Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feed me, Seymour!

If you are attempting to build muscle, the most important meal you eat will be the one you consume following a workout. The post workout meal has a very specific purpose and that is to rebuild and repair the (good) damage you just inflected on your muscles. Remember, the basic goal of weight training (for mass gain) is to force the muscles to break themselves down so that they can rebuild themselves stronger. If we don't provide the nutrition they need to complete that process then we will be left with muscles that never reach their full potential.Some things to remember when considering your post workout food options:

Include protein and carbohydrates
Following a workout, our body uses protein, which consists of amino acids, to build and repair muscle, and carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen (an energy reserve in your muscles). If we do not get sufficient carbohydrates (energy) following a workout, our bodies may in fact inefficiently use the protein as energy by converting amino acids to glucose rather than using it to repair muscle tissue.

Consume this meal as soon as possible
The timing of this meal is important because you want to give the body the nutrients it needs to repair itself as soon as possible so the "magic" may begin. Most books I've read suggest waiting no longer than an hour with 30 minutes being ideal. This period, know as the golden hour, is when the muscles absorb the most nutrients and when the glycogen is replaced most efficiently.

Avoid Fat
Fats, good or bad, should be avoided because they slow down the digestion. Now, we know that time is of the essence following a workout so any element that will slow down the process is not recommended. This brings us to an interesting point : I am (obviously) a HUGE advocate of whole foods. They are nutritionally power-packed, more complete, full of fiber, have lower glycymic index values, etc, etc. However, protein in whole foods digests pretty slowly and by the time the protein is digested and ready to use, a lot of time has passed. Many people recommend a whey protein supplement to bridge that gap because liquids are quicker to digest and therefore quicker to get to work. Personally, I'm not looking to enter bodybuilding competition any time soon so I don't always heed the liquid protein advice even though I agree with the concept. To me it just isn't that important at this stage. However, when I do grab liquid protein following a workout, I tend to stick with soy proteins and natural sources such as spirulina.

My post workout meal following an AM workout is almost always a green smoothie
One of my favourite meals after a PM workout is the following. Both these dishes are super quick and can easily be made the day before to save time:

Miso Glazed Salmon (Protein)

I'll work on better photos ;)
4 tbsp raw honey
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp miso paste (I usually use red but you could use whatever you have on hand)
4 salmon filets
Cooking spray
Green onions (chives in the summer)

Whisk the first four ingredients together, set aside
Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray
Arrange salmon in dish
Spoon a 1/3 of the mixture evenly over fish
Cook under the broiler for 10 minutes or until fish becomes flaky, basting twice with miso mixture.
Sprinkle with green onions

Basic Tabouleh (Carbohydrates)
1 cup raw bulgur
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Place bulgur in bowl
Pour boiling water over the bulgur, cover and set aside for 20-30 minutes

Whisk garlic, lemon juice and oil in a bowl
Season with salt to taste and set aside

Combine mint, parsley, tomatoes, and cucumber with the bulgur
Toss with dressing and season to taste

I almost always add hot sauce to my dressing
Chopped spinach works well in this dish and adds nutritional value
Chickpeas are also delicious in this salad

Take some time to think about what (if anything) you are putting in your body following a workout. Are you giving it what it needs to maximize 100% of the effort you just gave in the gym? If not I hope this has helped to get you thinking about the benefits of planning your post workout meal :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Love,

Lady Stardust

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Make the sweat drip out of every pore"

I have recently been trying to begin my day with 30-45 minutes of cardio prior to eating a meal in an effort to shed some body fat quickly. Once I commit to a new exercise routine and modify my eating habits, I usually see rapid results, with the first few pounds just melting away. Then like most, I seem to plateau with my results so I decided to figure out the science behind my efforts.

Losing weight is a simple concept: "burn more than you take in." Follow this and you will inevitably lose weight but to maximize those results you want to be sure that what you're doing and how your doing it always has a clear purpose. My goal is to lose some body fat, so I needed to be sure that my exercises were geared towards that. Enter: exercising in the morning.

When we sleep, our body uses carbohydrates (energy) we've stored all day for performing various functions that happen while we sleep. Exercising in the morning prior to eating forces our body to burn body fat for energy rather than stored carbohydrates because our bodies already used our carb supply overnight. So as far as fat burning is concerned, my pre-workout meal that was full of carbohydrates was sabotaging my efforts. Essentially I was working out only to burn what I had just put in. This was sort of another "A-ha" moment for me because it is such a simple concept yet I had never thought about it before. Brilliant!

More benefits of working out in the morning include:
  1. Increasing your metabolism for the rest of the day, giving you a great shot of capturing some effects of "afterburn".
  2. Studies have shown that people who exercise in the a.m. are more likely to stick with their fitness goals.
  3. An added commitment to healthy eating habits. Trust me, you are less likely to grab that muffin at work if you just paid your dues to your treadmill.
  4. Increased energy!!!!! The #1 benefit for me :)
  5. A positive mood. Exercise makes you feel good mentally and physically which will carry throughout your day.
  6. The option to take advantage of your already increased metabolism by adding another workout during the day or evening.
You can apply this same concept while working out during the day. I have now switched the order of my strength training and cardio sessions in an effort to capture results. I used to run for about 20-30 mins and then hit the machines/free weights for a 25-30 min session. Using the same principals as mentioned before means that my body was using the carbs it had stored from my meals for my cardio session, rather than burning stored body fat as a fuel. Lifting weights is anaerobic (carbohydrate burning) activity by nature, so why was I weight lifting after I had just burned all the carbohydrates my body was storing during my cardio session?!?!?! Now I strength train first so my body uses its stored carbohydrates as energy and then I do my cardio, which will then target my body fat as fuel since the stored carbs have all been used. Again, brilliant!

My current (fat burning) exercise regime is as follows:

On days that I'm only doing cardio, usually 2 times per week, I take advantage of this optimal fat burning time and hit the treadmill for 45 minutes to 1 hour first thing when I wake up and prior to eating a meal. On days that I'm incorporating weight and resistance training, usually 2 times times per week, I workout after work, beginning with my strength training and ending with a cardio session. I tend to skip the morning cardio session on these days. I also workout with a trainer 2 days a week and on these days I run in the morning for about 30 minutes (prior to eating) and then attend his class in the evening.

I know that mornings are busy and sleep is precious, but the benefits are addicting! I can tell you that I throughly enjoy my "me time" prior to getting my ladies up and ready for school and I have come to look forward to every minute of my morning ritual. I know that motivation is lacking during these dark cold mornings, but creating the habit now will ensure you get to enjoy the beautiful spring/summer morning workouts that will follow.

I challenge you to give it a try for one week and report back to me on the results!

My next post will include a perfect post-workout meal. Stay tuned!!

Thanks for stopping by,

Peace and Love,

Lady Stardust

*Please consult with your doctor before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking supplements of any kind. Any information obtained should not be used as a substitute for your doctors advice or treatment.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maybe it's my "A Type" personality?!

I'm going to step away from my healthy food options today and talk to you about my current fitness journey. I will post more food options along the way, including great meal choices that will fuel your body pre/post workouts, but I wanted to focus this post on my fitness goals. Changing my attitude towards exercise and physical activity was not only key in changing my lifestyle, but in changing my entire outlook on life as well.

As mentioned before, I've never been overweight I've just been out of shape. I'm slender and carry my weight well, but like many individuals I have never been 100% satisfied with my results. So my goal this year is to attain those personal goals no matter what. "No excesses" is my motto this year and I have high hopes of achieving what I desire.

Now, let me stop here for a moment because I'm sure that some of you who may know me are puking in your mouth right now. I understand that I'm thin and in relatively good shape for my age and even compared to most people for that matter. But what I don't understand is why people immediately roll their eyes and let out a "You're kidding right?!?!" when I tell them my personal fitness goals. This drives me NUTS! Just because a person is thin, doesn't mean that they can't improve their personal health and lifestyle. So why do people automatically boohiss when I open up and try to relate to them? Please remember that I acknowledge that I am in good shape and that I don't need to loose weight, tone up, or even adjust too many of my eating habits if I didn't want to. I am simply creating personal goals for myself to prove to myself that "I can do it!" and I want to share/learn from others along the way. While I don't understand why people dismiss me just because I'm thin, I do acknowledge that people will do it and I always try to be sensitive to their (inevitable) reactions. This has led me to shut down from others or fail as a result of self-inflected sabotage. It's quite easy to convince yourself that you don't have to go to the gym when everyone around you is telling you the same, or to loose motivation because no one will take you seriously. But that stops here! I truly feel that fitness journeys are very similar for everyone, regardless of their current weight, desired results, or chosen method of training. We all deal with motivation issues, lack of results, fear, temptation, etc., no matter what our current weight is. And equally important (if not more so), we all should be congratulating, acknowledging, and encouraging each other's successes not dismissing them simply based on a person's appearance. There are too few people out there who are actually taking the steps towards healthy lifestyles so we should be celebrating them and not scoffing at them. Don't you think?!?!?

The following is what I hope to achieve and how I how I aim to get there.

Goal :
My goal this year is to get into athlete shape, meaning a low % of body fat and a high % of lean muscle. I want to be in top physical condition for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can do it. 18% body fat is my goal which will put me in the lean/athletic category on the BMI (Body Mass Indicator) chart. I will post more about the BMI in at a later date.

Current situation :
After the Christmas holidays I was at 27% body fat which is healthy for my age, weight, and height. This means that I will be trying to drop 9% body fat.
*I am being re-measured this week so I will keep you updated on my (hopeful) progress.

Plan :
I'm currently attending a "boot camp" type class, 2 times per week where I alternate between "High Intensity Polymeric Interval Training", "Plus", and "Core" sessions. I also visit my gym 3-4 times per week attending various classes or using the equipment on my own.
*My subsequent posts will go into detail about these classes and what specific roles they play in my transformation.

Please don't think that you need to be aiming for similar result as me to enjoy the information on here. Take what you will from here and apply it however it fits best to your own personal goals. I plan to share my experiences with you through posts, photos, measurements, recipes, etc. I also hope to blog about specific exercises that I find useful as well as different classes in the area. I get bored very easily so I am always attending new and different classes in an effort to keep myself motivated ;) I'd love to share those experiences with you because there are some crazy things out there!

While I am not a professional, nor do I profess to have all the answers, I do want to share as much as I can with all of you. Whether you are looking to get started towards a healthier you, loose 10 lbs, or train to run a marathon, I hope that you will find something useful on here. I also hope to learn things from all of you! If you have a stellar workout, a useful tip, find something that I'm doing wrong, or want to come and workout with me, I implore you to let me know!!!!! Drop me a comment or message me privately because I'd love to hear what you have to say.

We are all in this together and together is how we will achieve success!!!

Thanks or stopping by!

Peace and Love,

*Please consult with your doctor before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking supplements of any kind. Any information obtained should not be used as a substitute for your doctors advice or treatment.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Oats are what a champion thoroughbred eats before he or she wins the Kentucky Derby."

My last go-to breakfast dish is "old fashion rolled oats", AKA oatmeal! It's quick to prepare and a great source of complex carbohydrates. Remember, complex carbohydrates are slow-digesting which helps to keep blood sugars stable which in turn prevents energy crashes, as well as mid-morning feelings of hunger. I prefer to use the old fashion rolled oats because I don't care for the extras in instant oatmeal and I try to eat as clean as possible. Instant oatmeal is basically thinly rolled oats which are then cut into smaller pieces, pre-cooked and "enhanced" with natural/unnatural flavours, salt, sugar, and preservatives. The way the instant oatmeal is processed removes a lot of the slow-digesting property of the oat, however most of the other health benefits are the same in the instant oatmeal as in the thicker varieties. So, if instant is all you can manage in the morning, then try to aim for the "regular unsweetened" variety.

Cooking the oats takes about 10 minutes on the stove so when I know I'm going to be short on time I cooking them in the evening. Once prepared you then have the opportunity to add whatever you're craving ;) Below are some of my favourite toppings:
  1. Fruit, obviously!
  2. Unsalted unroasted nuts.
  3. Unsalted unroasted seeds ex: pumpkin, sunflower, etc.
  4. Almond or soynut butter
  5. Goji berries
  6. Cocao nibs
  7. Spices such as cinnamon, allspice or vanilla bean
  8. All the above :D
Thanks for stopping by.

Peace and Love,


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Uber fast breakfast burrito

When I feel like I need something to "bite into" in the morning, I make this insanely fast dish. Pico de gala is one of my favourite condiments and I use it on as many things possible! It's so fresh and yummy and tastes best with garden fresh cilantro (my favourite herb!) and warm summer tomatoes. When I'm watching my carbs, complex or not, I skip the tortillas. However when they are in burrito form they're perfect for the car.

Serves 1
2 large eggs
2 whole grain tortillas 7"

Pico de gala
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh lime juice
salt and pepper
sugar (optional)

Combine all indigents for Pico de gala in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste
Set aside

Whisk the two eggs in a glass microwave safe dish
Heat on high for 1 minute and 20 seconds or until the eggs are fluffy and cooked throughout
Divide the eggs between each of the tortillas
Top each wrap with a 1/4 of the Pico de gala mixture and reserve the remaining mix for the next day.
Fold and enjoy :)

*Sprouts work nice with this combination as well.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Peace and Love,

Lady Stardust

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Breaking the Fast

When I decided to change my eating habits the first thing I needed to evaluate was breakfast. After all, it is the "most important meal of the day"; yet I was almost never partaking. I had been skipping breakfast for a long time and functioning just fine, and honestly when I did have a chance to grab something (usually toast or a bagel) I would feel more sluggish and hungry then when I skipped.

Q: Why was it so important for me to have breakfast?
A: Having breakfast essentially jumpstarts your metabolism from the overnight fast and replenishes your supply of glucose. The three main nutrients to get out of your breakfast are protein, complex carbs, and fiber.

Thus being said, clearly my bagels and toast were not hitting the mark! So, I decided I was going to force myself to eat a well balanced matter what.

I started to reasearch the best foods to get protein, complex carbs, and fiber so I could try to cover all my bases without making a large and complicated breakfast and I was quite surprised to find out that fruits and vegetables (mainly dark greens) were great sources of all three elements. I then began to search for breakfast dishes that utilized mainly fruits and veg and it was then that I stumbled on my now all-time favourite breakfast meal, the green smoothie!!!

"What is a green smoothie?", you might ask. Well, it's a smoothie that contains anywhere from 40-100% leafy green vegetables and uses fruit, super foods, and sometimes water to make up the remaining portion.

They are beyond delicious and I promise you that your body will start to crave these nutritional power houses. It's usually hard for me to convince people that they taste good and that they actually give the copious amount of energy I was claiming, but I promise you they do both. My co-workers would watch me drink one or two of these everyday and literally turn green themselves but I didn't care! My energy levels were through the roof and I wasn't feeling deprived or tired by 10am. Here is an easy recipe that has a higher fruit ratio than the greens, so it's a good starting point for transiting to higher percentage of greens.

Basic Green Smoothie

Serves 1
1/2 a pineapple peeled, cored, and cubed
2 bananas
4 stalks of kale, stems removed
1 tbsp of lime juice, fresh or bottled

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high until the pineapple and kale have blended smoothly.
Serve immediately or chill for up to one hour.

Once you make a few of these bad boys you will discover what you prefer and what you don't. I realized that I didn't much care for bananas in my smoothies because they were acting as a thickening agent, so I omit them out of most recipes! Now typically my green smoothies are about 70-80% greens and the rest is a mixture of fruit and water. I'll try and describe what my smoothies consist of but I must warn you that I've never really followed recipes to the T. I usually only use them as inspiration and let my senses/my mood do the rest. I'm sorry that I won't have exact measurements for you and if they are hard to follow. I will work on writing things down.

JorDanna's Swamp water

Serves 2
4-5 handfulls of spinach, with stems
4-5 leaves of kale, stems removed
1 handful of some other leafy green. Could be rapini, dandelion, collards, etc.
1 cup frozen fruit. Usually whatever I have in the freezer or whatever is on sale.
1 piece of seasonal/on sale fruit, cut up. *during the summer months I usually use more fresh than frozen fruit because I have an abundance of it in my fridge.
1 tbsp Spirulina (you might want to start off with 1 tsp)
As much water as needed to create a pleasing consistency. I like to use carbonated lemon water because I like the zip of the bubbles and the tang of the lemon :)

Place about 1/2 of the greens with 1 cup of water in a blender and blend until they are incorporated.
Add the remaining greens with more water (if necessary) and blend until smooth.
Add the fresh fruit and blend for another 15 seconds.
Add the frozen fruit and Spirulina and blend for another 10 seconds.
Add more water at this stage if you are unhappy with the consistency.
Taste the mixture and add anything you feel is missing.

  • Bananas are a great thickening agent.
  • Pineapples, mangos, figs, and papayas are great for adding natural sweetness
  • Stevia, agave syrup, and honey are useful for adding extra sweetness if you feel you need it ;)
  • Bee pollen, goji berries, wheatgrass, maca powder, and hemp seeds are all great super foods that can added to your smoothies. These usually only require small amounts and can added based on the extra boost you are looking for. I'll try to blog more on the huge trend of super foods later.
  • If you find yourself short on time in the morning you can make these the night before and keep them in your fridge. Just give them a quick blend in the morning.
  • Be creative! Use whatever you have in the fridge, whatever's on sale, or whatever your body is craving :)
I understand that the green smoothie bandwagon is a hard one to jump on but I urge you to give it a try. I started by committing for 2 weeks and by the end of it I was hooked. Use more fruit in the beginning and work your way up to higher levels of greens. The main goal here is to start to incorporate the green smoothie into your diet at a pace and level that works for you. Even if it's just on the weekends with 20% greens. Once you start you won't even miss your morning muffin, heavy bagel, or disproportioned bowl of cereal.

I had every intention to write about my other cooked breakfast staples today but I've seemed to have jabbered on about my beloved green smoothie! So, I will bid adieu for today and post my other breakfast favourites next time.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Pace and Love,