Black Bean and Quinoa Burger

6 09 2014

Black Bean and Quinoa Burger A tasty meal for anyone looking for a vegetarian option. I found this recipe from my “Allrecipes” app and made a little modification by using red lettuce instead of a bun and adding salsa for a different flavor.

Servings per Recipe: 5-6
Serving Size: 1
Calories: 245
Fat: 10.6 g
Carbs: 28.9 g
    Protein: 9.3 g

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup minced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head red lettuce, washed and trimmed
5 table spoons salsa

Directions:
1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Roughly mash the black beans with a masher leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.

3. Mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, bell peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot sauce, and egg into the black beans using your hands.

4. Form the black bean mixture into 1 1/2 inch thick patties.

5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.

6. Cook the patties in the hot oil until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

7. Place two leaves of lettuce on a plate and place a patty on top of the lettuce.

8. Top burger with a tablespoon of salsa and serve.





Take a Stand and Live Longer: Why Sitting Too Much Could Be Life Threatening

15 09 2013

I wanted to start off this article by saying that I wrote this entire piece while standing, but I couldn’t find a countertop that was high enough for my keyboard to reach my fingers. Therefore, to make my point, I will state that this is a great example of how many people in the world are forced to be confined in a seat for most of their day. Despite a recent surge of articles, news broadcasts, and studies over the past few years, people are still sitting more than ever, and as a result, putting their health at risk, and we’re not just talking about obesity.

We are aware that sitting can lead to obesity and cardiovascular problems due to not enough physical activity. Research has also shown a link between prolonged sitting and depression. The research that should get everyone standing up while reading this piece has been in numerous media outlets that have reported on the health problem of too much sitting; NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, CBS,  Runner’s World, and Time. It is clear that being on your rump all day can actually be life threatening. According to a 2012 research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that those who spent each day sitting for longer than 11 hours were 40% more likely to die earlier than those who sat less the 4 hours a day. The kicker is that even that hour to the gym seven days a week doesn’t cut it. People just need to get up and move more often.

Many people in today’s technology driven world are behind desks tapping away at a keyboard for 8 to 10 hours a day. When we’re not sitting behind our desk, we’re probably still sitting, but this time it’s in a restaurant, car, couch, or even a bathroom stall. NPR posted a clip with advice on Beating the Cubicle. The take home message is to take a stand, not a seat. Stand up, move more, and free yourself from the dangers of begin glued to the chair. As mentioned before, even those who exercise on a regular basis still need to be more physically active in their daily life. A way to do this is to use a watch instead of a pedometer. Counting the number of steps is great if your goal is to take a certain number of steps in 4 hours. However, we don’t do this because we don’t have 4 hours to allocate all at one once to standing. A good recommendation is to wear a watch that has a stop watch. When you stand up, press the start button and stop it when you sit back down. Don’t reset the watch, but let it continue counting by pressing the start button when you stand again and repeat the process. At the end of the day record the time that you spend standing. You’ll be surprised at how little it may add up and even more shocked when we take that number and subtract it by 24 to see how many hours we actually are sitting/lying down.

I’m not telling anyone that they should start buying treadmill desks, or sleep standing up (Did you know that there is not a Guinness World Record holder for someone standing the longest. However, Suresh Joachim holds the Guinness World Record for standing on one leg. His record is 76 hours and 40 minutes.)  We all need to sit once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and kicking up your feet at the end of a long day. The trouble begins when we find ourselves picking up a remote and for the next 4 hours of football, we’re stuck to the couch. Find those little pockets of time to stand and move. I have heard people say that they don’t sleep because they have time for that when they die. I think the same goes for standing. Stand and move now while you still have the chance.

My brother on Mt. Adams

My brother on Mt. Adams, NH





When to Throw In the Towel

7 09 2013

In the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed (who, in case you never saw the films, fights Rocky Balboa in the first two Rocky installments ) decides to fight Russia’s newest boxing sensation, Ivan Drago.  During the big match between Apollo and Ivan, both Rocky and Apollo’s trainer, Duke, know that Apollo is taking a beating and the end result won’t be pretty. Duke begs Rocky to throw in the towel to end the fight, but Rocky, honoring his friend’s request to never stop the match, doesn’t toss the towel. In the end, Apollo takes such a beating that the final blow kills him.

This scene is a great analogy of that human potential trifecta for competitors; body, mind, and spirit. Apollo represents our physical body. Going up against all odds, we push our bodies to the limits. We kep going regardless of the puddles of sweat and painful ache to prove that our muscles can take the constant pounding not only in competition, but also in training. Then there’s the brain represented by Duke’s character. The voice of reason telling us that we should begin to back off or even quit because the result of continuing might be detrimental. Every painful step blasts a signal to our nervous system, letting us know that the body can’t take much more. We think about listening to that voice in our head, but then something else speaks louder. We hear Rocky, our spirit, cry out and tell us not to back down. If we dig down deep enough, we can tell ourselves to forget what the mind is telling us and hold off on throwing in the towel. We are then able to push just a little more, never knowing if the result will be success or utter defeat. We always want to imagine that it’d be the first.

You might have recently seen more articles of runners collapsing during a race in your daily paper or on the news. Headlines warning people of the dangers of long distance running. The stats are in, we do have more people involved in competitions and exercise. There are also reported cases of people getting hurt or evening dying from their participation in long distance races. However, a study by John Hopkins University published in 2012 compared the number of marathon participants and mortality rates between the years of 2000 and 2009 and showed no significant increase in mortality rates compared to the increase in entries.  They also indicated that the data that was collected were from media reports. These findings prove that the death toll of marathon runners are not increasing, but more so, the media attention of these occurences has increased. So why did these individuals have a fatal finish? One possible reason could be related back to our start of this article; the training of our physical abilities or lack there of.

Individuals must know to listen to their bodies when training or competing. It’s also important to have a trainer or coach who also understands your ability level and knows how to progress your training safely. People start to get hurt when they take only the Rocky approach and never tune in to their heads. Undertraining for an event can be as detrimental to your body as overtraining. Those who are getting injured in a competition may be a result of being undertrained and underdeveloped to meet the requirements of the challenging requirements. An article that led to the large research from John Hopkins highlighted a man who passed out during a marathon. Days after, he commented that he was not listening to his body. When training and competing, our state of mind changes and we begin to fight through all the adversaries that come in our way. From the sore muscles, to the dire weather conditions, we tell our bodies that we can persevere. Train smarter and compete smarter, by knowing when to call it quits. Your body, mind, and spirit is a perfect triangle balanced on its point. Knock off one side and the other two will fall also. If your body wasn’t prepared for that last mile hill climb, quitting isn’t failing, but deciding to be wise to come back to it when the complete triad is ready.

As we continue to exercise and train to improve ourselves, it is important to know when the time is to throw in that towel.  Progress your training accordingly and train speifical to your goals. Always modify your exercises if necessary to reduce the wear on your bones and joints. Lastly, ask yourself before running that first marathon, “Have I trained enough and if I come to that point where all is failing, will I know when to stop?”





A Journey to Renew My Mind, Body, Spirit

23 08 2013

Looking back at last month, my mind had been preoccupied with work and the realization that I was leaving the country to explore a place unfamiliar to me. The weeks leading up to my trip to Spain was filled with mixed emotions. Questions that plagued my mind at night included, what should I bring, how will I navigate with only my wife versed in the language, what neat and amazing things will we experience, and how will I keep up with my exercises. I had been so busy with my work that when the month prior to leaving snuck up on me, I was flabbergasted by how quick two years had gone by since my wife and I had started talking about taking this trip. Although, I hadn’t a clue where I was going (I left it up to my wife to choose the itinerary for the whole trip) and I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I was going to take some time to renew my mind, body, and spirit.

New Day in Madrid

Landing into Madrid, Spain as the sun rose from behind the mountains.

The trip began with the appreciation of  how quickly the human mind can adapt. Typically, I am a person who needs to know enough about my surroundings to feel competent and confident so I can interact with people.  I’m an extravert and human interaction is necessary. This journey took my out of that comfort zone and thew me into the great unknown. I was a man in a large country that spoke a language that was not familiar to me. Renew my mind might be the incorrect choice of words; more like enlighten my mind. My brain became a sponge and I soaked up as much of the language as I could possible retain in one sitting. My appreciation for the history and culture of the land and people was overwhelming. I became obsessed with the history and culture of the little towns and provinces that my wife and I visited. Each day we would explore a new area of the country and spend hours taking in the beauty and magnitude of our natural surroundings. I would work on the language everywhere we went and slowly was able to speak to someone patient residents. We learned why the villages were erected in specific ways, how the locals ate, and how the landscape had changed over time. We also experienced first hand the slow pace of life when the only form of transportation were your very own two legs.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

At the top of Picos de Europa with a mountain goat.

The time spent walking and carrying my hiking pack gave me all the exercise I needed for the time I was gone. My body felt well worked by the end of the trip. The people in Spain normally take a siesta during the middle of the day. I don’t know why my wife and I didn’t follow suit, but by the time midnight came around and all the people of Spain came pouring out of their homes and restaurants for their “happy hour,” my wife and I were nicely tucked under our covers in our nice cozy beds. The feeling of fatigue doesn’t usually hit your muscles all at once. No, it enjoys creeping up slowly, toying with your body as to say, “you never know when I’ll put a stop to all your movement.” That came around lunch time one afternoon in Segovia after we had walked all over the village and seen the Alcazar, our bodies had started to let us know that we needed to rest and replenish our nutrients. We happily gave in to this respite at a mom and pop restaurant where I learned more Spanish because the hosts could not speak English and we were able to get all the nutrients that we needed for the next long trek on our journey. Traveling on foot gave us great pleasure in seeing the sites that would have been missed by taking a car or public transportation. (Traveler’s note: If you ever go to Spain, keep hydrated. The dry air and changes in altitude can be deceiving to your perception of thirst.  Plan on buying all your water or bring a couple of water bottles, as we did, and fill them up at the local watering holes.)

Wife getting water at a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

My wife testing out a water hole on the outskirts of the village in Segovia.

Many of our stops along the way brought us to magnificent churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. The history of each one and the famous artists who helped create these masterpieces entranced my spirit and gave me much appreciation of life’s great gifts.  The architecture and structures found inside and out were amazing. The commitment found throughout these structures exemplified that nothing spectacular can ever be done quickly. Success is only possible, when one has a plan, support, dedication, and time. In the end, I was blown away by the sheer beauty and awe of everything that I saw, experienced, and learned.

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

Catedral de Santa María de Regla de León

As I reflect on the trip, I also reflect on the lessons that were gained from all that I had seen. We as individuals need to step back and take in all the accomplishments that we have made in our lives. Too often we are pushed to get things done as quickly as possible. We are becoming a society where instantaneous gratification is more favorable than the long haul even if the latter is stated to be healthier.  This journey made me realize the importance of taking my time and enjoying life’s every moment. By the end of the trip, I was able to come back to my life’s routine with a refreshed perspective on what I want to achieve and how it will look getting there. Remember that a journey is defined as the act of traveling from one place to another. Don’t lose sight of the end, and always keep your eyes open on the journey.





Listen to the Cookie

7 05 2013

“Finding time to fit a good workout into the day is as hard as the workout,” is a response I get a lot. And to sympathize with these folks is an easier path for many. In a work day, I would say that I get bogged down in my work and find hours slipping by as I loom over my computer to finish a project so that I can cross that off my list. Then I catch my breath and continue to the next project as if on autopilot. Yet, throughout the day there are times when the chance to stop and get in a few minutes of a workout arises and the choice to get up and move is up to me. “I didn’t choose to not workout, my work/time/fill in the blank just didn’t allow me to do it,” a repeated echo rings in my head. “Bunch of bull!” Snuffs out the echo as I am pull myself away from the computer and prepare to exercise.

This scenario is a constant hinderance in our daily life and separates those who move backward in their fight to succeed with those who make positive progress.  We will always be required to make a life altering decision as the seconds past way in our lives, but we are always in control of the choices we make. Allowing ourselves to break under the pressure of excuses and blame it on something other than our lack of defiance over status quo keeps us in a vicious cycle that never ends where we want to be.

Cookie Doesn't Lie

The average person makes roughly 3,500 decisions a day. What to eat, where to go, how to dress, pass the car, say hi to that person…. The list goes on and on, and yet, with one choice taken, the other is left behind. So we can say that we didn’t have the opportunity to choose both. This is true and many people lose ground from choosing only one and not the other maybe because of comfort level, external pressures, or priority levels. However, when we make that choice to not do something, we are in control of this decision and internal factors provide the foundation of this choice. Work did not keep me from taking ten minutes to get up and move around so my muscles could stretch out from sitting for 4 hours straight. No, I told my body that it was not allowed to get up because I thought that I would lose precious time to get my project down. I chose to keep working. As the cookie states, we still choose even if we decide not to make a choice. Make every decision count and never blame that fact that you couldn’t choose your future. You are in control of your free will and to wake up half hour earlier to get a workout in is your choice.





Slice Up A Post Workout Meal

5 04 2013

After a tough workout, you deserve to enjoy a slice of pie; pizza pie that is. Try out my fresh spin to this delightfully healthy margarita pizza and tell me what you think.
Doug's Margarita Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag – fresh pizza dough
1 cup – flour
1 – fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
3 – plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup – fresh basil leaves, rinsed
1/2 cup – tomato sauce
1 cup – shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbls – extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp – garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread flour on counter top. Roll out dough to desired thickness and shape.
2. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese around the pizza. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese and using a ladle, spread sauce to cover the cheese.
3. Lay the basil leaves on top of the sauce  to cover the pizza. Next, arrange the tomatoes to layer the pizza. Finish off the pizza with fresh mozzarella slices.
4. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic powder together. Then using a brush, brush on oil mixture along the edge of the crust.
5. Place in the oven on a pizza pan or pizza stone for 18 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.





Wrong Way? No, Just Different

13 03 2013

Not Always Wrong, Just Different

If you’ve had an experience where you thought you were doing something, like eating a certain food or dressing a certain way, but then saw people doing it another way and thought you were actually doing it wrong, don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, sometimes a different way might not be the wrong way, but exactly the former; just a different way. Who says that a turkey burger can’t be a breakfast item or that everyone should drive a BMW? Societal norms influence us to think that we all have the same needs. On the contrary, we all need to pay attention to our individual needs to maintain good health.

In 2007, Wesley Shultz et al conducted a field experiment testing whether normative messaging (telling people to practice a certain behavior based on what others are doing) would have mixed success rates in behavior change. They saw that when told to use more energy saving products because a specific number of others were doing it, the number of people converting to energy conservatives increased. Yes, energy conservation is ideal and we would all want to promote this type of habit, but the mere fact that it only took one little message stating that more people were practicing one certain behavior to have the minority feel like they were wrong and change their lifestyle is fascinating. A key point to this case is that in order to see a shift in the masses, the group must be  a minority, hence, the difficulty of getting our overweight country to get back down to a healthy weight (69.2% of adults in US overweight/obese). Yet again, why should we be like everyone else?

When dealing with exercise, we must look at performing a task with blinders on. Not one person is alike and thus not one specific regimen will work for everyone.  The National Academy of  Sports Medicine has a training model that is different than that of the American Council on Exercise. Is one of them wrong and the other right? Absolutely not, because both will reach the same result in the end, although both use different pathways. The same goes when I am asked which one is better for getting toned arms, free weights or machines? Both are two different modalities that lead to the right direction to get lean arms.

The right answer to improving your health is not to follow the yellow brick road that everyone else has followed, but to lay each stone in front of you and test the ground supporting it to determine if it will work for you. So the next time you’re scratching your head wondering if the person next to you is doing it right and you should follow suit, ask yourself if you are still improving your health with what you’re currently doing. If so, then embrace the difference and continue to tread through the unbeaten path to success.

References: 

American Council on Exercise: IFT Model
CDC Faststats: Overweight and obesity http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
National Academy of Sports Medicine: OPT Model
Shultz, P. W. et al. The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms. Psychological Science, 18(5) 429-434. 2007 








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers