Category Archives: Nutrition

Four Pillars: Sleep

I won’t talk too much about what someone can do during this pandemic. I believe that enough people talking about how to maintain your fitness during the current situation. What I do want to talk about is what I believe to be the four pillars to success in any fitness goal. These are the four subjects that I start with everyone I work with and constantly maintain status on them. Especially, if you feel like you hit a wall or stuck in going forward revert back to these four:

 

Sleep, Nutrition, Training, Water.

 

In that exact order as well. I realize that these might seem obvious but through a series of articles on each, I plan to cover certain points that I find people miss.

 

Let’s start with sleep. Sleep is by far the most important key to achieving any goal you have. Especially any physical goal. If you want to understand how important sleep really is I highly recommend looking into Dr. Matthew Walkers research.

 

Again everyone knows how important it is but how do you optimize it. Well besides sleep hygiene (no tv before bed, going to sleep at the same time each night, and no blue light an hour before bed) I believe there to nutritional deficiencies and air way problems that seriously hinder your sleep.

 

  1. Vitamin D
    1. Vitamin D is highly important for calcium absorption but less known that low vitamin D levels are associated with sleep disorders. Dr. Stasha Gominak has done some great work in looking at deficiencies in vitamin D and B vitamins with sleep disorders. Now, I am no doctor or dietitian so I highly, HIGHLY, recommend getting blood work. This helps establish where you are now. Another thing I want to make clear is when you get the test is important to note that the “normal” range for vitamin D is 30ng/mL – 100ng/mL which is a HUGE range. That just makes sure you are not sick that do not show optimal levels. Just because you are not defined as sick does not mean you are not showing symptoms that are effected by not being in an optimal range. I shoot to keep my levels around 60ng/dL. I do this by being outside as much as I can but also supplementing vitamin D. Again talk to a health professional but here is a link for further info on Vitamin and sleep which could help tremendously

 

https://drgominak.com

 

  1. Magnesium
    1. This one you might have heard of. A lot of sleeping supplements out there load this one up but the real question is why would so many people be so deficient in this one? I believe people consume an abundant amount of diuretics which can flush out important electrolytes and minerals. If you are drawing a blank let’s run through an average day. Waking up to a great cup of coffee is your first diuretic, then maybe around three you have another cup of diuretic and maybe it’s been a particularly long day so you have an alcoholic beverage or two to finish the day with a strong diuretic. Even before that hit’s you, most people’s magnesium levels are lower than optimal since magnesium is green leafy vegetables, which most people don’t consume. Again we are talking about optimal levels and since it’s not fat-soluble you can flush these real quick but also replenish quickly too. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian before supplementing but since magnesium is water-soluble it is fairly harmless to supplement. If you want to consume magnesium through food try a spinach smoothie with more than a cup in it as well as snack on Brazil nuts, which unfortunately taste like dirt.

 

  1. CPAP Machine (Continuous positive airway pressure)
    1. I want to give a client experience with this one. I had a client that wanted to get into powerlifting. The first thing I do is bring up my four pillars (for any goal). At first, he would always say that his sleep was great but after a while, he finally mentioned how he snores rather constantly through the night. Realizing that snoring is not a good sign I recommended a sleep study. It took some time but eventually convinced him to get a sleep study. My client was diagnosed a CPAP machine right away. Let me make something extremely clear, before this he told me he got “good” sleep, he didn’t wake up that tired, and normally felt energized throughout the day but once he got the CPAP machine one of the first things he told me was “I didn’t realize how poor I have been sleeping for so long.” One point I want to stress, the more I work with people the more I realize how common this is. I have seen all shapes and sizes have this problem so just because you don’t have a neck like some of our powerlifters doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

 

You might feel that you are sleeping “well” but I would argue that you also might be sleeping so poorly for so long that your baseline could eventually be one of your worst nights of sleep. 

Side note his blood pressure went down that was on the higher side for some time.

 

I hope you noticed how many times I mentioned “optimal.” It’s important because it’s not usually that giant red flags that hold us back from our goal. It can be the little things over a long period of time that ultimately restricts us from accomplishing our goals. Optimizing the little things can have a profound effect.

Here are added articles/videos that go more in depth:

https://www.sleepdiplomat.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCyJd-9VFq8&t=3s

https://thesleepdoctor.com/2019/02/12/5-vitamin-deficiencies-that-can-affect-your-sleep/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/ask-the-doctor-sleep-and-magnesium-supplements

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27225921/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212970/

Jocelyn’s Nutrition Series

Union fam, welcome back for PART 1 of Nutrition with Jocelyn. If you missed my first post on the UF blog about this new series, no worries because you’re reading at the right time. For those who aren’t aware, this is a new series I will be writing not only to keep my own spirits high and excited during quarantine but to aid in a hands on approach to what I am currently learning through my Nutrition Certification. I’m thrilled to be able to write such content for those interested that also encompasses my terrible humor you all might experience if you just so happen to see me during work at Union Fitness.

 

The first in our series is going to focus on eating well during quarantine. I’m not going to bore you to death with scientific information and I’m not going to tell you what you need to do, I’m simply here to help you find ways to fuel your bodies and encourage you to make small changes that ultimately will set you up for success post-quarantine. 

 

I know right now we’re all feeling a little blah and I’m not going to lie, I’ve indulged in a few pints of Ben & Jerrys here and there, drank a little too much and some days just really wasn’t feeling hungry at all. This is all a product of my own emotions, we as humans are very complex beings and with that comes actions that sometimes necessary don’t align with our overall goals (especially if you’re a female and it’s that time of the month). I’m here to tell you its OKAY to have days or weeks like this. The goal is to not let it be something that drags you back into a place that you worked so hard to get out of. This also doesn’t mean you have to make drastic changes all at once, I simply want you to start right where you are and start small.

 

Let’s start with an exercise

 

Right now I want you to picture what yesterday looked like for you, let’s start with a few questions. Grab a piece of paper, a pen or pencil and answer these honestly.

What time did you get up? 

What did you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner? 

Are you snacking in between those meals? 

What did your workout look like? 

Did you workout? 

What was your mood upon waking and before bed? 

What time did you actually go to sleep?

 

Now look at your answers to these questions, how do they make you feel? Do they all align with your goals or do only some of them align with your goals? Write down your answers to the questions below the above ones you just answered.

 

The purpose of this is to simply reflect, to understand why you made the decisions you did and how your emotions are a direct collate of those actions. There is no right or wrong answer.

 

When I talk about eating well what I really mean is mindful eating, knowing what you’re putting into your body and being mindful of how it’s going to make you feel. We are all emotional eaters, food is something that calms us and makes us feel good even if we’re not eating the most nutrient dense foods. Let’s take myself for example, what if I’m looking for an alternative to that pint of Ben & Jerrys ice cream, I might want to still eat 1 pint a week but I want something that can curb that extra craving I’m having on any given day. Protein shakes are a very good alternative to ice cream or something that can calm my sweet tooth. You can use a blender, add milk or a milk alternative and top it with whipped cream and/or chocolate chips. The consistency is almost identical when ice is added and I’m also knocking on my sweet tooth door whilst getting my protein intake as well.

 

All I’ve done is added something into my day that checks all the boxes, I didn’t eliminate the Ben & Jerrys because I’m allowed to indulge and if I want it I’m going to have it. The issue with some diets is they make us think there is only one way to eat and reframes our mind into having a bad relationship with food. Well I’m here to tell you there are many ways to eat healthy and that “one-size fits all” approach is totally bull. We need to eat for the lives that we live and every person is different from the next. What works for you might not work for me and we should never force ourselves into eating that will make us feel overwhelmed or limited into what we can consume.

 

Lastly, let’s knock on the door of those who love to snack (even though I consider Ben & Jerry’s a snack, you’ll find me eating the whole thing during Too Hot To Handle on Netflix). We’re mostly looking at those quick bites that are easy to pull out of the pantry and are something that can keep us full till lunch. Well I have an option for you and if you aren’t aware this series will also include small-business that I love and are a healthy alternative.

 

Nash Nutrition

 

Based out of Youngstown, Ohio Nash Bars are a  mouth-watering option for a quick snack. These nutrient dense bars come in four different favors for our peanut butter, chocolate and blueberry loving individuals. They are so dense that I find myself full for a lengthy period of time that I am able to get through a few more hours of work or a hard training session but also know I’m putting something into my body that makes me happy (we’re all about mood here guys). For example, the peanut butter chocolate chip option macronutrients are as followed:

 

300 calories

16g of fat

23g of carbohydrates

20g of protein

 

Most “protein” bars aren’t the most exciting things to eat, they lack taste or when we’re eating them we feel like we’re doing it to eat something healthy. Instead, Nash Nutrition does a really good job at providing options that again for me personally check all the boxes. Now before you ask, this isn’t a paid post on the UF blog and I don’t get free bars from Nash to promote, this is simply a plug for a nutritious option where if you purchase you’re also supporting a small-business during quarantine (which is something we here at Union are promoting on a weekly basis, being a small-business ourselves). 


Now back to our regularly schedule program

 

If we backtrack to our little food exercise we did, are there opportunities within that day where you could either add or replace a food with something that would make you feel better. If we start small like replacing one snack with something healthier, that one small change will lead us into making better choices day by day. The goal here just to reiterate is to become more mindful with our eating, aware of what we are putting our bodies and how our bodies are reacting to it.

 

Everyone wants to feel good but that doesn’t mean you need to stress yourself out or completely cut yourself off from certain foods. If you choose to make mindful decisions with your eating then you will find yourself having a better relationship with food and feeling better about all decisions that are food-based. 

Hello Iron Chefs of the World

Today I bring to you some more tasty quarantine foods we have devoured. Both the Swedish Chef, Chef Boyardee and the late great Chef Bourdain approve of these delectable dishes. I present to you a snack, appetizer, meal & dessert.

Road House Kick Deviled Eggs:

 Ingredients; Eggs, Mayo (lite), Spicy Brown Muzzy (mustard), Salt, Pepper, Garlic & Onion Powder and Paprika.
Directions; Gracefully place eggs in a pot of water and boil for 5ish minutes-peel eggs,  slice them in half & toss the yoke in a bowl with all other ingredients- mix away- stuff filling into the halved eggs and dust with some more paprika and Blammy!

Jalapeno & Goat Cheese Sweet Pepper Poppers:
 
Ingredients; Sweet Peppers, Goat Cheese, Jalapeno.
Directions; halve sweet peppers, mix goat cheese and diced jalapeno into bowl, stuff filling into the sweet peps then toss in the oven at 400 for 10 or so minutes and you got some nice Poppers.
 
Hold on to Your Butt Sichuan Shrimp & Eggplant with Rice:
 
Ingredients: Shrimp, Eggplant, Sticky Rice, Chili Garlic Paste, Sichuan Peppercorns, Honey, Ginger, Low Sodium Soy Sauce, Veggie Broth, Dried Chilis, Green Onions & Corn Starch.
Directions; Cook rice- Toss all sauce ingredients into a pot and simmer til you get a thiccck sauce- saute shrimp & eggplant with any of the seasoning above- toss all together and hold onto your tongues.

Black Bean, Avocado & Dark Chocolate Brownies:
 
Ingredients; 1 can Black Beans, Avacado, 3 Eggs, 1/2 cup Unsweet Cocoa Powder, 1/4 cup Butta, 1 tsp Vanilla, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 3/4 cup Sugar (we used half stevia brown and half regular), 1 tsp Salt, Dark Chocolate Chips.
Directions; Mix it all up- layer mix over foil in a baking pan at 360 for about 20 minutes-Let cool for and few and wipe the drool off your mouth-Enjoy.

Please let me know what you think of these food ideas/recipes. If you have some fan favorites you’d like Union’s Top Chef to try, send it on over! Have fun with these and make them your own special way.
Bon Appetit,
-CeJ

Meaty Potato Tacos

Being of Irish descent I believe that potatoes could NAY should be used in all meals. With this said I tossed this meal together as I had the ingredients and felt like the right thing to do.

 

Ingredients

1 lbs of grass fed ground beef (local).

Taco seasoning.

8 small potatoes.

2 Tomatoes.

2 Avocados.

Hot Sauce.

 

Directions

Brown the ground beef, then add the taco seasoning and water.

Slice the potatoes and sauté in butter.

Make the cooked potatoes the base of your taco, add the meat on top.

Add sliced tomatoes, cheese, avocado and any other greens or topping that you desire. Hot sauce should be on everything so don’t forget your hot sauce.

 

Simple and delicious. On a side note as I typed this we debated, is this really a taco as it has no shell and I agreed with myself (and no one else) that it still is a taco. Hope you enjoy.

 

Meal of the Month, It’s not a cheat month!

It is officially upon us the holiday season. This is the time of the year that stress levels tend to increase. We have family pressures, our time become less ours and more dictated by outside forces, we also have ample opportunity to eat poorly. I am here to tell you it’s ok and we will get through this better and ready to attack 2020! Here are 7 tips to make it through this holiday season guilt free and wearing the same pants size you do now (or maybe even an improved body).

  1. Don’t let guilt win. When at the holiday party enjoy yourself. The extra calories are fine as long as you don’t do it everyday.
  2. Don’t count calories at the party. Akin to the first tip, be a human and have some fun.
  3. Know when you cheated and get back on the right path the next day.
  4. Drink 1 gallon of water a day. Not only will it keep you full, it will also prevent you from consuming too many liquid calories.
  5. Forgo on the flavored holiday latte flavor before the party. Like a caveman drink real coffee for a few days.
  6. Keep track of weight and how your jeans fit. These two methods or measuring your stress levels have stood the step of time. If you see an unwanted increase don’t freak out just get back on track at your next meal.
  7. At the holiday party be sure to start at the veggie plate. Fill your stomach with some carrots before going straight to the desert tray.

Bonus tip;

Create a chart with 7 days and 4 boxes per day, each box represents an eating opportunity. Every day put a check in a box when you stuck to your plan. Put an x in a box when you cheated on your plan. Score yourself out each week. Do not be too harsh. If you only followed your plan 50% of the time then just get back at it next week and aim for 60%. If you try to be perfect all the time you’ll only get frustrated and fail. So enjoy the time with friends and family, get some exercise and enjoy the sweets, just not all of them.

 

 

Meal of the Week (burn your turkey edition)

This week for our Meal of the Week we are going to change things up just a bit. We are now 8 days out from Thanksgiving. We all know that this is the ultimate “cheat day.” Here at Union Fitness we truly believe in helping each and every one of our members in and out of the gym. You may spend 1-10 hours a week in Union Fitness and we hope to empower you during that time to be your best self and live your best life. Too often as strength and fitness professionals we all lose sight of the end game, a better life. So with this in mind we are preparing to stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving day with friends and family and invite you to do the same and feel no guilt about enjoying your day.

The other thing we want to do is take care of yourself and others. On Thursday November 28th we invite you (and friends, member or non-member) to come down to Union Fitness and join us in our biggest class. We have named this class the Turkey Burn. If you are using our discount and running the Turkey Trot with our friends at the YMCA we will let you slide on this one. If you are free come down and join in the superclass. All we ask of you is three things:

  1. Bring a canned good so that we may donate to those less fortunate than us. Don’t worry there will be coffee for after the workout.
  2. Bring your Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and maybe some friends or family to raise their holiday spirits too.
  3. Sign up for the class online so we know how much coffee to bring. We have already added more spots to this class three times so let’s burn some turkeys.

The workout will consist of some cardio class, some lifting as well as a special Powerful with CJ workout. We will have the entire gym to ourselves so should be a great day of training. The workout will begin at 9 AM and wrap up at 10 AM, just in time to check your burnt turkey at home.

If you have any questions please ask any of our staff members. Now let’s empower each other for greatness.

CJ’s Spicy Salsa

It’s Wednesday so that means it’s time for meal of the week. We at Union Fitness love a good spice and nothing says spicy food like a cold day, so with winter creeping upon us we give you this recipe from Charles Jasper (CeJ, CJ, CG).

If you’re looking for some quality spice in your life, I suggest you try out this tasty salsa recipe. After my buddy Anthony B tried it out, he gave me his high five of approval. I’m not a guy that follows recipes to a tee but here is the baseline of ingredients .

CeJ’s Salsa Party
1-14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1-10oz can diced tomatoes w green chili
3- cloves of garlic
1/2-onion of your choice
2- jalapeños
Couple squeezes of honey( I used hot honey)
1/2- Cup of cilantro
A Bump of Salt
Lime Juice
Toss all these into the blender, pulse it up and enjoy!
Stay Spicy my friends,
CeJ

Cayt’s Meal Of the Week

For those that may not know, powerlifting is a weight class sport and in hope to maintain the theme of the upcoming meet, I am going to talk about my mindset going into weigh-ins this meet.  This may be my first full power meet that I don’t try and cut weight to make a weight class.  The thought alone messes with my head a little for a few reasons, but I am trying to find peace with it being an option.  I am slightly above weight so once we reach 7 days out I will decide if it is something I can and want to manage.  

For someone with a past of eating disorders, I am very aware of my own triggers.  I am still learning how to entirely combat those feelings, but I am also learning to accept that it will be a process of good and bad days and even better and worse moments.  Leading into this meet, I am acknowledging that a few of my personal triggers are developing and when this happens I have to prioritize those that I can control and cannot control.  

With that said, for the time being, my goal is to eat enough to regain energy, to train and recover as necessary, and to COMPETE well.  

I made a big pot of chili over the weekend for one of my meals.  I rarely use measurements and tend to use my eyes as a judgment call for recipes like this.  However, these are all of the ingredients: 

93/7 ground turkey 

90/10 ground beef 

Black beans

Light red kidney beans

Dark red kidney beans

Carrots

Celery 

Onion

Green, yellow, and red pepper

Tomato sauce 

Diced tomatoes

Chicken broth

 

Meal of the Week – Mariah’s Cilantro Lime Salmon

Can you say superfood?! Salmon has so many health benefits as well as being uber tasty! It’s probably top of my favorite sea meals. Going forward, I’m trying to incorporate new dishes into my prep besides just chicken and rice. I want to add some flavor to my routine so let’s see how these couple weeks go, and I’ll keep you updated!

 

So back to what you came for. Salmon is a good source of potassium, balancing blood pressure, and your immune system. It also is an anti-inflammatory so helping with recovery thanks to its Omega-3s for all my lifting friends.

 

With this main dish, I would pair it with 1 cup of 5 min white rice I usually squeeze lime juice and garlic powder to give it some flavor as well as 1 cup of steamed brussel sprouts. I just buy mine from Aldis usually cost around $1.27 for a bag. Their 5min white rice usually comes out to be $1.70.

 

So delicious! And guess what it takes only 20 mins for the whole meal, so if you’re looking for a quick dish this week this one is a goooo!

 

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Serving: 6

 

Ingredients:

2 tbs oil

1 lime (juice/zest)

2tbs cilantro, coarsely chopped

½ jalapeno, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped (I used 1tbsp of minced garlic)

2 lb salmon fillet

 

Directions:

  1. Puree the oil, lime, juice, and zest, cilantro, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Place the salmon on foil on a baking sheet, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, spread on the cilantro and lime mixture and bake in a preheated 400F/200C oven (or barbecue) until just cooked, about 10-15 minutes.

 

Nutrition:

245 Cals

14g fat

1.5 g carbs

30 g protein

 

Meal of the Week – Lindsey’s Last Minute Lunch

Keeping this one short and sweet. I didn’t leave a lot of time for meal prepping this weekend, but I always have a back-up plan. This is where I rely on foods that are quick to cook or just need to be microwaved for a quick meal. Surprisingly, I always get told this particular meal smells good, so maybe you’ll like it too.

I was so behind this week that I grabbed my ingredients from Giant Eagle on my way to work!

 

What I Use:

  • Cooked Jasmine Rice (either in the rice cooker, or buy a bag of microwaveable rice)
  • Birds Eye Broccoli Stir Fry, half the bag
  • Cooked chicken (I try to cook up a pound of chicken thighs before running to work most days, but if I can’t I grab the $5 grilled chicken breasts from the prepared food section of Giant Eagle)
  • Soy Sauce to taste
  • Cashew pieces to taste, for a crunchy topping

What I Do:

  • If using microwaveable rice, start with that and follow the directions. If you’re lucky to have a rice cooker like me, get that going early so it’s hot and ready when you’re hungry.
  • Throw half the bag of veggies in a bowl and top with some salt, microwave until cooked most of the way through.
  • Cut up chicken and add to the bowl of veggies. Add soy sauce to taste. Microwave until it’s all hot.
  • Throw on top of your prepared rice.
  • Top with cashews.
  • Eat and enjoy (even though you’re in a rush).

 

When I think ahead, I like to keep other sauces around to mix this meal up (Thai curry is REALLY good, but even having some sriracha and PB2 around to make a quick peanut sauce is a tasty change). It’s healthy, easy, and keeps me full through work, training, and teaching. And as a side note, it took every ounce of my self-control to take a picture of this bowl and not just scarf the whole thing down in 3 minutes. You’re welcome.