How to "Think" Yourself Fit #554 06/16/2014

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How to "Think" Yourself Fit

By Joe Vennare

Woman Thinking

In an attempt to get fit, we tend to focus on the physical.

Exercise is good, so more is better. Right? Stick to a routine and you’ll have a six-pack in no time. How hard can it be? Well, it must be harder than it seems. Otherwise, we’d all be walking around looking like we were chiseled from marble. Since we don’t all look like Greek Gods or Goddesses, it’s safe to say that getting in shape can be a bit of a struggle. What’s getting in your way?

Often, the biggest obstacle standing between you and your fitness goals is your mindset. But your mind can also be dialed in to help you reach optimal performance. Train your brain to think yourself fit with these simple tips.

Picture Success

Seeing really is believing. Take a page out of a pro athlete’s playbook by picturing the outcome you hope to achieve. It doesn’t matter if you’re training to run a 5K or trying to lose a few pounds, painting a mental picture of your success will help carry you to the finish line.

The brain loves a good dress rehearsal. The more you rehearse, or practice, a move in your mind the easier it becomes in reality. Try to make your thoughts as vivid as possible. Imagine every step, and every breath, from start to finish. Doing so is a surefire way to prep for the pressure that comes with taking on a new challenge.

Go Big, Think Small

There's nothing wrong with setting a lofty goal. For instance, take running a marathon. It's a massive undertaking. One that might be overwhelming if you think about all 26.2 miles. But, if you break it down mile-by-mile it becomes more manageable. That's how ultra-runner Hal Koerner, two-time winner of the Western States 100 manages to make it through races much further than your average marathon. Koerner suggests running to a specific landmark in the distance. Then, after reaching it, set your sights on a new challenge. Instead of focusing on the finish line, focus on making the next water station.

Like a marathon, overhauling what you eat might seem impossible. Dining out makes dieting especially difficult and even when you eat at home you may have to learn how to cook new meals, change your grocery shopping habits, and generally find a way to totally overhaul the way you eat. But, little changes can make a difference too.

For instance, opting for an apple at lunch each day, instead of a bag of chips is far more manageable than swapping out everything you eat all at once. Similarly, replacing a starchy carbohydrate like bread with a fresh vegetable like kale makes your dinner that much healthier. For a full 8-week transition diet, try this.

In time, these small changes will come to represent substantial progress on your quest to eat healthier. According to a study conducted at Northwestern University, these types of small changes can result in a domino effect on other health-related habits. Researchers set out to alter four unhealthy behaviors: eating too much saturated fat, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, spending too much time being sedentary, and not getting adequate exercise. But, instead of trying to tackle four problems at once, researchers found that a small reduction in TV time, along with eating more fruits and vegetables lead to a healthier lifestyle overall. In all, small changes have a ripple effect that extends into other aspects of your life.

Master Your Mind

Meditation has long been a mainstay in many Eastern religions. Nowadays, scientists are studying the implications of mindfulness on our fast-paced lives. From exercise and emotions, to stress and self-esteem, meditation is proving to be a game changer for achieving our goals.

With respect to fitness and athletics, meditation helps prepare the mind and body to deal with unexpected stress. An intense training session in the gym could cause us to quit. Or at the very least leave us questioning why we’re subjecting ourselves to such taxing workouts. But, if you were to take up meditation, you might be less likely to second-guess yourself. At least that’s what a study of meditating Marines concluded. Evidence suggests that the meditating helps the brain react to high-stress situations and recover more quickly from those episodes. That’s because meditation is like biceps curls for your brain. Your mind will become better at anticipating stress, without overreacting to it. In this way, you’ll be able to push through the pain to finish a workout or make a split second decision on the playing field.

Take the first step towards mindfulness by sitting by yourself. Find a quiet room. Remove all of the potential distractions (yes, this includes your phone) and try to clear your mind by focusing on your natural breathing pattern. Repeat this practice for at least 5 minutes a few days each week. Over time, try to up the amount of time you meditate as well as the frequency of your practice. Along with the other brain-training techniques, meditation will help you master your mind to help break down the barriers between you and your goals. If you need more tips on how to get started, click here

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11 Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Condiments

By Kirsten Morningstar
A bowl full of Ketchup

Condiments are probably the unsung heroes of many of your favorite meals. After all, what is a hamburger without a little something sweet or savory spread on the bun? The trouble is, some condiments can also be the secret villains when it comes to being healthy and getting the results you want. Many are high in unhealthy fats and calories and some are spiked with loads of added sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup), artificial ingredients, and salt.

But, all is not lost. Though you’ll always want to double-check the ingredient list for anything weird, some condiments are usually healthy. Those include mustard, wasabi, and hot sauce. For those that aren’t (we’re looking at you ketchup), we found a few store-bought products that make the cut (click here to see our list.)

However, making your own tasty condiments is easy and fast. And most can be made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen! Plus, you'll see to it that every ingredient you add is natural and that there isn’t anything in your “special sauce” that doesn’t belong.

Try these 11 simple recipes for our favorite homemade condiments. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know!


The ketchup industry tried to reinvent their product as a health food by advertising that it contains the antioxidant lycopene. They were hoping we'd ignore the fact that it still usually contains high fructose corn syrup and mysterious "natural" flavoring. Sorry, but we're not buying that squeeze bottle. Our good, old-fashioned ketchup recipe uses tomato sauce, vinegar, and a little coconut sugar or maple syrup. Want to come up with your own variation? Try adding curry or allspice!

Chipotle Ketchup

Chipotle ketchup is all the rage in upscale burger restaurants or “gastropubs.” Now you can make this spicier version of classic ketchup at home. Serve with burgers, meatloaf, or baked sweet potato wedges.

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing has a reputation for being liberally poured on everything from salads to French fries to pizza. But have you ever read the label? A modest serving of 2 tablespoons will add 145 calories and 15 grams of fat to your otherwise healthy salad. Low fat and nonfat versions typically have extra salt, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Use our recipe to make a healthier and better-tasting version from scratch that has only 30 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. It’s made from a blend of dried spices that you can store, so whipping up a new batch of dressing takes seconds. Bonus: you can use the spice blend to season meat or as a delicious seasoning for corn on the cob.


Chimichurri is a vibrant green sauce from Argentina made from crushed garlic and fresh parsley or cilantro. Then, all of those ingredients are submerged in olive oil. Our recipe uses less olive oil and has only 25 calories per serving. It's my favorite topping for grilled fish and it takes any sandwich to another level. Try a spoonful on cooked veggies!


Once you’ve tasted our recipe for Homemade Basil and Walnut Pesto, you won’t want to buy packaged sauce again. It adds fresh, basil flavor to pastas, vegetables, and makes any sandwich taste gourmet. If you’re feeling fancy, try making it with a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor. It’ll give your pesto an even brighter flavor and silkier texture. Our recipe is fresh and healthy, but pay attention to the amount you’re using. One serving adds 82 calories to your meal.

Thousand Island Dressing

Like Ranch, Thousand Island dressing is not typically friendly to your waistline. It has a whopping 11 grams of fat and 111 calories in each serving. And, it's easy to go overboard. With our recipe, you can spread it on your burgers and dress your salads without guilt, as it's just 72 calories per serving. Grab a handful of baby carrots and you've got a healthy snack!


This versatile Greek yogurt sauce tastes as cool as the cucumbers it’s made from. Using nonfat yogurt makes it much lighter than traditional tzatziki and fresh mint and dill give our recipe extra zing. Try it on grilled meats, spicy foods, or use it to wake up your baked potatoes!

Chunky Salsa

Salsa is said to be America's most popular condiment and it's easy to understand why. (Sorry, ketchup.) It tastes great on just about everything, from eggs to fish to turkey burgers. When tomatoes are in season, nothing beats homemade salsa. Make it as mild or spicy as you like by adding diced jalapeño or serrano chilies!


Guacamole, it’s not just for chips! I’ll be the first to admit, I have a guacamole addiction. I’ll put it on my whole grain toast in the morning with egg whites, dip raw veggies in it in the afternoon, and eat it with beans and rice for dinner. Avocados are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid, which gives you shiny hair, youthful skin, and helps your brain function. Our recipe adds spicy chili peppers!

Homemade Hummus

Did you know that you can whip up a bowl of deliciously smooth hummus in under 5 minutes, and it’ll taste even better than the stuff that comes in a plastic tub from the grocery store? Made from garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), and freshly squeezed lemon, hummus is as healthy as condiments get! It is high in calories, but it’s also nutritionally dense and has 3.5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. Bring it as a healthy snack to your next party, spread it on sandwiches and wraps, or use it to make these delicious Deviled Eggs.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Tangy mustard and sweet honey make a perfect pair. Bottled honey mustard sauce can have extra artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and be high in fat. Our recipe keeps it super simple and fat free. Drizzle this sauce on salads, sandwiches, and when you’re craving something crunchy, try it with these Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

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How You Can Use P90X3® to Reach a Variety of Fitness Goals

By Steve Edwards

A Person Measuring their waist

Whatever your goals, there's a good chance that P90X3 is the right solution. More than just a weight-loss or fitness program, it's a training system that can help you reach your dreams, no matter what they are. Like its iconic predecessors' P90X® and P90X2®, it's a blend of training styles that fit together like pieces of a puzzle, allowing vast versatility. What makes it different is that it gets you there in half the time.

Starting with this article, we’ll take a look at how you can use P90X3 to reach your specific fitness goals, whether that’s getting ripped, lean, big, small, improve in a sport, activity, or just get better at life.

P90X3 is 4 Programs in One

Classic, Lean, and Doubles will be familiar to those who've done P90X. They are the workout rotations that came with the original, each targeting different goals. A mass rotation was added later, due to popular demand, and this has been built into P90X3.

While each provides quick results, they target different physiological niches. Classic is a balance of strength and cardio work. Lean is more cardio-focused, while Mass, as you might guess, is the opposite. Doubles is a next-level rotation for those with a higher fitness level who want to put in more time and want their results as quickly as possible.

These four options cover the majority of our customers' goals, but we didn't stop there. Unlike P90X, which was designed to be done after Power 90 or an equivalent program, we wanted X3 to be available to anyone. So we added yet another element or, as the saying goes, "But wait, there's more!"

Modifications for Everyone

Every move in P90X3 has a modified version that's not only easier, but is also more suited to those with physical limitations. As in the original, these mods are specifically designed so that you can ease into the program at your own pace, only P90X3’s modifications are especially introductory. This ramp-you-up approach also provides entry and exit points if you've taken breaks and/or had an injury, so you can continually advance no matter how fit, unfit, or limited you are.

P90X3 Fits Your Agenda

Whatever your hobbies, X3 can be molded to fit them. Whether you like to golf, fly fish, dance, or do Ironman triathlons, there's a way to seamlessly insert P90X3 into your activity-specific training and/or playing schedule, allowing you to continue to engage in outside activities while you're improving your fitness base. Because the program is segmented to target different systems in your body separately (Muscle Confusion™), it's more easily plugged into a variety of schedules and agendas.

Plus, an “Intuitive” Nutrition Plan

The P90X3 nutrition plan teaches you how to eat, based on your performance, and is just as versatile as the workouts. This is different from the more structured plans of X and X2 and you can easily adapt it based on your fitness backgrounds and nutritional needs. The result is the guide trains you in “intuitive eating.” Essentially, it simplifies everything you thought was complicated about dieting and allows you to simply eat, listen to your body, and adjust based on performance.

How Does P90X3 Work in Half the Time?

There were two big developments that allowed this to happen. First, a lot of people did both P90X and P90X2 and have been providing us with years of feedback. That alone would allow us to build a better mousetrap, but we’ve got new science, too.

Second, over the past few years, a lot of studies began to emerge that showed the power of the first 30 minutes of exercise. While it doesn’t discount the benefits of training longer for some people, it does shed light on how to build a program for time-crunched individuals who don’t necessarily need pro-athlete performance from their bodies. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote on the effects of shorter bouts of exercise.

“Your body has an emergency response to exercise. When you begin, no matter what you’re doing, you burn glycogen for fuel. Once your body figures out that you aren’t in an emergency, it begins to conserve by shifting to body tissue, primarily fat stores, for energy. It was once assumed that training during this “fat burning” period was optimal for weight loss. Now we know it’s the opposite. If you take advantage of the glycogen window by training hard (and smart so you don’t get hurt) you can alter your body’s metabolism—the key to changing your body composition—quickly and efficiently.”

Beyond just that, P90X3 has retained the muscle confusion and integration training aspects of P90X and P90X2. All the fancy training jargon, like the specificity of adaptation, super-compensation, progressive overload and post-activation potentiation are still hard at work. Only refined.

The bottom line is that if you're serious about training, P90X3 should be a component in your fitness arsenal no matter what your end goals are. Next in this series we'll take a look at the basics of how to use X3's Muscle Acceleration system to do your specific bidding, starting with weight loss.

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Recipe: Scrambled Egg Whites with Steamed Sweet Potato

(Makes 1 serving)

Scrambled Egg Whites with Steamed Sweet Potato
By adding sweet potatoes as a side to your scrambled eggs in this P90X3-inspired recipe, you add even more nutrients to your breakfast plate.

Total Time: 16 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time:11 min.


  • Water
  • 1/2 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and chopped, stems discarded


  1. Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Place sweet potato in top of steamer; steam for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fork-tender. Set aside.
  2. Combine egg whites and egg in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
  3. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add egg mixture; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until set.
  5. Place eggs and sweet potato on a serving plate. Sprinkle sweet potato with rosemary; serve immediately.

Tip: Sweet potato can also be cooked in a microwave. Pierce clean sweet potato 4 to 5 times with a fork. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Peel and cut into pieces.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
238 10 g 2 g 186 mg 326 mg 15 g 2 g 4 g 22 g

P90X3® Portions:

Carbohydrates Protein Fats
1 1 2

P90X®/P90X2® Portions:

Carbohydrates/Legumes & Tubers Protein Fats
1/2 1 1/2

Body Beast® Portions:

Starch Proteins Fat
1 2 2

21 Day Fix® Portions:

Yellow Containers Purple Container
1 1

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