I love spring. All of that new growth blooming and becoming so colorful and full of life is such a rewarding experience. Imagine being a seed for a moment. The task of turning into this glorious eye-catching masterpiece that brings a smile to all those passing by would likely seem to us like something that only happens to other seeds as the journey is too riddled with obstacles and we see each flawed crack in our own growth process. But, one day, after all that hard work and just the right amount of sunlight, water, soil conditions, and nutrients, we can finally see that impossible dream realized.
This end result is what I want to help you accomplish with your own hopes and dreams. My team and I have the tools, training, and proven strategies to build your confidence, push you past the fear and doubt, and find a way through, over, or around the hurdles as you crush your goals and remove everything that has been holding you back from standing out as the show-stopper you are. Discover the right combination of mindset nutrients you need to be successful at whatever you put your mind to doing. The world is ready for you to blossom. Now, all that’s left for you to do is take that first step to register for one of our upcoming events and unleash your potential!
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In This Issue
- Article of the Month
- Recipe of the Month
- You’re Invited!
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How Positivity Adds Fertilizer to Potential
One of the hardest parts about transforming your thoughts to upbeat, optimistic, and goal-focused strategies is explaining to others how this change branches into other areas of a person’s life. It may start with trying to advance in your career to the next level. However, you will begin to notice the positive impact on your relationships with your friends, your boss, and your family. Where obstacles once blocked your view of opportunities all around you, that positivity will remove the dark clouds and let that sun shine through so you can see where to go next.
Be Aware of Your Thoughts
If being upbeat sounds too difficult because there are so many barriers in your path to success that have been immoveable for so long, then begin with this one step. Take inventory of your thoughts each day. How many were fruitful in enabling you and others in your household, workplace, or community to feel elevated and strong?
Look closer at each of your positive thoughts or the supportive words you used that day. What worked for you or someone you encountered that day to feel better and more capable? Maybe it’s something someone else said to you that gave you comfort. Perhaps encouraging another person gave you a spark to continue trying to think of ways to empower yourself and those around you.
Grow the Number of Positive Thoughts
At this point, you know from analyzing your positive words or thoughts that you do in fact hear constructive words at some point throughout the day, even if it is only coming from your own mindset. Make the commitment to add to that list of positive thoughts by giving it a number that grows daily. Each day, make it a game to see how many can you add. Forget about the negative happenings of the day. Focus on the positive experiences and what you heard, said, or thought that day that can grow into something more fruitful in the future as you expand on it.
Sprinkle Your Newly-Found Positivity on Your Own Potential
After a few days of growing your number of positive thoughts or words, turn those words and ideas inward. What talents and strengths do you have that you can feel good about? If you do not already possess that character trait, career experience, or innate ability you seek, how can you work to develop it? It is important to toss out any self-doubt and set aside fears in this discovery stage as you open your mind to list and explore all your top qualities and possible avenues for improvement. Nothing is set in stone here. You are simply acknowledging what you do best and what goals and tools you can use to follow your interests.
Take the Next Step
After several days of mindfully incorporating an increasing amount of positive thoughts into your daily routine and examining your potential from within, you are prepared to take that next step – working in your dream job, forming healthier relationships, and truly living a full life. How? As a published author, professional golfer, trainer, and coach holding certifications in John Maxwell Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Strategic Intervention, and DISC Training, I cannot wait to show you how easily you can use this positive momentum to fertilize your potential and overcome all the lies in the way of achieving victory in all areas of your life.
The methods of attaining success that I’ll teach you in my courses held throughout the year are used by elite athletes and top businessmen and women throughout the world. Best of all, they are not only incredibly effective but you start to see the beginning stages of the fruit of your efforts almost immediately! Simply visit my website and register for my course offerings or programs. Let’s grow your potential and make this time in your life your favorite part of the journey together!
Article of the Month
#1 Stretch First Thing
Written by Parker Hyde, CSCS, CISSN, and Bill Geiger on Bodybuilding.com
Let’s come clean from the start: We’re not here to sell you on the single “best ab exercise ever.” Too many organizations and authors have tried that, and the profusion of “winners” out there can make it confusing—especially because the studies backing them are always limited in one way or another. A few years ago, it was the bicycle crunch. Then it was the traditional crunch. Then it was the pike, the plank, the roll-out… We could go on.
Instead, we’ve put together a full slate of top-level choices in no particular order, along with some explanation about what make each one great and the research backing them up, when available. When building this list, we considered bodyweight and loaded exercises, EMG studies, anti-rotation movements, and much more so that no ab exercise was left behind. That said, it’s time to meet the crème de la crème of core training!
1. Hanging Leg or Knee Raise
Why it made the list: There are many reasons to like leg raise variations, but one is their scalability. You can start doing bent knee raises in the Roman chair or ab straps to focus on the lower core, work up to straight leg raises, and then move to a hanging bar. By the time you can do full straight-leg toes-to-bar raises, your entire core will have strength for days.
That’s not the only way to progress, though. You can also increase the degree of difficulty by holding a medicine ball between your knees or ankles, which allows you to train in a lower rep range. No matter the variation, get your legs as high as possible on each rep without using momentum to swing them up.
In your workout: Do this move first or second in your routine for 3 sets of 10-15 reps. If using a medicine ball, try a dropset simply by letting go of the medicine ball when you hit failure.
2. Machine Crunch
Why it made the list: In our opinion, ab exercises with added resistance don’t get enough love! They spur growth in the fast-twitch fibers like almost nothing else, and they can really build up the “bricks” of your six-pack. By adjusting the load, you can also train to failure at just about any rep target you want. A pin-loaded machine also works well when doing dropsets.
In your workout: This works great as one of the first exercises in your ab routine. Use a challenging weight for a lower rep target. Of course, it also works with lighter weight as a burnout at the end. In either case, do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.
3. Cable Pallof Press
Why it made the list: This increasingly popular movement trains your abs to do what they’re supposed to do: stabilize your skeleton. Pallof presses serve as an anti-rotation movement, meaning the body is actively fighting rotation throughout the motion. By utilizing exercises like this, you can increase core stability in various planes of movement and reduce likelihood of injury.
There are many ways you can do this move, even including a Pallof press with rotation, but most start at a cable stack with a D-handle just below shoulder height. Grab the handle in two hands, take 4-5 steps away from the pulley, and turn so that your side is facing the plate stack. Without rotating at the hips, press the D-handle straight out, and return back to center; all the while, you’ll fight against turning toward the pulley. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine and keep your shoulders down during the entire pressing motion.
In your workout: There’s no need to go heavy here; all it will do is compromise the quality of the move. Do these after your most difficult ab move of the day, and use a weight that allows you to manage 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side.
4. Kneeling Cable Crunch
Why it made the list: The primary strengths of this crunch variation are its versatility—you can do it on any cable stack—and the way it allows you to use any level of resistance to train for a target rep range. Still, lots of people perform them wrong.
First off, it’s easy to sit back while doing this move, letting your hip flexors do much of the work. Second, if you keep a flat back, it limits the degree to which you can hit the upper abdominals—your back has to round! And finally, your hands should stay in the same relative position next to your head for the duration of the set. Letting them drift away on the eccentric and then pulling them back again beside your head brings a lot of shoulder and upper body into the move.
In your workout: This is another good first or second exercise that can be done for a low-to-moderate number of reps. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. To do a dropset, just change the pin when you reach muscle failure.
5. Decline-Bench Crunch With Medicine Ball
*shown without medicine ball
Why it made the list: Decline-bench crunches amp up the challenge by increasing the range of motion over standard crunches, and you can dial up (or down) the degree of difficulty by adjusting the angle of the bench. Adding a medicine ball or weight plate against your chest adds a further level of customizable resistance. This also allows you to manipulate where you want to fail: low, medium, or high reps.
But you can still go wrong. Because your feet are hooked, it’s all too easy to pull through your thighs. Nor do you want to go all the way down to rest on the bench between reps; stay well off it. If you’re not feeling a wicked burn, drop all the weight, put your hands on your belly, and really focus on the contraction at a slower pace. You can also introduce a cross-body movement, angling your elbow to the opposite-side thigh, to better engage the obliques.
In your workout: Position this one in your routine after you’ve built up some fatigue from a really challenging first exercise. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. If you find 15 reps too easy, simply increase the angle of decline, or use a heavier ball or plate.
Why it made the list: Yes, a leg exercise made the top 10 list for abs. Anyone who has ever pushed their potential in the squat knows exactly why! Sure, squat variations work the legs and lower back, but they also crush the abs. Both front and back squats force your abs and spinal erectors to work overtime to maintain a neutral, upright position. If both were not firing at high rates, you’d fold under the weight or drop in a split second.
Oh, and forget what you heard about standing on a BOSU ball to increase the work of your stabilizers. Research has shown that if you just go heavy with your squats on the floor, you’ll get all the ab stimulus you want.
In your workout: Regularly implement both back and front squats into your program. To keep it from becoming mundane, you can rotate through them in four-week waves, or alternate weeks between back and fronts. It’s best to do your focused ab training on a day after your heavy training days for the week. The last thing you want is residual soreness that forces you to decrease the weight on the bar.
7. Deline Russian Twist With Medicine Ball
*shown on flat surface
Why it made the list: This harder version of the Russian twist works the obliques while requiring the upper abs to contract isometrically. To recruit the obliques, you either need lateral flexion (bending to your side), trunk rotation (twisting), or sucking in your belly. Doing your twists works the trunk-rotation function of the muscle, so really focus on the contraction. Try to get a little crunch on either side after the rotation to up the ante.
Your biggest danger here is letting your arms wave across your body and out of line with your torso. Turn at the waist, not your shoulders. In addition, avoid pulling through your thighs (hip flexors) on the decline bench here as well.
In your workout: Do this exercise toward the middle of your routine for 3 sets of 15 reps per side. Increase the degree of difficulty by increasing the angle of the bench or using a heavier ball.
8. Ab-Wheel Roll-Out
Why it made the list: Those infomercials got one thing right! Some EMG data suggests that using an ab wheel may beat out hanging leg raises, sit-ups, and reverse crunches for the top muscle activator. This movement capitalizes on the concept of anti-extension perfectly; as you roll out, your trunk must actively fire (eccentric motion) to maintain a neutral spine without collapsing under your body weight and gravity. Watch that you don’t risk your back by allowing it to droop into extension at the bottom, though!
In your workout: Build up to 3 sets of 8-12 reps, rolling all the way out and back. If you can’t do all the reps prescribed, reduce the distance, then slowly work to extend it over a few weeks. Once you feel confident starting from your knees, the next level of difficulty is going from your toes.
9. Exercise-Ball Pike
Why it made the list: It turns out the ball is good for more than just sitting and waiting for your partner to finish his set! A research team from California State, Sacramento demonstrated that the pike movement is one of the most effective total-ab workouts. It topped their EMG list for upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. This movement may be the heavy hitter that’s been missing from your daily routine. While not exactly the same, the pike can also be done using a TRX system with similar results expected.
In your workout: Since it targets a large degree of the muscle mass of the abdomen, the pike can either be used to get your routine started or as a really brutal way to finish it out. Shoot for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. If you can’t complete reps with good form, start with exercise-ball knee-ups.
Why it made the list: The plank is an isometric hold that really focuses on the core. According to the EMG sources we checked, this movement is a mid-tier activator of both the rectus abdominis and obliques. It’s also a great transverse abdominis move, but that muscle is deep, so can’t be measured by EMG.
We put this on the list because of how easy it is to manipulate the degree of difficulty. If a regular plank is too easy for you, lift an arm, or a leg—or an arm and a leg. Put your feet into a TRX and give that a whirl. Still too easy? Take your feet out, and put your forearms in. Each one of these progressions leads to a greater training stimulus to the abs.
In your workout: You can do these last on ab day, but you can also do them at home just about any time you want. Since it’s an isometric move, shoot for time rather than reps. Doing 3-5 sets of 30-90 seconds in whatever variation is toughest for you should get you shaking!
Willardson, J., Fontana, F. E., & Bressel, E. (2009). Effect of surface stability on core muscle activity for dynamic resistance exercises. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 4(1), 97.
Escamilla, R. F., Babb, E., DeWitt, R., Jew, P., Kelleher, P., Burnham, T., … & Imamura, R. T. (2006). Electromyographic analysis of traditional and nontraditional abdominal exercises: implications for rehabilitation and training. Physical Therapy, 86(5), 656-671.
Escamilla, R. F., Lewis, C., Bell, D., Bramblet, G., Daffron, J., Lambert, S., … & Andrews, J. R. (2010). Core muscle activation during Swiss ball and traditional abdominal exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 40(5), 265-276.
Posted on eatright.org
Image by Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. In fact, most of us start losing muscle around age 30. Physically inactive people are at particular risk and can experience anywhere from a 3 to 8% loss of lean muscle mass every decade after that.
This is due to lower testosterone levels in men and lower estrogen levels in women — both hormones that help build muscle. Changes in nerve and blood cells and how the body converts proteins into muscle tissue are also factors. Muscle loss doesn’t have to be inevitable, though: For adult men and women, regular resistance training exercises are key to building and keeping muscle.
Muscle Strengthening Activities and Health
Men and women should participate in muscle-strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) at least two times each week. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and some types of yoga. Even everyday activities such as carrying groceries, playing with your kids, and gardening can strengthen muscles.
An important way to support strength building is with good nutrition. Foods that provide protein, carbohydrates, and fat play a major role, as does getting enough calories throughout the day. Read on to find out how each macronutrient can help you — and an estimate of how much to eat every day.
Protein and Muscle Building
When building muscle, the more protein the better, right? Not necessarily. Protein should make up 10 to 35% of total calories for adults. While you’re working to build muscle with physical activity, your needs may be on the higher end of this range. Keeping muscle mass, on the other hand, requires less protein than building new muscle.
Aim for 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy and 3 ounce-equivalents of protein foods (such as fish, beans, poultry, or lean meat) each day, to provide quality sources of protein to help reach that goal. Grains, especially whole grains, also provide some protein but are typically not enough to meet protein needs on their own.
Carbohydrates and Muscle Building
Carbohydrates are another important group of foods for fueling your muscles. That’s because carbs are partially converted to glycogen, which is a form of energy stored in muscles. This energy helps to power your workouts. Men and women need about half of their calories from carbohydrates per day. Try focusing on good quality carbohydrates that provide dietary fiber, such as whole-grain bread and cereals. Many dairy products, including milk and yogurt, also provide carbohydrates. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods and beverages in order to limit sources of saturated fat. Fruits and vegetables also are good options. When timing your meals and snacks, you may wish to avoid foods high in dietary fiber immediately before or during physical activity.
Fat and Muscle Building
Your body relies on fat to supply energy to muscles during some types of activity. How much fat a person needs can vary. As a general guideline, fat should make up 20 to 35% of your total calories.
For overall health and muscle strength, focus on sources of heart-healthy fats, including vegetable oils, like olive oil and canola oil, and avocados. Nuts and fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and trout, which are all good sources of protein, also provide healthier types of fat.
Eating a variety of healthful foods each day can help you meet your nutrient needs. For a customized eating plan, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.
Recipe of the Month
by Cheryl Malik on 40Aprons.com
Prep Time = 5 minutes
Cook Time = 20 minutes
Total Time = 25 minutes
Calories = 416kcal
Serving Size = 4
This Whole30 egg roll in a bowl with creamy chili sauce is a wonderfully flavorful, quick Whole30 recipe. This low carb, keto, and paleo recipe is an addictive Asian dinner the whole family will love. Made in one skillet.
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 6 green onions sliced, green and white parts divided
- 1/2 cup red onion diced. (Skip for Keto. See Note.)
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 8-oz. can water chestnuts chopped. (Skip for Keto)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha or hot sauce (See Note.)
- 14-ounce bag coleslaw mix
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos (See Note for Keto or low carb)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
- salt to taste
- black sesame seeds for garnish
- green parts of sliced green onions from above
Creamy Chili Sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (See Note.)
- 1-2 tablespoons sriracha or hot sauce
- salt to taste
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add white parts of green onions, diced red onion, and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the red onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add ground pork, grated ginger, water chestnuts (Skip for keto), and 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce or chili-garlic sauce and cook until pork is browned, broken up, and cooked through about 7-10 minutes.
- Add coleslaw mix, coconut aminos or soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, white pepper, and salt, to taste, and stir until well combined. Cook, stirring regularly, until cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 1-2 tablespoons compliant hot sauce. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. To drizzle, place creamy chili sauce in a small plastic sandwich bag.
To plate: spoon a hearty helping of the pork-cabbage mixture in a serving bowl. Snip off the corner of the sandwich bag with the creamy chili sauce and drizzle over egg roll in a bowl recipe mixture. Garnish with green parts of the green onions and black sesame seeds.
If on Whole30, make sure your hot sauce or sriracha is compliant. Make my Whole30 Sriracha super easily or use something like Frank’s Red Hot. Frank’s Red Hot is also keto-friendly, whereas conventional sriracha is not.
If keto or low carb, use Lite Tamari or Bragg’s Aminos for the least number of carbs, as shown in the second nutrition label.
If Whole30, make sure your mayonnaise is compliant. I have an awesome 30-Second Immersion Blender Mayonnaise recipe that is totally foolproof!
If keto, skip red onion to save about 1g net carb per serving.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 597mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 275IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 1.8mg | Net Carbs: 9g
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