Friday, January 30, 2009

Week Day Schedule

Sorry it has been a while since I've last posted. I've had some family emergencies come up, but everything seems to be alright now:)

I was asked by a friend here on the blog to describe what a typical week looks like for me. Well during the winter its not nearly the same as the summer...I'm not as active, but I still try to get exercise in as often as I can. Here is a daily break down:

Wake up at 7:50am:
-Have breakfast I never ever skip out on having breakfast). I usually have a banana and some cottage cheese. I want my vitamins and protein to begin my day. I then have my 2 second commute to my home office (I work for Direct Energy from home).

Snack at 10am:
-My snack is usually some cantaloupe or a yogurt (no fat, no sugar or aspartame)

Lunch break 12pm-2pm
-I have lunch, usually a toasted tomato sandwich (whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce..and yes cheese, but only small amounts of cheese as its high in saturated fat). I also accompany it with a cup of grapes.

Back to work 2pm-5pm
-Snack at 3:30pm. My snack varies at this time, I don't have fruit any more after 2pm as fruit does contain a lot of sugars. I usually have a couple of crackers (4-5).

Done work at 5pm
-Make dinner for 6pm
-A typical dinner for me is stir fries. I use lean skinless boneless chicken breasts or I use salmon.
-I use tons of veggies: green and red peppers, green onions, fresh garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and spices.
-I don't tend to use a sauce as the amount of vegetables coats the wild grain rice perfectly, no need for sauce, lots of flavour and spice.
-I mix the stir fries flavours, sometimes I had spinach, sometimes I make a sweet taste stir fry by using some honey, sometimes I make it bold and spicy with cayenne peppers, or I make a dill stir fry etc....

8pm-9pm
-I work out. I split up my work routines. For instance today is my arms. I will be working my arms and back today.

9pm
-Always finish with a protein shake. No more snacking after 9pm, that it my cut off point.

*This is a typical week-day for me. It does vary slightly on some days. My summer days are drastically different. Evening are spent either biking or hiking for hours at a time...but right now with the weather being -30 degrees Celsius...and foots of snow we don't get out as often as we like.

*I never drink juice, pop (doesn't matter if its diet or not...if pop can rust a nail within 48 hours, I don't want it in my body), and rarely alcohol as its high in sugar. I tend to only drink water 6-8 glasses. I have a glass of milk with my protein shake.

*I always eat 3 meals a day with 3 snack times. It keep my energy levels up and my metabolism higher.

*So for the most part, I try to limit my carb intake to just 3-4 servings, I try to get at least 3-4 servings of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables. I always make sure to get 3 servings of dairy (woman tend to be more at risk for osteoporosis). I always make sure to get at least 3 servings of protein as I'm strength training. I work out 3 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off etc. Therefore I work out 6 times a week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Love

I have many loves, God, my husband, my best-friend, family, food, fitness, and hiking. I cannot think of any better way to enjoy a warm Saturday / Sunday afternoon then grabbing some food and hiking up some trails. Hiking is fantastic because your really using your legs. Its a fantastic work out and is actually considered one of the best exercises in toning your legs....and trust me I need it, lol!

The benefits of hiking seem endless. For women, hiking can actually help prevent osteoporosis. This is accomplished because while we hike we work against the force of gravity, which in return helps increase our bone density and can actually slow down any calcium loss. Therefore, our bones can become stronger and are then less likely to break. Hiking also can improve our balance.

Our balance is improved through walking the different terrains. You never know when your going to encounter a hill, rocky areas, stream crossings or other different terrains, therefore you will actually begin to develop better balance and coordination.

Hiking can also help prevent heart, lower your cholesterol, and decrease hypertension by dilating your blood vessels. There are so many health benefits to hiking, but scenery is also remarkable and cannot go unnoticed.

There is nothing better then walking in the middle of a forest and having nothing but nature around you. I love hearing the birds sing, the leaves blowing in the wind, the sun rays shining through the trees, and the warmth of the sun. I can easily spend hours and not even notice. It rarely feels like a work out even though I have burned 1000's of calories. Did you know, that a person who weighs 135 lbs carrying their back pack (say containing approx 20lbs) walking at just 3.5mph can burn 1358 calories over the course of 4 hours! 4 hours may seem like a long time to exercise, but when it doesn't feel like exercise...time will just fly on by. Most of my fondest memories are spent hiking with my husband.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Going For Bananas

Wow, bananas are like the power fruit. I grew up knowing that bananas offered potassium, which was essential for our muscles, but did you know that they also have high amounts of vitamins A, C and fiber. These elements help several aspects of our body, for instance they aid in healthy bowels, reduce blood pressure, helps reduce water retention, protection from strokes, and is a natural sleeping pill to name just a few.

They help in bowel movements because one medium size banana has 16% of our daily need for fiber! Fiber aids our bowel movements.

Bananas also help reduce high blood pressure because of the potassium. Potassium is great for proper muscle contraction, but it is also linked to assisting in lowering blood pressure. Studies show that people with low potassium levels are more likely to have higher blood pressure and are at more risk for a stroke.

Water retention can also be reduced through eating bananas. The high potassium in bananas helps reduce water retention, which is awesome for us women who may feel slightly bloated during certain times of the month.

Well, I've heard warm milk can make you sleep at night, but not bananas...well not until recently. My husband has difficulty sleeping at night and I thought there has to be a natural way for him to sleep, rather then sleeping pills. Well, many websites came up with different food items, but one item that was consistent was bananas. I've never heard of that...so, I did some further investigation and it appears that bananas contain tryptophan. Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, serotonin causes a calming effect on the brain; and therefore, acts as a sedative.

Bananas are awesome. They have so many benefits and taste fantastic! They are beautifully yellow, bright and can be used in a variety of foods. Bananas are awesome in banana bread, cereal, yogurt, or even by themselves. So the next time you feel bloated, high blood pressure, or have difficulty sleeping...may I suggest grabbing a banana.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leg Work Out

Now I love working out my legs, my husband on the other hand runs for the hills. He would much rather work out his arms (my least favourite by far) then his abs and with much arguing and prompting he will work out his legs. But in all fairness I should say that he works all day on his legs moving things around and is piratically working out his legs all day long; therefore another huge dose of strength training for his legs is not his idea of a good time. I on the other hand love working out my legs...but that's because 5 years ago I had the oh so wonderful cottage cheese bum. The beautiful ripples and dimples graced my buttocks abundantly. Quite embarrassing really. I use to wear skirt bikini's all the time to cover my bottom. Now; however, my bottom isn't that bad. I didn't invent the miracle cure for cellulite or remove all of it, I WISH! But, I can now wear shorts and a bikini without the skirt...first time this year! Most of the ripples and dimples are gone, and I owe it all to exercise.

For my leg routines I have about 3. This is an example of one of my leg routines: Firstly, I warm up for 5-10 (running, dancing, jump jacks), then I do 45 lunges per leg. I then do 60 squats (I try to get the more difficult exercises out of the way so that I have the energy to do them still). I then proceed with the hamstring curl. I place weights on my legs and lay on my stomach. Curling my legs to my bottom. I do 60-75 (depending on the day). I then proceed with the next exercise which is my calve raise. I do 50 per leg and place 5 lbs weights on my legs. After wards, I stretch then I grab my mat. I strap on 5 lbs on my left leg, grab my 8 lb dumbbell and then do 100 leg lifts. I then use the same leg and pull it towards my chest while laying on my side and my other leg remains straight (I do 75). I then extend my leg in the air (about 45 degree angle) and have the other leg (with no weights on it) reach up and touch it (50 times). I then roll over onto my other side so that my left leg is now the leg I'm laying on. I now lift it up 100 times to work on my inner thighs.
I then take kneel on all 4 and lift my left leg 50 times off the floor. I then extend the same left leg to the side 50 times. I repeat the same exercises with my right leg attaching on weights to the right leg. This whole exercise takes me approximately 1 hour.

I found that by working on my legs I was able to tone my thighs and buttocks to an extent that visible reduced my cellulite and reduce the size of my thighs. Now, there is no such thing as spot reduction; however, you can tone certain muscles that will help tone certain areas of your body. For my I concentrate mostly on my stomach and legs as I am a pear shape and tend to carry my weight on my bottom half. Plus, lol...I'm very weak in my arms and hate pushing myself in that area...even though I know I really should. So, I still work out my arms twice a week, but I'm the one now arguing and whining to my husband, lol :) Happy exercising everyone!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Abs Work Out

I love working out, especially my abs. I'm always trying to achieve a 6 pack. Its important to maintain a strong core to eliminate any back pains, helps you perform better in sports, helps avoid injuries, and can also improve your balance.

For my general ab work out I have a few different routines. Its important to mix it up so that your body doesn't plateau. This is #1 of my routine for my abs. I tend to warm up for 5-10 minutes (either with running, jumping jacks, or dancing). I then proceed with 3 (1 minute interval) planks. If your not use to doing the plank, then try 30 seconds and try to do as many intervals as possible. Very important to keep your back straight during the plank. After the 3 minute plank, I stretch, then proceed with standard sit-ups. I tend to do 100 sit ups with 16 lbs. Then I do a reverse crunch (weights on my ankles) and do a 100. Afterwards I tend to do the bicycle crunch for 3 (1 minute intervals). After this I then do a leg lift...this is where I have weights on my ankles and left my legs up, my partner then tries to push my legs down with force, and I have to prevent my legs from hitting the floor and raise them again. I do 75 of these. I then proceed with the vertical leg crunch. I have my legs up in the air and I lift my upper body off the floor to try and hit my feet with my hands. I actually find these more difficult (lol, that could be because I'm tired at this point) so I do only about 50. I then proceed with 50 crunches on the exercise ball. Last but not least I do a 100 dumbbell side bends per side holding onto 12 lbs.

This is an example of one of my routines. I do not use this routine every time I work out my abs because that would not be very effective. Its always best to mix things up and not allow your body to adapt to your work out regimes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How I Lost Weight

Everyone loses weight differently, but one thing is certain...eating well and exercise will certainly help you lose weight. I was very heavy at one point in my life...I was the cute bubbly chubby girl. Not exactly who I wanted to be or thought I was until one of my friends told me flat out that it was time I lost some weight. After going through several fitness tests I realized how true that really was. For me, losing weight wasn't that difficult. It was changing my lifestyle that was the hardest. I knew that I had to make huge life changes in order to lose the weight and keep it off. I was you typical burger and hot dog lover. I often said I didn't have a sweet tooth, but I have a grease tooth. Lovely picture, isn't it?

To give up eating hamburgers, hot dog, deep fried french fries, pop, spaghetti, lasagna, bacon etc...was difficult, but I knew that I could replace them with other foods. For instance, I have spaghetti a few times a month, load it with vegetables and use chicken instead of ground beef, same with my lasagna, I use chicken for that too. Soon, I realized I didn't have to give up any of the foods I really loved, I just had to tweak them a little.

So, with eating more lean chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, and YES carbs...I was able to have the motivation, energy and will power to exercise. I know many people see carbs as the ultimate evil, that I will never understand. Carbs are great for you and very much essential and are an important tool in losing weight. We use carbs to stimulate the production of serotonin that causes us to feel more full then we actually are...thus losing weight because we tend to eat less. So, for me...carbs were very much involved in losing weight.

I also, worked out 5 times a week. I used either the elliptical or the stationary bike for 60 minutes of cardio and then I did a full body circuit. I now separate my muscles as I'm more focusing on toning and strengthening, but when I first began I did full body work outs to burn more calories.

Losing weight is a life goal. Every pound should be celebrated as it is a significant reminder of the wonderful changes we are making in our lives to become healthier. For those days that we may slip up and eat a little more or skip the work out, it happens..we are human, but the important thing is, we continue the next day with creating a better and healthier life for ourselves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bike Riding...More Then Just Cardio

I think everyone favours a certain exercise for a cardiovascular workout. For me, I love obtaining more cardio workouts through a variety of methods. My favourite method would have to be bike riding. The reasons are many. Mainly, because it tones my legs (which is where I tend to put on weight) and burns a lot of calories. Secondly, it doesn't feel like working out, and thirdly its cheap.

It is such a great cardio work out, for instance, a person of my stature, can burn 396 calories in just 1 hour biking 12-14 mph. Which is an awesome calorie burn. Now for someone who is 180 lbs that same person could have the potential to burn 712.5 calories in 1 hour.

I never feel like I'm working out when I go bike riding. Its so peaceful. You get the opportunity to escape the busy lifestyle and get some fresh air. I tend to go with my husband for 2-3 hours about 3 times a week during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. We have explored so many trails, have witness so much beauty. We also, take a little break normally and have a small picnic. Its a great way to spend some quality time with someone your close to, or a great time to get that much needed "me time".

Biking is so cheap. No need to pay for a gym. You can usually find a decent bike for $99.00 (Canadian) and your good to go. Bikes should last you for quite a few years with proper care. So for all of those that are not in a winter season right now and have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, I suggest grabbing your helmet and bike...go for a ride, enjoy the breeze, fresh air, nature sounds, and fun during your next cardio session.

To find out more on how many calories you burn during your favourite exercises, please check out this website for free: http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc

Monday, January 12, 2009

BlackBerries and Blueberries

When I think of berries, I think of blueberries, raspberries, acai berries, strawberries, and blackberries. I love all berries and they are all good for you, but I wanted to talk about blackberries and blueberries. They are both delicious and can be used in a variety of ways. You can eat them with frozen yogurt, put them in your cereal, make crapes, just eat them as is, or make a fruit salad. There are so many ways to enjoy these berries. Blackberries are awesome in the fact that they have a lot of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, C, E and many other minerals and vitamins.

Blackberries have a real deep purple colour and our filled with a very powerful antioxidant. Blackberries can help reduce some risks, such as cancers, and the risk of strokes.

Also, blackberries contain a huge source of pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber that helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Blueberries are also wonderful as they are high in soluble fiber, potassium, magnesium vitamin C and E.

Blueberries are very high in antioxidants, which help prevent cancers. They also help lower cholesterol and if your having issues with diarrhea and would like a holistic method of treatment...eat blueberries (according to Barry Sears from the book The Top 100 Zone Foods). Research also suggests that blueberries may help prevent Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

To lower your cholesterol levels, or if your at risk for lung cancer or a stroke, I would suggest eating more blackberries; and , I would suggest blueberries for lowering your cholesterol, fighting some cancers, if you have Alzheimer's in your family history or if you have...diarrhea.

To find out more about these wonderful berries, visit
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Importance of 48 Hours

Well, this blog is about nutrition and fitness. I think I'm going to try to alternate between talking about nutritional value and a fitness regimes. Since, I talked about the importance of bell peppers yesterday...I think I'm going to discuss the importance of strength training today. Strength training is important because it helps you lose weight and speeds up your metabolism. In order to get the maximum benefit of strength training, I suggest resting your muscles groups for 48 hours between work outs. Now this topic is highly debatable. There are several good arguments that have a basis to say that waiting 24 hours between work outs is more then enough; however, there is also the argument that your body needs 48 hours. I tend to lean towards the 48 hours. The reason I suggest 48 hours is because strength training is exhausting. A)You put all your effort into it, and B) you are also tearing your muscles. Now, thinking about those two different aspects...you may see why I suggest 48 hours.

Firstly, strength training can literally take a good hour and that is if your only focusing on one muscle group. For instance, your upper body. You have your biceps, triceps, lats, shoulders, pectorals, and deltoids...just to name a few. If you were going to work out all of these muscles with your utmost effort, you would be too exhausted to put in the same amount of energy into your abs work out that same day. So, for that reason its best to separate working out your upper body, lower body, and abs/back on different days.

Secondly, your tearing your muscles a part. During working out, you rip your muscles a part, but they adapt and will grow. Our muscles are able to grow and accept the overload that we place on them during strength training because we allow them time to heal. Like anything, time is the best medicine. Our muscles are fatigued, torn, and need to be fed with the proper nutrients (protein) in order to grow stronger and more resilient.

Therefore, I suggest a 48 hour time period between each muscle group, this way you can put your utmost effort into the work out, allow your muscles to heal, and to feed the muscle with the essential nutrients it needs to develop stronger.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bell Peppers Anyone?

Over the past few years I couldn't help but wonder how people use to recover or battle illnesses. Hundreds of years ago, there was no such thing as radiation treatment, insulin shots, cold and flue medications or even pain killers. We live in a day in age where any little issue that someone deals with, there is a drug to cure that...or at least 30 different companies claiming to do just that. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there are not medications out there that can heal or battle a disease, but have you heard some of the commercials now? In order to battle some sort of symptom the same medication may in return cause 10 other side effects. So, your now taking medications to battle the symptoms that your other medications are trying to deal with. Its an endless cycle. Was life always this way...no. Is life far better now then it was then? Well, statistically people do live longer, but one main reason for that is because we have developed medications and gained knowledge on how to deal with devastating diseases. This is truly remarkable; however, blatantly there are several other ways to deal with diseases that do not depend on medications. Today, I would like to discuss the importance of peppers.

Red peppers and green peppers are truly over looked. They are such a versatile vegetable. They can be eaten raw with vegetable dip, cooked in a stir fry, used in your spaghetti sauces, lasagna, meat loafs and so much more. Not only can they make your food look more presentable with their bright colours, taste good, but they are great for you. For instance, bell peppers have been known to help reduce heart attacks, strokes, cataracts, and prevent blood clots from forming. This is due to their high content of vitamin C, capsaicin, and flavonoids. So, for anyone who has issues with blood clotting, or at risk for a heart attack...may I suggest cooking more with bell peppers to help reduce the chances of this from occurring.
Throughout this blog I am going to be discussing various nutrition and fitness methods for preventing disease, and bettering your quality of life. If you suffer from any of the illnesses that I discuss please consult a physician and/or dietitian to see if these methods can be beneficial to you. This is based on my research and my own personal knowledge, I take no responsibility.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fitness and Nutriton

A little history about myself. Growing up I was the envy of my sister because I could eat 5 hot dogs in one sitting and would not gain a pound. She, my mother and others would always tell me that it would some day catch up with me, but I would always laugh it off saying "I know I know" but secretly I never though it could ever happen. I would eat fast food every day, burgers were my favourite. 2-3, maybe even having 4 hamburgers and a soda pop were not uncommon for me to eat. I finally went away to University, I was warned about the freshman 15 lbs...but never thought much of it. I would have late night "studying groups" which mostly consisted of gossip, fast food and boys. Eventually those 3am night feedings began to take their toll. It wasn't long after wards that I began dating this guy and every time we would get intimate I would tell him "I'm just bloated today" as my stomach rolled over my pants. I noticed a pattern though...I was saying this every time. So I asked my girlfriend if she though I had put on some weight, and she in return without any hesitation said "you look 6 months pregnant" Well that answered that. I began going to the gym with her. When I first joined I had to go through some fitness tests, scales, measurements and body fat test. Oh boy was that ever a self esteem builder.

My results were the following: I was 30 pounds over what I thought I was. Body fat was 37% and my hips were an astonishing 44 inches. Luckily, with the support of my friends, family and fitness instructors...I was able drop the weight and bring myself to a level of fitness that even the impressed the instructors within one year. My body fat is now at 16% and my hips are now 34 inches. This blog is going to be about my fitness regimes, and how I was able to lose the weight and keep it off through nutrition and regular exercise. Nutrition is not just about maintaining ones weight, but I will also show you how nutrition can help combat and prevent diseases.