Days of our lives

Or my life, at least. Thought I’d give you a little look into what my oh so glamorous life looks like these days, simply to prove my point of how easy it is to exercise and eat right if you prioritize it.

This picture pretty much sums up my predicted future.

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But let’s talk about right now. Planning is the key. I always make sure I buy enough vegetables and fruit, this is what last Sunday’s shopping looked like. (I also got eggs, and I’ve got turkey, chicken and fish in the freezer).

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I’ve been starting my day at 5.15 to either go to boot camp or to the gym, looking feisty and fresh as I do so well. Week 7 of boot camp was hell, and my body felt so heavy, I was worried it was gonna stop moving at one point.

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I’m then typically in a hurry and have about 45 minutes to do all that necessary girl stuff before I have to leave the house again. Breakfast at 7.30 (usually eaten whilst putting make up on or packing food for the rest of the day) – porridge of rolled oats, water and cinnamon, topped with a banana, peanut butter and whatever else I can find in the kitchen, a boiled egg, and omega-3 and magnesium pills swallowed with water. Oh, and some green tea – if I have time.

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After a couple of hours at PTA Global, I’m hungry again, and it’s snack-time. My go-to-snack these days have been cookies made by mixing an egg, pb2, almond milk and a ripe banana with oats, coconut, almonds, a couple of vanilla stevia drops and chopped figs and nuts. And I’ve gone carrot-crazy, pretty sure I eat about 5 a day, if not more.

Followed by more information about the world of exercise comes lunch. This week has been full of salads as I roasted sweet potato, normal potato, pumpkin and carrot and a couple of chicken breasts in the oven to keep in the fridge when quick fixes for food was needed. Never a meal without dessert, I always keep fruit nearby.

IMG_5165That lunch box was topped with spinach, avocado, mango and cucumber after the picture was taken.

At PTA Global we do a lot of exercise throughout the day (duh, it’s personal training, can’t demonstrate or learn without moving the body), which requires a little bit more energy for the body to make it to the afternoon gym session. Coconut water (the ones without added sugar of course) and another piece of fruit has been my thing the past week.

Considering that I’m already wearing workout clothes (and if I’m not too tired to function from the morning session), I travel directly to the gym again. Push through a sweaty cardio session, and straight home for dinner.

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A sweaty Marita means a hungry Marita, and the tuna-crust pizza I tried the other week has for sure become one of my favourite dishes. Try mixing a bit of curry powder in the pizza base. No tuna flavour, guaranteed.

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After a bit of showering and stalking people online, I do of course need dessert (yes, again), and a protein smoothie is never wrong. Frozen blueberries, banana, protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon and coconut – can never go wrong with all of that in one mix.

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I also make sure I drink about 3L of water a day.

Rather than my 9 usual gym sessions this week, I ‘only’ did 7. By the end of friday my body felt like a heavy bag of sand, and I figured there was no point pushing it beyond that. I also shortened down my evening cardio sessions, and sadly missed going to body balance. My leg session on friday before my fitness instructor practical assessment was, however, magnificent. I haven’t done a high-rep leg day in ages, and it was good to be reminded that light weight and many repetitions kills too – I’m still sore.

Oh, and I’ve had a few dinners looking like this ..

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I guess I’m once again trying to prove that it doesn’t have to be difficult to stay healthy. No one has to go as crazy as me, but I know that I don’t like doing weights in the afternoon, so I’d rather pass out at 9 every night to be able to get up early and get my usual morning session out of the way. Yeah it’s been tiring, and yes it has required me to pre-pack my lunch the night before, but I feel so much better when I eat right and exercise.

Right around the corner from PTA Global, they have Prahran Health Foods, and that place is like heaven. They have everything! Even the wraps I’ve ordered my dad to send me all the way from Norway! I’m not an advocate of protein bars, but everyone keeps talking about the famous Quest bars, and I’ve never bothered ordering them from iHerb because you have to order like 12, and I’d sort of like to taste one and see what they are like before ordering an entire box, but I’ve never found one in Melbourne. Prahran Health Foods had pretty much every flavour, and I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed. I hate the whey protein taste, and I do in general not like protein bars, but the Quest bars actually taste nice. They are the best protein bars I’ve ever tried, and the ingredients are a lot better than that of what you’ll find in a normal supermarket. Having that said, I still think you should reach for a banana or another type of fruit when in need of energy. There’s a reason why they’re referred to as protein chocolates.

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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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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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Protein-heaven

I have periods where I eat the same food over and over again, only to get sick of it and not eat it for months. That’s how I got fed up with broccoli last summer (still can’t really eat it cooked), and that’s how I got sick of protein-cakes. Just as if I have cheese in the house, I will make all my food with that cheese until it’s empty and my body says stop.

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Well, I have just re-discovered protein-brownies. When I was living on campus last year, a girl made us nutella-mug-cakes when we were drunk, and it is kind of the same concept. Except healthier. I just had a instant craving for it one night, and was forced to borrow protein powder from one of my housemates. I’ve ditched the protein powders because of all the added chemicals and artificial sugar, but to make a proper protein-brownie you need protein of some kind, and I’m not exactly gonna put chicken in it, am I? (Yes I know you can make it with chickpeas or beans, but that doesn’t go well in the microwave). So I went food shopping (sad to admit, but it is my favourite kind of shopping) and found the perfect option. It has three ingredients; whey protein, raw cocoa and xylitol. 45grams of protein per serving too. My old protein powder has about 200 ingredients that I’ve never heard the name of, it tastes so horrible, and I’ve only been using it when I’ve been out of other options. I will probably never go back to drinking protein shakes after gym sessions (that yucky cardboard taste is not for me), but if I can have it in a cake with pb2 on top, and fruit next to it, I am in.

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So how do you make one?

1 egg, 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder, 1 scoop of crushed oats, 1 scoop of almond flour (or any other flour), a tiny bit of baking soda, as much raw cocoa powder as you prefer, 3-4 drops of liquid Stevia chocolate (optional), and a little bit of water/milk of desire (I use unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk). Mix it until it looks like cake batter of some kind, and put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Mix two tablespoons of pb2 peanut/chocolate with one tablespoon of water, and use as icing on the warm brownie. PERFECTION.

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When I bought my protein powder, they also had some yummy-looking things on the counter and I had to grab one. Didn’t read the ingredients, but asked the lady if they were sugar-free and she said yes. I came home, and what do I see? Oh yes, first ingredient; Agave Syrup. Good thing it is Saturday tomorrow, hey! I won’t be going as crazy as I did last weekend with my cheat-day, though. I actually still feel quite sick thinking about it, and my body has just gone back to looking normal again. I sort of also think they recommend having a cheat-meal, rather than a whole day of eating junk.

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My physio has given me the go to slowly start running intervals again, and even though I have to start at 50% of what I used to, it means my ankle has been healing the way I hoped. I have for once been listening to his advice, and even done what I’ve been told. It works. Happy Marita. Particularly because we are going to Noosa in about a week, and the beach body prep should’ve started ages ago. Okay, I don’t prep for beach season, I aim for a body I can live in all year around.

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Also, a big thank you to my previous roomie, Ina, for photoshopping my new header, and a big thanks to Mari for doing the photoshoot with me.

But where do you get your protein from?

Meet Luke Tan. Bodybuilder, strength and conditioning coach and NLP Mindset/Life coach within the Australian Strength Performance. Luke has represented ASP in the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) Victorian Championships, where he placed second runner up in his category and won ‘Best Routine & Poser’ (read the story here).

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Surely this guy must be devouring red meat, dairy products and other suspected sources of protein on a daily basis. Yeah, not really, Luke is a vegan. You heard me – a guy with muscles who eats his vegetables, and he has even inspired a few of his clients into relying less on meat and dairy.

Having previously lived by the paleo principle and consumed up to 1kg fish/meat/poultry a day, Luke has noticed a massive change since turning vegan.

“I was always binging on nuts and never felt satiated. I craved lollies, cakes and chocolate during the day and felt guilty because of the amount of carbs when I ‘succumbed’ and had a small block of chocolate or fruit. Every once or twice a week, I looked forward to my ‘cheat meal’ having whatever I wanted in one sitting. Since turning vegan, I’ve found that my diet is a lot more varied and not to mention colourful. I absolutely love eating organic apples, bananas and dates.”

The bulk of his calories come from starches (rice, quinoa, sweet potato, pumpkin) complimented with a large volume of salads and fruits. Always being ‘carbed up’ has left Luke more energetic, his digestion has improved, and the cravings of processed food has disappeared. Why you ask? Well.

  1. His glycogen stores are always full
  2. Most of these processed/refined carbohydrate sources (eg: cakes, chocolate, lollies, ice cream) contain animal products/ by-products.

Being a vegan allows Luke to stay lean, and he has found an increase in both strength and performance in the gym. Due to the alkalinizing effect of a plant-based diet, his pre-existing shoulder issues and brittle teeth with re-occurring cavities are barely existent.

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I was once told, that before bears hibernate, they put on 100 kg to survive the winter simply by eating blueberries. Not meat. Not fish. Not some ridiculous amount of bread. Blueberries, guys. Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy of any Japanese AND in the world, and also the highest amount of people enjoying a plant-based diet.

So where does Luke get his protein from?

“Rice, beans.. There is protein in everything”, he says. He supplements this with pea/ rice protein isolate shakes and Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) intra/ post workout. “I love doing what I do the vegan way, knowing that I am progressing a step at a time while serving my highest purpose, which is to make a difference to the world”.

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When Germany occupied Norway during World War II, they confiscated nearly all of the farm animals to feed their own troops, leaving Norwegians with no choice but to eat a diet mostly based on plants. The peak of of the Norwegian death rate due to heart attack and stroke was in 1939 very high, and as a result of Germany arriving, it began its decline. By the end of the war in 1945, the rate had gone back to nearly what it had been 15 years prior. But from 1945 and into the next decade, when the people again had meat and dairy available, the rate went skyrocketing back up to nearly where it had been before the war.

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I am not trying to convince anybody to go vegan or vegetarian, mostly because I cannot pride myself of being that (though my diet consists of more vegetables than meat/chicken/fish as I am a hopeless cook), BUT I am trying to convince you to nourish your body with the nutrition already provided us naturally. Eat a rainbow. Eat what is natural. Don’t claim that meat and dairy is the only way to get your protein. And why not give Luke’s 30 Day Vegan Challenge a try, and see what difference it makes for you?

For more information on the vegan lifestyle and a positive way of living, check out ‘Luke T Evolvedstrength’ on Facebook and stay tuned for his blog ‘evolved generation’.