April 12, 2024


Outstanding health & fitness

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Food choices for a champion | Columnists


I’d just finished my morning workout. It was 7:45 a.m., marking the start of a spectacular Monday morning. Since stores open at 8 a.m., there wouldn’t be as many people filling the parking lots and aisles.

So, I started my voyage through the back roads leading to Whole Foods with a road map navigating the most efficient route and envisioning precisely where I wanted to park.

I only hit one stoplight and successfully secured my favorite parking spot. I was about 50 paces from the store. Now I could avoid the distractions of waiting in line to get a shopping cart, kids frolicking in my path, and mid-size SUVs running stop signs. My chance of success in getting in and out of the store in less than 15 minutes was high.

With my shopping cart, I ventured to the seafood department. Seeing that monkfish and sockeye salmon were on sale, I requested two of each from my favorite seafood counter worker. After obtaining my proteins, I made a 180-degree turn to the produce section. Whole Foods in Napa is one of my favorite stores specifically because fresh protein is about ten yards from the produce section.

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I found my favorite veggies stocked to almost tumbling off the stands. Sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, peppers, beets, corn, and fresh herbs anxiously awaited my eager hands.

After acquiring my final vegetable, I made a mad dash to the register, checked out and fled to my car. Following my triumphant return from the grocery store, I unpacked my bags and stocked them in my fridge and freezer. Victory was mine. I now possessed four night’s worth of healthy dinner ingredients and had dodged the rush hour masses, too.

My day continued as I trained clients, conducted meetings with my coaching crew, and concluded with two hours of pickleball tournament preparation practice. Driving home from the courts, I was ready to fire up my pans, pan-sear some fresh monkfish, and sauté the finest cauliflower known to man. Visions of rapture coursed through my subconscious as I anxiously awaited this experience of delicious, body-strengthening food.

As I strolled into my home, covered in sweat and about to collapse from my intense pickleball practice, I was greeted by my amazing fiancée. Seeing the love of my life always resets me to an undefinable state of bliss and contentment.

After our greeting rituals, I heard, “I know you were working so hard today. So, I wanted to surprise you and got you your favorite burrito from La Taquiza.”

A momentary pause occurred in the rhythm of my thoughts. It’s similar to how a musician strums the wrong chord on their guitar when playing at a live venue. As thoughtful as these words were from the most amazing and caring person in the world, I was in disarray. With a high-stakes pickleball tournament in three days, I wanted to fuel my body with the freshest food. Lean protein, vegetables and low glycemic carbohydrates were the only foods on my mind. Not a burrito the size of a small child.

My rationale for putting fresh foods into my body before a physically grueling tournament was backed by the theory that the less processed food I consume, the more efficiently I could absorb the vital nutrients present in these unprocessed, raw, and undenatured forms of food I had purchased during my hyper-efficient visit to the store that morning.

Monkfish has one ingredient, monkfish. Cauliflower follows the same suit.  The pairing veggies of garlic and fresh onion only have single ingredients. However, when we compare the amalgamation comprising the burrito, we see ingredients such as flour tortillas, cheese, sour cream and refried beans. As good of a job that La Taquiza does of making my favorite burrito in Napa, this meal didn’t support my goals of being a nimble, agile and lean championship athlete.

The tortilla wrapping the burrito ingredients is composed of flour, a very highly processed carbohydrate possessing a high glycemic index that would spike my insulin levels at a suboptimal time in my day.

Additionally, the gluten proteins present in the tortilla can cause bloating and water retention. The delicious cheese ribboned throughout the meat, beans, and burrito rice are also processed items with insulin-spiking properties and heavy fats that sit in the digestive system for long periods.

I bypassed the burrito as I told her about my goals of dominating the tournament that weekend. Being the supportive, understanding, and amazing woman she is, she offered to drop the burrito off to her friend’s 10-year-old son following his basketball practice. Surely that young human with the metabolism of a kangaroo mouse could harness the full potential the burrito offered.

Focusing on consuming fresh and unprocessed foods allows the digestive tract to process food and efficiently absorbing the water, protein, and vitamins and minerals in these foods. Making a few extra trips to the store might be a hassle. However, if we can forge our habits to consume more fresh and raw foods, our bodies will be able to perform like a champion in our everyday lives.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Do I need a protein supplement?

A few popular questions fitness trainer Sean McCawley is asked are: “How many calories should I consume?”, “Are carbs bad?”, “Should I be paleo?” and “What type of protein supplement should I take?”

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: How to drink enough water

Staying hydrated is important to overall health, longevity and functionality, writes fitness coach Sean McCawley. So how do you drink enough water each day? He has a plan for you.  

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fear of fitness

If stepping into a gym is as intimidating to you as a walk in Jurassic Park, Sean McCawley has idea to help you overcome your anxiety and give yourself a gift of exercise. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Resistance training to strengthen bones

An exercise program of resistance training can significantly increase your body’s ability to build strength in your bones.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Exercise the muscles you don't use daily

From construction worker to desk worker, we all have muscles we don’t use in a typical day. Your can supercharge your fitness by adding exercises that target these areas of the body.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Your relationship with exercise

If you struggle adhering to an exercise program, pick out a few keywords of how exercise makes you feel like what you’re doing has value. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Reasons for pushups

Fitness expert Sean McCawley explores why and how to do pushups.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A 90-day game plan for weight loss

She wanted to lose 10 pounds before a vacation on the beaches of Portugal. Fitness trainer Sean McCawley helped her come up with a plan. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A road trip down the spine

Our spine is akin to a highway in the human body. By engaging in physical activity that keeps the spinal muscles active, we perform proper maintenance on our main freeway of nerves, just as of Cal Trans workers cares for these roads. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Staving off illness

Our willpower and perseverance to make a trek to a local gym, take a yoga class or participate in outdoor physical activity are equally, if not more powerful, than any medicine that keeps us away from the doctor’s office.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: What holds you back from your goals?

Crunchy, salty, and sweet treats can provide comfort, joy and salvation from challenging times. We can’t just extract them from our lives on short notice but here are tips to still enjoy them with moderation, accountability and control.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Can you drink enough water in 2022?

One of the easiest ways to improve your health in 2022 is to be sure you are drinking enough water. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Reach your goals for 2022

A plan to enjoy 2022 and reach our goals begins with Two great places to start building a good foundation of ensuring we reach our goals in 2022 is to eat the right foods and adhere to a exercise routine.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Wound up so tight

Napa Valley fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for what to do when your lifestyle has you wound up tight as a violin string. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A guide to food and finals

Finals week — or any week during college — may not be the prime time for thinking about healthy food choices, but Sean McCawley offers some easy-to- make alternatives to one more bowl of instant ramen.  

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Processed or the real deal?

Nutritional advice today can be confusing and often contradictory. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: The Garden of Fitness

Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley outlines how to use your gardening tasks for a fitness routine worthy of a gym-workout. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Exercise to manage stress

Stress has a profound effects on our well-being, but exercising even once or twice a week can also have a profound impact on stress. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa: Nutrition and fitness

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are the big three that are predominantly focused on the back of nutrition labels when counting calories. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa: Keep picking things up

If you see a rogue candy wrapper left over from trick-or-treaters, bend over and pick it up. Practicing mindfulness of picking up objects from the ground helps mitigate the debilitating effects of back pain while bending over as we progress through life.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Stop light exercises

We spend so much of our time sitting, including driving to work to get ready to sit some more. Napa fitness coach Sean McCawley suggests exercises you can do in your car to counteract the toll that prolonged sitting takes on the body.  

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: From the ground up

Napa Valley fitness pro Sean McCawley shares thoughts about the importance of continuing to get down and dirty — or at least being sure to include a few bends every day —  as we age. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Keeping our grip as we age

It’s a hassle to regain the strength of our hands if unmaintained over time. Sean McCawley has suggestions to keep yours strong. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Making time to exercise

Constraints of hours in our demanding schedule is an eternal balancing act. Don’t the let the idea of “I don’t have enough time” hold you back from much needed exercise.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Becoming a recreational athlete

If we don’t have a physically active profession and spend 40-plus hours a  week at a desk, we have to find new ways to stay as physically fit as our hard-working ancestors. Becoming a recreational athlete is one of them. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Tight hips mean a tight back

Focusing on the well-being of your hip flexor muscles is a great solution to alleviate common lower back symptoms in which our society struggles with on a daily basis. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Keeping your 'floating bone' in shape

You never know how much you use your scapula — aka, your shoulder blade — until it isn’t working well. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Preparing for an event

Having a goal to work towards can give a boost to striving for health and fitness goals. Sean McCawley shares one success stor. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: There's always time for exercise

Do you feel you just don’t have time to exercise? Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for getting around this obstacle to fitness.  

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: How does stretching make you feel?

If your routines help you feel better throughout your day, keep them going. Sure, scientific data is always going to benefit us but it’s the traditions we practice that make us feel good that scientific data doesn’t necessarily support.

Sean McCawley, Fit for LIfe: Taking something out to feel better

A personal training client showed up sporting new clothes, hairdo, new sunglasses — and a new confidence. What was his secret? A few lifestyle changes. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: An electronics-free dinner time

Fitness guru Sean McCawley urges people to turn off the electronics and enjoy conversations dinner with their families.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: An alphabet for balance

Balance can be defined as the ability to correct imbalances. Sean McCawley has an exercise to help this. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Why do I have poor balance?

Not many of us have the skill and talent of the champion Olympic gymnast Simone Bile, but there are ways to improve our balance. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Strong knees need strong hips

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to walk at snail speed because of nagging knee pain, but one way to keep your knees healthy is to make sure you do hip-strengthening activities. 

Sean McCawley: More help with sciatica

We can’t thrive in life when being held up by painful symptoms such as sciatica. Pick exercises that are simple, effective, and easy to replicate on weekly basis to help us live pain free, happy, and strong lives.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Mitigating sciatica via fitness, Part 1

What causes the debilitating condition sciatica and can a good exercise routine help mitigate it? 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Big, hairy, audacious goals

All kinds of emotions can hinder fitness plans. Sean McCawley has ideas for moving ahead to accomplish even the biggest “hairy audacious goals.”

Sean McCawley: Training for travel

Getting ready to travel again? Make sure to plan ahead for trips with a balanced exercise prescription to ensure your body is strong and injury-free to enjoy these life-changing experiences.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and pregnancy

The challenges of pregnancy are many, but understanding that the body can still benefit from a structured fitness routine throughout pregnancy helps the body ride through the mental, physical and emotional undertow.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Why we gain — and how we can lose — weight

Weight management is challenging. As we age, our metabolism decreases. However, the advancement of our age and the slowing of our metabolism is usually not the primary culprit when it comes to gaining excess weight.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Maintaining the all-important joints

Ball-and-socket, hinge and saddle — these are just a few names of the joints responsible for the elaborate movements of our bodies. They are masterfully engineered, however, they are at risk if they are left unattended.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Thoughtful and strategic weight loss

It’s not a bad idea to look at the scale and track our weight. Just make sure to understand where that weight is coming from and be mindful on managing the pathways that increase or decrease lean muscle mass and fat.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Taking time for yourself

Taking time to focus on ourselves and give ourselves the gift of exercise, can help us to be better parents, spouses and employees. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and being a parent

If parenthood has upended your old gym fitness regimes, remember you have a new exercise partner, brimming with energy and waiting to put you through a new cardio routine, running through a playground. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Blood sugar crashes

Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley shed lights upon what sugary foods do the body and how this affects our everyday life activities. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: The Art of Putting on Socks

The act of putting socks on can be commonly overlooked but if you lose that ability, it’s quite a task to get back. Tracking your performance on how efficiently you can put on your socks is a good marker to see what you might need to improve on to ensure you can bend up and down.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Your posture and smartphones

Pay attention to your posture when perusing your smart phone. These tips from Napa fitness pro Sean McCawley will help you avoid damage to your neck and spine. 

Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected], or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.



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