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!

So…How Much Does All Of This Cost?

make_it_rainOkay, so this post made me cry a little bit. But, not really. Anyway, I aim to be transparent with all of you all of the time and with that in mind I wanted to go over the rough overall cost for “Rebuilding Rome” in 90 days.

Just remember that this is what I deemed as a priority. I chose to invest in myself. The more you invest in yourself, the more likely you are to follow through since you’ve already spent all of that money. Ever wonder how Planet Fitness profits when their gym membership costs are so low? They make the money on the people that will never show up. They make the money on people that are motivated just enough to spend money for some membership, but not motivated to stick with it. If you don’t believe me, READ THIS ARTICLE!

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Okay, so I’m finally (sadly) ready to break the news about how much over the next three months it is going to cost me to build myself back up. Without further adieu, here we go: Let’s start with the easy stuff. The juice cleanse from Clean Juice I did to start the year? $275. From there, the first week of my BistroMD plan was $130. The rest of the weeks will be $200 per week for 20 meals, so multiply that by 10 weeks. My gym membership is $50 a month, so multiply that by three months. Additionally, let’s add $208 for my 10 week boot camp class I attend two times a week. Then, let’s add $265 for a 20 class pass to Arrichion Hot Yoga, where I go to a class once a week. Now, let’s also add the supplements I am taking for a month. Those three (the pre-workout, the nitric oxide booster, and the fat burner) come out to $66.98. Then let’s add the GNC Mega Men Sport daily vitamin I’m taking for three months and the MusclePharm Combat Powder I’ll be taking pretty much all the time on resistance training days after the workout is done. The rough cost of the protein powder over three months is $80.97. Then add that to the daily vitamin that’s $36.99 and you get $117.96 for those two products over the next three months. Think we’re done? Not yet, remember in my Gear Essentials post? I talked about getting good headphones, luckily those only cost me roughly $50. How about those nice Asics Gel Kayano 24‘s? Let’s be conservative and say I got them for a steal at $120. Let’s not forget my Fitbit Charge 2. That’s another $150. Then, to finish it off I have my workout wrist band to hold my phone while I run that cost me $16.99. Luckily I already had a shaker bottle, but my brother got me a new one for Christmas and the price for my ASU Shaker Bottle was about $12.99. Again, luckily I have a loving sister who bought me an ASU gym bag a few years back…but a gym bag is essential too. I “Googled” similar gym bags and I’ll estimate that it cost about $40.

Cool, let’s total all of that up. Now, keep in mind I didn’t buy ALL OF THAT all at once. I already had the bag, shaker bottle, headphones, gym clothes, (that I didn’t include because I assume most people have some kind of athletic gear they can get by with) and yoga equipment (also didn’t include because, again, not necessities). For arguments sake, let’s say I bought all of what I mentioned on January 1, 2018 and it’ll last me until April 2, 2018. Let’s total it all up, as if it were a starter package. If I started from scratch and bought all of that stuff in the paragraph above, then the cost of “Rebuilding Rome” over three months would be roughly $3,602.92. If you average that cost over the three months, it comes out to roughly $1,200.97 per month.

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So, besides the physical and mental investment it has taken me. It also is a substantial financial investment on my end. Again, this is where MY PRIORITIES may differ from YOUR PRIORITIES and I am not saying, “you have to do it this way.” I’ve done research and I know myself and I know what I feel I need to reach my goals. You definitely do not need all of this stuff. My first time when I lost 20 pounds in a summer, I was a college kid working at a theme park. My diet was not as strict and my workouts were not as intense. But, I was still learning. Now, I know both the information better and I know myself better. So, there you go. Depending on how much you want to invest in yourself and prioritize your body transformation, it can end up costing you a pretty penny in the short-term. However, the results are long-term and are well worth the investment!

 

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!

Getting Invested with a “21 Day Challenge”

 

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Hey everyone, during my “Pilot” post I mentioned that I was going to cover mental, physical, and financial investment. And, in my “Week 2 Progress Report” I mentioned we were going to cover my “21 Day Challenge.” Well, on this very snowy North Carolina day, I figured today was a great day to discuss the mental and physical investment of transforming your body and eating healthier and how that can be developed through a “21 Day Challenge.”

The first thing I want to point out is that this is A “21 Day Challenge” and NOT THE “21 Day Challenge.” There are many out there with many different rules, but this is the one that I AM DOING and one that I developed on my own. The reason you’ll notice that there are a fair amount of 21 Day Challenges or a lot of other programs that key in on the number, “21” is that it is commonly believed (not correctly, mind you) that if you do something for 21 days, that activity becomes a habit. To learn more about the myth of this habit and how to actually form good habits just in life in general, check out this Forbes article.
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Still, 21 days or three weeks is a good extended period for you to make changes and a good period of time for things to come up where you have to say “no” and stay committed and remind yourself of your goals both short and long term. If you do something for three weeks every day, you’re more likely to stay committed to it. That’s your mental or psychological investment. Your thought will be something like, “well, I’ve done it for this long…might as well keep doing it.” The physical commitment is that you’d be taking in the same calories or going to the gym day after day for 21 days so your body just gets used to working out and your body just gets used to a consistent caloric intake. It becomes your routine. Humans by nature love routines and are creatures of habit. A very easy example of this is when someone asks you, “what’s your drink?” Everyone has a drink and everyone has a story behind why that is. We want to repeat positive life experiences and forget negative life experiences.

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Okay, okay. I know, just get to what the “21 Day Challenge” is, Cal! I got it, I got it. Here is what I’ve been doing and the rules I’ve been living by since January 2, 2018 and what I plan to be doing all the way through April 1, 2018:

  1. No Soda
  2. No Fruit Juice
  3. No Coffee (can’t say “No Caffeine” because some of the supplements I’m taking have caffeine in them)
  4. No Alcohol
  5. Only consume water (or soda water if you must) when drinking fluids. Liquid enhancers like MIO are acceptable. DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES!!!
  6. No Meals after 9 PM
  7. No Meals before 5 AM (notice that this is ideally eight hours without food. Ever wonder why they call it BREAKFAST? You’re supposed to “break” the “fast” while you’ve been sleeping. Check out the Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.)
  8. 16 ounces of water before every meal and 16 ounces of water during/after every meal
  9. Get an hour workout in (or an hour-long equivalent workout in) everyday for 21 days.
  10. If you must snack, try to do it before 9 PM and only do it 2-3 times throughout the day. Make sure it’s not over an appropriate serving size. ***On the nights where I may work past 9 PM, I have a homemade casein protein shake with a homemade casein protein bar…and yes, I’ll have a video on how to make both in the near future!***

Okay, so there you go. For me, I’ll be following all of the nutrition rules for the full 90 days. For the working out, just 21 days in a row. You need rest days, one-to-two ideally. You need recovery days so that you can continue to improve your workouts, but working out for the first 21 days is one way to get in the habit of getting yourself moving for 60 minutes a day.

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Week 2 Progress Report

Hey everyone, welcome back to “Rebuilding Rome!

The week two progress report is in and the results are encouraging and expected after eating for a full week after doing my juice cleanse. My weight stayed pretty much the same, as I’m at 173.6 pounds as of today and I was at 173.2 pounds last Monday. This is two weeks in and no one said this was going to be easy. I’ve done this before and I know that the first month can be the most discouraging in terms of you are working really hard with your diet and exercise and you may not be getting the exact results you want in the mirror, on the scale, or both. The key to remember is that this is a process and you have to trust it. Enjoy the journey. Hopefully, your workouts are getting better and you are gradually increasing the intensity which will in turn help you burn more calories and fat and the results will gradually be in your favor as well as long as your diet is on track.

I’m going to try my best to spread this week’s posts out a bit more evenly than last week’s and I’m going to cover the topics of my own personal “21 Day Challenge” and what that looks like and covering the two 80/20 rules.

Have a good one!

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.”