Healthy Chocolate Protein Muffins

So the gym is doing a Halloween bake sale to raise money for toys and stuff in the daycare. Since I go a lot, I offered to bake something. At first I said sugar cookies. But then rethinking, it's a gym. If we want their money we need macro/calorie friendly protein rich items! So here I made this muffin. Not to bad if you ask me!

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Ingredients (Makes 18 medium muffins):

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 pcs of 70% baking chocolate
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder. I used Allmax All natural so the chocolate taste isn't as strong as some. 
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins or add wrappers. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and put aside. 
  3. Put the egg whites in a mixer and start beating to get some air into the eggs. 
  4. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on the stove. Use a medium low heat to avoid burning. Watch and mix often, it will melt quickly. 
  5. Whisk cold Almond milk into the coconut oil and chocolate mixture to cool it down before adding to the eggs. 
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. 
  7. Pour mixture into muffin tin and bake for 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. 

Eat like this or my favourite is to put peanut butter on top!!!!! Let me know what you think!


Love, 

Jen

Home Remedies For PMS

I know in the past I've read of ways to help alleviate pms symptoms, a lot of them being things you can do the weeks before, such as reducing caffiene intake, tennis ball fascia release, exercising, and so on. These  help but let's be honest, every month during the time we say over the next month we will and two days after we have forgotten all about it. So, here I am writing about things that can help in the now.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

If you've had a baby, you may know this one from pregnancy to either help with labour or try and drink at the end in hopes of bringing on labour. This tea is a uterine tonic with many benefits, one of which being to relieve menstrual camps. Drinking a couple of mugs a day during the cramping phase helps quite a bit. Ive boughten it at health food stores for between $7 and $9 but recently saw it being sold at Shoppers for under $7!

Magnesium and Multivitamin

Magnesium can help relax muscles and some say that a lack of magnesium is linked to cravings chocolate. I like to think taking it helps curb the craving a bit.  Now dark chocolate is a better source then the sugary milk chocolate most of us reach for, so maybe if you don't like 80% cocoa try a supplement. Keep in mind, to much can cause diarrhea, so start with lower dosage. I take mine before bed. 

I agree a multivitamin isn't something we need everyday usually, but I make sure to take mine during the monthly visit for an extra iron source.

Rescue Remedy

I use this stuff when my kids are cranky from teething, I'm having a rough day and especially when I'm on my Aunt Flow rage. Come one, admit it, we all get it. It really helps calm me down and think a little more clearly. You can buy the drops, gum, candy and so on from Bach. I've used them all and usually by this stuff for new moms in their Welcome Baby basket. It's that good.

 PMS Smoothie

This PMS Smoothie from my personal blog does wonder for bloating and other symptoms. Using the tea mentioned above as a base too!

Yoga Poses

Moving your body in general will help, and of course taking a yoga class would be great. But if you are looking for something to do a bit at home here are a few poses. 

  • Sage Twist

 

  • Camel (More experienced practitioners and/or warmed up)

 

  • Lying Chair Twist 

 

  • and gold old fashioned Child's Pose. This one feels so good for lower back pain, especially if you get your toddler to come along and sit on your back while doing it. 

When all else fails and go easy on yourself, love yourself and when it's really just sucky, give yourself a break have your indulgence (in my case and oreo with nutella) and take a deep breath. 

Love, 

Jen

Why I Love Macro Counting (IIFYM)

Macro counting, flexible dieting, If It Fits Your Macros. Many names for it. I have been doing flexible dieting for about a year and I used it for my bikini contest prep even.

Here is a good blog post guide on how to macro count. I thought I would direct to a good article instead of trying to rewrite something written a million times. I also suggest checking out Layne Norton for info and blog posts. Likely the most famous flexible dieter.

This post isn't about how to macro count, but why I love it and think its appropriate for majority of people. Mama Lion strong wrote a blog post about how it can be hurt a few with eating disorders and I agree, but for the most of us it's a great tool to have. 

So flexible dieting is all about obtaining a certain amount of calories, with ratios of fat, carb and protein designed for the type of activity you are doing. Calorie deficit = weight loss, calorie maintenance = body recomp/fat loss without weight loss, calorie surplus = weight gain. When you are tracking these three main macronutrients you are eating "what fits" into them.

oreos

So say you love oreos (okay so I do) and it's something you would like to eat. You plan to fit two oreos into your plan at the end of every day. (okay so this is what I do). As long as I'm eating within my fat, carb and protein limits (and obtaining a minimum daily fiber intake) I can eat them.

Now obviously if I ate just oreos and protein shakes all day, every day I could keep within my numbers, but I wouldn't hit my fiber intake (which is pretty important) and I would be pretty hungry. Usually these junk type food are high glycemic indexed, so meaning they enter the blood stream quickly and leave quickly. Whole food, generally are slower processed the body so you don't feel as hungry. Most of us flexible dieters say we usually eat 80% whole foods, 20% what we want.

salad

Of course the main reason I love this is because I get to eat the things I love and crave. Without the guilt. This is a big one. My entire life I've grown up in a society that says cookies and cake are bad. Feel ashamed for eating those awful things and get started on your diet tomorrow for doing it. How many times have you been at a party or something and your friend turns to you and says "I can't believe I ate this and that, I'll punish myself in the gym tomorrow for it" Or "I guess it's only salads all next week to make up for all this crap I ate"? Or you buy a bag of said Oreos, eat an entire row or bag and feel terrible after. Aside from the sugar rush tummy ache. But what if you planned to eat two Oreos each night? Or planned on having that McDonald's burger on Tuesdays because Tuesdays at work are always busy? Planned it to fit into your macros. And ate whole foods the rest of the day and stayed within your macros? Where would the guilt and shame be? Lost, that's where.

The thing I've struggled with in the past is the spiral. I ate this and feel crappy about it, so the rest of the day is lost. Continue eating like this today and start again tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and I eat a donut at break and think the day is lost and yesterday repeats itself. There is guilt that goes with "failing" at my diet that day. But now I eat something unplanned, like when my oh so adorable daughters bat their eyelashes for a donut at the shop next to the gym. I get one, eat it, enjoy it and adjust my foods the rest of the day to make sure I stay within my numbers. Look at that, true "guilt free" foods.

donut

Now the other part I love about this type of eating style is it fits whatever you eat! Paleo? Still can count macros. Gluten free? Vegetarian? Organic whole foods only? You can still count macros. I am a vegetarian and eating mostly whole foods and organic. I use foods in a holistic manner, by eating certain foods that help ailments and so on. For example I had some gallbladder issues this winter and I was eating foods that specifically helped me with it and avoided the ones that hurt me more. All while staying within my macronutrient range.

I'm not going to say I don't go off track, or occasionally "yolo binge" etc. But that's part of being human and the past 29 years of being made to think that's basically the way we should eat. Old habits die hard. That's also part of the perseverance training, to get back on that damn horse after unplanned "carb loading". Ha ha.

Macro counting may not be for everyone, It does require some work. The first few weeks are a pain trying to set up foods, navigate how things fit and weighing/measuring everything. But eventually it gets easier and you learn how to count with eyeballing even. I can look at a food and give you a pretty good idea of what the macro profile is now.

If you are interested in macro counting, I strongly recommend the above blogs, plus doing some research online. Some of the calculators online are pretty aggressive and I don't agree with. But one I think comes pretty close is macronutrientcalculator.com .

Some of the things you will need to start are:

  • A food scale
  • Calorie counting app, My Fitness Pal, Calorie King, Bodyspace are all popular.
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Thanks for reading, and no matter your "eating style" as long as it makes you happy and gets you the results you want, tell others to piss off and enjoy.

 

Jen

 

Update

A month ago I wrote a little post called The Project. Introducing you to 3 people who I am coaching through nutrition and blogging about their results. I'm sorry I haven't updated as much as I'd like, we've been moving and it's hectic!

Anyways. I wanted to share a little bit of their results and what they had to say about it. Perception is quite the thing. We may think we see no progress but the rest of the world sees it all. Or we may see little progress and think "what a waste of time" but in fact that small progress but be huge to someone else.

Jenn

In the first month Jenn has done very well. Some "cheat" days where macros were forgotten about and some workouts missed. Guess what? This makes her human like the the rest of us. And guess what else? She still had results. She kept getting back on that horse the next day and she has results to show it.

  • Weight - Down 4 lbs
  • Chest - Down 0.5"
  • Waist - Unchanged
  • Hips - Down 2.75" (WOWZA!!!!)
  • Thigh - Down 0.5"
  • Arm - Down 0.5"

I've put Jenn on a plan to loose on average 1 pound a week. So it looks like she's on track. I know it might not be aggressive enough to some or to her (her goal is about 35 lbs), but two things I want to point out.  Firstly it didn't take 3 months to gain weight, so slow and steady is the most sustainable way to loose weight. And secondly our marathon mama here does A LOT of cardio training for her half marathon in two months, traiathalons and so on this summer. Steady state cardio like what she is doing lets your body adapt to it. So it's harder to use cardio to burn off extra fat like in others, in conjunction with the caloric deficit. This is all said, I think she has done amazing! The perseverance in this busy working mom of two is downright inspiring.

Vanessa

Vanessa also endured some personal stuff that put her off track some days, but again still had progress! I'm even amazed the one night she came to my place with some friends and we were wine drinking fools and she kept to the no alcohol for the first month part. Good on you girl!

  • Weight - Down 5 lbs
  • Chest - Down 1.5"
  • Waist - Down 1"
  • Hips - Unchanged
  • Thigh - Gained 1.5"
  • Arm - Down 1"

I've also put Vanessa on a 1 pound a week deficit. She started HIIT cardio and lifting heavier weights. This would be why she's gained that 1.5" in the thigh. For someone tall like her, that can be a difficult thing to do! Her goal was originally to loose 15 lbs. The last check in she said "I'm not sure I'm going to get to my weight loss goal with the muscle I am building, but I feel good about where it is going". There ya go. What's that saying? Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about how you get there. She wants to look a certain way based off a weight she was before. But if she looks that way and weighs more does the number really matter? Good for you Vanessa!

Here is a side by side of the first month's difference for Vanessa.

SideBySide

Dylan

The strong silent type. Ha ha. I ask each of these three a bunch of questions at check in and he never has much to say. But let me tell you the strong in that part is real. He's been pretty on point with his nutrition plan and macro counting and his results are damn impressive.

  • Weight - Down 14.5 lbs !!!!!!!
  • Chest - Down 1.5"
  • Waist - Down 2"
  • Hips - Down 1.5"
  • Thigh - Down 1"
  • Arm - Down .5"

Any females reading this wishing they were a man? Ha ha. I kid I kid. I've put Dylan on about 1- 1.5 lbs a week loss. I wasn't sure on his numbers exactly because there was some additional factors for him. Some cardio/supplements he was taking that may or may not have messed with his metabolism a bit. But here we are. I even almost upped his calories after the first two week because of a 10 lbs jump! He' s also missed a few workouts from work and had to change his cardio plan a bit because of an injury, but he keeps on trucking along. Great work, well on your way to your goal of coming down 25-30 lbs. Can't wait to see you after the three months with that commitment!

All three of them started with a daily meal plan for the first two weeks. One I worked out specifically to their macro numbers. After the second week I spoke more about macros, what they are and how to swap foods out. Because I can only imagine how sick they were of the same thing everyday. No alcohol was for the first month. Alcohol is one of those funny things, that once consumed, makes us forget about calories and macros. Think back to all those late night pizza binges after the bar! Now they are all free to swap out meals and food within their daily goal numbers. I've helped them with being able to calculate alcohol into their plans as well, putting no foods really off limits, just kept in moderation to reach their goals.

Thanks for reading!

Take care,

Jen

 

What's In Your Preworkout?

As much as I am a "push hard, reach your goals slightly, type A" person, I'm also a "be good to your body because you only get one" person.

This past fall I competed in a bikini competition. I pushed myself hard. I also didn't compromise on my believes of how to treat my body. I'll blog about competing another time, but I want to talk about the one thing I didn't do that many competitors and non competitive athletes use. Pre Workout powders.

Let me firstly say that to each their own believes and what you do with or to your body is your own damn business. I'm simply sharing my view and the bit of research I put together. Also, that I am not expert in food sciences. Just trying to help make sense of a product that is confusing.

With that said, I looked into the ingredients of my husband's pre workout powder. All internet research because my nutrition books are packed in boxes for the move, but I will list what sites I used at the bottom of the post.

Preworkout powder in question: Superdrive Pre Training Energy Superfuel. According to my husband "the best stuff".

 

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  • Ornithine Malate - So our bodies produce malic acid when converting carbs into energy. MY assumption is this is used in the pre workout powder for aiding in taking whatever carbs/glycogen you have in your body and using that to give you the extra boost of energy.
  • Carnitine Tartrate - An amino acid used to combat muscle fatigue and support weight loss (fat burning). Also says it MAY help insulin resistance. Seems straight forward in it's purpose in a pre workout powder.
  • Microancapsulated Triacetin - This is an interesting one. A food additive apparently. Not sure added for what, seeing as how they use it in gasoline to reduce engine knocking, in cigarettes to plastesize the filters and oddly enough in antifungal creams?!?! Got me beat for a hypothesis on actual purpose there.
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine - This fun named ingredient is not found naturally produced in the human body nor is it found in food. It helps prevent the blocking of a particular amino acid. Also says "effective in the increasing of serum tyrosine levels in the blood". Low serum tyrosine levels are commonly found in those with hypothyroidism. (messed up metabolism)
  • Dimethylaminoethanol Bitarte - And I quote "said to help memory, focus and increase alertness". Big claim. Ethanol part scares me personally.
  • Higemine Hydrochloride - This is a stimulant designed to help some body tissues relax and others; such as that of the heart; to contract, speeding up the heart rate.
  • Citrus Aurantium (Bitter Orange) - Ahhh the cousin of banned Ephedra, claims to have ephedra's metabolism boosting, appetite supressing and targeting certain receptors in fat cells, but avoiding the Beta-1 and Beta-2 that make Ephedra dangerous.
  • Caffeine - I'm sure most of us know this one well. My personal choice for pre workout in the form of the coffee bean. Caffeine is actually considered a psychological stimulant and blocks adenosine (the thing that makes you feel drowsy).

Now for the stuff listed as Other Ingredients aside from their main purpose ingredients.

  • Natural and Artificial flavours - Pretty self explanatory. Flavour is strawberry kiwi if you must know.
  • Lecithin - A thickening agent. I assume during liquid thickening so you can have more volume for less money? It is a business after all.
  • Silica - When used in food products it's purpose is to absorb water. Likely to help when all products are turned into a powder, it's to make sure its completely dry so you don't have a clumpy mess when you open the container.
  • Sucralose - A non caloric artificial sweetener. A whole other blog post, so I wont touch this one.
  • Citric Acid - Adjust PH levels, can help enhance flavour, but likely used for it being a food preservative.
  • Salt - Again another food preservation method.
  • Acesulfame Potassium - Another artificial sweeetner. Which I totally did not know.
  • Radish Powder - used for coloring. Better then Red Dye number 5 right? Ha ha.

Now if you haven't gotten enough of my opinion on the matter, I'm not for using these. This is strictly my own theory but I think about the ones that help with insulin resistance or converting carbs to fuel. These are basic functions our bodies perform. So maybe using something to perform these functions for us hinders our bodies from continuing that function? Like our bodies just go "hey, something else is handling that function so lets turn off, be lazy and put our efforts toward something else that needs our attention?" Most, if not all pre workout powders say on the label not to consume for longer then a certain amount of time consecutively. Maybe that's the reasoning? Or addiction to the fun heart racing items?

 

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With all this said, and my personal opinion on them, taking a pre workout for a few weeks or a workout here and there when exhausted I don't think will do excessive damage or anything. Just please stick to the warnings on the label, take a break from it and cycle it and of course listen to your body when taking it.

Have a good workout!

 

Websites use:

The Project

I haven't come up with some clever name for this so "the project" it is. As I've finished my yoga teacher training, been working on my sports nutrition and competed in the fall I've gotten to have a good understanding of a lot of things related to the body and fitness. Above that I've also done a lot of research online and in numerous books.

So I've decided to take some test subjects and apply my knowledge and blog about their results/experiences and the process. I first did a call out on my Facebook for a volunteer, thinking nobody would want to let me blog about it. The response I got was flattering and amazing, so I picked three.

Vanessa

 

Vanessa

Vanessa is a fun social girl. 28 years old, was a competitive cheerleader in jr high, high school and leagues after high school for 3 years and also used to coach. She stopped cheering approx 4 years ago. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is currently working on her Masters of Counselling via distance with Athabasca University. Currently works out about 3 days a week mostly cardio and some strength training. AS she refers to it though she's been "lazy" with it and not pushing herself.

When I asked her why she wanted to be a part of the project here is what she had to say:

I want to do this project because I need that extra push to get me into shape. I am usually pretty good at eating healthy and using my will power, but it is easy to veer off track. I also like having someone who is knowledgeable plan meals so that I know I am eating properly. I have been working out for a long time. I used to do crossfit, but they no longer have that at my gym. Therefore since switching gyms, I have been a bit "lazy" and not feeling up to making myself work hard, therefore, this will give me that push and make me fulfill this project! I am also all about challenging myself, and I know this will be a huge challenge.

Vanessa's goals are to loose 12 lbs and look great for a trip in March. She uses her goal weight number based off the last time she felt really good.

Jenn

 

Jenn is one hard working super mama. She has a full time job, two young kids and a busy life. She has lost 35 lbs on her own since the spring. She is training for a half marathon this spring, a half iron man, long bike ride and 4 triathalons!!

When I asked her why she wanted to be a part of the project here is what she said:

I've been thinking about getting a trainer but cost is sometimes an issue. So I opted instead this year to get a triathlon coach as I thought that would be good start. But to have a fitness trainer that can help me focus on strength and nutrition will be a huge asset.

Jenn's goals are to loose another 35 lbs and to be in a size 8 or less pant. She says she wants to be lean and strong.

Dylan

 

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Dylan is a pretty physical guy used to play lots of hockey and still plays baseball. He is in the construction industry so his job can be physically demanding most of the time. Dylan usually works out at the gym 4-6 times a week, weights for an hour and cardio for 45min to an hour.

When I asked him why he wanted to be part of the project here is what he said:

Well i have been thinking about talking to a dietitian for awhile now and then it just so happened you needed a guinea pig. (Ah men, so few words. ha ha)

Dylan's goals are to loose 25-30 lbs and be down a pant size. This goal weight number is when he felt really good.

I had each of them take their weight, pictures and measurements, gave them a meal plan based of the calories/macros they need. I calculated these numbers based off of their weight, goals and activity levels.

I sent them all this first letter with some additional instruction on what to drink, supplements to take etc.

So the plan is that you will follow the diet plan for two weeks. I know it might be boring eating the same thing for two weeks, but its the easiest way for me to make sure the macro numbers I gave you are correct, and get a good reading of how the meal timing etc works for you.

After the two weeks, we will be starting to swap meals out for similar macros. So when you are preparing your food, please weigh on a food scale if at all possible (this applies to things that you will see with grams next to it) and log it into my fitness pal, for a few days at least to get the idea of how logging works. When you pull up an item you will be looking at the three main macronutrient components. Fat, Carbs and Protein.

Eventually we will have you swap out foods and meals for similar macros. So say you have chicken, salad and bread on your plan, you find out that the local Tim Hortons chicken sandwich has roughly the same macro makeup (carb,fat and protein amounts) you can have that instead. You all have a small treat at the end of your day. This treat fits the macronutrient profile you need, but because of the other foods you've eaten throughout the day your fiber and micronutrient profiles are fullfilled.

Ever heard of the quote everything in moderation? Well this is exactly it. Your little treat is in moderation. It may be hard at first to have a bag of Oreos or whatever your treat is, in the house. You may normally never buy these, because when you do you sit and eat a whole row or whole bag. Then, what normally happens is some sort of guilt associated with eating these foods. This project is more then just loosing weight or whatever your goal is. It's to help develop a better relationship with food and those foods we think are so evil. Everything in moderation also applies to healthy whole foods. Many of us get on the healthy eating train and a few days later eat a food we think is not considered healthy or "clean" and fall off our plans. Eating whole healthy foods is certainly best, but for mental health and to satisfy our taste buds we can also have treats.

Sometimes we get off track on things and eat things we arent suppose to, or some even under eat. Both are not great habits. Both are also very hard to break. So we may have slip ups and that's okay. We forgive ourselves and move on, staying on track the next meal. Please just let me know when this happens. Macronutrient counting is sort of a specific science so if you over eat or dont eat enough I need to know how its reflecting your weightloss or inches numbers. I promise you wont upset me or dissapoint or anything like that! That said of course, please stick to the plans as much as possible, this only makes your results that much better and faster.

Don't be frustrated by numbers on the scale. This is only one measurement we use. Generally most of us are more concerned with inches. But again, the scale is another hard habit to break.

Please enjoy the journey reading! Let me know in the comments what your goal is and why!