Sunday, July 25, 2010

Living on the edge

Sometimes, you just gotta live dangerously.

Like not washing your hands after you pee.

Just kidding!

This morning, however, I was tempted by the yellowy, gooey goodness of egg yolks. I was in the mood for steak and eggs and, by golly, I was having yolks to dip my steak and toast.

Except for one problem: along with one tiny little tablespoon of mayo on my tuna wrap and 11 friggin' grams of fat in the the tuna (seriously! won't be buying Italian pesto flavour again), my fat intake for the day is out of whack.

And by whack, I mean that 46 per cent of my dietary intake for today has been fat. Thank you, tuna.

So for dinner, I've picked Tilapia and Banana Black Bean Salad from a recent Clean Eating.

In one delicious serving, there's four whole grams of fat -- bite that, egg yolks -- and 44 grams of protein.

Tilapia and Black Bean Salad
Serves four

1 cup plus 2 tbsp dried black beans (I cheated and used canned)
2 semi-firm bananas, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped (about one cup)
3 small jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
Juice of one lime
2/3 packed cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp chile powder, divided
Olive oil spray
Six six-ounce tilapia fillets
1 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place beans in a large bowl and add enough cool water to cover. Soak at room temperature overnight. Drain beans and rinse in a colander. Place beans in a large saucepan and add enough fresh water to cover beans by about three inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse.

2. In a large bowl, combine beans, bananas, onion, jalapeños, lime juice, cilantro and 1 tsp chile powder. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high and lightly oil rack. Alternatively, coat a large skillet with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat. Season tilapia with 1 tsp chile powder, salt and black pepper. Cook tilapia until lightly browned and opaque in the centre, about three to four minutes on each side.

4. Serve one tilapia fillet with two-thirds cup of salad.

Nutrients per serving
Calories, 135; total fat, 4 g; saturated fat, 2 g; monounsaturated fat, 1 g; polyunsaturated fat, 1 g; omega-3s, 493 mg; omega-6s, 578 mg; carbs, 37 g; fibre, 11 g; sugars, 6 g; protein, 44 g; sodium, 483 mg; cholesterol, 84 mg.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You've lost that lovin' feeling

Oh burpees.

I hate you.

I really, really do.

Maybe it's the way my stomach and diaphragm get all cinched up and make me want to vomit all over myself.

Maybe it's the way you work every single muscle in my body, from the pinky toe to the grimacing fibers in my face.

I hate you.

But Kristen has made them a Pit Stop on my fitness journey with #CFBootcamp, brought to us by Champagne Fitness.

We kicked it into high gear tonight with circuit work, doing some strength exercises capped by a run around the trees with as many circuits as possible in seven minutes. I think we maxxed out at three sets.

Circuit 1
10 pushups
10 situps
10 burpees

Circuit 2
10 squat jumps
10 Supermans ... or locusts for you yoga people
10 switching side planks
10 mountain climbers

I blasted through the first set of each circuit, busting my ass. And then that little friend of mine, whom we'll call 'lack of endurance,' caught up with me and slowed me down.


But here's what will be fun: We'll be doing a similar workout near the end of the six-week bootcamp, giving us a gauge on the improvement of our fitness levels.

Now here's where I need help.

I typically eat before going to the gym but, most days, I have a two-hour window between dinner and hitting the weights.

With bootcamp starting at 6:30 p.m., I only have about an hour in between eating and moving.

I thought I was keeping it light with a salad and protein (steak strips) but I still got that pukey feeling.

Is there something different I should be eating?

Or should I be switching to a light snack and then dinner afterward?

That might be the best idea. Because then I may not feel tempted to stop here:

... for one of these:

Eh ... I'll make up for it at the gym tomorrow night.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rumble in the sky

There isn't an athlete worth her salt who doesn't know what a suicide drill is.

Just show me one who doesn't groan - and die a little inside - every time she hears its name.

So it was on the first night of Champagne Fitness Bootcamp, brought to us by my dear friend, Terri Champagne.

Three sets of suicide runs - as the thunder rolled in the distance, us all never having a clue there was a torrential downpour in the southwest corner of the city.

I hate cardio. I loathe it. Despise it. What's another good word for hate?

I used to run. I'd do almost 10K three times a week. Then I couldn't figure out where I was going or why I was going there. It bored me to tears and I stopped.

I like to spike my heart rate in my weight training. Tell me you're not out of breath after doing six squats at 125% of your body weight.

When I do cardio, I try my best to make it interesting, doing intervals on the elliptical or going as fast as I can for a full mile. Plyometrics make a workout fun, too - whether it's box jumps, step-up jumps, BOSU lunges, balance board pushups and squats, or medicine ball work.

But I get pretty one-track minded and all I really want to do is get into the weight room and work on my strength.

Thus, I had trepidation about joining the boot camp, wondering if Terri was going to make us run 5K holding weights above our heads, like I did with Soldiers of Fitness.

Terri, however, is great at recognizing our limitations - no, that's not the right word. Let's go with 'struggles.'

When she sees someone struggling with an exercise, whether it's a fitness level thing or a physical impediment, she'll adjust the movement to better suit the client.

For instance, I tore my rotator cuff in 2004. Actually, in the words of my doctor, my darn little supraspinatus was 'shredded.'

And, of course, as an avid slopitch player, it is under constant fire in the summer time. No matter how much muscle strength I build up around this poor little bit of fibres and nerves, it has its moments of pain.

Plank walks, then, are not in the cards. Plank kickbacks, though, are.

The great thing is, there's no escape. Sure, you can bail out of an exercise, but Terri is ever mindful and wants us all to reap the full benefits of this bootcamp.

As much as that's up to her to guide us through the exercises, it's also up to us as clients to give our full participation.

Because she isn't going to crunch our abs for us.

Here's a few handy things to remember:
  • Bring water, lots of it
  • Might be a good idea - especially for a sweater like me - to have a towel handy
  • Give yourself a 90-minute window between eating and bootcamp
  • Don't eat anything heavy, like buying into the game-day pasta myth
  • Puking is an option
See you Thursday!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kick it, kick it, yeah, that's the ticket

It's been four years since I've done group fitness, outside of team sports.

It was a boot camp with Soldiers of Fitness. They were opening up shop in Calgary and needed some promo time.

So, the Sun sent me over. Truth be told, I volunteered. I needed to get something going after letting my gym membership lapse due to financial restrictions at time.

They yelled and hammered me into shape - the best shape I'd been in for years. I picked up the nickname Cadet Abs, too, because I was strong through the core and kicked everyone's ass when we were doing crunches.

The opportunity to return to 'boot camp' recently arose and since my wonderful, amazing and inspiring friend Terri Champagne is running the show, I couldn't say no.

It's a bootcamp rife with Twitter people. Some of them will get to meet the real me and find out I'm not as interesting as I pretend to be on the internet.

That's not scary.

What is intimidating about the group fitness experience is my ability to focus on the task at hand when I'm surrounded by other people.

At the gym, I have the mirror and I have my MP3 player. I turn up the volume, load up Slipknot or Tool and feel there's one person and one person only in the room.

The accomplishment of pushing (or pulling) the iron is mine and mine alone.

So, here's me opening myself back up to an old experience.

I don't expect Terri to yell at me like the boys of SOF did, call me a 'weakling' and bark orders for '10 more!'

I do expect a burpee or two.

And I expect to get my ass kicked into high gear.

But stay tuned here to find out, along with me, the things I didn't expect.

Don't Thai me down

Here's what I figured out before going grocery shopping last night:

Read the macros on a recipe first. Don't wait until after eating, even if it comes out of Clean Eating.

I've noticed a good proportion of the recipes are carb-based, some with as many as 50 grams per serving. This won't help me accomplish my goals, even if they are 'good' carbs.

So now, I'm looking for recipes that are better balanced between carbs and proteins ... and finding them. I'm even lucky enough to find some in which the proteins outweigh the carbs.


Without further adieu, I give you ...

Thai Beef Salad

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cut fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp sweet chile sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lean flank stank (1.5 lb), trimmed
Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, each cut into six wedges
6 c. romaine lettuce, torn
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp unsalted raw peanuts, chopped

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat or preheat broiler.
2. Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Set half of lime mixture aside. Combine other half of lime mixture with steak in a large zip-top plastic bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning once. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade.
3. Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray and cook six minutes per side for medium or until it reaches desired doneness. Let stand five minutes or until it reaches desired doneness. Cut steak diagonally, across grain, into thin slices.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for three minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté for two more minutes. Place onion-tomato mixture, lettuce, cucumber and mint in a large bowl; toss gently to combine. Divide steak evenly and top each serving with three ounces of steak. Drizzle each salad with 1 tbsp reserved lime mixture and sprinkle with peanuts, if desired.

Nutrients per serving (3 oz of steak and 3/4 cup of salad)
Calories, 167; total fat, 6 g; saturated fat, 2.5; monounsaturated fat, 2.5 g; polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 g; carbs, 8 g; fiber, 2 g; sugars, 3 g; protein, 20 g; sodium, 87 mg; cholesterol, 30 mg.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spanish pork and other stories

With apologies to Chris de Burgh for that headline ...

Funny thing about pig meat. I can't stand bacon ... the smell of it, the look of it, the texture of it, the greasiness.

But that doesn't mean you throw the whole pig out with the dish water. Ground pork? Check. Pork tenderloin? Check.

It is, after all, the other white meat, right? Or is that turkey? Wait ... that's the other other ... I don't know.

In any case, here's a recipe from a recent Clean Eating that wowed my taste buds into a sense of deliciousness.

Spanish Pork with Redskins

2 redskin potatoes, cut into one-inch pieces
1 zucchini, sliced into half-inch rounds
1 medium onion, sliced into half-inch rounds
3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 lb. extra-lean ground pork
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. frozen corn
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 tbsp sweet paprika*
1 medium tomato, chopped*
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp. sage*
1/2 tsp. thyme
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 oz. goat cheese

1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Pierce potatoes with a knife to ensure they're tender, then remove from heat and drain.
2. While potatoes are cooking, sauté zucchini and onion in 1.5 tsp oil over medium heat for three minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning. Stir in pork, peas, corn and paprika. Cook for five more minutes, making sure all ingredients are evently distributed across surface of pan.
3. Remove pork mixture from heat and stir in bell pepper, tomato and lemon juice. Cover with lid to keep warm while finishing potatoes.
4. Gently toss potatoes with remaining oil. Add sage and thyme and season with salt and black pepper. Place about 1/2 cup potatoes alongside quarter of pork mixture (about 1.5 cups) on each plate, then crumble quarter of cheese over top before serving.

Nutrients per serving
Calories, 350; total fat, 9 g; saturated fat, 3 g; carbs, 35 g; fiber, 6 g; sugar, 6 g; protein, 33 g; sodium, 156 mg; cholesterol, 26 mg

* Notes:
  • Forgot the paprika ... dummy!
  • Was out of sage, so I substituted rosemary
  • Used grape tomotoes, cut in half, instead of a whole tomato ... a sweeter result, I think.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back from the gym

Here's a mistake I've been making, while I go back to the Sweat program Jared designed for me three years ago.

I haven't been squatting or deadlifting heavy enough and I think I'm losing some strength gains. My 4x3 squat last week was a weak 225 and tonight I incorporated deads where they weren't before. They're down to 185.

So back on the horse ... because I might want to lose weight but I don't want to watch my strength go with it, too.

I'm also looking for recipes, so if you're out there reading, fill me in on what you have. I'm an avid reader of Clean Eating by Tosca Rena and I've recently started following her blog and Twitter stream.

Sometimes, though, the recipes are a bit out of whack and I make the mistake of preparing them before checking the macros. For instance, a steak and vegetables over pasta recipe has 46 grams of carbs and 28 grams of protein. I think - now I could be wrong, but I think - that's too many carbs for a single-serving meal.

This one, however, is an all-around win. It's delicious, easy to make and a great balance with more protein than carbs. Check it out:

Chicken Almondine
with lemon green beans

1/4 c. slivered, unsalted almonds, toasted, divided
1 tsbp. whole wheat flower
1/4 tsp. paprika
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb. fresh green beans
Zest of one lemon (about 2 to 3 tsp)
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tbsp)

1. Grind 1/8 c. almonds to a powder using a food processor fitted with a standard blade or a spice grinder (I mashed them up in my mortar and pestle). In a medium bowl, combine ground almonds, flour and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken breasts in almond-flour mixture and set aside.
2. Set a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat for one minute. Mist with cooking spray and heat for one more minute. Reduce heat to medium-high and sauté chicken for three minutes per side or until golden brown and no pink remaining. Remove from heat.

3. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add beans and blanche for one minute. Remove beans from water. In a large bowl, toss beans with lemon zest and juice then season with salt and pepper.

4. To serve, sprinkle remaining 1/8 cup of almonds over top of chicken, dividing evenly. Serve each chicken breast with 3/4 cup of beans.

Nutrients per serving
Calories: 220; Total fat: 6 g; Saturated fat: 0.75 g; Carbs: 12 g; Fibre: 5 g; Sugars: 2 g; Protein: 30 g; Sodium: 111 mg; Cholesterol: 66 mg.

Five down, 10 to go

Admission: I still don't have all this eating stuff figured out.

I'm going to call on my friends Terri and Shelby to help me out where they can, if either of them would ever stop leaving town for weeks at a time.


It's a bit of a battle, fighting between carbs, proteins and fats and struggling to figure out the right balance, when it isn't all set out in front of me. That was a huge benefit to the LA Weight Loss program. Trouble was, I knew I wasn't getting enough carbs or enough proteins to match my workout regimen and that's why I was feeling listless and lethargic and falling asleep at work.

However, I stepped on my shiny new scale last night and registered a 169.

One freakin' 60! I haven't been in the 160s since 2006 before I got laid off from the Sun.

And I'm pretty darn pleased with myself.

So much that I looked back at the other blog I was trying to maintain and found measurements I posted on Feb. 3.

Shoulders: 43 ... down one inch. Yippee! I generally do lose quickly in this area.
Bustline: 41 ... down one inch. Wow ... no wonder they aren't falling out of my bras as much anymore
Waist: 36.5 ... down half an inch. OK, this area goes slowly, I know.
Hips: 43 ... another half inch

Here's today:

Shoulders: 41.5 inches
Bustline: 39 ... that's two inches of back fat, folks
Waist: 33 in ... mother of freaking GOD!
Hips: 40

OK, so I'm awesome. And getting hotter every day.

My schedule didn't really allow for regular trips to the gym. But I did what I could when I could.

Here's the last round of workout days:

Day 1
3 x one minute
Medicine ball thrusters superset (SS) with weighted fitball crunches
Balance board squats SS balance board pushups

Day 2
4 x fail
Modified pullups SS pushups
Olympic squats (two plates ... I went easy)
Single dumbbell crunches

Day 3 ... Saturday morning!
4 x 10
Dumbbell swings SS jumping stepups
Dumbbell flyes SS bentover row

Am I looking forward to tonight?

Sure thing ...

Six rounds, each to fail, of balance board squats supersetted with balance board pushups, then 4x3 deadlifts, then medicine ball ab work.