Baked Rolled Oats - Pecans & Blueberry

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Just tell me in the comments if you are already over my rolled oats recipes? But these are baked rolled oats! As you may have gathered by now, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, closely followed by lunch/ brunch. I'm not that crazy about dinner, because big meals usually make me very sleepy. I'm known for falling asleep on my friends' couches after dinner parties. Not my proudest moments. But also occupational hazard, I may add.

This dish will be done in 45 minutes and you can eat it for the next few days.

You will need 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of almond milk, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of melted butter or ghee, 1-2 cups of pecans chopped and 1-2 cups of frozen blueberries and 2 bananas. Maple syrup is optional.

Butter a medium sized baking dish and line the bottom of it with bananas. In one bowl mix the oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the almond milk, maple syrup and the butter.

Sprinkle 2/3 of the blueberries over the bananas, then evenly coat with the oat mixture. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and give it a little shake to make sure the milk runs in between the oats. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and the blueberries on top.

Bake the dish at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes, enjoy the beautiful smell and then devour!

Let me know if you like it!

xxR

PS: The beautiful serving spoon was a gift from my in-laws. I love the South African designer Carrol Boyes.

 

 

***Recipe adapted from http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2011/04/baked-oatmeal/

Leg Toning Exercises - Bespoke Training (video)

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In this new video I have compiled exercises for toning the legs. Using a Theraband or elastic resistance band makes them fun and strengthens and lengthens the muscles in the legs in a gentle way, while increasing your range of motion and core strength. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments or come on over to my YouTube channel to check out the rest! And make sure to check out my friends' website over at Melt Massage and Bodywork (where I shot this video and you can get a great massage!).

Colourful Kale - Tasty Tuesday

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Who says, fall and winter have to be drab? They can be colourful like in this pepper and kale dish. As a child if you had asked me if I liked the idea of having this as a side for dinner, I wouldn't have been thrilled. Today I like it a lot. It's easy, there is an abundance of kale and with the right spices it turns into a very satisfying dish. And here is how it goes: Wash the kale and shake dry or spin in a salad spinner. Heat 1-2 Tbs of EVOO and roast 2 cloves of garlic in a pan (don't dice them) until they release aroma without burning them.  Then add the kale little by little, letting it wilt down just enough to add more. Once the whole batch is in, season it with salt and pepper to taste and start adding one sliced pepper (ha! see what I did here? From pepper to pepper...). Red, yellow and orange peppers will give the dish a sweeter taste, than the green one and I personally like that. As soon as you see the pepper softening sprinkle some coconut flakes on it and you can add Chinese five spice too (1/2 teaspoon). Finish it off with freshly squeezed lemon juice right after you take it out of the pan and toss it. ENJOY!

Words on Wednesday: 5 ways to be more approachable

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I think I have mentioned it often how important my coach was to me. He was a mixture of a friend and a father figure after my dad passed early. He was a mentor and someone I could trust blindly and still would today... Connections like these are hard to find. Admittedly I am not a very trusting person and some of my close friends now would attest to that. They all initially interpreted my (intense) personality and lack of openness with arrogance and it usually took a long time for me to let them in... In NYC where every store clerk asks you how you are doing and where people greet you with "what's up?", I used to earnestly respond to the question and shake my head saying that I had seen better days. Upon which I would realize that it was a rhetorical question and the other person had long since moved on. My bad. I am not trusting but that doesn't mean that I am a superficial brute or not interested in you. It just takes me a tad longer to let my guard down while I explore if it's safe.

And now, I'm a personal trainer and my goal is to be approachable, happy, positive and a good motivator. Last week I had asked great clients of mine for a referral/ testimonial of the work with me and they came back SO detailed and beautiful they made my heart sing. It was a major acknowledgement that I am capable of creating an environment in which people enjoy working out and trust my knowledge and guidance. And may I just say, I am very fortunate to work with amazing people that make my job something I look forward to and come out of humming!

So how did I bring about something in my professional life, that I have had trouble with in my personal life? 5 things that I am applying more and better in my personal life now, too! Here's the breakdown:

  1. Wait and See: I used to jump into relationships head first, spilling my secrets, family history and many embarrassing details way too early. In a professional relationship that's not possible and that's a good thing. Waiting to see what people are like, if we get a along and are on the same page is something that I have taken from my work to my home. And it works.
  2. Look them in the Eye: we as a society don't like it. Eye contact feels intimidating, threatening almost and must be avoided at all times. But our eyes are the windows to our soul, so how could we? Looking at people for real means seeing through them but also showing them a certain vulnerability which will make them trust us more. It helps me to see whether someone I work with is tired, happy, exuberant, annoyed, etc. And I can respond appropriately.
  3. Lower your Voice: have you noticed that animals respond to lower voices with more calm? Horses slow down when we tell them and dogs obey commands better than if they are with a young child that shrieks and acts erratic. Low voices are perceived as sexy and warm. Don't we all wish we could make everyone swoon like Angelina? Even though we may resent their effect on men, but we want to be their friend, too... Check it out: Top Ten Women with Deep Voices
  4. Touch: The favourite part of many people, is Savasana usually because I or the yoga teacher gives us a quick kneading of the shoulders, touches our temples or pulls our neck straight. Humans need touch, we thrive on it. In families and friendships and of course relationships, happy hormones are released through cuddles and other physical forms of intimacy. It makes us all sigh when we see a senior couple that still have a very tender relationship, when they hold hands and lean their head on the others' shoulder.
  5. Laugh: for real! Don't fake it. Laugh and make it infectious. Laughter is great for a strong core and sharing deep gurgling belly laughs is a connection that is almost impossible to cut. Whatever happens in the future, you can be sure that you will remember those over any argument, disagreement or extra set of reps that I pushed you through!

So now, armed with this knowledge, I dare you to deepen your relationship with that person that your intuition has told you by now is safe, look them in the eye, grab their shoulders, tell them a joke (deep voice!) and then laugh it out together.

Just writing this puts a smile on my face.

xxR

 

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Monday Moves: Exercises for Lower Back Relief (Video)

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I am very excited that this first Youtube video is online, now! I hope it will be helpful to relieve some of your issues around the lower back. You can increase the number of repetitions per exercise as you see fit.

And I would love to hear more from you about it, in the comments below.

xxR

International Inspiration - How to be polite online in true Olympic spirit

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As an athlete traveling to foreign countries, we were instructed to observe certain laws of politeness. As ambassadors of our country we had to remember that any mischief would reflect badly not just on us but our nation. Later, when I worked at the United Nations, it became normal for me to switch languages to address coworkers, to learn the specifics of how to interact with people from different backgrounds and to get accustomed to the food and culture of different regions of the world. At my wedding recently, we counted guests from circa 15 different nations and when I look at people who support me on social media, that read and comment on my postings, they come from many different places, too. It's pretty amazing how interconnected the world has become. In New York it almost seems normal to be at a dinner (or a wedding) and meet people from several different continents and from all walks of life. Online and in social media even more so.

I have noticed that I know people who have accumulated over 1,000 Facebook friends on their private accounts and consider it normal to share their (somewhat) private information with every one of them although some, they may have only met once. This trend can be dangerous without a set of rules (of conduct) in place and whether it is voyeurism or sharing of our private information by others, it seems we are doing less to safeguard our personal lives. On the other hand we have to do more to learn how to do so, because it is not in the interest of the providers of these platforms to keep our lives private.

While looking for rules that would be a good example of how to live together in peace across different languages, cultures and nations, I remembered the Olympic Games. They are the epitome of young people coming together to challenge each other but remain peaceful and respectful with a sense of integrity and acknowledging diversity. There are seven rules that can be read in whole on the Olympic website.

And here is my adaptation of the essential elements of five of the seven and how they could help us stay polite in a digital age:

  1. Rule One describes Olympism as a quest "to create a way of life based on the joy of effort and the educational value of good example". As adults nobody reminds us of how to be a good example anymore. This results in us over-sharing and sometimes embarrassing ourselves and those close to us. Social media started as a way to connect and exchange. Now it sometimes seems that the more ridiculous a post is, the more attention it gets.
  2. Rule Two mentions the harmonious development of humankind and promoting a peaceful society. In times of controversial news spreading within seconds, we have to remind ourselves that not everything (especially negativity) needs to be shared online in comments and tweets that may hurt another.
  3. Rule Three speaks of the five interlaced rings as a symbol of nations coming together and using concerted efforts to stay intertwined. Too often, when news breaks that concerns one country or region, we are quickly divided by ethnic lines. Maintaining a respect for different viewpoints of religion, politics and culture, is crucial. As individuals we should refrain from using social media to further fan the flames of intolerance.
  4. Rule Four talks about practicing sport as a human right. Freedom of speech is a human right, too. And people shouldn't be so quick to condemn others because of their values or beliefs. Not online and not in person.
  5. Rule Six condemns any discrimination towards another. As in "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all". We should all think before we speak or type. Discrimination is closely tied to stereotypes and misconceptions about other countries and cultures. Maintaining a polite way of talking to others is crucial.

I believe that in times of constant exposure and connectivity, these rules apply to our life in busy urban settings as well as in the privacy of our home when we go online. They were created as a means of people getting along and shouldn't only be followed by a select few at a special event but - if we remind ourselves of their value - would make our coexistence much more enjoyable on a daily basis. So any time we are quick to judge, roll our eyes, over-share or condemn, maybe we can take a step back and remember that the profile photo represents a real person, with feelings that could potentially get hurt.

I dare you to try it and let me know what you think in the comments, below!

xxR

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Flexibilité - bent repeatedly without injury or damage

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I work out with a person who is incredibly poised, funny and fierce. She is French and she's pregnant. Every time I cycle home after a session with her I've noticed I'm feeling happy and strong. Our 60 minutes together are times of the day I look forward to and seeing her thrive in her pregnancy and energized when I leave her is an added bonus that leaves me profoundly grateful for the job I'm doing.

She has taught me other things than the French words she sprinkles into the session  when she's counting or explaining something, she has also introduced me to more flexibility.

Now if you've read about how the anatomy of a woman changes, you will know that she becomes flexible and stretching is much easier than before. Take a woman who did Ashtanga yoga and was able to wrap her leg around her head pre pregnancy and you have the polar opposite of my tight hamstrings.

A few weeks ago I introduced an exercise where we sit opposite each other wide legged, holding each others' hands and rocking back and forth with deep breaths. It is said that the motion releases tension in the lower back especially during pregnancy and it aids digestion.

She would laugh at the little motion that was happening on my end and ask me if she should pull me more. I said no. But within a few weeks my flexibility increased nonetheless. Which got me thinking.

I do yoga several times a week, I am an avid runner and usually stretch afterwards and I lead an active lifestyle in which I try to keep flexible as well as strong. Still, my hamstrings and hips are always my tightest areas. But there are times when I don't overthink it, when they are more open and usually that is when I'm relaxed and happy and full of gratitude for my life and my surroundings.

As a student, practicing fencing, I would do splits as part of my stretching often, I would plop down laughing into a hurdle seat (no hands) come back up to my feet turn and sit down again on the opposite leg. My coach incorporated a lot of gymnastics into my training to make it more diverse and fun and so I wouldn't notice how we strengthened my core and upper body in exactly the right places for the swimming which was also part of the Modern Pentathlon. I did handstands, cartwheels, handsprings and was elastic as a Haribo gummybear :) .

Now I wouldn't want to blame my difficulties now on age, but rather on a state of mind that these days I have to switch on more consciously. It seems contradictory to force oneself to be playful and easy but I've found that giving the brain an impulse to change direction works wonders for its physical ability, too. The tumbling and falling that results from trying things playfully, returns the favour and makes us giggle.

Somewhere along the way of growing up, I have lost some of that playfulness, I have had painful losses in the last few years and life in general can sometimes be unrelenting. Being an 'expat' has meant that I needed to adapt to a new surrounding when my friends back home were settling down. However, I have made a few drastic changes; among them the decision to pursue my passion with Chitta Wellness. So far, it has been a great change in direction and with it a lot of play has come back into my life. I am currently a work in progress in this department but with the help of old people and new people and the incredible enthusiasm they have shown for what I am building and what I continue to create, I catch myself tapping my foot lightly while humming a tune, much more often.

I dare you to do the same... Play on!