Recently I was asked by the good folks over at ETBFit to write a blog post touching on the foods I eat to fuel my workouts, what music I like to listen to when exercising and the kinds of fitness routines I do to stay motivated. It was a fun challenge.
Breakfast is the favorite meal of our day and I make sure it has a healthy dose of the good fats and lean protein. The rest of the day is filled with quick, small protein snacks to keep my energy up so as not to not overeat at night.
A protein shake with hemp hearts, chia seeds, almond milk and fruit, or buying an off-the-shelf one, is a great way to start the day. An egg white omelet, home made muesli, a small bowl of oatmeal + some kefir, toast with peanut butter and fruit, home made oatmeal pancakes – are all apart of our morning routine.
For a pre-workout snack, I like a piece of fruit, or a half protein bar, 20 minutes before the session. Humus and veggies, or a handful of nuts and dried fruit, are great post workout snacks.
The other challenge I have is bringing the right food to tide me over on a busy day filled with clients and classes. Steamed edamame beans, hard-boiled eggs, a handful of almonds and roasted chickpeas are all good choices; quick and easy to eat with little muss and fuss.
The right music is important when you exercise. It can make or break a class, relax you when stretching and motivate you to keep a steady pace.
Neon Steve, or DJ Kenya, are great steady beats for the Cardio and Resistance sections of the routine. Chet Faker and Hozier are great for Cool Down and Stretching. It’s old fashioned, but taking time to craft the play lists for the weekly Stretch Class I teach has branched out to creating play lists for all my workouts. It might be time to put those lists up on Spotify or some other music sites. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know.
The challenge for both my clients and myself is to design programs that are do-able. I’m a great fan of short workouts throughout the day coupled with longer workouts designed for specific goals.
Longer workouts usually revolve around a goal I’ve set for myself (for instance, camping in the Australian outback or hiking up Machu Picchu) and I like to do these in a gym setting. My gym has a pool too. I’ve added a water workout that is both fun and effective. I find the water much easier on the joints.
When the weather is nice, exercising outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air and mix things up. Chest presses against a fence, squats using different tempos, finding hills or a set of stairs to run or walk up and a stretch using a park bench - all work to create a variety of interesting routines that I look forward to doing.
Having been a trainer for over 30 years, it is taken time to figure out the right strategy for me. The one lesson I’ve learned – you need a lot of options to keep things fresh, be it diet, music or the motivation to get going.
Last blog talked about what foods work best on the fly. This week I ask the question: What fruits and vegetables are best organic? Here are some answers.
Last Spring, the YWCA invited a holistic nutritionist, Wendy Akune, to talk at one of their many excellent lunch-and-learns. She talked about using the right kind of oil to cook with (Nutivia Organic Coconut Oil) and introduced a healthy sugar called Whole Foods Fancy Molasses. Both excellent products have proven to be most effective in the ongoing plan to refine and define an eating plan that continues to work.
Ms. Akune also handed out a postcard (see below) called The Grocery Hit List.
This is a handy list to have when shopping. To find out more about what foods to buy organic, and holistic eating in general, go to revivemn.com.
These foods are best to buy organic (if you can):
- green beans
- leafy greens
- bell peppers
- animal protein
These are foods are least impacted by pesticides, and thus are not as important to be organic as the above set:
- sweet peas
- sweet potatoes
These foods should be avoided whenever possible:
- MSG ( monosodiumglutamate)
- Aspartame (Equal, NutaSweet, Spoonful, Equal Measure)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
- Artificial Dyes (yellow #5, red#3 and #40, tartrazine
Seeing as Summer and Fall are the best seasons to find local organic fruits and vegetable, it’s good to take this handy list with you when you shop.
If you live in Vancouver, check out this list of local Farmer’s Markets. Most run till late October.
Wherever you live, check for your local farmer's market.
Finding food to eat when you are traveling is sometimes a challenge. Airports are getting better – offering healthier food choices but it’s just easier to take a few things that you know will work. I’m sure you all have your favorites. Here are mine:
- Miso soup packets
- Instant oatmeal packets
- PG Tips Black tea
- Green tea
- A traveling cup and a small plastic spoon * (for all of the above)
- A package of raw Almonds
- A small tea towel **
- Larabar ***
- Roasted Chickpeas ****
*A traveling cup is great on the plane. Small cups are useless in turbulence. It’s also handy to have your own cup in the airport. It’s much easier to drink your hot soup or tea when the cup has a handle.
** The tea towel has doubled as a seat cover, hat, tablecloth and towel. It’s small and easy to pack. I’ve also met some really interesting people – offering my tea towel to a gent who didn’t have a hat in 40° weather allowed for a lovely invitation for drinks and a fascinating conversation on a seaside patio.
*** This tasty bar has no trans fats and is gluten, diary and soy free plus its kosher and has no sodium. The 230 calories are dense (food) rather than light (sugar) and will fill you up for two hours. What more could you ask from an energy bar.
**** Roasted chickpeas are a nice crunchy protein snack and they are also good for you.
And last but not least, I make sure to take a daily dose of vitamin D3 - no matter how much sun I get.
As with all well laid out plans, Murphy has come along to play. If you have never met Murphy, here is what he says: “anything that can go wrong will go wrong!” Hello Murphy, I’m ready for you.
This BC summer has been hot and dry. The Lower Mainland is on Level 3 water restrictions, which meant our outdoor pool couldn’t be topped up with water as needed. As a result, the pool I had been using, closed.
Swimming twice a week was a much looked forward to part of the Travel Plan. Let’s call it Plan A. The twice a week aqua-size routines helped to strengthen and balance all of my muscles. The pool sessions kept my massage therapist happy and the best part of a happy therapist was the gold star she awarded me for designing a balanced program – let’s see if the additions get me another gold star.
So, you can see how I might be put off with nature for giving us a hot summer with little rain except, I like hot, sunny weather. Time to tweak Plan A with Plan B, and make it the current Plan A.
Here’s how it’s working: the Yoga Sun Salutation in the morning is the first thing I do when I wake up. I’ve added home tubing exercises to accommodate the lack of water (usually in the afternoon) and a longish walk in the cooler parts of the day in lieu of water walking.
Change is good. Good life lessons and a strong reminder of what happens when you travel the globe.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin
Next week FITT for Travel – Food Choices
Time for a stretch break.
It’s always nice when you go to see your massage therapist and she gives you a big thumbs up. All my muscles are balanced which means my training plan gets a gold star. Nice.
Both the Stationary Upright Bike and The Elliptical Trainer have been instrumental in strengthening my knees and butt.
The interval Training Format of 30/20/10 (30 seconds at a moderate pace followed by 20 seconds at a moderate to fast pace ending with a 10 second sprint) has allowed for a cardio workout that is heart healthy, easy on my joints and engaging – not enough time doing any one interval to be bored. I started out doing this interval for 6 minutes and have gradually, over the last four weeks, done 10 minutes. Fifteen minutes is the goal.
Unfortunately, the outdoor swimming program was put on hold. Bad weather and swimmer’s ear made swimming impossible but the water was warm and as long as I kept my head above water (literally) I could still use the pool for it’s restorative benefits. Water walking is great for core work and water running, hopping and jumping make for a great, gentle on the joints, mild cardio workout.
Strength training sessions twice a week has made the most difference.
Both posture and balance have increased. And, I feel strong and powerful, which is good, because life, the past week, has been quite stressful.
Next week, it’s time to add walks with hills and to make sure all my walking shoes are comfortable.