8 Nights With Leigh Peele: Cinnamon Sweet Pretzel Treat

Ingredients:

1 frozen soft pretzel (64g or 1 pretzel is 160-170 calories. I used Superpretzel)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp light “butter” (Smart Balance Light is an example)

Directions:

1. Bake the pretzel according to the package, omitting any salt. (4 minutes at 400 F for this one)

2. Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl.

3. Brush melted “butter” on both sides of the pretzel then sprinkle both sides of the pretzel with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately

Sexification Tip – To lower the calories even more, you can replace the sugar with a low calorie sweetener (1 tablespoon of sugar is 48 calories, so make sure to adjust the calories accordingly).

Yields 1 serving

1 serving: 224 calories
5 grams protein
3 grams fat
45 grams carbohydrate
1 gram fiber

Impressions:

The Rog Mouth only devours food that is delicious. I know that there are some people out there who make the argument that you shouldn’t be overly concerned with the taste of what you eat, and to those folks I only have one thing to say:

Moving on.

Prior to this, I hadn’t had an official pretzel in over a decade, and my only experience with them recently was the gargantuan calorie bomb Cinnabon sponsored pretzel at my local movie theater, but that thing is in a league of its own so it can’t possibly count.

I’m a bit of a butter purist, so when I went to the grocery store and saw that this Smart Balance stuff had only about 1/2 (4.5g per tbsp) the fat as regular butter (11g per tbsp), I knew deep in my heart and soul that it just wouldn’t do, so I used half a tablespoon of butter for this recipe, which comes out to be around the same fat content wise.

I melted the butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds and then poured it over the finished pretzel, but the best thing is that even after rolling both sides of the pretzel around the butter and the sugar, there was still a fair amount of it on the bottom of the cooking pan which saves some calories.

In the end though, I’m glad I went with the real deal Holyfield butter wise, because the taste just can’t be beat and the pretzel turned out to be more delicious than expected. This is a great option for a refeed or post workout treat, especially if you keep the fats low by not using a full serving of butter/butter substitute. As a cinnamon addict, the only downside of this is that the likelihood of me eating the remaining 5 pretzels that came in the box within seconds after posting this review is very, very high.

Ok, who the hell am I trying to kid here, I’m eating another one right now and you can’t stop me, bwahahaha!

This recipe was found in Leigh Peele’s Quick & Easy cookbook which can be purchased here. It also features another 20+ recipes if you’re looking to make a minimal time investment towards maximum mouth pleasure. Pow!

Affiliate note: If you purchase any of her cookbooks by clicking the links on this page, I’ll get a small portion of the sale, but this in no way biases my review. I’ll never promote something on this site that I haven’t used personally or that I don’t think will be a great benefit to you all. That is my promise to you, and if you ever see me slipping on it PLEASE be sure cover me with honey and then proceed to fill my apartment with several rabid bears, because I’d deserve it.

How to Rock at Goal Setting

Sexification Note: This article of mine was originally published in Alan Aragon’s Research Review, but after receiving several e-mails about goal setting I felt that it would help a lot more people if I also posted it here.

Author Geoffrey Albert once said that “The most important thing about goals is having one.” This is clearly not the case. The world is overflowing with an abundance of goals, and if you need visual confirmation of this fact, just visit your local gym on January 1st and prepare to be amazed by the massive army of fitness warriors who have arrived on the field of battle. Many come armed with the latest 30 day workout program from their favorite magazine, while others just wing it and hope for the best. No matter how they’ve arrived at this point, the one common bond that links them all together is a goal that spurred them into action.

Just like all great battles however, the casualty rate is high. So why is it that after just a few weeks the number of gym goers actively pursuing their goal experience such a huge drop off? After all, they had a goal, right? Yes, but what they were sorely lacking – and what a large majority of successful people have – was a plan, and a goal without a plan is and will always be just a dream.

While a plan is important, a realistic plan will exponentially increase the likelihood of your success, and borrowing a few concepts Edwin Locke, a pioneer of goal-setting theory, can aid you in creating your own plan. In his book entitled A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance, Locke and his colleague Dr. Gary Latham outlined 5 key principles that must be in place in order to motivate us to succeed in the pursuit of our goals:

Clarity – If it is worth doing it is worth doing right the first time, but before we can do it right, we must clearly define what it is. Locke’s research brought to light the notion that the more clearly defined an objective is, the better the chances are of it actually being achieved. For instance, someone who simply wants to “get jacked” has a more ambiguous goal than someone who wants to “increase their front squat by 40lbs in 8 months while maintaining their current body fat levels.” The latter has an exact destination that they are heading towards, and when 4 10lb plates (or however you want to do the math) have been added to that original weight, the goal has been reached; the former however does not. When will his jacktitude quotient be met – 20, 40, or even 100 lbs later? Don’t hamstring yourself from the start by not giving yourself a clear target to shoot for.

Challenge – We must stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zones in order to grow as individuals, and this concept is also critical in setting ones plan for success. The less challenging a goal is, the less excited we are about achieving it. The less excited we are about achieving it, the less likely we are to even bother pursuing it. One tip that I learned from financial guru Dave Ramsey is the importance of starting with the easiest goals first. While the goal may not be exceedingly difficult, the importance of building momentum from the completion of smaller tasks cannot be underestimated. For instance, if your goal is to lose 15 lbs in 16 weeks, that initial weight that is lost during the first few weeks of dieting will serve as a sign that you can do it, and as a lesson to reflect on when the rate of loss slows down. By doing so, you will become more confident in your ability to succeed, which will carry over with you when you begin to tackle more challenging goals.

Commitment – This is where most people tend to fall off the wagon, down the hill and off the side of a cliff. If there is anything that I’ve learned from being surrounded by athletes from all walks of life it is this – effort and attitude trump all. You can have the best training program or business plan in the world, but if you lack pursuit, then you should expect it to show in your results. I would put my money on the person who has the worst training program known to man, but is willing to try their hardest every day.

Religious studies instructor and strength coach Dan John came up with a brilliantly effective and simple way for anyone to assess ones commitment. Simply look at your goals, then look at your behavior and ask yourself one question – do your behaviors match your goals? It’s very easy to say that you want to have an eye-turning physique, but if you’re a 120lb person who spends all nights partying and subsists on energy drinks andgraham crackers, then its time to change either your behaviors or your goals.

Feedback – Just imagine how many satellite launch failures would have occurred if it weren’t for the self-regulating inertial guidance system installed within the rocket. This system is responsible for making on the fly adjustments mid-flight to ensure that the satellite is placed in the exact orbit necessary for it not to come crashing back to Earth, or flying off into space. We as humans have this same system inside of us, but the problem is that we rarely use it.

Successful people do not just create a plan and follow it blindly; they are constantly re-evaluating it based on their results. If the plan they’ve come up with is taking them in the direction that they want to go in, then they just keep on chugging along. In the event that they do come across a snag in the road, they simply make the minor adjustments necessary to keep moving forward. Sadly, we’ve all seen examples of the person who completely demolishes their plan at the smallest sign of stagnation – or even when it hasn’t occurred at all! One week they’re doing total body training, and then the next week they’ve moved onto HIT, and before 30 days have passed they’ve booked a flight to Russia in order to train with self proclaimed kettlebell masters, all the while not getting an inch closer to their original goal. Don’t be that person. If you came across a road block while on a trip across country, would you turn around, drive all the way home, and then pick a different route? A complete overhaul is rarely necessary, so get in the habit of making small adjustments by using outcome-based decision making and you will be in a much better position to achieve what you desire.

Task Complexity — As an elite mountaineer with the accomplishment of reaching the summit of all 14 of the world’s eight-thousanders (mountains more than 8,000 feet above sea level) under his belt, Ed Viesturs knows a little something about goal achievement. While reading his book No Shortcuts to the Top, I couldn’t help but take note of his most repeated mantra – “Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory.” Some become so fixated on reaching the summit that in their mind the battle is won once they make it to the top, when in fact it has just begun. It is of paramount importance to make sure that you know what you’re up against when you decide to tackle a difficult task. While this isn’t always possible, the more informed you are, the better decisions you can make. The point of having a plan is make sure that you manage your resources appropriately in order to reach your destination, not to go out in a blaze of glory before you even get there. Mount Everest is the burial ground of many people who pushed to the top despite the fact that they lacked the necessary mental and physical resources. Let us not make this same mistake.

The greatest variable in achieving our goals is time. While taking our sweet time has its own consequences, going too fast or giving up too soon because we don’t have a realistic grasp on how long it will take is a much larger hazard. If you develop a plan that fails to acknowledge passion, planning, sacrifice, struggle, commitment and consistency as an integral part of the process, then it’s time hit the drawing board again. There is an entry fee for anything worth achieving in life, and as the great blues guitarist B.B King once said, “You have to pay the cost to be the boss.” By applying Locke’s principles of goal setting to your own endeavors, success will not be a matter of if, but when.

What goals do YOU have? What are you doing to get there? Is there anything that I can do to help? Let me know in the comment section!

Photo Credit: cameronparkins

Push Up Annihilation

Annihilate – To defeat completely; vanquish.

That’s right people, we’re going beyond domination to destruction territory. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together…you get the point.

In my last post, I welcomed you to the wild and wonderful world of pushups. The variations in that post were all different ways of using your own bodyweight as resistance, but now that you’ve gotten your hands dirty and have a solid lay of the land, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Pushups have gotten a bad rep as far as strength and muscle building goes. When you’re starting out and can barely do one with good form they’re an appropriate exercise, but what happens when you can knock out 30 without even breaking a sweat? That’s what the nay sayers will use to dissuade you from this awesome exercise, but just like any other exercise, when it gets to easy then it’s time to progress to something more difficult.

Explosive Pushups

I think that this is the next step after a basic pushup is achieved. Instead of simply pushing into the ground & providing enough force to push yourself back up, you’re now pushing through the ground with enough force to launch into the air. This increase in force production increases the difficulty of the exercises and will definitely reduce the number of reps that you’re able to do compared to conventional pushups.

Unstable Surfaces

Now you’re getting both a strength benefit as well as a core and stabilization effect as well. Think about what’s harder, doing a pushup from the ground with 45lbs on your back, or doing that same pushup while trying to keep your arms from snapping off from the instability of the surface that you’re using? These variations can be achieved by using a suspension system such as the TRX, gymnastic rings or even a simple stability ball.

External Resistance

This is the big daddy right here. Simply put, if you’re not getting stronger over time then you’re seriously hindering your progress, and the easiest way to overcome this is to increase the load via external resistance. It doesn’t matter if you use weights, chains, resistance bands or have little people sit on your back while you do them, the key is to get stronger. If you start off only being able to do one push up with a band wrapped around your back, but after a couple of months you’re able to do 20, you have gotten stronger. Now it’s time to make it harder.

Single Arm Variations

Taking an exercise that you normally do with two limbs and demanding that your body perform it with only one is the epitome of hard. Aside from a one arm chin up, this is the hardest upper body exercise that there is, and it requires a perfect blend of strength and stability from the entire body, otherwise a weak link will expose itself and the exercise will look sloppier than a 1st grade art fair. Just like the regular push up, some of you will have to work your way up to doing a nice, crisp single arm push up from the floor, but there are enough variations to use along the way that’ll get you there with enough dedication and persistence.

Do you have any questions about the use of push ups? Want to know which variation is best for you and your goals? Lemme know in the comment section and I’ll be more than happy to help.

8 Nights With Leigh Peele: Boneless Wings

Ingredients:

60 grams or 1/4 cup low calorie BBQ sauce (1 calorie per gram)
42 grams or 2 tablespoons of honey
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
454 grams or 1 pound chicken tenderloins
3 second spray non-stick cooking spray
3 grams or 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds


Directions:

1. Combine BBQ sauce, honey, and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl.


2. Sprinkle garlic powder and salt (or seasoning of choice) on tenderloins.


3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

4. Add in strips, and cook until lightly brown, 3 minutes per side.


5. Turn heat down to low. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken and toss until coated and sauce is heated. Serve warm.

Yields 4 servings.

1 serving: 172 calories
26 grams protein
2 grams fat
12.5 grams carbohydrate

Entire recipe:

689 calories
105 grams protein
8 grams fat
50 grams carbohydrate

Impressions:

Awww hell yeah – now we’re talking! When I first saw this recipe, it pretty much grabbed my by the throat and forced me to cook it. Much like my friend Eric Cressey, I too was hooked on chicken fingers during my formative years (along with double orders of curly fries and an awesome hybrid called “chicken fries”, but I digress), so I had to check this one out based on principle alone. Up until recently, a dry chicken breast was the bane of my existence and I would do anything, even make sweet, passionate love to Janet Reno, to avoid having one as part of my menu, but this recipe changed my perspective entirely. To say that my plate was full of win would be an understatement.

The key to keeping any kind of  chicken breast juicy is to pan cook it for about 3-5 minutes per side on medium heat, making sure not to pierce the meat with a fork when flipping it unless you want all of the juice to drain out, leaving you with a dry, mummified piece of meat that would make King Tut look like Stacey Dash.

Now that the meat is primed and ready to go, the trifecta of BBQ sauce, honey and red pepper flakes really takes a rather dull piece of meat and snaps it to attention through a combination of sweetness & spice. Most BBQ sauces have at least 20 grams of carbohydrate per serving, and NOBODY just uses one serving of sauce, so it’s easy to see how it could quickly add up, but the sauce that I used only contained 6 grams of carbohydrate per serving without sacrificing taste.

This chicken is so good that it’ll make you wanna slap your momma! Taking less than 10 minutes total to cook, I give this recipe 4 thumbs up and then I will proceed to lick the rest of the sauce off said thumbs. If you’re in the market for more healthy & scrumdiddlyumptious foods, click this link here to check out the rest of Leigh’s cookbooks – you won’t regret it one bit.

Affiliate note: If you purchase any of her cookbooks by clicking the links on this page, I’ll get a small portion of the sale, but this in no way biases my review. I’ll never promote something on this site that I haven’t used personally or that I don’t think will be a great benefit to you all. That is my promise to you, and if you ever see me slipping on it PLEASE be sure to drag me out into the middle of the street and call me mean and hurtful names while force feeding me dragon boogers.

Push Up Domination

When it comes to the upper body, the push up is the last kid picked for a game of dodge ball of the exercise world, far behind the reigning king since the beginning of time, the bench press. I don’t want this to turn into a “the bench press sucks” post, because it doesn’t – if  done correctly, which many people don’t – but more of a celebration of the awesomeness that is the push up.

1.  It’s shoulder friendly

Shoulder pain is a frequent complaint of those who often sacrifice themselves upon the bench press alter. Now this could be due to a breakdown in form,  lifting with their ego instead of their head, or a host of other reasons, but suffice to say there is a lot going on in the bench press, and thus there are more things that can possibly go wrong during the lift.

With the push up, the opposite is true for most. With the reduced load, there is a lot less stress on the shoulder joint than during the bench press. Also, because you’re able to move your shoulder blades freely through space instead of having them pinned down against the bench, you get a lot better stabilization of the shoulder which translates to a much safer exercise.

2. It’s a full body exercise

If you’re looking for a full body exercise , then look no further. Have you ever noticed that as someone starts to fatigue (or if their strength levels aren’t up to par), their push up starts to resemble more of a candy cane?  They push their upper body up, but their lower back and legs hardly move at all. That’s because the push up, on top of being a fantastic strength exercise, is actually one of the best core exercises out there because it gives you immediate feedback – if your core is weak, you won’t be able to keep your spine stable while you’re pushing through the ground and your form will suffer because of it.

3. Anywhere, anytime

Pushing yourself up from the ground is one of the simplest movements that there is and there are so many different variations to choose from that there is no reason (aside from having lost both of your arms in an epic ninja battle) to not do them. You don’t need any fancy equipment to have a great workout, and there are enough challenging variations out there to keep you busy for a very long time.

  • Squeeze your butt cheeks and keep your entire body tight.
  • Don’t let your elbows flaring out at 90 degrees; Turn your hands out & keep your elbows tucked in fairly close so that your upper body resembles a “W”.
  • Only go down as far as you can without letting your hips & lower back sag.

Here are few variations that I recorded that require almost no equipment to get you started. Keep in mind that this is just the beginning, and once you master the basic push up a whole wide world of pushing opens up to you.

What say you, faithful readers? Do you have a love/hate relationship with push ups? How do they fit into your program? Once I get at least 10 comments below,  I’ll post some more advanced push up variations that you can use to build some serious strength & muscle.

Photo Credit: 100 Pushups