Once again, I begin a blog post by saying, "Well, hello there, it's been a while, hasn't it?" But I have a good reason (again), I swear! See, the thing is, I had a baby two weeks ago. His name is Roan and yesterday was the first time that he stayed awake long enough to play in his activity gym and stare at the toys dangling from its arches and even smile a little at a stuffed giraffe.
But two weeks. Two weeks.
It feels infinitely longer than that, but at the same time, these past 15 days have flown
by in a manner that no one could prepare me for. Parents are sure to understand this already. It's something that I couldn't understand on my own, not before this. I won't ever say to non-parents, "Oh, you'll understand when you have children of your own." That wouldn't be very fair. But for myself, no, I couldn't understand it before this little man came into my world.
Some other things I now understand:
- I can love something greater than I ever knew possible.
- Breastfeeding is more challenging than anyone lets on, but it's just so cool to see that my baby can survive on my care alone.
- I can operate on minimal sleep...at least for now.
- I've reoriented myself, my needs, my wants. My needs and wants are that my son's needs and wants are cared for.
- A smile on his face and a smooth unworried brow are more deeply satisfying than I ever could have guessed.
Something else I understand? It's going to take some time for me to get back to my pre-pregnancy fitness levels, but that's the goal -- getting back to a 300 pound deadlift, pressing the 24 kg kettlebell, performing weighted pull-ups and pistol squats. Heck, maybe I'll even try and get back to my sub-6:30 mile time, even though I haven't classified myself as "a runner" in years. For as much as I've reoriented myself, I still am myself, and making time for my health is even more important now. I've a son to care for. I want him to see a strong woman in action. Besides, that strength has already paid off a hundredfold. Case in point:
Nurse: "It could take up to three hours to deliver your baby."
Me (internal monologue): "Is that a challenge?"
Baby gets delivered 40 minutes later, and the doctor and nurses tell me I'm the best "pusher" they'd ever seen.
See? Just like I said in a blog post not too long ago, a strong pelvic floor is really really important.
While I continue to heal, I'll stick with my unilateral loaded carries (hey, toting around an eight-pound baby in a car seat is way harder than it looks) and my nightly walks up and down the halls, cooing little Roan to sleep. But that said, don't stray too far from Beautiful-Strength.com, I'll be back to posting metabolic conditioning workouts, movement tutorials, recipes, and more in no time because you've got to make time for your well-being. And that's exactly what I'm going to continue to do.
The late fitness phenom Jack Lalanne believed push-ups to be the ultimate test of physical fitness, or something to that effect. Now, I love push-ups, and I do believe they are a great test, though I'm not sure if I'd say it is the ultimate
test. In fact, I'm not sure that there is just one perfect test for finding one's level of physical preparedness. That said, there are several things that all people should be able to do. One of those things is to get themselves up off of the floor. The medical community recently changed its test for longevity from being able to stand up from a chair to being able to stand up from a position on the floor.This would clearly suggest the desire -- nay, the responsibility
-- to practice the all-encompassing Turkish Get-Up. But I think that it also suggests the extreme utility of the simple, elegant, and honestly, beautiful push-up.A long while ago I asked what y'all's 2013 fitness goals were. A big desire was to be able to do more push-ups, I think it's time we go over how to perform a perfect push-up and some progressions to get stronger at them, as well as some modifications. Let's begin...
How to Perform a Perfect Push-Up
First of all, I want you to think of the push-up as simply a “moving plank”. Once we set up into that perfect plank position, you really just need to bend your elbows and then come back up. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Just remember: Excellent form always trumps quantity! I’d much rather you do one perfect push-up than ten subpar ones.
Here's an older video on how to set up and perform a perfect push-up. Don't mind the wheezing in the background. Pat has allergies.
Can’t do a regular push-up yet? No worries! Simply find a wall or the edge of a bench or a sturdy table and do a push-up against that (see below photo). As you get stronger, find progressively more horizontal surfaces on which to practice your push-ups until you’re doing them on the ground.
incline push-ups are a great way to modify until you become strong enough to complete a full rep.
You can also perform only the eccentric (downward) portion of the push-up, reset, and then go again.
The trick is this: Once you can complete one full push-up, do not continue to modify them. Just do that one rep, consistently, throughout the day, and you will find your strength in this movement vastly increase...and quickly, to boot.
Have regular push-ups gotten a little too easy for you? Well, first off...ROCK ON! I think that a woman who can do even just one perfect push-ups is pretty darn sexy. So right on! If you're ready to make it more challenging, try out a decline push-up:
In doing these, make sure you start with your hands in line with your sternum/chest. And stay long in the spine as you descend into your push-up. It's a bit easier with the decline push-ups to let your belly sag into the movement. Instead, stay nice and tight in your core!
Better yet, if you have access to a weight vest, I highly recommend weighted push-ups. You can approach this as you would an SRS (single rep strength) training session, completing one rep every few minutes for 20-40 minutes. EVEN BETTER -- start working towards a one-arm (and then one-arm, one-leg) push-up! I was practicing mine for quite awhile this past summer, but confession: I kind of
forgot to practice them. And now that I'm 7.5 months pregnant, I can't do much more than a one-arm plank. But, hey, I think that serves as a good reminder that you do what you can and you keep doing what you can until you get a bit stronger and you try a bit harder and then all of a sudden, if you took a hiatus from fitness or strength training or if you are just getting started, you're back where you left off or exceeding old PRs.
That said, I had
been posting about my one-arm push-up journey last summer, which you can read about here
. Also, check out a post that Pat put up recently on different push-up variations. You can find that here
How are your push-ups lookin'? Drop a line in the comments section and let me know where your strengths and weaknesses with this quintessential movement lie.
And don't forget to check out the Chronicles of Strength Inner Circle Newsletter!
the Inner Circle newsletter, you ask? Take a look at what was inside last month's issue and you'll get the idea :)The Inner Circle Newsletter
Inner Circle Webinars (March):
- The Dont Eat Shit Diet
I guess you could call this the "idiot-proof" cure to the "disease" of obesity. What to eat, when to eat, and how to eat for maximum leanness and vitality. It's all laid out for yu.
- Intermittent Fasting Practices for Dummies
Everything you need to know to get started on intermittent fasting. I highlight for you the pros and cons of the four most intermittent fasting practices around today, to help you evaluate which would be the best fit for you.
- The - = + (less is more) Strength and Conditioning Program
An overview of my fitness minimalism philosophy, and how you can get more out of doing less by focusing on the vital few efforts that produce the greatest results.Discover the four success principles to fitness minimalism.
- A Rant on Hardship
Discover the true key to unlocking your full biological potential and boundless health.
- Armor Building Time Crunched Workouts
Quick, effective double kettlebell armor building workouts designed to boost strength, blast fat, and amplify resilience.
Inner Circle Coaching Call In Days
- Mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Snatch
My no BS, proven effective strategies for mastering the hardstyle kettlebell snatch and maximizing the effectiveness of your kettlebell snatch training sessions.
Paleo Recipes of the Month: Courtesy of Sharon Shiner of Iron Body Studios
- 15 Minute Speed Coaching Calls. Bring It!
- Sesame Scallops with Sauteed Asparagus
- Paleo Cobb Salad
Want all this and more?Then CLICK HERE to join the Inner Circle
. No obligation. Cancel anytime
Today, Americans spend billions of dollars every year to maintain a strong national defense as a deterrent against external attack by foreign powers, but they fail entirely to apply the same principle of preventive defense to their own health.
-- Daniel Reid, The Complete Book of Chinese Health & Healing
The United States is home to the world's largest pharmaceutical industry. Of the $880 billion global industry, the U.S. accounts for $300 billion and is expected to increase to $390 billion by 2015 (In contrast, the U.S. military defense budget is expected to settle in the range of $716 billion in 2013).
But not just in the realm of pharmaceuticals, medical care in the U.S. is considerably higher than any other country, clocking in at 17.6% of GDP (in 2010) and with an average spend of $8,233 per person. See?
But I'm not promoting other countries' healthcare systems or philosophies at the expense of America's. The U.S. simply serves as a very poignant illustration of what happens when you--as Daniel Reid puts it--"eat, drink, and live indiscriminately and treat [your body] as engines of pleasure without the slightest regard for the damage [your] habits inflict on [your] health".
Now, even obesity -- the embodiment of eating, drinking, and living indiscriminately -- has been labeled by the American Medical Association as a disease (or is it? Read more on that topic by clicking here
This mentality certainly is spreading...and at pernicious rates. Take the fast food industry, for example. In 2014, the global fast food market is forecast to have a value of $239.7 billion, an increase of 19.2% since 2009. That outpaces the 4% growth in the U.S. market, as fast food chains enter developing markets, such as those in Asia and Latin America.
What this serves to illustrate is our -- modern humans' (not just Americans') -- interest, not in preventive healthcare but in reparative (if you can even call it that) healthcare. The kind of healthcare that we employ when we've completely wrecked our bodies doing whatever the hell we feel like and then needing drugs, surgery, and other methods that can be equally or more destructive than the illness itself to fix us.In short, we treat our bodies as a vehicle
-- a collective set of replaceable parts that we can simply bring into a mechanic, who, upon examining the vehicle's symptoms, can repair the particular part that is causing problems with no regard to the general care and preventive maintenance that was being given to the vehicle on the whole. And all for a hefty fee, of course.
Is this news to most of you, my wonderful readers? Probably not.
Is this news to everybody else? Well. Sure seems like it, doesn't it?
So enough about the sorry state of things, and let's talk action... What can you actually be doing to successfully move yourself from reparative to preventive healthcare?
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Ditch processed and refined grains and sugars.
This should be a no-brainer. Don't drink soda -- diet or otherwise (the chemicals in artificial sweeteners should give you the heebie jeebies). Don't mindlessly shove bread and cereal and pasta and other grains in your mouth just cuz it's on the U.S. government's food plate guidelines. In fact, anything you see in those guidelines should probably be ignored. Need proof as to why? Look at the nearly 70% of overweight and obese Americans walking around.
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Go natural. Go organic. Go Paleo.
Can't afford to buy everything organic? That's okay! There are few, especially in this economy, who can. So prioritize. Read labels, ditch preservatives and GMOs, and utilize the following chart when it comes to buying produce.
Note: Corn is a grain. Grains contain antinutrients that make it nearly impossible for your body to absorb nutrients in the grain itself as well as other foods you eat. So ditch grains in general.
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There's a saying I love: "Sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour."
The brain goes and goes and goes. Meditation makes it stop going. And that is a good thing. Do not underestimate the powerful effects of meditation.
For basics on the Buddhist-style of meditation, you can click here
Remember: Meditation does not belong to one religion or one philosophy. The major religions and spiritual philosophies of the world all encourage meditation -- whether that is in the form of prayer, active meditation, or some other quiet method of sitting and being at peace.
| || |Fast.
Your body has two main nervous systems -- sympathetic and parasympathic.
The sympathetic nervous system governs your body during the active, waking hours of the day when you are busy and alert. The parasympathic nervous system regulates your body during the nighttime "breed-and-feed" hours, when you are resting after an active day, eating heartily, engaging in recreational endeavors (breeding being one of those), and sleeping.
To successfully separate these two, you must live according to your body's natural laws. Fasting helps you stay fully in the sympathetic nervous system during the day and in the parasympathic nervous system at night. Just as it's supposed to happen. You can think of it as separating the full day into yang period (daytime) and ying period (nighttime). They each have their purpose, and to live most healthfully, you should respect and promote that distinction.
Note: Sleeping is super important. To read more about getting enough sleep, check out a blog post of mine, "Confessions of a Rogue Napper"
Also, be sure and keep an eye out here for announcements on Pat Flynn's Fasting for Dummies
book due out around the New Year via Wiley Publishing. The book aims to break down the various methods of fasting so that you can choose which style works best for you. Different strokes for different folks, amIright
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Lift heavy some of the time. Engage in metabolic conditioning some of the time. Get lots of low-intensity activity (e.g. walking).
Kinda says it all right there, doesn't it?
Those five tips are rather basic ones, but as in your athletic endeavors, never underestimate the importance of the basics. Life does not have to be a string of overcomplicated rules and methods. There is much beauty to be had in living simply.
That said, did I miss any tips and tricks you use to keep you and your family healthy? Let me know in the comments section!
For those of you who follow me on Pinterest--
and if you don't, you totally should (I follow back!)--then you may have noticed my obsession with pinning food lately on my "Outrageously Tasty
" board. I've tried to balance it out with pins on athletic clothes or cute outfits or inspiring quotes, but no matter what, food pins have definitely taken the cake (oof..)
For starters, I don't know the first thing about food photography (unless the first thing is "do not eat the food before you're done taking photos) and am so impressed by people that do that I find myself pinning one food dish after another, entranced by how gorgeous each shot looks. I know I'm not alone. The majority of activity on Pinterest revolves around food or around event planning, like weddings. So I know I'm in good company.
In fact, during my super happy fun time--aka morning sickness--I didn't even touch my Pinterest account because the food looked too...food-like. And sadly, I had to put my perusal of food photos aside. But now that I'm feeling better and am so.hungry.all.the.time
, I can't get enough of it.
Or just food in general.
Anyways...I came across the Nourished App on Pinterest
around the exact time that they were promoting a giveaway of the newly released cookbook, Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry
. I don't typically win things (yet I still play the $3 scratch-off Bingo lottery tickets once a week in hopes of the $30k grand prize), but I thought, what the heck? and entered the giveaway.
...And I won!
So now, I am the proud owner of a signed copy of the Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry
I'm a fan of Elana's Pantry
anyways so it was exciting for me to get to check her work out in print. Starting off, she gives a sound overview of what the Paleo diet is--and what it is not--as well as provides a glossary of ingredients that she uses throughout the book, from hemp seeds to coconut palm sugar.
Where Elana seems to really place her efforts is in recreating non-Paleo or non-gluten free foods, like bagels and crackers, into foods that those of us following these types of diets can eat. If you're a person who loves to eat bagels with their breakfast, then this is a perfect strategy for you.
But for me, I tend to stay away from carbs in the mornings and only eat moderate protein and higher fat breakfasts (and when I wasn't pregnant, I wasn't eating breakfast at all, instead following the microfasting lifestyle). Yet 9 out of the 12 breakfast recipes in Elana's cookbook are carb-rich substitutes for the gluten-filled
lifestyle. Pancakes, crepes, bagels, coffee cake. Don't get me wrong, these all sound ah-mazing, but whipping up a batch of apricot muffins would be something I would consider a treat or dessert more so than an everyday breakfast.
She devotes chapters to breads and crackers, pies/pastries, ice cream, and cookies/bars. As I prefer to eat fresh fruits to baked goods in general, these recipes will be useful only on the rarest occasion. Although I think a "rare occasion" will be coming up because I really really want to give the mint chip ice cream a try.
For me, the chapters that will see the most action will be the vegetables, entrees, and condiments/spreads/toppings chapters. I'm especially interested in the condiments one. Finding Paleo-friendly sauces in the store can sometimes be a challenge, and besides, it's better to make fresh when you can. I think sauces are an underutilized tool in the kitchen toolbox anyways.
The Paleo Mayonnaise recipe is spot on and tastes awesome with deviled eggs. And for whatever reason, I've been craving (yet avoiding) Caesar dressing since I became pregnant so I'm stoked to try that one.
She's included some unique takes on Paleo "rice" pilaf and twice-baked squash that look very promising.
Overall, the cookbook was put together quite thoughtfully. The instructions are thorough and there is a good amount of full color and beautiful photographs throughout.
My main beef would be the abundance of baked goods (but for many people, that will be right up their alley), as well as the use of almond flour in many of the recipes.
Almond flour is fine in small amounts, but it's important to understand that it has a higher and less favorable Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. And it's nearly three times as expensive as coconut or tapioca flour. Having a recipe that requires two cups of almond flour can get pricey and may not something you'd want to eat all the time, but then again, should you really be eating chocolate chip cookies, even if they're Paleo, all the time? Probably not.
Who this Book Is for:
Anyone interested in the Paleo lifestyle but who would also like to keep some of the things they love to eat -- bagels, cookies, rice pilaf, ice cream, etc.
Recipes for gluten-filled favorites to ease in your transition to a gluten-free/Paleo lifestyle; great for parents who don't want their kids to miss out on eating "normal" food along with their friends; great food photography; easy-to-follow instructions
More carb-rich treat recipes than entrees or side dishes; overuse of almond flour
Overall Score: B+
I'd love to hear what y'all think of Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry. Have you bought the book yet? Do you plan to? Drop a line in the comments section!
A BIG P.S.!!
On Sunday, August 4, 2013, The Dragon Gym in Exton, PA will be hosting a Bodyweight Strength Seminar and Training Camp. Pat Flynn and Som Sikdar from ChroniclesofStrength.com
, as well as collegiate strength coach and strong lady Lisa Parsons and myself will be running the seminar.
Movements covered will include:The Muscle UpOne Arm Push UpThe Pistol SquatThe Hanging Leg Raise / Windshield WiperThe Plank (and variations)
The Push Up
The Chin Up
The Pull Up
The Bodyweight Squat
The Lunge and Airborne Lunge
The Single Leg Deadlift...and more!
REGISTER BY JULY 25TH AND SAVE $200. TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE.
Hello again! It's been awhile, hasn't it? Nearly five whole months have gone by since my last post. But there's a reason -- honest!
As some of you may know, I'm expecting Baby #1 (Yayy!!!!!! :D) And as exciting and wonderful as that is, for a few months there growing Baby Peep sure put a crimp on my energy levels, both physical and mental. So that meant only a couple workouts a week and lots, lots
, of napping.
And to try and see just how many major life events we can fit in at one time, we got a second St. Bernard puppy, we're buying a house, Pat
is working on two For Dummies
books--tentatively titled Paleo Fitness For Dummies
and Fasting For Dummies
-- set to be released later this year through Wiley Publishing, and I've decided to get back to my first love, fiction writing, with the hope of getting draft one of a novel done before our baby boy's arrival at the end of September.
But now that I'm just about in my third trimester (holy crap that went by FAST) and things are settling down (okay, that's a joke, they aren't settling down at all) -- I'm feeling strong, awake, and ready to get back to blogging.
Exhibit A: Saint Bernard #2. Name: Chewie
Exhibit B: Preggo belly
(I wish I could put "Exhibit C: Our New House" but that won't be available until--fingers crossed--the next few weeks.)
So anyways, I'm back. I'm blogging. But what to blog about? Well, how about a topic I've been reading about in every pregnancy book and hearing about in all my doctor's visits?
Said topic? Developing a strong pelvic floor and doing kegels, aka those things that no one seems to agree how to pronounce.
Key-gels, Kay-gels, tomato, tomahto
Let's get started...
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles in both men and women that provide support for pelvic-area organs (e.g. bladder and intestines -- and in women, the uterus). Oftentimes, we hear about the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor in relation to two issues: maintenance of urinary continence and in facilitating birth by encouraging the fetus to rotate forward to navigate through the birth canal.
The Kegel Prescription
Kegels got some publicity a few years back with men and women both being encouraged to perform these sneaky little exercises every day.
And as soon as you get pregnant -- or are reading about thinking
about getting pregnant -- starting to do Kegels is the number one piece of advice, beyond taking your prenatal vitamin.
But are kegels the correct prescription?Katy Bowman
, a human physics scientist, says no.
She's done a lot of work on the subject, and as she is an expert in this sort of thing, I'm going to let the following quote do most of the talking:
A Kegel attempts to strengthen the pelvic floor, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward promoting even more weakness, and more PF gripping. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes (having no butt) is what makes this group so much more susceptible to pelvic floor disorder (PFD). Zero lumbar curvature (missing the little curve at the small of the back) is the most telling sign that the pelvic floor is beginning to weaken. An easier way to say this is: Weak glutes + too many Kegels = PFD.
Quote from BreakingMuscle.com
A kegel is simply a muscular contraction. Thinking of it in another way: it's like flexing your bicep. And if you flex your bicep over and over, would it get stronger? No, not really. But you'd be very good at flexing your bicep (but, hey, maybe that's your thing).
Doing kegels compulsively will not get you a strong pelvic floor. It will get you a tight pelvic floor. Not the same thing.
For true pelvic floor strength, the prescription is simple. Squat
Squatting = A Strong Pelvic Floor
A full, deep, going-to-the-bathroom-in-the-middle-of-the-woods kind of squat is a natural, nay, primordial
position for the human body. But the farther away we get from our natural ways of doing things, the harder it has become to give birth, go to the bathroom, keep our organs in the exact places where they should be, not pee when we workout (yeah, I'm looking at you, Crossfit
In fact, women in industrialized and post-industrialized nations oftentimes have much more difficult births than those in less modern societies where they have not given up on this natural technique and squatting during labor and delivery is a more normal practice. Plus, when you think about assuming a squatting position during labor, it does make a good bit of sense. You open your hips wide for baby's arrival, and you employ good ol' gravity as your friend and ally.
Of note: the reason childbirth has been more painful for humans than, say, for a cow or dog or any other of Mother Nature's quadrupedal creatures, is that as we stood up and became bipedal, our hips narrowed, making the birth canal more narrow. Squatting helps open the hips back up.
The Squat Prescription
Regularly performing a squat with your full range-of-motion is crucial to developing a strong pelvic floor.
Notice how I say "your" full range-of-motion. A true full squat is ass-to-ankles, but if you can't get to that position quite yet, that's fine. Practice squats, and barring any true physical abnormalities or restrictions, you'll be able to get there.
I recommend squatting in two forms.
1) Sets of weighted front squats (double kettlebells or goblet squats) a couple of times a week (you can vary the set/rep scheme. But starting off with 3 sets of 5 reps is good).
2) Spending as much time each day as you can (working up to 10 minutes total) in a bodyweight squat position.
Squatting should look like so:
Some key points to remember when squatting:
Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. If you find your heels popping up, limit your range of motion a little.
Your stance should be about shoulder-width with your feet pointed out slightly (no more than 10-20 degrees).
Keep your chest proud and back straight. This isn't so much of an issue when you are doing an unweighted squat; however, while under load, it is very important not to round your back.
Actively pull yourself between your hips. Don't just sink into the squat.
At the bottom of the squat, pause before exploding back up. Don't bounce up from the squat. This is a grinding movement.
Keep your knees tracking over your feet. Don't let your knees bow inward as you stand back up. This is what makes squatting dangerous for the knees. You can use some cues like thinking that you are riding the horse or trying to push the earth apart with your feet.
Stand all the way up! Just as you shouldn't cut the range short at the bottom of the squat, don't cut it short at the top. Simply stand all the way up -- don't keep slack in the knees and conversely, don't overarch either.
It's important to remember that this discussion on pelvic floor strength isn't limited to pregnant women. It's extremely important for anyone -- men and women alike. And while kegels may not be entirely useless, you'll get more from squatting than from kegels because squatting is a hugely crucial exercise. Crucial to keep your core and lower body strong and mobile.
Got any questions on squats? Or if you have any pregnancy advice, I'm happy to hear that, too :)
Would you believe me if I told you that the eggs, avocado slices, and steak and sweet potato hash that you can't see in this photo were actually super delicious?
When piggies attack!
You should believe me. Because they were. Which is why they are no longer visible. Despite Lola's desperate begging, I ate the entire thing all by myself. And I won't be apologizing for my pigginess either. Because I really enjoyed my breakfast.
So how does one make this particularly fine invisible meal? Easy -- leftovers!
I LOVE leftovers. Probably because I inherited by father's frugality (sounds better than "stinginess," I think). Besides, I can eat the same meal for a week straight before even thinking I might like to eat something else.
So let's start with the breakfast that actually started the night before:
Balsamic Glazed London Broil
I'll be honest, I didn't make up the following recipe. It comes from Paula Deen. I made a kettlebell complex in her honor, once. You can watch that here
.From Food Network:
- 1 (3-pound) London Broil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar -- I substituted this with 1 TBS honey
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
- 1 bay leaf
Preheat the broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Season the meat with the salt and pepper. In a large skillet over low heat, combine the vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and bay leaf
until the liquid has reduced by half and is a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf.
Put the meat on the baking sheet and slather it with the glaze
. Broil the meat 4 inches from the heat until it reaches the desired level of doneness, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the broiler to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain and transfer it to a serving platter.
Cook's Note: When using the broiler, crack the oven door open so the meat does not burn.And a note from Christine: If you've never cooked balsamic vinegar before...WOOOO...go on and open up your windows and maybe even the front door. Cooking balsamic vinegar turns it into a VERY pungent and cough-inducing substance. Consider yourself forewarned.
Baked Sweet Potato with Greens
I swiped this recipe from Martha Stewart's Whole Living website
and was pleasantly surprised by the result.
- 2 pricked sweet potatoes
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 thinly sliced small onion
- 1 stemmed and chopped bunch Swiss chard
- Coarse salt
- 1 sliced avocado, divided
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until tender, about 45 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Add chard and cook, stirring, until bright green and wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.
- To serve, split potatoes and top each with the greens and 1/2 sliced avocado. Season with cayenne, salt, and a squeeze of lemon.
Now, the beautiful thing of this tasty meal was that there was plenty of leftovers that I could play around with (this is probably because I was so ravenous while cooking dinner that I shoveled several handfuls of cashews into my mouth and subsequently couldn't finish all the food I piled onto my plate). Which brings us to...
...The morning after
Okay, this breakfast was easy-peasy. While, some butter was melting in a pan, I took about 4 oz of leftover London broil, half of my uneaten sweet potato (without the greens) and diced them up. Once the pan was hot,
I threw in about 1/2 cup of a frozen diced green pepper and onion medley. Sauteed that for a few minutes, then added the steak, sweet potatoes, and some salt and pepper to round out the hash. Once everything's nice and heated up, I just smooshed everything off to the side of the pan and cracked a couple of eggs in the remaining free space and fried those suckers up (I like 'em crispy).Finally, I plated the hash, set the eggs on top, sprinkled on some hot sauce from The Chile Spot, and topped it all off with some diced avocado. And then. I feasted.Now do you understand why I forgot to take a photo of it before I started eating??
How about you? -- Are you a king or queen of leftovers? Got any tried-and-true super yummy ways to fix 'em? Drop a line in the comments section!
Annnnd we're back!
After a hearty vacation from computers and email and Facebook, I'm home and ready to tackle some double kettlebell complexes! You ready, too??
I'm gonna bet "yes," so let's get started:Initially, before you even contemplate double kettlebell work, you should be very comfortable performing the core six kettlebell movements
(swing, clean, press, squat, snatch, Turkish get-up) with one bell and are able to perform complexes with those movements. This may--and very well, should--take several months. So be patient with yourself
and keep working to improve your proficiency in these movements.Then
, start trying those core kettlebell movements with two bells. And then
start trying to do metabolic conditioning complexes with them. (Read on for a series of three double kettlebell complexes).
Once you are capable of doing double kettlebell complexes, there’s no reason to really ever go back to doing single bell complexes.
With the double kb complexes, the metabolic effect is greater, you’re able to squeeze in more work, and you’ll be going heavier than you probably ever were when using only one bell.
Unfortunately for me, the first double kettlebell complex I was ever instructed to do was The Great Destroyer
Fortunately for you, I’m going to give you a series of three different double kettlebell complexes that will help ease you into the double bell work. But that doesn’t mean these are only for the newbs.
Even if you’re an old pro at the double kettlebell, give the following complexes a whirl. You’ll find them to be an effective and challenging way to work on the basics.
And you never outgrow the basics, just like you never outgrow tying your shoes. Unless you never learned. And are still wearing Velcro sneakers. In which case, you should probably stick to the single kettlebell complexes.
Each workout is designed to be completed with 15 minutes. Set a timer and get in as many rounds as possible in that timeframe. Good luck!
I'm going on a cruise tomorrow. I don't say that to brag (although I'll admit, I'm pretty jazzed to be leaving chilly northeastern USA behind in the middle of January). Rather, I bring up this cruise to revisit a point I made about seven months ago, that is, that vacation does not equal the total destruction of your body.And I stick by this statement even though I am about to walk onto a ship that has all-you-can-eat-buffets and the unlimited drinking package. But I'll be honest, what I'm looking forward to most isn't the pink grapefruit palomas or cone-after-cone of chocolate vanilla
swirl ice cream. But it's to a week away, a week with loved ones, a week of peace.Too often we think that the best way to indulge our happiness is to indulge in something we typically deny ourselves. Instead, what if we began to think that the best way to indulge our happiness was to not deny ourselves that which matters most?
We place too much weight onto something fleeting, such as a "needed" glass of wine or brownie a la mode, that passes (quite literally) in 12 hours or so, rather than the health, purpose, and vitality that we can develop so as to spend our time, 80 years or so, loving and living and creating nothing less than a substantial and beautiful life.
Often, I have heard people say "You can't deny yourself." But when it comes to a slice of pizza, will eating it really bring you anything good? Will it bring you joy? Peace? Love? Something lasting and substantial?
No. The answer is no.
In mapping out your "best life," learn what it is that you cannot deny yourself, what brings you the greatest joy and the greatest satisfaction.
I guarantee, it will not be a late-night cruise buffet.
January is the Month of Coziness.
Yep, it's true. A whole month dedicated to the art of cozy, of which I am a supreme artiste. I LOVE coziness. Mama says that when I was a baby, she couldn't get me out of my gray and pink sweatsuit no matter how hard she tried. Why was that? Because it was super cozy.
And now? Coziness reigns on high here in the Mooney-Flynn household with a superfluity of pillows and blankets and thick woolen socks and hearty winter stews.
Just yesterday, I made the most delicious Paleo Creamy Chicken Stew. It was the ultimate in cozy. I pass it on to you, my gift to you in this, the Month of Cozy.
Paleo Creamy Chicken Stew
- 1/2 cup organic butter, from grass-fed cows (or your choice healthy and suitable-for-cooking fat)
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 5 lbs whole chicken, cooked and shredded (I cook mine in the slow cooker; see below video)
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 scallions, chopped
- In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to become translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.
- Add almond flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Add stock, chicken, carrots, and mushrooms. Bring soup to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
- Turn heat off. Stir in coconut milk and scallions.
- Serve. And enjoy!
Before you go throwing away all those yummy juices from the slow-cooked chicken you just made, watch this video on a super easy and budget-friendly way to make your own chicken stock from scratch!
**Exciting Announcement Alert!**
Remember a time, long ago, when something arrived in your mailbox and you were happy to see it? It was magic in an envelope
-- a letter from a best friend who moved away, your grandmother sending you $10 for your birthday, the latest American Girl
catalogue. At one point, mail was actually enjoyable to receive. But then, the often
tragic and bleak adult world crept in and the next thing you know you have American Express bills, cable sales letters addressed "To Our Neighbor", and the gluttonous weekly coupons for lawn maintenance, mattresses, and powerwashing services clogging your mailbox to the point that maybe it wouldn't be so bad if that obnoxious punk kid down the street swooped by with a baseball bat and creamed your mailbox, hightailing the sad, overwhelmed, metal container across the lawn next Saturday night.Sigh. But good news, my friends! Because mail is about to become enjoyable again!
Starting in February 2013, my dear friends over at Chronicles of Strength will be launching a full in-print newsletter. That's right! It's delivered to your mail
box, not your inbox. You'll have something to treasure and hold onto forever...well, at least until the next month's issue arrives. From the words of Pat Flynn of ChroniclesofStrength.com, himself, here's what you can expect from the in-print Chronicles of Strength newsletter due out in February 2013:
- Full Chronicles of Strength Paper and Ink Newsletter
Look, with this newsletter I’m holding nothing back. This is me in the raw: Uncensored, Unchained, and Unplugged (literally). Disconnect from the digital realm and join me each month as I refute “reality”, shake the system up, piss a few people off, and help you to find clarity and success in the world of weights. I’m giving you everything I got. This newsletter…it will improve you.
- Monthly Kettlebell Workout Routines
Others try to imitate, but they never come close. To wit, nobody else puts out as much high quality kettlebell workout and training material as I do, and perhaps that’s because nobody else can. This newsletter will feature the best kettlebell routines that I have to offer for forging a leaner, harder, stronger physique—quickly, efficiently, effectively. But be warned: these all have something of the demonical in them—unlike anything you’ve ever seen from me before. These workouts…they will improve you.
- Monthly Paleo Recipes
I’m often asked “what do you eat?” Well, here you go! No more confusion or boredom when it comes to the kitchen and proper eating habits. I’m going to show you how to take your nutrition to the next level–how to eat for maximum fat loss and high-octane performance–without the use of drugs or dangerous fat loss pills.
- Ranting and Ravings
Unbiased product and research reviews. I do the testing so you don’t have to waste your time. Discover what works and what never to waste your money on. No expense or effort will be spared to bring you the most trustworthy and reliable critiques and reviews on equipment, supplements, and research each and every month
To whet your appetite prior to the February launch, you can get the first month FREE (free!!!!)...as a downloadable pdf.(yes, this one will show up in your email inbox)Click here to get the first issue! P.S. Don't be concerned by Pat saying that there are recipes in the monthly newsletter. All he does is taste-test them. I create them. So if you like the recipes here on Beautiful-Strength, you are sure to love the ones we add to the Chronicles of Strength newsletter each month.
Don't forget to click here to get your first issue of the Chronicles of Strength newsletter FREE delivered RIGHT NOW to your email inbox.
A couple of months back, I wrote a post
about training grip strength with one of the most primal of movements: The carry.Today, I'd like to revisit, but rather than focus on the farmer's carry (that is, carrying weight at your side, as you would a pair of suitcases), we're gonna talk overhead carrying. The overhead carry is a crazy good way to develop:
- core strength
- diaphramatic breathing technique
- shoulder mobility and stability
- better posture
- strength induced from spending time-under-tension
So overall, a pretty sweet movement. And a downright primitive one. It ain't sexy, but it works. It's powerful and so too will you be training this movement.
But before you go and throw two heavy kettlebells overhead, you've got to get the technique down.
Check out the video below on how you can pwn the overhead carry...and then watch a most excellent ab finisher you can add onto your next training session.
Check out the military press technique video I referenced in the above video, by clicking here