Archive | October, 2013

The Skinny on Spelt

17 Oct

SPELT

I may have mentioned once or twice about a million times that I’m just a little obsessed with baking. I bake when I’m stressed, I bake when I’m procrastinating, I bake when I’m craving something sweet (even though it usually puts my cravings at bay…weird right?). Basically…I’m a regular Martha Stewart. A Martha who ruins like, at least half of the things she bakes.

I chalk it up to the fact that I never took Chemistry in high school. But I digress.

I prefer to avoid regular and whole wheat flour most of the time (bc it’s totes nutritionally void / causes spikes in blood sugar / stimulates cravings/ etc), so I’m constantly testing alternatives to validate my love for all things baked.

The alternative that seems to work in the most recipes is Spelt flour. So what’s the deal with Spelt? Here are a few points to note:

♥ Hello,  antioxidants + nutrients! Spelt is high in fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, Vit B3, copper,  niacin, and magnesium.

♥ Spelt even contains protein- 1 cup has 11 grams!

♥ It’s inexpensive – about 3 bucks a pound from the bins at Whole Foods.

♥ Spelt doesn’t seem to cause sensitivities in people who are otherwise allergic to wheat (but it’s not gluten free, so consult your doc if you’re intolerant).

♥ It’s easily subbed 1:1 for white + ww flours in most bread and pastry recipes.

So next time you’re craving a little something something and have the itch to get domestic in the kitch, go ahead and try subbing out Spelt, And go ahead, have that extra muffin 🙂

XO

M

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Out-of-Shape to Ironman: My Fitness Journey Part I

16 Oct

Hi everyone- good to meet you. I’m fired up to be a part of Legwarmer Nation, but I should let you know off the bat that I’m not a workout guru – I’m a busy regular guy that keeps in great shape on the side.

I’m also an Ironman Triathlete, but more on that another time. Today I’m going to tell you about the first part of my long journey: going from seriously out of shape to getting into excellent shape, how I got there and what it took for me to stay there. All of which eventually led me to who I am today.

Jordan 2

I was in obscenely good shape in high school, and really good shape in college. However, by the time I hit twenty-five, my cheeks were chubbier, my pants tighter and I was having a much tougher time securing dates. That long-ago period of being in great shape was just a fleeting memory, and I was frustrated that I had no clue how to get back into the great shape I had once been in.

One autumn day I was driving back from San Antonio to Austin with my good friend Theo, who happened to a personal trainer. He turned to me while driving and said “You know, I could have you ripped in 90 days,” completely matter-of- fact. I remember thinking not a chance, but I agreed to hear him out. He said told me that if I ate what he told me to and did the workouts he recommended, I’d be “ripped” again in 90 days.  I didn’t believe him for a second, but I agreed, knowing I had nothing to lose at this point.

I committed to those 90 days, even though I had my doubts. It wasn’t easy but like I said, I was committed. A typical day’s diet was clean and looked something like this: a post workout shake and a breakfast of egg whites and oatmeal. Twice daily snacks were fruit, avocado or cottage cheese. Lunch was a turkey sandwich on Ezekiel bread. Dinner was clean too: chicken, steak or fish, veggies, and a sweet potato. I had another shake before bed.

I worked out six days a week: One hard day of weights, one hard day of cardio, and repeat. It was the first time I worked out consistently without being part of a sport and it felt good to physically push myself again. I’ll tell you what was tough: working out like a maniac for thirty days and still seeing zero change in my physique. I wanted to give up! But by the time week six rolled around I was finally beginning to see progress. Not a lot, but it was noticeable. It fired me up and motivated me to stay on track, eating healthy and working out hard.

Going guns blazing and not seeing results for thirty days is a tough sell for anyone, but when I started to see a positive difference in my body after forty-five days, going the last forty-five days became exciting and doable. A total of ninety days later from the start of that conversation in the car, I was thrilled with the way I looked. I was stronger than I had ever been, finally looking sexy in tee’s and finally catching pretty ladies’ attention all over again. 😉

Making big changes isn’t easy. You have to work to get into great shape. I had to commit to eating clean. You will have to make a choice. But once you’re there, staying in great shape is pretty simple – and you’ll want to stay in shape. Workout two or three days a week, eat healthy 70% of the time and you should maintain your results. At least that’s what worked for me.

It’s easy -almost inevitable- to let ourselves get “too busy” and put the workouts on the back burner. Over time, we can begin to eat poorly, and all of the sudden, your body isn’t the body you once knew. T’s turn into hoodies and going to the beach becomes Option Z. It’s important to stay motivated. But the same thing happens once you’re motivated to change though- yes, It takes time for our great bodies to reappear, but but the commitment to get healthy was worth it… and I’m happy to report that I am still turning heads.

jordan before 2.jpg

Jordan after

Jordan 1

Jordan Schreiber is an Ironman competitor and all around fitness fanatic. His website is under development but in the meantime, find him online here:

www.facebook.com/jordan.schreiber.10

Twitter- Jordan Schreiber @itsallgood9933

Cycle House 1,000 Calorie Ride

15 Oct

How was everybody’s weekend?

Mine was good. The usual. Couple of movies (Captain Phillips, Gravity- go see both), sushi + drinks with the girls, oh, and a 1,000 calorie burner of a spin class.

That’s right.

I’ve heard about the 1000 calorie ride at Cycle House in West Hollywood for months now. It’s become a rather big deal here in LA.

A few things held me back from going until this point.

1. It’s clear across town. Venice->West Hollywood on a Saturday = ugh.
2. I’ve got my fave spin classes (Hustle and Flow hip hop spin and Soul Cycle) on the Westside, + I’m head over heels obsessed with both.
3.  I’d heard the ride can last up to an hour and a half. Admittedly, there was a fear factor holding me back.

But I got a wild hair up my you know what and agreed to try it out with Jess. I had no idea what to expect.

Welp, turns out it’s a pretty literal name. More on that soon.

So back to business. The studio is super cute.  The staff is adorably friendly and un-intimidating.  Cycle House is also awesomely feel-good: for every ride taken, 2 meals are donated to hungry Americans. They don’t print receipts or use paper (the schedule is written on a giant chalkboard in the hallway), rather than selling bottled water they offer free access to their alkalized water. Love.

BIG FRONT

BIG INTERIOR

BIG SIGN

BIG interior3

After a quick tour we were dropped off at our bikes. We had been sitting around for few minutes watching the room fill when the executioner instructor walked in (b.t.dubs, his name is Nick and he’s a model and he has a British accent. I’ll leave it at that).  Nick wasted no time giving us the lowdown: A couple of people volunteer to wear heart rate monitors that track calories burnt, which appear to be hooked up to a board outside. The rules were simple: we would ride until the last of the volunteers hit 1k. NBD.

My anxiety was quelled from the second the music started. From there, I have nothing but rave reviews. Here are the highlights:

Music: A++ music and a sick sound system. The music alone had me dancing around on my bike (I know, quite the mental image).

Instructor: Nick is the perfect balance of encouraging and hard core. He shouted out militant demands along the lines of “Get your $hit together!” (which is strangely endearing when spoken in a British accent) but would follow it up with compliments. I’m never one to turn down a compliment.

The Crowd: The riders cheered each other on just enough to be motivating and not annoying. Normally, I’m not one to who get involved in that sort of thing, but strangely, I couldn’t help myself.

The Workout: Amazeballs. We started hard from the beginning, and we were encouraged to ride hard until the end. There’s a quick ab section, some weights, and a short meditation after the first 45 minutes, which Nick promised would help us find our second wind (he was right). By the end I looked as if I had just stepped out of the shower, was completely out of breath and kind of wanted to throw up, but in the most amazing way possible.

Overall? ♥ it. Like totally into it. Incredible class that left me feeling amazing for the rest of the day.  Realistically, a 2pm class in West Hollywood probably isn’ going to fall on my regular roster but I will definitely be back on the days where I need a little something extra.

Pinterest Test Kitchen

11 Oct

Try
Pinterest is so freaking awesome /slash the biggest time suck ever/ but still so awesome. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend hours perusing pretty countertops and baby animals with clever captions and outfits I’ll never be able to afford and other such things. But I definitely spend the most time drooling over recipes. The problem with Pinterest, however, is that any old schmo can pin their photos and write a compelling caption and then people like me head to the kitchen with really super high hopes and then the outcome is totally mediocre. Meh. (Sorry, is that totally rude?)

So I’m going to do you all a favor and take the guess work out of it. Cause I’m nice like that.

Here are the winners this week, and trust me – if I can cook it, you can cook it.

The Pin: Raw Pecan Pumpkin Butter

Source: Oh She Glows

BUTTER USE

Difficulty:  None, all you have to do is measure and blend. A 5 year old could successfully make this.

Time Requirement: >5 minutes

Taste: OMG. Ah-maying. It basically tastes like pumpkin pie filling, which [to me at least] is a very, very good thing.

Notes: If it doesn’t seem like its blending, give it a minute. It takes a second to get smooth.

Find it: Here

The Pin: Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Source: One Messy Kitchen

CAKES USE

Difficulty:  Low-moderate, if you’re me. I have this incurable tendency to burn pancakes. Make them frequently, burn them always (as illustrated in the photo). Prep time is slightly longer than say, Bisquik pancakes, but you can handle it. I’m sure.

Time Requirement: 15-20 minutes, depending how many you make/burn

Taste: A+. I’ve made some really bummer pancakes from Pinterest. These aren’t those – they’re light, fluffy, and pumpkiny. Even my pumpkin-despising hubby stole a couple of these off my plate- winner!

Notes: I subbed almond milk for regular, and you could probably sub a flax egg for eggs if you aren’t down with that, but I haven’t tried it myself.

Find it: Here

       The Pin: Raw Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad w/ Maple Tahini Dressing

Source: Cookie + Kate

SPROUTS USE

Difficulty:  Quick N Easy

Time Requirement: 15ish minutes

Taste: Amazing. But how could a salad made of kale, brussels sprouts, maple syrup, tahini, and parm not be? Total food porn.

Notes: Drop 5-10 minutes from the prep time and buy pre-sliced sprouts.

Find it: Here

The Pin: Sweet Potato Turkey Sheppard’s Pie

Source: Skinny Taste

Pie

Difficulty:  Moderate – mostly a matter of prep time.

Time Requirement: 30-45 minutes

Taste: Like, so good. A perfectly solid healthy take on one of my favorite fall comfort foods. And oh, I heart sweet potatoes so hard.

Notes: I wasn’t sure if the turkey would make this bland, but don’t even trip. The spices are perfection and I do happen to love a good parsnip. Seriously.

Find it: Here

The Skinny on Sneaky Sweeteners

10 Oct

We humans love us some sweet taste, but we’re a calorie-conscious bunch, so replacing calorie-dense sugar with a variety of calorie free sweetening products has been our preference for over 25 years. Well, the expression “too good to be true” was proven correct again after recent studies gave us a legit wake up call that we might be poisoning ourselves.

By now, we all know to totally avoid aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and the other chemically sugar replacements (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to get out from under your rock). But as our collective awareness of what we put in our bodies increases, so does the nasty trickiness of the food industry. Food labeling can be incredibly misleading to people who are genuinely trying to make the right choices, and that is totally not ok.

There’s a new generation of sweeteners on the market and their manufacturers are just so into using cute buzzwords like “raw” and “natural” to get us to think they’ve got the next best thing since, well, Splenda (it was sweet because it came from real sugar, remember?). Not a lot of studies have been done on these guys yet as they’re all fairly new to market,  but a closer look at the manufacturing process should set off some red flags.  I’m not demonizing these products because, welp, clearly I’m not a scientist (I can hear you laughing) But you should be quite aware that you’re not necessarily getting what you think you’re being sold.

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Agave: Ugh. Agave as a natural food is a total joke. Ever walk down the baking aisle, see Organic Raw Blue Agave and think “well that sounds cool and healthy?” So many buzzwords! Well hold please. It’s packaged as a “natural” food and sold as a healthy alt to sugar, but did you know that agave has more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup? Doh.

Agave “nectar” isn’t  nectar at all. it comes from a carbohydrate in the plant’s root, similar to the difficult-to-digest starch in corn or rice. It’s chemically converted into “nectar” through a process using caustic acids, clarifiers, and more chemicals, end result a fructose-rich syrup. In summary?  It’s highly refined.  The chemical makeup is typically over 70% fructose. Compare this to high fructose corn syrup, which is 50%.

Double ew.

Xylitol:  Xylitol is marketed as being 100% natural and derived from xylan – found in the fibers of plants such as  berries, beets, bitch, and sugar cane. Awesome. But wait: like agave, it’s also highly refined. Let me get scientific on you for a sec:  Xylitol is produced by the process of sugar hydrogenation. Does that process sound familiar? It should – you’re probably thinking about hydrogentated fats, which we now know (after years of not knowing) are way damaging to the human body.  Hydrogenating sugar involves a nickel-aluminium alloy.  Aluminium= yeah, not so good for the body.

Stevia: Stevia falls into a grey area for the time being – while there haven’t been many studies claiming that it’s harmful,  it’s still very much a refined product. Many processed Stevias also contain other ingredients – like glycerin and Xylitol. A big argument against Stevia claims that calorie-free sweetners trick the body into a state of hypoglycemia which (long explanation short) releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. There isn’t much information available about how Stevia is processed, but for me personally, the bottom line is that I don’t want to eat processed or refined foods.

So what to use instead?

Personally,  I stick with 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, and blackstrap molasses – all of which are awesome for baking.  And despite deeply hating the name, I occasionally bake with Sucanant (dehydrated sugar cane juice that retains its nutrients)  when a recipe calls for brown sugar. It’s just a little less sweet.   I like to know exactly what I’m putting in my body and these allow that –  I’ll take calories over chemicals any day of the week.

XO

M

It’s All About YOU!

9 Oct

by Rachele Jaegers

Yep, you read it right…. Today’s post is all about YOU! Before we begin, take a second and step in front of a mirror and take a good, hard look at yourself…do not judge, criticize, or critique anything in that mirror.  Just look into your eyes and check in. Do you know this person standing in front of you? Chances are if you are like most of us, life has become so busy that you have lost touch with this person you walk around with 24 hours a day, staring right at you. As a new mom and busy professional, I am more than guilty of losing touch with myself and my own needs these days. As soon as I feel I am losing touch, I make myself STOP, take a deep breath and check back in to practice what I preach. As a fitness instructor, I preach endlessly about taking some time each and EVERY day for ourselves. I explain how taking time for YOU is not selfish in any shape or form. This time allows you to refresh, regroup and be a better mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister and person! If we are constantly giving everything we have to everyone else, we end up feeling overworked, tired and like we are going through the motions of life. And most of the time, we are too busy to even realize these feelings. Life is far too precious to let the little things always get to us and bring more stress into our world.

I can bet your bottom dollar that if you take 30 minutes a day for yourself to do something YOU enjoy, that the next time your baby screams endlessly, your dog makes a mess of your house, your partner doesn’t get their dish into the dishwasher, or something else doesn’t go your way, you will be able to shake it off and maybe even get a chuckle out of life’s stressful moments. I know, I know, this is easier said than done. You are busy…. Your work full time…you have a family…you are too tired and overstretched as it is.  You have so many other things to do!! The excuses can go on and on, but just try it!! You make time to shower, brush your teeth and eat each day, right? Surely, you can take some time to step away from life for 30 minutes and reconnect with yourself. I will even help you by giving you my favorite tricks in cheat sheet form. Here you go:

1)  Take a workout break. This is one of the best ways to get refreshed, because not only are you doing something healthy for your mind; you are also rewarding your body with strength and endurance. This workout can be anything that floats your boat- try a new group class, get to yoga, design your own circuit routine, do some body weight exercises, or simply take a walk. You do not need a gym or equipment to get moving, nor do you need a ton of time. If you are at a loss for ideas, contact me! I can help get you started no matter what your situation may be. Working out releases so many beneficial hormones that help handle stress and will energize you to tackle the rest of your busy day. One of my favorite styles or working out is High Intensive Interval Training. This style of training is where you mix up maximum effort bursts of exercise, with slower bursts to really get the juices flowing and the after burn going.

2) Take a bath. How relaxing is it to draw yourself up a nice warm bath. Go ahead, make it relaxing…dim the lights, light some candles and add some bubbles. Try fitting a bath in at the end of your day before you go to sleep. Allow all the stresses of the day leave your body and go down the drain. You can even mix in some essential oils such as lavender or chamomile to help calm your soul. Taking a bath renews the body and spirit and will leave you feeling new again!

3) Take a walk outside. And by walk, I don’t mean your normal head down, texting on your phone or talking on your blue tooth kind of disconnected walk. I mean a REAL walk. Put the phone in your pocket on silent and just walk. Take in the sounds around you, the smells, the sky, the trees. Getting some fresh air is one of the best ways to regroup and get some energy back in your body. Without distractions of modern day technology beeping at you, you are able to let your mind relax and really focus on what are the important things in life.

4)  Eat a meal alone with no electronics or gadgets. Again, I am being cruel and asking that you tune out all technology for 30 minutes. I know, I know, how can you do that? I bet you can… and you may even like it! This is as simple as it sounds. Eat a meal in peace and quiet. Turn off the phones, computers, tv’s or any other distractions. Really chew your food, smell it, savor it, enjoy it!

5)  Take a nap.  Ahhhh one of my favorite things to do, but rarely get a nap in these days. It’s funny how as kids we fight the nap so much, but as adults we would give anything for one. If you can get a nap in, do it. Even in the car if you must (just not while driving please). A nap resets our body and allows it to repair itself. Your floors can wait to be mopped and your dishes won’t cry if you put them away later. Sit down, close your eyes and try to let go.

6) Give yourself a pedicure. The simple act of taking care of our feet can do so much for moral and self worth. Your feet take you through every step of life. Make them look good for the ride! We all feel good after getting our hair done, and this is like a mini makeover you can do yourself. Spend some time massaging your feet, stretch them out, and get that blood flowing in the body. Even men can benefit from a little love to the feet. So much energy comes from our feet, and with a little TLC you are sure to feel refreshed.

Now that I have given you simple things you can do every day, stop reading this and go take care of YOU!!! After all, if you are a stressed out mess, how can you possibly be the amazing superhuman you are trying to be???

***

Rachele Jaegers is the owner and creator of Fantastically Fresh and Fit.  She lives with her husband and baby daughter in Mammoth Lakes, CA. She hold a B.A. in Business Administration from CSU Chico and is an instructor and runs programming at the world renowned gym, Snowcreek Athletic Club.

Rachele holds an ACE Group X Fitness Instructor certification, is a Level II willPower & grace® and girlPower Instructor, and teaches  cardio, circuit, HIIT, Tabata and sculpting classes. She is currently in the process of obtaining a Personal Trainer Certification through NAFC and will begin to offer personalized training services to clients in person and online this November. She is passionate about functional, efficient training and believes in working smarter, not harder. Her mantra is that exercise should be a reward and not a punishment! 

You can read more about Rachele on her website:  http://www.fantasticallyfreshandfit.com/,

And make sure to catch her health & fitness tips on her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/FantasticallyFreshAndFit

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5 Reasons Not to Skip Rest Day

8 Oct

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I’m excited to announce that things are changing a little bit around here. In addition to a little in-the-works website remodel, you’ll have the pleasure of being introduced to 5 new regular LWN writers over the next couple of weeks (beginning tomorrow!)  Each of them have an impressive health/fitness background and I’m beyond thrilled that they’re going to share their own tips + tricks!!

So I’ve been a little busier than usual – in a good way. Work has been popping, my social obligations have felt non-stop, I started training for another half marathon, and I’ve been testing what feels like dozens of recipes.  Standard adult busyness.

Yesterday I took a forced day off from exercise. It’s not that I couldn’t have found 45 minutes in my day, but mentally and physically I needed it. So I watched Homeland from the couch instead of CNN from the treadmill.

I must admit, I struggle with rest days. Not because I have a paranoid fear that taking a day off from exercise will somehow undo all the work I’ve done or that I’ll mysteriously gain 10 pounds overnight, but because I really just love to sweat. I crave the endorphin rush, the way it helps me focus and de-stress, and how everything feels so much better after a long run.  It’s my own little source of free therapy.

I digress. Bottom line, I forced myself to take a rest day. Why? Because they’re super, super important.  The amount of rest and reason for needing it vary a bit depending on what kind of workout you do and why- but here’s a general overview in layman’s terms (BTW -what exactly is a layman, anybody??).

rest day

1. Get toned. Our bodies require time to recuperate after exercise. When we do any kind of work with weight, be it from body weight to resistance to lifting, we cause little tears in our muscles. Muscle is then built (read: your ass gets toned) when those tears heal. But unless you give your muscles a rest, you’re really being counterproductive to the cause at hand because they never have time to recover and well, you’re basically just wasting your time.

2. Stay injury free. Cardio bunnies, you might be thinking, “well I don’t do weights, I don’t need a rest day.”  Welp, I’ve got news for ya: there is an actual science behind this, but simply put, refusing to take a day off can (and will probably) lead to an injury, or worsen existing injuries. Truth.

3. Overcome adaptation. Ahh, fancy words. The more we exercise, the more our bodies adapt and become efficient. What does that mean? It means that it takes a harder workout to continue to see progress and we have to step it up. The more intensity and effort you put into your workout, the more important rest days become.

4. Improve + maintain performance This goes hand and hand with the above. By not giving your body adequate rest after intense workouts, there’s a very good chance you’ll actually start to see a decline in performance. It’s called overtraining. I actually encountered this during my last half marathon training- I wasn’t taking the rest day outlined in my plan and was even doubling up workouts many days, but I couldn’t figure out why I was slowing down and having a harder time with the mileage. Duh. As soon as I started forcing myself to rest once a week, I saw a notable improvement.

5. Mentally recharge  A day off forces us to refocus, recharge, and keeps us from burning out. We take days off from work, our social lives, and even our families once in a while – why wouldn’t we do the same when it comes to exercise?

So enough with the guilt every time you decide to couch it out instead of hitting the pavement. Not only is it totally ok, it’s also totally necessary: by not taking a day off, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Walk your dog, take a pretty hike – you don’t have to be totally sedentary, but you’ll reap the benefits of your work if you can allow yourself some time to recover.

XX

M

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