Monday, October 29, 2012

Clean eating: Keeping a dietary log

Hi guys,

I wanted to share my dietary log of one day with you guys - just to show you what a day of clean eating can look like.
My doctor told me that I'm supposed to eat at least one serving of dairy per day, plus one serving of wheat, oats, barley or rye for three weeks before undergoing lab tests. Normally I'd stay off grains, except for the occasional oatmeal.

Monday 29.10.2012
I woke up at 6.30, stayed in bed for an additional hour reading a cr*ppy Stephen King book. Drank 2 huge glasses of water before getting up.
I was at work from 13 to 22: a few personal training clients plus a few hours of customer service. Not bad at all.

8.00-8.30 Brisk walking with my dog
9.00 2 cups of coffee (with milk), 2 glasses of water, 1 glass freshly pressed apple juice. An omelette: 2 eggs, 160 g tomato, 1 dl chopped spinach, 50 grams Greek cheese.
+ multivitamins, Omega-3's and liquid vitamin D
11-12 lower body strength & plyo workout + 7 dl water (similar workout here!)
12.30 Recovery smoothie: 30 g whey, 2 dl semi-skimmed milk, 150 g strawberries
16.00 Chicken salad with pomegrenade, some yellow bell pepper, tomatoes and rocket. 7 dl water
18.30 1 pink grapefruit, 10 almonds. 7 dl water + a few cups of herbal tea with my friends
19.30 Tuna salad with bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, rocket and lettuce. 7 dl water.
21.00 Evening smoothie: 30 g whey, 15 g oatmeal, 1 tbsp coconut flakes, 150 g blueberries and 3 dl milk.
22.45 Omega-3's, magnesium, zinc, B-vitamins. 2dl water.

Nutritional info:
1830 kcal
97g carbs (22%)
76g fats (38%)
177g proteins (40%)

Workout info (according to my heart beat monitor)
Brisk walking 30 mins 172 kcal
Gym workout 60 mins 516 kcal

One simple picture to explain what clean eating actually is:

I don't really want to think of stuff as "allowed" or "not allowed", since that makes clean eating sound like a fad diet. I'd rather say "more fresh fruits and veggies, less white flour".

We (as in my hubby and I) eat organic meat and dairy. We buy our beef from an organic farm close to our villa - we know the meat is organic, grass and grain-fed. The final product looks (and tastes!) a lot different than non-organic beef. Especially ground beef is a lot thicker, it feels almost solid compared to the spaghetti-like non-organic ground beef.

Now, just to be clear, this isn't a diet plan. It's just my diet plan at the moment. If I didn't work out, I'd skip the recovery smoothie (~270 kcals). 

So, tell me - what does your dietary log look like? :)


Picture source 1 2

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vitamin D - sunshine in a bottle?

Good morning, people!

I'm challenging myself to achieve a healthier body - besides working out and maintaining a balanced diet I've focused on supplementation and de-stressing.

Clean eating is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but since modern food doesn't provide all the micronutrients we need, I take supplements. I'll write a "Top 10 superfoods and supplements" post in the future to satisfy my readers. Keep sending me emails (and feel free to comment on my posts) in the future, I love your suggestions!

I'm trying something completely new: liquid vitamin D3.

The product I'm using is Solgar Natural Liquid Vitamin D3, 2500 IU. It's recommended to take 0,5 ml every day or every other day, preferably with meals. One dropper (0,5 ml) provides: sunflower seed oil, flavour: natural orange, vitamin D3 62.5ug (2500iu, as cholecalciferol), mixed tocopherols.

Liquid vitamin D - sunshine in a bottle?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is unique because it can be ingested as Vitamin D3 or D2 and because the body can also synthesize it when sun exposure is adequate. Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Sunscreen, cloud cover and pollution (smog) can filter out some UVB rays, so less of them are able to reach your skin every day. People with dark skin have more melanin in their skin compared to fair-skinned people. Melanin filters even more of the sunrays, so people with dark skin should make sure to get their vitamins. Supplementation and a proper diet is key.

Every cell in your body needs vitamin D. The vitamin is very important, because it plays a big part in maintaining your calcium, phosphorus and magnesium balance, insulin secretion and it regulates blood pressure among many other benefits. You want your brain to work properly when you're older, don't you?
Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with increased mortality, and giving supplementary vitamin D3 to elderly women seems to decrease the risk of death. Vitamin D deficiency causes osteomalacia, falls and low bone mineral density and is associated with multiple sclerosis and some cancers. Moderate to high doses of Vitamin D may reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

Vitamin D manufactors and retailers claim it to have an effect on common colds. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 322 healthy adults concluded that a monthly intake of 100,00 IU of vitamin D did not reduce the incidence or severity of common colds in healthy adults (source). However, it seems that vitamin D has an effect on influenza infections.

Now, the good part: Vitamin D seems to have an effect on your metabolism. There has been found a link between vitamin D deficiency and high body weight. Special receptors for vitamin D signal whether you should burn fat or simply store it; when vitamin D plugs into these receptors, it starts a fatburning process. Meanwhile, receptors in your brain need vitamin D to keep hunger and cravings in check, as well as to pump up levels of serotonin, a mood-lifting chemical. I like the sound of that, since a low-calorie diet makes me cranky ;)
As I said earlier, vitamin D maintains your electrolyte levels by optimizing your body's ability to absorb calcium, an important weight-loss nutrient. When your body lacks calcium, it can experience up to a fivefold increase in the fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that converts consumed kilocalories into fat. In a 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, obese women who were put on a 15-week diet and took 1200 milligrams of calcium a day lost six times more weight than women who followed the diet alone. Conclusion: By fueling your body with the D-rich nutrients it needs to get out of a fat-storage state and into a fat-burning one, you could potentially speed weight loss by up to 70 percent.

Dietary sources of vitamin D are for example fatty fish species (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel), different mushrooms (portobello mushrooms are the highest in vitamin D), egg, fish liver oils and beef liver. Vitamin D is added to staple foods (such as milk) to avoid disease due to deficiency (osteomalacia).

The recommended daily amount of vitamin D in the European Union is 5 µg. One dropper (0,5 ml) of my Solgar liquid vitamin D has 12500% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D. I can feel it!

I've taken liquid vitamin D for two weeks now, and I can feel the difference! Waking up at 5.15 a.m. doesn't seem that bad, when I know I'll get my vitamin kick in a few minutes.... Love it.


//P.S. Check my Facebook page for more motivational pictures, healthy recipes and articles!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Clean eating: making raw chocolate

My post on raw chocolate earlier received quite a lot of attention, and since I got a few emails about making raw chocolate, I wanted to share the recipe I (always) use.

Making raw chocolate is actually quite simple. You need to buy a lot of ingredients, but once you've got them in your cupboards, you can make raw chocolate as often as you like.

Clean eating: Raw chocolate (makes ~20 small pieces)

125 g cacao butter
1 tbsp organic honey (or a tsp Stevia)
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp raw lucuma powder
2 tbsp raw maca powder
a pinch of high-quality salt (pink Himalayan salt, grey sea salt)
(2-4 drops mint oil)
(nuts, dried berries or fruits)

1. Grate the cacao butter (or chop it up to tiny pieces).
2. Boil some water in a pan. Remove it off the heat after it's boiled.
3. Place the grated cacao butter in a bain marie and wait until all the solids have melted. 
4. Add the honey (or stevia) and the cacao powder and mix with a spoon until smooth.
5. Add the lucuma, maca (, mint oil) and salt and mix until smooth.
6. If you want a little twist, put some (crushed) walnuts, goji berries, mulberries or other dried fruits in silicone moulds and pour over the raw chocolate mixture.
7. Let the raw chocolate set for a few hours in the fridge (or if you're as impatient as I am, place the moulds in the freezer for 30 minutes).
8. Pop out your chocolates and share them with the people you love.

Our friends love these delicious treats. The chocolates in the picture above are flavoured with mint oil and I've added a few crushed walnuts. These tiny walnutty pieces were delicious! In case you haven't got greedy friends like I do ;) , these chocolates will store in the fridge (or freezer) for a week or so.

Try this recipe out and let me know what you think!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Clean eating: raw chocolate

Need a healthy treat for the weekend?
Do you love sweets, but not the excess sugar, fat and additives?
Do you want to enjoy chocolate without guilt?

If you answered yes to one of those questions, raw chocolate is the way to go.

Cacao pod.

What is raw chocolate?

Cacao is the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate.  These untreated seeds referred to as cacao beans can be considered a superfood offering a wealth of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals.
The cacao beans are grown on small tropical trees named Theobroma cacao, which literally translates to “cacao, the food of the gods” in the Greek language. These trees are native to Central and South America. Today Western Africa produces around 60% of the world's cacao.
The pods are harvested throughout the year, because not all pods ripen at once. Each cacao pod that emerges from the tree typically houses between 40 and 60 cacao seeds. After careful harvesting, the pods are opened (and the peels discarded), the seeds are removed, and they undergo a natural fermentation and drying process (preferably by the sun). The fermentation and drying process takes several days, and the bitter cacao seed is transformed into a sweet, mild cacao bean.

Cacao beans

The cacao bean consists of 54% fat or Cacao butter (Heart-healthy fats: Oleic acid, Stearic acid and Palmic acid), 31% Carbohydrates (high in fiber), 11% Protein (arginine, glutamine, leucine), 3% polyphenols=antioxidants (flavanols, proanthocyanins) and <1% minerals (iron, magnesium, copper...), vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E.

Raw cacao beans are then roasted to form cocoa, ground and mixed with sugar and fats to make chocolate. The high heat during the roasting process reduces the levels of antioxidants in the cacao, minimizing the powerful health benefits found in the unprocessed, raw cacao. To receive the greatest benefits from cacao, look for "raw" (non-roasted) cacao beans. 

Chocolate contains an antioxidant called flavanol and it’s this little component that could potentially have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, lowering LDL cholesterol, neutralizing free radicals, improving digestion and enhancing mental well-being by improving mood and fighting depression. As flavanol and the vitamins are contained in the cocoa itself, you should obviously choose a chocolate bar with a high cocoa solid content, specifically dark chocolate. Dark chocolate generally has a much higher cocoa content than milk chocolate and the milk itself will dilute the effects of the flavanols. As white chocolate often doesn’t contain any actual cocoa, this won’t have any effect on your health.

Basically, dark chocolate has the most amount of cocoa solids and therefore the most actual ‘chocolate’ in it. The higher the cocoa solids in a bar of chocolate, the better the quality and, if you like your chocolate authentic, you should be looking at choosing something with at least 70% cocoa content. You also know that if there’s plenty of cocoa in there, there isn’t going to room for much else. Dark chocolate doesn’t have any milk or milk powder in it either so you get more of a true chocolate flavour. However, this isn’t to everyone’s taste, as it can be quite bitter. Also, you need to remember that if the cocoa solids are high then there’s going to be less sugar, which will again make the chocolate taste bitter.

A BBC report indicated that melting chocolate in one's mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended. "The study also found that as the chocolate started melting, all regions of the brain received a boost far more intense and longer lasting than the excitement seen with kissing." Click here for the full article!

Now, before you empty your fridge of veggies and fruits and replace them with chocolate bars, bare in mind that chocolate is high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. Stick to my 90%/10% rule and you'll be just fine. That means, eat 90% clean and you'll get to "cheat" 10% of the time. If you eat 5 meals a day 7 days a week, you get to endulge up to 3-4 times per week. Here's my post on cheat meals.

Hope you're having a perfect weekend,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Obsession: yoga

I know this is an old video, but I still watch this every now and again. It's just mesmerizing, you know? I recommend taking three minutes to watch the video, it's worth it.

The first time I saw this video I couldn't help but thinking "I need to master this". Too bad I'm not that skinny or flexible, and my arm balance could definitely need a lot more work. But you know what? I'm still going for it. Maybe not this year, but the next. I'll practice until I'm there.

Briohny Smyth from Equinox makes it look so easy. *sigh*
Well, I guess she didn't just browse videos on YouTube and go "ooh I need to learn that" :D She lives and breathes yoga, just like I live and breathe the gym. I need to refocus. More yoga? Oh, yes.

I've had some issues with my lower back. It feels tired and stiff every now and again, mostly after long runs or lifting heavy. Completing just a few sun salutations eases the pain - completing a full 90-minute session makes me feel reborn. The best part is that I don't have to go anywhere special to do it. I can just walk into our spare room and close the door behind me, roll out my yoga mat and close my eyes.

You know the feeling after a tough workout at the gym? The feeling I get after a yoga workout is entirely different. I feel warm, but not necessarily sweaty. Every muscle and joint in my body feels like it's had a workout, but nothing feels sore. I feel at least a few inches longer after the deep stretches. My mind is peaceful and my breath is eased.

I do my yoga in silence, or listening to sounds of nature. Raindrops on our tin roof; the wind rustling in the trees; the sound of my deep breaths.
Inhale, exhale.


Saturday motivation.

Motivational pictures of the week.

I wanted to share some beautiful pictures with you guys. These pictures are printed and glued to my motivational diary for this week's entry. As I've said before, i love to keep a log on my eating, working out and just overall feelings. My workouts this week haven't been perfect (I injured my left glute muscles last week), but I've really focused on clean eating and sleeping enough.

I've kept a dietary log this week, just to stay on track. I've written everything down, every sip of water and every supplement. Keeping a dietary log even for a week gives me perspective on my diet. I should be drinking a lot more water (even though I drink 2-3 litres every day), making sure I take my HCl supplements on every meal (with solid proteins, that is) and eating a lot more greens. We eat a lot of veggies and fruits, but we should focus a lot more on deep green leafy veggies like spinach. I grew my own spinach in the summer and got a bit of an overdose of it - eating spinach on every meal gets tiring after a month! Any ideas for a great substitute?

I completed my upper body CrossTraining workout on Tuesday, and my lats have been on fire ever since! Scap pulls, negative pull-ups and ring work seems to work my lats in a totally new way - adding some eccentric work to the mix seems to help too ;) As always, I did something different this week - I completed a BodyCombat class at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning. I'm not usually for cardio training at the break of dawn, but it was a lot of fun!

I've been working out with friends this week. It's so much fun, I bet we both feel so pumped up afterwards. I'm able to add a lot more weights and my plyo training goes a lot better when I'm not alone - I guess I'm a bit of a show-off :D Just kidding, it feels so much safer to squat with heavier weights when you know that if anything happens, there's someone there for you. I'll ask a friend to photograph my gym workouts next week, so you'll see both my workout routines! Prepare to be amazed.

I'm off to meet my nieces in a few hours, so I have to go now... I really hope you're having a great weekend!

Stay on track,

Picture source

Friday, October 19, 2012

October and November workouts

Hi guys,

I'm so pumped up on this workout schedule!

I decided to go with this for two months, since I really need to focus on my ring work. I've heard that it takes several years to get good at ring gymnastics, which sucks for me :) Well, anyway. I'm really hoping that I get good at something before I ditch it.

(I'm really impatient, just in case you haven't noticed)

I've been doing this set for three weeks now. I'm really seeing a difference in my ring work, and especially on my handstand push-ups. This week I was able to complete four sets of two push-ups, yeah! I just couldn't stop smiling afterwards. You know the feeling, right?

So, here is my weekly workout routine:

Leg plyo workout. Alternating (supersetting) heavy lifts with plyometric exercises. (workout routine coming up!)

Upper body crosstraining-inspired workout. As I said before, I'm working on ring workouts, plus trying to master handstand push-ups. It's hard, I tell you. (workout routine coming up!)

Leg plyo workout, same as Monday.

Upper body crosstraining-inspired workout, same as Tuesday.

Core training and HIIT (running, cycling, stairclimbing)



Each workout is 45-65 minutes long, except for the Friday ab workout, which consists of 7 exercises plus a 30-minute cardio and a four-minute Tabata. Oh, how I love and hate Dr. Tabata.

So, how's your weekly workout schedule? Something new and exciting for fall?


Friday, October 12, 2012

Experiencing acupuncture

Some days I feel really clumsy. (Prepare for a long story)

Like yesterday, for example. I did my regular (short) set of handstand push-ups and landed a bit off, causing my left glute to crampe up. I tried to shake it off, do some short dynamic stretches but nothing seemed to help. I just had to limp my way out of the gym. Sigh.

I tried to move around at home, but nothing seemed to work. Rotating my hip caused sharp pain in my glute, and the pain kept moving around, up and down my buttock. Sometimes I thought it was the piriformis muscle, other times I thought it was something entirely different. I did a differential diagnosis on it, which was that I'd strained my piriformis muscle together with a deep hip muscle.

Luckily I'd already set up an appointment with my friend  Mikko, whom I visited earlier for thai herbal massage (read about it here). He was supposed to treat my lower back, but since I'm accident prone, he got to treat my hip instead.

I was prepared for acupuncture, but hadn't a clue what it would feel like. I'm not afraid of needles, so the thought of having a few needles stuck in my skin wasn't something I feared, although I wasn't exactly looking forward to it either... Well, anyway. Mikko was really soothing, he explained how it would feel when he inserts the needles and he kept asking me how I felt. I felt surprisingly good.

After locating the strained muscle he showed me where he'd place the needles: two needles on the foramens 1 and 2 of the sacrum, two needles on my left glute and one needle on the back of my foot. ( i.e. Gall Bladder 30, Bladder 54&29&30 and Spleen 4.) I'm surprised that placing the needles didn't hurt. I felt a small pinch when the needle went through my skin, but it didn't feel bad at all.

After a few minutes I felt a somewhat tingling sensation combined with a deep heat coming off the needles. It almost felt like electricity running through my glute and thigh, all the way down to my foot. And that was before adding the heat.

A few minutes after inserting the needles Mikko added a few chinese moxa cones (i.e. small pieces of burning coal) on the needles. Since I had five-centimeter (2-inch) needles in my sacrum and 7,5 cm (3-inch) needles in my glute muscles, the warmth was spreading quite quickly through my tissues. Oh, how good it felt. Weird, but good. The moxa cones burned for ten minutes. When the moxa cones had burned all the way, Mikko took the needles off and I got a chance to move around.

After not being able to walk stairs without limping, or even standing on one leg, anything would be an improvement. Now I can stand on one leg, even jump around a bit without pain. The strain hasn't been cured, but I'm so happy to be pain-free.

Mikko said that I shouldn't do any exercising today or tomorrow (bleh), and I should avoid going to the sauna today, since acupuncture may lower my blood pressure.

Have you ever tried acupuncture? Any experiences you'd like to share?


Picture source 1 2 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Clean eating: Lemon chicken 

I plan most my meals on Sundays and prepare most of them on Sunday nights or on a Monday morning before work. This is one of my favourite lunches, because it's super-easy to cook in bulk! You could easily cook 6 chicken legs at once, because they stay perfectly well in the fridge for 5-7 days. Freezing the cooked chicken is always an option.
This meal takes about 5 minutes to prepare, plus the 50-60 minutes it bakes in the oven. 
Quick and easy - what's not to love?

Clean eating: Lemon chicken
(serves 3)

3 chicken legs, lightly salted
1 lemon
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Cut the lemon in thin slices (appr. 1 cm thick).
3. Place the chicken legs in a large oven-proof bowl. Spice the legs with sage, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. (I, personally, don't need any extra salt or pepper)
4. Place the lemon slices between and around the chicken legs and drizzle some olive oil on top.
5. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken legs are golden brown and the meat comes easily off the bones.
6. Enjoy with clean eating sweet potato chips, quinoa or fresh salad.

Tip #1: Use different citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons and limes are great with chicken!
Tip #2: Bake a few potatoes, carrots or sweet potatoes with the chicken - lemon and potato is a great combo.
Tip #3: Use duck, goose or different forms of poultry for new flavors.

Let me know what you think!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Clean eating: Sweet potato chips

Thursday treat: sweet potato chips!

Do you love chips or french fries, but can't stand the excess calories? Do you want to keep your meals clean, yet exciting? If you answered yes, here's a recipe you should definitely try.
This is one of the easiest cheat meals ever. If I can do it, you can. I really love the simplicity of the recipe. Few ingredients plus a really simple preparation is always a plus when it comes to eating clean!

The chips take about five minutes to prepare plus the 15-30 minutes in the oven. You could easily cut up the slices in advance to cut a few corners. I usually keep cubed and sliced veggies in the fridge to save time.

Ingredients (makes 2-4 servings)
1 sweet potato
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, herbs and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. 
2. Peel the sweet potato and cut it in thin slices (approx 5mm each). 
3. Spread the slices evenly on a oven-proof pan, drizzle on some evoo and the spices of your choice. 
4. Bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the slices) and enjoy as a snack or with some chicken.

Tip #1: Mix it up by using different veggies. Sweet potato, yams, potato, zucchini and aubergine are perfect for this, and they work splendidly together.
Tip #2: Use different spice mixes. Try cinnamon, different herbs (rosemary potato is one of my personal favourites) or a low-sodium & sugarfree spice mix (e.g. bbq or pumpkin spice mix)
Tip #3: In the summer, use the grill. A smokey flavour is perfect with the sweet potato.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday motivation.

Motivational pictures of the week, borrowed from here and here.

I've been sick for the last 6 days, so no workouts for me.. My throat is still really sore and I have a runny nose, so it's nothing serious - but I still don't want to risk it. I'm getting better though, hopefully soon enough to go for a light jog later this week.
It's better to rest now and be healthy in a few days than work my butt off and get pneumonia. I went through it in May and I'm not exactly looking forward to doing it again.

It's really hard to be away from lifting when I've got a cold. I'm trying to do as I preach - I'm always telling my clients to wait until they are properly healthy before breaking a decent sweat.

I'm more motivated than ever right now. Without going into further details I'll tell you that I've seen a specialist about my health issue.. It's really eye-opening, to finally get answers to questions I haven't dared to ask, and maybe getting some closure. I just hope that these issues will be solved fast.

I've planned my workouts for October and November: surprise - I'm mixing it up again!

I'll ditch most of my resistance training and go for bodyweight training in stead. More chin-ups, more handstand push-ups and ring training (which I find really challenging). I'd really love to master a few muscle-ups by next spring. It sounds like I'm making huge changes in my workouts, although I'm not.. Just modifying the upper body workouts, inspired by CrossTraining.

I won't ditch my front squats, deadlifts or kettlebell swings. I'd rather die.

How are you guys doing? Anything new for this fall?