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Eating for Taste & Health

To preface things, I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or a dietician.

I’m just a guy who enjoys eating well. What started out as a realization that if I ate more, I could gain weight (something I still struggle to do), has since involved into a near fascination with how food can impact everything about us. Not just weight gain and loss; but also athletic performance, energy levels, mental stamina, and ultimately happiness. I’ve gone on both sides of the spectrum: fast food every day for gluttonous calories, but consequent lethargy; as well as raw Vitamixing for great nutritional profile, but consequent dread of liquid meals that look and taste like cement.

I’ve found a nice middle ground where I eat for both taste and health and I’m starting to find that sweet spot of great tasting food and feeling awesome. Below is the “prototypical day,” but it’s more like the ideal day I shoot for. Do I hit it all the time? Not a chance. Real life happens: sports, social dinners, working late, vacation, etc. The worst thing you can do is stress about missing a scheduled meal (something I am guilty of). At the end of the day, this is a plan that I make for some semblance of direction and it helps keep me on track. It may or may not work for you, but I thought I’d share, in the hopes that at very least it inspires you to eat well…and don’t forget to allocate days where you can just cut loose–everybody needs a cheat day…or 7.

Prototypical Day

6am – wake-up and drink 800mL of water (the size of my Kleen Kanteen)

Morning supplement stack:
Vitamin D drops (2000iu)
Probiotic (either Align or Genuine Health)

7:30 am – Morning Shake* (in Vitamix)

Morning beverages:
2 cups of tea (green,  black, or yerba mate)
800mL of water

10:30am – midday snake
2 hardboiled eggs
1 jar of overnight oats*

12:00pm – Gym (moving is winning)

1:00pm – Lunch
1lb of organic ground beef (with fat)
1/2 cup of quinoa
1 cup of diced vegetables (peas, green peppers, garlic, jalapeno pepper)
All ingredients cooked in a stir fry
1 whole avocado and some cilantro on top

Afternoon beverages:
800mL of water
800mL of cold brewed green tea (big on this right now, simply steep green tea in the fridge in an infuser for 6 – 12 hours)

Afternoon snacks:
1 Lara Bar
1/2 cup of macadamia nuts
1 vegan fermented protein bar

4:00pm – Vegetable Juice*

7:00pm – Dinner
1 chicken breast (cooked in avocado oil, lemon, garlic, and pepper)
1 yam
1 cup of steamed broccoli

9:00pm – Pre-Bed shake (on heavy training days)
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp of turmeric
1/4 cup of almonds
2 tbsp of coconut oil
2 cups of coconut milk

Pre-bed stack:
Magnesium Glycinate (easy on the gut)
Fish Oils
L-Theanine (if needed)

 

Totals

I use My Fitness Pal once a month, the beauty of eating generally the same thing

Ideal Daily Calories: 4,443

Ideal Daily Water Intake: 3500mL

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Daily Recipes

Morning Shakes (best if made in a Vitamix or high-powered blender)

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Strawberry Cream

  • 1 banana
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein (grass fed)
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 2 cups of coconut milk

 

Pineapple Ginger

  • 1 banana
  • 2 cubes of ginger
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1 scoop of vanilla vegan protein
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 2 tbsp of hemp seed
  • 1/4 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 cups of coconut milk

 

Blueberry Muffin

  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of mixed greens
  • 2 cups of coconut milk

 

Overnight Oats

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Classic Overnight Oats
(courtesy of, visit this link for 7 more EPIC recipes: https://wholefully.com/8-classic-overnight-oats-recipes-you-should-try/)

INGREDIENTS
⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxmeal
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS
Whisk together all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Spoon into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Close and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before eating.

 

Vegetable Juice (just toss in the Vitamix or a high power blender and gradually increase to full blast for a minute)

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Ginger Zinger

1/2 cup of carrots
2 stalks of celery (celery is an easy way to add water)
1 orange
1/2 lemon
2 pieces of ginger
1 tbsp of turmeric
1 tsp of cayenne (if you’re feeling naughty)
250mL of water

 

Strawberry Mint

3/4 cup of strawberries
5-6 mint leaves
1/4 cucumber
2 stalks of celery
1 cup of kale/spinach
250mL of water

 

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No Passport Needed

It all started just over a year ago, my roommate Stu and I were watching Hockey Day in Canada; an annual quadruple header, hosted by Canada’s own Ron Maclean and Don Cherry. Somewhere amidst the 13 hour broadcast we saw a feature on the World Pond Hockey Championships; hosted every year in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. 100 teams from around the world, gathered to play the greatest game on Earth, outdoors on the lake. It sounded like heaven, we signed up on the spot.

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Fellow teammate Colin and I flew in a week early to spend time in Montreal, Quebec City, and Fredericton; before meeting the other three. It was the middle of February and the Eastern part of the nation was in full winter mode–real Canadian winter. As a west-coaster born and raised, I had never experienced these defining elements of the country first hand. Out West snow comes once or twice a year if you’re lucky, hockey is played solely on indoor rinks, and few of us even own a real winter jacket (something I learned the hard way).

I stepped out of the Trudeau airport in Montreal in nothing but a hoodie and a waterproof shell and I knew I was in trouble. That night the city would take 20cm of snowfall in gusty -18 weather and yet nobody missed a beat. This was a common trend; that the weather couldn’t and wouldn’t stop you.

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Quebec City

Locals in Montreal, Quebec and Fredericton were often taken aback when they learned that we were vacationing in their city from Vancouver at this time of year. We experienced record snowfalls in both Montreal and Fredericton and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think the word “vacation” needs to be associated with palm trees and sunny beaches. The literal definition is the act of leaving something one previously occupied.

This leads me to the origin of this trip: a reunion of good friends, leaving their respective occupations and hometowns to somewhere completely new and different, all while staying in our own beautiful country. For short, we called it the #GreatCanadianBoysTrip.

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With our gracious host/East Coast mom, Pauline Porter

Canadians are known to be very well travelled globally and yet the diversity of our own country often gets neglected. This trip started with a hockey dream, but ended up with so much more. The adversity of cold weather need not always be viewed as a burden. As we quickly learned, the lessened time spent outdoors leads to excellent pubs & cafes with  incredible comfort food and live music. There is an over-arching sense of camaraderie in cold places, as everybody shares the experience.

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World Pond Hockey Championships

The tournament itself was utter bliss. Words can’t describe that feeling of walking out onto a frozen lake that has been cleared to make 20 hockey rinks for over 500 players who all share the love of this great game. The snow would fall in intermittent spurts throughout the day and the blistering cold at night was no match for the sweating bodies that cut across the ice until the floodlights went out. For some, it was a chance to display years of outdoor hockey prowess on a world stage; for us, it was a chance to just play hockey outdoors–and to our heart’s content. For all, it was the greatest gathering of hockey, camaraderie, and all things Canadian that we will ever experience…until next year, of course.

Sharpen your skates, gather four of your best friends, travel 5,000km and leave your passport at home.

Now that’s a vacation.

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Team WestCoast Cheddar, 2017

 

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2016 Review & Top Books

2016, what a year! As per usual, even-numbered years always have the advantage on the sports landscape, this year was no different. The Rio Games were the first time in 2 decades where Canada truly impressed on the Summer Olympic stage and who can forget Usain Bolt’s historic and unprecedented Triple Triple? Penguins won the Stanley Cup, Broncos won the SuperBowl, Chicago Cubs (yes, Cub–and yes I just referenced baseball) won the World Series and Canada breezed it’s way through the newly revived World Cup of Hockey.

On a personal note, 2016 was particularly memorable for me as I put real life on hold and backpacked through Asia for 2 months right in the middle year. 6 countries in 7 weeks, it was an eye-opener with a few good times along the way. I told a few friends I would share my TOP reads of the year, so here they are:

Favourite Books:

 

  1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Quite possibly the most unbelievable true story I have ever read. An Olympic distance runner finds himself on the front lines of WWII, stranded at sea for a record length only to be washed up to a Japanese POW camp.

  1. The Road to Character by David Brooks

An eloquently written book that changes the way you think; are you more interested in what achievements you can put on your resume, or how others will remember you on your eulogy?

  1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I’m a little biased here, because this book hits on both sports and business; two of my favourite subjects. That being said, this story is remarkable and I simply could not put this book down. The story of Nike is a roller coaster ride that anybody and everybody can learn from.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

King of the World by David Remnick

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Episode 8: Goal Setting with Billy Quirke

An educational feature on goal setting with Billy Quirke from HunkAlert

The 8th episode of the series, I wanted to try something a little different and really give the guest the driver’s seat to provide more of an educational session, than a traditional interview. Billy is a good friend, but has also really influenced me on his goal setting methodology. He has the process dialled in; from choosing goals in different areas, setting accountabilities, tracking progress and reviewing it all at the end.

Some highlights to look forward to in the show:

  • Goal setting broken down and dissected
  • A review of Billy’s 2015 goals (listed here)
  • The process of how Billy set his 2016 goals (listed here)


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“Building a life of design, not default.”

– Billy on the motivation behind goal setting

 

Billy’s Answers

Book/Film:
The One Thing by Gary Keller

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Check out Billy on the social channels:

Website:
http://www.hunkalert.ca/

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/kidquirke/

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Episode 7: Hayley McLean

Becoming a professional musician, producing a debut album, and the transition from country to electronic

The 7th episode and 2016 debut features the talented Hayley McLean. Making a name for herself by winning Fender’s 2013 Guitar Goddess of the Year, she went on to record  a very successful debut album “I”, which took the country pop world by storm. It was followed by promotions, touring and an inevitable move to Nashville. Now based out of Nashville, Hayley has transitioned her career to producing music, specifically of the electronic genre under the recording name Texada. She has just released two brand new EPs Texada’s Gold EP and Texada’s Blue EP, already receiving strong praise in the music world.

Some highlights to look forward to in the show:

  • Making a living as a musician
  • Performing live shows and the accompanying state-of-mind
  • The power of YouTube and the digital age in gaining exposure
  • Texada (at the 17:00 mark) starting as an outlet for creativity, now turned into an electronic music success


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“I think life would get pretty stagnant if one decided to stay within the borders of someone else’s titles. I consider it an honour, but not a definition.”

– Hayley on her transition from country-pop to electronic music.

 

The New Texada EPs:

Texada’s Gold on iTunes and Spotify

Texada’s Blue on iTunes and Spotify 

Texada’s debut music video “Walking on the Moon” (Police Cover)

 

Hayley’s Answers

Book/Film:
Interstellar (also one of my all-time favourites)

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Brian Eno (legendary music producer)

Check out Hayley on the social channels:
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/iamhayleymac/

https://www.instagram.com/texadamusic/


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/officialiamhayley/
https://www.facebook.com/texadamusic/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/Iamhayleymac

Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/texada

 

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2015 Year in Review & Goals of 2016

2015 was an excellent year, although odd years pose the challenge of no Olympic Games to watch, it still gave way to an excellent viewership of sports including a Calgary Flames playoff berth, my introduction to MLB via BlueJays bandwagon fever (Joey Bats!) and the Rugby World Cup.

Beyond sports, I was privileged enough to move back to Victoria, the city where I have spent the majority of my twenties and one that I always hoped to return to. It did not disappoint, although I will admit things are much different now that I’m not a student and city actually does extend beyond Gordon Head and Monty’s.

I compiled a video of my GoPro footage taken throughout the year; primarily sporting events and stags, cheers to all those who made it so god damn memorable!

 

2015 Goal Re-cap

Last year I really sought out to quantify my goals; in past experiences I hated the feeling of completing a year without a measurable target and feeling unsure of whether that goal was hit or not. The three main ones of 2015 were:

300 Workouts

It was a tad lofty, I fell short at 196, but still decently proud of this one. As a result of tracking it every day, it was easily my most consistent year of working out and the gains reflected accordingly.

Read 10 Books

Despite reading 25 books in 2014, 2015 was very disappointing year for books, only managing to read 9. I did not prioritize my time and often found myself watching TV shows as a result (less engagement and commitment).

That being said, here are my Top 3:

  1. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  3. Abundance by Peter Diamandis
Drink 12 Times

Definitely got the most criticism on this one, but in the end it was definitely the one I am the most proud of. I defined “drinking” as having more than 2 drinks and after all was said and done, finished the year off with 18 nights of drinking. It made the nights mean that much more and allowed me to really focus on health and fitness on the weekends. That being said, December was considered a “free” month, because the holidays are my time of the year to let loose!

 

2016 Goals – Please Hold Me Accountable!

QUANTIFIABLE GOALS

250 Workouts

Despite only garnering 196 in 2015, I did have a few breaks in the year, which I plan to avoid. Additionally, not every gym session is clanging and banging; going to include a lot of mobility workouts to work on imbalances and prevent injuries.

Read 15 Books

Only reading 9 books in 2015 really shook me up, but I have only myself to blame; getting caught up in work and not making time to read. I have now cancelled my Netflix subscription and gratefully welcome any and all book recommendations! (Non-fiction, please)

300 Days of Meditation

2015 was the first year that I took meditation seriously and I can honestly vouch for its impact on everyday life. It’s not an overnight change, nor is it even noticeable (like a gym session); it’s only when you stop that you realize how effective it really is. With the money I am saving by cancelling Netflix, I have now subscribed to the Headspace app for the year.

6 Podcasts (Bi-Monthly)

2015 was the first year of my podcast channel and I cannot thank all those who took the time to listen, those who provided much needed criticism, and of course those six who were brave enough to be interviewed by an amateur! I am going to keep it at the bi-monthly pace and hope to improve my own interview skills this year with the new round of guests.

12 Nights of Drinking

Last year it was 18, this year I’ll be gunning for that 12 number again (December as always is a free month), as the amount I can personally gain when partying and binge drinking is reduced is well worth it. Already off to a good start with Dry January!

LIFESTYLE GOALS

  • Visit ONE new Country
  • Visit ALL of the Gulf Islands
  • Subscribe to a local produce service (Good Food Box)
  • Consume as much local & organic food as possible (~75%)
  • Monitor all expenses on a spreadsheet, put XX in savings
  • Throw a BIG fundraiser

 

 

 

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Episode 6: Harry Jones

The life of a professional athlete and representing Canada on the international stage of rugby.

The 6th and final episode of this year features Harry Jones and his journey from high school rugby champion to representing Canada at both the Rugby World Cup and in the Sevens World Series. Despite his new found celebrity status, he was generous enough to take the time from Dubai to describe his journey so far and the Road to Rio 2016.

Some highlights to look forward to in the show:

  • Pregame rituals and staying dialled in playing for 60,000+ fans
  • Dealing with a debilitating injury (osteitis pubis) and bouncing back after being sidelined for 2 years
  • A play-by-play of the Gold Medal winning try at the 2015 Pan American Games
  • A rundown of the Sevens Series, the Repechage, and Canada’s Road to Rio

 

“It was probably the highlight of my rugby career so far”
– Harry on the Pan Am Games 2015  Gold Medal Winning Try.

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Click HERE for a clip of the clutch last-minute try to clinch gold in Men’s Rugby Sevens at the Pan American Games.

 

Harry’s Answers

Book:
Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Captain Trevor Greene (read his story here)

Check out Harry on the social channels:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jonesharry3/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harryjones15/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonesharry3

 

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Episode 5: Jeff Pluta

How one American teacher left a job in the US to start a school in Nicaragua

I met Jeff by chance during my backpacking trip through Nicaragua. He is without a doubt one of the most interesting and yet humble individuals I’ve had the privilege of crossing paths with. It took a few months to tee up this interview, but Jeff’s story is one worth listening to. An accomplished teacher in Massachusetts, he dabbled on a trip to Central America and was moved. Slowly, but surely, he began the transition. What started out as teaching summers abroad, soon turned into full-time work and now a very successful non-profit (Amped for Education), which is quite literally changing the educational landscape in Nicaragua. It’s inspiring stuff & I highly recommend at the very least checking out his non-profit to see how you can contribute.

 

Jeff’s Answers

Books:
-Zero to One by Peter Thiel
-Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Geoffrey Canada

Check out Amped for Education on the web:

Website: http://ampedforeducation.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ampedforeducation
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amped4education

 

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Fall Into Fitness Challenge (Part 1)

Part 1 of a 3 Part Series.

Crossing over the 25-year milestone, one slides rather quickly from the youthful and boisterous “mid-twenties” to the apprehensive “late-twenties,” with dreaded thirties a mere few rotations away. As much as we try and look at it like maturation and progression, which it undoubtedly is, few will fool you into saying they are not starkly reminded of their own mortality.

This is NOT a reason to neglect health. In fact, I see it as quite the opposite. Knowing that we are going to die one day is the very reason that motivated this challenge.

The Best Shape of Your Life

Can you think of a moment when you were in the best shape of your life? Unless you were a pro-athlete, I can almost guarantee that this heroic past-self is extremely romanticized. We are all guilty of it, falling into complacency with our desk jobs and relationships, then attempting to run a mile and doubling over halfway; justifying it all with how fit we used to be.

Being in the best shape of your life is subjective to the person, but it’s also only relevant to the now, because that is what we live in. It’s also unattainable, which makes it even more motivating, because I can always be in better shape than my yesterday’s self, if I work at it.

“Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

Kurt Vonnegot

The Challenge

This challenge is formally being issued to anyone who takes the time to read this post (which I sincerely appreciate).

F.I.F. (Fall Into Fitness): Dedicate 3 months to a measured lifestyle change to improve your health and fitness.

Everyone is at different levels of physical fitness, but if we don’t measure them, then we’ll never know where we stand to improve.

Step 1: The Benchmarks

Choose the elements you want to improve, record them, and set your goals for the end of the challenge.

Mine are as follows, with the goals in italics:

Weight
159.6lbs (72.4kg) | 175lbs (79.4kg)

Strength
Bench Press: 185 | 200
Squat: 215 | 300
Deadlift: 305 | 400

Athletics
100m Sprint: 12.7 seconds | 11.5 seconds
Vertical Leap: 24 1/3″ (61.8 cm) | 30″ (76.2cm)
Pull-Ups: 19 | 30
1 mile run: TBD

Step 2: The Plan

Recording Benchmarks are great, but if you don’t draw up a methodical plan, then you are simply planning to fail. I’ve pushed myself hard since February and gotten into the best shape of recent memory. I’ve now reached my ceiling of knowledge and have thus enlisted a pro to get me to that next level–for the continued drive of excellence!

Enter Dan Schafer

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Dan is a strength & conditioning coach with over nine years of experience and a repertoire that includes some impressive top tier athletes from around the country. His philosophy is simple, but effective: the needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.

In other words, the exercises he prescribes his top level athletes (deadlifts, squats, etc) are the same ones he gives his clients pushing seventy. Dan’s a big of fan of the barbell and loves to incorporate Olympic style lifts in many of his training sessions. This very challenge was born out of a conversation between Dan myself about strength and its influence on overall athleticism.

Step 3: Execution

It’s officially the first day of Strengthtember, the goal is laid out, the plan is meticulous, now all that’s left is to start lifting some heavy-ass-weight and chasing that goal!

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will include my detailed training & eating regimen, as well as a progress update!

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Episode 4: Mark Milburn

Athletic performance, starting your own gym, and getting into the best shape of your life.

The fourth episode of the Extraordinary Living Series, features Mark Milburn a UVic graduate who’s run the gauntlet in competitive sports: downhill ski racing, rock climbing, track & field, cycling; as well as modelling for Men’s Health, Abercrombie, Nike, and Calvin Klein. Mark’s interest turned obsession into health and fitness has cumulated into his greatest achievement to date: starting a successful gym in beautiful Victoria, BC (Catalyst Waterfront). A real treat to have him on the show and dive deep into health topics including: workout plans, eating, intermittent fasting, and supplements–just in time for the summer!

Show Highlights:

  • The life of a competitive athlete: eating, training, & mindset
  • The challenges and triumphs of starting your own gym
  • Getting into ridiculous shape for the summer

Mark’s Recommendations

Book: The Moral Animal by Robert Wright

Supplements:
-SFH Protein (Whey Protein Isolate)
-3FU3L (Coconut Protein)
-Bionyx HMB (Recovery & Creatine)

Resource: www.examine.com

Check out Mark on the social channels:

Website: http://www.catalystlife.ca
Instagram: https://instagram.com/markpmilburn/

 

Unlocking Human Potential