How To Start Living A Healthier Life Today – By Jess Robinson (Lazy Girl Fit)

Today’s guest-post is written by a friend of mine Jess Robinson who is as passionate about health and fitness as I am.  It’s got some great advice about how to get started.  For most of us who are overweight or have friends or family or a partner who is struggling, it’s getting (us or them) started that’s the hardest part.  There is always next week, Monday, next month, next term, next year.  Our minds can come up with a million reasons why not to start today, but once you have made the commitment and taken some action it doesn’t take long to reap the rewards.  When we eat well and exercise, life is so much more enjoyable than when we eat badly and live a sedentary lifestyle.  Focus on getting healthy, and your waist line will reward you.  Here are some great tips on how to do just that!  I hope you enjoy this great post!

How To Start Living A Healthier Life Today

By Jess Robinson (Lazy Girl Fit)

Whether you’ve got 7kg or 70kg to get rid of, there’s no doubt that losing weight is a daunting task. No wonder it’s so often pushed to the back of your consciousness – a problem for Future You to deal with. But what happens when there’s no more procrastinating, what happens when Future You becomes just You?

The fact is, being overweight is a contributing factor to many chronic illnesses. It can also make it harder to keep up with your kids and more difficult to conceive in the first place, not to mention being downright uncomfortable. I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before, but I say it anyway because I want you to realise that it doesn’t have to be this way – you can stop being overweight, you can feel good about yourself and you can foster healthy habits.

In my opinion, the best way to ensure you get the results you want is to stop focusing on weight loss and start focusing on health gain. Here are a few tips for getting started.

1.  Set yourself small, weekly goals.

‘This week I will take five 20-minute walks’; ‘I will eat green, leafy vegetable with dinner each night’; ‘I will workout three times this week’. Make these smaller goals achievable and tick them off the list once they’re done.

2.  Set yourself big goals.

In my opinion, these goals shouldn’t be weight related. Think ‘I will be able to run 3km/5km/10km by this particular date’; ‘I will be able to do 5/15/30 toe push ups by this date’; ‘I will finish a fun run by this date’. It doesn’t really matter what the goal is, as long as it’s tangible, and it stretches you outside your comfort zone (but not so far you go running for the hills!)

3.  Keep a food diary.

I know – it’s scary. But sometimes you need scary to help you move forward. I would suggest two weeks of diarising all food and drink you consume.

4.  Don’t go on a diet; make a lifestyle change.

Spending hours on a treadmill each day and starving yourself for eight weeks will help you lose weight, but it’s not good for your body and chances are you’ll pile the weight back on as soon as you start eating like a normal person (which inevitably you will do).

5.  Enlist the help of a professional or two.

Nutritionists, personal trainers, psychologists, doctors – there are plenty of qualified people out there who would relish the idea of helping you. You just need to ask.

6.  Drink more water.

Kickstart your metabolism first thing in the morning with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice. A glass of water before each meal can also help you to feel satiated.

7.  Get the whole family involved.

If you’re trying to make positive changes in your life, it makes sense that your family should be involved. Not only will they benefit from the lifestyle changes you make, it also gives you a live-in support network to discuss any achievements and issues with.

8.  Small lapses should not equal large punishments.

Nobody is perfect all the time, and punishing yourself for having ‘bad’ food by binging on more food is not the answer.

***

The human body is pretty amazing, and being fit, strong and healthy is the best way to show your appreciation for it. To help you kickstart your journey to better health I’ve put together a simple, no-equipment circuit that you can do in the comfort of your own home. I hope you try it out!

At-Home Circuit for Beginners

 [30 seconds per exercise]

  •  Jogging on spot
  • Push ups – your choice of wall, incline, knee or regular push ups
  • Static lunge – left leg
  • Supermans
  • Bridge
  • Crunches

[Repeat 3-4 times; rest 15-45 seconds between exercises)

Static Lunge

Static Lunge

Wall Push Ups

Wall Push Ups

About The Author:

Jess Robinson is a certified personal trainer, outdoor fitness instructor, writer and sub-editor, based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. She created Lazy Girl Fitness in the hopes of building a positive online community where everyone – from the fitness-crazed to the fitness-phobic – can come together for workout ideas, conversation and empowerment. She also needed somewhere to post pictures of her dog.

You can read more on her blog lazygirlfitness.com.au here, follow her on facebook at facebook.com/lazygirlfitness here or twitter/instagram @LazyGirlFit

Jess Robinson and Lou www.lazygirlfitness.com.au

Jess Robinson and Lou
www.lazygirlfitness.com.au

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

Here is a wonderful light and healthy salad/side dish.  We have had this to accompany a barbecue or alongside a roast chicken instead of the usual roast veggies.  It is simple and quick to prepare, tastes delicious and looks so beautiful!

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

(serves 4 as a side dish)

What you will need:

  • 2 eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sumac
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon good quality organic minced garlic)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • A few handfuls of baby rocket (arugula)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves (I use flat leaf parsley)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (toasted)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • salt and pepper

How to pull it together:

Slice the eggplants lengthwise about 1 cm (1/4 inch) thick.  (I got about 4-5 per eggplant).  Sprinkle liberally with some sea salt and let sit for about 10 minutes.  You will see the salt will draw out the juices from the eggplant.  Wipe the salt and these juices off with a paper towel.

With a sharp knife score the eggplant diagonally.

Mix together the sumac, olive oil, garlic and a little salt and pepper.  Brush over the scored eggplant.  Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

In the meantime, whisk or shake together the ingredients for the dressing.

Once the eggplant is cooked, lay the slices out on your serving platter.  Top with rocket (arugula) and parsley and pour the dressing over.  Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve!

Enjoy X

 

What Is The Deal With GMOs – by Shannon Torres

I hope you find this article, written for The Shrinking Hubby by Shannon Torres of Success Impressions, as interesting and informative as I did.  She has managed to explain as succinctly as possible the complicated issue of Genetic Engineering in our food and I think that her article is a great place to start becoming aware of what is happening with our food and our environment.  It is quite a long article, but very compelling.  I am sure that you will gain a lot from reading it and hopefully it will make a positive impact on your health and that of your family and friends.

A brief look at Genetic Engineering in food:

What is the deal with GMO’s?

By: Shannon Torres

GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been bred, grown or raised with the DNA from other plants and animals, bacteria or viruses. This is known as genetic engineering. Though there are many types of genetic modifications in organisms, this article focuses on GM crops, produced for consumption.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding genetic engineering, and there are many opposing opinions regarding the long term safety of the consumption of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Scientists, who work for bio-technology companies, experiment in laboratories with crossing the genes of various species to understand the effects of crossing genetics that do not, and would not occur in nature.  The main purpose for altering the genetics in plants is so that they can be immune to chemical herbicides (weed killers), common crop diseases and to develop a natural repellent so that bugs do not eat them.

prwatch.org

prwatch.org

When traditional farmers plant seeds into the ground, they have to naturally fight the elements that may ruin the crops. In a natural setting, weeds and bugs can be a problem and farmers must use a variety of techniques to keep both weeds and bugs away. If weeds are not dealt with, they have the ability to take over an entire space, absorbing the water and nutrients intended for the crops. An infestation of bugs can kill an entire crop and severely affect a farmer’s income and the amount of food produced. Surely these issues are important.

There are less local farms than ever before, producing food on small farms for local communities. Many farmers have had their farms taken over, and are now working on huge plots of land for giant food corporations. In order to feed thousands to millions of people, farmers must grow a significant amount of food in less square footage than ever before.  Farmers no longer get down on their hands and knees and pull weeds, or use techniques such as the three sisters planting to deter pests. Industry has taken over the food system and by the use of machines and genetically modified seeds, they have successfully created a system of agriculture that prevents the unfavorable, natural, elements from occurring. Science considers this a great accomplishment! However, though this may be a great stride in agriculture, it may not be the best for those consuming the crops, or for the ecosystem and the environment.

justlabelit.org

justlabelit.org

Human beings have evolved over millions of years to adapt to their surroundings. The various blood types are a good indicator of who our ancestors are, and what kinds of foods we are most likely to tolerate consuming. The O blood type is the oldest known blood type, and individuals with this blood type stem from ancestors from the hunter-gatherer era. These are the ancestors who sharpened the ends of spears to hunt for food. The A blood type came about when agriculture began and ancestors began planting seeds and growing their own food. The B blood type came about when our ancestors turned to utilizing the milks from animals and began consuming and manufacturing dairy products. The AB blood type is the most recently evolved blood type, and many younger generations possess this blood type as it is a mix of both the A and B blood types. The AB blood type has adapted to the many changes in environment and food. Due to the historical progression of blood types, we are finding that many people are not responding well to genetically modified foods. Chronic disease is at an all time high, and our bodies are doing their best to reject these foreign substances, often times appearing as infections, tumors and inflammation. The consumption of genetically modified foods may very well lead to a new blood type in future generations. By altering the DNA in food, long term consumption also alters the DNA in the beings that eat them, whether it is people or animals.

Most industrialized farming is done, not with people, but with machines. This is what is known as factory farming. Machines are used for many steps of the farming process. From tilling and preparing the soil, to sowing seeds, adding chemical fertilizers, pesticides and keeping weeds away using the infamous weed killer Round Up. Food corporations understand the severity of a weed or bug infestation, and that is the main reason Round Up was created and genetic engineering began. Round up is a total and non-selective herbicide produced by the leader in bio-technology, Monsanto. The main active substance in Round Up, is glyphosate. When applied to plant life, Round Up kills everything that it comes in contact with. Bio-tech companies discovered that by altering the genetics in certain plants, they are able to make them immune to Round Up, so everything else but the intended crop will die. By evading the premature death of crops, food corporations are now able to grow a massive amount of GM crops and sell them for pennies on the dollar. Corn, wheat, cotton and soy are the largest genetically modified crops grown in the United States. Corn, wheat and soy are in almost all processed and packaged foods sold in the United States. Many countries around the world have banned genetically modified crops including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria but they haven’t necessarily banned the importation of products containing GM crops from countries where it is allowed.

Crop Dusting - Photo credit to polizeros.com

Crop Dusting – Photo credit to polizeros.com

The bio-tech industry (those producing GM crops) truly believe that they are providing a service by genetically modifying plants and animals. They are now looking to enhance the flavors and nutritional content in modified foods, as well as breeding plants to become drought resistant. Let’s be clear that the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have depleted almost all nutrients from the soil, and that is the reason why there is a need for flavor and nutrient enhancements.  On an organic farm, soil is rich and dark and has a potent ‘earthy’ smell.  The foods grown from that soil are nutrient dense and tasty.  By rotating crops year after year,farmers are able to deter pests and keep the soil rich because not all plants require the same nutrients.  Crop rotation creates balance in the soil and in the foods grown from it.  GM crops are grown in soil that is re-used time and time again for the same crops, year after year.  Since the soil used for GM crops is nutritionally depleted, GM crops are void of nutrients and flavor.  GM crops are not grown for the purpose of nutrition or taste.  Most GM Crops are used in the production of processed foods.  To compensate for the lack of nutrients and flavor, chemists and flavorists have manufactured additives to  add to processed foods, like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavors.  This poses an even greater risk to human health.  The production of GM crops is causing great harm to our bodies, the environment, water and soil supplies.

The genetic modification of food is a relatively new advancement in science. The long-term effects of consuming GM foods are yet to be publicly proven. However, if we take a look at the staggering statistics, millions of people die each year due to preventable diseases. Diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are all diet and lifestyle related. The consumption of processed and fast foods are a major contributor to these diseases. GM corn, wheat and soy are in almost all processed foods. These crops are subsidized by the US government and take up over 200 million acres of farm land in the United States. Genetically modified corn is used in the very toxic and potent sweeteners known as high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. Because high fructose corn syrup is so inexpensive, it is added to almost every staple of the American diet, including lunch meats, dairy products, cookies, breads, crackers, soft drinks and cereals. The over consumption of genetically modified crops is a great contribution to the health crisis facing America and the rest of the world.

Photo Credit interoccupy.net

Photo Credit interoccupy.net

What are the long term effects of consuming GMO foods?

When a bio-tech company alters the genetics of an organism, they file a patent on the “new” organism, declaring it an invention. When a company owns the patent on an invention, they have exclusive rights to the marketing, research and the studies. Many long term studies of the effects of these crops on humans and animals are rarely published, as they are classified by the bio-tech companies. Many citizens feel that regulatory authorities such as the USDA are being influenced by the lobbyists of bio-tech companies and are not thoroughly studying and publishing the effects of the consumption of these crops. Though it is difficult to conduct and publish studies on GM crops, a few do exist. During the French Study, rats were fed a diet of 33% genetically modified corn developed by Monsanto for two years. The results were horrific. The rats “developed tumors the size of ping-pong balls, liver damage and digestive problems”. Monsanto has a Q&A page, which addresses some of the controversies that have arisen from their practices. http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-safety.aspx

What does this mean for consumers?

Many consumers do not know which foods are genetically modified, and which ones aren’t. It is important that you research the companies who produce the foods that you purchase, and also pay great attention to the way your body feels after consuming foods those foods.  Pay special attention to your body after eating foods containing corn, wheat and soy. If you are noticing a decline in health, an increase of allergies, a decrease in immunity, fertility issues, or digestive disorders, it is recommended that you immediately eliminate GM foods from your diet.

The debate over genetically modified foods is far from over.  In 2012 Proposition 37 was rejected in California, which if granted would have required the labelling of genetically modified foods. This law failed to pass by a difference in 2.82% of voters. Monsanto contributed over $8 million to campaign against GM labelling. Over $30 million came from chemical companies, chemical plants and the producers of GM foods like Pepsi, Kraft and Coca Cola. The money spent in campaigning for GM labelling barely reached $10 million. Most people want to know what is in their food. It is up to us to make others aware that there are huge problems with the food system that they may not have been aware of.   In my opinion, it is in our best interest to avoid these foods altogether. Until long term concrete scientific research conducted by non-invested, third party researchers is conducted, our health may very well be in danger. Foods that are labelled as organic, are not permitted to be genetically modified. Continue to do your research on this issue, and make an informed decision for your own health. For more information, visit the following websites:

www.nongmoproject.com

www.organicconsumers.org

www.naturalnews.com

gmo-free

About the author

Shannon Torres is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She specializes in working with individuals to cultivate a carefree relationship with food, and implement sustainable life-long lifestyle practices. Shannon also works with groups, small businesses and corporations on implementing wellness programs to keep employees at work, productive, and healthy. She is a loving mother of three and is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of healthy food choices. With over a decade in the fields of health, nutrition and self improvement, Shannon is on a mission to help individuals heal through food, prevent disease, and live abundantly. For more information, visit www.successimpressions.com

Quick and Easy Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Carrot Cake

Quick and Easy Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Carrot Cake

A little while ago I shared this recipe for a healthy gluten, dairy and sugar free carrot cake on my facebook facebook .  I never got around to writing it up for my blog followers too.   This one uses banana and dates to sweeten rather than honey, and is deliciously moist.  It takes seconds to make and is so healthy you can eat it for breakfast!   I have made this several  times now and each time there is nothing left over – it’s quite a crowd pleaser.  I played around with a recipe that I found a little while ago and adapted it to the Thermomix. It is seriously SO easy either with or without a Thermomix.

I have written up both versions below 🙂

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Carrot Cake

Thermomix Version

What you will need

  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten and aluminium free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 peeled carrot roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 organic, free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pistachios or pecans)
  • 1/4 cup naturally sweetened craisins (or organic sultanas or goji berries) (optional)

How to pull it together:

Blitz 3/4 cup (approx 100g) almonds with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for 20-30 seconds speed 10.
Add 1 carrot (peeled) and 1/2 cup pitted dates. Chop for a few seconds speed 5.
Add 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 ripe bananas. Mix REVERSE speed 4 for 30 seconds.
Add 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup walnuts (or pistachios or pecans), 1/4 cup naturally sweetened craisins (or sultanas or goji berries). Mix REVERSE speed 4 for 15 seconds.
Put batter in a greased loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes in a 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit   oven.

To make without the Thermomix

What you will need

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten and aluminium free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 peeled carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed so that it is liquid
  • 2 organic free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pistachios or pecans)
  • 1/4 cup naturally sweetened craisins (or organic sultanas or goji berries) (optional)

How to pull it together:

(If you have a food processor you can blitz the carrots, dates and bananas.)

Mix 3/4 cup almond meal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

Add 1 grated carrot, 1/2 cup pitted dates (chopped), 4 tablespoons coconut oil (warmed enough to be liquid), 2 eggs, vanilla and 2 mashed ripe bananas and mix well.

Stir through the nuts/dried fruit (if using).

Pour batter into a greased loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes in a 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit oven.

The Shrinking Hubby’s Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Carrot Cake

Enjoy

XX

PS – if you like carrot cakes you might also want to experiment with another version of a healthy carrot cake I posted here.

Jazzing Up Your Veggies – Part 1

Jazzing Up Your Veggies – Part 1

Over summer I posted an article about how to get creative with your salads.  If you want to have a look you can check it out here. I thought now, since  the weather has been a bit colder and we have been enjoying our winter veggies, that  I would share a few ways that we have been cooking them.

1.  Turmeric Cauliflower

Oh my!  I made this as an alternative to potatoes.  It was so simple, yet really tasty.  This went brilliantly with a beef curry I made, but you could just as easily serve it with anything.  It would really jazz up a roast chicken!

I chopped half a head of cauliflower into florets and boiled it in some salted water to which I added 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder.  I boiled for 5 minutes.  Then I drained the cauliflower and tossed in a little olive oil (although coconut oil would also work really well here) and baked in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until nicely roasted.

turmericcauliflower2.  Cinnamon Baked Sweet Potato

Sweet potato, sea salt and cinnamon is a match made in heaven!  Chop up a sweet potato, lightly coat in olive oil (or coconut oil) and sprinkle with some cinnamon and sea salt.  Soooo yummy!

cinnamonsweetpot3.  Eggplant and Tomato Bake

I posted my recipe for Eggplant and Tomato Bake here.  It is so versatile – goes brilliantly with chicken, fish, my healthy schnitzel (recipe here), steak – or even by itself as an entree.  For Thermomix owners – I have adapted the sauce recipe so that it is Thermomix friendly.

bubabefore

4.  Pumpkin/Cauliflower mash

This is what I use to top my shepherds pie (recipe here).  It is so simple and delicious.  Much more flavour than mashed potato and much better for you.   I have also included a Thermomix version of this recipe here too.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower (chopped/broken into florets)
  • 1 cup diced butternut pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon organic grass fed butter or Ghee (optional)

How to pull it together:

Steam or boil the cauliflower and pumpkin until soft.  Drain if necessary.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter and blitz in a food processor or with a hand held blender until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid to improve consistency (water, stock, milk – whatever you would prefer)

Thermomix version of crust:

If making in a Thermomix cook the cauliflower and pumpkin and about 1/2 cup of water and a tablespoon of Thermomix vegetable stock for 20 minutes speed 1 at 100 degrees.  Make sure it is cooked through.  Add the butter or ghee.  Attach the butterfly attachment and blitz for 20-30 seconds speed 3-4.

5.  Spiced Roast Veggies

Although these make a perfect side dish, this is my current favourite ‘light’ dinner. If I feel that we have over-indulged I’ll make this for hubby and I to have for dinner.  I always wake up feeling cleaner and lighter.

Chop up a variety of your favourite veggies – I like to use whole button mushrooms, diced eggplant, cauliflower florets, zucchini (courgettes) and pumpkin.  A couple of chopped tomatoes would be nice too.  I toss the veggies in some olive oil with about a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground corriander, turmeric, sea salt, chilli flakes and cumin – but feel free to play around with the quantities of the spices.  It’s a great blend!

If you like you could add a dollop of pesto (my recipe for basil pesto is here) or even some hummus or a little creme fraiche (a little bit goes a long way).

I hope you enjoy some of these ideas, my repertoire is constantly expanding so watch out for the sequel to this post 🙂

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