Are You What You Eat?


Growing up, I was decidedly a picky eater. There was no rhyme or reason to the food choices I made - children tend to have a classy palate with a preference for chicken nuggets and bologna (no one else enjoyed overly processed meat?). 



Luckily, as an adult, I have found what works best for me, and it happens to be a plant-based diet. Crazy to think a cold-cut loving kid would become a type 1 diabetic and lover of green things. I was never overly concerned with the old saying - You are what you eat; however, it begs the question, was I an overly processed piece of meat as a child? 

 



There is a negative connotation associated with making different food choices that may or may not align with current health trends. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the struggle within the world of nutrition. Your dining choices do not make you a horrible person, and at the same time, remember everyone is capable of change.   

 

 Why is change hard? 

 

Change, as defined by Google, is to make or become different. How do you qualify change, and how do you know if you are doing enough? 

 

If you are reading this blog post, you are taking a step in the right direction. Merely the thought of doing something is enough. Nutrition choices come down to deciding on small micro-changes that turn to long-lasting habits. You are the person who will determine the adjustment(s) within your daily routine. No one can make change happen for you - not your coach, partner, or family.  

 

Remember the picky eater that I mentioned earlier? Imagine trying to change their eating routine with little to no warning. You aren't going to get very far, and the food may end up going to waste. What if you thought about the minimums? 

 

What would you like the picky eater to eat? Now, peel it back until it is a small enough adjustment that seems silly, not at least to try it. 

 

Mac and Cheese with a few pieces of spinach. 😃

 

Maybe Mac and Cheese isn't your cup of tea, but I am sure there is some guideline you created for yourself that defines a meal as good or bad - therefore, it becomes easier for negative thoughts to become associated with a meal and the choice you make.  

 

Think of the bare minimum you need to start making changes in your lifestyle and food habits. There is no right or wrong answer because everyone is different. Personally, when I first attempted to eat a more plant-based diet, I found it to be overwhelming. How was I going to change my carnivore diet?  

 

I set a bare minimum to pick one new recipe to try during the week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If I made the recipe, that was a big win! If I found something I wanted to try but didn't make it, that was still a big win! Modify your perception of what change and success are, and you can always find the silver lining.  🥳

 

So ask yourself what your minimums are and then take a moment to acknowledge you are making progress and are one step closer to building long-lasting habits. 

 

Also, if you are interested, here is one of the first vegetarian recipes I made! I have a hard time passing up a good veggie burger. 😉 🍔 🥗 

 

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients

1 handful cashews

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 cup of cooked Lentils 

1 (15.5oz) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 egg yolk

100g mature cheddar, finely grated (Optional)

4 burger buns, sliced in half

 

How To: 

  • Roast the cashews in a small pan. Leave them on the stove until they start to brown. Take them off the stove and set them aside. 
  • Put the pan back on the heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil—Cook the onion, mushrooms, and garlic along with some salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until everything is soft and all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated. 
  • Add the mixed grains to the pan and use the back of your spoon to break up the pieces. Stir well to combine, then take off the heat.
  • Tip half of this mushroom mixture into a food processor along with all of the cashew nuts and the kidney beans. Mix until smooth.
  • Scrape into a large bowl and add the remaining mushroom mix, smoked paprika, egg yolk and half of the grated cheese. Beat well with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined, then season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  • Shape the burgers into four patties and cook for a couple of minutes until browned and crisp. Carefully flip over and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Place a pile of the remaining cheese over the burgers. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 1 minute or so until melted.
  • Toast your burger buns and add your favorite toppings for a killer burger! 

Inspired by Joe Wick's Veggie Lean In 15

 

 

Perfectionism: The Enemy Of Progress



A few years ago, I started wearing a Garmin GPS watch for most of my training sessions. At the time, I was following the work of conditioning and HRV guru, Joel Jamieson, a big fan tracking heart rate data.  

 

During every training session, I wore a heart rate monitor and carefully paid attention to the heart rate zone I was using. There are a total of four heart rate zones that are defined by a percentage of your maximum heart rate. The difficulty of a session can be determined by how you utilize your heart rate zones. 
 

 If it is a hard training session, I might hang out in zone 3 or zone 4 - a more relaxed session focusing on recovery I may spend in zone 1 or 2. It got to the point where I was carefully logging my trail runs and strength sessions based on heart rate percentages - which isn't horrible; however, data became the deciding factor of my success or failure in training.    

 

The Pitfalls of Data 

 



While training for my first Ultra Marathon, I depended heavily on planning my training sessions around heart rate zones. My goal was to keep my heart rate down during every single run, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I missed out on something special.  

 

I would spend hours running on beautiful trails, and my eyes gazed at my silly watch. After every session, I would post a picture of my heart rate zones to Instagram. I wish I could say sharing those posts held me accountable, but I was posting it to make it seem like I was perfect.   

 

A picture of my zones couldn't capture the sweat and disappointment I felt when my heart rate would jump up as traversed rocky hills. It felt as if months of training wasn't getting me where I wanted to be.   

 

After running my ultra, I took a much-needed break from training, thanks to my son TJ's birth. My wife and I are back in the swing of things, and training is back to normal. TJ has put things in perspective. Time is short, and life is beautiful. The time I spend training is a luxury that some can't afford, and analyzing- training data isn't how I want to use it. 

 

How Did I Combat The Pressure of Perfectionism? 

 

Autoregulation.  

 

Autoregulation is the ability to listen to your body and know what you are truly capable of doing - it is a part of daily life, and for a brief period, I lost sight of it. In the last four weeks, I have made more progress than in the previous six months. Having a baby wake up at all hours of the night and starting the day at 5 AM is a blessing.  

When I step into the gym, the other stressors in my life play a crucial role in my training decisions. 

  • How well did I sleep? 
  • How hard was my training session yesterday? 
  • How is my blood sugar? 
  • Does TJ need my attention? 
  • Does my fantastic wife need help? 

These are just a few of the thoughts that shape how I train and continue to make progress. Will things be perfect? No. Can they ever be perfect? No, because perfect doesn't exist and it never will. There is only the moment we are in, and it is right where you need to be. 

 

My most recent trail run was four miles with a beautiful breeze on my shoulders and a sunrise. Was it perfect? I don't know. My feet carried me, and I had energy after I left the trail. I went home and spent the day with my family. In the grand scheme of things, I made progress, and that is good enough for me.

The Power Of Walking  



What is the best way to train your body?

This is a bit of a loaded question. Many folks believe that moving your body X way or performing Y amount of Z will save you, prevent death, and allow you to walk on water. 
 

I am here to set things straight. The best kind of exercise is the exercise that you can do consistently. When I work with a client, I like to put it in terms of a scale of 1 - 10 for ease (10 being incredibly easy). Your goal is to find a way to always make it a 14 out of 10. Sure, you may need to add more; however, I stand by the idea that 3, 10, or 30 minutes is an ideal amount of time to train. 

 

What is the best way to train "my body" is a better question.   

 

Daily movement of any kind. I can judge if I am doing the right amount based on blood sugar trends. After living with diabetes for two decades, I am fortunate to be very intuned with my body. Personally, high blood sugar in the midmorning means that I should move my body a little more. Low blood sugar midmorning means that I may have pushed it hard, which isn't always bad.  

 

Training has become a part of my daily routine and is crucial for my mental health and well-being. Uncontrolled blood sugar and depression go hand in hand.  
 

In a study from 2014, doctors uncovered a relationship between glutamate, a brain neurotransmitter linked to depression at high levels, and blood sugar of people with diabetes. In patients with uncontrolled blood sugar, there were higher levels of glutamate and higher levels of depression.   

 

These findings are all the more reason to move your body for both diabetics and non-diabetics.  

 

If you are in a training rut or never have trained, where can you start? 

I recommend going for a walk. Remember that scale on 1-10 for ease of training? Try to focus on time instead of distance. In other words, the distance doesn't matter as much as consistency. A 10-minute walk is fantastic! A 30-minute walk is pretty impressive too. Find the amount of time that allows you to lace up your shoes and get outside.  

 

If you want to take things up a notch, try going for a walk in the morning before breakfast, moving your body while in a fasted state can do wonders for your metabolism. Everyone is different, but for those with diabetes, this is an excellent way to test the waters regarding blood sugar levels and relationship to insulin dosage (it does wonders for your insulin sensitivity).  

 

If you are interested in learning more about fasting and diabetes, here is a fantastic free-PDF from the folks at Mastering Diabetes.

 

Once you start walking daily, there is a whole world of training options at your fingertips. Creating habits is a powerful tool that, with practice, can completely change how you approach any obstacle in your way.  

 

An obstacle is an opportunity to grow, and growth inspires change.  

How to Build A Strong Back With No Gym

 

My first introduction to strength training was my Sophomore year of college. Every day after my last class, I would make my way to the gym and get ready to let off steam. Going to the gym became a part of my daily routine - a routine I still follow, granted there are fewer bicep curls now.

Things are different, and most, if not all, gyms are closed for the time being. So, what do you do?

Well, thanks to social media, there are endless options for #athomeworkouts from talented trainers.

Here are a few of my favorites:

You don't need a fancy facility or equipment to build incredible strength. Since you may not have access to a pull-up bar or dumbbells, I wanted to share a few of my favorite bodyweight exercises for developing a strong posterior chain.





 

Rocking

Cues:

  • Initiate the movement through the shoulder blades.
  • Keep arms locked out and push through the arms the entire time.
  • Place something soft under your knees to help with any discomfort.

Elevated Rocking

Cues:

  • Elevate the knees
  • Initiate the movement through the shoulder blades.
  • Keep arms locked out and push through the arms.
  • Move with control the entire time.

Baby Crawl

Cues:

  • Move with contralateral movement. (Right arm moves with left leg.)
  • Look straight forward, maintaining a long spine.
  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades

Leopard Crawl

Cues:

  • Elevate the knees
  • Move with contralateral movement. (Right arm moves with left leg.)
  • Look straight forward and avoid rounding the lower back.
  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades.

Hollow Crawl

Cues:

  • Push away from the ground and tuck your tailbone.
  • While pushing focus on depressing the shoulders
  • Move with contralateral movement (Right arm moves with left leg.)
  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades.
  • For an added challenge attempt to balance with two limbs off the ground.

Forearm Plank

Cues:

  • Place forearms on the ground with shoulders stacked over elbows.
  • Engage your glutes by squeezing the legs together.
  • Push away from the ground while pulling your shoulder blades into your back pocket.

Seesaw

Cues:

  • Place a slider or towel under your feet.
  • Place forearms on the ground with shoulders stacked over elbows.
  • Engage your glutes by squeezing the legs together.
  • Push away from the ground while pulling your shoulder blades into your back pocket.

Windshield Wipers:

Cues:

  • Keep shoulder blades in contact with the ground the entire time.
  • Squeeze ankles and knees together through your full range of motion.
  • As your lower body moves to the right, flip your right palm up. Repeat going to the left.

Tabletop Rocks

Cues:

  • Push through the arms and lift your chest
  • Drive the hips up toward the ceiling
  • Push through the arms to shift your weight forward
  • Pull the shoulder blades down to return to your starting position

3-Point Bridge

Cues:

  • Push through the arms and lift your chest
  • Drive the hips up toward the ceiling
  • Bend one arm and glue it to your ribs.
  • Shift your weight back over the supporting arm.
  • If you feel stable feel free to extend the bent arm over your head.

Bridge Push-Ups

Cues:

  • Keep feet hip-width apart.
  • As you push into the bridge focus on relaxing the glutes and engaging the quadriceps
  • Push through the arms and lift the chest.
  • As you push through the quadriceps shift your weight back into the arms.

Thoughts on Sets and Repetitions

Any of these exercises can be altered for your training needs. I am a big fan of following timed sets instead of aiming for a certain number of repetitions. Timed work allows me to focus on the quality of each movement while keeping each session short and sweet.
 

Sample Session

Prep: 5 Minutes

Practice: 5 minutes

  • Leopard Crawl
    • Practice moving with control and take as many breaks as you need to during the 5 minutes.
    • Focus on quality of movement over quality.

Push: 30 seconds per exercise with 30 seconds rest once every exercise is completed.

Goal: 5 rounds.

Ponder: How'd your session go? Where there any movements that challenged you? What is one positive take away from your training session today?

Lessons From 50 KM


There is a distinct sound that a basketball makes once it comes in contact with the asphalt. The sound echos through the neighborhood I trot by. Trot makes me sound like a valiant steed when, in fact, I look like Eeyore on his worst day.
I am broken out of my meditative basketball trance by the vibration of my GPS watch. Mile 30 - holy shit- one mile left to go. It is hard to believe 7 hours, and forty minutes earlier, I had embarked on my first ultramarathon - an ultramarathon, where I was the sole participant. Whose brilliant idea was that?

Mine.

A few years ago, if you were to ask me to go on a run with you, I would quickly say no. I hated anything to do with the sport of running - so, why run an ultramarathon?

Mental Health.

In 2017 I was overtaken with depression and anxiety. It got to the point where moving out of bed in the morning felt like an impossible task. I was a healthy 27 year old who worked out, meditated, and ate well. No matter what I tried, it felt like I was losing my battle with depression. The situation only intensified when my wife came home to discover me in a ball on the floor - crying, hugging myself, and lost in my sadness. With her assistance, I was able to place my ego aside and get the help I needed.


30.15 Miles

My GPS watch still reads 30 miles - either time is going backward, or I am not moving, perhaps it is the latter. My feet continue to move, and I turn a corner to head toward the finish line, home. It is only then that I remember the road home is entirely uphill. My watch can make phone calls, and I could easily call my wife to come to pick me up. 30.15 miles is nothing to shake your head at, but still, I had trained for months, and isn't the pain I feel in my legs just in my head?

No. It's a pain, and it isn't a weakness leaving your body!


January 2018 was the first time I laced up my running shoes. During the holidays, I managed to read Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run," and it dawned on me to take up running. That day I made it exactly one mile and called it quits. Every time my foot hit the ground, another reason why I hated running popped into my head. Why did running sound so exciting in McDougall's book? Maybe it was the fact every race took place on an isolated trail.
The very next morning, I woke up, grabbed my pup, and headed to the nearest trail. A few hours later, I was home with a big silly grin on my face. The fresh air mixed with the crunch of dirt and gravel was the most fabulous playlist I have ever heard.

Fast forward to September of 2019, and I knew every trail near my home like the back of my hand. So, what was next? I have a love for the outdoors, and trail running is my favorite form of meditation; therefore, I was determined to enter a trail race.

 So, your first race is an ultramarathon? Are you crazy?

On March 7th, I turned 30 years old, and as a present to myself, I signed up for a 50 km trail race. Any race beyond 26.2 miles is considered an ultramarathon, and I decided to do it all for a good cause. I partnered with the folks at Movember to raise money for mental health and awareness. In 2017 I was fortunate enough to get the help I needed; however, not everyone has the same opportunities. Thirty miles by the time I turned 30 to raise money to help others in need!
My first day of training was November 1st, and the big race day was Saturday, March 21st, 2020. After months of hard work training and raising money, the race was canceled due to Covid-19.

It's better to be safe than sorry.

Large group gatherings aren't safe at the moment, and why risk getting sick at a time like this? There is no one to blame, and we are all human. We feel pain. We feel anxiety. We are scared of what is to come. It is strange because that is how I felt while dealing with depression.
I was determined to run with or without an official race. It was never about racing anyone else other than myself. The 31 miles would be my mental battle, and mine alone. At 8:15 AM on Saturday, March 21st, I put on my pack, set my watch GPS, kissed my wife, and started to run.
My ultramarathon course took me through towns and trails all around New Jersey. I saw beautiful things in nature like waterfalls and beautiful things in neighborhoods like families drawing with chalk on driveways. The moment we are in is hard, but there is beauty in the ordinary that surrounds us, and it's our job to find it.

 

Pick up your legs.

I continue to look up at the hill and wonder if I can make it to the top. My trot turns into a run, and my burst of speed allows me to sail to the top. The pain that has wrapped my legs for the last ten miles vanishes, and I continue to move as if the previous thirty miles never happened. The thought of stopping seems foolish, and I continue to run home.

I have a laser beam focus as I fly down the sidewalk. I think my family was cheering for me, but all I wanted to do was cross the finish line. Ironically my watch chimed to let me know I completed 31 miles a while ago, 31.8 miles ago, to be exact.
I crossed the finish line and collapsed in a squat after eight hours. I held onto my very pregnant wife and our dog. I cried and thought about something a family had written on their driveway in chalk. "I am grateful to be outside with my family, and I am grateful that you get to be outside too."

Resolutions Hack - Don't Make Em'



Every New Year's Day, my wife and I go to our favorite coffee shop and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee while we do a little 'year in review.' We talk about everything that we accomplished and the things we still hope to achieve in the future.

As our taste buds savor the first drop of caffeine in 2020, we start to write down our goals for the new year. I use the word goal because these aren't resolutions, otherwise defined as a million little things we may try to accomplish in the next 365 days. In contrast, goals are big dreams that require you to focus on the bigger picture. We have written the same goals over and over again, and a prime example is paying off our mortgage. Our mortgage is a large sum of money, and I am relatively sure we aren't going to pay it off in the next year; however, we will take steps that help us get closer to that goal.

LONG LISTS MAY GET YOU NOWHERE FAST

When you set a goal, there are specific steps that one must take to ensure that they will achieve that goal. The more specific you are, the easier it becomes to have concrete actions in place to move you toward your main objective. Here is an example:

2020 Resolutions

  • Save more money
  • Lose Weight
  • Be more active
  • Travel

These are great, but they aren't specific, and it makes it that much harder to follow through on them. I like to do something called "reverse engineering" when I am figuring out exactly what I want to accomplish. Let's look at one example.

SAVE MORE MONEY

Saving more money is excellent, and most folks are trying to do that. However, what steps are you taking to get there? How will you know that you saved enough money? Be specific! Say something like I want to keep one thousand dollars a month. A thousand dollars might be too much right now, but that's OK!

Now that you have that number, you can work backward and figure out where you can start. Saving twenty dollars a week in a jar is eighty dollars at the end of the month and is nine hundred and sixty dollars at the end of a year. That is almost an extra thousand dollars in your account by setting aside twenty dollars a week! Again, you can always dial things back to ten or five dollars a week because the most important thing is finding consistency.

BE A SUPERHERO

Consistency is the secret to achieving any goal you want to set; however, it is essential to remember that you may slip along the way. It's not uncommon for someone to miss one workout and then another and to officially fall off the weight-loss resolution wagon.

Here's the thing I want you to know and to repeat to yourself, "you're amazing, and there's still time." You can still make a change, and just because you missed a training session, it doesn't mean that you're a failure. I know that if you were to step back and look at everything you accomplished today, you would find at least one positive thing to acknowledge. Please take a moment to write it down, and the next time you are feeling defeated, go back and look at what you wrote. The more you can write down the little moments of gratitude and positivity, the better.

We each have a superpower, and it is your job to determine what that power is. If I were to sit down and look over my journal from last year, I would see the following:

"I am an exceptional husband who has an intelligent and breathtaking wife for a partner."

Was I always exceptional? No. But writing it down allows me to ask myself, "Is this what an exceptional husband would do?" Having that phrase became my superpower and my mantra. I had many different mantras in 2019, and I am sure I will have more in 2020, and they will all be used to my advantage.

So, here is my challenge for you this year. Ditch your long list of resolutions and narrow it down to five specific goals. Write them down every single day on a piece of paper, a post-it note, or in your journal. Do it every single day, and if you miss a day, remember that you're amazing, and there is still time to make a change. Start small, and you will be surprised by where you are in 365 days.

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Motion McMahon