Wednesday, 27 February 2013

No gym? No money? No problem! Say Good-bye to Excuses!

My parents asked me the other day what I was doing for exercise in Rwanda since I didn’t have a gym. At the hotel in Kenya, there was a small exercise facility that was surprisingly well stocked with barbells, benches, Swiss balls, mats and aerobic equipment. Here in Rwanda, no such thing exists.

However, this is not a problem because the “land of a thousand hills” offers plenty in terms of exercise. To and from the hospital everyday, I walk (more accurately hike) over two hours, up and down, some very steep hills. By the time I get to the hospital or home, I am covered in sweat, sun burnt, dehydrated and out of breath. However I can’t complain because it’s great having a morning walk to wake me up, and I look forward to the walk home after sitting at a research desk all day.

Just because you don’t have access to a gym doesn’t mean you can’t workout. In fact, I believe that simply living active and moving your body every day is MUCH better than running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but driving to and from work and sitting slumped over at your desk all day.

 In addition to my daily commute, I set out a towel on the bedroom floor where I practice yoga and Pilates on a daily basis. On the weekends, I scour Pinterest for no equipment workouts (jumping jack, squats, mountain climbers etc), and use the benches at the local park for push-ups and triceps dips. None of these activities cost me a penny, don’t require any fancy equipment, and you can easily modify the intensity depending on how you are feeling.

Staying fit or being healthy doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat. Wake up a little earlier and walk or bike to work instead of driving. Turn on your music and do some gentle yoga every morning before breakfast. Simple changes add up, and before you know it, you’ve gotten your 30-60 minutes of recommended daily physical activity taken care of!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Got any plans for Valentine's Day?

Oh Valentine’s Day.

Whose idea was it to create a holiday that leaves half the world depressed because they are alone and single, and the other half with tacky teddy bears, cheap, crappy chocolates, overpriced dinners and an empty wallet?

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, because I think you don’t need a holiday or materialistic items to show your love for a significant other, your family and your close friends, but I do love an excuse to eat some delicious dark chocolate and uncork a bottle of red wine!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be full of gluttony and sugary treats. Instead of those stupid conversation hearts that nobody actually likes, or cinnamon hearts that leave you with your mouth burning, try some of the following Valentine’s Day recipes posted by the beautiful and talented Elana ( that will not doubt be a hit on this special day.

Why do I suggest red wine and dark chocolate?

-Dark chocolate contains heart healthy polyphenols called flavanols that have been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduce your overall risk for cardiovascular disease


-Dark chocolate can help control your blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce insulin resistance. Dark chocolate is also low on the glycemix index, so it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.


-Dark chocolate tastes good! Eating a small square of dark chocolate on a daily basis can help keep cravings for sweets at bay.


- Choose a good quality, organic, fair-trade, minimum 70% cocoa chocolate bar for the greatest benefits


-If given the choice, always choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate, think quality NOT quantity


Now, what about that delicious glass of red wine?


-The antioxidants in red wine can help lower cholesterol

-resveratrol, a natural compound found in the skin of the grapes can help control blood sugar and keep your memory sharp

- Red wine brings big flavor and excitement to your meals, nothing pairs better with a filet mignon or leg of lamb than a big, robust glass of red wine

My top picks- Chilean Merlot, Australian Shiraz and Argentinean Malbec: Don’t feel the need to break the bank either; there are plenty of delicious, well-priced wines ($10-15) out there.