Who would have thought

This guy

IMG_5231

is my hero in life.

Anyway. This little Norwegian has been a busy bee. I’m officially a certified personal trainer, and I was expecting to sort of have to struggle around getting a job and that, but no – hired on the spot. 2014 is going to be one hell of a hectic year. Might have to see myself happy with ‘only’ 7 exercise sessions a week. Crazy how life can turn around, hey. I’ve also started writing for Sano Mag, and you can find my tips to not gain weight during the holidays here. Got some interesting articles planned for you after New Years, the body is so fascinating – you have no idea. If everyone just knew how the body is connected and communicates, there would be a lot less pain going on.

PTA Global has probably changed the way I view exercise, and I hope that I can do the same to my prospective clients. Jeez, who would have thought that the same Marita who was hating on daddy for taking her exercising as a kid, would be so excited to work with.. exercise?

IMG_5236

Amongst many things, I’ve learnt self-myofascial release aka foam rolling properly – and boy does it hurt. The first time I did it, I actually felt physically sick, as in I had to take a break, sit down and breathe while slowly drinking cold water to avoid throwing up. Lots of toxins and tense muscles going on in this body? Yeah, I think so too. Let’s just say that my definition of pain in the muscles changed after I’d foam rolled my adductors (inside of thighs) and quads (front thighs), and the importance of breathing properly definitely struck my mind as I was going through that painful phase.

IMG_5219

Having finally finished my PT stuff, I was so tired and exhausted that all I could do was get a massage and sleep for an entire weekend. I am one of those people who underestimates rest (I always feel like I don’t have time to rest), but this week has been one crazy amazing workout-week as I took the weekend off doing absolutely nothing. Full of energy, new personal bests in pretty much everything I did, and guess what – we did my measurements and I didn’t cry this time – even though I had put on weight. I had gone up 1,5kg, but my body fat had gone down, and we all know what that means; I have put on muscle. I feel awesome, I feel stronger, and I’m so proud of myself for all the hard work I’ve put in this year – I even dare say that this is probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I actually think all you sporty-spice people out there should be proud of the investment you’ve made in your bodies and health.

IMG_5285

IMG_5279

My family has this thing of sending me a little survival kit every 6 months, I always ask for only a few items, but my dad tends to go a bit overboard.

IMG_5269

Yeah, I tried so hard to avoid tasting anything until Sunday (which was going to be my cheat-day this week as I’m going out today), but I somehow ate a whole bag of chocolate on my own yesterday. I even tried my own trick of going for a walk to avoid the candy-cravings, but when that didn’t work – I gave in. I believe that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. A little miss now and then isn’t doing any harm, but when that little miss becomes a miss very often.. well, then you might need to have a serious chat with your brain and convince yourself that sugar is poison and causes inflammations in your body.

IMG_5307

Was hanging out with my new christmas present yesterday, and I know it’s lame to admit BUT IT IS SO SO SO COOL, pretty sure I have the best dad in the world for giving me these much needed technological things. (And yes, that might be homemade gingerbread in the background, wheat, sugar and butter – all in one serving).

Okay, I was gonna do a whole speech on something, but I’ve sort of trailed off here, haven’t I? Well I’ll tell you how to make awesome chips (learnt this from my housemate Steve) and then I’ll annoy you more in 2014. Thinly slice potatoes (and I mean thinly), put them in a bowl and in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Spread them on a tray and put whatever oil/spices you want on top, and cook in the oven on 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. Pay attention though, they burn quickly.

IMG_5306(let’s not mock the masterchef skills here, and yeah I didn’t slice all of them thinly enough, but if you do slice them thinly, you will get crispy as chips – promise).

I’m spending Christmas and New Years in Sydney (and guess who’s gonna force her friends to do a little holiday bootcamp while she’s up there? heheh), and I will of course be enjoying all the traditional Christmas food and candy as much as I possibly can (without feeling too sick, I hope), but my body functions better when it is fed vegetables and fruit too.

IMG_4709

Let’s aim for a healthy 2014 too, you guys!

Advertisements

Boot camp strike 2

Jesus Christ, I just got back from the start of week 6 (!!!) of boot camp and I think I’m about to die. Because I exercise as much as I do, boot camp has only been ‘just another workout’ of the week sort of. I’ve of course pushed myself and done what I’ve been told, but there has always been energy left, whereas those who might only be doing boot camp 2-3 times a week as their workout has been all out of energy, knowing that they didn’t have another session to complete in the afternoon. Today, on the other hand… If I was told we had to do one more round of burpees, squats and push-ups, I would’ve collapsed. I am no runner, and I technically don’t function without music, but because we’ve changed from running on solid ground to grass, I’ve started just going for it. Not to mention the fact that my friend Mari is so bloody fast when she runs, making me angry I can never keep up with her. Getting up at 5 in the morning kills me every time and I look just about this excited on my way there

IMG_4968

When I finish, however, life is normally extremely good

IMG_4970IMG_4949

I’ve never been a girl with much muscle on the upper body (my legs are a different story), but ever since I started boot camp, both my core and my upper body strength has significantly improved. When doing push-ups before, I used to struggle with pain in my shoulders and could in general not go as low as I was supposed to. Guys tend to know how to tense their chest muscles and push off with them, whereas girls overuse their arms most of the time, but now that my core strength is improved and I’ve started thinking about how to properly do a push-up, I’m not struggling (as much). Not to mention the fact that I finally have a visible muscle if I flex. It’s tiny, but anything is better than nothing!

IMG_5010

My days here in Melbourne generally flick between studying PT-material (I forgot how incredibly shit I am with complicated science related things, might be freaking out), living in the gym or going to the beach (whenever Melbourne is not bipolar in its weather, I wore wool yesterday…), and the other week I managed to lock myself out of the house. No phone, no food (!!!), no shoes, no top and see-through hotpants. 5 hours and a decent sunburn later…

IMG_4864IMG_4862

I’ve also spent a day trying to convince myself I enjoy public speaking (it is literally one of my biggest fears),

IMG_4952

and I’m now qualified to save your life, should you manage to stop breathing or cut your finger off in the blender (but please don’t). Even made a friend doing this first aid stuff, he decided to start talking to me based on the fact that he noticed all the weird fruit and vegetables I was snacking on when I got bored.

IMG_4884

Having such an interesting life like mine, often requires quick solutions in terms of lunch/dinner, and sometimes the simple stuff is great, let me just say I’ve had a few days looking like this

IMG_4964

I always bring tupperware-boxes packed with food of some kind no matter where I go. Tomorrow I know I’ll be going to the beach, so when cooking today I’ll make sure I cook more than what I’ll eat and simply bring the leftovers and some fruit in a few containers. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to resort to eating crap because you think planning is difficult. Failing to plan = planning to fail, is what I always tell myself.

Wow, this turned out to be a big-time selfie post. Oh well, I am a big-time selfie girl, so I’m not even ashamed. Spend the upcoming week working hard and eating right, your bodies will thank you!

What is VO2 max, and why should you care?

Vo2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense/maximal exercise, and is considered the best indicator of measuring cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Technically, the more oxygen you can produce during a workout, the more energy (ATP) can be produced. ATP fuels your muscles during exercise, and the muscle cells need oxygen during aerobic exercise to produce ATP.

Oxygen consumption will rise in a linear relationship to exercise intensity, until it reaches a plateau – where exercise intensity can continue to rise, but the Vo2 will stop rising, and that is where we measure the Vo2 max. Now, this of course, requires a proper fitness test with the appropriate amount of equipment, but the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has made it possible to estimate your Vo2 max here. Mine turned out to be 53 (which is good, comparing that to Lance Armstrong at his peak though; 85!) and my estimated fitness age is below 20.

IMG_0893

Vo2 max has a small genetic component, but can for sure be altered by exercise. Increasing your workout in both volume and intensity will help increasing the Vo2 max, in other words; training at an intensity increasing your heart rate with 65-85% of its maximum, for at least 3-5 times a week.

Exercising in this zone will not only improve and strengthen your cardiovascular system, and improve the transportation of oxygen to, and carbon dioxide from, your muscles, it may also help you burn fat. Yes, you can of course go running for hours and stay at the same heart rate, I do however prefer cardio brutal and quick. The most acknowledged way and effective approach to increasing the Vo2 max (and burning fat), is by doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Matt Fitzgerald has 3 suggested interval routines that you can follow to effectively increase your Vo2 max.

Step 1: 30/30 and 60/60 Intervals

Start with 30/30 intervals. After warming up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging, run 30 seconds hard, at the fastest pace you could hold for about six minutes in a race. Then slow to an easy jog for 30 seconds. Continue alternating fast and slow 30-second segments until you have completed at least 12 and as many as 20 of each.

Increase the number of 30/30 intervals you complete each time you do this workout, and then switch to 60/60 intervals. Start with at least six of these and build up to as many as 10.

Step 2: Hill Intervals (we do these in bootcamp, it is a killer)

Shorter hill intervals of 20 to 90 seconds are great for developing power, strength and speed. Slightly longer intervals of two to three minutes are great for VO2max development. To do a hill intervals workout, warm up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging. Then run hard uphill for two to three minutes (choose your duration before you start), jog back down to your starting point and repeat.

If your fitness level is modest, start with a set of 4 x 2:00 or 3 x 3:00. Very fit runners can do as much as 10 x 2:00 or 7 x 3:00. Pace yourself so that you neither slow down through the workout due to early fatigue nor finish the workout feeling you could do more.

IMG_1201

Step 3: Lactate Intervals

Lactate intervals are the toughest kind of VO2max training. Build up a fairly high level of fitness with 30/30, 60/60 and hill intervals before you move on to lactate intervals.

It is best to do this type of workout on the track. Warm up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging and then run hard for 800 (two laps on a full-size running track) to 1200 meters (three laps on a full-size running track) around the track. Now reduce your pace to an easy jog for 400 meters.

Run shorter intervals (800m) in your first lactate intervals workout of a given training cycle and then move upward. Do a total of about 5000m of fast running in these workouts (6-7 x 800m, 5 x 1000m, 4 x 1200m). Again, try to run the fastest pace that you can sustain through the last interval without slowing down.

Intervals are hell, breathing heavily and feeling as if you’re about to have a heart attack is hell, but for every interval session you try, I promise you’ll feel a little bit better (only a little bit), and if you leave the running forever kind of workout at the side for a while, and go back to it after you’ve been running intervals for a while, I can guarantee that you feel run your normal distance way faster and way better.

IMG_2234

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.

378829_10151258371259444_477008023_n

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

workout

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.

IMG_1167

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.

313932_10150340065360091_575535090_9874680_1176001_n

Even the best fall down sometimes

Saturday was measurements-day. And it went a little bit in the wrong direction. Every time my measurements have been due, I’ve been told that things might not have changed much because I was bound to hit a plateau eventually. But I kept losing weight and I kept dropping body fat, to everyone’s surprise.  Until yesterday, my first encounter with a rise in both weight and a rise in body fat. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I got angry.

Combine a rough week with something you didn’t expect, and you’ll find Marita crying in the gym office. The one place in this world that I consider to be my place, the one place where I turn my brain off and fully focus on what I enjoy doing. But not this time, tears. Everywhere.

IMG_4468

Luckily, I have the best support system in the world. When was the last time you took a week off working out? Nathan asked me. I tried suggesting when I went to Noosa, but no, I worked out everyday there too. So I couldn’t remember. December 2012 would probably be the last time I had a rest-week. You even came in a did vigorous exercise when you were injured. Yeah I know, and he’s right. Of course he’s right.

So he took his time, made diagrams, explained how the body of an athlete works, how you need rest to be able to fully benefit from what you do the rest of the year, how constantly pushing limits and ignoring aches will lead to the body breaking down instead of re-building itself. And you know what the most annoying thing is? I know all this. I’m, in fact, fully aware of it.

IMG_1364

Here I am, telling you guys not to obsess over your weight, but what do I do? Start crying because I’ve gained 2 kg. It’s ridiculous. He had to remind me that I’m a lot stronger now than what I was 6 weeks ago, I’m pushing 80kg with my own ass, I do pull-ups with help from a person rather than on a machine, I can finally do bloody pushups on my toes. I get out of bed and go to bootcamp before the sun is even up. 2kg of fat isn’t helping me do that. My muscles are. My diet is almost impeccable, I love working out, I’m healthy. I shouldn’t be crying in the place I love the most. But I was.

After a bit of arguing, I realized I couldn’t do much but listen. I got sent home, leg-day got cancelled and for the next couple of weeks I’m only allowed to do bootcamp. And maybe yoga. No body balance, no weights, no intervals, no afternoon-cardio. I get to walk, not for the sake of the exercise, but because I enjoy walking. And the same goes for other activities, go ice-skating, you like that, he said.

IMG_4479

I spent Saturday being upset, trying to find a way to fool the system. Surely I was just having a bad day and could do gym again soon. But when PT-Daniel called and said they were only trying to help me, I realized there was no point doing anything but listen and comply to what they ordered me to do. All I want is a healthy body and mind.

Only a couple of days ago both housemate Line and my friend Ina told me to be careful, make sure I didn’t hit a wall or become dangerously addicted. I ensured them that that wouldn’t happen. But it did. I think sometimes we just need somebody with authority to tell us to slow down. I don’t want exercise and nutrition to be an obsessive thing, it’s not supposed to be something that controls me. It’s supposed to be my break from reality.

IMG_2257

I’m still trying to figure out what I’m gonna spend all this time doing now that I’m banned from the gym, but I guess the fact that I’ll be studying to become a personal trainer this summer will keep my brain occupied a bit. I’ve put my heart rate monitor away, my ShapeUp app is closed. Let’s just learn to listen to our bodies, shall we?

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

IMG_4054 IMG_4041 IMG_4044 IMG_4050 IMG_4051

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”

IMG_4065

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

IMG_4071

IMG_4070

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

IMG_4073

3 sets of jumping sumo squats in a circle

IMG_4081

IMG_4079IMG_4077

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

IMG_4096

Friday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

Saturday – 1 h morning walk in the sand

IMG_4117

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.

IMG_3809

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.

IMG_3752

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.

IMG_4107

 

Good girl syndrome

I keep getting emails, messages and comments from people saying that I’m so good at being healthy, like don’t I ever fail? Well, let me tell you about my weekend. Friday and Saturday. Fairly normal days. Had two smashing workouts, ate clean both days. No candy. Then. My housemate had his 21st Saturday night, so I had both wine and beer (and a shot or ten…) and I woke up feeling like shit on Sunday (as always). I then had a homemade pizza for breakfast (the only thing I can never justify buying, is a frozen pizza), chocolate and some other processed lollies in between, a whole litre of pepsi max (!!!!), ate cake straight from the box with a fork, had chips and dip, and then proceeded to order a chicken kebab plate with dips AND white bread.

IMG_1152

Dragged my sorry ass to the gym monday morning to get some cardio done, and boy did I look like shit. Even the guys in the gym had to point that out to me. My hair was one big dread on the top of my head, I really struggled pushing through 45 minutes with a steady heart-rate on the cross-trainer, and I swear I was sweating alcohol.

So no, I’m not always healthy. But I’m not always unhealthy either. There is a fine balance. And no need to go as crazy as I do every hungover-Sunday, that’s not particularly healthy either. And it made me feel really sick, in fact I’m still kind of suffering a tad from that food. The healthier you eat, the more you suffer when you once in a while decide to “cheat”, but I can assure you that whatever you crave tastes about 200 times better if you’ve avoided it for 6 days and finally get to eat it.

IMG_1354

When I quit sugar and all of a sudden had candy, my body responded by giving me a sick rash and the driest mouth ever. I remember telling Line, and she was like.. “yeah right”. Okay, she believed me, but you get the point. Then, Line quit candy on weekdays, and she has noticed her mouth becoming really dry when having candy too. Isn’t it amazing that the body can do that to you?

IMG_1248

And in terms of workouts, it is almost self-explanatory that when I workout nine times a week, I don’t aaaalways have a great workout. Some days I just struggle through, barely sweat and go home thinking I’ll do better tomorrow. Some days I have to lift the lightest weights, don’t even finish my sets and get a stitch just by looking at the treadmill. But then I have those days where the music is perfect, my muscles look defined, I increase my weights and I leave the gym drowning in sweat but with a smile on my face.

IMG_3715

There is a fine balance between everything, I don’t put all of my cheat-meals on Instagram and I don’t tell you when I completely fail in the gym, I’m trying to inspire – not to tell you everything I do wrong. And I don’t consider eating healthy to be annoying, I love eating the way I do, I love my vegetables and I love my regular breakfast of eggs and oats, it doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything. I made the choice, I didn’t give up anything. I’m still living my life.