The Flexible Factor

Exercise Monday: The Flexible Factor – Yoga Practice #1

Hello People!

I’m back with another exercise suggestion.  I was going to tell you all about my new exercise program that I have been vigorously following for 4 weeks, but, I’m going to drag it out a bit more for the end result.  It will be more of an impact that way.  The goal is to reveal what the plan has done to change my body.  I can tell you that it is an 8 week program designed to burn fat.  Although it is just exercise, they do recommend taking in fewer calories to help your progress…DUH!

Today I want to suggest a supplement to your workouts.  An addition, if you will, that should not be ignored.  It is often said in the weight loss community, that in order to lose weight and change your body you need to eat less and move more.  Specifically, if you want to literally change your shape your “move more” needs to include weight lifting or strength training as it is often referred to.  If you do this on a regular basis, you may find that your back, leg and upperimages body muscles become stiffer the stronger you get.  When I think of a Line Backer in football, I don’t think elegance and grace.  I think of a M.A.C. truck barreling down the highway.

Being bulky and muscular does tend to make the muscles less flexible; no science needed, I think it’s obvious.  Therefore, increasing flexibility in the body alongside your weight routines also needs to be a component in the working out regime.  Why? Well, I think that working on and building flexibility will help your strength increase in the long run.  They work synergistically together.  The more able you are to stretch further, the more ability to isolate a muscle for higher quality reps; perhaps because the muscle will be less apt to seize up with tension.  The muscle may not tighten and become fatigued too soon if you are flexible.  Plus, being flexy helps the recovery of the muscle to not be so sore and painful.  The next time you workout similar muscles, they won’t be aching due to excessive stiffness if you have adequately stretched them.  I also recall in ballet that if you stretch the muscle after it has been worked, it will elongate better and not create a short stocky type of build.  This is not proven as far as I know, but I do know a lot of ballet dancers who swear by this.

The core is also important to keep strong, and all movement stems from the core.  The core, to me, means the box of your shoulders to your hips.  Without good core stability, the weight workout, no matter how intense, can suffer since all limbs stem from the core. You don’t want to images-1rely on surrounding muscles for stability when lifting weights.  This lessens the intensity of the muscle being worked.  You want to focus on the muscle at hand and isolate it without the aid of surrounding muscles to “cheat” the lifting/lowering.  If you’re bending awkwardly or having to use less weight because there is strain due to poor core strength, you should consider increasing the power through the center of the body in addition to your regular routine.

Enter Yoga.  Yeah, it’s granola-y and full of weird spiritual people in tight clothes, but it can do amazing things.  Have you ever done a real Yoga Class at a studio?  It is butt hard!  Not easy or peaceful.  My muscles were screaming for days and I took the beginner class!  I’m not suggesting thatimages-2 type of yoga for you, yet…. How about you start off with something like this?  I’m going to do it tonight after dinner (wait and hour though).  I think it perfectly helps correct all of those issues I talk about above. It can’t hurt you.  And all else aside, who couldn’t benefit from being more flexible?

 

Notable Quotable #1

Inspirational Sunday: Notable Quotable #1

Hello People!

I am following an exercise program (more on that in tomorrow’s post), and daily, I am given a quote to ponder.  I found this one particularly pertinent to me:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’ “.                    -Unknown

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The program is rigorous. My commitment to keep up the 6 days a week regime at the start, were solid, and then there were snags 3 weeks into it…I got raging sick, twice.  I was working so hard and following the plan so well.  Pictures were being taken weekly for a before and after sequence.  It made me so mad that I woke up one day not able to get out of bed, much less lift a dumbbell.  Not following the program was hard enough, on top of that, when I get sick, for some reason my appetite rages out of control (not surprised, I’m defaulted to overeat by nature; being sick just heightens that even more) making me crave carbs like nothing else.  I suppose this is because of the lack in energy the virus is stealing from me and my body needing to fight off whatever ails me.

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That Katy Perry song has nothing on me, my “Roar” sometimes is a deeper promise for tomorrow. You know my desire to lose weight has been haunting me for years, I’m not going to now let a temporary sickness get in my way.  I told myself, “take the time to heal, then jump back in full force when you are up for it.”  It took about a week and a half, and many carbs later, but I’m back in the saddle again.

It’s not just the big reasons that make me break my commitment at times, it’s also the small things that come up.  Today, I just had a lack of energy to follow through on what I planned to do this afternoon.  The plans made for the day were put aside just to listen to what my body wanted: rest and relaxation.  I don’t have a good reason why, that is just how I felt.  I did not waste my workout or good eating habits though.  These remain a part of the plan no matter what.  But if I plan a day to garden for 4 hours, but all I want is a nap, then I compromise.  Instead of 4 hours, I did 40 minutes of simple stuff out in the yard.  I’ll make up for those bigger plans another time.  No big deal.  Tomorrow is another day and I can always do more if I’m up for it.

I also want to re-state that old stand-by: Consistency is Key.  It isn’t about just today, it’s about the total addition of day to day, week to week, month to month commitments.  One, two, or even three days out of a month that get “ruined” for whatever reason don’t need to derail one’s plans permanently.  Get back on the wagon tomorrow even stronger than before. That’s my roar speaking in a quiet voice!

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Challenge Video #2

Foodie Friday: Nutritional Challenge Video #2: Produce Binge

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Hello People!

Here is my next installment of a challenge for you.  The last video challenged you to get off of the sweet drinks.  I know, this is very hard, and it may take a while to fully adjust and be completely free.  For me, I am still using my liquid Stevia (peppermint is great for iced-teas) and honey as sweeteners.  Believe it or not, I am dropping coffee again (5th attempt???) today.  I am sleepy as I write this, but it’s going to be a cold turkey deal.  To supplement during this time, I’m using black tea, but then, eventually I want to go off of that too.  I’m not totally against coffee or caffeine, but I get addicted to it very easily and the crash after about 2 hours of drinking it affects me intensely.

Anyways, back to today’s main event.  This video is about eating more green stuff, and yellow stuff, and orange stuff, and purple stuff, and ………. etc.  It talks about fiber too and how that can help keep you full when you are eating meals.  I hate eating a meal and not being satisfied by it.  Don’t you?  After an hour you get hunger pangs?  That is annoying.  Currently, I am challenging myself to have one large dark green leafy salad a day, in addition to my main meal.  I’ll share them with you as I find great tasting ones.  I also am trying to go to the farmer’s market (today is the day for me) and pick up local produce to eat fresh all week.  For dinner, I’m also trying to eat 2 steamed vegetables as a side dishes.  So far, so good. Do you think you can eat all the food I suggest in the video?  Try it! :)

 

Meal Snapshot: Black Bean Burger

Hello People!

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I would show you a pix of a recent meal I had/made of a black bean burger recipe. Here is the final product.  It was paired with a salad with Ceasar dressing that I bought from the grocery store.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the taste was good, but the burger fell apart when eating making a giant mess.  Oh well, more recipes for me to try to perfect it!

A Yummy Lunch!

A Yummy Lunch!

Challenge Video #1

Foodie Friday:  Challenge Video #1: Sweet Beverages

Hello People!

I’ve got a video that I made for you today.  I hope you like it.  It was actually made a really long time ago, but I want to share it with you now.  I hope you find it inspirational and take me up on my challenge! (Actually, I need to take me up on my challenge and find that Chai Spice Yerba Mate tea I recommend and get off the coffee that I went back to drinking…Just one more cup!)

Speaking of videos, I’m at the end of my year for teaching at the college (where I work) and will soon have way too much idle time on my hands.  I was thinking of making a YouTube channel just for bfitafter40.  Would you like that?  I could make more videos in that genre that way since my normal channel is about a myriad of topics besides weight-loss and getting fit.  I’ll keep you informed.

P.S. I’m laughing at my hair in this video because it looks like I used a whole can of hairspray on it.  I think it was 120 degrees inside my house that day and didn’t want to look like a sweaty mess. Ha Ha!  I hope you enjoy.

Eating Sugar = Storing Fat

Hello People,

Yes, I said it.  And, it is true.  Don’t believe me?  You think that if you work out and eat low-calorie that you will burn it off?  No, you are wrong. That would be true if you are running a marathon or are in a triathlon.  You work out like that every day?  I don’t think so.  Please watch this viral video (over 4 million have analyzed and touted it) in your next opportunity of free time and educate yourself about the horrors of sugar and what it does in the body.  I’m talking about table sugar, the white stuff, the processed refined granulated sweet evil that can come in a variety of names.  Don’t be fooled by the words: Turbinado, Granulated, Castor, Powdered, Organic Cane, Brown, etc.  These are all sucrose, which you will learn in this very important video are glucose and fructose linked together.  It isn’t the glucose that is the problem, it’s the fructose.  Yes, fructose is also fruit sugar, but with fruit, you get fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Plain sugar gives you nothing but an addiction. He touches on the dangers of drinking fruit juice which is fruit without the benefits.

I am in my 3rd week of being sugar-free (YAY me!!!)  Yes, I felt the full effect of head-aches, mad food cravings, desperate desires for “one more hit!!!”, the shakes, and hormonal mood swings for 3 days.  Then, it all went away.  The funny thing is, if you don’t eat sugar, you don’t crave it.  You also won’t be starving in general anymore due to low-blood sugar swings.  You do know how sugar works, right?  It raises your insulin and then tries to shuttle the excess sugar into cells, who don’t want or need it and then…just watch the video.  I know it’s long.  Trust me, you won’t be sorry.  It talks about how we metabolize alcohol too.  It is very similar to sugar.  I’ll stop talking about it now.  Please watch it:

Recipe Ideas

Foodie Friday: Recipe Ideas to Spice It Up!

Hello People,

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I wanted to share a practice that I use in regards to recipes.  I LOVE cookbooks, and that is an understatement, and I love trying new recipes as often as I change clothes.  What can I say? I just get bored eating the same old thing day-in and day-out.  If a recipe really jumps off the page and is beyond amazing, I will cook it again and keep it in my repertoire of food that is really good when I want to eat something I know for a fact is delicious or want impress someone else with my amazing cooking skills (sly fox!).

My system for keeping track of how a recipe fared in my kitchen and stomach is by using check _MG_0918style grading marks.  A check + (plus) means that the recipe was out of the ball park good and will definitely be made again (any recipe I’ve shared on here, the blog, has received that marking); a plain  check by itself indicates that the recipe tasted so-so or had some issues in preparation or difficulties in ingredients.  I may or may not prepare that dish again depending on it’s problems.  If it was a simple matter of overcooking or the wrong proportions of ingredients, it may take more experimenting to decide ultimately; a check – (minus) means that the recipe was a real fail and either is thrown away if it came from a magazine or clearly marked to_MG_0923 ignore if I come across it again in a book.  I place these checks on top of the recipe in bold black ink so that I can see it clearly (pencil can fade or get erased) when thumbing through the book the next time I’m hunting down new recipes.

I also add personal notes in regards to what I think the problems were, what extra ingredients I _MG_0920added/took out, how it didn’t work well halved/doubled, cooking temperature problems, and generally what I thought about how it tasted.  If the recipe was delicious_MG_0919 with the additions I made, then I keep them for the next time I make the dish.  I also know that I can manipulate the recipe for further tweaking if I want too later.

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At one point, I sat down with 4 or 5 five of my favorite cookbooks (books that I’ve got a lot of check pluses in!) and wrote down on a paper recipes from those books, under different headings, that I must try and that would be appropriate for clean eating and/or weight loss.  On that list I cross off the one’s that I’ve cooked and continue on the list when I want to try something new.  I found recipes for all types of meals: dinners, lunches, salads, soups, etc.  Each one of these recipes I “tasted” in my mind before choosing them for the list thinking that they would probably end up as check pluses eventually.  Most do, some don’t. The picture in tomorrow’s post is the result of one such recipe that only gets a plain check from me (Black Bean Burgers).  The taste was good, but the burger fell apart and was a mess.  Tricky to cook too.  Also, the recipe asked for no seasoning.  I found that extremely odd.  Of course, I added my own.  One thing I should have added to this list, is the page numbers that I found these recipes on.  I can just as easily look in the Index for them because the book is indicated (by abbreviation), however, I’m just lazy.

Do you have any ways of remembering how you liked or didn’t like a recipe?  I have so many recipes in books and torn out sheets/cards it’s hard to keep track of.  Perhaps my method can give some of you ideas if you share in my: I-have-too-many-cookbooks “problem.”

Workout (Current)

Exercise Monday: My Current Workout Routine

Hello People!

I wanted to update you all on what I’m doing in regards to workouts/exercise.  Nothing too crazy, as I try to stick to my old tried and true routines that I know burn calories and give me results when done in a consistent pattern.  This goes along with my New Year’s Resolution to lose my weight this year and not look back! I mentioned that I had a plan (I keep saying that, and I’m here to elaborate) and I want to share with you what the workout portion of my losing weight scheme looks like.

I wrote on a 3 x 5 index card Monday – Sunday.  On each day there is a workout that consists of cardio (the immediate calorie torching part of my workouts) and a strength training split.  I like to do upper body and lower body splits.  That’s just me.  This means that I will work out my lower body muscles intensely for two days with rest days in between alternating with two days of intense upper body workouts.  I want to change the shape of my muscles, so I am working as heavy and hard as I can during my sessions.  There are specific things that I want to develop and things I don’t.  Therefore, I tailor my workouts to create the shape I want.  The card looks like this:

Monday: Running Program & Legs

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Ballet/Dance & Upper Body with Abs

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Running Program & Legs

Saturday: Long Walk/Aerobics & Upper Body with Abs

Sunday: Kickboxing

You can see, there is variety.  Nothing new here, I’ve written posts on most of these types of activities as individual topics. Just check out my Exercise Category if you want to read more about the specifics. As far as the strength training routines go, I’m using a combo of YouTube videos, the workout App on my iPad, my own collection of DVD’s, and creating my own routines. Also, this in addition to walking my dog for an hour most days and being active during days that I am not working.  These two things have also been discussed in earlier posts.

The cardio is for about 40 minutes to and hour, and the strength training is for 30 minutes, average.

I’m after a shape that is toned, but not bulging in short, stocky muscles.  I am already short, and I don’t like that look on me.  For example, doing a lot of plain squats creates large quadriceps which is not a look I like on me.  So, If the routine asks for squats, I turn out my feet so that I do them more like Plies in Ballet.  I prefer the look of a dancer’s body over a fitness model.  But, to each his own.

I try to burn approximately 400 – 600 calories per workout so that I stay within my plan to lower my calorie intake burning more than I eat in a day. I write down every day my daily caloric intake and also my caloric burn through exercise. These two daily goals help me determine if I am on track to lose weight or not.  Again, the only way this will work is with consistency.  A few days off, and it’s back to the starting line again.  That is not part of the plan this time.

Flavor Boosters

Foodie Friday: Boost the Flavor in Your Food

Sorry for my brief absence.  One of my younger sisters just got diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and my family and I have been dealing with that.  She is only 38 and it is such a blow to all of us.  This is in addition to my other younger sister who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer when she was 29.  I have often felt that there is a bit of an estrogen dominance on the maternal side of the family.  We, women of the family, suffer from terrible hormonal imbalances in different forms.  All I can advise to you reader, is, get yourself checked for illness/cancer/hereditary diseases/etc., on a regular basis.

Ice Cube Yumminess

Today I wanted to share a quick tidbit with you all than can help disperse of some almost used up lemons, limes and the like that are bumming around in your refrigerator.  I often make what I call “flavor boosters” in ice trays.  They can be used in a myriad of ways, like sauces, smoothies, pasta dishes and so forth.  Here’s what you need:

  •  Ice cube trays (I have two non-stick ones)
  • Leftover juice, pesto sauce, tomato paste, coffee, etc.
  • Patience and time

So, you just fill the tray with whatever you have lying about and freeze these up.  Pop them out when they are set and put them in baggies to store in the freezer indefinitely.

I like to use the coffee cubes in protein shakes.  The lemon juice I can use in sauces for chicken or fish.  Pesto is good on anything. Just go CRAZY! No, not really.  The beauty is, I don’t have to open a whole jar or bottle or brew up a whole pot of these flavor boosters when I only need a small amount.  If you have ever needed just a tablespoon of tomato paste, but to get it you had to open an entire can, then let the rest spoil, you are able to understand how convenient this can be.  It may be more trouble for some, but I only see it as a win-win.

Note: I also freeze leftover wine, but it doesn’t completely freeze (alcohol doesn’t freeze, basic science – blah, blah), and so it just turns to slush making it not-so-neat in the ice-cube trays.  Therefore, with wine that’s left in the bottle that doesn’t quite make a full glass, dump it into a sealable plastic baggie or glass container like an empty jar, then toss into freezer.  When needed, scoop out the appropriate amount with a spoon/fork for your recipe.

I hope this proves useful to you!  Happy Valentine’s Day! :)

Soup 101

Foodie Friday: How to Make Soup 101

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Hello People!

I want to share with you a great tip and recipe for helping you with your weight loss goals.  I’ve been making soup forever and love how it can be so easy and filling.  It’s also warm and inviting when you crave comforting foods.  Soup can be fattening, but I’m going to show you my recipe for making it simple and low-calorie; but not low in flavor. This soup should evoke the purest taste of the vegetable you choose. Therefore, I would highly suggest that you choose vegetables in season so that they will be at peak ripeness. I like to have a  1/2 to 1 cup before a meal.

Last year I watched a BBC documentary on helping obese people lose weight.  The show was called “How to Be Slim” and it gave several tips on how to  lose weight while not feeling like you’re starving. Towards the end of the program it featured soup as a great way to ward off hunger and stay full after a meal.  I’ll include the documentary below, but first I’ll share with you the easiest way of making pureed vegetable soup.

VEGETABLE SOUP 101

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  • Unknown-21 Pound of Any Vegetable (squash, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, eggplant, green beans, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, colored sweet peppers, snap peas,Unknown-3 fresh/frozen green peas, tomatoes, bok choy, lettuces, dark leafy greens, etc.)
  • Water or Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock (or bouillons)
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Coconut Oil or Butter

How To:

  1. Chop Onion and Vegetable of choice.  Some may need extra prep such as carrots – they need to also be peeled. (You can mix vegetables, but mind that if you do, some cook quicker than others and will need to be added later so that they don’t become mush).
  2. Heat Oil/Butter in stockpot until hot and add chopped onion.  Sweat until translucent. You can add a dash of salt as well if you want.
  3. Add chopped Vegetable of choice and coat with the Oil/Butter.
  4. Add Water/Stock to stockpot just to cover the Vegetables by one inch. You can add more later if it is too thick.
  5. Bring Water and Vegetables to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until Vegetables are really soft and tender; beyond the way you would normally cook and eat them. (Add veg accordingly; if you are cooking carrots, they will take longer to soften than lettuce, so cook the carrots for 10 minutes alone, then add lettuce for the remaining 10 minutes, as an example.)
  6. Thow everything into a blender or use a hand-held immersion blender and whirl until soup is liquified. (You can reserve some of the cooked Vegetables if you want the texture to not be completely smooth)
  7. Put back into stockpot and add extra Water/Broth if you want, add salt/pepper, spices, seasonings, fresh herbs or chopped green onions/cilantro, lemon/lime juice, cream, milk or nothing.
  8. Eat!

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Of course, after you’ve made it you can refrigerate extra portions or freeze them.  Also, try adding some pesto or olive tapenade on top to make it extra special when you are about to eat it. Enjoy.

“How to Be Slim” Documentary