It’s that time of year again. People reflect back on the year that was, pick out something they didn’t like about themselves, and resolve to make sweeping changes. Most of those decisions revolve around looking at pictures or putting on a pair of pants and thinking “That just will not do.” So the choice to lose weight is made, and at first it feels really good. No more overeating! No more double cheeseburgers and soft drinks! Up at 5 am to work out, every day! And that means up until the 1st, all bets are off. So people eat and drink as much as they possibly can, and as the days pass by, January 1st looms larger and larger, like the T-Rex in the rear view mirror of the jeep in Jurassic Park. And just like fate of the T-Rex, after a brief and furious go at it, both the diet and workout flame out like an asteroid strike. You’re left sitting in the smoking crater of your resolution, eating that double cheeseburger in repentance of another failed attempt. It doesn’t have to be that way. I think most people fail at this particular resolution for two reasons. First, they have a lack of knowledge when it comes to nutrition and embark on a starvation diet that is impossible to sustain, and fall back on old habits after a few weeks. The second reason is the workout itself. The most common mistake people say is that they are going to focus on cardio until they lose weight, and then try to add muscle. So they regulate themselves to plodding on a treadmill, the most boring of all exercises, and they don’t see results because it takes hours on a treadmill to burn calories. Not seeing changes and only eating a kale and juice diet is a deadly combination. It’s the Bonnie and Clyde to your bank account of resolve and determination to make a resolution stick.
So the question becomes, how to overcome those two obstacles and make a successful change? For the exercise, to lose weight, pick up weights. Cardio is extremely inefficient at making changes in body composition. To change your shape, you have to add lean muscle. I usually receive pushback from women on this point. They will tell me they don’t want to add bulky muscle and gain weight from lifting. I wish it were that easy. It’s hard enough to maintain muscle, much less add it and bulk up. After you pass the age of 30, a horrible little trick of nature called Sarcopenia starts to happen in all of us. Your body starts to lose from 3% to 8% of your muscle mass per decade. After you pass 60, the rate is even higher. It’s also accompanied by an increase in body fat mass, and that leads to insulin resistance, joint stiffness, and osteoporosis. But it’s not a fate you are consigned to suffer. Resistance training is a time machine for the human body. Lifting weights keeps that process at bay, and not only will you look and feel younger, the confidence of feeling strong and vital is a mood booster as well. As for a fear of bulking up, ladies, unless you are shooting Arnold levels of steroids into your veins, you have nothing to worry about. You will not suddenly look like Hans and Frans flexing huge biceps until your face glows in the dark. You will reshape your body and boost your metabolism much faster than with aerobic exercise only. Aerobic exercise only burns calories while you are actively performing it, but when you lift weights, your body continues to burn calories as it starts about the business of repairing the muscles, and even when you are on the couch binging The Crown, your body’s internal furnace is still working overtime. Light to medium weights, high reps, and a little intensity is all you need. If you have always stayed away from the weight room and considered it a boy’s club only, I implore you to not accept those limits. Lifting weights is crucial for anyone with a human body, gender does not factor into it.
Now for the diet. If lifting is tearing down muscle in order to rebuild it leaner and stronger, you have to fuel that process. Kale and juice isn’t going to do it. Lean protein is crucial to the process. Try to get around 25 – 30 grams of lean protein per meal, any more than that can’t be processed by the body and will just go to waste. The good news here is that means you don’t have to starve yourself, and you are much more likely to stay with a new lifestyle if it doesn’t feel like punishment. When I finally figured out the science of eating healthy, I was able to eat the same amount of calories and felt even fuller than I did when eating empty simple starches and sugars. In this picture comparison, I was eating the same amount of calories a day, around 2000. I also added more resistance training with quick HIIT style workouts using light to medium weights:
So eating the same amount of food, I was able to shed a massive amount of body fat, stop all those aging processes associated with Sarcopenia, and feel stronger and younger than I had 20 years ago during my so called “prime”. Lean protein dishes were key to that process. Protein makes you feel full, and your body has to burn energy to break it down for muscle use. One great source of lean protein is pork tenderloin. Not only is it lean with only 1.8 grams of fat per serving, a 3 ounce portion only has 93 calories. It also contains 48% of the recommended daily amount of Selenium, which aids metabolism by controlling thyroid hormones and protects your cells that line your blood vessels from damage. Pork tenderloin also contains 210 milligrams of phosphorus that controls enzyme activity, a strong component of DNA and helps maintain strong bone tissue. B1 vitamins in the form of Thiamin and Choline are also abundant, and those combine for a chemical reaction that produce energy, nerve cell communication, and assists in the body metabolizing cholesterol.
My pork tenderloin salsa verde stew with cauliflower rice is a tasty and easy way to get a great dose of these muscle building and fat reducing nutrients. It’s made in the slow cooker so it’s easy to prepare as well, once you have removed the silver skin and excess fat from the tenderloin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
- Two pork tenderloins, trimmed of all excess fat and silver skin
- 16 ounces salsa verde sauce, (preferably homemade, read the ingredients carefully if using store bought)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can Rotel
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Bunch chopped cilantro
- Juice of one lime
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- Avocado, plain Greek yogurt, and Beanitos black bean chips for garnish
Combine the salsa verde, Rotel, cumin, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker, stir to combine, set on low.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat until it reaches 450 – 500 degrees. Spray your cleaned pork tenderloins with a light coat of non-stick avocado cooking spray, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and sear on all sides for 2 minutes per side.
Cut the browned tenderloins into bite sized pieces.
Place the pork in the slow cooker, add the chopped cilantro and squeeze in the juice of a lime.
Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours. Once the stew is ready, cut the cauliflower into pieces and process in a food processor until the consistency of rice.
Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet, add in the cauliflower rice and minced garlic, stirring to combine. Season with a pinch of salt, black pepper, and cumin to taste. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for ten minutes until soft, stirring often.
To serve, place a couple of scoops of cauliflower rice in a bowl, top with a scoop of the pork stew, then top with plain Greek yogurt, diced avocado, and some crushed black bean chips if desired.
See the list of the Shirtless Chef columns/recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.