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.

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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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!

Top 10 Holiday Fitness and Eating Tips

With the holidays upon us, it is easy to get caught up with the festivities including all of the unhealthy eating involved!

Here is what I think; I think you should enjoy yourself! Yes do so! Do enjoy those high fat, high carb, high sugar treats, but, but, but, but here is the key, do so in moderation. Moderation is crucial; you should strive to at least clean-eating 80% or more of the day.

Here are some my fitness tips for this Holiday season:

  1. Eat a high protein breakfast first thing in the am such as a piece of chicken or beef with a handful of nuts or low-glycemic berries. You need to start the day right.
  2. Get your fish oil in. No questions just do it.
  3. Don’t skip your workouts! If you must skip (note: valid reasons include, snow storm, Armageddon, zombies, or you meet Brad Pitt), replace it on your day off or do a daily double.
  4. Eat your protein first in every meal. The idea is to get full on the healthy/good stuff first.
  5. Choose your desserts wisely. Always choose the organic, gluten free or raw desserts that might be available. Nothing wrong with having a taste of the grocery bought cookies…a taste I said. Have a bite/slice, and throw it away or give it away.
  6. Get your fiber in. Yes, you need that extra help to push out all that food.
  7. Limit your alcohol to red wine. Avoid the sugary stuff. Eat your calories, don’t drink them!
  8. Drink lots of water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. Alkalize with lemon water and apple cider vinegar.

10. Take some Epsom salt baths. Get rid of some of those toxins that are trapped in your body!

Wish you all a very Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!

íFelices Fiestas!

Happy Holidays from little Vi

Happy Holidays from little Violet

Abs

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Let’s talk abs. Everyone wants them, but not everyone gets them….

The first thing most women tell me is that they only want to lose the fat in their midsection. That they don’t care about the rest of the body, it’s all good, as long as they have a flat stomach.

Everywhere you go, there’s great emphasis on sporting six-pack abs.  It’s like abs are a synonym to fitness. From magazines to infomercials, I can assure you there’s a good looking couple with rock hard abs promoting “30 minutes for chiseled abs” or “the magical electric ab belt” or some type of baloney of that sort.

It’s no wonder that when one thinks of  being in ‘shape’ or ‘fit,’ we automatically think of a statuesque person with a six-pack bulging from their midsection. But is that reality? Certainly not, at least not mine.

You might be asking yourselves how can someone who has a blog called “Confessions of a Fit Girl” possibly make such statement. Well I’m realist. That’s how.

I can tell you from personal experience, and from experience of many fitness competitors, that having abs is usually not an everyday thing. Although, most men are ‘blessed’ in that department, we women have a much harder time keeping that midsection trimmed and tight. But before I go on, let me break it to you, there is no such thing as “spot-reduction.” Meaning, you won’t lose the belly fat by doing ab crunches. Sorry!

Hang on for a moment; let’s think about this a little more. Do you really want abs? Is that something you personally desire? I’ve been told, by both men and women, that they think a full set of abs on a woman looks way too masculine. Others have said women with six-pack abs are very sexy (e.g. the woman from above). And some have shared their preference for a defined midsection-kind of an in-between….Seems like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

Abs are the product of strict clean eating, and for those freaks of nature, pure genetics. They are usually the last show up when dieting and the first to go away after a eating a heavy meal. Temperamental little things.

But, if having a six pack is something you really, really, want, I can only suggest clean eating for weeks on end. That means you won’t be eating cheat meals anymore. The reality is, the leaner you are the more prominent those abs are going to be. I wish I could say there was some magic pill or formula to get you that six pack abs, but there isn’t.

  1. Now to give those abs more definition, you have to work them. If you do a simple google search for ab workout, you’ll encounter a myriad of options. They’re all great. Just remember proper form-no excess extension of the neck when doing crunches/curl-ups! Research shows that because the abdominal fibers are mostly fast-twitch, you should try to overload them and do lower repetitions.
  2. Those abs won’t show up if you can’t manage your stress. “Oh shoot! Here’s another thing to stress about!” Reality is we live in a high-pressure world and the hormone, cortisol, thrives in this environment. Cortisol is released when you go through physical and mental stress, and it, unfortunately, shifts your body into “fat storing mode” right onto your belly area.
  3. You need fiber. I cannot stress enough the importance of this!  You need to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day to reduce intestinal inflammation and visceral fat. And by the way, visceral fat is the worst type of fat anyone can possibly have. Basically it’s the fat that wraps around your organs and heightens the risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Really nasty stuff!
  4. Train your whole body. “What? What they heck, I just want abs!” Let’s think about this, when perform squats, Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and chin-ups, you use your abs…and you use them hardcore! You need your abs to stabilize your body when doing these types of exercises. In fact, you can do heavier loads if you consciously tighten your abs when you perform, for example, a squat.

So now that you have some prominent abs…

Make sure to condition them with some sprints. My favorite is 6-8 sets of 400m all out with a 4 minute rest or you can do 6-8 sets of 200m with a 2 minute rest.

Now, here’s my opinion in all this…

I appreciate abs. I think they look amazing on both men and women alike. Do I have a set of six pack abs? No, not always. Is that something I strive for? No, not really.

To tell you the truth, I hardly ever work out my abs- I simply don’t have time for it. I have to rationalize my time effectively between my family, working, lifting, conditioning/cardio, cooking, packing meals, socializing etc.

Ab work=

nobodytime

I consider sprinting the best ab workout ever. Basically you get more bang for your buck! I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m a firm believer of this.  I also do a lot of compound lifts. I love deadlifting and squatting and I eat clean 80-90% of the time. That itself is enough to keep my tummy flat and tight, and in the morning I have indentions on the sides of my abs. I’m happy with that, I need no more.

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Reliving the ab days…

Awesome Resistance Bands Workout

Bands for you, bands for me

Pick a flavor, any flavor

Let’s talk BANDS, resistance bands that is! They come in bright colors, they’re flexible, they look fun, and you think, “Oy the possibilities are endless with these babies!” You end up buying them, and then you’re like what the heck? how do I use this wiggly thing?

But oh my dears, those wiggly things are a great investment!

Resistance bands are great for toning and overall body strengthening. They allow your muscle fibers to elongate and to stay under tension throughout the concentric, when you shorten the muscle-such as when you curl your bicep, and eccentric movement, lowering movement-bicep curl when arm comes down  to the start position. Thus, it increases your strength. These bands are great for when you travel, are new to exercising, you become a new momma or if you are recovering from a light surgery. They are fairly inexpensive ($10-$20) and a super light weight/non-bulky. These things are muy fantastico!

Colors and their meanings:

Yellow-light resistance

Green-medium resistance

Red-medium to heavy

Blue-heavy resistance

Black–extra heavy resistance

If you are a newbie, I would suggest to start with a yellow. If you need more resistance you can always shorten the straps and that will add more resistance automatically. I suggest to keep rest periods short, very short. I’m talking about 30-60 seconds rest, kind of short. Start with 3 sets and work your way to 4 sets. I normally would suggest to pair up your exercises into super-sets, but because you’d need to set up the bands accordingly to each exercise, that just wouldn’t make too much sense. However, there are 2 exercises that are in a superset format (see Monday/Thurs: D1 and D2, Tuesday/Friday C1 and C2). And that is because the set up of the bands are about the same in both exercises. I recommend visuals to see where to place the bands, so YouTube it up beforehand.

Here is the breakdown:

Monday and Thursday:

A.) Resistance band Squats 12-15 reps x 3 sets, take 4 seconds to lower yourself (eccentric) and 2 seconds to come up (concentric). Rest 45 sec and repeat 2 more times.

B.) Resistance band Standing Good Mornings. ARCH your back a tad then start (NEVER round your back!) 3 seconds folding forward, 1 second retraction to upright. (you def need a video on this one). 8-10 reps x3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

C.) Resistance band Deadlift. Same goes here, DO NOT ROUND your back! Arch your back a tad, bring shoulder blades back, then you may begin with 3 seconds lowering, 2 seconds up. 10-12 reps x 3 set. Rest 45-60 seconds.

D1.) Resistance band Shoulder Press 6-8.Focus on holding it under tension. 3 second going up, 3 seconds down, pause 2 seconds at the bottom of the movement, then repeat for 6-8x. Rest 0.

D2.) Resistance band Lateral Raises. Same deal here, shoulders are stabilizers, and strengthen best when under tension. 2 seconds to ascend and 3 seconds to descend. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 seconds.

Tuesday/Friday:

A.)Resistance band Bench Press. (Alternative to a bench: Coffee table, exercise ball, floor). 3 sec to lower the band, 1 sec to push up it up. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

B.)Resistance band Rows (seated on floor). 2 seconds to pull, 4 seconds to retract. 12-15 reps x 3 sets, rest 45-60 seconds.

C1.) Resistance band Bicep Curls. Focus on squeezing your bicep at the top portion and slowly lower) 10-12reps x 3 sets. rest 0.
C2.) Resistance band Tricep Extensions 10-12reps x 3 sets. Rest 45 sec.

D.) Resistance band Upright Rows. 10-12reps x 3 sets. Focus on bringing the bands up to your collar-bone and lower within 4 seconds.

Drink a nice cold WHEY protein shake or eat a nice piece of fish/chicken/lean beef with a big ‘ol bowl of veggies right after and feel content!

Happy future workout days ahead! 

Motivation

With the weekend finally here (whoop whoop!)  I’ve  compiled a itty-bitty list of things to reflect on.  Feel free to add to the list and make it your own!

1. It’s never too late to start taking care of your body. Start today!
2. Patience is a virtue. It takes time so see changes in your body. Fat did NOT accumulate overnight, so you can’t expect to go away overnight (it would be great eh?)
3.Eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. It’ll make you feel oh-so-good in the insides. Oh, and you’ll be pooping it up in no time!
4. Keep moving. Even on day’s you take a break from the exercising , stay active. Go for a walk, hike, bike, yoga, Pilates, whatever rocks your boat! The point is to do something that is fun yet active.
5. Drink loads and loads of agua/h20/waterrrrrrr! How else is your body going to flush out toxins out of your body?? Rule of thumb: if your thirsty, you’re dehydrated. So drink up!
6. And finally–Never compare yourself to anyone. You are unique, and the only person you should want to be better than, is YOU. It’s great to have someone to aspire to, but understand that you will never look exactly like that person, you’ll look better, because you’ll be your very own version!… Ok, ok I know that sounds cheesy and all, but trust me, it’s true.

Hope you all have a happy Friday!

p.s. I’m gonna have me some sushi tonight! 😀

most importantly..

most importantly..

Mirla’s past was, What?.. covered in chocolate, potatoe chips and diet coke??

Let me tell you why I decided to start this new  blogging project…

I started working out not too long ago. Waaaa? Really?? Yes, really, it’s true, this year marked my two year anniversary of ever lifting a dumbbell in my life. My best friend from high school can testify that I WAS the laziest person ever. I was so lazy that we would hang out in the living room instead of her room because she was on the 2nd floor and that meant climbing stairs… I know, I know, pathetic! I will confess that now that I look back on that memory, I can’t seem match those past images with who I am now. In my mind, I feel like I’ve always been the way I am now. Well, anyhow, what I am getting at is we all have it in us to be fit. No matter what stage you are in life.
We all need that ‘fire’ to spark up our reasons to workout. I know this too well. Two years ago, I was going through a really rough patch in life. I was, among other things that I won’t bore you with, was overweight for my size–I’m tiny 5’1”, in a new state, knowing no one, job-less and away from my family. I was so depressed.  I ate a lot of junk food. Loved chips, drank Diet Coke, ate candy like no one’s business and refused to eat normal food. I felt like shit. I tried to eat salads or whatever ‘healthy’ foods I saw in the store, but it tasted all too bland for my palate. I would eat 1 meal and just couldn’t make myself to eat more of the same type of foods. It’s a hole that you just can’t seem to get out of. I would look up information on diets and workouts in magazines and on TV, but honestly it didn’t matter because even though I had a gym membership, I was too self-conscious to get myself there. I knew I had to do something asap!
That’s when I started to do some yoga. I started with a Monday class. Keep in mind I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, I set my mat toward the very back of the studio and just copied what everyone else was doing. And guess what?? I loved it. So I went back the next day, and the next, and the next. I followed that pattern for about 6 months, unfortunately, I didn’t lose much weight (~2 pounds), I just got more flexible, started to sleep  better, but most importantly I started to feel more comfortable in he gym setting. After yoga, I would head over to the dumbbell racks and grab a 10 pounder and do some bicep curls. When I felt someone looking at me, I would turn bright red and put the dumbbells away and leave. I then decided to hire a trainer. Money well invested! I learned all about healthy eating habits, vitamins/supplementation and proper form when exercising.
After about two months of eating clean, weight lifting 3x/week and doing HIIT’s (high intensity interval training) 2x/week. I made huge improvements in body composition. I fell in love with the idea of having the ability to make such changes in my body.
Having had said that, I know the challenges that people who are trying to lose weight face everyday, It’s hard work, but you’ve got to search deep in you to find your reasons to make the necessary changes. Maybe it’s just for you? for health? for boyfriend/husband? for family? for _____________?
What ever it may be, I promise it’s all worth it. A month from today, you’ll be glad you ever started.
Until then, train smart y’all!