutes a mile comfortably on the road.  On the trails that number can be anywhere from 10 minutes a mile or slower.  But because of the terrain you certainly don’t feel like you are taking it easy.  The major difference is your focus.  On a road run I can often wear headphones and just kind of zone out.   On the trails, you have to keep your eyes on the next step because of the tree roots, rocks, mud, or whatever other terrain can cause you to shift gears.  Mentally, you really have to concentrate on a trail run.  Sometimes on a downhill part its almost as if you are running put putting on the brakes at the same time.  You will have to lead with your heals in short choppy steps in order to prevent sliding down the hill on your backside.  If you can you should invest in a pair of trail running sneakers.  I use the Brooks Cascadia Cascadia 6.  Trail running shoes have a gritty sole that grips when you hit the trails on uncertain surfaces.  The bottoms of the shoes are not flat like road running shoes.  They also a bit heavier and sturdier than my road running shoes.  Just by switching sneakers once a week on a run that provides a great benefit to you feet and lower legs.  It will prevent stress fractures and overtraining injuries.

photo by Ann Lopez

Wrigley is an American Bulldog.  They are sensitive to heat because of their pushed in noses.  For her, I can’t bring her on a run unless it’s under about 58 degrees.  My trail running season usually starts about November 1st.  Once snow hits the trails and it is cold enough to stay then I am usually done for the winter because the snow leaves the trails too dangerous and too hard to stay on track.  In a typical year I trail run from November 1st until about Christmas.  Maybe I will get 8 weeks.  This winter has been so mild that I might get an entire season out of it.  In North Jersey we haven’t had any snow at all.  It’s been amazing for my trail runs.  Wrigley is a great running partner because she keeps me motivated.  She knows when the weekend is here because we sleep in a little longer.  When Saturday and Sunday morning comes and I walk downstairs in my running gear she gets pretty excited.  When the hat and the gloves go on then she gets really excited.  If I run out of the house without her she gets hysterical.  Wrigley had two knee surgeries in 10 months.  It is somewhat common for the breed type.  So last year she was not cleared to run.  After a slow rehab of just walking and then walking on hills she was finally cleared to return to running after about 9 months.  It was a half mile at first but this year I have done as much as 7 miles with her.  Generally we stay between 3 and 5 miles.  When we first started running I used to run her off leash.  We never had any problems and she would never run away or anything but I didn’t want to take a chance with her maybe running into another dog or a wild animal.  I recently found a leash that the human wears like a belt and it attaches to the dog’s collar with a bungee cord that provides a little stretch.  It also has a “fanny pack” that I wear under my shirt.  (Don’t worry). The brand name is OllyDog and you can get it at REI.  It  comes in super handy because I can carry treats for Wrigley which she is thankful and I can carry my phone for which my wife is thankful.

photo by Ann Lopez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this area we have quite a few trails options.  I love Lewis Morris Park in
Morristown.  http://www.morrisparks.net/aspparks/lmmain.asp.  It has several trails ranging from short to as much as 7 miles that loop around in circles.  If you live in Morris County go to MorrisParks.net.  If you are not local to NJ and you happen to have an IPhone.  Try this app by Nortface.  Trailhead.  It can help you find a local trail anywhere by you.  So next time you want to go for a run find a trail.  It will be a whole new experience and if you have a four legged friend bring her along too.  It’s a great bonding experience and it will keep you both physically healthy and mentally sharp.

photo by Ann Lopez

1 Rep Max

A strength coach can’t just assign sets and reps to his or her athletes. The coach should also mandate the load as well.  Anyone who has coached knows that a good coach can get his or her athletes to overpeform.  When left to their own accord athletes might not get that extra push.  Everything should be based off of a 1 rep. max and then the coach should assign a percentage of that max.  The core exercises can be 1 rep max tested but for the ancillary exercise you can estimate using charts like this.

http://www.nsca-lift.org/fly%20solo%20program/1%20RM%20Poundage%20Chart.pdf

For the sake of this article let’s say that we are training a High School football team starting in the off-season. You would try to create different workouts based on positions but in a High School that is often tough to do.  Players can switch positions quite often and many times their bodies are not developed enough to elicit much change in workouts types. Because you will be spending a lot of time on instruction in a High School setting it might be better off to create a uniform workout with the exception of the upper class-men who are more advanced in their training and have a clear position on the field.

On day number one I would test all my athletes in the squat, bench press, deadlift, and power clean.  Of course this all depends on previous experience.  If I felt a kid was not properly trained to perform these lifts then other precautions would have to be used.  However, for athletic performance let’s assume that the athletes have experience and can safely perform the exercises given.  If a kid is underdeveloped but has the lifting background then you could use a 3 rep. max to ensure safety.  For example, in a High School setting before an off season program you 1 rep max test the Juniors and Seniors.  However the freshman and Sophomores might not be able to handle the heavy loads and they could potentially injure themselves.  For the younger kids you would have to separate them into trained and untrained.  The untrained kids need to be taught biomechanics while the trained kids  can proceed to testing.

The ancillary exercises that I had mentioned might be things like a bent over row or  triceps extensions.  These exercises don’t need to be tested and can be assigned a number of sets and reps with instructions of when to progress and when to back off.  Remembering that not all training is linear.  Sometimes a recovery workout is the best workout.  If you continually increase the volume from week to week eventually gains will be compromised.

The further out from the season that lighter your 1 Rep max percentage can be.  For example if you are in a 8 week macro-cycle and this is week 1 you might start at 60% of that 1 rep max. The athletes should do 10-15 reps with no more than 30 seconds recovery.   Building up muscular endurance early on in the off-season will help the athletes to not burn out too quickly.  In weeks 3-5 you can increase towards more of a strength workout.   In a strength workout you would assign maybe 80-90% of the 1-rep. max.  During this phase the athletes might do 6-8 reps for multiple sets with full recovery in between sets.  In weeks 5-7 the athlete should adopt a power component to include lower reps.  They might do 3-5 reps at 70-80% of the 1 rep. max with again full recovery in between sets.  In the last week leading up to the season would be a good week to begin those recovery workouts that I previously mentioned.  In this week the athletes would begin to perform their maintenance workouts.  The intensity would decrease in order to prepare for the increased time spent with skill work in their respective coaches.  This would also be a good time to add plenty of foam rolling and flexibility work to help the body recover fully.

As you can see that 1 rep max determined the loads of the exercises which determined the volume for each athlete.  It is a vital factor to improve performance leading up to the season.