A superfood you are not eating!

Sunday is always the day I go through my fridge to see what I have, and make a shopping list for the week to come. I happen to have two fridges, since I’m a personal chef, I keep on fridge to store ingredients for clients.   With a gig coming up next week, I went through the client fridge and happened to come across a head of cabbage I had mistakenly placed there, that was for me. So needing to use it, I shredded it in my Cuisinart and made sauerkraut!  As a Norwegian, I grew up with this flavorful side dish, and eating it brings me back to Norway.

sauerkrautImage Courtsey of: Germanfoodguide.com

Yucky you say?  I hope you’ll reconsider, after I give you  a delicious recipe below. If that won’t sway your decision, I happened to come across an article online from SHAPE Magazine by Dr. Mike, where he lists sauerkraut as one of the top six super foods you are not eating. I quote:
“Considering cabbage is low-carb, high-fiber, and contains cancer-fighting 3-indole carbinol and d-glucarate, a compound that works to clear excess estrogen, the veggie is already a superfood. Fermenting it into sauerkraut, however, puts it on nutritional steroids. The probiotics that drive fermentation also help repopulate your digestive system with healthy, hardworking good bacteria that lower inflammation, improve digestion, and maybe even aid in weight loss. Plus fermentation increases the bioavailablity of the antioxidants found in cabbage, and the longer cabbage ferments, the higher the levels of antioxidants become, meaning your body can better absorb and use them.”

What do you say about THAT?? I was super happy to find out that cooking the cabbage down makes it even better for you, as I’m always worried about boiling vegetables too much, so that they lose their nutritional value.  I always loved cabbage, and you can make raw slaw from it too, adding vinegar of your choice, spices/herbs and some pickled cucumbers for instance:

cabbageslaw

If you don’t feel like making sauerkraut from scratch, you can buy it ready-to-eat at the store but the homemade version always wins!  Salty, sweet and tangy it is a tasty companion to any protein and starch.. another way to spice up your meal!

SAUERKRAUT

Serves 4-6

Pam Spray

1 head cabbage (about 2 lbs)

1 tbsp whole juniper berries, crushed

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp caraway seeds (can be omitted if you don’t enjoy this taste)

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1pkt stevia

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 Granny Smith apple, cubed
Spray large pot over medium heat, add cabbage and sauté while constantly stirring. Add the apple chunks and shallots, continuing to stir. Towards the end once the cabbage is getting soft (about 10-15 minutes), turn up the heat to extract as much water as possible from the cabbage. Add the cider vinegar, juniper berries, cumin, caraway, stevia and salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s my humble, but flavorful lunch today: 5 1/2 oz grilled chicken, 1/2 sweet potato and TONS of sauerkraut!! (oh and a dollop of calorie free BBQ Sauce… )

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Leg training and food to follow

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:

IMG_1637Pretty, aren’t they? Nutritional info for the beans, for those interested are as follows: per 1/4 cup (dry measure) they contain 90 calories, 0g fat, 26g carbs, 15g fiber, 1g sugar and 9g protein.

Then I added some chopped onion, garlic cloves, chopped parsnips and carrots along w/half a container with chicken stock:

IMG_1638On 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.

IMG_1639I 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:

IMG_1640

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’!

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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!!

Breakfast of champions

I always look forward to breakfast – my body has been in a fasting state for several hours, and I get to eat oatmeal! In the winter it is especially rewarding to have a warm bowl of oats, with a piping hot cup of coffee, and life seems a-ok.  Since I work out in the late morning (weight training) it works as perfect fuel for me, to have a combination of carbs and protein. My protein source comes from 1 cup of egg whites, from which I make an omelet. To spice it up, I grate about 1/2 a tsp of parmesan cheese into it, you’d be surprise how much flavor this cheese packs in such a tiny amount! While I don’t do it close to stage time, it’s perfect for every day eating.  1 tbsp of parmesan cheese contains only 22 calories and 1.4g fat. Cant beat that, right? I also sometimes grate it on my vegetables for lunch or dinner, just to make the plate more exciting.   Recently I’ve dotted some reduced sugar ketchup on top of my eggs too – feels naughty but it is relatively innocent  (1 tbsp contains 5 calories, o g fat and 1g carbs).  Here’s my plate from this morning:

eggwhites

1 cup of egg whites contains 118 calories, 25 grams of protein and 4g fat – a perfect choice to start your day.

My oatmeal I cook in 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk  and 1 cup of water- I use Almond Breeze (40 cal/cup and 3g fat) – there is also Silk Almond milk at less calories w/30 cal/cup that came out a while ago. I don’t like using regular milk for several reasons, but it’s usually too high in sugars and I don’t think it really adds anything to my diet.  I eat 1/2 cup oatmeal (dry measure) and like to simmer it slowly on the stove with cinnamon and stevia (or truvia), using that much liquid helps increase the amount /expands the oats, so you get more bang for the buck! It also tastes creamier and more homemade, only takes about 10 minutes and you’re done! Here’s my pot from this morning right after I poured the oats in:

oatmeal  This portion contains 180 calories, 34g of carbs and 4g of fat.  I am not concerned with calories, more so with the macronutrients as I try to stay within 1 g protein per pound of body weight, and right now, around 0.8 g of carbs per lb of body weight. Fat intake is around 50-60g per day, could probably go a bit higher when I get leaner.

So that’s it folks – after this meal you will be STUFFED (at least I am), so give yourself at least an hour before you hit the gym! With that, I’m off to walk my two pups – a little mild cardio session before weights! 🙂 have a great day!

Tonight’s dinner; lean, clean and flavorful !

Although more a summery dish, today was relatively mild here in New York, so I felt like creating a lighter dinner with octopus and vegetables tonight.  For added flavor without the fat, I use a grill top that I place on my stove, get it piping hot, spray it with some Pam, and place cut up vegetables like halves bell peppers, zucchini rounds, thinly sliced eggplant (I rub these with salt about 1/2 hour before cooking to extract some moisture, prevents them from getting bitter and soggy when eating), red onion, portobello mushrooms (Meaty, rich and earthy in flavor) and lastly I add on strips of pre-boiled octopus (or squid). I season the vegetables with salt and pepper before adding them on to the grill, and then I will drizzle some fresh lemon juice over the octopus in the end and season with salt and pepper. Here is the grill top I use, it’s a Lodge Logic pro cast-iron skillet, and you can get these at any store like Walmart, Target, etc. for around $40 and they last FOREVER! Definitely worth the investment.

castirongrilltopYou can use this to grill your skirt steak, chicken and scallops to create that charred flavor you get from the BBQ, and the nice cross-patterns on the protein are always attractive to look at  – remember we eat with our eyes!

The key to making delicious squid, is to boil it before grilling it.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place the octopus in the water, turn down to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. Make sure the grill is blazing hot before you place the squid on the grill, DO NOT TO OVER COOK IT! FIve minutes on each side should do it (and don’t mess with it while it’s on the grill, to prevent it from sticking and making a mess).  If you’ve ever had octopus you may have remembered it as rubbery and chewy, this is because 90% of people serving it in restaurants don’t cook it correctly.  When cooked right, it is tender, and has a delicious flavor and texture.  Squid may look like parts of the “Alien” before you cook it, but just stay open minded and I swear you will have found your new favorite protein!

Keep in mind that octopus contains a lot of water, and therefore will shrink when cooked, so you will end up with a lot less than what you have in the beginning.

Three ounces of octopus (raw) contains 70 calories, 13g of protein, less than 1g fat, 2g carbohydrates and is a good source of potassium, zinc and vitamin B12.  You can fill up on vegetables as a side like the ones I mentioned above, I choose not to include any starchy carbs in the evening, as I do better adding them in earlier in my day when I’m more active and crave them.

I also like octopus served with a chickpea puree, salsa and drizzled with a little vinegar, or topped on a nice, green salad.  You can spice it up with oregano or chili pepper, and add it to a stew with onions, potatoes and smoked paprika.

For those cheat meals;  delicious when added to pasta w/tomato sauce too! Substitute squid for shrimp if you’d like (no need to preboil the shrimp and you only need to grill the shrimp 1 minute on each side). Bon appetit!

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Food choices

When the word “diet” is spoken, why is it that most of us immediately sense restriction, start feeling a bit uncomfortable, get emotions of guilt and in the end, overwhelm ourselves with all kinds of negative thoughts?   “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle”, we hear – and while many of us might mean well, do we really employ this way of thinking?  I believe it took me about three years (up until now) to really believe this and understand the meaning of that sentence. I always thought I had to be “perfect” at everything, better than everyone else.  If not, punishment lay ahead. While I’ve also been on the horrific diet of tilapia and asparagus six times a day and restricted carbs beyond the ridiculous point while I was prepping for a show – I’ve come to realize you don’t have to go to these extremes to achieve, and more importantly, maintain, a great physique. What happens when you look at certain foods a certain way? oooh that food is BAD, oooh no that food is EVIL! that is going to make me fat! The brain sends a signal to your stomach and instantly you are starving, you crave sweets out of nowhere, and you just have to have it. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve had periods where I eat anything I want, and I never get cravings for sweets or candy. Why? Because I know I can have it anytime, anywhere. Where’s the fun in that?? See where I’m going.. like I described in my previous posts, it’s all about the mindset, and the body will follow.

As many of you know, I work as a chef and a wine consultant , and I write about food every day. Not just health food – but fattening, sugary”naughty” foods, paired with wine, beer and vodka, and I have to sometimes attend wine dinners where up to 12-15 courses are served with more wines than a regular person can imagine.  Wine tastings are a weekly part of my job, to stay current on new (and old) releases, and I consult for restaurants and bars who need their cocktail lists updated. So how do I combine my love of fitness for my love of food and wine? I practice restraint, but not restriction. Just because a plate of food is placed in front of me, doesn’t mean I have to finish it, or eat everything that’s on it.  I admit it’s more difficult when I open a bottle of wine – who can drink just one glass?  Seriously… I also want to enjoy myself, so when I hear fitness people trying to teach their audience and clients to “push food around to make people believe they are eating”, that reminds me of someone who’s teaching anorectic behaviors. Life is to be enjoyed, but there are also realistic sacrifices that has to be made in order to achieve a fit body. Can you look get abs like Ava Cowan and Dana Linn Bailey by drinking wine every day and having pizza three times a week? Of course not. What do you want most? What is important to you right at this very minute? If the answer is pizza, there’s nothing wrong with that – I’ve made that many decision many times, but I also made a decision not to feel guilty about it when I did go and get that slice. That’s all!

In daily life, I try to vary my foods a lot, so the feeling of restriction does not occur. Luckily, my profession comes with a certain sense of creativity, access to and knowledge about ingredients and a natural interest in cooking.  Instead of flavoring the food with butter and oil (mmmm….) I add fresh herbs and spices. I urge you all to expand your spice rack!! Beyond the old, boring “Mr. Dash” (oh the horror), garlic powder and lemon pepper. HOW DAMN BORING!! Why are people so afraid of sodium? I never restricted sodium my entire prep, until perhaps two-three days before I got on stage, and I looked like this:

Philipstown-20111110-00038

Do I look bloated? LOL. Anyway, as a chef I use a lot of salt, as seasoned cooks believe (rightfully so) that salt brings out the flavor in food and some salt is also necessary for the body to run properly. It is also more satisfying to eat flavorful foods, rather than bland food, when perhaps you are restricting the amount you can eat, to begin with.  My opinion is that if I can’t be stuffed at the end of a meal, let me at least enjoy it while it lasts, lol! 🙂

Anyway, back to my point about food choices; be inventive, read food magazines and articles, watch cooking shows and adapt regular recipes to fit your diet needs. There is no need to add butter, oil or full fat anything (although sometimes that is fun too) – but include items like exotic spices; Indian spices like garam masala, coriander and turmeric, African spices like berbere and raas al’hanout, Scandianvian spices of dill, caraway and anise seed, as well as any chopped, fresh herbs to add into your salad dressings to make the food “pop”.

There are also other proteins out there than egg whites, chicken and fish, people. How about lean meats like bison, elk, venison, octopus, scallops and squab? If you don’t know how to cook them, just look up an instructional video on Youtube, or ask me right here, and I will be happy to help out with a recipe and fabulous cooking method! It’s easy, you will be so happy you learned to make a new dish, and your palate will expand also. It’s a win win! Believe me, in the end you will feel like you are cheating – and hence, are able to stay on this “diet” for the rest of your life and maintain that fabulous body that you have worked so hard to get. I will post some more pictures in the weeks ahead, but for now, I leave you with a beautiful dish I made with venison, brussels sprouts and rosemary-roasted sweet potato “fries” (in the end I ended up eating a whole lot more vegetables than this –  a food I never restrict or restrain from – but for a photo op this looks better 🙂 Who said “diet” foods are bland, boring and ugly to look at?  While we may have found our “groove” in the gym already, our eating habits are always harder to conquer, because temptations exists around us 24/7… You can’t out train a bad diet – so be sure to pay extra attention to your diet in 2013! Stay tuned for more food tips and recipes!

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So far so good?

Just checking in to see if you guys have been good this week, and that your year is off to a great start! I have had a decent week so far – I made it to the gym every day, and my diet is back to being 95% perfect (with the exception of one leftover glass of wine I consumed on Tuesday night/after New Years).  I feel I don’t want alcohol or any sweets anymore, which is nice.   In my experience, it takes about 2 weeks for the body to get adjusted, so I’m being patient with myself while making small changes and corrections each day.  I find myself being incredibly thirsty and must have been drinking about 2 gallons of water a day recently, not sure why but at least it’s keeping hunger in check! Eliminating alcohol from my diet will also do wonders for me – not easy being a wine consultant, but I feel it’s necessary to get a kick start to my prep.
I’ve started a new training program which focuses on more reps and sets. I pretty much stick to 6 exercises or so, but instead of doing 15, 12, 10, 8 I do 15-20 sets of each and I do a lot of drop sets and super sets. Today was shoulders and my work-out looked like this:

Warm up: 4x 15 lateral db raises (light to medium weight)

Shoulder presses; 6-8 heavy, then drop set 6,8, then another drop 15-failure (3 sets total)

Smith machine upright rows; 6-8 heavy, then drop 15-20 reps/to failure (3 sets total)

Lying on incline bench- lateral raises, heavy 6-8, slightly lighter 6-8, then cut the weight in half 15 reps  or until burnout (4 sets)

Front raises w/cable – same rep /set scheme as above

Machine shoulder press the 28 method: 7 regular tempo reps, then 7 reps w/6 seconds slowly going down on the negative,pause,  then  7 reps x 6 seconds slow going up on the positive and finish with 7 pumps on the lower range and 7 pumps on the upper range of the movement.

After that I was supposed to do abs but they hurt from two days before, so I decided not to… what a whuzz! haha.. Seriously, I’ve had a timid approach to my workouts this week, I feel heavy and out of shape because I’ve been so irregular with my routine the past couple of months, plus I have had the sensation of a burn out for a while. I need to slowly get back into it – I know if I go all out right away like I used to, I will burn out again, so I’m practicing patience with myself at the same time being persistent.  In a way I feel I’m going through the motions until I get that “fire” back in me – it’s gradually coming back, I can feel it!

This year I will be focusing on my shoulders and back and developing my lats- I feel my upper body needs to be improved, fill out and I also want to get stronger there. My legs have always been a strong point, although one can always perfect the BUM!! Keyword: glute-ham tie in!

Hope you are all fighting to stay fit and will enjoy your weekend!  I leave you with a motivating picture of my  mentor and coach, Dana Linn Bailey – those are delts to die for! Next month I will post a picture of mine, promise! 🙂

danadelts

 

2013: A year of action or excuses?

This morning at breakfast I happened to come across a panel discussion consisting of a handful of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders on one of my favorite morning shows.  I always find it inspiring to listen to people’s life stories, but what particularly struck me today was the one common denominator they possessed; they all lead by example, showing the world by action how they came to be a success. Why are they admired by hundreds of thousands, if not millions? Because they have applied action to theory, they stuck with their idea and belief in that their model would work.  One person, now the owner of  a multimillion dollar business, described how he used to live in the back of his car for months, while another recalled how his family and friends thought he was crazy to give up a well paying, steady job to pursue his dream. These people had the guts to be honest with themselves, to go for their big goals, despite criticism from others.  Holding on to the belief in a positive outcome may be the toughest for most people, especially since they may see next to next to no progress some days.  It is easy to stay motivated and inspired when things go smoothly, but very few people have the patience and guts to keep going when times are hard.  I see that many times in the clients I coach, if they don’t see immediate results, they start regressing, getting lazy or stop paying attention to details of their programs which, while not seeming very important at that moment, are vital to long term success.

The question raised by the moderator of the panel discussion was ‘is the pursuit of success in your DNA?’ and while many times this may be true, hard work seemed to be more important than anything.  When we look at people who have arrived at fortune, we tend to think ‘oh, he must live the perfect life’, or “must be nice”, etc.  What we don’t see is the struggles, the bad days and all the troubles they’ve had to overcome or are even experiencing today, in order to arrive at this state. The host of the morning show may rake in millions of dollars, but he /she has to get up at 3 am every morning and will have to give up time with their families at night in order to get sleep, they are scrutinized by media and the public every day and have next to no privacy, while the CEO of a million dollar business is living under constant pressure from shareholders.  Life is not perfect, and we all have to do things we don’t always love to do, in order to achieve what we put our minds to. This is the price of success. Anthony Robbins, a successful motivational coach, offered a very good suggestion to those who wish to pursue their goals and that is to surround yourself with successful people. You will soon start to think like them and act like them, which in turn will materialize into the results you have envisioned for yourself. This goes hand in hand with choosing to stay in positive company; people who bring you up, not down. Life is too short to spend time with anyone who doesn’t make you feel that you too, can become great.

How similar isn’t the business world to the fitness world?  We see which athletes have achieved greatness; the ones who apply methods of training and staying on their diet, while remaining vigilant and positive even in their darkest, most difficult times. They continued to push through by staying persistent, consistent and hard working.  Did they have some sort of magic formula that the rest of us have yet to discover? Of course not. Because they decided to take action, and stop philosophizing.  They chose to see the possibilities, not the problems, they refused to make any excuses.

Avoiding complacency is another one; what happens then? If you get cocky and think ‘now I’ve got it, I’ve got the secret’, your shape starts deteriorating, or as business leader, if you don’t stay abreast of the current trends or constantly come up with new inventions to stay current, your company will lose market share and eventually fail.  Staying successful is probably even more difficult than becoming successful, much as maintaining your fabulous new shape is harder than losing the actual weight. This requires constant work, continuing dedication and most of all; patience. You think you have all the answers now? Sorry, life isn’t that easy. But how boring would it be, if there were no more challenges ahead?  Humans were given a brain to keep using it, meeting new situations that require solving, and a body miraculously created to do amazing things.

Equally important as taking action, is changing your mindset. If you constantly keep telling yourself “I will never make it”, “I’m so fat”, “everyone else seems to have such a wonderful life” you will invite those thoughts into your life, and they will become reality.  We have seen that people whose success stories have materialized, have this unwavering belief in themselves, which not only is impressive but should be mandatory for us all. Believe in yourself. Make your mind up this year to be positive – as I have mentioned before, it takes just as much energy to be negative as it does to keep positive, so why would you choose to continue wallowing in thoughts that won’t help?

I spent most of 2012 focusing on my problems (injuries, financial trouble, etc.) and therefore came up with a number of excuses. Did that improve my situation? Not one bit. I’ve decided that in 2013 I need to apply the theory of the saying ‘if you want what you don’t have, you have to do something you haven’t done’.  Another good one is “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  By taking action my life will change for the better. I will stay true to myself, believe that I have everything in my power to become successful both  in my professional life and as I continue to improve my physique. No more excuses. What will YOU choose??

mindbuddha

Happy New Year!

Although I’ve been less than vigilant posting on my blog this year, I wanted to wish my readers a wonderful new year to come and I hope 2013 brings you everything you have ever wanted! Remember.. work for it and it will arrive… slowly but surely!

I myself will start tomorrow, December 31st, back to working out 6 x a week with some additional cardio to shed a few pounds before getting into competition season. I have a couple of shows in mind for late June/July if finances will allow. I’ve been lucky to have met a wonderful bodybuilder at my gym who just turned pro and will help me with my diet as well as showing me around the ropes of the NPC, since that will be a new federation for me. She is amazing and you should check her out, her name is Rene Marven, click on the name and you will arrive at her website. She started as a figure competitor and has now moved into the bodybuilding division and is a great example of a positive, helpful and inspiring individual in this industry . With DLB still helping me with my training, I think it will be a great combination but most of all, I finally feel fired up and ready to go! This year has been a trial in all aspects of life, but I am tired of complaining and just want to kick some ass already! I remember a saying that goes “It takes just as much energy to wake up and be negative complaining as it does to be positive and keep going.” So what will be YOUR choice in 2013??

Hope you choose the latter.. as for me, I will focus on what I will GAIN from making changes, rather than what I have to GIVE UP. Having turned 40 (yes, I said it) this month, I feel like I have gotten a new start and my conditioning and shape has never been better so need to take that as a sure sign to just keep pushing that gas pedal!

Thanks for all your support this year, my readers – I look forward to hanging in there with you for another year… and year after that! Keep checking back for updates..Fight to be fit everyone!! xoxoxoxo

 

Spicy Roasted Squash

These days I tend to go to squash for my carbohydrates a lot as we are in the middle of “Squash” season coming into winter. I came across this great recipe for a butternut squash side in one of my cookbooks by Jamie Oliver and I think it’s a perfect accompaniment to any lean protein.  Sometimes we just need to “spice” up our foods, especially since we tend to eat the same thing day in and day out – it’s amazing  how much excitement and flavor spices and herbs can add to every day healthy foods! I don’t have the calorie content unfortunately as I don’t count calories, but I usually will eat 1/2-1 cup per meal.Try them out – believe me, you will feel “naughty” eating this, almost like you’re cheating! 🙂

Try it out!

Spicy Roasted Squash

6 servings

1 medium /large butternut squash (2-3 lbs)

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp dried oregan0

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

2 small dried red chilies (or to taste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil (or spray)

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the squash, then cut it in half with a large sharp knife (cut off one side and roll the squash on to the cut edge to make this safer and easier). With a large spoon, remove the seeds from the squash (try roasting these and either spray the with Pam or sprinkle with a little olive oil and some sea salt and have them as a snack or top on a salad). Cut the squash lengthways into quarters in hal – you should have approximately 1 inch thick, boat-shaped wedges of squash. Put them into a bowl.

Put all the dried herbs and spices into a mortar and pestle and pound them up with the salt and pepper to make a fine powder. Once you’ve done this, add the garlic clove and pound it into the spices. Scrape out the contents into the bowl and add 1 tbs of olive oil. Toss the squash thoroughly in this herb and spice mixture, making sure that all the pieces are well coated.

Place the squash pieces in a line, skin side down, on a baking tray. Roast them for about 30 minutes, or until tender. The spicy flavor will cook into the squash, and the squash will crisp lightly, the skin becoming caramelized and chewy.

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Why I love lifting

wow-i-really-regret-that-workout

I sometimes feel alone in my “obsession” of lifting and hitting the gym as frequently and as passionately as I do. Most of my friends and colleagues are either not working out at all, or they may engage in a zumba or yoga class here and there. Nothing wrong with that, but they fail to see why I’m so in love with my hobby, and why I want to be so muscular (…), especially since I also live and breathe food and wine. It’s much easier to understand and be compassionate with someone who has overeaten and had too many drinks, than someone who sticks to their guns and likes to be in shape no matter what, right? I’ve been accused of having a ‘distorted self-image’, being a perfectionist and too strict with myself, “oh, live a little” – I get told, or my favorite one ‘You deserve it!’. What – I deserve to get an extra muffin top, after having killed myself in the gym? I think not. But… as we all know, it’s not easy to discuss this with people who don’t “get it”.

It has been a little over three years now since I discovered serious weight lifting, and two years since my first figure competition. Sure, I won’t lie that I thought the best benefits of working out initially were that I finally could wear what I wanted, I felt good in anything I tried on in the store, and just all around felt better, physically. But after a while, I noticed why I love this sport so much. It’s not mainly to be vain or look good in the mirror, but it’s the amazing POSITIVITY among my fellow competitors and work out buddies. Everyone has a “go get’em” attitude, they constantly strive to better themselves, look at every day in a positive way and are goal oriented people. It is extremely inspiring and invigorating to be around people with a purpose, people thirsty for life. I have rarely come across a competitor who played the victim, looked at the glass half empty or who focused on all their problems instead of all the possibilities.  Most people are also incredibly friendly and eager to help and support whenever you need it. THIS is why I’m addicted to being surrounded by like minded gym “rats” , and I feel very fortunate to have discovered it, albeit a bit late in life!

Currently I’m really excited at the gains I’ve made in the gym, despite not being terribly focused this year. I still make it to the gym, even though I’ve had a period now where I’ve wanted to stay at home, but I always feel incredible afterwards and happy I went. So I’m just on autopilot now, putting in the work, and know I will be rewarded one day soon when I get out of my rut. Working out is my medicine, my therapist and my good friend who I can always rely on making me feel better every day I’m tempted to think that my life is difficult. Give it a try – if you’re stuck in a rut, just go – don’t ask yourself “Should I, shouldn’t I?” Because the answer will always be no if you give yourself a choice. You will be rewarded tenfolds if you just stick it out for a couple of weeks, after that you will be on autopilot too!