Thursday, June 16, 2016
Good morning and happy FITNESS Friday to you!
Here’s a challenging running workout that will challenge your entire body from head to toe. Try it today, this weekend, or put it on your calendar for next week. It’s a guaranteed great workout!
As you probably remember, I love high-intensity running workouts that include a variety of strength movements. They keep both my mind and body engaged and they are a whole lot of fun. I swear, the time just flies by!
This workout starts with a 200 meter run followed by 15 Squat Jumps and a 60-second side plank hold. After that, you’ll run 400 meters followed by 20 Push-Ups and a plank hold on the other side. Then, the running distance will increase to 800 meters followed by 25 Burpees (you love me!) and another side plank hold. You’ll continue to work your way back down the ladder of exercises and finish with 15 Squat Jumps. For even more of a challenge, repeat the workout from the top for two full rounds. Happy sweating!
- Top: I get questions all the time about my tanks and one of my very favorites is the Distance Running Tank Top from Brooks Running because it’s comfortable and totally fuss-free. When I exercise, I don’t want to worry about what I’m wearing, so this tank is definitely a go-to for me. It’s super soft, sweat-wicking, and flattering (not too tight, but not baggy either). I love it. I also own a pair of matching stripped Chaser 3″ Shorts from Brooks that are so cute and perfect for both running and other kinds of workouts (aka they’re not super tight on the quads and move with you). I especially love their thick waistband with drawstring, which is comfy and flattering, and I don’t have to worry about them falling down or moving around too much during my workouts.
- Leggings: These are another favorite for sure! They’re from Fabletics, who I recently started working with, and I wear them for workouts, running errands, and just lounging around the house. The material is soft and actually quite a bit thicker than other leggings that I own, but I really like that high-quality feeling.
- Sneakers: Oh, how I love my Brooks Adrenaline “Nantucket” GTS! I wear them ALL the time for both workouts and everyday life. They are seriously the cutest sneakers ever created (and super comfy!), and I get compliments on them all the time.
Question of the Day
What type of workout are you currently loving?
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The thing we love most about zucchini is that it refuses to be labeled. In a culinary context, this firm summer squash is treated as a vegetable, often prepared as a savory main or side dish. But botanically, zucchini is classified as a fruit — and more specifically as a type of berry — which perhaps explains why you’ll find this fiber-packed jack-of-all-trades in sweet breads and pastries too. Few other vegetables can boast the same level of versatility. Luckily, the prime season is long — it begins in June and peaks in late August, so be sure to fit in several trips to the farmers market before summer is over. Whether it’s lightly seasoned and grilled until smoky or grated into fine shreds to be hidden in baked goods, there’s no meal this light summer squash can’t conquer. See for yourself with these 8 in-season zucchini recipes for casserole, zucchini bread and more.
Skillet Eggs with Squash
Break out your skillet for this crowd-pleasing one-pot dish, where baked eggs sit atop grated summer squash and zucchini, with a healthy dose of spicy pepper Jack cheese, nutmeg and scallions.
Healthy Zucchini Bread
This is just like your grandmother’s zucchini bread but without the guilt-inducing levels of butter and oil. Whole-wheat pastry flour creates a filling, nutty-tasting loaf. Apple butter lends extra moistness and natural sweetness. Surprisingly, only a third-cup of heart-healthy oil is used in this recipe.
Potato and Zucchini Frittata
Comforting and easy to make, frittatas are a quintessential brunch dish for a reason. But they can leave you feeling uncomfortably stuffed, given the liberal amounts of cheese and bacon found within them. Here, finely grated zucchini adds extra fiber and bright green color to this light, summery frittata for only 255 calories per serving.
Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Take your snack spread to the next level with Ellie Krieger’s super-seasonal baked zucchini crisps. Unlike store-bought potato chips, these crisps are light and crunchy without the grease. Your guests will appreciate the homemade touch.
Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese
Equally satisfying are Ellie’s grilled zucchini rolls made with reduced-fat goat cheese, lemon and parsley filling. They’re just enough to tide over your guests while you put the finishing touches on dinner.
Surprise your guests at your next dinner party with these mealworthy stuffed zucchini. Sturdy on the outside but tender on the inside, zucchini are perfect for hollowing out and filling with fresh, seasonal mix-ins. Here, they’re stuffed with breadcrumbs, tomatoes, herbs and garlic.
Zucchini Ribbon Pasta
If you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner that’s filling yet health-conscious and incorporates seasonal produce, try tossing whole-wheat fettuccine with thin ribbons of green and yellow zucchini. Slicing the zucchini to mimic the shape of noodles makes for a big bowl of pasta that’s actually half vegetables.
Light Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Casserole
For a heartier zucchini main, try Food Network Kitchen’s comforting casserole. Spicy tomato sauce coats layers of sliced zucchini, and a sprinkling of Cotija cheese adds a touch of creaminess. For the best results, quickly broil the zucchini before you assemble the casserole. That way you can ensure all the pieces will be evenly cooked once they’re baked with the tomato sauce.
For more ways to use summer squash, check out these recipes from our friends:
In Jennie’s Kitchen: 5 Sweet & Savory Zucchini Recipes
Devour: Use Your Zoodle: 3 Italian-Inspired Squash Recipes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Italian Marinated Zucchini
The Mom 100: Baby Zucchini Gratin
Feed Me Phoebe: Green Shakshuka with Zucchini, Chard and Peas
Creative Culinary: Lemony Summer Squash Bread
Taste with the Eyes: Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil #glutenfree
FN Dish: 10 Recipes That Prove Zucchini Is Actually a Magic Vegetable
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We’ve heard it a million times: “Eat a well-balanced diet with everything in moderation.” After all these decades of clear failure, it’s a hazy cliché still delivered by physicians, dietitians and nutritional “experts” with earnest assurance. The same goes for exercise and stress. Moderate amounts of stress are okay, moderate cardiovascular work is good, etc. We accept the concept of moderation so readily, I think, because it sounds so rational and simple. If we follow common sense, moderation suggests, we’ll be fine. But if it were that easy, most people would be healthy—and statistics on the rising rates of obesity and chronic illness tell us otherwise. So what’s the problem?
Something critical is missing in the picture. Unfortunately, the moderation mantra—as we tend to invoke it—is too often a comforting abstraction we use to delude ourselves and to justify engaging in the same sabotaging behaviors again and again. After all, moderation as a blurry standard conveniently doesn’t exactly ask us to change anything specific or question what we’ve come to accept as normal lifestyle patterns. It’s limited by our own subjective interpretation. So to that old mantra, I’d like to make an additional recommendation.
What if we could take the low-pressured positivity of this concept and reframe it within specific, personalized, meaningful bounds?
In short, what would it mean for our health goals if we truly took moderation in hand and clarified it for our own individual use?
Because the fact is, I see a genuine opportunity here. As those who have been around MDA for a while know, I’m not a stickler for minute detail. I don’t promote counting calories or weighing food. There’s no need to run daily arithmetic around Primal “points.” Likewise, your daily exercise needn’t be measured obsessively to get and stay in good physical shape. The Primal Blueprint, after all, is about principles—the basic, straightforward, physiological principles that have governed ancestral diet, movement and lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of years. When we align our lives with those principles, the beauty is we don’t need to bother much at all with the math. It makes good primal health easy.
The Problem of Perception
But the concept of moderation as most people commonly think of it suggests something totally different. Moderation is almost always put in context of “all things in moderation.” As in, anything goes as long as you don’t eat or do too much of it—except research doesn’t support the idea that this leads to actual health gains. In fact, the opposite appears to be true for weight and metabolic health.
Add to this question the complete and utter fuzziness of what constitutes “too much.” How much is too much cardio? How much is too much sugar? How much is too much stress? What about too much sleep?
The problem is, we’re not particularly good at defining moderate amounts for ourselves without the haze of self-justification getting in the mix. Case in point: a recent study published by the University of Georgia. In one part of the overall study, subjects were asked to define how many chocolate chip cookies constituted an appropriate amount (how many people “should” eat), how many constituted a “moderate” serving, and how many constituted an “indulgent” serving. The average responses were a little over two for the appropriate amount, just over three for the moderate amount, and just under six for the indulgent amount. In other words, people tend to situate “moderation” between “ought” and “indulgence.” Researchers observed the same trend when they repeated the experiment with candies.
But in the most telling of all results, participants were asked to both describe their consumption of specific unhealthy food choices (e.g. pizza, ice cream, etc.) and their definition of a moderate serving for these foods. Not at all surprisingly, the more people ate of a certain food, the more generously they defined a moderate serving for it. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to believe the same can be said for self-justifying our other lifestyle factors.
For example, just how does a cardio junkie hope to define moderation for his/her aerobic activity? How could an avid Cross-Fitter settle into a moderate HIIT routine? Can a couch potato come up with a meaningful sense of appropriate and moderate physical activity? And in terms of dietary transition, how can someone who’s used to drinking a liter of soda per day conceive of a moderate sugar intake? Someone who eats fast food every day—how does he/she find a moderate standard for SAD foods? What about the vegan adopting a “moderate” amount of meat and animal products? And that workaholic? How will that person come to a reasonable, moderate balance for work and play? Or how about the person who’s spent decades avoiding sun exposure at all costs. What’s going to feel “moderate” to him/her?
Where do all of these scenarios and their difficulties leave us with the moderation question? Is it a hopeless enterprise, or can we learn to bring more objectivity to bear? If so, how?
Moderation as a Process
For one, I think we need to embrace the idea of growing into moderation. This means accepting that it’s a process to learn to live “in the middle” when for too long we’ve lingered along the edges in one degree or another. Moderation, if we ever hope to intuit it as a broad standard in our lives, seems a whole lot easier coming from an internalized compass (if not temperament) of moderation. Perhaps the Stoics had it right.
But how does this happen? A good initial question deals with motivation.
What pulls us to the edges and keeps us in our less moderate behaviors? What’s behind our obsession with work, with chocolate, with muscle mass, with soda? What are we hiding from, substituting for, and asking of our lives? We may not have an instant answer here, but I’m guessing most if not all of us will have some inkling. Start there.
Next, get clear on how the body works as a system. The mentality as well as physiology of moderation is rooted in understanding and appreciating the holistic mechanisms at work. Take a real look at the Primal Blueprint for this very principle—one of inclusive, intersecting logic. We’re seeking to bring balance to all systems. If we’re living off cortisol and caffeine all day, it doesn’t bode well for our hormonal homeostasis. Exercising a lot but justifying eating the conventional carb intake will eventually take us toward any number of ailments, including insulin resistance.
Take a moment to apply that idea of physiological balance to your life as a vision toward self-attunement, keeping in mind where you’re off the Primal grid. The beauty of the Primal Blueprint is that it focuses on balancing a number of essential inputs. We often go through a period of transition if we’re coming out of unhealthy metabolic states that spur everything from fatigue to sleep issues; cravings to brain fog. But once we’re over the hump, we’ll be working with reliable physical feedback. The basic guidelines for making this shift are there—a blueprint for physiological balance as determined by ancestral patterns. “What Would Grok Do?” in that way becomes a resourceful question in imagining moderation.
Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.
Instead of languishing in vagueness, start setting a new “working” standard, understanding that moderation will be a process of experimentation and refinement.
You’ll be training yourself toward moderate eating/exercising/living week by week.
I’m not one for excessive recording, but it can be a great tool for awareness—the raw numbers that demonstrate the crucial difference between perception and practice. Use a notebook or app to record your day’s activity/diet/sleep patterns/stress perceptions—whatever you’re trying to rein in. At the end of each day, take a look. Where exactly is the 80/20 Principle falling apart in your day? How much time did you really spend lifting or performing heavy cardio today? How does it compare to the Primal Blueprint recommendations?
When Moderation Isn’t the Answer
Finally, I think it’s well worth coming back to the question of elimination. A rational adult knows better than to believe that every option under the sun needs to be at the table for life to be worth living. We maturely eschew certain things because we accept they aren’t good for us—for us as individuals.
Some people can have a brownie at the family picnic and be done at one. For other people, it just doesn’t work that way. They’re better leaving it out altogether. Learn to accept that some things resist moderation for you. They’re a set-up every time. Gluten allergies, sugar addiction, adrenal fatigue or other health propensities (e.g. aggressive cancers that run in your family) call us to ditch moderation for the sake of well-being.
In the interest of your own health and satisfaction, learn to reject the fixation on deprivation—the assumption that if we don’t have the freedom to indulge in everything at the buffet table or to run ourselves ragged because we’re obsessed with FOMO (fear of missing out), we’re being held back from life. A smart approach to moderation knows what to leave out of the picture entirely.
Ultimately, the question of appropriate and effective moderation may boil down to a lifelong commitment to reading the body’s feedback. At what points do we realize we’ve extended ourselves beyond the range of tolerable impact? The further along we are in the journey, the more attuned we’ll be to these shifts in mood, sleep, energy and performance.
Thanks for reading today, everyone. I’d love to hear how you’ve honed your way to moderation in Primal living. Have a great end to the week.
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I’ve made a version of this salad a few times lately, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite lunches!
First, tofu. It’s such a great staple to have on hand because it lasts in the fridge, doesn’t require a raw meat-only cutting board, and can be eaten raw, so it’s easy to work with. Plus, I just love the texture and flavor of it!
Second, greens from my garden. So sweet and easy to acquire at this time of year!
And third, sesame and soy, the Asian power combo! Both are strong flavors that don’t disappear into food.
To make the tofu I press out as much liquid as I can with a few clean towels, and then slice it into bite-size rectangles. I always buy extra-firm tofu to make this as easy as possible. The tofu pieces go into a pan, and I glug sesame and soy over them. There’s no need to measure – just make sure the tofu goes from white to brown, which will indicate that the flavors are all there. Allow the mixture to cook over medium heat until the sides of the tofu begin to crisp, and then flip – using tongs to get as many sides crispy as you have patience for.
To finish off the salad, I added pre-cooked broccoli, cashews for crunch, raisins for a hint of sweetness, and drizzles of sesame oil and honey to bring it all together. No separate dressing necessary, (unless of course you want to make one).
There ya have it – a nice little vegetarian lunch for you, ready in less than 10 minutes!
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Happy (belated) birthday to Murphy! Our little puglet turned 7 years old the other day and, of course, we needed to celebrate.
Before he even knew the plan, Murphy was already super pumped for a “ride in the car.”
We picked up Quinn early from daycare and then drove to Hingham.
We met Dada there and then walked over to Maggie’s Dog House for Murphy’s birthday surprise.
Remember Murphy’s Subaru adventure that was filmed there? If you haven’t watched this video yet, definitely check it out. It’s one of my favorite CNC projects to date. And, fun fact, Quinn was there for it too! I was nearly 3 months pregnant with him when it was filmed.
Back to our pug birthday adventures…
Q-Man was immediately drawn to the dog cookies at Maggie’s. They were so adorable and delicious-looking… even I wanted one!
I explained to Quinn that the cookies were dog cookies for Murphy, but I’m not sure he completely understood. Even still, he enjoyed selecting which cookies to buy. Donut cookie? Obviously.
Meanwhile, Murphy scoped out the other snack options in the store. Typical pug.
Once we purchased Murphy’s birthday treats, we headed home to give them to him.
At first, Quinn really liked telling Murphy to “sit” and then giving him a cookie.
But when we went to feed Murphy a second cookie, Quinn really wanted to eat it. I tried to explain the difference between dog cookies and kid cookies, but he just didn’t get it and broke down crying huge alligator tears. Poor sweet boy. I felt so bad.
Thankfully, Grandma had given Quinn a couple of owl sugar cookies for his pizza- and bird-themed party, so I gave him part of one to stop his tears.
All better. Grandma’s cookies save the day!
Happy birthday, Murphy!
Question of the Day
Do you celebrate your pet’s birthday?
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