The efficient 7 minute workout

Man, waking up at 5 to go to bootcamp is sooo much easier when you know the day ahead is going to bring 28 degrees and time at the beach. We did a circuit of all the things I suck at, and I’ve gotta say that my lack of upper body strength is slowly changing for the better – I no longer collapse doing push-ups, and my back has stopped struggling as much when I do leg-raises. There’s hope for everyone.

Rather than focusing on how much weight you want to lose in a certain period of time, why don’t you focus on reaching an exercise goal? Like finally doing push-ups on your toes, doing a certain amount of weight in a certain type of exercise or maybe running 5 kilometers in less than 30 minutes.

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The Colour Run a year ago.

PT-Daniel has given us a 7 minute workout that anyone can do at home. No equipment required. You might be thinking that yeah we read about this in magazines all the time, it doesn’t work. Well, it has, in fact, been proven to be just as sufficient as a weights session or a run – the key is that you have to do it right, you have to suffer for the results. No pain, no gain, right?

These exercises have to be performed at a high speed, 10 seconds rest between and with full focus to gain the benefits. You should be at a level of 8 out of 10 when it comes to discomfort. Spend 30 seconds on each exercise.

Jumping jacks

Wall sit

Push-up

Abdominal crunch

Step up on chair

Squat

Triceps dip on chair

Plank

High knees running in place

Lunge

Push-up and rotation

Side plank

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So how about you make this your goal for the next couple of weeks? It’s only 7 minutes. Do it three times a week. Or like my housemate Line, who has a thing for home-workouts, do it at night before you go to bed. She went from not doing proper push-ups at all, to simply telling herself she could – and so she did. Maybe make it a goal to see how many repetitions you can fit into each of the 30 second intervals the first time, and after 2 weeks see how much you’ve improved? Exercise is supposed to be fun!

We also got given a 7-day food plan, and I’m not going to share that whole thing with you, but in simple terms, what every meal has in common is a lean protein sourcevegetables and a moderate intake of good carbohydrates (remember, fruit, vegetables etc have carbohydrates too). Look at any food pyramid (part from the Norwegian, for some reason Norwegians are encouraged to eat a lot more bread/grains than what I consider necessary) and they will most likely all suggest a high intake of vegetables as the first priority. People tend to think that the low-carb/high-fat diet is all about eating butter and bacon, but the point of it all is an increased intake of vegetables. Yes, because carbs are cut, they substitute it with a bit more fatty food, but vegetables are still the main priority. Same for the paleo-diet, vegetables first, then lean protein.

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Even I (who can’t cook meat at all) manage to eat a protein source with every meal. Oats w/peanut butter, banana and eggs for breakfast, a salad/stir-fry/soup with nuts/egg/beans/chickpeas/chicken/fish for lunch, roasted vegetables/salad/soup with egg/meat/chicken/fish/chickpeas/veggie burgers etc etc for dinner. It’s not hard. And if I go all vegetarian (which typically happens… most of the week) for a couple of meals with no particular protein source, I make a protein-brownie or a protein-smoothie for dessert.

Basically, by making vegetables, fresh fruit, healthy oils/fats, legumes, lean protein and proper whole grains the basis of our diet, we are good to go. Refined carbohydrates, processed sugar, food with way too much added sodium (aka pre-made anything in the supermarket) and dairy products should be a minor part of what we eat (I think) as we can manage perfectly fine without them. It’s just a matter of choosing wisely and showing some willpower. You are fully capable of walking past that isle of potato chips, chocolate and lollies at half price.

558593_10150734798384010_592859009_9918006_1197381993_nThought I’d share this, we’ve all been there. My first semester in Melbourne, I think.

Another thing that the food plan points out is how much food you need to eat to build muscle. 5 meals a day, all pretty much looking like my dinners. Minced beef with vegetables for breakfast, I mean, come oooon. Building muscle basically means you need to eat more than you typically burn each day, but of the right food (surplus). You won’t build muscle eating white rice and drinking protein shakes all day long. In turn, leaning down and lowering the body-fat means you have to cut the carbohydrates, eat a little bit less than what you burn (deficit), but again – of the right food. Eating 3 apples and 5 oranges a day won’t do anything, but leave you starving and tired. Eat appropriate to your lifestyle and your goals. Eat to protect your inner organs and enhance the functions of your body. It’s not as hard as it sounds.

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Simple tips for staying healthy every day

I keep thinking that everyone are aware of what the healthier option of different kinds of food is nowadays, but when going grocery shopping I tend to realize that that isn’t the case. Seriously, the amount of shit food people buy is amazing. Most of you probably do know what I’m about to tell you, but for those who don’t – here you go;

  • Choose the complex carbs. Eating white rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc is like eating paper – there is no nutritional value at all WHATSOEVER. The high glycemic value (GI) makes your insulin levels spike quickly, only to let them drop again and you feel low in energy and just as hungry. They are high in empty calories and do not help your digestive system in any kind of way. Wheat has no benefits.

Let me show you the difference between Australian bread and Norwegian bread.

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So choose whatever contains the most fiber. Or bake your own bread or Norwegian Knekkebrød (crisp bread). Choose oats (WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR) over any other processed cereal. Wholegrain pasta still contains a lot of wheat, but is better than the normal white pasta. If you wanna go crazy (like me), choose buckwheat or quinoa pasta. Wholegrain rice, black wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous (now and then), lentils, chickpeas, beans, POTATOES instead of white rice.

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  • Eat more vegetables. Make vegetables the main ingredients of your meal. You can pretty much eat unlimited amounts of greens for any meal, as they are low in calories and high in everything else.
  • Think lean. Choose lean protein options. Sure, pepperoni is amazing on anything, but it’s not particularly healthy in terms of fat, salt or.. content. Make chicken, turkey, fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, basa fish, scampi) and lean red meat your protein source.
  • Be creative in your protein choices. Soy-products like tofu and quorn, greek NATURAL yoghurt (any yoghurt with added flavour is also packed with sugar), cottage cheese, beans, chickpeas, lentils, eggs (eggs are great!), nuts, parmesan cheese.. They all contain protein. In fact, there’s a little protein in pretty much everything that is natural.

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  • Increase your omega-3 intake. In other words, eat fish. Fish has fat that will help your skin, nails and hair look good, it’s low in calories, it’s filling, it’s high in protein and vitamins. Fish is high in Vitamin D, which is needed for your body to take up calcium (if you drink milk/eat dairy, this is particularly important as your body will need the Vitamin D to use the calcium to its benefit – otherwise you’ll be left with brittle bones). I know that this is one of my struggles, so in addition to attempting (all we can do is try) to eat fish at least once a week, I take omega-3 supplements twice a day.
  • Reduce your refined sugar-intake. Avoid food containing things you have no idea what is. Don’t eat biscuits, ice cream, canned fruit, candy, cake etc on a daily basis – those are meant to be an occasional snack, not a part of your diet. Don’t buy juice, soda or cordial, they’re all packed with sugar. Eat at least 5 different kinds of fruit a day to combat your sugar-cravings and provide your body with the needed vitamins.

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  • Eat the right fat. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil (the body does not take up the saturated aka bad fat from coconut oil), avocado, nuts (unsalted, preferably not peanuts), fish, etc. NOT chips, anything containing palm oil, or anything high in saturated fat. We don’t want blocked veins, right?
  • Hydrate! Your body needs enough water to carry out all its responsibilities and functions. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will re-use whatever water is left in your already digested food – and we don’t want ‘contaminated’ water helping the regulations of the body, do we?

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  • Swap your daily caffeine for green tea/herbal tea. Green tea contains heaps of antioxidants and doesn’t stain your teeth. Drinking one coffee with milk and sugar every day on top of your daily intake of nutrition can make you gain about 5 kgs in a year (due to the milk and sugar, obviously).
  • Cook your own food. It’s not hard. It doesn’t require much energy. You can control what you put in your body. And you’ll have leftovers to eat for lunch or to freeze.

Remember to EAT ENOUGH. If you store good food – you will choose to eat the good food. It’s easy.

Oh, and should you wanna know what happens whenever I eat crap food. This is the result of three pieces of brownies. Not cool.

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The hidden sugar

Knowing the different kinds of names for added sugar is a key to realizing what products to choose and what products to avoid if you want to “eat clean”. I went hunting for a substitute for wraps (or spelt wraps/speltlomper, in norwegian….) today and jeez, they all contain some kind of crap. One of them claimed to be yeast free, dairy free and contain no added sugar, and they were bloody expensive too. I usually always read the ingredients lists of new products (whatever is mentioned first, is what the product contains the most of), and this package of supposedly healthy wraps contained added concentrate of apple juice. Hidden added sugar right there! If you don’t pay attention when picking your almond milk, soy milk, rice milk or oat milk, you end up with added sugars again. You think you’re buying pure dried fruit, but instead it is covered in sugar. Coconut sugar, palm sugar, agave nectar, rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, .. this list can go on forever.

Bree-sweet-tooth-types-of-sugarI eventually found a package of gluten-free wraps, but oh my, the Norwegian spelt wraps are heavily missed. Making them into chips with heaps of spices in the oven did do the trick though, and I had super delicious tacos for dinner. Speaking of sugar and tacos, all the taco spices and sauces contain added sugar too. I know we have a stevia-sweetened sauce in Norway,  but that is yet to come in Australia. iHerb has a taco seasoning thing with no added sugar or salt from All Natural Frontier, and I rarely use anything other than that. You can also make your own mixture with garlic salt, paprika, cumin and such.

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I got a package from iHerb today (discount code: TBW611 to get $5-10 off your first order), and it was full of chocolate-ish-things (even the lipbalm was chocolate flavored). I have a thing for coconut and chocolate so when I found Raw Revolution’s chocolate coconut bliss, I had to order them. Now, these claim to be healthy, raw and all that, but they do in fact contain added agave nectar, and will therefore be a part of my cheat-day – NOT my normal everyday. They are for sure a better option than the average snickers-bar (favourite….), but should not be indulged all the time just because they claim to be healthy.

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I also ordered freeze-dried mango (with no added sugar), and oh my God – why have I never tried that before?! It is so so so delicious. My sister has always been a major fan of dried fruits like apricots and that, but I’ve never really liked it – until now. These little pieces of heaven will for sure be ordered again. When it comes to dried fruit and such, like raisins, dates and figs, it is important to remember that these are pretty high in naturally occurring sugar and therefore also more calorie-rich than your average carrot or apple. One big medjool-date contains about 110 kcal, which is more than a normal banana, so if you are trying to control your calorie-intake you might wanna not overdo them because just like with anything else, we should eat everything in moderation.

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I got to do legs for the first time since being stupid with my ankle this week, and I had forgotten how damn sore it is possible to get from a workout. Learning to not overdo things, I decided to ease off the heavy weights and did my hipthrusts with 65kg instead of the 75 I’ve been doing for a while, but Jesus Christ it still killed. I’ve also realized that I’m lazy doing my ab-workout, so after finishing my bicep/tricep workout this morning I asked one of the bored instructors in the gym to force me to do my abs. I swear, they are still crying. I asked for it, I complained whilst doing it – and I’m probably gonna complain even more tomorrow. But I did it. Happy Marita.

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You can’t out-exercise a bad diet

I saw this poster at my physio the other day, with a famous Australian PT, saying “6 days for hard work and exercise, 1 day for lazy mornings and breakfast in bed”, and it stuck with me. You know, whether you want to take care of your health or have a bangin’ body, doesn’t mean you’re forced to give up everything you enjoy. The amount of times people tell me that I have to “live a little too”.. Who gets to decide the definition of what living is? Those who know me have seen my cheat-meals on Saturdays, and they’ve seen the amount of candy I am able to demolish if I really want to. They’ve also seen how sick it makes me feel. And how hungover I look the following day (true story, food-hangovers do exist).

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So many people eat like shit and go to the gym, thinking that the exercise will outweigh the lack of healthy eating. But it won’t. Of course, working out should be encouraged no matter what you eat because of the obvious health benefits. It is no secret that losing weight is a matter of energy in vs energy out, but a calorie isn’t a calorie when it comes to nourishing your body. Think of your body as a car – for it to run smoothly you need to fuel it right.

Bad-diet

Of course it is okay to enjoy “the bad food” now and then too, but you shouldn’t be enjoying that every day. Trust me, the things you crave taste so much better when you’ve been wanting it for a week! And once your body has gotten rid of the desire to eat something unhealthy, you fill up a lot quicker when you once in a while do eat the crap food.

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A simple way to “live a little” and eat clean as well could be the 80/20 rule; i.e. eating healthy 80% of the time and indulging 20% of the time. I find it easier to stick to the clean eating when I exercise regularly, and honestly, choosing the banana over the package of biscuits isn’t that hard when you know you’ve just burnt 700 calories hating life on a crosstrainer.

We’ve heard that abs are made in the kitchen, and they sure are – no matter how many sit-ups you force through, your abs are not likely to become visible unless you lower your body-fat, which is accomplished through eating the right food. I just want people to keep in mind that in the same manner as eating one unhealthy meal now and then won’t make you fat or affect your everyday health, eating a healthy meal once in a while (instead of every day) won’t make you fit or skinny or whatever your goal might be.

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I used to think I didn’t eat thaaaat unhealthy, and frankly I didn’t either, but try writing down everything you eat in a week, and I can promise you’re in for a little surprise or two. Those little “snackies” you have “now and then” suddenly turn out to equal an entire package of chips. I have friends counting the calories in the fruit they eat, instead of focusing on removing that “protein-chocolate” they think is nutritious, from their diet. Unless you eat 20 oranges a day, you shouldn’t be having to count the calories of your fruit! Even though you spend 4% of your day exercising (an hour every day), you’ve got another 96% left to make sure is on the right track. Keep that in mind.

Eating healthy is so hard.. or is it?

People always complain that eating healthy is complicated and expensive. That fruit is more expensive than chocolate. That you get more frozen, deep-fried chicken for the same prize as vegetables. That choosing the healthy option when eating out is hard. But you don’t and it isn’t. Let me present you 200 calories (to the confused Line on calories; you need about 2000 calories a day depending on your level of activity) in pictures:

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Now, what food do you think will fill you up the most? Where do you get the most nutrition from? Maybe we after all did get more food and nutrition for the money when choosing the health-benefiting food?

When it comes to eating out, you only make it as hard as you want it to be. We had dinner at the restaurant across the road yesterday and they did have an option of baby snapper fillets, grilled chicken and other healthy deliciousness, nobody is forcing you to choose the pizza or the extra side of chips. Yes, so maybe I paid a tad more for my baby snapper, but it was so good. And SO filling.

When claiming that eating healthy or joining the gym is too expensive, you are in reality only jeopardizing your own body and health. Why should you not be prioritizing buying real food? Isn’t that the one investment you should be doing? You will be paying a lot more in the future as a result of being hospitalized for your bad nutrition and/or not exercising.

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I spend about $40-50 a week grocery shopping. That is absolutely nothing! I eat at least four meals a day, and I am pretty much always satisfied. My gym membership is about $60 a month, in being there 9 times a week I pay about.. $1,66 per visit. Worth it? I think so. And you don’t need to go to the gym to work out, the nature is after all free and a perfect place for recreational activities.

I also stumbled upon a picture from a few years back.

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My amount of working out was the same, but I ate candy or cakes at work every day, I refused wearing tight tops, and believe me; running intervals was pure hell.

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Now, I don’t eat crap every day, my body-fat has lowered, my self-esteem is way better, I am stronger, I run faster and I recover faster.

Today has been one of my double gym session days, and I’d just like to give you an example of one of those days. (We did celebrate Line’s birthday at home yesterday and I did have tremendous amounts of sugar/milk/wheat-packed cake, so I’ve been slightly full today). I had my first leg day of the week this morning (yes, I have noticed the requests of my leg-program, and it will come), died and then ate the breakfast I eat pretty much every day; porridge made of oats topped with a banana, cashew nut-butter, blueberries and strawberries, a soft-boiled egg and a large cup of muscle recovery yogi tea from iHerb (use the code TBW611 and get $10 off your first purchase).

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I brought leftover pizza and an apple to uni, had a soft-boiled egg, a banana and a handful of nuts/raisins as a pre-workout snack, went to Body Balance and finished it off with a 10-minute vegetable soup (I’m starting to feel sick and soup always helps) topped with pan-fried mushrooms and turkey, and had strawberries for dessert. So simple, yet so incredibly good. And so not complicated at all!

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So, just a few tips on how to keep the clean and healthy eating affordable.

  • Buy things locally and choose whatever is in season
  • Add meat/fish/poultry into dishes where veggies are the main ingredients, thus making it last longer/for several meals
  • Cook batches of meals that can be frozen/left for a few days and brought whenever needed
  • The key to success is planning!

Come cook with me

Eating clean and natural is easy, they say. And it is. But it takes time adjusting to the habit of preparing your own food pretty much from scratch every day, and there are a few key essentials to being successful at it. I am, as previously mentioned, the worst chef. I cannot cook. I cannot follow recipes and my meals never look the way they look in the pictures. But I still prepare my own food every day, I still eat it, I make others eat it, and it DOES taste good (most of the time, that is).

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Get me? It never really looks.. appetizing. 

The important thing for me is that the recipes are easy to follow and have few ingredients, if the list is longer than my jeans I automatically skip the page and keep looking because it is too much of an effort on an every day basis. Not to mention, I rarely have the time to cook for hours. Having people over to impress or if I am in need of an excuse to procrastinate, I often attempt the complicated dishes – but because I cannot follow recipes… well, it never turns out the way it is supposed to.

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Most of the food I eat is inspired by bloggers, clean cookbooks or the occasional restaurant up the road. Fancy ingredients isn’t really to find in my kitchen, and I rarely spend more than 20-30 minutes preparing and/or cooking. I stock my fridge with fruit and vegetables after season (but always heaps of bananas, apples, sweet potato, avocado, mushrooms and capsicum), there is always eggs and oats to find and I do try to eat the occasional chicken or salmon/basa fish on the days I do double gym sessions.

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Nuts, raisins/dates (great for making a sweet syrup to bake with) beans, chick peas, real parmesan cheese and unsweetened almond milk is also great to have floating around. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is always accompanied by some kind of dessert (major sweet tooth right here) and I never walk around hungry (unless I forget my food for uni at home, then I am STARVING and very upset).

I am obsessed with two food blogs, their food is healthy, vegetarian (many dishes do go great with meat/poultry/fish) and the recipes are so easy to follow. The fact that their pictures make me hungry is a major plus. Green Kitchen Stories & My New Roots – even though you are not a health freak like me, go check them out. Explore their previous recipes and please try them. The not-so-health-freaks in my house have adopted a few recipes from here too, I promise.

This weekend has been dedicated to a major study session and my vegetarian friend and I have been procrastinating in the kitchen. Herb and Pistachio Falafels and Beet Burgers have been on the menu (alongside some sushi, vietnamese rice paper rolls and the occasional – very forbidden dairy – frozen yoghurt).

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Now, I am not going to tell you how to do it because I steal my recipes from other people, so you might as well find it on your own – but I am going to tell you how easy and healthy fast food can be. Yes it is the weekend, yes we need to enjoy ourselves – but that enjoyment does not need to come from food. Food is nutrition. Food is delicious. But the comfort can come from somewhere else. Like a walk in the park or a cheesy naked Zac Efron movie.

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Had a fair few of these this weekend; fruit, nuts and a tiny piece of white sugarfree chocolate from Sweden – it was Saturday after all.

And please do try the Life Changing Loaf by My New Roots, it is.. life changing.