March’s Recipes, Workouts and Q & A Wrap-Up
Below you will find a list of all of the recipes and Q & A sessions from this past month’s newsletters. If you’d like to get these types of articles delivered to your email on a regular basis, please sign up for the Fit Facts Newsletter (and get a free e-report in the process!).
WORKOUT: 6-Minute Ab Challenge
The abdominal muscles are very resilient and it takes quite a beating to get significant improvements in strength. This 6-minute ab circuit is pretty tough—try it for yourself and see if you can get all the way through without cheating… let the burn begin!
2 rounds, 30 seconds rest between rounds (NO rest between exercises!):
- bicycle crunches, 45 seconds - make sure you touch your elbow to your opposite knee on each repetition to get the full effect of the movement - DEMO
- jackknife sit-ups, 45 seconds - make sure you extend your legs out all the way, unless your hip pops, in which case extend your legs out about 90% of the maximum amount - DEMO
- leg lifts, 45 seconds - make sure you keep your back flat on the bench/mat, keep your hands under your glutes and don’t forget to breathe during this exercise -DEMO
- alternating arms/legs plank, 30 seconds - make sure you raise your opposite arm and leg, then bring back to the floor and repeat on the other side - DEMO
Remember, only rest after you’ve finished all four exercises, and your rest period should be no longer than 30 seconds. Afterwards, repeat the entire circuit again!
WORKOUT: 20 Minute Full Body Blast
Grab a pair of stability ball, and perform this 20 minute circuit three times per week, moving from one exercise to the next without rest, until all five have been completed—that’s one round. Rest for two minutes between rounds, then repeat for a total of three rounds.and a
3 rounds, 120 seconds rest between rounds (NO rest between exercises!):
- reverse lunge with bicep curl, 15 repetitions per leg - make sure you keep your abs tight throughout the exercise - DEMO
- deadlift to high pull, 15 repetitions - make sure you keep your back straight by keeping your head forward and sticking your butt out as you lower the weights -DEMO
- pushup to single arm row, 8 repetitions per side - you can make the exercise easier by spreading your feet further apart - DEMO
- ball hamstring curls, 15 repetitions - make sure you raise your hips completely off the ground with each repetition - DEMO
- ball tricep extensions, 15 repetitions - make sure you keep your abs tight and hips raised from the floor to work your glutes as well as your triceps - DEMO
Remember, only rest after you’ve finished all five exercises, and your rest period should be no longer than two minutes. Afterwards, repeat the entire circuit two more times! If you’re crunched for time, you can increase the repetitions to 20 per exercise and only perform two rounds.
WORKOUT: 8 Minute Tabata Circuit
Tabata training is a highly-effective high intensity cardio training method that employs quick bursts of ultra-intense movement with short periods of recovery. Originally designed by Izumi Tabata in 1996, tabata training has shown that only 4 minutes’ worth is as effective as 45-60 minutes of steady-state cardio! To perform this exercise, simply start by doing the first interval exercise (high knees) for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of jogging. Repeat this 3 more times, for 2 minutes total. Immediately switch to performing 20 seconds of burpees followed by the 10 seconds of jogging, and repeat this interval 3 more times, for a total of 4 minutes for the entire workout. Only one round needs to be completed for this circuit.
1 round, 20 seconds intense exercise, 10 seconds recovery (NO rest between exercises!):
- RECOVERY MOVEMENT: jogging in place
- 4 intervals, high intensity exercise: high knees -
- 4 intervals: high intensity exercise: burpees - DEMO
It’s critical that you push yourself to your absolute limit during the 20 second sprints to see results. This training style is extremely demanding and shouldn’t be performed more than 3-4 times per week. Try it for two weeks and see how your cardio endurance levels improve!
RECIPE: Irish Lamb Stew
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and while it tends to be typified by copious amounts of fattening alcohol and grease-laden food, it doesn’t have to be. This recipe is for a traditional Irish stew, and is rich in vitamins, high in protein, high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat—the perfect meal! As for alcohol during the festivities, try to stick with light beer or shots. If you prefer mixed drinks, go with soda water as the mixer to minimize the sugar you ingest!
- 2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 3/4 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 large leeks, white part only, halved, washed and thinly sliced
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Combine lamb, potatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, broth, thyme, salt and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on low until the lamb is fork-tender, about 8 hours. Stir in parsley before serving. Enjoy!
Original Recipe Source: Eating Well
RECIPE: Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”
Here is a great low-calorie alternative to mashed potatoes. Now, there’s nothing wrong with eating potatoes—in fact, they are an excellent carb choice—but a big bowl of mashed potatoes can pack quite a caloric wallop. If you have an intense craving and can’t find room in your diet for the caloric load, try these instead! Let me know how you like them!
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed
- 2 tbsp nonfat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp Mrs. Dash Herbs and Garlic seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Better than Boullion seasoning, vegetable or chicken flavor
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- Dash salt (optional)
Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. In a large pot, bring enough water to a rolling boil to cover the cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes, until very tender but not overdone. Drain in a strainer. Place a kitchen town into the bottom of the empty pot, and add the cauliflower back into it so the excess water is absorbed by the towel. Remove the towel from the pot, and add the remaining ingredients. Mash the mixture with a hand-held blender or potato masher until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste, enjoy!
RECIPE: Omelette of Winners
Here is an easy breakfast recipe to get in your morning servings of protein and veggies. Thanks to Kevin S. for the recipe! Try it and let me know how you like it!
- 3 egg whites
- 1 whole egg
- 1 large slice onion
- 1/4 bell pepper, julienned
- 1 tbsp corn
- 1/4 cup spinach
- 1/4 avocado, sliced
- 2 strips turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 tbsp low-fat cheddar cheese (optional)
Beat the egg whites and whole egg in a small dish until homogenous. Heat a frying pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat, and add the eggs, tilting pan to coat evenly. Meanwhile, heat another sprayed pan over medium-high heat and add the onions, bell pepper, and corn, and cook until the peppers and onion are tender. Add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach wilts. Add the mixture to one half of the pan with the eggs in it (egg coating should have solidified by now) and top with avocado slices, bacon pieces, cayenne and cheddar cheese. Fold the other half of the omelette over the mixture and transfer to a plate. Enjoy!
Q&A: Hypoglycemia and Exercise/Nutrition
If you have hypoglycemia what are the best things you can do for your body, both fitness and nutrition-wise?
As you may know, hypoglycemia refers to the condition in which an individual has low blood sugar levels, which can result in a host of negative symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, irritability, anxiety, confusion, and, more dangerously, severe muscular exhaustion and heart palpitations. Anyone can suffer from hypoglycemia, depending on the situation. Most people only suffer from this issue if they perform heavy endurance training for extended periods of time without eating or drinking any source of carbohydrates (unless they’ve been on a low-carb diet for a moderate amount of time and their body has switched to using fat ketones for fuel). However, there are folks who suffer from this condition chronically, and for seemingly no reason. It can even manifest itself so extremely that failing to wake up in the middle of the night to eat results in being unable to gather the energy to walk to the kitchen for food the next morning.
The good news is that fitness and healthy nutrition are extremely effective at treating and managing hypoglycemia. Moderate exercise has been shown to help the body regulate glucose levels (blood sugar), which avoids the sudden drops that cause the onset of symptoms in the first place. That being said, avoid highly-intense workouts as these can drain glucose reserves quickly and set you up for a crash.
Diet is critical as well, because a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and unprocessed food is going to maintain a much more stable level of blood sugar in the body than a diet high in sugars, processed foods and alcohol. It’s important to eat something before a workout to avoid low blood sugar during the workout, but keep the meal to a small to moderate size, because a full stomach while exercising can actually result in increased symptoms. After the exercise bout, it is important to eat a meal including a source of carbohydrates as soon as possible to replenish the glycogen stores in the body.
To summarize, eating a diet that consists of small, frequent meals high in complex carbohydrates, lean meats and healthy fats and adopting a consistent, moderately-intense workout routine should help regulate the blood sugar and significantly reduce your hypoglycemic episodes.
As with all medical issues, please consult with a registered dietician or your physician before adopting any fitness or nutritional regimen to make sure it’s safe for you as an individual.
Q&A: Post-Exercise Headaches
I always seem to get bad headaches after working out. Do you have any idea what’s causing them and how I can avoid them? They suck!
Headaches after a workout are often a sign of over-exertion. An exertional headache would start during or immediately after your exercise and last up to two days, although usually end a few hours after your workout. If you suffer from migraines, you are more likely to experience exertional headaches.
Using a NSAID after your workout such as ibuprofen or naproxen will help ease the pain, but to avoid it altogether you may need to adjust the intensity of your training. Also, warming up and cooling down can help avoid these issues (and you SHOULD be warming up and cooling down anyway!)
If none of these tips seem to help, you should consult your physician to ensure that it isn’t something more serious.
Q&A: Weight Loss Program?
I’m a 40-year old woman who wants to lose weight and shape up. I’m doing a little weight lifting and some cardio, but I don’t know how much to do or when: should I do cardio every day? For 30 minutes? Or alternate days with strength training? I really need to get a schedule together…
Since your goal is weight loss, I would recommend that you perform cardio 5-6 days per week to keep your energy usage levels up, your circulation high and your metabolism stoked. I would suggest performing cardio at 65-75% of your maximum heart rate (220 − your age, which is 180 beats per minute for you) for 45 minutes to one hour.
Strength training is critical as well, so it’s great that you’re already doing this. 2-3 days per week of total body workouts would be ideal for your goals. A personal trainer could assist you in creating a good resistance training program that will safely take you to your goals.
I notice that you didn’t mention nutrition though… nutrition is going to be the key to your weight loss and thus definitely needs your attention. You will need to establish an eating program that ensures you are burning more calories than you consume, and fueling your body with heathy, vitamin-rich food choices. Be sure to check out my nutritional articles for more information on how to create a well-rounded nutrition plan.
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