Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Giving up already?

The one thing I don’t miss about home right now (save for the snow and freezing cold temperatures) is the overly packed, Western gym full of people going full steam on their new years resolution. As I stated in a previous post, its not the resolution I’m again, it’s the WAY people go about trying to achieve it. Since most people give up their new years resolution within the first ten days, it is safe to say the gym activity has died down and many have retired their running shoes to the back of the closet until next year.

If you’re one of those people, whatever you do don’t give up yet! The journey to good health is not easy or short, but it will be the most rewarding journey you will ever take. If you find yourself struggling to stick with an eating plan, or hit the snooze button instead of the spin class this morning, here are some motivational tips to keep you going.

1.   Schedule your exercise session for a time that works for you. Not a morning person? Hate working out late at night? Then don’t do either! Plan your gym workout for a time of the day you are most likely to commit to. I can’t stand working out after dinner, and would much rather wake up early and exercise to start my day off right. If you think of yourself as a night owl, perhaps hitting the gym around 6 and having a later diner will work better
2.   Prepare, plan and organize- Willpower is a muscle, the more you exercise the stronger it gets. At the same time however, the more you use it throughout the day, the more it can become depleted and you can find yourself gorging on the donuts in the office kitchen, just like a marathon runners “hits the wall” when their glycogen stores run out. To avoid the inevitable afternoon binge, pack lunch the night before, keep healthy snacks nearby at your desk, and make sure you are well hydrated throughout the day (thirst is often confused for hunger)
3.   Try a new activity- Okay, maybe running just isn’t your thing, how about yoga instead? Or a spin class? The problem might be that you’re simply not doing an exercise you enjoy. I LOVE my morning walks and yoga sessions here in Kenya, but put me on a treadmill and I won’t last ten minutes. If you’re unsure about trying something new, ask a friend or family member to join
4.   Don’t sweat the small stuff- In health counseling they call if the abstinence violation effect, I prefer to call it the “what the hell effect”. You missed your workout Monday morning, and now you deem yourself a total failure and have given up on exercise completely. Replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones (okay so I slept in one morning, I’ll come back and train even harder tomorrow) and re-set your short term goals if necessary.
5.   Reward yourself- a 60-minute spin class does not equal an extra large cookie dough blizzard. Instead, find ways to reward yourself that don’t involve food. A new book, a shopping trip with friends, date night, fresh flowers for your apartment. Be proud of your accomplishments to this point and keep on going!

Monday, 21 January 2013

January SuperFood of the Month Is...

January Superfood of the month is Sorghum!

Jambo! In case you haven’t noticed (and therefore live under a rock and don’t stalk people on Facebook like the rest of us) I have been living in Kenya for the past few weeks now. After an amazing safari adventure through southern Kenya and Tanzania, we have now settled into life at Egerton University. This beautiful agricultural campus boasts wonderful grounds, a large botanical garden, lots of places to walk, and a small market nearby to buy the juiciest and freshest mangoes and bananas I’ve ever tasted.

Since we are living at a hotel and being served large buffets at every meal, the food has been tasty, healthy and plentiful. While many Kenyans have simply tea for breakfast and ugali (maize mixture with water) for the rest of their meals, we get to dine on fresh to order omelets, trays of tropical fruits, baked beans, sausages and Egerton University Strawberry yogurt for breakfast, with ugali, kale, chicken, mutton and lentil stews for dinner. About a week ago, we noticed a new item on the buffet, it was shaped in e a ball like the ugali, but much darker purplish brown in colour. When I asked the waiter what he was he replied sorghum, something I have baked with as flour before but never seen cooked as a side dish. Not only was this delicious gluten-free grain served for dinner, they also make a yummy porridge out of it for breakfast every morning. In keeping with the local cuisine, I decided to make Sorgrhum the January Superfood of the month!

So what is sorghum exactly?

Sorghum is an ancient millet-type whole grain that originated in Africa over 5000 years ago. This gluten-free grain is high in fiber and protein, low in fat, a good source of  b-vitamins, and several minerals including iron. In Kenya, I have been enjoying this versatile grain in porridge form in the morning, but in North America, it is commonly ground into flour and a major component of GF baking mixes. It can be cooked into pancakes or flatbreads or used to bake in breads or cakes; some gluten-free beers are also made using sorghum. Because sorghum has a neutral flavor, it can be used in a variety of sweet, spicy or savory dishes.

I suggest trying a GF flour mix that uses sorghum, or see if you can find it still in its natural form and make a porridge with fresh or dried fruits and cinnamon for breakfast.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Do you have a New Year's Resolution?

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a charity yoga class instructed by a dear friend and talented yoga therapist in Calgary. At the beginning of the class, she asked us to set an intention and to think about what 2013 will bring. With my upcoming trip to Africa, I immediately settled upon a goal of maintaining my current fitness levels while abroad. I’m not concerned about the numbers on the scale,  but I don’t want to lose my strength and cardiovascular endurance while living in Kenya and Rwanda for the next three months!

There seems to be a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions, I am by no means against them, I think the biggest issue is that people make the WRONG resolutions. For example, a lot of people set a resolution to simply “lose weight”; they starve themselves for the first week in January, slave away on the Stairmaster and then subsequently give up one week later. By making vague or unrealistic resolutions (i.e. lose five pounds in one week) people are setting themselves up for failure. Instead, think about using these tips when setting New Year’s resolution for yourself

1.     Use the SMART approach- Slightly corny, but extremely effective, the smart principle can help you make a better goal for yourself. Here’s mine
Specific- maintain my current fitness level
Measurable- be able to lift the same amount of weights/run the same distance when I return to Canada in April
Attainable- incorporate plenty of walks, in room strength exercises, and calisthenics into my daily routine
Realistic- If I stick to my routine, maintenance shouldn’t be an issue
Timely- I will check in at three months when I get back
2.     Set both short term and long term goals- let’s say you’re trying to lose that 15 pounds of post-pregnancy weight, set short term goals (i.e. lose 1-2 pounds per week during January) that lead up to one big long term goal (lose all my baby weight). Achieving your short term goals in small increments can help you feel successful and stay on track for your long term goal.
3.     Don’t be a weekend warrior- I hate the first week in January because the gym is hot , crowded and sweaty. I see so many people decked out in brand new lulus and shiny sneakers using terrible form on the weight or cardio machines. If you’re new to working out, consider hiring a personal trainer for a couple of intro session, or beg one of your kinesiology friends to give you an free introduction to safe gym technique and some sample workouts.
4.     Consider a goal that isn’t related to weight- Many people (especially us females) are constantly complaining about their weight. Instead of making a goal about weight loss, consider setting a different health related goal such as: eating more fruits and veggies, walking to work instead of driving, joining a yoga studio, or reducing your intake of sugary drinks. By focusing on specific health goals, you will not only do your body good, but you will feel BETTER and have more energy because of it. New Years can mean a new you, and that goes beyond the numbers on the scale :)