Date Night

Last week I touched on balance, and a large part of that is family. On Friday I took sometime to focus on family and my lovely wife, ILOVEYOUMEANIT, planned a date night.

H’s childcare provider does date nights every few weeks, and we always take advantage of them. So at around 5:30 I dropped off the kid and went home to pick up my wife. She spent much of the day prepping food and making sure everything was perfect. When I got home she handed me a large tote bag, hopped in the car and we drove off.

Feeling pressed for time, I drove a little fast, and tried to make it to NAS Pensacola before they closed the back gate. I made It as the guard was pulling the gate shut, and he kindly checked my ID and let us in. Em instructed me to head for Barrancas beach. We pulled up, found a section away from the other family there, and parked the car. We hopped out, grabbed the bag, kicked off our shoes, and headed for the water. About 3 feet from the surf is a steep slope and so we put our blanket down on top of the slope and admired the great location.

Start of sunset

After getting situated, Emily presented me with a menu. She had made and prepped the entire dinner, and she printed a menu to show me the 3 courses planned. We started with shrimp cocktails and sweet potato soup. This was accompanied by Sophia Champagne- in a can! And to make it even better, Em used the little straw it came with.

After our appetizers, we had the main dish. It was one of my favorites. Grilled Caesar Salad, with a vegan Caesar dressing. No eggs and no anchovies. I don’t like anchovies and it is just a good recipe that is healthier than original Caesar dressing.

Following the main dish, we finished with a little dessert. Homemade chocolate covered strawberries. None of that shell or hershey’s sauce; actual melted and cooled chocolate.

The meal was wonderful and the quiet serenity of the beach made for an incredible night. It was intimate and romantic, and was a slice of heaven on earth. The surroundings just seemed to wash away the stress of life and school and Em looking for a job. There was nothing but calm and love.

And the sunset helped as well!

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DON’T FORGET: Today is Monday and Day 10 of 30 and we have 60 pushups and situps today.
Also being Monday it is chest, tri’s and abs day. Perform 3 sets of 6 reps.



With a huge test today I realized that non-stop studying doesn’t help, and that balance is needed. The goes along with the thought process that “fitness is everything”. “Fitness is Everything” relates to keeping a good balance in your life and focusing on all aspects.

Yesterday I spent the day preparing for my test, but I also balanced the day with other aspects of my life. I spent the morning in a classroom studying and answering instructor questions. In between study sessions I went to the gym and got in my 22nd workout of 365. After completing my workout and the second session of studying, I needed a good break. I decided to take my wife to a BBQ joint for lunch. Spending time with family takes care of me as well as them, and during a time of stress and focusing on a year of college in 10 weeks, this is huge! We went KC John’s only to find them closed. We quickly asked SIRI for a new BBQ joint and were sent across town to Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ. It wasn’t until we were 2 minutes from completing our 30 minute drive, that we realized we were headed to a chain. Nothing against Sonny’s, I like their food, but Emily wants her BBQ served out of a tin shack by a fat guy who might not have washed his hands.

This led us to change course and head for Al Fresco in downtown Pensacola. After parking and walking towards Al Fresco, we saw a sign for a small restaurant and decided to stop. Carmen’s Lunch Bar is a restaurant celebrating their first full year of operating this week. Carmen’s was 1 of over 100 applicants with a business plan, and for winning the contest she was given some money and a store front for her restaurant. The food was great and the waitress was wonderful. After all of this, Emily and I finally got our BBQ.

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So a 45 minute lunch date turned into a 4 hour quest. We picked H on the way home and I got see him a little. After another hour or so of studying, I stopped and bathed H, brushed his teeth, and put him to bed. I then studied a bit more, had an incredible meal and studied a bit more.

Despite the dramatic need to focus more on studying and IFS, their was balance in my day and it helped me to be more successful in my studying and focus, and it showed when I took the test. Don’t neglect any aspect of your life if you can help it. If you need to for a period of time, also make up for it!

Today is 7 of 30, and your pushup/situp number is 60.
Day 23 of 365 and Day 2 of my new routine. Here is how the second lift day looks:

60 Pushups2_106872
Barbell Shoulder Press 4×9
Standing Alternating Shoulder Press 3×9
One Arm Machine Upright Row 3×9
Barbell Squat 4×9
Deadlift 3×9
Lunges 3×9
Standing Calves 3×9
Seated Calves 3×9
60 Situps
2 sets of V-holds with 9 medicine ball tosses to partner

I am looking forward to an active recovery day tomorrow!

All Foods Are Equal

While all foods are not equal, when it comes to weight loss there is no difference between a hamburger and a pile of vegetables. While this is controversial, and I would suggest to any one of my clients the veggies over the burger, this is actually a true statement.

Case and point- losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. If you create a deficit of calories your body has to get its energy from somewhere. This somewhere is from your muscles and fat deposits. As long as you are working out and eating fewer calories you will lose the weight.

Without ever changing the food I was eating, I went from 190 pounds to 174. At 174 I even look bigger than before.




Here is how it works: A male’s EER, estimated energy requirements, is calculated by (662-9.53 x AGE(y)) + (PA x (15.91 x wt(kg))+(539.6 x ht(m))). PA is equal to 1 if you are sedentary, 1.12 if you are low active, 1.27 for active and 1.45 for very active. My EER is 662-9.53×28 + 1.12x(9.36×78.9 + 539.6×1.8) or 2884 calories a day. To lose a pound a week I need to create a 3500 calorie deficit over the 7 days or 500 calories a day. I can do this by reducing calories in the food I eat, or working hard enough to lose 500 calories. The easiest method is calories. So 2884-500 is 2384 per day.

Now that I know I can eat around 2400 calories, I write down my calories throughout the day and stop eating when I reach the maximum. I also work out and track the number of calories in my workout. The reason for tracking the work out calories, is so that I can be sure I am not creating to large a deficit and being unhealthy. Once a goal weight is reached, I stop eating 2384 calories and using my new weight I eat the EER plus the number of calories burned in a workout. This keeps me from creating a deficit and dropping weight.

So as complicated as that all sounds, all food is equal and when you are losing weight just worry about your calorie number. Weight watchers promotes healthy foods, but only because healthier foods have more nutrients and lower calories. The points system is simply a ranking based on the calories in a food.

So if you want to have a whataburger BBQ sandwich, 1050 calories, have the burger, just remember that you have to low calorie foods the rest of the day. Most women need about 1700 calories, so after a whataburger sandwich you still need to eat 3 other times in the day averaging 230 calories a day. At the same time you can workout and burn 150 calories and then those three meals can each be 50 calories bigger.

If your goal is weight loss- All Foods Are Equal – so have a burger. Just not everyday, and be sure to eat tons of vegetables and get a good run in.


Calorie Intake and Black Bean Pizza

So  I promised everyone an update on how to adjust calories once you reach a goal weight.  The easiest way is to use an online calculator. I have found this one to be a good source.

I however have been monitoring my calories for the entire time I have been working on my program. So I was able to calculate my needs based on the previous week. Last week I lost 2.8 pounds. At 3500 calories per pound, I had a deficit of 9800 calories that week. This over the 7 day week, that means I need 1400 calories a day to sustain and stop losing weight.

If you are thinking wow, that’s a lot, you are right. However with the HIIT, and crossfit style workouts I have been doing, that makes sense. But nonetheless I had the same reaction. So how do you go from 2200 to 3600 calories a day? Take it slow, and monitor your weight.

On Sunday I only adding 300 calories to my day. This allowed me to eat a little more but not gorge myself. This morning I weighed myself. Today I did my first workout of the new program, and at 5 pm I had eaten 2200 calories and was still hungry. with 300 left, compared to yesterday, I knew 2500 was too low. I bumped my number to 2700. I will eat 2700 calories today and weigh myself tomorrow. I will continue to eat 2700 calories a day for the rest of the week, and I will weigh myself every morning. If over the course of this week I maintain my weight, I will stop increasing and eat 2700 a day. However if I lose weight I will add another 200 calories and continue the process.

The reason this is a better method than just looking at a calculator, or just adding the 1400 calories to my day, is because it allows for my new workout to burn a different amount than the last, and it helps me avoid eating way too much before my body is ready for the extra food.


So After getting my calories sorted out, I my pizza. Super healthy Black Bean and Salsa pizza! One slice is 183 calories. Have a glass of wine and two slices and you are looking at a 466 calorie meal, with tons of protein and even some veggies. Here is a step by step recipe for you to follow:

Place your pizza stone on the grill and turn on grill as high as possible. Let warm-up for an hour. My grill reached about 600 degrees.

First spread your dough over a pizza peel and pour 1 cup of salsa on the dough. Spread evenly.

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Next take a cup of shredded mozzarella and spread it evenly over  the dough and salsa.

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After adding the cheese, take a fully drained can of black beans and top the cheese with the beans. Thinly slice a single red pepper and spread the pepper over the beans.

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Next chop 3 scallions into 1 inch segments and place on top.

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The final step before baking is to take about 1/4 cup of mozzarella and create a top layer of cheese.

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Place on the pizza stone inside the grill and bake for 6 minutes. Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day

Last week was Valentines Day and as full time students and parents, my wife and I decided it was a good idea to celebrate on Saturday. So Saturday night I cooked a meal, made homemade ice cream, sat on the floor and had a picnic while watching a movie.

So what did we eat? For dinner I made Tagliata for Two. The recipe is in Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson. Tagliata for Two is a simple NY Steak recipe, and was by far the best I have ever had!

You will need:

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

1 Teaspoon Oregano

A pinch of Kosher Salt

2 Teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

12oz NY Steak

8oz of Cherry Tomatoes


And you will need to do:

Heat your grill as high as it will go. I wait until the grill reaches at least 550 before I start to cook the meat. While the grill is reaching temperature take the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it in a bowl just big enough to fit the steak. Add the Red Pepper, Oregano, a pinch of kosher salt and then the 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar. Mix the sauce together and allow it to sit in the bowl.

Next place the steak on the grill for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes flip and let grill for another 3 minutes. The steak will be rare, but cooked to a safe temperature. Nigella Lawson states in her book- get a good quality meat and do not over cook, otherwise don’t even bother. My wife is afraid of rare cooked meat, but loved this dish!

So after taking the steak off the grill, place it in the dish with the sauce. After 2 minutes flip the steak and soak for another 2 minutes. After soaking both sides, slice your cherry tomatoes and lay them face down in the sauce. Once every tomato is sliced, smash them into the sauce and stir well.

Now Slice the steak into thin strips and split the strips between two plates. Arrange them in a nice order and then pour the cherry tomatoes and sauce over the layout. I served them with my fries from last week, but you could do salad or green beans. For dessert we had homemade ice cream, also from the book. Later this week I will post that simple recipe.

300 Calories in 6oz and 30 grams of protein. Enjoy!

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Hamburgers and Fries- You can still eat delicious food

So tonight my wife and I are having Hamburgers and Fries. Despite a healthy lifestyle, you  can still eat good food, and there is no reason to avoid many foods you are already enjoy. Today’s recipe is quick and simple, and is a good way to end your week and reward yourself. If you are tracking your calories you can plan for this meal and still not go over for the day. If you do go over, remember you can make up for it throughout the week. Shoot for a weekly total of calories, don’t focus just on each day.

So first lets talk about the fries. Homemade fries are easy to make and only have 118 calories. A serving of fries is equal to one full potato. In order to make the fries you can cut them up by hand or use a mandolin. I use a mandolin, and today I cut them in 3mm strips (julienne fries). Now be sure to cut the fries as early in the day as possible. The reason for this is because you need to soak them in water. Soaking the fries will extract starch and increase the health side of the dish. If you can, change the water hourly. If you can’t that is fine and you can leave them in the water for the day.

Soaking in Water

Soaking in Water

Now about an hour before you plan on cooking the fries, dump the fries on to a cloth and allow them to sit and dry. With 20 minutes before cooking turn on the oven, set to 350, and season the fries. I season the fries with pepper to taste and a light spray of olive oil. Once the oven is to temp, place the fries on a cooking pan and set in the oven. Turn the convection on and let bake. The time depends on the slice sizes and your choice of crispiness. I like my fries crispy and with the smaller slices tonight we baked for OOOOO minutes.



Now for the burgers! This again is a very simple recipe. I use 85/15 meat. The reason I do not go with 90/10 is because the extra fat helps with flavor and keeps the patties together. Plus that little 5% is not going to hurt you. Now to flavor and season the meat I use a lot of different techniques. Tonight’s burgers are seasoned with Trader Joe’s South African Rub. I grind the rub and add to the meat until I smell enough of the rub to know I can taste it. Smell is about 75% of taste, so if you like the amount of seasoning you can smell chances are you will enjoy the taste. I seasoning everything based on smell and I never measure. After seasoning the meat, I do the whole package, I split into patties of 1/3 pounds. You can go for 1/4 if you want to save on calories. After making patties, I put two patties together in a ziploc bag and repeat until all pairs of patties are zipped up. This way I can freeze the patties in groups of two- one for me, one for my wife. Whenever you plan to have burgers, remove the bag of two patties from the freezers and place them in the fridge overnight.

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Once you are ready to cook the burger, turn your grill on and set to high. Do this at-least 30 minutes prior to grilling. Let the burgers sit at room temperature until the grill has heated. Once the grill has heated up for 30 minutes placed the burgers on the grill and close the top. After 4 minutes open the grill and flip the burgers. Once flipped close the grill and wait 3 minutes. After 3 minutes open the grill and top the burgers with cheese, if you wish. At this time you can place your buns on the grill. After 60 seconds remove the patties and buns. You are now ready to serve.

I will go into the homemade buns I use at a later date, but for me burgers I use onion buns. The buns have 211 calories in them. That plus 15 calories for ketchup, 5 for mustard, 70 for cheese, and 310 for the 1/3lbs patty, makes for a burger with 611 calories. That is 250 less than at Five Guys and much better quality of meat. Add the fries, and the entire meal is 729 calories. Still less than 1 burger at Five Guys. Bigger than most meals, but it still left me with 1500 calories to have during the day, and can be less calories based on buying healthy buns or using less meat.

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