The different phases of exercise

I haven’t always enjoyed exercise. Always been active, yes, but let’s just realize that it took solid work to get to the point of wanting to exercise.

Everyone else is doing it

Growing up I did figure skating (and attempted a rather poor soccer career – only went for the post-training ice-cream), but when my knee set a stopper to that, I had to start doing something else. Bring on the spin class, pilates and the 20 minute jogs around the block.

I did spin classes every friday after school because all my friends were doing it, and I absolutely hated it. Had to catch the bus back home, and to get to the bus, I had to walk past the grocery store. What did they have in the grocery store? 5 chocolate bars for $4. Did I eat all of them on the way home? Yes.

Signed up to do pilates every thursday night with my friends. Had to walk past a candy-shop on the way there, bought an entire bag of candy to eat in the car home, ’cause pilates burns sooooo many calories.

Then I decided I was going to become a runner. I used to tell the boys living around my house that I was going to go for a run. “Yeah riiight,” they’d slam in my face. So of course, I had to go. Turns out, running was really hard, and keeping a consistent pace so that it would look like I was running when I went past their house was really hard. I also had to go past their house on the way back, so I had to make it look like I had gone very far, and had to be gone for a while. Did they ever really notice that I was out running? No.

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I want to impress

Moved away to do the IB diploma, met people who went to the gym wearing LEGGINGS. Up until then I had been wearing big Manchester United t-shirts and sweatpants. I thought leggings was extremely weird. But then peer pressure got me, and I (that be my parents) invested in a pair of leggings that I used to wear, aiming to burn 100 calories on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of ab-exercises and maybe a bicep curl or two.

Squats with a medicine-ball in the back left me sore for an entire week, but the trainer I had told me doing them 3 times  a week would make me look hot. Potentially also did a group class of yoga. Made sure I looked reasonably good going to the gym, wore makeup, brushed my hair. You know. Spent a fair amount of time staring at the fit guys a couple of years above me training in the same gym. Followed up the MASSIVE GYM SESSION by either baking a cake, or buying cake at school. Still attempted going for runs past hot guys’s house, or said yes to going for runs with my ATHLETE friends – always a bad idea.

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Fanatic

Moved back home to have a gap year. Still oblivious to the fact that diet plays a huge role in losing weight, and nibbled on candy and cakes at work, despite eating fairly healthy meals. Got a car, joined the local gym. They had a list up saying who had been to the gym the most each month, and I made it my goal to get my name up there.

Was still a big fan of numerous ab-exercises, but slowly got the interest in compound exercises using more than one muscle group at once. Read somewhere that intervals were the way to burn fat, and started running them every other day. This is also when I got interested in split-programs. It took a few months, and my name was up on the list. Still obsessed with wanting to look hot, I decided I wanted to be on the top of that list, i.e being the one with the most visits. Christmas came around, and guess who’s name was first? Yeah that was mine. Big mistake, because now I had to keep it up there. Pretty much went to the gym every day, however despite getting stronger/fitter, my diet was out of whack and I had no idea what I was doing. Spent most of my weekends being stupidly drunk in a club.

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New conditions

Moving to Australia was a big step in my life, and I was determined to keep my fitness level up. Let’s just say that I spent the first 3 weeks being drunk and eating crap food, and when I went for my first run it almost killed me. Probably spent most of my first year here swimming in alcohol, to be honest. I did still exercise as much as I could, but the focus was still on looking good. Joined a new gym full of massive bodybuilder guys, tried to impress them and voilá, tore something in my lower back (that is still affecting my exercise today massively, lesson learnt). After a bit of money thrown at the physio, I decided I was sick of feeling shit about my own body.

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Lifestyle-change

And here we go, my favourite part of the journey. I changed my diet, was still obsessed with going to the gym, but started noticing how different the body reacted to various types of good and bad food. It’s been a struggle, and what really started with yet another quest to impress someone has now turned into my career.

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I used to laugh at those people saying exercise gave them more energy. I would even argue, “but you are exhausted after exercise, it drains you.” But now I understand. Exercise gets you through the week, it gives you something to focus on when you are tired, and it gives you motivation to master something new. I still hate spin-classes, but I’m open to trying one. Having worked my ass off trying to make a living as well as studying full-time, exercising hasn’t always been easy to fit in, or even been a thing I’ve wanted to do. But I’ve still maintained 6 sessions a week.

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And now that I’m done studying and spend some time in an office, in front of a computer? My back KILLS. No wonder office-rats out there have back problems! But guess what, I leave the office, drive to the gym (or park), thinking about how my back aches and how I really only want to go to bed, but then I get to the gym, start exercising, and the back pain is gone. Exercise has become something that I need to keep my body going, it clears my mind, and I ALWAYS feel better after. Even if I don’t come home drenched in sweat.

I use food to nourish my body. So that it can live a 15-hour working day. So that it can recover after a gym session. So that I can get up at 5 every morning and not wear makeup, because my skin still looks fine. So that my body can recover quicker when I’m going to need another knee surgery. It’s no longer all about looking good, it’s about feeling good. And I really hope you all get to experience that one day. Exercise and nutrition is medicine, start healing your body the right way.

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Ps. Sorry that it’s been an entire semester. Turns out that working 3 jobs and finishing your last semester of your degree takes up a bit of time.

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Tuna-crust pizza and a killer back-workout

I hate tuna. With passion. There is not much food out there that I actually say yuk to whenever someone is eating it, but canned tuna is one of those things I just can’t stand. Fresh, grilled tuna is another story, I could probably eat that every day for the rest of my life, if I was capable of cooking it. But I’m not.

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Anyway. Canned tuna. The easiest and cheapest way to increase the protein-intake. 19 grams of protein in that little box for like 1 dollar (I should be eating about 130g of proteins everyday – 2 grams per bodyweight), and people put it in everything! Trust me when I say I’ve tried teaching myself to like it. Covered in cheese, put in a sandwich, mixed in pasta, next to a salad, all the different versions of flavours (I mean, you’d think anything mixed with teryaki sauce is good, but no), eaten straight out of the can – you name it, I’ve tried it all. When I had a friend visiting my first year in Australia, I even ate canned tuna every day for a week, thinking I’d eventually learn to like it – but no, gag-reflexes every damn time.

So of course it would have to take a God damn pizza for me to eat that cat food-looking thing. Most of Norway will already know about this pizza (if you read fitness blogs like a maniac, like I do), but for those who don’t, and for those who aren’t convinced yet – I will convince you.

I can’t stand the taste of tuna, and I for sure can’t stand the smell, so when someone blogged about putting canned tuna in their pizza dough, I was like…. yeah no. But then they said it was amazing (or more amazing than tuna on it’s own), and then the most important thing happened; they said it didn’t taste like tuna. At all. The sceptic in me did of course not believe this, but I had to try. It’s basically free muscles in a can, I had to find a way to like it, and if I won’t notice it’s even in my food – why not?

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So all you really have to do is add a can of tuna (in spring water, the oily ones will prevent the crust from becoming crispy) drained from water to my other pizza recipe. 2,5-3dl oats, canned tuna, psyllium husk, baking powder, 2 eggs, unsweetened almond milk/water until it becomes a sticky dough, some parmesan cheese and heaps of spices (I used oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin). Mix it all, put in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 200 degrees. Cool it down to ensure it becomes crispy, top it with whatever you like and of course, don’t forget the parmesan cheese. Back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. About 70 grams of protein in that crust, not too bad hey! (You’ll probably have leftovers, but still). I swear, you won’t notice the tuna.

Also thought I’d share this killer back workout that my PT throws at me now and then (mine is a bit modified as my lower back is destroyed, but this is the original).

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3 x 10 TRX pull-ups.

5 x 5 assisted pull-ups (either get someone to hold your legs, or do it on the assisted chin-up machine).

Supersets (do one set of each exercise with no rest between x 3) of;

Bent over rows 12 & shoulder press 15 – repeat 3 sets (I do squat and rows or seated rows instead of the bent over rows).

Straight arm standing lat pull-downs 12 & lateral raises 15 – repeat 3 sets.

Hammer pulldowns (machine) or chin-ups (focusing more on the biceps, rather than the lats – they´re supposed to be easier than regular ones, but my lack of biceps kind of works against the ‘easy’ part here) 12 & upright rows 15 – repeat 3 sets.

3 x 12 Face pulls.

3 x 15 Reverse cable cross (light weight).

If you’re not sweating by the end of this…

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How to stay on track on vacation

So I’ve just been away on vacation. My God, I forgot what having beach hair and tan-lines was like. Gotta say I’m feeling slightly blessed being able to get on a plane for two hours and leave 12 degrees and heavy rain, to end up in sunny heaven and a penthouse apartment. Life just sometimes goes perfectly in the direction it is supposed to.

My “abs” have obviously gone a tad astray the past few weeks, and I have therefore planned on doing measurements in another three weeks to motivate myself and stay on top of things. Anyway, despite being on vacation, my workout week turned out like this:

Monday – 4 x 4 intervals + favourite upper-body circuit with weights in the gym

Tuesday – Rest (spent pretty much the entire day traveling)

Wednesday – 30 minute run on the beach followed by 12 x 4 sets of pushups, 10 x 3 sets of triceps-pushups, 12 x 3 dips on a bench

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Thursday – Legs and abs on the beach.

Yes it is possible, we made a circuit of:

3×12 superset of squats + jumping squats (a superset means no rest between the combined sets of exercises – increases your heart rate)

While Tonje did walking lunges, I used my elastic band to do a variation of “cable kick-backs”

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Various isolation exercises forcing you to connect with your glutes, inner thighs and quads

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12×3 sumo squats (everyone should be looking this happy when having a leg-day by the way)

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3 sets of jumping sumo squats in a circle

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1 minute isometric squat (holding a squat-position for as long as possible)

10 x burpees (found out that I really suck at doing burpees)

20 x 3 calf-raises in stairs

1 minute plank

30 sec side plank on both sides

Plank to pushup, ten on each arm

Other variations of planking (and maybe playing) in the sand

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Friday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

Saturday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

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Sunday – Back, shoulders and abs in the gym

I love the ocean so much that I can’t picture my future life not living by the ocean, so I’ve of course been swimming (scaring myself thinking about sharks and jellyfish) and whatnot everyday too.

When it comes to eating, I dare say I’ve been following my suggestion of 80/20 pretty well. A vacation is a vacation and I’m not killing myself for having had a few frozen yoghurts, an ice-cream made with nitrogen (!!!) nuts, dried fruit or coronas, but my main meals have stayed true to what I believe in. Eating healthy on vacation is easy and cheap, I actually think I spent less money away than what I do during a normal week in Melbourne. Luckily we had our own kitchen, so I had my usual breakfast of oats, eggs and a banana every morning, and brought lunch in a box to the beach. Always bring a lunch-box, it is genius for leftovers, fresh fruit etc.

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I bought sliced turkey breast, vegetables for salad (spinach, tomato, avocado), fresh fruit, pumpernickel bread (yes, the black, compact bread no one in Australia would ever touch) and eggs, and made some sort of a salad out of this everyday. So good, so fresh, protein-packed and very very easy. Not to mention that it saves loads of money. I also bought detox-juice consisting of beetroot, carrot, celery, apple and ginger quite often, so good. We cooked dinner at home most nights and I had taco-salad, homemade tomato soup (which costs about 3 dollars to make…) and kangaroo-burger with oven-roasted vegetables. When eating out I chose a grilled, very mild fish (I hate the well-known fish taste) with veggies. Easy and healthy.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there is a will, there is also a way. If you want to work out on vacation, you will. It is of course perfectly fine to rest when traveling, but why not use the amazing opportunities of nature if you can? You don’t have to go all in and burn 900 calories in a workout, what matters is that you get up and do something. And enjoy an occasional ice-cream or whatever you do crave, but bring a lunch box, keep your main meals clean and eat lots of fresh fruit in-between meals. No one is forcing you to choose the unhealthiest option on the menu, no one is forcing you to buy that chocolate bar in the supermarket and no one is forcing you to eat lollies everyday. It is your choice. Willpower and planning is the key.

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Zero calories equals healthy.. or?

I am a stalker of nature, and it should not come as a surprise that I read any fitness blog I can possibly find. I’m also very easy to influence and even easier to sell things to. So when all these fitness bloggers are praising the Walden Farms series that iHerb sells, it should come as no surprise that I had to buy their products.

Chocolate, dips, mayo, sauces, syrups. AND ALL WITH ZERO CALORIES. ‘Yum’, they all say. So tasty, so healthy, and such a great replacement for whenever you’re craving sweets.

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Yeah, they lied. What do you think Walden Farms puts in their products when they are calorie-free? Certainly not anything that your body will recognize. And unless you really really REALLY love the taste of fake and artificial food, Walden Farms tastes like crap. In fact, it tasted so horrible that I had to throw it all out.

Here in Australia everything is practically gluten-free and fat-free. Buy a bag of normal lollies and it’ll say 99% fat-free, and buy a bag of sugar-free lollies and it’ll mention something about 70% less calories. 70% less than what, may I ask? And so what if the candy is fat-free, it is still packed with sugar and other artificial stuff.

The only way to create so-called “pseudo-foods” (as in food tricking you to thinking it is actually..food, when in reality it is only a bunch of artificial makeup) is to add tons of chemicals. Adding chemicals results in depriving the food of its nutritional value, hence leaving it calorie-free. Does that mean we should be eating it everyday? N to the O, we shouldn’t. I’ve quit crap food, sugar and candy for a reason – I want to take care of my health.

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I have friends who substitute their daily chocolate with sugar-free chocolate, “healthy” protein-bars etc. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? Yes, I stocked up on sugar-free chocolate when I was back home, but that doesn’t mean I justify eating it on a daily basis just cause I’m craving things and they qualify as “healthy”.

Eat the real food, and keep the chocolate (no matter if it is sugar-free, healthy, calorie-free or normal) for where it belongs – the weekends.

Battling food cravings vol.2

Just popping by to tell you that despite being sick and annoyed that I can’t taste much, I’ve been creative in the kitchen again. Okay, not that creative, but more creative than soup for the third time in a row.

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In general, not being able to do cardio and having to sit on my bum all day makes me more hungry and I tend to crave bread of some kind.. Now, living in Australia means not much access to healthy bread, and as I avoid wheat, new methods had to be found. Yes I know of plenty healthy bread recipes, but my dinner today took about five minutes to put together and I needed a quick fix to my cravings.

Luckily, Norway has a bunch of great health/fitness bloggers, and I thought I’d share Dedication’s version of a microwaved bread. I had to alter mine a tad as I didn’t have all the ingredients, but it became a success! It is delicious when fresh, great when toasted and can be altered to function as a sweet-tooth fix as well.

You need:

1 egg, 4 tbs almond flour, 1 ts baking powder, 1-2 ts of psyllium husk, 1-1,5 dl of water and spices desired (I used oregano, sea salt and garlic). Mix the ingredients in a micro-safe container, put cling wrap over the box and put in the microwave for about 4 minutes on the highest power.

(I’m gonna make it into french toast tomorrow and will be adding some stevia, cardamom and cinnamon instead of the savory spices).

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My roomie Line is still going strong with her no sugar in the weekdays by the way. The cravings are slowly easing off, but she has had to fight a few battles with her own brain to avoid attacking the towers of candy she got for her birthday. The other day I found her two seconds away from putting her hand in the corner of the kitchen containing candy at 9 pm. She had in other words struggled all day to stay away and was ready to give up right before bed time (yes, we tend to pass out a tad early – getting old), and I had to be harsh and tell her to grab a banana, and she did. Today she asked me how she could make frozen raspberries into something sweet and tasty. Proud Marita.

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I never used to like bananas, but now I eat at least 3 a day. (I never liked eggs too much either, and today I’ve had five..). Feeling very sorry for myself and my ankle resulted in me wanting ice cream so I magically whipped up some banana-peanutbutter-icecream and dipped strawberries in it. Great excuse to procrastinate my uni assignments..

Anyways, you need:

A frozen banana (possibly two or three, depending on how much you want) – I was too impatient so my banana wasn’t really frozen though, 1 tbs 100% nutbutter of some kind (no, the peanut butter you find next to the Nutella at Coles is not healthy) and a tiny bit of almond milk. Smash it all with a hand blender, pour it in a bowl and top it with raw cacao and nuts of your choice.

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