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Coach Paul’s Labor Day Workout and Menu

For 125 years people have been taking time off from work every September to honor the “contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country,” according to the Labor Day Wikipedia page.

This holiday is also the perfect time to gather with friends and family and observe a day of rest (from work), enjoy some outside time, be grateful for all the things you have and enjoy, and give thanks to the hard work of others.

Just like other holidays or social gatherings, there is bound to be some temptation to stray from your normal exercise, eating or drinking routine, but it doesn’t have to ruin progress towards your goals. 

Here’s my challenge to you this year: to honor your well-being during this long weekend, set a goal to be active and make smart food choices.

If you’re out of town or can’t get to a gym, get in a quick outdoor workout circuit before you catch a ballgame or imbibe in the traditional Labor Day fare of grilled meats, rich sides and sweet treats. Better yet, get your workout in and then follow my lead with the menu ideas below.


Labor Day Workout

25 reps of body weight squats (or squat jumps if you’re up for it)

  • Be sure you start with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your chest up and knees in-line with your ankles as you squat down.
  • At your lowest, your hips/butt should be just lower than your knees.

20 mountain climbers per leg (40 total)

  • Get into a push-up position.
  • One leg at a time, drive your knee towards the elbow on the same side, then back to starting position.

100-yard farmer’s carry

  • This one you might need to improvise. The aim is to stand tall as you carry something heavy in each hand.
  • Either carry a large cooler with a partner and switch sides halfway through the carry, or grab some cinder blocks or kettlebells that challenge your grip and stability.

60-second firefighter’s climb

  • Hoist a 20- to 40-pound brick (or niece or nephew) safely over your shoulder.
  • Simulate a stair climb with stationary reverse lunges, alternating legs.

15 to 20 push-ups

  • Hands on the ground directly beneath your shoulders, abs braced so your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
  • Lower your chest to the ground while keeping elbows close to your body.
  • Exhale as you push up.

 Quarter mile run/jog  

  • Do I need to explain?


Labor Day Eats

Turkey Dog

If you’re like me, you’re probably excited to bust out the grill and cook up a feast that is worthy of capping off the summer of 2017. Grilling, for me, isn’t just about tossing some franks over the coals and plopping baked beans next to the pile of potato salad.

Here are a couple ideas to maximize the nutrition at your holiday barbecue this weekend:

Chicken & Veggie Kabobs

  • Cut up chicken breast or thigh into bite-sized chunks and season with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and perhaps the juice of a fresh lemon or lime.
  • Chop fresh veggies into similar sized pieces to skewer. Bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, onion and cherry tomatoes work best.
  • Skewer a piece of each veggie between chicken chunks and grill until chicken is cooked through and veggies are slightly soft.

 Broccoli Slaw

  • Buy a few bags of pre-shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw and toss in a large bowl.
  • Drop in a few tablespoons of your favorite dressing. Or make your own. I love equal parts white wine vinegar with spicy brown mustard. It’s quick and easy.
  • Toss with tongs to evenly distribute dressing and top with dry-roasted sunflower seeds, slivered 

Grilled (wild Alaskan) Salmon and Grilled Asparagus

  • Summer is peak season for fresh, deep, red Alaskan salmon filets, so take advantage.
  • Season with fresh lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder (and dill if you have it handy).
  • Grill over medium heat 20 to 30 minutes or until fish is flaky and easily separates from the skin. For maximum flavor and easy cleanup, consider wrapping it in aluminum foil or grilling on a cedar plank.
  • Grill lightly oiled asparagus for the last five to eight minutes, turning every few minutes to cook evenly.

Guacamole Burgers    

  • Make your own grass-fed beef or lean turkey patties by seasoning the meat with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Grill and top with a tablespoon (or two) of fresh guacamole and/or salsa. No bun needed.
  • For a sweet treat that will keep you on your health and fitness plan, try this fruit frosting with fresh berries.

Fruit Frosting

Turkey Dog & Rutabaga Fries

These simple ideas should definitely help you celebrate Labor Day and your well-being, so go out and show your friends and family how easy it is to upgrade the health of this holiday.


In health, Paul Kriegler, Registered Dietitian and Life Time - Nutrition Program Development Manager.

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader. 

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