Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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Almost too easy!

Magic Fruit

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! I trust you’ll be getting outside and doing something exciting this weekend.

I thought I’d share a few simple weight loss tools I learned this week hoping to send you off for the weekend on the right foot.

  • Surely you remember that apples are full fiber (among other wonderful things). Due to this fact, research has shown that if you eat an apple every day before lunch, on an average you’ll eat 187 fewer calories at lunch, generating a loss of five pounds of weight per year. “Dieting” doesn’t get any easier than that!
  • Normally I don’t drink juice because it’s full of sugar, I learned (seems so obvious now) if you dilute your juice with half seltzer water to cut sugar and calories, you could lose 13 pounds in a year! Yow! You juice drinkers take heed!
  • You know you need to exercise, but did you know that if you workout just (fast walking counts) three times per week for just 30 minutes at a time you can lose 13 pounds a year. Imagine what you could do with a little more effort.

Enjoy your weekend, make it extraordinary!


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Things that go crunch

Crunch!

I first posted this piece, this time last year. Looking back at my year in blogging I realized that I’ve covered a shitload of topics and that my newest followers and clients have not been privy to some of my (in my mind) best work. That said, do me a favor and have a read, or read this post again. It’s got some smart ideas.

Popcorn – Popcorn is a whole grain that provides carbohydrates and fiber. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains only 31 calories, and when popped in oil is only 55 calories per cup. Stay away from the “butter” they slather all over it at the theater, that’s a whole different story. By the way, National Popcorn Day is January 19th 2012!

Leaves on the ground – Try this, it’s fun. First, think like a kid. See a leaf, step on it. Step on all the leaves you see on the sidewalk ahead of you. Unless the sidewalk is paved with leaves you’ll find that you have to zigzag and do some jumping.  It’s good for your agility, it’s fun and it burns more calories than just walking along. I do it all the time.

Lettuce – It’s popular these days to substitute lettuce leaves for bread when having a sandwich or even a burger.  Good idea for a change of pace but if you keep to whole grains you can have your bread and lettuce too.

Abdominal exercises – Okay so your abs don’t actually make a crunching sound but I’ve heard some other noises come out of people while doing ab work.  I suggest starting with as many crunches (any variety) as you can do at one time. Rest for a minute and then do it again. Do this three times.  The next day, do it again.

Toasted whole wheat bread – There’s nothing wrong with a piece of whole grain toast spread with a little nut butter before a morning workout or for an afternoon snack.

The sound a motorcycle makes when you back into it while parking – If this happens best not to panic. Get out of your car, assess the damage and leave a note containing your name and telephone number.  Then pray the owner’s not really big and really pissed.

Apples – You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the Dr. away. Make sure to eat the peel that’s where most of the fiber is.

Cereal – Choose a cereal containing whole grains and lots of fiber.  Breakfast cereals are good sources of vitamins and fiber. Watch the sugar level. The recommended amount of sugar consumed per day is a maximum of 12 teaspoons (48 grams).

Your ankle when Dr. Barbara adjusts it – Call me a dummy but I didn’t realize that I could go to a chiropractor to have my ankle adjusted. When I sprained it last month Coach B suggested that I do just that.  He was right, once the swelling went down Dr. Barbara gave it a little twist and the next day I was back on the prowl. Remember that.

Nuts – All nuts are yummy and contain lots of good things. Try Almonds as they’re full of fiber or Walnuts, which are high in fiber as well as omega 3’s, both good for heart health.  Personally I like Brazil nuts which contain high amounts of selenium. Selenium is shown to reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Ice – Who doesn’t like to crunch on the ice in their glass after finishing a beverage (I like a Manhattan these days but I should probably suggest juice or water)? Crunching on the ice works your facial muscles and ice is water so that’s always a good thing.


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Starting to build on your winter coat?

Food journal, then & now

Since I believe that diets are stupid, I simply whip out my food journal whenever my cloths start getting a little snug. Keeping a food journal means that you track every single thing that you eat, even the bite of your friends dessert. You don’t have to do it forever but when you do, it allows you to make healthier choices and see how your eating throughout the day so you don’t over indulge.

When I first started keeping a food journal, I was racing my bike so body weight and nutrition were key. At the time my coach had me tracking everything, calories, carbs, protein and fiber. It was a lot of work but it helped me immensely, and I now know the calorie, fiber, fat and protein content of most natural foods by heart. Funny, or pathetic I’m not sure but handy for certain.

For now, simply keeping track of what I eat thought the day should be enough to keep from growing a thicker winter coat. With that, I’ll simply keep a note on a post-it or scrap of paper and I won’t worry about counting things. If you want to play along I suggest you get yourself a cute little notebook that’s specifically for the purpose of keeping your journal. There are fancy ones you can buy, templates you can download and I bet a zillion apps for your phone if that’s your style. As you can see from the photo I kept mine hillbilly style. Yep, the photo above is my actual food journal from the year 2000. I’ve kept them all (one for every year since). Why I’ve kept them, I don’t know but I’m glad I did. It’s fun to look back. I also used to track my weight and body fat percentage in the corner. Yow…I know for sure my body fat percentage has gone up. Good thing I’m back on the journal!

So, anybody want to join me in keeping a food journal for a while? Now’s the time to pay special attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. You don’t have to count calories unless you want to. Just paying attention to what you eat is a good start. Remember, we’re embarking on The Season of Eating.

Let me know if you want to play. I can help!

P.s. You can also take photos of the food you eat if that’s easier but personally I think keeping a written tab is better.


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Super ch-ch-ch Chia

Chia, not just for fun anymore

Hopefully this is not new news to you, if it is, you may think I’ve gone completely off my rocker. Today’s topic is Chia Seeds. Yep, those seeds you grew on the ceramic figurines when you were a kid. We all had them. Right?

Now a days, eating chia seeds is very much in fashion. Apparently chia seeds rival the ever-popular flax seeds with their nutritional content and health benefits adding them to the list of “superfoods.”

Here’s the lowdown on Chia Seeds

  • First, I should admit that the seeds we’re meant to eat are not the same seeds you grow on ceramic figures.
  • Chia seeds are a nutty tasting whole grain, extremely high in dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • A 1-oz. serving of raw chia seeds contain about 9g of fat, 4g of protein, 11g fiber and 137 calories. The recommended daily dose of chia is 1 oz per day.
  • Chia seeds expand up to 9 times their size in your stomach helping you to feel full faster. Think about that for a second!
  • Whole chia seeds can be added to salads, smoothies and cereal, or where ever you’d use nuts or seeds. Ground chia is used in baking; however remember the daily dosage requirement. I noticed when looking at recipes for muffins that most “chia” baking only includes about a tablespoon of seeds for a recipe that makes 12 servings. If you only get a couple of seeds in a muffin it kind of defeats the purpose.

There’s tons of info out there on the benefits of eating chia. Do some Googling or watch this short video if you want more. As far as I’m concerned, this is enough to get me to try adding some chia to my diet.

P.s. You can buy chia seeds at your local health food store and on-line.


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Cauliflower ain’t no spud!

Cauliflower

A while back it became popular to substitute smushed up, over cooked cauliflower for mashed potatoes in an effort to save calories.

People boiled or steamed chunks of the cruciferous veggie and mashed, blended or electric mixed it to get the consistency of mashed potatoes. Then, they’d add lots of butter and milk and all the other good stuff one would add to make really yummy mashed potatoes. While the cauliflower mush does taste okay, it isn’t mashed potatoes and with all the stuff added it kinda makes the calorie cutting point, mute.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting the kibosh on mushed cauliflower, I’m just gearing up to offer a few options that I feel maintain the integrity of the often under appreciated, very nutritious brainy looking orb.

First — Cauliflower a cruciferous vegetable, in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. Cauliflower, along with the rest of the cruciferous family is rich in cancer fighting properties as well as lends support to our body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. For detailed health benefits visit here.

A few of my fav details — One cup of cauliflower contains about 28 calories, 3.5 grams fiber, omega 3’s and 2.5 grams protein.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of cauliflower. However, realizing it’s health benefits and in an effort to eat a diverse diet I’ve come to appreciate, and actually enjoy it.

Here are my suggestions — Choose a head that’s compact with creamy white florets. An old cauliflower will be yellowish. Whatever you do make sure to rinse the orb well. All those nooks and crannies provide lots of room for fungus to hide. Don’t wash until you’re ready to use.

According to the World Wide Web the best way to prepare cauliflower is to sauté it. I’ve never done that so I can’t say, but I suggest we all give it a try. The second best (for reasons of nutrition) way to cook cauliflower is to roast it, which I am proficient at.

Here is how I roast my cauli

In a large bowl, stir together:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry power
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Take one large head cauliflower cut into florets and toss to cover with the mixture. Bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until chunks are browned on the bottom and tender when pierced with a knife. Serve hot or at room temp. Very yummy!

Obviously eating cauliflower raw is a very good option, dip it in hummus and put some in your salad. They say it’s good with red onion and feta. Give it a try and let me know what you think.


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Fig fun

Yummy figs

I love figs! Squishy fresh figs, dried figs, Fig Newton’s, figs on pizza, figs and prosciutto. You name it, I love the figs!

A few years ago my friend M (better not give his full name) and I rode our bikes from SF out to Nicasio. That’s a 75 mile ride round trip. M & I rode together a lot and we were always experimenting, trying to find the best ride food. On this day, M decided to eat a bunch of dried figs because he’d heard that figs were full of things that would benefit him on a long ride (carbs, sugar and potassium). The only problem is that M ate a whole lot of figs, like dozens of them. He ate them before the ride and stashed them in his pocket to eat all through the ride. He ate nothing but dried figs for miles.  The problem came when he realized that figs are full of fiber. In fact, they contain more fiber per serving than any other fruit. In case you don’t realize, when you eat a lot of fiber you tend to get a little bloated. And, a lot of fiber and sugar in your system can cause a little rumbling. The last thing you want is a rumbly tummy when you’re miles from home trying to peddle your bike up a hill or two. After that ride, M never spoke of figs again. It’s kinda too bad because they’re really good for you. Like anything, in moderation.

With that, here are a few things I know about figs and why you should eat them.

The Basics

  • Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety, of which there are more than one hundred and fifty.  Some of the most popular varieties are: Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh.  Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh.  Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh.  Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh.  Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh.
  • Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure.
  • Figs have nutrients especially important for today’s busy lifestyles. One quarter-cup serving of dried figs provides 5 grams of fiber — 20% of the recommended Daily Value. That serving also adds 6% of iron, 6% of calcium, and 7% of the Daily Value for potassium. And, they have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. Recent research has shown that California Figs also have a high quantity of polyphenol antioxidants. One medium size fig contains about 40 calories.
  • Figs are harvested in the late summer and early fall.

Some interesting bits

  • In Greece – Figs were used as a training food by the early Olympic athletes, and figs were also presented as laurels to the winners as the first Olympic medals.
  • The Romans – Pliny, the Roman writer (52-113 AD) said, “Figs are restorative. They increase the strength of young people, preserve the elderly in better health and make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.”
  • Figs provide more fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable. The fiber in figs is both soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are important for good health. And remember, fiber has a very positive effect on weight management!

How to Select and Store

Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of when you are planning on eating them. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Smelling figs can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.

There you go. It’s currently fig season so eat up! I suggest eating ‘em fresh out of the basket, or you can put them in salads, oatmeal, on pizzas, all sorts of things. Here are some simple fig recipes if you want to have a look.

Enjoy…


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Quinoa?

Hella Yum!

Years ago my cycling coach suggested that I try quinoa as I wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet. At the time I had no idea what the hell quinoa was, and since I thought the guy was kind of a jerk, I ignored his advise (forget the fact that I was paying him a shitload of money to tell me things I didn’t like, silly me!).

So, what is quinoa? Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Kind of a light, fluffy rice like thing. It’s yummy and it’s super high in protein and fiber.

I hate to admit it but it’s been until now, 5 years later that I’ve finally given quinoa a try. Guess what, it’s damn good! With that I share the following recipe. You won’t be disappointed so make the effort to give it a try.

Mexican Quinoa with Black Beans and Avocado

Ingredients:  (4 servings)

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 tbsp coconut oil, divided
1 large white onion
10 medium button or Crimini mushrooms, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small avocados, peeled and diced
2 tbsp lime juice (or more to taste)
salt to taste

Instructions:

Start by cooking quinoa in either a rice cooker or on the stove top. Add 1-cup dry quinoa (rinsed) to 1.75 cups of water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil to the quinoa pot for extra flavor!

Meanwhile, dice the onions and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, and all moisture has cooked out of the mushrooms.

Once the quinoa has finished cooking, add fluffed quinoa and black beans to the pan with mushrooms and onions, and stir to combine and heat through.

Add 2 tbsp lime juice (or more to taste), and reduce heat to low.

Stir in sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and avocado, and season to taste with salt.

Serve with tortilla chips and a dollop of Greek yogurt, and enjoy!

With the double dose of black beans and quinoa, this dish packs a huge nutritional punch of making a complete protein.  Perfect for vegetarians and vegans, but tasty and simple enough to make anyone clean their plate.

P.s. I found this recipe on Daily Garnish, check it out, she’s got some smart ideas.