How to resist temptation

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Has the weather in the Northeast worn you down yet? The US and Canada started 2014 off with freezing temperatures and polar vortexes that kept us in their grip for a solid 3 weeks. Now that we learned how to bundle up for all occasions, we get more snow and more to come. We have had colder weather than the arctic, big snow falls, sleet, freezing rain and then some. Usually our response to this weather is to turn to comfort. More precisely comfort food.

For some it is the hot chocolate, for others, savoury dishes that seem too heavy in the summer but now hold a certain allure. We drink more and vegetables take a lot more preparation to make them hot and comforting, so they can land on the back burner.

I'm no stranger to the effect that gravy, creamy dishes and sauces, roasts, pies and other sweets hold in the winter. Exercising in the cold weather is harder too, so is motivating ourselves to even consider it when there are only limited hours of daylight.

BUT: here is how to resist temptation with a few shifts in your mindset.

  1. KISS: keep it simple, skinny! I talk about routine a lot and it is true. The more your mind and body know what is coming (or not) the more reliably they will keep you on track. For example, if you eat a wholesome healthy warm dish of oatmeal in the morning on six days out of seven, then you will be less tempted to grab a quick muffin, egg sandwich or croissant on your way to work. The same goes for exercise. If you plan certain classes ahead and pack your bag, you're sort of forced to go.
  2. KO the sugar! I'm not saying you have to quit sugar all together. Although, it is certainly healthier. But if you start paying attention to white sugar in foods that is hidden, that is half the battle won. The simple carbohydrates don't do much more for your body than providing it with quick energy. We all have enough stored in our bodies to provide the body with that. The other problem is that while your body is busy digesting the carbs, other components of your food, proteins and fat, are being stored. Try and find alternatives, like honey or grab a piece of fruit before eating the chocolate bar.
  3. REM: Rest.Eat.Me(ditate)-Time! Not in that order but you get what I mean. Sleep is important in combating temptation and resisting it. I'm a compulsive snacker especially under stress. And I don't usually reach for an apple. When you get enough sleep and eat your last meal long enough before going to bed and then supplement that with 15 minutes of quality time for reflecting, the chances are that you will be less frazzled and make healthier choices.
  4. DIY: do it yourself i.e. cook! We all lead VERY stressful, busy lives but especially in the winter, our choices for takeout can be dumb. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly what goes in it. It's a beautiful thing to cook, to savour the aroma of dishes, to share it with partners and friends and it prolonges the process of enjoying it, too. If you live alone, cook and then freeze things or have regular potluck lunches with colleagues so you can sample some of their food.
  5. Check your MO: as in moderation, as in fallback plan! We can't always resist temptation but we can limit the amount of indulgences that we give in to. The easiest is to not keep too many unhealthy food options around the house. Or have them in individual packs. When the urge is big, make it a ritual that you enjoy. Reward yourself, have a great experience and then move on with your day and week. For example, have one row of a chocolate bar, have a few spoons of ice-cream, eat a slice of pizza and please spare yourself the guilt afterwards. This may just be my humble opinion, but I'm pretty sure guilt will make you fat ;)

Now, all these tricks are for when you are at home. But we are no hermits. Whenever you are out in public and temptation arises, remind yourself of the awesome things that you have in store for yourself at home. When you go to a party, try and keep normal meal portions in mind, then increase them by a little because it's a special occasion but keep paying attention if you start to feel sluggish, heavy, bloated or tippsy. Chances are that is just the prelude of how much worse you'll feel the next morning...

I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments how you resist temptation. Pass on this article if you liked it and come on over to Facebook and like my page.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

xxR

Discipline: Rad or Bad?

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I just read this article about discipline and how celebrities apply the 80/20 rule to stay fit and slim without denying themselves occasional indulgences. It sounds reasonable and I try to live by that same rule. It's often more along the lines of 70/30... but what I am trying to do these days is keep my meal plan simple during the week and allow myself a day on the weekend during which I don't have to think about what I eat and can indulge. I have found that it keeps my cravings at bay and improves my overall well being tremendously. Ok, so maybe I apply 80/20 on those other days sometimes, too :) As I have mentioned before, my schedule as an athlete used to be very structured, time wise, but also in terms of what I ate and when. The structure provided me with a sense of safety and stability in my life, it made me feel invincible to be able to be so physically active and high school was its own structure, too - that I fit in between workouts. During intense weeks, I would run 5-6 times a week, swim 3-4 times, fence 3 times, shoot 3 times (plus autogenic training) and ride once or twice. Phew... just typing this makes me tired now. Days would start at 6am (in the pool) and end sometimes at 9pm (leaving the fencing gymnasium). Wash (often!). Rinse. Repeat.

I was recently invited by a group of women (who have families to take care of), to run with them. Meeting place was 6am at Grand Army Plaza. Which meant getting up at 5.30 and being out of the door by 5.40am. It was remarkable to see how these women met with such fun at such an early time, I thoroughly enjoyed their company and when we were done, their day started with making sure that their kids were out the house and off to school, etc. My only responsibility was to feed my dog and then check my schedule for the day. I won't be doing it all the time, but there was something that made me feel very proud about adding so many hours to my day and having been productive already by the time I got home at 7am.

Being self-employed demands a certain amount of discipline. Working with people and helping them create a different lifestyle demands being creative in my approaches to mask that discipline as enjoyable exercise and delicious meals. Working with people in public class settings means, picking up on each person's vibe, and rewarding the discipline of them showing up with an experience that will be memorable physically and emotionally.

Getting positive feedback is a direct reward of my discipline. What a beautiful circle.

I have learned in the past years, to be less harsh with myself. The control freak in me has to consciously relinquish the rigor of that discipline that is such a strong part of me and allow myself to go with the flow and let events unfold.

I have found that creating structure is important when it is around practical things, such as my calendar, exercises planning for the people I work with but in my personal life, I am allowing a few more elements of surprise. I still don't like surprise parties or ordering dishes for the table instead of me (more on this in a different post)... but I have learned through my dear friends, that life can be a delicious "box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get".

And I'm ready to embrace it. I dare you to try the same!

xxR

Peach Pancakes - Tasty Tuesday

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I love peach... and pancakes ... you may say, why is she making a sweet dish again. Well it's because: why not? You can make your own salad but to get creative with healthy options of otherwise over-sweetened uber fatty dishes that you order when you eat out, is harder. So here's a little help. For these pancakes I used fresh peaches from the Farmer's Market. They are succulent and big and ripe these days so you don't need much additional sugar. Also making the pancake dough from scratch is easy and you know what goes in it exactly. Substitute yoghurt for milk and I used 50/50 white flour and whole wheat. One egg, some spices... delish!

Ingredients are:

1 large egg 1 cup Yogurt (I used Ronnybrooks maple vanilla) ½ tsp vanilla 2 Tbsp sugar (or less) ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 1 pinch ground nutmeg (or not - or try cardamom, it's really good for you) ½ cup all-purpose flour ¼ cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda butter, for pan 1 peach peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced into ¼” sliced Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 250 F and set a baking sheet inside. Combine the egg, yogurt, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Heat a skillet to low-medium heat, and melt a Tablespoon of butter in it. Scoop about 1-2Tbs of batter into the pan (this will look like a very small amount), and place a round half slice of peach on top. The pancake will flatten out and be about the size of the peach when fully cooked. Cook on this first side for about 3 minutes, or until the edges are dry and the middle is bubbling, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Place cooked pancakes in the oven until all the batter is used. Serve with maple syrup or topping of your choice.

Tasty Tuesday: Plum Tart Recipe - Zwetschgendatschi

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This is an all time favourite recipe and my biggest challenge. A plum tart made from a yeast dough. Also know as "Zwetschgendatschi". It turned out ok, I used half whole wheat flour and half regular, added very little sugar. Too little for my husband's taste but the plums were delectable. Ingredients:

- 2 cups of all purpose flour or whole wheat and white flour 50/50

- 4 Tbs sugar - I used brown sugar but caster sugar is fine

- 1 package dry yeast

- 0.5 cups whole milk

- 1 egg

- 3 Tbs butter (soft)

- lemon rind from one lemon

- cinnamon and sugar

- 2- 2.5 lbs plums

Combine the flour and yeast in a bowl, add the butter, milk, egg, sugar and lemon rind. Combine by hand or with a dough attachment to your kitchen machine until you get a dough that doesn't stick to your hands anymore. Let it sit and rise to about double its size for approximately 30 minutes.

Knead the dough through again and then roll it out thin on a cookie sheet. I pressed it into a cake pan. Layer with the plums cut in halves or quarters with the flesh up. Spread some sugar and cinnamon on top and bake in the pre-heated oven at 350 F for about 35-45 minutes. YUMM!

Dieses Zwetschgendatschi Rezept ist der Knaller! Wir hatten so schoene Pflaumen hier am Wochenende dass ich nicht wiederstehen konnte. Ich habe halb Weissmehl und halb Vollkernmehl verwendet  und braunen Zucker. Ich habe ausserdem 4 Essloeffel Zucker verwendet statt 40 gramm. Hier koennt ihr das genaue Rezept nachsehen! LECKER!!

Muffin Top Be Gone Exercises (Video)

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10 minutes to help you get rid of that pesky Muffin Top. The exercises focus on strengthening the core, deep twists and finish with stretching out the area around the butt and the waist. Let me know if you like it, comment, share and be well!

Tasty Tuesday: Kale & Coconut/ Grünkohl & Kokosnuss

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A simple yet yummy recipe as a side dish or a main course. I like to buy the kale pre-washed and bagged and make a big batch of this. Spread the kale out on an oven tray after massaging it in some sesame oil. Set the oven to 300-350 F and bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure to check on it and maybe toss some more in between. Towards the end add some coconut flakes. I use Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Take the mixture out of the oven and toss in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or more if you like it. Enjoy!For an extra kick and some grains you can add some cooked barley and have a delicious vegetarian dish. Ein sehr einfaches und extrem leckeres Rezept das man als Vorspeise oder Hauptspeise geniessen kann. Ich kaufe den Grünkohl gerne vorgewaschen in der Tüte und verarbeite die ganze Tüte auf einmal. Verwende Sesamöl und massiere es in den Grünkohl. Richte die Blätter auf einem Ofenblech an und backe sie bei ca. 180 Grad für etwa 15 Minuten. Achte darauf dass die Blätter nicht anbrennen. Gegen Ende kannst du die Kokosnussraspeln hinzufügen. Ich verwende hier in den USA Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Nimm die Mischung aus dem Ofen und mische sie in einer Schüssel mit ca. 3 Esslöffeln Soja Sauce oder ein wenig mehr falls du das magst. Lecker! Für einen extra Kick und ein ganzheitliches vegetarisches Mahl, kannst du noch gekochte Gerste hinzufügen.

Tasty Tuesday: Chicory salad/ Chicoree Salat

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This one is really simple and really tasty. Chop four heads of chicory (I used green and red) and then let it soak in lukewarm water for a few minutes. This helps with the bitterness. Then spin dry and make the dressing. Use a bout half a cup of greek yoghurt, two tablespoons of ketchup and a good splash of apple cider vinegar. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. Voila! Dieser Salat geht wirklich sehr einfach und schnell. Schneide vier Koepfe Chicoree (ich habe zwei grüne und zwei rote benutzt) klein und lege sie in lauwarmes Wasser um den bitteren Geschmack aus den Blättern zu ziehen. Trockne die Salatblätter in einer Salatschleuder und bereite das Dressing zu. Etwa 250ml griechischen Joghurt, mit zwei Esslöffeln Ketchup und einem guten Schuss Apfelessig. Dann mit Salz und Pfeffer abschmecken. Guten Appetit!

Despicable Carbs?

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I recently read this article about what athletes should eat in lieu of pasta and 5 yummy healthy things were listed. They provided antioxidants, essential oils, fiber and many other things. The thing they couldn't do is give athletes valuable energy that you need when you train for several hours each day. In this day and age where many people want to be fit and look young, many train hard and need to fuel their bodies to sustain energy and avoid turning their bodies against themselves. I know what I'm talking about as I have witnessed what can happen when you lose weight from all the training and feel like there is no amount of food to remedy that. Your blood sugar drops, general crankiness sets in and you are tired a lot. And if this continues for a long time, the body starts attacking itself. Some of the results are not necessarily visible immediately. It starts with less energy so the risk of injuries goes up, i.e. you are tired you become sloppy, you fall. Longer term issues can mean conditions such as osteoporosis, especially in women, which "only" becomes a problem when you're older.

So why is it that we condemn pasta (and rice and potatoes) so much? Do we fear weight gain? Or has the wellness industry put a stigma on them?

For some sports under close supervision of doctors, athletes carb-load. The shorter chain sugars are consumed to increase performance and give muscles essential energy during a half day or day of intense work. All energy bars, gels and drinks are essentially made from the same thing but somehow when we glue those to our handlebars it's less bad than eating a bowl of steaming (whole wheat?) pasta. A lot of Asian countries live on rice and in many African countries big portions of meals consist of maize (e.g. South African pap and Kenyan ugali) and people are for the most part slim.

I've told many people the very strict meal plan I used to be on before major events and it's no fun eating the same thing every day for approximately 10 days but boy was I happy that aside from healthy salads and lean protein there was a good pasta dish at the end of the day that ensured I would wake up refreshed. I am a no fun when I'm hungry, all the above mentioned symptoms kick in.

Where am I going with this? Back to YOU! Us as individuals.

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With a gazillion options in what to eat and drink we have become less intuitive about what we need and enjoy. A healthy body will regulate the amounts of food too. There's a balance between full and hungry and the occasional indulgence is no big deal. So, listen to your body (the gut feeling- no pun intended) to be healthier, more frugal or if you eat more one day, balance it out with exercise the next day.

And in all of this remember that being a fit, healthy person is a state in which YOU lead a fulfilled enjoyable life. It should not be a chore.

I dare you to try it. Now go have a piece of chocolate.

xxR

5 Ways To Lead A Balanced Lifestyle

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Let's be honest. How many of us really lead a balanced lifestyle? What does balance actually mean?

My clients (and friends) often ask me this question and my first response is always that it can mean different things for different people and striving for that balance is an ongoing process. But there are a few things you can remind yourself of daily to make the process easier:

  1. Allow yourself to eat everything in moderation. We all know that starving ourselves or following every new diet neither makes us happy nor helps us maintain a healthy weight sustainably. Indulging in our favorite chocolate or savory treat now and again won't cause us to put on weight if it is an exception to our otherwise healthy lifestyle. I believe an 80/20 per cent rule ensures that we don't feel deprived.

  1. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you. Our lifestyles are often busy. Stress is the number one culprit that leads to issues with our weight, insomnia and adrenal fatigue and just makes us generally unhappy. Having good friends who help us maneuver through difficult situations, people to talk to and supportive partners, is key to dealing with the things life throws at us.

  1. Meditate. I have to remind myself to keep a regular meditation practice and when I do, it is so worth it. As much as meditation is introspective it also allows me to take a step back and assess situations more clearly with less emotional attachment. Keeping a journal for ideas that pop up during meditation has proven useful, too. Sometimes it's my most creative time of the day!

  1. Exercise or get moving. It is no secret, that physical exercise releases endorphins and a really good yoga class will leave you relaxed and ready to take on the world. I personally believe that if exercise is a part of your life that you enjoy and look forward to, rather than dreading it, it will lead you to making healthier food choices and other good decisions in our life. Just a stroll after dinner, now that the weather is warmer in the Northern hemisphere, has a calming effect and can keep you away from continuing to eat in front of the TV.

  1. Switch it off! Move away from your phone, laptop and television for a while. We are exposed to technology almost 24/7 so we need to make a conscious decision to stay away from social media and virtual communities to make room for enjoying the outdoors, having a meal in nice company without our phone on the table and allowing our other senses to kick in. When is the last time you've spent time sitting in the park watching your surrounding, listening to birds and smelling the flowers?