Monthly Archives: March 2015

Monday Motivation: Metobolic Workout

I started the week off right. I got a metabolic workout in right in the morning (done at home). I’m not a fan of cardio as I get bored quickly (exercise ADD?!) so this is my go-to for some serious calorie burn.

First let’s cover some background on metabolic workouts.

What Is It?

The simple definition of metabolic training is a workout containing structural and compound exercises done with little to no rest in between exercises. This maximizes caloric burn, increase metabolic rate (amount of calories your body burns at rest) during and after the workout, and seriously challenges your cardiovascular system.
Because structural & compound exercises are multi joint exercises (like squats & chin-ups) they require an intense amount of energy to execute, and when done as part of a metabolic workout you are really burning off that fat. The calories burned during this type of training can easily reach around 500 calories for a 30 minute workout, increasing your metabolic rate anywhere from 10-25% for up to 48 hours, and some studies have shown an increase in metabolic rate for up to even 72 hours. Over time these hundreds of extra calories burned can become significant.
(Here’s a study on impact on post exercise oxygen consumption.)

My Workout: Ascending/Descending Ladder

● DB Front squat (30 pds)
● DB Bent over row (30 pds)
● Pushups
● Burpees

》Set 1: I did 1 rep of each, then 2 reps, then 3…till I reached 10 reps (note: I did not stop at all till I finished the set) Completed in 21min 15sec

》Rest 2min

》 Set 2: Worked backwards from 10 reps to 1 😧 Completed in 24min 42sec

Variation: I used weight to up the intensity level. To make it easier lose the iron and stick to body weight exercises.

Oh and I have to share this cereal that I found on the weekend.. perfect for a post-workout meal.
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Happy training!

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Good Mornings

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The good morning is a posteriorly top loaded hip hinge movement that works the whole posterior chain. This compound movement targets the spinal erectors, low back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Although often neglected it is an exercise that has many benefits:

▪ Loads the deep core muscles of the lower back
▪ Trains proper hinging and requires proper firing of the glutes
▪ Teaches you to keep the lumbar spine in a controlled posterior tilt as you extend the hips back and bring them forward
▪ Teaches you to firmly ground yourself into the floor and balance your weight from the mid-foot to the heel
▪ Prevents hamstring and low-back injuries (common in those who focus too much on the anterior chain, like quads and abs, and not enough on the posterior chain muscles)

Apart from strengthening the posterior chain, including this exercise in your training will also aid in your squat and deadlift (you will be able to lift heavier ;)).

How To Perform Good Mornings:

○ Place a barbell at shoulder height on a rack
○ Rack the bar across the rear of your shoulder blades, as you would place when performing squats. This is your starting position
○ Slowly, exhale as you bend forward by pushing out your hips behind and torso forward, till you are almost parallel to the floor or when you feel a mild stretch on your hamstrings
○Now, inhale as you go back to the starting position by pushing through your hips and hamstrings
○Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent throughout the motion

Variations

○ Wide stance good mornings (targets glutes & hamstrings more)
○ Banded good mornings

Warning

》Avoid swinging while going forward or coming back up
》Keep your spine straight and in line with your head throughout the entire range of motion
》The good morning exercise could place excess stress on the lower spine and cause significant injury if done incorrectly. Start with a very low weight slowly work up from there
》Avoid locking out the knees as this places significant stress on the low back

(See how to perform the exercise here)

Fruity Chicken Skewers With Stuffed Zucchini

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Ingredients (for Fruity Chicken Skewers)

☆Bamboo skewer sticks
☆Boneless skinless chicken breast (1-inch cubed), 6 oz (170 g)
☆Pineapple (1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Apple (core removed, 1-inch cubed), 3 pieces
☆Red pepper (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Onion (cut into large pieces), 3 pieces
☆Butter (melted), 1 tbsp
☆Ginger, ½ tsp
☆Salt, ¼ tsp
☆Chili powder, ¼ tsp

Serving Size

•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Preparation Time

•10 min. Preparation Time
•15 min. Cooking Time

Instructions

• Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully slide ingredients onto the skewer using lots of chicken. (Ex: chicken-pineapple-chicken-apple-chicken-red pepper-chicken-onion-chicken).
•Continue making skewers until the chicken is used up.
•Combine melted butter, ginger, salt and chili powder in a small bowl.
•Place skewers on a baking tray or in a casserole dish and brush with the butter mixture on all sides. •Place skewers in oven and bake until chicken is cooked through (12-15 minutes).  
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Variations & Options

》For a lower-calorie meal, substitute fruit with vegetables. Zucchini and garlic are great options. For a more tenderized and flavorful meat, marinate the skewers for a couple of hours (or over night) in a mixture of 2 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons acidic juice (lemon, lime or orange), ½ teaspoon ginger and salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients (for Stuffed Zucchini)

☆Zucchini (medium, halved lenghwise), 2
☆Olive oil cooking spray
☆Onion (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Fresh garlic (minced), 1 tsp
☆Shitake or portobello mushrooms (small diced), ¼ cup
☆Tomato (finely diced), ¼ cup
☆Low-fat feta cheese (crumbled), ¼ cup
☆Pecans (crushed), ¼ cup
☆Tomato sauce, ½ cup

Serving Size

•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Preparation Time

•5 min. Preparation Time
•10 min. Cooking Time

Instructions

•Preheat the oven at 375°F.
•Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. •Using a spoon and knife (if needed) remove all the white flesh (do not discard the skin or flesh). If the green skin breaks don’t worry.
•Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
•Lightly coat with spray and add the white zucchini flesh, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
•Sauté until onions are lightly browned and liquids have evaporated.
•Remove from heat. Add tomato, feta cheese and pecans to the pan. •Stuff the zucchini peel with the heated mixture.
•Reform the peel around the stuffing.
•Add to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
•Remove from oven and serve with warm tomato sauce.
•Serves 1 large or 2 small.

Variations & Options

》For an anytime meal option,
serve with Steamed Halibut.

(Source: Gourmet Nutrition V2)

Ladies, It’s Time To Step Up To The Plates (Pun Intended!)

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If you walk into a gym on any given day, make your way to the free weight section. I bet that you can count on one hand the women that you see in that area.

Why?

Because women still believe that working out with anything heaver than 10 pounds will make them ‘manly’. Because society has led women to believe this.
Just watch a fitness DVD, open up a woman’s fitness magazine,
or look at your gym’s ads. You will most likely see thin women on a treadmill or elliptical, or doing boot camp style classes. And if there are any pictures of a more defined female physique that happens to be holding any weights, it’s almost always 5 or 10 pound dumbbells.
Or how about those silly instagram accounts of women claiming to have built their booty with squatting day in and day out?

Quick Fact:
The normal range of testosterone levels in healthy adult males is between 280 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), Testosterone levels in women vary, but normal measurements range from 15 to 70 ng/dL. 
Because of these differences in testosterone, it is physiologically impossible for a woman to ‘bulk up’ without the use of  anabolic aids.

Ladies.. we are capable of so much more than this. Why should women train any differently than men? Why should women limit themselves when both men & women have the same skeletal foundation.  Both genders push & pull, squat & lunge, and hinge.

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Stripped down to our skeletons.. men & women are the same

Benefits Of Weight Training

• increases metabolism
• helps reduce risk of coronary heart disease
• strengthens bones/ joints
• decreases risk of arthritis
• decreases risk of osteoporosis (women are at higher risk)
• decreases risk of diabetes
• improves mental wellbeing (due to feel-good hormone serotonin)
• more muscle = more calories burned at rest
• improves posture
• improves balance &  coordination
• strengthens core musculature

The health benefits are many, but aside from that, the physical strength gained in the gym will impact other areas of your life: there’s the major confidence boost you will get when pushing yourself to beyond what you thought yourself capable of, the greater sense of self (and self-love), the strengthing of character and mind, the respect and awareness of our bodies.

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From cardio to weights

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What weight training can do

Where Should You Start?

If you are serious about changing your body then you need to start haulin’ iron. There’s no other way around it. And I mean getting down and dirty the old school way. Deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench presses..and variations on these exercises are the best way to start as they are compound movements. Compound exercises recruit major muscle fibres and tend to require significant stabilization of the entire body by involving numerous muscles that otherwise might not be stimulated with isolation exercises.
Make sure you follow a proper training program that will gradually progress you as this is the most effective way to see results (coupled with good nutrition of course!).
So unleash that brute strength that lies within and you will discover the extraordinary feats your body is capable of. Be the architect of your body and build and sculpt a lean and feminine physique. And with that you will find an unbreakable mental perseverance that will reflect on other areas of your life 🙂

Regaining Strength… 1 Year Post-Partum

      “If it doesn’t challenge you,
      It doesn’t change you.”
                             Fred Devito

So its been been almost a year since I got back into training again after my little guy was born (I took the recommended 6 weeks to recover). I have to admit that I’m not where I thought I’d be.
Due to quite a few pregnancy discomforts (from symphysis pubis dysfunction, to carpal tunnel syndrome, and then mommy thumb post-partum 😩) I lost alot of my strength. 

I was quite discouraged (ANGRY) after my first workout post- pregnancy where I unsuccessfully tried to deadlift at almost my max weight: 135pds (pre-pregnancy: 160pds).
I couldn’t get the bar off ground :oops:.
I drastically reduced my deadlift to a (sad) 50pds. My squat was scaled back to a mere 40pds… pull ups I could no longer do unassisted.  Pushups only from my knees.

I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite my program. My focus would now be to strengthen my severely weakened grip, work on correcting my hip alignment, and further strengthen my core.

I have slowly started to see my strength return. And with that my ‘issues’ are taking care of themselves. Every time I add an extra plate or move that pin further down the weight stack I smile and do the happy dance (in my head of course!).
It’s taken me longer than I initially planned for and I had to create a new program to ‘fix’ myself first,  but I gritted my teeth and stuck through it and now I’m seeing results! I have to remind myself that pregnancy is a major change and stress to the body. It took 9 months of growing a baby.. it’s definitely not going to take less than that to return to where I was.

We all experience bumps along the road.. some will be harder to get over, but we shouldn’t let these stop us or derail us.
I know I’m not!

My Progress:

Deadlift
Day 1: 50pds
Current: 110pds

Squat
Day 1: 40pds
Current: 70pds

Pull-ups (assisted)
Day 1: 120pds
Current: 70pds

Pushups (from toes)
Day 1: 0
Current: 12

Peanut Butter Protein Treats

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So these bad boys can be used as a snack or post workout meal. The goodness of peanut butter and chocolate in a bite-sized snack.

Ingredients

▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of cocoa powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) of chocolate whey protein powder
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) coconut flour
▪ ¼ cup (75 mL) organic quinoa flour
▪ 1tsp of baking soda
▪ 1tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
▪ 3 large cooked beets, mashed
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) liquid egg whites
▪ ½ cup (125 mL) of milk
▪ Peanut or other nut butter
▪ Unsweetened shredded coconut

Serving Size:
1 delicious square

Preparation time:
☆40-50 minutes (15 min preparation time + 25-35 min cooking time)

Directions:
☆Preheat oven to 320F (160C).

☆Blend all dry ingredients together in a large bowl

☆In a smaller bowl, blend all moist ingredients (i.e. beets, egg whites, milk).

☆Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.

☆Pour into greased baking dish.

☆Bake for 25-35 minutes at 320 F (160C), or until the cake cooks through. (Keep an eye on it – don’t let it overcook because then it’ll get super dry and rubbery.)

Optional:
Spread a little peanut or nut butter on top or sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut!

Why You Blame Your Trainer

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There are 24 hours in a day.
The average person is awake for 17 hours.
The average time spent with a trainer is 2-3 hours per week.
That leaves 116-117 hours per week that a trainer has no control over what their client eats or workouts that are not completed.

The reality is that alot of times a trainer is hired based on unrealistic expectations.  The client expects to lose weight just because they have hired a trainer. They believe that the trainer is the answer to their problems.. an instant, guaranteed solution.

But this is far from the truth.

A trainer will provide you with the necessary guidance and tools to help you change your lifestyle to that of a more healthier and active one. These changes will only help in reaching fat-loss goals IF you are willing to follow your trainer’s instructions. But more than half the time these instructions/guidance fall on deaf ears.
And what happens when you realize months have passed and you haven’t reached your goal?
You blame your trainer.
It’s your trainer’s fault that you miss your workouts, or that you have a cookie here.. a slice of pizza there. It’s your trainer’s fault that come the weekends your ‘healthy’ eating goes out the window.. because it’s so much easier to blame your trainer than to own up and blame yourself.

If your doctor were to tell you that you had a life threatening illness and unless you made drastic changes to your lifestyle, you would not survive.. would you think  twice about it?
You probably wouldn’t even argue.
So why is it that most people are unwilling to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle in order to lose weight?

Quick Fact:
The average person will start to gain 1pd of fat per year after the age of 25 and lose 1/2pd of lean muscle after 25 years old.
What does this mean? By the time you have reached 55 years you will have gained anywhere between 25-30 pds of fat mass & lost about 10-12 pds of lean muscle tissue. (Lean muscle utilizes calories to work, repair, and refuel itself. Fat requires very few calories—it just kind of sits there)

You may not feel the effects of being overweight and inactive now.. but you most definitely will see how your lifestyle takes a toll on your body as early as your 40 ‘s. From coronary heart disease,  to diabetes, to cancers.. these diseases can all be prevented with proper lifestyle changes. Why wait till then, when it’s too late? If you start the process early on, it will only be that much easier.
(See the effects of obesity here.)

So before you commit to hiring a trainer ask yourself these questions:
• Am I ready to give up certain foods/ habits?
• Am I willing to make time to exercise on a weekly basis?
• Am I willing to avoid situations that can throw me off-plan?
• Am I willing to put my health first and not ‘cheat’ myself for a moment of satisfaction?

If you can answer yes to all these then you are willing to commit to a new & healthier lifestyle. This is when a trainer can be your best investment. Because you will be focused on your goals, you will take accountability for your actions, you will be able to follow your trainer’s program and trust that the process will work.

And then the magic will happen!

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Supplements… Which One Is Right For Me?

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If you walk into your local GNC,  Popeye’s, or any other supplements store, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the products on their shelves. You will find row after row of bottles all claiming to ‘help burn fat’, ‘increase muscle mass’, ‘increase metabolism’.. etc. They are aimed at attracting your attention, because who doesn’t want to look lean & tight?

But do you really need all that stuff?! The answer is: NO.

The average person (non-athlete/ competitior) does not need to spend an insane amount of money on supplements that really are not needed.
The truth is, if you are eating healthy.. chances are your food is providing you with the majority of the nutrients your body requires to be at it’s best. But for someone who is in a caloric deficit, the following are some supplements which will help ensure you are running on optimal.

1. Fish Oils
Two out of three essential omega-3 fatty acids are found in the oil of fish. These are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) & EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Together with ALA ( alpha-linolenic acid , found in things like flax and walnuts), the three fall under the subheading of omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for brain function, normal growth and development, and inflammation. Deficiencies have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, some cancers, mood disorders, arthritis, and more. But that doesn’t mean taking high doses translates to better health and disease prevention.

Aim for 3-9 daily grams of total fish oil (about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA) per day (make sure their primary source isn’t fish discards).

Look for small-fish-based formulations (e.g. herring, mackerel). Since smaller fish are lower on the food chain they are less likely to accumulate environmental toxins. Or choose krill oil or algae oil.

Avoid cod liver oil.

Trans-fats can interfere with EPA & DHA in the body, so try to avoid consuming too much trans-fat.

Choose liquid over capsules as they will be of higher quality.. and you will also avoid the dreaded ‘fish burps’.

2. Multivitamin
Most of us will have a small deficiency of vitamins and/or minerals in our daily diet. These deficiencies can affect mood, energy levels, slow down our metabolism, affect how we burn fat..just to name a few. It’s important that we fill this gap with a good multivitamin.

How Much To Take?
Always stick to the recommended dose as overdosing of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) can build up to toxic levels in our bodies.

Learn all about the role of vitamins and minerals in our bodies here.

3. Protein Powder
Although not really necessary if you are consuming a diet high in lean proteins such as lean red meats, chicken, fish.. it is more of a time saving option since most people have busy schedules that prevents them from getting in an adequate amount of protein.

Dietary protein is broken down by our bodies into amino acids acids to produce important molecules in our body – like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – without an adequate protein intake, our bodies can’t function well at all.
Protein also helps replace worn out cells, acts as a transport system  throughout the body, and aids in growth and repair.
Consuming protein can also increase levels of the hormone glucagon, which helps to control body fat. Glucagon is released when blood sugar levels drop. This causes the liver to break down stored glycogen into glucose for the body.
Protein also helps to liberate free fatty acids from adipose tissue – another fuel source for cells which in turn results in a leaner appearance.

How Much To Take?
Consuming higher levels of protein (~1g- per pound of body weight) may help you feel satisfied after eating as well as maintain a healthy body composition and good immune function. Aim to consume some protein before and after training to ensure adequate recovery.
Limit your consumption of protein powder to 80 grams/day (about 4 scoops)

4. Greens
If you’re consuming a high amount of protein and not getting in your recommended amount of fruits & veggies (5-6 servings/ day) then you are creating an acidic environment that will affect your muscle & bones.

How Much To Take?
Follow label recommendations, sticking with 1-2 servings/ day.
Use in addition to real foods.

Learn more about greens supplements and their benefits here.

So here you have the supplements that are worth spending money on.. the rest are just going to fill up space in your cupboard and eventually collect dust.