A Lil About Me!

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ACE Certified Personal Trainer; NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist; CSEP Certified Personal Fitness & Lifestyle Advisor; MaddDogg Spinning Instructor; NCCP SwimCoach; NLSC Aquafit Instructor; Wellness & Weight-Loss Consultant.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Did someone say Pancakes!?

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes 

This is a recipe I borrowed from my friend @committed_jay
He's a superhero trainer down in AUS, and legit LOOKS like he stepped out of a Hero-Comic!
These Pancakes have a double PUNCH of protein and antioxidants!

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups whole-meal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup Sucanat
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 8 egg whites (slightly whisked)
  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt
  • ½ cup fresh/frozen blueberries (*or any berries)
  • Cooking Spray
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and make a well in the center.
  2. Combine eggs, cottage cheese and yoghurt in a small bowl. Pour into well and stir until just moistened.
  3. Add blueberries and fold into mixture.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high with cooking spray. Use ¼ cup of pancake mixture for each pancake.
  5. Cook until browned on both sides.
  6. Serve with fruit.
Makes: 12 pancakes
Time for Preparation: 25mins
Cooking Time: 12mins

  • Bringing the egg whites to room temperature will help make them fluffier
  • Egg whites and cottage cheese are a great source of protein without all the fat

Portioning cheat sheet!

To eat well, you dont have to be a SLAVE to calories. Be wary of your sugar, sodium & fat content & make sure you're eating a workable amount of food. Simple, right? Well, while it's not SO black & white, that "Calories IN vs. Calories OUT" equation is the general system you're always trying to keep control of.  (*note: The KINDS of Calories (fat/carbs/protein) are more important) Essentially, Burn MORE than you EAT in the day, and you will LOSE weight.

Basic Equation for Day's Caloric Intake
(*Disclaimer: this is an average amount that I use for my nutritional clients, that I have found to be helpful for healthy weekly weightloss, derived from a modified version of the Basal Metabolic "rule of thumb" (10cals per 1lb, while stationary)

For Women
[10 x Goal Body Weight] + [1/2 Calories Burnt]

For Men
[10 x Goal Body Weight] + [2 x Calories Burnt]

We're continuously told to follow the LABELS on packages, to eat according to PORTIONS and follow SERVING sizes. What you see on the back of boxes/cans/packages, give you an idea of how much of each product's caloric break down & amount. Thanks, Food Administration! That's all well and Fine... but who really walks around with Measuring Cups & Measuring Spoons?!

Here is a short cut to knowing what a Portion/Serving SHOULD look like >

In General
1 tsp = top section of thumb
1 TB = whole thumb
1/4c = palm, hand open
1/2 c = palm, hand cupped
1 c = palm + fingers, hand cupped  OR closed fist

Typically, for Red Meat & Poultry you want to portion your meat the size of a full deck of cards. However, if you (like me) don't hold a deck of cards so often that you can readily pull-to-mind that image, use your palm. The cut of meat/poultry should be the length  & thickness of your palm.

For Fish, you can use a similar system to meat & poultry. Two decks of cards, beside each other. OR, the size of you ENTIRE hand, open fully (6oz); Shellfish/Seafood - roughly 8 medium shrimp, 4 scallops, 1lb of Lobster (the tail would be around the size of an open hand, when split)

Typically for Veggies, you can eat 2cups or "two cupped hands full" for salads, or raw veggies before cooking; For Larger Veggies (e.g. zucchini, eggplant, carrots, etc) use the measure, when raw & chopped.

Depending on the source, 1 serving is typically between 1/2 - 1 cup. 1 palmful of raw rice or a fist sized amount of potato. (1 med potato the size of your fist OR half a sweet potato/large potato the size of you fist)

You can eat 1cup of berries; Cruciferous fruits (*apples/pears/peaches etc) the size of a fist; For Tropical/larger fruits, fill the same quantities based off of chopped measure; Bananas can be the length of the base of the palm to the tip of the middle finger (100-130cals serving)
(e.g. Mango - half 1 regular mango = 1 serving, = size of closed fist)

1 serving is roughly 1/4cup - typically 10-20nuts or an open palmful of nuts or seeds.

Hope that helps!!

Bonus Tip :: in general the servings for fruits/veggies/nuts are also around 100-150cals, for helpful & healthy snacking!

Healthy Fats, Healthy Oils

Blitz Blog!

Healthy Fats >> Fish, Flax, Pumpkin seeds, Tree Nuts, Avocado, Coconut, Olives, Sesame/Sunflower seeds (*in lower amounts)

Healthy Oils >> For use in dressings/marinades - (COLD PRESSED) Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Flax Oil, Almond Oil, Walnut Oil, Avocado Oil, Udo's Oil

Healthy Oils >> For cooking - Again, I recommend Virgin/Cold Pressed Versions, less chemical breakdown of the amino chains - Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Avocado Oil, Walnut Oil
*You can use Canola Oil in moderation, at high heat or Brushing onto baking dishes/grills

Only refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point (the point where the oil breaks down into glycerol and fatty-acids) than extra virgin olive oil. I would tend to use extra virgin olive oil for dressing, and keep virgin coconut or grapeseed oils for medium to high temperatures like roasting/grilling and (for flavouring).

I recommend Virgin avocado oil for cooking at higher temperatures, and walnut oil as an alternative dressing to olive oil due to omega-3 content. Both of these oils are VERY expensive, so they are definitely recommended for use sparingly. Use Sesame Oil SPARINGLY/for taste!


Mmmm... Cake!

Protein PACKED Apple & Cinnamon Cake!
** contains nuts, dairy, eggs

The Star
2 Large Apples (peeled, cored, small diced)
2 TB lemon juice

Dry Ingredients
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of ground sea salt
1 1/4c finely ground almond flour
1/2c self-rising flour
1/2c Vanilla Whey protein (*any brand)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Wet Ingredients
1tsp organic vanilla extract
3 eggs (or 7 egg whites /equivilant amt boxed egg white substitute) + 1/4c sucanat (or 2TB liq. stevia)
1/2c Large white sweet potato (shredded)
1/2c organic apple sauce

1/2c confectioners sugar + 2TB vanilla whey protein (sifted together)
4TB lemon juice (or warm water)
*combine in bowl, slowly, until thickens. Refridgerate until needed.

Preheat Oven to 360F; Line a 9" x 9" x 3" baking dish with wax paper & Coat with a light spray of alcohol-free cooking spray.

Put diced apple pieces in a large bowl, toss with lemon juice to prevent browning
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients & set aside.

In a mixing bowl, Combine eggs & sweetener and whip until first signs of occluding (*they will become pale and triple in size) - about 3mins on low-medium speed using a handheld or stand mixer. Add the grated sweet potato & apple sauce, whisking to combine.

Lower the mixer's speed and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add in the vanilla extract, and using a spatula, fold in the diced apples into the mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, bake for 25-30mins, check the consistancy. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 30mins. (*baking times will differ with ovens!)

Once baked, remove from pan, and leave on a rack to cool for 10-15mins. Drizzle liberally with the icing.


Everybody Poops!

Crap, Merde, Schize, Poo, Sh*t, #2, Defecating, Egesting, Voiding Excrement, 'Dropping the Kids at the Pool", "Reading a Magazine", "Doing Personal Business" ... by any of its names, EVERYBODY POOPS!

Or at least... everybody NEEDS to!

You may be asking "Why? Why is it SO important?" Well... I'm going to keep this post nice and...erm "sweet" (*bad form, I know, sigh).  Essentially we need to remove excess and/or unused intake byproducts. That is to say, anything we EAT that isn't USED or absorbed, is removed via excretion (urination, perspiration, defecation).

Scientifically speaking "matter is neither created nor destroyed, but simply changed from one form to another" (Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy). As the Human body is not 100% efficient, and unable to reuse or reconfigure all of what is taken in, we must remove it via elimination.

Removal of the solid waste (aka: defecation, elimination, egestion) not only removes unused food waste, but is also the outlet for the metabolic waste products from other vital body functions. By removing the excess, it removes the majority of the harmful bacterium along with it - the reason poop stinks, rotting things & bacterium... why would you want to keep that in?! Waste materials are toxic & can poison the body if kept.  If you're not removing these toxins regularly (*MINIMUM twice weekly) the bacterium, supported by a warm, moist, dark environment can flourish, multiply and lead to sickness, infection, and other more serious internal diseases.

5 Ways to help you GO >

1) Avoid eating a surplus of Dairy products - dairy products tend to cause constipation (*unless of course you're lactose intolerant, but that's a different topic altogether)

2) Eat clean fats, Omega sources (*i.e. fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives & olive oil)

3) Eat fiber-dense foods (*i.e. whole grains, dark green veggies, add Psyllium to your diet)

4) Drink your daily water - Yes, water leads to urinary expellation, but it also helps to soften the feces (poop) so that it passes more easily.

5) Regulate - just like sleep, if you have a normal "time to go", your body will go more regularly


Bonus Tip :: Regular elimination is KEY to prevent abdominal bloat! i.e. "Pooping = Better Abs" :)

Now everyone, get to the Potty! Feel free to read this blog WHILE you go!

xo - Mia

Paleo update...

Hi all,
So... I've been doing more research into Paleo & most of the people who I've asked about Primal eating are involved in CrossFit or in Olympic/Power lifting (*i.e. Muscle-strength building activities; muscular-endurance building activities, not aerobic-endurance based).

As I am going into my Cardio / Shredding phase of MY training program, this may not line up ideally with what my body needs calorically.  All this being said, I'm going ahead with the plans to do the experiment but I am reserving the right to re-add oats into my diet, if I need the carb load.

It Starts MONDAY!!

xo - Mia

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

For those who didn't know...

Short Version :: The point of eating Paleo is to be healthy. The idea is that for the large part of human history, we’ve eaten certain foods which are really good for us, old foods. And that only very more recently, we’ve begun to farm lots of foods that aren’t so good for us new foods and manufacture some things which don’t even count as food, fake foods. The theory is, Paleo works because you only eat old foods, and omit the new and fake foods.

The easiest generalization is: “don’t eat processed foods, grains or beans.” Processed foods are the “fake” foods, and grains and beans are the “new” foods.  *The more IN to Paleo, you become the further into that statement you can divulge, but essentially if you’re just starting out, just following that simple definition, even just the fake foods part, is a HUGE improvement to your lifestyle & health > Hello, CLEAN eating!

We can also phrase it positively: “Eat fruits, vegetables (*nothing in the nightshade family), meats (*yes, fresh/unfarmed fish counts), eggs, berries, nuts (*except peanuts!) and nothing else.” Again, for peeps just starting out, 90% of the good that will happen in your body from eating Paleo will happen from eliminating processed foods — especially processed sugars!!

Deciding whether sweet potatoes are Paleo or not and avoiding foods of the regions from which your paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have had access, (*i.e. white Euro peeps, shouldn’t be eating pineapple, and other tropical fruit… why not? It’s GREAT for you!) The Anthropology, the SCIENCE *Nerd-gasm* can sound cool to think about, but save that for AFTER you’ve got the basics down.

Again, the point is to be healthy, and if you are coming from a SAD (read “Standard American Diet”) eating lifestyle, doing the aforementioned will VASTLY improve your health. Keep it simple >> Understand and DO the biggest, most important things first, and do them consistently. Commit to it for 9 out of 10 meals for a month. Once you have succeeded in that, focus on the details,

NB: Any time you make any adjustments in your body, even positive ones, there will be initial discomfort.  (*E.g. exercising for the first time in a long time, or quitting smoking: both can feel like crap initially, but you will eventually feel better and be WAY healthier.)

So what is Paleo? It’s about working WITH your body instead of against it. Period. People can argue about what cavemen actually ate, but that’s irrelevant. Once foods are nutritious AND my body has no adverse reactions to them, there should be no reason to omit them. When you eat things that are GREAT for your body, you don’t have to count calories. Obviously, bingeing on anything, isn’t ideal but the fats and protein work WITH your body to signal when you’ve eaten enough, and theoretically you shouldn’t experience hunger-inducing insulin crashes from low-fat whole grains.

All the books advise that you START from Scratch. That is, remove EVERYTHING that is Non-Paleo, and see what happens. From what I’m reading, you HAVE to go strict for a minimum of 3 weeks to reap the benefits. The 30 day strict programs are really popular for a reason: they yield results. If you completely remove grains, added sugars, potatoes and the like from your diet, you’ll see the greatest results, since your body will have enough time to spike, recover & adjust to the change.
(*Remember, in a past blog, I said: 3-6weeks on average for "results" in changes...)
*Disclaimer – I don’t “Eat Paleo” per se. I “Eat Clean” – I eat Grains, (a LOT of) Beans & (limited) Soy, but I do omit processed foods, especially sugars & bleached grains, and I avoid as much “fast” & “fake” foods as possible*

That being said, September 1 – 30, I’m doing a Paleo Experiment, 9/10 meals will be Paleolithic – the only MAJOR issue I see will be removing Beans (I LOVE THEM SOOO MUCH) & Grains (what will I do without OATS?), and re-adding “Real Meat” back into my usual diet (I may stick with Fish/Poultry, due to available cuts*)
I am excited to see what the “hype” is all about, first hand
The first couple weeks are probably going to be HARD going cold turkey, but (*as with quitting any - bad - habit) the cravings will disappear. Not only that, but “cheating” after going strict will actually feel like a punishment, and I always end up not wanting to eat that stuff anymore. (*You’ve seen my tweets about "real" French fries now causing my curling into the fetal position).

*blogger’s note :: because of the quality of foods available in Jamaica, I may still be taking supplements/ vitamins, I have yet to decide, I need to do more research.
I will do my BEST to keep up with frequent updates/progress with the paleo... please remind me via Twitter or here!

Sweet (Potato) ...Recipes!

Let's start with Breakfast!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple, Pecan Coconut Butter
Yield: about 20, 4inch pancakes

Pancake Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ c sweet potato (about 1 large)
  • ½ c almond butter
  • ½ c carton unsweetened coconut milk (we used So Delicious brand)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • coconut oil (*for the griddle/skillet)
For the Maple, Pecan Coconut Butter
  • 3 TB coconut butter* (or use butter if you eat dairy)
  • 3 TB toasted pecans, chopped
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients together, let chill and spoon on top of the pancakes.
*NB :: Coconut butter is a puree of coconut meat. You can buy it at many health food stores, or if fresh (medium) coconut meat is available you can make your own!

  • Peel, chop into small pieces, and boil your sweet potato until it’s fork tender.
  • Once the sweet potato is cooked and cooled, add all ingredients to blender and blend thoroughly.
  • Your batter should be pretty liquid-y thin. if it's too thick add more coconut milk until you get the right consistency.
  • Heat your griddle/skillet over medium heat. Melt a generous bit of coconut oil and pour in the batter, in whatever shape or size you’d like.
  • When the pancake begins to have surface bubbles near the center flip and cook other side (each side 2-3 minutes).

*Tip :: Add more coconut oil to cook surface as needed between batches.
Also, getting your heat right is KEY. If it’s too hot you’ll burn your pancakes before they’re cooked through! (*Try a small dollop of batter as a “tester”, so you dont botch your whole batch!)


Next up... Lunch!

Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

*2 things ::
1) if you don't like REAL bacon, we're not friends! **JOKING**
But, seriously, you may not enjoy Paleo, as many of the more creative/flavorful recipes involve REAL bacon
2) Turkey Bacon isn't Paleo, Cavemen had no processing capabilities. But, if you're not concerned about "eating Paleo", it WILL work for this recipe!

Ok... What you need
  • 2-3 large, uniform width sweet potatoes
  • 3-4 strips of bacon per potato
  • toothpicks (*or kebab skewers & you can do a few on each)
  • Peel the sweet potatoes and coin them (*slice them widthwise) at approximately a two-thirds of an inch section (*i.e. smaller than the width of a piece of bacon but still, nice wide chunks of sweet potatoes, don’t go to skimpy!)
  • Place in boiling water for approx 12mins (you want to soften them, but not cook right through)
  • Stick a fork in them, should still be a little hard in the center
  • Once done, drain them and let them dry a bit.
  • Wrap a piece of bacon all the way around the outside of the sweet potato piece and secure it with a toothpick.
  • When ALL chunks are wrapped, throw them on the BBQ (on low/med-low) for about 5mins per side (*until the bacon is done as you like it)

*TIP :: Make sure to watch them!!
Bacon has lots of fat & fat causes fire flare ups!
cooking them on low will help, but if you get lots of flames, move them so they don’t burn.
The cleaner your BBQ/grill, the better.

**Blogger's Note :: I usually have 2of these ON a Baby Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Raspberry-Walnut Vinegrette.

Dinner is SERVED!

This recipe is extremely easy!! It’s simply baking the sweet potatoes will oil and spices.
* TIP :: You can also use carrots, or any other root vegetable instead of sweet potatoes.

  • 2 Lb of sweet potatoes cut in large wedges. You can leave the skin on or peal it, I prefer to leave it on, for fiber & i like the taste.1/4 cup of olive oil, coconut oil. (*or mix 1/8cup of olive oil + 1/8coconut oil, to make sure your olive oil doesn’t burn)
  • 2-3 tsp of your favorite fresh/dried herbs & Spices (I like nutmeg & rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste. You can easily omit the salt, but it is a great taste addition, SPARINGLY.

  • Preheat your oven to 425 F
  • In a bowl, coat evenly the sweet potato wedges with the oil and the herbs.
  • Add the S&P
  • Place the wedges on a baking tray in a single layer so they cook evenly
  • Roast to sweet potato fries for about 20 minutes
  • Test with the tip of a knife and see if the knife easily slips in. If not, bake for an other 5 minutes and test again
When they're done... youre DONE!
**NB :: Obviously, this is a SIDE DISH, SO... Serve with your choice of vegetable/fruit/nut side (*I like Dark Greens with Nuts) & your Fish/Meat (*Again, Paleo abhors Soy-based products, beans & grains, which were NOT concidered historical "hominid" dietary ingredients)

**Blogger's Note :: I have served these with Turkey Burgers & Steamed Broccoli, Baked Salmon with Asparagus & Honied (*honeyed?) Pecans, and Grilled Bacon-wrapped Pork Loin with Caramelized Onions & Brussel Sprouts (*FYI :: that was AGES ago, haven't had a double-pig-day in a WHILE!)

Monday, 15 August 2011


FYI – In the West Indies the daily diet's “food” starches also include coco, dasheen, eddoe.

The differences (or not) between them have always been a point of contention.  From my research, here is what I have found >>

Coco (cocoyam) is the root of the Callalloo bush. (*yes! BOTH the plant used Trinidadian dish AND the Jamaican plant – give me a minute, nuh!)

The tuberous vegetable are the root found underneath the leafy Callalloo plant.

What is called Eddoe cocoyam in Trinidad and Coco in Jamaica, are the younger and less “wild” version. They are picked earlier & therefore have a smaller corm (*tuber/root structure).
The leaves at this stage are what are known in Jamaica as callalloo.

The Dasheen cocoyam has a larger corm, because they are typically cultivated longer or grown in a “wilder” environment & the leaves are allowed to bloom to a more dense structure.
(*you know those “dinosaur leaves” you see on the road side to country…) THAT is also CALLALLOO BUSH! What is known in Trinidad as Dasheen leaf. The Tuberous root structure below, if left unpicked can grow upwards of 9-feet long!

Fun Fact :: ALL PARTS of the raw cocoyam plant contain a toxic compound, calcium oxalate, which must be destroyed by thorough cooking before consumption (*which is why raw callalloo, if used as "spinach" tastes funny & goopy..)

In Asian regions & other part of the Caribbean & Latin America you'll also find Taro (Malanga) & Boniato as part of the daily diet's starches.

Paleo & the Sweet Potato

I was asked by @funningdotorg about Sweet Potatoes, and the Paleo diet
This one was a little hard for me to tackle as my Caribbean followers vs. North American followers know “sweet potato” as two different things.
I’ll explain…

Sweet Potatoes - Popular in the American South, and derived primarily from South America (*irony!) these yellow or orange tubers are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types.The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white baking potato. (*one of the versions, my West Indians know as sweet potato). The darker-skinned variety, which is most often called a "yam" in error, (*more common in North American use as pie-filling, fries, and thanksgiving dinners) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture.

Yams - The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. the yam is a popular vegetable in Latin American, Caribbean &  African markets, with over 150 varieties available worldwide. Generally sweeter than the sweet potato this tuber can grow over seven feet in length.
(*fun fact: The word yam comes from African words njam, nyam, nyami, or djambi, meaning "to eat”; which could also be where the patois expression “food” came from for ALL tuber starches…hmmm)

That put aside… In Regard to Paleo
In The Paleo Diet Dr. Cordain recommends avoiding high starch foods because they are usually high-glycemic load foods, which cause hyperinsulinemia (*high levels of insulin in the blood, leading to pre-diabetes). However, sweet potatoes ARE allowed, especially in the post-workout period. Sweet potatoes are different from potatoes in that they do not contain several harmful substances such as saponins and lectins/leptins (*according to research, these increase your intestinal permeability if consumed regularly and may over-work your immune system). On the other hand, sweet potatoes should be restricted if you are struggling with being overweight, at least until your body weight normalizes to within a safe weight range.

According to How to Eat Like a Caveman - early hominids probably ate large amounts of sweet potatoes as some hunter-gatherers did in Kitava, Papua New Guinea. Logically, it is hard to speculate on a “universal diet” because availability would have depended on climate, season, latitude, culture, etc. Meaning, the carbohydrates they ate varied substantially. However, there is a BIG difference between potatoes and sweet potatoes. Potatoes are members of the nightshade family (*so are eggplants) and contain the toxin alkaloid solanine. Due to the higher in concentration of toxins found when the potato is in its raw state, and due to the unlikelihood of having been eaten raw, potatoes are usually out of the question (*for Paleo eaters) as they would have to have been a more “recent” dietary addition.

As to whether Sweet Potatoes are tolerated or actually encouraged in the Paleo Diet…
Again, according to research, one current stream of thought is that all humans evolve out of Africa and therefore did not evolve eating sweet potatoes (*since “actual” sweet potatoes are from South America). While humans evolved eating tubers for perhaps 500.000 years, the actual tubers consumed should have been African varieties (*i.e.Yam, Cassava or Dasheen). On the other hand, this vegetable is the main staple in the traditional diet of Okinawa, one of the most successful diets in terms of longevity.

So, long story made only a wee bit longer by summarizing... from what I have read, depending on your level of “commitment” to Paleo >> it's about metabolic advantage & cellular reaction, not “recreating” an historically accurate palate, per se.

So…. Enjoy your tubers!!!
If you don’t like “sweet” sweet potatoes, try to find the Caribbean version (dryer, yellow & crumbly) or try instead Taro, Cassava or Cocoyam


Health BenefitsSweet Potato Nutrition Facts (for one medium size sweet potato)
Calories 128
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU

Source: US Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked the sweet potato “number one in nutrition of all vegetables.” (*The higher the score, the more nutritious the food)

– This was the Top 5 >
Sweet potato, baked 184
Potato, baked 83
Spinach 76
Kale 55
Broccoli 52
Source: The CSPI, Washington D.C. copyright 1992

**Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine.
High Vitamin Content - more than 300% of your daily value of vitamin A, a high quantity of vitamins C, B5 and B6. All of which contribute to general health and fat loss. You also get plenty of potassium, copper and manganese. These nutrients help to protect against heart attack and stroke and the potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart function and blood pressure.
High in Fiber - Fiber is slow digesting. This means that it takes a long time for high fiber foods to leave your stomach and enter your digestive tract. This prevents overeating, thereby reducing the chances of high calorie intake and potential weight gain. Over 16% of suggested Daily Intake of fiber and fiber takes more energy to burn, making the sweet potato a major fat burning food.
Low Calorie - Sweet potatoes typically contain around 100-130calories per serving, whereas white potatoes, may contain as many as 400-500 calories per serving. (*avg 230cal); Also, among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest glycemic-index rating, because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing only a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer.
High in Water Content - With the exception of bone and fat your body is composed almost primarily from water, and therefore it is of no surprise that it responds favorably when you eat foods that contain high amounts of water. Like fiber, water takes up a lot of room in your stomach.
*I will post my next blog with some delish, and Paleo-friendly Sweet Potato recipes!

The benefits of being NEGATIVE!

In response to @forresterOD

Q: Are negative reps really superior when it comes to building mass?

Negative training, or Eccentric-focused lifting, is a relatively easy concept. Basically, instead of dropping a weight like a stone after the positive force (*the concentric action, the contractile force), you purposefully control the return portion of the action, focusing on the resistance against gravity.
NB: You don't need to incorporate emphasis on the negative into every set, but the eccentric (negative) and concentric (positive) portion of the rep should ALWAYS be performed in a controlled fashion.

The “uncontraction” as it were, is this “negative movement”. While a positive movement is actually working the muscle, a negative movement also puts the tendons and supportive structures to work. Tendon strength needs to increase exponentially with muscle strength. (*side-note, YES the opposing muscle group will be in the contractile/control phase and as such you will also be working said other group. BUT bear with me for the cause…)

You have to keep in mind that the amount of weight you can lift is going to be determined by your current strength. Your body, however, is capable of MORE strength when putting something down than it is when picking something up.

One thing to remember is that most of the microtrauma (muscle tearing that causes DOMS) and later hypertrophy – muscle building after the repair of these traumas – occurs during the eccentric phase of the movement. Concentrating on doing this on every set would almost certainly lead to over training-due to lack of proper recovery.  So compounding this over and over throughout your workout would most likely cause so much microtrauma that you'd never fully recover.

FYI ::
This technique was based on research showing that most of the strength and size gains accrued from weight training occur during the negative portion of a rep. So does most of the delayed muscular soreness you feel after an intense training session (or after you try an exercise to which you're not accustomed).

The explanation given was that when you lower a weight, you use fewer muscle fibers, but those fibers work harder to control the weight.  As a result, more damage occurs. The body then repairs those fibers, making them thicker as an accommodation to the higher load imposed by negatives, and result in an increased muscular strength and size.

The extreme damage to fibers during negative training came with a cost, however: the need for increased recuperation. When many bodybuilders became aware of this extra fiber damage and consequent needed rest time, they reduced the number of times they trained a muscle group each week.

There is scientific evidence that we are stronger in the negative (or lowering) portion of a weight exercise than in the positive (or lifting) half. Reverse-gravity, or negative, reps are performed by lowering the weight approximately four times slower than usual, utilizing eight to 12 seconds for the descent.
Let’s use the bicep curl as an example – You can start with an actual curl, or you can start at the end-position (*hands up by shoulders).  Lower the weight through the entire downward portion of the rep, taking  5-15sec to do so. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the eccentric phase (*the natural concentric start position) explode right into the concentric phase, 1-3sec to raise the weight back up. Speed is of the utmost importance here, as you “rest” back at the end position prior to the next eccentric lowering.

#tip – for beginners, I recommend using a 1-2sec count to raise & a 5-8sec count in lowering.

What this does is cause your brain to signal ALL of the muscle fibers to fire simultaneously, in order to control the lowering & then POWER the weight back up. You're essentially training fibers that you may not have recruited before.  (*When you do this with heavy weights you also activate motor unit recruitment.)

That said, do your heaviest negative training in the earliest part of your workout. The motor units will remain active for a while and you'll essentially be stronger throughout your training session. You can use negative bodyweight training (*pull ups, push-ups) at the end of workouts as “burners”.  Failure reps are GREAT here.  Nothing works lats & biceps like 30sec chin-up iso-hold (*holding thru the peak position, midway down, until you CAN’T) negative-lowering reps!

Hope that answers your question / Helps!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Speaking of Boredom & breaking routines

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results..." - Albert Einstein.

I always found this quote funny, as the Beachbody DVD Program Insanity (TM) is literally doing the same things OVER & OVER again, and expecting change. Now, to be fair, with fitness, using a fitness standard and increasing effort & output, although in the same program of exercises, would be "difference".

Ah well, I digress...
This Blog is about CHANGE & Breaking the "routine" of your routine! (s/o @carybeancee for the topic)

Long story short >> the MORE you do, the LESS you get bored.
I don't mean that every workout session has to be infinitely long, I mean that you should do as many different kinds of "workout" as you can find & get in on, until you find what you like, nay LOVE!  Whatever makes you stick with it, is what will WORK!
Personally, cardio is my NEMESIS! I loathe "basic" cardio. Therefore, I like to be innovative when ammping up my heart rate for big Calorie burns! Spinning, Swimming, Rollerblading, Cycling (outdoors), Runs, Trail stomping, Hill Drills, Salsa classes, Insanity, Zumba, TurboJam - I've tried it ALL & I'm always open to new & "fun" ways to work out!
[Discalimer: Some stuck, some SUCKED (*won't say which, as it's MY opinion, not Gospel)]

The key to quashing boredom is switching up the program sometimes. Usually do 3 weights sessions & 2 cardio sessions, FLIP IT! Do 3 Cardio & 2 weights. Or smash 'em together & try 4 days of CrossFIT!
If it's not the schedule but the content try throwing in some innovative swaps & adjustments to the specific exercises. Tired of plain ol' push-ups? Try one foot up. Try decline, with your feet on a step or chair. Try TRX push-ups (*arms on grips or feet in stir ups). Add a hop, a clap, a twist, some movement! Hate crunches? Don't do 'em for a few days! Try planks, Leg raises, Oblique slides, scissors.

It's really about keeping it fresh! In fact, maybe Freshness is EXACTLY what you need! Grab some dumbbells & a friend and GET OUTSIDE! Run, Jump, Kick, Roll, Dance, Lift, Push, Pull at the beach, at the park, on a hillside! Get some good AIR, and take your fitness outside. A change of scenery could be all you need!

There's an INFINITE possibility for FITNESS!

NB :: I will admit, sometimes, it could be simply a matter of your needing a BREAK - not having a rest day in your program, is a BIG mistake! Working TOO hard is as much a bad thing as not working hard enough! Overtraining is a KILLER! Sometimes 1 or 2 days off is all it takes to recharge your fitness batteries.

-- Hope that Helps Caro! --

What to expect when you're EXPECTING!

Ok, this has NOTHING to do with pregnancy & everything to do with expectation... of RESULTS!
This is in response to a question posed by @BHdiaries last month (* I'm late... I know!)

What are realistic expectations of results, and how long is a good time to expect to see the results >>
With all the EXTREME FITNESS shows on TV these days, its hard to gauge what "reasonable" is for trying to determine the success of your fitness program.

Shows like The Biggest Loser & Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition are done in settings similar to laboratories during experiments. Closed from the outside world, under EXTREME supervision, with a TEAM of experts and round-the-clock care. (*If you have the money & means to have similar settings KUDOS! Hollywood heavy-weight you MUST BE! *Hey J.Lo, Hey KimK!) Most people DO NOT have this lifestyle or luxury, and so us mere mortals cannot hold ourselves to the same rigid timeline & extremist standards.

Anywho, first and foremost to achieve RESULTS you MUST set goals.
It may seem cliché, but it is very true. To reach an end, to achieve results in something, you most DEFINE what the "something" is, what your end results are. Not only that, but you must clearly define how you are going to go about measuring "it", your ways in which to get "it" and knowing by when you wish to achieve "it."

Remember :: Clearly defined goals = more easily realised goals. More trackable goals = more easily realised goals! The most efficient ways to go about this, in my opinion, is to set short-term goals along with your longer-term goals. Write these goals down!! Along with a clear idea map of "How to achieve it" planned along with it. (*e.g. Long Term: Lose 30lbs in 6months - Workout 5x/week, eat 500cals less/day; Short Term: Lose 2lbs this week - Run 30mins Mon/Wed/Fri, Weights Tues/Thr).

To stick to a PLAN you need a TIMELINE. What is a reasonable timeline though? How short or long is "enough time"? According to MOST articles/papers I've read (and from Personal experience) it will take bare minimum 3weeks, but closer to 6weeks for HEALTHY primary visible changes (*i.e. physical responses to a change in diet/exercise; loss of about 5-10lbs on average) and closer to 3-6 months for drastic changes & lasting changes (*i.e. 20-35lbs of weight loss; noticeable inches lost; changes in body shape).

The key word here is HEALTHY!! No fad diets, no extreme sauna'ing, no starvation. The body can safely drop between half a pound to three pounds per week, without compromising its homeostasis. The range of loss comes from the differences in approach to change. (*if you ONLY change your diet OR exercise, you wont have the same results as altering BOTH). Keep in mind that your body also drops weight by by percentage not a flat amount.  So if you have MORE weight to lose, you will lose more initially with the changes, and if you have less to lose, it will seem like you are losing less per week, initially. Since, by poundage, you likely WILL BE!

Now that you have your Long & Short Term Goals you MUST get yourself into a routine. I know it sounds DREADFUL ... OH NO, "routine" *shudder* boredom & lacklustre & snoozville... Not SO! All I mean is, make your Food your FUEL & your workouts as important as Meetings & Deadlines! Plan meals, and snacks, and schedule YOU into your own calendar! Other than THAT, there is NOTHING routine about it!
Change it up! Mix it up! Get CRAZY FUNKY WILD with meals AND workouts!

Last but not least determine your incentive, your "raison d'etre", your reason to be & do. Meaning, simply :: DEFINE YOUR INSPIRATION! The more you are inspired to reach your goal, the higher your chance of achieving it. What are your REASONS?
- Look Good
- Feel Good
- Better Health
- Become Stronger
- Improve fitness for a sport
- Compete (in figure/fitness)

Whatever YOUR reason is, it MUST be a strong enough incentive to keep you on your path toward your goals, to keep you to your program even on the most LAZY days (*you know those miserable rainy, sluggish days!? We ALL have 'em! ARG!)

The more compelling a reason, the more likely to stick to your plan.

Hope that helps!

Its like a retweet... for a Blog!

Just a well-written article, from the New York Times, about the problems with labels' "serving sizes" being used today, often to confusion, and it really sums it up nicely...


Booty Booty Booty Booty ROCKING ERRYWHERE!!!

No? Not so much? Hmm ok... Let's work on THAT! Here's some of my fave BOOTY POP exercises!

  • Lying Down Straight Leg Raise - Laying on your stomach. Arms to the side, palms down. Raise one leg as high as you can, while keeping your hip on the ground. Left leg, Right leg, Both legs = ONE REP!

  • Bridge One Leg Kick Up + Leg Drop - Laying on your back. Arms to the side, palms down. Lift left foot to the ceiling/sky & flex at the ankle, push right foot into the ground, so the hip is raised. Hold the hip UP, drop left heel to 3" above the ground, and raise again. Lower the hips. *Remember to contract the ABS to help stabilize! Do all the reps on one leg, and then switch to the other leg.

  • Bridge Hip Hammocks - Same body position as above. Both feet on ground, push into feet lifting the hips off the ground. Drop the right hip, pushing the booty to the left, swing (*like a hammock) the butt under so the left hip ends up down & the booty is to the right. Swing back to centre. Thats ONE REP.

  • Semi-Prone Leg Raises - (*Semi-Prone = on your side, palm down at chest height) Laying on Right side, raise Left leg 6-10" off the Right ankle (*you DONT have to raise the leg to 90degrees, a la Jane Fonda... after 45degrees, you're no longer helping the booty!) Do all reps on this side, Flip & repeat!

  • Weighted Split Lunge - Standing. Right foot in front, Left foot 3' behind (*ensure when knee is bent, it is NOT in front of the toes!); You can hold weights down to the side, or on the shoulder - do NOT rest on the hips!!

  • Sumo-Style Weighted Squat (*sumo = extra wide stance) - Legs as wide as you can have 'em with the feet planted firmly, think plié position! Weight held through the middle of the centre of gravity, between the legs, hanging down. Squat Down until the thighs hit 90degrees, hold for 3seconds and then raise up for a 3count.

  • One Leg Weighted Deadlifts - Feet shoulder-width apart (*depending on your balance, you can start with one foot BACK, and then work your way up to a T-position balance) Holding your weights in your hands. Hinge at the hips, keeping the back nice and straight, and come down until your hands are in line with the top of the feet. (*if you cant touch your toes, go as low as you can until you feel you need to round the back - stop there!) Down on a 3count, up on a 3 count. Do all the reps on one leg, and then switch to the other leg.

  • Feet-Together Weighted Low Squat HOLD - pretty self-explanitory... feet together go down LOW & HOLD! *Try it unweighted first, aiming for 30-60seconds, and then work up to weighted 60second holds!

  • You can use Dumbbells, or a Barbell, or even the Baby or the Dog for your "weighted" exercises!

    Try 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps of each, either as a circuit, or one by one.

    Oh yeah! Throw away those "As Seen On TV" padded Panties!!

    Summer is for BAR-B-QUE!!

    (*All right, to be fair, I live in Jamaica - it's ALWAYS Summer, but for those of you who AREN'T so Sunshine blessed... YAY! It's HERE! *confetties* *celebrations*)

    Anywaytho... As I said, Its time for BBQ! Whether, this means Big hunks of meat smoked, or grilled, & slathered in sauce; Steaming grilled Fish & seafood with gorgeous Citrus drizzles and fresh herbs; or Beautiful char-grill lines on thick slices of Farm-fresh Veggies salt & peppered, and glistening with a trickle of Olive Oil, it all comes down to Clean Cooked PERFECTION (Author's note: I AM NOW STARVING!)

    BIG NOTE :: "Traditional Bar-B-Que" (Southern-style, Butter-laden, Saucy awesomeness, that shows up on finger tips, white Tees and waistlines WILL NOT BE FEATURED HERE. *deep sigh*
    Sorry traditionalists, I gotta stick to the clean eating code, and keep it Fresh, simple AND Summer-Photo friendly!

    Anywho >> Here are a few of my FAVE outdoor meals!
    Grilled Mahi-Mahi w. Zucchini Coins, and Charred Tri-Color Salad

    * Heat Grill to Medium Heat

    4x 5oz MahiMahi Steaks
    Grilling dry rub - Sea Salt, Garlic Powder, Cayenne, Cracked Black Pepper, Cumin
    2 TB Olive Oil
    * Sprinkle over fish & set aside

    2 Green Zucchini (*or Yellow Summer squash) cut into 1/8" coins
    1 TB Olive Oil
    * Place all coins in a Large sealable freezer Bag & add olive oil, shake so all coins are covered

    2 Cobs of Corn - each brushed with 1tsp Olive Oil
    1 Lg Red Bell Pepper - Cut in half & cored
    2 Hearts of Romaine
    1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro - rough chopped
    1 Clove garlic - minced
    1/4 cup apple juice
    2 TB Olive Oil
    Squeeze of lemon (*optional)
    Salt & pepper to taste
    * Place Corn, Sweet Pepper and Romaine on the grill until char marks appear
    (NB :: romaine will finish first, pepper 2nd, Corn last - for "doneness")
    * allow to cool & cut corn off the cob, dice pepper & small-chop the lettuces
    * toss with minced garlic, Cilantro, juice, olive oil & lemon juice - add salt & pepper to taste

    Place Zucchini Coins & Mahi Mahi steaks on grill while Veg are cooling - takes about 5mins per side for it ALL!

    ~ Serves 4! Plate & Enjoy!

    Summer Sweet Heat Salad

    4oz Feta
    32 medium Shrimp peeled & deveined (*tails optional)
    1/2 tsp Cayenne
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp paprika
    sea salt/cracked black pepper
    * sprinkle over feta & shrimp, set aside

    1/4 Fresh Watermelon - rind off & seeded
    8 cups baby Spinach (*rinsed & dried)
    16 strawberries - rinsed & cut into 1/4s

    1/4 cup orange juice
    1TB honey
    2 TB Olive Oil
    2tsp fresh lemon zest
    sea salt
    * whisk together & refrigerate

    * Grill Feta & Watermelon for 2mins on all 4 sides - remove, cool & cut into 1/2" cubes
    * Toss with Spinach, strawberries & add dressing
    * Grill Shrimps 3mins on either side (*until opaque) -- DO NOT OVER COOK!

    ~ Serves 4! Plate salad, top with 4 shrimp per person

    Bonus Recipe from @killfatme :: a #Paleo BBQ sauce (*I've used it on Chicken, its REDIC DELISH!)
    Mix the following in a small mixing bowl. You will probably have some left over, so transfer to tupperware for refrigeration.
    • One can of quality pure tomato sauce (i.e., no sugar or salt or garbage added)
    • 2 T of red wine vinegar
    • 1 T honey
    • 1/2 T cracked black pepper
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 1 TB chili powder
    • 1/2 TB chipotle powder
    • 2 tsp sea salt
    • A dash of garlic powder
    Spice to your individual taste. You might like it more sour or more spicy or even sweeter..