NFL’s Official Dip & the Ingredients

This year, the NFL’s “official dip” is Sabra Hummus. These types of honors are awarded never based on taste, or popularity, or a specific desire of the fans, but rather given to the highest bidder which allows them to plaster the NFL’s logo all over it.

Let’s look at the ingredients of Sabra Classic Hummus…

Sabra Classic Hummus

Now let’s look at a competitor’s ingredients, in this case a similar hummus manufactured by Tribe…

Tribe Classic Hummus

 

There are a couple of key ingredient differences are in these products. The first and most obvious is to the use of soy oil in the Sabra product. Most nature hummus products use either or a combination of Canola Oil and Sunflower Oil.

Soy oil is also one of the least expensive oils to use. Products which used to use various types of oils have switched to soy oil in the last couple of decades.  Soy is a very common allergy. There is also concern that soy contains phytoestrogen which some believe can either elevate estrogen levels or lower testosterone levels within men. Testosterone is a critical hormone for men; all men have estrogen, but it is a balance of these that help drive a man’s health. There are a thousand pro-and-con studies on whether estrogen/testosterone is affected by soy, some of which are sponsored by the very people being studied on both sides.

The other interesting ingredient is “potassium sorbate”. This is used as a preservative in many products. Generally considered non-toxic, the product isn’t used in every product in a category. There are some known side effects in certain elements of the population, such as nausea, diarrhea, etc.  They don’t affect everyone, but they do affect a percentage of the population. It’s an ingredient that does nothing to enhance the flavor of the product, and everything to improve shelf live.

When buying products, every person should make their own decisions on what they are putting in their bodies. To some, the variance of ingredients is insignificant to them. To others, they may have concerns with swap-outs of ingredients for what they deem as lesser ingredients, and the use of preservatives unnecessarily. Make sure when buying products you check labels, and check those ingredients. Not all products are made equal, and you may prefer the ingredients in one product or another, regardless of whatever sports logos they put on the packaging.

 

Time to Juice

It’s time to get juicing. No, not shooting yourself up full of body-damaging steroids. Think less Arnold Schwarzenegger and more Jack Lalanne.

One of the best ways to curb mid-day hunger, get vital nutrients, and do it healthy is to make yourself a smoothie. Making a smoothie is as easy as taking some fruit, maybe something green, ice, a sweetener, and blending together to make something easy-to-go.

First thing you will need to begin “juicing” with smoothies is a blender. My current go-to blender is a Blendtec. You can start cheaper if you’d like, but stay away from overpriced Chinese knockoffs; if you’re down to spending $250 on a Chinese knockoff and $400 on the American made Vitamix / Blendtec, you should just go with the more expensive one off the bat which provides an extensive warranty. You can also use some smaller blenders like the NutriBullet if you want to stay on the lower end of price. As long as it blends, that’s all that matters.

Next, get some fruit. I typically go to frozen fruit, but of course fresh is always preferred from a health standpoint; fresh will have the most retained nutrients. Add in something green, like spinach, if you like. It will make your smoothie green, but it will still be absolutely delicious.

Now add a sweetener. Something like Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Agave works great. Stay away from chemical sweeteners like Aspartame (blue packet) or Saccharine (pink packet). Sucralose (yellow packet) is believed to also have negative side effects because it is chemically altered sugar, as opposed to more natural alternatives.

Run the blender until nice and smooth. Grab a straw, and drink it down.

That’s the basics of smoothies. In the coming weeks I’ll be highlighting more about smoothies, some recipes, and the nutrients each fruit/vegetable provides and why they are important to get into your diet.

New Beginnings…

It is the beginning of the end, the beginning of the beginning, and the beginning of everything once more.

As we roll into March 2013, I am now committed solely to dropping body fat and building up some muscle to raise my metabolic rate. It is critical, it is key, and it began today.

After several false starts this year, I am now committed to get moving. I’ve has a few problems this year, like a severe shin splint.

What’s first? I began this month with a cardio session. I didn’t want to lift “Day 1″ because I felt like it was throwing in too hard, and in the past that has always doomed me to failure. Not to be deemed as “phoning it in”, the cardio session lasted for ninety minutes as I watched a show on my iPad while on the elliptical machine.

This weekend, I will be starting back up with lifting, with two key sessions planned. The first session, on Saturday, will be chest and triceps. On Sunday, back and bis.

It’s a new beginning for my workouts, and I committed to this being the end of my obesity once and for all.

Fitbitting

I recently purchased a new “Fitbit One” device to replace by old Fitbit. The idea behind a Fitbit is that you will be more healthy if you know exactly how much you are moving during the day, and then you can know to make changes in your habits based upon the data.

It really is amazing to realize how little someone can actually move during any given day. If I am working on a particularly intensive project at work, I can sit at my desk for hours on end without stopping. This means that I am basically stationary. I will get up to go get a snack, restroom breaks, and other such necessities, but generally I am well seated.

Part of what I discovered as I looked at the data collected from the Fitbit was that I needed to move more during the day. This could be as simple as standing up and moving around my desk. It could also mean I need to set up a standing workstation environment so that I am moving around consistently throughout the day.

It really is critical you think about how you treat your body day and night; you have to move, you have to sleep. These are critical, and one ties directly to the other. If you aren’t moving during the day, your metabolism begins to shut down which will in turn affect how well you sleep, and how much you burn during the night.

This coming week, I am committing to keep the Fitbit on day and night; it will track my movement and my sleep, and I will be posting here the results.

Ambition, Willingness, and Effort

The reality we all face is the idea that we all want to be ‘fit’, but many of us don’t have the time. Really, we use time as an excuse to pawn off our lack of ambition and willingness to put forth the effort to workout and improve ourselves.

I am extremely guilty of this. I could get up early and hit the gym, or I could make a much better effort to leave the office on time. The reality is that I do neither because I feel a lack of ambition, and a lack of hope.

I turned 35 years old this year. If you consider most people live to be about 70, this means I am exactly half way there, assuming no accidents. My prime, my peak, is behind me. Now I am looking down the barrel at the “lower” phase of my life where I am facing disease, breakdown, and eventually death. As I’ve been dealing with these thoughts since my birthday, it has been depressing me deeply.

As I look at it objectively, I know this isn’t true. When you look at many people in their late-30s and even well into their 40s they are in their “prime” more than I was at 25. Even people just a couple of years younger than I can be “sexiest man alive“. However, I also know that I need to make changes to my life if I am to improve my “fitness level”.

Really, it is more than just looks and being ‘in your prime’. It is also about making the most of those years I have left to live, and ensuring I have as many of them as possible. Will I even live to 70 or more of age if I don’t change my ways? Probably not.

I have to work my heart. I have to drop body fat. I need to build muscle to prep my body for middle age; I’d be better with a better baseline than “human pear”.

So what are the next steps? Well, as trite as it might seem, I must endeavor to “resolve” in 2013 to keep the resolution I made in 2012. This means using the last week of December to create a good workout baseline, and get myself back into the movement. Then, when 2013 hits I can hit the ground running. This is critical, as I am making up lost time… about 35 years or so, I suppose.

Philosophy comes from many places, including some of the seemingly most shallow places. As I think about the year to come, what I want to accomplish, and setting my goals, I think of the following:

Go and shake it up!
Whatcha gotta loose?
Go and make your luck with the life you choose,
If you want it all,
Lay it on the line.
It’s the only life ya got,
So ya gotta live it big time.

Back to Hardcore

It’s time to get hardcore. I’ve been off-the-boat for over a month now, and have put on nearly ten pounds in that time.

It all began with a hurricane blowing through the Northeast, Following that, I had to go to San Diego for a week due to a conference I was attending. Work was crazy the following week, since I was out last week due to Thanksgiving. This all added up to a complete “slacking” for way too long.

So now it is time to get back into hardcore mode. It began Thanksgiving day; even though I was travelling, I was able to get a quick workout in as a “start up”. For the last two days, I’ve been in the gym each day. Saturday as a lift session of back and biceps, and 20 minutes of elliptical, and Sunday was chest and triceps with 30 minutes of elliptical.

Gym Rules : Coming and Going in Classes

This is a new series of posts focusing on the common sense ideas of “Gym Rules”. All those things we think when we are in the gym, the common sense things that we should all be doing. These are the blatant things people do.

 

Group classes are a great way to get your body moving. You have a trainer-led environment that allows you to share a very communal experience of your workout. It adds a layer of peer pressure to your workout to put as much effort as possible into your morning push or your afternoon spin.

 

Classes provide a lot of opportunities for people to forget why they are there, the people around them, and the trainers. Here are some basic rules you should follow when going to a class:

  • Show up on time, preferably ten (10) minutes early. Don’t walk into a class half in-progress and expect the class to stop while you find your position.
  • When you are in a class following the prior class, wait until everyone in the prior class has exited the classroom before entering. This ensures everyone has the opportunity to clean their equipment.
  • Do not leave early unless you absolutely have to. If you are getting sick, or can’t handle the class, feel free to leave and not hurt yourself. If you are an able-bodied fitness-oriented person who can handle the remainder of the class, stick through it.
  • Wipe down your equipment after use. This is especially true in an indoor bicycling class where your sweat will be all over the bicycle.
  • Don’t criticize the trainer or their choice of music. If you have suggestions, talk to the trainer after class; most trainers appreciate feedback that is constructive and helpful. If their taste in music doesn’t match yours, try a different class.

 

Apples

Why is it that when you buy a bag of apples, it includes recipes to make something nutritious completely non-nutritious? Could they provide recipes aside from caramel dipping sauce and buttery tarts?

In the Gym: Focus On You

Working out in the gym can be daunting, especially for someone who is just starting out. Even if you’ve previously worked out in the past, and are returning back to the gym, you may find it very intimidating.

There are many reasons you may find it intimidating to go to the gym. There are a lot of complicated machines, big metal bars, huge weight plates, and odd contraptions like Bosu and adjustable steps.

The biggest thing that can be intimidating in the gym for people can be what they perceive to be the biggest things in the gym: the people.

As you walk into the gym, you will notice a lot of different people if you look for them. If you don’t, you should not be surprised when you’re eyes gravitate to what you want to see. The multitude of people represent all types of bodies; some are overweight, some are fit, some are thin, some are very muscular. As you look around, remember to look for all the different types.

As you are working out, you will definitely share workout space at some point with someone in better shape than you; regardless of your current fitness level, there is always someone more fit than you. Unless you are the fittest person, but then I’m not sure why you’re reading this… go be pretty!

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to ficus on how good the people around them look. They look at the peoples’ bodies, then they look at their own bodies, and it can be a source of discouragement. The key, of course, is to focus on your own body, and your goals for being there.

The people in the gym with the amazing bodies didn’t get those bodies overnight, and neither will you. Most of them have worked on their bodies for years and years; many since their teens. If you’re coming into the gym for the first time in your late 20s, 30s, or 40s, etc. you’re simply not going to compare to them at this point. Maybe you never will, maybe it isn’t your goal to have arms that stretch a sleeve.

It’s natural to look at the people in the gym with the awesome bodies. Don’t knock it, there is a lot of good eye candy at the gym. Some of these people are absolutely amazing looking. You shouldn’t let that discourage you, because you’re there to improve you. While they fit into the stereotypical view of what ‘fitness’ is, you can set your own example, and it is guaranteed there are plenty of people like you in the gym you aren’t noticing.

So when you’re doing weight training, or when you are on an elliptical machine or treadmill, feel free to share a glance with that more fit person next to you, but use them as inspiration rather than a source of jealousy. You’re there to improve yourself, and if you stay focused to what you want to achieve, and have specific goals in mind, then you can achieve those short term and long term goals you have in mind.

Everyone worries that they are being judged in the gym; the truth is, people aren’t judging you, except maybe a couple of small minded people who also feel like people are judging them. Don’t worry about it. You’re there to achieve, not to worry about what people are thinking.

So the next time you go into the gym, don’t be intimidated. Instead, look around at the eye candy, smile, and hit the machines with the intent of making your health and body better than they are today. It’s a journey, just like life itself.