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Monthly Archives: April 2017

In a Pinch Pt. 6 – From the Park!

When your out at the park or as part of your walk/run route, do these anytime/anywere exercises to get a workout in when your crunched for time. Many of us with kids spend a lot of time at the park when the warm weather comes, and the park has lots of great space and equipment you can use to get a good workout in while the kids have fun.

IN A PINCH WORKOUT Pt. 6

Perform each circuit 3 – 4 times or as many rounds of the circuits you can in the time you have i.e. 30 minutes. Minimal rest in-between exercises and 1 minute rest between rounds.

2-30 Box Jumps (whatever height you can find at the park)

20 Walking Lunges with Knee Raise

20 Superman Deadlifts

20 Tuck Jumps

20 Bench Dips

10-20 Incline Push Ups

20 Trunk Twists

20-30 Woodchoppers

60 Second Plank Hold (or 30 plank leg raises)

It’s not selfish to make your health & happiness a priority, it’s necessary…..

 

All too often we put others needs ahead of our own and forget about our own health and happiness. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me they just don’t have time to make lasting changes in their life (which could improve the quality) because they are so busy and they are taking care of others. Unfortunately it might take a real health scare to wake someone up to realize that not only is it NOT selfish to take time to care for their own well-being, its necessary to make it a priority. Now I realize that’s easier said than done, and if I hadn’t been there myself, overweight, unhappy, completely worn out and dealing with health issues, I would sound like a hypocrite, but I’m not. I know what it’s like to feel like you have put your wellness on the back burner only to find out that no one is going to put it back on the radar for you.

Change is hard, but often the hardest things are the most worthwhile doing. Starting small, making little changes, will add up and soon small habits will become big ones…life changing ones. You will see your health improve and when you feel better on the inside that will permeate to other areas of your life. The joy you had for certain things will return, passions you had long given up will reemerge and soon enough other people will start to notice the changes.

When it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, that can be tricky because putting our health first can sometimes lead to hurt feelings from others, or a lack of understanding and support, even from those closest to us.  Not everyone will understand the changes you are making in your wellness, not everyone will support you or encourage you…that’s ok. The fact of the matter is, it’s your health, it’s your wellness and if they can’t get on board then they need to at least step aside and let you get to work. The kids visit to the park can wait until you get a run in, the shopping trip with your mom can be done without a trip to the food court, the anniversary celebration can include lots of healthy options that will appeal to everyone. At first the balance will shift, it will make others uncomfortable, then it will even out and you will be able to navigate every aspect your day around your new-found journey to wellness.

Since making some pretty big life changes four years ago, I know not everyone understands my new way of doing things. I have friends and family who have been super supportive and encouraging, asking me what alternative foods they could prepare to make sure I was included in “get togethers”, or what grocery items I might need if I was heading up to my parents cottage or going away with friends/family. I’ve lost count how many times I have said no thank you to desserts, alcohol, junk food, and a million other temptations, or been asked to skip a workout, run or a gym session because “It wouldn’t hurt to have one bite/drink or miss just one workout”…but it would. That’s the part about making lasting changes, when they stick, people want to know what the magic was, what did you do that hadn’t been thought of before….I’ll tell you right now. There is no magic. Disappointed? The magic is in the simplicity…put your needs first, and for me that meant making big health changes like eating less, eating to fuel my body, moving more, moving with purpose, trying new things, and for my wellness, it was spending time rediscovering things that brought me joy, being active with my family, and challenging myself with new projects or passions and doing it…EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Putting oneself first is hard, but once you do make the decision to do it and the shock waves from others wears off, the guilt you might feel/felt goes away too and you being to wonder why you cared what anyone thought in the first place and why you didn’t make your health and happiness a priority sooner.  The changes you make to improve your quality of life by putting your healthy and wellness first will be worth it and you will be successful, just stay the course, and remember you only go around once…so you might as well be your best self doing it.

Be well everyone.

Super Easy & Super Tasty Energy Bars!

You see them everywhere, Lara Bars, Cliff Bars, Bounce Balls, Kind Bars…the list is endless. Some are better for you than others and some taste better than others, one thing they all have in common is they cost a fortune! Make your own using my easy recipe and you can change-up the ingredients as you like.

 

Super Easy & Super Tasty Energy Bars

Ingredients

12 Large Pitted Medjool Dates

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Rolled Oats (whatever kind you prefer)

1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips or Cocoa Nibs

1/3 cup Chia Seeds

1 Scoop Chocolate Protein Powder (whatever kind you prefer)

1/2 Cup Wow Butter (safe for school snacks) or 1/3 Cup Natural Peanut Butter

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut (optional)

2 Tbsp Unsweeetned Cocoa Powder (optional)


Place all ingredients into a food processor, (or dough processor option on a blender like the NINJA). Blend on dough setting, scraping down the bowl every few seconds.

One desired consistency is reached, scrape the mixture into a lined baking pan or glass dish which will allow you to shape the mixture into a large square/rectangle.

Shape mixture into a square, with at least a one inch thickness of the mixture or it will be too thin to hold its shape. Put into the fridge and let set for 30 mins to overnight.

Once removed from the fridge, cut into squares or bars.

Wrap up the squares individually to keep fresh and use for lunches or quick energy snacks on the go! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Getting back to basics!! It’s not too late to feel better for Summer!

 

So the countdown to warm weather is here and there is still LOTS of time to make healthy changes so you can feel better about yourself and your wellness. It’s hard for many of us to stay on course over the Easter festivities, but now is a great time to refocus and put our energy into making those changes we need to make, to help get the weight off and to reach our fitness goals.

Helpful tips to get back to basics:

  • Plan your meals and snacks – you can’t be successful if you aren’t prepared. Coming home from work or the gym hungry without healthy food ready to go will lead to snacking on things you shouldn’t. Veggies, humus, pita, fruit, nuts, and protein/energy bites are all good snacks to have ready to grab on the go. It’s also really important to have your meals planned out so you know what you are eating and you can shop accordingly. If you don’t have the ingredients ready to make your healthy turkey chili, you will probably grab whatever is easy and that might not help you to stay on track. Lastly, make your lunches ahead of time. Brown bagging it will not only save you money, it will be KEY in helping you reach your health and wellness goals.
  • Carve out time for exercise – 20 minutes, 1 hour…whatever you can make the time for – do it. Try something new if you are getting tired of your old routine and try to break a sweat at least once a day. Getting moving will help you relieve stress, allow you to refocus and you will always feel better after a workout, even if it’s a quick 20 minute run.
  • Drink lots of water and go easy on the caffeine and unnecessary drinks. Coffee and regular tea are diuretics which go through your system quickly, so you need to drink an additional amount of water to replace the fluid you will lose from those drinks. Save the latte’s and specialty drinks as a treats and keep to water most of the time. Try infusing your water with fruit, lemon/limes or cucumbers for added flavour, or use a home water carbonater to make sparkling water. The amount every person needs to drink to stay hydrated is different, but every person needs to stay hydrated to perform at their very best, whether it’s at work, at home or in the gym.
  • Sleep…Sleep…Sleep – this one is hard for me too. It’s usually the first thing I will sacrifice when trying to fit everything into a hectic day. However, it’s the most important and your state of overall wellness is greatly impacted by your quality of sleep and your quantity. Try to go to bed around the same time every day and sleep for the same period. I need 6-7 hours of good sleep to function. Any more than 7, I actually feel groggy, any less than 6 and I’m tired. Everyone has their magic number and its good to figure out what your optimal number of hours are to perform at your best. Try to unplug before bed,  no phones, no TV, (especially the news…stay away) – music, reading, meditating – all good options before you finally close your eyes for the night.

The summer will be here before you know it and by making these changes you will be improving your health and losing a few unwanted pounds along the way. It takes time, but it’s not too late to feel and look better for the warm weather! Put those easter chocolates away and get moving… be well everyone!

Delicious Shrimp & Fried Cauliflower Rice

Delicious Shrimp & Fried Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

1 Large Head of Cauliflower Grated (use a grater or food processor)

1-2 Bags of Shrimp (Large in size 31-40 count frozen) or 2 Pounds of fresh shrimp (whatever kind)

1 Cup Broccoli (chopped into  bite size pieces)

3 Stalks of Celery (Chopped finely)

1 Bunch Green Onions (chopped)

2 Medium Carrots (grated or chopped finely)

1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms

1/2 Small Onion finely chopped (optional)

Large Egg or Egg White Substitute

2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (low sodium)

2-3 Tbsp Soy Sauce (low sodium)

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

1/2 cup vegetable broth (optional)

Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

Pure Sesame Oil (optional to taste)

 

Use a large frying pan or wok and on high heat start with coconut oil, garlic and chopped onion. Let brown for a minute or two then add much rooms, vegetable broth or water, bring temperature down and let mushrooms sweat until softened.

Next add in the grated cauliflower, keep the temperature medium/low and let the cauliflower rice soften.

 

Next make a hole in the middle of the pan and add in the egg/egg substitute, leave for a minute and then once it starts to cook, scramble, then add into rest of rice.

 

Add in 1 Tbsp of fish sauce and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, mix and then add in carrots and celery and let soften.

 

Once soft, stir the vegetables into the rice and then add in the shrimp, sea salt and pepper to taste.

 

Once the shrimp is cooked add in the broccoli (I usually microwave the broccoli for a few seconds so it’s almost already cooked).

Then add the remaining Tbsp of fish sauce and soy sauce, stir the contents of the pan and then let sit and simmer for a minute or two.

Transfer to serving plates, adding some green onions on top for garnish and a (very light) drizzle of pure sesame seed oil on top.

There you have it! A super healthy, incredibly satisfying dinner that is great for Good Friday or any day of the week. Feel free to sub out the shrimp for chicken or tofu, or just make without the meat as a side for a great addition to any meal. You won’t even miss the “real rice”…the cauliflower is so good.

Enjoy and be well!

In a Pinch Pt. 5 – Spring is here! Get outside for those anytime/anywhere exercises!

The nice weather is here so take those exercises outside! Local park, backyard, school…wherever! Just get moving no matter how little time you have and you will feel so much better!

IN A PINCH WORKOUT Pt. 5

Perform each circuit 4 times or as many rounds of the circuits you can in the time you have i.e. 30 minutes. Minimal rest in-between exercises and 1 minute rest between rounds.

60 Switch Jumps (use stair, bench, or nothing…just make them count)

20-30 Sumo Squats 

20 Lunges with a Twist (10 each side)

20 Long Jumps (10 each side)

30 -60 seconds Swimmers – using arms or not 

30 – 40 Cross Knee Crunches (15 -20 each side)

30 -40 Knee to Elbow Moutain Climbers

30  Plank Raises

30- 60 Second Elbow Plank Hold

Food For Thought – Heading to the Movies!

Ahh… the movies, a place to escape, to be transported to another world, to relax and forget about everything else but the screen in front of you and the story unfolding on it. Most people associate going to the movies with eating popcorn and snacks, its tradition. One goes hand in hand with the other. It’s also part of what makes the theatre fun for us, and brings back fond memories of great movies we saw and who we saw them with. However this cultural pastime, which is fun and completely enjoyable, is not very forgiving for those of us trying to maintain healthy lifestyles or those of us trying to improve our health by making healthy food choices.

It is crazy to think that you can eat a full days worth of calories just by snacking at the movies, but its easier to do than you might think. The great thing is that due to new laws in Canada any establishment serving food with more than 20 locations across the country is now regulated to post the calorie counts for their menu items. We already knew that movie theatre popcorn was probably not that great for us, but because we never REALLY knew the calorie count we could eat it in denial. Not anymore…the calories are now posted right above the snack bar for us to see and think about as we order our movie snacks.

 

As you can see from the sign above its easy to overeat at the theatre and what’s worse is that the snacks your eating are really just empty calories. Nevermind if you decide to add hot butter or go for the larger sizes. It’s interesting that they also have a sign that states the total amount of calories the average adult needs to consume on a daily basis.

 

I especially like the part where it says “individual calorie needs may vary”…no one needs 1700-2000+ EMPTY calories from sugar, and bad fats…not one single person, EVER.

However, even with all the hype around making healthy food choices and the whole calorie posting requirement, there have been no additions of healthy alternatives to the concession stands at the movie theatre like air popped popcorn, apple slices, nuts, raw veggies and humus/or dip. You won’t find veggie chips, bean chips, rice cakes or real fruit gummies either, so what are those of us trying to eat healthy and still enjoy going to the movies supposed to do? First  – Skip the concession stands (that includes Outakes – 900 calories for a poutine or 800 for a burger…ouch!). Second try to find healthy alternatives like frozen yogurt from Yo Yo (only 100-200 calories for a small cup – no toppings) or maybe an item from Tim Horton’s (In Canada we have them in theatre’s) like a coffee/tea, sandwich or  soup…but it’s still not the same as snacking on candy or popcorn and truly enjoying the  “movie experience”.  So I think the only choice left is to bring your own snacks.

I regularly pack my kids healthy popcorn, small versions of treats like a Halloween size chocolate, and homemade protein type cookies/bites or bars in my tote. I always pack snacks for myself such as apples with cinnamon, or veggies and dip, or almonds, or cocoa nibs(or a piece of really good dark chocolate/or a protein bar cut up into squares), or protein chips/rice cakes. I have no problem paying to watch a movie, but I shouldn’t be forced to eat from the available (junk) choices provided.  Until movie theatres start offering better choices I will continue to bring in healthy snacks for me and my family because going to the movies is fun, walking out with a stomach ache and belly full of garbage – is not.

 

 

Just have the strength to start…it’s never too late to make a change.

I’ve always loved this quote and yesterday as I sat in my car fighting up the energy to get out and walk into the gym the thought occurred to me that I just needed the strength to start. Some days you wake up ready to crush your workout, food prep is done – you are ready to eat clean, you are a machine!  Yesterday was not one of those days.

I knew yesterday was going to be a day to just get my workout done, eat as clean as I could and do the best I could. Every day will not be an amazing goal smashing day and there will be days when you aren’t feeling your best self, and I have to remind myself that it’s ok to have days like that. I am human too. I need to be a little more forgiving of myself and remember that as long as I try my best, sometimes that will have to be good enough.

When I first started out with my health and wellness journey over 4 years ago it was my fear that I wouldn’t be able to lose the weight that scared me the most. Four years later I still live with fear, and that is the fear that I will fall into old habits and not keep up my healthy lifestyle and maybe lose sight of my goals. Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed like the fear was swallowing me up. I must have sat in the car for what seemed like forever. Then I remembered that I have the choice to set my own course and be the person I want to be. I am very proud of how far I’ve come and I forget how tough at times it was to get here. Some days you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get it done, just because you have to, because it’s who you are, because it’s who you have become. I am no longer that person battling to find myself, I know who I am, I knew I just needed to start…to get out of the car and get into the gym, the rest would fall into place…and it did.

I hope you do have a goal crushing day, and if you don’t – it’s ok, just get it done, just for today.

Healthy, Quick and Easy Dinner Idea – Chili & Garlic Basa Fillets with Roasted Heirloom Squash

It can be hard getting back on track at the beginning of the week after a weekend of maybe not so great food choices. Try this really tasty recipe for an easy dinner that is quick to prepare and quick to cook. Its full of great healthy ingredients and its on the lighter side so you will feel full and totally satisfied, plus its a great way to kick-start those healthy eating plans and get back on track for the upcoming week. Feel free to change the fish to tilapia or sole, or the squash to cauliflower or brussel sprouts – whatever you might already have at home.  Add in some quinoa, bulgur, brown rice or hemp if you would like to round out the meal with a healthy starchy carb, or leave it as is and maybe serve with a side salad if you need/want the extra serving of vegetables.

Ingredients

Chili Garlic Basa

5-6 Basa Fillets – fresh or frozen (thawed) and patted dry

2 Tbsp – Chili Powder or Chili Lime Powder

1 Tbsp – Garlic Powder

1/4 Tsp – Sea Salt 

Olive Oil Spray 

Roasted Heirloom Squash

3 Cups or 1-2 bags (as shown) of Heirloom Squash

1 Tbsp – Minced Garlic

2 Tbsp – Lemon Juice or Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

1 Tbsp – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp – Parmesan Cheese – grated or use the pre packaged petals (whatever you have on hand)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preheat oven to 375C. Prep these together and place in the oven at the same time.

For the Basa, make sure it’s patted down dry with paper towels or cloth. Add the spices together and place on a plate. Next take each fish fillet and press both sides down onto the spice mixture so the fillet is fairly coated.

Next place all fillets on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and spray both sides with olive oil (I use a hand pumped Miso spray bottle) or you can drizzle on the olive oil if you don’t have the spray type. Just don’t use too much. Place into the oven for about 20-30 minutes depending on oven. You will know the fish is done when it starts to puff up and flake, but you can still see the juices. You can flip over the fish half way if you like.

 

Next the Heirloom Squash. Make sure it’s washed and strained of any excess liquid, then place into a large mixing bowl. Add the EVOO, the garlic, the lemon juice, the sea salt and pepper. Toss it around in the bowl a few times to make sure the squash is coated then place it on a lined baking sheet.

 

Put into the oven for 2-30 minutes, making sure to mix it around on the tay around the half way mark. You want the squash soft and firm not mushy. When it’s done, sprinkle the parmesan on the squash and let it sit for a minute before transferring to a serving bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place the fish on some nice greens and add the squash and you can enjoy this light dinner with all the flavour and none of the guilt  knowing you are back on track with your healthy eating plan. Bon Appetit!

In a Pinch Pt. 4 – Jamaican Edition