Tag Archives: healthy-living

How often should I work out?

This is an ultimate questions of anyone who gets into fitness and wants to see results. How often should train? – Every day? 5-6 days a week? Or may be 3 or 4? Twice a day probably? More is better? A little more? No matter if you are exercising for weight loss, for fun or for better performance – this will still be a question in your mind. At least it is in my mind all the time. I either think I am not doing enough, or my body is telling me I am doing too much, and it is hard to find a perfect balance.

Sometimes you see all these top-class athletes that are working out several times a day, or having only 1 day off in a month, and start thinking if you should be doing the same, I’ve gone though this – running in the morning, strength in the evening – every day, 1 day off a week, 1 day off in 2 weeks…

So here are some of the findings that worked for me:

  1. The most important thing in achieving results is consistency. And once again – consistency. Lifting a barbell once a week and forgetting about it till next month is not gonna get you anywhere. Make it regular, baby!
  2. Frequency of your workouts is directly proportional to your experience. If you are a newbie or picking up a new routine – start slow, probably 3-4 times a week. Once you get used to it and it seems easy  – add up sessions and/or intensity.
  3. Frequency and duration also depend on intensity of the session. Your 20 minute butt-blasting tabata session or interval run will be pretty much equal to 45 min – hour of low or moderate intensity workout. And you know you should not make every workout high-intensity or burn-out is guaranteed!
  4. Recovery is as important as working out itself. We are getting stronger when we are resting, so getting proper recovery between your sessions is absolutely paramount to achieving your goals. This concept was so hard to grasp for me! Every time I took a complete day off I felt like a total loser, I felt guilty and frustrated. I am slowly starting to appreciate the importance of recovery and rest (probably because I’m getting older hehehe), and for now I have found a balance that works for my body: 1 full rest day a week with 2 hard weeks followed by an easy “recovery” week. And no more than 2 days a week are double session days (normally strength/ crossfit in the morning and run in the evening or vice versa).
  5. Don’t try to copy schedules of professional athletes. They exercise for a living. They don’t have 9 to 5 jobs and all they do is exercise and rest, that is why they can afford 3 sessions a day, 6 or even 7 days a week. They train, eat, rest – all day, every day. Well, almost… I am sure they also watch TV, go shopping and poop, but that is absolutely irrelevant to the subject of this post.

Paleo and Vegan Banana and Date Muffins

I have a very tough situation at home. Like really really tough. My BF is vegan, And the kid is picky as hell about food. I also have 2 dogs and a cat, but those will eat almost anything you give them, so they are rarely a problem.

BF and kid, on the other hand, can be problematic, and it takes extra brain activity and imagination to cook something that all 3 of us will be able to eat. Normally I won’t bother as the man in my life is definitely a better cook than me, so he can easily feed himself without my assistance. But sometimes I am extra sweet and nice and decide to cook something that we all can eat. And this weekend these were muffins. Totally Paleo and Vegan friendly.  Don’t thank me, I know I am a genius.

Ingredients:

Paleo vegan muffinsPrep time – 15 min. Cooking time – 20 min, Made me 9 muffins

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup of pitted dates and raisins (soak them in warm water for 10-15 minutes to make them soft)
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 4-5 tbsp almond butter or any other nut butter that you like
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • For topping – crushed nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or whatever your heart desires

Instructions:

  1. Put bananas with  dates and raisins into your food processor and mix till smooth
  2. Add other ingredients and mix well. You might need to stop your food processor several times and scrape mixture off the walls. Your muffin mixture should be fairly thick, but not dry.
  3. Put your mixture into the muffin cups (fill 3/4 of a cup) and bake at 180 degrees C (350 F) for 15-20 min,
  4. Don’t eat all of them alone! 

2 Minute Banana and Berry Ice Cream

I had a pretty crazy weekend – was alone at home for 4 days (just me, 2 dogs and a cat that needed me to entertain/ feed and walk them on a regular basis lol), ran around 50 km in 2 days, did 13.1 WOD and shaved off my calluses for the first time ever! This was quite an achievement by the way!

After all this I needed an ice-cream.

Ok, not a ‘real’ ice-cream, but it tastes just like one and takes literally minutes to prepare! So I call it ice-cream!

Paleo ice-creamIngredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup of chilled coconut milk
  • handful of frozen berries

Instructions:

1. Just 1 step – chuck all these into a blender, switch it on, wait for 5-7 sec, turn it off and your improvised ice-cream is ready.  The trick is not to put too much cream, or it will turn into a smoothie,  and try not to pulse it too much otherwise it will melt. And to have your bananas and berries dead frozen as well. Enjoy before it melts!

Paleo diet experiment – week 4. Whats next?

Finally week 4 of my strict Paleo diet experiment is over, and I am totally chuffed with the results!

I have to admit I was a little skeptical going into this experiment. True, I have never eaten too much diary or grains before, so it was not a great shock for me to eliminate them completely, but I was really not sure if this particular diet would work, considering this ridiculous amount of endurance training that I am doing right now. For those who do not know – I am embarking on a journey to become an ultra-marathoner and training for my 1st 100 km race in June. That is in addition to regular strength training. Anyhow 4 weeks ago I pulled myself together and jumped into this experiment with an open mind. 

To cut the story short, results of these 4 weeks have been absolutely awesome. Here are some observations:

  1. I feel GREAT! I don’t have as many stomach problems as I used to have before, my energy is through the roof and I even sleep much better, despite this annoying alarm clock that keeps waking me up though out the night   

    My alarm clock wakes me up every morning at 4 am and demands food!

    My alarm clock wakes me up every morning at 4 am and demands food!

  2. I’ve lost fat even though I am not restricting myself in food! This was a very unexpected and welcome result! Being able to see better muscle definition while stuffing yourself with burgers is definitely an undeniable plus! I might gather courage and post before and after pics here. Some day… May be…
  3. I am much stronger now – I managed to significantly increase my lifts, more than I would normally anticipate. Not sure if this is diet related or not, but lets assume it is 😀
  4. Surprisingly enough my running has not been affected at all by the relatively low-carb diet. Last weekend I went for a 4 hour trail run followed by a 2 hour road run the next morning, and surprisingly I managed through both without any GU! I only had a couple of dates and a home-made energy bar, which is mostly fat and protein and relatively low on carbs (watch this page for a recipe – still fine-tuning the ingredients). It might be too early for me to say that I will never be using energy gels on my runs, but I am trying to cut them down as much as possible.
  5. Never in my life have I eaten so many delicious home-cooked meals as during these last 4 weeks! Cooking and experimenting in the kitchen makes going Paleo so much more exciting!
  6. Another good point is that apart from eating more animal products, which is pretty obvious duh, I am eating way more vegetables than ever, especially raw fresh crispy veggie salads of all sorts – just like a rabbit!
  7. I am a snackoholic! I’ve always had this terrible habit of snacking a lot between meals: a handful of nuts here, an apple there… By the end of the day it used to accumulate to a sizable amount of calories that cannot always be justified. Eating Paleo is definitely helping me to fight this! I feel full for much longer after the meals and don’t have this overpowering urge to snack all the time.
  8. I am starting to slowly getting rid of this annoying “fat is making you fat” concept that health-related media has been imposing on us the last couple of decades. If it is true, than how come my body composition is improving while my fat intake has increased?
  9. My dearest BF has turned Vegan. He, who always loved himself nice juicy bacon, cheese and spaghetti bolognese has turned VEGAN! Now you can imaging what is happening in our kitchen! But its good fun, I am very curious to see how it goes and hopefully it will work for him. I mean, we all know that grains are evil, but then who am I to criticize someone else’s path to health? I’ll be happy with whatever works for him.
  10. I am definitely continuing with the Paleo lifestyle. Now looking at cutting down on nuts as too many nuts make me bloat. I love nuts though 😦

My advise to anyone who is thinking to try Paleo – definitely give it a shot for a month or so! If it doesn’t work for you – nothing will be lost. And you can eat bacon, isn’t that a good enough reason?

Challenges of a Paleo traveller

Last week I had to travel for several days to an amazing country of Zimbabwe. I love Zimbabwe, it is totally green, fresh and you can see zebras wandering around in city parks of Harare. What is there not to love? Zimbabwe itself is an absolute paradise for any Paleo eater with a great variety of grass-fed and organic meats and poultry, crispy fresh veggies and fruit, however reaching there meant travelling for 10 hours by Emirates Airline.

I travel quite a lot and can tell you pretty much in advance what 95 percent of in-flight meals will looks like. Breakfast will be some fruit, egg (if you are lucky) and croissant with jam and butter. Lunch and dinner will normally be some sort of meat with rice/ pasta/ potato. And snacks, if any, are sandwiches and biscuits.

If the flight is less than 5 hours I would not probably even bother and just carry fruit, nuts and jerky with me, but a 10 hour flight called for serious planing and proper meals, otherwise I could easily be taken for a terrorist because of my violent hunger-induced behavior.

I have to admit that Emirates airlines do have various meal options, including vegetarian, vegan, diary-free and gluten-free, but unfortunately not Paleo. I have requested for a gluten-free meal for my return flight as I was curious to check out what exactly they would bring.

Going to Harare, I decided to pack my own stuff: chicken, salad, broccoli, boiled eggs,  some nuts and fruit. Simple, easy, not too messy and it worked perfectly fine. My fellow passengers and air hostesses did look at me with some kind of suspicion though, but why should I care?

Flight back was a more interesting experience. As you remember I requested for a gluten-free meal. Well, I guess it was gluten-free, but it was not something that I could eat, and mind you, I am not a fussy eater! I got rice cakes soaked in butter, vegetables dripping in oil, loads of potatoes and chicken in a funny-smelling creamy source. The second meal came with a piece of bread, and I do have suspicions it was not gluten-free as it looked exactly as bread on the tray of a guy sitting across the aisle from me.  Anyhow, I was lucky to get a night flight back, so I simply didn’t eat anything, watched “Argo” and happily slept throughout the rest of the flight.

Pre-packing food for a flight or a long travel is an absolute must for me it I don’t want to steer away from the usual way of eating or gorge on junk that is widely available in the airports and on the flights. Crap food is strong! It lures you in and then totally defeats you on its own territory!