25 Days of Christmas in July Challenge!!!!!

For starters the focus of this blog is NOT exercise. However, since it’s something I do you may see a little sneaky whisper about exercise from time to time. I would love to invite everyone, everywhere to participate in the 25 Days of Christmas in July Challenge. Each day in July, leading up to the 25th, the challenge will issue a special present which you will tear into 25 times consecutively. If you already embrace a fitness routine this challenge will be the “bow on top” of whatever your fitness package may be. If you do not exercise regularly then this is a great time to unwrap the warrior within!!! Modified exercises will be available when appropriate so let go of any trepidation or fear and have fun with it! Just to be clear, by July 25th you will be performing 25 repetitions of 25 different body weight exercises, and you will feel like you are the star on top of your own Treetop Training Christmas Tree!!! To get daily updates and videos on the exercises like www.facebook.com/treetoptrainingllc . Can you feel the merry-ness already!???

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Remove the Labels

Here is a word association exercise to measure your feelings and thoughts as they relate to certain foods.

Lets examine one item and list our reactions to it.
(your item needs to be something that you find delicious, but seldom allow yourself to have)

1. Warm peach cobbler and ice cream.
Yum
Decadent
Summer time
Grandma’s house
Being a kid
Salivating
Fattening
Cheat meal
Trigger food
Bad for my fitness goals but so so so good

Now I don’t know about you, but there were definitely some very positive and very negative associations made with the unassuming peach cobbler and ice cream. Often times we categorize foods as being “good” or “bad,” but how can any food be given such vast labeling? Celery sticks may be good for us but not if we are eating them to avoid eating what our body is truly asking for. Apple pie may be bad for us if we eat more than a serving size, but if we are enjoying it responsibly and in moderation how can it hold the power to be stricken from our consumption for all eternity?

Food is fuel. It is an inanimate object that is not capable of reaching our mouths and bodies unless we voluntarily consume it. A brownie cannot jump out of the container it is in and spontaneously dive into our mouths. In today’s society we are bombarded from so many different fronts of what we “should” be eating and what is truly “healthy,” or “toxic,” for us to eat. The spectrum of believers goes from those supporting an all meat, protein and produce diet to others suggesting that a completely raw produce diet is the only way to truly live a healthy life. In between those 2 extremes exists a web of nutrition plans encouraging heavily processed foods, supplements and products that will save us all from the hell of obesity, cancer and heart disease. Where does one even begin to untangle all of these mixed, overlapping and completely contradictory messages? It is my opinion that each individual must arrive upon their own truth about what is healthy in their own way. 

What we fuel our bodies with is probably the most underrated journey of self discovery upon which we can embark. Our entire childhood and young adult life is heavily focused on education, vocation and achievement and yet the rudimentary skill of learning what to fuel our bodies with is neglected. We eat what our parents eat, what the cafeteria serves, what the vending machines offer, where the bus driver wants to stop after a soccer game, where our friends and dates want to eat and what we can afford at the grocery store. Many times we just open up and shovel it in without any analysis of how certain foods make us feel, perform or impact our physical appearance. At this point in the progression of the human race most of us are in such a fortunate position to be able to assess the value of the foods we choose to eat, rather than simply ingest them for survival.

If you feel as if your nutrition is lacking in some way, keeps falling off track, isn’t working for your goals, or is leaving you feeling desperate then maybe this idea is something to consider. Take a discrete period of time that you decide upon (I suggest 1 day per week) and approach food as if you know nothing about it. During this time you will resolve to learn and record everything you can about the foods you are voluntarily putting into your mouth, and you will keep a journal of how these foods impact you during, immediately after and progressively after eating them. Your journal structure could look something like this:

Meal 1:
Item                       Physiological Health Benefits                        Physiological Health Risks                    Feelings    

 

I will post a full example of this later this week. This looks tedious!!! I know it! BUT, it’s YOUR health, YOUR body, YOUR life and I think YOU are worth taking the time to understand how foods impact you. If you take a typical day in your life one day per week, at the end of 1 year YOU will be an expert on so many foods, you’ll be more aware of what foods are your own personal superfuels and what foods add absolutely nothing to your quality of life. Knowledge is power people! Don’t take someone else’s word for what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be eating. Take the initiative to become a SELF SCIENTIST and allow the data and findings from your observations and experiments to lead you to your own personal nutrition theory!

9 Ways to Break the Fast

Breakfast has long been heralded as the most important meal of the day. The ancient Romans frowned upon breakfast because they believed it encouraged gluttony (yeah, ok Caligula and crazy ancient Romans who watched people get slaughtered for fun, clearly they were hangry!). During the Middle Ages and times of extreme religious regimes nightly fasting was rigidly practiced, so by morning time people would be very hungry and ready to break their fast. The Industrial Revolution introduced the structure of a work day and due to the caloric needs required by labor, early meals would be eaten to fuel work. Around the turn of the century some guy named Kellogg, who apparently was not a very tidy chap, left out some boiled maize and it went stale. Cha-ching, Cornflakes arrive on the scene rewarding his mess with a multi million dollar industry! All the neat freaks out there, go ahead and re-read that sentence!!! Shortly after Mr. Kellogg’s discovery of delicious, stale, boiled maize the American government began promoting breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Where the money flows the government goes, and in this case I’m glad they decided to drive the breakfast bandwagon.

Science reveals to us that our brains use 20-30% of our energy intake (food is energy). That is significant when you think about how small the brain is compared with the rest of our bodies. Most of us need, or at least want to be on our A-game at work and skipping breakfast can really impact our performance. Research has shown that routinely skipping breakfast is linked to lower verbal skills, lack of motivation as well as lessened ability to think critically and problem solve. Since the body is so adaptable if we habitually do not eat breakfast, eventually the body will stop sending hunger signals to the hypothalamus and over time the body will progressively have an aversive response to the idea of breakfast. The University of PA conducted a study whereby they found that breakfast skippers scored an average of 4.6 points lower on total IQ than breakfast eaters. We live in a competitive world people! I want that 4.6 point advantage, so pass the egg n’ nana pancakes!

The preventative benefits of breakfast are numerous and range from physiological to psychological. Physiologically, breakfast has been shown to aid in weight loss and weight maintenance, lower blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol which in turn lowers blood pressure. Psychologically, breakfast is tied to maintaining blood sugar levels and avoiding blood sugar spikes and crashes which can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Withholding breakfast nutrients from your brain and body can result in increased anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and a low affect.

Hopefully by now you are on board with breakfast. So lets extinguish the excuses for evading it!
Excuse: I just don’t have time in the morning.
Solution(s): Get up 10 minutes early, Prep the night before, have a portable option you can eat on the go.
Excuse: I’m not hungry.
Solution: If you start eating breakfast regularly your body will begin to signal the hypothalamus in your brain so that you will start to want breakfast again. It may take 1-2 weeks.
Excuse: Breakfast makes me ravenous around 10am.
Solution: Eat a breakfast that includes protein, drink plenty of water all morning, and for pete’s sake you can have a snack at 10am if you’re feeling hungry!
Excuse: I have no desire to prepare anything.
Solution: There are things you can eat that require zero prep.

This brings us to 9 suggestions of how to incorporate breakfast into your healthy and busy lifestyle.

Night Before Prep Breakfast Ideas:
1. Chia pudding
2 tbsp. black chia seeds
1/4 c. unsweetened plain almond milk
dash of cinnamon
1/2 banana
a few berries or strawberries
7-8 raw almonds

Combine seeds, cinnamon and milk in small bowl or large mug, stir. Slice fruit and add to mixture with almonds. Let sit overnight. Consistency is like tapioca.
more about the health benefits of chia seeds here: http://www.nuts.com/cookingbaking/chia-seeds/premium.html

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2. Egg muffin cups
8 eggs
8 ounces cooked meat, crumbled
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced onion
dash of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F ). Grease 8 muffin cups (with coconut oil) or line with paper liners.
Beat eggs together in a large bowl. Mix meat, bell pepper, onion, salt, black pepper, and water into the beaten eggs. Pour egg mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in the preheated oven until muffins are set in the middle, 18 to 20 minutes

3. Stuffed Sweet Potato
1 Small sweet potato
1 boiled egg
1/4 avocado
1/4 tsp. salt
drizzle of 100% maple syrup

Bake sweet potato in microwave
Mash up boiled egg and 1/4 ripe avocado and salt
Slice open baked potato, stuff egg and avocado in, drizzle very lightly with 100% maple syrup.
(You may want to heat this up in the morning, but it will only take 45 seconds!)

Super Speedy on THE GO ideas:
1. 2 Boiled eggs, banana
http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-boil-eggs-perfectly-every-time-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-202415
2. Unsweetened greek yogurt mixed with a few berries or banana, sweetened with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If you are eating the fat free yogurt add a few raw almonds
3. Low Sodium Ezekiel Bread English Muffin with 1 tablespoon of natural nut butter and either a few apple or banana slices

The Morning of Ideas:
1. Open Faced Egg Sandwich
1 piece Low Sodium Ezekiel Bread
1/4 avocado
onion slices
tomato slices
leafy green of your choice
2 eggs
garlic powder
cayenne pepper
salt
turmeric

Prepare eggs in your preferred style and season with above spices to your taste preference. Stack 1 piece of toast from the bottom up: leafy green, tomato, onion, avocado, eggs. Eat with a fork and knife and savor!
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2.Treetop Smoothie:
Large handful of washed spinach or kale
handful of frozen strawberries
1/2 large banana or whole small banana
1 scoop garden of life raw protein powder
1 tbsp. natural nut butter
8-10 oz. unsweetened plain almond milk

Throw all above ingredients in the blender. If it is not green, then you need to add more greens! Yum yum yum!!!!!

3. Egg N’ Nana Pancakes
2 eggs
1 ripe banana
dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder

Mash banana in bowl, add dry ingredients and 2 eggs. Stir all together. In skillet heat either 1 tsp. coconut oil, olive oil or just a clean cooking spray. Slowly pour “batter” into skillet in pancake form. I’ve heard if you have heat resistant cookie cutters you can actually pour the batter into those forms. It should make about 3 pancakes. Watch the pancakes closely. When bubbles start to appear on top of the pancakes, it’s time to flip them. They aren’t like yo momma’s pancakes, so you have to be careful and they likely won’t look perfect, but your body does not care. Cook the other side and serve it up with some fresh berries and a small drizzle of 100% maple syrup.

That’s all Treetoppers! I hope this is a helpful and convincing case for breakfast. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

 

Water is the Easiest, Most Critical Thing We Can Do Right

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The average adult human body is composed of about 60% water. In adult men, about 60% of their bodies are water. However, fat tissue does not have as much water as lean tissue. In adult women, fat makes up more of the body than men, so they have about 55% of their bodies made of water. The human brain is over 70% water! Water is essential to the life of cells in our bodies, it regulates our internal body temperature and allows us to sweat, it transports vital nutrients throughout the bloodstream to fuel our organs to perform efficiently and among many other things it flushes waste and lubricates the joints. So, long story short, water is pretty dang important. Pure, clean, unadulterated water is the water we are talking about here, not water “doctored up” with artificial colors or sweeteners.
It is recommended by the mayo clinic that males drink 3 liters of water daily and females drink 2.2 liters daily. If you are exercising strenuously, like running outside in the hot and humid Nashville summers, or doing a HIIT workout at Treetop Training LLC, then you need to increase that amount. I recommend working out with at least 10 oz. of water and continuously taking sips of it before, during and after the workout so that the whole bottle is gone shortly after your workout.
If you are having a hard time motivating yourself to drink water here are some tips that have helped me in the past:
1. Eliminate sodas and artificially flavored waters. If they aren’t an option to you, you may more easily make the choice to drink water.
2. Drink 16-20 oz. of water first thing in the morning before coffee. This will rehydrate your brain and give your colon the water it needs to do its job.
3. Buy an inexpensive decanter and leave it at work. Every morning, fill it with ice and lemons and limes (pre-sliced from home), and put it in your workspace. Make it your goal to drink as much of the water in it as possible by the end of the day.
4. Challenge yourself. If you currently only drink 3 bottles of water a day, try to drink 3.5. Little increases will add up over time and eventually you’ll be feeling better and better from drinking the water.

Many people say that maintaining healthy lifestyle starts with food, but I say it starts with water. Make a relationship with water your first step towards achieving your health and fitness goals. Consistently make water consumption a priority in your life and you will be well on your way to Treetop Flying!!!

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