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.

1919383_283527855122_3347034_n

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.

1935724_169584170201_3135082_n

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.

5091_98073684009_1101241_n

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.

IMG_8104

IMG_8240

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.

IMG_8232

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.

IMG_8181

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.

IMG_8202 IMG_8231


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.

Advertisements

Motivation to stay on track

Ever since I came back from Norway I’ve used my dad’s old heart rate monitor, as I sort of might have left my own at the beach when I was in a hurry going to a festival ….. As with music, I cannot function during a workout without my heart rate monitor. There are not many things I think people crucially need to exercise (part from a pair of proper running shoes, no one should run/walk/exercise with shoes not suitable for their feet), but a heart rate monitor certainly works as a huge motivational factor for me.

IMG_2660

It helps me knowing how fast I need to run during intervals to reach a level of 90-95% of my max heart rate, it tells me how many calories I’ve burnt and how far I’ve gone for a walk (GPS), and it helps me keep at a steady heart rate of 150-160 when I’m doing my boring cross-trainer cardio in the afternoon. So now that the Polar one I’m using (I prefer Polar, but there are tons of other probably equally great brands out there) is telling me I have a heart rate of 237 while doing sit-ups (the max heart rate can be averagely calculated by subtracting your age from 220, which obviously means something as little as sit-ups shouldn’t raise my heart rate that much), I’m kind of realizing it is about time to invest in a new one.

IMG_1191

As anytime I’m in doubt, I’ve asked my health/fitness-freak of a dad for help. I am, like most girls, easy to sell in terms of design, and it’s therefore easy for me to choose something because it is pink, rather than because it is made of quality. Like the Nike FuelBand, I’d go there. But does it really serve any of the purposes I need it for? Not so much. I’m currently considering the Polar RC3 GPS HR, but if anyone has any other tips, I’d be very happy.

I know people struggle to stay motivated all the time, and I can tell you that when I first decided that I wanted to drop body fat and really start taking care of my body and health, I made a massive motivational board with pictures of things that I needed to (and still need to) remind myself the importance of. Things such as what benefits healthy food and exercise has, how sugar affects the brain, how the oil from chips clogs the veins, things reminding me that ‘actually, I can’.  No pictures of skinny girls or things that would make me feel angry or upset/ugly/fat/all the stupid things girls tell themselves, only motivation.

tumblr_mgkd8isyK71s30v0no1_400_large

Buying new, colorful workout clothes is something I still do whenever my motivation is lacking. I can spend hours in the Nike store trying to pick out what I want the most. Sure, you can exercise in your mom’s t-shirt from the 80’s because that way you don’t have to spend money on new things – but seriously, the fact that I get to wear as much pink or neon yellow in the gym as I want, gives me a massive reason to go to the gym. Being blonde kind of deprived me of the allowance to wear pink on pink in public on a daily basis, but I don’t really care in the gym. The more pink, the better. And trust me, running intervals in my Asics that have drowned in like twenty different colours is so much more fun. Not to mention, people (and guys) talk to you when you wear a rainbow in a place where most people only wear black. It’s fun.

IMG_1276

I also made little goals within the big goal. Things like going for a walk in the park for 30 minutes 4 times a week because I know I highly enjoy that, or healthy recipes that I promised myself to try following, rather than eating lettuce leaves every day. Even things like running my 4×4 intervals within a time period of 30 minutes and making them become 5 kilometers, and managing to be done working out and eating breakfast by 10 on days I didn’t really have too much of a reason to even get out of bed. One thing I never did, however, was to say that by a certain date I wanted to have lost x amount of kg, because if I reached that date and ‘failed’, I would have been so annoyed. Trusting the process is so important.

IMG_4673

Another thing that proved important to me, was having my measurements done. The hip to waist ratio is way more important than your weight and BMI, as the ‘dangerous’ fat often is stored around your waist. BMI can tell you that you’re overweight even if you’re not, because it doesn’t consider what part of you body is muscle and what part is fat.

Now, I know you guys favor these before/after pictures, and I’ve gotta admit I find it a bit awkward. But anything to illustrate my point, right.

This is a Norwegian who works out 6-8 times a week, but has an ok diet.

IMG_2388IMG_3012

and this is one who got fed up of being annoyed when trying on jeans and decided to make a change.

IMG_2408 IMG_2043

No matter what you want to do, it is important to remember that it doesn’t happen over night. Consistency is key. There will be bad times, and there will be better times. Baby steps. Keep it up, and you will get exactly what you want.

Do I have to go to the gym THAT often?

It does not really matter what you do as exercise, but how you do it. Don’t force yourself to the spin-class that your friends do unless you really want to (that would be me), don’t run 10K every day if you’re more of an interval-runner, don’t do a 5-day split-program if you prefer working your whole body at once. And the same goes for food. Don’t force down that canned tuna if it makes you throw up (that would be me again), don’t drink that green spirulina-shake if you can’t handle the taste. You get where I’m coming from.

IMG_3255

I often have people asking me how I do it, and what I do – but it is so important for me to emphasize that you have to do it for YOU, that you have to find what you’re comfortable with, what you can look forward to in your “me-time”. So maybe I, and all the other girls you follow on Instagram, go to the gym more than usual. Maybe we eat things that you would never put in your mouth. Does that mean that you have to? No.

IMG_2403

The average person probably works out about 3 times a week, and that is more than enough if you do it right. The national recommendations for physical activity is 30 minutes every day, that isn’t really too much is it? I’m pretty sure I spend thirty minutes walking to and from the bus and to the grocery store every day, and then I work out on top of that. I’m just saying that, depending on your goal with your exercise, you might want to do it in another way. If your goal is to be shredded for Stereosonic or very muscly and defined with low body fat, then yes you are going to have to put in more effort than the average person who just wants to maintain his/her health. We all want different things, and we all adjust to that.

On a completely different note, summer is slowly arriving in Melbourne (just as my thermal underwear came from Norway..) and I thought I’d celebrate with some watermelon, strawberry and lime sorbet/slushie. Delicious, refreshing and nutritious. You need frozen watermelon, a couple of strawberries, half a lime and some hot water. Smash it all with a blender and enjoy.

IMG_3560 IMG_3561

I should also tell you that I cooked my own meat to perfection last night. Yes, I do eat red meat now and then too. But you have to remember that vegetables are the main ingredients in my dinner no matter what I eat next to it, not the other way around. I was told how to cook a scotch fillet over a glass (or fifty) of wine on the weekend, and I shall share it with you, just in case you are as horrible as me when it comes to cooking. Fry the steak in some coconut oil on high heat for about 3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the meat) and let it rest for the same amount of time, wrapped in aluminum foil. When people learn that I don’t eat this and don’t eat that, they always go “but where do you get your carbs from??!?????”, there’s carbs in vegetables too guys, have you ever heard of potatoes? And I discovered something delicious yesterday, frying brussel sprouts and mushrooms in coconut oil is amazing. Just saying.

Voilá!

IMG_3555

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.

IMG_3521

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).

IMG_3536

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.

IMG_3373

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.

IMG_3538

Everyday is pizza day

Monday has been my interval day since 2010. 4 x 4 intervals are great. And painful. Kickstarts the week, it’s brutal and it’s over in 30 minutes. But Mondays also equals lectures at uni until 8 pm. Failing to plan really equals planning to fail in this case (major list/planning freak right here) and bringing enough food is my lifesaver. Therefore, I always cook enough dinner to cover my lunch the following day.

IMG_1985

Every time I bring lunch to uni, Phoebe has a “what the hell is that?” kind of reaction, and the same goes for my typical monday-clean-pizza. It is delicious though, and almost everyone who has tasted it, has attempted making it on their own. Going back to Norway over the break resulted in plenty of cooking attempts in tricking my mother into eating like me, but the pizza was a bit of a barrier for her to overcome. “I’m not going to eat that dry pizza you keep making”, she said. But being hungry enough, she did. And she enjoyed it.

Next up, my younger sister. The terrible hangovers run in our family (thanks, mom), and one sunday we were both suffering, and as a result of having no greasy food in the house (thanks again, mom), my clean pizza was the only option. Mini-me messaged me yesterday, wanting the recipe to last for her and her boyfriend including an after party snack. It does taste good. Promise. And the base can be used to cook pretty much anything you want a bread-like substance for, naan-bread, garlic bread, breakfast, bread with your soup.. It sure does the trick.

To make enough pizza to cover the needs of this tipsy girl

IMG_2886

and this majorly hungover girl

IMG_2563

or this group of party-animals

IMG_2975

You need:

Rolled oats, eggs, baking powder, psyllium husk (can technically be left out), water/milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk), greek yoghurt and spices/fresh herbs of preference (I always do oregano).

I can’t really provide an exact recipe as I tend to just throw it all together and add things as they seem needed, but the basics for a pizza for 1 person (leaving enough for lunch the day after) are:

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put two eggs, 50/50 of crushed oats and rolled oats (2,5 dl at least), a teaspoon or two of psyllium husk (binds the dough a tad better) and a teaspoon of baking powder in a bowl. Stir it. Add the spices/herbs. Add water/milk and a dash of greek yoghurt (if not staying away from dairy) until creating a sticky dough. If the dough becomes too runny, add more oats. Leave for 15-20 minutes for the oats to soak some of the liquid. Sort of smear the dough out on a sheet of baking paper and put in the oven. Cook until half-way done, about 15 minutes depending on your oven. Take it out, and cool off (important for the crust to become crispy).

IMG_3322

Meanwhile, prepare whatever you want to put on your pizza. My pizzas are typically a result of throwing together everything I have in the fridge/using leftover food, and I always overdo the topping. Make your own pesto (basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese in a blender) or your own pizza sauce, or be lazy like me and use sugar-free ketchup (no Australia, it is not called tomato sauce). Adding meat/chicken will provide you with some more protein, this time I used turkey and some leftover pepperoni. Overload with vegetables. Having to stay away from dairy, I resolve to soy cheese (no, it is not particularly tasty) and a tad parmesan cheese – but I used drown my pizza in mozzarella cheese, so if  you can – do it. Put it back in the oven on 200 degrees until your vegetables are cooked (probably another 15 minutes), and VOILÁ – you can eat pizza every day for the rest of your life if you so desire.

IMG_3319

This pizza can be altered and changed in so many ways. Add shredded cheese to the dough, add shredded cauliflower to the dough (so delish), add different spices to the dough, change your topping. It is of course not like the good old woodfire pizza down the road, but it does the trick, it is filling, it is healthy and I still very much look forward to every time I know it is in my lunch box.