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XPTLIFE

Category: XPTLIFE

Take your breathing, your movement, your recovery, your meals, your attitude, and live the XPT life.

Benefits of XPT Pool Training

The power of the mind to influence the physical body is astounding and well documented in scientific literature. There are many mental practices that have massive carry over to physical and cognitive performance.

Mindfulness practice– i.e. the act of intentionally bringing conscious awareness to the present task/moment – has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, avoid burnout, and decrease negative health behaviors like binge eating, poor sleep quality, and lack of physical exercise.

XPT Pool Training ‘XPT Water’ offers a rare opportunity to be truly in the moment and to detach from all of the noise that seems to distract us throughout the rest of our day. Repeating the practice several days a week can provide a tremendous amount of stress reduction.

Find a certified XPT Coach today and start enjoying XPT Water Fitness.

About XPT Water Training

XPT was founded by Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece, as a culmination of 30+ years in elevating high level athletics, chasing giant waves, and exploring human possibilities. This unique system emerged from a tenacious curiosity about human performance, the necessity for injury proofing the body, and an exploration of health and longevity.

The origins of XPT can be traced back to Laird’s experimentation with various breathing techniques, using the ancient Polynesian practice of carrying stones underwater, and experimenting with other practices that served his passion for riding enormous waves. Over the years, through the influence of many cultures, friends, domain experts, and tireless exploration, XPT has grown into a lifestyle system dedicated to optimizing health, performance, and longevity.

We believe the XPT lifestyle is so powerful that it can enable you to age well like Laird and Gabby, reduce injuries, lead an extremely active existence, and reach your goals. The XPT system is broken into three major components: Breathe, Move, Recover. XPT Water Training is where all three components combine. This unique program has become a cornerstone of the XPT system and a non-negotiable weekly routine for Laird and Gabby.

XPT Water is where all the three central components of XPT – Breathe, Move, and Recover – converge to create a unique fitness method. Pool training is a big part of Laird and Gabby’s fitness routine and has evolved into an extremely scalable program that can be implemented for any fitness level.

Novelty
Unless you grew up as a water sports enthusiast, water training provides a different stimulus that challenges your body in a new way and forces you to adapt. This is how we avoid or break through plateaus, create sustainable progress, and keep workout routines fun and engaging.

XPT Water Fitness enjoyed by Hutch Parker, Brandon Jenner, Darin Olien, Josh Brolin

Mental Fortitude
The power of the mind to influence the physical body is astounding and well documented in scientific literature. There are many mental practices that have massive carry over to physical and cognitive performance. Mindfulness practice– i.e. the act of intentionally bringing conscious awareness to the present task/moment – has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety (Wells, et al., 2012), avoid burnout (Moen, et al., 2015), and decrease negative health behaviors like binge eating, poor sleep quality, and lack of physical exercise (Roberts & Danoff-Burg, 2010). XPT Pool Training offers a rare opportunity to be truly in the moment and to detach from all of the noise that seems to distract us throughout the rest of our day. Repeating the practice several days a week can provide a tremendous amount of stress reduction.

Pro Surfer Frankie Harrer

Thoughts influence our emotions, which in turn impact our behavior. Self-talk is a highly effective mental skill for framing our focus. It is not something people tend to focus on consciously, but it happens regardless of our conscious control. It is estimated that we talk to ourselves about 1,000 times per minute (Rotella, 2015). However, without proper training, we tend to focus most of this talk, particularly in the face of adversity, on negative thoughts (Rotella, 2015). Positive self-talk can be used as a powerful tool to improve performance across a variety of tasks. Athletes using positive self-talk were able to reduce their rate of perceived exertion and improve performance in high intensity cycling exercises (Blanchfield, et al., 2014) and improve sport performance in competitive swimming (Hatzigeorgiadis, et al., 2014). It has also been indicated that higher “skilled athletes report using [positive] self-talk in a significantly more planned and consistent manner, as well as had greater belief in use of their self-talk, as compared to their less skilled counterparts,” (Hardy, et al., 2004).

Positive self-talk also helps to eliminate the negative thoughts that tend to creep into our heads during stressful situations or times of adversity. Our brains are wired for negativity, which from an evolutionary standpoint helps us to assess threats and mitigate risky behaviors. However, when it comes to optimizing performance, negative self-talk can be detrimental to success. In his book How Champions Think, Dr. Bob Rotella puts it perfectly, “While the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is almost a perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure,” (Rotella, 2015). Creating a practice for improving positive self-talk during moments of extreme stress or adversity can not only improve performance in those tasks, but also lateralize into other aspects of daily life.
We believe there are massive benefits in a practice that forces you to hit that wall where you don’t think it’s possible to push further, and yet find a way to persevere and continue. XPT Water Training will quickly help you find the point at which you don’t think you can keep going. It will also equip you to understand that the only way to get past this is to calm, quiet, and focus your mind (mindfulness), and use positive self-talk to fortify the belief that it can be done. We have seen these practices carry over, outside of the pool, into other stressful events or moments of adversity, allowing people to conquer an obstacle once thought to be impossible. The potential implications for this are powerful beyond anything we can currently quantify.

Breathing
Focused breath work is a foundation of the XPT system and underpins many of the benefits of XPT Water Training. During many of the water exercises, you will be performing apnea exercises (holding your breath), which can create a handful of beneficial physiological changes. When the human body is exposed to situations in which there are reduced oxygen levels – such as the experience of high altitude, or by holding your breath – adaptations take place that force the body to increase oxygenation of the blood, delay the onset of lactic acid and fatigue, and improve respiratory muscle strength.

Lower Injury Risk One of the biggest benefits of water training is the lower injury risk compared to working out on land. Due to the density of the water changing the influence of gravity, impact forces are significantly less in the pool. This lower impact on the joints and connective tissues allows people to perform ballistic and plyometric movements with reduced risk of injury. Pool training is commonly used during rehabilitation programs for athletes returning from injury for this reason. In our experience, athletes recovering from injuries have been able to perform movements underwater that they are not yet able to do on land, allowing them to work certain muscles that they were not able to utilize previously, and tax the body in ways that were previously inaccessible.

The Reptile, taught by XPT Certified Coaches

Recovery
In addition to lowering injury risk, pool training can also be a great method for recovery on days of active rest between intense workout sessions or after competition. As the water unloads a lot of the impact forces coming down during jumping and other underwater movements, most pool exercises are concentric-dominant. Eccentric loading has been shown to create the most tissue damage and stress to the muscles and connective tissue (Mikesky, et al., 1995), therefore by reducing the eccentric load on the muscles, we are minimizing damage to the tissues. When performing exercises that are concentric only, your muscles will still benefit from an increase in local blood flow, bringing the nutrients necessary for tissue repair, while minimizing additional tear down. The compression caused by the water will also help to stimulate blood flow (Turner, 1973), aiding in the recovery process.

Furthermore, circuit training in the pool can elicit aerobic conditioning adaptations, providing benefits to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems while also creating a recovery response in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. The additional work of the respiratory muscles during breath holds and breathing with compression of the water acting on the torso provides another unique stressor for improving respiratory muscle strength.

XPT Water exercises and workouts should be done through a certified XPT Coach. Checkout our upcoming certifications.

Re-Thinking Stress – Stimulating Growth by Breaking Out of the Comfort and Abundance Prison

Part 1 of the XPT Foundational Principles series

When you hear the word “stress,” do you think of it as a positive or negative? Most likely, the very mention of the word conjures up your cluttered calendar, overflowing inbox, and all those pesky work deadlines you have hanging over your head. There are a seemingly limitless number of podcast episodes, blog posts, and even entire books promising to help you transition from “stressed out” to “stress free,” often in just five or 10 easy steps.

But what if we really need more stress in our lives, not less?

Let’s be clear. We’re not suggesting that you sign your kids up for more activities, take on greater responsibilities at work, or stay logged into email and social media 24/7. These are the kind of stressors that are deleterious and reduce our quality of life. What we’re referring to instead is the kind of stimuli needed to prompt positive change. This is why we’ve made stress one of our foundational principles at XPT – because it’s the only way to start advancing from where you are towards where you want to be.

“Good stress is the kind that you can adapt to,” said XPT co-founder and legendary waterman Laird Hamilton. “Every kind of growth requires stress, so if you want to evolve you have to deliberately subject yourself to certain stimuli that will make you uncomfortable. When we experience extreme temperatures, fasting, or having to learn a new skill, that’s when our body is at its peak as an organism and is forced to grow.”

In his bestselling book What Doesn’t Kill Us, Scott Carney writes that, “With no challenge to overcome, frontier to press, or threat to flee from, the humans of this millennium are overstuffed, overheated, and under-stimulated.” In other words, we’ve become abundance addicts who are trapped by lives that rely too much on comfort. From air conditioned homes, cars, and stores to the lack of walkability in our towns and cities to the decline of jobs that require physical exertion, our modern society has become too comfortable with being comfortable. We take the easy option almost every time – favoring drive-through “happy” meals over the preparation of real food, liking places online instead of actually experiencing them in person, and seeking the instant gratification of hacks over the lifelong pursuit of mastery. And yet for all its temptations, it’s arguable that we’re sicker, heavier, and more discontent than ever before. And no amount of “stress-busting” tips is going to change that.

While this is a sorry state of affairs, it’s thankfully also an optional one. We can decide that rather than trying to purge stress from our lives, we’re actually going to embrace it, having differentiated the kind of “good” stress Laird spoke of to the “bad” kind that occurs when we cram our calendars, eat and sleep poorly, and work too many hours. Over the past 20 years, Laird and his wife and XPT co-founder Gabby Reece have relentlessly sought out stressors that will provide challenges, make them more resilient, and force them to adapt (more on this point in our next post).

Rather than looking at stress as something to be avoided at all costs, the XPT approach seeks to reframe it as a learning opportunity that presents your mind, body, and spirit with carefully chosen stimuli combined in a thoughtful and systemic way to illicit positive transformation.

“We can induce stressors safely in a controlled environment so we thrive instead of perishing,” Laird said. “The more gracefully we endure exposure to heat, ice, hypoxia, and other self-inflicted stimuli, the better we get at dealing with the non-optional stressors that life throws at us every day. Our reaction to both kinds of stress connects the two and is transferable.”

Looking at stress from a physiological standpoint, we can frame what happens when we encounter it through the lens of General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). First, the cell is stressed to a point of short-term malfunction (typically a few minutes to several hours, though sometimes for a day or two). If given a chance to recover, the cell responds by adapting so the same stimulus will not induce damage again. Then there is the stage of supercompensation, which creates a cellular-level bounce back from accumulated stress exposure.

From pool training to contrast therapy to land-based workouts, every aspect of our Breathe, Move, Recover curriculum is designed to stimulate growth by respecting the principles of GAS. One of the tools we utilize is contrast therapy, which is a fancy term for combining exposure to heat and cold. We spend up to 93% of each day cutting ourselves off from nature in climate controlled indoor settings, which prevents the body from activating cold shock proteins (CSPs) and heat shock proteins (HSPs). CSPs that we activate with cold water immersion provide many benefits in the body, including boosting immune system function, controlling inflammation, and regulating circadian rhythms. Meanwhile, HSPs that we trigger with sauna use play an important role in preserving cellular health, replicating DNA, and modulating glucose and fat metabolism.

Then there are the performance and recovery advantages that exposure to cold and heat stressors provide. A research team at Prague’s Institute of Preventive and Sports Medicine noted that cold water immersion increases metabolic rate by 350%, noradrenaline by 530%, and dopamine by 250%. Another study found that getting in a sauna heated to 190 F for around 30 minutes after exercise significantly improved results compared to exercise alone, increasing time to exhaustion while running by 32%.

Such benefits explain why we not only prescribe contrast therapy several times a week, but also encourage you to embrace exposure to the elements as part of an active, outdoor lifestyle that gets you closer to how humans are designed to function. When it comes to realizing our fullest potential, we shouldn’t want or try to be “stress-free.”  Instead, we need to follow Gabby and Laird’s lead and consistently expose ourselves to the minimum effective dose of growth-prompting stressors. Pairing these with appropriate recovery methods will promote the kind of adaptation that we might not have previously thought possible. By reconsidering how we think about and act towards stress, we can break free from the mediocrity trap created by comfortable abundance and begin chasing excellence instead – not just in our physical practices, but in our relationships, work, and life in general.

Check back soon for the second part of this series, in which we’ll examine how to pair stress with adequate recovery to produce adaptation.

Recipe: Ground Beef Curry by Chef Pete Evans

This is a delicious curry that you can have on the table in 30 minutes or so. My advice is to make triple the amount and, the next day, add some soft- or hard-boiled eggs to take to work or school for lunch.

 

 

 

GROUND BEEF CURRY

Courtesy of Chef Pete Evans

 Serves: 4

Prep time:10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Allergens: cayenne pepper (chili)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons curry powder

2 pinches of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 ½ lb ground beef *see our instructions (in recipes) on how to prepare ground meat at home

1 x 13.5 fl oz can coconut cream

1 cup Beef or Chicken Bone Broth

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Cilantro leaves

Cauliflower rice *see recipe in vegetable section, or steamed rice

Instructions:

Melt the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Stir in the garlic and sauté for 10 seconds, then add the curry powder and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 5-6 minutes until browned. Stir in the coconut cream and broth and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the beef and vegetables are cooked through.

Mix in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Scatter on the cilantro leaves and serve with rice of your choice.

XPT Coach of the Week: Tom Molloy

Tom Molloy is based in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. He was previously a Corporate Banker and Company Director and he is now a dedicated human performance specialist at ActivateBody. Tom has over a decade of experience helping adults and children discover their inner athlete.
After years of struggling with arthritic knees and shoulder pain Tom discovered a performance lifestyle rooted in the most basic yet powerful human trait: the ability to adapt.

He challenges himself and his clients with leading fitness methods incorporating Breath, Movement, and Recovery exercises designed to stimulate growth in all aspects of human performance through exposure to a variety of natural elements and environments.

Tom’s train, adapt and perform approach empowers the individual to strengthen and elevate the quality of both everyday life and athletic pursuits.

His passion for adventure and commitment to excellence has driven him to become a leader in movement and recovery performance training that is applied to a progressive training philosophy.

Tom is also interested in the role of diet, exercise and breathing in stimulating mental and physical energy and stronger social connections with family, friends and community.

Tom also has a keen interest in Australian Rules Football and running, having performed at School and representative levels, and he is a passionate waterman (SUP, Surf Lifesaving, Surfing, Swimming, SCUBA, and Sailing) who coaches junior lifesaving and football with his 3 children.

Tom is very excited to be hosting the first Australian XPT Workshop in Noosa later this year.

XPT Challenge: Keep it Simple

In this week’s XPT Challenge, Gabby Reece brings it back to the basics.  Gabby reminds us not to get lost in all of the fancy equipment you’ll find at gyms and other facilities these days.  Don’t forget about 3 of the most basic exercises known to man; 3 that are pretty simple, yet super effective.  Pushups, pull ups and squats. These exercises cover a wide range in the body and can be done simply anywhere and at any time.  Don’t forget about the basics when surrounded by too much clutter and craziness at the gym some times.

In addition, Gabby throws in a few nuggets about some interesting learnings from XPT Advisor, Dr. Andy Galpin on old age independence and the three key things it’s reliant on.  We won’t spoil the secrets, so you’ll have to watch the clip below to find out what they are.

Get back to basics this week, as Gabby said and let us know how it’s going to you!  Good luck!

XPT Coach of the Week: Kyler Ishisaki

Name: Kyler Ishisaki

Age: 27

Hometown: Fremont, CA

Business/Gym Name: PerformanceGaines

Social Media Handles: @Coach_ky90

 __________________

XPT: Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Kyler Ishisaki: I am a performance coach.  I have worked extensively with athletes for most of my career.  I have more recently been working with corporate wellness – onsite at Facebook’s campus. I have applied all of my experience coaching athletes and combined that with the XPT to provide for all of my clients. Outside of coaching I enjoy the outdoors – more specifically snowboarding in the winters, fishing and surfing (when I can) in the spring and summer as well as photography throughout the year.

XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc. to teach your clients?

KI: I really enjoy incorporating the breath work into all of my programs with my clients. Especially because it is overlooked and under-utilized in both training and life.  Giving them exposure to something so simple, yet so rewarding is awesome to see when become more aware and in-tune with their body.

 XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

KI: XPT has been an awesome tool for me to use as a coach and a client.  It is something that I have been able to apply for myself and everyone that work with. It has added value to everything that I do, it has changed the way that I coach, program and think.

XPT: What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learnings into your training following your XPT Certification course?

KI: The first thing I applied and emphasized to everyone has been the recovery breathing post-workout and during high-stress situations.  Most of my current clients work in a very fast paced, high stress environment. So giving them tools to be able to calm down and down-regulate has been huge in their performance.

XPT: Anything else you want to tell us? A quote you remember from Certifications? A cool client story?  A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life? 

KI: One of my favorite moments from a client has been when she made the connection with the quote: “the way you breathe effects the way you move, and the way she move effects the way you breathe”.  After taking her through some exploration breathing and chambered breathing she realized how difficult it was to control where her breath has been coming from and how much of a dysfunction she had with breathing.  She then went to see a physical therapist about some shoulder pain that she has been having, and they too brought up that her breathing was affecting her shoulder, causing her pain.  She then reached out to me with a “Eureka!” moment as she made the connection between breath and movement.

XPT Coach of the Week: Meghan Newcomer

Name: Meghan Newcomer

Age: 37

Hometown: New York, NY 

Business/Gym Name: bEncouraged by Meghan

Website: www.bencouragedbymeghan.com

Social Media Handles: @bebymeghan 

__________________

XPT: Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Meghan Newcomer: Meghan has been coaching athletes ages 5-75 for nearly two decades. She excels at providing personalized, precise training to help athletes optimize their potential physically and mentally. With a background in competitive swimming and triathlon, she is at home in aquatic environments. She enjoys working with novice athletes, individuals with a focus on improving their health and athletes who wish to take their racing to the next level.

XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc) to teach your clients?

MN: I embrace Breath. Move. Recover equally. However, I offer a unique ability to teach the in water strength component of XPT.

XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

MN: XPT has added a new dimension to my physical and mental training. I used the principals when preparing for the World Marathon Challenge and came in second place to the World Record holder. I have started integrating the principles into my athletes’ practice sessions. The swimmers and triathletes are thriving. Prior land-based strength athletes who have previously stayed clear of the pool are starting to dive in too.

XPT: What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learnings into your training following your XPT Certification course? 

MN: I was able to incorporate BOLT scores and cadence breathing patterns into a run workout the day after my certification. The thermal challenges and water based strength training took more time and planning, but have been well worth the effort.

XPT: A Mastery Experience by Nick Knutzen

Originally posted on www.wyldjoy.com

In what ways are you “playing the edge?”:  to walk the fine line between endless, goalless practice and those alluring goals that appear along the way.  To take risks in order to learn and grow?

A little over a week ago, I returned home from an awesome XPT experience in Miami.  Rejuvenated physically, mind clear, soul polished. It’s kind of a neat story of how I ended up there.  Basically, I won an Instagram giveaway by sharing a photo and a recipe on how I fuel up. Please refer to the picture of my beautiful girlfriend (Julia) my pup (Cooper) and myself all sharing a poké bowl dressed to the nines in our Kauai Spirit outfits for the winning photo.  You never know for sure in entering these kinds of contests if you will win or not, but I had a feeling, deep down, that I was going to win. Low and behold, and I still can’t quite believe it, I was invited to join the XPT Crew in Miami.

“It was my opportunity to dive deeper than I ever have before, on a journey I started seven years ago, where in discovering my body, I discovered my soul.

For those unfamiliar, XPT is a breath, move, recover curriculum designed to stimulate growth in human experience.  The brainchild of Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton, XPT welcomes any and all fitness levels and backgrounds (you will be humbled, trust me) and invites you at every step of the experience, to “play your edge.”  By adhering to the XPT principles, don’t be surprised if you find yourself breathing almost constantly through your nose, as you sprint up and down the beach. You might even find yourself at the bottom of a pool, carrying dumbbells in each hand, trying to walk as far as you can down the length of the pool while holding in a relaxed breath.  There is even a chance for you to go ice-bathing in their signature heat/ice recovery practice. I remember Laird saying, “If you want to cure depression, have them take an ice-bath every day.” He might be right.

In my view, XPT was the ultimate journey of mastery.  It was also a personal calling, to me, in that I was meant to be there, to surrender, practice and play my edge in all of the physical and mental activities I experienced.

Maybe most importantly, I was called to meet the wonderful people that shared in this journey. It was my opportunity to dive deeper than I ever have before, on a journey I started seven years ago, where in discovering my body, I discovered my soul.

“In order to step into my power, to step into the practice of “I am,” my mantra for this experience was “I belong.”

The infamous ice bath with my coach, Gabby Reece, timing my 3 minutes.

So how exactly was XPT the ultimate journey of mastery?  To start, let me tell you the five keys of mastery:

  1. INSTRUCTION
  2. PRACTICE
  3. SURRENDER
  4. INTENTIONALITY
  5. THE EDGE

INSTRUCTION:

The first step in mastery is to find a guide.  There are many people on the XPT team and staff that helped make this experience an awesome one.  For the sake of explaining this first key of mastery, I will focus on Gabby Reece. It was Gabby’s patience and empathy for the beginner that really highlighted the XPT team’s focus on instruction.  Gabby stuck by my side the entire ice-bath journey and, without her guidance and encouragement, I don’t think I would have achieved the recommended three-minutes in the ice bath.  She paid attention to the “slowest person on the mat.” And that is a sign of first-rate instruction. Thank you, Gabby!

PRACTICE:

Practice, in the context of mastery, is not something that you do, but something that you are.  For me, XPT was both a physical journey, and equally a mental and spiritual one.  I was quite nervous to attend, knowing I would be surrounded by elite athletes and very smart and successful business people.  

SURRENDER:

The word surrender brings up many emotions and thoughts about what it exactly means.  On the path of mastery, courage is measured by one’s willingness to surrender. To surrender to your teacher and demands of the discipline.  It’s also about openness and willingness to unlearn, in order to learn and grow more.

“Love what you do” is another way to think about surrender.

Everyone in attendance, teachers and students, showed up to learn, grow and celebrate the human experience, physically, mentally, spiritually.

INTENTIONALITY:

Vision, short-term and long-term,  is the fuel of the master’s journey.  Call it what you will: character, willpower, mental toughness, attitude.  Holding a vision to the flame is essential on the path of mastery.

There was somewhat of a low point in my experience, where I became unwound and lost my connection to my mantra of “I belong.”  I doubted myself, second-guessed my being there and honestly, compared my current state to everyones’ perceived successes and accomplishments.  I retreated to my room and called my girlfriend who reminded me of my reason for being there. Two supportive texts also came in from personal guides of mine back home – the power of having guides behind you shows up sometimes when you least expect but most need it!

It isn’t always easy to execute perfectly in living out your intention.  I’m imperfect. But having people who you love and support you in your life (and vision) is essential.

THE EDGE:

Taking risks to grow and learn.

I believe at the heart of the vision of XPT is to play your edge of human performance.

To push yourself far enough out of your comfort zone in order to gain a new perspective of self, purpose and connection.  The breathwork, the pool workouts and even the ice-bath therapy are all portals where we were able to play our physical and mental edge.

The edge is all about learning something about yourself and to accomplish something you never thought you could do, and as a result, grow in the practice of “I am.”

In summary, mastery is a life long pursuit, requiring an honest, open and willing commitment to the journey itself.  There are no experts, only students.  There is no destination, just the journey itself.  I don’t believe there are many experiences where it highlights the mastery experience with such precision, joy and connection, like it did with XPT.  The real work of the mastery happens upon the return home, where we return to the practices that got us to the edge of an experience in the first place.  Exploring always, what’s next and loving the plateau.

If you too are interested in walking the path of mastery, and are interested to learn more about how Wyld Joy can support you in playing your own growth edges, book a 20-minute Assessment Call with me, Nick Knutzen, and I’ll give you some initial prompts to start your journey.

-Nick Knutzen

XPT Coach of the Week: Taylor Somerville

Name: Taylor Somerville      

Age: 39

Hometown: Memphis, TN (originally from Montgomery, AL)

Business/Gym Name: Symmetry

Website: My blog is www.thelonggame.co

Social Media Handles: @tsomerv

 __________________ 

XPT: Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Taylor Somerville: I previously worked in the investment business industry for over 15 years. Last year I decided to transition my career to focus full time on health and fitness to help others become the best version of themselves.  I believe that fitness is a lifestyle and should play a role in developing the whole person.   I enjoy competing in endurance events and completed the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour race around Lake Las Vegas in November 2017.  I enjoy learning all I can regarding mental, physical, and spiritual well-being and write about this in my blog and weekly newsletter, The Long Game.

XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, or activity to teach your clients?

TS: I love using breath work and contrast therapy with clients.  The breath is low hanging fruit for improving performance in fitness and in life.  I really enjoy watching their reactions after our first exploratory breath session when they realize how powerful the breath can be.  When you add in the ice baths, the breath has the ability to show people that they are in control of their response to stress.  Clients learn that they have the choice of responding or reacting to any stressful situation in life.  Teaching people that they are in charge of their life and can control their responses to everything that life throws at them is one of my favorite parts of XPT.

XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

TS: XPT completely changed my life. I attended my first experience in Malibu in 2017, which helped me get to a point in my life when I was able to take a leap of faith and quit my career.  The XPT community is like no other.  Everyone is trying to better themselves but they leave their egos at the door.  Laird and Gabby are incredible coaches and know how to get the best out of everyone. You don’t have to be an elite athlete but you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone.  I’ll never forget my first pool workout, breath session or ice bath.  I dabbled with it on my own for a few years but there was nothing comparable to doing it in a group setting with such a positive vibe.  Through XPT, you learn that you are capable of much more than you ever thought and I enjoy passing that message and feeling along to my clients.

XPT: What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learnings into your training following your XPT Certification course?

TS: As mentioned earlier, the breath work and heat/ice sessions were the two ways I was immediately able to implement the XPT methods and began offering them back in Memphis to several friends and clients.

XPT: Anything else you want to tell us?  A quote you remember from Certifications? A cool client story?  A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life?

TS: At my first experience, Laird said, “We create our own limitations. No one can do you, better than you!” This statement really stuck with me.  As humans, we should be able to move through life and not be afraid to try new things, live life to our fullest, and not worry about what other people think. This statement, along with XPT’s breathe, move, recover ethos nudged me to start living my life to the fullest and in the way that I want to live.

XPT Challenge: Survey Your Life

Gabby Reece is back with another edition of the XPT Challenge.  This week Gabby challenges us to take a look at ourselves and maybe realize a bad habit or something you were trying to get rid of, may have crept back into your life.  By consciously taking a look inside of yourself and surveying your life, you should be able to recognize any outstanding issues that may be hindering your path to success, whether it be mentally, physically or beyond.  She is hoping we will be able to just do a little bit better in all things and restore the discipline we may have been lacking, back into our lives. Check out Gabby’s tips in the clip below and let us know how it goes in the comments.

 

XPT Coach of the Week: Addison Bain

Name: Addison Bain

Age: 28

Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa

Business/Gym Name: Farmhouse Performance Lab and Farmhouse CrossFit

Website: www.farmhousecrossfit.com

Social Media Handles: Instagram: @addison.bain & @farmhousecrossfit

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XPT: Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Addison Bain: I grew up on a in Southern Minnesota on a farm, finding a passion for riding a bike at a very young age.  Years of riding lead me to school in Durango, Colorado at Fort Lewis and later transferring to help start and ride for the Lindenwood University Cycling Team in St Louis, Missouri. I spent the 2010 season racing for Fuji Geox Test Team in Belgium. Upon returning home I was involved in a bike/car accident, fracturing my leg,  that led me to the the training and fitness industry. For the last eight years I have been working with clients of all disciplines and levels throughout the US. In July of 2014 I chose to build my own brand, Farmhouse Performance Lab and Farmhouse CrossFit, and for the last four years I have been owning and operating that, specializing in functional movement training and CrossFit.

XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline or activity to teach your clients?

AB: One cloudy Malibu day sitting in the sauna… Laird shared with me, “Keep training as close to nature as possible.”

This one hits close to home, as he was directing talking about heat and cold exposure and why use dry sauna and ice bath versus other methods, but for me as I have always pursued the outdoors- grandpa taught us to run barefoot and go for a bike ride,through learning that, I have always tried to share that with my clients, go for a run outside (in the woods), go swim in the (open) water, leave your cellphone in your car and enjoy the world. I have pursued the effort of connecting that with the people who want to be in the gym and move functionally but making sure we get outside as much as possible, and I believe XPT shares the same beliefs.

XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

AB: I believe I answered that above in a way. But would like to add…… we regularly warm up and cool down with breathing techniques

XPT: What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learnings into your training following your XPT Certification course?

Absolutely; breath work, movement, and water have always been a stable in my training techniques. But after spending more time with the XPT Crew, I felt there was a great need to apply these techniques I learned into a larger group setting.

Coaching Tip: Breath Training Mechanics

Before jumping into XPT Performance Breath Training, it is important to ensure that your breathing mechanics are being exhibited properly.  XPT Performance Director, PJ Nestler shares two basic tips to help improve your breathing mechanics when jumping into your breathing protocol as it pertains to XPT Daily Training, other workouts, or simply every day life.

PJ’s two tips:

LAY ON YOUR BACK – When lying down flat, you are ensuring your spine is in a good, neutral position and you avoid all of the weight of your upper body, pressing down on your lungs and diaphragm, which can severely change your breathing patterns.

SLOW IT DOWN -By slowing down your breathing you have more ability to control all of the breathing mechanics that we teach at XPT.

Watch the clip to hear all of PJ’s tips on how you can improve your XPT Performance breathing and build upon your breathing protocol foundation.

Coastal Souls: Gabby and Laird Featured in Ocean Home Magazine

XPT Co-Founders and power couple, Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece split their time between two beautiful ocean adjacent homes in Malibu, California and on the island of Kauai.  Hamilton notably grew up in Hawaii and became famous for his daring big wave adventures.  As a result, the couple spends their winters on Kauai chasing waves and enjoying the tropical atmosphere of the island.  During the summer, you can find the couple roaming the beaches of Malibu in search of their next fitness conquest.

The one thing both houses have in common is a fully stoked XPT environment.  From pools for underwater workouts, to ice baths and saunas for recovery, to full stocked fitness equipment and so on, no matter where they are living at the time, Laird and Gabby are always living the XPT Life to the fullest.

The couple (and their two beautiful homes) were recently featured in the June/July issue of Ocean Home Magazine.  Learn more about their two homes as well as the healthy lifestyles Laird and Gabby live in each in the article.

Ocean Home Magazine June/July 2018 Issue

Hollywood’s Most Sought-After Stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker Talks Work, Fitness and XPT

XPT: Introduction – Please give us a brief introduction.

HM: My name is Heidi Moneymaker and I have been an athlete my whole life.  I was a very serious gymnast from the age of 5 until I retired at the age of 22 and began my stunt career.  I have been a stunt woman and actress for over 16 years and have been the stunt double for Scarlett Johansson since 2009.  Having been an athlete and stunt performer for most of my life has definitely taken a bit of a toll on me physically and staying in shape and injury free is my constant focus.  I am always looking for effective modes of body recovery and low impact training to supplement my demanding career, which is how I found XPT.

XPT: Who is your favorite actress you’ve doubled for and your favorite project you’ve worked on, and why?

HM: I have been very lucky to work with some of the most talented and wonderful actresses in Hollywood.  It is hard to pick a favorite, but I will say that doubling Scarlett Johansson and helping to create the Black Widow character has been pretty amazing.  She is as down to earth as she is beautiful and has given me a lot of freedom to help create the action style of the character.

XPT:  Can you talk about the importance of a healthy fitness lifestyle in the profession of stunt acting?

HM:  My job is demanding, challenging, and usually dangerous.  Being physically and emotional fit is just the beginning.  We generally work anywhere from 8-14 hour days.  I am fighting, flipping, falling, getting hit by things, and basically performing like a professional athlete, but often without some of the necessities that go along with performing at your best.  For example, often there is not time for a proper warm up before performing a fight scene, or along with kicking, punching, and flipping, I am also getting slammed by some object and blasted into a wall over and over.   Not only do I need to be physically fit to perform for hours at a time at a very high level of performance, but I need to be mentally strong as well.  Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and being hydrated are three things I cannot avoid if I want to make it through my days.

XPT: What would you say was the most physically demanding project you’ve worked on to date and how did your fitness play a role in preparing for it?

HM:  It is hard to pick one film, as they all are demanding, however, in 2009, I did Iron Man 2 and Sucker Punch back to back which meant I worked for 13 months straight.  That was the most physically demanding year I have had.

XPT:  How did you get introduced to and involved in XPT?

HM:   I found XPT online while looking for new ways of low impact or rehab training.  It was a big bonus that the next experience was in Kauai.

XPT: Speaking of Kauai, you recently attended an XPT Experience there. Can you recall any key takeaways or lessons from Gabby, Laird, PJ and the gang you’d like to share that really resonated with you?

HM:  The Kauai experience was pretty amazing.  The ice bath was something I really enjoyed mentally and physically conquering.  I do believe in the benefits of the ice-sauna treatment and I believe it will help me in my career.  I have turned down jobs in the past that involve extreme cold because I can’t control my body temperature and get too cold too fast causing a pause in filming. 

XPT: How have you applied what you’ve learned from XPT into your work?

HM:  I have always had an issue breathing properly while doing high intensity training.  I think the breath work we did had the biggest impact on me and has helped me increase my endurance.

XPT: Like you said, your body takes a beating after a long day of stunt work, can you touch on the importance of recovery in your profession? And how have you integrated XPT specific recovery methods into your routine?

HM:  Recovery is one of the most important things in my line of work.  One thing I have really benefited from is the cool down breathe work.  That is something new for me and I find that I feel much better overall using this technique after training.

XPT: You’re trained in several different fighting styles as well as gymnastics and many other forms of fitness.  How have you found XPT practices to interweave into all forms of these fitness?

HM: As I said above, I have really benefited from the breathing techniques, but I have also integrated some pool training with weights into my routine on days when my body feels it can’t handle high impact practices.

XPT: How do you plan on incorporating the XPT principals on your future work?

HM:   Part of my job is to fight train my actors and actresses.  I am constantly pushing them to their limits.  Recovery and longevity is key for them and is one of the reasons I attended the XPT experience.  I will definitely be incorporating some of these practices into the actor regimen.

XPT: Speaking of future work, what’s up next for you we can be on the lookout for?

HM:  I am working here in town on a few different projects, although, I am not sure if I am able to say which, however, it is very likely you will see me in Avengers 4.

XPT Coach of the Week: Fabian Kuttner

Name: Fabian Kuttner           

Age: 43

Hometown: Charlottesville, VA

Business/Gym Name: The Whole Man

Website: www.thewholeman.org

Social Media Handles:  wholebeing.live

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 Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Fabian Kuttner is a Life Coach based in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He holds a Masters degree in Somatic Psychology with training in Traumatic Resolution.  Fabian utilizes his varied expertise in business relations, conflict resolution, athletic training, and Buddhist philosophy/meditation in his coaching practice and facilitation of mens’ groups.

In addition to his coaching practice,  Fabian can be found skiing mountains, piloting his tandem paraglider, parenting his children, and leading a weekly Ice/Heat ritual with his hand built Mobile Exposure Unit at his family’s farm. Fabian became a certified XPT coach in March 2018.

My work is in supporting people in finding out how incredible they are; pushing their boundaries; physically, cognitively and emotionally. I’ve done so many things in life and relate to so many different experiences, it’s a joy to relate to others. I strive to find the fulcrum of change for people, that point where they see themselves and can readily accept the transformation they have been building themselves up to have. Creativity and change are much easier when you know what you want and see how stagnation once served you; its awesome how the discomfort of change tips and not changing is the greatest agony. Change is easy, its getting to the point that you actually want change that’s challenging. I love this life, the growth and challenges we get to transform through as humans.

 What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc) to teach your clients?

I’ve been breathing my whole life. Learning to control breathing, understanding the nuances of breathing and blood gases has made a huge impact on people. That we have so much more in us as it relates to oxygenation is truly transformative for folks.

How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

The greatest impact is in seeing a community of people who in a calm, sustainable way are pushing themselves, expanding their limits. There is so much self-aggression in elite fitness, to see a community that is both pushing the boundary while maintaining a healthy, self-caring, love for their being is superb. It’s inspiring to be challenged and expand the horizon of what one can do while maintaining kindness towards oneself. Wakefulness, extreme athleticism AND recovery are rare at the forefront of a fitness philosophy.

 What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learning into your training following your XPT Certification course?

Most immediately was the apnea work. Understanding how the body functions with respect to breathing, and the breath holds under water really made a huge shift in training. Also the notion that we can relax SO FAST after HIIT training has turned into an awesome resource for people.

Anything else you want to tell us?  A quote you remember from Certifications? A cool client story?  A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life? 

I’m really learning this one myself, and to a new level:

“Don’t talk about it, BE about it” –P.J. Nestler

The training was the MOST info I have ever absorbed in such a short time. It took all my Fitness know-how, Somatic Psychology Education and Life Coaching to the next level.

I love the face on athletes when they get my download on CO2 tolerance, and then when they implement the knowledge.

Is XPT For Me?

Do you think XPT isn’t for you because you’re not at the highest level of fitness?  We get this question all the time and XPT Performance Director PJ Nestler explains why that isn’t true.  XPT is scalable to any person of any age and any fitness level, depending on what you’re looking to get out of it.

PJ invites you to get involved in XPT in a number of ways.

You can find them below:

XPT Workshops

XPT Certifications

XPT Daily Training

XPT Experiences

 

Kauai Farmacy Recipe: Raw, Cheese-less, Cheesy Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups raw, organic cashews
1 red bell pepper (no seeds)
1 cup spring water
Juice of one whole lime
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of hawaiian sea salt
1 tablespoon raw, organic honey
1/2 teaspoon Endurance Superfood Spice

Directions:

Blend until thick and creamy (may need to add water to adjust texture). Slice veggies and dip away! Servings 4+

You can find the original recipe and much more at the Kauai Farmacy Website.

Additionally, exclusively for our XPT readers only, enter the promo code XPT10 to receive 10% off your order on the Kauai Farmacy online shop.

XPT Coach of the Week: Kimmy Moss

Name: Kimmy Moss

Age: 29

Hometown: South Riding, VA

Business Name: Briar Woods High School and Loudoun Soccer

Website: https://kimmymoss.svbtle.com

Social Media Handle: @kimmy.moss

Introduction: Tell us about yourself (5 sentences or less)

I am a coach, a teacher, a lifelong learner, and an athlete who loves to play, compete and connect with others.  I am enthusiastic about life!!  I find tremendous beauty and fulfillment in embracing challenge and continually pursuing optimization – not just as an athlete, but as a human being.  I played NCAA Division I college soccer and ran track for George Mason University, where I earned my BA & MA in Communication, and was a Communication professor for 4 years.  I am passionate about helping others actualize their best life.

What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc. to teach your clients?

At this time, definitely the breath work because of its accessibility anywhere and everywhere.  It has been really cool to see how empowering better breathing mechanics and consciousness of breath has impacted my athletes, my friends and my family.  As helpful as it’s been for my high school soccer players, it’s been equally – if not more! – exciting to see how much it has reduced anxiety and improved performance for my 9 and 10 year old soccer players.  It’s as if basic breath work has granted them superpowers!

How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients?

XPT completely opened up my perspective to the infinite ways in which we can all strive to live a greater life.  For a long time I was biased to the physical pursuit of excellence.  I now know that it’s not just the physical, or the mental, or the spiritual pursuit to be better; it is a culmination of all of these things, and ultimately a balance of drive and compassion.  I now understand that the depth to which we can FEEL and expand in one compartment, can and will lend itself to greater expansion in all other compartments.  This perspective also taught me the power of community, and has touched every way in which I navigate my life, and the lives of those that I teach and coach.

What were the ways you were immediately able to implement XPT learnings  into your training following your XPT certification course?

Immediately following the XPT certification course, I started implementing breath work on a daily basis.  It has been transformational.  But beyond breath work, I was inspired to explore movement and my connection to nature on a much deeper level.  Even though I regularly attend CrossFit classes, hike, and walk/run, I started embracing all the different expressions of movement that I feel intuitively and spontaneously drawn to (i.e. headstands, monkey bars, balancing, allowing moments of flow, etc!).  I have found tremendous joy and freedom in this exploration, and it’s just been really fun.  I feel like I can now access movement in a way that energizes me instead of drains me, and that has truly been transcending to the rest of my life.

Anything else you want to tell us? A quote you remember from certifications? A cool client story? A personal story as it pertains to your XPT life? Etc.

Oh gosh!  It’s so hard to articulate JUST how profoundly Laird and Gabby’s influence has been on me.  I could easily share 50, but here are two simple expressions that really moved me from this past experience in Miami.  The first would be Laird telling me to repeatedly say, “This is my house” while in the ice bath.  And the second would be every time during pool training when Gabby would remind me, “You’re okay.”  There is something so ethereal about the way in which Laird and Gabby guide you in the moment.  Their ability to help you own any particular moment for what it is and where you are, while simultaneously encouraging you to push past your threshold, is something that I appreciate and admire so much about them.  This goes without saying… the trust embedded in the culture of the XPT community is so intensely present, it’s almost effortless to continually push yourself to be better.

Easy Grain-Free Meatballs (That Makes Many Meals)

There’s no question protein is an essential component in the muscle-building equation. We all put a lot of work into our training, and we need to be just as conscientious when it comes to our nutrition.

According to the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, proper protein intake can “help to promote healthy aging, appetite regulation, weight management, and goals aligned with athletic performance.” And, of course, eating high-quality protein is of utmost importance for our health and performance, as well.

So how do we get adequate protein given our busy schedules?

Meatballs!

No joke—meatballs are easy to make, versatile, and freeze well. This recipe makes approximately 32 grain-free meatballs. You’ll have plenty for dinner, for lunch leftovers, and (once cooked and cooled) for the freezer. So, you can make a batch and have meals for the week—or meals for future weeks.

These grain-free meatballs work well in marinara sauce, soup, gravy, or Asian dishes. And since this recipe uses powdered onion and garlic, it requires little prep time. The egg and almond flour help bind the meat, so you won’t even miss the old way of making meatballs with bread crumbs.

You’ll be glad to have these grain-free meatballs around when time is short!

Easy Grain-Free Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs grass-fed ground beef (you can also swap 1lb for turkey, pork, lamb, etc.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or coconut aminos (your preference)

 Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a couple baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine beef, egg, Italian seasoning, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, almond flour, and tamari (or coconut aminos). Mix everything thoroughly so the ingredients are evenly distributed—the best way to do this is with your hands.
  4. Gently form the mixture into roughly one-ounce balls. The more consistent the size of your meatballs, the more evenly they will all cook.
  5. Place the meatballs on tray(s), evenly spaced. Depending on the size of your oven, you may want to get a tray or two cooking while you continue forming the remainder of the meatballs. 
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. You want the meat cooked through, but not dried out.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

FAN RECIPE: Rick Frazer’s Fuel Up Smoothie

Rick’s Fuel Up Ingredients (serving 4-6):

• Organic Cashew Nuts (handful)
• Organic Brazil Nuts (handful)
• Organic Almond Nuts (handful)
• Organic Avocado (½)
• Hemp Hearts (1 tablespoon)
• Athletic Greens (1 tablespoon)
• Orgain Plant Based Organic Protein Powder (2 scoops)
• Vital Proteins Collagen (2 scoops)
• Chaga (1 teaspoon)
• Om Cordyceps (1 cap ful)
• Maca Powder (1 teaspoon)
• Organic Fresh Kale (bunch)
• Organic Fresh spinach (bunch)
• Laird’s Coconut Creamer (½ tablespoon)
• MCT Oil 100% Organic Coconut (1 squirt)
• Organic Frozen Bananas (1 medium sized)
• Organic Chia Seeds (1 to 2 tablespoons)
• Organic Frozen Mixed Berries (2 x handful)
• Organic Turmeric Powder (1 ½ teaspoons)
• Organic Cacao Powder (1 ½ teaspoons)
• Frozen Sambazon Acai (2 pouches)
• Organic Rolled Oats (handful)
• Pacific Organic Hemp Milk (400 mls)
• 1-2 Glasses of Purified Water

Directions:

This makes 1 large Vitamix Jug full which supplies us with 2 – 16 ounce glasses for pre-workout (take 90 minutes before working out) and then 2 full Vitamix Bottles @ 500mls each for 2 post workout shakes (taken within 20 minutes of workout completion).

I take 1 pre-workout glass and 1 post-workout out bottle and my wife the other glass and bottle. So ingredients above are for essentially 4 shakes. And there is always a little left over for 1 or 2 small 6-ounce glasses for the mother in law or kids 😉

I take these every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before and after Gabby’s HighX Class.

 

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken with Basil and Tomato

This Instant Pot shredded chicken is great to feed a whole family, but also works well even if you’re cooking for one. The leftovers can serve as lunch or quick dinners and can be used in a variety of ways. But what makes this particular Instant Pot shredded chicken recipe special is the basil.

Basil has been shown to be both a natural antimicrobial and an anti-inflammatory. And in one interesting study, rabbits first exposed to oxidative stress and then provided with fresh basil leaves demonstrated a decrease in blood sugar and an increase in antioxidant activity. Oxidative stress is suspected to be involved in diseases ranging from Parkinson’s and cancer to chronic fatigue and depression. So, it may just be that something as simple as basil consumption can help us stave off a number of illnesses.

While fresh basil can get expensive to buy on a regular basis, growing your own is surprisingly easy. All you need are some small pots and a sunny window. The added green to both your diet and your scenery will do you good. So, try to get your hands on some fresh basil for this Instant Pot shredded chicken—your taste buds and your health will be glad you did.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken with Basil and Tomato

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes 

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 3 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Select “saute” on the Instant Pot (leave it at the “normal” level).
  2. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil to the Instant Pot and let it melt.
  3. Add chicken breasts, onion, and garlic. Cook until the chicken is slightly browned and the onions are turning translucent.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, basil, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Stir to combine.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the vent knob to “sealing.”
  6. Set Instant Pot to “poultry” for 20 minutes.
  7. When it is done cooking, you can let the pressure release naturally for about ten minutes or do an instant pressure release with the vent.
  8. The chicken breasts will be easy to shred with two forks. Shred the meat completely and mix thoroughly with the sauce.
  9. Serve in lettuce wraps, with a side of grilled veggies, or over roasted spaghetti squash. This chicken is incredibly versatile and reheats well.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

XPT Coach of the Week: Amy Shenk Morrison

Name: Amy Shenk Morrison

Age: 28

Hometown: Denver Co. but originally from Houston, Tx

Business/Gym Name: True Core Health 

Website: truecorehealth.com

Social Media Handles: @truecorehealth

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XPT: Introduction – Tell us about yourself:

Amy: I am a holistic health specialist! I am proud to now combine my background in mental health with my coaching certificate from XPT. I utilize information from my counseling background and XPT coaching background to best serve my clients and students.  I love to coach others to become their best selves and I relax and restore myself through spending time outdoors, traveling, or through reading and writing in a local coffee shop.

XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc. to teach your clients?

Amy: I love utilizing breath work with my clients. So many people are unfamiliar with improving their breathing so I love seeing the look on their faces when they actually get how important it is.

XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

Amy: XPT has completely changed the way I think about human growth and potential. I am continually challenged to become a better version of myself through the connections I have made with XPT. The XPT community is unlike anything I have experienced, I am encouraged to better myself because of the passion for excellence that is emphasized throughout the company. This emphasis trickles down to my own clients and they are better because I am always working to improve myself.

XPT: Anything else you want to tell us?  A quote you remember from Certifications? A cool client story?  A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life? Etc.

Amy: My favorite quote from training is one that is emphasized by PJ, it is a quote from Laird and it is so simple, yet so powerful: “Don’t be a liability”. I am inspired to train myself mentally, spiritually, and physically through this quote.

XPT Coach of the Week: Lindsay Ashmun

Name: Lindsay Ashmun

Age: 40

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Business/Gym Name: groundcontrolnyc

Social Media Handles: @groundcontrolnyc

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XPT: Tell us about yourself: 

Lindsay: I own a personal training business called groundcontrol in New York City through which I specialize in strength conditioning and mobility for clients using the modalities of pilates, yoga, primal movement and various somatic movement approaches. I am a lifelong athlete and I toured around the world as a professional modern dancer for many years.  I grew up on a farm in Virginia eating the food my family raised. I went to a Buddhist university in Colorado where I made a lot of performance art and learned how to meditate.  I abhor the smell of Patchouli.  I prefer to drive a manual transmission.  I am a proud single mom of my awesome 8 year old son, Jackson.

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XPT: What's your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc to teach your clients?

Lindsay: I require steady focus and presence from my clients during physically demanding sessions. My goal with every client is to help develop more embodiment and ownership of one’s physical expression and fitness goals by building clearer interoceptive and proprioceptive awareness.  Sometimes this comes from powerful exertion of energy in movement, or the opposite: stilling the body to study the BREATH.  XPT illuminates and seamlessly weaves breath awareness throughout the whole landscape of the sessions.  Breathwork is integral to optimum performance and optimum recovery.  By staying conscious of the breath and spine as the foundation of all movement, we always know where we are, where we came from and keep a steady sense of progression towards our goals.

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XPT: How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients? 

Lindsay: As a trainer, my aim is to help my clients re-pattern movement and breathing habits in a way that fortifies their lives with more strength, support, range, and adaptability.   XPT has systemized a lifestyle that does not separate performance from recovery, but loops them together so that there is a fluid interdependency between the two.  In a time when health and fitness is fractured by an excess of options and locations on what to do and where to do it, XPT gives us a clear map, one which shows we have everything we need to thrive and live a vibrant life within our reach.

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XPT: Anything else you want to tell us?  A quote you remember from Certifications? A cool client story?  A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life?

Lindsay: Laird’s quote: “Don’t be a Liability”.  PJ Nestler shared this with us in the training and I think I could say this to myself and my clients multiple times a day.  It is a reminder to respect our bodies as the living, growing, changing organism that it is… to reconsider the stress that we choose to put upon ourselves and ask if it is ‘constructive’ or ‘destructive’.  Life constantly delivers stressful circumstances that are out of our control, so it is imperative to train in a way that prepares us for anything. Train to develop tolerance, strength and deep inner calm, and be rewarded by more ease and good sustainable energy.

The Science-Based Benefits of Meditation (and How to Get Started)

It seems like nearly everybody is into meditation these days. There are apps, YouTube videos, and experts everywhere. Meditation is no longer just for yoga class and members of the new age movement. Everybody from Katy Perry to Clint Eastwood to Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs has mentioned meditation as a tool in their success.

So, what is meditation good for? And why should you consider it when picking the tools to help you reach your goals?

While meditation and mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years, we’d like to look at some of the modern science and research to help you decide if it’s for you.

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What Is Meditation Good For?

As high performers (both in and out of the gym) many of us deal with pain and injury, the need for proper sleep and recovery, and too much stress. We’re also likely to be interested in decreasing inflammation in our bodies and avoiding disease.

With all that in mind, consider the following:

  • A 2014 meta-analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation programs improved anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • A 2014 study published in Sleep determined meditation to be a viable treatment for chronic insomnia.
  • A 2011 study on IBS sufferers found that meditation “[had] a substantial therapeutic effect on bowel symptom severity, improves health-related quality of life, and reduces distress.”
  • In a 2010 study, not only did participants report an increased sense of well-being due to meditation, but their bloodwork also showed a decreased stress load.
  • A 2016 study published in JAMA found that a regular practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction resulted in “greater improvement in back pain and functional limitations” for people suffering from chronic low-back pain. Which backs up a 2013 meta-study that concluded meditation could decrease pain intensity for chronic sufferers.
  • A 2013 meta-study concluded that meditation-based therapies for smoking cessation appeared to be useful, though they felt more research should be done.
  • A 2012 meta-study reported that meditative therapies were effective for reducing anxiety symptoms.

Currently, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a U.S. government agency) is also supporting studies investigating the application of meditation for fibromyalgia, stress reduction for multiple sclerosis sufferers, and reduction of post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches, and blood pressure. It is also being further investigated for its potential benefits to the immune system.

As you can see, the application for meditation is large, continues to expand, and is relevant to anyone pursuing health and performance.

How to Get Started with Meditation

Ironically, getting started with meditation can be stressful. How do you know what to do? How long do you do it for? What if you get it “wrong”?

Thankfully, it’s actually very easy to get started with meditation, and there’s literally no way to do it wrong. All you have to do to start is create an awareness of your breathing:

  1. Find a quiet place. Choose somewhere you can remain undisturbed for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position. You can sit in a chair or on the floor, but you don’t need to worry about “posing” in a specific way.
  3. Breathe in and out. Focus on the sensation, sound, feeling, temperature, frequency, depth, or whatever else you want. Make this time simply about breathing.
  4. Keep an open mind. The thing that most frequently stops beginners is self-judgment—thinking that if you get distracted, you are somehow meditating “wrong.” But, in truth, the act of getting distracted and reorienting yourself to your breath is meditation. You are not doing it wrong—you are doing it.

There are, of course, many more formal ways of meditating—from Zazen to Kundalini to Transcendental. We recommend you explore a variety of styles and forms to find what brings you the most benefit. Apps like Headspace and guided meditation videos on YouTube can be useful tools to initiate your exploration.

But if that all feels overwhelming—just breathe.

Is Meditation a Tool for You?

Meditation bridges the gap between our mental and physical selves. Therefore, it can be a valuable tool in everything from managing daily stress to performing under pressure on the competitive stage. Regularly spending time meditating can also help you to determine what matters to you most, be kinder to yourself, and develop compassion for others.

Sounds like some big claims, right? Well, meditation hasn’t been around for thousands of years for no reason.

Cucumber and Green Pea Side Salad

This cucumber and green pea side salad is a grown-up and highly nutritious take on that much-maligned vegetable from our childhood. It’s no wonder many of us refused to eat peas when we were children—they were never offered to us in such a crispy, fresh, and enjoyable way.

The green pea is a surprisingly powerful little food—it is high in fiber and a quality source of protein. (In fact, a 2015 study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a pea protein supplement was comparable to whey protein when it came to building muscle.) And compared to other vegetables (although, technically, the pea is as legume), it is quite high in protein. 100g of cooked carrots only contains 0.8g of protein, while 100g of peas contains 5.2g of protein.

On top of that, peas are full of antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and omega-3 fat. All in all, those little green peas offer a big dose of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrition.

And just trust us—if these little green guys weren’t your favorite growing up, give this cucumber and green pea side salad a try. We promise it will be an entirely different experience this time around.

Note: as mentioned, green peas are indeed legumes (like chickpeas, beans, and peanuts), so if you are avoiding legumes, you can still try this salad without the peas.

Cucumber and Green Pea Side Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups mixed spring greens
  • 4 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup green peas, shelled (preferably fresh, but frozen can work)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Goat cheese (optional, if you feel you tolerate goat cheese well)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, toss the greens, radishes, cucumber, and sweet peas.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad. Toss again until thoroughly coated.
  3. Serve in one large bowl or portioned out into four individual bowls.
  4. If you feel okay eating goat cheese, crumble a little on top before serving.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

XPT Coach of the Week: Joshua Warren

Name: Joshua Warren

Age: 23

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

Business: ATB Performance

Email: atb.performance1@gmail.com

Social Media: Instagram – @joshua.warren_

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XPT: Tell us about yourself:

Joshua Warren: I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Maryville College in Physical Education where I played college football and coached Strength & Conditioning for softball in one season. Afterwards, I relocated to Southern California to pursue a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Strength & Conditioning at California State University, Fullerton. I have since competed in CrossFit and Weightlifting and have been coaching for three years in both CrossFit settings and Weightlifting Clubs. I use my experiences as an athlete, coach, and student to serve others and bring a holistic, evidence-based approach to building a lifestyle that facilitates the highest performance possible.

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XPT: What’s your favorite XPT related tip, discipline, activity, etc. to teach your clients?

​Joshua Warren: My favorite XPT related discipline to teach my clients is movement. Movement is a practice that I can teach immediately, regardless of where I’m working, who I’m working with, or what equipment I have available. Movement is fundamental to health because the opposite is what leads to an insurmountable amount of complications. Many people have heard “if you don’t move it, you lose it.” I really enjoy teaching clients different ways to move, challenging them in various ways, and showing them what is truly possible with their body.

How has XPT impacted you and/or your clients?

​Joshua Warren: XPT has impacted many of my clients. Breath work has been huge for my clients, and XPT has impacted my ability to coach them safely and effectively through these sessions. I have had multiple clients tell me how drastically the breathing that we practice has carried over into their regular day-to-day work in their office. They tell me about how they are learning to manage their stress and control their responses to the unexpected. I have also had a few clients report that they have felt a huge improvement in their performance in their endurance races that they compete in, and we’ve only worked together for one month!

XPT: Anything else you want to tell us? A quote you remember from the Certification? A cool client story? A personal story as it pertains to XPT in your life?

​Joshua Warren: My favorite quote from the XPT Coach Certification was “Don’t be a liability.” The word liability must be defined to fully explain why I love this quote. Liability is defined as: a person or thing whose presence or behavior is likely to cause embarrassment or put one at a disadvantage. This has a two-fold implication. As a coach, I cannot be a liability to any of my clients. I work my hardest to ensure that I am not putting any of my clients at a disadvantage or hindering their life or performance at all. As an athlete, or healthy human being, I cannot have a hole in my health and fitness. If I have a disadvantage in my health and fitness as an athlete, my performance will show that and when I compete, it’s a straight forward implication. If I have a hindrance in my health and fitness as a healthy human being, this is where the implications are often foggy. A liability in my health and fitness could put me on the couch when I would want to be outside hiking with friends. A liability could put me in the hospital instead of being able to take care of all my responsibilities. A liability could give me a constantly sluggish state of living to where I grow accustomed to it and am unaware how I’m treating others because of it. A liability can show up in several ways as an athlete or a healthy human being. Liabilities are what I am here to highlight, assist with, and work out as a coach.

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XPT CHALLENGE: Ten Minutes in the Morning for Meditation

Often times the drilling, painful sound of our alarm clocks blaring in our ear is the first thing we hear in the morning as we race to get up, get ready for work or hustle off to get the kids to school.  This can be a jarring experience and isn't necessarily the most healthy and effective way to begin anyone's day.

As a result, Gabby Reece is dedicating this week's XPT Challenge to those who could use a little time in the morning to wake up peacefully and spend some quality time meditating or silently thinking.  This can be a very effective way to clear your mind and ease into your day rather than having your anxiety filled thoughts be the first thing you experience in the morning.

Have a listen to Gabby's challenge in the video below and also check out Light Watkins who Gabby likes refer as a great person to introduce meditation to those who aren't necessarily entirely familiar or practiced.

How to Figure Out What to Quit in Your Life (and Why)

Many of us struggle with knowing when it’s “okay” to quit something and exactly what to quit when our lives get over-full. Quitting is seen (most often by ourselves) as weakness and as failure. We expect ourselves to do “all the things,” and even more than that, we expect ourselves to do all the things well.

But really “quitting” is simply a negative word for a strategy that is highly useful in our learning process and in achieving success in just about anything. That strategy—is prioritization.

When we quit well, we are simply prioritizing and focusing on the things that are important to us.

But that’s gets us to the bigger question, right? How do we quit well? How do we know what’s truly important to us? What things are we doing that are contributing to our future and what things are a detriment to our lives? Sometimes it can be surprisingly hard to decipher.

So, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of quitting and how we can figure out what to quit in our lives—and why.

Make Sure You’re Barking Up the Right Tree

Much has been made in recent years of “grit” and how it’s required for long-term success. But it’s also possible to mistakenly label “stubbornness” and/or “denial” as grit. Sticking to something simply because you’ve invested time, effort, and money (a “sunk cost” in economic terms) is not a reason to stay that course in the long run.

Just because you’ve been training with the same coach for the last five years, doesn’t mean that person is the right coach if you’re not reaching your goals. Just because you’ve followed a certain diet and broadcast it all over social media, doesn’t mean it’s the right diet if your body isn’t feeling its best. Just because you’ve always dreamed of being a basketball player, doesn’t mean you should ignore how well you do every time you play beach volleyball.

Tip: Take some time to read Seth Godin’s “The Dip” for more discussion on how to determine what to quit—and when to stick through the hard parts.

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Many of us get involved with charities, volunteerism, children’s programs, clubs, and local government to improve the lives of people around us. But before we can truly make the world a better place for others, we must first take care of ourselves. We cannot continue to give in the long run, if we are racing against our own depleting health and energy stores.

It can be particularly hard to quit these types of activities because we feel a deeper sense of obligation and they may be an expression of our personal values. But it may sometimes be necessary to at least dial back on these commitments or to take leave of these responsibilities for a short time until you have the rest of your priorities in order. You’ll only be able to keep helping others if you put your own oxygen mask on first, right?

Tip: Don’t make it mean anything that you’re quitting a volunteer position. You are not a bad person. You’ve been giving everything you have—and you can always volunteer again in the future.

Who Are You Doing It For?

Don’t answer that one too quickly. Get yourself a journal and pull out your calendar or appointment book. Look through your schedule and ask yourself the question for every commitment you have scheduled this week: “Who am I doing this for?”

If you’re doing it for you, that’s great. You might be doing it for your health, for your family, or in support of one of your core values. That’s all great. But if you have obligations that aren’t for you or aren’t in support of you in a direct way, then those are items you should label as having quitting potential.

Tip: Doing things in an attempt to make others happy, make others proud, or spite others is a sure-fire path to your own unhappiness and frustration in the long haul. Make sure “you do you.”

Imagine Yourself a Lotto Winner

Sometimes we reveal our innermost secrets in the way we joke about what we would do “if we won the Lotto.” We’d spend a year traveling in Europe. We’d tell our boss what we really think. We’d read more books. We’d train for a marathon. We’d eat grass-fed rib-eyes every day for lunch. We’d never spend another minute stuck in traffic.

So, ask yourself, what would you do if you won the Lotto? What would stay in your life and what would go? Now, consider that again on a smaller scale. Maybe you should finally use some vacation days and spend time hiking around Europe. Maybe you can quit the lattes and spend that money on higher quality groceries. Maybe you can sell one of your cars, use public transportation to avoid the traffic, and read those books on your daily commute.

Tip: Don’t reserve your imagination for flights of fancy. Get imaginative about your everyday life. Take the nuggets from your fantasies that are really your soul speaking and figure out what it’s telling you about what to quit.

So, What’s Your Answer on What to Quit?

Knowing what to quit and when to stick to something for the long haul can be a substantial challenge. The best and most important thing you can do is get real with what you want and need—being honest with yourself will get you on the right path toward health, fitness, and happiness.

XPT CHALLENGE: Make the First Thing You Eat Perfect

Start your day off right!  Whether that's with a great cup of coffee or a perfect, nutritious breakfast; be sure that you set the precedent each day that what you are going to eat is going to be good for your and serve a purpose in your diet.  And that begins with the first thing you eat or drink each morning.

This week, Gabby Reece sets out our XPT Challenge of making the first thing you put in your mouth each day perfect.  Start your day with the right ingredients that are going to set you up for success the rest of the day.  Plan ahead, think about what you're putting into your body and you'll be surprised how easy is for the rest of your day to follow on the path to success in terms of your diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

Let us know what you plan to start your day with and how it goes for you in the comments below.

6 Research-Backed Benefits to Sauna Post Workout

While many of us instinctively gravitate to the sauna post workout as a way to relax, recover from hard work (physical and/or mental), or otherwise indulge ourselves in something that simply feels good, it turns out that it makes complete sense for both our bodies and our minds to crave a bit of sauna time.

Here are six ways spending time in the sauna post workout is a good thing for us—and the science to back up each of these sauna benefits.

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1. Sauna Time Can Improve Our Longevity

Research published in 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine tracked 2,315 Finnish men, their heart health, and their sauna habits over twenty years. The group of men with the lowest mortality rate were those who got time in the sauna four to seven times per week. The men who frequented the sauna more often saw a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Researchers believe this heart-protecting benefits comes from the increased heart rate we experience while the sauna, which correlates to performing low- to moderate-intensity exercise.

2. Sauna Can Improve Our Endurance and Aerobic Capacity

There are two ways in which the sauna can help us when it comes to our endurance training. First, a 2007 study done on male distance runners showed that regular sauna bathing increased time to exhaustion by 32%, and that plasma and red blood cell volumes increased. So, basically, sauna can help us perform better by increasing our blood volume.

Additionally, it is believed that spending time in the sauna can help us improve our tolerance to heat. This means we’ll be better able to handle the natural increase in body temperature that comes with prolonged physical efforts and exposure to heat while competing or performing.

3. Sauna Can Stimulate Our Muscle Growth

Heat therapy or “hyperthermia” has been shown to increase the production of “heat shock proteins.” Heat shock proteins repair damaged proteins in our bodies. They also protect us against oxidative damage. The same study also showed an improvement in muscle growth. So, essentially, this sort of therapy can help reduce muscle breakdown and increase muscle building.

On top of that, a 1988 study showed an increase in growth hormone after exposure to the sauna and a 2007 study showed exposure to heat can increase insulin sensitivity and therefore help you build and maintain lean body mass and regulate sugar.

4. Sauna Can Be Good for Our Brain, Too

Spending time in the sauna causes our body to release more norepinephrine. Proper norepinephrine levels are believed to help protect us from everything from Alzheimer’s to migraines.

Alongside, norepinephrine our level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (also known as BDNF) also increases with both exercise and heat exposure. This is important as BDNF has been shown in research to be associated with the birth of new neurons and an increase in cognitive function.

5. Sauna Can Cleanse Our Skin

It’s important for our skin to be healthy not just for aesthetic reasons, but because it protects us from the environment and microbes, and also helps regulate our body temperature. Getting in a good sauna allows your skin to clean itself and remove dead skin cells. Not only will your skin “breathe” better and protect you better, but it will look better, too.

P.S. On a related note, the heat of a sauna can trigger our sebaceous glands, which are located on our scalp. The sebaceous glands release compounds that make our hair appear shiny and healthy.

6. Sauna Post Workout Can Boost Our Immune System

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics examined the impact of traditional Finnish sauna bathing on the immune system. Research subjects included nine trained runners and nine non-athletes. After just one sessions of fifteen minutes in the sauna, subjects showed increased white blood cells. And, interestingly, the athletes showed more improvement to their white blood cell count than the non-athletes.

The Conclusion on Sauna Post Workout

Whether you have access to a traditional (or “Finnish”) sauna or a modern infrared sauna, you can experience all these benefits and more. It’s certainly worth a try—and given the near guarantee that the sauna will relieve stress, you’ll feel better in some way, no matter what! And there may also be social benefits to sauna bathing if you are spending that time with others.

If you’re new to the sauna, just take it slowly. Don’t amp up the heat too high or too quickly, stand up slowly when your time is up, and stay hydrated. If you have a history of health or heart troubles, check in with your doctor first before prescribing yourself time in the sauna

What Is Kombucha and Why Is It Good for You?

While kombucha used to be something relegated to health-food stores, it has become an increasingly popular and mainstream beverage in the last couple years. Many tout both its health benefits as well as its flavor (many even find it to be a satisfying substitute for alcoholic beverages).

So, what is kombucha? Where does its unique tart and effervescent flavor come from? And why should you consider trying it?

Read on for the answers to all of that and more.

First, What Is Kombucha?

Simply put, kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It is typically fermented from sweetened green or black tea. The fermentation process produces vinegar, trace amounts of alcohol, and carbonation—all of which combine to form kombucha’s signature tangy flavor. This fermentation process—as with foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi—also produces probiotics.

Kombucha may have originally been created as recently as two hundred years ago or as long ago as two thousand years. Regardless of its history and origin, kombucha has been considered to have health benefits for a long time (and by a variety of cultures).

Probiotics are probably the biggest reason most people consume kombucha, and what it is best known for. Probiotics can help restore balance to the flora in your gut, and therefore aid in everything from digestion, to inflammation, to weight loss, and more.

But kombucha isn’t just good for us for this sole reason; there’s a lot more to this unique drink. So, let’s talk through four reasons besides probiotics that you might try kombucha, and the science behind these claims.

1. Improved Liver Health

Kombucha is rich in antioxidants and appears to have a powerful (and positive) impact on our livers. Studies done on rats appear to show that kombucha consumption REDUCES THE TOXICITY OF KNOWN LIVER STRESSORS. This may be due to kombucha’s antioxidant properties or because it increases the body’s ability to METABOLIZE CERTAIN SUBSTANCES.

This means drinking kombucha can be a double whammy when it comes to alcohol consumption. In part, because many people use kombucha as a substitute for alcohol and, therefore, reduce their alcohol consumption. And also, in part, because of the way kombucha powers up our livers.

2. Empowered Immune System

The “vinegar” flavor of kombucha actually comes from acetic acid. Kombucha can also be high in polyphenols, since it comes from tea. Both acetic acid and polyphenols have been shown to KILL BACTERIAthat are harmful to us. So, kombucha offers a one-two punch of providing you with “good’ bacteria through its probiotic dose, while also eliminating the “bad” bacteria.

3. Fighting Diabetes

2012 STUDY examined the impact of kombucha on diabetic rats. The researchers discovered that feeding these rats kombucha slowed the digestion of carbs and, therefore, reduced the rats’ blood sugar levels. It also seems to have boosted the function of their livers and kidneys.

4. Fighting Cancer

Multiple studies have shown that the administration of kombucha could prevent the growth of cancerous cells. A 2013 STUDY published in Biomedicine & Preventative Nutrition even stated “that kombucha may be useful for the prostate cancer treatment/prevention.”

Although not completely proven, kombucha is believed the polyphenols it contains are able to block the growth of cancer cells. This may relate back to the fact that tea drinkers in general are LESS LIKELY TO DEVELOP CERTAIN CANCERS.

Conclusion on Kombucha

If you’ve never tried kombucha before, keep an open mind. Remember, it can be very tangy and is also effervescent. This is also what can make it an enjoyable way to hydrate, though, if you are giving up carbonated drinks or alcohol. Many people find kombucha to be a healthy and satisfying alternative for “happy hour.”

Unlike in the past, kombucha is widely available in almost every grocery store and in a wide range of flavors. Look for varieties that are lower in sugar if you plan to consume kombucha regularly. If you make your own kombucha, please do so carefully—always sanitize your equipment and closely observe your fermentation process.

4 Tips for Staying Healthy Despite Sitting at a Desk All Day

The vast majority of us spend the vast majority of our day sitting. Even if we don’t work at a desk, we spend time in the car, on the couch, on the train, in the coffee shop—the places in life where we sit are virtually endless. It’s simply the way modern life is primarily designed.

But it is possible to be healthy despite sitting all day. And while our workdays may already feel over-full, it’s surprisingly simple to work in some healthy movement habits that can make a world of difference not only in how our bodies feel, but also in how effective our thinking is.

Curious how not sitting could be a benefit to your body and your brain? Read on.

1. Go Pomodoro

The “POMODORO TECHNIQUE” is a method of time management created by Francesco Cirillo. The simplest version of it is that you work for twenty minutes and then take a five-minute break. Cirillo named the technique after his kitchen timer, which was shaped like a tomato (“Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato”).

You, of course, are free to use any timer device you like (probably something on your phone will be the easiest), but the idea is that you take a “break” every twenty minutes throughout your entire day. And, if we are focusing on optimizing our physical and mental health despite sitting, that means when your timer goes off:

  • Stand up and stretch (especially your upper back and hamstrings)
  • Walk once around the block
  • Do twenty squats
  • Do twenty push-ups
  • Spend five minutes practicing deep breathing
  • Do walking lunges to the water cooler and back
  • Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and follow a guided meditation

Pick an activity you feel would be beneficial to you—physically or mentally—and do it on these five-minute breaks. Every couple of hours, take a longer break.

This may sound like a lot of “down” time from the real work you have at the office, and your inner voice might tell you this Pomodoro thing is going to get in the way of your productivity. But just give it a try—you may be surprised just how much more productive you become when you take more “timeouts” over the course of your day.

2. Don’t Buy a Water Bottle

Common advice when it comes to staying hydrated is to buy a big water bottle, keep it at your desk, and slowly drink its contents over the course of the day. There’s nothing wrong with that advice, but we suggest you experiment with completely ignoring it.

Instead, get yourself an 8-ounce glass and a pad of sticky notes. Make a commitment to a certain number of ounces of water you’re going to drink each day. We recommend 1/3 to 1/2 your weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50-75 ounces of water each day. You might begin by aiming for 64 ounces per day. That means you are committing yourself to filling that 8-ounce glass eight times per day. The point of which is—you therefore have to get up to walk to the water cooler or dispenser eight times per day.

So, don’t buy a big jug. Keep a reasonably sized glass or bottle at your desk. Jot down a hash mark each time you go to fill it, and don’t stop talking “water walks” until you’ve hit your daily goal.

3. Eat at Your Desk and Walk at Lunch

Chances are, if you’re generally working on making healthier choices, you may already be packing your lunch every day. If you can swing it, eat your lunch at your desk during your work hours and save your lunch time for walking. Or, if that makes eating feel stressful (which we don’t want), reserve thirty minutes of your lunch time for eating and thirty minutes for walking. Just walk fifteen minutes away from the office, turn around and come back.

However long you walk, don’t worry about walking at a fast pace. If you have fresh clothes to change into and want to turn this time into a “workout,” that’s fine. But you can also walk at an easier pace and just let your mind wander. Try not to bring your cell phone, or at least keep it out of sight in your pocket or purse. This walk break is for both your mind and your body. Being free of the restrictions of your office and desk will get your blood flowing, and possibly your problem-solving brain juices, as well. We find some of our best and most creative thoughts come when we’re walking (also in the shower, but that’s a different article).

4. Don’t Sit—Stand

Standing desks were all the rage for a while, but not without reason. Sitting (and most of us sit “badly,” at that) disrupts everything from our posture to our digestive system to our nervous system. Switching to a standing desk can help with a lot of these issues.

That said, transitioning from sitting for eight hours per day to standing for eight hours is not something you should do all at once. It’s actually possible to hurt yourself by standing still given that your muscles and tendons will not be used to this. And, even in the long run, standing for eight hours a day is not something great to aspire to, either. It still represents a stationary lifestyle, as opposed to one filled with a variety of movement. Given that, the healthiest thing may be to alternate between the sitting and standing (and also integrate the frequent movement breaks we’ve been talking about).

So, yes, investigate replacing your traditional desk with a standing desk, but make sure it’s one you can easily adjust between sitting and standing heights. When you first start standing, do it for small periods at a time (you’ll be surprised how tired it may make you or how cranky your feet or calves may become), and then slowly increase your standing time. If your body does feel tight in certain areas, use your Pomodoro breaks to walk out the tension or do appropriate stretches.

Which Tip Are You Going to Try?

While each of these four tips is a little different, there is a common theme—break up your day with healthy habits. Don’t spend all day sitting in one place or one position. Move around, change your breathing, change your position and posture, change your thoughts. See if you can combine healthy habits into bite-sized chunks of activity: hydration and movement by going to the water dispenser, deep breathing and movement by going for walks outside, etc.

By “resetting” yourself in all these different ways, you will have a more productive and creative workday—and your body will reward you with increased health, mobility, and energy.

 

Weeknight Salmon

Eating fish at least twice a week is highly recommended by both the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The reasons for this are plentiful—reduced inflammation, lower blood presser, lower triglycerides—and one meta-analysis even concluded that eating fatty fish twice per week could reduce your risk of coronary death by 36% and total mortality by 17%.

That’s a big benefit just for introducing some variety to your weekly meal plan. The research recommends we eat fatty fish—things like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines—and do our best to get a variety while avoiding species that may be high in mercury.

So, to help you work more fish into your diet, we’re sharing this quick and easy “weeknight salmon” recipe.

As written, this weeknight salmon recipe serves one, but that just means it is also easily multiplied out to more servings. Just be generous with your vegetables and estimate approximately four ounces of fish per person, and you’ll have plenty to go around. To keep the cook time quick, though, be sure to slice your chard and apples nice and thin.

Weeknight Salmon with Chard, Apple, and Quinoa 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 1

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chard, thinly sliced
  • 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (choose your favorite kind)
  • 1 cup quinoa, already cooked
  • 2 tsp oil of your choice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 salmon fillet, skinless

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place your chard, apple, and quinoa on the pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cumin, then toss thoroughly (it’s easiest to just use your hands).
  3. Season your vegetable-apple mixture with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, season your salmon with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove your pan from the oven, set your salmon fillet(s) on top of your vegetable-apple mix and return the pan to the oven.
  7. Roast 7 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon and your personal preference. Do not overcook your salmon. You want it to easily come apart with a fork, but not have a bunch of white albumin showing up on the top of it.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

XPT CHALLENGE: Bring Your Lunch to Work

This week Gabby Reece challenges us to eliminate some of the impulses we have to get lazy and order out or get take-out food that isn't good for us or doesn't serve a purpose in our diet but bringing our lunch to work every day this week (and beyond).  Whether you're packing up healthy leftovers or cooking a healthy meal ahead of time for tomorrow's lunch, lets avoid the urge to simply get what's quick and easy during a busy work week.  Be sure to take in foods that serve a purpose in our diet and not just to fill a void of an empty stomach.

Try packing your lunch every day this week and let us know how it goes!

Green Apple Green Onion Chicken Salad

Chicken has long been the go-to protein of athletes of all kinds. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t all sometimes get really, really tired of chicken.

This chicken salad is about to change all that.

Put away the dry chicken breasts and broccoli, and instead, enjoy this sweet and snappy apple, onion, and chicken concoction. This salad offers a great blend of macronutrients—protein in the chicken, carbs in the apple, and healthy fats in the mayo—while also serving up a delicious texture and flavor.

Speaking of those healthy fats: while it is possible to find friendlier versions of mayonnaise at the store, the easiest way to ensure your mayo is made with a good quality oil is to make it yourself. Click here for our homemade mayo recipe.

This chicken salad works great in a lettuce wrap, on top of a salad, as a dip for celery sticks, or simply all by itself. So, try it out, and if you like it, double the recipe next time.

Green Apple Green Onion Chicken Salad

Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 green apples
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup homemade mayo or store-bought mayo (that contains no soy or canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut your chicken breast lengthwise so it’s about a half-inch thick. (Alternatively, you could also buy chicken tenders.)
  2. Heat the healthy oil of your choice in a pan on medium heat.
  3. Spice the chicken with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Put the chicken in the pan and cook about 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan, place it in a covered dish or bowl, and refrigerate for thirty minutes or until cooled. (Note: If you are making your own mayo, now would be a great time to do it.)
  6. Dice the apples into small chunks. While it may seem like extra work, the smaller you can make the chunks, the better the chicken salad texture will come out.
  7. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and chop it into half-inch pieces.
  8. Put the chicken in a large bowl and mix together with the apple and green onions.
  9. Add mayo. Mix to fully combine.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

 

XPT CHALLENGE: Do Something Because You Love It

Often times we get caught up in our daily routine and we can find ourselves doing things because we "have to" and not because we love doing them.  Gabby Reece challenges us this week to be sure to do something each day, because you love it and not because it's an obligation or party of your daily routine.  Make time for a hobby you've always wanted to try, or read a book because you really love just checking out and reading.  Start up or continue making time for a sport, an exercise class, an activity that you love to do and that makes you happy.  We're all here for a reason and it's not always to get stuck in the monotony of everyday life.  You have to enjoy and do things that inspire you and things that you love to do, so, no better time than not to start making the time for things you love, courtesy of Gabby's Challenge.

Let us know what you plan to do because you love this week by telling us in the comments below!

Homemade Healthy Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise can be a surprisingly unhealthy food. Who hasn’t spent way too much time reading labels in the mayo aisle? And most of what you find in the store is full of processed soy products and unhealthy vegetable oils. It can be very hard to find a healthy mayonnaise without ordering online, spending a lot of money, and/or spending a lot of time hunting it down locally.

A far easier option is to make your own healthy mayonnaise.

Mayo can be a little intimidating at first. You may have heard stories of the “emulsion” coming apart, but it’s not difficult if you have an immersion blender. This recipe is written for an immersion blender, but you can also easily use a food processor. If you choose to make the mayo by hand, then you’re going to have to commit yourself to some serious whisking. (It is possible, but we’re serious about the serious whisking.)

We recommend using avocado oil for this recipe, but you can use any light-tasting oil. Keep in mind that you probably don’t want to use regular olive oil or any other strong oil as the mayo will take on that flavor and scent. Most of us naturally prefer a neutrally flavored mayonnaise.

Homemade Healthy Mayonnaise 

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cup avocado oil or other light-tasting olive oil
  • 1 egg (at room temperature—this is important)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard or dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Use your food processor or, if you’re using an immersion blender, find a tall glass or metal container. A mason jar can work quite well for this.
  2. Pour in the oil.
  3. Add the egg to the oil.
  4. Add mustard and salt.
  5. Let the ingredients settle for a little bit, like a minute.
  6. Put your immersion blender into the jar/container and make sure it goes all the way to the bottom.
  7. Run the immersion blender, without moving it around, for 20-30 seconds. You should see the mixture very quickly thicken and turn white.
  8. Run the immersion blender again, and this time move it around a bit to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed.
  9. Gently mix in the lemon juice to finish your mayo. Use more or less depending how tangy you prefer your mayonnaise.

Once you have this basic mayo down, then you can get creative. Garlic mayo? Wasabi mayo? Chipotle mayo? Throw a little bit in and experiment. The options are literally endless.

Note: where your food comes from matters. Whenever possible, choose organic ingredients and purchase responsibly raised animal products (i.e. grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, hormone-free dairy, etc.)

4 Tips for Staying Healthy Despite Sitting at a Desk All Day

The vast majority of us spend the vast majority of our day sitting. Even if we don’t work at a desk, we spend time in the car, on the couch, on the train, in the coffee shop—the places in life where we sit are virtually endless. It’s simply the way modern life is primarily designed.

But it is possible to be healthy despite sitting all day. And while our workdays may already feel over-full, it’s surprisingly simple to work in some healthy movement habits that can make a world of difference not only in how our bodies feel, but also in how effective our thinking is.

Curious how not sitting could be a benefit to your body and your brain? Read on.

1. Go Pomodoro

The “Pomodoro Technique” is a method of time management created by Francesco Cirillo. The simplest version of it is that you work for twenty minutes and then take a five-minute break. Cirillo named the technique after his kitchen timer, which was shaped like a tomato (“Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato”).

You, of course, are free to use any timer device you like (probably something on your phone will be the easiest), but the idea is that you take a “break” every twenty minutes throughout your entire day. And, if we are focusing on optimizing our physical and mental health despite sitting, that means when your timer goes off:

  • Stand up and stretch (especially your upper back and hamstrings)
  • Walk once around the block
  • Do twenty squats
  • Do twenty push-ups
  • Spend five minutes practicing deep breathing
  • Do walking lunges to the water cooler and back
  • Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and follow a guided meditation

Pick an activity you feel would be beneficial to you—physically or mentally—and do it on these five-minute breaks. Every couple of hours, take a longer break.

This may sound like a lot of “down” time from the real work you have at the office, and your inner voice might tell you this Pomodoro thing is going to get in the way of your productivity. But just give it a try—you may be surprised just how much more productive you become when you take more “timeouts” over the course of your day.

2. Don’t Buy a Water Bottle

Common advice when it comes to staying hydrated is to buy a big water bottle, keep it at your desk, and slowly drink its contents over the course of the day. There’s nothing wrong with that advice, but we suggest you experiment with completely ignoring it.

Instead, get yourself an 8-ounce glass and a pad of sticky notes. Make a commitment to a certain number of ounces of water you’re going to drink each day. We recommend 1/3 to 1/2 your weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50-75 ounces of water each day. You might begin by aiming for 64 ounces per day. That means you are committing yourself to filling that 8-ounce glass eight times per day. The point of which is—you therefore have to get up to walk to the water cooler or dispenser eight times per day.

So, don’t buy a big jug. Keep a reasonably sized glass or bottle at your desk. Jot down a hash mark each time you go to fill it, and don’t stop talking “water walks” until you’ve hit your daily goal.

3. Eat at Your Desk and Walk at Lunch

Chances are, if you’re generally working on making healthier choices, you may already be packing your lunch every day. If you can swing it, eat your lunch at your desk during your work hours and save your lunch time for walking. Or, if that makes eating feel stressful (which we don’t want), reserve thirty minutes of your lunch time for eating and thirty minutes for walking. Just walk fifteen minutes away from the office, turn around and come back.                                                                                               

However long you walk, don’t worry about walking at a fast pace. If you have fresh clothes to change into and want to turn this time into a “workout,” that’s fine. But you can also walk at an easier pace and just let your mind wander. Try not to bring your cell phone, or at least keep it out of sight in your pocket or purse. This walk break is for both your mind and your body. Being free of the restrictions of your office and desk will get your blood flowing, and possibly your problem-solving brain juices, as well. We find some of our best and most creative thoughts come when we’re walking (also in the shower, but that’s a different article).

4. Don’t Sit—Stand

Standing desks were all the rage for a while, but not without reason. Sitting (and most of us sit “badly,” at that) disrupts everything from our posture to our digestive system to our nervous system. Switching to a standing desk can help with a lot of these issues.

That said, transitioning from sitting for eight hours per day to standing for eight hours is not something you should do all at once. It’s actually possible to hurt yourself by standing still given that your muscles and tendons will not be used to this. And, even in the long run, standing for eight hours a day is not something great to aspire to, either. It still represents a stationary lifestyle, as opposed to one filled with a variety of movement. Given that, the healthiest thing may be to alternate between the sitting and standing (and also integrate the frequent movement breaks we’ve been talking about).

So, yes, investigate replacing your traditional desk with a standing desk, but make sure it’s one you can easily adjust between sitting and standing heights. When you first start standing, do it for small periods at a time (you’ll be surprised how tired it may make you or how cranky your feet or calves may become), and then slowly increase your standing time. If your body does feel tight in certain areas, use your Pomodoro breaks to walk out the tension or do appropriate stretches.

Which Tip Are You Going to Try?

While each of these four tips is a little different, there is a common theme—break up your day with healthy habits. Don’t spend all day sitting in one place or one position. Move around, change your breathing, change your position and posture, change your thoughts. See if you can combine healthy habits into bite-sized chunks of activity: hydration and movement by going to the water dispenser, deep breathing and movement by going for walks outside, etc.

By “resetting” yourself in all these different ways, you will have a more productive and creative workday—and your body will reward you with increased health, mobility, and energy.

XPT CHALLENGE: Do Random Acts of Kindness

This week Gabby Reece invites us to do random acts of kindness for people each day in our XPT Challenge.  Whether we get credit or not, it always makes you feel better to do something nice for people, even if it's the smallest thing.  Sometimes we're thinking about doing it, and Gabby reminds us this week to stop thinking about it and just do it.  Check out the clip below for some examples and inspiration on doing acts of kindness this week from our XPT Challenge.  Let us know how it went in the comments below!

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