By Team Beachbody

Forget that gelatinous, can-shaped cranberry side dish, or the cranberries laced with enough sugar to put you into a coma. If you want to get your tart on this holiday season, try this healthy Shakeology® drink, fresh from the Beachbody® test kitchen.
  • 1 scoop Greenberry Shakeology
  • 2 cups cold cranberry juice
  • 7 segments mandarin orange
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup ice (or to taste)
  • Optional: orange-zest twist for garnish
Blend ingredients till frothy, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
315 17 g 4 g 51 g 3 g 1 g

By Ben Kallen

The Thanksgiving-to-New-Year's holiday season can be a fun time of celebrating with friends and family . . . But if you're not careful, it can also turn into a 5-week festival of overeating. Not only is this period associated with heavy winter comfort foods, but seasonal treats and big holiday meals can be a minefield for people trying to stick to a fitness plan. It's no wonder so many people end up dieting in January just to make up for their recent excesses.

But as someone committed to developing and maintaining a fit body, you should know that it's possible to enjoy the season without feeling deprived or looking like a party pooper. Follow these tips, and you can have a fun time and maintain your weight—or end up even leaner than before.
  • Forget the preemptive diet. A new British study has found that lots of women crash-diet before the holidays in preparation for the overindulging they'll do during the season. But your goal should be to learn healthy eating habits that you can stick with over the long term, not to lose weight now just so you can gain it back later. That's likely to lead to a yo-yo dieting cycle, which could lower your metabolism and make fat loss more difficult than ever. Instead, make the decision now that you'll eat reasonable portions later (even on Thanksgiving), and you won't have anything to make up for.
  • Stick to your workout program—or start one. We recently gave you some tips on how to keep up with your fitness plan over the holidays (see "Stay Fit This Holiday Season" in the Related Articles section below). Here's another reason why you should stick to your plan: exercising and eating right go hand in hand. When you're working out, the food you eat is used for energy and muscle gain, not fat gain. So you'll naturally want to eat foods that fuel your body, instead of junk that detracts from your performance. And if you do indulge in occasional treats, your regular workouts will help prevent them from doing much damage.

    Remember, you're building a habit of fitness that will last you a lifetime. When better to work on it than during the busiest period of the year? You'll learn how to devote time to your own well-being every day, even when you have a lot of other things to do. (Use your fitness program's workout calendar or WOWY SuperGym® on for scheduling support.) And when your friends and family see you getting leaner and fitter while they're poking new holes in their belts, you'll be an amazing inspiration.
  • Stick to your food plan, too. Eating right isn't just a matter of avoiding too many junky foods. It means getting enough healthy foods, too. That's especially true if you're doing a high-intensity workout program like P90X. Your muscles require plenty of protein and other nutrients to grow, so missing meals can make your workouts less effective and cause at least some of your hard work to go to waste. To get through the more hectic periods during the season, make sure you have all the foods and supplements you need on hand, and plan your daily schedule so you're never too busy to eat when you should.
  • Be careful with comfort foods. When it's cold outside, you may be tempted to cocoon indoors with hot, hearty meals and snacks. This isn't necessarily a problem if you make fitness-friendly choices. But if lousy weather or a lack of sunshine makes you crave carb-heavy dishes, prepare them with healthier carbs like root vegetables and whole grains, not macaroni or mashed-potato flakes. And make them part of a balanced meal, not the whole meal.
  • Moderate your treats. More than any other time of year, the holiday season is associated with lots of "special" foods—turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, candied yams, green-bean casserole, latkes, Christmas cookies, etc. Some of these could put you way off your food plan, even if you managed not to stuff yourself the way so many people do. But others are just fine when eaten in moderation, or can be made much healthier—in fact, you couldn't do much better than a meal of turkey, baked yams, and fresh green beans. For everything else, make your mantra "just a taste," and stick to it. (But you can make Cranberry Relish Surprise a daily habit.)
  • Plan ahead for parties. Cocktail parties can be the downfall of any food plan, but they don't have to be. First, if you're expecting to be served treats or hors d'oeuvres instead of healthful food, have a protein-rich snack before you go. It'll prevent you from gobbling up appetizers or sweets out of sheer hunger, and it'll help keep your blood sugar steady even if you do have a few cookies or crab puffs. If there's a buffet, watch your portions carefully—it's easy to pile on the food, especially if there are a lot of choices you want to try. And if it's a potluck, bring along a dish that's both tasty and healthful—it'll guarantee there's something good for you to eat, and others will probably appreciate it, too.
  • Don't stress out. A recent study at the University of California, San Francisco confirms what you already know: You're more likely to eat high-calorie comfort foods when you're under chronic stress. And the holidays can be a perfect storm of stressful conditions and treat availability.
  • You probably can't avoid the annoyances that come with holiday crowds, too little time or money, or lengthy family get-togethers, but you can keep them from getting you down. If you're working out regularly, you already have a leg up on the average person, because exercise helps you reduce tension and keep your mood upbeat. In fact, a recent study at Princeton University found that exercise may actually create new brain cells that are more resistant to stressful experiences. Help yourself even more by doing something relaxing for a few minutes each day, whether it's yoga, meditation, or simply listening to calming music. And if you do start feeling stressed, stop for a few seconds and take slow, deep breaths instead of reaching for an extra snack.
  • Don't abuse the booze. Yes, a glass of wine or champagne can be a nice way to celebrate the season, and it's pretty much obligatory on New Year's Eve. But too much drinking has all kinds of negative effects: extra calories (which your body will burn while storing carbohydrates), lowered inhibitions (which can lead to overeating, or behavior that will require an apology later on), and a feeling of sluggishness or worse the next day that can derail your fitness plan. As long as you're an adult and don't have problems with alcohol, an occasional drink or two is fine. But if your cheeks regularly get as red as Santa's, your belly may eventually resemble his too.
  • Avoid the food-gift trap. You could stay away from heavy sweets all year and still find it hard to resist Grandma's special fudge, even if the box contains 2 full days' worth of calories and enough sugar to fuel an army of hummingbirds. So what should you do with food gifts? Store-bought baskets of fatty sausages and "cheese food" are fine to regift (or donate to a food bank), but homemade goodies are trickier. You'll have to be polite and enjoy a little, preferably in the giver's presence. Leave the rest out for the family to share, or bring it to work (where it'll probably be devoured quickly). If it's a treat you really love, divide it into small pieces and freeze them in individual baggies, so you won't be tempted to eat it all at once.
  • Give yourself a break. If you do overindulge at some point, don't beat yourself up about it, or decide to give up entirely and start over in January. As long as you have a consistent fitness program, you're unlikely to lose the progress you've made. Just keep Pushing Play every day, go back to your food plan, and look forward to your healthiest holidays ever.

By Steve Edwards

With the popularity of P90X®, the term Muscle Confusion is getting a lot of play in the media. And while many people credit it as the reason P90X is effective, not many people understand what it means, much less how it works. Today, we'll briefly examine what Muscle Confusion is and why it's so effective.


I think it will be easier to comprehend if we work backward. The whole idea is based around creating a fitness peak. P90X starts and ends with a fit test. We don't have you take the fit test mid-program because your progress curve is not supposed to be steady. Instead, the program is designed with phases that take a while to master. As you are attempting this mastery, confusion reigns, and your performance may not be all that great. But when you put it all together, and the various bits that have been confusing your body all come together, the result is a period of peak fitness.

One of the concepts that seems the hardest to impart to our P90X athletes is how (or why) to peak. Most Xers don't consider themselves athletes because they lack performance-oriented goals—they just want to look good or feel better. But it's important to understand that all training at the level of P90X adheres to athletic principles. And athletic training always builds around a peak period when you need your body to perform at its best. Following this template doesn't just work for athletes. It works for anyone training at a high level.


The entire theory of Muscle Confusion is based on something called periodization, which is basically training in targeted cycles that keep your body from getting too used to your schedule. The goal of periodizational training is to minimize performance plateaus and keep your improvements happening for a specific amount of time. All periodized programs are structured with a progression of training blocks designed around a peak. This is why most of our customers get their best results during the latter phases of our programs, especially with P90X.

Adapt, master, transition

The training blocks are laid out with a plan. Your body begins each block faced with something new. This forces you to adapt to it. The stress of this process leads to accelerated improvements. When your body is used to the new regimen, it has a short period where it makes even greater improvements, which is called a growth or mastery phase. Finally, you get so used to the training that your results begin to plateau, at which time it's best to transition into something else.

Timing is everything

You don't always want to be in a state of confusion, so it's important to be aware of when your body should transition. This can be difficult, but with experience, you get better at it. Moderately intense programs like Power 90®, customized for clients who are out of shape, have a structure that is less rigid because the adaptation period takes longer. Conversely, the fitter you are, the quicker your body reacts to training and the quicker it adapts.

Most science shows that a 3-week-on, 1-week-off cycle of training is about as short as you can go to maximize the adaptive and growth phases. That's why we've used this in P90X. This isn't set in stone. If you read the fine print of your guide, you'll see that we do recommend that you set each block to your own schedule. Ultimately, what's important is that you halt the growth phase before a plateau occurs and that you see the full cycle through to its end.

Don't get happy! Attack!

A friend of mine was in a wrestling tournament and his opponent's coach kept yelling to his wrestler, "Don't get happy! Attack!" His vitriolic approach was so over the top that my friend started laughing and almost lost, but his message was a verbal equivalent of Muscle Confusion. You teach your muscles something new until they master it. Then, before they get happy, you launch into something else and force them to respond.

Although he wasn't speaking of Muscle Confusion, I think Arnold Schwarzenegger summed the process up quite succinctly in the film Stay Hungry. When asked why he didn't take it easy more often, he said, "I don't want to get too comfortable. I'd rather stay hungry."

By Tony Horton

Try this healthy take on an Italian classic. Full of fiber and low in fat, this will tempt your taste buds and trim your waistline. It is easy to prepare, makes 8 servings, and is suitable for family mealtime or leftovers for the week!
  • 3/4 cup ditalini pasta (or macaroni, orzo, or similar small pasta)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
  • 32 oz. fat-free chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 cups cannellini (white kidney) beans, cooked or canned
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions. In a separate large pot, sauté the olive oil and garlic on medium heat. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the chicken broth. Allow broth to come to a rolling simmer, then stir in the cannellini beans. Add stewed tomatoes, rosemary, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Let soup simmer on low heat for 8 minutes. Drain the pasta when it's ready and add it to the soup. Let simmer for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
125 7 g 2 g 19 g 3 g 1 g

Shakeology® and P90X

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 0 comments »

By David Gutierrez

The whole Beachbody community is buzzing about Shakeology and all the great health benefits it provides. Today, Steve Edwards answers your questions about how to best incorporate it into your P90X regimen.

Can Shakeology replace one of my meals in the P90X nutrition plan?

I'd hope so, given that it's a meal replacement shake! [laughs] But seriously, Xers do have a different nutritional equation to consider than most people. Generally, meal replacement shakes are designed so that you drink them instead of eating a meal to help you lose weight. Of course, Shakeology fits into this mold just fine. In fact, given how nutrient-dense it is, I'd say it's better than anything on the market. And even though it contains an entire day's worth of many nutrients, it's still only 140 calories.

Aren't most of the meals in P90X nutrition plan in the 400 to 500 calorie range?

Exactly, and the average Xer won't be served well to cut out calories. The reason is that as you get fitter your nutritional requirements change, along with your body composition. When you first start to exercise, you can lose weight by just restricting your caloric intake. But as you gain muscle, you need to eat more to continue losing weight, and this is often a lot more than you ate when you first began losing weight—sometimes it's more than double. If you eat too little during P90X, your weight loss will plateau, along with your ability to do the workouts.

This is why we give you a lot of smoothie recipes and options. Shakeology, like any other meal replacement shake, can be a component of something larger. For meals, we suggest adding more calories from healthy fat sources, like nut butters (almonds, cashews, etc.), along with more standard smoothie-like ingredients such as fruit. This not only brings your calories into line with your diet plan but balances meals so they digest more slowly, as normal meals would.

Can Shakeology replace one of the snacks in the P90X nutrition plan?

Shakeology is a ridiculously nutrient-rich snack, a perfect snack for Xers. Because it doesn't have much fat, its nutrients are put to use very quickly by your body. This makes it an ideal pick-me-up snack when you're on the go. It's better, in fact, than a lot of energy drinks. While something like Red Bull might give you more up-front punch, Shakeology will give you sustained energy because it's providing nutrients your body needs to get things done.

Shakeology's macronutrient ratio splits the difference among sports drink, protein shake, and recovery drink, but it can substitute for all of them in any given situation because it also has an excellent micronutrient profile. Most people are focused only on macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs), but they're only part of your nutritional equation. Micronutrients are things like phytonutrients, adaptogens, and other scientific-sounding stuff. While we refer to these as "micro," nutritionally, they are anything but small. Many of them are absolutely essential for a healthy life. Shakeology speeds these micronutrients into your system, which enables you to perform better.

Why don't we hear more about the importance of micronutrients?

Not to dwell too much on conspiracy theories, but "big food," as we call the American food industry, doesn't want us focusing on micronutrients because they've been destroyed in most of the foods we eat. Things like food processing and pasteurization kill most of the micronutrients in food. These processed foods are then sprinkled with what have been lobbied to be "important" ingredients, which in reality only provide enough nutrition for surviving, as
opposed to thriving. As you can observe by watching society grow larger, this is leading to all sorts of problems.

In nature, food doesn't come this way. It has a balance of nutrients that help sustain life. It's possible for food scientists to recreate this balance in processed foods, but this is expensive. Essentially, if it doesn't fit the numbers, shareholders want to see it doesn't happen. So they make cheap food and keep us in the dark about nutrition. This is exactly why we're in the predicament we're in today (with obesity), because we can make calorie-rich but nutrient-poor food cheaper than we can produce natural food.

This is why Shakeology is designed the way it is. There is no one food in nature that has all the micronutrients we need to fill the nutritional gaps in our diets—that's why we need to eat a variety of foods. But most of us don't do that. So at its core, this is what Shakeology is doing—filling in our nutritional gaps.

I'm doing the Portion Approach in P90X. What block(s) could Shakeology replace?

The portion plan is basically little chunks of macronutrients portioned out to help you easily balance your diet. Shakeology is equal parts carbs and protein, with almost no fat. So Shakeology can replace one block of protein and one block of carbs.

Can Shakeology substitute for Results and Recovery Formula?

It's not an exact swap, but you could do a lot worse. When you're training very hard, like those times when your body is shaking during, say, P90X Chest & Back, Results and Recovery Formula is better because your body is bonking—essentially out of glycogen, or blood sugar. Any time you're in this state, the quicker you can recharge your glycogen, the less damage you'll do to your muscle cells, and hence, the faster you'll recover. It's the one and only time sugar is a preferred nutrient in your diet.

Shakeology doesn't have nearly as much sugar as Results and Recovery Formula. It only has a little for nutrient transport. But because its other ingredients also support your digestive process, you have rapid assimilation of nutrients. The science from the '90s showing that a small amount of protein can "piggyback" sugar and be put to use more rapidly, during or after exercise, holds true for Shakeology. It's not as effective as a Results and Recovery Formula for your hardest workouts, but at any other time, it's pretty darn good.

How about as a protein shake?

Shakeology has an ample amount of protein. While many protein shakes on the market may have more grams of protein, the type of protein they use often digests so slowly that you can't drink them when you're active. Shakeology uses whey protein, which is one of the most (if not the most) bioavailable sources of protein. That means it absorbs quicker into the system than other proteins. Most proteins, especially when you get them in a whole food, take forever to digest. This means that eating protein right before, during, or right after exercise is generally a waste because your body is using energy to digest something that won't help you for hours, energy that it could be using to enhance your workout or recovery. But when you combine whey protein along with Shakeology's other nutrients, you have a high-protein shake that can fit into many different nutritional slots in your day, something lacking in a standard protein drink.

Should I still bother taking P90X Peak Health Formula or ActiVit Multivitamins if I'm drinking Shakeology every day?

We get the vitamin question a lot because Shakeology has so many vitamins in it already. However, using my above example of processed foods, most of us only get a fraction of the nutrients that we should consume on any given day, even when we're eating more calories than we should. This is exactly why we have vitamin supplements in the first place. Throw exercise into the equation, which accelerates your body's usage of nutrients, and you can see why we recommend so many times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for certain vitamins and minerals.

For an average person, Shakeology might eliminate the need for a multivitamin. But if you remember that movie Supersize Me, the average American takes about 600 steps a day—which isn't even your warm-up for a P90X workout! No one doing a Beachbody program is average. Xers, especially, are advised to take additional vitamin supplements.

It's also great to take your supplements along with Shakeology because they will digest more easily. One of the limiting factors with supplements is how well your body can assimilate them, so adding them to something that you know is broken down easily by your digestive system is a plus.

It's important to mention two other variables here as well. First, many—if not most—of our customers are trying to lose weight. This requires reducing caloric intake while adding exercise, which increases nutrient requirements. Starting to see an equation where multivitamins and supplements make sense? The body can be a complex organism, but this comes down to simple math. The key to losing weight is not just about reducing calories; it's about finding a way to reduce your caloric intake and still get enough nutrients to keep you body functioning at its highest level. The key to doing this is to seek out nutrient-dense foods. As I said before, you'd be hard-pressed to find something as nutrient-dense as Shakeology.

Then there's the RDA, which is the "recommended daily allowance" for everybody. Imagine one nutritional number for every person on the planet, from a 100-pound computer programmer who sits all day to a 350-pound NFL lineman. How absurd is that? Anybody who is doing P90X is no longer an average individual. So chances are the RDA won't fit the bill if you want your body to perform as well as it can.

When's the best time to drink Shakeology during a P90X day?

One of the beautiful things about Shakeology is how versatile it is. Because it helps you digest anything you consume along with it, there isn't really a wrong time to have it. Ideally, its best slot in an Xer's day is as a pre-workout snack, taken about 1 hour prior to your warm-up. Your impending workout will help you get the most out of Shakeology and it will help you during the latter part of your workout, especially if your glycogen stores are slightly depleted. It can be effective pre-workout, post-workout, or any time during the day when your energy is flagging and you need a pick-me-up. Or you can make smoothies and simply replace your meals. You basically can't go wrong.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about Shakeology?

Price holds a lot of people back, and I can understand that it looks expensive on the surface. We tend to look at foods in a cost-to-calorie ratio, instead of a cost-to-nutrient ratio. Sure, you can buy a Big Gulp and you get 800 calories for a dollar (or something like that). But what good are they? There are no micronutrients. It's man-made sugar, chemicals, and by-products of genetically modified corn and soy production—no nutrition whatsoever. Whereas if you tried to find all the nutrients in Shakeology, you'd spend forty bucks.

If you're serious about your health, you should consider what you spend your money on. People drop three to four bucks a day on things that are a detriment to their health without batting an eye. We're talking the price of a latte or smoothie or any number of things that are much worse than that. The consumer is at war with a lot of corporations that are trying to poison them to make a quick buck. The obesity trend will only stop when we take some responsibility for our health and begin to make better food choices.

A Girl's Guide to P90X

Monday, July 26, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Whitney Provost

Muscles are a girl's best friend. Not only do they raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories, they also keep you living strong. And they look beautiful. Well-sculpted shoulders and lean, tight legs carry clothes better and allow you to power through everyday activities with strength and stamina. How do you get a body like that? A program like P90X® will do the trick.

I know this because I'm a P90X graduate. I can vouch for its muscle-sculpting, fat-blasting, and body-shrinking powers. Before I ever started working for Beachbody®, I finished two rounds of P90X and incorporated P90X Plus into my fitness routine. I still do P90X regularly, and Plyometrics is consistently in my cardio rotations.

I'm not a world-class athlete. I'm just a regular at-home fitness junkie. P90X has been helping me get the body I want—lean, tight, and strong but not bulky—and it makes me feel good.

Not sure if you're ready to tackle the X? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
  1. Do your best and forget the rest. You'll hear Tony say this a lot throughout P90X, and it's important advice. All you have to do is lift as much weight as you can, and that's it. You're not in competition with anyone else. Don't worry if you can only lift 5 pounds while the women in the workouts are hoisting 15. Every time you Push Play, you'll get stronger, and before you know it, you'll be able to lift heavier than you ever have before. And don't be surprised if you find that you can do a few pull-ups at the end of 90 days.
  2. Eat enough. A common mistake many active women make is undereating. With a program as intense as P90X, it's important to fill your body with enough healthy fuel to power through your workouts and help your muscles recover afterward. If you don't eat enough, your metabolism will slow down and your body will burn muscle for energy. Follow the P90X nutrition plan and take your supplements. They're designed to help you get the best results.
  3. Don't be a slave to the scale. During a program like P90X, your body will go through a lot of metabolic changes. At first, your muscles may retain water as they react to the shock of the workouts and the recovery afterward. You may notice your weight going up for a short time before your muscles shed the excess water. As you continue with the program, you'll be building muscle and shedding fat, but the scale might not move downward as much as you want it to. Don't let that deter you. A pound of muscle is denser than a pound of fat, so your body may shrink even if your weight doesn't change that much. Keep in mind that muscle is a metabolism booster, so the more you have the more calories and fat you'll burn all day long.
  4. You're not going to get bulky. Look at the women in the P90X workouts. They're all lean, strong, and feminine. Because women don't have enough testosterone to build massive amounts of muscle, it's nearly impossible for them to bulk up by lifting heavy weights. When women complain about feeling bulky, it's usually because they're new to a fitness program and their muscles are retaining water. If this happens to you, don't give up. Stick with your meal plan and workouts, and soon the extra bulk will go away.
  5. You're going to love the way you feel. OK, maybe not when you're sore from working out, but as you get stronger and leaner, you're going to love how easy everyday tasks become, like lifting heavy objects, walking up and down stairs, or picking up children. And I can pretty much guarantee that you'll find yourself admiring your shoulders in the mirror or poking yourself in the belly to feel your tight abs. I do it all the time.

By Tony Horton
  • 1/2 lb. tofu
  • 1/2 small potato, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable bouillon powder
  • Pepper, black (ground) to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Cookie sheet
Blend the tofu, potato, and onion in a food processor. Don't make the mix too fine. Add remaining ingredients to tofu, potato, and onion mix, and mix together in a bowl. Shape into burgers, and bake at 350 degrees on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at 10 minutes. Makes 3 burgers.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
138 7 g 3 g 17 g 5 g 1 g

5 Ways to Rock It Like Rocky

Saturday, July 24, 2010 | 0 comments »

By David Gutierrez

If you ask people to list the greatest sports movies of all time, odds are Rocky will show up on that list. Over the span of 20 years and in six inspirational films, we saw Rocky Balboa fight and sweat his way through victory and loss.

For those who want to get into the same fighting shape that Sly Stallone was in for his most famous role, you're in luck. You may not have Mickey yelling in your ear, "Ya got heart, kid, but you fight like an ape!" But stick to these five tips and you'll be rocking it like Rocky and "flying high" before you know it.
  1. Beat the meat. In the first Rocky, our hero famously hit sides of frozen beef to prepare for his fight against Apollo Creed. For most, a heavy bag will do just as well. Boxing is a fantastic form of exercise that has multiple benefits. For one, boxing relieves stress, which can affect your metabolism and mood. Boxing is also a good cardio workout that builds your endurance. You'll also see some muscle definition if you keep working the bag. You can even go the Italian Stallion one better by incorporating a kickboxing routine. And remember to keep your feet moving to keep your heart rate up and ensure yourself a good aerobic routine.

    As for the bag itself, there are a number of home installation kits. You can also create your own by getting a duffel bag and filling it with sandbags, bundled-up clothes, or carpeting. Once you get your bag properly secured, you can start swinging away.
  2. Get pumped. This might fall under the "no duh" category, but nothing helped build the strength Rocky needed to deliver those "hurting bombs" like lifting weights. You won't need the high-tech setup or teams of scientists Drago had at his disposal in Rocky IV. You can still achieve the same great results with an at-home workout program and a good set of bands. If this is round one for you in your fitness prize fight, try a beginner program like Power 90® or Slim in 6®. But if you're already a champ, maybe it's time to take on the mighty P90X®.
  3. Egg yourself on. Raw eggs were Rocky's breakfast of choice. While you probably want to avoid the hassle of salmonella and cook yours, egg whites are the purest forms of protein available, and they're relatively flavorless, so you can add them to other foods for an amino acid boost. But keep them runny. When an egg white is overcooked, it loses it benefits and doesn't bond as easily with other proteins.

    As for the yolk, the debate over its health benefits rages on. One thing's for sure, though, if you're looking to load up on protein, eating the far more caloric yolk will mean that you're also loading up on fat. If your main focus is weight gain, go for the gold. But if you're looking to reduce fat and need a good source of protein, stick to the egg whites.
  4. Step up. Rocky never underestimated the benefit of a good cardio workout. But you can probably stop short of running through the snow dragging a sled or a log. Instead, take the stairs. You can vary your stair-running routine by running with weights; stepping sideways or backward; or by taking two to three steps at a time. It also builds endurance and works your calves, quads, and glutes.

    To begin, try running up a set of stadium stairs and then walking down. As your endurance builds, add another round of stairs until you can easily do 10. And really, who doesn't want that euphoric feeling of climbing the stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and holding your arms up in triumph?
  5. Never say die. No matter how many times Rocky was punched, he kept at it—and you can do the same. Results may not come quickly, but they will come. Everyone forgets that Rocky lost his first match against Apollo Creed, but he came back in Rocky II to win the title. And then he did it again. And again. And again. You can do it too. If you need help psyching yourself up for your next workout, pop in those earbuds, Push Play, and get pumped to those opening horns from Bill Conti's immortal Rocky theme, "Gonna Fly Now," or the introductory stings to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." You'll soon be rocking it just like Rocky did.

By Tony Horton

You travelin' folks can find it difficult at times to set up your laptops and jump around to Power 90® or P90X® in your hotel rooms. Quite often, the people in the rooms below you aren't as thrilled about your fitness as you are at 7:00 AM. I created a workout for road warriors who don't want to miss a beat while they're traveling. The original title was "The Warrior Workout." Then I was calling it "The Hotel Room Workout." But this didn't seem right because you can do it anywhere. The people in those rooms below weren't always fans of this one either. The new title is "The Traveler's Workout," because all you need is a space the size of a small workout mat, and you can do it anywhere in the world.

The workout is made up of four rounds, with four exercises in each round. There is a fifth bonus round with four moves. The first exercise in each round is always a 1-minute cardio move. The second exercise is always core/abs. The third is legs, and the last move in each round is always upper body.

Here it is:

Round 1
  1. Run in Place: ~1 minute
  2. Elbow-to-Knee Crunch: ~1 minute (just like in Power 90)
  3. Squats: ~30 reps (just like in Power 90)
  4. Push-Ups: Maximum reps that you can do while maintaining good form
Round 2
  1. Jumping Jacks: ~1 minute
  2. Hip Rock Raise: ~30 reps (Power 90 version or P90X-style)
  3. Step-Back Lunges: ~30 reps (From a standing position, step back into crescent pose, minus the arms. Alternate legs.)
  4. Military Push-Ups: Maximum reps that you can do while maintaining good form
Round 3
  1. Tires on Fire: ~1 minute (running in place with wide legs and high knees)
  2. Crunchy Frog: ~30 reps (see P90X)
  3. Run-Stance Squat Switch: ~30 reps (looks like squats but you're switching feet to a fighter's stance on every rep)
  4. Wide Push-Ups: Maximum reps that you can do while maintaining good form
Round 4
  1. Fast Feet: ~1 minute
  2. Mason Twist: ~30 reps (see P90X)
  3. Plié Squat with Calf Raise: ~30 reps (Do wide squats with toes raised at the top. Reach up with both arms at the top.)
  4. Switch-Hand Push-Ups: Maximum reps that you can do while maintaining good form (One arm does a military push-up while the other arm is doing a wide push-up. Switch after each rep.)
Bonus Round
  1. Wacky Jacks: ~1 minute (see Power Half Hour®)
  2. Roll Up/V Up: ~30 reps (more P90X stuff)
  3. Super Skater: ~20 reps each leg (from P90X)
  4. Side Tri-Rises: Maximum reps that you can do while maintaining good form (from P90X)
All these moves are found in Power 90, Power Half Hour, or P90X. If you don't have Power 90, Power Half Hour, or P90X, don't try to figure out some of this stuff. Just do anything you want as long as you keep the sequence of cardio, core, leg, and push-up moves the same.

By Tony Horton

Only three ingredients you probably already have in your house and less than 10 minutes of prep time. Just because you're short on time and/or groceries doesn't mean you have to skimp on nutrition . . . or taste.
  • 1/2 medium-size banana
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (organic minus hydrogenated oils, preferably)
  • 1 cup unsweetened granola
  • 1 sheet wax paper
Mix and mash all three ingredients into a bowl. Spoon onto a sheet of wax paper. Roll up into a hot dog/cigar shape. Stick in the freezer. Ready in about 90 minutes. Cut off little bites or eat the whole thing. Eat it frozen or throw it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 90 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Cholesterol Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
389 14 g 0 g 47 g 17 g 4 g

Eating for Great Abs

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Ben Kallen

When it comes to creating incredible abs, even the most effective workout programs can only bring you so far. That's because you can't get a flat, hard midsection without losing body fat. Here's how to eat your way to great abs.

And no matter how much effort you put into creating a six-pack, no one's going to see it if it's covered by a layer of flab. (The good news? While it's impossible to "spot-reduce," abdominal fat is often the first to go when you start losing weight.)

If you're following the dietary guidelines of a Beachbody® fitness program or a personalized meal plan from, you'll automatically be eating the right foods to lose fat as you get in shape. But the following seven principles can give you an extra edge and will help ensure that the effort you're putting into your abs will bring you the results you want.

Get plenty of protein. Eating enough lean protein promotes fat loss and muscle gain, the two most important elements for developing great abs. It also helps keep you from getting hungry while you're eating right. You don't have to gobble down 12-ounce steaks—just eat a normal portion of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, or vegetarian protein with every meal, and make sure your snacks contain some protein, too. If you still have a hard time getting enough in your diet, a daily shake made with Whey Protein Powder or Shakeology® can be a perfect addition.

By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don't get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.)

By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don't get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.)

Reconsider your carbs. Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the average American meal is still too high in sugar and fast-burning starches to bring body fat down to ab-baring levels. It's time to say goodbye to sweetened soda, ditch the Doritos®, and save the cake for your birthday. If your fitness plan calls for a sports drink before a long cardio workout, or a carb-and-protein recovery drink after resistance training, that's fine. But the rest of the time, stick with foods that are on the low end of the glycemic index (refer to for more information)—these foods burn more slowly so they won't spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Have fun with fiber. Something about the word "fiber" just doesn't sound appetizing. But high-fiber foods can actually be quite delicious: fresh berries and other fruits, salads loaded with colorful produce, your favorite steamed vegetables or vegetable soup, stews or chili made with beans, chewy whole-grain breads and cereals . . . You get the picture. (These foods just happen to be loaded with nutrients as well.) High-fiber foods keep you fuller with fewer calories, and they help keep your digestive system working at its best—a double-whammy for getting rid of belly bulge.

Enjoy some yogurt. Probiotics, the healthful bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, have been proven to help reduce belly fat. In a recent study in Finland, new mothers who took probiotic supplements averaged smaller waist circumferences, and lower body fat in general, than those who didn't take probiotic supplements. And while the topic is still controversial, studies have found that eating lots of calcium-rich dairy foods like yogurt may increase overall weight loss.

Don't forget to eat. Tempted to lower your daily calorie count by skipping meals? Don't. Going hungry can raise your levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which research has found can increase belly fat even in otherwise thin women. And eating too infrequently can lower your metabolism and energy levels, while increasing the chance that you'll get too hungry and decide to chuck your meal plan entirely. If you're eating the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body fueled while you're working toward that strong core.

Drink more fluids. Hydration is important when you're on a fitness plan, but drinking plenty of water has particular benefits for your midsection. It helps keep your stomach full so you don't overeat, and it helps flush out excess sodium to prevent belly bloating. (Eating more potassium-rich foods, such as tomatoes and bananas, will also help in this area.)

Plain ol' H20 can't be beat, but you can also switch it up with flavored waters, iced tea, and anything else you like to drink that isn't full of sweeteners. How much do you need? The old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good start, but everyone is different: drink more if you're exercising or it's hot out, and less if you're running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.

. . . . With two exceptions. It's time to cut down on those mood-altering substances, coffee and alcohol. Too much caffeine raises your cortisol levels and can impair your sleep, which can lower the production of fitness-promoting hormones. Meanwhile, the proverbial "beer belly" isn't just the result of extra calories—alcohol actually makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize carbs and fat. Booze also stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to bingeing. The best road to flat abs is no alcohol at all, but if you really like a drink now and then, just have one at a time (and no more than a few a week), and stay away from higher-calorie beers and sugary mixed drinks.

If you add these rules to your fitness plan, you're sure to see faster improvements in your midsection. Of course, there's a bonus to eating this way: it'll keep you healthier, too. That may not be as big an inducement as great abs, but we're throwing it in for free.

By Denis Faye and the Team Beachbody® Community

When it comes to Beachbody® workouts, you can go no higher than P90X®. From the full supination concentration curl to the sphinx push-up, from your first warm-up to your last sip of Results and Recovery Formula, this program is truly the Mount Everest of our collection. And just as you'd prepare to climb the real Everest, you need to prepare for P90X. There are fitness levels to be tested, there is gear to be purchased, there is junk food to be tossed, and there are psyches to be elevated. But instead of dishing out a boring ol' "honey do" list for you up-and-coming Xers out there, this humble reporter decided to hang out at the P90X base camp (or the Team Beachbody P90X Message Board, as the plebes call it) and ask those who have already followed Sherpa Horton to the summit what they did to get ready. And now that I've completely worn out that metaphor, let's see what they had to say.

The regimen

As Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards likes to say, P90X is not an "off the couch" program. It's a hard program intended for fit people. Some veteran Xers learned that the hard way. As Scottc0823 muses: "I did nothing to prepare. I am 44 and have not done any serious exercise in years. Suffice it to say I had no idea it was an extreme workout, and no, I did not read up on it before I started! Shame on me. I realized very fast I was probably more of a candidate for Power 90 first."

Luckily for Paulandofelia, he reached this conclusion in advance. "Talking with my wife and discussing my Fit Test results, I didn't think this was going to work. But, I did read in the literature about Power 90 and how it can be used to help you get into shape for P90X. So I ordered that. I put the P90X box up on the shelf in my closet, determined to get it back down as soon as I was ready."

Paulandofelia continues: "Power 90 was hard for me at first but Tony was right—just stick with it and Keep Pushing Play. I was determined to do this P90X program and after 2 months I felt I was ready. I redid the Fit Test and could do a little more than the minimum. My wife bought me some Power Blocks for my birthday and on July 24 I started the X."

Justinpinkley also worked his way up to P90X, focusing on the program's most dreaded feature, the pull-ups. "I did a month and a half of 10-Minute Trainer. Then when I was done with that, I spent the last two weeks working on doing pull-ups, which consisted mostly of negatives (where you jump up if you have to, then let yourself down as slowly as possible)."

One cool thing about P90X is that it gives you an excuse to buy new toys: a pull-up bar, good shoes, a good mat, weights, and resistance bands. Unfortunately, if you're not already geared up, it can get to be an expensive shopping spree. CTOlson offered a simple solution to this: "I took a week or two to stock up on dumbbells by checking Craigslist and sales of dumbbells."

Scottc0823 saved a couple bucks by pilfering from his kids: "I am using mats that belong to the kids (those colored squares that fit together like a puzzle)." And for his pull-up system, he applied a little DIY attitude. "I put a hook in the ceiling joist so I could use the bands where I did not have a pull-up bar. I am now to the point I plan to install the bar and have a homemade setup I found online that will be easy and inexpensive."

For his audio/visual needs, Dadofaugust also stole from his brood by "reclaiming my old TV and DVD player from the kids' playroom." Conversely, Dumbbells suggests you go upscale. "I'd have bought a 5- or 7-disk DVD player from the get-go—so I didn't waste time every day changing disks."


Eating right is 50 percent of the P90X journey, so you gotta take it seriously. To do this, Lanceisme called for help from a higher place: "I told my wife to not let me eat anything other than [what was in] the food plan."

Rootc boned up on culinary expertise by "making and testing some of the recipes in the nutrition plan."

FitWithJanet knew the program would take up much of her time, so she planned ahead. "I made batches of the soup recipes, grilled chicken breasts and put them in a Ziploc for the week... basically made anything on my Sunday afternoon that I could make ahead of time to make my life easier (sauces, muffins, soups, chopped onions, cleaned produce, etc)."

And Manin made getting ready fun. "Prep? Cooking lessons!" Once you're into the program, remember that this is real work that requires real food. If you think you'll get by on rice cakes and carrots, you're in trouble. "Eat the calories for your level," insists Darthbaron. "If you're in Phase III and your calculations came out at over 4,000 calories, you better be eating that much. I tried working with 2,500 calories for all of Phase I and most of Phase II before I finally got tired of poor results. Once I started eating at Phase III, the changes in strength and muscle growth were dramatic—almost magical. I'm not joking: imagine one week not being able to do a single dive bomber, and then two weeks later you can do 20 dive bombers. These are the kind of changes I saw in less than 4 weeks once I started eating properly."

General preparedness

Once you have your gear, diet, and fitness sorted out, you're well on your way, but just like any ambitious project, there are a million other small details to address. Darthbaron points out that you'll need to be prepared to "get enough rest. I was used to sleeping only 3 to 4 hours a night, but you cannot do that and be anything but always tired if you are doing P90X. Sleep is when your body does the bulk of its recovery." Tedwayne points out that the big, fancy books that come with the P90X DVDs aren't just door-proppers. "I think that reading the books from front to back as suggested, setting up your area for all the tasks ahead is key, that way when you do start you can hit the ground running." And 9820adcrdc reminds you that you're not the first person to attempt P90X, so you might as well take advantage of that knowledge pool. "To get ready for P90X, I spoke with coaches who are currently doing and have done the P90X program; I went to their homes and saw what they used to work out and their setup."

Finally, Fasnake suggests that you make sure that you have reasonable expectations before Pushing Play that first time. "There is one thing that I KNEW from the beginning—I have a 'Pause' button on the DVD player. I also have the rest of my life to do this without killing myself in the process. It's taken YEARS to put this weight on and get 'out of shape' (No . . .'round' is NOT a shape for healthy people) and it will not all come off at once. Additionally, I have to change my eating habits with 'what' I put in my mouth and 'how much' I put in my mouth. I have no lofty goals of looking 'ripped' or 'macho' or 'buff'." Although I'm sure we all agree getting ripped wouldn't be anything to complain about.

By Tony Horton

Only three ingredients you probably already have in your house and less than 10 minutes of prep time. Just because you're short on time and/or groceries doesn't mean you have to skimp on nutrition . . . or taste.
  • 1/2 medium-size banana
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (organic minus hydrogenated oils, preferably)
  • 1 cup unsweetened granola
  • 1 sheet wax paper
Mix and mash all three ingredients into a bowl. Spoon onto a sheet of wax paper. Roll up into a hot dog/cigar shape. Stick in the freezer. Ready in about 90 minutes. Cut off little bites or eat the whole thing. Eat it frozen or throw it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Preparation Time: 90 minutes

Nutritional Information (with low-fat milk):
Calories Protein Cholesterol Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
389 14 g 7 g 47 g 17 g 4 g

By Shaun T

As a performer and fitness presenter, I regularly travel through several time zones across the globe on my way to Europe or, well, you name the place, it's probably on my schedule. These long trips often have one negative result that everyone knows as "jet lag," and one of the most common symptoms I experience is a disruption in my normal sleep-wake cycle. Occasionally I find myself suffering from jet leg once I arrive at my destination, which can be really inconvenient because I need to be in peak performance mode. No one wants to bring in a choreographer from Hollywood just to have them napping offstage. I need to get off the plane and be ready to be dynamic as a dancer or fitness personality.

You don't have to be a performer to use these tips—so many of us travel for business or for family events and want to be at our best while away from home (and of course upon our return!).

If you've ever traveled for an extended period of time, you're familiar with the symptoms I'm talking about: sleepy during the day, wide awake at night, difficulty focusing, lack of memory, irritable, dizzy, headachy, sore muscles, and (often most uncomfortably) digestive upsets.

I've read various articles on this subject, and here are some tips that I've tried and personally find useful to combat jet lag:

  1. A few days before my trip, I try to reset my internal clock. For example, if I’m traveling to the East Coast from the West Coast, I aim to go to bed 1 hour earlier each night, and I get up an hour earlier than normal. This 1-hour difference in my internal clock really does minimize the jolt to my sleep patterns, so I try to put this tip into action any time I don't have a last-minute schedule and have a few days to prepare.
  2. I try to schedule daytime flights whenever possible in an attempt to avoid sleep loss and fatigue. I can then get settled at my destination, have a sensible dinner, and go to sleep pretty easily. Not to say that I can't be seen eating at a JFK Airport kiosk at midnight during a layover to Berlin, but I try to avoid that situation. And it goes without saying that you should avoid traveling when you’re already sleep deprived.
  3. While on the plane, I wear comfortable clothes that allow me to be relaxed and not feel confined. The same goes for footwear as well. I often bring along a set of warm slipper socks with me so I can kick off my sneakers and chill.
  4. During the flight, I keep hydrated by sticking to at least one bottle of water and avoiding alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeinated beverages.
  5. You may consider a mild sleep aid like melatonin or a "bedtime" tea (Yogi Tea has a good one) should you still suffer from sleep deprivation on day 2 or 3. This can finally get you back on track so you can snooze your way back on schedule. Most importantly, be patient with yourself and your body, as it may take you a day or two to acclimate.

Hope you find these helpful—I always find that sleep, like nutrition and exercise, is extra-important when you're on the go.

Peace out,

Shaun T

Your P90X® Checklist

Saturday, July 17, 2010 | 0 comments »

10By Tony Horton

Core is the new abs.

Here's a checklist to make sure you hit the ground running:

  • Clean out your kitchen. Toss out all the tempting junk. Go through your fridge. Toss the beer. Toss the soda. Toss the mayonnaise. The new healthy you won't miss it! Anything you've been using as comfort food needs to be gone. You're not going to need comfort food—you've got comfort exercise.
  • Plan your workout space. You're going to need a DVD player and a TV, plus some room to move. You'll be doing chin-ups in Chest & Back, Legs & Back, and Back & Biceps, and there's no better bar than the P90X® Chin-Up Bar—the most durable pull-up bar ever made. And it's no ordinary bar. Custom designed with 12 grip positions, this heavy-gauge steel bar will give you the best upper-body workout ever.
  • Warn your family and friends that things are about to CHANGE. Tell them you're going to get fit and healthy, and you need their support. Tell them you're not interested in snacks unless they're vegetables. Cocktail hour is now going to be yoga hour. The pizza delivery boy is no longer part of the family. Let them know you're making a commitment to getting healthy, and you need their help to hold you accountable. After all, you want to be around for them for a long time.
  • Fuel your body. You're going to need plenty of energy to make it through P90X. With over 70 different ingredients, Shakeology® is the Healthiest Meal of the Day®. P90X® Peak Performance Protein Bars each pack 20 grams of muscle-building protein. You can choose any of 4 delicious flavors—Chocolate Fudge, Café Mocha, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Wildberry Yogurt—or order the Variety Pack and try them all!
  • Visit the Beachbody® Message Boards. You'll find lots of support, motivation, and advice from trainers like me and people doing the workouts just like you. When you're ready to give up or think you can't eat another serving of "rabbit food," there are people going through the same thing who are ready to help. For everything from pep talks to recipe tips, check out the message boards to keep you on track and on target.
  • Be good to your hands. I designed these ergonomic heavy-duty PowerStands® to help you get the most out of every push-up and alleviate the strain on your wrists and hands. You'll get maximum muscle engagement and maximum comfort. And give yourself a break from the dumbbells with portable and convenient pro-grade resistance bands.
  • Take your "before" photos. It'll help you stay motivated during the program when you see how far you've come. Sure, no one wants to take those pictures of themselves with their gut hanging over their belt, or thunder thighs bulging out of a bikini, but hide those photos away in a drawer for 90 days, because you're going to want to show people what success looks like.
  • Give yourself the tools to recover. What happens to your body in between workouts is just as important as what happens during them. Immediately after a hard workout nothing beats P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® which is formulated with the specific nutrients for maximizing a vital one-hour post workout window where nutrient timing makes all the difference. Most P90Xers say they won't work out without it, and it tastes great! And on days you do easier workouts, and any other time in between workouts, Shakeology® will give you more recovery-specific nutrients per calorie than any other food you can consume. Learn more
  • Sign up for, our online SuperGym®. You can enter all your information and start scheduling your workouts or start a workout group with other people who share your interests. If you haven't heard it before, accountability is key.
Ready? Let's BRING IT!®

By Steve Edwards

Core is the new abs.

Translation: Those chiseled six-packs you see adorning magazine covers these days are achieved by working the entire midsection, not just the abdominal muscles. So chuck your Ab Lounge®, your Ab Roller®, and your 30-second ab routine, and read on to see what could land you on the cover of Maxim.

This is the part where I confess to a bit of hyperbole. Those six-packs are mainly a function of the individual's body-fat percentage, not how strong their core muscles are. Those gimmicky ab workouts can be okay as part of your program. And hiring a publicist will do far more for your hopes of appearing in Maxim than any amount of time in the gym. Oh, and one more thing: most of those models don't look like that all of the time. As one of them put it to me at a shoot, "I can't wait to eat. You think I look like this all the time? That would be sooooo unhealthy."

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get down to the business of creating a healthy core.

The crunch phenomenon

Isolation training, or training individual muscle groups, was all the rage for a couple of decades. Probably spurred on by Arnold in the iconic bodybuilding movie, Pumping Iron, people were creating exercises to isolate one muscle at a time and blast it into submission. As these exercises trickled away from Muscle Beach and into the mainstream, the one that stuck more than any other was the crunch.

The crunch is a great isolation movement. Plus, it's relatively easy and you can work your abdominal muscles into a state of rigor mortis within minutes. And, actually, it worked pretty well for bodybuilders. After all, they aren't movement-based athletes. And, since they spent so much time in the gym, isolating the abs wasn't so bad because they isolated every muscle group. By skipping that last tidbit, this spawned an entire industry of quick-fix workout gimmicks promising that you, too, could look like Arnold. But instead of dedicating your entire life to body sculpting, these promised similar results in a few minutes of ab isolation.

The rise of functional training

Functional training is basically exercising using movements that you'll encounter in everyday life. It grew out of physical therapy, which makes sense as more and more people were landing in PT units because they'd been injured due to isolation training. What they found was that isolation training was creating muscular imbalances. This is, essentially, where one muscle group becomes stronger than it's supposed to be compared to others. When this happens it's easy to get injured.

It's hard to create a muscular imbalance in your natural life. If you run, for example, your body naturally responds in a way where it uses all the muscles it can to help the movement. This includes what are called your prime mover muscles and your stabilizer muscles. In isolation training, the prime movers would get isolated because those were the muscles that you could see. This would create major imbalances, and the stabilizers would often get no attention at all.

Your core and its function

Functional training starts with your core: the middle of your body where virtually all movements begin. A strong core creates a base to work from. If this base is solid, your chances of getting injuries decrease greatly. Because of this, functional training programs spend the majority of their time working on this area.

This might sound like isolation but it's not, because your core is not just your abs but all the muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis. It's essentially all of the prime mover and stabilizer muscles that you use to stay standing. For this reason, core exercises often include balance movements. These include using gadgets like balance balls, boards that wobble, golf balls, soft balls, and foam rollers, but it also includes simple old-school movements like push-ups, squats, and many yoga stances. All of these movements require body awareness (balance) to keep you from falling over. It's exactly the opposite of a Nautilus® exercise machine or, say, a crunch.

Is isolation the root of injury and evil?

Some functional trainers like to tell you this, but it's not true. There are many reasons why isolation movements still exist. The main one is sports. Sports create a reason for an athlete to attempt to exceed their natural physique's strength ability in certain areas. In order for a muscle to exceed its natural capacity for strength, it must first grow. Isolation exercises are great for this. So, while fine tools, these are only a piece of the athlete's pie. To avoid injury and increase performance, athletes periodize their training, which means they do various cycles of training that target different goals. Athletes may isolate a muscle group for a training cycle, but then they must switch their training to functionally train this new muscle to work within the limitations of their bodies.

Your abs and you

So how does this affect you and how you'll look at the company beach party? First, the bad news: You won't look like Maria Sharapova by watching Oprah on your Ab Lounge. The good news, however, is that you can create a great-looking midsection by training in the way that's most beneficial to your body.

This is the point where I tell you that a true six-pack is a phase. Like I said before, even most fitness models don't walk around looking chiseled all the time. They try to stay fit and thin, but the duration of the ultra six-pack is fleeting. It's the same for many athletes, who will often reduce their body fat to below healthy levels for increased sports performance (because reduced weight at the same strength = increase in power output). But they aren't always in this state. For a six-pack to appear, most men need to get below 10 percent body fat and women under about 14 percent—abdominal muscle strength has nothing to do with it. Athletes are better off doing most of their training a little above this and losing the last bit for competition. This is because body fat helps your defense mechanisms. Some fat is needed to avoid injury and illness. Where you are concerned, the state of the six-pack should be something you target for some photos or, perhaps, a beach party. Your daily life goal should be a slim midsection. Brett Hoebel's RevAbs workout is ideal for reducing body fat while strengthening your core.

Creating a healthy core

If you will commit to exercising, it's not all that difficult to ensure that your core is sound. Functional trainers love to use the word balance. And not just in regards to standing on a wobbly board. Balance in both your life and how you exercise will help you center yourself in more ways than one. Here are a few tips to ensure you're getting to the core of your workouts.
  • Work your entire body. Whatever your workout program is, make sure it works on everything. Not just your core but your arms, legs, hands, and feet. Everything is connected to your core, like branches of a tree. Whatever workout program you choose should, at least a little bit, stress every muscle in your body. No one with an overweight body has ripped abs. It can't happen.
  • Periodize your training. No matter how great your routine is, change it sometimes. Using various programs helps you work different muscles and create new engrams (neuromuscular brain patterns), which results in keeping your body balanced.
  • Do some yoga or Pilates. Even if you hate it. Yoga, particularly, is the oldest functional training program there is. You don't need to do Shiva the destroyer's Power Yoga program. The basic old-school movements will be plenty to round out your workouts. Or for a fun yoga workout, try Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Yoga Core.
  • Do some balance work. These workouts can be hard, mentally taxing, and kind of boring. But you don't need to spend 45 minutes balancing on one leg on a skateboard on top of a golf ball to see results. Just sitting on a balance ball at your desk is very helpful. Any balance work is better than none.
  • Alter your crunch. You can still crunch, and of course, you still need to work all of your midsection muscles. A simple balance element, like lifting your legs as you crunch, turns an isolation ab movement into a core movement. Keeping your legs off the ground, and straight, contracts something called your transversus abdominis (TVA). This is the muscle responsible for holding your gut in (another good TVA exercise is simply sucking your belly button in as far as you can). You'll start recognizing variations of these movements by staying present, aware, and observing life, which is another good exercise. Or you can do crunches with a Squishy Ball, as in the Yoga Booty Ballet programs.

By Valerie Watson

We used to think a healthy diet was all about the "Big Three" food groups: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Today, we know there are a lot more factors involved—one of the most important being color. Making sure you get a rainbow's worth of colors in the fruits and vegetables you eat can make a world of difference in your health, vitality, and immune system. Match the colors of fruits and vegetables below with the selected beneficial nutrient or nutrients contained in that color group.
  1. Red (tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit): Lycopene. To help protect against cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases.
  2. Orange/yellow (carrots, cantaloupe, peaches): Carotenoids. To help fight cancer, slow aging, and keep eyes healthy.
  3. Green (peas, spinach, asparagus): Chlorophyll and/or lutein. To help prevent cancer and heart disease and keep bones, teeth, and the immune system strong.
  4. Blue/purple (blueberries, eggplant, figs): Anthocyanins and flavonoids. To help fight cancer, memory loss, and strokes, and boost urinary tract and immune system health.
  5. White (bananas, cauliflower, potatoes): Anthoxanthins and/or potassium. To help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.

The Birth of Shakeology®

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Darin Olien, The Ingredient Hunter

Sometime in the middle of 2006, I was well into traveling, hunting, and discovering many plants, nuts, fruits, and other superfoods around the planet. I was heading to the source and meeting the people in the fields, rainforests, and mountaintops of places like Peru, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Australia, Tahiti, and places in between-drawn by an insatiable curiosity of what is out there. The places I have been are some of the most abundant and ecologically diverse places in the world and home to an amazing display of vibrant, health-filled plants. With the herbal discoveries I was making, I was passionately formulating many concoctions—testing, eating, experimenting, importing these miracles of earth. I fueled myself as well as friends and some extreme athletes and celebrity peeps.

One day in 2006, I got a call from my Argentine friend, Miguel, who had met a woman at our local vitamin shop who was doing some similar things on the nutrition front. I met and had an amazing, synchronistic conversation with the vibrant and brilliant Isabelle Daikeler! We had very similar points of view and many synergies on nutrition, wellness, and life, really. It is rare that I find someone who is living, demonstrating, and traveling on a path of true commitment to vibrant living like Isabelle is. She told me she had heard of and even tried some of my formulas and thought there might be an opportunity for me to work with her husband's company. A week or so later, I was back at their home, out by the pool, and met Carl Daikeler for the first time.

Carl, too, was very open, caring, and willing to share where he was coming from. He shared with me his vision of the company, where they are now and where he really would like to go and his desire to impact the lives of millions of people and crank up the company's nutritional division! He said he was thinking about a meal replacement called "The Healthiest Meal of the Day." He says to me, "I know you have formulated these other things but could you take us in this direction and formulate a top-notch, incredibly nutritious, yummy meal replacement?" The first thought was: Of course I could do that, it’s what I love to do! You see, I have so many ideas in my head for developing avant-garde formulas and using exotic ingredients that of course I want to get them out there to people, millions of people. And here is this guy, giving me an opportunity to do my thing—to take the ball and run with this vision—well, I am in! And I know without a doubt nothing would have happened if it hadn't been for Isabelle trailblazing her knowledge and understanding to Carl, slowly downloading him information about this world of Super-Functional nutrition! And she was such a blessing and hugely instrumental for me then and now, even being able to have this groundbreaking opportunity by the ground she forged with the company well before I arrived. And I have to tell ya, the thing that sealed the deal for me was who Carl and Isabelle were as people, the caring they had and the large vision, rooted in creating a rewarding impact for millions of people.

I have never set out to work for a big company or a corporation or other people, for that matter. I have always been an entrepreneur, doing my own thing . . . traveling around, formulating, discovering, adventuring, answering to no one . . . doing exactly what I wanted to do. So, to even consider working with a big company was a big deal for me . . . probably because I am a control freak and didn't want to have to compromise or cut corners like so many companies end up doing. I have had my experiences with other very large nutrition companies saying they wanted the latest and the greatest, and when it came down to it they were not really willing to do what it takes, not willing to take the risk of giving the customer something extraordinary without cutting corners. That is gonna be a deal breaker for me because I don't cut corners so I naturally turned away from them and continued to do my own thing. It always came down to $$, margins, and their lack of vision from my point of view. It's like when Ferrari made their car . . . they put the very best parts in it and said, "We are not skimping on quality and if people want the best they will pay for it," so they did it! Well, I knew I wasn't gonna skimp and Carl proved he wasn't gonna either, so we were able to put the Ferrari of shakes together in Shakeology®. Now, Carl knows better than me, but I remember the tension in those meetings at Beachbody when I told them how much it would cost to put something like this together and there were more than a few business dudes in that room who thought I was nuts and it probably couldn't and wouldn't work! Well, the big boss man, Carl, always pulled through and saw it and believed in it even when others didn't . . . he knew we had to do it no matter what it takes, even if it was more expensive than the average swag product on market. All of that and the invitation from Carl and Isabelle made the difference for me. And from my point of view, Carl basically said in the beginning, "I trust you can do this, so go do your thing!" He supported me in being me and gave me the freedom to create what is best for the product and people. So we had a deal, and with a smile and a handshake we started rollin'!

How do I put a formula—this formula—together? I first had to start from scratch, a clean slate! I didn't want to start with a point of view of something or someone else's ideas. My first question was . . . what is "Shakeology"? (Of course, we were not calling it that at the time. Carl came up with that brilliant name later.) When Carl asked me to create "The Healthiest Meal of the Day," I was beyond stoked! Because I have seen, smelled, tasted, discovered, and experienced some very amazing superfoods in my life and in my travels, the opportunity to start getting that potency and vibrant nutrition into as many BODIES as possible was and is exciting. And given where some of the plants are from and how they are grown, there is no way most people would be able to experience these superfoods otherwise.

It can be quite a daunting task to formulate something that is for everybody when every body is different! However, there are things that are universal when you start to look at what is missing in most people's diets in our society today. That is where I started to formulate from—by filling in the gaps of what people's bodies require, what the typical Beachbody customer's body requires. I asked myself, what are the nutrients that are not being delivered in "normal" eating conditions today? In addition, one of the biggest keys was using ingredients that are as close to their natural, whole-food state as possible. And last, I know firsthand that it doesn't matter how good it is nutritionally if it doesn't taste good. If it's not convenient and good-tasting, it will not work and no one is going to consume it. But, I knew it was possible to make it taste good . . . it hadn't been done before, but I knew I could do it while not making the fatal mistakes others make, like cutting corners and using synthetic, artificial sweeteners and lower-quality ingredients . . . not this one, not a chance! With all those potent herbs, grasses, and exotics in there . . . whew, it took some time but we pulled it off! Hats off to all the guys in the lab . . . we spent many hours, days, and months playing with the formula and ingredients to get it to not only deliver super nutrition but to taste delicious!

It is an exciting thing because even though there are thousands upon thousands of supplements, foods, herbs, and perceived miracles out there, there are so very few that are any good. One of my philosophies when I put formulas together (and, really, how I approach all of life) is to treat others as if they already KNOW even if they don't know! So, even if they don't know cognitively on some level their body does! Meaning, I put the best product together I can at the time with the highest-quality ingredients, testing, sourcing, using sustainable means, period. The selling will come from that integrity, quality, and nurturing we put into the entire process and product. People know when they are being told the truth or a lie. Long story short, that golden rule thing is something that naturally comes out in what I do and formulate . . . because for me, that's what I would want in a supplement, myself. Have I told you that I am selfish? I don't do anything I don't want to do especially when it comes to quality eating and supplementation. My friends certainly know this! I think of myself when putting together supplements and I only put the things in that I would myself consume. I have never understood why people would do things or promote things that they do not do or believe in themselves. So, of all formulas I produce, foods I consume, recommendations I give, chances are I have lived it and am living it! I certainly did with Shakeology. (And, by the way, I drink it every day!)

Next time, the discovery (or hunting) of ingredients for Shakeology . . . the search begins!