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Most people will agree that preparing food for the week (or at least a few days) makes it much easier to stick to your healthier eating goals. What ends up burning people out is “eating the same thing all the time.”
So then why make your food so boring? If we just took a different approach to food preparation and cooked something beautiful and full of flavor, your left-overs will become much more appetizing. One of the foods I prepared “in bulk” this week was chicken (whole). Let me show you what the end result was first, so maybe you will actually continue to read and maybe even try this out:
I know… Looks good, right? It was. I cook chicken like this often, andI always season it a little different. Nothing is measured. No specific recipe. Just a technique that cooks chicken perfectly, and throw in a few flavors you like. First you must prepare the chicken…
There are three places to season the chicken: on top of the skin, underneath the skin, and inside the chicken cavity. This time I finely minced about 1/2 yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, added a sprinkle of black and white pepper, sea salt, dehydrated ginger, oregano. Mixed it all up and stuffed it underneath the skin on the breast, as well as the skin surrounding the thigh and legs.
I the coarsely chopped up one onion and one apple, drizzled a small amount of oil on them, then generously sprinkled an Indian Curry powder on them. I quickly tossed that and stuff the curried apples and onions inside the chicken. To keep everything from falling out the bottom, use a 1/2 kabob spear or toothpicks to pin the flap of skin across the bottom of the chicken. I then stuffed a half lemon between the breast bone and the vertebrae to close up the top. The chicken is now ready for the grill. Lets get that set up.
While I was preparing the chicken I had some Hickory Wood chips soaking in water. While the charcoals are heating up I drain the wood chips and wrap them in foil. Poke some holes in (the top of) the foil packet. This will allow the smoke to escape when the wood chips get hot.
When the charcoals are ready, separate them into two piles on opposite ends of the grill. Place the foil packets on top of the coals now, and spread a piece of foil across the center of the bottom grate to catch all the drippings. This will make cleaning up a lot easier. All there is to do now is place the chickens breast-side up on the top grate, in-between the to coal piles for indirect heat. Close the lid and let it smoke! (Make sure the bottom vents and the lid vents are open. You want the temperature to sit between 350-375, but not over 400. If the temperature goes up too high, adjust the vents to cut off a little oxygen. This takes some practice. If you have a gas grill, turn on one burner and place the chicken on another burner for indirect heat. Foil packets work great on gas grills too.
So lets not forget about the skin… After about 20 minutes I mix a few tbsp raw honey with the Curry powder, and adjust amounts to taste. Quickly open the lid, baste the chickens generously, then close it back up until they are done cooking. You can use a meat thermometer to check for done-ness, or…
Just try ripping a leg off. If it pulls off relatively easy, that chicken is done! As a general rule I always “tent” anything I grill with foil for 10-15 minutes after cooking. Time to dig in! If this is purely for food prep, as was the case for me, I just let it cool for an hour, then cut or rip all of the meat off the bone and store it all in the fridge for later. This goes great with salads, tacos, or anything else you can use shredded or cubed chicken for! Enjoy!
Posted in The Straight & Narrow... on March 10, 2013
6-Week “Spring into Spring” Challenge:
What is it?
Your New Year’s Resolution didn’t work out how you planned? Afraid you are not going to be “bikini ready” come Summer time? Maybe you have struggled with one fitness goal for a long time, be it diet or exercise related, that you want to kick start now and build new healthy habits? Then this is for you. Starting on Monday, March 18th we will be working as a team to build new habits and get another step closer to where we wish to be in regards to our health.
Oh yeah, it’s FREE
This is simply an organized effort to get us all motivated to do whatever it is that we have been putting off. It will simply cost you a little bit of time and effort.
Who is it for?
Pregnant and wanting to eat healthier for Baby, or needing to get more exercise in? Overweight and wanting to shed a few? Feeling fit, but you know that a cocktail every night isn’t good for you so you want to cleanse your system? Doing the same thing every day at the gym and wanting to add something new, like Yoga? Want to try cutting out certain foods to figure out why your energy levels are so low, or why your digestive system seems out of whack? Yeah, this is for all of that.
How does this work?
We are all wishing to accomplish something, and we are all here to support one another and hold one another accountable. We will use Facebook to stay connected to each other, share ideas, and ask questions. There will be weekly organized hikes and other outings in the Orange County area to get us all together physically as well. I will also post random health and fitness related articles that I find interesting and relevant.
We will use www.facebook.com/sanchezfitness to communicate with each other during this challenge. Please click the link above or search “Sanchez fitness” on Facebook and “like” it.
First, everyone will announce their SPECIFIC, measurable, personal challenge in detail, including their baseline and expectations. For Example, I eat really clean and exercise about 5 days per week (resistance training mostly), but I need to do more cardio before I hike the Inca Trail in Peru this June. I currently do cardio once per week. I am challenging myself to a minimum of 5 hours of cardio per week for 6 weeks. All announcements need to be done on the Sanchez Fitness Facebook page by March 17th!
You must post your progress weekly, if not more, or it will be assumed that you did not complete your challenge. Please feel free to have conversations on this page that are related to the challenge. If you have any questions, post them! If you feel like you know something that can benefit other challengers, post it! If you are going for a run and want to invite others to join you, post it! If you notice that someone hasn’t been posting, help them by reaching out to them!
Examples of Nutrition goals:
Eat all natural only
Eat whole foods only
Eat organic only
Eat local foods only
Eat more vegetables
Drink more water
Eat more often
Eliminate artificial sweeteners
Eliminate processed sugar
Eliminate late-night snacks
Examples of Exercise goals:
Start/do more general exercise
More resistance training
Lose 5 lbs
Lose 10 lbs
Lose 15 lbs
Lose 20lbs (Over 200 lbs only)
Lose X% body fat
People are often overwhelmed with too many rules to follow when trying to accomplish their fitness goals. They feel too restricted by their diets, stressed because they don’t know enough about exercise, and frustration causes them to fall off the program entirely. The 6-week Spring into Spring challenge allows people to focus on one thing: one thing that they have been wanting to try, or one thing that they know they need. As you check in weekly, you will see all of the other challenges that your peers have chosen for themselves, and they will in turn be able to see how well you are doing with your challenge. Not only will we all be able to hold each other accountable, but we will also be able to use each other as motivation to stick to our personal challenge. You might even be motivated by someone else to take on an additional challenge! Remember, this is not a competition where one person wins all, but an opportunity for us to feed off one another’s energy as we better ourselves. So who’s in?
March 18th– April 27th
Is it better for me to eat before or after I workout?
In my opinion, it really depends on what time you’re working out. For early workouts right after you wake up in the morning and your blood sugar is at its lowest, I feel that you are better off at least having something small to fuel yourself for the workout. That way you can workout harder and get more out of it. A small glass of juice, coconut water, or a piece of fruit should work for people that have a hard time eating early in the morning. In this case you should make sure to eat both protein and carbs within the 45 minutes immediately following your workout to help aid in recovery.
Assuming that you have eaten some carbs during the day, an evening workout doesn’t necessarily require a pre-workout meal. This is because your body will store sugar in the form of glycogen in your liver. That glycogen can be converted back into glucose for quick energy usage. Again, I do suggest trying to get your next meal in within 45 minutes of that workout.
If you do choose to eat before your workout, make sure to give yourself about 1 1/2 hours before you start to exercise so that you don’t get nauseous.
Posted in Fitness Tips on March 5, 2012
I was sent some interview questions by a publisher that was interested in having me featured in a book they are making. Or so they said 🙂 Anyways, I thought that I would share my answers since the questions are pretty common:
Is it true that some exercises produce results faster than others? Is so, which exercises provide the best and worst “returns on investment”? Yes. This usually depends on what the person’s goals are. For example, a lot of “core” or stability exercises are great for overall strength and can help a person avoid back problems. Some people though, will do these exercises to develop their rectus abdominus (six pack muscles), when in fact they would probably be better off doing simple crunches and laying off the potato chips! One of the biggest mistakes I see most people make in exercise selection is actually during cardio. People spend so much time on the treadmill and elliptical just wishing their body fat away, when they could be burning far more calories and fat by adding resistance training or higher intensity, shorter duration cardio. My advice would be to at least talk to a professional about your goals and what you are currently doing to achieve them. Again, the problem isn’t the exercise; it’s WHY you are doing the exercise!
How should someone determine how many grams of protein and carbs they should be eating each day? There are many factors that need to be considered here. Age, sex, body type, lifestyle, goal… There are too many cookie-cutter approaches to diet and exercise nowadays. These diets aren’t necessarily bad, but two people’s bodies can react different to the same stimulus. Here is some diet advice that my clients have found helpful. Regardless of the diet plan that you are following, or how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you are eating, there are two things that you MUST do to be successful.
1.) Log your food. You’ve heard it before, but it is crucial. People that write down what they eat are always more successful at body composition goals than people who don’t. It is even easier now with all of the calorie counting apps that people can use on their smart phones, so there are no excuses.
2.) STAY CONSISTENT! If you are all over the place with your diet and it is not working for you, what do you change? You won’t even know where to start! If you have been consistent and have been logging you food, it is very easy to look and what you are doing, change one thing, and see how your body reacts. Remember, people are different, so their diets shouldn’t all be exactly the same.
Is it a good idea for someone to workout if they have a cold? If they don’t have a hard time breathing, I say go for it. I would lay off of the cardio though, and wouldn’t recommend pushing it too hard in the gym. Also, if you have a fever or are contagious, stay out of the gym!!!
Is it better to perform cardio before or after lifting weights or should cardio be done on a completely different day? Go do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of resistance training after. Then, on another day, do the exact opposite. You will probably notice that you had more energy on the latter day. Both cardio and resistance training cause your body to burn through sugar that you have stored in your body. The difference is that your body NEEDS that sugar for resistance training. The sugar (glycogen) improves your strength, and because your brain is sensitive to blood sugar, it helps you to focus (which is important when you are holding a dumbbell over your head!). Do your cardio after. You don’t need to focus as much, nor do you need extra strength. You are working your cardiovascular system. That’s it.
Is it better to exercise every part of the body on the same day, or it better to focus on different muscle groups on different days? This is another one that differs a lot depending on the goal. If a person wants to grow their biceps for example, they need to overload their biceps with multiple sets of different exercises. They will probably pick one other muscle to workout on the same day. They won’t have the energy, or the time to work every major muscle in their body this way. However, if your goal is more functional, or you don’t want to bulk up, you are better off doing more compound movements and total body exercises. Most women people fit into this latter category.
If someone doesn’t have the time to spend hours cooking healthy meals, how can they still eat healthy? My first advice here is to cook in bulk. Preparing meals for the next couple of days will save you time, save you stress, and make it easier to stick to any diet. If you are a person who travels a lot and cannot do this, there is some good news: eating healthy is getting easier every day! As different health trends catch on, more restaurants (even fast food) are offering healthier choices. Be careful though! Some things passed off as healthy aren’t what they seem. Try keeping apples and nuts with you so that you can snack regularly on healthy foods. This will help stop you from over eating later. Also, when you do go out to eat:
- Have a plan. Check the menu online first to see what the healthiest choices are.
- drink a big glass of water before you order your food
- eat your veggies first
- get your dressing on the side
- ask the waiter to NOT bring the bread basket
- look for the words “steamed” and “grilled”
What should a personal trainer take into consideration when working with each individual client? Personal training should be personal! Even if 2 people have the same goal, they have different abilities, injuries, allergies, motivational factors, likes/dislikes, and they should have a program designed around THEM. Sometimes trainers forget that in order to get their client to change, they must change their approach. Some people need a drill sergeant, some need a cheerleader, and some need a therapist. Let’s say that a trainer charges $60 per 1hr session. That is $1 per minute. If the trainer isn’t giving their client value every minute that they are together, then that client should be shopping for another trainer!
If someone isn’t sore after a workout, does that mean they didn’t workout hard enough? If your goal requires that you gain muscle, then you’d better be sore after most of your workouts. Otherwise, if the soreness is hit and miss, that’s okay! You weren’t sitting on the couch or taking a nap; you were doing something good for yourself. Just because you don’t feel sore the next day doesn’t mean that you didn’t benefit from the workout.
The new fad seems to be “buying organic”. Is there any validity to eating organic food over non-organic food? What are the benefits and/or things to be aware of? This is where goals change. Whether or not your food is organic won’t effect your body fat. People eat organic when they are trying to avoid pesticides and harsh preservatives. I think that there is a lot to be said for eating organic. It means that you care. It means that you are trying to do something better. Unfortunately, it is often far more expensive to buy organic foods. One general rule is that if you are going to peel it, it doesn’t need to be organic. Some foods are more affected by pesticides and herbicides than others. My wife and I have a list on our fridge entitled “The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen”. It lists which foods should be bought organic and which ones don’t need to be. A quick Google search and you should be able to find something similar.
Should people wait until they’re not sore from their previous workout to start working out again? If your legs are really sore from your workout, it may not be a great idea to do another leg workout, but using your legs during the workout or doing some cardio may help push the lactic acid from your legs and help them recover quicker. What i would do is a light warm up first. If the muscle group you wanted to work is still sore after a warm up, pick a new muscle group to work that day.
If someone reaches their fitness goals, should they still continue to work with a personal trainer? It depends on why they started with that trainer. I have had clients come in long after they hit their goals for one simple reason. If they didn’t have an appointment with me, they would stop working out. Even if this isn’t the case, I think it is a good idea to at least “check in” with your trainer to make sure you are improving, or to get some new ideas. Not everyone NEEDS a personal trainer, but EVERYONE can benefit from having one.
When people first start exercising, why do they sometimes gain weight initially? Multiple factors here again. I see this more with women. The initial weight gain can be from hormones changing, water retention, or muscle gain. Your body is going through all kinds of things when it is subjected to a workout program for the first time. Or maybe all the exercise is just making you hungrier! It sounds funny, but I know people who gain weight when they exercise more because of that reason exactly! Again, this is why I stress the importance of consistency with your diet. If you know how many calories, carbs, protein, and fat you are putting into your body then the initial weight gain shouldn’t scare you. It is the people that have no idea what they are putting into their body that should be scared. It could be the hunger that is getting to them!
If someone has a heart condition, can they still workout? After clearance from their doctor; yes. This person should get into it slowly, and put more of an emphasis on their cardiovascular training initially.
If someone has a job where they don’t move around a lot, what can they do to increase their activity during the day, when they’re not working out? Stand up as often as possible, or even use a stability ball for a chair. That will at least stop you from resting against the back of the chair, which is horrible for your posture. Set reminders on your computer that pop up every 30 minutes to an hour that remind you to stand and stretch out a little. When you do walk around, go ahead and take the escalator down, but always try to walk up the stairs. Park you car a little further away, and if you are in a structure park on the top and force yourself to walk up the stairs to your car. It really is about a mindset here. Some people just want to reach their goals more than others. When you put the extra effort in to little things like this it goes a long way.
Is it safe for pregnant women to workout? Absolutely! There are certain precautions a woman must take into consideration when working out, though mostly in the later half of the pregnancy (like laying on their back). Nowadays women see their doctor so often during their pregnancy that if there were any cause for concern in terms of working out, their doctor can tell them what needs to be avoided (if anything).
Posted in The Straight & Narrow... on February 22, 2012
It has been a little over 7 weeks since the New Year and gyms everywhere are already starting to get empty again. Have you noticed? Or were you yourself one of the sheep this year?
Why is it that most people cannot keep their fitness resolutions? Are their goals too aggressive? Did their priorities change? Did they get burnt out on spinach and egg whites? I have a theory that you may or may not agree with, but I have watched so many people make these mistakes and I can often tell when someone will give up early on a fitness goal. First, let’s go over “SMART” goal setting:
S= Specific. Make sure you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Don’t tell yourself “I want to get in shape”. Round is a shape, but most of us don’t find that flattering. If your goal is in fact aesthetic, then find a picture of yourself or someone else (similar body type!) who you want to strive to look like.
M= Measurable. Are you trying to improve your running pace by 1 minute per mile? Or are you trying to get your body fat % under 20%? You must first know where you are starting, then make sure to measure how you are doing as you go along. This can be done once per week, or even once per month depending on the type of goal and how aggressive the goal is.
A= Attainable. “I want to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated” isn’t something that most of us will ever accomplish, but losing 2 dress sizes is very doable! If you have a bigger goal, try breaking it up in to smaller, monthly goals.
R= Realistic. You really have to be honest with yourself here. You may want to be at 5% body fat, but do you know what that takes? Are you willing to do the work and make all of the sacrifices necessary to get your body fat down to that level? Why 5%? If you only get to 8% will you be disappointed? Then maybe your first goal should be 10%…
T= Time-bound. When do you want to accomplish this goal? Remember, this helps your goal become measurable, but make sure the time frame you give yourself is attainable!
So why not just leave you with this? Because when it comes to fitness goals, I think that there are a couple of holes in the SMART acronym. In order for you to be able to stick to most fitness goals, you need to change SMART to “SMARTLY”. Now I am not sure if that is even a real word, but hear me out:
L= Life-long. What is it that you REALLY want out of your goal? Is it to look better for your sister’s wedding? To look good in your vacation pictures? If you want to stick to your short term goals, you’d better have some long term goals to follow up with. I will use myself as an example here: I am a married man, and it is important that I live for a long time so that my wife never has to live alone. Because if this I eat better. I try to only eat whole foods (organic when I can), I make sure my weight and body fat % never get above a certain point, and I have cut unnatural things like aspartame completely out of my diet. These things that I do for my Life-Long Goals make my short term goals easier to attain, because I am never far off from where I want to be for MY vacation pictures! 🙂 I also spend more time doing various yoga poses and stretches, as well as certain “core” strengthening exercises, because I not only want to be there for my wife- I want to be able to walk next to her as opposed to having her push me around in a wheelchair.
Y= You. This isn’t anybody else’s goal. Getting healthier because your wife told you to, or getting in shape so your husband finds you more attractive is fine, but what is YOUR incentive? Why is this important to YOU? If there is nothing in it for you, you are far less likely to stick to your program. It is your body. Your health. Your life. Your health is one of the very few things in life that nobody else can control. The way that you will live the rest of your life is (almost) completely up to you. Take advantage of that. Be a little selfish. Think about what you want. Then make it happen…
Need help setting your personal goals? Please email me at: Johnsanchez0@gmail.com