Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Meal Planning with Platejoy


Eating healthy can take a lot of time.  You scour Pinterest, other online recipe sources, or cookbooks, hunting for something different to make for dinner.  Which healthy meals can you make with items you have on hand or can grab on your next shopping trip?  What will be something that your whole family would enjoy and not go to waste?  It can be difficult to sort through the recipes to make sure they match your goals and don't contain ingredients you don't like or can't eat.

I've been experimenting with this new service called PlateJoy that makes that whole process take 5 minutes not 5 hours every week. They create personalized meal plans and grocery lists to help make healthy eating easier, taking your preferences into account.

The recipes I've tried so far I've enjoyed. It's great that the software remembers what you've said that you have in your fridge when creating your shopping list, which helps to reduce food waste, so you're also getting the most bang for your buck. They also show nutritional information for all meals to make it easier to track your progress.

PlateJoy's Skillet Cilantro & Lime Fish Tacos Recipe


  • 1 ½ yellow onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ jalapeno peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 ⅓ limes
  • 2 ¼ lbs tilapia fillet
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 ½ avocados
  • 12 cups mixed greens 


  1. Slice onion, and finely chop cilantro and jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and membranes). Dice tomato. Squeeze lime juice. Pat tilapia dry and slice into strips. Whisk together half lime juice and half olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat remaining olive oil and sauté onion until translucent, about 3 min. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook 30 seconds more.
  3. Add tilapia and cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes, or until opaque, taking care not to break up the pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently stir in cilantro, tomato and remaining lime juice. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more until tomato has softened.
  4. Heat corn tortillas in dry skillet for few minutes per side, or cover with damp paper towel and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. until pliable.
  5. Spoon filling into tacos and top with sliced avocado and more cilantro. Toss mixed greens with dressing and serve on the side.

 How Much Should We Eat?

portion breakdown

What I Did

You know me, I never do recipes 100% as they're listed; I'm always tweaking things.
  • 1 ½ yellow onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro ---> mix of parsley, oregano, & basil
  • 1 ½ jalapeno peppers  ---> bell peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 ⅓ limes ---> bottled lime juice
  • 2 ¼ lbs tilapia fillet ---> used 800-something grams
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 ½ avocados ---> zucchini
  • 12 cups mixed greens ---> skipped since they were out at Kroger
Austin didn't even want to try a bite so I had to adjust the tilapia for one less person.  Besides, when I calculated the amount of fish (2.25 lbs is over 1020 g), I didn't have enough.  I used all but one fillet from the bag of frozen tilapia from Aldi's so my fingers were numb by the time I finished cutting it into strips.  The skillet was almost overflowing so I have no idea how I could've cooked the full amount!  I tossed in the zucchini to cook with everything else.

Benny ate his two tacos but he didn't enjoy them.  I think he said something about it not having enough flavor.  That I found odd with me not tasting much I rather enjoyed the flavor.  I'd love to make this again, of course it would have to be for someone else.  The leftovers I brought to work later in the week with rice for lunch.

I plan to continue to check out the weekly recipes to see if anything pops up that I think at least Benny would be willing to eat. I like that I can go in there if an ingredient pops up that I don't want to eat (like Brussels sprouts) I can remove it from my recipe queue and get a new set of meals.  I haven't seen this option in other meal planning software I've played with.

Save $10 off the plan you choose by visiting www.platejoy.com and entering the code LAWRTWBNM.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How Your Mindset Can Actually Make You Physically Stronger

Don’t believe that simply changing the way you think can have a big impact on your life or your accomplishments?

It’s a somewhat abstract concept to think that just being more positive or more driven can attract more good things to you, or that focusing more on the good in your life can make you happier.

So how about a demonstration to show just how powerful the mind is? What if the brain could make you considerably stronger, simply if you change the way you think?

Introducing Hysterical Strength

Hysterical strength is a term used to describe historical examples of people tapping into incredible physical power. The most common story is that of mothers who have to rescue their children from being trapped under cars or some other heavy object. In these scenarios, the mothers call upon some kind of superhuman strength and manage to physically move the cars out the way. How can this be possible?

While this has never been proven, there actually is a good scientific explanation for how it might work and some evidence to support it.

That’s because we normally are only capable of accessing around 30%-50% of our muscle fiber. When exercising or going about our normal routines, we can’t use 100% of our strength because we would risk injuring our ligaments or exhausting ourselves. You can see this when someone gets an electrical shock – this causes the muscles to contract to their fullest which is enough to throw the individual right across the room!

But under times of incredible stress or in life-and-death scenarios, it might just be that the brain is able to tap into those hidden depths. This would work because of the release of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and perhaps other neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine. Together, these could improve communication across the neuromuscular junction, thereby recruiting a greater number of muscle fibers and allowing the individual to access their ‘full’ strength.

Putting it Into Action

In theory then, you could gain more strength simply by imagining your family trapped under a car. If you could really believe it, then you might be able to access hidden strength enough to break your records in the gym.

But there are easier ways according to the research. That’s because yelling at the top of your voice just so happens to trigger a small stress response and studies demonstrate that this is enough to allow you to gain a little more strength during lifts! Talk about mind over matter...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Measure What Matters With LVL

Hey weekend warriors, let's talk about a new way to make sure that you're drinking enough water!


Wednesday pre-ordering began for the LVL (pronounced "level") - a new activity monitor from BSX Technologies measuring your heart rate, sleep, and hydration (the only product to do so) in real time.  So now we have a new stat to check and track to see reasons why we're feeling good or bad throughout the day.

The Technical Side

Unlike other wearable tech LVL uses near-infrared light (NIRS) to monitor your body.  This red light is the same as they use in hospitals because it's more accurate and can measure more.  Other wearable tech uses green light because it's both cheaper and enables the product to be put on the market faster than red light.

BSX Technologies used a patented multi-wavelength NIRS technology for LVL to go deeper and measure more parameters at once compared to the traditional green light technology.  Their fancy algorithms predicts and identifies your current health and fitness state from anywhere on your body.

All About That Hydration

Hydration is a fickle beast because frankly we suck at judging how much we should be drinking.  Studies have shown hydrating solely upon feeling thirsty results in only 30-70% consumption compared to match how much we lose from sweating.  Just 1-2% dehydration could lead to a 5.8% decrease in performance.  This kind of decrease results in poor skills testing similar to those at the legal limit for blood alcohol!

Being dehydrated also affects recovery.  If you're not drinking enough you don't sleep well, you're moody, your memory slips, and more.  Your body also gets confused between hunger and thirst, leading you to overeat.

SHOCKING FACT:  75% of Americans are in a chronic state of dehydration!

The good news is we CAN overcome dehydration, after all being properly hydrated has saved more lives than antibiotics.  Using science and cutting edge technology to track more physiological data it's possible to provide real time stats that'll help us perform better.

Who is Behind LVL?

BSX Technologies was started in 2012 down in the heart of Austin, TX, by Dustin Freckleton, MD, and Nithin Rajan.  Shortly before his 25th birthday Dustin suffered a stroke due to severe dehydration.  He was completely paralyzed on his left side and it took months for him to learn to walk again.  Once he finished medical school Dustin walked away from his career and started BSX.  He is dedicated to developing smarter tech to have better real time stats to keep everyone healthy.

In 2014 BSX developed and shipped the first wearable lactate threshold sensor (BSXInsight) that's now used by everyday athletes, pros, and Olympians worldwide who want to train with professional grade data.  This sensor identifies your optimal training zones, measuring your fitness capacity.  The technology has been independently validated by several academic and research institutions.  BSXInsight uses the same NIRS tech as LVL.

How & Where Do I Get LVL?

This first batch of LVL is scheduled to begin shipping next summer.  They are available for pre-orders at a discounted price for a limited time.

Let's all get LVL'd up and really Measure What Matters!

All LVL product images are courtesy of BSX Technologies in conjunction with this sponsored post.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Work With Your Energy Ebbs and Flows

When it comes to getting more done and being more productive, mindset is absolutely key. We need to be able to focus on our goals and stay motivated enough to take the steps necessary to accomplish them and that’s the only chance we have of completing challenges and getting to where we want to be.

But in order to do this, we often have to fight our impulses and our instincts. That means we have to force ourselves to get up and to work, even when we’re feeling tired and just want to go to bed. It means that we have to motivate ourselves to focus on a long, hard day’s work even when we’re tempted to go home early and watch the next episode of Game of Thrones (I haven't actually watched this show since I don't have cable or satellite).

This is what many of us think of as mental discipline: the ability to force ourselves to do that which we don’t want to do. To take our ‘medicine’ as it were and thereby keep progressing forward.
But it might not actually be the best method. Because as it happens, being at constant war with yourself is not conducive to great productivity!

So instead of doing that, how about working with your gut instead?

Understanding Your Energy Flow

A lot of us pay too much attention to time management. We act under the assumption that if we have time to do something, then we can do it.

In reality though, our ability to complete work is much more related to our energy. If you don’t have the energy necessary to focus or to work, then you won’t be able to do it or your work won’t be as good.

And as it happens, our energy levels come on in waves and are largely out of our control. For example, first thing in the morning many of us struggle with something called ‘sleep inertia’. This means our brains are still groggy from the night’s sleep and we aren’t as productive.

Likewise, we tend to be less efficient right after lunch or dinner. That’s because an influx of carbohydrates gets broken down to tryptophan and that tryptophan is then converted into serotonin. In turn, the serotonin is converted to melatonin, making us sleepy!

We’re all likely to be tireder during 4pm too and of course some days are worse than others depending on what we did the day before.

So instead of forcing yourself to change to meet your schedule, how about switching up your schedule so that you’re doing the most important work when you’re the most awake?

Monday, September 5, 2016

How to Turn Everything Into a Game and Get Better at It

Have you ever wondered why it is that we enjoy games so much? And have you ever wondered why it is that you dislike your job so much? What is the difference between pressing buttons on an Xbox and pressing buttons on keyboards?

The answer may surprise you: it actually comes down to your effort and how much you care.

You care about games and you make the effort because you want to get better at them and because there’s constant variety and plot progression to keep things interesting. This makes you try harder in order to progress and that in turn gives you the feeling of reward that makes the gameplay satisfying.

From a neurochemical perspective, this essentially boils down to the release of dopamine. Each time you attempt a level or challenge, you first visualize it happening in your mind’s eye. When you then attempt it for real and this then goes to plan just as you visualized it, this will in turn result in you getting a release of the reward hormone dopamine. This is actually highly addictive and that can be enough to make you want to try again – which is why it’s so hard to put down that game of Angry Birds! That release of dopamine and serotonin will also help to reinforce the neural connections required to perform the task again. This strengthens your likelihood of doing the same thing again in future with perfect technique and generally improves your technique and ability.

When we don’t care about the outcome though, we don’t have this trial/reward loop and as a result, it can end up feeling like a dull slog. To change this then, all you need to do is to start taking things more seriously and actually focus on what you’re doing.

The Most Basic

Let’s say that you have to write something by hand. This is a mundane task and something most of us won’t pay much attention to.

So instead of simply doing it absent-mindedly then, you should instead try to really focus on doing it as perfectly as possible. Try to let the pen flow perfectly as you write and to write with the most perfect handwriting you can muster. Visualize it happening as you do.

Simply paying attention to your writing in this way and making it perfect will then be enough to ensure that you are more engaged and that you get the release of dopamine when it goes well. You’ve turned the mundane into a game. Why? Because the brain loves learning and improving.

Monday, August 29, 2016

How to Fuel Your Brain With Energy

What is your fitness philosophy?

In other words: why do you train and exercise? What is it that you hope to achieve by being physically active?

Many of us train because we want to look better. Some of us train because we want to be healthier and stave off disease. Others train because they want to perform better at a particular sport or activity they enjoy.

But I have a different reason for training: I train because I want to change the way I feel and because I want to change my mindset. And this is also one of the driving factors behind my diet choices.


One of the biggest limiting factors in most of our lives – one of the things that most prevents us from achieving all that we want to achieve – is tiredness. You wake up in the morning and instead of leaping out of bed filled with enthusiasm, you instead struggle to drag yourself up and to actually start being productive. Then you get home and instead of doing something fun, interesting or productive, you instead just crash on the sofa and watch day time TV. Sound familiar?

Everything you do is less enjoyable when you’re tired. All of your decisions are worse. All of your challenges are harder. And I’m not talking about physical tiredness – I’m talking about mental tiredness. And that’s what you can actually fix with the right training program and diet, unbeknownst to many.

How to Increase Brain Energy

So how can you increase energy in your brain? One method is to increase the strength of your heart. If you do this, then you’ll be able to pump more blood, oxygen and nutrients to your brain, thus allowing it to perform more optimally. How do we do this? With steady state cardio This means the kind of cardiovascular exercise that involves long durations of exercise. A good example is running a few miles twice a week, which can help to enlarge the left ventricle in your heart. This also reduces stress by helping you to lower your resting heart rate and thus produce less cortisol.

Also important is to increase the efficiency of mitochondria. These are the parts of the cells that turn glucose into usable energy and the more you have and better they function, the less tired you will feel. You can increase these with a combination of HIIT training and foods/supplements that are known to support them such as CoQ10, PQQ, l-carnitine and others.