Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Water is your friend, not your foe

Water... is it my arch nemesis ?  I have this love/hate relationship with it.  I camouflage it in tea, coffee, ice in my smoothies but rarely do I sit down and enjoy a tall, cold glass of it.

As most of us know, we are made up of a significant portion of water - some say 90%, some say 70%... whatever the percentage it is up there.  And most of us also know that the drink of choice should be water.  Hydration is essential to survival.  It is also essential to weight loss.

How does it help us lose weight?  Well first of all, it fills you up.  Drink a glass of water before each meal and then check your hunger levels.  You simply won't be able to consume the same amount of food as you would have without the H2O.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Carb Attack !

Confession time: this week I have made fairly lame attempts at exercising and I fell off the low-carb eating plan wagon.  What happened? LIFE.

Work became super busy,  I had nausea (thanks, hormones),  daughter got sick, I was running on adrenalin and my willpower flew out the window.  If I can pinpoint the exact time the bottom fell out of my plans to stay on track I can, with confidence, say that it all began with crackers.  The evil cracker:

Yes, I know crackers are not low carb but they were my last resort against nausea.  I tried ginger tea,  natural supplements, the works...nothing put a dent in it.  So what did mom teach us when we were little?  Eat crackers if your tummy is upset.   I did just that and then all hell broke loose. One cracker turned into 2, into 3, and finally into half a sleeve!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Low Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts

These are truly incredible. Gluten-free, low carb and delicious! Little did I know that today was also National Peanut Butter Day in the USA so this recipe also has perfect timing.

My daughter is a chocolate and peanut butter fanatic. My son is on a gluten-free diet and as you all know,  I follow a low carb eating plan so these are truly a miracle for all of us wrapped up in one sweet and tasty treat.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Hello Dukan Diet !

First off, I detest the word diet.  I just do.  I am more easily swayed to eat properly when I hear "lifestyle change".  The word diet to me brings to mind hunger, struggle and disappointment.  Old, long held beliefs created by past experiences still effect my emotions; emotions that are triggered violently when I see the word DIET.  Clever little psychological word games.

The bottom line is that regardless of how I want to label it, food plays a huge role in my life and conscious choices of what I eat are high on my priority list.  Each day I continue to strive for a healthier lifestyle  -  this includes loads of self-care, be it meditation, exercise, bubble baths, massages and yup,  a food "diet" that works for ME.

Therefore the word diet did not deter me from buying my latest book The Dukan Diet.  I managed to look past it see the rewards within this book.   It is more of a protein based eating plan rather than a low carb one.  It focuses on eating high quality protein, drinking plenty of water and exercising daily.  It reminds me a lot of the Atkins plan in terms of the phases but without all the high fat content and it allows for more low fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt (both no's no's on Atkins).  Fruits, starchy carbs and  grains are not permitted in the weight loss phases - along with a few other thing such as nuts, cream, butter, etc.  And that, my friends, is why I purchased the book - because of how it focuses on low fat, high quality proteins vs just low carb eating.  Though I enjoy whipped cream, full fat butter and steaks fried in grease there is just no way I want to keep eating that way.  I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea that eating that much saturated fat can support a healthy body.

I do love low carb though and didn't want to deviate from that way of eating.  I know that South Beach is a similar diet that focuses on low carb and low fat too but for me, The Dukan Diet drew me in.

The diet is broken down into 4 phases:
  • Attack
  • Cruise
  • Consolidation
  • Stabilization
In the first phase, you eat only proteins for up to 10 days depending on how much weight you want to lose.  I am just ending this phase now after being on it for 6 days.  You also are to exercise daily and drink plenty of water.

Then you move into phase 2 which you will stay on until you reach your target weight.  It involves a rotating diet of days consisting only of proteins and days consisting of proteins and veggies.  Again, exercise daily and drink water. 

The last 2 phases are all about slowly adding back various foods to your meal plan while stabilizing your weight so you don't gain anything back.  The last phase is the phase you will stay on for the rest of your life and it is pretty simple.  Eat a balanced diet and ensure you eat only protein one day per week.

For each phase you do eat oat bran daily - not a lot but enough to fill you up and keep things "regular" if you know what I mean.

I will not be following the exercise portion as laid out in the book because to me it just isn't enough nor something I feel I need to even add to my routine. The recommended 20-30 minutes of walking daily is no match for my 4 x week weight and rebounding routines and daily yoga sessions.  I prefer to stick to my routine where I continue to achieve great results.

But the diet I will follow.  I love the rotating one day pure protein, one day protein veg.  It just makes sense to me and I can easily handle that.  Plus the push for lower fat cuts of meat, no oils, butters, heavy creams, etc, makes me feel better.  I don't feel laden down with grease! Now I can eat yogurt, low fat milk, etc, without worrying about the carb count which brings me to another highlight of this eating plan  -  NO COUNTING.  That's right, no counting carbs, calories, points, fat grams!  Just eat as much as you want and as often as you want from the list of approved foods depending on which phase you are in at that time.

So there you have it - the Dukan Diet.  You can find a slew of info on the official website , even an online calculator that will provide you, free of charge, with your own high level diet plan showing how long you will need to stay on each phase to reach and maintain your desired weight. 

After 6 days on the Attack phase I feel great.  No cravings, no headaches, no desire to eat everything in site and best of all I am very happy that I have reduced my intake of saturated fats. Tomorrow I start the Cruise phase and looking forward to having veggies!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Low Carb Blueberry Muffins

Craving a breakfast treat that is cakey, sweet but low on carbs?  Voila.  These gorgeous little gems are low carb blueberry muffins made with coconut flour and fresh blueberries.  They are to die for and store well in the refrigerator for easy grab-and-go snacks.

I had one today with a bit of cream cheese along with my steaming cup of coffee and I was in heaven.  They come together in snap and in under 20 minutes you will have a fresh fruit muffin waiting for you.

Now you may look at the quantity of flour and go, WHAT?  Only 1/3 cup for 6 muffins ?  Yes, just 1/3 cup is all you need. Coconut flour acts like a moisture sponge so a little goes a long way.  The key is to get the right liquid to flour ratio so you don't have sopping wet muffins or bone dry ones.  I found that 2 tablespoons of coconut milk (though almond milk will work too) is enough.  The 3 eggs really carry the weight of adding moisture to the recipe.

So if you are ready, let's get started.

*adapted source recipe:  Sugar-Free Coconut Raspberry Muffins


3 eggs  at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tablespoons coconut or almond milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar substitute; I used Erythritol
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup fresh blueberries


HEAT oven to 375° F. P
LINE 6 muffin cups with paper liners
IN LARGE BOWL, whisk together eggs, butter, milk and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined
IN MEDIUM BOWL, whisk together flour, salt, sweetener and baking powder
ADD blueberries to dry ingredients and toss until coated
FOLD dry ingredients into wet ingredients
LET batter rest for 5 minutes
WITH ICE CREAM SCOOP,  fill each muffin cup evenly with batter
BAKE 18-20 minutes until tops spring back when touched
LET COOL in pan 10 minutes then transfer muffins to cooling rack
STORE cooled muffins in a ziploc bag or sealed container in the fridge and eat within a wk


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Welcome 2012

I know. I have been bad.  Nearly a month has gone by without a post.  I do apologize. I guess all I can say is life took over, especially the holiday period.   Did I indulge food-wise?  You betcha; but it was all planned.  I intended to take 2 wks off my eating plan and I did just that.  I enjoyed the relaxed foodie atmosphere and the sweets but get this, I got sick of it all and fast.  I felt bloated, lethargic and had major headaches.  So it is safe to say I am back on the low carb band wagon and have been since Xmas.

During the holidays I did maintain my exercising though and last week I added a new workout routine. Check out the December issue of Oxygen magazine for their weight and jump rope combo. It is amazing. In just 2 wks I already see new definition and can feel the strength in my muscles. I love it !

Food-wise, I am moving back and forth each day between slightly higher carbs to lower carbs. I find the cycling affect really kick starts any plateaus and I have noticed it works better for me that just sticking to low carb day in and day out.  Now I don't go crazy.  On my higher carb days I swap the eggs and ham or protein shake for breaky for steel cut oats topped with some slivered almonds, blueberries, coconut milk and sugar free syrup.  It is an especially great breaky prior to a taxing workout and gives me the energy I need to push through to the end.

Now on to New Year's Resolutions.  Have you made any? I have not.  Reason being is that I don't do New Year's Resolutions.  I just keep moving forward each and every day regardless of what year it is.  So this year is no different.  I will continue exercising, eating the right way for me and ensuring I remain at the top of my priority list.

I have added a few new things to my day to day life though because I was simply ready for more; for more of the GOOD STUFF.  Meditation has increased greatly and I meditate twice daily.  Visualization techniques, deep breathing exercise and yin yoga now all play a very significant self-care role in my day.  I also journal more and each day before rising I go through a mental gratitude list. It is a wonderful way to kick start any day.

I also bought a wonderful book and cannot get enough of it. It ignited my new yin yoga practice and has helped me in cultivating more mindful awareness each and every day.  It is titled The Way of the Happy Woman by Sarah Avant.

Lastly, I have changed the way I exercise.  I have managed to stop the chatter in my mind while doing reps or rebounding.  Prior to this change, I would quickly drift off into endless mind-yammering: "what is for dinner, did I get the right groceries, did I sign the kids school agendas today,  am I ready for this afternoon's meeting...."  Well no more.  Reading a recent article in Oxygen magazine really resonated with me.  I believe it was Tosca Reno herself who said if you aren't showing up mentally for your workouts then don't show up at all. What she meant was that for a truly effective workout, you need to FOCUS on your muscles as you lift those weights, or jump rope, or whatever you choose to do.  She is right.  When I pay attention to the movements of the muscles my workouts are 100% better and more effective.   I highly advise you give this a try too if you also catch yourself in the "mind is racing" game during exercise.  If thoughts creep in just recognize that it is happening and redirect your attention back to your muscles.  It takes some perseverance but it is worth it.

In closing,  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and are ready for a great year ahead. 2012 will be your best year yet !  Let's enjoy it together  :)