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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vitality Week Envy

Hey everybody,

It's coming up on that time again when Tracy is hosting another one of her glorious vitality weeks. What an amazing opportunity to have some one-on-one time with the Master of the Method herself, Tracy Anderson. I would absolutely love to get away to the Hamptons for four days and sweat and grow and learn and probably die! from working out with her.


Unfortunately I am not so lucky.  

However, a couple of amazingly dedicated TAMMERS that are also lovely readers of my wee blog are going to be there! How fantastic. If we're lucky, they'll ask lots of questies, take lots of selfies with Tracy and they'll share their experience with us here. Or at least that's my hope because I have every intention of living vicariously. (Hint hint, Sophie, Laura, we want the inside scoop por favor!)

I recently read on Tracy's blog what can be expected at her Los Angeles Vitality Week in September and I expect it would be much the same for those heading east this weekend. Here's what she said:

DAY 1 The first day will kick off with a warm up, a complete muscular structure hour, and a complete cardio workout. The lecture will focus on teaching how to truly measure your own performance effectively and how to eat against it. We will discuss heart performance, individual physical capabilities, and calorie burn versus muscular structure work, tackling the questions of when, why, and how much. All closing questions will be answered.

DAY 2
The second day will begin with a quick check in from the previous day, before moving on to a warm up, a complete muscular structure hour, and a complete cardio workout. The lecture will focus on the very important specifics of the TAM angles and form. We will slow down and show you how to find each angle’s sweet spot—and why they matter. We will guide each of you to find where they are in you individually, tackling how to adjust and why. You are how you move, and this day will revolve around bringing forward this awareness in each of you. All closing questions will be answered.

DAY 3
The third day will begin with a quick check in from the previous day, before moving on to a warm up, a complete muscular structure hour, and a complete cardio workout. The lecture will focus on proprioception and where YOUR body really is. We will tackle how to control flow and rhythm, and how to tap into your central command system that controls you through the workout, including your calorie spend and heat management. This is the engine: This is the second component of perfecting your form, as one isn’t successful without the other. All closing questions will be answered.

DAY 4
The fourth day will begin with a quick check in from the previous day, before moving on to a warm up, a complete muscular structure hour, and a complete cardio workout. The lecture will focus on the necessary steps to learning your own biological blueprint, and how to harness the cutting edge advancements and tools that are available (or quickly becoming available). We will tackle why it is important to understand your body’s operating system and how to harness this knowledge to lose weight. All closing questions will be answered.

Can you imagine how brilliant that would be and will be for the people participating? The take away here is ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS!!! 

I'll be here in lonely Vancouver doing my Method DVD's like a 'lil trooper and hanging with y'all in Watermill in spirit! And as a bonus for those of us who are not going to get to hang with the lady herself, here's a LINK to sculpt our legs with Tracy at home!

Have a great time ladies.

Oh yeah, one more thing... Speaking of Vitality...

I feel like I've had my nose to the grind stone for months now, all work and no play and I am worn out. As much as I have tried to practice the virtue of "celebration" for July it has been a bit of an epic fail. So with that in mind, I am going to focus on my "Vitality" for August. Doing whatever it takes to rest, rejuvenate and get my groove back. Hope you're able to do the same.

Big hugs
Shan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Aging Gracefully

This is a phrase we often hear when people talk about women of a "certain" age. So and so has not had plastic surgery, she's aging gracefully. So and so was a binge drinker and chain smoker and has had plastic surgery 'till her ears met at the back of her head, she's not aging gracefully. But whether or not someone chooses a healthy lifestyle or goes under the knife or not,  I am not sure that there is all that much grace in aging. I kind of think it's more of a battle.

I say this not because I am bitter in any way or in a bad mood or even having a hate day. Au contraire. It's actually a love day over here. I've been reading some encouraging books, I managed to drop two pounds and I got to have my birthday cake (with ice cream thank you very much) and eat it too! 

So why the fightin' words? Because I think if we're going to live to be old and we want quality of life, we've got to work for it. Yes you might argue that you have the 90-year-old uncle who has smoked and eaten nothing but fried bacon his whole life and he's as spry as a spring chicken, but I can assure you that he is the exception, not the rule.

He Who Shall Not Be Named is lucky enough to have both of his grandmothers still alive. They are 89 and 90 years old. I don't know the reasons behind it, (other than age robs us of our vitality) but neither one of them are in the best of health and haven't been for some time. They need a lot of assistance, they can't get around on their own, can no longer cook for themselves or even bathe alone. It's rough. Thankfully they have my saint of a mother-in-law to look after them. She's wonderful.

But on the other hand, we have my amazing Great Aunt Anne who has just turned 85. She dances most nights of the week, she drives herself everywhere, she travels, and after she's come back from a month-long cruise, she'll watch what she eats to drop the few extra pounds that she's picked up on holiday. She works at it ladies. She doesn't sit around in front of the TV eating cheese-doodles all day long complaining about a sore back. She exercises. She eats healthy whole food and she has a bright outlook. In fact my favorite saying of hers, on the occasions that she's come to visit me in the Pacific North West in the pouring rain is: "I think it's brightening up out there." I love that. I aspire to be more like her.

This ties into our earlier discussions on what to do about the middle-aged-spread. I'm getting to it. Patience grasshopper.

In the weeks leading up to my recent birthday, I found myself lamenting the loss of my speedy youthful metabolism. It seemed like recently, no matter how hard I worked out, no matter how clean I ate, I gained weight. I restarted Meta (this time on Glute) with a friend of mine and in the first month, I'd done nothing but gain, while she lost pounds and inches and the whole shebang. While I worked out 7 says a week, she was hitting the mat every other day. What gives? Said friend is 29, so I began feeling very ripped off my time. I had to look into what else could be done.

I read the Prevention Magazine article about stress and the hormone cortisol. You can read the post HERE. I started to wonder if I was maybe causing more cortisol to be released by not giving my body enough time to rest and re-coup between workouts. Maybe that could explain my stubborn spare tire? Some comments between you (my lovely readers) and me lead me to further investigate some food choices, things that might help us along this thorny path of maintenance against all odds.

As expected I got many conflicting reports. Soy is good to combat abdominal weight-gain, No! Soy is bad. Dairy good. No avoid dairy at all costs. Eat whole grains, whatever you do DO NOT eat gluten. My head was once again spinning.

In reading various articles and online posts, I did manage to weed through some contradictions and come up with a few things that "the experts" could agree upon. 

Many of them say the same thing: Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
What?!? How the hell are we supposed to deal with weight-gain, mood swings, hot flashes etc without our morning coffee, that glass of wine, or our chocolate chipped cookies for crying out loud?!? I realized that my reaction to the news was maybe a bit of an over-reaction. Am I really at that age?!?

Oh crap. I got sad. Like really sad. Add to that, the friend who began Meta with me, the 29-year-old? Yeah she moved away. More sad.

And then I watched the film Fried Green Tomatoes. Have you seen this movie? If you haven't you must. If you have, see it again. It's brilliant. Kathy Bates is my hero in this movie. She is going through the change and her transition is brilliant. She has this heart-breaking line where she says: "I'm too young to feel so old, but too old to feel young." 

 

I was like - I hear ya sister! But what can we do? 

She channeled her inner "Towanda". See the film. Please. I beg you. She gave up on trying to fix her marriage and her husband and turned her attention toward herself. She started taking care of herself. She gradually changed the things she was eating and she began working out. This transition did not happen over night but her self-esteem began to grow.

I knew I needed to do something similar. Again, more research and a good old trip to Amazon for a birthday book. More on that in a sec. Sorry this is turning into a bit of a long one. Yikes.

Anyhoo - Here are a few more things our experts could agree on.

HAVE THIS --
Drink more water. Lots of it. Stay hydrated. Especially now when it's hot out.

Get fibre - both kinds. And get it from whole foods like your fruits and veggies.

Whole grains are good for you - but if you have a Gluten thing - stick with things like brown rice, quinoa and millet. 

Have legumes they are not the enemy even though they are both a protein and a carbohydrate and can be a little tough to digest sometimes -the benefits are worth it.

And get your healthy fats, our brains need fat to function as do our organs and having a tiny bit of fat in your face makes the wrinkles show less, so there! Avocados, almonds, olives, these are some of the yummy things you can have in moderation to get those good fats.

And Green Tea. Many have touted it as the saving grace of middle-age weight gain. Drink it and it will melt the fat. Hate to break it to you, there is no magic bullet, but here's the skinny on green tea. 

Use green tea as part of an overall change in diet and weight loss, because alone, it’s not going to be that effective. Green tea contains catechins, a type of phytochemical that may briefly affect the metabolism. They do this by boosting energy expenditure, increasing the release of fat from fat cells—especially in the abdomen—and speeding up the burning of fat by the liver, particularly after meals.
(To get the most benefit, you may need to drink green tea several times a day.)

LIMIT THIS --
The white stuff, like white bread, white rice ('specially that instant stuff), and pasta.
Anything refined. Processed crap is not good for us.
Caffeine
Sugar 
Alcohol 

There it is. It's out there. But again, I was like: "I don't wanna!" I want ice cream and wine and cheese and bread. The French seem to pull it off, why can't I? Waaaa!

And then my new book came. Eeeeeeeee! I know, I know I am always recommending another book. But this one is actually changing my mind-set about things. Again, it's another "pep-talk from a girl-friend" kind of book but it contains really practical and applicable tools, that if you're willing to get honest and put in the work, they will make a difference in the long run. And after all, isn't that what we're all here for? The long run?

The book is called The Every Girl's Guide to Diet and Fitness by Maria Menounos.



I've said this before and I'll say it again, I do not get anything for recommending books, I recommend them because I genuinely feel as though I've gotten something from them. 

When I first saw the book, I was thinking "yeah, whatever Maria, you were on Dancing With the Stars, you're a Hollywood heavy with your personal chef and personal trainer, what do you know about the every girl's life? Especially the ones over 40!" Funny, turns out she doesn't have a personal trainer and she cooks for herself.

My next thought was - "I know I am not going to get those abs by reading this book, but I want it anyway." I waited. And waited. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I went ahead and ordered it. Thinking it would be my guilty little secret. I'd never tell y'all about it. You'd laugh. I was so wrong.

It started with a private instagram pic to a couple of my fitness besties, but now I just have to spill the beans! I love Maria Menounos! I love her book! She's so great.

Here are some of the sticking points from the book that made me stop and go Hmmm. 

(I am paraphrasing btw)
You can't rush your health. Take your time. 

But you will want to set a DEADLINE for yourself for losing your weight. Make it a few months or a year away depending on how much weight you want to lose. Weigh yourself, then put the scale away. This is about living into old age and being healthy, so maybe "skinny" isn't the be all and end all.
Yes we want to be thin, but don't we really want to be healthy? Yes! And to fit into our clothes of course.

Take a week and just be honest about what you're eating. How you eat. What are your triggers and weak spots. For Maria, it was pizza. She was eating so much pizza that to just quit pizza full stop would have lead to failure. So instead she focused on cutting back. Instead of five slices, she might have four, then cut back to three.

It's these complete 180's that we try to pull that lead to failure. Don't try to change your whole life at once. It's not practical and it almost never works. Hello, I know that all too well, quitting sugar cold-turkey lead to a huge binge time and time again.

So it turns out (when I finally got honest) my weakness is fancy coffee. I used to drink nothing but tea, but the past couple of years I've become a coffee junkie - but not plain old black coffee. No, I could never ever drink that stuff. I've got to have the milky, sugary, trumped up stuff. Nothing but Starbucks and fancy packs of designer instant for me. Seriously. I've been watching my sugar intake, staying off sweets and chocolate and cake, but when I took an honest look I was pounding back a grande mocha and 2 or 3 sweetened cappuccinos a day! Like every day! Can you believe I let that slide? 

This past week, the only change I've made is to start the morning with a small pot of green tea and limit my coffee to two a day. And I lost 2 pounds. Yeah I did! This week I am gonna try for one coffee a day. Yikes.

I don't want to give everything away here, Maria did such an amazing job of writing the book, I'd rather you read her than me when it comes to this subject. But she lists her 13 steps that helped her drop 40 pounds, she gives recipes  and nutrition info, she offers some great tips about fitness, and my favorite part, she interviews fit celeb friends (most of whom are over 35!) and gets their tips and tricks for staying healthy and looking great.

I'm excited to take the next steps in finding a balance that's right for me and for starting level 5 of Glutecentric.

Yep, I'm another year older, but it's all good!
xo
Shan

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Guest Post - with Recipies!!!! Eeeeee!!!

Hey hey my lovelies!
Hope you're all enjoying a fantastic weekend. There's been a lot of discussion here in the comments about this stubborn belly fat that seems to accumulate as we hit our 40's. It's an interesting conversation that I'd like to continue so will put together a post about that this week where we can hopefully share some more collective knowledge, experience, insights and wisdom around how to "get around the round middle!"

Sticking with that theme tho, the recent Prevention Magazine article that I'd read and written about in my last post talked about some diet switches including adding in more fibre and healthy fats to help combat that "middle-age spread". When my girl Janice, author of the cookbook EASY TASTY CLEAN, suggested a couple of breakfast options in a comment, I asked her if she'd be so kind as to write a guest post with recipes. And yay!!!! She did! So awesome, Janice. Thank you.

Enjoy.

For you Shan, as I know you’re a little bit of a sugar monster, carb craver, sweetie lover, and seeing as you’re not seeing the results you want on the scales right now, I think you would do well swapping your beloved granola or toast-based breakfast for something that has plenty of good fats, lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre and most of all, is as sweet as can be but nutritionally much better for you! There is nothing wrong with a bowl of granola per se, but when you look at the recommended portion of around 45g and see how much that looks like in the bowl, it’s just not enough is it? I’m sure I usually put out at least 60–70g, which works out at around 350 calories once you’ve added in the milk (dairy or alternative). And in that bowl there is not a huge amount of nutrition from fresh produce going on, even if you throw some berries in. The other thing with granola is that unless it’s gluten-free, it’s quite possible that it could be causing inflammation in your digestive system. 
You might not feel any of it, i.e. you may not get visibly bloated or feel much digestive discomfort, but on the inside your intestines can be crying out, willing you to put some foods of higher nutritional value in, foods that will nourish and soothe your system rather than irritate and annoy it. 
If the inflammation continues you can end up with leaky gut, which means that your intestinal tract has developed holes in it, allowing foods that should never be allowed directly into your bloodstream to pass through without challenge. Once they’re in your blood they are viewed as the enemy and your body starts attacking itself, thinking there is a foreign intruder. This is when you start to become intolerant or allergic to certain foods, which is obviously not good! 
So with this in mind, let’s see what a better breakfast might be, for someone who I know loves chocolate and is a whizz with her blender…

Your new breakfast will be two-fold. First of all you will start by indulging yourself in a beautifully rich and creamy chocolate pudding, then you will follow by sipping on the freshness and sweetness of a thick smoothie. Yes, the start to the day really can be that good! No waiting until late night snack-attacks jump from out of nowhere, you can start the day with a fix of chocolate, all guilt-free. 
The fats in the chocolate pudding, provided by the avocado and coconut, will not only satiate you and provide a ton of immediate energy but will also slow down the digestion of the meal as a whole, keeping you fuller for longer. And don’t be fooled by the seemingly small size of the pudding, it is very rich and filling so use a small spoon and savour every mouthful. 
The smoothie can be one of your choice, but try to make it out of both fruit AND vegetables and try to add a good portion of greens to it, to count towards your daily veggie total. Kimberley Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie (see http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/ggs/) is a great example of this, with some fruits, vegetables and greens all in the mix. You can use this formula to make up your own smoothies, just add 1-2 fruits, 1-2 veggies and a big handful of greens to make an ideal smoothie. You can also add a scoop of protein if you are someone who struggles to meet your daily protein needs. I have given you an example of a really yummy smoothie that I enjoy below. Although sweet as can be, it also contains lots of greens, providing an extra nutritional hit early on in the day, setting you up for (hopefully!) less cravings later on. Protein has been added to make it a complete meal but you can leave this out if you like. 
When I’m eating nothing but real foods I don’t like to get hung up on calories as I know my body is receiving all the goodness it needs to be able to optimize my weight and bodily functions, but I know some of your readers will ask if I don’t include the nutritional stats, so they are there for reference. 

Chocolate pudding (makes 2 portions)
1 medium/large ripe avocado
1 heaped tsp raw honey or your sweetener of choice (pure maple syrup, agave nectar etc, or no-cal sweetener if you are watching your sugar intake – you will save around 8g sugar by switching to stevia for example)
3 tbsp water or coconut milk
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp finely shredded dried coconut or coconut flour (can leave out if you don’t like coconut)
2 tbsp raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp maca powder (optional, but adds an extra caramel-like sweetness plus extra minerals and antioxidants)

Blend the avocado flesh with the honey, lemon juice and water/milk in a food processor until smooth then add the dry ingredients and continue to blend until fully incorporated. Add a little more water/milk if it is too thick to blend.  The pudding will thicken further once refrigerated so you can make it a little more runny than how you would like to eat it. I use small glass dishes with plastic lids to store the puddings in portions. The blending action can unfortunately warm up the pudding so it is best to make this the night before you need it and refrigerate it, ready to grab the next day. It will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days as the lemon juice will keep it from oxidising, so you can make a few portions at once.

Per portion of chocolate pudding: 277 cals, 27g carbs, 21g fats, 6g protein, 11g fibre

Strawberry Spinach Smoothie (serves 1)
⅔ cup strawberries (about 5-6 medium sized strawberries), fresh or frozen, green tops removed
½ banana, peeled
¼ cucumber, washed, peeled if not organic
1 big handful of baby leaf spinach
2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds OR 2-3 tbsp of your favourite vanilla or non-flavoured protein powder (I use hemp protein powder as I don’t tolerate whey protein very well)
½ - 1 cup water

Add everything to the blender and blitz on high speed until smooth. Add extra liquid if it is too thick for your liking. You can add lots of spinach to this smoothie and still not know it’s there as the sweetness of the strawberries really comes through over the top of everything else.

Per smoothie (using hemp protein powder): 189 cals, 36g carbs, 4g fat, 15g protein, 18g fibre


For the total breakfast you are getting a whopping 29g of fibre, which is pretty much your recommended daily intake, and also reduces the net carb content of the meal. Just imagine how clean and free your insides will be running with this great breakfast to start the day. You will be pumped with nutrition, energized, fully satisfied due to the higher fat content, with higher energy levels during the morning and you will already have taken in almost half of your daily minimum protein needs if you added the extra protein to the smoothie. All you need to do for the rest of the day is continue to eat cleansing meals based around a good selection of vegetables and some nice lean proteins, with another portion of healthy fats for lunch and you will be on track to release any nagging weight that’s hanging around where it shouldn’t. 

Hope this helps Shan, for you and any of your readers!!! Maybe it will just provide extra breakfast ideas for some. And if you like the chocolate pudding, you can also use it as a dessert or late night snack if those chocolate cravings hit. You could even add a banana to the pudding mix and then freeze it and eat it like ice cream :-) Let me know if this both satisfies your sweet tooth and helps towards your goals, I hope you enjoy it!

Janice. x


I sometimes like to take a day or two and do Tracy's performance cleanse and I think this avocado pudding would make a great substitution for the choco-chestnut pudding, because let's be honest, how often are any of us able to find chestnuts?

I also like having an alternative to the Glowing Green Smoothie - so Janice's smoothie will be a nice treat.

Thanks again for that my friend!
Big hugs.
Shan