Month: March 2017

What’s on the Menu – Superfoods in my Backyard

The Florida Strawberry festival takes place every year in the small, rustic town of Plant City. The event has been going strong for over 80 years, and it continues to grow each year with the addition of rides, livestock contests and popular music acts like Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and Elle King (one of Shannon’s personal fav’s). The vast majority of the food at the festival is typical fair food; deep-fried and/or covered in sugar. However, the festival’s namesake is readily available and it when it comes to nutrient rich foods, it’s hard to beat strawberries, or any berries for that matter.

Strawberry shortcake

I consider myself pretty lucky to live in an area that has access to substantial berry crops every year. The farms in my area plant over 10,000 acres of strawberries annually, along with other berries like blueberries and blackberries (source). You best believe that when berry season rolls around, Shannon and I stock up on a weekly basis.  Not only do they taste delicious, but they’re often considered a superfood because of their nutritional benefits.

Possible health benefits associated with eating berries include reduced disease susceptibility, increased insulin sensitivity and improved arterial function. They are also high in essential nutrients (ones our bodies can’t make) like vitamin C, K, manganese and folate (source). I’m a huge berry fan, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention strawberry’s regular appearance on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen List.

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Organic berries from Florida’s Wish Farms

Since 2004, the EWG has been creating lists of the dirtiest and cleanest produce in regards to pesticide contamination. Strawberries often find themselves at the top of the “dirty” list, most likely due to year round production brought on by high demand. According to EWG’s website, Americans individually eat an average of 8 pounds of strawberries a year. Even though we’re still discovering what negative side effects eating foods containing pesticides can have on our health, the EWG recommends that you buy organically grown strawberries whenever possible. If you like to check out what other produce made it onto EWG’s lists, head on over to their website.

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I believe the reporting of high contamination levels in produce like strawberries will help increase the demand for organically grown produce. The overuse of pesticides and the negative effect its had on our agricultural industry is a discussion for another day.

Whether you buy organic or conventional berries, I want to hear how you prefer to enjoy them. Do you throw them into a smoothie, add them to yogurt, or just eat them by the handful like I do? However you enjoy them, please feel free to let us know by leaving a response in the comment section below or emailing it to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

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Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Crutch Foods & How To Avoid Them

We were working late again on this week’s podcast, which is pretty evident straight off the bat as poor annunciation (listen for the excellent “recrap” instead of “recap” moment) led to some pretty funny moments amidst our discussions.

Our first point was serious praise for all you listeners who have truly stepped up in the recent weeks and are leading the podcast to some exciting milestones. Keep up the sharing and listening as we work to make the podcast better than ever!

In our look back on our past week of training, Nick called out his most recent accomplishment – taking his first barre class at Pure Barre in South Tampa. You’ll be hearing more about this experience in the future, but for now here’s a little taste…

Me at barre

I’ve never felt so uncomfortable at a bar

Meanwhile, I got back on the Peloton cycle and had to make some decisions of my own, reevaluating my fitness goals and identifying the changes I needed to make. We’ll go into it more in the future, especially the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) parameters that you can use to set successful goals.

One of the biggest areas of health and fitness goal setting is diet, which brings us to this week’s main podcast topic – Crutch Foods.

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Any of these items your crutch food?

The first question we seek to answer is what is a crutch food?

Nick’s definition of crutch food included more of an emotional aspect = food that elicits a pleasurable feeling, or rather comfort foods.

My definition focused more on it being the habitual use of comfort foods so that it becomes an unconscious addition to almost every one of your meals. You don’t eat the food item for its nutritional value, but rather it takes over as a reliant go-to.

For me, my recent crutch food was an old friend/foe – breads and carbs – but I have also used cheese and dairy as a crutch food in the past, thus the reason I was a vegan at one point in time.

Nick’s crutch food is coffee. Though he’s not currently drinking an unhealthy amount he drinks it regardless of whether he needs the benefits it provides or not. It has become something he leans on, like a crutch.

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A diet of whole & seasonal ingredients can lead to better health

This brings us to how do you shake or avoid crutch foods.

Though it may come as a surprise, a great resource recently came out in the April 2017 issue of  Martha Stewart Living. Since Nick is as big of a Marth Stewart fan as I am (which we have a good laugh about – though he denies just how much he loves her), we talk through the article “The New Way to Eat” and the 12 principles it outlines to put the focus back on whole, seasonal foods.

The 12 Principles:

  1. Expand Your Food Horizons – be adventurous and explore different types of whole foods; incorporate more in your diet
  2. Get Satisfaction – Remove distractions while eating to fully ensure your focus is where it should be
  3. Let Things Simmer – Embrace some crockpot-style cooking to capitalize on the benefits
  4. Be Smart About Starch – Carbs aren’t the devil and some like starches can be a smart part of your diet
  5. See Seafood Differently – Get some of the original smart food: seafood (avoid large predatory fish – high in mercury)
  6. Wine is Fine – Studies show that some wine, especially the antioxidant-rich dark reds, can have some added benefits in moderation
  7. Go for Full-Fat – Though some can’t handle dairy, those who can, will see benefits from full-fat dairy which is actually easier for our bodies to digest than processed, low-fat versions
  8. Fill Up On Fiber – Fresh produce has more than vitamins; it’s loaded with fiber which is vital to our digestion
  9. Finish Strong – Use herbs as a way to pack a tasty and satisfying punch to your meals
  10. Eat Sweets with Intention – A zero-tolerance policy doesn’t work when it comes to desserts so indulge wisely with the utmost intention on enjoying quality in your sweet treats.
  11. Take the Spice Route – Spices pack more than a punch of flavor, some have incredible anti-inflammatory and brain-benefiting powers, so use them when you can
  12. Lock It In For Life – Focus on real food, not just for a day, but every day to create lasting impact

Nick and I break down each of the principles and talk about how they can be used to formulate a good diet and strong lifestyle. Many of the principles are ones we already subscribe to, but it’s easy to forget just how important healthy eating is. The article provides an important reminder.

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Thanks again for making March our best month yet. Keep listening and sharing the podcast and if you have time please give us a rating and review in iTunes. Be sure to keep connected with us and feel free to send any feedback via our social channels or email elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Links for this week’s episode:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/crutch-foods-how-to-avoid-them/id1121420986?i=1000383159057&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/crutch-foods-how-to-avoid-them

 

 

 

What’s on the Menu – Efficiency Nut

I don’t know who the PR person for walnuts is, but I feel like they’re doing a pretty lackluster job. Pistachios has Richard Sherman and a giant cartoon elephant, voiced by John Cena, telling me to pick up a bag. California almonds have SportsCenter anchors pushing them and it seems like Mr.Peanut as been telling us to eat peanuts, which aren’t nuts, before the TV was even invented. All these nuts are getting positive press, but the walnut is still waiting for its big break.

I think I may have an idea of why walnuts aren’t getting promoted as much as they should. The outside of a shelled walnut is covered in a thin, paper-like “skin” that some people attest to having a bitter taste. The flavor of the skin can be off-putting to certain folks, but much like an apple, there are a ton of nutrients in the skin of a walnut.  It’s believed that 90% of the walnuts beneficial organic compounds are contained in the skin.

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The beneficial compounds contained in walnuts include a special form of vitamin E, hard to find antioxidants and the highest alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) concentration of any nut (source). The positive health aspects of walnuts prompted the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University to conduct a study on the daily consumption of walnuts. Preliminary results of the study suggest that daily consumption of 1.5 oz of walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol & inflammation which can lower your chance of developing heart disease (source).

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If all these health benefits aren’t enough to make you run out to buy a bag of walnuts, the fact that they are one of the cheaper nuts should be all the convincing you need. Raw nuts, which is what you should buy if you want the maximum health benefits, can be a bit pricey. However, compared to cashews, almonds or the luxurious macadamia nut, walnuts are at least $1 cheaper per pound (according to my research).

Walnuts: the nut with the highest ROI. It’s no “get crackin'” but I think it has potential. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what walnuts’ promotional catch phrase should be. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – 2nd Annual Girl Scout Cookie Challenge

I had so much fun last year, I had to do it again this year. That’s right. We’ve got another Girl Scout cookie challenge on this week’s Addicted to Fitness podcast. If you didn’t hear the first Girl Scout cookie challenge, I urge you to go back and listen to that episode (link). The ultimate goal of the challenge is to burn off the calories contained in the cookies as quickly as possible. Last year we used battle ropes and jump squats. This year we tried a different piece of exercise equipment.

I’ll admit to you guys now, we didn’t get actual Girl Scout cookies. However, Wal-mart makes some pretty damn good knockoffs. I woofed down 3 of the Tagalongs look alikes and then jumped onto our Peloton cycle (click here for more info on this awesome piece of machinery). I choose to go with spinning as my exercise choice because we discovered in a past episode of the podcast (link) that it burned a tremendous amount of calories in a short period of time. Shannon did a great job entertaining everyone with information about the cookies’ nutritional facts, her recent yoga training, and Wim Hof all while I sweat out 240 calories worth of sugary goodness.

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This year’s challenge was just as tough as last year’s

This is a fun challenge to do once in a while, but this is by no means a recommended way to exercise. I would never suggest that anyone eat RIGHT before working out, let alone eat COOKIES! Even though I worked off the calories associated with the cookies, that doesn’t mean there aren’t determintal health effects associated with eating nutrient poor items that are high in sugar. If you have a strong grasp on your fitness, and you can afford to have a sweet treat every so often, go for it. Just don’t buy a year’s supply of Girl Scout cookies when you see them set up in front of your grocery store.

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We are big fans of fun fitness challenges, and if you have any in mind, please feel free to email them to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. We’d also love it if you gave us a rating & review in iTunes and please share the podcast with a friend. We want to help as many people as possible enhance their quality of life by improving their health & fitness. I believe that this podcast can do that, but only with your help. Thanks in advance and stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/addicted-to-fitness-podcast/id1121420986?mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/the-2nd-annual-girls-scout-cookie-challenge

 

 

 

What’s on the Menu – Kombucha: Legit Elixir or Placebo Soda?

I truly believe that we can heal ourselves of common ailments (colds, acne, obesity, etc.) with proper diet and exercise. That doesn’t mean that I think all prescription medication is poison. There are certain conditions that require a trip to a medical professional and a necessary prescription. However, the over prescription of certain drugs can and has led to further health concerns like antibiotic resistant bacteria. That’s why we need to learn about possible natural remedies that allow us to heal ourselves, instead of always relying on our pharmacist. One particular natural remedy has been receiving a lot of pub lately about its numerous health benefits, but conflicting reports make me wonder if it’s really the “miracle drink” people claim it is.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage often referred to as “living tea.” It is made by combining sugar and tea leaves with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY. The final product is a slightly fizzy, sour beverage that claims to boost your immune system, help with digestion, provide energy and even mitigate serious health conditions like cancer.

Kombucha

Mother Kombucha is available throughout Florida

I’m a big proponent of probiotics. I guess you could say I’m pro-pro (rim shot). The benefits of probiotics range from better gut health to improved mood (source link). The fact that kombucha is full of these probiotics, along with other beneficial micronutrients, is why advocates believe it will cure what ails you. There has been some recent scientific studies that backup certain health benefits of kombucha like its antidiabetic (source link) and antioxidant (source link) effect, but almost all these studies were performed on non-human subjects. Critics have stated that a lack of research on human subjects negate a lot of kombucha’s supposed health benefits. They also state that kombucha prepared in unsanitary conditions could result in the consumption of deadly bacteria (source link).

I researched “deaths due to kombucha consumption” and was unable to find any cases in which drinking kombucha was directly responsible and only one case where it was believed to be a contributing factor (source link). It’s true due to the presence of active bacteria cultures, drinking kombucha does present some level of risk, but so does buying bagged spinach. Foodborne illnesses are an issue we need to be aware of. However, it shouldn’t prevent us from consuming items that provide certain health benefits. Kombucha has been consumed for centuries for a reason. I believe that the “living tea” does provide certain health benefits, but it should be enjoyed in moderation and by those with non-compromised immune systems. Also, if you do buy it, makes sure you research the producer. I’m sure where and how the kombucha is made can have an effect on its purity.

Are you a kombucha fan? If so, let us know about your favorite brand. Feel free to send pics of you drinking your favorite kombucha to elementaltampa@gmail.com. We’d also happily accept any feedback from any kombucha naysayers.

 

 

 

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – Exercise & Diet: When, what and why

Shannon and I have fallen into a pretty good rhythm of recording the podcast on weekends, which use to have a lot less obligations than our weekdays. However, the script has flipped on us recently, and it seems we’re more busier than ever on the weekends. Which is why this week’s episode was recorded late into the evening hours on a school night. With that said, I think working outside our comfort zone led to one of the most entertaining Addicted to Fitness episodes yet.

We kick off this week’s podcast discussing Shannon’s upcoming yoga teacher training weekend. Yep, it’s that time again. We quickly transition into my current personal training schedule at my new home gym, Tampa Strength (link). My first client at the new location is taking advantage of my early morning training sessions and I’m about to start an early morning running program for a longtime ETT client. Discussing these morning training sessions segue nicely into the first main topic of this week’s episode: morning exercise.

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Click here to learn how you can train with ETT

Both Shannon and I prefer morning workouts. We both feel that completing a workout first thing in the morning sets you up for success for the rest of your day.  Shannon also believes that morning exercise helps you make better dietary choices throughout the day. Which is an interesting assumption because according to a recent Shape.com article discussing the benefits of morning exercise, she’s right. The article (link) uses research published in peer reviewed journals and other credible sources to explain how morning exercise can help you lower your blood pressure, get better sleep, burn more fat, and prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. The next topic we broach in this episode offers some of the same benefits as morning exercise, but it has more to do with what you eat. Actually, it has more to do with when you eat.

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Photo courtesy of Terry Crews’ Facebook page

This week, my buddy Dan Greene, who happens to be owner of TUFMED, posted a video of the actor Terry Crews explaining his approach to nutrition. In the video (link), Crews explains that he uses intermittent fasting to help his body function optimally. He states that during his 16 hour daily fasting period, his body is undergoing autophagy, which is essentially your body recycling old and possibly damaging cells. Seeing this video was extremely coincidential because I’ve also been trying intermittent fasting as of late and have really had some positive results. Most obvious to me is that I’m not nearly as hungry as often and I don’t feel the need to indulge in not so healthy food items. Those “not so healthy” food items is what we dive into next, and this topic brings on a rant from me in which I call out one of the most powerful people in all media.

When I talk about “not so healthy” food items, I’m really talking about pro-inflammatory foods. Inflammation occurs when the body sends out white bloods cells to protect itself from foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. However, ingesting certain foods can also create an inflammation response. Pro-inflammatory foods include sugar added beverages, refined carbohydrates and fried foods to name a few (link). A more extensive list of pro-inflammatory foods can be found on another website (link), which as you can tell when you listen to this episode, got me really miffed. I’m not going to go into too many specifics but I’m pretty sure I’m on the “DO NOT INVITE” list for the Oprah Winfrey Show. I KNOW YOU LOVE CHIPS OPRAH, THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Sorry, sorry.

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Nothing like a good rant to end another episode of the Addicted to Fitness podcast. We always enjoy producing these episodes for you and we really hope that you enjoy listening to them. If you do, please let us know by giving us a rating or review in iTunes (link), or by sharing the podcast with a friend (just text them one of the links below 🙏). As Shannon always says “sharing is caring!” We care about you all and we hope you stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/exercise-diet-when-what-and-why/id1121420986?i=1000382543350&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/exercise-diet-when-what-and-why

What’s on the Menu – The Raw Bar May Have What You Need to Live a Happier Life

Before I became immersed in health & fitness, I spent a significant amount of time working in bivalve aquaculture.

For all of you who are wondering what bivalve aquaculture is, it’s essentially the captive breeding of shellfish like clams, oysters and/or scallops for either species restoration or commercial purposes. Sounds a lot like agriculture right? Well that’s because it is.

Aquaculturists create “seeds” by spawning mature animals, caring for and feeding the immature “seeds” until they are big enough to be “planted” in a body of water, where they can further develop. This prior experience taught me the importance of shellfish, not only to our environment, but also to our health.

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Shellfish are truly some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. I’ve been lucky enough to have access to a lot of fresh shellfish in my life, but temporal and geographic limitations can make that an impossibility for many people.

That’s why canned shellfish, like whole cherrystone clams from Trader Joe’s, are a godsend. I enjoyed the canned clams in a salad but you could always to do a low-carb version of linguine and clams by using zucchini noodles.

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The can pictured above contains 1g of fat, 2g of carbs and 12g of protein. These canned clams also contain almost 40% of our recommended daily allowance of iron, a significant amount of vitamin B12 and several other hard to get minerals.

According to a prominent nutrition specialist (who I’ll get into more about in a minute), these nutritional benefits can also prevent several chronic health conditions that are affecting more and more people each year.

Functional medicine practitioner and ancestral nutrition expert Chris Kresser outlined in a recent episode of his podcast (link) that nutrients in clams and oysters, particularly zinc and several B vitamins, can help prevent health conditions like anxiety and depression. He even suggests that those on mostly plant-based diets should consider having two servings of shellfish like clams and oysters a week because their diets are usually deficient in the previously mentioned nutrients.

Even though I agree with this recommendation based on potential health benefits and bivalves perceived inability to suffer (no brain or central nervous system), I’m not going to tell people what they should and should not eat. I want people to be as a healthy as possible, but individuals’ dietary choices are their own. I’m simply here to provide you with knowledge about certain foods that you may not have been aware of. What you do with that knowledge is your decision.

If you are someone that incorporates animal protein into your diet, consider adding canned clams or oysters to your grocery list. If you are already a fan these shellfish feel free to send your favorite recipes to elementaltampa@gmail.com. If there is anyone out there with a oyster Rockefeller recipe, please send it my way!

Addicted to Fitness Show Notes – First Rule of Yoga Training: YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT YOGA TRAINING

Last week’s episode was recorded during a relaxing trip to a tropical paradise. All our wants and desires were catered too and Shannon and I really took advantage of our lack of obligations. It was a good thing we took the time to recharge our batteries because we go over the highlights of the numerous health & fitness activities we’ve been participating in since our return on this week’s Addicted to Fitness podcast.

The first topic we dive into on this week’s episode is Shannon’s first yoga immersion weekend. For all those that may not know, Shannon is enrolled in the Bella Prana yoga teacher training program. Her program last 8 months and consists of 200 hours of training, which means once a month she spends Friday thru Sunday and the following Thursday, doing nothing but yoga. Not only does she practice different forms, she learns about the history of yoga, different teacher techniques, yoga’s effect on human anatomy and much more. Shannon has been praticing yoga in some capacity for the last 21 years, but she realized after her first immersion weekend that she had barely even scratched its surface. She can’t devulge too many secrets about the training, but stay tuned for periodic updates on her journey to become a full fledge yogi.

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The weekend after Shannon’s total immersion into yoga, both her and I, and a few members of the Elemental Training Tampa community, decided to take part in a local 5k. The 5k was part of the Gasparilla Distance Classic which takes place every year in Tampa and includes several running events and a giant health expo. Shannon, Adrien, Darian and I all had respectable showings and this race has me itching to sign up for another event. I’m want to sign up for a 41 floor stairclimb that benefits the Tunnel to Tower Foundation, but Shannon thinks I’m crazy. She’s probably right, but that’s never stopped me before.

We had less than 24 hours to recover from our race before we had to set up for our Facebook Live workout. Shannon directed me through a 15 minute HIIT workout complete with live feedback from viewers (click here to see the workout). One piece of feedback we recieved during the workout was acutally a question about exercises for individuals with knee pain. One of the viewers was curious if forward lunges were a good exercise for someone with such an affliction. My knowledge of exercising with knee injuries made me think “No” right away, but I wanted to make sure my initution was correct. I found an article from a source I trust, Mike Boyle, on stack.com that reaffirmed my assumptions and gave examples of exercises someone with knee pain could perform (click here to see article).

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ETT representing at the Gasparilla 5k

The last fitness related topic we discuss on this week’s episode involves my biggest challenge to date as a personal trainer. I was hired on to be a personal trainer to an individual who has several pre-existing health conditions and is overweight. Not only am I responsible for helping this person maintain a regular exercise program, I’m also in charge of educating them about proper nutrition. After our first couple sessions, I realized that the nutrition portion of the training will be a much bigger hurdle for this individual than the exercise portion. I’m always up for a challenge, especially when it comes to helping a person improve their quality of life.

I’m also up to the challenge of creating fun, entertaining and educational content each week on the podcast. If you enjoy Addicted to Fitness, please do us a favor and share it with a friend. We need your help to reach a broader audience. If you promise to keep sharing, we promise to keep churning out interviews, product reviews, taste tests, and everything else you’ve come to enjoy about the podcast. Keep sharing and stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/first-rule-yoga-training-you-dont-talk-about-yoga-training/id1121420986?i=1000382236070&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/first-rule-of-yoga-training-you-dont-talk-about-yoga-training

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