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6 Reasons We All Need To Eat More Potatoes

In recent years, the potato has been maligned. The USDA has restricted starches for kids in public schools. Articles such as this one have claimed that potatoes are actually fattening. Nope, not just fries or chips, but plain old potatoes. Now if you look through the sourced data, you'll see they lumped the potato together with the french fry, which is the equivalent of lumping a tomato together with a Bloody Mary, but I digress.

If you've ever tried a low carbohydrate diet, you've probably been told that potatoes are the enemy. The same with grains, but I'll save the defense of intact grains for another blog. So what's the deal? Is the lowly potato a primary cause for obesity in The U.S. and Europe? Short answer: No. And here's 6 reasons why you need MORE NOT LESS potatoes in your diet.

1. The Potato Is Low Calorie + Extremely Filling: 150 calories in a large potato. On a 2,000 calorie per day diet? You can eat a bunch of potatoes throughout your day, be full, energized, and well nourished, while getting maximum caloric bang for your buck.

2. The Potato Has Been A Pillar Of Nutrition Throughout Human History: In the Andes of South America, and in Europe before the 1,500's, the potato made the difference between surviving and perishing. When the potato was introduced in Ireland, the population doubled in 40 years. The potato has saved many lives, individually, as well as civilizations.

In 1927, a study was published by a researched name. Stanislaw Kazimirz Kon, who studied the effects of an all-potato diet on the human body. A healthy man and woman in their twenties, who were very athletic, were put on a diet where most of their calories came from potatoes. To that they added only a few fruits, and butter or oil. Now, this wasn’t an all-potato diet, but it’s important to note that although fat was added to the diet, this fat provided no protein. Yet, on a diet where virtually all of the protein was derived from potatoes, it was found that protein intake was adequate. To be clear, no one food is complete enough to be your only source of nourishment. But as a food you could live on for months at a time, potatoes are pretty close to ideal.

Here is a more contemporary gent who's given "The Spud Fit Challenge" diet a big name on Youtube. He lost 30 pounds in 43 days at the time of this interview. Check it out.

3. The Potato Is Chocked Full Of Nutrients: The primary reason we eat is to obtain enough energy to function throughout the day. (That's also why I drink coffee, but again I digress). If we eat for energy, and starchy carbs give us max energy, it follows that high carbohydrate foods are nutritionally superior.  So why condemn a food for doing what it is supposed to do – provide efficient fuel for your body? Potatoes are high in vitamins B, C, Dietary Fiber, Potassium, and other minerals. Just as important is what's not in a potato: high sugar (just over 1g in a medium potato), high sodium, cholesterol (zero like all plant foods), and saturated fats.

4. Humans Are Starch Eaters: When we talk about ancient human hunting and gathering, we might have been misled by some historic sexism. While the dudes were out throwing spears at woodland creatures and missing 9 out of 10 times (as it turns out, hunting ain't so easy when you're not carrying a firearm), guess who was gathering most of the food? You guessed it... the wives, children, and grannies. So guess what they mostly ate? Roots, bulbs, and tubers - the wild versions of what became carrots, onions, and potatoes. These starchy friends increased the size of our brains, which led to all of that territorial expansion that was to come. Notice how primates tend to live where fruits are ripe year round? Yep, they stayed raw vegan for the most part, while we moved on up in the world through starch-based eating. You can read more on "How Starches Made Us Human," in this 2007 piece from The NY Times.

6. Potatoes Are Satisfying + Easy To Prep: Few foods are as plain yet delicious as a potato. Whether you're baking, boiling, sauteing, slow cooking (with some onions and veggie broth, mmm, mmm), or just taking a big bite of a raw potato (OK maybe not the last one), very few plant foods are so yummy "right out the box." Seriously even most kids will smash an entire potato without asking for anything on it. But let's say you want to have some fun... what CAN'T be added to a potato? I went to a wedding a while back that had a potato bar with about 50 different toppings. Everything from avocados, olives, salsa, pesto, horseradish, all of the things. You can pretty much do anything you want with a baked potato, and it's going to add happiness and nutritional value to your day.

Did I mention meal prep yet? How many can you cook for the next few days of meals? As many as you can fit in your over or slow cooker. Few foods are more ideal for weekly meal prepping than potatoes.


I would love to go on about why potatoes should absolutely be taking up real estate on your plate, but I'm going to leave it at 6 for now. Bottom line is this: If you want to fuel your Adventure Training, or any other fitness endeavor, eat more potatoes. They are truly one of the most nutritionally perfect foods this planet has given us. Of course you need your leafy veggies, healthy fats, legumes, and proteins, but potatoes can be a staple main dish. In the end you'll be leaner and healthier. I would encourage anyone with further questions to research the work of Dr. John McDougall. Watch this great presentation discussing topics from his best-selling book, The Starch Solution, and check out his website for more great info. 

Make the World Your Playground - Big Four Bridge

Hey everyone, it's Mary Margaret. This is the first in a series of "Make the World Your Playground" posts where we'll be creating special workouts at different locations around Louisville. 

Today's workout is designed for the Big Four Bridge. I love this bridge. I often take Olive, strap her in the Boba carrier, and go! When she was younger it was hard to attend BAREfit pack workouts so I created this special workout when just walking the bridge wasn't challenging enough and I wanted a more "BAREfit" experience. 

Try this workout and I guarantee you'll break a sweat and build some muscles!

** This workout is parallel and can be done started at either side. My workout will start at the Indiana side since I live in New Albany. 


Start at the bottom of the ramp and do 20 squats.  

Start walking or jogging up the ramp. When you reach the set of stairs run up and down them, or in my case walk since I have Olive in the carrier. (If you choose to walk the bridge and ramps then keep a fast pace.)


Continue up the ramp and when you reach the top do 20 more squats. 

Start walking or jogging across the bridge. At the first bench you see, stop and do 20 dips.

Continue walking (at a fast pace) or jogging, until you reach the last bench on the other side. Stop and do 20 dips. 


Finish going across the bridge and when you reach the top of the ramp, do 20 squats. 

 Start walking or jogging down the ramp. When you reach the next set of stairs, run up and down them.  

Continue down to the bottom of the ramp and do 20 squats.  You're halfway done! 

Now turn around and continue back up the ramp repeating all of the above steps.

If you want more of a challenge, add in push ups and jumping jacks at each interchange along with your squats and dips. 

It takes less than 5 minutes to walk up and down each set of stairs twice and very little time to add in the squats and dips so try this workout whenever you go walking on the Big Four Bridge. 

By the time you are done with this workout you will have completed 80 dips and 140 squats combined with some cardio.  


When You Can't _______, Cross-train.

(This is gonna be a quick one and more of a personal testimonial from my recent climbing trip to the Red River Gorge.)

Let's first define "cross-training." Cross-training is exercise you do that is similar to a specific sport you want to improve in.  For example, swimming is great cross-training for running because it builds your cardio capacity and core strength.  Or doing cable rows is great for building upper back and shoulder muscles to improve paddling.
Cross-training is crucial because it creates a well rounded body and irons out imbalances that repetitive movements create. Most overuse injuries can be prevented by cross-training...but that is a different and much longer post. 

Cross-training improves specific sport performance, especially when sport specific training is unavailable.

There are a lot of things I love doing that I only get do do once in a blue moon. Climbing has unfortunately been one of those things. Climbing is also one of those things that takes practice and consistency to improve in. 
Over the past year I've been mostly trail running, cycling, training at BAREfit and building stuff because thats what time has allowed for this stage in my life. Thus one would not blame me for going into this trip expecting to have fun but not necessarily kick ass.

Well I was wrong...

My first first climb of the day was a 5.9 with a small roof that had shut me down about a year ago when I was climbing more consistently. I was hoping for a 5.7/8 to warm up on, but Jeremy of Elemental Climb Club was not about to grant such wishes.
I tied in, put on my red Mad Rock shoes and resigned to accept my fate...


I made my way up the first section, it's the easy part, dreading my looming nemesis above...


I'd been feeling really solid on the climb thus far, but I was preparing for the worst as I moved to grapple with the roof...

Then I hit the crux...

And I was over the crux, defeated my enemy and enjoyed smooth sailing to the anchors!
I went on to generally kick ass for the rest of the day, sticking moves I couldn't before and climbing with increased endurance & confidence.

This is BAREfit functional cross-training in action! Even though I hadn't done sport specific climbing training in about a year, I had maintained AND improved my climbing skills through BAREfit's Functional Adventure Sports Training methods.
This is just a little bit of proof that non-specific functional strength and conditioning translates to sport specific performance.

That is why when I can't climb, I BAREfit.

Many thanks to my beautiful and talented wife, Janae, for taking baller action shots and to Elemental Climbing Club for inviting us out with them & pushing me to test my climbing limits.

Meet Your Fitness Plan's Missing Link: Motivation

As I write this, it's 3 degrees in Louisville, KY (windshield of  -16), with at least 3" of snow or ice on every runnable/ridable surface, and I'm in dire need of logging some miles...

Though, that is not what's stopping me from logging those much needed miles.  I could very well pull out some of my expensive gear, layer it up and lace up my cleated winter shoes with the knowledge that I'll be satisfied & thawing out about 45 minutes later. But instead, I'm staying inside and writing a blog post that probably only my wife will read out of pity.

This battle, like all day to day decisions, is waged by motivations.  Today, the motivation to stay warm and comfortable edged out my motivation to progress my fitness. If it's not the cold, it's the heat, or sleep, or TV, or the newest limited edition barrel aged beer or the...well, you get the idea.  There will always be counter-motivations distracting you from being fit and healthy.

At any given time, you have at least 2 motivations duking it out like a couple wolves. We'll call them your "Fitness Wolf" and your "Couch Dwelling Wolf". The wolf you feed will almost always win because it's the strongest.  The more it wins and the more it's fed, the stronger and more victorious it gets.
The trick is actively feeding the Fitness Wolf, the one that motivates health and fitness, and not the one who makes excuses to be inactive & eat crap.

Different things motivate different people, but to get you started here are some of my Fitness Wolf's favorite meals:

  • Human Accountability

    • There is nothing more motivating than another person (or group) in the trenches with you, cheering you on when you succeed and riding your ass when you slack off.  For me, my wife motivates me in this way, she's not always out on the trail with me, but she always encourages me to get out there and doesn't pull punches when i'm lazy. Plus, you know, I wanna keep looking good for her ;)  
      I also have friends I train with on a regular basis. We compete with each other and know we're in for it if we stand each other up.  
      A personal trainer or fitness studio with small group training (like, shameless plug, BAREfit) is another great option. Working with a fitness profession whose job is to motivate and equip you toward fitness is hard to beat, and having a scheduled session adds to the priority of exercise. This option also brings money into the picture to the effect that your wasting money when you don't exercise.

  • Signing Up for a Race/Event

    • This gives me something to train toward and makes my goals more concrete. As soon as I see a race I want to do, I sign up for it. The longer you wait to sign up, the more excuses to not do it pile up (and so does the entry fee). True story. When your just training for the sake of training, its easy to go through the motions and not challenge yourself. The knowledge that you have to reach a certain level of fitness by a certain date will make you work harder. Not being prepared for a race and then getting eaten alive is no fun. It's like when your a kid and touch a hot stove for the first time, you learn your lesson! Only your mommy won't be there to kiss it and make it better.  
      Maybe your not into mountain biking or trail running or other official races/events.... Well, make your own! Find something you want to do better (like doing 3 pull-ups or climbing a 5.10 route), set a realistic date, tell everyone you know about it and do a countdown on your calendar.

  • Taking Advantage of Social Media

    • If half of social media is cats and babies, the other half is fitness. There are so many people posting daily motivation, personal progress and unique exercises. First, find which app you want to use, my favorite is Instagram for its minimal clutter free interface, ease of sharing and ridiculous number of users to follow. Follow people with similar goals, on similar fitness journeys, or with fitness levels you want to aspire to. There are several online lists of best fitness Instagram accounts that'll give you a good start, from there you can search hashtags (i.e. #functionalfitness #barefitlife #pullup) and see who other fitness users are following. 
      Some of my current faves are: captainstefano (my straight up doppelganger), hunterfitness, progressive_calisthenics, explorekentucky, and the_southern_yogi (bonus points, she's a local).
      Don't forget to post your own pictures, videos, goals etc.  Knowing your followers are cheering for you will motivate your to reach those goals.

  • Tracking Stats

    • You know those guys who have the $1000 watch that tracks literally everything down to how much they sweat, or instal a power tracking hub/crankset that costs more than a complete bike? I am not one of those guys. I am not so much about numbers as I am about enjoying the run/ride/etc., but I still track basic metrics like mileage, speed, pace and time along with how beautiful the trail is.
      In order to know how far you've progressed, you need to know at least the basics of where you started. The results of not doing any stat tracking is similar to not having concrete goals, you feel you are going nowhere, get discouraged and are prone to give up.
      Smart phones and better, cheaper GPS watches are making it easier than ever to track your basic stats. My favorite free option (assuming you have a smart phone) is STRAVA, a running and cycling app with a really good interface and some cool social motivational features.  If you don't want to dig you phone out to check your pace or if you, like myself, want to unplug as much as possible during exercise, a GPS watch is the way to go.  My current favorite option is the TOMTOM Multisport. A full review is in the works, but in short, it's easy to use, not bulky and it tracks running, cycling and swimming, where most GPS watches will only track running.

  • And This...

and this too...

Videos like these get me hyped up and make me want to get out or else.  Find videos or music or pictures or whatever, that hype you up again and again. Then take advantage of them liberally!

Now, grab a friend or 2, sign up for a race with them, post about it & your training schedule on Instagram then go out for a run/ride/climb/etc. On your way out boot up STRAVA to track your baseline performance and cue up your favorite motivational playlist.

Don't be afraid to combine your positive fitness motivations into a well balanced meal of motivational goodness.  Unlike villains in old kung-fu movies, your negative motivations will not attack you one at a time. The more positive motivations you have in place the better your chances are to follow through with your fitness plans and reach your goals.

Again, these are the things that motivate me not a comprehensive list, everyone is unique in their motivations so share with us in the comments what gets you motivated...


Invasion Of The (Fitness Industry) Body Snatchers

By: Rob Bratcher

Warehouse gyms, dive gyms, minimalist gyms, meta-modern fitness... whatever you want to call it. There has been a growing revolution of entrepreneurial-minded trainers and bored gym members peacing out of the corporate gyms, re-claiming warehouse spaces, (or in our case, a historic urban building), churning out ever-changing, ultra-effective, community-based training programs, taking full artistic liberty to create, innovate, and personalize their business, and (as our passion) making it a point to embrace surrounding neighborhoods toward positive community change. As the leaders of BAREfit, Curtis, myself, and our team think this lo-fi fitness movement is a damn beautiful thing. The best part is real people, many of whom wouldn't step foot in a traditional gym (because they hated it when they went, or knew they'd hate it so they never bothered) are seeing real life-changing results every single day.

Before starting BAREfit I spent 10 years working in and on traditional health clubs. During that time I managed/consulted somewhere between 25-30 clubs (I've lost count at this point). These gyms came in all shapes and sizes, some rural, some suburban, one on the beach (that was fun), some in the cornfields of Iowa, and everything in between. I have mostly great things to say about the people I met along the way, from members to co-workers, to gym owners. Many are still good friends of mine today.

With that said, there was a giant elephant sitting in the middle of most fitness centers that I worked in. That elephant's name is NON-USAGE. Here's the true story: Fully 80-90% of human beings who google "gyms in XYZ city," call and ask for rates, make an appointment for a "tour," get excited and impressed by the rows of treadmills with TVs and granite counters in the locker rooms, and eventually sign up for a "today only" special will CEASE TO ENTER THE BUILDING WITHIN THE FIRST 60 DAYS OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP! Pretty cray cray when you think about it. For me, someone who sold 1,200+ membership in 2007 alone (shameless self plug), that is a SAD FREAKING STATISTIC! So why is that? Why do so many people join, but so few go, and even fewer succeed? The answer is too multifaceted to answer in this blog post, but maybe we'll write one in the future that fully unpacks it. For now let's just say: (1) no accountability (2) committing to a new fitness lifestyle can be as tough as quitting smoking (3) little to no knowledge of resistance training. It's complicated stuff that requires years of study to master (4) vague goals render vague results (5) no relationship/boredom of doing it alone (5) A general sense of disconnection and feeling like a unit of production. Again there are many other factors, but those are a few. The biggest bummer is the physical and emotional elements that most prospective gym members are yearning for just aren't provided. I know because I was a "provider" of that business model for a long time.

When I in my early to mid 20's as a sales manager in the fitness industry, I would meet people in their 30's - 70's and feel what I thought was pragmatic empathy for their health-related reasons for joining a gym. When in reality I was working out solely to look good at that time of my life, and knew nothing about what it really feels like to be 35 years old, marching toward 40 at warp speed, house full of rug rats, working spouse, weekend overtime and/or work commitments, PTA meetings, church commitments, family commitments, dance recitals, and good God can I maybe go get a beer with a buddies every 4 months?!?!?

Now I'm 32 and guess what... I get it. I get it because I'm a husband, a dad, a small business owner, I'm not in the best shape of my life, I am prone to weekends involving too much dopamine releasing food/drink, and my old definition of busy is about as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle. I'm confident that I will get it even more in the years ahead.

For you and I... the folks who have moved beyond the epic "pretend adult years" between 18 'til mid-20's into the real adult years of 28ish 'til casket drops... we are the big beneficiaries of the warehouse/minimalist gym movement. Here is why I say that:

I cannot speak for all indie gyms, though I have great respect for many. I can speak for BAREfit, so here are are 4 (of the many) elements we strive to provide, that I know with absolute certainty all of us over-worked, under-adventured (I just made that word up) grown ass people desperately want/need from a fitness lifestyle:

- Community: More than anything else BAREfit aims to foster community. From our monthly WORKout tracker that spawns fun competition, to our Earn Your Beer Challenges, to our popular Facebook forum, to our emphasis on class sizes that allow you to actually get to know people, to the many things we've envisioned but have yet to put into practice... we want BAREfit to be the Cheers Bar & Grill of the Louisville fitness world. Less of a gym and more of a before/after work hangout. An escape from your life with friends who encourage you to be your best every time you walk in. Never forced, but hopefully naturally, people become friends, and get to enjoy a few hours per week together making the world their playground @ BAREfit. That's why we call it the #BAREfitLIFE

- A Complete, Holistic Program: So many personal training models I ran in commercial gyms left a lot out of the equation. There are 5 primary elements to healthy fitness living. (1) Resistance Training (2) Cardiovascular Training (3) Nutrition (4) Supplementation (5) Non-Toxic/Balanced Lifestyle. For the purposes of this blog post I won't unpack each of those, but BAREfit, in our current format, and in the additional services we are working toward, aims to educate, motivate, encourage, and hold accountable, each BAREfitter to each of these areas. Simply meeting a trainer for 30 minutes every 2 weeks won't cut it, and that's what most corporate gyms are selling as their training offering for $150+ per month. My experience in seeing corporate clubs charge $400+ per month for the amount of training attention that will actually help clients, led our team to create a format that includes unlimited access to your coach in a small-group format 6 days per week @ a price you can afford. Our hope is to continue to enhance that availability even more as we move forward.

- A Laid Back Approach: Let's face it, sometimes we don't feel like getting yelled at by Mr. Perfect who hasn't forgotten to pre-cook and pack his 6 daily meals since he became a certified trainer at age 14. I'm kidding of course, but the idea of grace and lifelong journeying isn't bountiful in the fitness industry. It seems like places are either marketing "no commitment at all" or "became a bodybuilder." The in between is a wee bit skimpy. I'm sure some highly caffeinated bros may disagree with us, but they would also say curls are a primary movement and Buckcherry is a great band, so let's disregard them for now. We go hard every single day. I have personally vomited and nearly passed out after a BAREfit WORKout. So there is no shortage of intensity. But we are health professionals first, trainers second, and enforcers of pain a distant third. So we will kick your ass, but our primary goal is your overall health, proper scaling of exercise to match your fitness levels, and a slow, methodical, grace-driven progression toward your long-term goal of being in control of your physical well-being. We like to call it "bomb-proofing" your body. So we joke around, we have fun, we don't yell at people, and we pull you (rather than push you) toward your goals, doing our best to make sure you have a blast and look forward to coming in rather than dreading it. As always we look for your feedback to better serve you to this end.

- Real World Resistance Training: We talk about this a lot, so I'll be brief. But the bottom line is we weren't made to work out with Life Fitness equipment. Not hating on that brand, as they make quality equipment, but there is a better way. For about 199,950 of our 200,000 years on Earth, humans beings have burned calories and built muscle through labor, lifting random heavy crap for the purposes of farming, construction, and good old fashioned survival. As Captain Curtis says, "the world is not made of ergonomic gripped handles and equally balanced weights, so why would we train that way?" At BAREfit, we use equipment of all shapes and sizes, crafted by hand from re-claimed materials, and designed to be functional heavy crap for lifting, pushing, dragging, pulling, throwing, and sitting back down. Natural human movement + methodically designed, constantly varying program + heavy, variously shaped objects = the best results of your life. These WORKouts build strong, lean, conditioned athletes out of regular people, all scaled to be within your means.

At BAREfit, and many other indie training gyms to their credit, the 90% non-usage is reversed to be 90% results. Of the 200+ people who have spent time with BAREfit since we began, nearly everyone has a success story. Since we (trainers and clients alike) are all fallible humans, this number will never be 100%, but we continue to bust our butt daily to get as close as we can. Of course the corporate competitors don't like it much, because thriving local business represents death by a thousand cuts for many of them.

LA Fitness has bought out smaller big box brands such as Lifestyle Family Fitness and Urban Active. LA is becoming the Walmart of the fitness industry, and may soon stand alone as the remaining big box megagym chain. Only time will tell. We see other companies consistently dropping membership rates for open gym access due to a drop in perceived value. People want more than treadmill rentals. Some even offer free pizza and other goofy gimmicks to attract the un-gymed. While all of this is going on, BAREfit and our brethren in the local, indie training world continue to do our best to forge new ground by holding fast to timeless, bygone proven exercise foundations. Push, pull, pick up, put down, repeat. And while our hearts remain humble and gracious for everyone who gives us a chance to earn their business, we also acknowledge that we must be doing something right, because just like the extra-terrestrial pods in the 1978 cult classic, we are snatching lots of bodies out of the globo-gyms and into our modest dwellings. Thank you to everyone who reads this who supports local business. You give us a canvas to paint on, and allow us to feed our families by doing what we were born to do.