Recipe: Bubba's Bakalo Wings

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

While there's no shortage of athletes hawking chicken wings these days, they would've had pretty limited success in sports if they'd been consuming those deep-fried treats during their prime. Here's an easy-to-make recipe that'll give you a good shot of protein while you're watching the big game. This recipe's for the more cautious of palate, but if you've got a "hot tooth," we definitely recommend loading the recipe up with your favorite no-fat hot sauce.
  • 1 lb. chicken drummettes (about 24 pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. Tabasco® sauce (or similar)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • No-fat hot sauce (optional)
  • Paprika (to taste)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Resealable plastic bag (gallon size), or large bowl with cover
Remove skin from chicken. Mix honey, ketchup, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and your favorite no-fat hot sauce (optional, for added heat) in resealable plastic bag or large sealable bowl. Add chicken, shake thoroughly, and refrigerate for 4 hours or more to marinate.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from bag or bowl, place on cookie sheet, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered until chicken is crisp and no longer pink in the center—about 30 minutes. Serves 12.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
89 10 g 0 g 4 g 2 g 1 g

Top 10 Reasons to Give Up Soda

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Steve Edwards

If you're looking for a scapegoat in the obesity epidemic, look no further than soda. It's the single greatest caloric source in the world, accounting for somewhere between 11 and 19 percent of all the calories consumed worldwide. It's cheap, addictive, and readily available, which generally means it'll take some willpower to avoid. But don't despair, as we at Beachbody® are here to help. We now present our top 10 reasons to give up soda. Drumroll, please . . .

  1. Soda may cause cancer. According to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, consuming two or more soft drinks per week increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by nearly twofold compared to individuals who didn't consume soft drinks. As reported, the study "followed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. During that time, there were 140 pancreatic cancer cases. Those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week (averaging five per week) had an 87 percent increased risk compared with individuals who did not."

    Then why, you're probably asking yourself, is this number 10 on our list, and why is soda still even on the shelf? Not that I'd challenge the ability of such large corporate power to hide such a thing but, in this case, the study slit its own throat. As one of the researchers noted, "Soft drink consumption in Singapore was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake, which we can't accurately control for," meaning that we have no way of knowing for sure if soda was the culprit. Still, it doesn't hurt to know that when you drink soda it lumps you into a fairly unhealthy user group.
  2. It's not just about calories. Calories grab headlines, but recent science is showing that diet soda drinkers are still in the crosshairs. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center showed there's a 41 percent increased risk of being obese—and a 65 percent increased risk of becoming overweight during the next 7 or 8 years—for every can of diet soda a person consumes in a day. Admittedly, this one should be higher on the list, but I wanted to make sure the article-skimming crowd knew the score up front: that diet sodas are very much a part of the problem.
  3. It's the water . . . and a lot more. Okay, so that was a beer slogan, but soda is also made up mainly of water, and when you're slinging as much of it as they are, and you need to sling it cheap, sometimes you can't help but run into problems with your supply chain. In India, Coca-Cola® has found itself in hot water, and not the kind they thought they were purchasing rights to. Two of their factories have been closed, but one continues to run amok.

    According to a report in The Ecologist, "They accuse the company of over-extracting groundwater, lowering the water tables and leaving farmers and the local community unable to dig deep enough to get to vital water supplies. Since the bottling plant was opened in 2000, water levels in the area have dropped six metres, and when a severe drought hit the region earlier this year the crops failed and livelihoods were destroyed."
  4. BPA: not just for water bottles anymore. Nalgene® and other water bottle companies took the heat when the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) were made public a couple years back. While these companies went to great lengths to save their businesses, the soda companies somehow flew under the radar and continue to use it in their products. A recent Canadian study has found that BPA exists "in the vast majority" of the soft drinks tested. Most of these were under the national limits set for toxicity, but some were not. And remember how much soda the average person consumes, meaning odds are most soda consumers are at some risk.

    "Out of 72 drinks tested, 69 were found to contain BPA at levels below what Health Canada says is the safe upper limit. However, studies in peer-reviewed science journals have indicated that even at very low doses, BPA can increase breast and ovarian cancer cell growth and the growth of some prostate cancer cells in animals."
  5. Can convenience. As in the 1950s colloquialism: can it. Speaking of the 1950s, those were the happy days when most of our soda was consumed at soda fountains, obesity was a term hardly anyone had heard of, and the most feared epidemic was one involving atomically mutated insects taking over the world. Now instead of hoofing it down to the corner confectionery for one soda, we fill trucks with pallets of shrink-wrapped cans or bottles and quaff the stuff by the six-pack. Not only does this ensure that our diets will be out of balance, it wreaks havoc on the world around us. The bottled-water industry (which is mostly owned by the soda industry) famously uses 17 million barrels of oil a year, and the aluminum industry uses as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa. Not only that, aluminum mining accounts for a ton of toxic chemicals left behind for every ton of the metal produced.
  6. The Frankenfood factor. Whether you consume diet or regular soda, you're getting all the genetically modified food you need and more, via high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Both of these are under plenty of scientific as well as anecdotal scrutiny. Findings aren't pretty, but so far this multibillion-dollar industry has kept these sweeteners on the shelves while alternative sweeteners meeting cost requirements are explored. Since it's almost impossible to read health headlines without finding one of these ingredients in some type of controversy, I'll just use one example:

    "The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition and food safety advocacy group, called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the claims, which stem from research conducted by the European Ramazzini Foundation in Italy. The foundation reported that rats who consumed aspartame in exceedingly large quantities were more likely to develop cancer. CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson considers this an important finding that should not be overlooked."

    I know, there I go again with the cancer. But some people need to be shocked in order to take action. For me, seeing the Diet Coke® and Mentos® experiment was all I needed to swear off the stuff.
  7. Foreign news cares how much soda we sell in our schools. How bad is your country's problem when the whole world is watching its daily actions? "Nearly one in three children and teenagers in the U.S. are overweight or obese and health experts say sugary drinks are part of the problem." 6 Yep, bad. The world is well aware of the problems soda is causing and is looking to us to lead. And we certainly are trying. Are you with the program?

    "Under the voluntary guidelines, in place since 2006, full-calorie soft drinks were removed from school canteens and vending machines. Lighter drinks, including low-fat milk, diet sodas, juices, flavoured waters and teas were promoted in their place."

    And, while great and all, it appears that no one got the memo about diet sodas.
  8. Diet? Um, that's just like your opinion, man. When it comes to soda, treat the word "diet" as a slogan. A study at Boston University's School of Medicine linked diet soda with increased risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. To be more specific, the study "found adults who drink one or more sodas a day had about a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome," which is a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around the waist, low levels of "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other symptoms that lead to heart disease and/or diabetes. And, for those of you only concerned about how you look in the mirror, "Those who drank one or more soft drinks a day had a 31 percent greater risk of becoming obese."
  9. Soda outkills terrorists. A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, shows that soda has killed at least 6,000 Americans in the last decade.

    From ABC News: "The new analysis, presented Friday at the American Heart Association's 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, offers a picture of just how horrifying the damage done by excess consumption of sugary drinks can be.

    "Using a computer model and data from the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses Health Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers estimated that the escalating consumption between 1990 and 2000 of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages, which they abbreviated as 'SSBs,' led to 75,000 new cases of diabetes and 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease.

    "What's more, the burden of the diseases translated into a $300 million to $550 million increase in health care costs between 2000 and 2010."
  10. It's the "real thing" . . . not exactly. Should having the number-one source of calories in the world come from something that's entirely manmade be a metaphor for a dying world? It doesn't have to be this way. After all, there's nothing in soda that we need. In fact, there's nothing in soda that even comes from the earth except caffeine, and that's optional. It's a mixture of altered water (injected with carbon dioxide gas), artificial flavors (yes, "natural flavor" is artificial), artificial color, and phosphoric acid, along with its sole caloric source that is a by-product of genetically modified corn production and offers virtually no nutritional value. It's about as real as The Thing.

Tag! You're Fit!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Denis Faye

Just finished your latest round of P90X®? Ready for a little break from TurboFire®? Looking for the next big trend in exercise?

I'm here to tell you all about it: they're small, they're fun, and they're a never-ending source of energy. Many of us already have them in our homes and, heck, we invest so much time, effort, and money in them, why not use them to get in shape?

That's right, I'm talking about kids. Yes, kids! You're looking for a fun way to get fit. They're looking for a fit way to have fun. So why not exercise together?

Still not sold? Let's have a little peek at some of the benefits:
  • Lifelong diet and exercise patterns develop at an early age. You get Junior out there running around and you're giving him a foundation of fitness that'll influence his life for the better.
  • It's a family thing. Communication is vital to a family. When I say "exercise," I'm not suggesting you all hop on treadmills and spend 45 minutes staring straight ahead. I'm talking walks, swims—you know, fun stuff that gives you a chance to chat.
  • Everyone wins. Obesity rates are on the rise the world over. Getting the entire family up and out of the house gets everyone that much more fit.
  • It's fun! Sure, your kids can be punks sometimes, but they're your kids, the same silly little goofballs they've always been. Laugh it up with them. It's a great cycle. Exercising together will allow you to have fun together, and having fun together will allow you to exercise together.
  • It's a chance to nurture. Many things kids do are so beyond their parents. This is a simple chance to be a parent—to offer advice, counsel, or, most importantly, just be a listening ear.
  • It's a chance to learn. Get active with your kids and you'll be able to see their strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this information, you can become a better parent.
Sold yet? I hope so. Now for the next step. You have the kid, you have the motivation. How do you go about it? Here are a few ideas:
  • Find an activity they like. Generally, the parents are going to be a lot more motivated than the kids to hang out together, so let them pick the activity. If you like basketball and they like kickball, too bad for you. Get that kicking leg warmed up!
  • Remember, this is fun. Avoid words like "exercise." Make the schedule as loose as possible. If it gets unfun after 30 minutes, head home. Better a little bit of fun than a forced march.
  • Think outside the envelope. When's the last time you went dancing? Or roller-skating? Or bowling? A read through your community newspaper should offer all kinds of neat options.
  • Turn off the television 1 day a week. That means all day, Mom and Dad, even after the kids hit the sack. When the boob tube is off, you'd be surprised at how much time you suddenly have.
  • Y'all don't have to be attached at the hip. If you need to jog every day, do it at the local track. Take the kids and let them run around where you can keep an eye on them.
  • Non-exercise exercise. Go to an amusement park. Have a picnic. Play mini-golf. No, you won't be working towards Lance Armstrong heroics with these activities, but you'll get exercise and you'll be a hero to the most important people: your kids.
  • Join them during their playtime. Get out there with the neighborhood kids. When's the last time you played kick the can? Or tag? Or had a squirt-gun fight? Way too long, my friend.

Recipe: Guacamole

Monday, September 27, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Here's a great recipe that spotlights what Tony Horton calls "the poor man's butter": the avocados. Guacamole is a great, versatile condiment. It can be a healthy dip for veggies or baked chips, or a delicious sandwich spread to replace fattening mayo with avocados' heart-healthy benefits. If you're storing some for later, make sure you don't skip the lime juice. The acid from the citrus will keep your guac from turning brown.
  • 4 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet white onion, minced
  • 2 chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Hot pepper sauce (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • White pepper (to taste)
Cut avocado in large chunks and mash coarsely in large bowl with fork. Add remaining ingredients and blend gently—leaving some small chunks is fine. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt, and pepper if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
180 3 g 7 g 13 g 15 g 2 g

By Steve Edwards

Running is the most popular form of exercise in the world. So it should come as no surprise that explaining how to incorporate our exercise programs into someone's running schedule is one of the most popular requests we get here at Beachbody. Today we'll look at how to create a program that gives you the benefits of P90X® without compromising your ability to set a personal record (PR) in your local marathon.

This article is part of a series on customizing P90X, and it will benefit you most if you'll take some time to read through each of the preceding articles. (See the Related Articles section below.) After all, what's 30 minutes of your time if you're going to spend the next 3 months training like a Spartan? Most importantly, read the last article (Part V), because it talks about structuring a yearly schedule. P90X is not training for running. But if you strategize correctly, it'll help your running improve.

What type of running?

Of course, the word run means very different things to different kinds of runners. Usain Bolt and Yiannis Kouros may both be running, but the physiological challenges they face could not be more different. Bolt, as you probably know, holds the world record for the 100 meters. Kouros holds records for distances from 100 to 1,000 miles. Most of us lie somewhere in between these extremes, so we'll focus on the more popular "distance running" distances, from the 10K to the marathon, for which training is similar.

This article will not discuss what to do for you running. That's what your running coach is for. Instead, we'll look at how to structure P90X around your current workout schedule, and when to alter it.

The perfect schedule

In the last article I discussed the off-season approach. This is when you should do your non-sports-specific training. Since all athletes can benefit from taking a break from their sport each year, the best case would be for you to stop running and just do P90X. After completing P90X, you would then combine your early-season running training with a maintenance schedule of P90X, which would flip-flop over time. As you got closer to your objectives for the year, you'd run more and do less X training, until you finally moved into a phase where you'd only be running.

But life is rarely perfect, and very few of us can carve our schedules into neat training blocks. This means multitasking. Most of us will likely find ourselves in a situation where we need to look as good as we can for a class reunion in July and are still trying to get a PR in an August marathon. That's the kind of scenario we'll address today.


Given that you've probably already been running, P90X is your foundation program for your running. This means that you should only begin the program if you have time to structure it properly. If you're within a few months of an important race objective, you'll be much better off waiting until after you're finished to begin P90X.

If you're unfamiliar with this term, read the previous articles. Your running training should follow a similar approach to P90X in that it should be laid out in phases. Unfortunately, most people don't really do this on their own, and if you don't employ a coach, this is likely to be the case with you. And that's cool, because you're about to get a periodizational schedule to use.

In the simplest sense, your running should target your weaknesses well before your scheduled objectives, and then bring your strengths into form close to race time. Your X schedule will do this to a degree, because that's how it's designed as a program: to force adaptation early on, with results showing up later as you master the exercises.

Unlike the normal P90X schedule, which you should do if you have the time, today's example will sacrifice some of the ultimate goals of the classic X schedule in order for you to adapt more quickly and to leave you with more energy for the higher volume of running you'll be doing later in the program.


The schedule laid out here is intense, as most doubles schedules are. Keep in mind that no schedule is worth overtraining for. If it's too much, back off and restructure it to fit your current state of fitness.

Putting it all together

This schedule is just one example. You'll need to adjust yours around your schedule. But this model should fit for most of you trying to get the most out of both your running and P90X. It's important to remember that while you're training for running, your speed will likely decrease. This is because you're creating muscular breakdown in order to improve your capacity to run faster later on. This means you'll be slower early in the program, but once your recover and convert your new strength into running speed, you'll be faster.

Block 1 (Weeks 1 through 3)
  • Day 1: Chest & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch
  • Note: No running in the first block is by design. For aerobic work, keep your heart rate way below threshold.
Recovery/Transition Week
  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Legs & Back
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Long aerobic hike or easy run and X Stretch or Yoga X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch
  • Note: Not a traditional recovery week. An endurance athlete tends to have a different base and should be stressed differently. While the intensity of the first month should be high, the volume is low compared to how much many people run.
Block 2 (Weeks 5 through 7)
  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Long run and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch
  • Note: The easy runs should be aerobic. The longer run can have some amount of tempo intervals, but should still be considered base mileage.
Recovery/Transition Week
  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Easy run and X Stretch
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Easy run and X Stretch
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Long aerobic hike or easy run and X Stretch or Yoga X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch
  • Note: This should feel like a true recovery week.
Block 3 (Weeks 9 and 11)
  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X, and run workout
  • Day 2: Plyometrics and recovery run
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X, and run workout
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X, and recovery run
  • Day 6: Run workout and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest and/or X Stretch
Block 3 (Weeks 10 and 12)
  • Day 1: Core Synergistics and run workout
  • Day 2: Cardio X and run workout
  • Day 3: Ab Ripper X and run workout
  • Day 4: Yoga X and run workout
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Run workout and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch
Note: "Run workout" denotes whatever your coach or your own running dictates. It doesn't necessarily mean a hard running workout. "Easy run" means subthreshold throughout. This should be followed with a true recovery period of yoga, stretching, and easy runs. Follow this with a rigorous running training block that ends with enough time so you can taper off for your event—usually 2 weeks.

Remember, don't be afraid to experiment. Your perfect schedule is personal. If something doesn't feel like it's working, don't hesitate to change it. However, it's also important that you let your program work. As I said before, as you're training, you'll get slower before you get faster. Changing your program so this doesn't happen will not allow the physiological adaptation to occur that will improve your speed later on. If you have any specific questions, or want to run your program by someone, you'll find many examples of these on the Message Boards.

By Tony Horton

Every time I mention that I eat four to six avocados a week, I hear all this gobbledygook about how fattening they are. I want to clear up this avocado debate right now. The fat in avocados is monounsaturated. This good fat is part of a healthy diet. It actually helps lower cholesterol. Avocados are rich in vitamins C and E, folic acid, and potassium. They also help your body absorb beta-carotene from other foods. Half an avocado is only 150 calories, and makes a perfect topping on a salad or some of your favorite whole-grain toast. Plus the pit is a giant seed that grows into a gorgeous plant.

Tony H.

Recommended by Tony Horton

Want gourmet grub without steakhouse prices and calorie counts? This easy-to-prepare recipe will dazzle your guests' taste buds so much, nobody will even notice it's actually healthy. But vampires, beware!
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, roasted, with papery skin removed
  • 1 lb. ground sirloin
  • 1 zucchini, ends trimmed, coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 4 leaves lettuce
  • 4 slices red onion
Preheat grill or broiler. Combine roasted garlic, sirloin, zucchini, rosemary, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Mix well to combine. Shape into 4 equal patties. Grill or broil (if broiling, use a baking sheet) 5 minutes per side for medium burgers, a bit more or less for well-done or rare.

Arrange burgers, tomato, lettuce, and onion on buns. Makes 4 servings.

To Roast Garlic:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap garlic in foil, place in oven and roast 45 minutes until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel away foil and squeeze cloves from papery skin.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (add 60 minutes for garlic-roasting process, including preheating and cooling)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes (for medium burgers)

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
293 31 g < 0.5 g 26 g 7.5 g 2.5 g


Thursday, September 23, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Tony Horton

Try this recipe: Take one McDonald's® Big Mac®, carefully remove the wrapper, and place the whole thing in a blender. Add half a cup of ice, milk, and sugar to taste and blend into a smooth consistency. Serve in a tall glass and garnish with whipped cream and drizzled caramel.

Sound crazy? Well, listen to this: a Starbucks® Venti® Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino® Blended Crème coffee drink has more calories than a Big Mac, more fat than a small order of McDonald's French fries, and more sugar than eight Krispy Kreme® glazed doughnuts—and that's before you even spritz the whipped cream on top. Try sticking that in your blender.

Most fancy coffee drinks are essentially high-calorie fast food. But they have other factors that make them even more troublesome. The first factor is caffeine. Blended coffee drinks are loaded with it, making them more addictive. The second factor is their liquid form. When you eat solid food, your brain decreases your appetite and you feel satisfied. But when you consume liquid food, your appetite isn't satisfied in the same way—so you wind up consuming more.

So if you do need that java jolt during the day—keep it simple. Order up a small drip coffee or an espresso. And if you still want something sweet, treat yourself to a blended fruit smoothie. Not only will it taste better, but your body will thank you too.

Tony H.

By Denise Michelle Nix

Military personnel are trained to put others—their country, their comrades—first, before themselves. But to be strong and focused enough to carry out such a lofty mission requires a little attention to the self, too. Service members who use the P90X® Extreme Home Fitness program to get and stay in shape and healthy often say they wish such a program were available, or even required, by the military for its members.

"The military uses a workout program from, like, 30 years ago," says U.S. Army Private First Class Richard Beard, 25. "Physical fitness has progressed so much over the last few years. I think if we incorporated P90X into our workout, maybe there would be less injuries and more results."

Among the reasons P90X works is the Muscle Confusion technique, which service members say is vastly different than the regular military fitness training they receive now—if they receive any at all.

Sgt. Archie Russell, a Hawaii resident who's currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, has been in the U.S. Marine Corps for 7 years. He says he goes to the gym five times a week, does cardio workouts three times a week, and lifts weights twice a week, as part of his group. But it's only now, after adding P90X to the mix, that he's in the best shape of his life—even better than after the arduous training of boot camp.

"Our military training is very rigorous, but your body gets used to it after a while," Russell says. "P90X, on the other hand, keeps my body guessing on what it is about to receive. It's never the same. Once my body adapts to the workouts, I just change to push my body to the limit."

This result, he says, is a sore body, no matter what week of the program he's in. And the soreness is a good reminder that his body is being pushed, and he's getting results.

In 2005, the Associated Press reported that in addition to the war on terror and other threats to national security, military officials have a new concern on their minds: troops too fat to fight. While thousands of service people struggle to lose weight, thousands of potential recruits are being rejected for weighing too much.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steve Rosen, 36, who works in Recruiting Command in Duluth, Minnesota, finds that one of the hardest parts of his job is finding qualified people to enlist. "I sit down with so many people who want to serve," he says. "Yet they cannot, due to being overweight."

According to statistics from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, about 58 percent of soldiers age 21 and over were overweight by federal standards in 2002. That same year, nearly 36 percent of soldiers 20 and under were overweight.

Like many active service members, Rosen is in charge of his own physical fitness. The training that traditional Army units receive is very different from P90X, he says. However, the two turn out to complement each other well.

The Army focuses on things like jumping, sprinting, and squatting to correspond to real-life combat situations. By adding P90X to this training, service people have to worry less about strain and injuries, since they can cut back on these repetitive tasks, and instead add diversity through workouts like Yoga X and Core Synergistics.

The U.S. Air Force's physical fitness test focuses largely on running, says Master Sgt. Kimberly McAuliffe, 30, who's stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. "However, there are so many people with knee and back issues who can't afford to run themselves out of commission, focusing on a well-rounded program like P90X will keep them in fighting shape," she says.

It's no secret that one major appeal of the military is the camaraderie service people share with each other. Living and working with the same group of people, day in and day out, often in tough, dangerous conditions, builds bonds of trust that last a lifetime. Many P90X users have found that extending those friendships into their workouts helps motivate them as they encourage each other, learn from each other, and share their successes with each other.

Rosen recently became a certified personal trainer and is starting a program in wellness coaching. He's signed up to become a Team Beachbody coach using the name "Sgt. Steve," and he keeps a blog and a Facebook page where he writes about his P90X journey and gives encouragement to his followers to stay on the fitness track.

For Sgt. Rosen, as for so many others, joining the military has been a formative journey. And he says he's been able to take the leadership skills and drive the Army has instilled in him and apply them to the P90X program in a way that really works for him. "Leading and inspiring others to fitness is something that is changing my life," he says.

M.Sgt. McAuliffe often tells her fellow airmen that they don't know what they're missing by just running in circles around the track, and invites them to join her in her P90X workouts. She says that her commander has taken her up on the offer a few times. And afterward, she's noticed, he's been so sore he wouldn't even talk to her!

Even while stationed in far-flung locales, many service people find that they can stay connected to others through online discussions about P90X, both on the Beachbody message boards and on other sites. They find that bonding with others is helpful, and a big key to staying motivated. Many P90X enthusiasts in the military, already born leaders, have become Coaches to inspire others.

M.Sgt. McAuliffe says she's used the boards every day for the past two years. "I love talking to other people who love P90X as much as I do, or might be on the fence about their commitment, because I can help them stay on the right track," she says.

She also believes that all military personnel would reap huge rewards if P90X were incorporated into their training.

"Now," she says, "we just have to wait for the brass to see the light."

Recommended by Tony Horton

Want to go south of the border with Señor Horton? Tony's favorite healthy Tex-Mex salmon burritos pack a big protein wallop and are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And the chili-marinated veggies will have your taste buds saying, "Olé!"
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground dried chili peppers
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1-pound boneless salmon fillet (about 1 in. thick)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/3 in. thick
  • 1 red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 in.–thick wedges
  • 1 fresh poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 6 whole-wheat flour tortillas (10 in. wide), warmed
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two 12-by-15-in. baking pans with aluminum foil. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, garlic, ground dried chili, and salt together. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Brush flesh side of salmon with 2 Tbsp. lime-chili marinade. Set aside. In medium bowl, toss sweet potato, zucchini, onion, and poblano chili with remaining marinade. Arrange vegetables in single layer on baking pans. Roast vegetables for 10 minutes, then add salmon (skin-side down) to one pan and return to oven. Continue roasting until potatoes are tender when pierced and salmon is opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove skin from salmon and cut fillet into six equal portions. Place each warm tortilla on plate and spoon one-sixth of vegetable mixture onto each tortilla. Top each portion with one piece of salmon and a little cilantro, cabbage, and sour cream. (Or you can omit sour cream to remove all saturated fat from meal.) Fold tortillas around filling to make burritos. Serve with a bit more sour cream (optional) and the lime wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
325 19 g 3 g 30 g 14 g 2 g

By Steve Edwards

In today's installment of customizing P90X®, we'll address endurance athletes. As you might have surmised, doing the Back & Biceps workout isn't going to improve your marathon time. And no week of P90X leaves you feeling ready to take on an Ironman triathlon over the weekend. So what's the deal? The question we most often get is whether the X is going to improve your finish times, or should you skip it in favor of more sports-specific training?

The short answer is that P90X can improve every aspect of your endurance sport. However, it's important to ask yourself a few questions before you begin, because if you go about it the wrong way you can hurt your performance.

1: What are my goals in my chosen sport?

This question is vital because some of you likely do endurance events only to improve your fitness. When this is the case, you're best off doing P90X the way it's designed and suspending your sports-specific training.

Because you probably already have a decent aerobic base, you should respond quickly to the rigors of P90X. And while you'll be sore and tired in the short term, and lose some of your endurance fitness, you'll also make rapid body composition changes. These changes will help you should you choose to get back into your sport. However, with fitness as your measuring stick, doing rounds of P90X between rounds of endurance sports training will help you keep your fitness level high.

Things get trickier when sports performance is important. If PRs (personal records) are your ultimate goal, you'll want to consider how P90X can help you make it happen.

In the strictest sense, you should do P90X in the off-season. Most endurance athletes would benefit from a period each year where they stopped (or mostly stopped) their sports-specific training and did a good fitness program. This is especially true if you need to lose weight, or you have weakness because it's likely your fitness results have hit a plateau after a long season where you did the same things over and over.

2: Which version of P90X should I do?

Your next decision is which schedule of P90X to do: Lean, Classic, Doubles, or some hybrid version. Here are some scenarios to consider.

If you're an overweight person who has a high percentage of body fat, choose the Classic schedule, because resistance training and gaining muscle are the quickest way to slim down and change your body composition to more muscle and less fat, which will help you more than any other type of training.

If you're fit with a lot of muscle mass, choose the Lean schedule. You'll benefit from strength training and explosive cardio (which put different stress loads on the body than running, riding, swimming, etc.) but you won't add more mass, which is good because strength-to-weight ratio is paramount in endurance sports.

Someone in between might choose a hybrid schedule, the simplest of which would be a program that begins with the Classic schedule and transitions to the Lean schedule.

The last example could also be used by anyone who's closer to their race program and still wants to try some outside training. In these cases, you could start with the Classic P90X schedule for a phase or so (time will dictate this), then transition to the Lean schedule for a phase, and then perhaps transition to a customized schedule to accommodate your sports-specific training needs.

In the off-season, I wouldn't recommend the Doubles schedule, which doubles up workouts, because the off-season is when you should make body composition changes, and also when you should rest. Endurance training is intense once you begin racing; when you begin to add miles into your program again, you want to be rested.

3: What if it's close to my race season?

Most race seasons are long, taking up around nine months of the year on average. Since no one—even a professional—can peak for the entire season, you should set up your schedule with early-season objectives you train through and late-season objectives where you want to set your PRs. Remember, the actual season doesn't matter—only your schedule does. You should choose to peak around times when you can focus and devote yourself to training, not an arbitrary date on the calendar.

Early season (your early season) is a time when you should be combining sports-specific training along with off-season training. These transition seasons are when you'll want to incorporate a Doubles-style training schedule.

As an athlete, your Doubles schedule should have sports-specific work. This means you'll want to alter the P90X schedule of your choice to incorporate your sport. As an endurance athlete, the general place you'll add this training is the cardio slot on the calendar. Remember that one of the two daily workouts is always an easy cardio workout, which is a perfect slot to do your early-season aerobic conditioning.

As we get closer to the actual racing season, there are many other considerations. We'll take these on per sport. Next time we'll look at scheduling P90X with running. Then we'll focus on triathlons.

P90X and the Military – Part I

Sunday, September 19, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Denise Michelle Nix

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steve Rosen was sitting on his couch in Duluth, Minnesota, late one night last summer. Lethargic, overweight, his belly full of Guinness®, he aimlessly clicked through the flickering channels until he found his attention being transfixed by trainer Tony Horton. The likeable and motivating voice, face, and body of the P90X® Extreme Home Fitness training system guru seemed to be talking right to the 36-year-old St. Louis man.

Rosen had seen the infomercial many times before. This time, he made up his mind.

"I woke up my wife and told her excitedly, 'We are going to get P90X!'" he recalls. "At that time of night, she was hardly as enthusiastic as I was."

Rosen felt he was ready to take charge of his life: "I was tired of being overweight. I was tired of being out of shape. I was tired of having no energy. I was tired of being lazy. I looked and felt lousy."

For many service members, boot camp, basic training, and the military's physical fitness requirements are just not enough to get and maintain the body they want. Being stationed in barren deserts and tiny towns (often in foreign lands) gives troops interested in health and fitness an even greater challenge, because temperamental climates, poor nutritional choices, and lack of free time can make getting and staying in shape seem as difficult to plan and carry out as an elaborate battle maneuver.

Many military men and women have found P90X to be just the fitness and nutritional program their bodies have been craving. While geared for those who want intense training, P90X does more than just sculpt muscles—it gives those who want change, challenge, and control exactly what they need.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kimberly McAuliffe, a 30-year-old from Tiffin, Ohio, currently stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, returned after a break from active duty to a full-time reservist position in 2006. During her time off, she quit smoking and renewed a love affair with food that left her with unwanted pounds, made all the more obvious by an unforgiving flight suit.

Just after New Year's Day 2008, McAuliffe began P90X—and never looked back. "Thanks to the program, I am in the best fighting shape of my life," she says.

McAuliffe and others agree that there are some hurdles to doing P90X while in the military, especially when it comes to equipment and to following the nutritional guidelines. But creativity and dedication can go a long way toward accomplishing P90X goals.

During 2 weeks at an Air Force base in South Korea, McAuliffe found the seafood-heavy local cuisine a turnoff, so she spent most of her mealtimes eating less healthy options on the base. That, along with a 14-hour, fast-paced workday, threatened to derail her. "It's hard to stay on target in these types of conditions, but it can be done!" she says. "Scheduling is sometimes a headache, but if you're committed, you make it work."

Because the heart of P90X's Muscle Confusion™ technique is to mix it up, service people—who, by nature, seem to strive for excitement, adventure, and change—find that this program provides them with a variety of challenges, which helps them overcome the boredom that can arise from doing the same workout routine every day.

Interestingly, certain P90X workouts make more of an impression on military personnel than on civilians. Take yoga, for example. In recent years, the Eastern practice of contorted poses and long stretches has gained popularity among the general population, but many hardened soldiers still thought yoga was too "soft" to provide them with much of a physical challenge. But after a 90-minute round of Yoga X, even the most fit and strong service people admitted being surprised—and used the unexpected challenge in a productive way.

"I struggle on doing the Yoga X, but who doesn't?" says U.S. Marine Corp. Sgt. Archie Russell, a 26-year-old from Pearl City, Hawaii, who is currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. "I overcome it by just pushing through and forgetting about the pain."

"I feel really engaged and everything is sore the next day," adds U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist First Class Michael Whitmytre, a 27-year-old from San Diego currently serving in Iraq.

U.S. Army Private First Class Cadet Richard Beard, 25, of Acton, Massachusetts, says he loves Yoga X because it's so hard, and he hates not accomplishing his goals. "To overcome it, I get mean and tough. I hate getting beat, and because of it, I push harder," says Beard, who's stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

Another workout that's popular among military users of P90X is Core Synergistics, a total-body workout that really strengthens the body's core, and Ab Ripper X, a quick yet effective workout that helps build the much-desired six-pack.

"I love the Ab Ripper X because I love feeling the burn, and it's working wonders on my abs," says U.S. Army Lt. Tiffany Bujak, 24, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Convenience is a huge benefit of P90X for troops who are constantly on the move. A little space and a DVD player easily become a take-along gym. And most bases offer just about every piece of gear needed for successful workouts, some of which, like yoga blocks, yoga mats, and chin-up bars, participants find especially important to the program, whereas with others, they find they can get a little creative—like swapping compact B-Lines Resistance Bands for weights.

"Using what is required for the program makes it a lot easier to work out, rather than looking for another way to do the different exercises," adds Sgt. Russell.

"I've never traveled anywhere without my bands—they've been to Korea, Germany, France, and all over the continental U.S.," says Sgt. McAuliffe. "I might forget my toothbrush, but I have never forgotten my DVDs and bands."

While Tony Horton isn't a drill sergeant, McAuliffe and others say his approach and encouragement definitely help them succeed. "Tony is also an amazing motivator—he doesn't make you feel bad if you're struggling," McAuliffe said. "But he instead encourages you to keep pushing forward. To me, that is the key to keeping someone motivated to stay on track, even if they presently struggle."

By Steve Edwards

Could doing INSANITY® or P90X® increase your risk of getting sick? Two recent studies have led several publications to state that intense exercise should come with a warning that it increases the risk of illness. Today we'll take a deeper look at these claims, analyze what they mean for you, and look at a few ways to keep your immune system strong.

To someone who's been involved in athletic training their entire life, the studies look like a bunch of hoo-hah from the "duh" files. But for the general public, they've created quite a stir, leading many authors to pen articles warning about the dangers of hard exercise. Great, I'm thinking, just what our swelling society needs—another excuse not to exercise. Some of these articles were so craftily written, I even got a note from Tony Horton asking for my take. So obviously, the media fright club did its homework on this one.

Here's the rub. Two independent studies found that while moderate exercise boosted your immune system, intense exercise broke it down. The media spun this to challenge the notion that hard exercise is good for you, stating we should consider only recommending moderate exercise. The problem with that assessment is that to improve your fitness, you must continually stress your system, a process known as progressive overload in training circles. Over time, progressive overload leads to improvements in your immune system. Without it, your fitness will stagnate and your immune system will regress.

This doesn't mean these studies were without merit. As your training load increases, so does the demand on your immune system, because exercise creates stress on the body. It's the classic what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger scenario. Intense exercise increases the amount of hormones your body releases. These hormones are essential for all bodily functions. During the acute phase of intense exercise, however, these hormones are busy trying to repair all the physiological breakdown your workout incurs on your body, and there isn't enough left to boost your immune system. Therefore, during times of high stress, your immune system is compromised.

The upside is that your body gets used to this process. As your body grows accustomed, less physiological breakdown occurs during the same high-intensity movements, but the hormonal releases are still active. These hormonal releases increase the body's natural defenses—your immune system. So intense exercise leads to an improved immune system provided you survive the initial stages of your program.

And despite all the hoo-hah, it isn't hard to improve your immune system. It should seem obvious that the harder you exercise, the healthier the rest of your lifestyle should become; but that doesn't create the controversy the media covets. With this in mind, let's look at ways to boost your immune system during times of stress.

Behavioral Changes
  1. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is vital for everything you do and especially for you to recover from exercise. When you don't get enough, the first thing to fail is your ability to fight off illness. Pathogens exist in all walks of life, and fighting them off is an essential part of your well-being. A rested body is a recovered body, and when your body is strong, it's more efficient.
  2. Avoid outside stress. During times of intense training, it's wise to do your best to avoid as much outside distraction as possible. I try to schedule my hardest training phases during when I don't have a lot of commitments. When I have a big travel schedule or a massive workload on the horizon, I try scaling back my exercise accordingly.
  3. Wash your hands. A very simple act that's highly effective when it comes to keeping you healthy. You don't need fancy antibacterial soap. Any simple soap will do. Just wash your hands often because most of the things you touch, especially in public, are covered in germs. To make this easier, you can buy waterless hand sanitizers, which were popularized by travelers in countries where the water was unsafe.
  4. Avoid enclosed spaces for long periods of time. This one's tough, since most of us work or go to school in enclosed spaces. But just because you're forced into a space doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it. We could all benefit from taking more breaks. Our bodies and our minds will perform better if we give them a break every hour or so. This is why classes tend to be about an hour long. Moving outside of your enclosed space helps you recharge with clean air, sunshine, and vitamin D.
  5. Don't skip your recovery periods. There's a reason INSANITY and P90X have recovery weeks built into their schedules. Intense training should only be done in short cycles. One of the most common ways people get sick or injured is by trying to prolong the amount of time during which they Bring It. As good as it feels to keep pushing yourself to your limit, you have a breaking point.
Diet Changes

Following a healthy diet enhances each behavioral change mentioned and everything else you do in life. Staying hydrated, in particular, is also very important for your immune system. Supplementing during times of high stress, and when you're forced to stay in an enclosed place for long periods of time (like in an airplane), has been shown to reduce your chances of getting sick. But these are all obvious things, right?

What's less obvious is that many natural foods and herbs have been shown to improve the immune system. None of these are "proven" medical remedies, but they all have a long history of anecdotal lore that probably has some relevant meaning, even if the American Medical Association hasn't blessed them in the same way it has pseudoephedrine. Whether they work or not, all these foods have healthy benefits to supplement your diet, so file them under the "why not" category. With that disclaimer, here are 10 foods that may boost your immune system.
  1. Garlic. From staving off vampires to having antiviral and antibacterial properties, garlic has been a wonder food of holistic medicine for as long as we've been writing about it. Just eat it in its natural form—there's a reason you've never seen anyone defend themselves against Dracula with garlic salt.
  2. Citrus fruits. They're not just for scurvy anymore. Citrus fruits are all high in vitamin C—the vitamin most commonly associated with a strong immune system.
  3. Echinacea. Another one long on lore but short on science, its anecdotal history in antiviral medicine shouldn't be discounted. However, this herb is best used only in times of severe stress.
  4. Berries. These fruits contain exceedingly high amounts of antioxidants, which are directly responsible for fighting off would-be illnesses.
  5. Zinc. Not a real food, but with the popularity of zinc lozenges, who would know? There's good science behind zinc supplementation, but again, it's a high-stress supplement only. Don't make sucking on these a part of your daily diet.
  6. Oysters. For those who want to take their zinc naturally, nothing beats oysters. And to think that all this time we've only thought of them as aphrodisiacs.
  7. Shiitake mushrooms. Long used in Japan for their antibacterial and antiviral qualities, we're lucky they're now common ingredients in haute cuisine.
  8. Yogurt. One of the few foods that's been a cornerstone of an entire region's diet, as it was for most everyone living between Eastern Europe and Central Asia for about 4,000 years. The bacteria in yogurt helps us digest other foods better, as well as helping us fight off many dangerous bacteria.
  9. Carrots. High glycemic index be damned. There's no negative research—and plenty of positive research—associated with eating carrots. They're exceptionally high in beta-carotene, and in a study on children's school attendance, beta-carotene was found to improve cognitive function and attendance in the participants.
  10. Astragalus root. Another popular herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that's picking up steam under the scrutiny of Western science. Unfortunately, the only downside is that it's not yet found its place in haute cuisine—although it can be found in Beachbody's Herbal Immune Boost.

7 Days, 7 Desserts

Friday, September 17, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Joe Wilkes

For a lot of you, fighting your sweet tooth is the hardest part of staying healthy. Sugary treats and drinks are so prevalent that it's a real challenge to kick the white stuff, not to mention the high fructose corn syrup stuff. However, that doesn't mean you should totally abandon your sweet tooth. After all, how could something that tastes so good be that bad for you? Your palate is conditioned to enjoy sweets because, in nature, this conditioning can attract you to some of the healthiest foods, like fruits and berries. The trick is in learning to enjoy sweet foods that are closer to their natural state, before all the vitamins and fiber are extracted and you're left with just diabetes and tooth decay. Here are some ideas for desserts that could actually be the healthiest part of a meal.

Note: All nutritional information is for one serving.

Sunday: Giant Fruit Salad

Sunday is a great day to make giant bowls of stuff you can eat all week. I like to make big pots of soup or other big entrées for healthy leftovers I can enjoy throughout the week. Fruit salad is super-easy to make; it's just a bit of a hassle to chop everything. However, I find it can be a nice Zen-like activity to do while I'm watching the Sunday news shows or sports. The best fruit salads contain fruits that are in season and have a variety of colors. It's not just that the colors make for a lovely presentation, but the more colors you have, the bigger range of antioxidants you have. By tossing the fruit in lemon juice, you can prevent the fruit from turning brown, so it'll still be appetizing later in the week. You can layer the fruit with yogurt for a delicious parfait or add some granola or nuts for a little crunch.
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup green grapes, seedless
  • 1 cup red grapes, seedless
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, balled
  • 2 cups honeydew melon, balled
  • 2 cups pineapple, cut up
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice until fruit is lightly coated. Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes, but it depends how good a chopper you are!

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
187 2 g 6 g 48 g < 1 g

Monday: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Chocolate is full of great antioxidants and actually pretty healthy in its unadulterated state. It's when we add cream, butter, and sugar that it starts to get unhealthy. It may not sound intuitive to mix avocado with chocolate, but avocado provides a delicious creamy texture, without all the saturated fat of regular cream. An avocado's flavor is usually mild enough that you won't even taste it when you mix it with chocolate, and you get all those heart-smart unsaturated fats, plus the antioxidants in the chocolate.
  • 2 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate (70% to 85% cacao solids)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Microwave chocolate in a large mixing bowl until it's melted. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. For best results, use a hand mixer or food processor. Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
395 5 g 11 g 39 g 27 g

Tuesday: Apple Crisp

What's as American as apple pie? Well, obesity for starters. Apples are certainly healthy, and apple pie flavorings like cinnamon are also healthy. In fact, some studies have shown that cinnamon may help stabilize blood sugar levels and may even lower blood cholesterol levels. However, once you mix it all up in a shortening-laden crust with a cup or two of sugar, most health benefits go right out the window. Try this easy-to-make recipe for apple pie flavor without the fat. For extra fiber, don't peel the apples. You can also experiment with other favorite fruits like peaches or blueberries; use them as substitutes for or in addition to the apples.
  • 1. 4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, whole wheat (or soy flour)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, organic grass-fed, if available
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium baking dish, combine apples, maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon. In a separate mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Top mixture in baking dish with mixture from bowl. Bake for about 30 minutes or until apples are soft. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
200 3 g 3 g 31 g 6 g

Wednesday: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

You don't have to shell out the big bucks at Godiva® to make it a romantic evening with your sweetie. All you need is a microwave (or a double boiler), some dark chocolate (70% to 85% cacao solids), some strawberries, and some love. And if there's a better way to show your love than with these two great sources of antioxidants, I'd like to hear it. In fact, if you're single, this is a much better way to love yourself than with that pint of Ben & Jerry's® (4 servings . . . ha!).
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (3 oz.), 70% to 85% cacao solids
  • 1 pint large strawberries (about a dozen)
Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or melt it in a double boiler on the stove. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip it in the melted chocolate until it's lightly coated. Set the strawberry aside on a plate or wax paper to cool. The strawberries are ready to eat when the chocolate hardens (or if you can't wait, dip and eat and call it chocolate fondue!). Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
360 5 g 9 g 36 g 22 g

Thursday: Black Bean Brownies

Well, if you didn't stop reading this article after the Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe, you may be adventurous enough to try this recipe. This is super-easy to make and very delicious. For Christmas one year, my mother found a box of brownie mix of indeterminate origin in her pantry, and we decided to experiment with something we saw on one of the morning shows. Basically, instead of adding eggs and oil to the mix as directed on the box, you food-process a can of black beans (unseasoned, of course) and 1/4 cup of water. Add the mix and bake according to the directions on the box, and voilà, delicious chewy brownies with more fiber than fat. In fact, we even served them to my finicky nephews, who declared them edible, until my mom revealed the secret ingredient and ruined Christmas.
  • 1 15-oz. can unseasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package brownie mix (12 to 14 oz.—we recommend a healthy one with whole-grain ingredients)
Puree beans and water in food processor or blender. Add beans to brownie mix and bake according to package instructions. Don't add any other ingredients. Serves 16.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus baking time

Nutritional Information (per serving; varies depending on brownie mix used):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
80 5 g 2 g 8 g 3 g

Friday: Fruit Kabobs

As fans of Strangers with Candy know, nothing makes a party like hot fruit! Grilling or broiling fruit can make the fruit taste sweeter—without adding sugar. It's easy to prepare and makes for a dramatic presentation. You can experiment with different kinds of fruit, but the best ones are the ones that are a little firm and juicy, like pineapples, apples, and pears, or stone fruits, like peaches, nectarines, plums, and mangoes. You can serve the kabobs with a spiced yogurt dipping sauce or just a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 2 mangoes
  • 3 nectarines
  • 3 peaches
  • 3 pears
  • 2 apples
Cut all fruit into chunks and thread onto water-soaked bamboo skewers. On a hot grill or under the broiler, cook kabobs for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them often and being careful not to burn them.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes (not counting chopping time)

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
226 2 g 9 g 59 g < 1 g

Saturday: Chocolate Shakeology® Pie

So we've seen some pretty healthy desserts, but could dessert be the Healthiest Meal of the Day®? If it's made with Shakeology, it could be. The Team Beachbody® Message Boards are full of great recipe ideas. This one was found by juliefit, a Beachbody® Coach. No one knows where the original recipe came from, but it tastes delicious. And in addition to the more than 70 healthy ingredients in Shakeology, the tofu gives you a protein punch.
  • 1-1/2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 container silken tofu (12 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 whole-grain graham cracker pie crust
Blend or food-process peanut butter, tofu, Shakeology, soy milk, and agave nectar until smooth and creamy, adding more soy milk if necessary. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour). Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 60 minutes refrigeration time

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
307 13 g 3 g 19 g 17 g

Of course, you should feel free to eat any of these desserts any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan. If you missed parts one through four of the series, see the Related Articles section below. Bon appétit!

Recipe: Double Pinto Chili

Thursday, September 16, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

This recipe is great for vegetarians and spice addicts. The beans and veggies give it a great fiber profile. Plus the more you spice it up, the more you can boost your metabolism.
  • 2 tsp. olive or canola oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 lb. canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 lb. canned white pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • Chili powder to taste (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
In a nonstick pan, sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in oil over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes; cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to medium/low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring several times. Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
180 10 g 9 g 33 g 3 g 1 g

By Tony Horton

I've learned from my own experiences (filled with the usual trials and tribulations) that life has stages. These stages can occur in any and all aspects of life—physical, spiritual, psychological, financial, romantic, adventurous, familial, and so on. As you look back at your life (so far), you can see where you've excelled and where you've come up short.

Most people spend their whole lives focusing on only two or three of the abovementioned categories. They neglect other areas of life because of lack of interest or desire or necessity. The truth is that a lot of men and women these days spend a substantial amount of their time working to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and money in their pockets. Many homemakers (male and female) spend most of their time keeping the hatches battened down.

So if life feels like an endless episode of Survivor, then how the hell do we focus on what I call the "Bliss Maker" areas of life—the romantic, spiritual/psychological, physical, purposeful, and adventurous areas? The three key ingredients for finding bliss in these areas of life are TIME, ENERGY, and PURPOSE. If you live in a 9-to-5 world and feel overwhelmed, then it's going to be pretty tough to find the TIME, ENERGY, and PURPOSE to discover your true bliss.

The average person can find temporary bliss in food, alcohol, drugs, tall tales, and sex. This kind of short-term bliss will take away health, consciousness, rationality, discretion, accountability, and responsibility, along with distorting values and a sense of morality.

If you're lucky enough to finally discover that there's more to life than making a buck, feeding your face, getting off, and manipulating reality, you'll start to inquire about how to find your bliss. Then you'll have to begin to find the TIME, ENERGY, and PURPOSE.

Time isn't that difficult, really. You look at your schedule, move some stuff around, explain to people what you're doing, and figure out a reasonable TIME frame in which to accomplish your goals. ENERGY is a piece of cake! You can master that every time you decide to Push Play! Doing P90X® or any other kind of physical activity will automatically propel you into one of the most important "Bliss Maker" categories. PURPOSE is probably the most difficult and complicated variable when it comes to long-term success and bliss.

Pursuing your bliss by means of dishonesty, manipulation, coercion, or the need to seek self-aggrandizement will backfire worse than any short-term pleasure ever will. If your spiritual pursuits give you a holier-than-thou attitude, all your learned dogma will fall on deaf ears. If you exercise hard and long just to look hot at your high school reunion, then talk to me the next day when the show is over. If you start looking for adventure for the sole purpose of acquiring trophies, will you still enjoy it if you fail?

If you ever chase any of these areas of life for the PURPOSE of looking for attention, accolades, and kudos from others, then you are doomed to a life of confrontation, depression, confusion, illusion, and delusion. I never said pursuing your bliss was easy. That's why most people who try it fail.

You can avoid failure by pursuing your bliss with clarity, wisdom, acceptance, vulnerability, patience, consciousness, and truth. These words, in both the selfish and selfless ilk, represent intent. Your intent is everything and the only thing that matters when it comes to the right use of will.

I believe that real lifelong change and bliss are achieved over the course of three separate stages:
  1. Recognition. Knowing and understanding that there must be a shift in the way you approach certain segments of your life and an undaunted willingness to want to make a change.
  2. Catharsis. The period of time you spend venting, releasing, and unleashing the emotions that keep you from your bliss.
  3. Application. The employment and utilization of the tools you've learned at the cathartic stage.
If you can move through these three stages with the right intentions, then you will know what it's like to live on this earth in a state of bliss.

Tony H.

Female Fitness Myths and P90X

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Stephanie S. Saunders

There's a lot of pressure on women to look, in a word, hot. Sure, for a chosen few, curves in the right places come naturally, but the rest of us seem to spend all our time snatching up the latest fitness fad, be it the Abs-o-matic 3000, Cucumber Colon Cleanse, or Low-Cholesterol All-Bacon Diet, desperately hoping we'll discover the new us. Instead, we usually walk away—or occasionally limp away—feeling confused, dejected, and as if we've missed out on the genetic lottery.

As it turns out, the answer's much simpler than you thought. From housewives to rock stars, there's a growing group of female followers who trust in the proven science of P90X®. The truth is, hard work and clean eating are the ways to change your body forever. And P90X is the fastest and most effective program to get you a fitter body. But what about all the other options out there, the spot training, the fad diets? Let's take a look at some popular exercise myths and how P90X can help you dispel them.

Myth #1: If you want to lose weight, you must have an incredible metabolism; otherwise, you'll need to starve yourself.

If most of us had the choice between winning the lottery and having a perfect metabolism, the decision would be tough. For many people, the ability to eat whatever they desire seems a gift beyond price. The reality is that only a tiny percentage of people are so blessed, and that number decreases as people age, get pregnant, and experience various health issues. So when a Hollywood starlet claims she can eat whatever she wants and still look great, she's probably lying.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's severe caloric deprivation. The problem with depriving yourself of calories is that you can only sustain it for so long, and it can often lead to overeating and a slower metabolism. The longer you try to exist on a reduced-calorie diet, the greater the likelihood you can slow down how quickly your muscles repair themselves, as well as suffering psychological problems—or even brain damage. Of course, the answer is to eat, but you have to eat healthy foods that fuel your workouts. The P90X program includes a very specific nutrition plan you can tailor to your goals, but the nutrition plan requires a lifestyle change. This means not fad diets, but a plan that's going to require that you eat more food than you imagined possible. What's truly great is that the nutrition plan can be maintained for the rest of your life. So start eating—correctly—and watch the change begin.

Myth #2: Doing hours of cardiovascular exercise is the only way to burn fat.

Hours of anything, besides sleep, can be redundant and boring. The idea of spending hours on a StairMaster® makes me want to fall asleep right now. Although a necessary component of any workout routine, cardiovascular exercise is definitely not the most effective way to lose weight. In fact, doing more than an hour of it without some type of fuel can cause your body to break down muscle mass and slow down your metabolism. And when you do the same repetitive motion every day, your body can become used to the motion, which can slow or even halt your progress.

P90X is effective in helping you lose weight because of the enormous variety it offers. Your body doesn't get used to the stimuli, because the stimuli are constantly changing and becoming more difficult. Plus P90X helps you build muscle, which turns your body into a fat-burning machine. And P90X is fun and entertaining, and doesn't take 3 hours a day to complete. The singer Pink was recently quoted as saying she does an hour of P90X 6 days a week and has seen incredible results. An hour a day for amazing results is a relatively small investment for such a great return.

Myth #3: Weight training builds bulky muscles.

Perhaps the greatest myth out there is the "bulky muscles" myth. Here's the reality: muscles do one of two things—increase (hypertrophy) or decrease (atrophy). But they don't just "bulk up." For a woman to create a bodybuilder-type physique, she'd need to overstimulate her muscles with very heavy weights, constantly training to failure with very short repetitions. And frankly, even then, unless she had a great amount of testosterone in her body, it might be impossible.

P90X effectively uses resistance training to increase muscle, thereby increasing your metabolism and helping you burn fat. And although you'll work to exhaustion, your muscles won't bulk up if you keep the repetitions at 12 to 15. P90X also keeps you moving, so your heart rate stays high, simulating the effects of a cardiovascular workout. You will build muscle but still maintain a sexy, feminine physique.

Myth #4: You shouldn't build muscle until you lose all excess fat, as building muscle will push the fat out and make you look larger.

This myth is particularly funny, as it was probably perpetuated by a fitness trainer telling a client there was a six-pack hiding underneath a layer of fat that just needed to be uncovered. Yes, we all do have a six pack in there, and possibly buns of steel, but muscle building doesn't happen under that layer of fat. Building muscle actually changes your body's composition, and eventually the fat becomes less a part of the picture.

No amount of sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, or squats will push any layer of excess tissue out. In fact, P90X is so effective at totally transforming your body, you'll soon forget there was a layer of fat to be concerned about.

Myth #5: You should only work out the specific areas where you want to shed fat.

It's been said again and again: spot training doesn't work. And yet every month, the fitness magazines print a slew of new, specific exercises for lifting the booty, flattening the stomach, or tightening dangling upper-arm flab. Yes, if you work a specific muscle group, it will become more toned, but that has nothing to do with the fat on top of the muscle group in question. The most effective way to change your body is to work large muscle groups, consistently altering the stimulus, and sticking to a sound nutrition plan. No amount of leg lifts alone will give you the thighs of your dreams.

P90X will attack every muscle in your body and create visible changes in your appearance. There are specific workouts for all your areas of concern, but there are many more for every other area, to give you a beautiful, proportioned body.

There's no magic pill, combination of foods, or even surgery that can give you the body of your dreams. An enviable physique comes from hard work, dedication, and a lot of sweat. P90X is the most effective way for a woman to shape her body because she has to work hard to get there. And as lovely as it would be to naturally have the metabolism of a 12-year-old boy, there's something truly satisfying about creating such great change in your own life and controlling your own outcome. We can often feel at the mercy of others. Our health and fitness are areas we completely control. So even if you dedicate 23 hours a day to your relationship, job, and/or children, one hour in your own living room can truly create transformation. And no diet book, magazine article, or silly celebrity statement can refute the thousands of P90X Success Stories out there. So make a decision to put down the fad exercise magazines, put in the work, and watch your life begin to change.