December 7, 2023

Healthy Choice

Healthy Choice The Only Solution

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Managing treat-to-healthy food ratios

“If I’m going out, I’m going out riding a dragon.”

This is one of my favorite quotes regarding dedicating a day of treating myself to my favorite “guilty pleasure”: decadent food. After a week’s worth of clean eating, practicing healthy lifestyle habits, playing competitive pickleball three times per week, and participating in meticulously designed exercise routines, I feel some delectable meals from Napa’s finest pastry shops offer me the reward of sending my love of eating through a phantasmagoria of treat food heaven.

Perhaps I could venture down the street to Model Bakery to order one of their world-renowned English muffins toasted to perfection and layered with fruit compote.

Or, maybe I should head to Sweetie Pies to enjoy a cinnamon roll and a masterfully designed scone while overlooking the Napa River. Finally, Winston’s is my favorite indulgence of all that is pure and sacred in the breakfast food world.

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I always have Winson’s stowed away in my back pocket when I know I need to escape to the land of tantalizingly delicious donuts. Oh, Winson’s, how I love your donuts. I could die a happy man while taking a bath in your vanilla glazed donuts, maple twists, and sour cream citrus rolls.

Napa is a culinary mecca supplying our community housing the finest food on the planet. However, it should come as no surprise that my favorite breakfast joints aren’t always the most beneficial to the health of the human body. If we abuse these food choices, the body can endure suboptimal side effects, potentially compromising our long-term health.

The masterfully designed recipes of white flour, sugars and fats comprising my favorite breakfast treat foods present a cornucopia of reactions within the body that can pose harmful metabolic effects when consumed without any sense of caution. Gluten, high concentrations of fat and insulin-producing sugars can slow down digestion, accumulate unhealthy amounts of lipids in blood vessels, subcutaneous fat and even pose the threat of developing diabetes.

Similar to a person going back and forth to Hawaii on vacation every other week, the luster of the palm trees, breathtaking sunsets, and crashing waves on sapphire waters could become mundane if the trip is taken too many times. Furthermore, indulging oneself in treat foods, such as the donut bender described earlier in this article, can make the concept of treat food not feel like a treat at all.

Instead, these delectable treat foods can become another cog in a vicious cycle to “fill a hole” of hunger. Once a sacred experience of enjoying this fantastic food is indulged too regularly, it doesn’t become special anymore. Furthermore, if treat foods are consumed too often, our appreciation for healthy food choices might become obsolete because we only identify treat foods as our primary food source.

Understanding the word “treat” is an important concept we teach our personal training clients during their nutritional consultations. We all have foods we look forward to and fantasize about eating. For me, it’s Winston’s donuts. Identifying these foods as “treats” helps us distinguish between everyday, healthy food and what foods should be consumed sparingly.

Additionally, suppose we live by the principles of making healthy decisions three times more often than “treat” decisions in our dietary habits. In that case, it’s more obtainable to make healthy food choices.

For example, if Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are days focused on consuming bread-free meals and inputting a vegetable to every meal and Thursday is a date night in which we allow ourselves a few drinks at the bar and a decadent meal, we would be making three times the number of healthy choices to one treat choice.

Another method that proves helpful in managing treat-to-healthy food ratios is to allow oneself only three nights per week of consuming alcohol. By laying a path for making healthy decisions, we can redefine how our body processes the substance we put into it.

For example, if we put three day’s worth of Winston’s donuts, 18 beers and 10 lattes in our bodies every week, our bodies will reflect those choices. I’m sure you can use your imagination to envision the detrimental side effects that beer, donuts, and sugary Starbucks beverages yield to our digestive tract, metabolism, and appearance.

However, suppose we have three days of eating lean proteins, two-to-three servings of vegetables, and maintaining adequate hydration throughout the day. In that case, our bodies will reflect those healthier habits by experiencing increased energy, the ability to stave off illness, and feeling spry and ready to seize the day.

By identifying what a treat is versus what are optimal food choices, we can redefine the way our body processes food. Sure, we can enjoy Napa’s fantastic food and wine. However, let’s not remove the critically important term “enjoy” from this equation of making healthy dietary decisions.

To truly enjoy a treat, putting forth diligence and effort into managing optimal food choices must be done first. So, reward yourself with your favorite mind-blowing treat food after making a series of healthy choices so we can truly take in the gift treat foods offer while maintaining a productive path in our health and fitness journey.

Sean McCawley, Fit For Life: A nod to knee health

Napa fitness expert Sean McCawley discusses the importance of keeping your knees strong and healthy.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Look at the menu ahead of time

Preparation is a  tool for success. To mitigate the unhealthy effects of eating out too much, we can look at the menus of our favorite restaurants ahead of time to make healthy decisions for our nutritional success.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Food as fuel

Weight loss and weight gain are constant balancing acts. Where can we start on a path to productively managing our weight? 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just one more

Finding a way to squeak in an extra healthy habit significantly impacts our everyday health and happiness.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Get a grip on falling

A fall can cause something as minor as a scraped knee or as catastrophic as a broken bone. One way to minimize injury is to have strong fingers and hands. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Muscles and a balanced diet make a successful team

Maintaining a healthy body while occasionally indulging in less-than-healthy meals and snacks comes down to a question of balance. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Exercises to avoid sciatica

Discomfort is an understatement for severe cases of sciatica, but identifying its common causes is an effective first step toward a plan of action to prevent it.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Sciatica: a real pain in the derrière

Fitness expert Sean McCawley introduces the lumbopelvic hip complex and explains why we might want to learn what exactly it is. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Balancing your exercise journey

It’s not breaking news that staying active keeps us healthy but it’s important to strive for a balanced fitness routine that will keep you going and avoid injuries. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Pull up a chair and exercise

Sitting isn’t bad for you; sitting for too long without moving is. Napa fitness expert Sean McCawley offers exercises to do to counteract stiffness and stress from inactivity. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Building a foundation for weight loss

If losing extra fat and keeping it off is your goal, it’s important to understand that first you have to establish a foundation of eating healthy and adhering to exercise for at least three months.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: SAID and the challenges of travel

SAID means “Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand” and this includes long hours sitting in an airplane or car. What can you do to help your body out after you get off the plane or out of your car? 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A completely different pace

Fitness trainer Sean McCawley experienced challenges to his healthy Napa lifestyle on his 10-day trip to Portugal. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Simple exercises for a huge impact

Finding time to exercise is challenging but if you can find time to perform one or two exercises first thing in the morning, this can can accomplish simple and effective exercises. 

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

On the run up to a championship match, the foods you choose will make a difference. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Chip bowl salads for dinner

What’s for dinner? Before you turn to Door Dash, fitness pro Sean McCawley has a suggestion. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Watching your fitness grow

When striving to meet fitness goals, try keeping in mind a growing a plant — both a plant and your body thrive in a nurturing, supportive environment.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 2

Exercising first thing in the morning may sound like a challenge, but the benefits far outweigh the pain of getting out of bed a few minutes earlier.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 1

Rise and shine — or rest in bed? Sean McCawley provides reasons for getting yourself up in the morning. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 2

We don’t realize how vital lower back health is until an accidental injury debilitates us, but exercises can help avoid this calamity. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 1

A long-plane ride, turning your head the wrong way, even sleeping in an odd position, can tweak your back just enough to derail physical activities. The first step in avoiding these injuries, is learning the anatomy of your spine. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Try a digital detox

We can fall into an unhealthy rut of spending too much time on our phones. Take some time for yourself by stepping away from your cell phone to experience the gifts the world offers us that are right in front of us.

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