Sunday Vegan Dinner

Food is far more than sustenance for many of us living in the first world, although there are many of us as well in this “first world” who can’t afford any indulgences other than eating enough calories to stay alive. (I do have a problem when massive generalizations exclude the reality of poverty in our midst.)

Being a person with enough to eat, for most of my life, I can say that I have had my little rituals around food. Friday usually means pasta, not sure why, but it is my TGIF reward for making it through another week. And more recently Sunday dinner had become a day when I would roast an organic chicken and do up a host of roasted veggies–until I became a vegan!

It wasn’t so much the food as the ritual around making the food that caught me by surprise. We REALLY looked forward to those dinners–cranberry and chicken fat dripping down our chins, loads of butter on something, anything. Not to forget the smell of a yummy chicken roasting in the oven. We all, even the dog, were beside ourselves with anticipation.

It was a hard habit to put to rest and there was a bit of transitioning when I became a vegan. I became “one,” overnight, so no gradual indoctrination. I went cold turkey!

Anyway all this to say that Sunday dinner customs have evolved phoenix like out of the embers. Dinner is much cheaper and definitely as much fun, and very very healthy (and like in the movies, no animals were injured in the process).

I now make soup on Sundays! It’s our new yummy comfort food. This week a friend gave me a bag of beets from her garden, which I have very little experience with. too small to peel so I boiled the whole batch and then cooled them and pulled the skins away. (Poor beets.) I cooked up some miso stock with onions and then a big pot of green lentils. I whizzed the whole thing and presto, a high fibre, high protein soup that has the lovely and subtle flavour of borscht! The I whipped up a corn bread to go with it. Millions of recipes online and if you do the chemistry of substitutions it’s too easy.

So there you go, cold outside, warm and very cheap inside. Loads of nutrition, still a mess in the kitchen, not much has changed!

If I Can Make Muffins…

Okay so the picture is the muffins before they baked. As you can see from previous posts I have no qualms about eating carbohydrates. Almost every weekend I make a batch of muffins which are more or less gone by Monday morning. My muffins are healthy and tasty and cheap to make.

But the point is that I am advocating whole food for your engine. You don’t need a diet if you are eating good whole food. If you are eating a diet of cookies and ice cream before you go to bed, then you likely know the outcome or are pretending not to know the outcome.

When I make my muffins I don’t use a recipe but I make sure that the dry ingredients kind of override the wet ones by about hmm, well two cups of dry to one and half liquid. So, I use my whole spelt flour, or oat flour or combination, add some baking soda and baking powder and a bit of salt — that’s it for dry unless you want to throw in some hemp flour, quinoa flour, the possibilities are absolutely endless!

For wet I use any kind of milk type thing, soy, almond, cow if you want. I add some oil and sometimes apple sauce and maybe a handful of frozen berries that I have thawed.

I mix it all together and then into a preheated oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes and voila!

So anyway, muffins are carbs, yes and carbs are fuel. Healthy whole grains are great for your gut health, fibre? Hello. Protein, yes and healthy fat from the oil you used. You will never find me promoting a “diet” per se. If you are on some kind of deprivation way of eating with lots of unrecognizable stuff going into your cake hole, mystery drinks and health bars that plug you up, I would recommend getting some whole foods in there too–a banana instead of a three musketeers? An apple instead of a kit-kat or Mars Bar.

Food is good. Good food is great!

Vanity thy name is…

So here I am in a photo, of me, that I took. An innocent selfie, but I do have to turn the camera phone thing around to make sure I got it just right, camera overhead so the sagging bits seem firm…

Anyway it’s Monday and I am counting on all of you to drag your asses out of that cozy bed and dive into your day. In a few hours you’ll be saying, what was all the fuss about?

To be honest my weekdays and weekends are so different that there is definitely a changing of gears usually happening around now as I write this. The weekdays are spent with clients talking about everything from exercise technique to the latest political disaster to the definitive Mexican bean casserole recipe. My weekdays are far more solitary, and, I believe rejuvenating, so that I have the energy to go back into the world. I eat lots, try to sleep well and get outdoors.

I can’t offer any wisdom for a Monday morning other than to say you are not alone. I am looking forward to that first cuppa’. And I am visualizing that first press or pull or push that I’ll do when I get to the gym. When I have the luxury of time I try to visualize the order of my workout, as well as the look and feel. I carry this into the gym with me to use between sets, when I am resting–a little mini closed eyes visualization of how my next set will go, will feel.

There will be time enough for talk, when I am with my clients, checking form and giving a wee bit of motivation, but for my own workout, it is focus time, on me, the guy in the picture!

It’s All About the Tweak

 

walk

I am a big believer in tweaking rather than radically changing things up (although I did move to Japan on short notice and dropped everything to spend three months in Spain, and quit university to become a dancer).

At this stage of the game when we are inundated by stuff telling us how to live our lives moment by moment, from the time we put down our phone to the time we rise, and those most crucial waking hours, we are flooded with shoulds!

No one asked us about our life. We all seem to fit into a mold that is capable of forsaking our comfortable if not completely healthy morning routine to meditate, exercise, journal have a cold shower, discuss something in depth with a wise person, go for a walk to ponder the universe and then make a multi-ingredient smoothie to sip while still avoiding our emails and news feed.

Some of my clients take five minutes to dash from bed to mascara to lip gloss to the car!

I had a routine that got scrunched the busier I got. My routine had originally allowed for plenty of time for coffee and chat with my partner, meditation, work on my novel, some working out on a cross-trainer and then that cold shower.

This all lasted for a bit until my schedule filled up and I had to be out the door by 8:30. (I understand many of you have days that start way earlier.) Anyway the dog walk got shoved to the end of the routine, news feed took over and we still had our coffee together since it has been an ongoing tradition for about 18 years now.

With best of intentions I could not shift my ass out of coffee time into get ready for work and walk the dog time. Dog got ripped off and I was invariable just-on-time for my first client of the day.

I did a little self reflection and came to realize novel writing-cold shower-cross trainer-meditating time had become check the weather network and then get completely distracted down the internet rabbit-hole-until-coffee time.

I tweaked. My dog needs his walk; I signed that contract when he came to live with us. He slammed it down on the floor and made me leave my paw print. Now I get up early and we are out for our leisurely walky-joggy thing by six thirty. This covers dog, exercise, meditation, happy thoughts, lungs full of fresh air and time enough to arrive home for coffee, treats and no guilty mad dash out the door.

I’m hoping I can somehow inspire you to tweak if you are in a rut right now. The answer might be less complicated than you think!

Fabulize your Food

 

I am so excited. I bought this groovy pan from Canadian Tire for half off and it has been SO USEFUL! My friends down the road had us over for a dinner party and they had the neatest grill marks on their food, vegetables and tofu (they are vegans). I think they have the Cadillac version of the pan since I balked at the price when I found theirs. But mine is a charm:

  • nothing sticks to it
  • everything cooks evenly
  • everything gets groovy grill marks on it
  • it looks like I have been labouring over a hot barbecue

I am totally recommending this gizmo for your kitchen. You can start having guests over again and offering things like grilled red peppers (an excellent source of vitamin c), grilled asparagus (fun to see how quickly it makes your pee smell, and a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals AND protein), and if you’re a vegetarian you can get nifty grill marks on your tofu that you have gently sautéed in sesame oil, or sprinkled with some smoked paprika powder.

You will amaze yourself! No more scraping burned whatever off of your grandma’s old iron frying pan the next morning because you had to soak it overnight in nitro glycerine to revive it.

Above all it is an excellent way to start integrating some fresh veggies back into your diet, with little heartache, no disasters, minimal time commitment and a whole lot of   yummy flavour from the natural sweet taste of grilled veggies.

Trust me, if I can do it anyone can!

Happy New Year! (On the Exercise Calendar)

blog1Notice how I am wearing a slinky stringer top and how fabulous I look. It’s probably because I am trying to hide my mid-rift that seemed to have expanded (and contracted) from time to time over the summer. I am human!

Summer can be a big challenge. You want to traipse around half naked, divest yourself of cumbersome clothing, doff your duds at the beach and not give a damn who notices. In fact it might even be nice to turn a few heads.

Unfortunately pie (which I make) and beer (which I love) are my two biggest summer enemies! In moderation they can be friends. I was of the thinking that, because of my active lifestyle I could eat and drink to my heart’s content on the weekends, to make up for a week of healthy smoothies, greens at every meal and thoughtfully prepared dinners.

Not so. Pie is good but there is the law of diminishing returns when a slice of pie becomes a half a pie and on and on and the weekend eating begins Friday evening and ends on Sunday night!

I believe in pie and beer, but it is moderation that is key. Beer, is great after some long hours spent in the garden, and pie is fantastic on a hot summer night with the warm breeze wafting through the house as you watch an old Doris Day or James Bond rerun. “Honey, would you like another piece of pie?”

To be honest, pie and beer aren’t that cruel; we have September to make amends, to make a new start, and to actually make a difference!

September is one of the busiest times in the world of fitness as we get re-calibrated to start new jobs, new studies and new directions. One of the easiest and most rewarding commitments we can make, that lets us have control, is the commitment towards wellness.

While getting to a gym may be all but impossible to add to a list of things like the prevailing work ethic, rush hour traffic and the cost of living, having your wellness come to you is an option. A realistic goal for September might be to lose 10 pounds by thanksgiving. And why not!

Right now the fields are being harvested with the freshest of produce. You can make pumpkin pie your pie in the sky reward by Thanksgiving for eating a healthy whole foods diet, while exercising on your own, at home. It is that simple! Just check out the online training page and see if a community of like minded folks (the 40-60 year old crowd) is your thing.

Going Online

The past few weeks I’ve been video taping for the online version of the Movable Beast. In some instances I managed to use two cameras so that viewers can get an idea of the technique from two angles. Of course, according to Murphy’s Law, this doesn’t always work, sometimes a camera just decides not to focus on the task at hand.

Anyway I have kept all videos short and sweet, so that you aren’t standing around for thirty-nine minutes while I complete the five hundredth rep of an exercise. Below is a sample of what you can expect. I’ve enjoyed filming and learning all the ins and outs of iMovie and its newer version. I am hoping that these videos will seemlessly help clients with their workouts; I have offered voice over cuing in most cases. Enjoy!

The Sum-up of the Lowdown

apr24blogI am a big proponent of the chin-up pull up for developing upper body strength, as my clients––both female and male––know. This is a great article, especially the progressions at the end, and lots of short videos. It is a LONG article, but there are many useful exercises to help develop core and upper body strength before executing the move. Also it is written by a Canadian female trainer who knows her stuff. I might have added one of my favourite strength developing moves, in which clients, with some isometric strength, can step off a bench, while in chin up position, and then lower themselves to the floor.While on the subject of pull-ups this article includes some fun variations.You have to watch the third video, an absolute hoot!

For glutes this article has some new ways to refine your technique, but I caution against being intimidated by the middle section of this piece subtitled Analyze. The videos following are helpful. As my clients know I LOVE the Bulgarian split squat, followed by some healthy sets of sumo deadlifts. Great glute article here, I will definitely be using some of these this week!

Lots of info for shoulder weary folks here, from advice on serratus anterior warmup, to IMG_4661proper bench press technique, to complimentary exercises (I like to do as supersets). The last bit on upright rows is great, and answers some perpetual questions.

I think that’s enough food for thought for this week. Remember to drink lots of water. I try to have a big glass as soon as I walk in the door, to help cut down on stuffing my face with nuts and curds. So water first, then eat! Cheers!

 

Some Hits and Misses in the weekly roundup

blog picapr10So here they are, some great guidelines to healthy eating and sensible exercising. I tried to mention the stuff that should be a worthwhile read. Once again these articles are recommended by PTDC.

Some esssentials? Muscle gain happens pretty slowly. Don’t change your diet too drastically to lose weight, or you know, the metabolism slows down. My own advice is to slightly tweak the diet, and perhaps remove things you can do without, you know, maybe add an apple where you would normally scarf down a 3 Musketeers at about 3:30 in the afternoon, and see what happens. Just sayin’

General Health

This article about progressions and pregressions needs a good copy edit. It is a good article for beginners as well as personal trainers, about performing bilateral exercises to get the proper technique and balance and then performing unilateral. And this article seems to be a good companion piece, well written about the first years of being a personal trainer, probably only relevant to trainers.

Good advice for those of us––the over 40 crowd about tweaking our workouts, and excellent workout/ life advice for all.

Reminder that the anterior pelvic tilt can be a bad habit. Cue shoulders back BUT cue also ribs down, it will align the body, glutes etc.

Strength Training and Body Building

Squat technique cues, upper back position, lower back not hyper extended, full belly/ back of oxygen, foot position (outside of heels), traps up first (instead of chest out cue), thinking of the return phase before standing up.

Deadlift Technique, lifting NOT from floor, and making sure lower back is set almost to neutral. 5 Deadlift cues, I like the first one, make your arms long

Some Power Moves, squat jump, dumbbell jump, medicine ball slam, and a reminder to keep the concentric part of a movement quick (to develop power).

How to Get Strong, I’d say this is most applicable for competitors, but if you wnat some food for thought and have time on your hands you can wade through this or skim it.

Building Size, Good and quick read – 10 tips

Two great supported tips for glute recruitment in lunges

Read this Excellent simple basic guideline to adhere to when creating your program/ split routine

A fun pec day exercise with dumbbells and a partner

Interesting article supporting the theory that determining BMI or body fat is next to impossible as is determing who is on the juice and who is a “natty” (natural bodybuilder).

Nutrition and Fat Loss

Some thoughts on carbs, if you don’t already have your own eating sorted out.

Promoting a higher protein consumption for older sector of population

Another Creatine promotion

Fun Little Ditty about the demonization of sugar

Lean to shredded article, but not sure of his qualifications. Humourous read.

More reminders of how to diet without calorie counting and a link to a free fat loss diet

Funny, dispelling the fat wrap craze and I guess a good starting point to dispel all the crazes

Great bodyweight finishers for your workouts (for fatloss)