In Love with TABATA

tabataAlmost a year ago I started spinning. Spin has become one of my new favorite ways to get my exercise because I always feel like I really worked hard after (I’m literally almost falling over or afraid I might almost pass out). I can FEEL the burn during and after and I’m always soaked in sweat.

Class is every Tuesday night and my spin instructor likes to add a little extra burn to our class at the end … Probably 3 out of 4 classes she’ll lead us in some TABATA exercises. The first time she introduced me to Tabata I really thought I was going to pass out walking out of class and over to the train. It made me SO tired! But that’s the kind of thing I love. I love a good challenging workout that makes me feel dead after:)

What is this TABATA you ask?!

I had to look it up after the first class because she didnt give us much of an overview. Tabata Interval Training is basically an intense way to workout (started in Japan), which you can do without needing much more than a workout mat. That’s why it’s perfect for doing at home on your own. You do 4 exercises for 20 secs each with 10 sec rests in between each. So exercise 20sec, rest for 10, and repeat 2 times. The point is to keep moving as much as you can and keep your heart rate up.  Get ready to sweat.

The exercises you do during those sets is obviously up to you but in general, the ones I’ve seen are pretty common.

  • Sit-ups/crunches (bicycle crunches are good too)
  • Push-ups
  • Squats/Jump squats
  • Lunges/Jump lunges
  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks:)
  • Plank

Try ones you’re comfortable with and start out slow! I’d also recommend warming up a bit or at least stretching before you start.

The way to go at home is downloading a Tabata timer app. This lets you keep your hands and eyes free and will beep/ding when you need to start, rest, and stop. With the app I downloaded ($0.99), you can set up how many exercises you want to do, how long you want to do the exercise for, and how long to rest in between.

Pick out 4 (or 8 to do once through), know what order you’ll do them in, start your timer, and get going.

What I really love about TABATA is you can get a good workout in under 10 mins! Really handy if you feel like you don’t have anytime to exercise. No excuse not to try this!! 🙂 Plus it’s fun to say the word Tabata.

Here are some example workouts you can try, with more info:

I hope you end up loving it as much as I do! Let me know if you have any tips or know of any other sites that have good Tabata exercises.

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Time to Read (and make some changes)

Wheat-BellyWheat Belly is a recent book about by Cardiologist William Davis my oldest sister told me about since she just finished reading it. Yep, it might sound pretty gross and you may not want to read it for fear it will make you want to cut out wheat, but that’s exactly why I want to finish reading it.

After stocking up on Chia seeds and trying to get into the habit of making fruity breakfast smoothies a few weeks ago, I have started trying to pay attention to what I eat at all times of the day– whether that means remembering to pack a healthy salad for lunch or saying no to the always fully stocked snack cupboard in my office, not going overboard with the sugar and cream in my coffee, etc. I have yet to feel that Chia seeds “give me energy” like everyone has been saying but since I have them every morning now, I’ve realized I don’t feel as starving when 11:50am rolls around – when my stomach would typically be starting to growl. Chia seeds affect everyone a little differently I guess.

My sister mentioned the book Wheat Belly on Father’s Day when we were all on Google Hangout as a family. She challenged us to give up wheat and said she’s only been off it for a few weeks herself and has already lost a good amount of weight. I thought, why not give it a try? I know so many people that say they feel so much better being gluten-free. Some of the stuff in Davis’ book is just so interesting too. His main point (which you can find just in the intro) makes me want to buy the book to read more:

I believe that the increased consumption of grains – or more accurately, the increased consumption of this genetically-altered thing called modern wheat – explains the contrast between slender, sedentary people of the fifties and overweight twenty-first century people, triathletes included.

So I have been off wheat so far for about 1.5 weeks.

Have I noticed anything different? So far, nothing too drastic.

Is it hard? Yes. Well, it can be very difficult on certain days.

My first week was almost a bust. There was one day when I simply forgot I was doing this no wheat thing and ate a cookie. Another day when I had half of a cupcake jar (couldn’t let that go to waste!)… and yes, last Wednesday I ate one slice of pizza. Baby steps right?! The hardest for me is definitely baked goods. Especially since our office often has cookies and cupcakes just sitting around….

platter of cookies

I’ve got too big of a sweet tooth! 🙂 I’m not going super strict with this no-wheat thing yet. I haven’t been reading all the labels scouting for gluten. I think I just have to start slow … and we’ll see what happens!

At least things like this aren’t off-limits!

Ice Cream salmon, shish kebabs, potatoes

On Saturday, I went to a Birthday party and they had lots of yummy pizza. Gluten-free pizza crust (using rice flour)! It was some of the best homemade pizza dough I’ve ever tasted. I’m not normally one to like the taste of things like this that are actually “good” for you, so it was exciting to try this! 🙂

So. I’ll leave you with this… let’s get baking!
Gluten Free No-Bake Cookies

How about you, readers — what do you think of a wheat-free diet? Are any of you gluten free eaters?

What’s the deal with CHIA?

Not chia pets, Chia seeds!

Another newish fad super food… and it’s time to give it a try!

ChiaSeedsInWater-850x566from MindBodyGreen

I’ve started having a yogurt and salad at lunch and yesterday morning I woke up and made a Greek yogurt/frozen berry smoothie. It made my day — not only did it taste good but I felt healthier after I had consumed it as if I had just ingested a glorious superfood. I didn’t like Greek yogurt very much at first and couldn’t understand people’s obsession with it…. the consistency was just a little too chunky for my liking but once you get used to it, you don’t notice that as much!

DSC03039

Then there is this fad all over the place with Chia seeds. I scoffed at first because people around me were going nuts about it. I figured its just one of this things that’s gonna fade like acai berries…. It hasn’t really been around long enough for many scientific studies but the things I’ve read about it are enough to make me want to try. I tested it out a few weeks ago in juice and it really felt like just drinking a bunch of kiwi seeds with a little crunch. I happen to love kiwi seeds so I don’t mind the chia:)

The stuff I’ve read sounds good and listening to friends rave about them is as good of a review as any (;))…. so I thought, why not? I stopped by Trader Joe’s and picked up a bag for $5. I had a tablespoon in my leftover frozen smoothie last night. I’ll probably start slow… 1-2 Tbsp a day, but I’ve read you can have up to 4 Tbsp. and it’s good for you! I’ll put them in smoothies and sprinkle on my salads at lunch. If you have any advice for me with this, let me know! Ways to take it, how much to consume,… how you’ve seen results… I’m all ears!

chia seeds from Trader Joe's

What’s for Dinner | Sometimes I just want a salad…

After a week of work, it’s hard to want to cook a healthy meal on a weekend night…. it’s so much easier to grab pizza or get take out since it saves dishes and time. That’s really nice when I can be pretty lazy on the weekend :). However, it’s nice to eat something fresh and healthy, and this salad was really easy to throw together (10-15 mins. tops!). We got the idea from a family friend.

What you’ll need:

  • Mixed lettuce
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 can sliced black olives
  • Chopped salami
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, as much as you want
  • Vinaigrette dressing
Combine together and enjoy!

Salami, olive, artichoke salad

Drink | Jump Start: Smoothie Love

I cant believe its Monday again already! This morning I dragged myself out of bed earlier than usual to exercise. Usually I try to stay in bed until the last possible minute but I asked the husband last night to pull me out of bed if I resisted today. 🙂

I’ve been using the Nike Training Club app on my phone for my workouts lately and I’ve felt the difference. The “Ab Burner” left me sore for 4 days. I haven’t been doing very good lately working out 2-3 times a week which was my goal, but I figured today would be a great day to try to start that habit up again.

After the “ab burner” 15-min. workout complete with Regina Spektor and Glee music, I got the “Drill Seeker” Badge which rewarded me with some tasty smoothie recipes!

I love smoothies. Normally I’d just grab a cup of coffee and run to my train but after working up a little sweat, a smoothie sounded a lot healthier! We have had a big bag of frozen berries in our freezer and we had a banana that was too ripe for me to eat by itself so I got out the blender and started dumping things in.

For my “Berry-nana Smoothie,” I combined:

  • A big handful of mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
  • Half a banana
  • 2-3 tablespoons yogurt (I only had vanilla in my fridge, which was perfect)
  • A cup or so of apple juice (depending how thick you like your smoothies)

Et Voila!

Berry-nana Smoothie

Note: Nike’s recipe called for Muesli and mango but I didn’t have any of either.

How do you begin your day and get energized? Any favorite healthy breakfasts you recommend?