James Wilson: Fitness Maps

Since creating a super-awesome home gym, I’ve been following an at-home 12 week Body Earned My Fitness Maps workout plan, created by the amazing James Wilson.  I initially did James’ 12 week Body Earned gym based plan about a year ago. Sadly, I didn’t take before and after photos, but I felt and looked great by the end of it.

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James’ 12 week plan costs $50 for the gym based plan, $55 for the home based plan, or $60 for both.  You also receive a nutritional template, a formula to determine your caloric requirements (or you can use a heart rate monitor), personal coaching from James, additional nutrition help if needed, and access to a private facebook group of individuals who are also doing the same plan.  To purchase the plan, you simply follow the instructions on his facebook page and pay via paypal. I can attest that it is legit and you will promptly receive your workouts (I think he emailed mine the next morning).  After completing weeks 1 – 12, there is an additional 12 weeks worth of workouts available for purchase.  Once I finish all 12 weeks of the home-based workouts, I will be purchasing weeks 13-24.

I can’t say enough about having access to the facebook group. It is a bunch of like-minded individuals cheering one another along, helping one another out and motivating each other.  James personally answers most questions in the group, but many of the other group members also pipe up when they know the answers also. People share recipes, and food plans, struggles and successes.

James is based in Utah, but I initially became familiar with him as he was frequently responding to questions on Jamie Eason’s facebook page which I used to stalk frequent while completing the 12 week LiveFit trainer.  He later created the workouts, which I promptly purchased.  James is a certified personal trainer, through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and Corrective Exercise Specialist. He is also certified through the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Personal Trainer and Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA).

james(photo credit to James Wilson – Faith Family and Fitness Facebook Page)

I recommend checking out James’ facebook page, even if you aren’t into purchasing a new program because he frequently posts great tips and tricks about fitness. He has over 14 000 followers right now! He is also launching a new website MyFitnessMap.com.

I am currently on week three of the plan, and actually am loving it even more the second time around. The first time I felt really run and down and wasn’t eating enough to support the intensity of the workouts. This time I have my nutrition down pat a little more, and can really feel the difference.  According to James, “the workouts are progressive in that they start out with circuit training for a couple weeks to either acclimate the body to the exercises” which is perfect for someone newer to working out, or someone who has focussed primarily on body part training.  “Each week the intensity of the workouts slowly progress and allow for better body response to the exercises.” James’ plan incorporates “active rests to keep the heart rate up and help shed fat. The first 5 weeks are only 4 days a week training and then from weeks 6-12, it is 5 days working out. Most people are in and out of the gym (or basement) in 50-60 minutes.” I personally take about 60 minutes per workout at this point, but I am still getting familiar with my new equipment, and sometimes have to stop to convince the dogs to get out of my way.

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Since I have a TRX at home, I use it instead of resistance bands for some of the moves in the at-home workouts, particularly leg exercises that require resistance bands.  I find these workouts very challenging, intense and am sweating like a necrophiliac in a zombie movie by the end of them.

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So that’s where I am. Three weeks in, feeling wonderful, loving the increased muscle definition I have already noticed, and looking forward to the remaining 9 weeks. Man I am so happy that I bought weights for my basement.

What workouts have you been doing lately?

Secrets to the absurdly early workout

I like morning workouts best. They’re out of the way before life can get in the way, before you have a bad day or are too tired or something comes up. I like the feeling of satisfaction that it’s done and the whole day is ahead. I like how starting my day off with exercise helps me make healthier choices throughout the day.

I used to work out consistently at 5am, then I got out of my routine and BAM suddenly getting out of bed before 5am seemed impossible. Every morning my alarm would to and I’d think “noooooooo” and roll over and re-set it for a later wake up. Literally for months I tried to get back on the horse but no dice. I’d get into a routine, a very painful routine that I could manage for a couple of weeks, then I’d quit because it was just. too. hard.

Until now.

I’ve changed things up a bit, and getting up at 4:45am isn’t miserable anymore.

First thing is I go to bed earlier. If I’m getting up at 4:45, I am asleep by 9:00pm. Asleep, as in not in bed on my phone but legitimately asleep. I crawl in bed around 8:30 and relax, read, watch a show ect.

Second thing, I lay out my clothes at night. No fumbling in the dark for an outfit, no socks.

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Thirdly, I switched up my iPhone alarm. I used to have one of the annoying ringtones as my alarm. I switched it to play a pump-up workout song (Thunderstruck), and instead of the text saying alarm, I personalized that too (pump it up). I have to say that waking up to a song from my workout playlist certainly gets my blood pumping a little faster.

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Fourth, I amped up my normal pre-workout protein shake. Before bed, I brew a cup of coffee, and leave it on the counter overnight to get cold. The next morning I mix my cold coffee with a scoop of vanilla protein and some almond milk. Delicious, and it gives me the jolt that I need to get moving.

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Finally, switching up my workouts by purchasing weights to use at home has made me more excited about my workouts- getting up at 445 for something I love doing isn’t half as hard as getting up to suffer through something I felt meh about.

Combine those things together, and I am consistently working out at 5 again without the normal drudgery and the pain.

Do you work out in the morning? I do, usually with company who likes to get his ears scratched during my 1 minute rest breaks.

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Creamy Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Last weekend, I came up with pretty much my most genius cooking idea ever. ever. seriously. An idea so delicious, I can’t believe I didn’t think about it sooner. Creamy Pumpkin Protein Muffins. I used Jamie Eason’s pumpkin protein bars recipe, which I modified a little and obviously turned it into muffins.

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Jamie Eason’s pumpkin protein bars are my favourite, but I omit the fake sugar from her recipe and add extra pumpkin instead of apple sauce. Both ways taste great.

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These will be my afternoon snack for the week.

These fulfill my sweet tooth, my obsession with all things pumpkin, and give me the willpower to walk by the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin display.

In addition to my delicious muffins, I also prepared some overnight oatmeal (cold creamy oatmeal). I mixed 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1 stevia packet and 1 tsp of instant coffee. I really like Liberte Café Latte yogurt, but it has 20g of sugar per serving! Eeek! This is my way of approximating the same taste, but with extra protein and less sugar.

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To my yogurt mixture I will add 1.5 cups of large flake oatmeal, and 1/2 cup of frozen cherries. I will do these additions nightly, as I don’t like how it tastes when it sits for longer than overnight. Greek yogurt and oatmeal is a great meal, lots of protein, and slow burning carbohydrates to keep you full for a long time.

My main lunch meal is 1 chicken breast, 1 serving of rice noodles in Thai spices and steamed green beans.

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And there you have it. Another weeks worth of food. I’ll add it some additional green veggies (likely I’ll cut up some cucumbers, red and yellow peppers) and I’ll be done.

It’s been three straight weeks of great workouts at 5am and I am excited to pair these workouts with a great meal plan.

What are you eating this week? Do you pre-cook any of your food?

Doin’ it at home….

I haven’t written, but I have been plugging away at my fitness pursuits, but I hit some roadblocks. First was a cold, then two days after getting better there was another one…. Then the stomach flu. Those things over such a short period pretty much drained my motivation. I was holding on by a thread and just didn’t have it in me to write about health and fitness when I was feeling anything but healthy. I hate to sit (write?) and complain, so I just kept silent.

But there were a lot of bright spots: I found a decent gym! 20 minute drive away, friendly staff, beautiful new equipment, not too crowded. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. Except for 20 minutes is a little far when you add in rush hour, which doubles the drive, hence pretty much making the evening and weekends the only good time to work out. I want to make sure that working out isn’t a chore and make it as easy as possible…. So I found another solution.

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My own gym!

I’ve pushed all my furniture to one side, hung a mirror (my old living room mirror haha) and moved everything around to make some extra space.

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I can’t tell you how absolutely wonderful it is having weights in my basement. I’ve said it before, TRX is a great workout but it just doesn’t make my heart sing. When I lift weights, I feel like this:

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TRX makes me feel more like this:

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Given that weight lifting truly makes me happy, I’m feeling a little stupid for not doing this earlier. Cost wise, I’ve spent about 6 months membership fees to the gym that I found, so I feel like I’m ahead of the game.

I’d still like to purchase an adjustable bench (I’m using a stability ball in place of a bench now, but it is tough when lifting really heavy to put weights down without dropping them or wiggling to sit up, but maybe I just need more practice?), an Olympic barbell, some more weights and maybe a medicine ball. Honestly though, I can do pretty much everything with what I have now. My current inventory includes a variety of resistance bands, stability ball, TRX, dumbbells (2×12, 2×15, 2×20, 2×25 and 2×30), mats, foam roller, an Olympic EZ curl bar, some weights for it, jump rope and fast rope, and coming soon a box jump.

What have you done to make working out fool proof in your life?

Alpha Brain Review

So, I kept hearing about this supplement called “Alpha Brain” which is sold by the company ONNIT. Now, I couldn’t find this anywhere in stores, not sure if Onnit products are even available in stores, so I ordered it from their website. 30 capsules costs $34.95 USD plus about $20 in shipping. I also purchased two pre-workout supplements “Shroom Tech Sport” for myself and “T+” for my hunky husband.

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Sadly, I had to pay duty on this shipment (a $29.99 extra charge on top of my order), which I have never ever had to do in all my years of online shopping. I don’t really understand why this particular purchase elicited duty fees from Canadian customs, but I wasn’t there when FEDEX dropped it off to argue with them about it, and FEDEX is the one who paid the duty. Additionally, my shiny package from ONNIT was clearly opened and re-sealed by Canadian customs. Nothing I can do about any of that, but those extra fees will probably stop me from ordering from the site again. I would probably use amazon.com or bodybuilding.com for a future order and see if I ended up with the same additional fees.

So, back to Alpha Brain. It is a “nootropic,” which according to the gods of google is:

Nootropics (/noʊ.əˈtrɒpɨks/ noh-ə-trop-iks), also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers {…} that purportedly improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

Awesome.

The website claims that using Alpha Brain will result in an: extraordinary combination of lucid dreams, mental drive, focus, and mental acuity.”

Double Awesome. Who doesn’t want an extraordinary combination of lucid dreams, mental focus and mental acuity? I sure do.

It’s ingredients are listed as:

  • Alpha GPC: Raw source of acetylcholine, associated with sharpness, mental speed.✝
  • Huperzine A: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, extracted from club moss.✝
  • Vinpocetine: Helps bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain via vasodilation.✝
  • AC-11®: Powerful DNA repair antioxidant.✝
  • Phosphatidylserine: Essential lipid compound highly abundant within brain cell membranes.✝
  • Bacopa: Traditional Ayurvedic brain-enhancing nutrient.✝
  • Pterostilbene: From blueberries, powerful micronutrient / antioxidant.✝
  • L-Tyrosine: Amino acid important to the production of Dopamine.✝
  • L-Theanine: Amino acid with chemical similarities to GABA.✝
  • Oat Straw (20:1): Natural anti-stress nutrient, helps balance formula and create calm focus.✝
  • Vitamin B-6: Catalyst in effective utilization of many nutrients.✝

 

I’ve been taking Alpha brain daily for about two weeks. Here’s what I’ve noticed: they ARE NOT kidding about lucid dreams. From my first dose, I experienced stronger, brighter, lucid dreams that stuck with me upon waking. Cool. Other that that, the effects are more subtle. I’ve noticed I have more energy lately, am sleeping more soundly and I’m not having that terrible afternoon slump I normally have. I have more energy at night. Is this due to the Alpha Brain? Maybe. However, the main selling feauture of Alpha Brain was its increase in mental drive, focus and acuity. I haven’t noticed anything like that. Maybe my brain is already so fine tuned that I don’t need the boost?

I like the product, and I would continue to use it after my bottle is done, just based on my sleep quality lately alone, but the price is prohibitive for me. Not the $34.95, but when you factor in the product price, shipping ($20) and duty ($30 on my last order) it is a bit extreme. If I were totally-over-the-moon in love with this product, I’d probably pay it, but the somewhat pleasant effects aren’t really worth it when I factor in shipping and duty costs. I am curious to see if my better sleep quality lately is in fact due to the product. If so, that could sway my decision and make me a regular purchaser, if I could find it in a local store, or purchase from a provider who has their duty ducks in a row (like I said, have never paid this before with online shopping).

Have you tried any Onnit products?

Sunday Meal Prep

Another Sunday afternoon spent in the kitchen. I just asked my husband what we used to eat for lunches before I started this bulk cooking stuff. “Sandwiches and granola bars” he said.

Hmmmm. This is better.

This week’s meal plan is as follows:

Pre work out/ post workout:
1/2 protein shake and 1/2 a banana (both before and after workout)

Breakfast:
Scrambled egg whites + 1 whole egg
Sautéed peppers and onions
2 slices Ezekiel toast
1 tbsp butter

2nd Breakfast:
Green Smoothie (lots of spinach, handful frozen mango, 1/2 frozen peeled banana, almond milk blended until smooth)

Lunch:
1/2 chicken breast sautéed with onions, splash of coconut milk, cinnamon, cumin and chili
Roasted zucchini or roasted asparagus
Brown basmati rice

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Afternoon snack:
Giant chicken meatball (I mixed extra lean ground chicken with some sodium free mexican-y seasoning, some egg whites to stick it all together (only because it was easier to get at the carton of whites than the carton of eggs in the fridge), and a couple of handfuls of large flake oatmeal, formed into balls and baked in corningware at 400 for 30 mins). If you are the recipe using type, try this and change-up the spices if you want a different feel taste.

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I will eat the meatball with cucumber with hummus, because my garden is producing them like woah.

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Dinner:
Will vary by day but includes one of the following proteins: chicken, bison, wild boar and tuna steaks. And eggs if I’m tired and/or lazy. The meat will be paired with either salads, chopped salads (cucumber salad for sure haha) and a carb (sweet potatoes, brown rice, kamut pasta, even Ezekiel toast if I don’t feel like boiling for rice/pasta).

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Night snack if hungry (usually I am lately):
Cottage cheese, stevia and 1 tbsp peanut butter.

For those of you that are interested, this works out to the range of 1800 calories a day (1800 ish as it varies based on dinners) has 192 grams of protein, 178 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of fat and 29 grams of sugar. Interestingly enough, half my sugar intake for the day comes from mango, and the other half from the banana

What is on your menu this week?

Favourite Things

So in the spirit of focussing on the positive, I’m going to write about a few of my favourite things.

When the dog barks:

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I have two dogs. Apollo, is a 3.5 year old golden retriever who we bought from a breeder. He is the goofiest, cuddliest most loyal dog ever. He has never known anything but kind words, ear rubs and positive reinforcement.

Then there’s Trooper. Trooper is a 1.5 year old shepherd cross (with who knows what but my guess is husky and beagle) who I fostered through a local rescue. He was supposed to be a short-term foster, but his cuteness and charm proved too much to resist, so I adopted him. Or more accurately, he adopted me. This dog is hopelessly devoted to me. He is a little scrappy, highly intelligent, and a little spastic.

These two pups are brothers and best buddies. I really couldn’t have better dogs (well, I could if Apollo would quit counter surfing, and Trooper wouldn’t lose touch with reality with other dogs while he is on leash but that isn’t the point).

When the bees sting:

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I’m incredibly lucky to have a yard big enough for a garden, and that everything grew!

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There's nothing better than picking fresh veggies for dinner!

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When I’m feeling bad:

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I don’t even have words enough to describe my love of So Delicious Coconut Creamer in my coffee. And chai tea. I stopped drinking milk a year or two ago when I was following the Jamie Eason Live Fit Trainer which came with a very specific food/eating plan to follow and it specifically eliminated milk and replaced it with unsweetened almond milk. I’ve never gone back. Almond milk is evil in coffee. It tastes like death and wet worms and Monday mornings all rolled into one. Luckily I found the coconut creamer (queue the choir of angels here). The ingredients aren’t perfectly clean, but when I compare them to the root canal that is drinking coffee with almond milk, I don’t mind so much. It’s totally worth consuming dibasic potassium phosphate for (not that I have any idea what that is).

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If dibasic potassium phosphate is going to kill me, please don’t tell me because I really hate almond milk in my coffee.

I simply remember my favourite things…

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Whey Isolate to help me recover and grow big muscles (look at those great clean ingredients and no fake sugar!).

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New hang out spot where I am currently blogging from with a glass of wine.

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I bought it on vacation and it tastes like dessert.

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Homemade green juices! My favourite (sadly not my hunky husband’s favourite, but he occasionally chokes them down for me).

.. and then I don’t feel so bad!