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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!


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

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

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!

Chris's Kitchen - 6 Healthy Protein Shakes for Spring

Hello Everybody, The spring season is coming; I know it snowed just a couple of weeks ago and it is still a little chilly outside, but warmer weather is coming! I won't jinx it and say that Spring is here until the next time you hear from me, but Spring is here :)

This time around in Chris' Kitchen, we all wanted to share some of our protein shake recipes, both original and discovered from cookbooks and blogs.

I LOVE protein shakes! For a person with a serious sweet tooth, my protein shakes provide me with not just my nutritional needs; they also provide a healthy alternative to an unhealthy snack. Here are a few of my go-to’s.

Chris’s go-to daily protein shakes

Pre-Workout Shake

· 2 Scoops of Sun Warrior Vanilla Rice Protein

· 3 Tbsp of Potato Starch

· 1 Tbsp of Athletic Greens (Greens Supplement)

· 1 cup of Unsweetened Coconut Milk

· 6 oz of Unsweetened Almond Milk

· 3 oz of Coconut Water

I place everything into my Blender Bottle in the order listed above and shake for thirty seconds and slam it back, heavy lifting to follow.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter Post-Workout Shake

· 1 Scoop of Sun Warrior Chocolate Rice Protein

· 1 Serving (2 Scoops) of BioTrust Low Carb Chocolate Protein

· ¼ cup Frozen Black Cherry's

· 1 Tbsp of Almond Butter

· 3 Tbsp of Potato Starch

· 1 cup of Unsweetened Coconut Milk

· 1 cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk

Combine all ingredients in your Vitamix or blender, cover, blend, and enjoy. I make my shakes the night before and place them in a blender bottle. I find that the flavors meld together over night. If you are making this directly after your workout, add about a cup of ice for a really cold treat.

My nighttime shake is usually the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie you can find right here:

Carmen’s go-to daily protein shakes

The Vitamin Cocktail

· Huge handful of baby spinach

· 2 of cups water

· 1 Serving of Athletic Greens

· 1 Serving of coconut oil or full fat canned coconut milk

· 1 Serving of frozen blueberries

· 2 servings of chocolate protein powder

The Sweet and Salty Hulk

· Handful of baby spinach

· 2 cups of water

· 2 kale leaves stripped from stalk

· 3-4 Clementine’s

· 1 Serving of mixed roasted and salted nuts

· 5 ice cubes

· 2 servings of chocolate or vanilla protein powder

*Tip: Blend the vegetables first to avoid any clumpiness in the shake. Then add the more dense items (fruits/nuts) and blend again. Lastly, add in the protein powder. If the recipe calls for ice, add it in last to get the consistency you desire.

Emilie’s go-to daily protein shakes

Monkey’s Milk

· 1 scoop of vanilla protein

· ½ cup of frozen berries

· 2 handfuls of spinach

· 1 Cup of almond milk

· 1 banana

(Optional add-ons: 1 tablespoon almond butter)

Cucumber Delight

· 1 scoop of vanilla protein

· 1 Cup of cantaloupe

· ½ cucumber

· 2 handfuls of kale

· 1 cup of almond milk or water

I LOVE training hard and eating clean. Actually, WE LOVE training and eating clean. That's why you don't see huge differences in our shake ingredients, we only throw in the necessities and keep out the crap. Enjoy the protein shake recipes and have a great Spring season, your summer body is right around the corner.

Please feel free to share you go-to protein shakes by commenting below. I'd love to try out one of yours!


Pregnant, FOOD, More Food, and Exercise

Pregnant, FOOD, More Food, and Exercise Welcome back! In my second and final installment of Staying Fit During Pregnancy, I will focus mostly on food cravings, weight gain, and weight loss after baby.

You can read the first installment here.

First off, if there is any chance you might become pregnant, doctors recommend you begin taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Taking folic acid (a B vitamin) before and during pregnancy can prevent birth defects in a baby's brain and spinal cord. I could not stomach traditional prenatal vitamins (made me feel like I was going to throw up), so my doctor told me a regular supplement would be just fine.

There are many key nutrients that are important during pregnancy. Calcium and Vitamin D for your bones and baby's as well. Protein is crucial for your baby's growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. And iron to prevent anemia. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough of these nutrients through your diet, it would be helpful to consult your doctor about taking supplements.

Some foods that the Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding during pregnancy include: seafood high in mercury, sushi, unpasteurized cheeses, raw or undercooked meat, and excess caffeine and alcohol. Personally, I had no problem with this.

Now let's talk about the cravings and food sources that helped me make sure I was getting enough calories in :) . I definitely had cravings, and they differed somewhat during my first and second pregnancies. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I literally laid out an ice cream sundae bar every, single night. Ice cream, chocolate sauce, M&Ms, sprinkles, whipped cream, you name it. The second time around, I wasn't very interested in ice cream at all. In the beginning of my second pregnancy, I was insatiably hungry. I felt like I was eating from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. And I wanted salty carbs. I am generally not a salty carb fan, so this was surprising to me.

Other random things I craved while pregnant:

1) Sprite and Slurpees (pregnancy #1). I drank a Slurpee pretty much every day during my second and third trimesters. Thank Heaven for 7-11.

2) Utz Party Mix. Don't know what that is? Good, you would never eat it unless you were pregnant or stoned. Some godawful mix of Cheetos, BBQ Fritos, Doritos,Tostitos, and who knows what else?! Sold at the CVS.

3) Sandwiches; specifically, the Surfside at Jetties and the #300 at Wagshal's. I would walk into Wagshal's and whoever was behind the counter would immediately say, "Number 300?". Both contain salty pork products. Which leads me to…

4) BACON!!! There could never be enough bacon. I once went to a brunch buffet with a friend and came back to the table with a plateful of about 15 strips of bacon. She looked at me and deadpanned, "Wow, you weren't kidding when you said you've been craving bacon.". And, yes, I ate it all.

So, how much weight did I gain? Current recommendations say that if you are at a healthy weight, you should gain between 25-35 pounds during your pregnancy. They say it is not necessary to "eat for two" and that you only need about 300 extra calories per day. I say, if you are healthy and the baby is healthy, don't worry about this!

Pregnancy is not a time to restrict what you eat or count calories, for that matter. Besides, anyone who has ever experienced a pregnancy craving knows that they must be satisfied, so enjoy it!

The first time around, I did not get bigger anywhere but my belly. I looked just like my normal self, only having swallowed a basketball. Now, you can move your middle finger away from your computer screen because the second time around was an entirely different story. If you can imagine a hippopotamus crossed with Jabba the Hut, you can envision what I looked like during my second pregnancy. I was bigger pretty much everywhere.

The truth is, I really don't know exactly how much weight I gained during my pregnancies. I was fortunate to have a doctor who trusted me to weigh myself alone in the restroom, so I would just add a pound or so every time I visited him. Why would I do such a thing?! Because I knew that I was healthy, my babies were healthy and I didn't need to know that if I sat on a teeter-totter with my 6'3 tall husband, I might send him flying up in the air!

I should note that by the end of both pregnancies, I slowed down significantly in terms of workouts. About a month before giving birth, I stopped strength training and just took it easy on the good ol' elliptical. I did what I could until the bitter end, though.

I am going to go ahead and skip past the labor and delivery part (keeping with the PG theme) except to say thank God for epidurals! Amen.

I really had no expectations for how long it would take for me to lose the baby weight. I believe this is a healthy approach. I asked my doctor how long I should wait to exercise after I gave birth and he pretty much told me I could start whenever I felt ready. He knew that I had exercised consistently the entire time I was pregnant. This does not apply if you have a C-section. You definitely must follow your doctor's orders. I began with easy walks a few days after giving birth and slowly built up my exercise program again. Just like you did throughout your pregnancy, it is just as important to listen to your body after you give birth and not push or pressure yourself. I am not going to say how long it took me to get back to my pre-baby state, but I will say it was much quicker than I ever expected. And I attribute this 100% to staying active throughout my pregnancies, despite all the bacon.

Stay strong, feed the cravings.


Chris's Kitchen - Chilean Sea Bass

Chris's Kitchen - Chilean Sea Bass (Pictures Below)

Hello from my kitchen, Chris' Kitchen! I am sure you have all noticed a commercial or two about fish sandwiches and fish bites. While I, and probably the fast food joints included, am not exactly sure what type of fish is contained in those sandwiches and mini bites but I am sure that this month's recipe will surely delight. Today I will not only provide you with a main dish, but an entire meal.

When people think fish, they think salmon, tuna, halibut, cod, and mahi mahi. Those are all very great and healthy fish, but today I am going to give you a recipe for Chilean Sea Bass.

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

Chilean Sea Bass - 2 - 3lbs

Grass Fed Butter - 1 Tablespoon Equally divided amongst your fish.

Lemon - 1 Sliced Thinly

Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste

Swiss Chard - 2 Bunches

Dino Kale - 2 Bunches

Carrots - 4 (Shaved)


Preheat your oven to 375 Degrees.

While your oven preheats, cut your Chilean Sea Bass horizontally into two or three equal parts. Lay out enough aluminum foil to fold and tent your fish. Lay your fish in the center of the foil, season with salt and pepper, a pat of butter (insert English Accent), and two lemon slices. Fold and Tent your aluminum foil and place on a baking tray and place in the oven for fifteen minutes.

While your fish is cooking in the oven, place a tablespoon of coconut oil or a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and melt over medium heat.

While this is going on wash and slice your swiss chard and Dino Kale vertically against the stems and then cut horizontally and add to your skillet.

While your kale and swiss chard cooks, cut the tops off of your carrots, wash, and peel your carrots and add to your skillet.

By now your fish should be done. Carefully remove your Chilean Sea Bass from the oven and open the tent away from you. Plate your chard, kale, and carrot mix onto the plate and top with your Chilean Sea Bass. Dinner is Served!

Straight Out of the Oven Kitchen Bonus: The REAL Filet O' Fish

What you will need is a 1 to 2 pounds of Cod, some Panko Bread Crumbs, 1 Egg, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

You will need one bowl with your beaten egg and another with half a cup of Panko Bread Crumbs and Seasoning mixed together.

Heat a medium size skillet with a tablespoon of Grass Fed Butter over medium heat.

Cut your fish into three or four equal pieces.

Dip your fish in the egg mixture and coat both sides of the fish, and then cover both sides of your fish with your Panko Bread Crumb seasoning.

Place your fish in the hot skillet, careful not to crowd the pan. Cook on each side for three minutes, plate and enjoy on top of a mixed green salad or the vegetables from above.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Chris' Kitchen. Next month I hope to do something totally different with this blog post which will include Carmen.

If there is something you would like to see more or less of in recipes please let me know. Thanks for your time.

Train Hard and Eat Great,


Chris's Kitchen - Carrot, Orange, and Ginger Soup

Two weeks ago it was hard for me to think about a soup recipe, seeing that it was seventy degrees outside, however; in light of twenty degree days and our Ambitious leader recently feeling under the weather, there could not be a better time for this recipe. Today's treat; Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup with Chicken is courtesy of the Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook. I absolutely love this cookbook and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to simplify their life and healthy lifestyle. For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:Coconut Oil or Butter 2Tbsp Onion (rough chopped) 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Ginger (Grated or Chopped) 1 Tbsp Cinnamon 1 Tsp Chili Powder 1/2 Tsp Baby Carrots 6 Cups Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk 1 Cup Low-Fat Milk 3 Cups Salt 1 Tsp Pepper 1/2 Tsp Chicken (Cubed) 1lb 5 oz

Instructions: Preheat a large pot on medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and then the onions and saute until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add the remaining oil, ginger, cinnamon and chili powder and saute for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the carrots, orange juice, coconut milk and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. When the milk begins to boil, reduce heat immediately to a simmer to avoid boiling over. Simmer until carrots are soft (about 10 minutes). Let mixture cool for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper and puree with a blender or food processor until smooth and then pour back into the pot. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and grill. Cube the chicken and add to the pot. To maintain the tenderness of the meat, avoid bringing the soup to a boil after the chicken has been added.

Ready for a little secret? If you have a Vitamix, you can make this soup in less than 20 minutes...WHAT!!! I Know, Right!?!! This meal is great after a workout, when you're feeling a little under the weather, or you just want the comfort of a nice warm cup or bowl of soup. With changing weather and a flu epidemic, it is very important to make sure your body is constantly getting the right vitamins and nutrients. I hope this recipe finds everyone "well" and I wish everyone a healthy, strong, and because it is the "Month of Love", Love!

Work Hard and Eat Great!


Chris's Kitchen - The Muscle Meat Lasagna

Hello Everybody and Happy New Year! For this month's recipe you have to look no further than down. Today I am pleased to present you with a Chris Original Recipe! How original, I just finished this recipe and it is cooling on the counter original. So everybody loves lasagna, but how can you enjoy lasagna if you don't want noodles? It's easy, you take out the noodles and leave the stuff that compliments your hard work with Carmen. I used to make this lasagna which everyone loves and requests (I just made it for Christmas) and while I was making this recipe I literally said, Chris take out the noodles and get this to Carmen and Company. So here it is, My Muscle Lasagna:

Ingredient List:

Portobello Mushroom Caps (Two Packs) (At Trader Joe's they come three to a pack for $2.50)

Sliced Portobello or White Mushrooms (10 oz)

Red/Green/Orange/Yellow Peppers - 1 of Each (Best Deal Trader Joe's - 3 Pack)

Fresh Basil (Trader Joe's)

Bagged Spinach - 1 Bag (Trader Joe's $1.99)

Canned Crushed or Diced Tomatoes - 2 (28 oz)

Grass-Fed Ground Beef - 2lbs

Sausage - (Trader Joe's or Whole Foods) (Links - Remove Casings) - 2

Packs Bacon - (I used Trader Joe's Apple Smoked Bacon $3.99)

Cayenne Pepper - 1 Tsp

Smoked Paprika - 1 Tbsp

Chili Powder - 1 Tsp

Dried Oregano - 1 Tbsp

Garlic Powder - 1 Tsp

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: In one skillet prepare your bacon. Use the entire package and resist the urge to eat the bacon, IT WILL BE HARD, but you must resist. Everyone say Thank You to Our Favorite Strong Mom Tara L who reminded me, "Bacon makes everything Better!" Thank You Mrs. Lamond, Thank You! Heat another skillet on medium heat and place a Tbsp of Coconut Oil into the pan. While the pan is heating up, remove the stem and gills from the portobello mushroom caps, wash, dry, and slice length wise and place into the warm pan. Monitor your mushrooms and watch that bacon.

Remove the cooked mushrooms from the pan and now add another Tbsp of Coconut Oil into that same pan which had the sliced mushroom caps and add the sliced mushrooms and peppers which should be sliced length wise. Cook for approximately eight to ten minutes. Remove them from heat and add them to the same area where you put your sliced mushroom caps. By this time all of your bacon should be cooked and resting on a plate.

Now add your ground beef to the same pan which had your mushroom and peppers and cook until no longer pink. Drain your meat in a strainer in the sink. Now go add your sausage to that same pan. Cook your sausage. Now everything is cooked right - WRONG! We have to make the sauce. It is simple and you are going to be making this sauce for everything and for everyone.

For the sauce open your two cans of diced or crushed tomatoes and add them to the pan which just had your sausage. While the sauce is cooking add your spices and the bag of spinach and basil to the pan. Cook until the spinach has wilted and is totally incorporated into the sauce.

Now we are ready to assemble. I know what you are thinking and what you are going to say; Chris this is A Lot of Meat! You are Right - You're Welcome!!! Coat a 9x5 pyrex dish or anything which you normally cook lasagna in with coconut spray.

Now assemble:

First Layer - Ground Beef

Second Layer - Bacon (I hope you did not eat it all)

Third Layer - Sausage

*This was included in the first layer per this chef's own discretion.

Fourth Layer - Sliced Portobello Mushroom Caps

Fifth Layer - Mushrooms and Peppers

Final Layer - Sauce Cheese? There is NO Cheese - And you won't Miss it!

Place in a preheated 400 F oven for 30 minutes.

Remove and Enjoy!


You train hard, Now Go Eat Well!!!


5 Simple Ways to Accelerate Fat Loss

5 Simple Ways to Accelerate Fat Loss 1. Ditch breakfast

Here’s what I’m saying, breakfast is two words: break and fast. It’s not necessary to eat a meal as soon as you get out of bed or before you leave the house. Break your fast a little later in the day. Why? Think about your dinner. Calories-wise, it was probably your biggest meal of the day. And what did you do after? If you’re like most people, you sat around, watched a little TV and slept. This means that all of that energy from dinner is just waiting to get used in the early morning. If you eat breakfast, you’re just packing in more calories that you really don’t need.

2. Start your day with a fatty protein packed meal

Have a protein and fat source available to you for your first meal of the day, so you don’t grab a breakfast burrito or something easy that’s loaded with carbs. Why? Because it’s all about keeping insulin production to a minimum, and fat burning at a maximum and insulin blunts fat utilization. Carb up early and stop fat burning early. Sure it’s said that most people who break their fast later in the day often make poor food choices when eating their first meal, which is why it’s extremely important to have a plan.

Here’s a few ways to break your fast: Greek yogurt + almonds Whole Egg omelet Vegetable protein shake + almond butter Steak and eggs Bacon and eggs The Vitamin Cocktail shake

3. Eat a variety of vegetables

If you’re reading this, the chances that you are an adult are pretty good. This means it’s about time to learn to cook with a variety of vegetables. It’s really easy: mix them into your favorite dishes, sauté them, roast them, grill them, bake them, etc. Do whatever you need to do to get them into every meal. Why? Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals essential to our body vitals and functions. Nothing further needs to be said, just start eating at least 5 handfuls of vegetables daily.

4. Drink black coffee, tea and water – nothing else

Coffee, tea and water all include great benefits until you start adding stuff to them. Why? Not only do coffee and tea provide a boost to your day, they have also been linked to other benefits that you can read more about here and here. Water should be more obvious to you. We know it’s essential for life (crystal light isn’t), so be sure to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces: 150lb person = >75 ounces.

What about alcohol? Keep it minimal and stick to vodka soda and fresh squeezed lemon.

5. Save your starches for dinner

Home sweet home, toss the phone aside, turn on some Seinfeld and grill up a big slab of meat and some potatoes. It’s time to kick into chill mode and starches will help you achieve just that. Why? Carbohydrates trigger serotonin release, which makes us feel content and relaxed and usually induces sleep. What about Thanksgiving Day? Sure the tryptophan in turkey lends a hand but lets think about all of the extras: stuffing, sweet potatoes, pies, etc. You know where I’m going with this, straight to the couch. Zzzzzzzz….

Dedicated to your health,


Gluten-free Blueberry Protein Pancakes

This batch will make 10-12 good sized pancakes. I ate mine in two sittings and they were just as good the second time around. Don't add any additional butter or syrup, just demolish. Bowl 1 - dry mix

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Sweet White Rice Flour 1/2 cup Bod's Red Mill Potato Starch 3 teaspoons baking powder 3 teaspoons stevia - not really necessary Couple dashes of sea salt 2 scoops chocolate protein powder

Bowl 2 - wet mix

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: 1 1/2 cups coconut milk turned butter milk (add 1 tablespoon or lemon juice and vinegar to the milk) I only had apple cider vinegar and it worked just fine. Not really sure if it's even necessary to add lemon juice or vinegar to be honest. 5 tablespoons or 70 grams of real butter (Kelly's Irish Gold or Smjor are my favorite) 1 large egg

Whisk all wet ingredients then add to the dry bowl. Whisk all ingredients together until there are no lumps in the mixture.

Add 2 cups of blueberries. Wisk again to complete mix.

Use 1/4 measuring cup to ladle pancake mix on to griddle and cook until golden brown, then flip.

Please let me know what you think about these pancakes by leaving a comment below or on the Ambitious Athletics Facebook page. Enjoy, Carmen

Chris's Kitchen - The Rub Down

I am back with some new recipes to get you through the week if not the month. This month I am centering my attention on rubs for meat. Rubs are simple and add a variety of tastes which take plain old chicken and grass fed steak to a whole other level. These rubs can be applied right before cooking or can actually be done ahead of time. It was common practice in the days of Columbus and beyond to season meats with salt and other spices for the purpose of preservation. Like anything, the longer the spices stayed on the meat the more infused the meat became with the flavor of the spices. I like to shop at the end of the week, rub all of my meats for the week, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and then leave them for 24 to 48 hours. This simple trick helps me get lunches and dinners prepared in the fastest time possible. I hope you will enjoy these two very simple and distinctive rubs.

The Coffee Rub.

This rub is for red meat and can be used on any cut. I have personally used this rub on Flank Steak, Sirloin Steak, and New York Strip. What I like about this recipe is that it can be done on the stove or on the grill. Here is what you do. Combine all of the ingredients listed below, rub on your meat, and then cook your meat to your desired doneness. Yes, it is that simple.

Here's what you need:

1 1/4lb Steak (Flank, Sirloin, New York Strip) (I like the Flank and Sirloin the Best!)

1 1/2 TSp Ancho Chili or Chili Powder

1 1/2 Tsp Fine Ground Espresso Coffee (I use Ferrara Instant Espresso which is available at Whole Foods in the Coffee Section)

1/2 Tsp Brown Sugar

1/4 Tsp Dry Mustard

1/4 Tsp Ground Coriander

1/4 Tsp Sea Salt

1/4 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

Cinnamon and Sage Rub (best used on chicken drumsticks)

This is another rub and recipe I found on the Civilized Cavman site that I shared with you last month.

You will need:

6 Chicken Drumsticks

2 Tbsp Grass Fed Butter (melted)

1-2 Tbsp Sage (Cheapest at Trader Joe's in the Fresh Produce Section)

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

These are simple rubs that I use often and I have tried with family and friends. I hope you find as much enjoyment in them as I have and will this week.

Train Harder and Eat Well!

How will you ever grow up, if you don’t eat?

While I was still planning my third trip up to the county buffet (the Thanksgiving spread) my sister-in-law’s father, Harold, looked over at me while inhaling slices of pumpkin pie, lemon and chocolate pie and said “eat up, Carmen. How will you ever grow up if you don’t eat?” Harold is usually right about everything, but in this case he was more than right. You bet your ass I stood right up and loaded my plate up with more ham, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. Before you dismiss Harold’s words of wisdom by saying, “nah, I’m already grown up,” here’s the key takeaway for you: you need proper nutrition to meet your true potential.

I work with a few clients on getting their nutrition right and better understanding what their body needs as far as energy. And, believe it or not, the most common poor eating habit I see is under eating. Not over eating. Seriously.

I know you would automatically think that because people come to me to lose fat and gain muscle you would think everyone starts off as overweight or out of shape. Not the case.

Most people are skinny fat.

These are the guys and girls who look OK with clothes on. Their arms aren’t flabby. They don’t have a double chin. In general, they seem to be in decent shape.

But they’re not. They are skinny fat because they don’t eat enough food to run their own metabolism. In addition to running their metabolism off sludge they continue to apply bad stress to their body (e.g., stressful work, shitty foods) and none of the good stress (e.g., resistance training and yoga/meditation). These bad behaviors only aid their skinny fatness.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to leave the skinny fat behind and grow up. And growing up means eating and lifting like a grown up, not a 17 year old who can eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce. For the record, cupcakes, bagels, pizza, cliff bars, cereal and cereal bars are not food.

Proper nutrition starts by eating from the earth and the local farm. If you don’t, you’ll never grow up to be big and strong like your mom and dad always said you would. The only big and strong you’ll ever be is your belly hanging over your belt, which will only ever assist you with shitty incline bench form.

Must Have Kitchen Components

You know the old saying, “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with other successful people.” Well it’s no different in the kitchen, you’ve got to surround yourself with the right tools in order to create and succeed with healthy eating habits. But just having the tools is the easy part, knowing how and when to use them is key.

Here’s a sneak peek at my kitchen arsenal:

Share pictures of your kitchen aresnal for a chance to win. (see below)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case it’s worth a thousand dollars. Yes, this is nearly $1,000 worth of kitchen equipment. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be cheap, but what you get from these tools is worth 10 times that in the long run, I promise. Here’s why:

Food Scale

This is by far my favorite tool in my kitchen and an absolute must-have in any kitchen. More often than not people will underestimate weight, calories and other measurements associated with food. Heck, many people even underestimate their own body weight and fat, hence the reason why many of you own a scale - to monitor your weight. Personally, I’d throw away the bodyweight scale and get a food scale, stat.

Here’s an example of how it works. Lets take a juicy hamburger... Did you know that you lose an ounce or more of weight after the raw meat is cooked? Don’t skimp yourself on the meat! If you want an 8 oz. burger, the food scale can tell you exactly how much raw meat to cook to make sure you are getting the quantity you are looking for – nothing more and nothing less. Not only does the food scale help you eat the right portion size, it helps you better understand food labels across the board. Tips and things to consider: • is a great place to compare a variety of scales. • Grab a scale that weighs in both grams and ounces. • Get one that is easy to clean and doesn’t take up the entire counter top. • Be sure to grab one with a large surface scale area so you can place a large enough dish on top for larger measurements. (see mine above)

High Powered Blender

(SPLURGE #1) – I should’ve become a sales person for Vitamix, I love it so much. If you don’t know Vitamix, watch some of their videos here, or visit - these things grind bricks into liquid, no joke. They are the Rolls Royce of blenders. All kidding aside, everyone should have a high-powered blender and it doesn’t have to be a Vitamix. Whichever one you choose, make sure it can emulsify vegetables and other dense foods and doesn’t just stir things up. Trust me, that green shake won’t taste nearly as good if you’re trying to choke down a cup of pulp.

Here are a few of my favorite treats that I usually blend up throughout the week. The Real Deal Iced Coffee: 8 oz of black coffee 8 oz unsweetened coconut milk 1/2 - 1 tablespoon coconut or hazelnut oil, or a combo of both 1 scoop chocolate protein powder

The Fiberus Filler 12 oz water 1 - 2 handfuls of spring mix salad blend 1 handful of cherry tomatoes 1 serving frozen blueberries 1 tablespoon instant coffee OR 1/2 cup black coffee 1 serving of almonds or almond butter 1 – 1 1/2 scoops chocolate protein powder

Post Dinner Sweet 8 oz coconut milk 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1 - 2 tablespoons shredded coconut 1/2 – 1 serving frozen strawberries or blueberries

Blend, pour in glass bowl, put into freezer, and allow approx. 15 minutes to settle and lightly freeze. Pull from freezer and garnish with a few fresh berries.

Yes, a good blender will make all of your dreams come true. ☺ This is one of the three items where I encourage you to splurge. Tips and things to consider: • Counter space. • Does it do everything you want? • Warranty on the motor or blade? Vitamix offers guarantees starting at 7 years. • Easy to clean?

Pyrex Tupperware and Cooking Dishes

After you weighed your meat, cooked a few more ounces than you can possibly eat, you decide you’re going to take the leftovers with you to work (so you don’t eat out at that crap place around the corner from your office). You’ve got to have a good place to store the goods. Plastic is out, it’s been linked to increasing estrogen in our bodies (guys, no good). Choose glass instead. It doesn’t retain food odor, can be used for reheating and let's all do our part here and help the environment. Pyrex dishes are multidimensional and can be used to bake in the oven or store in the freezer. Pick up an assortment at Amazon, Target or Walmart. My favorite size is the 9X13 baking dish because I can lay down the marinade and chicken hours or a day before, pull it out of the refrigerator, toss it right in the oven to bake, pull it out, dump the marinade, and place it right back in the refrigerator for leftovers without washing a single dish. They are also affordable and easy to clean when the leftovers are gone. Tips and things to consider: • The bake and store assortment is a good value for your money: • Invest in one designed for transporting fresh greens

Frying Pans

(SPLURGE #2) – If you’re going to splurge, make sure it’s on a damn good set of All-Clad stainless steel pans. If you’re anything like me and hate buying the same thing twice, then look no further. In particular, you’ll want to go big and get a large frying pan and a small sauté pan to blend up the perfect meal. If you prefer nonstick, you’re in luck. Nonstick pans have come a long way over the last few years and finally got rid of Teflon as a nonstick protector.

Side note: If you’re still using Teflon nonstick pans it’s time to toss ‘em and add a new set of All-Clad to your Christmas list. “According to researchers at the University of Toronto, fluoropolymers, the substances used to make Teflon, release persistent gaseous breakdown products when heated to high temperatures. The released compounds include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), trifluoroacetate, (TFA) and polyfluorocarboxylic acids (PFOs).”

The greatest dimension to a good fry pan is that you can take it right off the stove and put it right in the oven. Guys, take note, this is the secret to the perfectly cooked steak, burger, or filet of fish. Tips and things to consider: • Warranty • Cleaning ability • Oven safe up to 450 degrees

Measurement Cups and Spoons

Not that hard, get them and use them often. Tips and things to consider: • Stainless steel is king


(SPLURGE #3)– The third and final splurge item. I too laughed when people told me that a set of knives were so important, then I watched Top Chef and got my priorities in order. A good knife set makes a huge difference. Tips and things to consider: • I’m no expert here. We own Global and I like ‘em a lot.

For all of your kitchen needs, I absolutely love and could easily spend as much money there as the US Mint could print me. For the DC’ers, we have one in Friendship Heights and Pentagon Row. I suggest you line up a field trip in the near future.

We want to see what you’re working with and the tools you’re using in your kitchen. Share pictures of your favorite kitchen tools on the Ambitious Athletics facebook page! One lucky winner will receive a prize to compliment his/her kitchen arsenal.

Dedicated to your health, Carmen

Fueling Your Way to Fitness - Part 2: Post-Workout Nutrition

Your post-workout meal may be the most important and beneficial meal of the day - so eat or drink up! Once again, I’m going to be brutally honest with you: what you put into your body, the time you put it into your body, and the amount you put into your body MATTERS!

You’ll always hear me advising people about proper movements and post-workout nutrition and it’s for a good reason: the two go hand-in-hand.

It’s simple math, really: Strength + Nutrition = Your Fitness Goal. Trust me, there’s no other way to solve this equation.

Exercise Breaks Down Muscle, Food Rebuilds Muscle: An Overview of Post-Workout Nutrition

The picture above is what your muscles look like after a good strength training session.

When you train with me, you deplete most of your glycogen storage (carbs). That’s because we just lifted some heavy stuff and didn’t spend time talking and asking each other how our days were. We got shit done: sweat a whole bunch, broke down muscle, and improved movement.

But the real work has just begun; the only way to maximize the benefit of your workout is to rebuild what you broke.

Feed the body, replenish, grow stronger.

Just like the nasty dried up sponge you have sitting beside the Dawn dish detergent needs water to get back in action, your muscles needs food to revive them.

That’s Post-Workout Nutrition in a nutshell; let’s take a deeper look.

Don’t Be a Dry Sponge: The Three Rs of Post-Workout Recovery

To Recover you must: Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate


If you have to FUEL your body pre-workout (include link to Part 1), then you have to REFUEL your body post-workout. Simple, right?

If a good strength training session depletes our glycogen store (the longer and the more intense the training session, the more we use) then we need to build it back up again. Think dry sponge!

“So how many carbohydrates does it take to Refuel?,” you ask.

Studies suggest .8 – 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. (To get your body weight in kilos, simply divide your weight by 2.2.)

Let’s look at an example: 150 lbs (body weight) / 2.2 = 68 kilos

Let’s say you participate in one of our Bootcamp programs. We’ll use 1.0 grams as the multiplier.

68 kilos x 1.0 grams = 68 grams of carbohydrates

Carbohydrate sources should be consumed as quickly as possible following your training session and be comprised of high Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates rather than low and more fibrous ones. Think fruit, milk, berries or a simple specified supplement replacement.


You just finished your strength training session and it’s time to repair your damaged muscle tissue. Protein is your Rebuilder; protein is the nutrient that drives your body to create and repair damages to tissue.

Consuming both protein and carbohydrates together post-workout promotes recovery at its best. The combination of carbohydrates and protein work together to replace depleted glycogen stores (carbs) and shuttle amino acids (proteins) through pathways to create and regenerate muscle. All of this makes you less sore, recover from your workout faster, and grow muscle to promote a lean body. This is a good thing. Eat more of the right things, at the right times to grow muscle, and get lean. Sounds like a win-win to me, what about you?

So what is the right amount of protein to ingest with your 68 grams of carbohydrates to create the perfect post-workout meal or shake?

Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle or maintain your sexy figure, ingesting a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein drink post-workout is a must. (For endurance athletes who think it’s fun to do things for a long time, you may need a 4:1 ratio due to mass depletion.

However, to personalize your ratio simply use .3 grams or .4 grams and multiply by your body weight in kilos.

Let’s take a look using the 150 lb example again:

150 lb / 2.2 = 68 kilos

68 X .3 grams = 20.4 grams

68 X .4 grams = 27.2 grams

The protein source can come in a whole food form or a supplement form depending on what your dietary needs, time or restrictions are. If you’re lactose intolerant, soy protein is a good substitute.

In case you’re interested, here is my favorite, personalized, post-workout shake. Remember, your numbers will be different based on your weight, and workout intensity: 2 cups chocolate milk or almond milk 1 cup water 1.5-2 servings frozen strawberries 4-6 ice cubes 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder 1 serving greens supplement 1-teaspoon instant coffee Dash cinnamon

Approx calories: 510 Carbohydrates: ~75g Protein: ~30g Fat: ~9g

If I’m out and about all day and can’t carry around the above, I’ll go with this as backup OR real food of course. 1 scoop coffee LEAN 4 scoops Workout

Approx calories: 537 Carbohydrates: 76g Protein: 46g Fat: 5.5g


The purpose of this Rehydration is simple: replace the fluids lost during exercise.

If you have ever weighed yourself before and after a workout session and noticed a difference in weight, don’t think you just burned off X amount of pounds of fat. Sorry to burst your bubble, but nobody loses a few pounds after a 20-minute cardio session. The reason for the weight loss is due to electrolytes and other fluids lost through sweat.

It can be very dangerous if you do not replace the lost weight post workout with ample amounts of water to restore your lost fluids.

A helpful guideline to ensure adequate fluid balance is to drink one pint of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. A general guideline for daily fluid intake is measured by body weight. Divide your body weight by 2. If we return to our 150 lb person example: he/she should consume 75-100 ounces of water daily.

Here are a few risks of dehydration, in case you thought Diet Coke was a significant fluid resource.

• Fluid loss equal to as little as 1% of total body weight can be associated with elevation in core temperature during exercise. (Overheating sucks)

• Fluid loss of 3-5% of body weight results in cardiovascular strain and impaired ability to dissipate heat.

• Fluid loss at 7% of body weight means collapse is likely.

Eliminate the risks by getting a water bottle and filling it up multiple times per day. Know how many fill-ups you need to hit your daily fluid intake and get drinking. Exercising? Sip water throughout your workout if you’re going to be at it for less than an hour; over an hour, you should sip Gatorade or a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes.

Not sure you’re getting enough fluids? When in doubt, you can always do the urine test. Ideal urine color is the color of lemon juice.

Thanks for hanging in there! I know it was a lot of information, so I’ve attempted to sum things up with the following key takeaways:

• A combination of carbohydrates and protein should be consumed within 15-45 minutes post-workout.

• Carbohydrates should make up .8 – 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight and include higher GI foods such as fruit, berries, milk, or supplements.

• Protein should make up .3 - .4 grams per kilogram of body weight. Consuming above this number will NOT make you more jacked. Sorry, dudes.

• Notice I did NOT mention anything about FAT. When it comes to your post-workout meal limit your peanut butter, almond butter, nuts and avocado consumption to a minimal dose. These items, while delicious, will slow the digestive and shuttling process of nutrients.

• Hydration and Rehydration are very important. When in doubt about your fluid intake, remember that ideal urine color is the color of lemon juice.

• A whey or soy powder protein supplement is best used for quick nutrients post-workout.

I hope you leave this page with a better understanding of why post-workout nutrition is so important and the simple steps you must take to give your body the fuel it needs to Recover, Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate. Your body will thank you!

I’d enjoy reading your comments, thoughts, and questions, so please leave a line below and I’ll answer accordingly. Also, if you have a friend, family member, coworker, or someone you think could learn from this post, please be nice and share it with them.

Dedicated to your recovery, Carmen

P.S. Eat clean, train dirty.

Fueling Your Way to Fitness – Part 1: Pre-Workout Nutrition

Let me be brutally honest with you. What you put into your body, the time you put it into your body, and the amount you put into your body MATTERS! If you are anything like my clients, you want to lose body fat, get stronger, build muscle, feel better about yourself, and be happier when you look in the mirror. We all do. But like many of my clients, you underestimate the important role that food plays in achieving these goals. YOU CANNOT OUT TRAIN A BAD DIET.

During the next series of blog posts, I’m going to cover pre and post workout nutrition facts that you must understand in order to get as much out of your workouts as you put into them.

This post will cover your stop at the pump before you set off on your road trip.

I’m talking about the food that you put into your body before you set out to tackle your workout. This is your pre-workout nutrition.

If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it’s that regardless of the time of day of your workout, it’s critical that you eat something beforehand.

Believe me, I work with a ton of different people at different times of the day, with different circumstances that may not allow them to get an energy source into their system prior to a workout. But you have to find a way. No real food around? Get a solid meal replacement supplement; grab the one I use here.

You wouldn’t attempt a cross country road trip with your car’s gas needle hovering above E, so why would you try to push your body through a strength and conditioning workout while your body's fuel sits on E?

If you fail to consume proper nutrients before a workout, your body will reach to your muscles and start breaking down all the strength you’ve been working so hard to build, negating all of the hard work you’ve put into looking better, feeling better, losing weight and getting stronger. And you continue to tread water, while not making the progress you’d hoped for…

Let me drop a little watered down science on you real quick:

Carbohydrates play a critical role in fueling exercise, either by being the primary energy source to fuel anaerobic (high intensity without oxygen) exercise. The body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates in the muscle and liver. Thus, during high intensity training, carbohydrates can provide energy for only a relativley short duration of time.

During exercise, energy will be used from carbohydrate and fat sources.

Proteins are comprised of amino acids and serve as the major structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body. Although proteins can be used as a source of energy, it is not desireable as it likely means that the body is metabolizing lean tissue to compensate for an energy deficit.

Let’s look at the three most popular workout times of the day and some of my favorite meals to consume to provide your body with the fuel it needs to get the most out of your workout.

The 5:45am Bootcamp

Scenario: You just slept for 6-8 hours (hopefully, or your killing yourself slowly), you haven’t eaten for 6-10 hours (fasting), your blood sugar levels are low after helping your body rebuild itself during your shut-eye, and your metabolism is idling.

Why in the world would you think that after fasting for 6-10 hours, metabolism idling, and your body in a resting state, it would be a good idea to go and try to give it all that you’ve got without stopping at the pump to fill up?

The Risk: Running out of gas

Nausea, excessive sweating, the jitters, weakness, blurred vision, dizziness, poor coordination, and rapid heartbeat are all symptoms that can occur because you didn’t eat before your workout. These symptoms are usually caused by low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Blood sugar levels are usually at their lowest in the morning because they drop drastically while we sleep.

Lesson learned, hypoglycemia sucks, makes you feel like crap, and doesn’t help your workout.

Let’s Eat: Here are my favorite suggestions for quick delivering nutrients for the 5:45am Bootcamp:

Quick digesting carbohydrates and protein; this super fast roll-outta-bed shake will boost your metabolism, spike your blood sugar level, and provide fuel to your body to enhance your workout production. 1-2 cups orange juice 1 or ½ cup water 1-2 scoops whey protein powder

You could go in this direction too if you’re a dairy fan:

1-2 cups chocolate milk instead of orange juice

If you’re a Rise and Grinder like I am, and give yourself an hour and some change before Bootcamp, opt for something a little more filling and nutrient dense. Try these: 1 cup Greek yogurt 1 serving berries 1/4-cup oatmeal

OR 1 cup Greek Yogurt 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar

Lunchtime and After-work Workouts

The next two popular workout times we’ll blend together since they both represent later-in-the-day workouts and provide ample time in front of them to front load nutrients; and because I could go on and on about nutrient timing for 43 more pages.

Exercising later in the day gives you the opportunity to gas up your tank a few times, igniting your metabolism and providing you enough fuel to conquer your workout.

For both of these workouts, your pre-workout doesn’t have to be as complex as the one for your morning workout because you’ve already been up, awake, around and fueled.

The Risk: You didn’t eat anything after breakfast and your breakfast was not fulfilling because it consisted of some kind of processed crap.

What you need to know here is that you need to eat, again. One hour to two hours prior to your workout, eat a meal as you would normally. No, not a “snack”- not the apple with peanut butter, "I call this eating healthy", snack. It’s not the best snack nor is it all that great of a combo.

Let’s Eat: Cause we love food and food is our body's fuel.

The Noon-time Workout

Eat by 10:30 at the latest. This should be your second or third meal of the day by now, depending on how early you wake up in the morning. Here are a few examples; and as always, get as natural as possible. Sweet potato Chicken breast

OR Plain oatmeal Greek Yogurt Mixed berries

OR Egg Burrito (keep it easy) Include: Whole eggs, brown rice, and salsa

The Just Punched the Clock Workout - 5pm or later

Most people suck at eating healthy and usually think the salad they ate for lunch was nutritious and energy providing. Sorry, but that’s generally not the case.

The same rule applies here as it does for your Noon Workout; eat a healthy meal one hour and a half to two hours out.

Again, depending on what time you opened your eyes, this should be meal number 3, 4, or 5 and should pack good, clean, from the ground carbohydrates that will sustain energy for your workout. You’ll need a good combo of carbohydrates and protein to pack sustained energy for your evening workout. Try these, Bacon, egg, and cheese A couple pieces of fruit (who said you could only east breakfast in the morning?)

OR Hardboiled eggs Fruit

OR Plain oatmeal Greek Yogurt Mixed berries

OR Brown rice Lean meat Veggies

Although studies have found that protein consumption within an hour after the training session can enhance protein synthesis (growth or building) within the skeletal tissue to a greater degree than later feedings, there does appear to be a greater benefit in a pre-exercise ingestion.

I think you recognize the pattern here… Please tell me you do, if not, go back to the top and re-read all over again.


I hope you learned something from this post. I’d enjoy reading your comments, thoughts, and questions. Leave a line below and I’ll answer them accordingly. Also, if you have a friend, family member, coworker, or someone you just met who you think could get a little something out of this, be nice and share it with them.

Dedicated to your strength and health, Carmen