Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Pudding

This is a snack that I decided to try the other night after seeing a few fitness gurus suggesting it on their social media sites. I was definitely skeptical because it is a really easy recipe, but sounds like it might not taste all that great. To my surprise, however, it was a lot better than I suspected. The best part about it is that it can really help curve your dessert cravings without actually having something that may be totally against your diet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Pudding:

    2 scoops of Chocolate Whey Protein. (I used Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein)
    2 Tbsp. of Organic Peanut Butter (I used Smuckers Organic Creamy Peanut Butter)
    Add water as needed (I used about 3-4 tbsp.)

Protein Pudding
Directions:
Prep time: 2-3 minutes.
Cooling time: 30 minutes
1. Place 2 scoops of Whey Protein Powder in a bowl
2. Add 2 tbsp. of Organic Peanut Butter
3. Add 1 tbsp. of water
4. Stir
5. Continue toaAdd 1 tbsp. of water at a time and stir until desired consistency is reached.
6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

That is it! It is very simple!



Tips:
Smuckers Organic Peanut Butter

    1. Make sure to use Organic Peanut Butter. Organic Peanut Butter IS NOT the same as Natural Peanut Butter. Look at the list of ingredients. You want a Peanut Butter that consists only of Peanuts and maybe 1% or less of salt (no added oils of sugars).
    2. When used with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein and Organic Peanut Butter, this snack has 450 calories, 18g of fat (3g of saturated fat), 60mg of Cholesterol, 365mg of Sodium, 12g of carbs, 2g of fiber, 3g of sugar, and 55g of protein. The best thing about this snack is the very high protein content of 55g and although it is high in fat, most of the fat is unsaturated and considered good fat coming from the peanut oil.
    3. Due to the high amounts of fat, I would not suggest this snack to someone who is trying to seriously lose weight quickly, but rather to someone who is trying to maintain their weight or possibly gain more muscle mass. Don’t get me wrong, even when trying to lose weight you need good fats to feed your body; however people trying to gain muscle mass may benefit more from this than someone who is looking to loose inches off their waistline in a short amount of time.

Whey Protein

    4. There are other variations of this recipe that I have not tried, but if you are daring, I would love for you to let me know what you think of this recipe. One other variation of the recipe suggests microwaving the peanut butter for 20-30 seconds first, then stirring in a little water, then adding the protein. No cooling is involved for this one. This sounds pretty good too, so I hope to try this in the near future.
    5. I also would be interested trying this recipe with different flavors of protein. If you do get adventurous and try some out, please let me know what you think!
    6. One other thing to maybe consider if you would like a little less fat in your Protein Pudding would be possibly using one tbsp. of Organic Peanut Butter and more water, or possibly even skim milk. Or you could also try using 1 tbsp. of Organic Peanut Butter and 1-2 tbsp. of PB2 with water! Just a thought that may work. I have not tried either of these options, but if you are interested in getting a reduced fat Protein Pudding, this may be something to play around with and consider.

Hope the recipe helps you reach your fitness goals. Let me know what you think by emailing me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com!

Starbucks Lunches and Treats

Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box
A few days ago I wrote a post about the breakfast options at Starbucks, but now I want to discuss the other food options that Starbucks has to offer. Sometimes when you are in a pinch or when you need your mid-day coffee to wake yourself up, Starbucks food is all you have to choose from. After looking over some of the nutritional information that Starbucks has to offer, I have found the good, the bad, and the ugly of what to have at Starbucks.

BISTRO BOXES
Yes – Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box
No – Protein Bistro Box, Cheese & Fruit Bistro Box

The Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box that Starbucks has to offer is actually a pretty good choice when you are really in the need for something quick and healthy. Although I would not recommend it if you are really in the mood for a meal since it only has 260 calories, it only has 7g of fat (1g of saturated fat), 25g of carbs, 5g of fiber, 2g of sugar, and 20g of protein. It seems to be a pretty well balanced snack with a lot of good attributes. I would steer away from the Protein Bistro box mainly because it has 19g of fat and only 13g of protein. I would expect the “Protein” box to have the most protein of all the bistro boxes, but it actually has 7g less than the Chicken and Hummus box. I would also stay away from the Fruit & Cheese Bistro Box mainly because of its high fat content. This one box has 480 calories, 250 of which are from fat (28g of total fat, 10g of saturated fat, 0.5g of trans fat). One other box Starbucks offers is the Goat Cheese & Garden Veggies Bistro Box. This isn’t a horrible choice since it only has 220 calories and 10g of fat, but I still would suggest going with the Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box over the Goat Cheese & Garden Veggies Bistro Box.

PANINIS & SANDWICHES
No – Egg Salad Sandwich, Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini
Starbucks offers a variety of Paninis and Sandwiches. I would not highly suggest purchasing any of these choices unless you really are in need of some more filling food. The Paninis and Sandwiches range from 340-460 calories, 10-27g of fat, 630-1140mg of sodium, 35-47g of carbs, and 15-33g of protein. The choices I would strongly stay away from would be the Egg Salad Sandwich and the Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini. The Egg Salad Sandwich has 460 calories, 240 of which are from fat (27g of fat) and 22g of protein and the Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini is 390 calories, 160 of which are from fat (18g of fat) and 15g of protein. All of the other sandwich choices are a little more reasonable with less fat content and higher amounts of protein.

Marshmallow Dream Bar

ALL DAY SNACKS/BAKED GOODS
None except the Marshmallow Dream Bar if you need a treat.
Starbucks offers many different Loaves, Coffee Cakes, brownies, Cookies, Cake Pops, and Bars. Now although these may be tempting, you have to realize that none of these choices are actually good for you. It would be much better to get real food with high nutritional value than a Double Chocolate Brownie with 24g of fat. Even a Birthday Cake Pop, which literally can be eaten in one big bite has 170 calories, 9g of fat, 22g of carbs, and 18g of sugar. Is that worth it?
Now some of you may be saying, “But Starbucks has Reduced-Fat Options!” Now this may be true, but the Reduced-Fat Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, Very Berry Coffee Cake, and Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake still have 8-10g of fat, 59-80g of carbs, and 31-50g of sugar. With that said, I personally don’t think these options are worth it because the nutritional value just does not weigh out the flaws.
The one treat I do say it is ok to have, on a VERY RARE occasion, would be the Marshmallow Dream Bar. Why? The Marshmallow Dream bar does not have much nutritional value at all, but it also has the least detrimental effects as well. The Dream Bar only has 210 calories, 4g of fat, 43g of carbs, and 15g of sugar. If you MUST get a treat, go with this choice above all the backed goods.

Hope you find this post helpful for the next time you need to eat at Starbucks! Any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Reverse Crunch

For this blog, I like steering away from conventional situps and crunches because those are exercises I have done for years and almost everybody has tried a basic situp or crunch. Although they definitely still help strengthen your core, I would like to give you some workouts that you may not have seen or tried before to help amp up your core workout routine.

This following exercise is a Reverse Crunch. It targets your core very well and when done correctly you can really feel the squeeze in your abdominals.

Reverse Crunch -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch – Position 1


Reverse Crunch -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch – Position 2


To perform a Reverse Crunch:

    1. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    2. Raise your knees to create a 90 degree angle at your hips and at your knees, leaving your feet parallel to the ground (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the left).
    3. Pull your knees in towards your chest.
    4. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the left).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 25 reps).





Tips:

    1. Controlled motions are needed for this exercise. Do not depend on momentum to get our legs up and down. Engaging your lower abdominals to raise your legs and activating your entire core to perform slow controlled motions is how you will see and feel results.
    2. BREATHE!!! Your breath during this exercise will help activate your muscles. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest, and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    3. Make sure to squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your core.
    4. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, do not hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, that way you will have to depend strictly on your abdominals to perform this exercise.

I hope you like this new exercise. Let me know what you think. If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Forming Healthy Diet Habits and My Diet Challenge

Alec Gym Post 2
As I have said in previous posts, diets SUCK! I still wish I could eat whatever I wanted and still be as healthy and fit as possible, but unfortunately that is not how the world works. I have learned through experience; however, that diets can also be a lot better than you think… It really comes down to how your prepare yourself for your diet.

How many of you have tried starting a diet, and then eventually given up? I will admit that I have… numerous times. I have talked to countless people who have started crash diets and put in a ton of effort to eat well and exercise regularly, but most of these people end up reverting back to their old ways. My big question is WHY? We know we want to look and feel better; we are willing to put in the effort; we are even able to stay on a pretty strict diet for some time. Why then do so many people end up reverting back to their old eating habits?

I got to thinking, and although this is totally based on my personal experience, views and observations, I ask you to just be open minded and dare you to try what I am about to suggest. I believe people don’t succeed on crash diets, because although they want to lead a healthy lifestyle, they jumped right into a diet with little to no preparation. Your body and mind sometimes need to warm-up to an idea in order to really make it work and become a habit. For example, if you had never been swimming before, why would you jump into the deep end of the pool and hope for the best? Surely, many people would come close to drowning. This is the same for diets. If you are so used to eating one way, and all of a sudden change everything you are doing, your body and mind are honestly not ready for the change, leaving you with uncontrollable cravings and needs.
Think about the last diet and exercise plan you tried. Is this what happened to you?

Right now, after about 2 years of constantly working on improving my diet and exercise routine, I can say that I have formed some strong views and habits that have helped shape a healthier lifestyle. Before I started really working on creating this lifestyle, I would go to the gym, maybe twice a week, if that, and I would honestly eat anything I wanted (I would eat fast food and unhealthy foods at restaurants all the time). Now, if I don’t work out for more than 2 days, my body literally feels sluggish and almost sickly and although I hardly ever even want to go near a fast food place anymore, if I even attempt to eat fast food, my stomach almost immediately rejects it. How have I been able to create such habits while I see other people stopping in my local Wendy’s every day?

Donuts

After doing some research of how to form habits, I tried to determine on how long it actually takes to create a lasting habit such as eating healthy. Although some researchers say 21 days is all you need, most psychologists cannot actually put a number on how long it takes. They all seem to agree that different habits obviously take different amounts of time to form. From what I read, I concluded that the smaller the change from someone’s current lifestyle, the less time it takes to actually become a habit that the person will eventually not have to intentionally think about doing. A small change in someone’s lifestyle, such as drinking one more glass of water a day, can take two-three weeks to become a habit. A much larger change in someone’s life, such as going to the gym five days a week, can take hundreds of days to actually become a habit.

After realizing this, I remembered the first diet I ever tried that actually worked for me, that I still unintentionally follow today. It worked because it was a small change from what I was already doing, which made it easy for my body to adapt and form a long lasting habit. I made this little diet up myself in my head one day, but it has helped train my mind and my body to really create healthier eating habits and also prepare me for future diets I was going to try.

HERE IS MY DIET CHALLENGE (aka the first diet that worked for me):
Pick one food that you eat regularly (at least twice a month), that you know is bad for you, that you could live without. Some examples of foods would be french fries, pizza, ice cream, bacon, cake, etc. For me, it was doughnuts. Now totally delete this one food from your diet. I am only asking you to pick ONE food. Whenever you are tempted to eat this food now, just simply say no, or replace it with something much healthier. That’s it! I know it sounds so stupid and easy, but trust me, it will help you in the long run with making healthier choices and help you adapt to other diets in the future. To put it into perspective, I used to eat about 2 Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts a week . I liked eating them, obviously, but I realized I ate them usually out of convenience rather than out of a craving I was having or out of a need. Without eating these 2 doughnuts each week, I saved myself 540 calories and 30g of fat (14g of saturated fat) per week… that’s 28,080 calories and 1,560g of fat (728g of saturated fat) a year. To burn that off, I would have to run for about 35 hours… and I hate running :(. From this diet, I have not had one doughnut for over four years, and now I honestly have no cravings or wants to even try a doughnut again. Right now I am attempting this diet with waffles, and so far, I have gone almost three weeks without eating one waffle, which has saved me bad calories, fat, and a lot of carbs.

So now, I challenge you to try this easy diet out. It is easy! All I am asking you to do is pick one food that you can live without. If you can make it through one month without having this food in your diet, you should be able to start forming healthier habits. NO CHEATING!!!

What are your thoughts on this post? Are you going to try my challenge? Let me know by emailing me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Leg Lifts (Level 2 & Level 3)

The following exercises are the Level 2 and Level 3 versions of the Leg Lifts I posted the other day. Although very similar to the Level 1 version, the Level 2 and Level 3 Leg Lifts are harder to perform. The only difference between the exercises is where you place your hands, but you will realize that the placement of your hands can strongly affect the impact of the exercise.

Leg Lift (Level 2) - Position 1

Leg Lift (Level 2) – Position 1


Leg Lift (Level 2) - Position 2

Leg Lift (Level 2) – Position 2

To Perform a Level 2 Leg Lift:

    1. Lie flat on the ground with your feet together.
    2. Place both hands flat on the ground at your sides (Make sure to keep your back flat on the ground).
    3. Raise your feet 4-6 inches off the ground (Now you are in Position 1 as shown in the first picture pn the left).
    4. With your feet together and legs as straight as possible, lift your legs up to create a 90 degree angle with the floor (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture on the left).
    5. Lower your legs back down to Position 1 with your feet a few inches above the floor.
    6. Raise and lower your legs between Position 1 and Position 2 for the recommended amount of reps (I do 3 sets of 25 reps).




Leg Lift (Level 3) - Position 1

Leg Lift (Level 3) – Position 1


Leg Lift (Level 3) - Position 2

Leg Lift (Level 3) – Position 2

To Perform a Level 3 Leg Lift:

    1. Lie flat on the ground with your feet together.
    2. Raise your arms above your head extending to the wall behind you.
    3. Raise your feet 4-6 inches off the ground (Now you are in Position 1 as shown in the first picture on the right).
    4. With your feet together and legs as straight as possible, lift your legs up to create a 90 degree angle with the floor (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture on the right).
    5. Lower your legs back down to Position 1 with your feet a few inches above the floor.
    6. Raise and lower your legs between Position 1 and Position 2 for the recommended amount of reps (I do 3 sets of 25 reps with this variation as well).


Tips:

    1. You must keep your back flat on the floor during both of these exercise. Form is the most important aspect of these exercises, and if you are not able to perform this exercise, please try doing Level 1 Leg Lifts first to help strengthen your core and prepare yourself for these more advanced variations.
    2. Exhale while lowering your legs from Position 2 to Position 1. This will help activate the correct muscles
    3. CONTROL CONTROL CONTROL!!!! All motions must be as controlled as possible. Fast sloppy motions will not make this exercise affective.
    4. To increase core strength, hold your legs in Position 1 with your feet a few inches off the floor for a second before raising your legs to Position 2.
    5. Specifically for Level 3 Leg Lifts, keeping your hands above your head will assist in stretching out your core giving your abdominals a nice extensive workout.

Hope you find these two new variations helpful. Have any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Feature Friday: Mark Raimondo

Mark Raimondo 2
First name: Mark
Last name: Raimondo
City: Jackson
State: New Jersey
Age: 21
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 160 lbs
Profession: Student/Waiter/Bartender

Follow Him:
Twitter: @MarkkRaimondo
Instagram: Markkr

When did you start working out?:
When I was about 15. I started because I thought it’d help me out with swimming.

How many days a week do you work out?:
Usually 6 days a week, but if I’m too bored on my rest day, I just do cardio and core work.

How long is your average workout?:
I spend about an hour weight training, two muscle groups per day, and at least 30-45 minutes of cardio.

Mark Raimondo 3

Favorite muscles to exercise:
Legs! I hurt my knee in high school and haven’t been able to workout my legs consistently until recently. I love seeing them get stronger and trying new exercises I wasn’t able to do before. Plus it’s a relief knowing people won’t call me chicken legs anymore haha.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Right now I’d have to say my chest. I switched gyms recently and I’m still getting used to their equipment so I haven’t been getting the best chest workouts in.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
At the moment I’m trying to slim down a little. I’m giving fashion modeling a shot and I’m a bit too bulky for the industry. Plus its almost impossible for me to find shirts that actually fit me right now.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
My inspirations aren’t anyone famous really. Most people who inspire me are people that go to the gyms that I’ve been to. I’ve met all kinds of people who’ve overcome all types of adversity. There are a lot of people out there with some pretty inspiring stories.

Mark Raimondo 1

What supplements do you take or recommend?:
I’m only taking multivitamins and ACG3 as a pre workout on days I’m feeling sluggish right now. Other than that I try to stay away from supplements.

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
For breakfast I like to eat oatmeal and whatever kind of fruit I have in the house at the time. During the day I’ll eat tuna or turkey on wheat with some fruit. For dinner it varies, but I usually try to incorporate lean chicken and lots of veggies. You always need to have a cheat day though. Oreos are just too damn good!

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
I just started doing Ab Ripper X from P90X and so far it’s the best ab workout I’ve ever done.

How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
I do at least 30 minutes of cardio 6 or 7 days a week. I like to switch it up depending on what I’m in the mood to do that day, but generally I stick to the treadmill or stair climber.

Mark Raimondo 4

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
Just remember what works for someone else might not work for you. Experiment with different exercises and different workout routines that fit your goals and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or tips from people. The more knowledge and experience you have, the easier it’ll be to reach your goals.

Do you have any other things you would like to say? (Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
I have two. One is be patient. I feel most people don’t meet their goals because they don’t see results fast enough and give up. And the second is that weight is just a number. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people get discouraged because they aren’t seeing numbers drop or go up on a scale. If you see and feel positive changes in your body then you’re on the right track. Just keep at it.

Let me know what you think of this Fitness Inspiration by emailing me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.
Do you think you have what it takes to be featured on my blog? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com or tag me @alec2austin and #corestrengthblog in your pictures on Instagram and/or Twitter.

PB2 – Powdered Peanut Butter

PB2 - 1
I have been hearing a lot about this product called PB2. PB2 is a Powdered Peanut Butter that has less calories and fat than regular peanut butter. I was definitely curious to see what it tasted like, but to my surprise it was better than what I expected. Here are my thoughts on PB2…

Why PB2? What makes PB2 better than Peanut Butter?
PB2 offers a much lighter version of peanut butter to people. As you may notice, there is a lot of fat in Peanut Butter. Although in organic peanut butter, most of the fat is considered good fat, many dieters still steer away from having it. PB2 is only 45 calories and has 1.5g of fat (It also has 94mg of sodium, 5g of carbs, 2g of fiber, 1g of sugar, and 5g of protein). With lower calories and fat content, PB2 can be a very nice alternative to dieters everywhere.

How is PB2 made? Is it made with bad chemicals or highly processed foods?
PB2 is made by pressing out most of the oils and fats from roasted peanuts. This pressing process then leaves a powdered substance. This powder is then mixed with salt and sugar to create PB2. It is as simple as that… just 3 ingredients.

Do you just eat the powder? What do you do with it?
For one serving, you mix 2 tbsp of the PB2 powder with 1 tbsp of water. It mixes pretty easily together, but you may need to add a little more water if all the powder doesn’t mix in well enough. After stirring for a few seconds, it takes on a consistency similar to that of regular creamy peanut butter. If you would like to mix the powder in something, for instance a smoothie, you can just toss the powder directly into the blender and not worry about mixing it with water beforehand.

PB2 - 2

How does it taste?
I definitely would not say that it tasted bad, but it doesn’t taste as good as regular peanut butter. It is not the type of thing you would just eat on its own. As long as you are eating it with something, like a banana, toast, or anything else, PB2 tastes just fine.

Who would I recommend PB2 for?
I would recommend PB2 to anybody, but specifically to dieters who are very calorie and fat conscious. I personally think that I will still stick to organic peanut butter because I am not trying to lose any weight (in fact I want to try putting on a few more pounds). Organic peanut butter offers a few more grams of protein, fiber, and significantly much more fat and calories which is good for someone who is trying to bulk or keep weight on. PB2 is perfect for someone who needs to get his/her peanut butter fix, but does not want to feel guilty about eating it.

Hope you like this food review. Have any questions? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com 🙂

Leg Lifts (Level 1)

Leg Lift (Level 1) - Position 1

Leg Lift (Level 1) – Position 1

This exercise is excellent for targeting your core, specifically your lower abs. There are many variations to this exercise, but today I will start with the Level 1 variation. Once the Level 1 Leg Lift is mastered, you can then try moving on to Level 2, then Level 3, and so on. I will post some of the other variations in my upcoming posts.

To Perform a Level 1 Leg Lift:

    1. Lie flat on the ground with your feet together.
    2. Place both hand under your glutes, right below your tail bone (Make sure to keep your back flat on the ground).
    3. Raise your feet 4-6 inches off the ground (Now you are in Position 1 as shown in the picture above).
    4. With your feet together and legs as straight as possible, lift your legs up to create a 90 degree angle with the floor (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the picture below).
    5. Lower your legs back down to Position 1 with your feet a few inches above the floor.
    6. Raise and lower your legs between Position 1 and Position 2 for the recommended amount of reps (I do 3 sets of 25 reps).
Leg Lift (Level 1) - Position 2

Leg Lift (Level 1) – Position 2

Tips:

    1. You must keep your back flat on the floor during this entire exercise. There should be no curve in your back. The top of your spine down to your tail bone should be flat on the floor at all times during this exercise.
    2. Exhale while lowering your legs from Position 2 to Position 1. Doing this will activate your abdominals.
    3. Use controlled motions! DO NOT whip your legs up and down as fast as you can. Using slow controlled motions will make this exercise much more affective.
    4. Try holding your legs in Position 1 with your feet a few inches off the floor for a second before raising your legs to Position 2. This will really burn your abdominals and will help increase your core strength.
    5. If you are just beginning, try doing 10-15 reps of this exercise at first and see if you can comfortably perform this exercise. It is important to really push yourself in order to see results, but safety always come first. If you have to start with only doing 10 reps of this exercise, make it a goal to add one more rep every few times you perform this exercise until you reach 20-25 reps per set.

Hope you enjoy this exercise and keep a lookout for the other variations soon to come. Have any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Diet Tip #1: How to Set Good Goals

Alec Varcas Diet Tips 1Lets face it… DIETS SUCK! No one really likes going on a diet. We all wish that we can eat whatever we wanted and still maintain amazing bodies. Unfortunately that is not how the world works and we have to watch what we eat, not only to look good, but also to lead a healthy lifestyle.

After doing some research, it is estimated that about 80% of weight loss New Years Resolutions fail. There are many theories as to why, but I have suggestions on how to reach your goals and not be part of that 80%.

My First Suggestion: Don’t say your goal is “To lose weight!”
You are already setting yourself up for failure because you are really not giving yourself a defined goal. Losing a pound and losing 30 pounds is a big difference, but technically in both situations, you have lost weight. You need to give yourself something to really aim for. For example, a good goal to set would be, I want to lose 15 pounds in 90 days. With this you have set a real goal and something to really aim for. This will put your mind in the right place to achieve success.

Alec Varcas Diet Tips 1-2

My Second Suggestion: Don’t set a goal that is too far in the future.
Setting a weight loss goal a year from now is not as affective as setting one two months from now. Why? If you have a goal to reach in ten months, you are more likely going to forget about it and make some bad diet and exercise choices than if you have a goal to reach in 2 weeks. If you would like to set a big goal, such as losing 50 pounds by the end of the year, or being able to bench press 100 more pounds by the end of the year, that is fine, but you must achieve those goals by setting smaller more frequent ones in between (ex: I will lose 5 pounds this month, I will bench press 10 more pounds this month)

My Third Suggestion: Don’t wait until January 1st to start a new goal.
According to an article by John Norcross that was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50% of Americans make New Years Resolutions. I hate New Years Resolutions because it gives people an excuse to slack off until January 1st. If you want to be healthy and fit, START NOW! There is no better time to start. You are not getting any younger and you are just wasting time if you are putting it off for a specific date. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a goal to reach! So start making better decisions now and you will be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle in the future.

Any questions or concerns? Want to know more about this topic? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Creator: Alec Varcas

One reoccurring topic I would like to have on this blog will be “Feature Friday.” On every Friday, I will post a small bio and some pictures of the people I have looked up to in order to reach my fitness goals. I thought I would start with a mini bio of myself today and on this upcoming Friday, March 8th, I will post my first Feature Friday Inspiration.

Alec Varcas Model Shot 1

First name: Alec
Last name: Varcas
City: Wolcott
State: CT
Age: 22
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 166 lbs
Profession: Dancer/Actor/Singer and hopefully a Certified Personal Trainer in the near future.

Follow Me
Twitter: Alec2austin
Instagram: Alec2austin

When did you start working out?:
Around 2009, but I didn’t start seriously working out until the summer of 2011.

How many days a week do you work out?:
When I am home, about 6 days a week. Right now I am on tour with ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’, so I work out as often as I can, which is usually around 3-4 days of cardio and 2-3 days of lifting.

How long is your average workout?:
My average workout is usually around an hour and a half. I try to focus on about 2 muscle groups per workout. I like to superset exercises switching between the muscle groups to keep my body moving and my heart rate up, but not totally exhausting my muscles and giving them proper rest time between each set. (Example: I may do a day of Triceps and Chest. One example of a workout would be doing a dumbbell fly chest workout, then waiting about 10-15 seconds and going into a tricep pull down exercise. Once I finish that, I will wait about one minute and repeat the superset 2-3 more times.)

This is my personal transformation over two years.

This is my personal transformation over two years.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
My Chest. I love working out my chest because I never had one when I was younger. I have seen decent growth in my chest since I have started working out, but I still see a lot of room for improvement. Any time I get a chance to pound out a good chest exercise, I feel great because I know I am really working toward reaching my fitness goals.

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
Shoulders. I have a bad rotator cuff that tends to hurt when I lift weights, so I have to be careful when doing shoulder exercises. Because I don’t want to injure it further, I usually am too afraid to really push my limits with my shoulder exercises. I would must rather be safe than sorry because I would not want to do any permanent damage, but because I sometimes bother my rotator cuff when lifting, I believe my shoulders are not progressing as well as the rest of my body.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
I have a ton of fitness goals. I have already reached some of my old fitness goals, but now I have many more. Before, my fitness goals were to be able to bench my body weight, see my pecs, get a six pack, be able to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, and a few other things. I have already reached all of those goals, but now I have improved on my old ones. My new goals are to be able to bench press 1.5 times my body weight, get obliques, get an even larger chest (specifically an inner chest), increase my leg press to over 700lbs, run a 5K in under 24 minutes, increase my flexibility, try new forms of exercise such as Crossfit and Yoga, and many others!

Alec Varcas Body 1

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
I have many fitness inspirations. You will get to see many of them each Friday for my ‘Feature Friday’ topic, so keep an eye out for them.

What supplements do you take or recommend?:
I usually take 2 scoops of whey protein and mix it with skim milk and water after I workout. Also, when I am home and I am on a more steady workout plan, I take casein protein before I go to bed. Right now I am tossing around with different pre-workouts to find out which one I like the best. So far, I really enjoy using 1 scoop of Jack3d before I work out. It does not give me the jitters and it gives me more energy before I train. I have heard that it is not that good for you though, so I am definitely interested in trying some other pre-workouts as well.

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
I usually start my morning with a cup of Greek yogurt, some fruit, and granola. I also may make some whole grain toast with organic peanut butter, or even some scrambled egg whites if I am hungry. Before I go to the gym, I have about two handfuls of almonds and maybe a small snack if I need some more energy. After the gym I have a protein shake and then a small meal to help refuel my body (example:Tuna Avocado Sandwich). For dinner I try to have a lean protein (chicken or fish), vegetables, and usually a sweet potato. Later on in the night, I will have some more vegetables and dip them in hummus, and I may have some more nuts. I try to eat steadily throughout the day when I am home, and I try to eat about 3000-4000 calories a day… usually more if I am trying to put on weight. Now that I am on the road however, I try to eat about 2500-3500 calories and I really eat whenever I can… and I try to eat as healthy as I can, which unfortunately is not very easy.

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
I really love some of my core workouts that I do. I have experimented with different workouts people have showed me and have even altered them to make them work a little better with my body. I will show them to you over time on this blog so stay tuned.

How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
I usually do at least 15 minutes of cardio a day to warm up before I exercise, but about 3-4 days a week I do a 30-45 minutes of cardio when I am trying to stay trim. If I am really trying to bulk, I just stick with my cardio warmup.

Alec Varcas Gym Shot 1

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
Do your research! I am creating this blog to really help people reach their fitness goals, but the more research you do, the better. Also, just working out will not help you reach your fitness goals, DIET is just as, if not more, important than going to the gym. Lastly, stay motivated! Many people have a hard time staying motivated because they don’t see their beach ready body in the first few weeks they exercise. It does not happen over night. Losing weight and building muscle takes a lot of hard work and time, but staying motivated is the most important thing. Find something that will help you stay as motivated as possible. For some people it is having a workout buddy that will drag them to the gym. For others it is posting pictures of the body they want around the house or even on the boxes of foods they know they shouldn’t be eating. For others it is putting a trip to the gym in their daily planners, that way they know they will have the time to go to the gym. Find what works for you!

Do you have any other things you would like to say? (Comments, suggestions, etc)?:
Do not be scared to try something new. Remember that everyone starts somewhere. I have talked to many people that are not happy with their bodies and the main reason they don’t go to the gym is because they are scared. They are scared people will judge them and they are scared of trying something new. DONT BE! There is nothing but respect for people at the gym, because by being there and putting in the effort, we all know that we are working toward a common goal of bettering ourselves. Also, don’t be scared of trying new types of workouts either. Recently I started going to gymnastics classes to help my tumbling for an audition, and now I go just for the amazing workout. I have never had a better whole body workout then the one I get after a 45min-hour gymnastics lesson (I usually cant walk for days). Have you ever wanted to try Yoga, Pilates, Karate, Swimming? DO IT!!! You will regret it if you never tried. My mom started Karate in her 40’s and got up to a second degree Black Belt! It is never too late to try something new and get in shape!

Hope you liked this mini bio I put together. Keep an eye out every Friday starting this Friday, March 8th, for my ‘Feature Friday’ topics. Do you have any questions for me? Do you want to be considered as a ‘Feature Friday’ Candidate? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com and I will get back to you as soon as possible.