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Category: Challenges

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

XPT CHALLENGE: Add More Greens to Every Meal

The leafier, the greener the better: Gabby Reece challenges us this week to add more greens to every meal (maybe not always including breakfast) to increase our health and soak up all of the benefits delicious vegetables have to offer.  Whether its spinach or broccoli, to other green leafy vegetables, find a way to fit them into your regularly scheduled meals for a more balanced, nutritious diet.

Let us know your choice of veggies and what meals you make and check out the full challenge from Gabby in the clip below.

XPT CHALLENGE: Get Your Phone Out of the Bedroom!

This week Gabby Reece invites us to do something we could all afford to do a little bit more of: get quality, uninterrupted sleep!  Who doesn't want more of that??  This begins by getting rid of the biggest distraction to our sleep these days – our phones!  Let's try, if only for this week, but hopefully longer to get our phones out of the bedroom! Avoid the temptation to check emails or cruise through our Instagram feeds before or during sleep time to guarantee a much more relaxed, proper sleep.

Now, some of you will say, "But I use my phone alarm to wake me up for work, or my workout in the morning!" Do yourself a favor and spend the $10-15 on an old-school alarm clock in that case and you can completely remove your phone from the bedroom once and for all!  Give it a shot and let us know how much better you sleep without that tempting florescent light shining in the corner of your eye!

XPT CHALLENGE: Find an Hour a Day to Read or Podcast

We're back with another edition of our weekly XPT Challenge and this week Gabby invites us to enjoy a good book or podcast for at least an hour a day.  Rather than indulging in that guilty pleasure like binging Netflix or maybe even having a cocktail or two on a weeknight (see previous week's Challenge, which is a no-no), Gabby challenges us to educate ourselves and expand our horizons by dedicating a solid hour to be interested and vital in all of the things life has to offer.  Learn from others and take in information that will ultimately make you a better person and more engaged in life.

Watch the clip below for Gabby's full challenge and also you can see a list of Gabby's favorite books and podcasts in case you're looking for some direction in your choices for this week's challenge.  Good luck and enjoy!

Gabby's Book Recommendations

Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall 

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Allana Collen

The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter by Patrick McKeown

When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection by Gabor Maté M.D.

Gabby's Podcast Recommendations

The Tim Ferriss Show feat. Tim Ferriss

The Joe Rogan Experience feat. Joe Roagan

Radiolab feat. Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich

Hardcore History feat. Dan Carlin

TED Talks Daily

Hidden Brain from NPR feat. Shankar Vedantam

XPT CHALLENGE: No Complaining!

This week, Gabby Reece challenges you to join her own personal mission to stop complaining for 21 days.  Gabby is only challenging us to do so for a week, so why not give it a try?  According to Gabby you can actually change your brain physiology by not complaining and focusing on the good in people and things.  With the amount of stress in our daily lives, work, bosses, traffic, etc. this can be tough, but through discipline and focus, Gabby thinks you can do it and invites you to stop complaining for a week and see how you feel!

Check out the full challenge in the clip below and let us know how you stopped complaining this week in the comments!  Good luck!

XPT CHALLENGE: No Booze During the Week!

With the big happening later this afternoon, there are bound to be some alcoholic beverages in your future, and that's okay!  But once it's over and Monday and the rest of the week kick in, let's try and heed Gabby's advice in this week's XPT Challenge and lay off the booze during weekdays.

Yes, workdays can be long and hard and nothing sounds better than an ice cold beer or tall glass of wine after a stressful day, but Gabby wants you to resist, at least for this week.  The trouble with the weeknight drinking is, it sometimes tends to lead to even worse habbits (drinking more than just one, binge eating, disfunctinoal sleeping patterns, etc) so to avoid these disruptive habbits and keep your healthy lifestyle on trap, avoid the booze during the week, per Gabby's Challenge.

Enjoy the game, but get serious come Monday.  Let us know how it goes!

XPT CHALLENGE: Exercise During TV Time

We all have our gulity pleasures.  Whether its your favorite show on Netflix, or surfing the web for the latest news or checking your social media.  While it's not the most productive use of your time, sometimes you just need to check out and endulge in some form of digital media.  But why not make that time somewhat productive while you partake in some mindless TV or computer?

In this week's XPT Challenge, Gabby Reece invites us to get up off the couch or out of bed when watching said TV or computer, get on the floor and exercise while watching TV.  It doesn't take much concentration to do both, so why not get on the floor and do some push ups, sit ups, body weight exercise or stretch out some tight, sore muscles?  It's not a hard thing to do and you can still enjoy your guilty pleasure while making it count in terms of your body and health.

Give it a shot this week and any time you're watching TV or having computer time, do it on the floor while getting a little bit of exercise or stretching in.  Good luck and let us know how it goes!

XPT CHALLENGE: TAKE A LOOK AROUND

For roughly two thirds of the day, our eyes are open.  There’s no denying that.  But the real question is, are our eyes REALLY open?  Life can be busy at times.  Regardless of life’s challenges, it is key for us as humans to stop what we’re doing every so often and take a look around.

As an XPT Team, we find ourselves in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, like Malibu and Kauai.  We’re there to put in the hard work for ourselves, our bodies, our minds and ultimately to help you achieve your goals through extreme performance training.  And while the sandy beaches and clear blue water may be all around us, we often realize when we’re done with the day that because of our busy schedules, we never took a chance to actually enjoy life’s beauties all around us.

This week’s challenge is to take a moment, or five, or thirty, or whatever your schedule, your job, your responsibilities will allow.  But make sure it is free from distraction and in a place where you can simply look around.  Notice things you have never noticed before.  Take joy in the small things around you.  Don’t reach for your phone.  Don’t take a picture.  Don’t think about what happened before you stumbled upon this place.  And don't rush back to the world you briefly put on hold, just a few moments ago.  Check out.  Be in the moment. Reflect on the positive.  Breathe deep.  Be inspired.  And take a look around.

Be sure to leave us a note below and tell us a story of how you take a look around and become inspired by your surroundings each day.

Weekly XPT Challenge: Pack Home Made Snacks

Always in a rush with no time to eat throughout the day?  We get it.  Being constantly on the go, you have less free time and a stronger appetite than someone who is more sedentary.  Under these circumstances, convenience is less of an option and more of a necessity. 

Unfortunately, when we rely on coffee shops, convenience stores, vending machines or the office pantry for a quick fix, we pay three-fold. The price tag for our last-minute purchase puts a far greater dent in our food budget thanks to mark-up charges for service, packaging or pre-assembly. We’re also more likely to make indulgent food choices when our blood sugar is at rock bottom; therefore, we unconsciously consume more calories. The food we purchase on the go has more artificial additives and sugar than if we prepped meals or snacks in advance ourselves.

Our challenge to you this week is to focus on homemade snacks. The first step is to stop by the supermarket and stock up on portable, unprocessed, nutrient-dense items that you can easily store in the center console of your car, briefcase, purse or gym bag.

What snacks save you when your stomach growls and you’re on the go?  Share your favorites in a comment below!

#snackattack #saveyourwaist #fuelyourdaybetter #homemadehealth #noshortcuts

XPT Weekly Challenge: Start Slowly

How your day starts effects how it finishes, particularly when it comes to stress and mood. 

Each morning we get a little bump of the stress hormone, cortisol, which serves as a built-in wake-up call from Mother Nature. If the first few hours after we rise are stress driven, our cortisol level goes up another notch or two higher than it should, which causes it to stay elevated for up to 19 hours thereafter.  This biochemically predisposes us to a more stressful day.

Similarly, studies suggest that if we arrive to the office in good spirits, we are more likely to perform better, complete more work, and leave feeling more positive about the day. If we go into the day with high cortisol levels, we tend to adapt poorly to challenges and struggle with productivity.  Not only does our morning rush linger until the afternoon, but we also maintain our morning mood well into the evening. 

With that said, our challenge to you is to slow down your mornings. Set your alarm five minutes earlier to decompress your morning routine.  Meditate or set optimistic intentions before you leave the house and download lighter, happier music for your morning commute.  

Do you have a start-of-the-day trick that keeps you feeling good?  Share in a comment below. 

 

XPT Weekly Challenge: Front Load Your Nutrition

For most of us the mornings are a fire drill and there is limited time to put together a well thought out, nutritious breakfast. Lunch is usually sandwiched between appointments and meetings and snacks are grab-n-go, if at all.  Then dinner is usually the biggest meal of the day as we are finally able to sit down for a proper and hearty meal after we’ve wrapped up most of the day’s responsibilities.

However, an end-of-the-day feast might work against your best wellness intentions. Food is energy and providing the biggest energy push in the evening can wind us up when we should be winding down near bedtime. The GI tract fatigues just like the rest of the body and giving your system the most work when least able to manage poses difficultly for your digestion.

Current research suggests that large, late meals are less effective for your metabolism and that calorie for calorie early eaters achieve greater weight loss results.  With that being said, this week we challenge you to move your fuel forward. Rather than back-loading our nutrition into the latter half of the day, we are front-loading, eating earlier, or simply spreading our intake more evenly.

Have a strategy that works well for you?  Share in a comment below. 

 

XPT Weekly Challenge: Stay Fresh

With summer winding down and the autumn season upon us, maintaining your daily fruit and vegetable intake should continue to be a priority. While sourcing fresh, local, seasonal produce can be more challenging as the weather cools, there are a few tricks that will help you preserve nutrients and make the most of everything you tote home from the market.

Certain natural compounds, like vitamin C and phytochemicals are particularly sensitive to air and light exposure, temperature, and time. With just 7 days at room temperature a fruit’s vitamin C content and antioxidant potential can be reduced by up to 75%.

That being said, it is important to start now to take care of produce purchases. The first step is to purchase in smaller batches, enough to eat in just a few days rather than stocking up in one visit to the grocery.  Forget the countertop fruit bowl. Instead, store all fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator; this step alone can extend antioxidant life two-fold.

While planning ahead has time management perks, save washing and slicing right before eating.  If you do cut in advance, store at cold-temperatures in a snug-fitting, airtight container.

If you have any other tips for keeping plant-based products at their peak nutritional potency, please share!

#freshisbest #staycool #endlesssummer #plantbasedyearround

XPT Weekly Challenge: Go Raw

There is never a better time to fill up on fruits and vegetables than in the summertime.  They’re brightly colored, refreshing, and abundant.  But the season won’t last much longer, so we’re taking advantage of the nature-made goodness while we can and inviting you to get fresh with us.

This week, make one meal of each day – breakfast, lunch or dinner – completely raw.  Fill it with fruit, veggies, herbs, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Chop, peel, dehydrate, toss, soak, sprout, and blend to your heart’s content.  But opt out of the stovetop, the grill, the microwave, and the oven.  Heat-free prep will preserve more of the ingredients temperature-sensitive enzymes, antioxidants, and micronutrients while giving you a cool, refreshing nutritional boost during these last warm-weather months.

Share your favorite quick and easy raw meal idea in a comment below and get un-cooking!  To explore our recipes click here.

Power Down Early

What’s the last thing you do everyday?

Not too long ago, ‘turning out the lights’ might have been the expected answer.  But nowadays, bedside lamps don’t hold a candle to PED’s (personal electronic devices).  Many of us have televisions in our bedrooms – not to mention smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and laptops in our beds.  We shut down our screens just before shutting our eyes.

So, this week at XPT we are powering down early and leaving at least 15 minutes of screen-free non-electronic time before calling it a night.  Do a bit of light stretching, practice your breathing techniques, meditate – any relaxing activity that doesn’t require an on/off switch.  You’ll give your eyes and your mind a much-needed end-of-the-day hiatus.  You might even fall asleep faster and rest more soundly, too.

Let us know how you plan to fill the tech-free space in a comment and enjoy the unplug!

XPT Weekly Challenge: Check Your Back

We often start the day with proper posture.  But as we move through our daily activities and the hours roll by, our shoulders begin to hunch and our standing and sitting slip into a slouch.

Just as with any exercise or sport, when form fades, discomfort tends to develop.  So this week, we’re paying attention to alignment with our day-to-day tasks. Here are some tips:

1. Use a lumbar support pillow to remind you of how your back should feel for the first few days and then remove it for the last few days to gauge the gap between where you are and where you need to be.

2. Set a mid-morning or mid-afternoon reminder on your mobile or your computer to check your positioning.

3. Ask a work-station neighbor, family member or partner to keep an eye on the straightness (or curvature) of your back.

4. Try a few our XPT’s daily training exercises for back- or core muscles to help you solidify the correct form.  Click here for XPT Daily Trainings.

Have a favorite move or a lifestyle adjustment that’s brought your spine back in line?  Share with us in a comment…

Micro-tweak Your Meals

Resources for meal plans & complete diet overhauls abound.  They offer attractive promises.  However, if the regime they recommend differs too drastically from our usual patterns, it’s less likely we can maintain it in the long-term. 

Here at XPT, we find that progressive evolution tends to be more sustainable than a complete nutritional revolution.  So this week, we’re focusing on one mini-thing per meal.  Each time you sit down, ask yourself, “How can I do this better?”  You might swap your soda for a water, switch your white bread to 100% whole grain, or just leave a bite or two of a too-large portion on the plate.  You choose what feels best.

By improving just tiny details of each meal, you get closer to eating better and feeling your best.  Leave us a comment to let us know what meal micro-tweaks you decided to implement – every tip shared helps the XPT family as a whole. 

 

Caffeine Check

Nothing beats a piping hot cup of coffee upon waking up, sipping on a pot of green tea as you tap away at your morning computer work, or an ice blended frap to breathe life up a busy afternoon.  But how much caffeine do you total by the day’s end? 

We often resolve in the New Year to limit ourselves to just one or two in the a.m. hours, but by midyear the caffeine creep has us racking up a handful of servings – sometimes from processed energy drinks, artificial pre-mixes, and excessively sweetened dessert-style products. 

In reality, certain forms of caffeine – like high-quality unrefined coffee, maca, matcha, and cacao – are loaded with anti-oxidants and therapeutic properties. Likewise, research suggests caffeine has numerous health perks – improved blood sugar control, athletic performance, mental acuity, mood just to name a few. 

But everyone’s threshold is different, and excesses of any stimulant can disrupt sleep, interfere with medications, or contribute to stress and anxiety. 

So, this week we’re tallying our beverages, choosing them wisely, and tapering as needed. 

Get Some Herb

This week XPT is buzzing about herbs – the controversy-free kinds found in your local supermarket – like parsley, dill, oregano, basil and cilantro. 

We often sweep through the produce section dropping spinach, kale, and romaine into our baskets and brush right past the fresh herbs.  Well, these oft-overlooked members of the leafy green family are not to be underestimated.  Fresh herbs pack equal (sometimes greater) amounts of the valuable muscle and bone-supporting minerals iron, calcium and magnesium. Thanks to their vibrant emerald pigments, they also contain the potent phytochemical chlorophyll (parsley especially) which can clear away toxins in the GI tract and counteract harmful free radicals once absorbed within the body.   To boot, fresh herbs impart nature-made flavor to any dish, sans synthetic additive or salts. 

Not sure how to use them?  Stir oregano into your pasta sauce. Add basil to salads and sandwiches.  Press parsley along with the other veggies in your next juice.

Have a favorite tip for working herbs into recipes? Please share with us in a comment. 

#freshisbest #herbalremedy #foodismypharmacy #plantbasedplate

Eat Butter

Eat Butter!  Yes, you read that right. 

In case you haven’t heard, butter is back.  Why?  Turns out, butter isn’t as problematic as once believed. 

In fact, compared to processed, genetically modified, or partially hydrogenated plant oil, butter is clearly superior.  These products often contain synthetic additives, traces of chemical bi-products, coloring and flavoring agents, and trans fatty acids – which can be concerning as contributors to inflammation and cellular damage (read: chronic disease and cancer). 

With a naturally high smoke point, butter is actually better for cooking at high temperatures (baking, grilling, roasting, and frying) than most plant oils, which oxidize when used at high-heat settings. 

But not all spreads at the supermarket are equal.  To get the best benefits, buy butters from organic grass-fed cows.  These butters have the most desirable fat profile – offering omega 3 fatty acids (most often only found in fish and plant based foods) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  CLA is a fatty acid shown to boost fat-burning and protect against disease.  You’ll also make an eco-friendlier purchase and avoid the pesticides and hormones.

 

This Week’s Challenge: Sit Down

Yes, we like everything about stand-up, but this week we’re planning to sit down – at least when it’s time to eat. 

When life gets busy, meals and snacks blend in with the other tasks on our to-do list.  Often, we grab nibbles standing at the kitchen counter, in the office break room, the sidelines of our kids sporting events, and even the supermarket check-out.  Under these rushed circumstances, it’s easy to eat when we aren’t even hungry, grab more indulgent foods, or consume more than required to feel politely satisfied. 

And guess what?  It’s also more difficult for the GI tract to process the nutrition it receives. 

So, for all other parts of your day, please stand, walk, and move.  But for eating opportunities, set a few extra minutes asid.  Find a chair and table (in a dining setting – rather than a desk or a car)  or even a spot on the floor (the yogic asana position is understood to support digestion).  Then sit yourself down and dedicate your time and attention to your meal.  Taste, chew, swallow, pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, and enjoy.

#takeaseatwhenyoueat #singletask #feelyourmeal

To Peel or Not to Peel

With all of our outdoor time in the surf, the wind and the sun, skin protection is a priority at XPT.  But for this week's XPT Challenge, we’re focusing on the skins of our food. 

Certain plant-based foods – like oranges, papaya, banana – have inedible peels.  But others – like sweet potato, apple, mature coconut, and cucumber – have a superficial layer that we sometimes toss out or cut off, when we shouldn’t.  This skin is the part of the produce where phytochemicals (beneficial, anti-oxidant rich compounds) congregate.  The darker these plant-based pigments, the more potent their therapeutic properties. 

The skin also contains valuable insoluble fiber – which stabilizes blood glucose levels, keeps us satisfied between eating opportunities, and promotes digestive health and regularity. 

So, this week we challenge you to stock up on skinny produce (read: fruits and vegetables with skins) and include them in your meals and snacks.  To get the perks without any unwanted extras, opt for organic whenever possible and within your budget and wash well to remove wax and debris. 

Let us know how it goes!

 

Go for the Gold

For the love of Turmeric…

Born underground and easily overlooked in the supermarket produce section, the turmeric root deserves priority placement in your grocery basket and a standing role in your daily diet. 

Why?  Peel away the outside skin and you’ll find a brilliant yellow meaty flesh – thanks to the plant-based phytochemical pigment called curcumin.  This compound is big on color and a recovery goldmine for daily wear and tear or the demands of sport training. 

As an antioxidant, turmeric aids in head-to-toe cell repair.  As an anti-inflammatory, it alleviates discomfort and protects against tissue injury (with joints especially).

Add it to coffee.  Run it through the cold-pressed extractor for juices and shots. Use ground turmeric in soups, marinades and curries.  Got a tasty turmeric recipe?  Please share – we can’t get enough…

Wake Up To Water

Very cold mineral water with ice in a misted glass bottles, dark background, selective focus[/caption]Between SUP, surfing, swimming, and thermal contrast therapies – at XPT we love to get our bodies in the water. But with this week's XPT Challenge, we’re focused on getting the water in our bodies. 

Most of us aren’t getting enough to meet our baseline needs and account for sweat losses with exercise.  Nearly every physiological and biochemical process requires it and our athletic performance depends on it.  So, before breakfast or leaving the house, start every day of this upcoming week by drinking ½ to 1 full liter of room-temperature or warm water. 

Fluid requirements vary from person to person, but but this morning dose will help move you closer to your own unique daily volume goals.  XPT advisor Darin Olien even suggests adding a pinch of Himalayan sea salt for an electrolyte and absorption boost. 

So, wake up, drink up, and let us know if you notice changes in digestion, energy or performance (physical or mental) in a comment.   #hydrotherapy #aquaweek #wakeupdrinkup #sipallday #waterworld #xptlife

This Week’s Challenge: Resistant Starches Go Bananas

 

Let's talk bananas.

Bananas year-round as quick fuel before, during or after training.

At the supermarket, we often look for the brightest yellow bunch on display. These offer a quickly processed and absorbed source of nature-made sugar and potassium – ideal fuel for working muscles.

But for this week's XPT Challenge, we challenge you to drop a few green bananas in your shopping cart. Why? Unlike their older siblings, under-ripe bananas are a valuable source of resistant starch. When consumed, resistant starches are slow-moving and less readily absorbed by our system. This is useful post-workout or between meals – when we want to stabilize blood sugar levels, stay satisfied and control cravings. Eaten alone, they’re not too tasty, but they blend well into smoothies and warm or chilled cereals. Go green with your bananas this week and let us know if you notice a change in your appetite or energy levels.

We want to hear from you!  Share the young banana recipe that works for you in a comment below.

Shut Your Mouth

macro shot of human nose

This Week’s XPT Challenge: Shut Your Mouth & Breathe Through Your Nose

Our mouths are designed for eating and talking.  Breathing is the primary responsibility of the nose.

The mouth is available for backup when nasal breathing is difficult (such as during high intensity exercise) or impossible (when sinuses are congested).  However, we tend to unconsciously over-use the mouth – relying on it as a first – rather than second – line.

Here’s our XPT challenge:  This week, let’s pay attention to our breathing modality.  As much as possible, button your lips and let your nose take the lead.  You’ll protect your airways with warmer and cleaner air, enhance full-body oxygenation, and even appreciate a natural calming effect.

If you have any fav nose-breathing tips or tricks for remembering to keep your trap shut, please share with us in a comment.

To read more about XPT’s breath training, go here. 

XPT Challenge: Take Away Less

Plastic scrap in recycling center prior segration

This week let’s do our part to take away less.

When ordering meals for delivery or “to go” – we often get far more than just food.  Restaurants also provide napkins, containers, utensils, condiments, bags, wrapping, tape, staples, and rubber bands.  Helpful for transport and recreating a dining experience? Yes. Helpful for the planet? Not so much.

Styrofoam and plastic outlive us in landfills or wind up in our water. Biodegradables won’t degrade outside of composting centers.  Even recycled or recyclable products require energy to recycle, and all require energy to manufacture  Instead, opt out of these extras.  Request less packaging.  Bring your own bags.  Decline disposable utensils and napkins and use silverware and table linens from home.

Have another eco-friendly trick?  Share it with us!  Comment below…

Let’s clean up our take out.

 

XPT Challenges You To Feed Your Gut Bacteria

Intestines with Gut Bacteria on Blackboard 

FEED YOUR BUGS

We’re not suggesting you leave crumbs for the insects in your home or backyard.  This week we’re focusing on our gut bacteria. 

Probiotics often get all the attention.  These are fermented or cultured foods that produce beneficial gut flora, like yogurt, kimchi, and miso.  But prebiotics are equally valuable. When eaten, the un-digestible fibers in these foods nourish and grow the probiotics in your lower GI tract.  Together, they are symbiotic – improving the diversity and health of the gut microbiota!

What to reach for? 

Asparagus, banana, jicama, garlic, onion, oats, and legumes (beans, lentils, and peas). 

We challenge you to work these prebiotic-rich plant-based foods into your meals and snacks this week.

Have ideas for how you’ll do it?  Share with us in a comment here at xptlife.com

This Week’s XPT Challenge: Stand up

ergonomic. Height adjustable desk or table sitting and standing pose of a man. Saddle chair

We love SUP on the water (obviously). But this week we’re aiming to stand-up more – on solid ground. 

Endless hours at a desk, on the couch or in the car do little for your overall health.  In fact, prolonged sitting stagnates circulation and shifts our internal biochemistry toward weight gain and blood sugar dysregulation. 

The seated position compresses the GI tract, slowing digestion.  It also alters overall postural alignment and biomechanics – weakening your abs and glutes and tightening your hip muscles and shortening their range of motion.

So this week, get out of your chair whenever possible and as much as possible. It will support your XPT training and your body – inside and out – with thank you.  Let us know how you work-in your dry-land stand-up and unwind your body from the sit-down position in the comments below.  #standupeverywhere #switchpositions #unwind #stretchyourlegs

Eat Your Sunblock

Overhead horizontal of fresh orange toned vegetables and fruit raw produce on white rustic background, pumpkin butternut carrot papaya pawpaw capsicum pepper sweet potato cherry tomatoes chilli orange

Time to eat your sunblock.

No, you don’t need to swallow a squeeze from your tube of topical sun lotion. But you can choose foods that offer internal skin protection from UVA and UVB rays.

Vitamin-A rich foods offer photo-protective benefits by increasing the thickness of the deeper epidermal layers of skin. This can actually cut large percentages of inflammation and redness from sunburn reactions as well as reduce risk of skin cancer.

Which foods to choose? Here are a few options potent animal sources of vitamin A:

Pasture-raised free-range eggs

Milks and butters from organic grass-fed cows

Cold-water fish

Then try some plant-based foods with carotenoid pigments

1. Orange betacarotenes:carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin

2. Light-green luteins: kale, spinach, avocado

3. Bright red lycopenes: tomato or watermelon

Share your ideas on how you plan to SPF your diet in the comments below & enjoy the sunshine.

Making Your Own Mylk-Why it’s Better & How to Do it Best

 

Homemade fresh almond milk in glass jar with empty glass bowl and whole almonds on shabby turquoise wooden table horizontal

By Eve Persak MS RD CNSC CSSD

Dairy doesn’t agree with your sensitive system?

Prefer your palate ‘sans animals’?

Just like a bit of variety on the beverage shelf of your refrigerator?

A shift from milk (from cow, goat or another mammal) to mylk (from nuts, seeds, beans or grains) might make better sense for you.  However, if you hope to get the most from your creamy beverage, you might consider MYOM (making-your-own-mylk) as your next moooo-ve (sorry we had to).  Prepping homemade from your kitchen – rather than relying on store-bought – offers incomparable advantages – for your body, your wallet, and the planet. 

WHY HOMEMADE IS BETTER

IT’S GREEN

A blast from your home blender leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping of processed varieties.

Likewise, whether full-time or part-time, plant-based options also alleviate the pressure on our natural resources (fresh water and soil) and the workload for our milk-producing four-legged friends. 

Storing your homemade mylk in a reusable jars or bottles also reduces waste from UHT, cardboard or plastic containers or the energy required to recycle them.

IT’S CHEAP

Convenience is usually a main motivator behind premade purchases.  The manufacturers do the work, so we don’t have to.  Much like a fee-for-service arrangement, you might not mind the idea of paying more to save your own valuable time with set-up, prep, and clean-up.  However, companies inflate their price tags to offset their expenses on pretty packaging, branding, manpower – as well as a hefty profit margin.  On the contrary, a basic homemade mylk might cost as much as a handful of nuts, a glass or two of water and a few extra minutes.

IT’S FRESH

The fewer the steps between Mother Nature and your mouth, the more nutritious your beverage is likely to be.  Many of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant sterols, phytochemicals, and micronutrients in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes are fragile. With light, heat, oxygen and time, they degrade.  Blanching, heat pasteurization, high-pressure processing and just spent en route to the market and sitting in storage can reduce the concentration and potency of the nutrients that make it into your cup.

IT’S PURE

When you MYOM, the ingredient list is under your control.   Even if the stabilizers, preservatives, or flavorings listed on the label are deemed ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ (a best case scenario), you didn’t decide to include them and they may not match the freshness or quality of the additions lining your pantry shelves.  

IT’S PERSONALIZED

With customization, your creativity is your own limitation – and XPT doesn’t really believe in limits.  So, go big.  Homemade allows you to build the recipe that suits your nutrition priorities or your palate.  The combinations are endless.  Use a different nut or seed for each batch or mix them together.  Play with spices that are both flavorful and therapeutic.  Add a nature-made (rather than refined) sweetener and add just enough to hit the ‘sweet spot’ without over-doing it. 

HOW TO DO IT BEST

To get you started, here are a handful of tips and reminders…

SHOPPING

Equipment:

All you really need is a blender.  However a strainer and re-usable storage containers can be helpful, too.  We’ll describe in detail below. 

Ingredients:

Choose your ‘base’ ingredient(s), such as:

  • – cashew, macadamia, almond, coconut (mature flesh)

Seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, flax.

  • – soy, adzuki, black bean, green pea

Grains – whole oats, quinoa, rice (brown, red, black)

Note: To keep enzymes and antioxidants intact, opt for raw rather than roasted or baked. 

Choose your flavoring: vanilla, raw cacao, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, clove, nutmeg, chili pepper, sea salt

Choose a natural sweetener (optional): raw maple syrup, raw Manuka honey, lucuma powder, dried fruit (dates, pineapple)

SOAKING

Soaking – overnight or just a few hours – will soften your base ingredient.  This shortens blending time, helps release the nutrients, and yields a creamier finished product.  

BLENDING

The amount of time required to evenly blend will depend on your base ingredient.  To get a smooth consistency high speeds and longer mixing may be required.  Be sure to clean well after ever use – removing and scrubbing all parts (blades, lid, and exterior).  Allow to air dry completely before re-assembling.

STRAINING

Depending on your base ingredient and your thickness-preference, this step can be optional.  Some nuts and seeds (when soaked) have a smooth finish without straining.  Legumes, grains and certain nuts and seeds – like almond or hemp – have skins or rougher textures that produce a granular mouth-feel if left unstrained.  Nut milk strainers are sold in many health food stores, but a nylon stocking can also do the trick.  You can also reserve the strained fibers (which offer digestive amongst other benefits – and add to smoothies, porridge or baked goods.  

STORING

Most mylks in the refrigerator for up to 48-72 hours.  To ensure freshness, store in air-tight glass jars with as little space at the top as possible.  Seal tightly.  Refrigerate immediately after preparing and keep frig temperature settings below 100 degrees F (or 40 degrees C).    

JUST CHEW: Get More From Your Meals

 

JUST CHEW:  Get More From Your Meals

By Eve Persak MS RD CNSC CSSD

Power lunches, take-away boxes, grab-and-go snacks, frozen dinners, and – of course – fast food. All of these are inspired by necessity. Our days are getting busier, so our meal our mealtimes are getting shorter. With only a slim window of minutes to start and finish all that’s on our plate, it’s easy to inhale, rather than eat. But when we forgo chewing and skip straight to swallow, our palates – and our bodies – miss out. In fact, just a little extra mouth-work can side-step common health concerns, support your wellness goals, and enhance your time at the table.Here’s how:

DIGESTION: Believe it or not, digestion starts in your mouth. Mechanical processing begins as soon as your teeth chomp and grind your first mouthfuls food into smaller pieces. Your saliva also contains enzymes (salivary amylase and lingual lipase) that chemically breakdown carbohydrates and fats. As athletes, much of our body’s energy is directed away from the gut and instead devoted to propel the movement of our extremities. As such, it’s not uncommon for athletes – during exercise in the thick of a training season – to develop gastrointestinal sensitivities. Any digestion that happens in your mouth can offset the burden on the stomach and enhance overall digestive efficiency.

ABSORPTION: This second perk is an offshoot of the first mentioned above. The stomach behaves a bit like an internal blender. After an hour or two of churning our solid foods are liquefied to a soup-like consistency – increasing food’s surface area and transforming larger bites into tiny bits. This allows for maximal contact with the walls of the small intestine where the nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream. For hard-working athletic bodies, this transformation from edible to usable is key.

SATIATION: It takes only a moment or two for food to travel from the oral cavity to the base of the stomach. However it takes much longer – approximately 15-20 minutes – for our GI tract to biochemically communicate with our brain, giving us the signal that food has arrived. When we expedite meals, we run the risk of filling up – even overfilling – before our bodies can gauge our actual hunger and fullness levels. Chewing our food is an easy way to pace meals and stay in better touch with appetite cues.

SATISFACTION: Your stomach and intestines can’t taste. Only your mouth can. The receptors that sense and recognize flavor reside on tongue. When food bypasses the tongue and heads straight for the back of the throat, our taste buds can’t appreciate them. Yes, food is valuable fuel, but the act of eating is also designed for our pleasure. Pausing to let your palate perceive sweet, salty, bitter, sour and even a kick of heat can enrich your nutritional experience.

So, carve just a few extra minutes at breakfast, lunch and dinner – or start with just one meal a day. As a mindfulness practice, count how many times you’re chewing each of your beginning bites. You might surprise yourself at how few you’re getting in! Then aim to up your number of munches per mouthful for the remaining portion on your plate. You’ll likely fuel better and feel better.

Eve Persak MS RD CNSC CSSD is a leading international nutrition and wellness consultant with global experience in the fitness, culinary, tech, healthcare, hospitality, and spa industries. In her private practice she supports athletes and individuals of all ages with sports nutrition, weight loss, digestive conditions and other medical nutritional therapies. WWW.EVEPERSAK.COM 

How to Fuel Your Breath

XPT | How to Fuel Your Breath

Written by Eve Persak MS RD CSNC CSSD

 

Oxygen is vital to almost every cell, tissue, and life-sustaining process in the body. No person can survive without it, but athletes need more than the rest of the population.  We do more.  We push the body farther, faster and harder – every day.  When oxygen supply falls short of these increased demands, athletes are forced to pump – or slam on – the brakes.  They often observe:

  • muscle weakness, aches and pains
  • recurring or slow-healing injuries
  • lack of motivation or poor mental focus
  • prolonged recovery between consecutive workouts
  • sluggish digestion and metabolism
  • frequent colds or infections

Simply put, it’s the overall experience of asking your body to perform and receiving a resounding “no” from all systems, head-to-toe.

Our primary oxygen source is the air we pull in via the lungs.  Strategic breathing practices – like those at the core of the XPT experience – not only prevent oxygen insufficiency, but also elevate the body’s oxygen to levels above those previously achieved.

What else can you do?  While the diet offers less direct oxygen, certain foods can enrich the circulatory system’s supply, as well as nourish and protect the respiratory tissues.  Trained breathing coupled with complementary meal changes can yield noticeable improvements in total athletic endurance.   So, add a few of these superfoods to your supermarket basket, and start feeding your breath:

Greens

Everyone – carnivores and vegans alike – can reach for green vegetables as a valuable plant-based source of iron.  This mineral is a critical component of hemoglobin, the blood protein that that transports oxygen from the lungs to all other systems. Likewise, chlorophyll – the phytochemical behind the dark emerald shades in kale, spinach, and broccoli – also benefits breathing.  Its chemical structure resembles that of hemoglobin and therefor can also boost oxygen’s availability to the body.  Chlorophyll also repels  harmful impurities and toxins before they reach the circulation.

Coffee

We agree – any scientific justification for your morning cup of joe is grounds for celebration.  The caffeine in coffee is a well-recognized bronchodilator, widening the respiratory channels to allow for open air exchange.  In conventional and homeopathic medicine, caffeine is one of the earliest and most widely used therapies for asthma.  Interestingly, asthma sufferers who regularly consume coffee report milder symptoms and over 30% fewer asthma attaches.

Papaya

Vitamin C is the foremost antioxidant on site the pulmonary tissues.  It buffers and repairs free radical damage from airborne pollutants and contaminants we unconsciously inhale all day.  For endurance athletes, vitamin C is also understood to reduce and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections after long or high-intensity competitions.  Above all other residents of the produce section, papaya ranks highest in this micronutrient (twice as much as the acclaimed oranges, in fact!).  This tropic fruit also offers betacarotene, the plant pigment responsible for this tropical fruit’s orange color.  When consumed, the body converts betacarotene into vitamin A, which, in turn, nourishes cilia.  These miniature hair-like projections line the nasal passages and airways and sweep away debris and infectious bacteria. 

Warm & Spicy Foods

Consuming anything especially hot in temperature (like soups or warm beverages) or spicy in flavor (red chili peppers or jalapenos) can make our eyes water and our noses drip.  Why?  There is a sensory connection between the GI tract and the sinuses.  When the stomach heats up, blood flow to the nasal passages increases, as well.  This can immediately clear congestion and allows more of the blood supply to contact inspired oxygen.  Hot chili peppers, in particular, are helpful for long-term lung health.  Regular consumption is shown to reduce the risk of several chronic respiratory diseases.

Onion & Garlic

Often discounted for their pale complexion, these roots offer respiratory perks that rival their colorful peers.  Onion and garlic owe their neutral hues to anthoxanthins – pale pigments with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.  This curative cocktail reduces airway constriction – allowing for free airflow – and staves off colds and flu. But you’ll need to incorporate them into fresh recipes (like salsa or bruschetta), as heat reduces the anthoxanthins potency.

Mushrooms

Move over button, Portobello, and shiitake.  Other mushroom varieties deserve a bit of room in the spotlight. Chaga and Reishi are traditional medicinal fungi consumed as teas – rather than eaten whole.   Chaga brews essentially steep the body in antioxidants that heal environmental damage to the lungs’ mucosal lining and alleviate asthma-related irritation.   Reishi mushrooms enhance the oxygen absorption at the tiny tips of the branches of the pulmonary tree (called alveoli), revving up overall lung stamina.  They also contain lanostan, a nature-made antihistamine that counteracts the respiratory symptoms related to seasonal allergies.

Oils

Moisture is key to maintaining optimal lung function. When hydrated, oxygen (from outside air) and carbon dioxide (from inside the body) move freely across the membranes of our respiratory passages. When parched, this vital exchange is compromised.  Sipping on clear liquids is a good start.  But oils are needed to “lock in” these fluids – much like applying lotion after taking a shower. To help, rather than harm, avoid processed or synthetic vegetable oils and spreads. Instead, let those straight from Mother Nature be your focus.  They’ll offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, while the others have the opposite effect.  Reach for whole foods like olives, avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds.  Unrefined extra virgin olive oil is a perfect pick for salads and dips, whereas cold-pressed virgin coconut oils and organic ghee are better suited for high-heat cooking and frying.

 

Eve Persak MS RD CNSC CSSD is a leading international nutrition and wellness consultant with global experience in the fitness, culinary, tech, healthcare, hospitality, and spa industries.  In her private practice she supports athletes and individuals of all ages with sports nutrition, weight loss, digestive conditions and other medical nutritional therapies.

www.evepersak.com

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