When we get busy we tend to sacrifice our nutrition by skipping meals, hitting the vending machine, or finding a drive-thru. When we get hungry and don’t have healthy choices at our fingertips, we become victim to whatever is convenient. Make the healthier choice the easier choice. Set yourself up for success each week by getting in the habit of meal prepping.
Meal prepping is spending one day planning your meals for the week ahead. Having ready-to-go meals in your fridge makes your food choices during the week simple. If your nutrition is overly complicated, it won’t be sustainable. Meal prepping will be your best friend because it makes healthier food choices a no-brainer.
Strategies for meal prepping are to pick one afternoon that works in your schedule to do some bulk cooking (typically Sundays work well for most people). Purchase lean protein sources, vegetables, and starches. Cook your meat, chop your vegetables, hard boil your eggs, ready your rice, and bake your potatoes.
Make sure you have a lot of Tupperware containers on hand. Some people like to portion out their meals in each container. The key is to make sure everything is precooked and easy for you to grab in hurry. Crockpots are a great kitchen tool that will allow you to make a lot of food that you can eat throughout the week. Also, invest in a lunchbox. Find a bag that is insulated that you can pack your food in each day.
Don’t forget about snacks! Have healthy snacks, such as nuts, Rx Bars, whey protein packets, baby food pouches, and beef jerky, stashed everywhere. Put them in your car, bag, and desk. If hunger strikes you’ll be ready for it.
BY: Conner Edelbrock
Finding Middle Ground
It’s Sunday night and you reflect on all the poor eating choices you made over the weekend. You vow to be incredibly strict and meticulous with your diet and exercise plan this week.
Monday: You wake up at 5:00am to hit the gym, and eat egg whites, ground turkey, and asparagus. Boom! You’re feeling like a champ!
Tuesday: You hit another home run. Workout – Check! Diet – Check!
Wednesday: You white knuckle your way through some broccoli and dried chicken and talk yourself into going to the gym after work.
Thursday: Your significant other brings home pizza for dinner or your friends invite you to Happy Hour. You feel the anxiety setting in and think to yourself: I shouldn’t be eating this, but I’ve been so good this week. I’ll just give-in and get back on track next week – You overindulge and feel guilty.
The ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to fitness and nutrition is when you resolve to be perfect. This can be destructive because every action and choice you make requires strict discipline and willpower. It can also lead to an unhealthy obsession with food and an unrealistic fitness plan that isn’t sustainable. In a 2000 study, researchers Mark Muraven and Roy Baumeister demonstrated that self-control is a limited, physiological resource that is easily exhausted.
I want to encourage you to find your middle ground. The middle ground is where the magic happens because it leads to more consistency and more happiness. It’s a fitness and nutrition routine you can maintain all the time rather than a vicious cycle of extreme restriction, binge eating, and guilt.
Focus on building a healthy lifestyle rather than being perfect 100% of the time. Go to Doozies with the kids, eat a piece of pizza, or have a beer. You will get results based on what you do the majority of the time so focus on finding your middle ground.
By Conner Edelbrock
Change Your Environment to Match Your Goals
Your environment encompasses all of the spaces you spend your time, such as your home, car, and office. The best way to start changing your habits are to take control of your environment. When you examine all of these spaces ask yourself: Is my environment helping or hindering my goals?
Strategies for changing your environment are to identify the places that are encouraging unhealthy behaviors, cleaning up those spaces, and implementing a support system.
First, identify the places and cues that are encouraging unhealthy behaviors. Start with your home, especially the kitchen, as well as your car and office because these are the places you have the most control over.
Take a look at what’s on your kitchen counters, in your fridge and pantry. Do you have jars of candy sitting out at home or in the office? Are there candy bars stashed in the glove compartment of your car? Is your freezer stocked with pints of Ben & Jerry’s?
Second, clean up those spaces and remove unhealthy temptations and triggers. Your first instinct might be to throw away all of the junk food, but remember this is a lifestyle change. Think about what’s going to be realistic for you and your family.
If you’re like me and know that bags of chips and pints of ice cream don’t stand a chance of making it through night, remove them from your environment. Don’t buy the foods that make you lose all self-control or consider buying individual portions of your favorite foods or take the time to pre-portion those foods yourself.
The goal is to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice. Stock your kitchen with healthy, whole foods that are easy to access. Preparing your food ahead of time and portioning it out makes it easy to grab-and-go. Having a fruit bowl on the counter vs. a candy jar makes it easier to grab an apple rather than a handful of M&M’s.
Lastly, find and implement a support system. Research has demonstrated that a support system is positively related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Your relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and coaches will have an impact on creating healthy habits. Surround yourself with people, who are going to support your goals and help you create an environment that will lead to lasting results.
Remember to ask for help. Some people may think it’s a sign of weakness, but we are all here to support your goals and help you create a healthier environment. Setbacks will happen. Living a healthy lifestyle is not a sprint, it’s marathon. Focus on making small changes in your immediate environment that will lead to better habits over time.
By Conner Edelbrock
Do These Things On Your Off Days
Every good training program has rest days. When you find yourself on an off day, here are three things that you can do to maximize your recovery so you are ready for the next day of training.
- Myofascial Release. Big fancy term for rolling out. Rolling out is essentially self-massage. When we workout, our muscles get broken down, and as a result can get tight, and fascia can bind and restrict our muscle movement. By rolling out, you break up fascia that is holding your muscles hostage. By breaking up the fascia, your muscles will be able to function normally and you will restore movement. Spend quality time rolling out!
- Go for a walk. Not a run, or a jug. Walk. What’s most important about walking is that you’re not sitting. Studies have displayed a slew of benefits that walking, along with a regular exercise program, can provide including reduced risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. It can also spike your energy levels and help provide mental clarity. It also gets your blood flowing, and blood flow transports nutrients to your muscles which can aid in recovery.
- This one is simple. It can be in the form of yoga, or just a stretching routine, or even meditation. There’s a lot of research going on with meditation and deep breathing as an anti-anxiety and anti-depression tool. Meditation can be as simple as sitting down and breathing. Not only will it serve as a relaxation tool, it can focus and center your mind. Take a few minutes on your off day (maybe even every day), and just breathe.
Form good habits on your rest days and you will be rewarded on training day!
By Jared Bradford
Going To The Dark Place
The Dark Place.
Where you feel searing pain.
Where doubts fill your mind.
Where you want to give up.
Where your knees buckle.
Where your lungs bleed.
Where you can’t breath.
Where you want to cry.
I haven’t experienced the dark place very often as an athlete. It’s scary, it hurts, and it pushes you to your mental, emotional, and physical limits.
The workout was twelve 0.5K sprints on the assault bike. It seemed harmless. My plan was to go outside and do the workout alone, in solitude. I just wanted to ‘get it over with.’
To my surprise, my teammates followed me outside, dragging the other two bikes with them. I watched them push the intensity right out of the gate. I also started to push the watts higher on the following rounds. We were all in this together now.
After round six, we all instantly dropped to the ground after a grueling forty-ish second sprint.
I was there. I was in the dark place. The searing pain and discomfort was unimaginable. My body was screaming at me. I was holding back tears as I pushed through the last six rounds.
The presence of my coach and teammates elevated my intensity. I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t disappoint them or myself.
We can all go to the dark place. It’s not easy or comfortable, but we can all push through that mental barrier to see what our body is really capable of.
By Conner Edelbrock
Which Protein do I need?!
Protein powder is everywhere!! You can seemingly find endless companies that sell different types of protein powder. Among these may be Casein Protein, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Egg Protein, and Plant-based protein. Let’s dive in to the protein powder to see which one does what so you can make an informed decision come purchase time!
Let’s start with Whey Protein. There are two popular types: Isolate and Concentrate. Whey Protein is made by filtering milk, which creates a concentrate protein that includes lactose, some fats, and carbs. Whey Protein becomes an isolate as the filtering process is repeated and the protein becomes more pure. In other words, concentrate contains more leftover lactose, fats and carbs. Isolate is broken down more and contains far less lactose, fats, and carbs. Whey Protein is quickly digested in to the blood stream and is absorbed by muscles faster, making it an ideal immediate post workout choice.
Casein Protein is also derived from milk proteins. However, this type of protein is slow-digesting and is absorbed by the muscles over the course of several hours. For this reason, Casein is popularly taken at night time to give muscles a constant source of protein to grab from.
Plant-based protein comes from, you guessed it, PLANTS! Pea protein is often the main source. Plant-based protein does virtually the same job and Whey protein. This type of protein is great for those with milk allergies, intolerances, or just as an alternative to milk-based proteins.
Egg Protein comes from eggs. It is often the most expensive, but it is a very pure form of protein and is again a great alternative to those with milk allergies or intolerances.
By Jared Bradford
Gary Mark, author of “Mind Gym,” explains that “We all have conversations going on inside our heads. I call it self-talk. Every athlete hears two competing voices. One is a negative critic, and the other is a positive coach. Which voice we listen to is a matter of choice.”
What voice do you listen to? What do you say to yourself when you step up to the barbell? What thoughts do you have when you look in the mirror? To change your self-talk, start by monitoring what you tell yourself and identify your negative thoughts. Challenge these thoughts by replacing them with positive statements. Develop a positive mantra you can recite when you feel the negativity creep in.
Using affirmations are another way to develop positive self-talk. Affirmations are powerful and meaningful statements or quotes that foster a positive mindset. You don’t have to say them to yourself in the mirror or write them down in your diary, but affirmations will help train your brain to think differently. Shower yourself in positive statements by writing them on post-it notes and hanging them in your bathroom, on the fridge, or in your car and recite them to yourself throughout the day.
What we tell ourselves on a daily basis determines how we feel, and how we feel affects how we perform. In the book “The Champion’s Mind,” author Jim Afremow explains that positive and negative self-talk resemble a good and bad wolf. It’s up to you which wolf you decide to feed. Take control of your thoughts and you will improve your physical performance as well as your daily outlook.
By Conner Edelbrock
Your Mental Game
Genna Smith and I recently attended a Sport Phycology Seminar, presented by Mike Caruso, Pro-Strongman competitor. Here are the ‘knowledge nuggets’ from that seminar.
The brain is a muscle – if you work this muscle it will improve and grow. Tommy Kono, an American Weightlifter, developed a model to successful weightlifting, where 20% of your success is based on power development, 30% is based on technique, and 50% of your success is based on your mindset. Three things you can start doing to improve your ‘mental game’ are visualization, eliminate negativity, and train with a purpose.
Visualization is mental imagery. Devoting time to visualization will make you a more successful athlete. One tool you can use is to watch videos of elite athletes and start to see yourself as those people. Studies have shown that visualization activates the same regions of the brain as physically performing the activity. If you practice visualization before your workouts you will find that you have more energy and you will believe you can achieve what you’ve pictured in your mind is possible.
Second, eliminating negativity from your training and your life will help you create a positive mental framework. Creating an optimal training environment will yield significant gains. One strategy is to train with athletes that are better than you. Pairing up with another athlete during training will elevate your performance. An example of an optimal training environment is at Westside Barbell, which is an “invitation only” elite training facility in Columbus, Ohio that was created by power lifter, Louie Simmons. At Westside Barbell they believe weightlifting is not an individual sport. They commonly have eight athletes working on one bar, and each athlete will take a turn making the lift.
Negativity is draining and you have the choice to surround yourself with positive people as well as eliminating negativity from your life. Everyone experiences times when they are tired, unmotivated, and depressed – this is natural. There is learned optimism and learned helplessness. You choose your mindset. Caruso said ‘you can learn to struggle or you can learn to thrive.’ Always look for a sliver lining in failure, where you learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Lastly, train with a purpose every day. It helps to set daily goals because small success everyday will lead to more success and positivity. Start by setting an intention for each workout:
Today, I’m not going to count the weight.
Today, I’m not going to stop on the run, even if I have to walk, I won’t stop moving.
Today, I’m going to listen to Brittany Spears Pandora Radio and have fun during my workout.
By Conner Edelbrock