Mindset over diet

I am a stress- and emotional eater. I eat fast, I eat a whole lot of bad stuff in as short time frame, I eat when I’m not even hungry, I grossly overeat when I really am hungry. When something that’s unhealthy in my mind touches my tongue, I go overboard and think ‘what the heck’. I anxiously try to eat healthy and try to keep count of everything I eat in a kind of obsessive way, to make sure I eat healthy all the time. My thoughts about food are really black and white. In my mind, I know it’s nonsense, but changing the way you feel about something is really hard. Last year I decided I needed to seriously change my thoughts and behavior, because just following a healthy lifestyle or a diet didn’t change that for me and I ended up relapsing and gaining weight again.

My current method is to stop and stand still. I try to do yoga regularly, I meditate, I have therapy and I think everything together is working for me. I’ve watched a TED-talk about addiction some days ago, which I also thought was really helpful. I thought it was a bit like mindfulness, the speaker talked about letting cravings or bad thoughts be there, accept that they’re there, but you don’t have to act on them. It works better than fighting the thoughts or cravings, because it’s like the ‘don’t think about a pink elephant game’. It only makes you think about it more! So here’s the video, I hope you guys get the same out of it I did:

 

 

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Veggie lasagna

My mom gave me the Jamie Oliver’s superfood cookbook for Christmas and I’ve been using it to get some new ideas. Of course I’m not going to completely copy somebody else’s recipe, but I like to use it as inspiration to come up with something that fits my lifestyle, so here is the veggie lasagna recipe everybody’s waiting for 🙂

It contains 291 kcal per portion, 26 gr carbs, 11 gr fat and 24 gr of protein. It’s 6 sp on weightwatchers!

Ingredients for 2 portions:

  • 1 squash/pumpkin (the long type) IMG_20160208_141419
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 hands of fresh spinach
  • 20 gr sunflowerseeds
  • 200 gr cottage cheese
  • 20 gr parmesan grated
  • salt, pepper and italian herbs

Preheat your oven to 340 degrees F or 170 degrees C. I use a silicone cake-shape baking mold to get it in the shape I want. Use a cheese slicer or any other tool to make very thin slices of zucchini and squash. When you reach the middle of the vegetable, it won’t give you nice slices, so cut those piece up and use it in the sauce. Lay the nice slices out on some plates (you’ll also get some bad slices, use them in the sauce!) Sprinkle some salt on the slices. It’ll draw out some of the water which you can remove with some kitchen towell. Repeat once. In the mean time, cut the onion, tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkin pieces and fry it in a nonstick pan. Add the spinach and let it shrink. Make sure it get’s thick and most of the moisture is gone! Add the salt, pepper and herbs.

IMG_20160207_111352Start layering your ingredients, start with pumpkin slices and use your imagination to make the rest of the layers. Be aware that normally the pasta plates absorb a lot of moisture. Making lasagna without the pasta will create a lot of moisture, so make sure you drain the cottage cheese before you use is and make the sauce as thick as possible. End with the pumpkin slices again and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Put it in the oven and bake it for about 30-45 minutes, check it regularly for getting too brown. After this, remove from the oven, cut it in half and remove. Let it drain a bit on a plate to remove some of the excess moisture and enjoy!

Kcal in/out & fat burn zone

I am so guilty of obsessing over my kcal burn at the gym compared to my calory intake, especially since I got my new Fitbit Charge HR. It’s funny how we perceive something to be so true and solid, while at the same time, it’s really fooling us. For example, how do you know your food contains exactly the amount of calories you’ve calculated? You actually don’t, its all an estimation, which is fine by me, but thought you might want to know before you stress out over a few of them 😉

So now something about the fat burn zone. It has been a myth for a long time, that in order to lose weight or lose fat, you need to do low intensity steady state (LISS) workouts to burn fat. The myth says your heartrate needs to be in a certain zone to maximise the amount of fat burned. There is a bit of truth behind it, but not in a way you might think. I’ll try to explain. Screenshot_2015-12-19-21-49-09-1

Your body contains a certain amount of glycogen, which is basically long chains of glucose. There’s some storage in the muscles and in the liver. It’s a fast and easy way of providing the body energy fast when it needs it. Like in emergency situations, where you have to run away fast in case of danger for example. The thing is, your body really wants to preserve this storage for these emergencies, but will use is when it’s necessary. Fat burning is slower though, it needs more processes to get to energy so it’s not efficient in emergencies. So, for example, you go for a long and sturdy walk (LISS), the body will burn some glycogen, but finds out you go slow and steady (no emergency), so it starts up the processes of burning fat. Slowly, the amount of fats used as energy will increase and the amount of glycogen used will decrease. It will never go to 0%, but because of the slow and steady pace, you’ll have a higher % of fatburn in comparison to the fast and shorter situations where you’ll get a higher % of glycogen burn.

So up to now, you’ll be like, ok, you said it’s a myth but this really sounds like LISS is the way to go for fat burn? I’ll try to get to the clue. It is ALL about energy in and energy out. If you burn more energy than you eat, you’ll lose weight and vice versa. It doesn’t really matter if you burn a higher fat %, because in the end, the body will restore the glycogen stores, using the fat stores if you don’t eat more than you burn! And guess what, the more intense the workout, the more kcal you burn, so in the end, you’ll also burn more fat with intense workouts. There’s been a lot of research about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is short bursts of high intensity training followed by short periods of lower intensity training. It happens to be that you’ll burn a lot more kcal during these workouts, but also AFTER them, making them very efficient for losing weight!

So before I conclude I’ll have to add something else. There actually are other benefits of LISS, like getting more endurance. You’ll not hear me say that you shouldn’t do LISS. It’s just that I think it’s good to know what type of exercise benefits are out there and what will fit your goal! Personally, I’ve been heavy weightlifting (which is also a bit of a HIIT workout) since the start of my journey. For the first 10 months or so, I never did any cardio. Right now, I do 20 minutes of HIIT intervals on the elliptical after weightlifting. I also try to get 10.000 steps daily, which means I go for walks almost every day, which is my LISS workout. It keeps me active and energetic!

How to make an awesome and quick smoothie

Smoothies are really popular nowadays and there are so many ways to make a tasty one. My way is definitely not the best or superior. I just want to share with you how I do it and what I think makes it taste great.  I love to add a lot of ingredients, to make it a real ‘meal’.

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This is a stash of kale (not something else that’s popular in my country)

First of all, a lot of people don’t like to cut fruits or don’t have anything to use in a smoothie and don’t feel like shopping for it. I really love the idea of smoothie prepping. I buy some fruits when they’re cheap and freeze them to use for a smoothie. Some fruits, like berries, are usually cheaper to buy frozen (at least in my country). I always have frozen fruits and kale in my freezer to make an awesome smoothie from scratch! You can also prep a smoothie bag, so put a bit of every fruit in it, 1 bag = 1 smoothie. Easy as that! I usually also add a green to my smoothie, like kale or spinach. These really freeze well, buy them in bulk when they’re cheap and freeze them the same day for fresh greens in your smoothie.

Smoothie bag

Smoothie bag

I usually eat a smoothie as breakfast on Saturdays. This is why I add more than just fruits and liquids, because I want it to contain more nutrients to last me till lunch. It usually doesn’t fit in 1 glass, which is fine by me 🙂

 

 

Blender

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Super fluffy smoothie

I now use a very expensive high end blender with high wattage (a very nice birthday present lol!). Before this, I used a normal ‘cheap’ one, the type you can buy at normal appliance stores. It worked well for a year or so, but finally broke down, I think because I used too much frozen stuff which it really couldn’t handle that well. I really like this website, because it gives good advise about buying a blender. They conclude that if you want to crush ice/make smooth smoothies, go for a blender with 2hp/800 watt or higher.

Ingredients

For a typical smoothie, this is what I use:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen berries/mango pieces
  • 1 cup frozen kale
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (preferably the one with peanutbutter flavor)
  • 10 gr peanutpowder (natural type without added sugar/preservatives)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 10 gr flax seeds
  • 10 gr chia seeds
  • 10 gr goji berries
  • 5 gr raw cacao nibs
  • teaspoon of maca powder

Sometimes I have to add a bit of water to make it more liquid. Mixing it long enough usually makes it more fluffy. Sometimes it needs some help when you use a lot of frozen stuff. Preferably mix liquid with powders and seeds first, then gradually add the frozen stuff (switch off, add frozen stuff, put lid back on and switch on to prevent having to redo your kitchen). Enjoy!

How do you make your smoothies?

Clean eating

So what is this ‘clean eating’ everybody is talking about? It certainly isn’t cleaning your food really well before eating lol! But I’ve found so many definitions and ‘rules’ for clean eating, it kind of gets a forest of information out there and you’ll not know what to follow. In no way I say my own vision is the right or correct one, I’m just going to say something about how I envision clean eating (aka just healthy eating in general).

Paleo-vs-Clean-EatingWhen  you look up clean eating on the internet, you’ll find a lot of lists of food to avoid, or even worse, food that’s forbidden. You’ll find a 30 day clean eating cleanse or the ‘whole 30’, which is practically the same to me, or the Paleo diet. Personally, I believe in moderation. Yes, of course, I would love to be able to eat clean 100% of the time, but then life happens and social situations occur and there’s also the inner fat girl that just wants to eat pizza and drink wine. So I’ve learned the hard way that by forbidding myself to eat something ‘unclean’ I will end up eating a truckload of it, so that doesn’t work for me personally.

Of course, there are foods that I’d rather not eat and are ‘unclean’ in my eyes, which is to me simply everything that’s been processed. It comes down to: all types of bread and pasta, white rice, all types of dairy, processed meats like burgers or sausages, all ‘diet’ products, anything with white flour or sugar in it, like cookies or nutella, fast food and probably some other things I forgot to mention. I’d rather not eat dairy because it seems unnatural to me to take another species mother milk that’s meant for its baby, but that doesn’t mean I never take it, because cheese is one of my weaknesses. (I know generally dairy is allowed in the ‘clean eating society’.)

So to me, it’s all about that balance, I try to eat as natural as possible, but allow myself to eat certain unclean things on a daily/weekly basis.

So why is this important?

Well, to start, clean and whole foods contain a lot of nutrients. Yes, a nice big steak contains more calories than a skinny chicken sausage, but have you read the labels of those sausages? Most of them only contain 40-50 % meat, they add all kind of things (mostly white flour and other unclean things). In the end, you’ll get more nutrients (protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals) from the steak than you’ll get from the sausage. If you look at losing weight, people might choose the sausage because it contains less calories. I think this is a very important mistake many make! We are surrounded by ‘diet’ products, low fat this, sugar free that….. and they all try to convince us it’s healthy. You might be able to lose weight with it, but at what cost? It’s time for us to stand up to those big brands and say: NO! We want real food and if I decide to take something ‘unclean’, I’ll go for the real deal, full fat/sugar dark chocolate and wine, or a really cheesy pizza.

Basis for a clean and healthy lifestyle:

Vegetables, fruit, legumes/beans, whole meat, whole fish, eggs, nuts/seeds, whole grains (including brown rice) and starchy veg/roots like (sweet) potatoes.

How to get abs…..

ab-abominations-1Surprise, you already have them! Or you are some kind of freak of nature, born without abdominal muscles, which would really suck, sorry! Look at this hot example of abs, click on it if you want, it takes you to a great article that I also refer to later in this post.

I read the sentence ‘I just want abs’ all the time and it always creeps me out. Why? Because there is a whole industry based on a lot of nonsense ways to ‘get abs’. The abroller, abtronic, even my gym has its hourly ab-15 minutes. You go to fitness sites and they’ll tell you to do a certain amount of exercises for a certain amount of days and you’ll get abs as a result. Let me tell you, this is all BS!

First of all, by saying ‘I want abs’ most people mean, ‘I want to have a flat and tight stomach with some visible abdominal muscles’. Most abs are covered by insulation (aka fat) so they’re not visible. Training your abdominal muscles till you drop will NOT automatically melt away your stomach fat and show some shizzled abs. Why? Well, abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle: you give them regular heavy training and in time (yes, time….) they will grow a bit and get more definition. Bigger muscles burn more energy, that’s true, but in comparison with the whole body, the abdominal muscles are just tiny and won’t contribute that much to fat burning. You will need other ways to lose your fat and show off your amazing midsection!

Abs are made in the kitchen

Many people write this and though I understand and agree with the thought behind it, technically it is not correct, because you already have abs. The thing is, you need to eat healthier and less calories to lose your fat and at a certain fat % your abdominal muscles will show. This is different for everybody, the same can be said about the way your abdominal muscles look (4pack/6pack)! A much better sentence would be: Abs get trained in the gym and will show itself when you stop putting so much crap in your mouth.

Personally, I would rather call it ‘core muscles’. A strong core is very important for a fit body! Having a strong core will give you great posture and prevent injuries. Training lower back and side muscles is equally important as training your abdominal muscles! Did you know that by doing a lot of free weight and (standing) single arm/single leg exercises, you already train your core? Did you know that doing endless sit-ups doesn’t really take you anywhere? You can read a great article about ab-mistakes over here. If you ‘want abs’ go and read it!

Oh, and if you don’t feel like doing those exercises and reduce eating crap, you can always get ab implants:

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Swimming makes you fat??

Today I want to write something about swimming. To start, I LOVE swimming, always have and always will. My mom called me a water rat when I was young (in a loving way of course). On holidays I could spend hours in de pool, playing, swimming, doing water ‘acrobatics’. Later on in life, I started speed-swimming when I had my knee injury and couldn’t do normal sports out of the water. I was actually not bad, but stopped due to time and motivational problems.

Last year, when I started my weightloss and getting fit journey, I started swimming once or twice a week before work. I did it for 45 minutes and then felt really accomplished. Until I read an article with the title ‘swimming makes you fat’. I was like: What?? I thought I was being very good by swimming, it’s easy on the joints for a very obese person, but if it makes you fat then why should I do it? I read the article and did some of my own research and found the following:cust_bg_87_1399620442455

Swimming on itself doesn’t make you fat, BUT: most people who go swimming to lose weight, do it in a slow pace and because of the weightlessness you actually don’t really get your heart rate up so you don’t burn more than when you sit at your desk. The problem is that people THINK they had a great workout, and tend to eat more to compensate the calories they never burned, so they can actually gain weight.

I wanted to see if this was true, so I bought a heartrate monitor that could get wet and works in pool water. I measured my heartrate during my 45 minutes in the pool and guess what, I didn’t even get into the first zone on the monitor. I was shocked, I thought I had some great workouts in the water, meanwhile I could’ve just laid in my bed (ok, I admit, I’m a lazy person). So instead of quitting swimming, I changed my routine. I did some reading and read a lot about HIIT (high intensity interval training). I did the following: I started with 5 minutes higher tempo swimming, the kind that will raise your heartrate to level 1. Then I did 30 minutes of HIIT. Normally you use the clock for HIIT, like 30 seconds fast and 30 seconds slow, but that’s kind of difficult in the pool. I chose to swim my fastest (the type that will leave you out of breath) from one side to the other and then swim medium speed back to my starting point then did this until 30 minutes were finished. After 30 minutes I did a 10 minute cooling down swim. This way, I burned about 300-400 kcal during this 45 minutes.

Currently I don’t swim anymore as weightlifting and climbing takes all of my time. I do think swimming can be a great cardio workout for very obese people or people who have injuries (and the elderly), because it’s easy on the joints, tendons and muscles. What you need to remind yourself of (if you want it to be a workout), is that it’s only a real workout when you raise your pace and get a bit out of breath. Personally, I’ve stepped away from the cardio-only view and started weightlifting to aid my weightloss. You can read about it in this post. I also wrote something on how to start weightlifting in this post. As you all know, exercise is great, but if you don’t control what you put in your mouth, it won’t make you lose weight: you can’t outtrain a bad diet!