The Sinister Snacks!

26 08 2009

Hello!

It has been a crazy summer and I apologize for my absence from the blog, but fall reinvigorates us all!  I am back with more client questions, videos and more info than ever before!

One question I got consistently throughout the summer months was about snacking!  Ohh, the drama!  I get many clients asking what to do when their cravings get away from them and they find themselves vegging out on the couch with a huge bag of chips.  Worry not dear Body Templars, I have simple, easy and will-power free solutions for your snacking problems!

What to eat?  This is usually number one in the snacking inquiries.  What is a good snack, how much should I be eating and what should I avoid?

1. A good snack has a little bit of protein, a small amount of carbohydrates and little sugar, especially refined white sugar.  Some of my personal favs are

Apples and cheese ( or peanut butter)

Whole grain crackers and cheese ( cranberry cheese is the best!)

Whole grain toast with peanut butter ( add some hemp seeds for an extra boost)

A real smoothie ( only fruit, juice and yogurt or milk, no added sugars)

Sliced fruit of any description ( this is a great time to eat seasonally, so check out the farmer’s market or fruit market near you for delicious, fresh fruit)

Veggies & Dip

Half a sandwich or wrap

Peanut butter & banana ( no bread required, just spread a little peanut butter on the banana before each bite, no garbage to throw out either!)

2. How much should I eat?  A snack is called a snack for a reason!  This is not an excuse to take in a full meals’ worth of calories.  Television ads would have you believe that 100 calories is the most you would want in a snack, but I say it depends on what is in those 100 calories.  If you are eating a snack sized amount of Oreos, then yes, 100 calories should be your max, but if you are eating fruit or veggies as the bulk of the snack, you shouldn’t feel limited by the 100 calorie ideal.  I like to use a small plate ( ie dessert plate) or Tupperware container to figure out my portions.

Choosing a smaller plate or container will make it appear that your snack is larger than it is, which will keep you from second guessing your portions and eating twice as much as you need.  I generally say, if you can’t eat it all in under 10 minutes without having chipmunk cheeks, then you’ve got too much in front of you.

You can also use the ‘palm’ method.  Look at your hand face up, the palm of your hand shouldn’t be smaller than the super hero ingredient in your snack ( ie the banana in bananas and peanut butter) and you should have no more than 3 fingers worth of the side kick to your snack ( ie the peanut butter in the same scenario).  Your hand varies from mine, just like stomach size does, so use your own hand to measure if that is your choice.

3. What should you avoid?   I’ve touched on this already, trying to avoid refined sugars as well as white flour are a great start.  You also want to avoid eating anything that has no energy besides sugar, as it will give you that late afternoon crash when the glucose runs out, that’s why a little protein and a few carbs can go a long way.

I also like to avoid heavy things, like red meats as they take awhile to digest and can effect your appetite for dinner ( I know, I sound like your mother, warning you not to ruin your appetite).  This may sound good initially, as in, if you eat a larger snack and aren’t hungry for dinner, you’ll intake fewer calories over all.  However, this strategy always ends up backfiring because if you don’t eat enough at dinner  you often end up snacking again after dinner before bed.  For the majority of people, eating right before bed is the worst possible time to eat as your body is inactive at the time of digestion so no extra calories are burned and the food is converted to fat.  Not everyone is the same, but across the board, I think we can all agree it is healthier to eat a proper meal, that is well balanced at dinner time rather than eating a little bit of a well balanced meal at dinner and snacking later on whatever is available.

The final question I get frequently is about cravings and how to avoid the mindless or convenience snacking.  Many people get hungry around mid-afternoon, we already know that, so let’s use that to our advantage!

In the morning when you are making your breakfast, plan your afternoon snack, do any labour required for preparation and put the finished snack into a bowl or Tupperware container to await your cravings.  If you go to work, take the snack with you, and if you work from home, keep the snack at the front of the fridge until you get hungry.  By planning ahead, you have taken away the most common excuse for eating unhealthy snacks which is the old ‘But, I don’t have time…’ line.

If the snack is ready and waiting for you, you won’t be as tempted to just grab something from the store, vending machine or bag of chips that need no preparation and no time commitment.  Don’t give yourself the option of taking the easy way out and before you know it, you’ll be craving that afternoon peanut butter pick-me-up and sailing right by the vending machine without a thought!

The most important thing to remember is to set yourself up for success!  No one else will do it for you, there is no magic apple slicing fairy waiting in your cupboard for your orders.  Take charge of something simple like your snacks and before you know it you’ll be managing everything else with equal ease!

Please, send me your favorite afternoon snack and I’ll try them out, take pictures and post more great snack options in a future blog!

HAPPY SNACKING!

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Reader Question: What Can I do in a small space to burn fat?

21 05 2009

I received a reader question this week, looking for advice on fat burning exercises you can do in the privacy of your home with no equipment (well, maybe a skipping rope or video) and little to no space.  I thought I would share the info with the rest of you as well!

Check it out!!

So, anything that gets your heart pumping and you all sweaty (including all those good things I know you are giggling about) will burn fat, it’s about finding an activity you can sustain long enough to start burning stored fat and not energy reserves. You need to be working consistently hard for a minimum of 15 minutes to start burning the stored fat, or work in intervals, but if you want more info on intervals, message me. That being said, here are some great sustainable options in a small space, you can always use any combo of the below suggestions or other suggestions, as long as you are working hard you can mix it up all you like!

1. skipping -lots of options to mix it up with pace, footwork and large vs small jumps

2. Salsa dancing – any kind of dance is good, but salsa and hip hop can be done in little to no space

3. Burpies, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and all those other great calisthenics that our gym teacher used to make us do…they are all still very effective

4. Shadow boxing ( tae bo) – just punching hard and moving your feet. Take a boxing cardio class to get the basics (or rent Billy Blanks and enjoy a giggle at the same time) and feel like a bad ass at the same time! Or, call us at THE BODY TEMPLE and get a boxing coaching session under your belt and turn your cardio time into FISTS OF FURY! 😉

5. Barre work – from a ballet, jazz or modern class. If you have no dance experience, The New York City Ballet Workout is fantastic and you can get the video or the book. Dancers have killer bodies and trust me, an hour of barre work may look easy, but it will kick your butt! 20 years of dance experience behind me….;)

6. Private dance party – this is what I suggest to my clients that get bored easily (I’m a trainer), just make a playlist of about 40 minutes that includes all of your fav dance songs that make you want to get up and play air guitar. Put it on and just boogie around your place until your playlist ends…. it’s a great mood booster too!

Hope this helps all of you out there.  Remember, summer is a great time to just get outside and play!  A game of pickup ultimate frisbee, frolf, a jog/walk through a park or just play in the playground for awhile.  Bikes and rollerblades are also back, so take advantage of the beautiful weather and feel good about yourself at the same time!





2 New Videos for BIKINI BODIES Pt 2

13 05 2009

Hey Ladies,

Sorry for the delay in the next installment, things have been hectic at THE BODY TEMPLE!

Check out these two videos, one is a basic exercise that anyone can do and the speed skater lunges are a little more advanced.

Start today and look great in your bikini this summer!





BIKINI BODIES PT 2 – VIDEO!

30 04 2009

Check out turned out squats (or 1st position plies) and 1-legged squats from the Hips and Butt portion of the BIKINI BODIES series.

Hit me up if you have any questions, suggestions or requests.

Sit tight for leg pulses from the same series…..





BIKINI BODIES PT 2 – Hips & Butt!

13 04 2009

Welcome back to BIKINI BODIES 2009!  Part 2 will cover your butt and hips…another trouble zone for ladies especially.  These particular moves have a great track record, helping some of my best clients shave 2-3 inches off their hips and thighs in under 3 months!  So let’s talk about our hips!
The goal here is to target all sides of your hips and butt , from the inner hip flexors to the glutes and everywhere in between.  To do that, we need a variety of exercises with different stances to target each muscle group from a variety of angles and directions.  I have tried to include exercises that require no equipment so you have no excuses!  You can hop off the couch and get in a full set or two of an exercise during commercials.  SO, let’s get started!

Hips:  Most of these exercises do double duty and will work both your hips as well as your butt, so get moving and see those inches start melting off!  Keep your chest high and your weight on your heels.
1. Plies! – This is also called a squat, but what makes it a plie instead of a squat is CONTROL!  Move slowly but with purpose.  Imagine the weight of your body as your load and imagine pressing your feet into the floor to lift your body away from the ground as you straighten your legs.  Never lock or pop your knees, slow and steady is the name of the game.
Complete 10-20 repetitions of each plie type, repeated for 3-4 sets is perfect!
Try different leg and foot positions such as;
Regular squat -Slightly wider than hip width apart, toes facing forwards)
Sumo squats – Super wide stance, knees tracking over your toes, back straight
Turned out – Feet a little wider than hip width but toes and knees turned out.
1st position – Heels together, toes apart.  This will be a shallower squat than others, but will help target your butt, especially those charming little half-moons of jiggle that we all try to cram back into our bathing suits…;)
1 Legged squats – Can be done against a wall for support of without a wall to force your stabilizer muscles to work as well.
* Check back soon for some squat videos where I’ll show proper position and technique as well as some other types of plies/squats that are difficult to explain, but very effective!*

2. My Richard Simmons Series;  Richard really had a few things right back in the day.  I have borrowed some inspiration from him and created something I call ’The Richard Simmons Series’
To start, lie on your side, supporting your head with your hand and your feet stacked on top of each other.
Straight lift – simply lift the top leg up to a 45 degree angle and lower with control.  Keeping your abs engaged and the rest of your body still.
Pulse –  Same idea as the straight lift, simply lift as you would, but instead of lowering the leg completely, lower it about an inch before lifting again.  Repeat.
Soccer kicks – Same starting position but kick up and out like a soccer ball is coming at you ( a video will be coming to help with these…)
Circles – Imagine drawing a small circle with your toes and use your abs to keep everything above the hips still.  Always do an equal number of circles in each direction.
* Complete 10-12 of each type of lift 3-4 times and you’ll feel the burn!*

3. Inner Thigh Lifts – Same set up as the Straight lifts above, but cross the top leg over the bottom leg and rest the inside of the top foot on the ground.  Now you are using the bottom leg lifting, the inner thigh and hip are doing the work.
Lifts – Just lift and lower the inner leg concentrating on controlling the movement.
Pulses and circles are the same, just using the inner leg.

NOTE: You can make any of the above leg exercises more challenging by adding ankle weights….

4. Leg Pulses – These are hard to explain, I will shoot a video shortly, stay tuned for updates.   Be glad this isn’t here yet, it’s a tough one…. 😉

Butt! – Whether you want to minimize your jiggle or increase your lady lumps, the answer is to work out those gluteal muscles!
Squats work well as do these;

1. Kneeling series!  3 exercises you can do at one time from all fours.
Turned out lifts – Cross one ankle over the other from all fours and lift that top leg up as far as your hips will comfortably allow, keeping the knee slightly bent.  Make sure you keep your core engaged to support your lower back.
Donkey Kicks – Kick straight back with force as though you were kicking some toilet paper off the bottom of your shoe…make sure no person or thing is directly behind you 😉
Fire Hydrant Extensions – Lift your leg with your knee bent to the side, like a dog at a fire hydrant.  Then extend the knee and kick out to the side before lowering to starting position again.
Complete 10 reps of each of these three exercises on each leg for 3 sets, you’ll have a booty worthy of celeb envy in no time!

2. Standing back kicks – Same concept as the Donkey Kicks from above, simply standing.  You can generate more force when you are standing and it will force your abdominals to work harder to keep you balanced.  We always love exercises that do double duty!

3. Hip and Butt opener – Lying on your side, bend both knees to about a 45 degree angle.  Using your hands to create some gentle resistance, simply open the top knee as far as you are comfortable with while keeping your bottom knee stable on the ground.  Keep your heels glued together and increase or decrease the resistance from your hand according to your current ability.  10/side 3-4 times should be fine.

SO, there are our Hips and Butt exercises, keep checking back for the next installment of BIKINI BODIES, THIGHS & HAMSTRINGS!!!!

Keep working hard and you’ll have a banging beach body before you know it!





Bikini Bodies! PT 1

7 04 2009

I realize this article isn’t well timed as the snow is still swirling outside my window, but, technically it is Spring now so we all need to be thinking about squeezing into those short shorts, bikinis and swim trunks for you guys.  Does anyone else find it odd that although we always know that the summer will inevitably follow the winter, that we still go through the motions of last minute panic as swimsuit season inches closer?  I do!

If that is you, if you are worried about a little bit of extra jiggle this year, then read on and have no fear!

Let’s talk about DANGER ZONES!  Pt 1 will talk about your core, for more body parts, check back frequently.

1. Core or Tummy! – This encompasses everything from the sagging gut, the muffin top, love handles and just plain old jiggly belly!  A rampant myth about abdominal strength and six-pack abs is that crunches will solve all your problems.  This is just not true!  The most superficial muscles, the rectus abdominus, is actually one of the weakest muscles in the core, but since it is the muscle that shows the best 6-pack definition, many people train it exclusively, leaving the rest of their core weak and soft.

The solution to this problem is to train all areas of your core from your center abs (the rectus abdominus), your lower abs (the baby bump area for ladies), the love handles/muffin top or the oblique abs and your lower back (quadratus lumborum)  which helps support your tight, toned abs as well as keeping free of debilitating lower back pain.  You need to work equally on each of these sections of your core to build a tight and sexy midriff as well as to ensure lower back health and heart health.  One of the most dangerous places to carry extra weight is your middle as the fat coats and surrounds your organs and heart.  This not only creates more potential for health problems and complications, it also makes any kind of surgery (from heart bypass surgery to an appendectomy) more difficult for doctors and more risky for you.

So, let’s hit it!

1. Center Abs (rectus abdominus) – Yes, crunches are useful here, but ensure first that you are not pulling on your neck or straining your lower back.  A great way to help both those issues is to do your crunches on a Swiss ball instead of on the floor.  The Swiss ball supports your lower back and allows you to get a broader range of motion.

Some other great exercises for your middle core;

Plank (with many variations such as weight transfer, dynamic plank etc)

Pilates roll downs on the ground

Pike crunches (a little tougher so don’t try alone for the first time)

Many others, check back to The Body Temple blog frequently and we’ll be posting new ways to blast your core!

2. Obliques! – I call these the ‘corset’ muscles because they give you the great hourglass figure, whittle your waist down, help support your lower back and cut into that muffin top!  These are the unsung heroes of the abs, but at The Body Temple, we give them the respect they deserve.  Here are some great ways to work your obliques;

Side planks

Bicycle crunches

Russian Twists

Heel reaches

Side extensions

Salsa Steps (check out the professional females on Dancing with the Stars, they have sick obliques!)

3. Lower Abs – This is one of the hardest places for women especially to lose weight and inches.  We are biologically engineered to retain padding there for our future offspring, so we have to work extra hard to lose that little paunch.  Here are some great ways to start;

Reverse crunches

Partnered Leg tosses

Windshield wipers

Knee lifts from hanging

Slow leg raises from prone position

4. Lower Back – This portion of your core may have been carrying the extra load for your weak abdominals, which means you may be one of those people with chronic lower back pain.  Many of our clients have complained initially of lower back pain and within a few weeks of training and strengthening their core, the lower back pain has all but vanished!  Try these to help your lower back;

Back extensions

Cobras and Upward Dogs

Rows

Russian Twists

Grounded backstrokes

I realize that many of the exercises above may sound complicated or strange, but we at The Body Temple, are going to create some short videos for you this week demonstrating all of the techniques I have mentioned above.

Remember that to lose weight, strength training is not enough, at the very least you need to be completing 25 minutes of cardio 1-2 times each week to burn fat and lose weight.  These exercises will help burn fat but, for the most part, will build up your core strength and endurance.

SO, remember to check back soon for the video to go with this article and the next installment of

BIKINI BODIES!

Start today and look like a million bucks on the beach this summer!





A Cold Day Calls For Hot Soup

4 04 2009

My cavalcade of delicious medicinal soups continues on a cold, wet day. No day better for soup than one like this.  Working up a sweat in the gym today was a whole lot easier knowing that we were coming home to a hot, healthy meal.

Here’s what went into today’s brew. As always, no recipe, I just kind of go with what I’m feeling and what I’ve got at my disposal:

Lots of fresh garlic – as much as you can handle!

A big handful or two of parsley

2 heads of celery, chopped

A bunch of carrots, chopped

Sweet corn

Dried portabella mushrooms,

Sea salt

And lots of good, clean water

This will cook up great in a slow cooker, or a stove. Again, the longer you leave it, the better it will be. This is a delicious, light vegetarian soup that doesn’t need any meat to make the grade. If you’re interested in a little extra protein, add some cashews or quinoa. If you go with the quinoa, add extra water. You want plenty of plain broth with this soup.

It’s a lot of chopping, but as far as work goes, that’s about it. You get to chill out and smell the amazingness, and all you have to do is stir it every once in a while (actually, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to continually check on it and sample it).

Enjoy!