Monday, April 7, 2014

Oil Pulling

If you would have told me a month ago that I would be swishing around coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes a day, I would have called you a liar and gone on with my day. Yet, here I am, swishing coconut oil around for 20 minutes in the morning. What can I say? I'll do anything for my health. So, this oil pulling that's all the rage is supposed to whiten teeth (plaque is fat soluble, so the oil essentially dissolves it), keep gums healthy, and extract toxins from your body, among other things. I've been oil pulling for about a month now, and I can honestly say it does whiten my teeth, and I've noticed myself sleeping a whole lot better which I've concluded may have something to do with extracting toxins from my body. And I'm not the only one who has seen these results; the blog-osphere is filled with testimonials about how great oil pulling is, and celebs like Shaliene Woodley and Gwyneth Paltrow have been raving about it. So, is it a myth? Is it for real? Who knows if oil pulling is actually as beneficial as it has been made out to be? I don't, but as long as I keep seeing results, I'll keep on oil pulling. You can decide for yourself whether you oil pull or not, but this blogger has given his two-cents about it! 

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Injuries

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Just after Thanksgiving I injured my knee, and to this day it is still not fully healed. I start physical therapy tomorrow, as a matter of fact. But this post isn't to whine and complain about my own injury; this post is going to be about how to cope with an injury that prohibits you from exercising (in my case, running). So here are the methods I have used and am still using to cope with my knee injury:

  • Use the time to focus on other areas of your fitness. I have used the time that I haven't been running (or doing much of any cardio) to focus on my weight training. In fact, I have incorporated cardio into my weight routine through super sets.
  • Use the time to focus on eating well. Since I haven't been staying at the gym as long because I don't have to get in any cardio sessions, I have more time to prepare meals and such. I have experimented with a lot of different recipes and snacks, and it's been very refreshing.
  • Have a positive attitude! Throughout my time being injured, I have kept a positive attitude and always think forward to the future and know that I will be running when I get better. It really helps me feel better!
  • Practice mental health techniques. Since my injury I have taken up meditation. I'm not very good at it, but I'm working on that! So far, I can tell that it keeps me calmer and gives me a better mindset altogether. 
So, there you have it. I may be injured, but I'm not unable! Having an injury does suck, but it doesn't have to suck that much. So if you're injured, cheer up, buttercup! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Healthy Eating and My Social Life

Do you ever get those looks? You know, those looks that say "You're crazy," or "That's a little weird," when you turn down dessert or order a small salad at a huge steak house. I get them a lot, and it's frustrating. Leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't just affect your physical and medical health, it affects your social life. Whenever I'm out with friends and everyone loads up on carbs and trans fats, I'm usually the one sitting there with a salad or steamed veggies. I get those "looks" most of the time, along with remarks like "Come one, one bite of pie won't hurt," or "You have to splurge once and a while." Well, I'm here to say that if I thought like that every time I was presented with a slice of chocolate pie or a basket of bread sticks I would weight 500 pounds. Leading a healthy lifestyle can be like a religion that some one doesn't understand, or a cultural tradition that deviates from the norm, and people aren't afraid to judge you on your healthy lifestyle. A majority of people eat what tastes good, which usually omits fruits and vegetables, so when I'm sitting there with a plate of steamed cauliflower I get glares. But in addition to the food, there's the gym dilemma. I get looked at like I am certifiably insane when I decline an invite somewhere because I need to go to the gym. People just don't understand, and again shoot back with remarks like "It's good to take a day off," or "One day off here and there won't hurt you." Again, if I thought like that it every situation, I would struggle getting to the gym two or three days a week, compared to the five or six that I aim for. My health and fitness are two things that I just have to sometimes put ahead of my social life on my list of priorities. It's a trade off, but in the end I'm bettering myself, so it's worth it. And I've learned to not let those "looks" bother me that much anymore, because I have the ability to lead a lifestyle that requires dedication and stability; and if that causes the weird glares to come my way, then let them come!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Body Pump Exercise Class Review

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My friend had a free day pass for her gym that she gave me, so we hit it up a few weeks ago and took a Body Pump fitness class. Going into it, I figured it would be your average, moderate paced fitness class for women looking for a mild workout to stay slim and toned. Little did I know there would be strength training involved. So, if you're looking at taking an exercise class and Body Pump is one of your options, here's my two cents about it:

Body Pump is a full body workout.
Body Pump works your arms, legs, shoulders, back, you name it, it gets worked in Body Pump! It lasts for one hour, where you hit different parts of the body during different circuits, and it also includes a lot of compound movements. However, if you're one who likes to hit the gym every day, I wouldn't suggest taking Body Pump too often at risk of over training your muscles and not giving them proper rest time.

Body Pump doesn't contain pure cardiovascular exercise.
The cardio aspect of Body Pump is that you keep your heart rate elevated because you're exercising for an hour straight with few breaks in between. If you're a runner, or have to keep in shape by doing daily cardio, I would suggest supplementing some into your workout if you take Body Pump on a regular basis.

Body Pump isn't pure strength-training, either.
You are working with a weighted bar and dumbbells during Body Pump, however you have to keep in mind that the type of exercises you're doing are high reps, therefore you will have to use a lower weight. I found that Body Pump is a class with a lot of exercises that would aid in toning the muscles rather than strengthening them or building mass. So, if you're a body builder, or looking to put on some muscle, I wouldn't make Body Pump a regular part of your fitness regimen. 

Body Pump is time saving.
For those who are busy, and looking to maintain their level of fitness without spending hours on end at the gym, I would definitely suggest taking a Body Pump class around three times a week. Like I said before, it's only one hour, and it works your whole body. You could even just stick to cardio on off days. However you plan it, if you're short on time, you should definitely consider a Body Pump class.

Body Pump lacks in ab workouts.
The major downside of Body Pump is that it didn't work my abs as much as I had hoped. There was around a five minute segment of the whole workout dedicated to abs, and I wasn't too fond of it. It stuck to your basic crunches and in-and-outs, but that was it. Not much diversity when it comes to abs, so a supplemental ab workout would be a good idea. 

Overall, Body Pump was a great experience, and I would definitely go back and take the class again. However, I wouldn't take it too often because my goal is to gain some strength. When considering Body Pump as a part of your fitness regimen, one needs to assess their goals and where they want to see themselves in the future as far as fitness is concerned. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Southwestern Chicken Soup

Considering the high today is 37 degrees, I'd say it's officially soup weather! This recipe is for a spicy southwestern chicken soup that will warm you up with one bite. It's loaded with veggies and protein, and it's super duper easy to make. It literally consists of sauteing a few veggies then throwing them in a pot with everything else. Easy enough?

*Print this recipe here.*
Southwestern Chicken Soup 
1-1.5 lbs. chicken, cooked and shredded
3-4 cups chicken broth (I use the water I boil my chicken in)
1 white onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 zucchini, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Chili Powder
½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 ½ tsp. Dried Cilantro
Coconut oil

Directions:
1.      In a saucepan or large pot, heat coconut oil and add onions, peppers, and garlic. Saute until garlic is fragrant and onions are translucent (5-8 minutes).
2.      In a large pot add chicken, broth, sautéed onions, peppers and garlic, zucchini, diced tomatoes with chilies, and spices.

3.      Bring to a boil and let simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.

What can I say? It was a first class meal that took me around 30 minutes to make. I'm definitely going to be making this again, especially since it's not even officially winter yet, and as I said before, the high today is 37 degrees. I see a lot of cold days in my future, but I also see a lot of warm soup to help me cope with them!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti Squash is my favorite squash because there is nothing quite like it. I mean, it's basically vegetable pasta! What more can you ask from a squash? Until a few weeks ago, I had only seen spaghetti squash used as a substitute for spaghetti pasta, but then I stumbled upon a spaghetti squash casserole. It didn't quite tickle my fancy, so I decided to create my own. It's packed with veggies, tastes great, and can be stored in the fridge for up to five days, meaning I can make it for my whole week's worth of lunch. If Superman were a casserole, he would be this one.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole 
1 Spaghetti Squash (cooked)
1 ½ lbs. Lean Ground Beef
Coconut Oil
1 egg
1 cup Spinach, chopped
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 white onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin

Directions:
1.      Preheat oven to 400 F.
2.      Cook spaghetti squash, and scrape out meat with a fork. Directions here.
3.      Brown ground beef in a saucepan. Drain.
4.      In a sauce pan, heat coconut oil and sauté onion, tomatoes, peppers, and cauliflower. Add spices. Add spinach after onions turn translucent and wilt it down.


5.      Add squash, ground beef, and eggs to vegetables. Mix thoroughly.


6.      Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.


What can I say? It doesn't look pretty, but then again I'm not Bobby Flay, so I really don't care all that much about presentation. I can say this, however; it tastes better than it looks, which is all I care about! This dish is so versatile, so you could add some more vegetables or substitute them for different ones (I may put some broccoli in mine next time). The egg is a nice binder and keeps the whole thing from falling to a million pieces when you spoon it out, which is another plus. Spaghetti Squash Casserole: A Success!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Turkey Stuffed Zucchini

I've seen stuffed peppers and stuffed zucchini plastered all over the internet lately, and it never really caught my eye. I was thinking of something to cook for my lunch this week, so I went searching online and came across some stuffed zucchini recipes. I didn't really like any of the ones I saw, so I decided to create my own, and I'm sure glad I did! So simple and so tasty!

Turkey Stuffed Zucchini 
4 Zucchini, halved
1 pound ground Turkey
1 Onion, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 large Carrot, peeled and chopped
1 handful of Spinach, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Tomato sauce
1 tsp. Basil
½ tsp. Oregano
½ tsp. Thyme
Coconut oil

Print this recipe here.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F.
2. Half zucchinis lengthwise and scoop out seeds, and place on a lined cookie sheet.

3. Brown turkey in a skillet with coconut oil. Drain most of fat.

4. Add onions, peppers, carrots, spinach and garlic. Sautee until onion turns translucent.

5. Add tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and thyme. Stir to combine.

6. Fill zucchini with turkey mixture.

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

That's it! I have to say, this is easier than a lot of the other recipes I saw online, which is great for me! I can save time without it costing me a tasty lunch for the week. I will warn you, however, that when scooping the insides out of your zucchini, be cautious of piercing a whole in the bottom. It's easy to do, trust me! I'm ecstatic about this recipe, because it sounds and looks fancy, but is super easy. Success!