Sunday, March 25, 2012

Calculating your dieting numbers

Excellent article on calculating your calories - keep it simple!

From Sohee Lee Fitness :

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve decided that you want to shed some fat and become all sexified (Rog’s term). But you’re frustrated as all hell because there’s so much conflicting information out there. Never eat more than 1,000 calories; carbs are the devil; absolutely no dairy or fruit; switch up your foods every day to confuse your body; never, ever let any food pass your lips after 6p.m. (thanks for that one, Oprah).
I think that macronutrient percentages are useless. I’ve had people ask me for my opinion on their diet that was a “40/30/30” p/c/f split. Well, buddy, I’d love to help you out there, but you’re really not telling me anything. For example, how many total calories are you consuming? If you’re only getting in 100g total, that’s 40g protein, 30g carbs, and 30g fat. Not enough. Or if you’re consuming 3000 calories – alright, but relative to your bodyweight, what is that…?
Now, there are a number of ways to do this, but below is my approach that I’ve been using for some years.  I’ve done my research, I’ve applied the knowledge to myself and with my clients, and it works. You’ll read about other people recommending that you calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), then factor in activity levels, plus your age and gender and finally the number of hairs you have on your head. Quite frankly, all of those calculations give me a headache, but feel free to use those if you so desire. Here’s my way to skin the fat loss cat.
Read the rest here. Totally worth it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Exercise of the day - Step Up

Step-ups are fun, efficient and you can do them anywhere! Step-ups are a good exercise to build strength and endurance in your legs. Shape those babies!

Here's a great video that will teach you how to do a step up. Try and not push off the ground with your trailing leg, but rather use the leg that is on the step (a stair, a bench, a chair, whatever is stable) to push yourself up. This will activate many more muscles in your leg. Do a set for each side.

↵ Use original player
← Replay

Monday, March 19, 2012

Exercise of the day - Burpee

Oh no. Not the burpee!

I LOVE burpees. Yes, they are tough as hell. Yes, they make you huff and puff and sweat and swear. But they are SO GOOD for you. The burpee is a full body exercise that will require strength, endurance and agility. It also works your cardio!

To do a burpee:

1-Begin in a standing position.
2-Drop down, bending your legs in a squat position, positioning your hands on the ground.
3-Quickly extend your feet back and assume the plank position.
4-Quickly return to the squat position with hands on the ground.
5-Jump back up into an upright position.

Wikipedia, of all places, offer many variations on the burpee, the most common being the push up burpee, where you do a push up while in the plank position.

The following video shows how to do a push up burpee, and a few other variations. Take out the push up part of it, and it shows you how to do a regular burpee. Do them fast, do them slow, do them often!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Article: 12 Deadly Workout Sins

From EAS Sports Nutrition :

Sin #1: Too much, too soon 
"If women want their arms smaller, their abs smaller, or their thighs smaller, they typically will work those muscles every time they work out," says Melyssa St. Michael, a personal trainer and director of UltraFit Human Performance. But you need 72 hours to go through one metabolic cycle, which promotes healing of the tissue that was torn during your workouts. If you're training the same muscle group every day, your body won't have a chance to recover, slowing progress and leaving yourself open to injury. If you're a beginner, train your full body two to three times per week. Once you can do this with no soreness, train your upper body one day, your lower body on the second day, and take a day off on the third day..
Sin #2: Going cold
Going into your workout cold is a big no-no. Warming up lubricates the joints by thinning the synovial fluid that buffers them, which will give you a better range of motion and put you at a lower risk of injury. Brad Schoenfeld, a personal trainer and author of Look Great Naked and Look Great Sleeveless, suggests warming up with five to 10 minutes of a cardiovascular exercise at 50 to 60 percent of your maximal heart rate. If you're weight training, you can warm up by doing one to two lighter sets of each exercise before piling on the weights.
Sin #3: Not getting enough Z's
When you sleep your body releases growth hormones and repairs the trauma done to the muscles during the day. If you don't get enough sleep, you don't go into the repair and renew cycle that your body hits at its third to fourth hour of slumber. Everyone's a little different, but you should log in a minimum of six hours of snooze time per night. To get the best sleep, keep your room dark and cool, and use a noise generator, such as a fan, if your environment is noisy. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Sin #4: Eating like a bird
Many women starve themselves and overexercise, according to St. Michael. But if you don't eat enough during the day, your body goes into starvation mode and slows down its metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight.
When you exercise intensely, your metabolism revs up for up to 46 hours after you've finished exercising-and this is when the greatest fat-burning effect takes place. But if you don't get enough calories for fuel, you can't exercise intensely enough to make this happen. Check out the sidebar to find out how many calories you should be getting every day.
Sin #5: Skipping the stretch
As we get older our muscles lose some of their elasticity, and as a result we lose flexibility. "That can cause postural problems and cause us to be more prone to straining a muscle," says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. Stretching twice during your workout is optimal. By stretching after your warm-up you can prepare your muscles for exercise. And by stretching following your workout, while the muscles are warm, you'll improve your flexibility. For best results, hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds.
Sin #6: Ignoring the negative
If you focus on lifting a weight-the concentric or positive component-and then just let it fall back into place, your sin is in neglecting the negative. The process of letting the weight back down is called the eccentric component, and it's at least as important as the concentric component for stimulating muscular development. Ignore it and you'll only get half the results. In addition, there's a much greater probability of injury when you let gravity pull the weight down-this places the joints at a high potential for pulls and tears. Schoenfeld suggests lowering the weight twice as slowly as you lift it.
Sin #7: Not understanding your exercises
Admit it-sometimes you see someone doing an exercise you've never seen and say to yourself, "That looks cool! I think I'll try it." But not understanding the exercises you're doing is one of our deadly workout sins.
"It's important to understand what your goal is, and how the exercises are going to get you to that goal," St. Michael says. For example, many women do leg presses hoping to make their legs smaller. However, leg presses are a multi-joint exercise that tends to be a mass-builder for legs. On the other hand, single-joint movements such as leg extensions and leg curls concentrate on smaller muscle groups and lend themselves to a smaller, leaner look.
To learn which exercises will get you to your goal, consult a professional. You can hire a personal trainer, or the on-site trainers in your gym may be able to help you.
Sin #8: Having an "all or nothing" mentality
Your New Year's resolution is to start an exercise program, and you begin with a bang, working out like a demon every day. But then life happens - you catch a cold, or things get crazy at work, or you go on a vacation-and you miss a few days or weeks at the gym.
That's not the sin. The sin is having the attitude that because you let your exercise regimen slide, you may as well give it up for good. After all, exercise is only good if you keep at it, and if you skip it you've lost everything you've worked for, right?
"That's really not the case," St. Michael says. "Something is better than nothing, and even if you only exercise once a week for a month because you're on vacation, that's still four days of exercising. Keep in mind that this is a long term goal."
Sin #9: Getting stuck in a rut
When it comes to exercise, variety is the spice of life. "When you do, say, a shoulder exercise, you're training many of the fibers of the shoulder muscles, but not all of them," Schoenfeld says. "To work out all of the fibers in a muscle, you need to use different movements-using different angles or even just changing your grip on the weights."
This goes for cardio as well as weight training. "When you use the same exercise over and over, it's a repetitive motion task, just like typing at your keyboard, which can produce carpal tunnel syndrome," Schoenfeld says. So falling into a cardio rut ups your chances for injury.
Mixing up your workout also combats boredom-always a handy excuse for skipping the gym. Schoenfeld likes to change his routine from session to session, but he suggests giving your routine an overhaul at least once every six weeks.
Sin #10: Swinging weights
The ABCs of lifting weights are "Always Be in Control." When you use momentum to swing the weights around, you're not targeting the muscle that the exercise is meant for. Worse, Schoenfeld says, you're increasing your chances of injury. To squash this sin, make sure your lower back is tight and the only thing that's moving is the joint (or joints) related to the exercise you're doing.
Sin #11: Being too lightweight
You may think that if you lift too much weight, you'll bulk up to Schwarzeneggerian proportions. But it just isn't so. "Women don't have anywhere near enough testosterone to produce significant muscle growth," Schoenfeld says. If you want to get a good workout, you need to tax your muscles. "You should not be at the end of a set able to do five more reps," Schoenfeld says. According to Bryant, if you're using the right amount of weight, you should be able to perorm at least eight reps, but not more than 15, before your muscles are fatigued.
Sin #12: Nixing the H2O
When you exercise, you increase your metabolism and create heat. "If you don't consume sufficient amounts of fluids to maintain your hydration status, your body will conserve fluids, so you won't sweat as soon or as much," Bryant says. "As a result, you won't dissipate adequate amounts of that heat."
Do you want to drink water before, during or after exercise? The answer is all of the above. Down 16 ounces before working out, 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout, and then top it off with even more water after you're done exercising.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recipe: Black Bean Paste Beef Tenderloin Stri Fry

 This is a quick, easy and tasty way to use any cut of beef. I usually use tenderloin, as my grocery store regularly sells it by the whole loin for pretty darn cheap. It's also a pretty lean cut of beef. I cut it up in either steaks or cubes, and use it for roasts, steaks or stir fry. Delicious, and pretty good on the budget.


~3/4 lb beef tenderloin, cut in cubes
~1 big onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cup)
~1 yellow bell pepper (any colour will do)
~2 cups broccoli, chopped in small fleurets
~2-3 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
~2 tbsp canola oil
~2 1/2 tbsp Black bean paste (this is the brand I use)

Mix the black bean paste with the beef, and let marinate at least 10-15 minutes. In a pan over medium high heat, heat up the oil and quickly soften the onions, about 1-2 min. Add the peppers and stir, 1-2 min. Add the beef and cook for a few min, up until the vegetables are still a bit crunchy and the meat is done to your likeness (I like it med-rare). Turn off the heat. Stir in the broccoli and green onions, cover with a lid and steam for a 3-4 min.

Eat as is, or over rice, pasta, quinoa, whatever you want!

Nutritional Information:

Depending on the cut of beef you use, the nutritional info will change. If you eat it over rice/pasta/quinoa, this will also change the macros of your meal. Here's what my recipe yields per portion (4 portions for the whole thing):

Calories: 368
Fat: 23g
Carb.: 15g
Protein: 27g

Exercise of the day - Deadlift

The deadlift is part of the three most important exercises one can do - squat, deadlift and bench press. The deadlift is a whole body exercise, as it engages your whole body to lift the weight. It especially targets the lower back muscles, the glutes and the hamstrings. This is a great exercise for the ladies - do not let the barbell and the plates intimidate you!

Try the deadlift with low weights at first, and work on mastering the technique. Perfect form will not only help you prevent injuries but will also help you improve your lift tremendously.

It is very important to have good technique. This website is a good starting point to learn proper technique. Don't let it intimidate you - it's full of good info. Be sure to also look at the 13 deadlift mistakes page to help correct any problems you may have.

There are many variations you can do - stiffed leg, one leg romanian, sumo, etc. Try them all, find the one you love, and do it!

Happy Lifting!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Exercise of the day - Push-up

Ah yes, the good old push up. What a great exercise this is. You don't need any equipment, and can perform this exercise virtually anywhere you are. In the office, at home, outside, at a gym, at a friends, in a bar...  Anywhere!

This is a great exercise to work many muscles. It primarily targets the pectorals, but also works the deltoids (front of the shoulder) and the triceps (back of the arm). Keep your core tight, and it also help work out the abs, too.

There are many push up variations. Some are more difficult than others, but all are great in their own right! This is a great website that list 10, yes, 10 push up variations. That is without counting the fact that all of them can be performed from your knees, so really, that's 20...  The possibilities are endless!

How many push up variations can you successfully do?

Also - if you want to challenge yourself, why not try to do 100 push ups in one set? This website will help you achieve that goal. Try it!

Now on your hands and knees and gimme 20!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Exercise of the day - T-bar row

One of my very favorite back exercise is the t-bar row. There are many ways you can do these.

Chest supported (I'm too short for these so I don't do them):

Regular (we don't have that machine at my gym):

Barbell + V handle:

Those are the ones I do and love. Works the back, obviously but also your core (needs to be engaged the whole time) and your legs (because you bend your legs at the knees and engage the quads).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe: Protein Balls!

With lifting weights and gaining lean muscles come the inevitable quest to eating more lean protein. Eating tons of meat is probably the best thing to do, but for this petite girl with a tiny stomach, it's not really possible (or comfortable). Drinking whey protein shakes is certainly one way to go, but it gets boring. FAST. And eating commercially produced protein bars gets expensive. Plus you never really know what's in them. I did find a brand I really like called Builders made by CLIF.


I love to cook, and love to experiment. So from this basic recipe for protein bars I found on this protein powder recipes I have made a few different kinds of protein balls (easier to shape them in balls than in bars!) From this basic recipe, you can make tons of variations. Just remember that those balls are NOT COOKED or baked, so whatever you throw in need to be edible raw.

Also, keep in mind that NONE of those balls are sweet. I suppose one could add sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia, whatever sugar you want to the recipe. I didn't, because I wanted to keep them as healthy as possible.

(top left-Basic, top right-Hazelnut Almond, middle-Chocolate Coffee, bottom left-Mint Chocolate, bottom right-Vanilla Oat)

Here are all the recipes (with comments):

Basic Chocolate Protein Ball (adapted but pretty darn close to the recipe from this website)

~1/2 cup chocolate whey powder
~1/2 cup coconut milk
~1/2 cup coconut flour
~1 tbsp cocoa powder
~semi sweet chocolate to roll the balls in

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together using a fork. Use a bit of vegetable oil on your hands and form balls out of the mixture (I made about 12 smallish balls). Dip them in chocolate. Place in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Verdict: chocolaty, good, solid protein bar. Nice basic recipe to tweak to your taste. Add chunks of almonds (or any other nuts), roll the balls in unsweetened shredded coconut, add raisins, whatever your heart desire. just keep in mind that those are NOT COOKED, so whatever you add in needs to be edible raw.

Almond/Hazelnut Chocolate Protein Ball

~1/2 cup chocolate whey powder
~1/2 cup almond meal
~1 tbsp coconut flour
~1/3 cup crushed hazelnut
~1/4 cup water
~1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (to roll the balls in).

In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together using a fork. Use a bit of vegetable oil on your hands and form balls out of the mixture (I made about 12 smallish balls). Roll them in the shredded coconut. Place in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Verdict: good, a bit too soft for my taste as far as texture. Next time, I might add in a bit of almond extract, or a tiny bit more hazelnut, as well as almond milk rather than water. I would also use sweetened shredded coconut.

Vanilla Oat Protein Ball

~1/2 cup vanilla whey
~1/2 cup of ground rolled oats, or oat flour
~1/4 cup almond meal
~2 tbsp coconut flour
~1/4 cup milk
~1tsp vanilla extract
~1 tsp brown sugar
~unsweetened shredded coconut mix with some cocoa powder

In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together using a fork. Use a bit of vegetable oil on your hands and form balls out of the mixture (I made about 12 smallish balls). Roll them in the shredded coconut mixture. Place in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Verdict: Meh. More vanilla extract perhaps, maybe add almond extract as well. next time I'll use coconut milk, or even almond milk rather than cow's milk. I would also ground the oat a little less to add more texture. and perhaps replaced the vanilla whey with chocolate whey instead. It's not bad, but it's definitely missing something to make it extra good.

Chocolate Coffee Protein Ball

~1/2 cup chocolate whey powder
~1/2 cup coconut milk
~1 tsp instant coffee
~1/2 cup coconut flour
~1 tbsp cocoa powder
~semi sweet chocolate to roll the balls in

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie. Mix instant coffee with coconut milk and stir until the coffee is dissolved. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together with the coconut milk/coffee using a fork. Use a bit of vegetable oil on your hands and form balls out of the mixture (I made about 12 smallish balls). Dip them in chocolate. Place in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Verdict: YUMMY!!! The coffee makes the chocolate flavour pop. It adds so much to the taste. Really really good. I think next time I make these, I'll roll the balls in shredded dark chocolate instead of dipping them in melted chocolate.

Mint Chocolate Protein Ball

~1/2 cup chocolate whey powder
~1/2 cup coconut milk
~1/2 cup coconut flour
~1 tbsp cocoa powder
~1 1/4 tsp mint extract
~semi sweet chocolate to roll the balls in

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie. In a bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together using a fork. Use a bit of vegetable oil on your hands and form balls out of the mixture (I made about 12 smallish balls). Dip them in chocolate. Place in the fridge to harden. Enjoy!

Verdict: Another big huge WIN! This was SO good. I made the mistake of mixing half the mint extract with the chocolate, which made it harden. So instead of dipping the balls, I flattened them a bit and used the mint chocolate as a spread on top. Worked well, but I would definitely mix ALL of the extract with the whey/flour mixture instead of putting some in the chocolate. One could most likely rolled the balls in crushed candy canes, but that would make them a little less healthy (but I bet really freaking yummy!)

There are SO many different variations for these. You can add chopped nuts of any kind, dried fruits, any extract (chocolate orange anyone?). I wonder if lemon or orange rind would work? I bet it would. You could also use quinoa four (so full of protein!) but be careful - the taste of quinoa flour is STRONG, so it would have to be covered up by something else. One could also use any flavour of whey - I'm thinking berry flavoured whey, cocoa powder, dried cranberries/blueberries/cherries. YUM!!!


I'm back!!!

Hey everyone, Long time no see!

I will be trying to revive this little blog I've got here, if only for sharing stuff that is important to me. Hopefully I'll be better at this thing called blogging! We will see about that. :)

Quick update:

I've hired a personal trainer a year and a half ago, and long story short, I've lost 15 lb, gained muscles and lost tons of fat. Mainly, I went from a size 10 to a size 2. I'm still maintaining. Hiring a personal trainer was the best thing I could have ever done - it helped me change my lifestyle completely. I'm still going to the gym, on my own, almost every day. I run, lift weights, play sports, and love life!