Superfoods- vegetables (part 2)

In my previous blog post I went through the benefits of Asparagus, Bok Choy, Spinach, Beetroot and Broccoli. This week we will look at Cauliflower, Fennel, Kale, Sweet Potato and Winter Squash.

Cauliflower

It's a common vegetable in Indian cooking and classic French cuisine. This vegetable may reduce the risk of bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers thanks to sulforaphanes and glucoraphanin. It's in the top 10 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, ranking high in nutritional content relative to calories.

The colour of cauliflower reflects its phytonutrients: The orange variety contains 25 times more beta-carotene than white cauliflower, and purple contains anthocyanins.

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Vitamin K | Folate | Choline | Pyridoxin | Potassium | Dietary fiber | Manganese | Phytonutrients 

Fennel

It used to be popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans because of its medical and culinary uses and was cultivated for millennia in the Near East and Mediterranean. Today India is the largest producer.

Fennel can be enjoyed raw, braised, baked or sautéed, and it pairs well with carrots, parsley, dill and coriander. It's a super low calorie snack paired with cottage cheese. 

Animal studies have shown that anethole, the aromatic compound responsible for fennel's flavour, has anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. If you've been to an Indian restaurant , you might have seen a bowl of fennel seeds as you exit: They are traditional offerings after meals to freshen breath and aid in digestion.

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Dietary fiber | Potassium | Manganese | Folate | Calcium | Phytonutrients

Kale

Kale is high in Calcium and Vitamin C it also contains indole-3 -carbinol, which boosts DNA repair in cells and has been shown to block cancer cell growth in studies. Research shows that kale can also slow cognitive decline and age related macular degeneration, as well as help prevent arthritis and heart disease. Kale's many carotenoits, flavonoids and Vitamin K are fat soluble, so fats increases their absorption. 

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Vitamin K | Manganese | Dietery fiber | Copper | Tryptophan | Calcium | Pyridoxine | Potassium | Iron | Folate | Phytonutrients

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is higher in calories than many other vegetables. However it's one of the top sources of beta carotin, which the body converts into Vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin and eyes. Purple varieties are rich in anthocyanins, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties critical to disease prevention.

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Manganese | Pyridoxine | Tryptophan | Potassium| Dietary fibre | Copper | Thiamine | Riboflavin niacin | Phytonutrients

Winter Squash

Winter squash is a great source of health-supportive carotenoids, like beta-carotine, lutein and zeaxanthin. It's soluble fibre helps lower cholesterol. The seeds from any squash, which are rich in Magnesium and Omega 3 acids, can be toasted and consumed to help stabilise blood sugar and blood pressure. 

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Dietary fibre | Manganese | Pyridoxine | Potassium | Vitamin K | Vitamin E | Phytonutrients

 

In my next post we will still talk about superfoods but we are moving onto fruits. Stay tuned :)

Superfoods- vegetables (part 1)

Want to lose weight for your upcoming holiday? Have you or anyone around you has been diagnosed with heart disease or type 2 diabetes? Are you trying to follow a more plant based diet but not sure where to start? Hope this blog post will help you.

My goal is to talk about some of the best foods our planet has to offer by highlighting nutritional details and fun facts your probably didn't know. And if I manage to get these onto your dinner plate, that's an absolute joy for me. Please share if you cooked/created something with these superfoods.

First of all what is a 'superfood'? Official definition is the following: a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. 

So let's group these foods. 

Vegetables:

Fresh or frozen? Does not matter. Eat them! Science has shown that people who eat than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day have roughly a 20% lower risk of heart disease or stroke- with an even greater reduction in risk at more than 8 servings a day. Dark leafy greens and brightly coloured vegetables in red, yellow, and orange are particularly beneficial. 

A lot of people ask from me which vegetables are rich in protein- as they do not eat meat.

Asparagus:

Today China is the world's largest producer. Choose long spears with closed, compact tips. Asparagus is available in different thickness and colour (green, purple, white). Steaming is the simplest preparation. Yes, your urine will smell but for the amount of benefits that this veggie gives you it's worth to put up with it! 

Gives you:

Protein | Vitamin K | Vitamin E | Folate | Vitamin C | Tryptophan | Riboflavin | Dietary Fiber | Phytonutrients

4 spears give you enough Vitamin K to meet your daily needs, which is important in blood clotting and bone health. Also excellent source of glutathione, one of the body's best cancer fighters. 

Bok Choy  

Means 'white vegetable' in Cantonese. It has been cultivated in China, for more than 6,000 years and is associated primarily with Asian cuisine. 

Gives you:

Protein | Vitamin C | Vitamin K | Folate | Calcium | Iron | Phytonutrients

It can help prevent heart disease, strokes and some cancers. 

Spinach

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. 

Rich in Vitamins A C and K as well as minerals such as Iron, Magnesium and Calcium. 100 grams of raw spinach has 23 kcal. 

Gives you:

Vitamin K | Manganese | Folate | Magnesium | Iron | Vitamin C | Riboflavin | Calcium | Potassium | Pyridoxine | Tryptophan | Vitamin E | Dietary Fiber | Protein 

Beet

Select beets with firm roots, green leaves and no cracks. Beets may be grated and served raw, pickled, or cooked by boiling or steaming. 

Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable but only 43 calories per 100grams. The roots contain folate, antioxidants as well as glycine betaine, phytonutrient that helps to reduce blood homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease. Beet greens contain almost nine times the recommended daily value of Vitamin K, critical for bone health, as well as Vitamin A.

Gives you: 

Folate | Manganese | Dietary fiber | Potassium | Calcium | Vitamin K | Vitamin C | Riboflavin | Phytonutrients

Broccoli

It ranks as one of the top 20 foods on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which scores foods based on the ratio of a food's nutrients to its calories. Studies showed that people who eat an abundance of broccoli had a reduced incidence of bladder and prostate cancer.

Gives you:

Vitamin C | Vitamin K | Folate | Manganese | Dietary fiber | Potassium | Riboflavin | Calcium | Phosphorus | Thiamine | Pyridoxin

In my next blog I will continue talking about superfoods expanding further the categories.

 

Plan the change!

I recently participated in an excellent seminar held by Dr. Gabija Toleikyte neuroscientist and business coach and the seminar was mostly about how to have a successful mindset in 2017.

We learnt about the two opposite mindsets, the 'fixed mindset' vs. the 'growth mindset'. In a fixed mindset, we believe that our basic qualities, like our intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. People with this mindset spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success- without efforts. 

A growth mindset on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a stepping stone for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

I believe we all have moments when the fixed mindset is predominant and we are probably aware of it at the time, but because we are deep in that mindset with all our feelings we do not wish to rationalise and get into the 'growth mindset'. Our brain is like a muscle. We can train it!

So how can we change from fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

Step 1.  Remember the 'voice' of your fixed mindset. 

Take your New Year resolution as a challenge. As we are fast approaching the end of the first month of your challenge you might start hearing the following:

' I have been coming 3 times a week to the gym and I don't see any result! If I have done the training correctly I would surely see some results by now? It's so much effort as well! It's not too late to back out, I can just say to people if they ask that I didn't have time to go to the gym because of work.'

Step 2. Recognise that you have a choice!

How you interpret challenges, criticism, setbacks is your choice. You can interpret them with a fixed mindset and say 'if I was more talented, more persistent etc, I would have......' or, you can use these to take learning from them and try again. As you try again listen to the fixed mindset and...

Step 3. Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.

Fixed mindset:

' It's too much effort to go to the gym, maybe I am just not made for it'

Growth mindset:

' It might take a longer time till I see results but surely I am doing the right thing. I will just keep going, reading more about it, talking to a personal trainer or peers that have been doing it for long.' 

Fixed mindset:

' What if you waste all this time in the gym and in 2 months' time you are at the same level with no results. I could have done so much more! I basically gave up my social life just to be here!'

Growth mindset:

' The guy doing 10 pull ups must have started where I started. He was a beginner once! I need to know how he did it. If he could do it, I can do it as well!' 

Step 4. Get the growth mindset into action.

With time, whichever voice you feed will win. Practice hearing both voices, and practice acting on the growth mindset. 

 

Stages of change:

1. Precontemplation ( not ready)

Multiple unsuccessful attempts at change can lead to demoralisation about the ability to change.

Stress and tiredness cause lack of energy, which leads our brain to drive back to old habits - it consumes less energy! Change requires enormous amounts of energy, thus at the start of change we need to reduce mental load and get less busy. 

Do the actions desired in the morning or after breaks.

2. Contemplation ( getting ready)

Think about what do you want to change in your life and what are the benefits of this change. 

Regularly reward yourself for doing the actions new way. Get clear on the drawback of not doing this change. 

3. Preparation (ready) 

Think about your habits. Habits link to time of the day, places, emotional/mental state, person/ people, proceeding action. 

Do a habit inventory:

What is the habit I want to change?

What triggers it?

What do I get out of it?

What other activities would give the same reward?

4. Action

Implement a change in small bits maintaining majority of elements unaltered- feeling of familiarity

Think about the steps in creating the change. Plan your change. Carpe Diem people..I know your take on planning. You probably think it's for architects but hey...in some situation we need to plan! 

5. Maintenance

Different habits take different amount of time to implement. Simple habits take around 21 days, standard habits take about 66 days and complex habits can take up to 88 days. 

If you cannot be accountable for maintaining your change, get the help of a personal coach. 

 

To summarise how to change habits:

- Reduce mental load and stress : change requires lots of energy. Make space for the change.

- Be clear on the benefits of change and drawbacks of not changing

- Get to know your habits and find the alternatives to get the same reward

-Change gradually in small steps

- To create lasting change can take up to 6 months, so get support.

 

Hope this blog post helped you understand the science of change as much as Gabija's seminar helped me. If you want to hear about more events check her website: http://supergcoaching.com. 

 

 

Happy New Year, Happy New You!

2017

Another year just started. You probably finished 2016 thinking of all the new things you will try, all the good things you are taking from last year that worked well and leave behind those that didn't. 

I don't tend to make New Year Resolutions however I definitely take the New Year as an opportunity for a fresh start. But what's the secret of keeping your motivation up for this fresh start longer than 2 weeks?

Well first of all let's talk about the area in our lives that is most likely to be affected by the New Year and around that most of us make the resolution. Get more active! Eat less! Drink less!

Let's see the first element, getting more active. We tend to exaggerate in the New Year meaning that we are so determined to keep our New Year resolution that we start with a 150% meaning that from zero we start going to the gym 3-4 times a week. What happens after a couple of weeks if we do this? Our enthusiasm will drop because we realise that it's too hard and we rather go back to doing nothing because IT'S EASIER! Think about this. Do babies start running straight away from crawling on the floor? NO. There is a reason why we use the word 'Baby steps'. We put something in our head which is usually a perfect picture on how our New Year resolution will work but we cannot make it happen the way we imagined. Of course not. Start with a one day a week gym session or running in the park or anything that you decided to do. Build it up gradually. Embed it into your lifestyle but not by starting with 100 mile/hour but starting it slow. Let your body adapt to the change and progress from there.

As for the second part. Eat less. This can be true but I would add a couple of words. Eat less processed food! Make smart choices when you are doing your weekly shopping and gravitate towards non processed or prepared, pre-packaged food. It requires a bit more planning and preparation to cook for yourself but it's absolutely doable. Just think about what would you like to eat during that week. Which nights are you in, and cook bigger portions so that you can either take the rest with you next day, or freeze it. Base your meals around carbs and always have protein and vegetables with it. There are plenty of blogs, forums, Instagram profiles where you can get an idea about how to cook in a colourful way.

Last but not least ..Dry January. Again, you are giving your body a shock if you stop drinking completely after the Christmas wining and dining! What's the point? Reduce the alcohol yes, but don't cut it. Gradually decrease the drinking opportunities. It doesn't mean that you social life will slowly die out. You can easily have a glass of tonic water when you are in the pub and your personality will equally shine without having that tipsy self confident person chit chatting about the big questions of life. If you need to tell a white lie to your colleagues or friends to push back on the pressure on why you are not drinking just say that there is vodka in it;-)

Hope this post helps you All to make long lasting changes, and of course if you ever need a personal trainer you know where to find me:)

Best wishes and Happy New Year,

 

Aliz

Do you Want to Lose Weight? Forget Cardio!

Cardio vs. strength training

You will have heard about cardio, in that it is described by experts over the last few decades as the most optimal physical activity if the goal is to lose weight. You know, you can go jogging, use the cross-trainer, step machine, attend body combat, cardio kick box, zumba, and aerobics classes.  Put the machine in ‘fat burning’ mode, and operate at around 65% of your maximum capacity, minimum 45 minutes but rather an hour, 4-6 times a week.

Massive cardio machine stations in every big gym and despite the large quantity of these machines you still had to wait for the step machine or cross trainer. Damn! 

Messages on each machine: ‘We kindly ask you to use maximum 30 minutes the cardio machines in peak times’ You are wondering to yourself, ‘Are they mad? I need to do at least 45 minutes! I want to lose weight!’

High blood pressure? Diabetes? ‘You should start moving; go for a jog or a cycle. You have to decrease your weight. 

The baby is already 2 months old and sometimes sleeps 5 hours in a row. Put your trainers on and go for a run!

Most people have bad posture, lower back pain, waking up in pieces because of the tightness of their muscles. This is exactly the reason why so few people start to train on a regular basis. 

The number on the scale, the size of the clothes, a wedding; these are the main catalysts in people to get into the training routine. However in the world of obesity it’s not even important what the motivation is behind the desire to lose weight, because it’s becoming rather a need of society beyond our own personal need.

Losing weight yes, but losing weight from what? Because there is an enormous difference between losing weight and losing weight.

When you get onto those scales it shows a figure. The figure however does not say what % of that weight is fat, muscle or water. Our water storage fluctuates. You can influence that percentage by eating/drinking more, going to the sauna or just simply going to the toilet. Therefore solely relying on that number is silly. 

If you cut your carb intake you will lose muscle mass. All you are going to see though is that the number on the scale is going down. Therefore you are happy, even though you are losing your strength. You continue your lifestyle with this method and soon you will realise that you not only hit a plateau but the weight that you lost is slowly creeping back up. So what do you do? Increase your low-medium intensity workout from 4 times a week to 5 or 6. And what happens? Here is a bit of a scientific explanation about why this approach will not work:

We are lucky enough that our body has the ability to adapt, however in this case adaptation has a negative effect on the fat cells. If you give your body the task that with a certain energy intake it has to do a certain amount of fat burning activity, it will get used to it. It will become energy efficient like a machine, and it will be able to go for a long time from little energy. Therefore the fat burning slows down.

The other contributor to the process is the so called T3 thyroid hormone. Studies prove that too much cardio will lead to the decrease of T3 hormone which is responsible for our metabolism. When our T3 level is normal, our body uses just enough energy to ensure the optimal heat and that the muscles can work with average efficiency. Decreasing T3 levels slows down the metabolism and therefore the fat burn as well.

With too much cardio, the cortisol level grows in your body. Cortisol itself is a hindrance to fat loss, not to mention that another effect of cortisol is on a protein called myostatin that starts dismantling the muscles.

Hopefully this gave you enough explanation on why you should change your training habits and incorporate weights, and bodyweight exercises/body conditioning in your workouts. These type of exercises will stimulate the growth hormone production. The more muscle you build, the more fat you will burn.

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! This is what you need to fix first. And then squat, jump, hold, lift!

For clarity, I am not suggesting to completely ditch the cardio from your workout, but do it wisely. The important part is not the number that the scale shows but the increase in the number on your dumbbell! Let those words resonate this in your mind.

In my next post I'll write about efficient cardiovascular exercises.

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

 

 

How to get active from a sedentary lifestyle

If getting active and staying healthy were easy, everyone would do it...but we don't. We come home after a long day at work and we try to find the easiest way to release stress. And that’s by relaxing and switching off the brain with a movie or a book. We are mentally tired, therefore our body just wants to relax, and the sofa is the most welcoming place to spend the rest of the night.

To top that, sometimes we even open a bottle of wine for a full relaxation. 

Now this is a habit that it’s not easy to change, but if your mind is ready for it, it’s achievable. Let's break down the mental walls keeping you from taking care of yourself.

First of all, if you're struggling with a sedentary lifestyle, you're not alone. Millions of us are just like you, and we all know we should get moving, but we stumble and fall back into old habits or never get the traction you need. This is completely normal, don't think anything otherwise. Very few people spring out of bed one day and say "I'm going to change my behaviour for the better for the rest of my life," do it, and never look back. In the real world things are different. Here are some things to remember:

1.    Make the change step by step. Don’t try to change everything all at once.

First, do the obvious and easy changes. Use the stairs instead of the elevator where you can. Walk up the escalator instead of just standing. Wherever you see the opportunity to challenge a bit yourself physically in life, do it. Stand on the train instead of sitting. Walk to a destination if it’s close enough instead of taking public transport or your car. 

Similar with the food. Be conscious of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol gives you energy but has no nutritional value. It adds empty calories to your daily consumption. Moreover if you don’t drink, you naturally will eat less as well :)

Swap fries with boiled potatoes. I know fries taste much better but what you need to focus on is to understand what your body needs as opposed to what your body wants.

2.   Understand how habits work.

Recent research led by a team at the University College London think they have uncovered just how long (on average) it takes for something to become habitual. They do not think it takes 21 days to form a habit. They believe it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit.

Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy, your pick for best fitness tracking site, explains it like this: "Most people fail in fitness because they never enter a self-sustaining positive feedback loop. In fact, most people don't even start. In order to be successful at fitness, it needs to be in the same category of the brain as sleeping, eating, and sex." He explained that if exercise worked the way it does in the movies—where a montage plays and after every workout you look better and see results instantly, more people would stick to it. The key is to find a routine replacement that works for you, and that gets results for the energy you put into building it into your habits.

3. You’re not lazy, you're just starting from zero. 

One discouraging thing you've probably thought (or heard) before is that you're just lazy and will give up eventually, so why bother. Richard dismissed this idea: "To say that people don't exercise because they are lazy is actually backwards. Often times, people are actually lazy because they're out of shape and don't exercise!" He points out that it's easy for someone in-shape to tell someone who's having a tough time that they're just lazy, but the truth is running a mile for a couch potato is far more difficult and requires more physical and mental will than it does for someone who does five every day. Recognise that, especially when you start down the slippery slope of comparing yourself—and your habits—to others.

4. Find exercises that motivate you. 

There are so many bloggers and social media gurus nowadays that finding fitness content and videos of exercises is not hard. If you prefer starting something at home that’s perfectly fine however if you have a gym where you actually need to ‘get to’ could give me a bigger motivation and add a routine to your life. Hiring a personal trainer is not a bad idea to start with. This way you can get more knowledge and education on how your body works, help you outline your goals and adapt the appropriate training routine. A good PT will help you stay motivated in the most critical phase of the change: the beginning and will make you look forward to coming back to the gym over and over again.

5. Join Communities that Build Positive Habits. 

Meeting likeminded people always helps in creating a new lifestyle. Join communities, attend classes, team up with gym buddies. The more you engage with people who have similar goals to you, the more doors will open for you to get involved more in the new lifestyle and ditch the old habits.

Remember to follow your progress. Take before and after pictures, use a tape measure and read my Training and Nutrition section to use it as a basic guide. 

For more information or Personal Training feel free to contact me.

 

3 Reasons why diets don’t work

95% of all dieters will regain the weight they lose within one year. Fact.

Currently, we have approximately 29 million people dieting on any given day, in the UK. And that’s just the people we can keep track of! One thing we know for certain, however, is that most of these diets are not concerned with long-term weight loss – because if they were we wouldn’t have a 2 billion pound diet industry. They would do their job and we would move on.

So the question we need to answer is, with so many different diets, and so many differing approaches, and so many experts and books — why are we not losing weight? It turns out that the very premise of dieting works directly against our biology, psychology and our inborn need for pleasure. And it’s these three dimensions that can help us understand the 3 key reasons why diets don’t work.

 

1. Biologically, diets slow down weight loss

Our body experiences dieting as a stressor. When we’re stressed, we produce high-levels of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). These hormones cause our body to slow down the rate at which we burn calories. Our body is intentionally slowing down our weight loss efforts, because it perceives our reduced calorie intake as a threat to survival. And all our body is trying to do is keep us alive and as healthy as it can, every day, all day long.

When we cut caloric intake too much, as far as our body is concerned, we might as well be on a desert island with limited food and fuel, and so we have thousands of years of evolutionary conditioning informing our biology that it’s in our best interest to conserve fat, just in case we’re going to be in low-calorie survival-mode for a long time. The body’s job is to keep you alive.

 

2. Diets don’t create sustainable change

Most of us can change our eating habits for a week or two, or sometimes even a month or two, but most often – dietary induces changes are external changes – “eat this, and don’t eat that.” Of course what we eat is important, but changing the type of food we ingest alone does not necessarily create long lasting change, because it doesn’t touch on the deep rooted beliefs, patterns, and behaviours that inform our food choices and eating habits in the first place.

If a diet only focuses on food choices and doesn’t touch upon “why,” we keep reaching for foods that diminish our energy and health, then we are likely stuck working only on the surface level. In order to make sustainable changes in our eating habits, we need to explore why we eat, how we eat and who we are as an eater.

Long-lasting change comes from making shifts on both the external level of food choices and eating behaviour, as well as on the inside, which we know as the psychology of eating. The mindset that we bring to the table, consciously or unconsciously is the key to our relationship with our food and body.

 

3. Diets aren’t fun!

All diets have an element of deprivation, and there’s often a “no-no list” of foods  that we must avoid if we want to be successful. Restrictive diets require us to have “willpower” and an ability to stick to the rules. But the problem with this constraining, tough-it- out attitude, is that it’s no fun! There’s no pleasure, and there’s no joy involved in becoming healthier!

There’s no ease in our eating when we are being tight-lipped and controlling around our food. And, whenever we are in this state of tension around our food, we create an environment of stress within our body. As mentioned above, stress causes a rise in cortisol and adrenalin, which diminishes our calorie burning potential. So we’re creating the exact conditions that makes losing weight difficult.

If you’re not willing to enjoy what you eat and how you eat, then weight loss will be like the battle so many believe it to be. Diets don’t work, but stepping into pleasure and  exploring the deeper psychology of eating can.

By creating a positive relationship with food and body we will actually support our biology and psychology in generating the ideals conditions for reaching our natural weight. Dieting is concerned with the exterior, but eating psychology deeply addresses who we are as eaters.