Homemade Snacks for those Late-Night Cravings

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Late-night cravings. I think maybe every person has them. Here’s a nice science-ey reason for why that may be. Even before reading that article, I would always say, “Man, I either want a steak at night or a giant peanut butter cup before going to sleep.” I used to think I had some unexplained sodium deficiency in college, as my roommates can attest, I used to drink hot sauce at night because of it’s high sodium content (not one of my finer moments.) Anyway, I decided to go ahead and make a homemade casein protein bar that tastes like a peanut butter cup and a homemade casein protein smoothie that tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mouth watering yet? Yeah, I thought so.

Your first question may be, “Cal, why do these snacks have casein protein in them…and what exactly is casein protein, and um, how do you pronounce that?” All legitimate questions. First thing’s first: casein protein is a slow-digesting, time-releasing protein commonly found in milk…which is why it is the ideal protein to consume before going to bed. It’s going to feed your muscles for hours, the hours you spend sleeping. There are many benefits to taking casein protein, for more information about casein protein, check out this article. And, in case you do want to know how to pronounce “casein” it is pronounced, “kay-seen.” Cool, glad we’ve got that covered.

If you must snack late at night, these might be some good options for you. I looked up several recipes for the protein peanut butter bars and I loosely based my recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie‘s “Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars” recipe and baking instructions, though I made slight changes that I’ll go over in this post.

I’ve found that since trying to introduce new eating habits into my life, the biggest cravings I’ve developed are sweet ones and they tend to constantly be peanut butter cravings as well. Both of these snacks taste amazing and are better for you and cheaper than store bought options. Pictured below are the ingredients for both the protein bars and the protein shake.

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Huge shoutout to verywellfit.com that allows you to add your products and has a database of foods that can count your macronutrients for you. I’ve mentioned before that I am not a math wiz and I don’t really have patience for it. The database isn’t perfect, but it allows you to get the macronutrients pretty close. It requires you to play around with the website a little bit to see what works. Anyway, you can see that the protein bars have the much lower caloric intake with just over 14 grams of protein. For reference, the healthiest store-bought protein bars have about 200 calories and 20 or 21 grams of protein. The protein bars are going to appear underdone when taken out of the oven. Put them in the fridge overnight to give them a chance to harden. The protein shake is going to be thick and it’s a 16 ounce serving, so it’s more of a small meal replacement. If you decide to have both, it comes out to 626 calories, so that is a legitimate meal…but it’s not the worst thing to have considering the intentional nutrition that goes into consuming these delicious desserts.

If you’re interested in the specific products I use, just comment or shoot me an email at romerebuilding@gmail.com. I will say I use PB2 from Bell Plantation and I have the original, chocolate, and strawberry versions of PB2. To get the best deals on all your protein, PB2, and supplement needs, check out luckyvitamin.com. They’re awesome and always have huge discounts. That’s where I get at least half of all of my supplements.

I hope you all have a pleasant evening, as I am appropriately finishing this post at 11:04 PM. Just in time for me to go into my freezer and finish that PB&J smoothie I made earlier this evening. Be sure to check-in Monday for the Week 7 Progress Report!

 

Tackling Eating Disorders

*The following post was written by Brooke Beneze and all of the views expressed in this post are hers. As her brother, I absolutely am thrilled that Brooke wanted to come on here and talk about a subject I have very little knowledge or experience with. The beauty in people is that everyone is different, even if they share the same blood. Brooke and I may have slightly different methods for our own health and wellness…but we are both enjoying the journeys that we are individually on. So, of course, I support her and this post wholeheartedly. Enjoy!

Hello! I am very excited to be here! I am Cal’s younger sister, Brooke, and some days, I think we couldn’t be more different. This is why I volunteered to write a post from a different perspective. I really don’t like juice cleanses, food rules, and I don’t feel the need to exercise five-to-six days out of the week, though there was a point in my life when I let those things define me. While I believe Cal’s journey is incredibly impressive and his dedication is inspiring, I think I speak for many when I say that I also think he is CRAZY! All that money?! How many workouts per day?! I couldn’t do it. With that being said, he’s mentioned several times that this is his story and he isn’t trying to tell others how to lose weight.

Everyone goes on a unique journey when it comes to weight loss, body image, and self-esteem. I remember in the fourth grade, one of my best friends made a comment about my looking at food labels before I would eat a snack, and I guess that’s my first memory of when my obsession began.

I don’t think I ever had the healthiest relationship with food and the worst of it was probably from the ages 18-20. I counted EVERYTHING. I counted the calories of the gum that I was chewing, I weighed myself every single day and felt like a failure when I didn’t lose weight and I would never eat a dish if I didn’t know what was in it. I even remember going to bed very early because I was hungry and wanted to just time-warp to breakfast. Today, this behavior is called Orthorexia. I wasn’t Anorexic, I wasn’t Bulimic, I never binged, but I was incredibly restrictive to the point where it was very difficult for me to have a social life and actually like the person that I was in any capacity other than my appearance. I was holding myself back all because I let a number on a scale determine my self-worth. The lowest weight that I ever got to was 101 pounds. And now I weigh about 20 pounds more, I can definitely say I don’t ever want to go back to those days. All of the counting, rules, depression, and isolation was not worth being “skinny.”

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Nearly seven years into my journey, it wasn’t until last October that I gave up counting calories for good. I gave myself a break exercising, too, and I’ve never felt more free. The crazy thing is, I think I’ve actually lost weight, but I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself, as well. It took me a long time to realize that my habits were detrimental to my mental health. I could never be satisfied with myself and I wasn’t very fun to be around, either.

These days, my goals and my lifestyle are very different. I’m still learning and getting better every day, but I feel like I’ve got a better grasp on balance. I focus on making myself feel good and fueling myself with primarily whole ingredients, while still allowing myself to drink lots of wine sometimes and have a piece of bread at dinner without feeling guilt. Sometimes I do still have weight loss goals, but I feel like it’s more important to just eat some more veggies and less packaged stuff, move around a little bit more, and let my body find it’s happy place. Ultimately, no one really cares about how much you weigh or if you have abs. Most people just want to see you be the happiest and most confident version of yourself.

Now, I want to help others! I want to help people that have had a negative relationship with food in the past, and/or peers that, like myself, work a 9-to-5 desk job and are just starting to become interested in beginning an exercise routine or meal prepping. With so much information out there and different methods being thrown in your face all of the time, it’s really daunting to get started.

My brother is very unique and extremely driven. For him, he can handle exercising as much as he does and being very strict with his diet. For most other people, however, his habits aren’t very realistic. Cal is absolutely fun to watch and his progress is astonishing already, but no, you do not have to do what he does in order to lose weight.

Cal, keep doing you as long as it makes you happy! Thank you for giving me the space to tell my story and offer a different perspective. I began this by saying that I feel like we’re awfully different people, but there’s no denying that we are both also very long-winded, driven, and “fitness-y” people, as well. Love you, brother!

Following the “80/20 Rule(s)”

Hey all, not a super long post today…but an important one nonetheless. There are a couple “80/20 Rule(s)” that every person practicing a healthy lifestyle should live by and I’m going to break them down really quick for you.

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Yes, I know the quote is, “60% of the time it works every time.” Just go with it.

The first 80/20 rule: 80% of your weight loss goals are made through the kitchen and 20% of your weight loss goals are made through exercise. Now, every person is different, so you may be a 60/40 person or a 90/10 person. But, read this livestrong.com article about why diet typically yields greater weight-loss results than just exercising alone. You need exercise for sure, especially if you want to speed up your results. However, think about how hard it is to burn 500-1000 calories for one-to-two hours exercising versus how easy it is to consume 500-1000 calories for fifteen minutes at a restaurant.

The second 80/20 rule: Follow your daily diet 80% of the time. You WILL go crazy if you try to follow a super strict diet your whole life. Check out this health.com article on the best way to follow this 80/20 rule. Remember what this blog is all about. Everything in moderation. Enjoying your life while making healthier life choices. Remember my blog post about BistroMD? For my meal deliveries, they leave me one night a week for a structured break from my plan. It is completely healthy to enjoy the foods you love and not feel like you’re “cheating.” Do you honestly think I’m going to be consuming BistroMD meals my whole life? No. But, this is all a design to get me into the habit of being satisfied with less and making, what I like to call, “simple sacrifices.” That restaurant you love? They probably aren’t known for their fries, so get the salad with oil and vinegar or the bowl of fruit instead. You can still have the burger (hell, even keep the bun.) Be educated, if they have whole grain bread for the bun…ask for it! If you want it wrapped in lettuce…ask for it! If they say no, they say no. That’s literally the worst that can happen. If they have bison meat as an option, get it! If they don’t, no biggie. That caesar salad with buffalo chicken tenders…fake healthy. That house salad with grilled chicken tossed in buffalo sauce…real healthy. We don’t need the instant gratification. Sweet tooth at night? Don’t do the ice cream. Do the homemade casein protein bar and the homemade casein protein shake instead (yes, there will be a recipe and video about how to make those within the coming weeks.) These are some examples of “simple sacrifices.”

Be sure to check in with me tomorrow as I have my Week 3 Progress Report for all of you as well as an exciting announcement concerning “Rebuilding Rome” becoming available on multiple platforms! Happy Sunday!

Supplementing your Diet and Workout

Let me start off this post by saying that I am actually not a big fan of supplements. In my opinion, the only supplements that you should take are a daily multivitamin and a low-calorie protein shake within 30 minutes of your resistance training workouts to help replenish and repair those muscles to get the most out of your workouts. With that being said, I’ve taken several different types of supplements in the past and usually the reason for that was that I had a certain fitness goal in mind. If you’re aiming to maintain where you’re at, then I’d stick with just the multivitamin and post-workout protein shake.

The reason that I don’t like to use too many dietary supplements normally is that I believe you should be fueling your body with the right food daily and you should be depending on your natural metabolism to get you through a workout. People can become dependent on supplements to get them through a workout and that is not what we want. It’s as much a mental dependence as a physical one and that is why I agree with most supplement companies when they tell their consumers on the bottles of these supplements to cycle off the supplements for at least a month after using them for eight weeks. For me, I’m only going to be doing my supplement stack for a month instead of two because, again, I do not want to become dependent on the supplements for my results. They are called SUPPLEMENTS for a reason. They are designed to SUPPLEMENT your diet and workouts, not to make up your diet and workouts. For another view on the love-hate relationship on workout supplements, check out this post by Fit Dad Nation.

Okay, without further adieu, here is what my supplement stack looks like:

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From left to right: Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier, MusclePharm Combat Powder Post-Workout Shake, GNC Mega Men Sport Multivitamin, MusclePharm Assault Pre-Workout, EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM Thermogenic Fat Burner.

Okay, great, so now you can see everything I’m taking. But when do you take them and what does each do? Glad you asked, I’m about to break it down for you starting with the nitric oxide booster.

Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier: So, the first thing you should know is that when you take a nitric oxide booster, you are not actually taking nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas and I’m not about to inhale a bunch of nitric oxide like a kid inhaling a bunch of helium from a balloon inside the bouncey house at the local neighbors kid’s birthday party. Instead, I’m going to go ahead and take two of these little pills to help boost the levels of nitric oxide in my blood which in turn is supposed to help muscle growth, strength, and performance. Luckily, Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier contains Arginine Nitrate and Citruline Malate. Arginine and citruline are both amino acids that help in muscle recovery. Forms of arginine are found in a lot of nitric oxide boosters because there have been studies that show arginine supplementation can increase the amount of nitric oxide in your body. However, some people don’t have any reactions to arginine. This article goes into how citruline may be a better option for attempting to increase your nitric oxide levels. So, my nitric oxide booster has both. I take the nitric oxide booster only on my resistance training days about 60-90 minutes before my workout. Again, not depending on these supplements for my results, just looking to them for a little extra help.

MusclePharm Combat Powder: MusclePharm is probably my favorite supplement company. They make a great, safe product and they used to be the official sponsor of the UFC. The reason I like the Combat Powder is that it has 25 grams worth of five different proteins that fuel your muscles throughout the day. Additionally, it has BCAAs and Glutamine to help your muscle recovery further and it is only 130 calories per serving. In my opinion, using MusclePharm Combat Powder as your pre-or-post-workout shake is a no brainer.

GNC Mega Men Sport Multivitamin: I know, I know…GNC is overpriced. That may be, but this multivitamin is great if your training and want your daily vitamin to give you a little something extra. GNC Mega Men Sport gives you your daily vitamin, plus it has a good amount of amino acids to help with recovery and antioxidants to help protect your body from free radicals. There’s nothing ground-breaking or crazy about this vitamin, but it helps supplement your overall health, athletic performance, and your immune system.

MusclePharm Assault: Assault for years was voted best pre-workout formula on multiple body building sites. It still finds itself in top 10 categories all-across the internet, but it’s one of the most studied formulas on the planet and since MusclePharm is a 100% safe company, it doesn’t get rave reviews from muscle heads as they would prefer a stimulant-rich pre-workout that makes them feel jittery. Not for me. I prefer the scientific research and the guarantee of a safe supplement. You can’t go wrong with MusclePharm Assault to fuel your workout. Make sure to take one dose about 20-30 minutes before your resistance training workouts.

EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM: I usually make it a mission to not invest in supplements that use all caps and replace letters for numbers in their product spelling. There is something rather tacky and sixth-grade-AIM-away-message-status feeling about it all. With that said, I did my research on EVLUTION NUTRITION TRANS4ORM and it constantly got good reviews and it’s a safe product. If you’re noticing a recurring theme of using safe products, it’s because in the past I took a fat burner that was not safe. While I remained fine and the product worked really really well, I was naive and young and the product has since been taken off the market. You have to be SUPER careful with fat burners. DO NOT depend on them to burn your fat for you. Your best bet is to find products through bodybuilding.com and GNC as they will carry safe products. Work hard and take two of these pills with breakfast. This fat burner acts as a thermogenic, which works well to heat your body up to burn more calories and keep your metabolism up. But, approach fat burners with extreme caution. I like to take these in the morning with breakfast so I have the whole day to use up all of it’s nutrients and not have trouble sleeping. Would NOT recommend taking these at night time. Please use responsibly.

Well, there you go. There’s a glimpse of how to go about stacking supplements. There are definitely others you can use and there are ones you can choose not to use. Again, these supplements are best for MY GOALS. Be sure to check out the Week 2 Progress Report tomorrow here on “Rebuilding Rome.”

You are what you Eat!

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It’s a total cliche title for the post, I know, but it’s TRUE! Here’s another tried but true saying, “you get out of it what you put into it.”

Now that I finished my first week with a good base, I wanted to start developing healthier eating habits. My diet in the past hasn’t been terrible, but my biggest issue was portion control. Following up in a close second was late night cravings. So, I identified the problem and went out to find a solution. The easy answer to this was meal prep. Meal prep is an awesome concept and I do know how to cook (quite well, I might add), but I also know I wouldn’t enjoy cooking and trying to calculate how much fat, carbs, calories, etc. was in each of the meals I was making. Too much math for me. So, I let someone else do it. Enter BistroMD.

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Just a snapshot of the meals I get to eat on a day-to-day basis!

What is BistroMD? BistroMD is one of those meal-prep food delivery companies. Why I chose this one? It was the right one FOR ME. BistroMD believes in “eating better, not less.” Although, I am eating substantially less that I previously have, but that’s probably a good thing. Remember, it’s all about moderation, not restriction. Anyway, the founders of BistroMD are a husband and wife duo. Dr. Caroline Cederquist and Ed Cederquist wanted to develop a weight-management program that didn’t sacrifice taste for nutritional quality. They go by “the foodie & the M.D.” and I love their concept. Dr. Cederquist studied bariatrics, which is the study of medical weight management. Dr. Cederquist’s extensive work with patients and knowledge of bariatrics is what created the nutritional foundation for BistroMD. Ed Cederquist is the foodie and CEO. Ed came up with the idea of combining his wife’s nutritional expertise with his love for food and BistroMD was born. BistroMD hires nutritionists to come up with menus that have the right balance of macronutrients for healthy weight-loss. Ed and Caroline emphasize (and this is something I 100% agree with) that BistroMD is not a diet, but a healthy lifestyle change. Once, the menus are made, the BistroMD chefs go ahead and make the dishes and Ed is often in the kitchen to make sure that the food tastes good too. The concept they have really is genius.

Additionally, BistroMD comes up with a menu just for you. And the best part, you can edit it. You can change out the food for other delicious substitutes on a week-to-week basis to fit your food preferences. Each meal varies in calories, but on average it comes in around 300 calories per meal and I’m on a plan where I get 20 meals sent to me a week. BistroMD builds in a “My Night” where you get a structured break from your plan. Note: this does NOT mean pig out and eat everything in sight. It means you can go out to a restaurant and eat something different and maybe something a bit bigger. I wouldn’t advise having 20 wings and four slices of pizza. That is a bit much. The program costs about $200 a week, so that averages to $10/per meal and the first week is about $130. Again, you get out of it what you put into it.

Be sure to check out my post tomorrow where I go over all of the supplements that I am taking with my food and workouts to get maximum results!

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Day One

Before
Day one of my body transformation. (In desperate need of a tan.)

So, today was day one. I hate day one.

In the past when I’ve tried to get back into my healthy lifestyle, I’ve kicked it off with a five-day juice cleanse. This time will be no different.

And right off the bat I want to say that you have to make sure you are doing the juice cleanse the right way. By “right way” I mean that you do the cleanse the way it was intended to be done. A juice cleanse floods your body with vitamins and minerals to rid the body of all of the toxins it has gained through you shoving that vending machine cinnamon roll down your gullet. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you, we’ve all indulged at one point in our lives.

What a juice cleanse is NOT meant for is losing weight. Yes, you will lose weight when you do a juice cleanse, but that is just a bonus. The juice cleanse is intended to motivate you to eat healthier and to reset your body. You’re metabolism will get rebuilt and there’s a good chance you’ll experience a heightened mood and deeper sleep. You’ll also start to develop withdrawal headaches from sugar and caffeine during days three-through-five and yes, you’re going to become new best friends with your bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, the weight loss is great (I lost 10 pounds while doing my first one and eight pounds when I did my second one). The juice cleanse is simply a jump start to helping you achieve your nutritional and physical goals.

Now, as far as where I go to do mine and what you should do during the cleanse is up to you. For me, I’m a little extreme. I did my first two juice cleanses through Nekter Juice Bar headquartered in Santa Ana, CA. I became familiar with Nekter when a college buddy took me there after a night of drinking in Scottsdale, AZ. Nekter gives instructions to pretty much follow the juice cleanse as is, but if you do get hungry (um, who wouldn’t?) then they allow you to have a handful of almonds or half of an avocado as a snack. I never did that. As far as exercise goes, they said if you do any exercising then you should limit yourself to light cardio. I didn’t do any exercising during my first two cleanses, but I am going to go ahead and do that this time.

For this cleanse, I decided I wanted to go somewhere local. A Clean Juice had just opened up about five minutes from my house in Morrisville, NC…so I decided to check it out. Clean Juice got it’s start in Huntersville, NC (about 20 minutes from Charlotte, NC) and now has over 90 locations in 13 states. The price of the juice cleanse was fair (anything in the $200-$250 range is standard) and so I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Now, Clean Juice actually suggests that if you drink a morning coffee, to continue to do so during the cleanse as to avoid getting the withdrawal headaches. I’m going to politely disagree with Clean Juice here because the whole point of a cleanse is to rid your body of the toxins. Eventually, the headaches will subside. Please don’t take over the counter medications to relieve your headaches, you’re just reintroducing drugs into your system that you’re trying to flush out. Clean Juice also says that you can continue your normal exercise routine when it comes to working out, but to be smart while doing so. I guess I’m okay with those instructions, but when you’re doing a cleanse you don’t feel like doing much of anything. Kudos to the person in my hot yoga class who did a whole 45 minute session and didn’t eat for a whole week. You are a freak of nature and I admire you.

You would think that a five day juice cleanse would be enough, right? Not for me. Day one actually doesn’t consist of any juice for me. In fact, no sustenance at all. Day one for me included an hour on the elliptical and drinking nothing but water. Essentially, I add an extra day to my cleanse and hydrate with water the whole first day.


As for the actual numbers of where I stand, here’s a snapshot: Day_One_Statistics

As you can see, I have a goal weight of 160 pounds. I’m currently 182.6 pounds, so I’ve got 90 days to lose roughly 22.6 pounds. As evidenced by the image, I have a Fitbit. Now, a Fitbit isn’t a required piece of gear, but I would definitely recommend getting some sort of fitness tracker as it helps keep all of your daily stats organized in an app on your phone, tablet, or computer. More specifically, I have a Fitbit Charge 2 and it is perfect for what I want and what I need. In a perfect world, you would wear the fitness tracker on your non-dominant wrist as it gives more accurate readings, but I have a couple of nice watches I like to wear, so I wear my Charge 2 on my dominant right wrist.

If you do get a Fitbit and you use the app, the home screen is a dashboard that looks similar to the image above. One of the options is to log your weight, but it also additionally adds the option of logging your body fat percentage. I looked up how to calculate body fat percentage and it’s not the easiest process. If you’ve ever been to a decent gym and had a good personal trainer, they will know how to do it or they will have this tool which is WAY easier, but just slightly less accurate:

OMRON Fat Loss Monitor
A fat loss monitor like this one isn’t as accurate as calculating body fat percentage yourself, but gives you a good indicator of where you’re at.

A couple months ago I went ahead and bought an OMRON Fat Loss Monitor just to get a ballpark of where my body fat percentage was and where my body mass index (BMI) was. Don’t buy anything that’s above $50. Currently, my body fat is at 18.5% which isn’t terrible, but isn’t great either. My BMI is 27.8, which puts me in the overweight range, but then again you shouldn’t read TOO MUCH into BMI.

So there it is. Day one is in the books and I’ve got my initial readings and a good understanding of where I need to get to in the next 89 days. Wish me luck!