Monthly Archives: July 2013

Are you good at balancing??

And I’m not talking about balancing on one leg or on your head (although good for you if you can!) I am referring to your ability to balance your daily activities in life!  Work, kids, relationships, working out, eating healthy, sleeping, resting, going to school, shopping, paying bills, travelling, volunteering, THE LIST GOES ON!  The concept of BALANCE is different for everyone but it is something that I am still trying to master.

Here is a glimpse into ‘a day in the life of’ ME:

5am Wakeup

5:05am Start making breakfast/while checking emails/facebook

5:15 am Eat breakfast

5:25 am Make sure all my meals are packed for the day (5 meals of course plus a post workout meal/shake)

5:45 am Get dressed (sometimes I shower 😉 haha) Yep I take 5 minutes to get ready lol (no makeup and hair in a ponytail)

5:50 am Pack my gym back and double check to make sure that I have all my food for the day

6 am Leave for work (on Mon/Wed/Fri I start work at 6 am so I will get up a bit earlier)

6:30am-7:30pm Train clients (I train 7-9 clients a day and make sure to schedule a 90 minute break for my workout everyday and 30 minute breaks to eat haha!)

8 pm Get home and unpack cooler and start cooking for the next day (if I need to, usually cook most meals on Sunday)

9:30pm Check Facebook/unwind

10:30pm BED (sometimes later depending on how much work I have to do designing meal plans/workout programs etc)

NOW if you’ll notice this does NOT include any socializing with friends, grocery shopping, breaks, tv watching, or much free time which is something that I am now MAKING time for (funny as most people have to make/find time for exercise, I am the opposite!)  So in order to do this I am currently finishing early on Wednesdays and I don’t work weekends 🙂 I have found this has been working very well so far!  Now I just have to keep it up! Establishing new habits takes time and I am being kind to myself if I get carried away (which I easily do ie overbook myself etc).  The key to getting better is to be AWARE of my weakness (being too busy, filling my schedule, not making enough ME time) and well I am very aware! 

As mentioned above I need to get better at scheduling ME time, which usually ends up being my time to workout out or go to a yoga class.  I am lucky and have a friend who teaches me private yoga twice per week at the studio where I work (amazing!) and then I train her in exchange for her time! I also like to treat myself to a mani/pedi, a massage once a month, and I also enjoy getting my hair done, these all count as time allotted to ME!

So when it comes to balance what areas do you think need more attention?? Are you aware of imbalances in your life or are you too extreme one way or the other.  I can tell when I’m ‘unbalanced’ as I start to get really tired, or sick or my friends start worrying about me as I am never available!   It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you have a balanced lifestyle.  You will benefit mentally, emotionally and physically and you’ll be able to keep friends (who doesn’t want friends?!).  Don’t get caught up in the rat race and suffer from the problem that most people complain about…”I don’t have any time!” You are in control of your life, so make yourself a priority, decide what’s important and what’s not so important and start creating balance in your life! Here’s a great article to read that gives 10 tips for leading a healthy, balanced life.

Any other tips you’d like to share that will help others who are looking to live a more balanced life?



Carb cycling-What it is and how it works!

What is carb cycling?

Simply put, carb cycling is a planned alteration of carbohydrate intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau and maintain metabolism along with workout performance.

Carb cycling is considered an aggressive and high level nutrition strategy. Only people (such as physique athletes) whose nutritional adherence is extremely high, and who require a more meticulous nutritional approach, should use it. I have tried it with clients who are not competing but have hit a plateau in their weight loss and it works very well! But do not attempt this if you haven’t been eating clean consistently for at least 3 months…

Carb cycling is designed for short-term use. It is not a long-term solution for body fat management. In fact, if used for too long it may be detrimental to your fat loss.

Planned manipulation and variation

If eaters plan a higher carbohydrate intake at regular intervals, their bodies won’t ever get too close to starvation mode.

However, they can still lose fat if they still take in fewer total calories than they expend — i.e., if the overall long term trend is towards negative energy balance.

Higher carbohydrate intake days can increase thyroid output and control hunger

Manipulating carbohydrate intake can also help one take advantage of certain anabolic hormones, primarily insulin.

Insulin regulates amino acid and glucose intake entry into the muscle cells. If insulin is seldom elevated, dieters will not reap its anabolic (promoting tissue growth) benefits.

Conversely, if people plan to elevate insulin levels at the appropriate time with a scheduled higher carbohydrate intake, they can maximize insulin’s potential anabolic effects.

What you should know

There are different methods of carb cycling. However, the common theme behind them is that protein and fat intake stay relatively constant while carbohydrate intake is manipulated.

Carb cycling also typically involves calorie cycling. Since carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, adjusting carbohydrate intake while keeping fat and protein more or less the same can greatly alter calorie intake.

Days where carbohydrates (and usually calories) are increased are often known as “re-feed” (a.k.a. my favourite)days.

Dr. Berardi (Precision Nutrition) gives a nice definition of re-feed as a planned increase in calorie intake that lasts 8 – 12 hours and usually consists of a large increase in carbohydrates.

Re-feeds usually occur when dieting and are scheduled in order to provide a brief day of psychological relief as well as a number of physiological benefits…

An example of a re-feed is following a strict diet of 1500kcal 5 days per week and consuming 2500kcal of clean bodybuilding foods (the additional kcal coming mostly from carbohydrates) on the other 2 days.

Since carbohydrate intake will be increased on the re-feed days, it is important to scale back the fat and protein intake slightly. Carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect so less dietary protein is required. This will allow for one’s calorie count to remain in check.

The same principles of good nutrition apply equally to “everyday” eating and carb cycling phases, including proper meal frequency, omega-3 fat intake, adequate protein and fiber intake, plenty of vegetables, etc.

Here are some common carb cycling approaches.

Infrequent big refeeds

Higher carbohydrate intake every 1-2 weeks during a lower carbohydrate intake phase.

Frequent to moderate refeeds

Higher carbohydrate intake every 3-4 days during a lower carbohydrate intake phase.

Strategic Carb Cycling

This consists of structuring different menus with moderate carbohydrate intake at strategic intervals during a lower carb intake phase. This approach steers away from an extremely high carbohydrate intake because the menu changes regularly. But it does allow for metabolism to play catch-up with dietary intake.

Carb Cycling for Muscle Gain

Those interested in gaining muscle mass need a calorie surplus. Unfortunately, if they grossly over-consume calories for too long they’ll probably gain bodyfat. Thus, one way to optimize muscle gain over fat gain during a muscle gaining phase is with carb cycling.

This is similar to the “strategic carb cycling” approach. Menus are planned according to your weekly schedule in order to create a temporary calorie surplus. This can assist with lean mass and strength gains.

Here is the current carb cycle I am following for the next month…

Day 1: High, Day 2: Low, Day 3: Low, Day 4: High, Day 5: Low, Day 6: High, Day 7: Low

Important Tips for the Carb Cycling Approach…

  • Base the dietary approach on basal calorie needs and activity levels.
  • Always pick out the re-feed days in advance.
  • Stay on course until the re-feed day arrives.
  • Keep your decisions outcome-based. Different re-feed strategies work better for certain body types. Look at the evidence from your photographs and body composition tests to ensure that you are on the right track.
  • Try to exercise on the re-feed days for optimal body composition results.
  • On the re-feed days, the body still tolerates carbohydrates best first thing in the morning and around times when physical activity is high.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, see your abs, or get back in shape, carb and calorie cycling can make a real difference.

So to put this all in a nut shell….

Before you attempt carb cycling and other fine tuning strategies: Removing deficiencies, controlling calorie intake, and beginning eating for your body type – and doing this all consistently – must come first. If you haven’t done those first, this strategy usually backfires.

While it may have a fancy name, carb cycling is simply eating more carbohydrates on some days – usually on high volume or high intensity days – and eating fewer carbohydrates on other days – usually low volume, low intensity, or off days.

The focus is on carbohydrates (and not protein or fats) because carbs seem to influence body composition, how you look, and how you feel the most.

By changing carbohydrate and therefore calorie intake on particular days, we can keep fat loss going and metabolic rate increasing, without the harsh effects of stringent calorie or carb restriction.

The carb and calorie cycling approach is pretty simple, and based on your activity.

  • On the days you’re not lifting weights – or days you’re just doing low intensity or short duration exercise – eat a baseline diet of mostly protein, vegetables and healthy fats with minimal carbs.
  • On the days you are lifting weights – or you’re doing longer duration high intensity exercise – add starchy carbs to your baseline diet.

And that’s pretty much it. No need to measure grams or count calories. Just follow a baseline diet on lower carb days. And add carbs on higher carb days.

Homemade LARABAR recipe!!

Have you ever heard of or tried a Larabar? If not, the LARABAR’s claim to fame is that they are the “original fruit and nut food bar” and contain less than six ingredients total. Crazy right?

LARABARs are also organic, no sugar added, 60-90% raw (depending on the particular bar), no GMO, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, and kosher. Although not considered a true protein bar, since the protein content in most is fairly low, they are a great snack option for when you are on the run.

My client Trisha and I had a Larabar-making party a few Saturdays ago.  She kindly went and bought all the ingredients and I split the cost with her which was less than 20 dollars and we made over 40 bars! BUT we made a key improvement to them…we added VEGA protein powder to increase the amount of protein in them! These are great to have as an emergency snack if you are on the run or you can treat yourself to one before or after a work if you’re in a rush or out of protein powder to make a shake!

Here is a list of the different flavours we tried and the ingredients that each one requires…we doubled the recipe on most (because there was 2 of us) but the recipes below will make 2-3 bars…and don’t forget to add protein powder if you want to increase the amount of protein in your bars.  We switched up the taste by using chocolate or vanilla flavoured VEGA protein powder.

Blueberry Muffin

  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

 Cashew cookie (YUM!)

  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/2 cup whole raw unsalted cashews
  • a dash of sea salt

Key Lime Pie

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • dash of sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Almond Cookie

  • 1/3 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Peanut Butter Cookie (one of my faves!)

  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup peanuts

Chocolate Coconut Macaroon (more of a treat bar)

  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Cherry Pie

  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries
  • 1/4 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/3 cup almonds (unsalted)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Pecan Pie (also very yummy!)

  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Cookie Dough (my fave but again, a treat!)

  • 1/2 cup Salted Cashews
  • 1/3 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • dash of Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Organic Chocolate Chips

Here are the directions for making your own LARABARs

Place the dates and other soft ingredients (fruits etc) in a food processor. Blend until it becomes like a paste. Transfer blended paste to a bowl.

Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until chopped fairly small (but not too much, not nut flour. You want texture). Add the nuts, along with the sea salt, etc, to the bowl with the fruit paste. Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste. Next you can spread the mixture out onto a plate covered in cling wrap. Using your hands mold the mixture into individual bars. Wrap each separately in plastic wrap or in small ziplocks. It is a good idea to refrigerate the bars after making to maintain freshness and let the form set (try to let them set in the fridge for 20 minutes before you eat one).

If you’re really lazy you can just put all the ingredients in the food processor instead of separating them (that’s what we did!)

You can also just roll these into ball shapes and use them as “power balls” for on the go, pop in your mouth snacking. You can use a cookie cutter and get fancy with this. I prefer just the bar shape but do what suits you. If you find your Larabars are a bit crumby add a couple tbsp of warm water and process again.

It took us a few hours to make all of these but we had fun doing it and “taste testing” all the different flavour AND we ended up having about 20 bars each! The other good thing about these is they don’t go bad (all natural ingredients!) so you will have these snacks for a few weeks!  The part that takes the longest is shaping them into bars and then wrapping them in Saran Wrap.

Check out the website where I found these recipes along with many other healthy recipes.  But be careful because once you start looking through this website you’ll end up spending hours checking out all the fun and healthy recipes!

So if you’re looking for a snack that’s easy to throw in your gym bag or purse AND satisfies your sweet tooth pick a few flavours I have shared above and make your own LARABARs.  Each bar provides you with a great source of fiber, healthy fats and some protein (if you add the protein powder). All-around they are AWESOME and give you the boost of clean energy your body is craving.

If you’re really creative you can even come up with your own flavours! Any other homemade protein bar recipes you’d like to share please post below…

Happy food processing!

Les 🙂