Beef and Beer Chili

A cup and a half of this beef and beer chili is 261 calories and a good source of fiber.
            1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
            1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small)
            8 ounces extralean ground beef
            2 garlic cloves, minced
            1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
            2 teaspoons ground cumin
            1 teaspoon sugar
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
            1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
            1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
            1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
            1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (such as Budweiser)
            1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
            1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

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Tips on Improving Your Sleep

It’s important that we make the most out of our sleep each night.  This can help us wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School there are several things we can do that may help us sleep better.  If you struggle getting sound sleep try a few of these tactics out and see if you can tell a difference.

Keep your room as quiet, dark, and cool as possible.  Consider using ear plugs to block out sound if necessary and heavy curtains to obstruct any outside light.  Remove distractions such as TVs and computers and focus on getting quality sleep and relaxation while you’re in your bedroom.

Try yoga, meditation, a hot bath, or reading before you lay down.  Anything that gets you relaxed enough to fall asleep will help you to fall asleep faster and maintain a sound sleep.  It’s best to go to bed when you’re truly tired and ready.  A soothing pre-sleep routine can help you avoid those menacing thoughts that seem to start as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Allow four to six hours between your last caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol consumption and a sound night’s sleep.  Even alcohol becomes a stimulant after a few hours.  Drinking too much alcohol too close to bedtime can increase your awakenings and decrease your quality of sleep.

Late naps can decrease your sleep drive.  If you insist on napping make it early and for a short period of time.  Nap before five and for an hour or less.

This isn’t possible for everyone, but do the best you can to stay on a consistent sleep schedule.  This includes weekends as well.  Keeping your internal clock on a familiar schedule will encourage sounder sleep.

The Importance of Stretching

It’s easy to overlook the importance of stretching but try to make an effort to stretch after your workouts in the coming weeks. You should notice a difference in the level of soreness you experience in the days following a tough workout. In addition, stretching increases flexibility when performed on a consistent basis.

A common misconception that many people have is that intense stretching should take place before a workout. This is absolutely false! Stretching before any type of warmup or workout can be dangerous and ultimately cause injury. Try a light cardio warmup before your strength training program or vigorous cardio workout. This type of light warmup will help get the blood flowing and loosen your muscles up. After your entire workout is complete finish up with a light cardio cooldown and significant stretching.  If you insist on stretching before a workout make sure you warm up first.

When stretching a muscle group hold each static stretch for 30-90 seconds. The longer the better. There is little point in holding static stretches for less than 30 seconds. Just like the rest of your workout, if you’re going to execute it, you may as well do it right and receive the best possible benefit.  Incorporate some stretches into your workout routine and see if it doesn’t help with your soreness.  Good luck!

Outstanding Effort and Achievement Award!

The Outstanding Effort and Achievement Award for August goes to Emily Lowe, who despite the infinite complaining, works just about as hard as I’ve ever seen anyone work.  Emily and I started training together in February and between the two of us it’s hard to say who’s had the more challenging six months.  Picture the toughest workout you’ve ever been through, then add a 20 pound weighted vest, and you might be on this girl’s level.  As a trainer, I literally have to construct the unthinkable and then ask myself, “what can I do to make this even harder?”  Just when I think I’ve got the perfect formula, Emily proves otherwise by finishing what I had previously considered a masterpiece workout without even taking a water break.

I love this girl to death because she keeps me on my toes as a trainer and keeps my creative mind churning. During the past six months, Emily and I have been training three times per week.  If you’re not convinced that this girl works her face off you should probably know that she does at least 30 minutes of cardio at the gym after each of our workouts!  What’s even more impressive is that you can find her at the gym doing cardio almost every other day of the week as well!!  She is the definition of “committed” and because of that we’ve been able to see some great results this year.  Despite our main focus being toning, Emily has lost over six pounds in six months.  In correlation with her primary goals, she has lost 16.75 total inches with the bulk of it coming off of her arms, waist, hips, and thighs.

Emily, with as much hassle as I give you, I hope you know how much I truly enjoy training you.  All of the things I’ve said above are sooo true.  You challenge me as a trainer and I can honestly say I appreciate that.  You prevent me from getting lazy and I look forward to training you each week.  Even more importantly, I appreciate the relationship we’ve gotten an opportunity to build over the past six months and I value you as a friend.  You’re an incredible person and don’t let anyone tell you different.  I do want you to know, however, that before it’s all said and done I am still hoping to make you puke or pass out during one of our sessions. 😉  Keep up the great work!  I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish next!!