3 Ways To Stay Motivated On Your Fitness Journey + Some Exciting News!

3 Ways To Stay Motivated On Your Fitness Journey + Some Exciting News!

Happy Monday, folks! I always love Mondays, unlike most people, because it’s my day off from my regular day job and I get to work on what I love: my new coaching business, which means the day is filled with health, fitness, mindset and motivation! I am really optimistic about the months to come, so many exciting things ahead, some of which I’ll reveal in this blog post.

Yesterday marked the last day of my 6-week “Eat To Live” program by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, where I followed his plan of eating lots of green vegetables, fruit, bean and legumes, and limited whole grains and tofu/soy products, and no oils, rather just healthy fats in the form of avocado, nuts, and seeds. I enjoyed this way of eating very much, although the “3 meals a day” only (no snacking in between) I found difficult to follow because of my active lifestyle. I sometimes found myself ravenous in front of each meal, and thus it becomes harder to stick to your plan.  I will be including an afternoon snack in the future, but will stick to the “no oil” rule, and include a little bit of whole grain during the day or right after my workouts.  All in all, the 6 week program was a success, I lost 8lbs and my clothes are a little less snug!

I’m now ready for the next step in my health and fitness journey. As with everything, you need to find motivation to keep going and improving yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally – the body and mind needs constant stimulation and inspiration, and we’re responsible for providing this to continue to improve and take it to the next level.  Working with a few of my clients in my new health coaching business, I have noticed a common thread: They are not fond of going to the gym. They either a) don’t have the time, b) are intimidated by the gym or c) don’t like the environment of a gym, and have no idea what to do once they are there.  As a personal trainer, I have spent quite a bit of time designing workout programs for them to do at home, and it sometimes took away the focus from other things I could be doing.  This is when I stumbled across a few of my colleagues who are involved with Beach Body and are fitness coaches full time. It dawned on me: this is a perfect fit for my health coaching business! I can direct people to the BeachBody site, they can order whatever workout program looks enticing to them, and they have me to coach them and I also get to benefit from the great, and HUGE variety of products Beach Body has to offer! The company is filled with inspiring, creative, smart and resourceful women (and men) who are passionate about helping people create a healthy and active lifestyle. I always go with my gut, and this time it said “go for it!” So there you have it – introducing your new Beach Body Fitness coach! 🙂

sunnyflex

I’m really excited to start, as I know people have gotten fantastic results from participating in these programs, and today marks day 1 for my own fitness challenge: The 21 Day Fix Extreme. I just finished the plyo workout, and boy it sure had my glutes and leg on fire!

Do you need that extra little push to fit in exercise and healthy fitness into your life? I would love to help you! In as little as 30 minutes a day you could be on to not just the body of your dreams, but feeling healthy, energetic and happy throughout the day as a result of treating your body with the respect and attention it deserves.  As some of you know, diet is also important, and as a professional chef, I am passionate about making plant based, whole foods not just accessible, but delicious and creative.  I am dedicated to providing both of these services to my clients.

Feeling a little bored with your workouts or uninspired with the way you eat? Try these 3 tips to keep you motivated on your health and fitness journey. As always, it requires you put in some work, but the results you will get will outshine your efforts, each and every time!

1.  Keep variety alive in the kitchen.  There is an abundance of different greens, vegetables, whole grains and legumes out there to allow you to eat a different meal every day of the year. When I was on a traditional body building diet (which is the worst way to eat, mind you), I was told I had to eat tilapia and aspargus five times a day, and yes, that included breakfast (!). Who can in their right mind think that this is a healthy and fun way to live?  No wonder people fall off this diet and end up in a stupor of chips, chocolate, burgers and fries topped with soda, beer, booze and more at the end of that intolerable experience.  No chiseled physique is worth treating your body with such disrespect!

Seek out different spices and herbs that you may never have heard of, stock them in your pantry and add them to your steamed, baked or water sauted veggies, cooked whole grains, beans, lentils or you can even add some of them even into your oats or quinoa porridge in the morning.  Go for Moroccan cuisine one day, Scandinavian the next, Chinese or Japanese the following day and end with Middle Eastern or Spanish another day. Spend a couple of hours during the weekend researching some easy recipes (or hire me as your coach, I’ve got an abundance of quick, easy to make recipes and you’ll never have to wonder about dinner ever again:) and prep up some meals for the week on Sunday night. It takes the guess work out of what you will eat, and you will be excited and look forward to each meal every day. Healthy does not mean you have to suffer or give up flavor or fun, it should be tasty and nutritious and keep you happy!

Produce from the local area fills the isles at the Bremen Farmers Auction August 28, 2012. (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)
Produce from the local area fills the isles at the Bremen Farmers Auction August 28, 2012. (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)

2.  Work on your mindset.  We all know the saying “the mind is a powerful thing”, and truly, what you tell yourself each and every day determines how you will feel and what action you will take that day. It takes just as much effort to be miserable and unhappy as it does to choose a positive mindset and decide you want to have great day – so why not choose the latter? Getting in daily exercise is a huge one here, because who feels crappy after a work out? Endorphins are released, we feel stronger and better equipped at taking on the challenges of the day.  Reading books on self development and following inspirational people on social media and surrounding yourself with likeminded, supportive people is also very important to your success.

mindset

3. Hire a coach.  This is not a plug for my own business, but rather – it is a step I included because I myself have had the best results when I reached out to someone who had more experience and knowledge in the field I was trying to improve upon.  I have hired a personal trainer and I had a coach helping me with my diet and keeping me motivated, inspired and not to mentione, accountable, as well as giving me an outside perspective. It is tremendously valuable and only by taking action in investing in yourself will you truly understand this.

Realizing you can’t do it all yourself, and having the courage to ask for help, is the first important step in telling yourself and your body: “I value and respect myself. I prioritize myself because without my health I have nothing.”  I think of my body as my best friend – it tries so hard to keep me healthy every second of the day, even though I may not always make the best choices for it.  Try and think about your body as a person who just wants the best for you – and try to feed it the best, nourishing foods it needs to function properly and make sure you move around every day so it stays in good shape. When things get hard – hire a coach and have an outside friend and supporter keep you on track.  Guaranteed you will never regret it!

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Mindful Eating: Eat To Live

Mindful Eating: Eat To Live

This week I started following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat To Live” program, in order to clean up my diet, shed a few pounds before summer but more importantly; increase my energy as I’ve got a lot on my plate these next few months with setting up my new business, studying for continuing education courses and wanting to feel better all around.  The concept of Dr.  Fuhrman’s ‘diet’ (I hate using that word) is in essence, that when the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient dense food you eat, the less you will crave fat, sweets and high calorie (and less nutrient dense) foods.  It’s essentially about maximizing the macronutrients per calorie.  His formula goes like this: health = nutrients / calories.

eattolivebook

I love this way of eating because there is no need to weigh or measure the food. You get a list of foods you can eat as much as you want of (basically all raw vegetables, leafy greens, crucifierous vegetables, beans, legumes and all fruits), some to eat in moderation (raw nuts and seeds, avocado, plant based milks, and starchy vegetables such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole grain breads), and foods that are OFF limits include dairy, all animal products, in between meal snacks, fruit juice and dried fruit as well as all oils, salt and sugar.  Now I will tell you I am not perfect, and will still be salting my food! It’s the last “vice” I have from my chef’ing days, I still think vegetables taste bland if not salted. I managed to compete in bodybuilding and get shredded and down to below 10% body fat while still eating salt, and although I am not as heavy handed with the salt shaker anymore – I am picking my battles here…

The five “rules” are:

  1. Consume a large green salad every day, and put some raw onion and shredded cruciferous veggies on top.
  2. Eat at least a 1/2 cup of beans or lentils each day, in a soup, stew, or top of a salad or in another dish.
  3. Eat at least 3 fresh fruits a day, especially berries, pomegranate, cherries, plums, and oranges.
  4. Eat at least 1 ounce of raw seeds and nuts daily, utilizing some chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. Limit to 1 oz if you are trying to lose weight.
  5. Consume a double-sized serving of steamed greens daily, and utilize mushrooms and onions in your dishes.

There are endless ways of preparing these foods, while you might think the list looks restrictive, it certainly isn’t – just think of how many varieties of green vegetables there are out there! As a chef, I am challenged to come up with different ways of eating my food, and how to enjoy them. I am using my spice rack frequently and utilizing herbs and spices I haven’t in a while, which have been delighting my taste buds.  I’ve had not felt hungry all week and have had surprisingly few cravings, with the exception of last night, when I was craving something sweet (I ended up chewing on a date and going to bed). I am sure there will be days when I want to run to the store and buy the entire shelf of chocolate, breads and crackers, but will then take a moment to reflect on my goal and why I want to do this.  Eating crappy foods always make me feel crappy – it only gives me pleasure for a couple of minutes.  Mindful eating is about paying attention to every bite, reflecting on how it nourishes your body and how you will feel eating it as a result. Try it!

I will continue to post about my experience with this way of eating. I’ve added some photos below of meals I’ve prepared this week… If you are curious about the Eat To Live program or have any questions at all about plant based eating, as always- please don’t hesitate to ask me anything, I love to hear from you! Wishing you all a happy and healthy weekend filled with delicious, mindful eating! 🙂

Breakfast 1: Oatmeal with cinnamon, currants, blueberries, strawberries, 1/2 a mashed banana sprinkled with 1 tbsp of walnuts:

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Breakfast 2: Green smoothie with lots of kale, 1/2 banana, 2 dates, water and ice:

 

 

 

Greensmoothie

 

Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-Cancer Veggie Soup, with lentils, chickpeas and adzuki beans sprinkled with some nutritional yeast:

Veggiesoupanticancer

My daily green salad for lunch with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and some type of beans will go on top. Dressing is always oil free, sometimes with some nut butter (cashews) to make it creamy:

Vegetableslunch

 

A flax roll up (which is awesome, low calories- around 135 cal, and 12 grams of protein, only 24g of carbs, 9 grams of fiber) spread with a ginger-garlic-tahini sauce, stuffed with grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted peppers, arugula and cucumbers, SO good!:

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Food Variety Key To Keep You on Track

Food Variety Key To Keep You on Track

I caught myself this week feeling a bit tired of my tried and true go-to lunches I typically prepare at home to bring to work. For those who know me, might find this incredible – as I always love to experiment with foods and pride myself on making at least two new dishes every week and add to my repertoire. But when days and weeks get hectic and time is of the essence, my creativity suffers and I end up with something lack-luster on my plate and not looking forward to eating. This is a common problem among many, whether you choose to make your own food or resort to buying prepared foods.

If we eat the same thing over and over (like I did for instance when I was on a traditional bodybuilding diet prepping for a show), our bodies will resist as we are depriving it of nutrients, and cravings kick in.  This is when we “fall off the wagon” and end up buried in a sea of Doritos, chocolate, tubs of ice cream or bottles of wine, whatever your “drug” of choice is.  So what can we do to avoid this?  Go to the grocery store and pick out at least one or two items you have never cooked with (or maybe never even heard of) before, and research how to prepare it.  This could be an exotic vegetable or fruit, or some type of ancient grain, spice or condiment that looks interesting.  Build your meal around it, and you’ll be surprised at how happy your taste buds will get! Your body will thank you, and you will discover you need to eat less to feel more satisfied. It’s a win win, and you’ll learn something new in the process.

foodvariety

Today I went through my cabinets, determined to cook something different, and I found a bag of teff which I had forgotten all about. Now, I’ve cooked with it before, but it has been a while, so I happily cut it open and started to create a meal.  Teff is a nutritious and versatile African cereal native to Ethiopia, about the size of a poppy seed, and come in a variety of colors.  It has been named by many the “new quinoa”, as it is rich in protein (26 grams per 1 cup uncooked),  calcium, thiamin and iron.   The iron from teff is easily absorbed by the body and is also very high in fiber, thought to benefit diabetics, as it helps to stabilize blood sugar.  Teff is also gluten free, hence a great choice for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.  Due to is energy enhancing properties and rich nutritional profile, it is also popular among athletes.

So how is teff used? It’s known as the main ingredient in the Ehtiopian sourdough flatbread “injera”, but can also be used as a thickener in soups, gravies and stews.  I also like to make a porridge out of it and eat it for breakfast, in place of the old favorite, oatmeal.

Today I chose to make a stew out of teff, and I largely used the recipe on the package, with a few additions.  Can’t wait to bring it with me to work and have it for lunch!

teffpackage

 

I’ve included the recipe below – it’s highly satisfying, high in protein, nutrients and low in fat – just like I enjoy my meals. I hope you will try it, and as always – if you have any questions or need help with coming up with ideas for plant based recipes to include in your diet, please let me know in the comment section!

TEFF STEW  (vegan and gluten free)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp berbere

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup teff

2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped up

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped up

1 x 15 oz canned tomatoes, chopped up

2 cups canned (or pre-cooked) black beans (or chickpeas)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup organic frozen corn, thawed

juice from one lemon

handful fresh cilantro and mint, chopped up

In a large pan, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat and add onion, pepper and garlic and a drizzle of kosher salt,  saute for about 5 minutes until onion mixture starts to soften up.  Add spices and lower heat, cook for about 1 minute, then add teff and cook for another 2 minutes until spices are soaked up into the teff. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Add the beans, peas, corn, cilantro, mint and lemon juice, stir until combined and heated through.   Taste to with salt and pepper and serve.

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Protein on a Vegan Diet

The amount of protein you need in your diet depends a lot on your body weight and what activities you do.  More protein is not necessarily better. Americans in general eat far more protein than we need each day.The RDA for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you’d need 51 grams of protein per day (140 pounds = 63.5 kg, and 63.5 X .8 = 50.8).
This might be higher if you are incorporating a vigorous weightlifting routine into your schedule, but regardless, it is not only possible, but easy to get enough protein on a daily basis while following a vegan (or plant based) diet!

Gorillaprotein

Protein is made up of amino acids, often described as its building blocks. We actually have a biological requirement for amino acids, not for protein. Humans cannot make nine of the twenty common amino acids, so these amino acids are considered to be essential. In other words, we must get these amino acids from our diets. We need all nine of these amino acids for our body to make protein.  Eating a variety of unrefined grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables throughout the day will make sure we get everything we need, so if one food is low in a particular essential amino acid, another food will make up this deficit.  A strict protein combination is not necessary, it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day, and it is here that many, who have attempted a vegan diet, have failed, and often come to their own conclusion that they got “tired or anemic” or experienced some other type of deficiency when trying to adopt a plant based diet.

veganfoodpyramid

Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often a lot, of protein. Fruits, sugars, fats, and alcohol however,  do not provide much protein (or nutrients for that matter) at all, so a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of deficient in protein (Hence, there are a lot of “unhealthy” vegans out there who live on candy, beer and bread alone… not a good idea). Vegans eating a varied diet containing vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds rarely have any difficulty getting enough protein as long as their diet contains enough energy (calories) to maintain weight.  (source: The Vegetarian Resource Group). Most plant based foods are in general less calorie dense so eating enough is very important. Luckily I don’t have a problem in that area, as I generally have a huge appetite, which follows my active lifestyle.

So how do we combine a meal to ensure we get enough protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals? Here’s is a recipe that will get you well on your way.  This Moroccan vegetable stew, when served with quinoa, is packed full of full of protein. For example 100 grams of quinoa contains 14 grams of protein. Add to that the chickpeas (19 grams of protein in 100 grams of chickpeas) and this is a perfect dish after a tough workout, for example – when you need to fill up on carbs.  Who’s lacking protein now??

FLAVOR- PACKED MOROCCAN VEGETABLE STEW

Adapted from joyofyum.com

Serves 4
Time : 1½ hours

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped into ½” pieces
3 small potatoes, chopped into ½” pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ½” pieces
1 small eggplant, chopped into ½” pieces, seasoned generously with salt and let sit for 30 minutes to let water out
1 can (14½ oz) diced tomatoes, or more /to taste
3 cups water
3 veggie stock cubes
1 can (14½ oz) chickpeas
½ cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Directions

1. Place the onions and garlic in a large saucepan with a little good quality olive oil over medium heat and saute until translucent.

2. Add the spices and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant. Add a little water if the mixture is too dry.

3. Add the apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant and potatoes to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir now and again.

4. Crumble the stock cubes into the pot and then add the water and the can of tomatoes. The vegetables should be covered by the liquid.

5. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 50 minutes to one hour.

6. Rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pan. Heat the Moroccan vegetable stew until the chickpeas are warmed through.

7. While the Moroccan vegetable stew is cooking rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold running water. Place in a pan and cover with 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until all the water is absorbed. It is just fine to let the quinoa stand, covered, in the pan for up to 15 minutes. Fluff it up with a fork before serving.

8. Serve with the quinoa and sprinkle with chopped cilantro (fresh coriander) and dukkah.

moroccanvegetablestew

Dukkah Spice Mix

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix, that typically consists of toasted spices, nuts, seeds and sometimes fresh herbs. You cn sprinkle this on most any dishes like salads, soups, stews, tofu, tempeh for a flavor packed meal.  This makes a batch you can use for many meals. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Ingredients

½ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup cumin seeds
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup pistachios or hazelnuts
½ teaspoon salt
Good grind or two of black pepper

What to do

1. Place the coriander, cumin and sesame seeds into a heavy bottomed skillet (frying pan) and set over a high heat. Keep moving the seeds around in the pan to prevent burning. When a delicious fragrance floats up from the pan, tip the seeds onto a plate to cool.

2. Add the pistachios to the pan and toast them over the high heat.

3. Now put all the ingredients into the goblet of a blender (Vitamix) or food processor and whizz for a few seconds. This is just to combine and chop the nuts and seeds a little. Take care not to pulverize the ingredients.

4. Store in an airtight glass jar.

Dukkaspicemix2

 

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