Paleo Banana Bread

I’m back!! A confession is an order right about now. I neglected my blog (sorry!)  for over a year to focus on cell biology and mechanical physics. Ugh gross. I know.  Anyhow, back to the blog.

Now that I’m back, I plan put it all out there; my whereabouts, rants, workouts, meals, cooking, experiments, gardening, things I love, things I hate, hikes, terrariums, food finds, pictures of puppies/kittens/goats/chickens, restaurant reviews, wine tastings, travels, love, hobbies, crafts, all this in no specific order 🙂

For this entry, I will tell you all about a recipe I recreated from PaleOMG. The Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread was just perfect for this lazy, sunny Sunday. I previously  hesitated on this recipe because of the baking component. These past few weeks here in Portland have been hotter than usual (scary, global warming kind of scary), so turning on the oven was just not an option. However, this past week, finally, the weather turned and there’s now a cooler breeze that waffles through the air making it possible to bake without the house being an inferno. For this one recipe I just happened to have ALL of the ingredients needed. Plus, the bananas I had were starting to brown, so I took that as a sign to start baking. This is definitely a treat since the macros are so high. But, nonetheless, since I know exactly what went into making this delicious treat, I would rather eat this all day long  vs a prepackaged alternative.

Here’s my review of this recipe.

The availability of ingredients: easy. If you eat mostly paleo and/or ‘healthy’ you will most likely have all the ingredients in hand. If by any chance you don’t have that specific brand of chocolate chips, I’m sure you can use any other dark chocolate chips brand. Heck, you can even break a dark chocolate bar into smaller pieces and use that instead.

Expense: $. The priciest ingredient in this recipe is the almond butter. You can, however, get a large jar at Costco for around 11.00. That jar will last you a good while. The only problem is that it isn’t organic, but what the hell, a little won’t hurt. The process: easy. I used a food processor for the mixing because I’m too lazy to mix it by hand. I also subbed the double-broiler for the microwave in  the chocolate melt part.

Technique: fairly easy. Unless, you like me, suck at swirling the chocolate. I also didn’t thoroughly read the instructions and only swirled the top of the bread, not the whole loaf pan. Another of ‘my bad’ was that I forgot to add the honey to the chocolate topping. Oops, it’s all good though.

Result: moist, rich, and delicious. I’m kind of glad I got overly excited and accidentally omitted the honey because the sweetness in it is just perfect. I’m thinking it’s because of the ripe bananas.

Macros: wait, before I tell you, I ask you not to judge; fit women (and men) need some good calories in their diets too.  Ladies don’t be afraid of high cals and fats! Oh and just FYI, I used MyFitnessPal to track the macros. This same recipe comes up on this app, but the macros are different than mine. This could be due to using different brands of ingredients and/or the serving size. I cut my loaf in 6. Serving size: 1 slice. Totals calories per slice: 218g, Protein: 13g, Carbs: 39g, Fat: 32g, Sugar: 19g, Fiber: 10g

Proof:

Gather all your ingredients

Gather all your ingredients before you start

The wet ingredients

The wet ingredients

my lame attempt at the swirl

my lame attempt at the swirl

beautiful

beautiful

 

Yum! Enjoyed my slice with Blue Lotus Star Anise Chai and cashew milk.

Yum! Enjoyed my slice with Blue Lotus Star Anise Chai and cashew milk.

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The Pity of Tight Shorts

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the culprits

This past Monday, as some of you might know, the weather here in Portland was just amazing. There were clear blue skies, the sun was shining up high and bright, and there was amazing crisp breeze flowing through the air. Pure bliss!

I had decided that day at work, that it would be a true shame if we spent that amazing afternoon indoors in a gym. So instead, we decided to take the pup for a neighborhood hike. Sounds amazing right? It was, that was until I put on my favorite pair of jean shorts. Well what do you know, those darn leg holes fit tight. Really tight.

It had been little less than a year since I had slipped into them, and now they were tight on me. What a bummer! My high spirits quickly dissipated, and for the rest of the hike all I can think about (and feel) was my tight shorts-which I kept on anyways, hoping they’d loosen up lol

As I was wallowing in self-pity thinking, “I’m NEVER going to eat again for the rest of my life” and “I shouldn’t have eaten those crackers yesterday,” then it finally dawned on me that those shorts fit tight because I am healthy.

Well of course those darn shorts are going to be tight when I dedicate a 1x week leg-day, do 2-3 sessions of HIITs/conditioning work a week, and do plyo work in between weight training sets!! I instantly felt better.

But that also made me realize that I let something so insignificant affect my mood on that beautiful day. Right until I slipped on those stupid pair of shorts, I was feeling great. I didn’t think anything different about my body, I wasn’t self-conscious about myself at all, and I certainly would have never of thought I was going to ‘quit’ eating “forever” (ha!), yet those jean shorts had such an impact on me.
What I’m getting at is that the most important indicator of your happiness shouldn’t be dictated by an inanimate object such as a scale or a pair of smaller jeans (or shorts in my case), but on trying your very best on anything you want. Be satisfied that you have put in your work and trust yourself along the way.

Repeat to yourself what you know about yourself every day. It’s so easy for us to forget all of the positive things we already do, so do yourself a favor and remind yourself every day!

Here’s my example:

I know that I work out hard in every one of my sessions, I know that I eat healthy, I know that I lead a balanced life, I know that body weight is insignificant, I know that cheat meals are ok, I know that I am healthy, I know that I have amazing friends and family, I know that I am loved, I know that I try to be my best every day, I know that I am my own person, I know I try to enjoy the little things in life.

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Sitting the New Smoking?

It’s time to get up and start walking around!

..just sitting.

..just sitting.

Research shows that sitting for long periods of time is linked to a number of health risk factors including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

This certainly is a serious matter if you happen to be physically inactive and have a desk job.

From an evolutionary stand point, we were not made to sit for long periods of time. Our ancestors were hunters and gathers, not ‘sit in front of a computer all day’ kind of people.

Today’s demanding workforce has forced us to become much more sedentary than ever. According to the New York’s Times, we now sit for an average of 12-16 hours a day (50-70%). To put this into perspective, if you sleep anywhere between 6 to 8 hours and sit for the next 12 to 16 hours, you’ve only been active for a maximum of 6 of the 24 hours in your day! The same article points out how diabetes comes into play. It states, “When muscles don’t contract they require less fuel, and this surplus of fuel in the form of blood sugar accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns.” (HOLY MOLY!)

My best advice is to get up every 20 minutes and move around. If you’re at work, take a quick break by walking to the water fountain, drop off mail, or stretch. If you find it hard to do this, set a timer on your phone or your calendar; it only takes a few days to form any habit. If you can, invest in fitness ball to sit on at work. From personal experience, I can tell you that I tend to sit less when I’m on my fitness ball at work. I’ve noticed that I stand up more when I use my ball than when I sit on my normal chair. When sitting on my ball, I’m constantly balancing myself thus recruiting more muscle activation.

Physioball aka Fitness Ball

Physioball aka Fitness Ball

At home, it’s equally important to stay active. Keep in mind that your days off of work are certainly not a hall pass for sitting around watching tv all day! The Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded, “Recreational sitting, as reflected by television/screen viewing time, is related to raised mortality and CVD risk…. inflammatory and metabolic risk factors partly explain this relationship.”

In conclusion, strive to stay active and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Add to your good health by staying active even on the weekends. Make it a point to stand up as much as you can, take walks, play outdoors or indoors, practice yoga, stretch, foam roll, or simply do housework. Whatever you decide to do, I can assure you that it will be better than sitting around!

References:
Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;57:292.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/get-up-get-out-dont-sit/

Goals and Resolutions

I’ve always felt like there’s a gap between saying what you want and actually achieving it.

It’s not uncommon for people to become disappointed mid-way their New Year’s Resolution and drop what they once had said they were going to do.

That’s why you see gyms so full in January, everyone and their mamas want in on the fitness bandwagon. People, with the best of intentions, set fitness resolutions/goals, yet they have no idea how to follow through. Without fault, many think that by showing up at the gym, the goal will automatically realize itself; they’ll be soon shedding those layers of fat! Unfortunately, without a broken down process on how to achieve the goal, they ultimately drop their resolution.

Goal setting is easy, anyone can say they want to do this or do that, but how do you follow up? How do you achieve your goals? It’s simple, let me explain.

  1. Determine what you want for yourself.
  2. Break down steps needed to achieve your ultimate goal.
  3. Be realistic. Evaluate where you are now in terms of your goal.
  4. Set a due date.
  5. Plan out what you need to do to get to your goal.
  6. Set up a timeline with approximate improvement marks.
  7. Keep a journal of some sort of your progress (calendars, phone, apps, etc)
  8. Be patient with your progress.

Since this is a fitness blog, let’s use weight-loss as an example…

 If you know you’re really on the bigger side, and then set a reasonable weight loss goal to start off with.

Set a timeline. If your resolution started in January, then set a date that you can work with, be patient with yourself.  This can look like; lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks.

Journal your meals (in detail, this will help you become conscious of what you eat) and your sleep. Make a grocery list. Avoid processed foods. Set a day in which you cook healthy foods for the week.

Set 1-2 workout days a week. If you have to skip a day, make it up the next day. Work your way up in number of workout days. Stay active on days you are off. Plan walks. Mark it in your calendar as “To-Do”. Don’t make it an option, but something you NEED to do.

Every week set a reminder in your phone to weigh yourself. Record your weight. Compare your weights, evaluate your improvements. Take progress pictures. Recognize your improvements, and be patient with your progress.

Most importantly, is that you don’t have to wait for a new year to start taking care of your own needs. If you want to lose weight, you can do this anytime. If you want to save money or spend more time with loved ones, or read more, or whatever resolution/goal you have set for yourself, you don’t have to wait for New Year’s! You, and only yourself, can make these changes at ANY given TIME. Take responsibility to take care of your wants, needs and desires because you deserve them!

Favorite Leg/Glute Workout

Show me some leggies

It’s been some time now that I’ve been wanting to share some of my personal workout routines.

Let’s just say that, by far, this one has been my favorite. This workout is a variation from a leg/glute workout plan by trainer and Glute Guru,  Bret Contreras. I must warn you!, this workout is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for the challenge- get ready!

But, before I go onto the workout details, I feel a big need to explain in more detail why this program has been my favorite so far.

You see, my legs grow quickly. They get bulky really, really, fast..and not in the good way. But guess what doesn’t grow proportionately to my legs?? My butt.  My tushy,  derriere, booty, butaay, glutes, whatever you want to call it, does not grow no matter how hard I was hitting my compound leg movements. There lies my frustration. I can do a thousand lunges, squats, deadlifts and nothing, nada! You see for most, the great majority that is, doing compound movements such as the infamous full squat, produce great, wait, not great, FANTASTIC results in the tushy area. But NOT me…ahhh damn you genetics!!

Ok I have to say that alongside this great workout, sprinting and stair running has definitely changed the shape of my legs and butt. Ever seen a sprinter’s lower body? Makes me say wanna say (with my index finer held high, of course), “Yep, I’ll take 1 of those to go, please.”  Losing body fat will make that booty and legs pop on its own. But, it’s also a great idea to help shape them with a good workout plan.

The following is a variation of a program by Bret Contreras. I say variation because some of the exercises are out of sequence, didn’t use all of the exercises he uses/I added some, my reps/sets are different and I improvised using the machines that are in my gym.

Since I’ve been on this plan, I’ve noticed major results in my posterior-chain (erector spinae group, hamstrings and glutes). I suggest to take a before workout picture of a side butt shot, and then one right after you complete this workout. You are sure to see a good pump!

I’m also going to include the weights I use just to give you an idea. BUT, keep in mind that you must cater to your own needs. Your weights are going to be different than mine. For example, in Full Squats the heaviest I can safely and with proper form, perform is around 80#, which is not a lot, but it’s a lot for me. Remember is not about EGO. It’s about doing ’em right! So be SMART and challenge yourself!!

Oh, oh, oh…do some dynamic stretching beforehand! Stretch out those hamstrings and quads really well!

Without further ado:

A.) Full Squats: 6-8 reps x 5-6 sets  (75# and may drop 5-10# throughout) 30 sec rest

B.) Hex-Bar Deadlift (my very favorite contraption ever!!)  4-6 reps x 5-6 sets (150-160#) 30sec rest

C.) Dumbbell High Step-Ups (I use this one) 12-15 per leg x 4-5 sets (10-12#) 30-45sec rest

D.) Weighted Hip Thrusts: 12-15reps x 5-6 sets (30-35 #) 30 sec rest

E.) Cable Single Legged Kick-Backs: 12-15 reps per leg x 5-6 sets (30-40#) 30 sec rest

F.) Weighted 45° Back Extension: 10-12 reps x 4-5 sets (25# plate) 30 sec rest

G.) Weighted Hip Bridges 8-10 reps x 4 sets (40-45#) 30sec rest

F.) Hip Abduction “Bad Girl Machine”: 12-15 reps x 3 sets (50#) 30sec rest

Now that you’ve successfully completed this awesome workout, go dip your lower body into some iced water! just kiddin’.. No, but, seriously you should, if you’re brave enough, you’re gonna need it!

Ice bath or not, you should definitely foam roll soon after and about 4-5 hours after that. Foam roll, foam roll, foam roll.

p.s. Please don’t hate if you can’t sit on the toilet for the next 3 days