How to Do More with Less

How would you like to spend less time working and still get in awesome shape? How would you like to stay active every day and remain injury free? How would you like to eat healthier foods and spend less money than you are right now? Then watch my 14-minute video and learn how to do more and get more with less.

Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad Recipe

Can you say delicious? This was a spur of the moment creation. I referred to the recipe on the back of the noodle package and also borrowed ideas from a few soba noodle recipes online. As always, I modified the recipe to suit my family’s tastes as well as what ingredients we had in our kitchen. Made for a light and tasty side dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients for dressing

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Ingredients for vegetables and noodles

1 teaspoon peanut oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup mix of yellow and orange carrots, diced
1/4 cup snow peas
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
12 ounces buckwheat noodles

Directions

Heat 4-5 quarts of water in large pot. Once boiling, add noodles and cook according to package directions. I like my noodles to have a little more chew to them, so I cooked them al dente. Noodles were then drained in a strainer and rinsed under cold water.

Heat peanut oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the chopped red bell peppers and yellow and orange diced carrots. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes. Then add snow peas. Continue to stir and cook for approximately one more minute. Remove skillet from heat and plate vegetables to stop cooking process.

In a small bowl mix together the vinegar, ginger powder, honey and sesame oil until combined. Slowly whisk in the peanut oil until the dressing is emulsified.

In a large bowl add the noodles, carrots, peppers and snow peas. Pour sauce over noodles and vegetables and gently mix to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Ready to serve and eat.

Strengthening Your Core with a Twist.

Gone are the days of old fashioned sit ups. They have been replaced with safer, more effective and creative exercises like pelvic tilts, forearm planks, bridges and knee pull-ins. But don’t forget your abdominal rotation exercises. These are crucial in developing a strong core. Do you know how many muscles you use to do a rotation? 1? 2? 3?

Here’s a list of the core muscles used:

Rectus Abdominus
External Obliques
Internal Obliques
Transversus Abdominus
Quadratus Lumborum
Erector Spinae
Splenius
Multifidus

Now add to that all of the upper and lower body muscles you use when picking up a box, for example, and turn to put it on a shelf.

Your core is made up of numerous overlaying and underlaying muscles that go in different directions. Why? So you can do a variety of movements and be protected. To see detailed illustrations of muscle anatomy check out anatomybodydiagram.com.

Here are three of my favorite rotation exercises. Enjoy!


If you don’t have a barbell, try using a broom stick or pole.


If you are uncomfortable lying on the floor, use a mat or lie on your bed.


If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can use bands or tubing.

Back to School

My three boys either ran, sauntered or dragged themselves onto the bus yesterday morning for their first day of school. I’m not sure if I should open a bottle of wine, crank up the radio or just sit and think about what a great summer we’ve had. Yes, I think I’ll do the latter. Reflection is so important. Not trying to relive the past or dwell in the coulda, woulda, shoulda. I’m talking about looking back at a couple or a few months and reviewing accomplishments and experiences.

How often have we heard someone (perhaps ourself) say “Where did my summer go?” or “Wow, summer blew by so fast.” In my opinion, that’s the type of person who didn’t make plans or write things down or track their progress. Granted, stuff happens that’s beyond our control. But I’m talking about setting goals and moving toward them. Yes, there are detours and obstacles along the way, but that’s all part of it.

Why did I title this blog Back to School? Because we need to get back to the basics when it comes to living a healthy and active lifestyle. I’m not talking about hitting the reset button now that your children are back in school and there’s structure again. There should always be structure. But that’s another blog all together.

For me the basics of health and fitness as well as living life are:
1. Having fun
2. Trying stuff
3. Being safe.

A coule days ago I attended a client’s retirement party. At my table a gentleman asked me what I thought was the “number one thing” when it comes to personal training. I answered clearly “Having fun.” He looked surprised and pleased. I went on to explain that, in my opinion, working out and preparing meals should be enjoyed. Because honestly, when we look at life, what is it but a lot of experiences and feelings? Shouldn’t we then have good experiences and good feelings that make us smile? I know that not everything is smile-worthy, but you get my point. At the end of a workout, when you leave the gym, field, studio, court or wherever, if you are not smiling and feeling good about what you did, then you’re doing it wrong. For most of us, the workouts aren’t a sacrifice leading up to the trophy. The workouts are the trophy. And even if you are training for a special event or competition, then what happens when that day is over? When you have crossed the finish line? You’re still you and hopefully you can look back at the work leading up to it and know that the reward was in the trying.

I continued by saying that eating healthy and working out should be about “trying stuff”. Then I smiled and I took a sip from my champagne glass. Not conforming to a workout that will be obsolete in three weeks or following a diet plan that will leave you craving a bowl of ice cream. Tennis, dancing, walking, gardening, lifting weights, swimming, playing soccer are all great activities. But Eric, how am I to excel at one if I am doing a little of all of them. My response? I didn’t know that you were a professional athlete. If so, cross-training is a great way to improve performance in your chosen sport and reduce injuries. How about that? This might tick some people off but going to the gym 3-4 times a week is a waste of time if that’s all you do. How about goofing off in the pool with your kids? Or going for a hike with your spouse? Playing ping pong with your dad? It’s about doing stuff and having fun doing it.

I finished by saying that “being safe” was crucial to adherence and long term success. When it comes to “trying stuff” I’m talking about trying stuff within reason and within your current abilities. If you use to play tennis thirty years ago, and today you decide to hit with a friend on the court, you’re not too bright. You may remember how it felt all those years ago, but if you haven’t been training for it, moving side to side, making quick stops, reaching over your head, then you’re putting yourself at risk. Eric, I’m talking about just hitting. No, I get it. That’s when injuries happen. Several years ago, a client of mine asked if I would play tennis with him. I asked him when he played last and he answered that it had been a few years. I politely declined and suggested he get some tennis shoes and begin by gently hitting balls against the backboard. He was not happy with that answer. Another season went by, he asked and I declined. And another. Finally one day, against my better judgement, I agreed. We started with some groundstrokes. My goal was just to rally and feed the ball back to him in the middle of the court. He got excited and hit the ball firmly to my forehand. I returned it a couple feet to his left. Abruptly he made a quick side step, yelped and then fell onto the ground. Oh shit! He said he felt something pop is his lower leg. He had pulled a calf muscle.

To sum up, going Back to School is not about buying the most expensive piece of exercise equipment or joining the fanciest fitness club or even learning the latest stretching technique. It’s about getting back to the basics: having fun, trying stuff and being safe. Find the activities you like to do and do them.

Deviled Eggs and Brussel Sprouts Recipe

Making food fun, eye-catching and appealing isn’t always about the recipe but about the presentation and the platter on which the food is served. Recently Heather bought a chicken-shaped platter with indentations around the edges and a depression in the middle. With a tiny chip on it, the price was reduced by 80%. A good find. The indentations were intended for deviled eggs (or at least we hoped so), but we weren’t quite sure what food would go in the middle. Crackers, a dip, veggies? Ah, yes! Vegetables. Heather had just gone shopping at Willy Street Co-op and picked up some organic Brussel sprouts. They look like little cabbages and have somewhat of a similar taste. So that’d what she prepared. Deviled eggs and Brussel sprouts. Very simple, healthy and delicious!

So the next time you’re entertaining guests or are invited to a party or just want to make a family dinner more fun, serve up some whimsy with a clever platter or tray.

Ingredients for Deviled Eggs
6 hardboiled eggs
1/4 cup total of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise mixed
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle with paprika to garnish

Directions
Cut hardboiled eggs lengthwise. With a spoon, gently scoop out yolks and place in bowl. Mix well with yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard. Then refill egg whites with mixture.

Helpful tip: Do not set your filled eggs on serving platter until after you sprinkle them with paprika. Less messy.

For the Brussel Sprouts, we simply boiled them in salted water until tender. We let the flavor speak for itself.

Getting in Shape is like Growing a Beard

Watch my video and learn four similarities between getting in shape . . . and growing a beard.

Add Power to Your Workout Program with 3 Medicine Ball Moves

Let’s begin with some Force and Velocity physics equations. Yay!

Force = Mass x Acceleration

Velocity = Displacement / Time

Power = Force x Velocity

Enter the medicine ball. It’s a great fitness tool that can help you increase your power with a few simple ballistic moves. How? With a partner or against a wall/floor you can pitch, toss, throw or slam the medicine ball. And don’t worry, you can’t hurt it. Just be careful though. The ball will come back to you pretty fast. Core, legs, arms, back, shoulders. . . pretty much your entire body is involved. Which sports benefit by these plyometric exercises? Volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, golf and mixed martial arts are just a few.

Back to the Power equation. To increase your power use a heavier medicine ball and/or throw it faster. Simple as that!

Now watch my three video demos and learn how you can develop explosive strength.

Watch, Bid & Win! Support Wisconsin Public Television’s 43rd Annual Auction!

How would you like to support Public Television and get a great deal on Personal Training with yours truly? Then be sure to check out WPT’s 43rd Annual Auction.

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 proceeds support WPT programs and outreach initiatives. You can bid online or over the phone (608)263-9985. The auction begins Thursday May 31st and concludes on June 3rd. To learn more or view other auction items, go to WPT Auction.

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

Celebrate with 45 Birthday Push-ups

How should you celebrate your birthday? With push-ups, of course? Watch and see if I can do 45 push-ups to celebrate my 45th birthday.

Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

Here’s another winning recipe from the January issue of the Willy Street Co-op Reader. The Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce is a fusion of Asian and South of the Border ingredients. They perfectly compliment each other. So many wonderful flavors and textures it’ll be like a party in your mouth. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 1/4 lb flank steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp canola oil, plus more for the pan
2 tsp honey
4 garlic cloves, crushed, plus 1 clove whole garlic, divided
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 lb sweet potato, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large avocado, divided
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
2-4 tbsp water
cooked quinoa, for serving
2 cup baby arugula

Directions
Combine the soy sauce, canola oil, honey, crushed garlic and ground ginger in a baking dish or container large enough to fit the steak. Add the steak to the marinade and refrigerate for 1-6 hours. (In place of the flank steak we sliced up a roast. Since we knew it was going to be more chewy, we marinated it over night.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them in an even layer. Roast 25-30 minutes, until they are golden-brown and tender, giving them a stir part way through the cooking time.

Heat a large well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little canola oil to coat bottom of pan, and when hot, place the steak in the skillet. Sear steak for 2 minutes on each side for medium rare. (This totally depends on the thickness of the steak.) Transfer to cutting board and let rest about 10 minutes. Then slice into strips.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine 1/2 the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, remaining clove of garlic and some salt and pepper. Pulse to roughly chop. Add 2 tablespoons more water, then process until smooth. Add 2 more 2 tablespoons of water to achieve a creamy consistency (if desired).

Slice the remaining half of the avocado. Fill four bowls with cooked quinoa. Top with handful of arugula, then the steak, roasted sweet potatoes and sliced avocado. Serve with avocado-cilantro sauce at table. Serves 4.