What are you exercising for?

Some Norwegian blogger has stated that anyone who exercises and eats healthy is only ever doing it for the looks. Girls to be skinny, guys to be muscly. And I can, to some extent agree. It all usually starts with the desire to look good, never really to feel better, BUT as you learn what your body is capable of and how it reacts to various types of food, I dare claim that you keep doing it because of the way it makes you feel on the inside.

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Sure, these past weeks I’ve been as little motivated as you can ever imagine, but because I’ve found a way of exercising that I like, and made it a routine, I’ve still been doing it. New after I started working is less exercise hours during the week. I no longer do 9 sessions, but 6, as the cardio I used to do during the evening has been swapped for running after my clients all day long. I know what it’s like not being able to do anything, when all you really want to is to exercise. Knees, ankles, back, shoulders – you name it, been there done that, and it sucked. 4 months of only walking because the upper body didn’t wanna co-operate, but I still got out of bed and walked. Every day. Because I like the way I feel after moving my body, and I don’t like the way I feel when I know I’ve been dodging what I’m meant to do.

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I also know what it’s like to be 15kg heavier and dreading putting on tight clothes, and I don’t ever want to go back there.

IMG_4666So yes, a part of me is exercising and eating healthy because I want to maintain what I’ve worked so hard for. But the bigger part of me is exercising and actually loving vegetables because of the way it makes me feel, all I want is a well-functioning and strong body that is injury and pain free. Sure, I’d love to be able to do pull-ups (veeeery slowly getting there), and other cool Instagramable stuff, but if that means that I’m gonna go back to not sleeping because my shoulder joints are inflamed, then no. I’ve found a balance in my life, and I like it that way. Having that said, I had 3 cheat days this weekend, so yes – it is possible to not be healthy, even for me, and I kinda freaked out, but it didn’t turn me into the Marita that I was a year ago – all it did was give me bad skin and made me feel like shit, but there’s nothing a little bit of fruit and vegetables can’t fix, right (yes, I’m joking).

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Anyway, my little sister requested a cookie recipe.

Mix 2 eggs, 1-2 ripe bananas, almond milk (other milk/water), raw honey (not necessary) and PB2 or peanut butter. Add rolled oats, baking powder, sesame seeds, chopped dried figs, almonds (or other nuts), dates, a sprinkle of sea salt, raw cocoa, chocolate protein powder, cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger. Form the dough (it’s meant to be a bit sticky) into cookies on a baking tray, put them in the oven on 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes, and voilá, soft, chewy cookies that probably won’t last more than a day because you will eat it all.

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Two way french toast

Saturdays are normally dedicated to my second leg-day of the week, but being as handicapped as I am, it has now been turned into a “do whatever I want” in the gym day, and it might stay that way because I really enjoyed that gym session! Despite limping and being awesome with my ankle brace, I managed to pull off a complete hour of pure joy (and sweat).

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Even though it is important to push all of your muscle groups into working throughout the week, it is also important to enjoy what you do. Considering that I sort of ran out of muscle groups to kill pretty early this week (yeah a whole workout dedicated simply to triceps isn’t gonna happen), I decided to simply pick all my favorite exercises for the upper body and core and make it a workout. Push-ups, face pulls, rear delt flies w/ cables, triceps pushdown w/ rope, dips, scull crusher, lat pulldowns, bicep 7s, hanging leg-raises and plank x 3. Nailed it.

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You know how they say that it is important to keep track of your workouts and log everything into a system? Yeah, I’m not really that organized, but I have found my own way of recording and remembering my workouts. Tiny notes and post-its! They are all finely stuffed into the pocket of my jacket and I never have to worry about losing them. They obviously only make sense to me, but that doesn’t matter. I do, however, keep track of my measurements and body fat, how much energy my body needs to stay alive etc. in a folder. Sort of. Simply trying to prove to you that having a system for what you do when you are working towards a goal, doesn’t have to be hard. As long as you can keep up to date with it.

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Line and her no-sugar-in-the-weekdays-routine has resulted in the making of french toast quite frequently. I’m easy to influence, and pretty much every time she cooks something – I want it too. When swimming on Friday, my friend Tara told me that she always makes her french toast into a savory version with avocado and tomatoes. Now, I like having my cake and eating it too, so I figured I’d give both a try. Great success!

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I used the microwave-bread as a base. Added savory spices to the savory one, and cinnamon and cardamom to the sweet version. I take it everyone knows how to make french toast, if not; mix 1 egg and milk of desire (I used unsweetened almond milk) in a bowl. Add cardamom and cinnamon if you want the sweet version, if not – skip them. Put the slices of bread on a plate and pour the mixture over. Let it soak, and fry until golden on each side. Serve with vegetables if savory or bananas and warm berries if sweet.

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Yeah yeah, I know they don’t exactly look like chef-material, but they were so filling, and so good! Promise.

For you or for others?

Self-esteem. A girly thing. I think that most girls, at some point, go through some kind of an eating disorder. Not necessarily a severe one and not necessarily one that is making them sick, but the brain is twisted and can be evil. In fact, I find it interesting that the brain can do that to itself, that it can change what you see it the mirror into something bad, and make you harm your own body.

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We all find ways of coping with things, some better than the other. I have always misliked my legs, I never wanted to wear tight tops, my lips were uneven. I would be so disappointed if I didn’t get top grades in school. You know, typical girl stuff. I’ve had dermal fillers in my face, I’ve been to the gym too much and not eaten enough, I’ve obsessed about that number on the scale. But it’s not the right way of handling things.

I don’t know if it is the fact that I’ve grown older or the fact that I have changed my way of looking at things, but one thing is certain, I am so much more happy with myself. I don’t need the super-duper grades every time, I don’t die going out for drinks (okay I do, but that’s the following day), I walk around without makeup more than I do with makeup, the cake I baked and ate for Line’s birthday didn’t make me fat, my face is free of dermal fillers and I don’t mind wearing a tight dress (though finding jeans is still hell – jeez how hard can it be to make jeans that fit both around the waist, bum and are long enough?!).

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I’m very easy to influence, therefore I avoid pages with seemingly perfect girls, I don’t follow people on Instagram making me wish I looked like them. Instead, I follow motivational people, people who will lift me higher instead of putting me down. People with inspiring food and great workouts (and Justin Bieber, but that’s a different story). IMG_3351

Working out and eating clean has become my lifestyle, but also my therapy. It makes me happy. I wouldn’t be investing that much time in it if I didn’t gain any benefits. You shouldn’t be working out to impress others, you shouldn’t be doing it because you want somebody to find you attractive – that all comes naturally anyway, somebody once told me that a confident girl is the hottest thing there is. Didn’t believe them then, but I do now. I am so proud of my body, so happy to see what it is capable of doing (yeah yeah, I still can’t touch the floor), and when I for some reason don’t want to leave the couch, I remind myself that there are people out there wishing that they could run, wishing that they could exercise. We are doing ourselves a favor by investing in our health.

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A fellow Norwegian and I were discussing it over dinner the other day, we don’t go to the gym to look good in the gym, we go to look good after. We do, after all, live in a fairly superficial world and I don’t mind that my legs have toned up and that I’m finally starting to see a slight hint of muscle on my stick-thin arms. You’ve probably seen those girls wearing a mask of makeup, barely touching weights in the gym? And then you’ve seen that red-faced girl drowning in sweat whilst singing to her music – yep, that’s me, the catch of the day.

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We are only human, it is okay to make mistakes, we don’t wake up with amazing hair and perfectly polished skin every morning. We don’t always want to work out or do our assignments. We eat that chocolate bar, enjoy it – and go back to being healthy the next meal. We take two steps back, but then one forward again. The key to success is persistence. Listen to your body, find what works for you. Do what makes you happy.

But honey, you need a little bit of sugar

Yes you do. The natural kind. Not the kind found in candy. Not the kind found in your artificially, processed cereal. And not the kind found in your soda or orange juice. You need the natural sugar, or glucose, that your body makes from the food you eat, such as fruit, complex carbs and vegetables.

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Author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and DiseaseRobert Lustig, explains that sugar is addictive. In humans, fructose (commonly found in artificial and processed food) lights up the reward center in your brain called the nucleus accumbens on MRI; however, after repeated exposure, the reward center lights up less and less, and you will be needing more and more to achieve the same effect. Fructose has effects on the reward center similar to alcohol; and can implement a “vicious cycle” of consumption and disease. Thinking of chronic diseases, evidence links sugar directly to heart disease, type 2 diabetes or cancer.

But fructose is found in fruit?!?! Yes, it is. But fruit also contains magic amounts of fiber, making the fructose harder to absorb. Little amounts of fructose is not dangerous, large amounts is, as it may overload your liver being consumed and absorbed at once – and we do not want that, do we?

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Discover good nutrition compares natural sugar to artificial sugar:

An average orange has about about 3 teaspoons of natural sugar and a cup of strawberries has less than two teaspoons. And on top of that, you’re getting 3 grams of fiber, a full day’s worth of vitamin C, antioxidants and some folic acid and potassium – and it’ll only cost you about 50 or 60 calories. By contrast, a 0,5L coke will set you back about 225 calories and, and will for sure not be supplying any antioxidants, vitamins, minerals or fiber. You’ll simply be enjoying carbonated water, artificial color and flavor, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 grams of added sugar. So what sugar did we say we wanted again?

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Line, my fellow Norwegian, highly enjoys her sugary poison and would probably never give up her treats. But she recently decided to give up sugar on weekdays. It has been a week and she has succeeded, claiming that this will continue next week too. She says it was hard the first days, but found solutions to the late night snack cravings; smoothies, bananas, other fruit, loads of chewing gum, and homemade granola. Accidentally putting candy in her mouth mid-week, thinking it was sugar free, put a little nervous breakdown to display, but she concluded “it didn’t count”. Has she noticed any benefits? The initial candy cravings disappeared after a few days. “If I can do it, anybody can”, she says.

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Now, my rule is having a candy-day once a week, Line’s is more.. quitting it Monday-Thursday. But we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?

We know where the obvious sugar is found, but for some reason people tend to think that other processed food is free of sugar. It is not. ABC Health and Wellbeing suggests to stay away from:

  • sugar-laden breakfast cereals – some of these contain up to 30 per cent sugar (breakfast cereal review here). Despite claiming to have enough fibre to get you through the day, they contain the wrong fibre that is full of phytates – substances that bind essential minerals and take them out of the body, and thereby steals your much needed minerals.
  • premade meals and sauces (yes that includes your baked beans and canned soup).
  • supposed ‘health foods’ such as muesli bars and other snacks found in the health food section.
  • spreads including jams and sugar-free fruit spreads, as well as less obvious suspects such as peanut butter.

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How about we try to limit our sugar-intake to once a week guys, read the labels of your food, choose the ones with ingredients you actually can pronounce, and maybe we get to save our bodies from a couple of internal inflammations too.