Josh Bowen: 3 Thoughts We Should Stop Having About Fitness

joshI have been traveling the last few days and have had several conversations with people on the planes I’ve been on about fitness. One in particular with my taxi cab driver who picked me up at the airport in Florida.

The lady must have been in here early 40’s and in decent shape but really wanted to be in better shape. After finding out what I did for a living she instantly started probing me for information. And as it is in many cases the person will ask questions or state beliefs only to validate their own beliefs regardless of my opinion on the subject matter.

15 minutes into our ride she had told me how diet X didn’t work for and neither did diet A-R but diet W and Z were the bomb.com. What?! She also referred to anything lifting related as the “man zone” and quickly wanted to tell me how doing an hour of cardio was great but was boring and she wasn’t sure she could tell a difference. You don’t say?

So, as only I can do, I referred her to my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom as a step in the right direction for her. Maybe the book could do a better job of explaining the components of fitness than I could do. Either way these random conversations with people boggle my mind. I still cannot understand why we have such a hard time understanding the core principles of fitness. We continually over diet, we look at food as either bad or good and we have no concept of what is too much or not enough.

Let’s set the trend here with the 3 Thoughts We Should Stop Having About Fitness:

Thought 1: Diets Work
If diets work then why is obesity and the number of diet books on sale at an all time? Diets don’t work. Have never worked. Will never work. They are often too stringent and restrict our favorite foods. They are also not nutrient driven and only focus on the amount of calories you eat, forgetting about the nutrient value of protein, carbs and fats.

Thought 2: More Exercise is Better
Using exercise to lose fat is like using a band aid to on a gun shot wound. Thinking you can go workout to eradicate that pizza you just ate or that bottle of wine you just drank is lunacy. The average person cannot eat what they want then go workout and expect to look the way they want. You also can workout TOO much. Your nervous system can only handle so much (this is where the value of rest comes into play) exercise thang it can become fried and will need a break. 3-4 days of vigorous exercise is usually enough for most people, anymore than that and the body will not be able to handle stress (unless nutrition, rest and genetics intervene).

Thought 3: Lifting Weights Makes Women Look Like Men
It doesn’t. Never has. Never will. There are outliers to everything, however those are few and far between. Want to be leaner? Want to have a defined waist, shoulders and back, pick up heavy things. With the help of great nutrition habits, lifting weights will make anyone look great naked. And that’s a great thing!

My hope is I can put these to bed and never have to discuss them again. But the majority of you reading this already know these so if you could forward to friends and family, it would help he education of the exercising public and maybe increase my subscribers! Until next time.

Josh Bowen: Don’t Drink And…Train?

68d5575d-dae6-4f15-b862-33d000b038f5A common question I get from clients, “can I drink alcohol and still get results?”

As with most questions I receive, there is no yes or no answer, it simply just depends. It depends on how much and how much of what you are drinking.

I am a firm believer in moderation and balance. I believe you can achieve your fitness goals and still have a drink or two, here and there. So for argument sake lets define moderation; no more than one alcoholic drink for women and no more than two for men, per day. An alcoholic drink is defined as 4 oz. of an “adult” beverage.

So JB what are the drawbacks to drinking alcohol as it relates to my workout?

Glad you asked, here are 5 side effects to drinking alcohol and working out:

Dehydration
Muscles are composed of 75% water.Inadequate water intake zaps the muscles of strength. When alcohol is in the system the kidneys must filter large amounts of water to flush the alcohol out of your system, causing dehydration. Too combat this, after drinking alcohol drink 32 oz. of water. This should help with the dehydration and lessen your hangover.

Fat Storage
Although alcohol is a carbohydrate, it does not convert to glucose like most carbohydrates but becomes a fatty acid and is more likely to be stored as fat. If you exercise and drink alcohol, it causes your fat metabolism to be put “on hold.” The caloric content of alcohol adds up to seven calories per gram. A 12-oz. beer, on average, contains around 146 calories, 13 g. of carbohydrate and a few vitamins and minerals. A shot of gin has around 110 calories.

Vitamin Depletion
Alcohol depletes vitamins A, B, C, calcium, zinc and phosphorus.This nutrients are vital in the retention and increase of your muscle. To combat this depletion, if you are going to drink take a multi-vitamin prior too. This will help decrease the depletion because you are taking in excess nutrients.

Lowered Testosterone
Alcohol increases estrogen in men, thus lowering the free testosterone in the body. Testosterone helps build muscle tissue.

Beer Belly
This could go with fat storage but a common characteristic of a man or woman that drinks too much beer is the beer belly. Because alcohol is a toxin, the liver must filter it out of the body. If taken in excess over the course of years the liver will secret a fluid that will build up in the abdominal wall. Causing the dreaded beer belly.

2 “Healthier” Options

There are better options to drink than others. Again, these options are lower in calories but anything in excess, regardless of caloric value, will derail your progress in body transformation.

Wine
Is the most friendly of all alcoholic beverages, averaging just 20 calories per ounce for most wines. Check below!

Wine Calories Per Ounce      Carbs Per 5-oz Serving
Chardonnay 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Pinot Grigio 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Zinfandel® White Wine 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Cabernet Sauvignon 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs
Merlot Red Wine 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs

“Hard” Liquor
Not exactly sure why it would be called hard but these are more caloric intensive than wine but not as bad as liquors, mixed drinks or some beers. Refrain from adding sodas to the mix or the calories will go up.

Hard Liquor Calories Per Ounce Carbs Per 1.5-oz Serving
Vermouth 32 0.2 g 64 calories, 0.4 g carbs
Coconut Rum 51 5.3 g 77 calories, 8 g carbs
Beefeater® Gin 65 0 g 98 calories, 0 g carbs
Rye Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Scotch Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
White Rum 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Vodka 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Cognac 69 2 g 104 calories, 3 g carbs
Tequila 69 5.3 g 104 calories, 8 g carbs
Gilbey’s® Gin 79 0 g 119 calories, 0 g carbs

A life with synergy requires balance and drinking alcohol has its benefits but also its drawbacks. Anything in moderation will be fine, the probably lies in excess and will lead to lower muscle tissue, increased bodyfat and lower quality of life.

Josh Bowen: 5 Tips to Eating Out Smarter

69a6794b-9ea3-4895-babe-eb358190f2abWe live in a world that goes 100 miles per hour…everyday. Sometimes the last thing on our mind is preparing food. Though a necessary evil, preparing our food is always the best practice, instead of eating out. However there are times where going to a restaurant are warranted. 

For nearly 7 years, I traveled up and down the roads and eating out was the only option I had. Through that experience, I developed some “tips” to eat my body full of nutrients and to fuel my workouts at the same time eating out. 

Here are my 5 tips:

1. Game Plan
If you know you are going to be traveling, Google the restaurants close and if need be look at the nutritional facts. If you are in a hurry or you have a business meeting, plan where you are going that you know has healthy options. To use the excuse of a meeting or didn’t have time, is not acceptable when there are so many better options. 

2. Survey the Menu
There will always be better options and most places have a “healthy” option selection on their menu. Just look for it or ask the waitress. Texas Roadhouse in Lexington has the JB Fit Menu


3. Learn How to Order
When I order at a place I tell them specifically what I want:
“No seasoning” “No butter” “Grilled no fried” “Sweet potato plain”
To most this may seem like a pain but it saves you in the long run. Most cooks at restaurants will pile on the margarine and salt, making for an unnecessary nutritional nightmare. Just ask to not have it. I do it all the time, it will be OK!

4. Substitute 
So you steak comes with fries? Hey yo, substitute green beans for those fries or a plain sweet potato. Over the long run this will help you. Meal comes with two sides and everything looks like old school country fixings? Sub out a house salad (salad dressing on the side). Easy substitutions will save the calories in the long run.

5. Control the Portions
They give you too much food. You don’t need all the food they give you. Eat half and save the rest for lunch tomorrow (if healthy). No reason to big out if you do not need too.

Bonus..

5.1 The Table Setting
Some places will give you bread (for free) when they seat you. Resist or tell the host you do not want any bread. Resist the temptation before you gorge yourself on bread before a big meal.

5.2 Cookie Monster
“Would you like to see a desert menu.” Answer no! Again, you will fall into temptation that you will not be able to recover from. Just say no to cake!

Take it from me, I have done my fair share of eating out. But it should not interfere with your fitness goals and the way you feel. Hope you enjoyed this post!

Erica and Matt Chua: Food on a Stick

I haven’t confirmed this with my parents, but I am quite sure that this is the first year I will not be attending the Great Minnesota Get Together since I was born 29 years ago.  The Minnesota State Fair is my favorite “holiday” and a Minnesota tradition I can really get behind.  Lutefisk being the only other Minnesota tradition that I [unwillingly] participate in each year, but who can get behind lutefisk as a tradition for anyone but their worst enemies?

It’s hard to pick the best part of the Minnesota State Fair.  Is it the abundance of twangy country acts performing for free at the Leinie’s Lodge?  The grandstand shows featuring bands that were popular decades ago, but you can still sing-a-long to?  The people watching?  The toothless carnies in the Midway or the plethora of food on a stick?

While the people watching is second to none, leading you to stare uncomfortably at entire families of people so rotund they couldn’t find a shirt to cover their belly and are eating chocolate dipped bacon on a stick.  Going to the State Fair can really be an esteem booster as you leave wondering when the last time many of your fellow fair goers saw their feet.  But, the people watching wouldn’t be half as entertaining without an artery-clogging treat on a stick to eat while you cattily observe.

It is especially fun to see what those crazy fair organizers will come up with each year to out-do deep-fried Snickers Bars.  Some of my favorites include; pork chop on a stick, I’m convinced it tastes better just because it’s on a stick, mini donuts and the best Fair treat there is a buttery piece of sweet corn on the cob.  None of the food on a stick I have encountered in Asia has been as tasty as Fair food, but it’s been much more bizarre.

Below are the top five foods on a stick I’ve had in Asia:

1. Ecto-Cooler Slime Dough Balls

These were actually looking like a good snack option as they were being made fresh at the night market in Luoyang, China.  However, after we ordered them we were getting ready to pay when the sauce extravaganza started.  First was a squirt of what looked like hot sauce, then a “healthy” helping of mayonnaise, which didn’t see too bad until she squeezed on the neon-green ecto-cooler slime and sprinkled pork floss on top.  We ate them anyway as we had paid a whole 40 cents for them and I can’t tell you if they were good or bad because there were so many strange flavors happening at once it seemed like something only Willy Wonka could have dreamed up.

2. Ancient Ice Cream

This is genius, right up there with dippin’ dots only far less creative.  From what we can tell this “Ancient Ice Cream” is no different than any other ice cream except in it’s cement block shape and high price.  But someone is making money because we fell for it.

3. Deep fried gyoza roll

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Erica and Matt Chua: Food on a Stick

Josh Bowen: Food Cravings

joshI get food cravings. You get food cravings. We ALL get food cravings. But what does it mean?

A few months ago I read an interesting article (I have searched and cannot find it) about the affect, low quality, nutrient deficient food has on our brains. To summarize the article; research had been done on the brain and how it responded to eating donuts, pop tarts and other “junk” food. Essentially it caused the body to crave these foods even more because the brain and body had not been satisfied with the amount of nutrients it had gotten. So it needed to eat again. This caused overeating in several test subjects.

Make of it what you will but when we crave and subsequently eat foods that would be considered low nutrient food, you end up craving more it to make up for the lack of nutrients that other foods such as vegetables, fruits and lean proteins would provide. Thus causing overeating.

So…What is my body telling me when I crave certain foods? Great question. I have always said that what your body craves, tells you what your diet is lacking. So here is a list of cravings and what you need and what to eat instead:

Craving: Chocolate
What you need: Magnesium
What to eat instead: Nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits

Craving: Sugar
What you need: Chromium, Carbon, Trytophan
What to eat instead: broccoli, chicken, fatty fish, nuts, fresh fruits

Craving: Starchy Carbs (pasta, bread)
What you need: Nitrogene
What to eat instead: high protein foods, fatty fish, chia seeds

Craving: Oily Foods
What you need: Calcium
What to eat instead: green leafy vegetables

Craving: Salty Foods
What you need: Chloride, Silicon
What to eat instead: cashews, seeds, almonds, fatty fish

This is by no means the end all be all list. However, this gives you an idea of how to help your cravings. This also does not taken into consideration the emotional value of food when dealing with stress and the daily stressors of the world.

But there is always this…

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Affirmation of the Day

jyb_musingsAffirmation for the Day

Today I will be the dopest and illest me I can be.

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Is it just me or does Panera Bread coffee taste superisingly bad?

Just my opinon but I suggest they get rid of the current coffee guy and let the person who makes their pasteries start making the coffee too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As always, John Y. Brown III is dead wrong. Panera hazelnut coffee is quite delicious. And superisingly is not a word. JYB III is a left-wing neo-con anti-Semitic Zionist anti-barista anti-dentite

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Morgan Freeman

jyb_musingsI am at a point in my life when it would really help a lot if I had a voice that sounded like Morgan Freeman’s so people would listen in wonderment when I spoke to them.

Instead I often am asked to repeat myself. And I do. In my non-Morgan Freeman-esque voice.

===

I sometimes like to tell myself that ice chai tea latte is really a cover for some sort of secret super human jet fuel.

That way I don’t feel as guilty for drinking so much of it.

===

“You can still say the wrong thing later.”

Food for thought before I blurt out an unneeded opinion in a tense situation.

Josh Bowen: The Five Best Snacks

It is astounding to me how many nutrition blogs, books, websites and magazines there are.

In the United States alone, there are 2,500 diet/nutrition books on the market.

2,500? Holy cow! What for?

I digress though.  After training for 11 years, I have found that most people go wayward on their nutritional plan in between meals and at night. People get the munchies and they want things to snack on. Chips, candy, chocolate and a litany of other nutritionally lacking foods become the staple of one’s snacks. This leads us into a false sense of control and snowball’s us off our well planned out nutrition plan.

joshThis can be solved, very easily, by picking more nutritious, easy access foods. 5 of which I consider the best snacks at my training desk. Always ready for when my blood sugar crashes and I need a quick boost of energy but cannot eat because I am training a client (eating while training clients looks awful by the way).

So without further ado, here is my list of the 5 best snacks:

  1. Quest Bars You can define whether a food is good for you or not by the amount of ingredients it has in it (most of the time). Quest bars are the only protein bars I have seen that have fewer than 100 ingredients in them (joke). All joking aside, they come in a variety of flavors and are made up of all gluten free ingredients. For more information check them out here http://www.questnutrition.com/ingredients/
  2. Almonds I love almonds! There are a staple for me when I need something to get me through a couple of hours of training before I eat a meal. A handful of almonds can supply a sufficient amount of calories but also nutrients to get you through to your next meal or get your through a hard workout. Loaded with healthy fats, almonds can help in decreasing bodyfat (Omega 3s), decrease the chance for heart disease (Omega 3s) and decrease inflammation (ta da Omega 3s). Also, very versatile with almond butter and almond milk being a great substitute for peanut butter and milk.
  3. PB2 and Protein Powder A great combination to snack on to get your through the day. PB2 is a powder peanut butter that has 85% less calories than regular peanut butter. Add in a good protein powder (UMP by Beverly International is my go-to) and you have a great snack that has a lot of protein and a little bit of fat to keep you full for a few hours. Have a sweet tooth? Add some cinnamon and it tastes great!
  4. Rice Cakes You laugh but I love rice cakes. Especially when I need something quick and need something that has a crunch. This usually keeps my cravings to a minimum (I love crunchy foods) and goes best post workout when I need some carbs. You can add almond butter or some PB2 to make it more a meal, if you chose.
  5. Suja Those unfamiliar with Suja http://www.sujajuice.com/ it is a brand of juice that is cold pressured. Via their website here is how they describe the process: Cold Pressure, also known as High Pressure Processing retains food quality, maintains natural freshness, and extends microbiological shelf life without heating to high temperatures. After our juice is bottled, a high level of cold pressure is applied evenly to destroy pathogens and ensure the juice is safe to drink while preserving vitamins, enzymes and nutrients. These make great snacks that you can drink and pack all your nutritious fruits and vegetables into one drink.  In my line of work where I sometimes preform 6-8 sessions in a row, I need quick and easy snacks to keep me going. I also need food ready so that I do not go without food and/or make the wrong choice on what to eat. These work great for me and hopefully they work great for you.

Erica and Matt Chua: He Said/She Said: Best Wine Regions in the World

After a few bottles of wine it’s hard to determine, which wine and region are the best.  But we do our best in a sober moment to discern the best wine regions we have visited and where we are most looking forward to imbibing.

HE SAID…

Why is the sun so bright today?  Why does my head hurt so much?  Why is my mouth so dry?  Man, I need water…  Groggily opening my eyes to the noonday sun must mean one thing: I’ve enjoyed a wine region a little too much.  As the staunch environmentalist I am, I just can’t spit out the wine I taste, no, I, for the sake of not wasting, swallow every taste I have.  It’s easy to judge wine regions by the experience, the sommeliers, or the views, but let’s look at it another way: where do you look back, head hurting, and say “I love this place!”

Mendoza, Argentina is hard to beat.  It sits at the base of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas, and many of the towering Andean peaks.  The wines are tasty and can be taken home for less than $10 a bottle.  Those things may be nice, but what makes it great?  All-you-can-eat steak.  Sure, you could go visit wineries, but why not enjoy wine the way the Argentines do?  Paired with meat, lots of meat. For less than $20 you can get all-you-can eat steak and all-you-can-drink wine.

Time for bed.  A young me after enjoying a night of Mendoza.

This isn’t a Sizzler special, it’s Porterhouse and other quality cuts, delicious sausages, and just about every piece of meat you can imagine, barbecued up for your indulging.  Yep, you’ll wake the next day wondering why you ate and drank so much, but then you’ll head out for more…

SHE SAID…

After a few wine tastings any wine region can become your favorite, however a few places stand out as areas I would love to return to.  Wine is a beverage that breaks down language barriers, brings people together and has been a highlight of our travels from Australia to Japan and back to the U.S. While I have enjoyed wine from each of these places there are also a few wine regions that have reputations that precede themselves.

Did I say that wine breaks down barriers?  It also helps to create new friendships, me, my Mom and Matt from Ekhidna winery in Adelaide, Australia.

The bold reds of Australia’s Coonawara wine region, the fruity wines of New Zealand, the rice wines of Japan and the spicy zinfandels of the Russian River Valley in the U.S. all stand out as excellent wine regions.  But, if I had to pick just one wine region as a front runner it would be the Sonoma Valley in Northern California.  The friendly tasting room staff, no tasting fees, bike-ability of the area and the wonderful restaurants and accommodation in nearby Healdsburg make this the region I would return to again and again.

While Sonoma has held the top spot on my list of favorite wine regions for quite awhile I am really looking forward to exploring the wines of South America.  We fly to Buenos Aires at the end of December 2012 and Mendoza is a high priority.  Not only am I looking forward to the array of reds in Argentina, but they should be the perfect pairing for the great steak.  We’ll keep you updated as our favorites list grows with our travels.

Do you have a favorite wine region or a specific wine that you love?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

Erica and Matt Chua: How to Make Gyoza

The Chinese may get credit for the invention of this little dumpling, but our Tokyo host Takeshi gets credit for teaching me how to make them. The gyoza, known more commonly in the U.S. as “potstickers”, was not introduced to Japan until the 1940′s most likely adapted after the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930′s. Since then the Gyoza has become so popularized that there are Gyoza restaurants and even a Gyoza Stadium located in Osaka, Japan. The Gyoza Stadium has a museum complete with history and explanations of the many varieties of this adopted dish, while we didn’t visit I am sure it was fascinating…

This recipe includes a dipping sauce and instructions on how to assemble and cook “potstickers” as taught to me by Takeshi, so the amounts are rough estimates- you might have to play with them a little.

Yields about 48 potstickers.

Ingredients:

  • Dumpling wrappers (these can be bought at Asian specialty stores)

Filling:

  • 8 ounces Napa cabbage
  • 3 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions, with tops
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Dash white pepper

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • hot pepper flakes or use a chili oil instead of sesame oil

Other:

  • 2 – 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Chicken stock

Preparation:

Cut the cabbage across into thin strips and then mince into tiny pieces. Mix with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside for a few minutes. Squeeze out the excess moisture so that your dumplings aren’t too wet while you assemble them.

In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, pork and green onions with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and the white pepper.

Putting the pork and cabbage mixture in the dumplings.  Getting the right amount (about 1 tablespoon-full) of mixture makes sealing the dumplings easier.

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Erica and Matt Chua: How to Make Gyoza

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