Achieve More Through Your Success Circle

Yahoo!! Happy 2014! Otherwise, same shit different day. That is unless you’re really real about changing you and have an action plan to do so.

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” Oprah Winfrey

You’ve likely seen a ton of stuff about goals, resolutions, or what I like to refer to them as, realizations.

You just might feel inspired to set yourself up with a few goals after these emotional hits.

But the thing is, things around you have to change if you want to change.

“Friends”, cut ’em.

Employers, change ’em.

Routines, switch ’em.

Without trust or support, it’s likely you’re not changing and at this time next year you’ll be in the same position.

But around here, we aren’t about being in the same position because we’re Ambitious, right?

So below I’ve laid out the ground rules for you on how to set up your success circle to actually achieve your goals. To be happier, to feel accomplished, to actually be the person you really want to be.

Get out a pen and paper and let’s get started.

1. Write down up to 5 great friends who you can go to to talk things out.

2. List your goals in their order of importance with a brief description.

3. Write down and list the things that your friends can do to help you achieve those goals.

4. Meet with each of your friends individually to talk about your goals and their ability to help. Ask them if they can and are willing to help you reach your goals.

If your goal means that much to you than you cannot be afraid to share your goals with those close to you.

This, along with a good coach who works with you on a program, that fits your life, with variables to aid and adjust if needed, will be the key to your success.

5. Finally, send, not text, not tweet, no status update, a sincere thank you to each of your friends that took the time to listen to you and gave you their word on being there for you when needed. Let them know that you appreciate them and are thankful for their friendship. ‘Cause that’s what friends are for.

Here’s to you becoming a better you,



Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #11: December 2013

Patchimottanasana/Seated Forward Bend Ambitious yogis – all good things must come to an end. As we wind down what has been an amazing year of fun, games and amazing workouts, we will also begin the cool down phase of our Ambitious yoga sequence. This month’s pose is a great hamstring, spine and shoulder stretch that allows the body to relax after an active series of poses.

After all of the hard work you’ve put in this year at Ambitious Athletics, don’t you think you deserve a little R&R? Enjoy taking things easy over the next couple of weeks. To get you started, here is Patchimottanasana/Seated Forward Bend:

Patchimottanasana/Seated Forward Bend

Patchimottanasana/Seated Forward Bend

1. From standing, move down to the floor and come to a seated position with your legs fully extended in front of you, heels, ankles and big toes touching. If your hamstrings feel very tight, you can always keep a little bend in the knees throughout the pose.

2. On your inhale, extend the arms up toward the ceiling and hold this position for a couple of breaths. Feel the core working to keep you upright.

3. As you exhale, begin to bend forward, hinging at the hips and reach for your feet. If you have tight hamstrings, grabbing for the feet may not be possible. In this case, feel free to use a yoga strap or belt as an extension of the arms by looping the belt around the backs of the feet.

a. Optional: If you have very tight hips, consider sitting up on a pillow or blanket to allow the pelvis to tip forward slightly, facilitating the forward bend.

4. On your next inhale, pull on the feet or strap as you lengthen through the spine, extending the chest toward the toes. In this pose, length in the spine is more important than depth in the pose. In other words, don’t compromise the integrity of the spine by rounding the back in an attempt to grab the feet. Use the extra space provided by the strap to allow you to keep a long spine as you extend the torso toward the toes.

a. Advanced: If you have more flexibility through the hamstrings and hips, you may be able to rest your forehead on your shins in the forward bend. But don’t force it – this advanced movement is overrated and forcing it could cause you to misalign the spine and overstretch your hamstrings.

5. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. With every inhale, lengthen through the spine. With every exhale, relax into the forward bend even more.

6. Breathe.

Thanks again for your dedication in 2013!

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Healthy and Happy 2014!



Typical Squatting Cues. Typical Foot Misplacement. Bigger Squat.

Any advanced weightlifter can attest that a 60lb increase in strength is absurd and very uncommon, especially in a single training session. Yet, it happened. Eyes Straight Ahead

Chest Up

Butt Out

Shoulders Back

Elbows Pulled Inward

Elbows Under The Bar

Crush The Bar

Back Tight

Shoulder Blades Tight

Big Breath; Push The Belly Out

Stay On The Heels

Sit Back

Butt Moves Back, Stays Back

Keep The Knees Moving Back

Try To Keep The Shins Vertical

Toes Out

Knees Out

Knees Over The Toes

Spread The Floor

Push Out, Not Up

Bar Speed! Bar Speed! Bar Speed!

These are some of the most common squatting cues you would hear from just about any coach. In short butt back, chest up, and stay grounded.

Yes, these are great for a beginner, but what about the more advanced lifter who isn’t hitting big numbers? And what about the foot, ankle, and toes? What about the pressure points or torque?

Yes I know, knees out, butt back, spread the floor, I got that. But what exactly does that mean? Pronation, supanation, or neutral?

For most individuals, the cues above have lead to this type of movement

The heel contact was great but did you notice the toe box and instep of the foot? They move away from the ground.

This, my friends, is the common error left unattended to by most coaches.

You can’t jump high by driving your heels into the ground. Try it. Seriously, stand up drive your heels into the ground, pull the toes up slightly, bend through the hips and knees, and jump as high as you can.

Let’s back track for a second. Let me paint the background to this story real quick.

Over the past year and a half my squat was decent, 1 rep max at 305lb, deadlift at 405lb, bodyweight at 175. (BW X ~1.75 and BW X ~2.33)

Based on my bodyweight, a 350lb squat and 440lb deadlift would be appropriate. (BW X 2 and BW X 2.5)

These numbers also indicate and reveal my hip/ham dominance vs my hip/quad strength or lack there of.

“The squat is a quad exercise. Most people have forgotten that.” Jason Ferruggia

So what the heck has been holding back my gains?

Certainly not my training programs or nutrition, no way.

Stuff like this bothers me to no end. So much that I have a Rogue S2 squat rack in my bedroom, no joke, I take things like this seriously.

The good thing is that on Wednesday (November 6) it clicked; my horribly weak front squat went from 115lbs for 6 to a clean and deep 175lbs for 8,

That’s a 60lb gain incase you weren’t in the mood to do the math.

Any advanced weightlifter can attest that a 60lb increase in strength is absurd and very uncommon, especially in a single training session. Yet, it happened.

With just one single small movement that helped my quads fire up in effort to push the bar back up to a standing position.

Here’s what I did.

Instead of driving all of my weight into my heels, I simply redistributed my weight throughout my foot, ~70% through the ball of my foot with the remaining ~30% through the back half of my foot. I also made sure that my instep did not leave the ground, therefore increasing my ability to utilize my entire foot as a stable foundation of force.

In short, I adjusted the angle of my shin and pushed more through my forefoot.

Remember the video from above? The evaluated toe box and ankle roll? I redistributed the weight to ensure ground support, and then utilized the support.

Driving the majority of your weight through your heel simply reduces the amount of quad activation you can get through the dominant and strong quad muscles.

The quads push, the hamstrings pull, and the glute contracts in an effort to stabilize the pelvis.

Check out the differences between my old squat position compared to the new.

Old left, new right.

Here's what it looks like in motion. Watch the set up and execution.

Dedicated to your strength gains,


Comments Submitted by David on 12/21/13:

Very useful Carmen, followed the link from RIC and jay's tip -off in the weekly wrap. I was interested in the BW to lifting ratios you quoted and the dominance / muscle imbalances behind max load capabilities. Would love to here more of this stuff in the future.

Top man


Strength Training Injuries & How To Avoid Them

Just like our training routine, we have a compensation routine, and the sad thing is, we are more comfortable in our compensation routine because we have been doing it for an extended period of time without knowledge. A few months back I was working much too hard on my business and not as hard on my well-being and self. It happens to all of us and usually takes something horrific to wake us up and realize what is really going on. We get off balance.

My off balance usually ends up being a stupid injury that is created by skipping daily program details. This time around it was a strained intercostal and tight quadratus lumborum (QL).

Pain sucks and I’d argue that acute annoying pain is worse than a broken limb because it seems to take a longer and more dedicated amount of time to diagnose and resolve it.

The majority of injuries that are related to strength training most often come from a lack of focus.

What I mean by the lack of focus is that we don’t always stay true to the details needed to execute the task.

Sure you can drop a kettlebell on your foot or head or fall while performing a complex barbell movement, but I’m talking the small things that make up the big picture.

When it comes to sports injuries weightlifting comes in dead last.

source: usa weightlifting

So where do most of the injuries erupt from?

Within the details of your training program. In this case, your mobility or stability work or more commonly known as “warm up and cool down”.

So why am I telling you this?

Because we have to dedicate more of our time to getting ourselves out of our compensations and into a more conscience and stable environment.

If you enjoy working out then you must enjoy feeling good and looking good.

You can’t look good if you don’t feel good.

A few months ago I was absolutely terrible about warm ups, post stretch, and down time mobility. When I say terrible, I mean nonexistent. And that is the exact time that my annoying injuries hit and sidelined me for almost four weeks.

It wasn’t until Chris (Chris’s Kitchen) came over to hit “the hill” for some sprints, in which I couldn’t participate, and that’s when I realized what had happened and how it happened.

As Chris and I were talking about our current strength program and being ridiculously awesome and staying that way for life (you know, the lift big, eat big kinda stuff), it dawned on me that my aches and pain weren't just a slight strain or pull but inflammation mainly caused from my own ignorance of skipping out on key components of training, the mobility work.

daily tools

What I'm saying is that the exercise part is the easiest and your injuries lay within the details of your program. Avoid nagging injuries by following these five simple steps.

1. Schedule more time for you and your body.

2. Surround yourself with top-notch people who care about you (friends, family,

coaches, and other trainees).

3. Listen to what those people say.

4. Foam roll, lax ball, and use resistance bands to stretch daily, without excuses.

Ten minutes will do wonders.

5. Avoid rushing, that’s when you get hurt. See #1

Bonus: Be happier.

The simplified version looks like this > take time to realize the good around you, listen to your friends, family, coaches, etc., roll on the ground daily, move your body through all ranges of motion and avoid skipping the crucial components that make up the big picture.

And that, folks, is the way to avoid strength-training injuries.

Yes, it really is that simple. You will always find the answer hiding within the details when you stop and assess them.

Dedicated to your health, Carmen

Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #10: November 2013

Vrksasana/Tree Pose We’ve spent the past few months building strength and flexibility, but with just a couple months before the new year I’d say it’s high time we give some love to another important component of your practice: balance. Why? The truth is that strength and flexibility are nothing without balance. Don’t believe me? Let me put it this way: what good are your toned quads and hammies if you can’t walk in a straight line without falling over? Trust me on this one.

As we age, balance is one of the skills we need most, but often one of the first to go. But before you despair over this cruel irony, know that there’s something you can do about it. You know what they say … practice makes perfect! :)

That’s why the November Pose of the Month is … (drumroll please) …

Vrksasana/Tree Pose Optional: Stand at the wall for added support

1. Begin in Tadasana at the top of your mat. Spread through your toes to widen your foundation and root down firmly through your feet.

2. Raise your R knee in front of you so that it is in line with your R hip (nearly at a 90 degree angle) and slowly begin turn the knee out to your R side, hinging from the hip. From there, place the sole of your R foot on the inside of the L thigh OR on the inside of the L calf, if you have tight hips.

3. Create stability in the pose by pressing the R foot into the standing L leg as much as you are pressing the standing leg into the foot. Maintain this central force toward the midline of the body throughout the pose.

4. Take your hands to your hips and check to make sure they are level from side to side. You may find that the R hip is raised slightly. If that is the case, lower the R hip, so that it is in line with the L one, ensuring that the torso is stacked directly over the hips.

5. Now that the lower body is in the correct position, we can begin to incorporate the arms. Lucky you, there are options!

a. Option 1: Bring your palms together at the center of your chest in prayer position and actively press them in toward one another.

b. Option 2: If you’d like more of a challenge, raise your arms toward the ceiling, being careful to release the shoulders down away from the ears.

c. Option 3: If you are really feeling ambitious, turn your gaze up toward your raised hands.

6. Whether you are looking up or straight ahead, focus your gaze on one still point for the duration of the pose to maintain stability.

7. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Breathe.

8. Return to Tadasana and Repeat Steps #1-7.

Remember: Balancing is a day-to-day thing and it is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. If you fall out of the pose, jump right back in and simply recognize where your body is today. Just have fun with it. After all, tomorrow is a new day!

Happy Turkey Day, Ambitious Yogis!

Namaste, Emilie

Grading Your Health

We are currently in the middle of a Fall fat shed challenge here at Ambitious Athletics. Members who participate in the challenge receive personalized education and quality one-on-one attention throughout. Here’s a beefed up email I sent out to the participants awhile back. I thought everyone could learn from it.


You can work your ass off and do everything right but still lack optimal progress. Sleep and stress are crucial to one’s success and must be regulated like your training and nutrition.

Quality strength and conditioning + nutrition + sleep + stress management = optimal results

Quality strength and conditioning – strength train 3-4 times per week, heavy condition once per week.

Nutrition – knowing your metabolic rate and what body type you are is crucial for macronutrient set up.

Sleep – 7 quality hours of shuteye, no excuses. Manage your time better.

Stress – chill out! Hate your job? Quit and find something you love. Need a change of pace? Follow the green signs hanging above the interstate to your new dream spot.

Results – do you want ‘em or not? Things that are worth achieving don’t come easy.

Stress test: __Blank__ often stresses me out.

Write your answer down and begin to work on dissolving the issue.

Think about it - stress causes anxiety and anxiety ties your stomach in knots which then wrecks havoc on your eating and sleeping patterns, while the food that you do eat and semi shotty sleep pattern attempts to rebuild, rejuvenate, and balance hormones (cortisol). Stress doesn't allow for a full rebuild or rejuvenation. It becomes a cumulative cycle that you must break to restart your healthy habits.

Sleep test: __Blank__ often prevents me from getting 7 quality hours of sleep per night.

Write you answer down and begin to work on dissolving the issue.

Check out your body after you get a solid 7 hours of sleep on the weekend compared to during the week, most people can easily tell how much tighter they look after quality sleep. Also, record your mood changes and overall mental well being. Take pictures of yourself all week long. No, not duck face Instagram selfies, real full body pictures, like the ones your ex boyfriend would post of you after your tweenage breakup. But seriously, take a picture, it lasts longer and definitely speaks more than 1,000 words.

As far as achieving results, this is a reminder that your exercise program stimulates muscle growth while nutrition builds muscle growth and creates fat burn; more muscle equals more fat burn. Which means you've got to eat, and eat clean. You wouldn't starve your car or feed it garbage like Marty's DeLorean Time Machine and expect for it to run efficiently would you? This isn't some Back to the Future movie, it's real life.

Everything in Moderation = moderate results.

Your homework: 1 week

1. Check your value of clean meals. Say you eat 4 meals per day X 7 days of the week = 28 meals. 90% success = 25 perfect meals. Anything below that will provide you with minimal success.

2. Record your solid sleep hours. Every morning upon waking, write down the total hours that you slept. Separate weekday and weekend hours.

3. At the end of the week grade yourself.

Grading scale

A = 95% perfect meals & 35+ hours of sleep (49 hours incl. weekend)

B = 90% perfect meals & 33.5 hours of sleep (45.5)

C = 85% perfect meals & 29.5 hours of sleep (42)

D = 80% perfect meals & 26 hours of sleep (38.5)

"C’s may earn degrees" but won’t land you the body that you truly seek.

Extra credit: At least 10 minutes of uninterrupted meditation/self reflecting/me-time per day.

Are you happy or unhappy with your grade? Record your grade below in the comments field.

If you’d like more help, sign up for coaching here.

Hope this helps.

Dedicated to your health,


Comments Submitted by Melanie on 11/19/13:

for 2 weeks, i have been an A, but i was a C for a looooong time after i moved away from Carmen and couldn't train with him any more :/

Chris's Kitchen: How To Effectively Meal Prep For An Entire Week

Hello Everybody, I've had the same conversation with Carmen, coworkers, friends, family, and so many others about preparing food for an entire week. The common questions/statements are: "I don't have time," "I cannot eat the same thing day in and day out for five days," "that sounds expensive," and "where do I begin?"

My meal prep on an average week takes me four to five hours start to finish. Yes, four to five hours! What comes out of that four to five hours is; my Post Workout Shakes, Brunch, Mid Day, Early Evening, Dinner, and my final shake of the night. Here are the meals that I had this past week:

Post Workout Shake - Chocolate Chip Mint Protein Shake (16 Dark Chocolate Chips, Handful of Mint, 6oz of Almond and 6oz of Coconut Milk, with a handful of spinach, ice, and One Serving Sun Warrior and BioTrust Protein) - 40grams of Protein

2 Eggs Sunny Side Up with 2 Portobello Mushrooms

Tilapia with Cooked Spinach (1 Whole Bag) and 2 Strips of Bacon

3 Chicken Thighs with cooked Kale and sliced Portobello Mushrooms

Ribeye Steak with cooked Collard Greens with Sweet Potatoes

Night Time Shake - Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Shake with Athletic Greens (49 grams of Protein)

Here is how I put this together. I went to the store on Friday Night and when I woke up Saturday morning, I immediately went to the kitchen and pulled out all of my ingredients, eggs, butter, tilapia, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, chili powder, almond milk, coconut milk, bags of spinach, kale, collard greens, steak, chicken thighs, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, zip lock bags, cast iron skillet, large fry pan, small fry pan, Vitamix, shaker cups, and additional cooking utensils.

I then pre-heat the oven to 375 Degrees and I spray two pyrex dishes down with coconut spray. While my oven heated up I removed the stems from the portobello mushroom caps, wiped them off with a paper towel, set them in the pyrex dish top down, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and then sprayed them down with coconut oil spray. Beep, Beep, Beep, oven is ready, caps into the oven. I then heated a cooking pan with coconut oil and butter and added my tilapia to the pan when it was hot. While my tilapia was cooking I was also cooking two eggs at a time in my small skillet, in addition to that I was also cooking my package of bacon in a large skillet. Beep, beep, beep, fifteen minutes later my mushrooms are ready and out of the oven and into my waiting glass dishes for the week.

I don't waste that hot oven, I immediately wash and cut my sweet potatoes length wise and into the oven they go.

The mushroom caps were then married with the eggs. One meal done.

Not shortly after that, My tilapia was done and now it was time to cook my spinach and collard greens in that bacon fat from my cooked bacon. Oh yeah, I put the tilapia and bacon into waiting tupperware (after they cooled off a little bit as to not activate the chemicals in the plastic)(editors' note, at work I normally have the convenience of warming my food on paper plates). When my vegetables are done they too go to waiting glass and plastic tupperware.

While my potatoes are still cooking I season five ribeye steaks with cayenne, garlic, cumin, ground coriander, sea salt, fresh black pepper, chili powder, and then I placed them into the waiting zip lock bags. I then took the butter which had softened, divided it amongst the bags, and rubbed the meat thoroughly with that butter, released the air from the bag and placed them into the fridge for a couple of hours.

My potatoes are ready and out of the oven they come and into the oven go my chicken thighs which were placed into that second pyrex dish which was waiting.

My chicken thighs were pre-seasoned from Whole Foods (don't be afraid to let someone else get one meal or at least a part of the meal started for you. I crank the heat up to 400 Degrees and in they go.

While those chicken thighs are cooking I am making three post workout shakes and two night time shakes in my Vitamix. I place each one of them in the freezer; Yes, the freezer! The night before my workouts I take out one post workout and one night time shake. The post workout shake is almost always cold when I finish my morning workout like I just made it at home and the night time shake is still cold and ready for me. I find having the night time shake made ahead of time to be a lifesaver when life throws a monkey wrench into getting home on time.

I clean my shaker cup at the office on most days so when I come home I just make another post workout shake and you guessed it, it goes right into the freezer and out of the refrigerator comes the steak.

After I am done making my shakes I do the dishes and clean up my work area.

My chicken thighs are done, but I am not. I turn off the oven and I heat up my cast iron skillet and add a pat of butter to the pan. One at a time I cook my steaks 4 minutes each side. The steak is rare at this time. I do this because when I come home I simply add it to my hot skillet with butter and cook it for another 4 minutes per side for medium rare and I warm my collard greens and sweet potato in a warm oven. Dinner is served and Your Meal Prep for the Week is Done, Done, and Done!!!! (Brilliantly Ambitious)

I was going the entire time and standing the whole time. You can do this, and once you get your own special routine down, you will find that prep time is the best time to meditate, spend time with your loved ones while teaching them a healthy meal is not impossible to put on the table several times a day with just one days worth of work.

Keep training hard and eating great! I will see you all very soon and I cannot wait to share with you the great recipes I am discovering and creating!


Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #9: October 2013

Utthita Parsvakonasana/Extended Side Angle Pose One of my favorite yoga transitions is from Virabhadrasana/Warrior 2 to another, more intense hip opener: Utthita Parsvakonasana/Extended Side Angle Pose. But keep in mind that Side Angle Pose does way more than just open your hips. It also strengthens and stretches your thighs, ankles and knees, lengthens your torso and benefits overall core strength.

Another importance fact about Side Angle Pose is that it can be modified for almost any practice level, allowing all practitioners to reap the physical benefits and making it a constant feature in many yoga classes.

For all you yogis with achy hips and legs, this one’s for you!

Utthita Parsvakonasana/Extended Side Angle Pose Optional Props: One Yoga Block

1. From Virabhadrasana2 /Warrior 2 with your R knee bent to 90 degrees and your left leg straight, begin to exhale as you extend both sides of your torso forward toward the bent knee and rest your R forearm on your R thigh. Make sure that your torso remains long and does not collapse toward the floor.

Advanced Tip: If you have more flexibility in your hips, consider placing your block on the inside of the R foot and slide your hand down to rest flat on top of the block. If this is still too easy, remove the block and place your hand directly on the floor on the inside of your foot. Be sure to maintain the integrity of your spine (read: keep your torso long) throughout the pose. If you notice that depth in the pose causes the torso to collapse toward the floor and the back to round, return your forearm to your thigh as in Step 1.

2. Depending on what variation you’ve chosen for the R arm, press your forearm or upper arm into the R leg to help open your hip even more toward the wall behind you and use this movement as leverage to help you open your chest toward the wall in front of you. Maintain that constant pressure against the leg to keep the stretch consistent.

3. On your next inhale, raise your L arm toward the ceiling, so that your shoulders are nearly stacked on top of one another, and look up toward your L hand. If you have the flexibility in your shoulders, continue this movement by reaching the L arm over your head in the direction of your R foot and turn your gaze to the inside of the L elbow.

4. Ground your L foot firmly into the floor/mat and feel a line of energy running through the foot, all the way along the outside of the L leg, through your torso and out through your left fingertips. Continue extending your upper body toward the R as you maintain the connection with the ground through your L foot.

5. Hold the pose and breathe for 30-60 seconds.

6. When you are ready to come out of the pose, raise your L arm toward the ceiling and press down firmly through both feet, as you use the L arm to lift yourself out of the pose on your inhale, returning to a Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2 position.

7. Return to Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2 on the L side and repeat Steps 1-6.

For more information on Extended Side Angle Pose, visit:



Chris's Kitchen: Hummingbird Bread

Greetings from the Kitchen, If you were fortunate enough to attend the Ambitious Athletics Happy Hour a few weeks back then you were most likely part of the crew that demolished and enjoyed the Hummingbird Bread that I baked. I found the recipe on one of my favorite go to sites, I added one ingredient which does not alter the taste of the recipe but definitely will help you recover from Carmen and Emile's great workouts.

Here is the recipe and your grocery list for what you all so nicely described as Awesome which ironically is how I describe all of you:

1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour/Powder - Available at Whole Foods in the Bakery/Spice aisle

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour - Available at Whole Foods in the Bakery/Spice aisle

1/2 Cup Cup Coconut Sugar - Available at Whole Foods in the Bakery/Spice aisle (look for it near the Cocoa and Sugar)

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt (I used sea salt)

2 Bananas mashed (I used ripe bananas but not too ripe)

1/2 Cup Pineapple Diced - (You have two options, you can get the canned version or you can get the fresh version) (Fresh I can honestly say you can do either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. The cost will vary but not by much for the fresh, just be sure to check the use by date on the Trader Joe's fresh fruit because it does make a difference) (If you are going to do the canned then I would go with Whole Foods 365)

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil, melted - (Available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's) (Trader Joe's is typically $1 cheaper)

2 Scoops Bio-Trust Vanilla Protein (24 grams) (This is the ingredient that I added.) (You can do any protein that you are currently using, that is one of two that I use. The next time I do this recipe I will try it with SunWarrior Protein.)

3 Eggs Whisked

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract - I would recommend Whole Foods because what Trader Joe's sells is not pure Vanilla Extract and Yes, it does make a difference. Look for this in the Bakery/Spice aisle (notice a pattern for this post.)

1/2 Cup Pecans, chopped

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Add Tapioca flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, protein powder, and salt to a large bowl and mix. Then add the rest of the ingredients, folding in the pecans at the end. Chris' Kitchen tip, use a lot more pineapple than 1/2 a cup. This will not only make your Hummingbird Bread more moist, it will also ensure every bite has a taste of pineapple. Pour the mixture into a bread pan (coated with coconut spray (again I recommend getting this from Trader Joe's.) and smooth at the top.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until bread is completely cooked through, let cool slightly before serving. Chris' tip, do not open the oven door to check on the bread! This will make your bread very flat and it will allow heat to escape from the oven. Be patient and wait until the timer goes Beep, Beep, Beep!

I am so glad that you all enjoyed this so much. There are more treats coming your way, just you wait and see, but more importantly, taste!

Until next time, continue to Train Hard and Eat Great! Chris

Chris's Kitchen: Thai Steak Salad

Hello Everybody, This recipe is brought to by I LOVE this recipe! No, No, you don't understand I made this recipe for Sunday night dinner and then I turned it into my weekly salad for lunch. WOW! The preparation for this recipe is simple and the flavor and possibilities for pairings is limitless! The recipe is linked below and it is Thai Steak Salad with Roasted Mango Vinaigrette.

Hungry yet?

I suggest allowing the steak to sit in the marinade for at least 8 hours. Remove the steak from marinade and pat dry and place either on your hot grill or in your oven. If you broil this steak I suggest for medium rare you broil it for 10 - 12 minutes remove your steak, turn it over, and broil for 7 more minutes. Let your steak rest UNTOUCHED for ten minutes...DON'T TOUCH IT! Slice this steak and enjoy on a salad of mixed greens with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed colored peppers, fresh sliced mango, cashews, and dressing.

You can also have this steak with broccoli or broccolini or with eggs and sautéd spinach (I did the latter) or in a lettuce wrap with the Mango Vinagrette, mixed peppers, and sprouts.

If you cannot get Flank Steak, Grass Fed Sirloin Steak works great, it is actually what I buy each time I have done this recipe.

I have missed you all. Have you missed me? You can show me how much you have missed me by letting me know what you think of this recipe and what you would like to see in the future. Vegetarian friendly meal coming very, very soon.

Stay Tuned, Stay Hungry, Stay Motivated! Chris

Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #8: September 2013

Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2 The perfect follow-up to the heat-building Sun Salutes are standing poses that promote strength and balance. Once of my all-time favorites is Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2. Why? It’s a hip opener and, as all of you with tight hips will attest, you can never do too much hip opening. But most importantly, it just makes me feel like an all-around badass – “Virabhadra” is the name of a fierce warrior, after all!

Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2

1. From Tadasana, turn to face the long side of your mat and jump or step your feet wide apart – approximately wrist-width distance, which means that your ankles are underneath your wrists when your arms are fully extended to the sides. Feet should be parallel to start with both legs straight.

2. Turn your R foot out to the side, so that your R foot heel is lined up with the arch of your L foot.

3. Exhale and bend your R knee to 90 degrees, so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Check to make sure that your knee does not go beyond your ankle. If it does, your stance is too narrow and you’ll need to widen it slightly to ensure that the knee is stacked over the heel. Press down firmly with the outer edge of your L foot.

4. Now take your hands to your hips for a moment and check to make sure that they are level from side to side and that your torso is stacked directly over top of them. The tendency is for the torso to lean toward that R thigh, which causes the R hip to dip lower than the L hip. If that is happening to you, simply pull your torso back so that shoulders are stacked over the hips and lift the R hip slightly so that the two hips are aligned. Extend your tailbone toward the floor.

5. On your next Inhale, lift your arms to shoulder height and extend them in opposite directions, so that they are parallel with the floor and strong. Broaden across your collar bones and turn your gaze toward your R thumb. Breathe.

6. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute – whatever is comfortable for you.

7. When you are ready to come out of the pose. Extend the R knee and return the R foot toward the front of the room, so that both feet are parallel.

8. Repeat Steps 1-7 on the L side.

For more information on Warrior 2, including its history and health benefits, check out this article:



Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #7: August 2013

Surya Namaskar /Sun Salutation A

(Special thanks to Ambitious yogi, Natalie, for modeling this month's pose.)

Now that we’ve perfected Ambitious Yoga Poses #1-6, it’s time to continue our practice and build a little heat in the body with Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskar (stemming from the Sanskrit words surya – “sun” and namas – “to adore”) is a dynamic asana sequence that syncs movement with the breath and efficiently takes your body through a series of poses that combine strength, flexibility and balance. In other words, in less than 30 seconds and 12 poses, your mind and body are in a better place than they were when you started out. Yep, I wish I could package this drug and sell it! J

Ready to get started? Let’s move you from Runner’s Lunge (Ambitious Yoga Pose #6 – you’ve sure been there a long time!) to get you into the starting position.

From Runner’s Lunge: Step your back foot forward and straighten your legs to transition into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). From there, allow your head, neck and arms to relax completely. Keep your knees slightly bent and turn your gaze toward your navel. Slowly begin to roll up to a standing position one vertebra at a time.

Now you’re ready to read on for Sun Salute A broken down into 13 easy steps:

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Lift and spread your toes and then lay them gently onto the floor to widen your stance. Rock back and forth gently to try to stack your weight evenly over every joint (knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips, neck over shoulders). Lift your kneecaps, drop your tailbone toward the floor and lift your chest, widening across your collarbones (think “proud stance!”). Your chin should be parallel to the floor. Bring your hands down by your sides and turn your palms to face forward. Breathe.

2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute): (Inhale) Raise your arms and extend them completely toward the ceiling, palms facing one another, while relaxing your shoulders away from your ears (no hunched shoulders, please!).

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): (Exhale) Hinge from the hips and fold forward, leading with the chest as you reach for your toes (or your shins, thighs or whatever else is accessible). For many yogis, legs will be straight, but feel free to bend your knees as much as you need to in the forward bend – particularly if you feel pressure in your lower back. Bending the knees allows the pelvis to tilt forward, which is exactly what you’re looking for in the pose.

4. Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Half Forward Bend): (Inhale) Lift your chest to create a flat back. Some uber flexible yogis will be able to do this with the hands on the ground, but for most of us I recommend bringing your hands to your shins to allow you to get full extension through the spine.

5. Runner’s Lunge: (Exhale) Bring your hands to the mat and step your R foot back into a Runner’s Lunge position, keeping the back leg straight. For more details on the Runner’s Lunge, check out Ambitious Pose of the Month #6.

Advanced Tip: The Jump-Back. Feeling Ambitious? Skip poses 5-6 and jump straight back from Uttanasana (Burpee-style) into Chaturanga Dandasana, but be sure to brace your core as you do so to protect your lower back. Not sure you are ready for the jump-back? Test your confidence and jumping ability first with the jump-forward (see Advanced Tip 10b.).

6. Plank Pose: (Inhale) Step your L foot back to meet your right foot to find yourself in a Plank Position. Arms are straight and perpendicular to the floor with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Press down evenly through all 5 fingers of both hands. Lift through your chest and widen across your shoulder blades, as you slide them down your back for support (again, no hunched shoulders!). Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels to engage your core. To keep your legs engaged, press your thighs toward the ceiling and reach your heels away from your body, as if you were pressing them into the wall behind you.

7. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose): (Exhale) Maintain the plank form as you begin to lower yourself halfway toward the floor (just like a reverse push-up), hugging your elbows in toward your ribs the entire time (imagine you forgot to put on deodorant and are trying to keep it from your fellow yogis!).

8. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog): (Inhale) Begin to shift your body (still in a strong plank position) forward a couple of inches until the heel of your hands is in line with the base of your ribs. At this point, slowly begin to flip your feet over, so that the tops of the feet are pressing into the floor and extend your arms, lift your chest toward the ceiling. In the completed position, you want your hands stacked under your shoulders with your arms complete extended. Your chest is lifted with your shoulder blades pressing into your back. The tops of your feet are pressing firmly into the ground, so much so that the tops of the thighs lift away from the floor. Extend your tailbone toward your heels, which are hips-width distance apart. Gaze is forward.

9. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): (Exhale) From Upward Dog, lift from the lower abdomen as you begin to pike your hips up toward the ceiling to create a triangle position with the body, as you flip your feet over one by one. Continue with Steps #3-7 of Downward Dog from Ambitious Pose of the Month #5 .

10. Ardha Uttanasana: (Inhale) Step your R foot forward between your hands, followed by your L to transition into a forward bend position and return to a flat back position as we did earlier in the cycle (See instructions for Step 4).

Advanced Tip: The Jump-Forward. If you’re interested in getting your feet wet with the jump-forward and jump-back, this is the place to start. Instead of stepping the feet forward to Ardha Uttanasana, shift your weight forward into your hands, brace your core and hop your feet forward (just like a Burpee) between your hands instead. Give it a try – the first two or three times you may have to take a few hops to get the whole way there, but eventually you will develop the confidence you need to conquer the jump-forward every time.

11. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): (Exhale) Relax into a forward bend position as we did in Step 3.

12. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute): (Inhale) Swing your arms out to the side like airplane wings and lead with the chest as you come up to stand with a flat back. Raise your arms over head and return to Urdhva Hastasana (see Step 2)

13. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): (Exhale) Return to Tadasana (see instructions Step 1).

Repeat 4-5 times and enjoy the sensations arising in your body (that’s Sun Salute-goodness for ya!).

A note about breathing: As you get started, you may need to take several breaths per movement (that’s ok!), but eventually your goal will be to take one breath per movement as indicated below. When in doubt, remember this yoga rule of thumb: just breathe!

Read on for more about the history and philosophy behind the Sun Salutation.



Maybe It's Time That You Stop Trying To Lose Weight

No matter what, some people will just never get it. They’ll over think it or just continue to search for some magic rather than just putting in the hard work. Keep in mind that if it’s worth it, you’ll find a way, and the great things in life never come easy.

Here are five of the many reasons why you need to stop trying to lose weight:

1. You’ve been trying the same stuff for too long and have accomplished slim to none.

2. You’re doing too much cardio and need to reevaluate your strategy.

3. You’re treating weight loss and fat loss the same.

4. You’re lying to yourself when you say that you’re a healthy eater.

5. You don’t have a system to follow or a coach to hold you accountable.

Take all of that in for a second. Evaluate your current situation, and ask yourself if any of these ring true. Have you been doing the same stuff for an extended period of time with little to no results? Why? Do you really want to change? And finally, what’s holding you back?

1. I’m sure that when you first started doing what you are doing now things felt great; a new you, a new program, and a good kick in the butt in the right direction. But then it happened. It started to not feel great anymore, you began feeling like the old you, it felt just like the same old program, and now you need another kick in the butt just to get you to want to do it again. I hear you.

The body adapts quickly because of its love hate relationship with change. It’s not a big fan of change; we have hormones and other regulatory chemicals that maintain homeostasis.

BUT, if you want your body to change, you have to cycle your strategy.

The strategy is to follow a program that allows your body to adapt, allows it to make its changes i.e. get stronger, influence digestive issues, weed out crap food, understand movements and their execution, etc. etc. After about 4-8 weeks depending on your experience, it’s time to make a few modifications like increasing weights, changing calories, making healthier pairings, and moving faster among other things.

My buddy Todd Bumgardner tweeted, “the body adapts with consistency, not randomness.” #truth

2. Cardio isn’t going to help you look “toned”, it will make you look like a hipster/skinny fat. Plain and simple, if you want to look like you workout, then you have to workout, and cardio should just be cardio, once or twice a week, done! You’re better off taking the time to understand how your body moves and what and why which muscles are used during a lifting session. Stick to picking up heavy weights and exerting energy to build muscle.

Fit friend, Molly Gallbraith tweeted, “If you’re new to training, prioritize strength. It makes achieving other goals like fat loss, hypertrophy, etc. much easier. “ #truth

3. Weight loss and fat loss are two totally different terms and are often misused. If you’re six feet tall and weigh 732 pounds, you need to lose weight, fast. If you’re 5’8” and weigh 200 pounds you need to shed fat. This is where the argument of calories in vs. calories out goes out the window. For the not so fat person, restricting calories to rid fat won’t be the best way to maintain muscle mass and keep a healthy looking body. Simply adjusting what and when you put your calories in your mouth will become the rhyme and reason to your fat loss journey.

Read Jill Coleman’s “12 Habits of Lean People” blog post for great tips.

4. The people who say they are healthy eaters and have belly pudge aren’t healthy eaters. I’ve never come across a person who sticks to non-processed foods, minimal fruits, lots of vegetables, grass fed meats, healthy fats and who exercises a few hours a week look like a piece of crap. What you look like on the outside reflects what you look like on the inside and the things that you put in your mouth. Recently on our facebook page I explained this in greater detail… see the research below.

“Eat like shit, look like shit. It’s pretty simple stuff.”

5. I’m sure that we can all agree that if we need to get from point A to point B in a certain time, driving without directions is a horrible idea. Then imagine that at every intersection you came to one of those mileage destination totem poles. That’s the kind of road map that Men’s Health, Shape, Muscle & Fitness magazine, and other media outlets in the health and fitness industry have hooked you up with; an information no road map overload.

Working with a coach who has a well established system and who has turned out healthy and measurable results eliminates the destination totem poles and provides you a map like the new iPhone/Google maps – from point A to B with a few different options to fit your adventure. Don’t like back roads or tolls? Out! Don’t like red meat? Out! A coach who has traveled these roads will get you there with turn-by-turn directions, all you have to do is listen, pay attention, keep moving forward, and stick to your directions.

Get Started with your coach today: Ambitious Athletics 2-week FREE Trial

Dedicated to your health,


Gaining 12 Pounds of Lean Muscle

If you know me well enough, you know that I’m not one to talk about myself or toot my own horn, but today is different, I’ve got to share this with you… This past weekend, my wife (so weird to say) and I jumped over to Chicago for the weekend to see Pearl Jam play at Wrigley Field and to explore the Windy City for the first time.

Yes, Pearl jam was amazing and Chicago is awesome.

Aside from exploring the city and experiencing Pearl Jam at Wrigley, I had the pleasure of hanging with two of my favorite people in the fitness industry, two dudes whom I have the utmost respect for and look up to, Tyler English and Jason Ferruggia.

If you don’t know of these two, I suggest you get to know ‘em and connect with them both here.

Tyler English Facebook / Twitter

Jason Ferruggia Facebook / Twitter

Not only are they good people, they take the same approach as I do when it comes to your health and strength; NO BULLSHIT.

Tyler English is a Professional Natural Bodybuilder, Real World Strength Coach, Two-Time International Best-Selling Author, Entrepreneur and Transformation Coach, and just wrote and released the Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible.

Jason Ferruggia is the Trainer to the Gods, King of the West, author, old school hip hop head, entrepreneur, die-hard NY Yankees & Giants fan, and Lord Chief Rocka of the #RenegadeNation.

The weekend concluded, we were back in DC and it was back to health as usual when I got an email from Jason - check it out below.

To say I was honored is an understatement.

When you read the email below, I want you to think about your own goals

- Have you set up a realistic time frame to achieve your goals?

- Is the effort that you’re putting in consistently progressing you towards your goals?

- Do you have a coach who has “been there, done that” and is helping you eliminate the guesswork?

- Do you have a support system? read this

Going forward, you have three options;

1. Get started on your goal by joining me at Ambitious Athletics

2. Hook up with Jason in the Inner Circle, or

3. Pick up Tyler’s new book.

Dedicated to your health,

Carmen Sturniolo

From: Jason Ferruggia <>

Subject: How Carmen gained 12 pounds of lean muscle

Date: July 23, 2013 12:38:45 PM EDT

To: Carmen Sturniolo <>

I was in my favorite US city, Chicago, from last Thursday to Sunday. Friday morning I tried to meet up with my buddy, natural pro bodybuilder, Tyler English, for a workout but we just couldn't get the timing right.

Instead I walked across the street from the W hotel on Lakeshore Drive, where I was staying, to Ohio Street beach and did a conditioning session. There's a big cove of Lake Michigan right there where tons of boats come to hang out on the weekends and people go to swim laps. In waist deep water I ran sprints for 30 seconds then swam for 30 seconds. I alternated this on and off for 20 minutes until I was properly gassed.

If you have bad knees and have access to it, running in shallow water is a great, low impact workout.

After a couple hours at the beach Jen and I showered up to go meet everyone at Wrigley for the Pearl Jam concert. One of the people we met up with was Dave Jarzebowski, a long time Renegade Inner Circle member, who I have had the pleasure of meeting when he came to train with us a couple years back at Renegade Gym.

Dave looked significantly bigger, which made me proud. He also looked happier and less stressed; two things I place a great a focus on and discuss often. We talked about training, his daughter Alice and how he was liking the recent move to the Windy City.

I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Carmen Sturniolo, another long time Renegade Inner Circle member, who I had previously met when he attended a workshop at Renegade Gym last year. He's one of the coolest, most down to earth, classiest cats you'd ever wanna meet. So to see him looking so much bigger and achieving his goals made me very happy.

With a Big Show slap to the chest and a grab of the traps I asked Carmen, "how are you so massive? You look great, man."

Jen echoed my sentiments and Carmen told us he's been crushing food and training hard, following all of the principles laid down in the Renegade Inner Circle. He said he'd gained 12 pounds since we saw him a year ago.

And he wasn't an ounce fatter as far as I could tell. That's 12 pounds of lean, hard earned muscle. Now, to some of you who are used to reading supplement ads that doesn't sound like a lot.

But ask yourself when the last time you packed on 12 pounds of muscle was. Are you significantly bigger than you were this time a year ago?

Or are you just spinning your wheels like everyone else?

And keep in mind that Carmen is 31 and has been training for a while. With insane dedication and no over-thinking or wasting time, 12 pounds of muscle in 12 months for an advanced trainee is AMAZING.

He was able to do that because he didn't piss away 12 months second guessing everything or trying 99 different systems like most people do. He stuck with one thing and got the job done.

That's how you make progress.

Relentless dedication, Jason Ferruggia Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Yoga Pose of the Month Rewind: Get Your Om on with Poses #1-6

Hi Yogis! Have you been able to fit a little “me time” into your action-packed summer schedule? I know, I know … it’s easier said than done, right? With work, birthday parties, carpool, traffic jams on 95, we’re lucky we even eat dinner! I just got back from a week and a half in the Outer Banks with my extended family. Fourteen people in one house, including four children under the age of 8, isn’t necessarily synonymous with “me time,” but I found solace where I could. Waking up to see the sunrise and partaking in a little sound side yoga was just what I needed to unwind.

You can find inner peace in your daily routine, too! To help you get started, this month we’re recapping the Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month into a 6-pose series sure to help you find a little R&R in your every day. For a little added inspiration, the scenery is from my recent trip to the beach.



January Durgha 3-part Breath in Sukhasana

February Sukhasana Twist and Lateral Strectch

March Cat/Cow Tilts

April Balasana (Child's Pose)

May Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)

June Runner's Lunge

Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #6: June 2013

Runner’s Lunge For all you runner’s out there (it’s ok, I won’t tell Carmen!), aches and pains in the hips, thighs and calves are your daily companions. This month, I’m going to give you the cure for what ails ya (unless you’re this woman and then there’s no turning back). Appropriately called Runner’s Lunge, this yoga pose is one of my absolute favorites and it’s one of the most effective ways of stretching out those hips and legs after you’ve put some miles on them. Let’s get started!

Runner’s Lunge

1. From Downward Dog, lift your right leg high behind you on your exhale and hold the leg in this position for three breaths, as you drive the left heel toward the floor. Try to keep the weight balanced evenly in both arms.

2. On your next inhale, bend the knee and bring the right foot forward between your hands so that your knee is over your heel (this is important to protect the knee).

3. Lay your torso down on the right thigh, while keeping the spine long and reaching the chest forward (no rounded backs here).

4. Sink into that right knee bend, as you press the left thigh up toward the ceiling and drive the left heel toward the floor. Keep in mind, your heel won’t touch the floor, but you’ll want to keep the leg active to get the full benefit of the stretch.

5. Now that you’re in the general position, it’s time to perfect the pose. To deepen the stretch, imagine that you are reaching your two legs in opposite directions. The right knee drives forward as the left heel drives back. Now choose your gaze. If your neck feels good, look forward. Otherwise, look down toward the floor a foot or so in front of you. Breathe.

6. Having trouble keeping the spine long? Consider using two blocks under your hands to create a little more space in the upper body.

7. Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths.

8. On your next exhale, step the right foot back into Downward Dog.

9. Repeat steps 1-8 with the left leg.

10. Want to kick it up a notch? Add a little core work to the equation. After Step 1, inhale the knee forward to the nose. Exhale it back. Repeat this 5 times before you move on to Step 2. Repeat on both sides.

Happy Trails and Namaste!


Chris's Kitchen: How to Feed 7 Guys in The Wild Wonderful WV

At the beginning of this month my groomsmen, friends, and family set off for my bachelor weekend in the woods of West Virginia where we went whitewater rafting, rode 4-wheelers, played paintball, and ate like back country men. Yes, I’m getting married in just a few days but this entry is about nothing but food, good people, and why Chris’s Kitchen posts are a must eat.

The Opening of Chris’s Kitchen

Two years ago, I invited Chris to help celebrate my 29th birthday at Broadkill Beach, Delaware. He was kind enough to accept the invite but under just one condition, we allowed him to cook all of the meals for the entire weekend.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had someone ask or tell me that they want to cook for an entire weekend.

“Ummm, sure. I guess you can cook everything, Chris.”

We couldn’t go wrong even if the guy was just going to be cooking hamburgers and eggs all weekend, it would be made to order food and we wouldn’t have to cook.

I’m sure that if you’re reading this and or have read or tried any of Chris’s recipes or recipe finds, you would expect that the weekend of my 29th birthday was top notch with some amazing food.

As I said, just a couple of weekends ago was my bachelor party down in the “Wild, Wonderful” West Virginia and of course Chris was there; he’s in the wedding – and of course he wanted to take the reins on the menu, he’s earned the right to do so.

Some of you know Chris and some of you don’t, but what I wish for you to do is explore Chris’s ideas and love for food. Healthy food. Try out his recipes when we post them, and begin to explore your own taste buds.

I had to write this post for you guys because it’s just not fair that you don’t get to taste this dude’s cooking. Plus, I had to let you in on the menu that he created for the “guys in the woods” weekend.

The Bachlelor Weekend Menu

Thursday night Pulled pork

courtesy of the Civilized Caveman website with coleslaw squeezed between potato rolls.

Friday Breakfast Casserole



Russet Potato


Precook two packages of bacon, cube 2-3 russet potatoes, dice as much onion to your liking and sauté in some leftover bacon grease. Layer these cooked ingredients into a 9X11 pan; add approx. 18 eggs and bake in oven at 400o for 45 minutes. Teriyaki Portobello Mushroom Veggie Burgers

(My favorite of the weekend)

Portobello Mushrooms

Canned Pineapple Rings

Light Brown Sugar

Soy Sauce

Potato Rolls

Coconut oil

Red Leaf Lettuce

Remove stems and gills from Portobello mushrooms and place into a skillet topside down with two tablespoons of coconut oil. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan add three tablespoons of soy sauce, one tablespoon of light brown sugar, and pineapple rings and simmer while you cook your Portobello mushrooms. Toast your potato rolls and assemble your sandwiches with the lettuce, pineapples, and mushrooms.

To make this recipe even faster, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven is preheating, coat your Pyrex dish with coconut oil and place your Portobello top side down and place pineapples on the inside of the Portobello. Cook for fifteen minutes, remove from oven and drizzle simmer sauce onto Portobello pineapples, and assemble sandwiches as described above. Steak Rub

(can be any cut of your choice, we did rib eye’s)

Light Brown Sugar (1 Tbsp)

Smoked Paprika (1 Tbsp)

Chipotle Powder (1 Tbsp)

Sea Salt (1 Tsp)

Garlic Powder (1 Tbsp)

Cumin (1 Tsp)

Fresh cracked Black Pepper

Saturday Cobb Salad Sandies

(A staple of our get-togethers since the opening of Chris's Kitchen 2011)



Dijon Mustard

Blue Cheese Crumbles

Hot Sauce of your liking

Potato Rolls (if desired)

Hard-boil about six to one dozen eggs. Cut and dice two to three avocados. In a mixing bowl mix dijon mustard with avocados. When your eggs are ready and cooled add them along with blue cheese crumbles to the bowl, mix and serve on lettuce leaves, potato rolls, or just eat it by itself. Pork Chops

See Steak Rub above

Brown the chops in bacon grease before grilling

Side Dishes Roasted Potatoes

Red Potatoes 3lb Bag

Russet Potatoes 3lbs

Smoked Paprika


Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Pesto (I used the Whole Foods pre-made kind)

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 415 degrees

Wash, peel and dice your potatoes. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the above ingredients. Eyeball the spices (I did!) and then spread on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Cook for approximately 30-40 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and place in a mixing bowl and top with pesto, mix, and enjoy! Bacon wrapped asparagus Whole Foods premade Coleslaw Vodka Soda w/ lemon Athletic Greens

I really hope you take the opportunity to try out some of these great meals, rubs, or other ideas that Chris throws down; or at least throw some of your own meals together at home. As we do, feel free to share a favorite healthy recipe of your own below or on our Facebook page. And if you’ve made any of the recipes from Chris’s kitchen, please let us know which one and what you thought about it.

Now wipe your mouth of the drool that’s about to land in your lap!



Chris's Kitchen: Breakfast Anytime

Hello from The Kitchen, I have to start off by saying, it was AWESOME to work out with some of you guys last Wednesday. It was supposed to be my off day, but Carmen said I could be his friend that got to go to Bootcamp so I jumped at the opportunity, and I could not have been happier to have worked out with you guys and gals. My lower body was not so happy the next day, but I just switched my workout days around and got after it! You all pushed me, so Thank You!

And thank you for the feedback. It was great to meet the people who are actually trying out the recipes and providing real feedback. Feedback that said, there needs to be a binder for the Meat Lasagna and we need more vegetables and maybe even a vegetarian recipe in the future. Noted and Noted. The people have spoken and I have listened. Below are two links to two of my favorite recipes. They pack the nutrients that everyone wants and needs; vegetables, protein, carbs, and bacon. Oh Yeah, one of these recipes has bacon! In fact, a recent article was just published about a 105 year old woman who attributes her longevity to back. Long live bacon!!

Seriously, these may be breakfast recipes, but I remember a Kellogs cereal slogan from when I was a kid that asked, "when is the best time for breakfast?" It had a bowl of cereal poised as a clock with no hands and the simple answer of "Anytime". And you know what? They were right. I no longer eat cereal but I can tell you this, after my workout yesterday I had the Rutabaga Egg Nests (Four Eggs) and for dinner last night I had the Delicious Breakfast Hash with a large chicken breast and Chocolate Peanut Butter and Blueberry Shake with 3 Scoops of Protein (I slept like a baby).

These recipes are super simple and honestly can last you for up to three days. Make them both and alternate and you have a post-workout meal for the entire week. For those of you who don't know where to find Rutabaga, it is in the Turnip family and is usually sold in the vegetable section alongside of the turnips. Turnips are purple and white and rutabaga is a light tan color. Simply use a vegetable peeler and peel the outside hard skin away and either shred it in a food processor or for a great tricep workout, use a cheese grater.

Again it was a pleasure meeting you all. I hope to see A Lot of you at the May 18th Adventure Run and I look forward to your continued feedback. These are your recipes, so keep the feedback coming.

Lastly, I saw this Great quote when I was out to dinner at an awesome organic restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria (Jackson 20) and immediately thought of Carmen and the Ambitious Athletics Family, so I leave you with this quote:

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."


PS. If I didn't have the opporutnity to work out with you or meet you at the anniversary party, then please feel free to leave your feedback below. Thanks again!

Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #5: May 2013

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) Spring has sprung, yogis! And for that reason, we are springing into action with our Ambitious Yoga Pose for the month of May. Balasana is nice and all, but it’s time to really get things moving with one of the all-time greatest yoga poses and one you’ll never take a yoga class without: Adho Mukha Svanasana, most commonly known as Downward-Facing Dog – that’s Downward Dog to all you yoga faithfuls out there. Why do people love it? Because it literally does it all – it calms the mind, strengthens and stretches the arms, legs and spine, energizes the body and turns your perspective (literally!) upside down. Let’s get started ….

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)

1. Without moving the hands or knees, transition from Balasana to all fours (Table) position. Lucky for you, Balasana is the best pose to transition into Downward Dog from. Why? Because your hands and knees are already the perfect distance apart. You shouldn’t have to move a thing! But just in case – hands should be shoulder-width distance apart and slightly ahead of your shoulders and legs are hips-width distance apart.

2. From Table, on your next exhale curl your toes under and press your hands and feet into the floor as you lift your hips up and back. Your body should know form a triangle position with your sit bones (the pointy bones at the base of your bum) as the highest point.

3. Press your hands actively into the floor through all five fingers to straighten your arms completely and continue that length through the base of your spine. Imagine you are pressing the floor away from you. If your shoulders feel tight, feel free to take the hands a little wider apart and consider angling your fingertips toward the corners of your mat to create more space in the shoulders.

4. Similarly, if your legs feel tight, step them a little wider apart to create a little more space in the hamstring and calves. Because we are still early in the sequence, feel free to keep a bend in the knees to release any tension in the legs and allow you to balance the weight more evenly between the hands and the feet. For most people – especially those who are newer to yoga -- Downward Dog is extremely challenging, because tight hamstrings make it difficult to shift the weight into the legs, meaning that the majority of the weight must be carried by the upper body. Bending the knees helps reduce that imbalance.

5. Allow your head and neck to completely relax. Your gaze should be between the shins.

6. Now let’s open up through the hamstrings and calves by “Walking the Dog” – bending one knee as you straighten the other one and continuing to peddle the feet back and forth. Continue here for a few breaths.

7. Now that we are in the basic position, let’s make a few small adjustments to improve the pose.

a. Upper Body: Slightly rotate the biceps toward your ears (“like they want to tell your ears a secret!”) as your firm your shoulder blades against your back and draw them down your back toward your tailbone.

b. Hips: Lift the hips up and back and reach your sit bones to the place where the wall and ceiling meet.

c. Lower Body: Now that you are a bit more warmed up, press the thighs toward the wall behind you and reach your heels down toward the ground, straightening your legs without locking the knees. Note: the heels do not have to touch the ground. Everybody (and every body) is different!

8. Practice holding the pose for different lengths of time. If you are newer to the pose, 20 seconds might be enough. If you are more experienced, try holding for 1-3 minutes. Whatever amount of time you choose, just breathe and enjoy!



"Ohhhh Dear Dad, Can You See Me Now?"

My career with human movement began before I realized it. While I was aware of my passion for it as a young athlete, it officially started in 2006 while my dad was in the ICU recovering from a stroke and an aortic dissection, the splitting of the largest artery that supplies blood to the rest of the body. As a young athlete, I was able to listen to feedback from coaches, internalize it, manipulate it, and adapt it to better my swing, crow hop, pass, juke, catch, etc. at any given time. It’s a gift that my dad passed on to me.

When the doctors told us that Dad might not ever have full function of his left leg or be able to walk again without assistance, I was determined to prove them otherwise. Just like you I’m sure, I knew my dad was a super hero and this wasn’t going to hold him down.

With knowledge from my sports endeavors, I knew that if an individual could mentally understand it, he/she could produce it.

Day in and day out, I worked with my dad to help trigger nervous system pathways to help regenerate touch, feel, and movement, otherwise known as neural transmission. Repetitively moving his leg through space, touching it, poking it, rubbing it, and applying manual resistance to it, all while he was mentally engaged. We attempted to create a firing response from within the nervous system. Weeks went by with no response.

Then one day it happened, he voluntarily was able to move his toes. Days later and after more work, he was able to lift his foot just slightly off the ground from a sitting position. This was followed by a somewhat standing position for a couple of seconds with support, to fully standing with support, to relearning the walking pattern between parallel bars, to a walker with ankle assistance. The Physical Therapist and Doctor were both impressed and did credit me with my ongoing help. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of my career.

My love for training stems from the activities I did with my dad at the gym, in the batting cage, on the golf course, on roofs, and everywhere in between prior to his aortic dissection. And my pride in and passion for training grew from being able to do so much with him as he worked toward recovery. The memory of my dad reminds me to treat every client the way I would treat him.

His rare condition planted too many questions in my head in which I’ll never have all the answers to, but I quickly started my research just after his death later in 2006.

Since 2008 I’ve earned many certifications through various credible sources enabling growth in my philosophy and knowledge for the human body. The certifications I hold are also held and used by some of the most credible coaches in the world.

Although I’d like to help as many people as possible, I can’t stand to work with those who really don’t care about their health and body overall.

Many of my past and present clients can tell you, I will go out of my way and make time for you and any questions you might have. The time spent with my dad during those weeks in the hospital reminds of the why I enjoy working with clients on a personal level. I love helping people succeed.

Since beginning this career path, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and meeting some amazing people from all over the world. I’d like to think that my dad is happy knowing that he’s inspired me to live a life helping others.

My Dad’s love for sports, particularly golf, and life will forever remain on the 10th hole on the Penn State University golf course. Sponsored by his golf buddies and Ambitious Athletics.

My first visit to DC, early 1990's

Thank you again for your support,

Carmen Sturniolo

Owner, Ambitious Athletics