Walnut, Chicken and Cherry Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

The July 2017 magazine The Costco Connection featured a healthy and delicious quinoa recipe that reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing. Since we had just picked up a 4.5 lb bag of organic quinoa, I thought we should give it a try. Why quinoa? It has nice flavor, it’s easy-to-prepare and is high in protein. To suit our palettes and to feed a ravenous family of five, I modified the recipe. So here you go!

Ingredients
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1 lb grilled chicken, chopped (I used boneless thigh meat which was grilled with poultry seasoning and dried thyme.)
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup celery, diced
1 small red onion, minced
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
garnish with fresh thyme (optional)

Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin if you have some)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

The recipe also called for 1 tsp of sugar and minced garlic which I omitted. I felt that the white wine vinegar and cherries would add enough sweetness (which they did) and raw garlic has a tendency to make me burp.

Directions
Rinse and drain quinoa in a strainer. Bring water and quinoa to boil in medium/large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Then add chicken pieces, cherries, walnuts, celery and minced onion. [This is a change from the original recipe that calls for adding the chicken, cherries, celery and onion after the quinoa has cooled. I wanted to slightly rehydrate the cherries and warm the celery and onions so their flavor was milder.] Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and let cool.

Place the cooled quinoa mixture in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, white white vinegar and black pepper. Pour over salad. Toss well to coat.

Ready to serve, eat and enjoy!

Balance Your Way to a Stronger Core.

Do you want to add variety to your workout routine? Do you want to improve your balance and core strength? Do you want to make exercise more fun? Then the stability ball is the fitness tool for you. It kind of reminds me of the hopper balls I used to bounce on in preschool. Jumping around and laughing until I fell off or my legs gave out. Watch my video as I demonstrate a few exercises that you can start doing today!

The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

dirty dozen

Clean 15

By now you have probably heard about EWG’s Dirty Dozen list and the Clean Fifteen. If not, don’t feel too bad.

Above I have included both produce shopper’s guides. The guides reflect “the overall pesticide loads of common fruits and vegetables.” The fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list have the most pesticide residues. If possible, buy these organic. The Clean Fifteen lists fruits and vegetables that have the least, if any, pesticide residues. It’s okay to buy these non-organic off the shelf. Why is this important? One of the main reasons is organophosphate, which is the basis for many insecticides and herbicides. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), organophosphates are “very highly acutely toxic to bees, wildlife, and humans”.

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life to “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” (ewg.org)

How can EWG help? Started in 1993 the Environmental Working Group educates people about what’s in their drinking water, household cleaners, farming practices, pesticides used on produce and much more. They empower you to know your environment, to protect your health and to help you make better choices.

Remember that living a healthy lifestyle is not all about proteins, fats and carbohydrates. That’s an overly simplistic view of food. Try taking a more holistic approach. Think about where your food comes from. No, not the local grocery store. Before that. Where and how were those potatoes grown? How about the fish you baked last night? Conventional farming practices, for example, not only affect the food you eat but also the water you drink, the air you breathe, the people working on the farm, the landscape and nearby wildlife. These are just a few of the reasons we have begun to buy more organic foods for our family. Buying organic helps to support sustainable practices. For more information about this topic, please read the article The Case For Organic Fruits and Veggies. It’s a great starting point.

How to Avoid Getting Athlete’s Foot

When I was growing up, my mom encouraged me to wear flip flops at the public swimming pool and in the school locker rooms, especially the shower area. Even when I was at a friend’s house for a sleep over she suggested that I avoid going barefoot in the house and always wear socks. Was my mom being overly cautious? No, I totally agree with her. Germs, fungi and viruses spread quickly person to person. My clients know that I keep my fitness studio clean. Freshly laundered towels are readily available, and after every session the exercise equipment is ALWAYS “sprayed down” with a botanical cleaner that kills 99.99% of germs. Surfaces like stretch mats, benches and bicycle seats are also cleaned. And I do my best not to forget equipment with handles like the assisted tower (for doing pull ups, dips and knee raises), recumbent bike, ab wheel and suspension straps.

Next time you’re at the gym or grocery store or pretty much anywhere you see people all the time touching their faces, rubbing their eyes, or (eww!) picking their noses. So besides sharing with you that I’m a little bit of a germaphobe, I’d like to share with you the two times I picked up athlete’s foot at the gym. The first time was a few years ago when I was a member of the Princeton Club on Madison’s west side (yes, personal trainers like to get out of their own studio now and then). I had been a member for a while and really enjoyed the set up, floorpan and equipment. But, since I did Personal Training at a gym in California for a number of years, I was always finding myself reporting to staff when the a/c vents were in need of being cleaned or when I saw a science experiment in the corner of the men’s locker room. Yes, I’m that guy. You’re welcome.

During one of my workouts I added in the seated triceps extension machine. Just to do something different. The next day, I noticed a rash on my right elbow and forearm. As the day progressed, it became red and blistery. Yikes!! I jumped online and checked out tons of images and info of skin rashes/lesions/blisters. Ick! Some of them were reactions to certain plants, others were bacterial. The image that most closely resembled mine was athlete’s foot . . . Except mine was on my arm. I learned later that the fungus that cause athlete’s foot didn’t have to be on my feet. A few days went by and the alien on my arm did not go away by itself. So I did as most physicians, nurses and other medical personnel suggest against. I treated it myself. I picked up an anti fungal cream from CVS. Clotrimazole 1% was written in a large font on the side of the tube. It did the trick. After just a few applications, the redness greatly reduced, it was no longer itchy and the blisters subsided. I did have to apply it for a few weeks, so a bit of a hassle, but whew, problem solved.

More recently, I was working out at Planet Fitness and ran into my old friend Mr. Athlete’s Foot again. I have been working out there for a year and have been impressed with the number of disinfectant spray bottles and paper towels strategically located throughout the gym. In addition, the members seem to be meticulous about spraying equipment after use. So chances were that the hamstring curl machine was clean before I using it. Sometimes I am extra fastidious and hose down the equipment BEFORE using it. Just in case. The day after my workout I noticed a couple bumps on my right hand between the second and third knuckles. Huh. I’ve been known to “react” to certain plants, animals, stings, bites and even wool sweaters so I wasn’t too concerned . . . until it began to form a bubble and blister the following day. Here we go again. Treatment was the same, anti fungal cream until the symptoms were erdicated. Where do I think I picked it up? Honestly, looking back at my workout, I’m confident it was actually by picking up one of the spray bottles. Ironic isn’t it. Eric are you sure? Maybe you were in the yard or your gardening gloves were damp? Nope. Ruled that out. It was the gym again.

How do I avoid getting athlete’s foot again? Should I wear workout gloves? Should I stop going to the gym? Remember there was a time when men and women wore gloves all the time. Not just for fashion, but also for function . . . and to avoid germs. Time to go on to Amazon.com and check out their Weightlifting Gloves.

Another Great Testimonial!

Training Rick was such a pleasure. With his optimism and willingness to learn, he made my job easy. We trained twice a week for 2 1/2 years, and I always looked forward to his appointments. He recently moved to Florida and sent me this testimonial. Here you go!

“I first heard Eric Foxman’s name mentioned at a dinner with some friends. They had commented on some press he had received which named him “Healthiest Man in America”. They were clients and indicated he lived in the town of Middleton where he operated his studio. I filed it away as a curiosity, until ironically about a year later I met the man himself—as an opponent on the tennis court. I say ironically, as I was to find out that we are both passionate about the sport, often supplementing workouts hitting.

A few months later I retired from my job and got to thinking about personal training. I believed I was reasonably fit for a 61 year old; I started seriously running in the early 1980s, completed several marathons, and could still run a sub 8-minute mile consistently. Plus I played tennis most every day of the week. But something was missing. I lacked upper body strength and core fitness, probably at least as important for seniors to maintain, if not more so than aerobics.

I called Eric, reminded him that we had met, and expressed interest in his services. Of course, the first few sessions were intimidating to me. I felt self-conscious about the exercises, at least happy that I wasn’t making a fool out of myself in public. Eric has a knack for being encouraging and supportive each and every session. So as time progressed, I began to feel more comfortable and looked forward to the twice weekly sessions.

Over 2 1/2 years later, I’m glad I made that call. I’ve recently relocated to Florida, but I believe the foundation is in place, and I will continue with Eric in spirit. So give him a call. You won’t be disappointed.”

Rick Sanders
Middleton, WI/ Naples, FL

Rick Sanders

Is a Pro Bar Good for You?

Pro Bar
Of course, this is a loaded question. And you know my answer is “It depends.” It depends on what else you are eating throughout the day, what you are drinking, what types of activities you are doing, your health & fitness goals, etc. Remember, all food has nutritional value whether it’s an apple slice, cup of yogurt, turkey sandwich or a piece of cheesecake. So instead of going down that path, I’d just like to review the PROBAR – Superfood Slam that a client gave me to try after a training session.

Describing a Pro Bar is really a mouthful, literally. Har-har-har. The Pro Bar can best be described as a meal replacement bar along the lines of a Cliff Bar. At first glance, the bar appears to have a fair amount of carbs and fat. (See the Nutritional Info below.) Eric, 19 grams of fat!! Yes, mostly unsaturated fats derived from seeds, nuts and canola oil. And remember this is a meal replacement and may represent 20% or even 25% of a person’s daily caloric intake. The next time you eat a sandwich, bowl of soup or a plate full of food, look at your meal in its entirety. The calories can really add up. The Pro Bar is an all-in-one meal or snack.

Pro Bar nutrition facts

Pro Bar Ingredients_

How does it taste? I was pleasantly surprised with all of its nuts, fruits and seeds. It is complex and there isn’t one dominant flavor coming through. Plus, compared to many meal replacement and protein bars out there it doesn’t leave you with a synthetic aftertaste that gives you what I call “protein breath”. Texture wise, it has a nice “chew factor” and is not chalky or dry. So, yes, it tastes good. But it has too many carbs for my liking, leaving me with a “sweet” after taste. Meaning? Meaning that after eating the bar I wanted to eat something with carbs. Remember “Carbs beget carbs.” I would prefer a bar with less carbs and fat and more crunch. Hey, that’s a Cliff Bar. For me personally, a bowl of oatmeal topped with a handful of sliced nuts, diced fruit and seeds sounds better. On the plus side, I had no GI or stomach discomfort afterwards. What am I trying to delicately say? NO GAS and NO BLOATING. Again for those of you who have tried different drink mixes, shakes and bars, you know what I’m talking about. This is a big deal.

The Pro Bar has a many healthy ingredients that you may not have in your current diet. Granted, there is only so much that you can pack into a 3 ounce bar. In addition it is gluten free (great for people with celiac disease) and is organic. These two items separate it from the pack.

In conclusion, if you are looking for the convenience of a healthy, tasty, shelf stable meal, then this is right up your alley. Not for everyday eating, but just in case you forget to pack a lunch one day or are in a rush out the door. If that’s the case, I would focus on meal preparation and time management.

Book Review – Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History

I recently picked up the book Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History from the Middleton Public Library. Next to the gym, tennis courts and my own house, I visit the library quite often. I was perusing new books in the sports section and saw Game Changers. It almost jumped out at me. As a side note, I have always enjoyed reading sports biographies, especially when it’s a sport that I follow or have played myself. Not only do I enjoy the athlete’s/coach’s/team’s personal story (where they grew up, how they became interested in their sport, etc) but good authors often delve into the social, economic and political arenas as well. When I read the books Cinderella Man and Seabiscuit, both professional boxer James J. Braddock and racehorse Seabiscuit were seen as the unlikely underdogs who everyone cheered for during the Great Depression. To many people they represented the working man and uplifted them. In the double biography Sound and Fury, Howard Cosell’s and Muhammad Ali’s stories were quite similar and different at the same time. One white, the other black, one a Jew and the other Muslim. The Civil Rights Era was the perfect backdrop. In The Rivals, not only did we learn about professional tennis players Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, but the book also explored women’s rights, gay rights, and our view of Eastern Europe.

I was immediately intrigued after flipping through the first few pages of Game Changers. Each page shares an athlete or team, many of whom I had never heard of. And while reading a couple paragraphs doesn’t give the whole picture, I’m already making a list of whom I’d like to learn more. For example, did you know of Alice Marble, a professional tennis player who won eighteen Grand Slam championships, (I should know this, right?) and was also recruited by the American intelligence to work as a spy during World War II? Or how about Alison Jane Hargreaves, the first climber to solo all six of the great North faces of the Alps in a single season? Or Jutta Kelinschmidt, who became the first (and only) woman and only German national driver to win the Paris-Dakar rally in the car category? Or Wilma Rudolph (yes, I have heard of her) who became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics? Makes you want to read this book, right? It’s definitely not a quick read as hundreds of athletes are depicted in different eras and different sports. Author Molly Schiot did extensive research to put this book together. It’s inspiring, educational and gives a glimpse into the lives of women athletes from around the world.

Amazon image

A Great Testimonial by a Wellness Professional

Getting a written testimonial from a client is always rewarding. It’s like a big thank you and reminds me why I have been personal training for twenty-two years. But getting a testimonial from a fellow wellness professional is even more meaningful to me. I’m just going to cut to the chase and share what Robb Seal, Licensed Massage Therapist, recently sent me. Not to pat myself on the back, but I’m feeling pretty good right about now. Here you go!

“After being introduced to Eric Foxman at a business social function earlier this spring, I was truly impressed with his optimistic personality and obvious knowledge base. So, I decided to give Balance Personal Training a try. What a great decision! I had an amazing experience working out with Eric, as he makes sessions both informative and entertaining. His command of diverse training styles and fitness philosophies enables a constantly creative approach that promises appropriate, effective variations on tried-and-true exercise routines. You’ll never get bored doing the same things over and over again. His emphasis on smooth control and attentiveness to form and detail ensures sustainability, durability and a steady improvement of strength and fitness rather than the “raw power”, “no pain no gain” approach that leads inevitably to injury.

The facilities are modern and tidy, with ample equipment to allow complexity and variety in the workout, as well as privacy and cleanliness in the transition to and from the real world.

After just one workout, I could tell that Eric was committed to being a partner in helping me improve my well-being. He is prompt and thorough with follow-up, and will happily keep you posted about new ideas and relevant health topics. Check out Balance Personal Training if you want to take the step toward long-term better health and fitness!”

Robb Seal
Robb Seal, Owner of Premier Bodywork LLC

Tire Flipping with Ken Foxman

What’s with this tire flipping that you see in Strongman competitions and the CrossFit Games? Done properly, it’s a great movement for developing overall body strength. It blends deadlifts with squats and chest press. The instability of the tire adds a whole other dimension to the task and requires balance as well as strength in both large and small body parts.

Check out this short video with my big brother, Ken, Psychologist and Personal Trainer in Southern California, as he demonstrates tire flipping on his driveway. Notice his solid technique. Perfect control combined with powerful movements. Very impressive.

When in Doubt . . . Exercise

Eric and Kyle doing lat pulls

Boy, my clients keep getting younger and younger. Just for fun, I thought I’d share a pic from 2008 of my oldest son and me. Now Kyle, 12 going on 20 years old, wears a men’s size 8 shoe. Half a size to go and he’s caught me. Ugh!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Feeling tired? Then exercise.
Stressed from work? Exercise.
Muscles stiff? Exercise.
Feeling bored? Exercise.
Bad night’s sleep? Exercise.
Want to get in shape? Exercise.

Yes, the answer is exercise. Sure there are times when you want to crash on the couch and veg or just go to bed early. I totally get it. I’ve been there myself. If you are tired, though, you should ask yourself if your fatigue is physical or mental or emotional or a combination of the three. If it is physical fatigue, is it because you are in construction and worked on a roof all day or were installing hard wood floors or laying concrete? Or is it physical due to inactivity from siting all day in an uncomfortable chair, practically motionless, dehydrated with your muscles shortening from lack of movement. If it’s the latter, that’s when you should get to the gym, go for a swim or spend time doing yard work. Now let me clarify, if you have sustained a serious injury or are wiped out with pneumonia, then see your doctor, rest and have some of mom’s chicken soup.

Think for a moment when you’re feeling your best. Do you feel your best when you’re working on a project with your boss emailing you every hour? Or is it going for a walk, stretching your muscles, getting blood flowing, feeling warm and enjoying the fresh air? If you haven’t figured it out by now, your body isn’t meant to be in a sitting or standing position for too long. It’s meant to move. And in a variety of ways. Not just sitting there behind the wheel of your car or staring at a screen and assuming what I like to call the T-Rex position. You know? Head forward, neck bent, upper back rounded and fingertips resting on your keyboard or hands close together cradling your phone.

Of course, there’s different kinds of exercise: from walking to running to hiking to cross country skiing to cycling to surfing to paddle boarding to stretching to all types of sports to lifting weights to . . .you get the idea. How do you feel when you’re done exercising? Energized? Ready to take on the world? Totally spent? I have had countless workouts where I have exercised to the point of exhaustion, barely able to walk . . . but feel like I have better mental clarity and that I have cleansed my body and soul of anything negative.

People have talked about Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan ad nauseam. And I’m not the last. To me the slogan is about moving forward, getting your head in the game, overcoming fear, looking at the big picture, achieving your goals. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I believe it’s about doing something. Just exercise. Unless of course you are training for a very specific sport or have specific lifting goals. Otherwise, all you’re really trying to do is strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, reduce body fat, improve your coordination and enhance blood flow. And that can be accomplished by any number of activities and/or workout programs which include light weights or heavy weights, high intensity training or low intensity training, workout machines or stretch cords, free weights or your own body weight, low repetition or high repetition, short duration or long duration. At the end of the day, it all depends what you like to do and will do consistently.

So, as luck would have it, the other day my back was screaming at me. Quick reminder, I’ve been in a couple car accidents and have had some serious sports related injuries. Boo-hoo. Okay, for whatever reason, my back started tightening up on me first thing in the morning. Very uncomfortable. When I was done with my personal training sessions at 7pm, I downed a cup of coffee and headed out the door to the gym. As always I started with some light cardio and calisthenics. My back was talking to me but shouting a bit less. I moved on to some core and resistance exercises. By the time I was done, in under an hour, I was feeling much better. My big concern was how I’d feel the next day. The answer? Well it is the next day and I feel waaaaaay better. Was it a particular exercise that I did? I don’t think so. It was more about moving around and doing something for myself. It’s called exercise. So when you’re feeling a little crappy, don’t grab a cold beverage, don’t marinate on FaceBook and don’t sit on the couch. EXERCISE! Your body will thank you for it.