Monday, 27 May 2013

20% Exercise (80% Diet)

I have found that there tends to be two kinds of people - those who struggle to fit in exercise and motivate themselves to be active and then those who try to use exercise as the prime way they attempt to lose weight.

As I am now working on maintenance, exercise has become less important. However, when I was trying to lose weight, being active for at least 30 mins a day at a moderate level and then additionally trying to get to a fat burning/cardio heart rate at least two to three times a week for about 20 mins was a major goal of mine.

For those who struggle to prioritise activity/exercise - try to do those things the experts always tell you to - climb the stairs instead of taking the lift, bike or walk to wherever you need to be and if you do drive, park further away so you have to walk a little. I like to focus on staying moderately active everyday and not stressing about whether you have got that fat burning cardio in - especially if you are just trying to maintain your weight. Experts still debate this, but the majority claim that diet is 80% of a healthy lifestyle. That means that focusing on what you put in your mouth is far more important than whether you hit the gm this week.

Simple rule to live by: Energy in - energy out! Easy peasy!

Then there is the other side of the coin, those who tend to focus too heavily on exercise. Just because you went to the gym for an hour, sadly does not mean that doughnut calling your name can make its way into your mouth - a high protein meal (lean) with a big glass of water is what you need! Or then I see others who run 5km then don't eat enough to replenish their body - restricting too much can force your body into starvation mode.
Nutrition is crucial for your success. Increase consumption of water, lean protein (organic if you can) and cutting sugar intake.

The rule above is my mantra... if I do indulge, I have to burn it off - and there is no, I ate a cheesecake for desert, but I will burn it off tomorrow...too late...the body has stored that slice as fat on your thighs by the next day!

So what I am trying to say is that the old advice is true - a healthy life is about BALANCE!

I have found this website a god-send as there are heaps of workouts to chose from, from low impact to high, from 6-8 mins to an hour. They have calorie burn data and most of the workouts require no equipment.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

If you are serious about fitness, then I would suggest getting a heart rate monitor so you can really target the fat-burning zone and optimise what you get out of your workouts. The chart below is a great guide to help:

Source: WebMD, 2013.

Good luck with fitting in that exercise! I have really struggled lately with so many assignments and tests but I like to do some callisthenics in my room after every chapter read or page written.

This weeks new recipe find:

Quick yeast free pizza dough - serves 4:

  • 1/2 cup plain no-fat yoghurt 
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 2/3 cup plain/whole wheat flour (plus more if too sticky and to knead)
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Herbs and freshly cracked pepper to taste (optional)
I heated a cast iron skillet in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius while I prepared everything. Just whack all the ingredients together in one bowl, knead, then roll out into a round pizza base as thick as you like. I just used left overs as toppings - I had roasted vegetables some spinach and feta. I used hummus on the base and topped with whatever I had in the fridge sprinkled with feta and home-made tomato sauce. Slid the dough onto the hot skillet (sprayed with oil) then put it high up near the element in the oven until the base is puffy and golden. My flat-mate loved it...delicious!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Lazy Ways To Stay Healthy (and Skinny)

I have always been lazy. Humans have progressed as far as we have because we have worked at developing technology that means we can do less. Most innovations come from wanting to make things easier.
Losing weight or staying healthy can seem too labour intensive but if you implement safe guards like portioning food into individual bags, carrying healthy snacks in your bag, planning ahead and eliminating one bad habit at a time, even the laziest person can improve their health. The core principle is perseverance ...think of all your likely got there because you didn't quit! That's all there is to it...really....not much effort, just endurance in your mental strength.

First of all you need to establish whether you are healthy...
BMI and waist circumference (and ratio) are great guides for determining whether you are healthy. Although these are not fool proof, they can be a great starting points to determine whether you need to start making changes toward a healthier lifestyle.

Increased risk
80cm or more
94cm or more
Substantial risk
88cm or more
102 cm or more

Your waist circumference should not exceed half of your height. This applies to both men and women. So for example, if you are 170cm tall, your waist circumference should be no more than 85 cm.
height and weight table
Once you have determined whether some changes are required to either gain, lose or maintain weight, then you can start planing your new lifestyle. An important part of a healthy lifestyle is to make good choices at the supermarket - therefore you will not have things in your home that will tempt you to make bad choices.If you make good choices at the supermarket, it really takes little effort to be all of the food available to you at home is good for you.
When visiting the supermarket, you could essentially just shop around the perimeter. Visualise the layout of your local supermarket...all of the natural unprocessed foods are along the outside of the store. Obviously we can't avoid the centre isles but make sure you have a list and you stick to it and you go through these isles after going around the perimeter. Choose whole grains, lean meats, and low sugar items - fat is tricky as it is often portrayed as bad but just avoid saturated and trans fats and you should be fine.

How to make better choices at the supermarket:

-Source: Healthy Food Guide

Here is a print-out guide to take with you to help make healthy choices when you do you grocery shopping: Shopping Guide

Breakfast cereals:

what to look for:

  • Fibre: more than 6g per 100g minimum; preferably more than 10g/100g. For children don’t choose a really high fibre cereal – no more than 15g/100g

  • Sugar: less than 15g per 100g; less than 25g per 100g if from dried fruit

  • Sodium:for a low sodium diet look for less than 400mg per 100g. A moderate sodium content is around 600mg/100g – preferably don’t give children cereals with more than that.

Snack/muesli bars:

what to look for:
  • Energy: less than 600kJ is a good starting point unless you’re a really active person 
  • Fat: Aim for 2g or less saturated fat, and 5g or less total fat per bar. Bars containing lots of nuts can be high in total fats but they’re predominantly the ‘good’ fats.
  • Sugar: Look for bars with 9g sugar or less. Some bars contain with 40-50% sugars by weight (15-19g sugars per bar).


what to look for:
  • Low total fat: Aim for less than 5% fat (i.e. less than 5g per 100g) for everyday use. For other occasions you’ll still find a wide range at less than 10% fat.
  • Low saturated fat: There’s a whole range of crackers with less than 1% saturated fat. When looking at a particular style of cracker, go for the least saturated fat.
  • Low sodium: To reduce your sodium intake look for a realistic serving size that provides less than 160mg - that’s 10% of the recommended upper daily intake.


what to look for:
  • Low fat: 55% fat or less. Note that if you’re replacing butter in baking you’ll need a spread with around 60% fat.
  • Low saturated fat: 15% or less
  • Low trans fat: less than 1%
  • High monounsaturated fats:over 20% (remember that’s 20% in a total fat content of 55% or less)
  • Sodium: If you’re watching your sodium/salt intake aim for a spread with less than 400mg per 100g


what to look for:
  • Energy: for a snack aim for a pottle (150g) with less than 600kJ
  • Saturated fat: less than 2g saturated fat per 150g pottle
NOTE: I also compare calcium levels, sugar and prioritise those with probiotics.


A flat teaspoon of sugar weighs 4 grams. Watch out for: No added sugar. Means just that - they didn't add any. Don’t assume that means no sugar. The product could still contain lots of natural sugar, like in dried fruit, honey or fruit juices, so check the nutrition information panel.

Lazy meal maker - an online tool that lets you put ingredients that you have in your pantry/fridge and then generates recipes that use those ingredients.

Enjoy the rest of your week and don't forget your mum on Sunday!

Good luck for your next grocery shop...
Anna :)