Tag Archives: Happy Hour Healthy

A Conversation in my Head

Hamer and I were taking a break from some heated bocce ball matches after work one day and started having the old debate: low bar or high bar. Hamer stopped and asked the women next to us what they thought. They had no idea what the hell we were talking about. Something that we might think is so important and give each other a hard time about, this woman had no idea what it was and had never given it any thought. Something as simple as that stuck with me, where is my effort going? Is it going somewhere meaningful? What, in the big picture, what actually is strength, how is it shared, what the hell does it even mean? Does it actually matter? 

 

I was watching Neat:The Story of Bourbon last night and they dove into how the whisky is made and  its history of it. They then dove in a bit deeper, to what it means to drink bourbon, to enjoy it with the people you are with. I found it paralleled strength quite a bit in my life. Getting strong is great, getting strong with people you care about is better. Often,the most important training is just getting under the bar with a loved one or pushing some sleds with a brother/sister. Sometimes numbers aren’t always the most important unless we’re in competition. But going through the day in day out of training next to someone else gives meaning to those numbers. I still want to chase  a 700lb deadlift before I go 6ft under, but I know I’m plenty training sessions away from that. However, by saying the numbers aren’t as important I mean when you’re training, I train with a guy that isn’t as physically strong as me, but mentally is so much more. On “those days” he knows he has to step in and get me out of my head and back under a bar. 

 

The other thing that has added meaning to my training is this; the harder I train, the more disciplined I am, the harder I train, the more compassionate I find myself feeling. I hear this alot in the combative sports, that the more time you spend training, getting choked out, the more compassionate and peaceful you find yourself outside of training. I think the same is true for lifting. My rack is where I can be aggressive, angry, whatever the hell I want to be, push my training partners and get after it, with any and every four letter word I  want. but as soon as I step away, I’ve found a peace. 

 

Which brings it back to the struggle. We always usually have a struggle, and the people we go through that struggle with are the ones usually closest to us. Training fosters that as we usually choose our struggle and our training partners are crazy enough to join us in  it everyday. Struggle teaches us to enjoy the hard work  with those we care about. One of my favorite training sessions wasn’t a heavy single (although we all know those are the best) but it was a barbell and a few hundred pounds of bumpers in the middle of a dirt road before a buddies wedding while we had a couple of beers and cleaned. Strength came down to this for me: it’s not about the barbell, it’s about the lives you touch and the people you meet. Strength is just a byproduct of a good relationship and like good bourbon takes time,the hard parts can’t be skipped and it can never be rushed.

 

It Goes Beyond the Gym

You’ve probably heard it before, “ you can’t outwork a bad diet.” I mean you can try but at some point you’ll either hit a plateau with your goals or you’ll start feeling “blah” and those are things that happen when either you’re not eating enough or you’re not fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs to perform simple daily tasks.

 

If you’re an athlete within your respected sport or a member of Union Fitness coming in at 5:30PM to get bumpy with CJ in #Powerful, you’ve probably more than likely heard someone or our staff briefly mention anything in regards to nutrition. Not only do we want our clients to perform to the best of their abilities but we also want them to feel good in their everyday life. This all starts and ends with the basics of good nutrition. Good nutrition can be defined as eating whole and nutrient dense foods. Generally in a good diet we want to look for foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. These foods include, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and lean protein (when prepared with little to no saturated facts or added sugars/sodium).

 

So back to the all defining phrase, “you can’t outwork a bad diet.” For example, let’s use an early 30’s female, who works a full-time job, eats out a lot, workouts 1 hour a day and likes to enjoy a glass of wine before ending her evening – This would be what her day looks like.

 

6AM Wake-Up

 

Breakfast: breakfast sandwich from fast-food chain + coffee

Heads into work for 9AM

Lunch: chicken salad with ranch and a diet soda

Afternoon snack: greek yogurt with granola + water

Leaves work at 5PM

Takes CJ’s 5:30PM #Powerful

Dinner: burger and fries + glass of wine

 

Now let’s break this down a little, overall she’s not eating terribly but we can nit pick at a few things. First, she’s not eating enough and more specifically she’s not eating enough whole and nutrient dense foods. Secondly, her fast-food breakfast sandwich, diet soda and a burger/fries will eventually leave her feeling the “blah” sensation at some point (if her eating is consistently like this). Her water intake is also very low and my overall observation is she just needs to replace a few things that would fuel her body better.

 

Let’s take a look at the same woman but with a better understanding of eating well.

 

6AM Wake-Up

 

Breakfast: glass of water, breakfast wrap (homemade) + coffee

Heads into work for 9AM

Snack: greek yogurt with granola/blueberries + water

Lunch: glass of water, chicken salad with balsamic dressing and a soda water

Afternoon Snack: Protein bar, banana + glass of water

Leaves work at 5PM

Takes CJ’s 5:30PM #Powerful

Post-Workout: Protein shake + granola bar

Dinner: Seafood pasta + glass of wine

 

After she has learned the basics of good nutrition she implemented a few things, increasing her water intake, increasing her protein intake, choosing drink options that are healthier and making sure her meals are portioned and opting for more homemade meals and whole foods. She is eating more and fueling her body for the simple things like daily tasks whilst getting the nutrients she needs to help her get through a PM workout.

 

The goal here is to understand that regardless if you want to gain muscle or lose weight, you’re going to need to eat but what your nutritional plan looks like is going to be specific to your own goals and your genetic makeup. While we’re at it too, diet culture has long engrained in us that we need to eat less to lose weight and thats not necessary the case (but thats another blog post for another time).

 

It all comes down to fueling your body for daily life and working out. So, whatever your goals may be keep in mind whole and nutrient dense foods are the answer, shop the perimeter of your grocery store and allow yourself to eat the things you love in moderation.

 

Much love,

 

J

Bootcamp and Beers

Great people of Union,

 

I come to you electrified with great tidings of events to come! We are so happy to see you all safely return to Union and want to do a little something something to celebrate our members, friends of members and our community with two upcoming events.

 

The first event will start your 4th of July off with a BOOM! Here at UF’s outdoor location we will have an hour long, fun filled Charity Super Class led by Curtis, CeJ and a few special guests coaches. The class will start at 9am, we will toss some weights around, jump, throw medicine balls, carry bars, sprint and much much more. So please feel free to bring a friend, brag about this event on your social media and rock your best 4th of July workout gear. We will be taking any and all donations for………..Wounded Warrior.

 

Our next event “UF & ACB Bootcamp & Beers” will be held at Allegheny City Brewing July 11th from 11am-12pm. A few of your favorite UF Coaches have paired up with ACB to bring you a Saturday morning get you right bootcamp class, that any and all our welcomed, you just have to be 21 or older to enjoy some tasty libations after the class. If you are interested in this class please just give us a heads up or surprise us and show up, no matter what we will be ready to get bumpy then safely cheers some glasses afterwards. We will be asking for canned food items to donate to our local food bank, no money for the class is needed, just a positive attitude and your smiling faces!

 

Thank you for making UF so strong and building a community.

 

Cheers,

 

CeJ

Lean, Mean & Green

Lean, Mean & Green

Finding Balance

St. Patrick’s Day will soon be upon us, and if you live in Pittsburgh like us, the annual parade (their website is taking be back to the early days of the internet) is tomorrow, March 11th. If you plan on celebrating your Irish heritage but want to dial back on the debauchery, try to find balance between your healthy habits and having a good time. We’ve compiled some tips that have been helpful for us, and recipes & drinks that we like to indulge in from time to time.

First thing’s first, get a morning workout in. Union Fitness opens at 8am on the weekends. Shower in our facilities, and we’re only a 10-minute walk from downtown. Get those extra steps in, you’ll feel much better about those beers you’re going to consume later! If you can’t make it to the gym tomorrow, come to our happy hour yoga class tonight, it happens every Friday!

Don’t go hungry. If there’s a plate of corned beef hash with your name on it, fill up on the cabbage first. Cabbage is low in calories and will help you feel fuller, longer. Cabbage is a member of the brassica family of veggies that includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflowers. Indulge in the classics but keep portion sizes in the back of your mind. Eat slowly and savor each bite.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more. Follow the tried and true rule of alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water.

Now what to guzzle down all day? Believe it or not, Guinness is not nearly as bad as people think, it’s dark color and heavy body do not mean it’s higher in calories. Twelve ounces of Guinness has 125, which is comparable to many light beers.

If you’re hosting your own party, try out some of these cocktails:

Jameson Jell-o Shots (35 calories per shot)

Jello Shots

Ingredients:
3 small (.30 oz) packages Jell-o Sugar Free Gelatin
24 ounces Water (Boiling)
9 ounces Water (Cold)
15 ounces Jameson (Cold)
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice from a fresh lime
Green Food Coloring or Dye

Place fresh mint leaves in a small dish. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Using a muddle stick or a wooden spoon, press down on the leaves and twist. Repeat the action several times until the mint leaves release oil and smell minty. Set aside.

Mix the Jell-o mix and muddled mint leaves, with the boiling water until the powder is fully dissolved. Strain mint leaves.

Add the Cold water, 20 drops of green dye, or until you get the color you desire, and Jameson. Pour the cooling mixture into 28 plastic shot glasses. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fully set.

Skinny Margarita (145calories)

Margarita

Ingredients:
To rim the glass: kosher salt, lime wedge
1 1/2 oz silver tequila (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon light agave nectar (add 2 if you prefer a sweeter margarita)
Ice

Rim the glass: Pour a thin layer of salt onto a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the top edge of your glass, then dip the glass into the salt, and twist. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave. Close and shake energetically until you feel the shaker start to get cold and frost over. Strain into the rimmed glass over the ice.

Spicy BLT Green Bloody Marys

Bloody Mary

We can take credit for this delish take on a Bloody Mary, but we insist on giving it a try if you’re hosting a breakfast or brunch. This particular cocktail requires a little extra work and motivation, but it’s worth it! Plus, bacon is added to the mix – a little protein never hurt anyone.

Remember that moderation is key. Drink smarter, stay hydrated, watch your portions and be safe out there!

Dolce Diet

Dolce Diet

 

Week 1:

 

Change is hard.  Adjusting to something new, whether it’s a new schedule, new workout routine or a new nutrition plan, has many unique challenges. Today I’m about halfway through my first week of the Dolce Diet and if I’m being completely honest, it’s haaaard.  To put it simply, I’m riding the struggle bus—I’m tired, irritable and outright haaaaangry! Just ask my coworkers, they’ll tell you. (Sorry Linds & Casey!!)

As a weightlifter, I’m used to eating CARBS.  I’m talking white rice, whole grain breads, tons of veggies, and yeah, the occasional Rice Krispie treat or ten. I’ve also been known to take down a whole pizza in one sitting, like every Friday night to be exact. In the Dolce Diet, aside from the morning oatmeal, there are minimal carbs. Definitely not as many as I’m used to— so cue the Carb Cravings and the Carb Crash.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Carb Cravings (lucky you!), I’ll try to explain it to you.  Imagine your favorite carb, be it pizza or Rice Krispie treats.  Then imagine that every single person you see morphs into that favorite carb.  Literally just slices of pizza walking around everywhere! You can smell the gooey dough. You can almost taste that salty first bite of cheese. Everything is so real and your brain is telling you to “EAT PIZZA NOW.” That drool inducing phenomenon is what I call the dreaded Carb Cravings. The Carb Crash on the other hand is when you’re knocked back into reality and realize, “Nooooo, they are just people. You can’t eat them. That’d be weird and most definitely highly frowned upon.” The crash is harsh.

So how do I deal? Deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.  Savor the food I do eat. Focus on the good, nourishing aspects of my food. Focus on the change. Focus on the end goal but enjoy the process. Focus on my health.

I’ve also realized that I need to heed my own advice.  I often tell my clients to find a balance between the edge of old habits and the challenges of the new, slowly making progress step by step.  I tell them to learn to be comfortably uncomfortable because that’s where we see the greatest changes. I’ve never told anyone it was easy though. Change is hard but I’m not giving up.

My Meals:

 

  • Breakfast for the week: Steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds, hemp seeds, raisins, almond butter and frozen blueberries.
  • Lunches for the week: Egg scramble with turkey bacon, spinach, peppers and tomatoes cooked in avocado oil.
  • Dinners for the week: Wild Salmon with spinach, kale, peppers, and asparagus cooked in coconut oil.