She is on about the food prep again, or is she?

Let me start by saying that if you want something bad enough you will do what needs to be done because anything worth having is worth your effort. Forgive the cliché laden intro, but it’s true that nothing worth having is easy. If you don’t care you will not feel inclined to make the effort. It’s when you care that things will start working out for you.

I think I would not be wrong in saying that we all want good health, we all want to feel good in our bodies, many of us want to look good naked, some of us want to have shredded abs. Whatever your goal you will need to make an effort in the kitchen, because your health, your looks and your well-being all start in the kitchen. 

I’m exhausted today after a pretty much full day of prepping food, but I did it and here is proof: 

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This is not even all of the food I cooked today. I also made a dill yogurt dressing for my salads and pancakes for breakfast.

I woke up at 5:30AM, just couldn’t sleep. By 6AM I was brewing my coffee and – as usually is the case on a Sunday – I started contemplating going to the gym or taking a rest day. Somehow, it always makes me feel guilty to take a rest day – I feel like I should be doing more to get my butt in shape. The verdict was that I needed to take a day off for several reasons: 1. I had a pile of things to catch up on and 2. I’ve had quite a leg workout the day before (but more on that in a minute). 

So I had my ritual pancake and coffee with cream and started devising a plan of action for my food prep. I started hauling all the groceries out of the fridge that were purchsed Friday night and quickly realized that the fridge could use a quick scrub. I don’t know about you, but when I open the fridge and it’s clean and tidy I am more likely to stick to my food plan and be on top of my game. When the fridge is tidy I know what’s what and what needs to be used when. That’s just how my brain functions. So I gave it a quick scrub and proceeded to cook the food. Sometime in the middle of my prep it was time to eat again so I whipped up some scrambled eggs and broccoli and then fished off my cooking which brought me to about 3PM.

So, yes, it was a full day of dancing around in the kitchen – I have to say that’s unusually long, though. And yes, at 3PM I was exhausted. But do I regret any of it? No. It’s pouring cats and dogs today, so as far as I’m concerned if I didn’t do my ritual in the kitchen, I would have been sitting on my derrière and probably stuffing my face with crap. Instead, I have a fridge full of cooked food that will take minutes to assemble and a peace of mind that I don’t need to resort to food served in a work cafeteria or have to pop out to Mary Brown’s for lunch.

Now, let me tell you why I think I was so exhausted at 3PM – food prepping is not by definition an activity that raises my heart rate very high. Walking through the woods does, though! The day before some quality time was needed and so I agreed to do a little road trip to Terra Nova National Park to check out the Outport trail.

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You know it’s not a good sign when you have to take off your hikers even before setting foot on the trail! I will have to try a lighter pair of trail runners. Yes, this is a first for me to be taking about the weight of my footwear! I will talk you to death about the weight of my food, I own couple of food scales, but you would have never – up until last night – heard me complaining about the weight of my shoes. Well, things change. It turned out this pair is 33% heavier as another pair that I will be trying out the next hike.

 

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This trip was for informational purposes only and the 25k (plus return hike) will happen for some on Labour Day Weekend. I’ve been asked to go, heck I was the first choice, but I am not sure yet if I’m up to it. I will practice before the labour day weekend and see how I feel about it. You might not know this about me, but I am a very poor co-hiker. I do, however have a special motivator – my legs. I have set out to bring my legs’ conditioning up a notch or two and I believe hiking is a great way to get them to where I want them to be. I’m doing a heck of a lot of leg work at the gym, but nothing beats walking in the woods. You get so much more out of it than working out for 1h or 2 at the gym.

 

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Yup, we were on the right track, apparently.

 

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This was a suspension bridge and I didn’t realize it until I stepped on it which made for a pretty rude awakening 😉

 

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And this is the view from the bridge. I forget how beautiful Newfoundland can be and how I enjoy the post-processing of my photos. I don’t necessary like to edit my pictures, especially if I had taken a lot. But these days I no longer use heavy duty PS or Lightroom applications – that’s what turned me off from photography in the first place. I dreaded having to upload my photos and then spend hours editing them. But, today this has become much more user friendly.

 

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And that’s as far as I was willing to walk that day – all in all about 6km wasn’t too shabby for somebody who was expecting to maybe do a total of 2km.

 

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These pictures were taken on the way to the trail.

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And here is my food link! You know I have food on my mind when I see cauliflower in this picture 🙂 I couldn’t resist – it screamed cauliflower to me.

 

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And this is what my cauliflower looked like from afar.

 

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What do they say..? What goes down ….

 

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… must come up! Yes, food on my mind at all times. I think this is actually a reference to the result of binge drinking… But you get my drift. I must find some sort of food reference in a hike to be able to include it in my food blog 🙂

 

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And one more “cauliflower” picture for good measure 🙂

 

 

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Mondays will never be the same again!

Today started surprisingly well, for a Monday, that is. I ran into the kitchen announcing a Tweet from Food Bloggers of Canada that welcomed me, along with several other bloggers, into the directory. I should probably mention that I had applied for their consideration the night before, fully expecting to be rejected. Don’t ask. I won’t tell 😉

As I was running into the kitchen with this announcement on my lips, I was convincing myself in my head that this is no big deal and it means absolutely nothing. Then, I promptly checked my email looking for the confirmation of this wonderful tweet, all along thinking: “Well, if they’re accepting people like me, then their criteria can’t be that stringent…” And lo and behold, the email confirmation was there along with couple of extras, like a link to a Private Facebook Forum and some other resource links. You know you are at the end of your rope when…. But in all honestly, I’ve been feeling rather stagnant about this blog, with little or no motivation to post… Until today!

So as I was contemplating this new found resource / community / forum I made this delicious breakfast. Food has been pretty low on the carb side lately due to my sickness that has prevented me from hitting the weight room. Today, I decided, was going to be the day I break this trend and I made a bowl of maple syrup cream of rice topped with peanut butter and berries. 

IMG_20151228_114047463_HDRIMG_20151228_114205846_HDRUpon return from the gym I had all the good intentions of following with a nice kale, pomegranate and shrimp salad. Oh, and I did make it. It was very tasty, but somehow very unsatisfying, so I cracked open a bottle of blueberry wine that mysteriously appeared on the table when I was out working on my back (and by that I mean work out at the gym and the primary muscle I worked on was my back – thought I might make that clear 😉 ). And as a result of the wine dulling my inhibitions, I just polished off a box of Belgian chocolates. So, a nice kale salad turned into some chocolate indulgence – that somehow is being justified in my mind by the fact that I did hit some PRs in the gym – so the glycogen in my muscles has to be replenished.   

IMG_20151228_163356434_HDRIMG_20151228_163345707_HDR So, all in all it was a good day – maybe next time Monday rolls in I won’t be expecting the worst! 

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Sunday Pancakes

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition that lunch time on Sunday means we’re eating pancakes. I’ve been on the protein pancakes wagon for a while now and have to say that it’s quite difficult to be creative when you try to eliminate completely one macronutrient. And I’m referring to carbohydrates, hence protein pancake wagon.

Somehow, even in my household carbs have been shunned as the unnecessary evil. I’ve learned to limit them in order to lean out. It’s not rocket science. It works. But you can only sustain this for so long until your body demands them to run. You can turn to fat and protein only and eventually adapt to it by running your body on fat, but why would you? Why deprive yourself of the yumminess of carbohydrates? And mind you, I’m not referring here to simple sugars (yes those are yummy too). I’m talking complex carbs like oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes etc. They are used by your body and brain for energy and they taste heavenly. 

These days there seems to be an opposite movement happening out there – a movement back to carbohydrates. There is of course the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) that seems to have started it all. People who follow IIFYM regard carbs as the necessary goodness in gaining strength and building muscle, but they disregard the quality of said carbs and all macronutrients and micronutrients. As long as it adds up to their macros, it’s all good. But aside from the IIFYM crowd there is also more of a main stream crowd of bodybuilders and gym goes who seem to be promoting more than before the importance of carbohydrate consumption to build strong, healthy physiques. It’s not anything new, it’s always been common knowledge that protein (re)builds muscle and carbs give your muscles energy necessary to lift heavy weights. It just seems so much more prominent out there these days, with people advertising their macros right, left and centre, almost bragging how they can eat 270g of carbs a day. And I have to say it’s somewhat intriguing. Especially when you view videos of these people lifting quite a bit of weight. So you guessed it, I’m adding the good guys into my diet, because I too want to partake in the deliciousness and hopefully gain some strength (which I’m happy to report is increasing!!)

So with that in mind I’ve created these little beauties adapted from Anna Sward‘s cookbook.

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I call them Chestnut and Protein Pancakes and here is what you will need:

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  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 scoops of your choice of protein powder (I used Gold Standard ON Casein Powder for thickness)
  • 50g Chestnut Flour (See note 1)
  • 2 TBS Coconut Flour 
  • Water to play with the thickness of the batter. 

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a food processor whip the egg whites until stiff peaks can easily form.
  • Add the dry ingredients and any flavourings you desire. I added couple of drops of liquid stevia but you really don’t need a sweetener, as you protein powder will already have some sweetness and the chestnut flour has an inherent sweetness to it too. I also added couple of drops of coconut extract.
  • Now add some water to bring the batter to the desired thickness. You want it runny enough so that you can scoop an amount without it being too gooey. But it’s entirely your call. Anna calls for milk, but you can easily accomplish with with water. 
  • Spray your non-stick pan with some coconut oil and ladle a tablespoonful for each pancake and flip once you get some browning achieved. 
  • Served with the toppings of your choice. 

This recipe yields 16 small pancakes and here are the macros. I topped mine with 15g of peanut butter, sprinkle of sunflower seeds, 5g of Krisda Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 50g of the Red Velvel Fluff Ice-Cream 🙂 

MACROS per 1 pancake: 39cal, 0.4f, 3.6c, 5.1p

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Gym time

I have yet to write a post about what I do at the gym. So far I have written only about what I do in the kitchen, but I haven’t made it to the gym yet (oh I do have a very regular gym routine!). It might be due to the fact that I don’t feel that knowledgable or confident when it comes to fitness related stuff. I just realized how this sounds: “Not confident about the gym, but confident about the food? So writing about food only so far!?” No, that’s not what I mean. In fact, if you know me and I mean really really know me, you will know that I am probably the least confident person you know, period. And if you don’t know me, you shouldn’t be so judgmental 😉 Just kidding. The truth of the matter is, most times I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just trying things out to see what will stick together and what will fall apart. I often joke that I’m a nobody since I have two useless University Arts degrees, and a 3rd that I dropped out of, that don’t quite define who it is that I am –  therefore I must be a nobody. But isn’t it true that we can make our lives what we want them to be? Aren’t we the sculptors of our lives? I never thought that way, because mom would always pound into us that we need to go to school, find a good profession, get the piece of paper that says who we are and voilà, that’s who we are. So I spend half my life in Universities getting the white, crispy, little papers called diplomas with fancy inscriptions on them until I realized that I was going about it the wrong way, I didn’t find the profession first, I just went and studied languages! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still glad I did it, because learning English made it possible to comfortably live in Canada. Learning French, well, let’s just say “French” pays my bills at the moment but I still think its true destination hasn’t been reached yet. I am just still working on figuring out who the heck I really am. It’s work in progress but I digress, or do I?

At the gym I know who I am not. I am not a powerlifter, I am not a bodybuilder, I am not a socialite, I am not a cardio bunny, I am not a pretty accessory to somebody else…. I know this all sounds somewhat harsh, but the truth is that since the time I first stepped into a gym I have seen all sorts of people show up and what they do at the gym does somewhat define them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all go there for different reasons and that’s OK, as long as we don’t get into each other’s ways or impose on each other what we should be doing at the gym.

So, who am I? I am a recreational bodybuilder bodyshaper. “Bodybuilder” just seems like such a big word and all I’m trying to do is add some lean muscle mass, melt some fat and shape it up a bit. I don’t desire to be big (which bodybuilders strive for, that’s why they go through a bulking stage in the off season), quite the contrary, I want to tone the muscles, make them visible and in the process get rid of the layer of fat covering them. Yes, I do carry some fat, we all do, some more than others but we all do. And the way to make your muscles visible is to build them and to make them come as close to the skin as possible, aka fat burning.

So, I go to the gym because it makes me feel good emotionally and physically. I believe that it corrects a certain imbalance in my brain and makes me a much happier person, I’ve tested it on a rest day when I don’t go to the gym my mood is down by 200% compared to coming to work when I have just worked out – on those days I find myself to be generally more cheerful and more talkative. Obviously, I like the way it makes me look – muscle definition and sculpted physique bring a certain amount of confidence back into my life. Seeing results makes me feel that maybe, just maybe I do know what I’m doing. So this is mostly why I go to the gym and I don’t like wasting one minute of my time by engaging in something other than lifting weights. I feel, though, that sometimes that gives the wrong impression of me…  

So what do I do at the gym? I’ve been weightlifting on and off since about 2008, prior to that my exercise regimen was home Yoga and Pilates oriented exercise and some cardio and weight machines at the gym. My routine has changed dramatically since I first joined a gym and I even like to say I have progressed in my gym routine. In the beginning I was very concerned about how much weight was loaded on my machine or how heavy a dumbbell I had in my hand. I did not understand very much about strength training and I’m still learning, but back then I truly was just going through the motions. Today, through research and observing people who know what they are doing I’ve learned that it’s not just about picking things up and putting them down.   

For example, my leg routine is split up into 2 kinds of trainings, one that’s a traditional and higher in weight that includes Barbell Squat, Leg Press, Lunges, Leg Extensions and Deadlifts and the other one is more of a metabolic workout that brings my HR higher due to a faster pace and it includes other squats like Elevated Sumo with a Dumbbell, Bench Step-ups, Thigh Abductor, Ski Lunges, Bench Jumps, Cable Glute Kickbacks, Curtsy Lunges, Pistol. Both variations are equally important in my training, but they do differ quite a lot.

While working out with heavier weights I concentrate on bringing my strength up, increasing the weight incrementally and getting the burn from the shear weight. During my metabolic training I do still get the burn, but it comes from stronger contraction of the muscles, which I can do because my body is not working so hard balancing the heavy weight. You’ve probably heard about mind-muscle connection before. When I first read about how you should think about the muscles that you are training and make the connection between the muscle and the brain I thought it was silly. But when I started implementing this technique in my workouts I started seeing results that I wanted. It’s the difference between “going through the motions” and training. You can’t just swing your weights around and expect your muscles to grow, you have to engage your muscles to make them respond. So training with lower weight I can not only concentrate more on this mind-muscle connection, but I can also slow down my movements allowing the muscle to be under tension throughout the repetition and this gives me as much, if not more, of a workout for my muscles as higher volume training.

So I’ll leave you today with a link to a person that I get inspiration from. You should go check out her blog Your Healthy Hedonista where she shares tons of information about food, fitness and health.  This video allowed me to learn how to use the Abductor Machine and feel my glutes afterwards. Before I would preform this exercise in a traditional manner, with my bum on the seat, with much lower weight and not feel like I’ve done anything. This technique along with strong engagement of your glute muscles and slow controlled movements will definitely leave you on fire 🙂 

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