In the new year, I decided to start employing a slightly different leg routine. Not just because I consciously wanted to and needed a change, but also because my knee injury from last year (I have a slight tear in my lateral meniscus) forced me to rethink my exercises somewhat. Where I previously used to go super heavy, and perhaps sacrifice form, I am now doing lighter weights and more reps and sets. Despite being a gymnast early in life, I am not that flexible anymore, and particularly my hip flexors have suffered. I’m very aware of it now and am working on getting myself more limber. It is extremely important to have mobility in the hip flexors to exercise proper form, to avoid injuries and to be able to squat deep (Ass to the grass!). Why is it important to have range of motion (ROM)? You will engage muscles you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, and as a result shape your legs in a much better way than if you just go parallel to the floor (most people don’t even do that!). Don’t be so preoccupied with the weights you throw on the bar – you only have to prove things to yourself! I got a real burn today and my arse is definitely feeling it this afternoon! Here’s what I did:
Warm up on stair master /elliptical / walking uphill on treadmill (I did the first) – for about 10 minutes
5 x 20 leg extensions (this is a warm up, but I did go heavy on the last 2 sets)
10 x 6 wide stance, feet pointing out, deep squats (awesome for the glutes!!)
2 x 25 toes pointing straight,regular stance squats (hits more the quads)
4 x 15 step ups (for each leg) with weights (I use 20 lbs dumbbells, but you can go lighter or just use body weight, or heavier, whatever suits your fitness level)
4 x 12 single leg Romanian deadlifts (I go pretty light here (for me) just holding the 45 lb bar)
4 x 20 seated calf raise, holding 2 seconds at the top at each rep
I also managed to squeeze in some abs today – reverse sit-ups w/Swiss ball between my legs, 4 x 20, then 4 x 20 rope crunches. I will do more abs on Sunday, I usually have a day where I do only arms and abs, since I always am so tired after chest/ back and don’t want to treat arms as an afterthought. Abs are also always engaged when doing squats and deadlifts, another great benefit of these base exercises.
So… on to food! I always have a whey protein shake and some sort of fast carb w/high glycemic index right after the workout, but of course I need to eat later too! Tonight, I figured I would go a bit ‘naughtier’ with dinner and I’m making a bean soup. Why is that naughty? Well, beans count as carbs, and I usually try to avoid that during the evening. But… I had a pack of the 16 bean mix in my cupboard, the weather is grey and cold out side… I have some chicken in the fridge… I’m making chicken and bean soup! Beans are also very high in fiber, so it’s good for digestion. So I soaked the beans overnight, and here they are, drained and ready to go into the pot:
Then I added some chopped onion, garlic cloves, chopped parsnips and carrots along w/half a container with chicken stock:
On a traditional prep diet, I would not eat carrots and parsnips in big amounts, or in the evening, as they are higher in carbohydrates and sugar than the green, cruciferous vegetables. This soup is not quite a cheat meal, but close! To the soup, you must add some spices to avoid it from being boring and bland! It’s so important to build flavors, and as I mentioned before, all you need is some dry spices and herbs. I chose ground cumin and smoked paprika, and in the pot I also added fresh rosemary and thyme leaves and a couple of bay leaves.
I bring out my biggest pot, heat it up, spray it with some Pam (alternatively, a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil), add the onion, garlic first and saute for about 5 minutes before adding the carrots and parsnips. I season the vegetables with salt and pepper, and add in 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste. This adds a depth of flavor to the soup and helps thicken it a bit. The beans and herbs go in next:
Then I pour in 2 cups of chicken stock (low sodium), and 4-5 cups of water, season the liquid a little bit, bring to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, put a lid on it and let it cook for about 40 minutes or until the beans are tender. Here is my soup pot right after I added the liquid, ready to get cookin’!
When it’s time to eat, you cook a piece of chicken on the side (Measured out – I eat about 5-6 oz per meal), cut into pieces, place into a serving bowl and pour soup over it, and you’ve got your serving! You can of course eat other vegetables too, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.
Flavorful, satisfying, soul-warming soup on a Friday night.. that’s nearly fat free, has lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals.. Who’s cheating now?? Healthy food IS delicious!!