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Being fit does not have to be as hard as people make it sound. Making a few changes can change how athletic or fit you are.

EAT

TO

THRIVE

TRAIN

TO

SURVIVE

Hey, this blog page is geared toward my personal side- making a better self through training and food. I share recipes that I love and training of the mind with meditation & body with exercise and yoga.

You can contact us, otherwise I’ll be

        enjoying the sunshine in my garden while planning my next hike.

— Dropkick

Going Outside Your Comfort Zone

Think through how your days and weeks look? How routine is it? Is it full of variety and excitement or is it stagnant? Do you feel like the months are passing you by with little new happening in your fun time and work growth? Do others around you look to be having more fun? When was the last time you did something out of your comfort zone? Living a boring life will only cause us to get more and more boring and unfulfilled.

Today, do something small that it is out of routine. You can find something to switch it up even if it is dancing around your living room or trying a new ethnic food. Plan something for your weekend that is even more exciting. Perhaps this new variety in life will lead to finding your purpose in life.

MeetUp, Parks, Volunteering, Festivals, Yoga studios, Backroad drive, Learning an instrument

An area to stretch everyday

Hip Stretches for tight hips:

Many people have tight hips. These are caused by things like sitting at desks all day, wearing heavy equipment, martial arts, and cycling. Even stress gathers in our hips making them tight. Women tend to hold more stress there than men. 

The hip area is the origin of many body problems- sciatica, psoas, hip flexors, lower back, sacrum, and perhaps worst of all sexual problems for men and women. Problems here send additional problems up our spine and down our legs. Often times a knee problem originates in the hips. The hip muscles are ready to be easily activated for “fight-flight-or-freeze response. Most of our fight response muscle power comes from the hips. If you are not stretching then you are lowering your ability to fight and respond. 

Tight hip muscles can reduce your range of motion throughout the hip, tilt your pelvis, and tighten the quads and hamstrings. Hip stretches are important for everyone. They are especially important for martial artists and athletes. 

Here’s some yoga poses for hips:

  1. Balasana (child’s pose)
  2. Butterfly
  3. Standing side stretch
  4. Eka Pada Rajakopatasana (one-legged pigeon pose)
  5. Anjaneyasana (A low runner’s lunge)
  6. Frog pose

Hold the poses for at least 30 seconds. Several minutes is better. If you only have time for one pose then choose pigeon.

Are stretching and yoga the same?

“I tried a yoga class and I hated it. Can I skip yoga and just stretch or meditate?”

Nope. Stretching and yoga are different. To meditate effectively we must have a yoga practice. It allows the body to be flexible enough to sit long periods.

There are dozens of types of yoga. Just because you did not like one class does not mean that yoga is not for you. Actually, the first time I ever did yoga I did not like it. It was too slow and the teacher was too chill for me. Thankfully, I found an Ashtanga teacher that was a better fit. Over the years I have changed what I like, and now I enjoy many types of yoga. I stay away from those power yoga classes that feel like fast aerobics or cheerleading in 90 degrees though. Some love that style because they sweat heavily and poses are only held for 2 seconds. I prefer traditional yoga with long holds for a deep stretch or difficult strength. I also really love Kundalini yoga. You do have to enjoy teacher’s voice and personality. Thankfully, it is easy to test out teachers these days with by watching videos instead of meeting everyone in person first.   

Just stretching is different than yoga because it does not create that union of the body and spirit. It is not done as mindfully. It is unlikely in simple stretching to get deep stretches especially of the ribs and back. We also work on balance, strength, and twisting in yoga. Nothing beats a good twist to wring out the organs and spine. Remember that even though yoga has many benefits, we first do it for expansion of ourselves.

The best way to practice is at home alone doing poses that are right for your body each day instead of in a group class. You do have to learn how to correctly do the poses first. A teacher giving in-person adjustments is best. There are some material and videos that give very specific instructions for each pose that are good. Not everyone has the discipline to practice at home… or like me they have dogs and cats wanting to join or other distractions. You do still want to have a teacher(s) as a guide sometimes as you progress. Around 99% of the time, I do not go to classes since my city is all power yoga or beginner yoga. I do catch a Kundalini yoga class when I can or a Yin yoga with good live music. An online yoga website is a good resource for a variety of yoga classes or try YouTube’s most popular teachers. 

Chocolate chip macadamia cookies

 

Recipe for half a batch

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other light flavor oil/vegan butter)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup  gluten free baking flour *I used King Arthur that includes multiple flours and gums
  • 1 tb agave
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • approximately ⅛ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • approximately ⅛ cup macadamia nuts

Mix dry and then add wet. Form into six cookies. Bake 375 for 8 minutes

Removing distractions–Making time for the important things

Originally published on my Eksta Training program site

No one has time anymore. It is funny when people tell me that they do not have time to exercise or meditate yet they already said that they watch 4 hours of Netflix a day. That is where priorities are. When people say that they do not have time, they really mean something else right? You can fill in the blank. Aside from the person that works not stop and sleeps only 3 hours per day, we have time. We especially have time for things like exercise and training that will improve our health and happiness. I like hearing excuses get changed to saying, “I will make time.”

Now, let’s take a look at where your time goes. This should be fun.

  • What are your distractions? Can you cut back time on social media, flipping through apps, shopping, or surfing the web for articles or videos? Do you watch a movie you’ve seen dozens of times just so that you can escape?
  • Can you hire out some of your chores or errands? Can you cut down on cooking time? How about driving time?
  • Do you need to cut out social media completely because you are addicted? Do you need to cut out porn because you masturbate 5 times a day? Be honest about how you spend your time.

Where you can put time?

  • What do you love to do? Think about things that allow you to feel more like yourself and having clearer thoughts.
  • What did you enjoy doing as a child that you would like to do more of today? This can also help with looking at your career choice if you have questions around that.

Now, let’s look how we can start scheduling and planning.

  • Aside from putting these things in your schedule, you can join a group, Meetup, or online class that can help hold you accountable. Be cautious starting with just one friend unless your friend is very, very motivated and has no drama going on. A teacher or coach is also great.
  • Is there waiting time you can spend reading training materials?
  • Do you have an achievement goal for several months or a year from now?
  • Do you have any dream vacations that you actually want to start planning?
  • By joining this training, what do you see yourself becoming? What does your life look like?
  • Make space in your home if that is where you are going to practice things like meditation and yoga.

 

Another thing to think about is not sharing your new plan with those that will make jokes about it or be negative. Typically, they are just afraid of you changing or making them feel unproductive.

This is the day to write out some of these. Find what will make you happy and go for it.

Emergency food and backpacking food

Hurricane coming? Snow storm? Better rush off and buy canned food. That’s what the news says. If we use our own brain to think then there are other options. Healthier and cheaper options. Since when do apples not last a few days so we must buy canned apples? As convenient as canned beans or chili are, I prefer other options for Meals Ready to Eat. If I am backpacking for more than a day then I definitely thinking about being as light as possible- which means no heavy cans. Just a few options to get you thinking:

Instant refried beans- just add hot water and let sit. How simple. Perhaps have cayenne powder available.

Regular nut butter jars or peanut butter powder+water

Store bought MRE entree packages (Indian, Thai, American chili). These are pricey but light in weight and delicious.

Edamame nuts

Jerky

Meal replacement powders

Protein bars or meal replacement bars

Trail mix

Bread or cornbread cakes

Instant oatmeal or quick oats

Dried fruit or freeze-dried fruit. (These are too delicious for me to keep around for an emergency.)

Dried veggie snacks

Instant MRE packs of rice

Instant coffee (or do like me and buy a camping percolator for grounds)

Kale chips (Can make these yourself ahead of time to save $$)

Fresh fruit

Options that take a bit longer:

Quinoa or quinoa with dried veggies 20 minutes on a campfire or butane cooker

 

If you are just stuck inside then there are more options. Fresh veggies last awhile and there are many that are good raw or that cook quick over a campfire or a kitchen gas stove. Backpacking with veggies can take up more room and if there is any extra water on them then it can get rancid.

Get creative and also look at what you already enjoy eating. Online stores and some bulk warehouse stores offer options for buying huge amounts of MRE and freeze-dried meals in tubs or cases if you want to get serious about stocking up.

3 Quotes from Muhammad Ali to live by every day

“I don’t count the sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count. That’s what makes you a champion.”

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.”

Bouncing for training

Jumping on a mini-trampoline a.k.a. Rebounding

My favorite warm up exercise and one of my fav energizers is bouncing on a rebounder. I even use it to run on sometimes, and I get a better work-out than running. That split-second feeling of weightlessness gives of feeling of letting go which helps blow off stress.

  • It can be used by everyone. Those ill, injured, or the elderly can use it with the help of hand rails. Athletic people can do more challenging types of bouncing to further improve their conditioning.
  • It helps the lymph system, thyroid, and adrenals. That is great for weight loss and the immune system.
  • It helps digestion and aids in cleansing this system.
  • It increases muscle fiber tone and muscle-to-fat ratio.
  • It increases metabolism. Other cardio does the opposite when done too much.
  • It can burn many calories and make you sweat when done long enough.
  • Helps with balance, coordination, and flexibility. These are three very important things, but they are seldom worked on.
  • It is more effective cardio than running. Rather than harming joints, rebounding helps build stronger bones and joints.
  • Bouncing is fun. We need fun.

When you bounce try all types: bounce lightly without coming off the fabric, bounce high, run in place, bounce in a circle, kick your legs forward, bounce with a twist, bounce with a squat, bounce with calf raise, and bounce any way you come up with. Try it for at least 3 minutes. 15 minutes a day is great.

Good snack options

If you are hitting the fitness then you probably see that 3 meals per day does not cut it. Snacks between meals or having 5-6 small meals is a must for most of us.

The worst thing someone can do is not snack during the day and then overstuff at dinner to make up for the lack. There are many healthy snack options even when you are on-the-go. Many do not require a cooler or fridge. Some can be even picked up at a gas station. The key is to develop a routine of daily planning in the morning or before bed. Here are some ideas for snacks between meals:

  • Whole fruit or dried fruit
  • Raw veggies with hummus or avocado
  • Vegetable or avocado sushi rolls
  • Nuts (lower-sodium), 1-2 handfuls
  • Protein powder with water, juice, or vegan milk
  • Smoothie with fruit and/or greens
  • Meal bar or nut bar
  • 2-3 bananas and peanut butter
  • Salad with ingredients that give a variety of flavor and crunchiness
  • Vegan yoghurt (preferably with more fruit sugar than cane sugar or unsweetened)
  • Pre-baked potato or sweet potato
  • Baked tofu slices and hot sauce
  • Plant-based cashew cheese on flaxseed crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Oatmeal bar or cookie, low-sweetener
  • Summer rolls with tofu and veggies
  • Hearty soup
  • Leftovers

***Of course, choose the amount of snack that fits within your calorie and fat needs. It is easy to eat 1000 calories of nuts or peanut butter, but that is too much for a snack for most people.

If you have a job that does not offer snack or lunch breaks- look for new job- then meanwhile bring food to drink down. Have a bottle with a high calorie protein shake, blended soup, or a oatmeal fruit smoothie. This can be partially frozen or iced if spoilage would be possible.

Home treat: If you are not on-the-go then vegan frozen banana ice cream loaded with toppings makes an excellent treat.

Some people like air-popped popcorn but I never have cared for popcorn without oil. You might.

Bad Snack Options:

Donuts, cookies, potato chips, candy bars, high-calorie coffee drink, zero calorie fake sugar drinks. Do Not Consume Them!

Find a healthy replacement.

The longer you eat healthier the more cravings for bad things will go away.

Which Tofu to Buy for higher protein diets & How to use it

For high protein cubes or slices:

As with other things, it is all about how firm it is.

A meal using super firm will give you 15-40 grams fairly easily. Sprouted tofu is better for digesting if you can find it.

Use super firm in a plastic bag not the white tray. You can buy this at any health food store and some markets. No pressing the water out needed. This tofu is mega firm. Water is low-so protein is high

2nd Option: Extra firm in the tray. Not quite as firm. More water-so protein is about 1/3 less. Squeezing the tofu needed (keep reading). This works in a pinch in an understocked store, but why pay for water instead of more tofu protein?

For scrambled Tofu or eggless Salad:

You need something more like the firmness of scrambled eggs to make the tofu version. Buy extra firm in the white tray. You will need to squeeze out much of the water with your hands or a paper towel/cheesecloth. Pressing it with a spatula when you heat it will cook out more water- this is why I never take time to let it drain before cooking.

For pudding or cheesecake:

Why are you eating pudding? It better be a rare treat. Use the firm tofu. Anything softer is useless and gross.

About Me

I am a personal trainer and yoga teacher. I have been gluten-free (Celiac) since 2008 and vegan since 2000. CPT, RYT & untrained chef. I have a love of good knives, martial arts, meditation, fitness, herbal remedies, and reading books. I am a big animal lover with a retired Belgian Malinois and cats.