Category Archives: Nutrition

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, and HFCS

The good old American diet, quick and assessable greasy fat or sugary foods. YUM, am I right? In America, there is heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and an obesity epidemic. There is room to point fingers at a lot of reasons but in this, we’ll focus on added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  

 

HFCS was invented in 1965 and in the 70s it was being marketed. Over the years, this has been used more often for food and drink products. Which is found in most of the foods and drinks we consume (e.g. bread, soda, juice, canned fruit, cereal, & coffee creamers, etc). This has become a common ingredient because it is cheap and easy to manufacture. 

 

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. HFCS needs to be broken down into glucose, glycogen, or fat by the liver before being used as fuel. In America, the increased sugar consumption per person per year has greatly increased. This increase consumption can cause serious health issues mentioned in the beginning. Glucose will stimulate the area of your brain that controls appetite, whereas, fructose does not, which means you could eat more than planned. Are you wondering what overeating can lead to? Well, have you heard of visceral fat? It is the most harmful type of body fat. HFCS will promote visceral fat build-up on your major organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and heart. This can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, artery disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

 

I’m not saying avoid HFCS or sugars at all costs. These sugars are everywhere and can be hard to avoid, especially in our more sedentary, grab-and-go society. Just try to be mindful of what you are putting into your body. 

Member Spotlight

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!

 

This week we’d like to shout out Jessie Theisen.

 

Ladies & Gents, here is Jessie in her own words.

 

“I grew up in central California (where the cows overpopulate the people) in a small town called Visalia, however, I was born at Fort Bragg, NC (military brat- dad was 20 years 82nd Airborne and mom a marine). After spending the majority of my childhood in central CA, at 19 I picked up and moved to LA in 2008 where I lived there intermittently through 2016 (moved to PGH with my then boyfriend, now husband summer of 2016). Of my past lives, the most interesting is probably the opportunity I had as a professional makeup artist working in film, runway, magazines, commercials and doing everything from beauty makeup to special effects/gore (the latter was the most fun)! I was a professional makeup artist for the 8 year stint I was in LA.

 

For my current work, I am a team lead for a group of loan analysts at a financial tech company called LendingHome (they specialize in mortgages for people who fix and flip houses)- my team helps process that product, attempting to locate any process/design flaws and work with our engineering team to better perfect it. In short, it’s a fancy customer service job. I love the people I work with and can’t imagine being anywhere else anytime soon.

 

My training background really starts with Union Fitness. I was never the sporty or athletic type- I was a band nerd who could play Sweet Child O’ Mine on 5 different instruments while marching in a god-awful wool suit (feather and all). I would always strive to find ways to be active, though; I just never really landed on what worked for me. Took everything from cardio barre, to pilates, yoga, I just didn’t fit in any of those spaces. My drive and motivation quickly waned until I found UF, where they encouraged people of all athletic abilities to pick up a weight, and put it down, and pushed to do the same the following day/week, only heavier. THIS.WAS.MY. SHIT. Attending the #powerful classes on a regular was therapeutic for me. There were stents where I was going 5-6 days a week, sometimes two-a-days. It wasn’t even just the workouts anymore, it was the community of people who went to the same classes, continuing to build each other up and cheer each other on in their small(or big) victories. A place of misfits that I could call my own; UF is home to where I’ve made some of my closest friends. I’m grateful to the atmosphere it has cultivated and maintained from its origination until now.

 

The fun shit:

  1. If I could eat one food every day it’d be a cold-cut turkey sandwich (you’re free to DM me on particulars), I’m a fanatic and those close to me know it, there’s a certain consistency to the bread, color combo of the mayo and mustard together, a particular type of ground oregano- there’s an art to it, I promise; to which I must add, PITTSBURGH! Stop heating that shit up and putting fries on it…. STOP THAT SHIT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
  2. If I was a piece of equipment at Union, I’d probably be the EliteEFTS PRO, short monster mini band (yeah, the small green one) – functional, small, sturdy, pain in the ass.
  3. I’m competing in my first ever bodybuilding competition this May 8th. Signed up last March a week before Covid shut everything down- (original show meant to be last Oct). I have gone through 2 cuts now, and 2 refeeds. What was originally meant to be a 6 month prep will be 14 after all is said and done. I’m f’n jazzed to get on stage and have one of them cold-cuts mentioned under #1 right after!
  4. The most under-rated candy is Chewy Sprees.
  5. I have only ever owned pitbull dogs as pets; they’re the biggest derpsters and I love everything about them. I have a black and white named Trouble; I would die for her.
  6. Oh, fave exercise:  deadlifts.”

 

Thank you, Jessie for being a great member of our community!

 

Cheers,

CeJ

Peanut Butter Pie

Today let’s indulge in some delicious food. While scrolling da ‘gram yesterday I saw my guy Ryan Nosak posted a recipe. In Ryan’s words, “I usually don’t make many of the high protein or so called “healthier” desserts because let’s face it, usually they are never close to the real thing.” Well I can promise you (Tenzing too) that this dessert is great!

 

Here is the recipe.

 

Filling

 

1 & 1/4 cups peanut butter (unfortunately it must be peanut butter with sugar for mixing purposes).

1 & 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt.

1/2 cup raw honey.

1/4 cup almond milk (you have options here depending on your calorie requirements).

 

Crust

 

Make your own out of graham crackers or just save time and use store bought.

 

Now putting it all together.

 

  1.  Add all ingredients and mix in bowl.
  2. Freeze crust for 4 hours.
  3. Add filling to crust and freeze for another 4 hours.
  4. Add toppings of your choice (be careful with too much sugar here just be smart).

 

Now enjoy this dessert and give Ryan Nosak a follow for other great options.

 

 

 

I Love Eggs and You Should Too

Hang around lifters, (the humans not the bad nickname for your shoes) long enough and the topic of protein will come up. The rule of thumb that most of you have probably already heard is eat one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. For me I float around 200 lbs so around 200 grams of protein a day is a good goal. There is some debate about this number yet we can use it as a starting point. From there the quality of protein matters. If you do not understand amino acids that’s OK here is how you can think of it. For this blog we are going to just use numbers to represent different amino acids(AA). Let’s say AA your body can produce AA’s 1-5 but not 6-10. AA’s 6-10 must one supplied through diet. That is what makes a protein a “complete protein.”

 

Your goal for protein intake can include some non complete protein, yet getting complete proteins is very important for recovery. Another rule of thumb (no this is not a fact yet a decent rule of thumb) is animal proteins are generally complete. This is why being a vegetarian is so hard. Often times you will have to supplement with AA’s that you miss in your diet.

 

Onto the egg. Here are some fun facts about eggs.

 

  1. Eggs are a complete protein
  2. The yolk has as much protein as the white.
  3. They are one of the few foods high in Vitamin D.
  4. The are delicious and easy to prepare.
  5. This is the big one. The egg has a cheat sheet inside of it to tell you how awesome it really is. That cheat sheet is the yoke. A yellow yoke=BAD egg. A dark gold or almost brown yoke=Gainz. Without delving into hens diets too much a darker yolk means that the animal had a healthier diet and more than likely a better life. Run an experiment for yourself. Go to a local grocery store by the cheapest eggs you can look at the the yolk, cook it and taste it. Now go to a farmers market or east end food co-op, do the same thing. See and taste the difference for yourself.

 

Clearly point #5 was the one I really wanted to write about. The yolk tells you most of what you need to know. Now I am aware that people will say “Hamer, those eggs are expensive.” I do understand yet let’s look at the bigger picture. If you are willing to spend 4-6 dollars on your fancy coffee yet not 4-6 dollars on your eggs then you made your decision as to what’s important. I love the fancy coffee too and I also know the fancy eggs are more important. So skip the mocha, soy, chai, skinny, latte, with the sugar free, sugar infused vanilla and a pump of hazelnut and buy some real eggs.

 

Eat real food.

 

Hamer

 

Drink Coffee, Get Bumpy.. Mo Joe

Union, Let’s raise a cup of Joe ,

 

It has been said loooooong ago in a land far away, that a herd of goats stumbled upon a berry, ate said berry and had a jolt of energy. The goat herder took these berries to the local monastery for the monks to observe. A drink was made with these berries and boom, the nectar of the gods which we call coffee was born!

 

The Effects of Coffee on Exercise:

1) Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain which in turn reduces grogginess & smacks the parasympathetic system up, boosting alertness & response time. 

2) Caffeine improves blood circulation, which brings oxygen and other nutrients to muscle tissues.

3) A study by old Johnny Hopkins University suggests 200-400mg of caffeine can improve mental and physical performance.

4) Pain in post exercise soreness decreases with pre-training coffee consumption.

5) Coffee has antioxidants which are badass and help defeat evil inside of you.

 

Now go french press your own, or head on over to your local coffee beanery and enjoy a cup for your health & performance. 

 

Cheers, 

CeJ

Staying On Track During the Holidays

It’s that time of the year. The holidays are here and the new year is upon us. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and want to make sure that you stay on track during the holidays and into the new year. Although getting to this point has been a bit different than past years, the same rules still apply.

 

1) Take the time to sit and reflect back on the past 365 days and all of the things that have gotten you to this point. This includes the good, as well as the bad. Each decision that we’ve made and experience that we have encountered has placed us here, exactly where we are supposed to be. What we choose to do with it going forward is up to us.

 

2) Think about how you will approach the upcoming 365 days. What will you do to continue upon the path that you are on, or how will you make the adjustments for some things that you would like to change? If you have you achieved your goals, then great. Keep doing it! If not, then that’s okay. We don’t always get to check them off the first time around. Going forward, set small goals and put together a mental outline of what you want this next trip around the sun to look like for you, and then take the steps necessary to make it happen. 

 

3) Don’t stress about working out or not working out. If you want to continue to exercise and stay active over the next few weeks, that’s great! Keep it rolling and keep that momentum driving forward. If training isn’t appealing to you at this time and you feel as though you need a mental and physical break, then by all means, take it. You’ve been building and conditioning your body for days, months, and years. It is not going to get erased in just a few weeks.

 

4) Be open minded with your diet. Just as with training, if you have been consistent with your nutrition, then a couple weeks of eating Christmas food will not ruin the progress that you’ve made over the last year. Enjoy a good meal with loved ones, have some cookies, and drink a glass of your favorite beverage (milk included). It’s okay to be a kid again.

 

5) Find alternative forms of activity. Whether you choose to partake in exercise or not, do something that may be outside of your normal routine. Take a day to explore some new land, pick up a new sport, or play outside with friends and family. One of the best things you can do is go for a morning walk to collect your thoughts and reflect. Maybe even do some bodyweight squats and pushups along the way. Who knows, you may even stumble upon something new that sparks your interest going forward.

 

6) Most importantly, enjoy time with others, or even just yourself. Remember what this time of the year means to you. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, this does not change. Tell the people in your life that you love them, look out for each other, be grateful for the things and those people in your life, and remember that each day is a blessing.

Nutrition Tips For Thanksgiving

The holidays give a lot of people anxiety when it comes to eating, being fearful of overindulging, not being able to control their intake, or for some, not sure how to approach any holiday while still enjoying the foods they love. My simplest piece of advice that I can offer always reigns true for anything in love, eat mindfully but allow your space to indulge without guilt, how do we do this? Well if you keep following along you’ll find out.

 

Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays, mainly because I get two in one year. As a Canadian we celebrate Thanksgiving in October however also being American, we celebrate this holiday but in November. From the pie to the stuffing to the gravy, this holiday is all about the food and I’m here for it (sometimes I end up in a food coma, actually let’s be honest, I always end up in a food coma around Thanksgiving).

 

As always, my tips are just suggestions and in no way do you need to follow them head-on. I’m simply sharing what I share with clients who struggle with this holiday and want to also stay on track with their goals while enjoying all the amazing food that sits in front of them.

 

Fasting for Thanksgiving is a big no-no, you do not need to fast for this festivity unless you are someone who already follows an intermittent fasting schedule. Instead, let us look at the day this way:

 

  1. Enjoy a high protein, low carb, and fat breakfast
  2. If your Thanksgiving dinner sits in the early afternoon, instead of having lunch, make yourself a high protein, low carb/low fat snack.

 

          • If anything, people struggle with getting enough protein in on this day so having 1-2 meals or one meal and one snack that is high in protein will set you up for success.

 

      3. For your Thanksgiving meal, the following is a suggestion:

 

          • 1/4 protein, 1/2 carb, 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 fat (can be included in protein/carb). Within this structure, you’re still hitting all your core groups and you can visually see on your plate where each macronutrient sits.
          • For dessert, if there are many different kinds sometimes I’ll opt for smaller portions to allow more space for a variation or if I’m more prone to want just apple pie, 1-2 slices is the perfect amount for me (I’ll never skip dessert, it’s the best part).

 

Remember, these are just suggestions to get the most out of your holiday without feeling like you overindulged. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with these feelings then please disregard my suggestions or follow them if you want to also stay mindful of your goals. Everyone is different and we all have different relationships with food, that is why what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person.

 

If anyone needs any extra advice or wants to reach out to speak on the holiday, feel free to DM me on my personal Instagram. I’m always available for a little chat, especially since I’ll be spending the Holiday virtually with my family.

 

Have a great Thanksgiving Union Fam, much love,

 

Jocelyn

Question: Do you incorporate a lot of protein bars and shakes into your diet?

The simple answer, yes. The long answer, you’ll find below.

 

Let’s define the term “a lot” because if you’re eating 3 protein bars a day and drinking 1-3 protein shakes, most if not all of your protein intake is coming from supplementation which ideally is not the route we want to take in regards to our nutrition. What we want to do is focus on whole and nutrient-dense foods then use supplementation to make up for the spaces in which we desire a protein bar or need that post-workout shake.

 

Breaking it down further, focusing on eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a good start and then from there add in your snacks and your post-workout shakes. If you follow a structure as similar to this you’re more than likely eating at around your body weight in protein without realizing it and without actually tracking your food (which is a tool that works for some but not all individuals).

When we under-eat in regards to our protein intake we lose lean muscle mass, can experience chronic fatigue, and experience other health-related issues. This is why getting in an adequate amount of protein is important to our overall health and wellness.

 

Everyone’s goals are different which is why my diet wouldn’t work for someone else, therefor my easiest piece of advice would be to eat your body weight in protein or around there (being mindful of not under-eating) and not overdoing it on the bars/protein shakes. Choose whole and nutrient-dense options first then fill in the spaces with mindful choices.

 

This is a perfect moment to plug my favorite protein bar and small-business, whom I wrote about back in quarantine, Nash Nutrition. These bars are made with clean and nutrient-dense ingredients, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, as well as naturally sweetened with honey and dates. If you’re looking for a solid, trustworthy protein bar, Nash Nutrition is my recommendation.

 

Purchasing from them is also a purchase towards supporting a small business, something we are proud to do here at Union Fitness. As the holiday seasons are approaching I encourage you to shop locally and shop small.

 

If you have any nutrition questions please message us on Instagram, Facebook, or Jocelyn specifically on her Instagram to get your questions answered in a blog post.

Controlling the Variables

When preparing for any event, game, or competition it is absolutely necessary to put as much focus into controlling all of the things that you have the ability to control. It’s also important to understand that there will be many factors that are outside of your control. The main thing to keep in mind is that the chips will fall where they may. There is no use in worrying or getting worked up about things that are out of your hands. The only thing you can do is prepare to the best of your abilities while controlling as many variables as possible. The rest of the time you are just rolling with the punches. Sounds kinda like life, huh?

 

Below is a list of things that you can control in order to achieve the best results possible on the day of your event, game, or competition.

 

Training program: Although it is not necessarily the most important aspect as most people believe, a properly designed training program is certainly a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to your overall success. A program that is precisely planned will help you be better in all aspects of physical performance while also helping to keep you injury free.

 

Nutrition & Sleep: These are two areas that often go hand in hand, and in my opinion are two of the most important yet underrated aspects of overall performance. When you have a nutrition plan that works for both yourself and your goals, you will have more energy, you will recover better from your training sessions, and you will make better overall progress. Similar to this, the right amount of quality sleep will also have an overall affect on the same things. When incorporated together, they can have a huge impact on your overall performance and success.

 

Stress, attitude, and your response: We cannot always control some of the things that happen to us in our life, or in the world. But we do have control over how we choose to respond to those situations. Stressors are everywhere, and always seem to find us at the most inconvenient times. Through techniques such as meditation, visualization, positive self talk, advice from quality people, etc., you can control those stressors and even use them to benefit your training and performance.

 

Individual relationships/ people you choose to be around: Choose to be around good people who will lift you up and good things will happen. Chose to surround yourself with people who hold you back, and that’s exactly what will happen. Having the right people in your corner for guidance and support is absolutely necessary when you want to be your best. Quality individuals will always keep you on track when you’re heading in the right direction, and will put you in check when you veer off course. 

 

Control these variables, and you will give yourself the best chance to succeed. Do not worry about or focus on those other things that are out of your control. Prepare to the best of your abilities and good things will happen one way or another. Stay strong, my friends.

Keeping it Real

I took four whole days off of tracking my daily intake and it was my fault. I didn’t go to the grocery store like I said I would, I didn’t prioritize my nutrition around an unexpected busy schedule and I truthfully didn’t feel bad about it because it was a decision I made. As Curtis reminded me this morning, making sure you all as members know that even us, as coaches and employees at Union Fitness, have days or weeks where we fall off the wagon is important.

 

I’ve noticed there’s this obsession in the fitness world where professionals either always appear to be on their game or they aren’t transparent about their struggles, these aren’t the people I want to follow in real life or on social media. As a Nutrition Coach and someone who has chosen fitness as their day-job/career, it was my goal long before both of these titles to always remain honest with the world because it keeps me honest with myself. I cannot possibly coach people through their nutrition habits if I’m not honest with them that I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner, 3 days in a row. True nutrition is understanding that we are human and we cannot chase perfection. 

 

Outside of my professional titles I also train/compete in the sport of CrossFit, I like to say I’m average at best but I do work very hard inside and outside of the gym. Tracking macronutrients for me is a way to make sure I’m not only fueling my body for training but also making sure it is getting enough food to get me through everyday life. Aside from tracking, I see a Physical Therapist for bi-weekly check-ups and I am constantly prioritizing my recovery and sleep. Whatever I am chasing inside the gym needs to be matched outside of the gym. But here’s the thing, no matter how well I am at keeping my priorities aligned, life will always be there and something will always happen and it’s up to me on how to move forward.

 

An unplanned four days off from tracking my food intake was a mistake on my part and this is where personal accountability comes into play. I understand that I made these decisions but that my feelings around these four days were nowhere close to being negative. I rolled with the punches, I told myself to take a break and to just do whatever my body felt it needed and that when Monday rolls around I’ll get back on my game. Truthfully I had planned for Sunday to be back at it full-swing but when Canadian Thanksgiving happens and your boyfriend shows up with a pint of Ben & Jerrys, you just can’t say no.

 

The biggest lesson I can share with you all about nutrition is that when you start to dig deep and build these long-term habits, the moment you slip up, your feelings towards that slip-up change over a period of time. You can go from feeling awful about it to making better decisions and allowing yourself the space to indulge without guilt.

 

So here I am, keeping it real with you all because sometimes you just need to cut yourself some slack and do whatever you want for no reason at all but because you want to or because you wanted to take a nap over going to the grocery store.