Planning, banana bread and circuits

Wow I’ve been busy. Not quite accounting busy season busy just yet; but definitely, “I have very little time” kind of busy. Yesterday I got home at 8:30 ish after leaving work at 7:45 which is a long day on it’s own, but I had also gone to the gym that morning. I’m so glad I did, because there is no chance I would have gone at 8:30 at night!

I didn’t think I would be working that late so I made a classic error for those of us trying to live a healthy lifestyle… I didn’t pack enough food! I nearly fell prey to my hunger and bought a Kind bar (which are somewhat healthy but LOADED with sugar). But last second I put the bar down and decided that I had already been hungry for 3 hours, I could wait one more and stick to something good for me.

I have talked about the awesomeness that is bacon before… specifically peameal bacon in a healthy diet. Peameal bacon has saved my bacon this week (I’m so funny). Seriously, I have eaten in for Monday breakfast, this mornings breakfast AND last nights dinner. Why? 1) It’s one of the tastiest things ever and is one of few cuts of pork that cooks up super tender and juicy. 2) It cooks FAST. Like I’m starving and need something in my belly in less than 10 minutes kind of fast. Faster if your peameal isn’t cut super thick by your awesome butcher Marlon Pather of Marlon’s Meat…. but more on him later.

Wednesday’s breakfast

Tuesday’s Dinner

Monday’s Breakfast

I  have been eating peameal with a side of greens because I can pull it together in about 10 minutes. That’s key in the morning or when you have been ready to chew your arm off for over an hour already and the dark chocolate and granola you just bought are calling to you, telling you that they don’t even take 10 minutes… they are instant! Sidenote: I may have lost my mind and think that inanimate objects are communicating to me.

Seriously though, get some peameal bacon. You can’t beat a super quick cooking protein. It takes about the same time as eggs but packs more protein and less fat gram for gram.

Anyhoooooo, I have been a bad blogger and promised you guys some things and didn’t get around to it due to the aforementioned business (the 21DSD banana bread and my morning workout from yesterday via twitter).

Paleo/21DSD Banana Bread (based on this recipe from Civilized Caveman)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 bananas (unripe if you are doing the 21DSD like me)
  • 2 eggs plus ½ c. egg whites OR 4 eggs (I only had 2 eggs left)
  • ½ c. almond or other natural nut butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ c. coconut flour
  • ¼ c. almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine your bananas, eggs, egg whites, and nut butter, and butter in a food processor or blender or whatever you have that blends/chops things up real nice and transfer this to a bowl to mix the rest of the ingredients in
  3. Add in your coconut flour, almond meal, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt to the blended ingredients and mix well
  4. Grease a 9×5  loaf pan with a fat of your choice (I used butter)
  5. Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout (it will be pretty thick)
  6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (using a metal loaf pan with make the bread cook faster, a glass one will cook slower and your oven is definitely not the exact same as mine, so just use a toothpick to gauge)
  7. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
  8. Slice and serve with some salted butter or nut butters on top to add to the deliciousness

I had a pretty large portion of this for breakfast before my workout that I am about to share and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get an cramps or other food related problems while running. Normally if I eat something too dense right before a workout I get a cramp during my run or I feel sick if I workout really hard… but that didn’t happen and it was definitely a hard workout.

Upper Body Circuit plus a some Tabata Sprints

Warm up: walk/jog for 5 mins on treadmill

Upper body circuit: Repeat 3 times with as little rest as possible (mostly just because I didn’t have much time). You will need access to a bench, plus a heavy, medium and light set of dumbbells… for me that means 30 lbs, 15 lbs, 10 lbs, for my friend that was 20 lbs, 12.5 lbs and 7.5 lbs. Choose what is right for you.

  • Lawnmowers (AKA one arm dumbbell rows) – heavy weight, 10 reps each arm
  • Pushups – no weight, 15 reps
  • Bicep curl to Arnold press (start with palms facing forward, curl, at the top of the curl rotate your arm so the palm is forward again, lift your arms straight overhead into a press and then reverse the whole motion) – medium weight, 10 reps
  • V sit-ups on the bench – no weight, 15 reps
  • Seated Rear Delt Flyes – medium OR light weight, 12 reps (I do these with 15 pounds, but the motion itself can be difficult and neuromuscularly hard to learn, you have to target you mid back and not use you trapezius to get through the movement, so if you are new to this exercise, use the light weight)
  • Pec flyes on bench – medium weight, 12 reps
  • Tricep bench dips – no weight, 15 reps
  • Side leg lifts off the bench (AKA side V sit-ups) – no weight, 12 reps each side

*** If you aren’t sure about any of these exercises, head over to Bodybuilding.com and look them up 🙂

HIITs: 2 sets of tabatas

  • Walk 1 minute at 2.5% incline; step off treadmill and increase speed to a sprint (for me it’s 9.0 mph)
  • Perform a sprint set of Tabata: 20 secs running, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Slow the treadmill down and walk for 1 minute: Step off the treadmill and increase incline to 12.5% and speed to a hard jog (for me this is 6 mph)
  • Perform a hill run set of Tabata: 20 secs running at a steep incline, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Cool down by walking for 2 minutes or until you can actually breath again 🙂

I loved this workout and I finished it off with a protein shake and an apple… no DOMS for me! Yay for modifications to the 21DSD.

Oh and just for randomness sake… crispy bacon is an awesome replacement for tortilla chips when trying to stuff your face with too good to be true guacamole.

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Tabata, you’re a crazy SOB

This morning I woke up at 5:09 am, also known as too-goddam-early, to get to the gym by 6 am.

Actually, let me digress here to tell you how I manage this, because it’s no easy feat to actually be ready to workout in the gym BY 6 am.

  1. I prepare all my food for the next day the night before sometimes including breakfast and put it in tupperware in the fridge and have a bag set out to put it in in the morning, no hassle.
  2. If I don’t have a pre-made breakfast I opt for something super simple, this morning was a protein shake consisting of: 1 c. almond milk (unsweetened), 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 c. frozen raspberries and 1/2 tbsp. organic pure cocoa blended in my Magic Bullet – therefore I eliminate some mess.
  3. I shower at night and then after the gym, no morning showering.
  4. I choose my work clothes and put them in my bag (including work shoes) the night before.
  5. I get into my gym clothes as soon as I get up so I don’t have to change at the gym and sometimes have this as well as my running shoes laid out the night before.

Knowing that all I have to do if get up, get dressed, put the pre-made food in a bag, eat and go makes it a little more bearable to go. Plus, I trained with a trainer this morning, so I was accountable to someone and couldn’t just not show up. This is also key, if you can get a friend to meet you for morning workouts or have someone hold you accountable, you will be way more likely to go.

Ok, so I left my house at 5:37 (that’s right, less than 30 minutes from bed to out the door, boo-ya) and was actually at the gym in time to get in a 10 minute warm-up before hand. This was partially because the gym was freezing and walking on an incline slightly relieved the horrible cold. The trainer I am working with loves high intensity workout and training “like an athlete” which is awesome, but kind of hard to muster at too-goddam-ealy o’clock. Still, it’s makes you feel like a champion when you are done. This morning’s workout consisted of 4 rounds of Tabata training (crazy guy that he was) and 1 quick crossfit inspired WOD called Fran. FYI Tabata training consists of high intensity (all out) movements for 20 seconds, then 10 seconds rest repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, which is one Tabata round. It went like this:

The too-goddam-early workout

Round one Tabata: Rowing… at level 9, I managed to get 870 meters in my 4 minutes

3 minutes walking to rest

Round two Tabata: Rowing… at level 9 again, I only managed to get 830 meters in my 4 minutes this time because my legs were on fire!

3 minutes walking to rest

Round three Tabata: Hill running… 6.0 mph at a 10% incline, I probably could have gone faster, but this was about the incline not the speed

2 minutes just standing on the treadmill while it’s still running

Round four Tabata: Hill running… 6.0 mph at a 11% incline for the first 4 sets, then 12% incline for the last 4. There is apparently a HUGE difference in the effort between 11% and 12%, because I was toast on 12%

3 minutes walking before giving a run down of what Fran is and demonstrating the form and such which probably took an additional 2 minutes

Fran WOD

21 “thusters” with 55 lbs, 21 chin-ups with a little jump – I still had to break in the middle of the chins even with the jump because it was damned hard

Repeat with 15 reps – broke the chins in 2, did 8, pause, 7

Repeat with 9 reps – did everything continuously

* Thrusters are kind of a half squat combined with a push press using an olympic bar, so you start holding the bar against your chest, elbows up, do a half squat and on the way up push the bar above your head, bringing it back to your shoulders as you squat again.

Bad days and the universe

This morning started out terribly, I mean truly terribly, but it actually started last night. I was going to go to the gym after work to do cardio, but just could not muster the energy. I decided to just rest instead. I watched Armageddon, cried when Bruce Willis died and went for a walk to pick up my bikini for the competition. The bottoms were too small so I decided to order another one that I thought would fit better. A too small bottom is not ok to walk on stage with.

All day long I had been starving, you know when you want to take food by the handful and shove it in your face? I was like that. Popcorn would have been ideal. But I thought, no, I’ll make some protein sludge. And then I will have dinner. Both were delicious, neither satisfied the hungry beast inside me.

Still craving sugar

I had a square of dark chocolate to try to have a treat and see if that helped… nope.

I went for the walk to grab the bikini and take my mind of things. When I got back I tried the suit on and thought that would give me motivation to eat well. Nope.

It was 8:30 pm and I NEEDED sugar. I can’t even describe to you the ridiculous craving I was having and I could not for the life of me figure out why. I tried having a small apple with cinnamon, that usually does the trick if it’s really carbs I want and it’s not too bad for the diet. But no, not 15 minutes later I was still dying for some sugar. What the hell?!

So I caved. 3 and a half weeks from the competition and I stood in front of my pantry dipping raw almonds into raw chocolate honey (this is amazing stuff, it’s pure honey mixed with dutch process cocoa). Chocolate honey dripped all over my fingers and I did not care a smidge. I was in heaven. I scarfed about 10 almonds, and maybe 2-3 tbsp of the sweet stuff before I got control and put the lid on the jar. What just happened?!

I texted my boyfriend who is amazing and told me to just enjoy the treat because I’ve been working out like a maniac and I deserved it. He’s the best. Surprisingly I felt way better after this mini sugar binge (I wouldn’t call it a real binge because there wasn’t a huge volume of food and the food I was eating was actually clean good food, just not diet friendly). I was expecting to feel a horrible sugar rush and crash, but no, I felt great. Great, but extremely confused. I never crave sugar… like literally never. I crave chocolate, ice cream, steak, and sometimes Bailey’s but not just generic-any-way-I-can-get-it sugar.

So I went to bed confused and wondering what was happening in my body. I resolved to do some extra cardio today to make up for the extra sugar and calories yesterday. I woke up early and went to the gym. I felt like crap when I woke up…. I was craving sugar AGAIN!!! What is happening? And then it hit me… about a week ago I reintroduced fat burners (thermogenics) into my regime (m-power by rivalus) which really help increase my heart rate and body temp especially during cardio. I had gone on them before and went off them because they bothered my stomach and some other vague reason I couldn’t remember. Well I have remembered…. they make me ravenous and specifically crave sweets. It makes dieting go from relatively easy to absolute hell and a constant battle of will over want.

So I am throwing them out, these expensive diet pills. It will take a day or 2 to fully get it out of my system and I’m annoyed at myself for forgetting this in the first place, but thankfully I did remember and didn’t try to struggle through.

So I got to the gym with my new realization and intended to bang out some cardio, but oh wait! I forgot my headphones… good lord this morning was awful. I stepped on the treadmill and started going. I got to 6 minutes… and my will power fled. Ok let’s try some chest, which is the body part I planned on training this afternoon. I did 3 sets of dips and 3 sets of push ups on the bosu ball and decided that I would try to make this a whole body cardio workout. I find it easier to push through a weight session than cardio.

So I did this: The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day workout

  • 5 minute warm up
  • 3 sets of 12 dips
  • 3 sets of 15 pushups on upside down bosu ball
  • 5 sets of 15 kettlebell swings
  • 5 sets of 10 cross body cable pulls each side
  • 2 sets of 20 jumping step ups
  • 1 tabata of alternating jumping step up and push ups
  • 3 sets of 10 roman chair straight leg lifts
  • Stretch for 10 minutes

I was sweating bullets and by the end of it was feeling a little better. I started talking to a trainer who told me about a couple workouts I should try and gave me a bit of motivation. He even offered to do a workout with me tonight! Apparently the universe had a different plan for me today.

Sometimes you have to listen to what the universe is telling you. Today it was telling me to do things the old fashioned way, no magic pill is going to help and it will probably (definitely) make things harder. Once I came to that realization and committed to changing it the universe rewarded me with a new opportunity to train.

Leg days and no freeweights in sight!

All done wearing these, which really adds a dimension to leg days.

I thought I would share my workout from tonight in case anyone is looking for a good quick leg workout.

I went to a goodlife fitness for women tonight thinking it would be just like other goodlifes but, you know, only women. I was sadly mistaken. They had no freeweights and the dumbbells maxed at 30 pounds… ok there goes my plan for heavy deadlifts and squats. Well I’m not about to go to a different gym at this point so I managed to annihilate my legs with minimal weight and using machines (of which they had a plethora… apparently that is “female friendly”). Here is what I did if any of you run into this problem and/or don’t feel like using free weights.I was short on time so I started with a set of tabata sprints which I talk about in this post. This was probably not the best idea before a leg workout as it exhausted the muscles and I was on low carbs today. But so much better than running for 30 mins! Then right into this workout which took about 45 mins start to finish.

All exercises were done in regular sets * 3 of 10-12 reps and 1 min rest periods (approx)

  1. Squats on the bosu ball (ball side down) holding 2, 25 pound dumbbells (this makes the form a bit awkward, but is doable)
  2. Bulgarian split squats (basically a lunge with your back foot up on a bench) with no weight – 10 reps each leg
  3. Single legged stiff-legged deadlifts holding 2, 30 pound dumbbells – 10 reps each leg – my balance was crappy on this because I am carb depleted so I was feeling a bit off
  4. Leg extension with a heavy weight
  5. Leg curls with a heavy weight
  6. Hip abduction machine with a heavy weight (don’t go too heavy on this, it hurts more than you think)

I always end with light stretching after legs… don’t stretch too deeply because your muscles are much more elastic after a workout but have already been torn up, so just stretch until you feel it, not to the pain point.

So that’s that, a nice quick leg workout that wasn’t at all what I had planned but still left me walking wobbly at the end. So when your favourite equipment isn’t available at the gym, move on, adapt, you might get an even better workout in because you mixed it up.

Exercise should be enjoyable… or at least not torture

I hate cardio… there, I said it. I know most of you are thinking it and trying to convince yourself that no no, I really do like going running for an hour feeling like my heart is going to explode out of my chest. You liar! I know some of you probably actually do like running, or other forms of endurance cardio. For instance, I have a friend who ran her first marathon in under 3 hours and 20 minutes and she actually enjoys it. She is also all of 5’2” and probably 110 lbs. She is essentially made for running long distances. I am not.

Let’s think from a biological perspective though. Our bodies are not made to run marathons, sure we have been nomadic at times in our history, but that didn’t involve running for 4 hours and definitely not on pavement. Marathons and running in general is hard on your body because it’s jarring and repetitive. Putting your body through that much exertion releases huge amounts of cortisol, damages you fascia (particularly in your feet) and generally breaks down your body. Our ancestors walked extremely long distances, and they certainly ran when the time called for it, but I can guarantee you they never jogged. Speaking from an evolutionary perspective, there was just never a need.

So what are our bodies made for? Well for one, they are made for walking long distances using lateral movements on uneven surfaces (I am very guilty of just getting on a treadmill, but get outside please). For two, they are designed for short bursts of intense energy or sprinting (think escaping certain death or trying to catch your next meal). Have you ever compared a sprinter to a marathoner?

I think it’s pretty obvious that the person on the left has conserved more lean body mass and generally looks healthier that the person on the right.

But what about all that science-y stuff that says steady state cardio for the win?! Well let’s clarify that. Science has shown that steady state cardio exertion, which is typically defined as consistently keeping your heart rate at about 60% of your maximal effort, is the best for fat loss. This is consistently touted as the reason that you should run at 5 mph for hours on end to lose weight. The problem with this is the study was looking at fat burning and metabolic increases DURING exercise as compared with sprinting or other high intensity workouts. When studies were done that tested the oxygen consumption (a measure of metabolism) and other measures over longer periods of time they found that high intensity workouts burned less fat while the exercise was happening (burning almost exclusively glycogen stores) but that the body continued to metabolize fat for hours after the workout, returning to “normal” about 6 hours later. Comparatively the steady state cardio had minimal lasting metabolic effects.

Additionally, sprinting retains muscle mass and can even help you build mass when compared to long sessions of cardio. Muscle burns more calories at rest that fat or having less muscle. So putting on muscle will also help you lose fat.

There are so many different options out there for cardio vascular exercise, and let me just make this clear, cardio is EXTREMELY important for your health. Your body is not made to do the same thing over and over again, so don’t! Of course you have your favourite workout, but there are lots of different options. Some of the best out there for torching fat are as follows:

  • Tabata workouts or sprints  –> go here if that means nothing to you
  • HIIT – or high intensity interval training
  • Hill walking – this can be emulated on a treadmill and is a natural interval style workout
  • Sprinting – try doing the 100 meter dash a couple of times
  • Cycling – I hate spin classes, but they are definitely awesome to mix up your cardio and who doesn’t love a good bike ride?
  • Interval running  – not HIIT, this is more of a walk run style workout
  • Circuit training – I do leg circuits all the time… in fact I’m doing one today
  • Hiking/long walks – go to a park, it has the added benefit of getting you outside which makes you happier… really it does! Think vitamin D and endorphins.
  • Random sports – most sports involve short bursts of high energy, similar to HIIT

My point is: don’t feel chained to the treadmill to lose weight. There are so many different ways to increase your heart rate, confuse your body and make it burn fat like crazy. If you love running, then you’re probably one of the few people whose body is more tailored for that type of exercise. If that’s the case, then go for it! But if not, listen to your body. I personally find sprinting, and Tabata style workouts way more fun and super rewarding. Plus I get great results that way because (1) I am willing to do it and not make excuses, and (2) my body responds really well to it because I am listening to what it wants… bodies are awesome like that!

I’m sure plenty of people disagree with me on this one, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. I love a good debate!