Archive | February, 2011

My Favourite Weight Exercises

28 Feb

I love weight training.  I like it better than swimming, running and biking.  It makes me feel strong, it helps me burn fat quickly, it gives me great muscle definition and my body responds really well to it.

Any woman who is on a quest to lose weight is crazy if she does not include some weight training in her routine.  Weight training activates our muscles and the more muscle we gain, the more fat we burn.  As our muscles repair we continue to burn calories which is the added bonus of weight training over cardio training.

It is also good for maintaining strong bones therefore it is especially important that we continue to lift weights as we get older to keep diseases like osteoporosis at bay.

Weight training coupled with a good dose of cardio and a diet filled with lean protein, low GI carbs, good fats and loads of fresh vegetables is the key to getting that body of your dreams.

My trainer is a huge fan of weight training and here are some of my favourite exercises that she has me perform.

Deadlifts

A great exercise for firing up the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles.

Stand tall and keep your shoulder blades together.  Slowly bend at the waist and lower the weights down past your knees, keeping knees slightly bent and the shoulder blades pulled together.  Hold the tummy tight the whole time and the chin pulled towards the neck.  Slowly lower yourself up to a standing position again.  That is one rep.

I use 5 – 7kg dumbells and perform 20 – 30 reps usually 3 times in between other exercises.

Source: womenshealthmag.com

Squat with Shoulder Press

A great multi-purpose weight exercise that burns the glutes and thighs as well as the arms and shoulders. The more muscle groups you work at one time equals the more calories you burn!  Why do a simple squat when you can work those arms as well?!

Holding the dumbells at shoulder height, palms facing outwards and perform a squat.  Keep back straight, shoulders pulled together and tummy tight.  Your knees should not obscure the sight of your toes and you should be pushing that booty right out like you are about to sit down on a chair.  As you come up from the squat push the dumbells up to the sky.  That is one rep.

I use 3 – 5kg dumbells and perform 15 – 20 reps usually 3 times in between other exercises.

Source: glamour.com

Side Lunge

Inner thigh fat, be gone!  This is perfect for getting toned inner thighs – something most women are constantly working towards!

Stand up right, tummy tight with weights by your side.  Step out to the left.  Keep the left leg straight and the right knee bent and push the butt out as if you were about to sit on a chair.  Keep the chest up and let the weights lower to the ground.  Slowly raise yourself back up and bring the left leg back to starting position.  That is one rep.

I use 3 – 5kg dumbells and perform 15 – 20 reps on each leg usually 3 times in between other exercises.

Source: groupfitnesstoday.blogspot.com

Oblique Twists with Medicine Ball

Trim tummy?  Lean sides? Yes please!  This move will help you gain that svelt mid section you so desire.

Lie down on the ground with the knees bent and feet on the floor (the woman in the image below has her feet raise, this is the harder version).  Raise up slowly until you feel your abs contracted.  Holding the medicine ball, twist slowly from side to side, touching the ball lightly to the ground.

I use a 5kg medicine ball and perform 20 – 30 usually 3 times in between other exercises.

Source: blah.burrp.com

Add these to your next circuit training session and reap the benefits my friends!

What are your favourite weight exercises?  Do you do enough strength training?

 

Cumin-Crusted Lamb with Chickpea Salad

26 Feb

I got inspiration for this meal by a recipe I found in Donna Hay’s Beef, Lamb & Pork, one of the cookbooks in her Simple Essentials series.  If you don’t own a Donna Hay cookbook I suggest you go out and buy one, quick smart.

Donna Hay is all about simple, fresh and easy food that is low fuss and maximum quality and taste.  This philosophy usually means that you can trust the recipes will be healthy and nutritious (except when it comes to desserts!) and that’s exactly what I like.

Donna’s recipe calls for lamb fillets however I used lamb steaks to cut cost.  It also calls for mint which I don’t generally use in cooking (not for any reason other than I’m not keen on the taste) and I used no-fat yoghurt in the yoghurt dressing and added garlic (it needed a little kick).  In the salad I added cherry tomatoes as I had some lovely, fresh cherry tomatoes given to me straight off the vine from my uncle.

Cumin-Crusted Lamb with Chickpea Salad (serves 4)

4 x 150g lamb steaks (or lamb fillets)

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Sea salt and cracked pepper

2 x 400g cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

100g of baby spinach leaves

Yoghurt Dressing

1 cup of natural, nofat yoghurt

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 small clove of garlic, crushed

sea salt

Place the lamb, cumin, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the lamb and cook for 2 – 3 minutes per side or until cooked to your liking.

Slice the lamb, divide the lamb, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes and spinach among plates.  Drizzle over the yoghurt dressing and tuck in!

On Yer Bike Then!

24 Feb

For Christmas my darling husband bought me a bike.

My Beast

I felt like a kid again when I realised what was inside the big, brightly wrapped box!  I was so excited.  Images of me careening through the streets like the young BMX Bandit Nicole Kidman filled my head.  All I needed was a fluffy red wig and some exceptionally high-waisted yellow pants and I was set!

Source: filmjunk.com

After practicing riding my bike locally a few times I was feeling more confident.  I was ready to careen!  A friend of mine who rides to work most days from her home invited me to join her.  Oh what fun!  My BMX Bandit dreams were about to come true.

Her house is 8km from work and my house is 4.5km away from HER house.  A 12.5km (or 7.8 miles for my US friends – you’re welcome) bike trip?  Too easy, I thought.  How wrong I was.

By the time I even got to my friend’s house I was dead.  I was dripping in sweat and totally puffed out.  Let’s face it, my cardio strength is not as good as I would like it to be.  I didn’t know how I was going to make it another 8km.  But a total of 80 mins after I set out from home, two wobbly legs and an extremely sore arse later, I arrived at work.  I had a big stretch (biking isn’t great on the old hip flexors – stretching and foam rolling is a necessity) and felt enormously proud of myself.

Since then I have done the ride quite a few times and my cardio strength has vastly improved, as has my time.  Instead of doing the 12.5km trip though, I catch the bus to my friends house and we ride from there.  We left the bikes in our work’s lock-up garage overnight when I did the 12.5kms and rode back to her house the next day.  I think it’s best that I just keep continuing with the 8km journey and then when I am a stronger rider I’ll start doing the longer trip.

I’ve got to tell you, I am loving the addition of swimming and biking to my routine.  My husband has told me that I am already looking leaner after just a handful of rides and I can feel it too.  Will be interesting to see what the measurement tape thinks of me in a few weeks!

I’ve also signed up for a mini-biathlon on the 13th of March (4km run and a 800m swim) so hopefully all this cardio pays off!  I might have to put foot to pavement though and do a few runs too (grrr) although I have a brand spanking new pair of Brooks Adrenaline Trainers so that may make it easier for me.

LOVE. Source: brooksrunning.com

I was now going to lead into all the great benefits of cycling but I found a fantastic article that says all I wanted to say and more.  Do check it out here.

Are you a BMX Bandit?

Mighty Marinated Chicken Thighs

23 Feb

Many people steer away from chicken thighs because they are told they contain too much fat.  True they contain more fat than their leaner counterpart the chicken breast but the truth is chicken thighs only contain 9g of fat per 100g serve.  That’s less than what is contained in the same serving size of beef, lamb or pork.

What’s more, a medium thigh contains only 117 calories and has a whopping 24.5g of protein.  They do contain a moderate amount of cholesterol though (about 12% of your RDI) so if you are watching your cholesterol levels, limit your intake of chicken thigh.

Dark chicken meat also has zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, iron which are all essential if you are leading an active lifestyle.  (Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_white_or_dark_meat_better_for_you#ixzz1Edsvw8k1)

Chicken thighs are also usually cheaper than the breast and you can buy them without the skin which is better for you.  They are wonderfully juicy and do not dry out as easy as breasts do.  They hold flavour remarkably well and are perfect for marinating, stir frying and using in soups and stews.

 

Marinated Chicken Thighs

4 x boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Small handful of fresh thyme, squashed and roughly chopped

Juice and zest of one lemon

Dried chilli flakes (to your taste)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Place the chicken fillets in a flat dish.  Combine the thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest, chilli and garlic in a small bowl.  Pour over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 30 mins (longer for better flavour).

To cook, heat a non-stick grill pan over medium heat.  Cook the thighs for about 5 – 7 minutes each side or until cooked through.  Take out of pan and leave to rest on a warm plate, covered, for a few minutes.

I served this with baked sweet potato and grilled asparagus but you could slice it and serve over a bed of quinoa with a side of steamed vegetables or accompany it with a simple garden salad.

Have you changed your mind about chicken thighs?


News Flash: Sickness Update!

22 Feb

What up y’all?  This is just a quick sickie-poo update from your favourite weight loss blogger!

Although I was treating my cold naturally, it eventually turned into something more sinister – an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis.  I totally lost my voice (it’s coming back a little today) and have a hacking, seal-like cough. Extremely attractive!

The Dr didn’t think it was worth taking antibiotics as he felt I was nearing the end of the damn thing so he prescribed this foul tasting medicine called Senega & Ammonia (tastes like a cross between hair dye and licorice) that would help with the tight chest and loosen the phlegm.  And boy has it loosened that phlegm…  It’s raining phlegm, hallelujah, it’s raining phlegm, hey hey!  Haha, gross.

He also insisted on rest, that I stay out of air-conditioned spaces and not to talk.  Boring.  All I want to do is get back into my routine ASAP!  But I know my body needs me to rest so rest I will give it.  Begrudgingly.

So I thought today, to get me out of my funk, I would do some work on the blog and write a few posts that I haven’t had the time for.  I had a great suggestion from one reader to do a post on “A Week in the Life of Amanda” which outlined everything I ate and the exercise I completed for one week.  I thought about doing that this week but this week isn’t going to be great on the exercise front so I’ll record it all next week.  Can you feel the anticipation building?!  I bet you can.

I’ll farewell you here, dear readers, with my dogs Petal & Maxie getting into the sick day spirit too.

Maxie

Petal

 

Treating the Common Cold Naturally

17 Feb

Source: jewishsinglemaltwhiskysociety.com

Whilst I do suffer from hayfever at the turn of the seasons, I actually haven’t been sick with a cold or flu in a good while.  I find exercising, eating well and generally treating my body right keeps illnesses at bay however even doing all of these things hasn’t seem to stop me from catching some nasties from somewhere.  I blame sitting in an air-conditioned office for this – a haven for germs, circulating round and round creeping into people’s bodies when they are certainly not invited in nor wanted… it’s disgusting.   And totally rude.

So, as I sit here sniffling away and coughing into my lunch, I wonder what I can do to make myself feel better and quickly… Here’s where my trusty friend Google enters the equation!

  • Essential thyme oil in a vapouriser helps ease a sore throat as does making a tea with dried thyme, oregano or sage and a little honey. Add a teaspoon of the herb, strain, add honey and take every hour or as needed.  You can keep a jug of it in the fridge for a day or two.
  • Peppermint can clear blocked noses or sinuses.  Have a cup of peppermint tea or try adding a few tea bags to your bath and inhale the minty aroma.
  • Add a small knob of ginger to a cup of boiling water.  Steep for 5 minutes, drain and add a little honey if desired.
  • Make a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup.  Add loads of garlic and ginger as well as hot peppers (cayenne, curry and chillies).  This ancient home remedy is packed with antiviral and antiseptic properties and helps reduce inflammation.
  • Heat up a little vinegar in a bowl and inhale.  This helps clear chest congestion.

These are things that can definitely be done easily at home rather than take nasty over-the-counter medications.

The next thing that I have to consider is how will this sickness impact my exercise regime?  I haven’t let it stop me so far, although I have been performing at a low or moderate intensity.  Let’s face it, it was just a sore throat at the beginning of the week, I don’t think that’s enough to stop me.  But now that I have developed a chesty cough as well as some aches and pains what’s the deal?

The general rule of thumb is if you have symptoms above the neck, and feel up to exercise, then give it a go.  Exercise can sometimes help you feel better when you have a scratchy throat or sniffily nose.  Use common sense though, if you are ten minutes into your session and feel like hell then stop.

If you have symptoms below the neck like a hacking or rattly cough, fever, body aches and pains then it is probably in your best interests to rest.  More common sense, right?

So, I rode my bike in this morning to work (8km) and struggled quit a bit so I’m now definitely ruling out riding it home.  It can stay chained up in the carpark for now.  I hate missing sessions but I also have to listen to my body and my body totally wants to be horizontal right now.  Which is what I’m planning on doing for the rest of the day and night.

What’s your favourite home remedies for treating sickness?

Quinoa Sushi Rolls

15 Feb

Yep, that’s right!  ANOTHER recipe for quinoa!  I should just write a book.  In fact, maybe I will one day.  And one day I may also take over the WORLD.  But for the moment I’ll just settle with sharing this delicious quinoa sushi recipe with you.  Simple, quick and delicious – if you are a sushi roll fan you will love this as much as I do!

Ingredients (makes 1)

1/2 a cup of cooked quinoa

1/2 a tablespoon of sushi seasoning (found in a bottle, you can also use rice vinegar)

1 sheet of seaweed

Small tin of tuna (drained)

1 tablespoon of low fat whole egg mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of wasabi (or to your taste)

1/4 of an avocado, sliced (or a stick of cucumber)

Tamari or soy sauce (for dipping)

Place a sheet of seaweed shiny side down on a bamboo sushi mat (you can buy these super cheap from the grocery store).  In a bowl mix the quinoa and the sushi seasoning (or rice vinegar).  Spread the quinoa on the seaweed sheet and leave about 2cm on either end.

Mix the tuna, mayo and wasabi in a bowl and spread along the edge of the quinoa closest to you.

Lay the avocado slices (or cucumber) on top of the tuna.

Lift the edge of the mat closest to you and begin to roll the sushi.  Secure the edges down with damp fingertips.

Cut in half (or into smaller bite size peices), dip in tamari and savour the flavour!

Nutritional Info:

330 cals (with avocado, 275 cals with cucumber)

14g fat(with avocado, 9g with cucumber)

2.5g sat fat(with avocado, 1g with cucumber)

23g protein

26g carbs