Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fitness trends: Prana Beats®

Do you find yoga boring?
Can't break a sweat during a regular yoga class? 
Are you a yogi, always wanting to incorporate dance in your workout schedule?
Do you have two left legs and find dancing really challenging?
Do you want to end your day with a great, full-body workout that gives you inner peace?

If you answered "yes" to even one of these questions, you should try Prana Beats®. Prana Beats® is a new group fitness concept, combining dance and yoga in a bold, new way. It was established in 2011 by a Finnish yogini and dancer Mia Jokiniva and her yoga company Villa Mandala. The class consists of traditional yoga poses, starting with sun salutations; very easy dance routines (flamenco, hip hop, contemporary dance, reggae) and easy yet effective muscle workouts for the entire body. The three elements are rhytmic flow, harmony and prana "clean" (relaxation).

The class duration is 55 minutes, but according to the Villa Mandala home page there's also a 75 minute class (with a longer relaxation). Every teacher teaches the same program for three months, before the program changes (the concept reminds of the LesMills concept, where the teachers participate in four quarterly workshops every year). Prana Beats® programs vary a bit, since every other program focuses a bit more on dance routines and every other on yoga. This program, number three, focuses on yoga and meditation, but has a quite a few dance elements in it.

Picture source: MeNaiset

I entered my first Prana Beats® class yesterday at my local gym in Kerava. I called the gym in advance, asking the receptionist about the class and the participants - she said that Prana Beats® is the most popular class at the gym! Good thing I called, since I got the last spot.

I've been doing yoga in silence for a few years now, so listening to the softly beating music was really hard for me in the beginning. Luckily, I was swept away by it in just a few minutes. The music reminded me of a slowed down Massive Attack, especially during the sun salutations. I loved it. I think I'll have a yoga playlist with me in the future. Massive Attack? Yes, please.

I was listening to a group of women talk after the class. They said that they're waiting for the new program (to be launched in November 2012), since they're not that keen on yoga. I find that hard to believe - I thought the class had too little yoga in it! :) Well, luckily we're all different. I'll just have to try program number 4 in November to see what all the fuss is about.

Mia Jokiniva, the creator of Prana Beats®. Picture source:

You don't need to wear shoes, and the gym usually provides a yoga mat for you (I had my own yoga mat with me, since I love it ;). I'd recommend wearing a long-sleeved sweater, since the relaxation is long (and perfect) - you don't want to freeze while lying on the floor.
If I'd have to name one wish, it would be more difficult dance choreos. I've done a lot of dancing in my time, and I really don't want to go through the same easy choreos every week for three months.

I just have to mention one last thing: the instructor (her name was Laura, if I remember correctly) was absolutely brilliant! She had amazing presence and was everything I needed on a Friday night: happy, always smiling and very inspiring. She had amazing technique and instructed the class flawlessly. Even I, a first-timer, was totally on board the whole time. The greatest thing about the class was that I felt serene and relaxed yet trained afterwards.

Have you tried Prana Beats® yet? I'd love to hear what you thought about it!

Hope you're having an inspiring weekend,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September workouts

"Some call it obsession - I call it dedication"

It's been a really long time since I showed you my workout schedule. Here's what I've been up to all September. You know, I really enjoy this one. I'll give you a more detailed description of each workout (since each workout is different) in the next few weeks.
I did the plyo circuit with my friend Maija yesterday - ooooh it was awesome to have someone to work out with! I really miss having a trainer of my own, luckily friends are just as good. :)

Lower body resistance training + treadmill workout

Upper body resistance training + interval cardio on the elliptical trainer

Lower body plyo circuit + low intensity cardio on the elliptical trainer

Upper body resistance training + deep stretching

Core circuit + HIIT (run, run, run!)

A light jog + yin yoga


So, I'm doing two-a-days and loving it! September has definitely been my favourite workout month so far. I still instruct a lot of group fitness classes, but they're mostly functional training, crosstraining and kettlebell classes, so I don't really work out while coaching (compared to Zumbas and other aerobic classes).
I've been rocking this routine for three weeks now, and I'm loving it. The first week was absolutely horrifying, I was constantly sore - my quads hurt so bad I felt like renting a wheelchair. Last week was a lot better - and this week is really not that bad at all. My body is really good at adapting, it seems. As I've said before, I want to keep my body guessing, so I'll do this workot routine for just a few more weeks and mix it up again - I don't want to get bored.

Now, before making a "I don't have time to work out"-speech, each gym (i.e. resistance training) workout takes about 30-40 minutes to finish, as does the cardio. Monday's workout is the only routine that needs a gym - you'll do just fine with 5 kg (11#) dumbbells in all the other exercises.
Oh, and remember that I do a minimum of 40 hours of work per week - I have just as much time to work out as you do. If you don't have time, you make time. I guess you could spare one hour of your day, even for a few days a week? In stead of lounging in front of the telly all night, go for a brisk walk or do a circuit workout at home. Or maybe hit the gym before work? Remember, a 20 minute workout is better than a 0 minute workout.

Stay dedicated,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Clean eating: Breakfast pancakes

"Start every day like it's your birthday!"

OK - So it's pancake time!

I've had an awful start of the week, so a mini-birthday-Wednesday was in order. I usually plan all my meals for the week on Sunday nights, making all preparations and shopping if necessary. This Sunday I prepared a few OJ&Greek yogurt popsicles and a few other treats to get me through a stressful week. Today's breakfast menu was unplanned, but luckily I always store these ingredients at home. I've tried a lot of different protein powder pancake batters, but I'm still not quite convinced. I really don't like the aftertaste of protein powder, especially unflavoured rice protein. If you've got a decent recipe to share, I'd be more than happy to try it!

The pancakes are dairy-free, flour-free, sugar&sweetener-free and sooo simple to cook!

Clean eating: Breakfast pancakes (serves one)
1 ripe banana
1 egg (organic, if possible)
1 tsp unsalted butter

Step #1: Peel the banana and chop it to small pieces. Preheat a pan to medium-heat.
Step #2: Put the banana and the egg in a blender, blend until smooth. The batter should be soft and airy, almost like a mousse.
Step #3: Melt the butter in the pan and make four or five mini-pancakes of the batter. If possible, use a frying pan made for pancakes to create prettier (and symmetric) pancakes. Fry the pancakes for a few minutes, until they're golden brown. Turn the pancakes carefully! The pancakes will rise a bit, but after turning them they will fall. So be careful when turning them, you don't want to ruin your perfect ("birthday") breakfast.
Step #4: Enjoy! Serve with home-made strawberry "jam" (the strawberries are really sweet by themselves, no thickening sugar needed - I used pectin for thickening) and some Greek yoghurt on the side. Yum!

So try this out and let me know what you think!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Rest, recovery & relax: Enjoying a Thai herbal massage

Happy Friday, beautiful people!

I hope you've had an awesome week. As always, I've been challenging myself as much as possible - my motto is "try something new every week". I want to keep my body guessing. This week I challenged myself with a lower body plyo circuit (tougher than ever before). I'll reveal my September workout schedule in my next post.

Last week's special treat was a Thai herbal massage at my friend Mikko's physical therapy office in Malmi. Mikko opened his own physical therapy facility last week and I was his guinea pig for one hour on Wednesday. I've never tried Thai massage - especially combined with herbal medicine or heat!

Mikko promised me that the treatment would sooth me to the core. The combination of heat, massage and herbal medicine is claimed to improve circulation, relax sore muscles and ease respiration.

Since I work out like a little maniac, my lower body is constantly sore (especially my hamstrings and calves, I love plyo!) and I find massage really painful. My massage therapist has told me to visit him more frequently on several occations. For some reason, I just can't pick up the phone and make an appointment - why would I want to torture myself and pay for it? You'd think that I would have an issue with flexibility, since my muscles are always sore. I'm hypermobile (over-flexible), a lovely remain from my time as a teeny-weeny ballerina, and I still have "knots" in my muscles. Traditional massage hurts like h*ll, so I usually visit a hot stone massage therapist. The heat, organic oils and massage works best for me. I heard that Thai massage would be something like that - of course I'd give it a try!

The Thai herbal compress balls are steamed, so they're pleasantly hot. I really loved the warm feeling of the fabric against my skin, it wasn't at all burning-hot (like hot stone massage can be). I experienced a deeper heat, it felt like the warmth went straight to my muscles. The combination of the compress balls and extra-virgin coconut oil on my skin was really pleasant, the slight friction of the fabric felt almost like soft exfoliation. The coconut oil left my skin feeling extra soft. What's not to love?

Compared to hot stone massage, my skin wasn't hot afterwards - in fact, it felt pleasantly cool. My skin wasn't at all pink either, even after massaging the muscles. Maybe it's because of the herbs? I don't know, but I liked it a lot more than traditional massage. I imagine that Thai herbal massage works really well during the summer season, because it doesn't leave you feeling hot. I could easily imagine myself getting this treatment on my lunch break and returning to the office as a happy, reborn woman!


I got the "Rejuvenating" treatment. The Thai herbal compress balls consist of the following herbs:
Curcuma Longa (turmeric)
Curcuma Zedoaria(turmeric)
Cymbopogon Citrates(lemongrass)
Citrus Hystrix (Kaffir lime)
tamarindus indica (tamarind leaves)
pandanus odorus (pandan leaves)
nibuhria siamensia

I got the treatment for my lower body, so I didn't actually smell the herbs during the treatment. I can imagine that a back or neck massage works as an aromatherapeutic experience as well. I got a whiff of the compress ball after the treatment. I love lemongrass and it's a shame I didn't get a neck (or facial) treatment. Well, maybe it could be my "something new" for next week..? ;)

Sorry international readers, I think Mikko only does these things in his new facility in Helsinki

Mikko's contact info:

Fysioterapia Mikko Utecht
UH & FIX Malmi
Pekanraitti 14
00700 Helsinki
puh 046 810 2070
Have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Need to lose a few pounds?

Are you trying to lose weight? I probably meet people just like you every day at work. The reasons for being overweight are always different; just like we are different from each other. The main goal is nearly always the same "to lose weight".

Whether it comes to shedding just a few pounds, toning your body a bit or losing a lot of weight you should still have a game plan. In my previous post I wrote about setting goals. I strongly recommend reading it before getting started.

After you've written down a list of goals and things you need to do, this is the next step. I recommend a dietary journal for at least two weeks to get you started. After keeping the log for a fortnight, analyze it. Check for possible pitfalls, your eating rhythm (did you eat 4-6 smaller meals or 2-3 bigger meals?), and the balance of your diet: protein/carbohydrate/fat - ratio. In case you have no idea what I just said, take your diet log to a personal trainer or nutritionist and you'll get started.

Keep a journal of everything that goes into your mouth (drinks too!) for two weeks, and let's see what happens.. Here are the things that you should write down:

- Time e.g. 8 a.m.
- What you ate and drank The amount should be as precise as possible. You don't need to have a cooking scale though; it could be something like this: two eggs, boiled hard; one tomato; two cups of coffee with milk and sugar.
- Who prepared it? Did you make your breakfast yourself or did you eat take-out?
- How hungry were you before eating? Use a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being "not hungry at all" and 5 being "starving". Trust me, this one is important.
- What were you doing while eating? Did you watch TV, read the newspaper or fiddle around with your iPhone while eating, did you have breakfast by yourself in silence or with your family?

These points are important and really helpful when it comes to analyzing a person's eating patterns. You'll see your eating habits in a different light after keeping a journal - and you'll know what to change. Every single one of you readers probably know what a healthy diet should consist of, now you just need to make it happen.If you feel lost in the jungle of "healthy eating", send me a message to ulrika(dot)lillsunde(at)gmail(dot)com and we'll work something out.

Try this - you'll thank me later.


Aikaisemmassa tekstissäni kerroin, kuinka määrittelet itsellesi tavoitteet. Viimeisenä pisteenä tavoitteiden laatimisessa oli ruoka- ja treenipäiväkirjan pito. Tämän tekstin tarkoitus on tuoda sinulle ohjeet oikean ruokapäiväkirjan pitämiseen, jotta varmasti onnistut. 
Pidä ruokapäiväkirjaa kaksi viikkoa ja varmista, että syöt sinulle normaalisti kahden viikon aikana. Älä huijaa itseäsi, sillä analysointi on silloin huomattavasti vaikeampaa! Kahden viikon kirjoittelun jälkeen ruokapäiväkirja analysoidaan. Tarkkaile siis ateriarytmiäsi (söitkö 4-6 pientä ateriaa vai 2-3 suurta?) sekä ruokavaliosi monipuolisuutta ja tasapainoa (proteiinit/hiilihydraatit/rasvat-suhde). Jos et tiedä yhtään mistä puhun, vie ruokapäiväkirjasi Personal Trainerille niin pääset alkuun.

Tässä muutama asia, jotka olisi hyvä näkyä ruokapäiväkirjassasi:
- Kellonaika
- Mitä söit ja joit (esim. kaksi kananmunaa, yksi tomaatti, kaksi kuppia kahvia maidolla ja sokerilla)
- Kuka valmisti ruokasi? Söitkö itse tehdyn aamiaisen vai haitko sen kulmakuppilasta?
- Kuinka nälkäinen olit ennen ruokailua? Käytä asteikkoa 1-5, jossa 1 on "ei ollenkaan nälkäinen" ja 5 "pahin mahdollinen nälkä". Pyri havainnoimaan tätä numeroa, sillä se on tärkeä!
- Mitä teit ruokailun aikana? Katsoitko televisiota, luitko lehteä, näppäilitkö kännykkääsi, söitkö yksin hiljaisuudessa vai yhdessä perheesi kanssa?

Niin kuin aiemmin sanoin, kokeile tätä kahden viikon ajan. Näet ruokailutottumuksesi uudessa valossa ruokapäiväkirjan pitämisen jälkeen - tiedät varmasti mitä muuttaa. Uskoisin, että jokainen lukijani tietää miltä terveellinen ruokavalio näyttää, nyt ei muuta kuin toteuttamaan sitä! Jos koet olevasi eksyksissä itsellesi sopivan ruokavalion suhteen, lähetä minulle sähköpostia osoitteeseen ulrika(piste)lillsunde(at)gmail(piste)com niin katsotaan mitä voin tehdä.

Testaa tätä - kiität minua myöhemmin.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday motivation.

I know you guys usually rest on weekends, but you should definitely have a game plan regarding your eating habits. Not having a plan usually ends in binge-eating and feeling like cr*p. So make a plan and stick to it!

I don't want to preach, so I'll just gather my favourite motivational pictures of the week. Here they are:

I've had a great week. Somehow I found my inspiration (which was never lost in the first place..?) and changed my workout routines, again. I'm absolutely loving the new sets: I'm doing bodyweight training in stead of hard-core resistance training with big weights. I've never felt such pain in my quads than this Wednesday, I thought I'd die when I finished my plyo circuit at the gym, just before hitting the pool for some HIIT aquajogging. I'll give you a full description of my workout routines next week.

Oh, and I've lost another dress size this week. Feels awesome to fit in smaller jeans. ;)

Favourite feedback of the week: "You're such a bitch. But I still love you."
Ha ha. My clients rock.

Stay true to yourself and remember your goals! I did a post about setting goals yesterday, check it out here. 

Hope you're having an inspirational weekend! I'm off on a quick jog and some yoga in my back yard. I wish you all an awesome Sunday.


Todennäköisesti vietät sunnutaisin treenivapaata päivää, kuten moni muu. Olethan tehnyt viikonlopun varalle suunnitelman ruokailujen suhteen? Arkisin suunnitelmia ja aikatauluja on helppo ylläpitää, sillä arki on rytmitetty selkeämmin kuin viikonloput. Viikonloppujen suunnitelmattomuus johtaa usein ähkysyömiseen ja ahmimiseen - joten tee itsellesi suunnitelma ja pidä siitä kiinni!
Motivaatiopostauksieni tarkoitus on esitellä viikon lempimotivaatiokuvat ja -lainaukset. Toivottavasti saat niistä motivaatiota ja inspiraatiota myös omaan treenaamiseen!
Kirjoitin eilen tekstin tavoitteiden laatimisesta, lue se täältä.
Toivottavasti viikonloppusi on ollut rentouttava ja motivoiva! Itse lähden tästä nopealle hölkälle, jonka jälkeen joogaan takapihallani. Ihanaa sunnuntaipäivää.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Setting goals

Effective goal setting means more than just writing down a wishlist and posting it on your fridge. Here's a few things you should keep in mind when setting goals and making an effective plan to reach them.

1. Determine the goal in a measurable way and set a deadline
Don't use vague terms. The phrase "I want to be stronger and better than before" won't carry you far, since it doesn't hold a specific, measurable goal or a deadline. I've been browsing a lot of fitness blogs and the phrase "I don't want to be perfect, I just want to be better than yesterday" comes up frequently. You probably know that I'm not very fond of this, since it doesn't really push you anywhere. Rather than saying "I want to be better" you should strive for a specific goal, like a specific dress size/body fat percentage/lifting a precise weight. These are just examples. Make sure you make the goals for yourself and no one else.
The date is really important! Make sure you have a specific deadline, or you'll procrastinate. Set a goal for this fall and for each single workout. Write down your goals. When you remember where you're going, you'll get there much faster. The more precise you are, the better.

2. Assess your starting physiology
Make an appointment with a personal trainer or a healthcare specialist. I recommend a full body composition analysis, for example the InBody or a body fat measurement with clamps. You'll get a realistic, objective analysis of your body composition.
In addition to the InBody or clamp measurements, I recommend a fitness test. Depending on your goals, a muscle fitness test (repeated squats, push-ups, back extensions and sit-ups) or an aerobic test (12 minute submaximal fitness test with a stationary bike or Cooper's test) are the ones to do. In case you have a specific goal like benchpressing 300 pounds, you should definitely test your bench press1RM (1 repetition maximum).
A hormonal profile, adrenal stress index and metabolic rate tests are excellent in assessing your situation in the beginning. Ask your physician more about testing your metabolism.
Assessing your starting physiology also helps you to get a realistic view of your limitations. For example, if you have a low testosterone level, you probably won't gain a lot of muscle mass in a short time.

3. Ask yourself the question "What am I willing to do to reach my goal?"
How many times a week are you ready to work out?
How much are you willing to change your diet?
Be realistic about these changes. A radical change in diet or exercise routines is never a good thing, since you're not likely to keep it up for a long time. Make small changes! I recommend one change a week, for example starting off with balancing your breakfast. I'll write a post about changing your diet in a few weeks.
No goals are achieved without making some sacrifices! This means that you'll really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to gain results. People are used to staying inside their comfort zone, never changing their workouts because it's tough in the beginning. If you've been doing the same "fatburn" program on the same elliptical trainer for two years, you should definitely mix it up and try something different.
Remember: if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.
Don't underestimate how lapses in discipline can affect your training. If you drink like a fish on Friday and Saturday, Sunday and Monday won't be productive days when it comes to working out.

4. Determine the behaviours that go with step 3
Can you hear the difference between phrases "I'm trying to lose weight" and "I'm losing weight"? Stop trying and start doing. The same thing goes for behavioural changes, like "I will take my Omegas in the morning" vs. "I take my Omegas in the morning".
Your subconscious doesn't recognize the past or the future, so write positive behaviours in the present tense. That subtle change in phrasing changes your way of thinking and makes you change your behaviour on a longer term. Tell yourself that you can do this.

5. Make a list of intermediate goals with specific deadlines
You should be able to repeat the body composition tests (as presented in step 2) on a regular basis, for example every three to four months. If you're not progressing the way you should be, make a change in behaviour. Consult a trainer if you need help with balancing your workouts and diet.

6. Keep a detailed diet and training diary
Diet logs seem really hard to keep for some people, because they require honesty and seriously planning your meals. A well kept log helps you monitor and evaluate your progress and efficacy of your training program.
I recommend writing down feelings as well. A dietary journal is incomplete without a log about hunger (on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being "not hungry at all" and 5 being "starving"). The same comes to training logs as well, write down the amount of reps you performed, the breaks you took and the weights you used - don't forget to write down the feeling you got from working out. It's really fun to look back on your old training and diet journals - I had so much fun reading my training log while I was on Atkins... Jeez, I really don't recommend working out like a maniac on really low carbs. But that's another story.

By following these steps you will reach your goals, just be true to yourself and your trainer. Give these few steps a try - for a change!

Tavoitteiden saavuttaminen vaatii tarkkaa suunnittelua ja selkeän, aikataulutetun ohjelman. Tässä lyhyesti muutama asia, joka kannattaa pitää mielessä tavoitteita laatiessa.
1. Aseta selkeä tavoite ja aikaraja. Mitä tarkempi olet tavoitteesi kanssa, sen parempi. Pyri välttämään epäselviä lauseita kuten "haluan olla parempi kuin ennen" - käytä mielummin mitattavia tavoitteita kuten vaatekokoa, rasvaprosenttia tai painoa, jonka haluat nostaa kuntosalilla. Aikarajan määrittäminen on erittäin tärkeää, ettei tavoitteesi saavuttaminen viivästy!
Aseta siis kokonaisvaltainen tavoite ja jaa se pienempiin osiin. Jokaisella harjoituksellakin pitäisi olla selkeä tavoite, jotta pysyt vauhdissa. Jos tarvitset apua tavoitteiden asettamisessa, ota yhteys personal traineriin tai fysioterapeuttiin.
2. Arvioi lähtötilanteesi. Suosittelen alkuun ainakin kehonkoostumusmittausta (esim. InBody tai pihtimittaus), lisäksi kuntotestiä (lihaskuntotestit, polkupyöräergometritesti tai Cooperin testi, riippuen tavoitteistasi). Jos tavoitteenasi on nostaa penkistä 100 kg, tehdään alkuun 1RM (yhden toiston maksimi) - testi. Lisäksi suosittelen ainakin hormonitasapainon testausta verikokein.
3. Kysy itseltäsi, mitä olet valmis muuttamaan saavuttaaksesi tavoitteesi. Kuinka monta kertaa viikossa olet valmis treenaamaan? Mitä olet valmis muuttamaan ruokavaliossasi?
4. Tee päätökset vaadittavan käyttäytymisen suhteen. Kerro alitajunnallesi preesenssissä, mitä aiot tehdä saavuttaaksesi tavoitteesi. Huomaatko eron lauseiden "yritän pudottaa painoani" ja "pudotan painoani" välillä? Kerro itsellesi, että pystyt tähän.
5. Tee itsellesi lista välitavoitteista aikarajoineen. Aiemmin suorittamasi testit pitää pystyä uusimaan tietyin väliajoin. Testien uusittaessa saat arvion siitä, kuinka treeni- ja ravinto-ohjelmasi on toiminut.
6. Pidä yksityiskohtaista treeni- ja ruokapäiväkirjaa. Kirjaa ylös kaikki syömisesi ja treenit, samoin tunteesi treenin aikana - ruokapäiväkirjaan kirjaa myös nälän tunne asteikolla 1-5 (1= ei ollenkaan nälkä, 5= kovin mahdollinen nälkä). Ruoka- ja treenipäiväkirjoja on myös hauskaa lukea myöhemmin, kun tilanteesi muuttuu.

Seuraa näitä askelia ja koe muutos!