8 Delicious and Functional Fall Foods

No doubt about it; the holiday season is going to look a lot different this year.
Diwali, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s are all celebrations that traditionally bring friends and family together. The common denominator for all these holidays is delicious foods that evoke enjoyment and memories.
The foods we eat during holidays in the United States mirror the changing colors of nature. Red, yellow, orange, and browns start to dominate both the dinner table and the foliage during these holiday feasts. These comfort foods are warm, hardy, and stick to your ribs. These foods helped prepared folks for the long winter in yesteryears, but for present times, these foods are more often about carrying on traditions passed down from the previous generation.
While many families are choosing to tune down the size of gatherings, the meals we eat will most certainly take on a larger role in making these holidays feel normal.
For those trying to find a balance between making the holiday season feel normal and continuing to make health and fitness a priority, here is a list of foods to keep in mind:
Turkey
Pumpkin
Squash
Apples
Cranberries
Pecans
Brussel Sprouts
Beets
Turkey
Turkey is a very rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, and the amino acid tryptophan. It also contains zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12. The skinless white meat of turkey is low on fat and is an excellent source of protein. Don’t be afraid to double down on turkey if you’re missing out on other healthy options at the table.
Pumpkin
Pumpkin is rich in potassium and vitamins A, C, and E. A serving of pumpkin also contains more than 20% of your daily recommended intake of fiber. This fun fall food can be prepared in various ways, so try to keep this dish simple and not too sweet by doctoring it up with freshly ground cinnamon and a little sea salt. And no, a pumpkin spice latte does not count!
Squash
Squash a tremendous source of beta carotene, manganese, and antioxidants like vitamin C. It’s also a great source of potassium that is associated with lowering blood pressure. A roasted acorn squash with a little grass-fed butter and some lean protein can be a simple and delicious harvest dinner!
Apples
Apples are a fan favorite when it comes to fall foods and a fun fall activity. They are a great source of Vitamin K, potassium, and immune-boosting Vitamin C. You also get plenty of dietary fiber (pectin) from this delicious fruit that can help you feel satiated. Eat this fruit whole, add it to a salad, or make it the foundation of a healthy dessert. Bonus points if you pick your own!
Cranberries
Cranberries are a fall superfood high in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also correlated with reducing the incidence of urinary tract infection and contain immune-boosting properties to boot! Rather than buying pre-packaged cranberry sauce, try making your own with fresh-squeezed orange juice for a healthier alternative.
Pecans
Pecans are a great source of Vitamin E (which is both immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory), B-vitamins, and magnesium, all essential for a healthy heart and muscle function. A handful of pecans make a great snack, but some pecan-themed desserts can be loaded with sugar so proceed with caution.
Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable that contains potassium, iron, and heart-protective B vitamins—including B6 and thiamin. Brussel sprouts also contain prebiotics, which feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. You can’t get enough of this crispy, crunchy veggie!
Beets
Beets are a go-to fall food when it comes to fiber, iron, potassium, and folic acids. This superfood can be prepared in various ways, from roasted beets and beet chips to a nice cold glass of beet juice to help you detox.
Enjoying these foods for the holiday season will help boost your functional nutrition while keeping the vitamins and nutrients high.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Christophir “Smitty” Smith

4 Ways to Eat Better Without Dieting

If you have ever said any of the following; “I really want to get in shape; feel better; get back on track; lose some weight, or tone up.” You probably already understand the nutritional component is going to be essential to success.

For many, that means getting your diet dialed in. But, before we go down that road, I want you to consider something for a few moments.

The word diet is a noun, and the act of dieting is a verb.

This often-overlooked difference is vitally important to your success. In my 20 years of health, fitness, and coaching experience, I’ve consistently found the people most likely to achieve long term success eat a healthy diet and are not dieting.

Here are my top four tips, in order, for helping you improve your diet right now!

Go from the verb to the noun
Plan, Prioritize, and prepare
Choose Higher Quality foods more often
Eat Slowly & Mindfully

Step 1:
The first step to helping you achieve success needs to be going from the verb to the noun.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a local Girl Scout meeting to talk about healthy eating habits. I opened up my speech with this question, “What does the word diet mean?” I was so excited to hear this answer, “It’s like, just like, what you eat and stuff.” I was stupid excited to hear her answer. I thought going in, they were going to answer with something along the lines of calorie restriction. But nope. That little girl’s response is how I wish adults would answer the question.

Diet is simply what you eat. You can be on a diet of Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies, but I wouldn’t recommend it. By changing your paradigm of diet, you change how you approach food.

Step 2:
The idea of taking time to plan, prioritize, and prepare seems like it will take too long to fit into your busy schedule. That might be so, but what if you started with just five minutes?

Even a five-minute action can have powerful results. For example, in the next five minutes, I want to you do the following:
Minute 1 – Plan out what day or time you will make your next grocery store run and the amount of time required/allowed to shop.
Minute 2 – Think about what events you have coming up that might present you with a less than optimal situation food-wise and create a plan b.
Minute 3 & 4 – Create a list of meals you would like to eat, focusing on whole minimally processed food choices. (More on that in a moment).
Minute 5 – Plan out when you will prepare the food you will purchase, and you will store it for later.

An example of this sounds like this: I will go to the grocery store after I drop the kids off at day-care on Thursday. I will plan on being in the store for 20 minutes and will grab enough food for 8 meals for me, my wife, and two young boys. I’ll grab enough food for three different dinners and leftovers for lunches. I want two chicken dinners and one steak dinner. I’ll cook one of the chicken dinners that night and set up the other chicken dinner for the crock-pot on Friday and let it cook while I’m working because I know we will not have time to cook Friday night. Saturday night, I’ll fire up the grill for the steaks. I’ll store the meals in individual Tupperware containers as I’m cleaning up Thursday night.

Step 3:
This step is a process and can have multiple stages. This step is the 1% better approach. A vegetable example looks like this, going from canned to frozen, then from frozen to fresh.

Another example might be choosing a product with an extensive list of ingredients you can’t pronounce to one with fewer ingredients that you can pronounce and find in the store you’re shopping at. Chances are you’re not going to find Red dye #9 on Kroger’s shelves.

Step 4:
Finally, eat slowly and mindfully. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, but we too often distract ourselves while we eat. Put the phone down, turn the TV off, and get rid of any other distractions. Take your time as you eat and pay attention to the flavors and textures.

Eating at a slower pace will allow you time to pay attention to your hunger cues and the sensation of being full. This helps with reducing the chances of overeating. If you are up for a real challenge, try putting your unties down after each bite!

I can guarantee, if you follow these four steps, you are on your way to improving your diet without being on a diet.

Christophir “Smitty” Smith

How To Optimize Your Warm-up

Remember in high school when you would sit on the gym floor organized into lines of ten, and the gym coach would walk by the rows and take the role? I remember like it was yesterday! Gym was my favorite class (makes a lot of sense, right?!?!). After that, they would have you stand up, do 10-20 jumping jacks followed by some useless toe touch hamstring stretches. This was just enough time for them to get the cage of balls to roll out and unleash the craziness of gym class. Man, I miss those days!

 

Fast forward down the road post high school, and you probably took the same approach to your workout warm-ups, thinking it was doing you good. Shucks, you may have even done some extra stretching (3 whole minutes) before working out to make sure you were ready.

 

I hate to break it to you, but that’s not a warm-up. At least not one that is going to be beneficial.

 

If you want to optimize your workouts and get the most out of them, you need to give the warm-up, gasp, and cool down its due diligence. Here’s why warming up prepares the body physically and mentally for the day’s training.

 

On the physical side, warm-in up allows time for the blood circulated to your vital organs to be slightly diverted and better allocated to the periphery and muscles. This diversion of blood supply allows the muscles to warm-up due to more blood volume and heat generated through movement. It also allows your heart rate to gradually increase, which sets off a cascade of physical responses, including glucose release into the bloodstream for ready consumption for the muscles to do work better.

 

Additionally, a proper warm-up primes the nervous system. Which may be the coolest part (at least to me) of how the body responds to warming-up. ln less than a blink of an eye, your nervous system can shift from cruising through your day like a mini-van into a high powered sports car. Pretty cool huh?!?!?! This is the reason you hear stories of moms lifting cars off babies. But to maximize the process, taking time to warm-up is key to reducing injury.

 

Finally, warming-up up and mobilizing help prime the range of motion used in the workout. This helps reduce strain on the muscles and connective tissues and is how it helps reduce injury. But did you know that when you’re warming up, you are helping to prime the movement patterns and increase your performance? That’s right! When you go through the movements as part of your specific warm-up, you are reminding yourself of the movement patterns. The brain is subconsciously rolling through all the experience you have with that movement and starts to look for the optimal movement patterns successful in the past. Pretty amazing how the connection between the brain and the body works. And oh… if you want to optimize that connection, you should consider regular chiropractic adjustments to keep the superhighway of the nervous system, the spine, in proper alignment.

 

As a review, you will want to properly warm-up and mobilize to get the most out of your workouts. Now let’s get into the way you carry it out!

 

Every time you warm-up it should be specific to the workout you plan to perform. This means that how you warm-up for a longer cardio-based workout is different than how you should warm-up for a heavy deadlift day. The for steps to optimizing your warm-up are:

 

General Warm-up – Mobilization – Movement Specific Warm-Up – Performance Priming

 

Here are the details for each.

 

General Warm-Up: Depending on your age, training age (how long you have been doing the activity – example CrossFit), and the intensity of the workout, it is best practices to use closed chain movement patterns that increase in intensity. This period of the warm-up should last at least three minutes but no more than ten. Closed chain movements are those that are repetitive in nature and are cyclical. Examples include walking, jogging, biking, or jump rope. Once your respiration rate is elevated slightly, its time to move to the mobilization phase.

 

Mobilization
Our workouts movements can be broken down into a few broad and overacting groups like squatting, lunging, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotation, or walking. To prime these movements, we need to consider the proper range of motion compared to our range of motion. For example, a squat should find us with our hips just below the top of the knees with the feet flat on the ground. If you are just shy, then performing some foam rolling will help release some tightness in the connective tissue and muscles. Additionally, performing a Dynamic Range of Motion drills for the hips will help release some of the tightness at the end ranges you have to further increase your ability to get to the squat requirements without pain or injury.

 

Movement Specific Warm-up
This is particularly important for fast movements or high skill movements that can be broken down into skills and drills. Examples include the Olympic lifts of the snatch and clean & jerk. These movements require balance, agility, and coordination of body movements at specific times of the moment. A movement specific warm-up for the snatch will include all the parts of the movement. For example, the Burgener warm-up created by a top-level Olympic Weightlifting Coach, Mike Burgeneris a series of 5 drills performed 8-12 times. Each drill is added to the next. Once completed, this movement specific warm-up helps guide the athlete through the entire movement.

 

Performance Priming
This final step is one that I coined over the past 20 years of coaching fitness and sports. The performance priming phase is where the athletes/members get a small dose of the workout to help prepare them mentally for what is about to come. This is the period where I guide folks to the actual training. An example would look like this;

 

Workout
5 Rounds for time:
3 Deadlifts at 225 lbs for males and 185 for female
Run 400m
5 Strict weighted pull-ups

 

The performance priming phase of the warm-up would look like this if you were in my class:
Take 8-10 minutes to help slowly build to workout weight in the deadlift. While you are walking back and forth between the weight stacks and your barbell, perform 1 strict pull-up and add weight each time you come back to the pull-up bar until you are at the weight you will use for the workout. Finally, run 100 meters, followed by 1 deadlift at your workout weight and three pull-ups at your workout weight. Then grab a sip and your sweat towel, and let’s get ready to go.

 

There you have it, the four phases of a proper workout to increase your performance and reduce injury risk. If you don’t want to think about all that, just come to one of the classes I coach during the week, and I’ll take care of everything for you 😉

 

Smitty

Finding YOUR Workout of the Day

I’ve got a seemingly random question; If we were to jump into your car right now, how loud would your radio be playing? Chances are it’s at a level that isn’t too low or too loud. Sure, from time to time, you crank it up and sing loudly. At other times you turn it down when you’ve had a tough day at the office and just want to hear something soft to help reduce the stress of the day.

Now I want you to apply that same idea to the intensity of your workouts.

Some days you’re feeling like the Axl from Guns N’ Roses (feel free to fill in your front man and fantasy band here if it suits you), and you’re at a 10/10 on the intensity and feeling ready for whatever the workout may be. Kickass! Glad you’re ready to go hard, but not every workout should leave you in the fetal position gasping.

There is nothing, read that again, NOTHING wrong with turning the intensity down for a day if you’re not 100%. Maybe your nutrition was crap at the company luncheon, or your two-year-old has been having trouble sleeping, and it’s got you up at night (that’s me). Perhaps you’re in the gym for the 5th day in a row, and you usually come 3 days a week. Going hard for the sake of going hard may help relieve some stress mentally, but physically you’re doing a disservice to your progress. In fact, there is recent research to back this up.

Over the past decade, you have probably seen a large uptick in wearable technology to track physical activity. Companies like FitBit, Whoop, Garmin, and Oura Ring all have proprietary measures related to readiness for exercise. These wearable devices look at factors like resting heart rate, respiration rate, heart rate variability, and more. These readiness factors allow the wearer to gain insight into what their body is doing from a qualitative standpoint to help provide information about how to structure your workout. For example, researchers in Spain published an article in June of this year outlining how the metrics used by many of these wearable technologies were used to refine the training habits of cyclists and improve training outcomes1.

While these devices provide some great information, you still need to apply it appropriately. Furthermore, many of us don’t need these devices to tell us that we are feeling run down, ready to go. What we need is to find our workout of the day that aligns perfectly when our readiness state. One that is going to be the most beneficial for that day.

Having a coach that can help you set the focus and purpose for the day’s workout to align your readiness state, ability, and long goals are so important. If you need help getting the most out of your training, try connecting with one of our coaches to see what recommendations they have!

1.  Javaloyes, Alejandro1; Sarabia, Jose M.1; Lamberts, Robert P.2; Plews, Daniel3; Moya-Ramon, Manuel1 Training Prescription Guided by Heart Rate Variability Vs. Block Periodization in Well-Trained Cyclists, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2020 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – p 1511-1518 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003337

Why Now Is The Best Time To Start Building Your Health And What To Do About It

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb 

 

Damned if it ain’t true! This might sound painfully obvious, but now, this very second, well maybe after you finish reading this, is the best time to take action. This might be to improve your diet, to start working out, or any other health-building practice.

 

Smitty Smith

Before the entire world started slowing down and in some parts, shutting down, many of us moved throughout our day packing in as much as possible. We often neglected to build our most precious resource to combat COVID-19, our health.

 

While many people are harping on the adverse effects the pandemic is imposing on their “normal” life, I’ve taken this opportunity and encourage you to reflect on what may be a blessing in disguise. I’ve taken the opportunity to intentionally shift the focus my attention to aspects of my health that were not given ample attention previously, and so should you! Perhaps that means you let work and life responsibilities superseded your focus on personal health and fitness. Or, if you were like me, you allotted more attention to some aspects of health and neglected others. Whatever the case may be, now is the best time to start building a more robust level of health.

 

Here is how to start; small daily actions focusing on the process of change rather than the end result. That sounds weird! Why should I focus on the process rather than the goal?!?!

 

Let me answer a question with a question again (see my blog post about 5 functional foods and fluids HERE); How do you build a house?

 

Ahhh…. now you get it. There is a process to the end result, and it has to be done by setting a firm foundation, then frame it, and so on. As the project progresses, it begins to take the form of the end goal, a home. To be honest, I’ve never built a house, but you get the idea. It takes time, and certain things must be in place before you can take the next step.

 

To further the analogy, let’s look at nutritional equivalent. A not so hypothetical client set up a nutritional coaching session to help lose some weight. As the meeting started, it was apparent, the client wanted a very detailed, down to the smallest macro diet plan along with a list of dietary supplements they need to be taking. To their surprise, this is not what I provided right off the bat. Instead, I asked them if they were consistently eating whole foods that are minimally processed and consuming ample water throughout the day? The answer was no.

 

As you might guess, the client did not leave the session with what they initially expected. Instead, a list of actionable process steps they could, without a doubt, be successful for the next two weeks. During the next meeting we had, we built on those steps. Over a few months, they continued to succeed. They ultimately reached the goal of losing weight, even without the need for an elaborate plan.

 

Now it’s your turn, begin by creating small actionable changes that you can perform with a high success rate and build on regularly.

 

If you have questions about where to begin, we are here to help and answer your questions about fitness, nutrition, and what will be the best course of action for you. Now get to it!

 

Smitty

Link to previous blog: https://wellnessrevolutioncrossfit.com/the-top-5-functional-foods/

The Top 5 Functional Foods

What we eat should be both enjoyable and sustain, or better yet, build our health.

Smitty Smith

 

Whether you spend more time binging the latest Netflix series or accomplishing physically demanding workouts, what we eat and drink has a major influence on our health and wellness.

Regardless of where you lay on this spectrum, I believe each of us would appreciate some extra credit that requires little to no effort to see added health benefits.

 

If that sounds good to you, then consider increasing the functional foods and fluids.

 

*** From the dude (or dude’ ette) in the back, “Hey Smitty! You just made those titles up! Furthermore! All food is, by definition, functional because its function is to keep us alive! So, what do you say to that?!?!?”

 

After taking a small sip of water, “Thanks dude(ette) and your right, all food has the function to provide necessary energy in the form of chemical bonds in order complete physiological processes to meet our basal metabolic rate and thereby ensuring life goes on. So in that sense, you are correct. What I am referring to are foods, that as the Mayo Clinic states, “… foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition that promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.”

 

Since eating and drinking are things you have to do, it makes sense to eat foods that give you the most bang for your buck.

 

Here are the five most notable functional foods and fluids you can start adding to your diet today to provide that bang for your buck and time:

 

1. Green, Black, & Oolong Teas
2. Fermented Food
3. Seasonal berries
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
5. Turmeric

 

1. Green, Black, & Oolong Tea
Rather than reaching for that second coffee, try having a cup of tea instead! Each of these teas contains many polyphenols like EGCG, a catechin containing antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.

 

Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. They contain an assortment of compounds, the most significant components of which are polyphenols. The differences between green, black, and oolong tea lie in the fermentation process (more on that in a moment).

 

These teas can give you a mental boost with the potent combination of theanine and a low amount of caffeine. This helps you stay alert and focused without getting the jitters and an eventual crash. Try brewing a cup of tea when you need a pick-me-up.

 

2. Fermented Foods
Before your hipster friend started drinking kombucha, as they put it “way” before you ever heard of it, people and cultures from around the world have used fermentation processes to extend the life of food and make others more palatable. In doing so, they created functional foods and fluids that can help build your immune system and improve the microbiome in the intestinal tract.

 

Kombucha is a tea (clears throat.. see #1) that uses fermentation to promote the growth of good bacteria. These bacteria produce chemicals that include antioxidants. Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals, which experts believe play a role in a wide variety of illnesses, including cancer and chronic inflammation.

 

3. Seasonal Berries
Seasonal berries are powerhouse fruits that make for a great snack at any time. They are low glycemic, so they won’t have a significant impact on blood sugar. They have numerous health benefits, as well. Blueberries get their vibrant dark blue color from their abundance of anthocyanin, which explains their high antioxidant content. Anthocyanins reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer.

 

Blackberries are high in vitamin C and fiber. Just one cup of blackberries provides 30 mg of vitamin C. That’s half your daily recommended value and integral to collagen formation in bones, connective tissue, and blood vessels.

 

4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often thought to be an old wives’ tale, a homegrown remedy that will fix any ailment. It may not be a cure-all, but Apple cider vinegar is undoubtedly a functional food you can benefit from using. Produced through fermentation (clears throat again… see #2), a combination of yeast and beneficial bacteria called the “mother” float in the beverage containing B-vitamins, probiotics, and polyphenols.

 

Research has also found that taking 20 grams of apple cider vinegar significantly lowered post-meal blood glucose levels. If you need a little help with digestion, try adding some apple cider vinegar to a glass of water or mix it with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.

 

5. Turmeric
Turmeric has been a staple in Indian cooking for thousands of years. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Curcumin is a potent anti-Inflammatory, that may also help with chronic disease, depression, and possesses anti-carcinogenic properties. It has also been shown to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain. Don’t be afraid to get your curry on!

 

There you have it, the top 5 functional foods you should add to your diet today!

 

Love the article but have no clue how to get started? Our certified nutrition coaches would love to work with you on a personalized action plan and accountability schedule that fits your lifestyle. Contact us today!