New Year, New process

Last year in our first blog of the year we offered a questionnaire to help our clients and our readers set their 2017 goals. In this new year, 2018, I want to shift the focus from goals, to the process that can lead you, not only to achieving physical goals, but the process that can lead to positive habit formation, self-ownership and control, and life balance. Here are the 5 places to start.

Ski/Snowboard Season Fitness: An Interview with Luis Bermudez

Ski/Snowboard Season Fitness: An Interview with Luis Bermudez

Ski and snowboard season is upon us – the wait is almost over! We wanted to find out more about how to prepare our bodies for shredding the slopes this winter, so we turned to our friend Luis Bermudez of Reliquum Studio. Luis is a certified personal trainer with 23 years of experience in health and fitness, and had some great tips for skiers and snowboarders who want to prevent injury and develop the muscles that support good form on the mountain.

5  easy ways to get out of an exercise rut!

5 easy ways to get out of an exercise rut!

You are not the only one who has struggled through a training program or health related issues. The feeling of life coming at you all the time can place exercise and health on the backburner. Even for the more apt of us it can be tough to maintain top performance and well-being all the time. Here are 5 ideas that have helped me during these types of situations.

6 Things You Must Know About Working Out During Pregnancy

6 Things You Must Know About Working Out During Pregnancy

6 Things You Must Know About Working Out During Pregnancy. Recently, I have noticed a new trend within my groups of friends,clients and the Reliquum Community, babies! Even Reliquum’s very own Stefani, who is responsible for editing our blog posts(and our model today!), is pregnant! Given this, I thought it is a great time to share how, here at Reliquum, I approach exercise and pregnancy.

Alternative Home Workout

Alternative Home Workout

How many times have you found yourself not able to go to the gym? Nanny issues, work deadlines, friends, family, a polar vortex? Any of these can make you unable to attend the gym, or your personal training appointment.

The Goal of the Goal...

The Goal of the Goal...

It is that time of the year! Yes, resolution time. For some people every year is the same resolution, for some it’s a different one. When it comes to Health and Fitness, it typically relates to fat loss, muscle gain and appearance. This is a great time though to remind yourself that the “Goal” it is only, the “Goal of the Goal”.

How 20 years turn to 17 years and 8 months

During the past couple of weeks, I have made several arrangements to see clients outside of their normal times. Stefani had the in-laws over, the Alday’s are traveling to the South to see Angela’s family, Jo Ann is visiting family on the east Coast, and Hannah, well, she has her ever changing schedule due to work, and so on. This happens invariably through the year, and due to work, travel, family, etc., one of my clients must change an appointment, or worse cancel it. I on the other hand, always offer to see if we can make up that workout at a different time and date, my main goal been that I cover the workouts that the client usually has on any given week.  During the holiday season this situation is much more prevalent. Sometimes to my client’s surprise, during the holiday season, I will with as much emphasis try to cover as many workouts as I can, and not simply give them up just because is the holiday season.

The Holiday Food Conundrum

The Holiday Food Conundrum

Just as we welcome the Fall, we also welcome the Holiday season. That means many celebrations in the upcoming months, in more traditional terms, that means Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. In a diverse culture like ours that just means that we are going to be spending a great amount of time celebrating with friends, co-workers and family, and that involves food items and amounts of these food items that we may not consume on a regular basis, nonetheless usually delicious. You may be asking yourself whether you will and whether you should gain weight during the holidays. Maintaining a clean nutrition schedule and attitude during the Holidays can be challenging. And although I do not advise spending the holidays trying not to gain weight (the Holiday Food Grinch is not welcome at celebrations!), I have a few suggestions to help you enjoy the Holidays!

The Most Interesting Things I Read or Re-read in October

The Most Interesting Things I Read or Re-read in October

All about exercise, health, cuisine culture, nutrition, your partner, and your little ones!

This Chef’s ambitious menu is a model for creative reinvention (Fast Company)

The economics of dining as a couple (Bloomberg)

Ranking the most and least vegetarian friendly cities (Priceonomics)

My 20 Years Powerlifting in 3 Lasting Lessons

My 20 Years Powerlifting in 3 Lasting Lessons

It's 3:30 a.m. I am up eating my Greek yogurt with whey protein, per usual and that will be followed by 2 cups of delicious coffee, Campanioglo toast with peanut butter and honey. Today, I do not have a client at 5 a.m.,  but I will still be at Reliquum at 4:45 a.m. to do my leg workout, my second for the week. 

Adjusting to the season

Adjusting to the season

The summer is over! At least here in Oregon it is. With that, gone are the days of running in the sun, sun tanning after a workout in the park, or going out for that daily evening walk while watching the sunset. But is it gray and grim until next year, or could we possibly look forward to something different? Maybe!

My September Reads

My September Reads

Women and Sports, Aging Athlete, Minimalist Kitchen, Your protein needs and how active you are, US youth fitness? Or state of fitness?

Will women play Major League Baseball? (New York Times)

The Chef-approved guide to the perfect minimalist kitchen (Outside)

How much protein do you eat? How much do you need? (Quartz)

How to age gracefully (and still kick ass) (Outside)

US youth fitness levels are near the bottom (Science Daily)

Reliquum Summertime Playlist

At Reliquum, we customize every aspect of our programs for our clients, sometimes even the music! Depending on the time of day or the client you can expect to hear anything from light jazz, to deep driving House and EDM. We try to make our studio the perfect setting for progress and focus. Some clients work well with current Pop in the background and some might really be able to tap into their intensity if Joan Jet is blaring at them in the afternoon.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling

Many of us travel during the summer time. Some of us for business, some just for fun. I recently went on a wonderful trip to San Francisco. It was mainly a business trip, doing research for future articles. During my stay I visited my favorite gym in San Francisco, Diakadi, to interview the founders Billy Polson and Mike Clausen. As you are probably aware by now, here at Reliquum Training Studio, our motto is “Train hard, train smart, live balanced”. Of course you cannot go to a city like San Francisco and not enjoy yourself, but then again you should always enjoy yourself, as long as it does not throw off the balance between the other aspects of your life.

Traveling can impose a challenge on maintaining that balance, some more than for others. Even though I do not always have access to a gym when I travel, regardless of whether I am in Lisbon, Walla Walla or San Francisco, I always find a way to stay active. Staying active while traveling should not be complicated. It allows me to enjoy everything to a greater degree. Maybe it is because of the way I workout when I travel, maybe it is because it forces me to stop and/or slow down allowing me to take in the moment, or maybe I am just on an athlete's high from the hormonal rush and elevated heart rate. The way that some of us may think about exercise or activity while traveling may be different. Whether you enjoy exercise and/or activity like I do, or maybe there are other important physiological and/or emotional reasons for you to stay active while traveling I will share with you a few ideas that may make activity while traveling easier, simpler and maybe even enjoyable.

Keep Walking – Walking is by far the best way to explore and experience a new city or location. When I travel I try to incorporate walking as much as I can. We live in a time where you can get an UBER by the click of a button, but if you want complete autonomy of the experience, get on your feet and walk. Perhaps, walking will help you disconnect from the routine and just enjoy the moment.

Along the way - In addition to sightseeing and experiencing the city there are a few things you can do along the way. While walking look at restaurants menus. Consider doing  before you are way too hungry, tired and rushed from a day full of activities and adventures. During your adventure find a grocery store, pick up some healthy snacks that you can keep in your hotel fridge such as Greek style yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, pre-cut vegetables (like baby carrots), perhaps a natural ingredient based nutritional bar and water.

Dine delicious! But Smart! – Every Friday for me is date night, and that means that I am going to have delicious food, somewhere. When I travel that is no different, just more days of dining out. Strong commitment but also good planning is important to anyone that is looking after their health. This is especially true about nutrition, even more so while traveling. Small considerations, such as if you know you are having a heavier, richer dinner, opt for a lighter, healthier lunch. Or better yet, when dining out, whether lunch or dinner have a combination of the things that you want, and the healthier choices that you need. For example make protein the center of your meal. In the end the whole meal will still be delicious, you will feel great about your choices, and the experience is priceless.

Get Physical – My strategy about working out when I travel is to keep the workouts simple. The workout should require no weights, or if you are an advanced athlete and need more challenge, you can add resistance bands to the mix and you will have plenty. The workout even though simple, it should cover all major body parts, raise your heart rate, and challenge your strength endurance. My go-to workout starts with a 10  minute dynamic warm up and 5 sets of 20 yard sprints, Split Squats, Single Leg Romanian Deadlift, Push-ups, Plank Rows, Side to Side Plank, Mountain Climbers, Glute Bridges and  Superman’s. I perform each for 20 repetitions andI aim to complete all nine exercises without any rest. Once I complete a set I will take a 1 minute rest and do all 9 exercises again until I perform the circuit 5 times. Depending on your current fitness and health level you may need to do variations of the exercises, and variations of the rest times. But don’t quit, the most important thing is to finish it. My second go to workout is running! In my own personal fitness world it is the closest thing to escaping reality and feeling free. More importantly running is quick, requires very little if any preparation, and almost no thought process or preparation.

Boricua Gold, Exercise or Addiction?, The Body Issue (Not Sports Illustrated), The President is my DJ

Best reads first half of August-Olympic edition 1

Repetition shapes both your mind and body, exercise or addiction?

To boost memory: study, wait, then exercise (The New York Times)

How sports influence body shape (Live Science)

Mental model; bias from envy and jealousy (Farnam Street)

Big goals can backfire. Olympians show us what to focus on instead (Science of Us)

How people with sports addiction are like drug addicts (Aeon)

Boricua Gold, Phelps, Vegan Powerhouse, The Body Issue (Not Sports Illustrated)

Monica Puig wins tennis final, and for first time, Puerto Rico has Olympic gold (The Washington Post)

Michael Phelps just ended his Olympic career in the most fitting way possible (Business Insider)

We live in a world where female Olympic athletes can win gold but still face body image issues (Quartz)

Olympians are what they eat

Morghan King Olympic Diet and Training (Elle)

The only male weightlifter on Team USA is a vegan (Business Insider)

"Everything I eat is meant to fuel and take care of my body." (Elle)

The President is my DJ, Honeymoon or not, I want to go there

The top 20 honeymoon destinations (Bazaar)

President Obama summer playlist is Lit (Fast Company)

Jazz, the new sound of summer (The Economist)

Olympian or Millionaire? Focus on what you can control

It is really hard to make money as an Olympian (Wired)

14 signs you have what it takes to become a millionaire (Business Insider)

Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you Can (A Teachable Moment)

 

 

Cuisine Culture, Your Brain, Your Future Self, Innovative Education

Image: REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

How Exercise and Nature affect your brain

How exercise shapes you, far beyond the gym (Science of Us)

This is what happened to my brain when I spent more time in nature (Fast Company)

How exercise may help the brain grow stronger (The New York Times)

Cuisine Culture, Gut Microbes and the 100 year Life

Ethnic cuisine future is expensive (The Atlantic)

“Gut feelings”, Microbes and Autism (The Economist)

The best Fast Food, picked by the world top chefs (Bloomberg)

To calm food allergies, get better gut bacteria via fiber (Big Think)

The 100-year life: how to make longevity a blessing, not a curse (New Scientist)

Obese grandfathers pass on their susceptibility to junk food (New Scientist)

Books, music, personality traits and how they relate to your future self

Your taste in music says a lot about how your brain processes information (Business Insider)

Science says these two personality traits predict whether you’ll be a successful leader (Business Insider)

The incalculable value of finding a job that you love (New York Times)

Economist show that boys that grow around books earn significantly more money as adults (Quartz)

Academia and Statistics matter, but what we need for future economic improvement is more innovative education

How can we teach innovation; a view from China (World Economic Forum)

Slogging on the economic road back to normal (Bloomberg)

Millennials need a new housing bubble (Bloomberg)

Academic Finance as a check on pretensions (Enterprising Investor)

You can make statistics say whatever you want (The Speculative Investor)

The Fourth Industrial revolution means that schools must become innovative (World Economic Forum)

 

A guide to macro-micro nutrients based nutrition and lifestyle

With the proliferation of extreme, fad diet and nutrition programs, I thought it would be helpful to shed a little light on the subject. I try not to take sides on such topics because people are not only different, but they are also free to have different experiences. On the topic of macronutrients, micronutrients, calories and lifestyle, it is my responsibility, given my work, to give a simple interpretation of the facts, especially with a warning that extreme programs may not lead to good results. With faddish, extreme diets, such as macronutrient-based nutrition, a significant number of people may be negatively affected.1,2,3   Such programs only work for a specific few individuals.

In the USA, a great number of people are fighting weight gain and associated emotional and social issues, related to diet and body appearance, with an array of related chronic health issues. The constant bombardment of extreme nutrition programs negatively affects people who are not looking for a perfect physique or to be a part of the latest fitness trend. In fact, this group of people is often simply looking to improve their lives, such as regaining health after pregnancy or trying to become more alert and energetic while holding down a demanding job. Some may be simply trying to lose some weight to help manage diabetes or hypertension.

Why do I feel so strongly about the subject? Well, the goal should be to promote positive feelings toward the word “healthy” or “fit.” A healthy balance between work and the maintenance of fitness is important, especially because a better level of fitness in the population will lead to better work productivity, less stress and more happiness. If a large part of the workforce is having a harder time fitting in or being productive at work, they are more likely to develop negative views towards exercise and to food items that are related to the word “healthy” or “fit.” Parents are especially important, as they raise the next generation.4,5 Finally, fitness in the USA affects not only us but the rest of the world. As the world population increases, the use of limited resources, particularly food, is an important factor.  In conclusion, a realistic, positive outlook about food and fitness, extends far beyond the gym,6 affecting how we parent, work and socialize and impacting our future and future generations.

The plan I present here is a practical approach to body composition improvement and a starting point for a “Fit for life” lifestyle. The plan has a simple approach, yet it still requires responsibility on your part. Once you can establish a reasonable system with parameters instead of trying to stay “in shape,” it will become more of a way of life.

First, the calorie debate. Yes, it is simple math, if you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight. But losing or gaining weight does not mean that your body composition is improving or that your health is improving. Not all calories are created equal. The quality of what you eat is as important, if not more important as how much you eat. Foods that have low nutritional value don’t support a healthy body composition, mood or athletic performance. While you may be able to diet yourself down to a desired number on the scale by using caloric intake as your only guideline, without attention to food quality or protein/carb/fat ratios, your body will lose muscle, resulting in a smaller, yet flabbier you. 

A good diet should be based mainly on natural, unprocessed foods, organic if possible. Your list of food items should mainly include, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of red meat, fish, eggs, fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts (in moderation), and natural, whole grains and starches such as brown rice, quinoa (especially vegans and vegetarians), oats, and potatoes. Aim for this group to account for 75-85% or more of your weekly food consumption. Of course, smaller, limited amounts of cheese, bread and baked goods, pasta, cereal, wine and other alcoholic beverages, chocolate and dessert like items, are a regular part of a fun, social environment in life. This latter group though should be kept to 15-25% or less of your weekly consumption.

Second, the ratio of foods. Eating just healthy food items is a great start and you will in a better place than most, but the ratio of foods we consume is important in optimizing fat loss, muscle gain, body composition, sports performance and short- and long-term health benefits. For example, we need protein for tissue repair. Important to note is that macronutrients provide micronutrients, such as vitamins, necessary for specific functions in the body. Although these micronutrients are only required in tiny amounts in the diet, they are, nevertheless, key dietary components. The processes of growth, energy production, metabolism regulation and many other normal functions would not occur without them.15

Health is related to an optimum supply of both macronutrients and micronutrients.15, 16 Insufficient or excess intake of either can lead to an array of health problems. In today’s world the main nutritional issues are primarily related to excess intake of macronutrients, and, to a lesser extend, to insufficient intake of micronutrients. These excesses or insufficiencies can affect your personal and professional life, including the ability to think clearly (the brain works primarily on glycogen), your energy level (B vitamins are essential in energy metabolism), or mood (good fats help the brain produce feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine7). As a warning, if you embark on a diet that leans heavily on restrictions or excesses, you will not be nutritionally sound and the effects can be significant.

Third, confusing information. Most of the research related to exercise and nutrition leaves you with more questions. 12, 13, 14. Many of the so-called “clinical studies” are done on behalf of a company or product, and these are poor studies which are not applicable to you or to most of the population. Government data (i.e. USDA, HHS and FDA) is often outdated and in contradiction to the so-called “latest findings”. Government data accounts for a broad, varied demographic (geographical, socioeconomic, age, current health and fitness, etc.) with a goal of improving the health of the overall population, so this information is often not useful to you as an individual. If you exercise regularly and eat consciously, as described above, the latest health information and government data likely does not apply to you.

By embarking on a reasonable program of conscious food choices from a wide variety of healthy food sources and exercise, you will likely fall somewhere in the middle between the “latest findings” and governmental health recommendations.  As noted above, the first thing to do is to replace processed, non-natural and low nutritional value food items with more wholesome, natural choices. It is a simple adjustment that will immediately provide great benefits. As you begin to consume more complex carbs and less simple ones, you will also consume less saturated fat. As you consume leaner, more complete proteins, you will also meet some of your micronutrient intake, even though you are consuming lower quantities of food. And last but not least, you will see a drop in caloric intake while findings that wholesome, natural foods are more filling and satisfying.

I recommend consuming more protein and fewer carbohydrates than government regulations,9, 10, 11 since breakdown of muscle happens when you exercise and it must be repaired. So, my recommendation is an intake of 40-50% carbohydrate, 25-40% protein, 20-30% fat, while consuming the same caloric intake as before. Generally, carbohydrate and fat intake will need to be adjusted downward as you begin. Of course, you must individualize the program depending on your current state of fitness and health, current eating habits and caloric intake, and health and fitness goals.8

In conclusion, if you feel lost when it comes to your nutritional necessities now that you are exercising, try my simple approach. Replace most processed, non-natural and low nutritional value food items, with more wholesome and natural choices, and adjust for the increase in the need for protein for tissue repair. I find that this approach is not only a great place to start a program, but more often than not this approach becomes a successful way of life, simple and sustainable.
 

Medical references, studies and related articles:

  1. What happens to your body when you go on an extreme diet (US News)

  2. Fad Diets (University of Pittsburg Medical Center)  

  3. The dangers of fad diets (Indiana University Health)

  4. Psychologic and Physiologic effects of dieting in adolescents (Medscape)

  5. Obese grandparents pass on their susceptibility to junk food (New Scientist)

  6. How exercise shapes far beyond the gym (Science of Us)

  7. Omega-3 fatty acids (University of Maryland Medical Center)

  8. The secret food of athletes, inside the Olympic Training Center’s Nutrition Lab (Outside)

  9. Estimated calorie needs, per day, by age, sex, and physical activity level (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Agriculture)

  10. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 level (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Agriculture)

  11. Macronutrients in health and disease (Nutrition MD)

  12. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in men and women (New England Journal of Medicine)

  13. Comparison of weight loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein and carbohydrates (New England Journal of Medicine)

  14. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN diets (The Journal of the American Medical Association)

  15. Effects of nutrients (in food) in the structure and function of the nervous system: Update for dietary requirements for the brain. Part 1: Micronutrients (The Journal of nutrition, health and aging)

  16. Effects of nutrients (in food) in the structure and function of the nervous system: Update for dietary requirements for the brain. Part 2: Macronutrients (The Journal of nutrition, health and aging)









 

The most Interesting Things I read in June

Sports, Science, Culture

Five records athletes are dying to break (Outside)

Practice alone won’t make you an elite athlete (Vox)

Finally Lebron, has something on Michael Jordan (GQ)

Muhammad Ali had a personal magician (Vox)

 

Health, Fitness, Exercise, Personal Finance

The exercise benefit you aren’t thinking about (Time)

The financial rewards of working out (Time)

Educate your immune system (The New York Times)

 

Behavioral Science and Sociology

Anger against women is all too common on the web (World Economic Forum)

Babysitting may prime brains for parenting (Wall Street Journal)

The value of grey thinking (Farnam Street)

 

Politics, Culture, Democracy

Brexit and the failure of democracy (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Culturally constructed ignorance wins the day (Bloomberg View)

What a new gun control study can and can’t tell us about mass shootings (Science of Us)

 

Business, Technology, Environment

Three ways to build trust in your business (World Economic Forum)

Even cowboy jobs may not be safe from robots (Washington Post)

What bees can teach us about the real value of protecting nature (Vox)

[Recipe] Spanish Stew with Chicken and Saffron

For many, cooking can be a daunting process. I am, by nature a very curious person. Cooking allows me to travel and explore other cultures. This has taught me that I can spice up the foods that I cook every week. This keeps me from falling into a rut and enables me to be flexible with flavors and cuisines. This brings me to our first recipe. You won’t get every detail of why this, that and the other thing is good or not good for you. You won’t get the “eat this superfood and you can increase your performance in the gym”, and so on. Instead we want this recipe to be the first of many that helps those of you who cook at home, or want to try to cook more often a healthy and delicious meal. 

In this recipe I invite you to travel with me through the flavors of Spain. I promise it will be a short trip, yet a memorable one. I will keep it as simple as possible, but I won’t skip on the things that I feel really make the difference in flavor and perception.

This is by no means a traditional dish, it is just a healthier take on a stew that has amazing aroma and flavor.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 pounds deboned and cleaned chicken thighs
  2. 1 tsp. kosher salt
  3. ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  4. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp. ground coriander
  6. 1 ½ tsp. Spanish smoked sweet paprika
  7. A pinch of saffron (this can be ommited) 
  8. ½ of a red pepper, cut into ¼ inch squares
  9. 2 carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
  10. ½ leek cut into 4 pieces
  11. 1 garlic clove smashed
  12. 1 medium onion cubed
  13. 4 baby yellow Dutch potatoes cut in half
  14. 8 spanish olives
  15. 1 tsp. capers
  16. 2 cups chicken stock
  17. 2 cups of water
  18. 1 lemon

Directions:

Clean and season the chicken with all the dry spices (ingredients 2-7) for at least an hour. 

While you are letting the chicken sit and absorb all the amazing flavor start prepping the rest of your vegetables. 

Place all the ingredients in a dutch oven or a large pot. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces. Turn the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half. Meanwhile shred the chicken to medium-large chunks.

IMG_0910.JPG

Once the liquid is reduced and has thickened, add the chicken back in and remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tsps. of lemon juice and let the stew sit for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and citrus.

Serve with rice or eat on it’s own.

Vegetarian Substitutions:

Swap out the chicken for tofu! Drained the tofu, season with half the spices, and saute until golden brown. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and simmer the tofu in the pot for only 15 minutes before removing. Stew the vegetables for another 15 minutes to complete the 30 minute process, then reduce the liquid to half.

Optional tips to improve this recipe!

1) Have a glass of wine! I made this on Saturday, and since it fell on my 2 days of more leisure eating (I follow our 5/2 rule!), well, I had to add the right wine. So we opened one of Mama Julia’s’ Mansion Creek Cellars best, her 2013 cuvee, which is a blend of Spanish varietals. Full disclosure, I love all her wines!

2) If you're entertaining, add ¼ of smoked chorizo to the pot, it will deepen the flavor and add some kick. Serve it in small ramekins in the middle of the table. Enjoy some bread with Manchego cheese and olive oil.

3) And the best way to improve this recipe, is to have it with the right person or the right group of people. Whether it be your partner, a group of friends, or your whole family. One simple dish, with 4 or 5 other items as side dishes, a nice bottle of wine, and now all is left to do is to get the conversation going.

Buen Provecho,

Reliquum