Pre-workout Snacks

Happy Sunday! I often get asked by my clients what they should eat before a workout, so I thought I’d write a Sunday post with some pre workout snacks to start your week off right! The key is not to eat something heavy… That fast food meal will make you feel heavy, sluggish and energy deprived, not to mention counteract your healthy lifestyle! You want a light snack with a bit of natural sugar to give you energy, a small amount of protein or fat to keep you satisfied and water to hydrate. Eating an hour to a half hour before your workout should be enough time to get the benefits you want. Here are some suggestions:

-Apple slices with nut butter
– veggies and 2 tbsp hummus
– handful of trail mix
– 2 Wasa crackers with nut butter
-2 Wasa crackers with cottage cheese and salsa
– handful of grapes and a light babybell cheese
-berries and 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
-homemade healthy muffin or granola bar
-Larabar, KINDBar, Simply Bar
-rice cakes with nut butter and banana
-Guacamole and Pita Crisps
Energy Bites click to see recipe

Water should be consumed before, during and after your workout. I wouldn’t bother with sport drinks…the average person doesn’t need the added sugar and can get the electrolytes from healthy food choices. After a good sweat session, get yourself a lean protein meal, still avoiding that takeout! Chicken, fish, lean pork or beef with TONS of veggies are great choices post-workout.

If you find you have some tummy troubles during your workout, this may be caused by too much fibre. Try eating your snack earlier or avoiding high fibre options like the Wasa crackers. You could replace these with rice crackers, banana, or toast.
So add some great pre-workout snacks to your weekly meal plan and you will find you have more energy to lift just a bit heavier, or run just a bit further! The only person you should be comparing yourself against is who you were yesterday, so always do YOUR best. Have a great week, live well, love always and healthy snacking!

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Easy Gluten Free Crackers

After a week with a brutal cold…I was craving a nice creamy bowl of cheddar cauliflower soup mhmhhh. I wanted to make something to go with the soup instead of a bun or store bought cracker. I came across this recipe for crackers made of almond flour! They are healthy, gluten free and were sooooooo easy! What a great way to end a Sunday afternoon of ice fishing with some warm soup and delicious crackers! I used dried Rosemary and added thyme and garlic salt to mine, you could really add whatever you like. Here is the link to the recipe: Rosemary Almond Flour Crackers

Enjoy! Live well and love always, have a great week!

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The 5 Necessary Work Day Stretches!

You know the feeling…stiff neck, sore back, eyes feel groggy and heavy. You have been sitting at your computer for the last 8 hours but it feels more like 12! Try a 10 min stretch  and/or walk break morning, lunch and afternoon and you should feel more awake, happier, more productive and have less pain! It is easy, doesn’t make you all sweaty and only takes a few minutes. Here are the 5 stretches I think are the most important for jobs that require a lot of sitting. If you have the time to get up, walk around and/or do a few stairs you will really feel the benefits of stretching and increase your alertness.

1)Neck stretch: Sit on your left hand, and tilt your head to the right, still looking forward. Use your free right hand to either support your head or press down gently for added stretch. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side. Use your free right hand to lift your head back up to neutral to avoid excessively using your neck muscles.

2)Neck stretch #2: To stretch another overused neck muscle, the levator scapulae, perform the same move as above except til your head down and to the side, as if you are trying to sniff your armpit! Trust me, it works!

3)Chest stretch: During the day our shoulders will round and slump, putting more stress on the upper back and neck muscles, as well as creating a chain reacting down to poor lower back posture. Stand beside a wall, facing to the side. Put your arm from the elbow to the hand against the wall, with 90 degrees at both the shoulder and the elbow. Step forward with the foot closest to the wall. Hold for 10-30 sec and repeat on the other side.

chest stretch

4) You may experience low back pain from sitting in a chair all day which could be due to tight and overactive Hamstrings and Hip Flexor muscles that are tilting the pelvis to the posterior, creating back pain. Sitting in your chair, extend one leg with the toes facing up, keeping the other flat on the floor. Hinging from the hip (NOT the lower back) bring your chest forward. You will feel a pull at the back of your leg. Hold 10-30 sec, repeat for the other leg.

hams

5)Stretch the Hip Flexors and Quadriceps by standing up, near something sturdy for balance and grabbing your “shoelaces”. The knee should remain in line with the other knee and upper body is tall and upright. Hold 10-30 sec and repeat for other leg.

quads

When stretching, you should never feel pain, only a slight pulling sensation which could be uncomfortable if you have never experienced it before. If you feel pain, immediately pull back on the intensity of the stretch or stop the stretch all together. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program! Remember, every little bit counts, live well and love always!

Thinking of Trying a Juice Cleanse? Think again…

I am constantly hearing about fitness fads and am asked by clients what’s good or bad. Well, a juice only cleanse is one of the bad ones, as most weight loss health fads tend to be. A recent article I read in States News Service, 2013 interviewed 2 dietetic interns from Vanderbilt University. The article outlined that because of the extreme calorie deficit, people on juice cleanses feel extremely fatigued, they are missing key nutrients as well as calcium and protein. A juicier will remove all the fibre rich skins from the fruit and vegetables, which keeps you fuller longer and supports a healthy digestive system. An article in the New York Times by Judith Newman, 2010, gives a detailed report on her experience trying a juice cleanse as well as some facts from Dr. David Colbert, the New York internist, dermatologist and author of ”The High School Reunion Diet”. Apparently, a juice only cleanse will spike your blood sugar, but shortly after it will drop substantially. This can create diabetic like symptoms and mess with your metabolism, making your body believe it’s starving and slow down your system.

My personal opinion is that starving your body is never a good idea. We need a lot of components in out diet to function effectively and remain healthy. We need protein for muscle and tissue growth, calcium for healthy bones and optimal functioning and lots of fibre to not only keep us full, but keep our intestinal systems running well! Starving the body from regular food could lead to binge eating, weight gain as well as a miserable mood… and who wants that!?

Here’s my recommendation: try a clean eating cleanse, sugar free week or no alcohol weekend….maybe all of the above, depending on your willpower!? This means cutting out all processed, unhealthy foods and consuming only fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, unsweetened dairy and lean meats and (unsalted) nuts! There’s no need for something as extreme as a juice only cleanse to replace food, but if you do enjoy a nice fresh beet root, carrot or spinach juice drink, there’s nothing wrong with adding one every so often! Check out this article in Women’s Health that describes your body on a juice cleanse:
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/detox-diet-side-effects

Be sure to always check with your doctor before starting any new diet program!

References:
Newman, Judith. “A strange, green journey.” New York Times 28 Oct. 2010: E1(L). Academic OneFile. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA240669351&v=2.1&u=guel77241&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=ea3fc5fb84e62ba1b9e3389249eb391f
“THINKING OF TRYING A JUICE CLEANSE?” States News Service 23 Aug. 2013. Academic OneFile. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA341973675&v=2.1&u=guel77241&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=7d5cd5d62aa47ad920a107b4f6e96221

Muffins that fooled everyone! Double Fudge, need I say more?

Let’s face it- life without chocolate seems impossible! Instead of wasting calories on sugar-laden, artery clogging store bought muffins, try these healthy double chocolate muffins! They are gluten free, use bananas to replace some of the sugar and applesauce instead of oils! My picky, junk food eating boyfriend scarfed one up and said it was great!

Double Fudge Banana Muffin Recipe

I did use the brown sugar, although next time I will try replacing it with honey, sucanat or even try no sweetener! I made myself a batch of these on a Sunday and had an afternoon sweet treat to get me through the week. So get out the muffins tins and live well, and love (chocolate) always!

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Healthy and Easy No Bake Granola Bars

I must apologize for my lack of posts lately, I have a new job and have really had to adjust to my lack of free time ( ahhhh adult life…)! Something that is always a great idea when you are super busy during the week is to prepare your food ahead of time. I take a few hours on the weekend to wash, cut and prepare fruit and veggies, make lunches and homemade muffins or granola bars. This way I am less likely to go towards store bought junk and other treats when I have an arsenal of healthy food on hand! Here is a easy, no bake granola bar recipe that is gluten free, soy and dairy free, vegan and free from added sugar.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of large flake oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 roughly chopped almonds
1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup chia seeds (or add more flax)
Dash of salt
1tsp of vanilla
1/3 cup of melted coconut oil + 1 tbsp
1/2 cup warm honey

1) mix all ingredients together
2) pour into an 8″x8″ dish and pack down with hands
3) store in the fridge to keep them hard
4) enjoy!

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Why a Personal Trainer can help anyone succeed!

With the New Year in full swing I have already seen an influx of people in the gyms, and one way to make sure you follow through with your fitness goals in to get a Personal Trainer! Now I am sure you are thinking “It is too expensive, or I don’t need help”… but even fitness professionals can benefit from some time with a trainer! Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Motivation! Having an appointment gives you a reason to be at the gym, and having someone there cheering you on will increase your chances of sticking with it!
  2. Injury Prevention: From first time gym-goers to other fitness professionals, having someone there to watch your form and make sure you are doing appropriate exercises for your goals is always helpful!
  3. Get what you want: A trainer will create a personalized program to get you reaching your goals much faster! Whether this is to lose weight, tone up or shave off those few seconds of your race!
  4. Variety: Bored with the machines in your gym? A trainer can introduce you to equipment you may not be confident using, or give you some new moves that you can incorporate into your routine.
  5. Learn: A personal trainer with a recognized certification is a wealth of information- they can probably answer, or find the answer to many of your questions!
  6. Safety: Having someone there to spot you while lifting heavier weights and reminding you of your form and breathing is always a great thing!
  7. Gain a friend: Once you get to know your trainer, it will seem more like working out with a friend!

I do know that personal training can be expensive; however you may only need 2 or 3 sessions to learn about form, exercises, etc. Some gyms may also have group personal training which could be a cheaper option. Finally, if getting a trainer is just not in the budget, try some fitness classes. Classes are a great way to learn exercises techniques and stay motivated! Most instructors won’t mind answering any questions you may have after class- so you can still find out the best way to get those rockin’ arms 😉

So get out there, live well and love always!

New Years Resolutions- Be SMART this year!

Happy New Year to all! I personally had an amazing 2013 and am looking forward to 2014. Working in the health and fitness industry, I see many people hit January running full force with their resolution and then often fade out by March. This does not have to be the case! Choosing a resolution that follows the SMART guide has a much better chance of lasting throughout the year and maybe even an entire lifetime! Here is how to plan your goals the “SMART” way!

Specific: instead of saying “losing weight”, use “losing 2lbs per week until …” Or instead of “eat healthier”, try “eat the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables every day”. This takes your resolution from a vague idea to a concrete plan.

Measurable: Having a measurable goal gives you something to work for! For example: attending the gym at least 4 times per week, lifting 2lbs heavier weights each workout or losing 2lbs per week. Seeing the achievement of your goal through numbers gives you positive feedback.

Attainable: Be reasonable with yourself- if you really don’t think you can attend the gym EVERY single day or lose 30lbs in a month then you are setting yourself up for failure. Give yourself small goals that you KNOW you can do!

Realistic: This falls in line with the “Attainable” section. You need to look at your lifestyle and plan accordingly. This does not mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself- reaching goals is not often easy, but you need to find something that is within your reach!

Timely: Give yourself a time line so that you have something to work towards. For example, losing 2lbs per week for 12 weeks. Or not drinking alcohol for 1 month. When you reach this date you will have something to feel proud of! You can then extend your goals to a further date or challenge yourself with an additional goal.

Good luck with your resolutions, I wish all of you the best for 2014! Whatever happens, live well love always!

The Thigh Gap Disaster

It has come to my attention that having a  gap between your thighs is now considered “sexy” “fit” and “desirable”. Ladies- do not become victim to this awful theory. Let me tell you- I eat extremely healthy, run often, workout very hard and MY THIGHS TOUCH! You need to look at yourself and decide what is attainable for your body in a healthy way. Focus on adding, not taking away, for example- why not try for a 6-pack, toned legs or arms? Here are just a few good reasons and goals to strive for:

-feeling healthy

-feeling strong and able to take on anything

-being able to hold a plank longer than your boyfriend 😉 maybe even more push ups too!

-knowing you are preventing diseases such as heart disease, and diabetes

-being able to experience things in life without feeling winded and tired

-enjoying hikes in the outdoors

-getting that awesome rush of happy hormones after a good sweat!

 

Choose attainable goals for yourself that do not focus on appearance and do not compare yourself to others! Eat well, get moving often and you will find it easy to love yourself always! ❤