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.

Watch, Bid & Win! Support Wisconsin Public Television’s 42nd Annual Auction!

How would you like to support Public Television and get a great deal on Personal Training with yours truly? Then check out WPT’s 42nd Annual Auction on Friday June 2nd from 7pm to 12am (Sports & Recreation Category). I donated a *package of 5 Personal Training Sessions. That’s a value of $375! What do you think it will go for?

This is WPT’s largest fundraising event, and all the proceeds support WPT programs and outreach initiatives. You can bid online or over the phone (608)263-9985. The auction begins Wednesday May 31st and concludes on June 4th. To learn more or view other auction items, go to WPT Auction.

* My donation is reserved for new clients only.
WPT Auction

Magnificent Midwest Morel Mushrooms Mature in May

There I go with more alliteration. Well it’s that time of year when morels spring out of the ground. The first year we moved into our house, a neighbor told me that he knew all the good places to find morels in our woods. Usually near dead or dying elm and apple trees. This year, however, my middle son found some right by our house near a dead lilac bush. Bruce pointed at the ground and initially thought it was some kind of wasp nest due to the mushroom cap’s honeycombed structure. Lo and behold, they were five untouched beautiful morels. What to do with them? Very simple. A quick sauté in a skillet with a little butter. Nothing fancy. At $40 per pound I don’t want to do anything to mess them up. Maybe a side of steak to go with them? Yum.

Morels 2017

Five Festive Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Cinco de Mayo is just three days away. So let’s celebrate with 5 of my favorite South of the Border dishes. Enjoy creating traditional, healthy and fun entrees (plus sides) for your friends and family.

Heather’s Homemade Guacamole
Heather's guacamole

Ingredients
4 ripe avocados
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (optional: 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
2 tomatoes diced (I like to use Roma and garnish with cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems) diced (optional: parsley)
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions
On a cutting board, slice avocado in half. Then pick it up and give it a twist. The avocado should come right apart. Pick up the half with the pit in it. Carefully whack the knife into the pit, then twist and lift it out. Compost avocado skin and pit. With a spoon, scoop out the insides and add to a mixing bowl. With a fork or spoon, gently mash the avocado. Add the lemon juice to help preserve freshness and the bright green color. Then add the minced garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and black pepper. Stir and serve.

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Directions
Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Sauté onion and garlic in pan until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes and sauté 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to skillet, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts.

Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream (or yogurt) and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans. — recipe from Foodnetwork.com

Chunky Salsa

Ingredients
6 lbs tomatoes, chopped
3 lbs tomatoes, diced
7 cloves garlic, diced
3 lbs yellow onions, chopped
2 1/2 lbs green and yellow peppers, chopped
1/2 lb frozen corn
2 Tbsp chili powder (we used mild)
1 Tbsp garlic salt
*1 Tbsp canning salt
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 cup cilantro, minced

Directions
In a large pot, on medium-high heat cook 6 lbs chopped tomatoes and garlic. Keep lid off to evaporate some of the water. Stir occasionally. Mash mixture after approx. 15 minutes. Add onions and continue to cook for 15 more minutes. *Note: Since Heather was going to can the salsa, she started heating the water bath. To the mixture add the 3 lbs of diced tomatoes (that will help make salsa chunkier), peppers, corn, chili powder, garlic salt, canning salt, cumin, vinegar, lemon and lime juice. After 15 minutes, add cilantro. Turn heat to low while loading canning jars. Heather processed her quarts for 30 minutes. Please consult a reputable canning protocol for canning details. Yields 6 quarts.

Chicken Fajitas
Sizzling Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients
1 lb boneless chicken thighs or breasts, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 red peppers and 2 green peppers, sliced (these aren’t spicy but have more of bite to them than your sweeter bell peppers)
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 medium limes (one for the juice and the other to go into a nice Corona)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder (use more or less depending on how much kick you want)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
corn or flour tortillas
1 avocado, diced (optional)
Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions
To a bowl, add lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cilantro, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Place chicken in a bowl or dish. Pour marinade over chicken and coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate from a few hours to over night.

Heat pan (or cast-iron skillet if you have one) to medium high. Add chicken pieces and cook until well-browned (10-15 minutes). Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Add peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cook until slightly charred.

Serve plain or with your favorite tortillas. We also diced some avocado and added a spoonful of Greek yogurt on the side.

Easy Chicken Enchilada Soup
Chicken Enchilada Soup

Ingredients
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast and thigh meat
1 28oz can organic diced tomatoes, undrained
2 15oz cans “Kuners” already spiced black beans (chili powder and cumin), undrained
1 4oz can green chiles
1 12oz can “mild” enchilada sauce
1 large red bell pepper cut into chunks
4 medium zucchini cut into 1″ pieces

Directions
Place meat into a 4-6 quart crock pot. Cover with tomatoes, black beans, chiles, bell pepper and enchilada sauce. Cook on “low” for 8 hours or “high” for 4 hours. Add the zucchini on top with one hour left of cooking. That will keep them from getting too mushy. When soup is cooked, shred chicken with a fork before serving.

Serve with grated cheese, yogurt, sour cream, avocado slices or fresh cilantro.

Quick & Easy Spanish Omelette Recipe

Delicious, nutritious and satisfying, eggs are a go-to food for practically any meal. Last night we made a quick and easy Spanish Omelette, and it turned out awesome! We made one before and I’ve included a pic of that one too. Check out this recipe and learn how to make a mundane weekday dinner feel fancy. Enjoy!

Spanish Omelette

slice of  spanish omelette

spanish omelette with young garlic

Ingredients
4 medium/large potatoes, peeled and sliced
1-2 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1-2 cups cottage cheese
8 medium size eggs
1/2-1 cup favorite grated cheese
Optional: handful (about ten) young garlic from spring garden, diced (separate tops from bottoms)
Optional: sliced tomatoes
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp savory
1/2 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Grease a 10″ pie plate. You can use a cooking spray. We used liquid lecithin. Peel and slice 4 potatoes. Place potatoes in microwave safe bowl and cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender (not fully cooked).

Add olive oil to skillet and set heat to medium/high. Add yellow onion, young garlic bottoms and diced garlic cloves. Sauté. After a couple minutes, add potato. Stir frequently to avoiding sticking. Cook for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk 8 medium eggs. Mix in the cottage cheese until well-incorporated. Add thyme, rosemary, savory, salt and pepper.
Empty contents of skillet (potato, onion and garlic) into pie plate. Pour egg/cottage cheese mixture over pie plate. Make sure potatoes are covered. Sprinkle cut up young garlic tops on top and poke them in. FYI it was the young garlic that absolutely made this omelette.

Sprinkle 1/2-1 cup grated cheese on top. We used colby jack. Sprinkling the cheese on top gives it a golden brown color and a nice chewy skin. You can also mix your favorite cheese into the potato/egg mixture. Garnish with sliced tomatoes.

Cook for 40 minutes.

Stick a knife into the omelette. If the knife comes out clean, then the omelette is done. Let sit 10-15 minutes, then serve.

Trigger Point Massager Review

Have you ever had a muscle knot that seemed to take forever to go away? Have you ever needed your back or neck rubbed but no one was around to give you a hand? Have you ever wanted to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist but couldn’t fit it in the budget? Then you need to check out the Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager. I recently ordered one from Amazon.com and have used it several times. Watch my video and hear what I have to say about it.

Celebrate with 44 Birthday Pushups

How should you celebrate your birthday? With pushups of course. This year I made it a little more difficult by taking a narrow foot stance, staying on the tips of my toes and getting full extension in my arms with each press. Oh yeah, and being one year older made it more challenging too. Enjoy!

Serious Seafood Supporters Swoon for Succulent Sashimi

Hopefully my attempt at alliteration grabbed your attention. Did it work? Then let’s get down to business. How do you roll when it comes to Japanese sushi? Nigiri, maki, temaki or sashimi? For me it’s sashimi every time. Why? What’s the difference? Let’s start with nigiri sushi. From the word “nigiru”, which means “to grasp/grip”, nigiri sushi has a block of vinegard rice on which the raw fish sits. The formed rice makes it easy to pick up with your hand or chopsticks. Maki sushi, from “maku”, which means “to wrap/roll”, is wrapped in seaweed (called “nori”). These rolls don’t always contain raw fish. Vegetables (raw or cooked), tofu, avocado, cucumber, grilled egg and cooked chicken are common ingredients. Temaki, meaning “hand-rolled”, is generally cone-shaped with the same ingredients as other sushi. My personal favorite is sashimi. Meaning “sliced body”, sashimi is the fish from nigiri sans rice. It’s pure, clean, unadulterated and simplistic. And just to let you in on a not-so-secret secret, sashimi is considered the finest dish in Japanese formal dining by many Japanese chefs.

Sashimi is not masked with competing or overwhelming sauces and marinades. And this might sound like something you’ve heard from a food blogger or TV travel host, but you can really taste the ocean where the fish once swam. Plus I always leave satisfied. Never bloated. Compare that to a Friday fish fry? Sorry folks, but it’s not even on the same spectrum. Without getting too personal, my body was clearly not meant to ingest fish, or any food for that matter, that’s been battered and deep fried. Why? Gas, gas, gas. If I am going to eat fish from the Great Lakes (like perch, whitefish, salmon or walleye), then lightly sautéed or a quick grill is the way to go.

For you foodies who like to be filled, I’ve noticed that some sushi chefs slice larger pieces of fish for sashimi than for nigiri. Or maybe it’s just because I often sit at the bar watching intently and intensely, drooling and generally looking really hungry. Over the years I have developed a greater appreciation for fish. Some fish are firm, flaky or soft. If you have had sushi that smells or tastes fishy, then the fish is not fresh. Get your money back. Same thing if the fish is overly chewy, stringy or tough. It’s old. Clearly not all fish have the same chewiness. Take squid, for example. You definitely need to use more of your molars.

Omakase or “chef’s choice” is by far the best way to go to experience sashimi. Why? You are asking the chef to show off his talent and do his best to give you the freshest fish of the day. A good bet is the sushi chef was at the fish market that morning and personally hand-picked the seafood.

Sushi Platter

Eric, what about the health benefits? You haven’t talked about protein or Omega 3s. Click here for Sashimi Nutrition Facts. If you’re too lazy to click on the link, I can sum it up by saying that the majority of fish served contain 6-7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving. So yes, Ken, we have ingested over 150 grams of protein from fish in a sitting before. And it was all delicious.

What are your favorites? Blue fin tuna? Yellow fin tuna? Albacore? Mackerel? Spanish mackerel? Salmon? Shrimp? Clam? Yellow tail? Sea eel? And for dessert? Freshwater sea eel. You know what I’m talking about.

So where should you go for excellent sushi in Madison? The answer is easy. Muramoto at Hilldale Mall. The fish quality is top notch. Always fresh. Try to avoid busy times if you can. They do a huge business when it comes to take-out, so your order will be competing with a lot of pick-ups. Their service is good too. The servers are knowledgable and friendly. Although again when it is busy, they can become a little frenetic. But what do you expect at 6pm on a Saturday right? The last time I was there, I sat at the bar ordered a Sapporo and some edamame. It might feel a little intimidating at first to sit at the bar, but part of the whole gastronomical experience that most people miss, in my opinion, is watching the chef prepare the food followed by the presentation. Watch how the chef slices and prepares the fish, lays them gently and precisely on sliced Asian white radish and/or single leaves of the Shiso herb. If you want to show your appreciation to the chef, buy him a beer or some sake. Wasabi and pickled ginger (both are antibacterial) are a must. In between the different fish, eat some ginger. It cleanses the pallet and soothes your stomach. If you feel a little carbohydrate-deprived, don’t worry. A bowl of white rice very often accompanies the meal.

Are you getting hungry? I sure am. So the next time you’re thinking fish on Friday, think seafood and think sashimi.

Take Your Eyes Off Yourself

Are you having a tough time staying focused on your health and fitness goals? Not feeling properly motivated? Need a kick in the butt? Then watch my short video and learn a strategy to get in shape while helping others at the same time.

Jack Lalanne, the “Godfather of Fitness”

Do you know who Jack Lalanne is? Let me give you a few hints. In 1936 he opened one of the nation’s first fitness gyms in Oakland, California. He hosted The Jack Lalanne Show between 1953 and 1985. I recall watching some of these as a kid. He invented the Juice Tiger. I clearly remember the infomercial and his stretch jumpsuits. He invented the Smith Machine. Practically every gym has some version of it. He set a push-up record. Over 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes! Amazing!

Jack Lalanne was promoting health and fitness through his own television show, as a motivational speaker and prolific author years before Jillian Michaels, Gunnar Peterson, Susan Powter, Tony Little, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Steve Reeves and countless others. If you’re not familiar with some of these people, read up on them. For his time, Jack was seen as a bit of an oddity and was known for his incredible feats of strength and endurance. On numerous occasions, he swam in open waters while handcuffed and/or towing boats. Some people saw these as gimmicks. But he was the real deal. Not only did he talk the talk, but he walked the walk.

Energetic, passionate, charismatic and unbelievably fit, Jack influenced generations of people with his commonsense approach to wellness. He preached daily exercise, having a positive attitude and a low sugar diet. Does this sound familiar?

If you have never watched one of his shows before, check out this candid video where he talks directly to his TV viewing audience about unhappy people and their emotional and mental well-being. Enjoy!