Thursday, September 30, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Here is the next videos in our series of bodyweight exercises! The first video shows the beautiful Tamara using a TRX, which we rigged up from a tree. The TRX is a great travel tool to supplement your bodyweight training programme. It also comes with an attachement for your door so you can use it inside your home or when you are staying in a hotel somewhere. If you look over to your right on our blog page you can see a link for the TRX. Click on the link if you would like some more information about the product!
Have a Swinging Good Workout!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
After my previous blog about where and how to get protein from a vegetarian diet, I am going to follow up with a few suggestions on how to purchase and prepare these little gems of superfood along with some fabulous recipes for you to try.
Pre-cooked canned beans are a great standby to have in your cupboard and can be used in an instant to make salads or dips or add to soups, however be sure to rinse them well and remove any excess sodium that will certainly have been added to the mix. The optimum way to eat your beans is to cook them yourself. Proper soaking and cooking time can reduce the overall amount of starch and sugars, as well as significantly reducing the oligosaccharide content which causes gas. Some beans take a lot more cooking and preparation than others but the results far outweight the effort involved. To cook dried beans, first of all rinse under cold water and remove any little stones that may have found their way into the packet, believe me, it happens and it can result in an un-welcome visit to the dentist! To re-hydrate the legumes, soak them in a large volume of water for a good 4 hours or preferably overnight. Chick peas, black beans and kidney beans benefit from a lot of soaking. I boil the beans in plain water with no added salt as the salt will prevent the beans from softening. Boil in a large quantity of water for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 45 minutes. At this point, I generally remove the cooking water and replace it with clean water and start the process again. Kidney beans in particular need a lot of cooking, so a good 2 hours should produce a nice soft result. Chickpeas and black beans can take less time, so use your palate to check the consistency before you stop cooking them. Once the beans are cooked, they are ready to be used in a variety of dishes. Lentils are much quicker to cook and come in many shapes, colours and sizes. They are a wonderful source of iron as well as protein so make sure you include them often in your regime. There are green lentils, red lentils, puy lentils and tiny black lentils, all of which have their own unique taste and texture, so check out your local shop and see what is on offer.
Black Bean Chili
1 onion, 1 green bell pepper, 2 celery stalks, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 tbs of chili powder, 1 tbs of ground cumin, 1 tbs of paprika, 2 tbs of dried oregano,a pinch of cayenne pepper, 3 chopped tomatoes, 6 cups of kidney beans and 1 1/2 cups of water.
Sautee the chopped onion, chopped pepper, chopped celery, garlic and spices in a large heavy pan for about 8 minutes until softened but not browned.
Stir in the tomatoes, beans and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the chili has thickened and the flavours have blended.
Serve on a bed of brown rice and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.
300 g of dried cannellini beans, 1 whole head of garlic, 1 large lemon, a stick of celery and 2 or 3 bay leaves.
Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Drain them and place in a large saucepan along with the celery, garlic, bay leaves and the lemon cut in half. Cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. After about 45 minutes of cooking, add a pinch of salt to the water and taste the beans for texture, they may need more cooking if they are a bit crunchy. Once cooked , drain off the water and set aside in a large bowl. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Take 3 anchovy fillets, 2 cloves of garlic, 5 tbs of olive oil, 1 tbs of lemon juice, a handful of basil leaves a tbs of chopped parsley and another of mint. Whizz the ingredients in a blender for a few seconds and then add to the warm beans. Let the salad rest for at least 30 minutes before eating so that the flavours can develop.
Mediterranean white bean salad
2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbs of lemon juice
1 tbs of olive oil
1/2 cup of minced red onion
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 clove of crushed garlic
1/3 cup of chopped basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl et voila!
2 cups of green lentils, 4 cups of water, 1 large can of chopped tomatoes, 2 cups of vegetable stock, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion, salt and pepper.
Cook the lentils in the water until tender. Drain them and add to a large saucepan. Fry the onions and the garlic gently in a frying pan and then add to the lentils along with the tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat season with salt and pepper and whizz in a blender. A simple but highly nutritious soup full of protein, iron and leptin.
Chickpea and vegetable curry
4 cups of chopped bok choy (cote de bettes), 1 small chopped onion, 1 chopped red pepper, 2 cups of coconut milk, 1 tsp of minced fresh garlic, 1 tsp of minced ginger, 1 tsp of curry powder, 1 large can of cooked chick peas, salt and pepper.
Sautee the onion, garlic and ginger in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the chopped peppers, bok choy and curry powder. Stir together before adding the coconut milk and chickpeas. Simmer together for about 20 minutes and season to taste. Delicious served along with some flat bread or with brown rice. Experiment with different types of curry, I often use a hot and spicey thai mix along with a tsp of grated lemon grass. You can also add carrots, squash, pumpkin, courgettes etc..it is a very versatile dish and we love it!
I hope you have some fun in the kitchen with these recipes. Beans and legumes are very very versatile and whether you are a vegetarian or not, I believe you should include them in your weekly menus and so benefit from their majestic nutritional content. Bon Apetit!
In health, in the kitchen,
When we realize truly how much information there is at our fingertips, it is no wonder that we get confused about exercise and nutrition. One website tells you that eating nothing but apples for 1 month is the absolute best way to lose weight. Another link takes you to a youtube video of guys doing some pretty extreme exercises with the most horrendous form and then celebrating the fact that they were sick after. So, where do we go to get some reliable information?
I think we truly know that if we stick to the basic principles of exercise and nutrition we will be just fine. You don't have to look too far in the past to see generations who had basic diets and jobs that were more physically demanding than the jobs of today. What it comes down to is if we don't eat nutritious foods and exercise/move regularly our bodies will slowly break down into a state of disease. The biggest killers in the world today are lifestyle diseases, with cardiovascular disease and diabetes topping the list. By sticking to the basics of exercise and nutrition we can take control of our lives and prevent ourselves from being a statistic.
In terms of exercise, what are the basics? For those of you that know me well and have seen our previous videos, I am a big proponent of bodyweight exercises. What can be more basic than that! All you need is your bodyweight to get an excellent workout and there is no stopping point with these exercises. When I was growing up in Colorado, one of the questions that I was always asked was "ow much do you bench?" And my general answer would be "who cares!" These guys were what I call "Meatheads." They only cared about how much weight they could push in a squat or a bench press, regardless of their form. I know because I myself spent some regrettable time as a member of the "Meathead" clan. My so-called fellow "Meathead" clansmen couldn't even perform a simple bodyweight push up let alone a one legged squat, which in my opinion is a true test of strength.
The same can be said about machine training. For those that are in an office job all day sitting in front of a computer the last thing you should do is go to the gym and sit in a machine!! Machines take away our bodies natural support system. The muscles in our body should be working together in harmony to give us the best overall results. Younger children especially should stay away from machine training. The exercise might appear more safe but in reality it interupts a childs growth and development. If you watch a child on a playground you can see how they are masters of bodyweight exercise. Climbing, pulling, jumping, crawling, pushing and running are the staples of a playground experience. You can't get that on a machine. So you can see how basic bodyweight exercises, and their many varieties, should be at the cornerstone of any exercise programme!
Now if you have read Tamara's blog posts on nutrition you know that she promotes nothing but the stripped-down basics. Eat organic unprocessed foods spaced out over several eating opportunities throughout your day. That is about as basic as it gets. Our problem is we make things too complicated. The emotional side of eating is an example of that. Looking for the next magic pill is another example. Everyone has the tools to live the life they want to live. It is just a matter of recognizing that you have the power to "eat great" and "move more!" As fitness professionals our main goal is to empower you to take your health and fitness into your own hands. We can't follow you the rest of your life but hopefully through this blog and our health and fitness programmes, we can give you the tools to live the happy and healthy life that you deserve!!
Dedicated to Your Health and Happiness,
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
If your choice is to avoid meat, then you will probably be filling up on vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds and will therefore be meeting your daily nutritional requirements. You will however, have to take more care in making sure that your meals are well balanced and that you are eating sufficient food in order to consume enough protein. When you are eating a good balance of these un-processed foods, your carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios will be optimal. If you are trying to build muscle while on a vegetarian regime, it is a good idea to know which plant based foods come in the higher protein category and which ones are lower. Remember that it is important to include a wide range of fruits and vegetables as well, because you also need to consume adequate amounts of micronutrients and vitamins. The alkaline effect of fruits and vegetables will also balance out the acidity that the grains, legumes and nuts provide.
There is a tendency to over consume dairy products and processed soya products when following a vegetarian lifestyle, and this can lead to a high intake of fats, salt and estrogens. Cheese is very versatile and is probably the quickest go-to food when cooking and preparing non-meat dishes but it is also very high in fat and salt. I have to say that I love cheese, but I now only eat goats and buffalo milk cheeses which I find easier to digest and which tend to be lower in fat. As you may have noticed in previous blogs, I am not a fan of soya. Soya has been found to upset the balance and function of our thyroid and is present in nearly all processed foods and drinks. Fermented soya (ie Tofu,Tempeh) is the only type of soya that we should eat and even that should be restricted to a few small portions a day. After much research on the topic I have have become an anti-soya campaigner, but it is up to you to make your own choices and therefore I recommend that you do your own research and decide for yourself what the risks are. I used to believe that if something was on our supermarket shelf and being sold to us as food, it must surely be safe! Knowledge is everything, and when it comes to our food and how we nourish our bodies, it is more important today than ever before, to know what is in our food and where it is coming from. http://www.naturalnews.com/022630.html
Anyway, to go back to the subject of protein, here follows an idea of the percentage of protein contained in plant based foods.
High Protein :
Broccoli, spinach,, squash, asparagus, Hemp seeds, Pumpkin seeds, lentils,Tofu, peas, Tempeh, Kidney beans, pea protein powder, rice protein powder, hemp bread and sprouted grain bread.
Cucumber, celery, quinoa, oats, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, peanuts, pistachios, chick peas.
As you can see from this list, it is a good idea to include legumes in most of your daily meals. You can make salads, stews, bean burgers, curries, hummus and various other dips and delicious concoctions with these ingredients. I do find that cooking a vegetarian meal can be a bit more time consuming and you will also have to become quite knowledgable about the protein content of the foods that you are preparing. It is quite simple to cook a piece of meat or fish and just add a pile of steamed vegetables, but there are so many wonderful dishes to be made with plants that I feel you will have a lot of fun experimenting. One of my favourite "fast food" meals is to throw a tin of chickpeas in a saucepan with a tin of chopped tomatoes, add some crushed garlic and some coconut milk,a tsp or two of curry powder or thai curry paste....bring to the boil and allow to simmer while you have a shower or clear up the mess the kids have left for you or cuddle the dog! We eat it hot or cold along with a piece of bread or instant couscous, et voila, dinner in an instant! Tofu and Tempeh are also great sources of protein and are versatile enough to be used in many different recipes from soups and stir fries to burgers and salads.
Please be aware that Vegetarian diets can leave you deficient in some B vitamins and amino acids which could result in anaemia so it is a good idea to have a blood test if you are feeling fatigued or dizzy. Maintaining a fitness routine while trying to lose weight and maintain a good nutritional balance can be quite challenging. Simply do your best to balance your meals and if your protein must come from plant based sources, then make sure that you are eating enough to meet your daily needs.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Do you remember how you were as a kid in high school or at university when you studied for your exams? Were you the person that prepared weeks in advance for a big exam and throughout the year took pages of notes that you reviewed on a daily basis? That way you made sure that whatever you learned stuck with you and you wouldn't forget it.
Or maybe, like me, you were a student you was a master crammer! You rarely took notes in class and when it came test time you were up all night studying a whole years worth of material in just a few hours? You studied to the point where if you put anything more in your head it would explode!!
If we relate this to our health and fitness, what kind of correlations do we see? Our society now is one that wants a quick fix. We spend months and years giving our bodies the wrong things and not treating it in the best way and we expect that we can change all of that over night!
- The magic pill that will shed 100 kgs in just three days!
- 3 minute abs, no wait 2 minute abs, no even better 30 second abs.
- The apple diet that will detox your body while helping you to drop 15 kgs in a week, just like Gwyneth Paltrow!
- 20 kgs of muscle by drinking nothing but protein shakes for a month!
I am sure you can fill in the blanks with many more fantastical examples. We are almost all guilty of opting for the easy quick fix! But like cramming for the big exam, if you do get results, do those results last? What has suffered as a consequence of this quick fix solution to all of your problems? You might have lost loads of weight in no time at all but how are your energy levels, are you able to control your food cravings?
The solution is to take a longer term approach to your health and fitness. By making those small changes you are creating those good habits that will add up to big results in the long run! Take weight loss for example, a realistic weekly loss would be about 1 lb. If your goal is to lose 15 pounds of fat you are looking at four months of healthy weight loss to reach your goal! With weight loss happening consistently over time you are able to sustain the results because you were able to create those great habits and won't result in gaining it all back after a week or two of not sticking to "the plan."
Take for example my fitness levels! I am not saying they are amazing but I feel that I can maintain what levels I have without training intensively every day. I didn't get where I am at today by a few months of hard core training! It has taken me several years to improve upon my fitness levels and build a good level of mobility, flexibility and strength. I have had some pitfalls on the way but because of that good base that I created when I was a kid I am able to get back on track a whole lot easier! The knowledge that I built up along the way has seen to that.
My take away point is that if you are seeking a change in your overall health and fitness levels do it in stages. Learn along the way and exchange your old habits, that got you nowhere but another trouser size, for new, life changing habits. If you don't, you might continue to face an ongoing battle of fitness cramming, via fad diets and magic pills, with results that balloon more than Oprah Winfrey!!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
So here we are entering the early days of autumn and I am surrounded by orchards of apples, pears, plums, grapes and bulging squashes and my mind is full of ideas for healthy and nutritious meals. Bright orange soups and hot spiced fruit compotes aswell as heart warming stews and winter salads. Pumpkins are so much more than an excuse for a Halloween lantern as they make amazing anti-oxidant rich soups and their seeds are little gems of medicinal goodness. Pumpkin seeds are high in tryptophan which means they are useful in treating insomnia. They have also been found to help with rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood lipids, kidney and bladder disorders as well as parasitic infestations. Research carried out in China found pumpkin seeds to be highly effective in eliminating tapeworm infestations. So much magic in such a tiny seed! Try making a delicious snack by roasting 2 cups of raw seeds mixed with a drizzle of oil and a touch of salt, and bake in the oven for around 45 minutes. And then there is pumpkin pie ofcourse, something our American friends are very fond of and something that I will have to learn to cook this year as I am now married to one!
If you are a meat eater, then you can also benefit from the new season game meat that will be coming into the butchers. Venison, wild boar and hare are all highly nutritous meats and low in fat and offer a great and healthy alternative to our usual beef, lamb and pork. They have a richer flavour and consistency which can be far more satisfying and flavoursome than our more traditional choices. Go to a good butchers and see what they have on offer and try something new and hopefully it will be locally caught and killed too. I was a vegetarian for many years and still have a hard time eating meat and only do so if I truely feel that my body is in need of some extra iron or protein and when that time comes, I will opt for bison or Wapiti/Venison steaks.
Eating well and eating foods that are in season now will strengthen your immune system and prepare you for the coming winter months when we are prone to sickness and colds. The shorter days and lack of sunshine will bring us down and deplete our bodies of vitamin D which in turn will leave us vulnerable to anything from bouts of depression to weakening bones. So stock up and fill your bodies with nutrient dense foods along with a supplement of Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 and get out in the fresh air as much as possible...just 20 minutes of sunshine a day will fill us with our daily dose of strength and will sure put a smile back on your face.
Well, that's all for now. Enjoy the changing season and indulge in what it has to offer you. Take care of nature and it will take care of you!
In health and happiness,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I hope you are all feeling fit and healthy! Our next video in our series of Bodyweight Training is our 30-15 Metabolic Mania workout. In the video we describe regressions of each of the exercises if you find the main exercises a little too intense.
The workout format is 30 seconds of work on each exercise followed by 15 seconds of rest while changing exercises. Perform all 5 exercises and repeat for two more rounds. If you are feeling brave try not to rest between rounds. If you need the rest try to limit the time you rest each time you perform the workout. For those that are advanced rest 2-3 minutes after the first three rounds and repeat once again for 3 rounds!! Increased speed of the movements also make the exercises more difficult.
Be sure to leave some comments and let us know how many times you cursed our name while performing the workout:)