Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year Eights & Weights! First off, I wanted to thank you all for your support, and your readership in 2011.

We at Eights & Weights are very focused on what to want to achieve - Health & Fitness Awareness - especially among Africans. And so we are really grateful that readers are showing us that we are affecting some lives.

In 2012, we plan to push even further, and so we would appreciate your continuous diligence, feedback, comments, questions, and support. Let's make a difference together!

I can't wait for the new year and all that we have planned! Enjoy celebrating responsibly.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Secret to Surviving the Holiday Buffet

Excerpt from Brian Wansink's "The Secret to Surviving the Holiday Buffet" on MSNBC.

There is probably no greater diet danger zone than the holiday buffet. It's hard to resist grabbing a huge plate and piling it up with buttery breads, cheeses, meats, cakes, cookies and pies.

Although it might seem as if we’re swimming against stream when it comes to the delicious but calorie-laden holiday table, there are a lot of people who seem immune to overloading their plates. They have fun at buffets, parties and dinners without gaining weight. What’s their secret?

To better understand how some people survive the pitfalls of all-you-can-eat dining, researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab observed 213 normal weight and overweight diners at buffets across the country. They found that heavier diners are more likely than slimmer diners to sit closer to the buffet, use larger plates and serve themselves immediately instead of browsing the buffet. 

In the study, heavy folks grabbed a plate almost as soon as they arrived and immediately started serving themselves. The normal weight diners were more likely to scout things out first. When they did pick up a plate they were seven times more likely than the heavy eaters to take the smallest plate available. Some specifics:
  • 71% of normal-weight diners browsed the buffet before serving themselves, compared to 33% of obese diners.
  • 27% of normal-weight patrons faced the buffet compared to 42% of obese diners.
  • 16% of obese diners sat at a booth rather than a table compared to 38% of normal weight diners.
  • Normal-weight people chewed their food an average of 15 times per bite versus overweight people who chewed only 12 times. In fact, speedy eaters are three times more likely to be overweight than people who eat more slowly and who don’t eat until they’re full, recent research found.
  • Overweight diners sat an average of 16 feet closer to the buffet than normal-weight diners, presumably to shorten the trip when they go back for seconds … or thirds.
There are three main problems with a buffet, not only at the holidays, but anytime of the year. Those huge tables of food are prime examples of what I call the 3 C's of disastrous dieting:

Convenience:  Food is all around and it’s often with arm-reach.
Caloric: Whether sweet or salty, buffet foods are often higher in the indulgence factor than good sense.
Choices: There is a lot of variety, which increases how much you eat because your taste buds don’t burn out on one thing.

The bottom line of the buffet is you really can have your holiday cake and eat it, too. You just need to browse the food to find what you really want, use a small plate and eat slowly. To avoid the temptation of going back for seconds, sit as far away from the table of food as possible. If you don’t face the goodies, you are less likely to spot something else you want to pile on the plate.

In my book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," I also describe a trick that seems to work well for many holiday buffet-goers. It’s called the Rule of Two. You can choose anything you want at the buffet, but you can never have more than two items on your plate.  If you want to load it up with nuts and cake, go ahead. If you want to go back for seconds and load it up again with chips and carrots, go ahead. Although this sounds like a recipe for disaster, it actually works quite well for people for three reasons: 
  • You tend to take the two types of food you want most. People who love desserts don’t work their way up to desserts. They’ll start with the desserts, and then stop.
  • You tend to not overfill you plate. Putting only two things on our plate helps keep our serving sizes somewhat small because we psychologically don’t want to overload on a particular item.
  • You tend to not go back more than two times.  In one study we did on the Rule of Two, 83% of people only made one or two additional returns to the buffet.
Using some of these easy rules can help you take the focus off the food and pay more attention to what really makes the holidays special - your family and friends.

Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating — Why We Eat More Than We Think," is head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. He is also director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Photo credit:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to do a Mountain Climber

Mountain climbers are great for your arms, your legs, and your core, and serve as a great cardio workout as well. If you are thinking of incorporating new strength training exercises into your program, definitely try these. You may not be able to do that many initially, but it'll get better as you do more of them. We've created a video on how to do great mountain climbers, both slow and fast. Try it, and let me know how you feel!

Also, subscribe to our Youtube channel to watch videos as we add them and provide comments.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting the Perfect Booty

Well, it’s the holiday season, and most of us will probably end the season with butts two times the size of a basketball without the shape. I’m just being honest since I anticipate all the food my eyes shall see this season. So rather than lie on your back and let your booty turn to mesh, what exercises can you consistently do or consistently avoid over the holidays to keep your bum in tip-top shape?

  • Stop watching infomercials. That guy didn’t really get his butt that tight by using a butt-blaster (or whatever it is called) machine. Focus on tried-and-true exercises.
  • One such exercise is the squat. You simply cannot go wrong with the squat, as long as you do it right. As you go low, make sure your knees are not going past your toes. So if you look down in the squatting position, you should be able to see your toes. Why is this important? Many people bend forward when they squat putting pressure on their knees, when they should be lowering their butts. Here is a picture of what a squat really should look like.

  • A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video of how to do a lunge. The lunge is one of the best lower body exercises. Also make sure you knees are not going beyond your toes, and make sure you are keeping your upper body straight when you do the lunge. Here is the video as a reminder of what the lunge should look like.

  • The dumbbell dead-lift is another great exercise for your butt. Start in a standing position holding the dumbbells in front of your hips. Lower down (from your hips!!) with your back flat and your legs straight. Lift back again the same way your came down. You should feel it in your butt as you go down and come up. You want to work your butt, not your back, so it is important to keep your back flat. Here is a great picture of what it should look like.

  • One you may see all the time, but may not actually do, is the hip extension. This really really works on your butt so there’s no way you wouldn’t feel it after your workout if you’re doing it right. Come on to your elbows are knees. Lift one knee up and behind you, and then bring it back to the starting position without letting it touch the floor. Two very important things to remember when doing the hip extension – Your back should remain flat or you won’t be working the right muscles; and you should be lifting from your knee, not your foot. Here is what a hip extension should look like.

I hope these help to burn those derrieres into shape this Christmas! But remember, as I always say, strength training does not work on its own. You have to pair it with cardio exercises to lose the layer of fat while you sculpt your body. And of course, food holds equal importance. Try to balance what you eat this time of the year so you don’t negate your exercise program.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit: Women' and,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eights & Weights Recipe: Egusi and Oatmeal

You expected egusi and pounded yam, didn’t you? You’ve probably seen oatmeal on the menus of some Nigerian restaurants as a “swallow”. But if you’ve never tried it, you won’t have any idea what it looks like or how it’s made.

Oatmeal is a good healthy substitute for pounded yam or garri, because the oat is a natural unprocessed grain that lowers cholesterol, is high in fiber, and is low in calories. And since you make it yourself, well, you know every single ingredient.

Now, you can buy oat flour in stores, but an even better way to make sure you’re keeping it natural is to make the oat flour yourself. All you need is a dry blender, and some old fashioned oats. Old fashioned oats only please, not the flavored “cooks in one minute in the microwave” versions.

What you need:
1 cup of old fashioned oats
½ cup of egusi (melon seeds)
1 onion
¼ cup of palm oil
1 small can of tomato paste
2 fresh hot peppers (or 1 tablespoon hot dry pepper)
2 tablespoons of crayfish
2 seasoning cubes
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cuts of dried fish
Skinless chicken breast (amount depends on preference – I used 5 pieces)
1 bunch of spinach (depends on how much vegetables you want in your soup)

  • Chop the onions.
  • Wash the chicken, and place them in a pot. Put in the chopped onions, the seasoning cubes, the pepper, and about half a teaspoon of salt. Depending on how you like to cook your chicken, you could also include some thyme and some garlic. Add in about a cup of water, and bring the chicken to a boil.
  • While the chicken is cooking, let’s get to the oats. Blend the oats in a dry blender till it becomes a powder.
  • Boil about 2 cups of water. Soak the dried fish in the boiling water and the other half of the salt. Leave it soaking until you need to use it.
  • Before the chicken fully cooks, it would be a great time to blend up the crayfish and the egusi (separately), and chop up the spinach.
  • In a separate pan, pour in the palm oil and bring it to the stove. When it gets very hot, add in the tomato paste. Putting in thicker tomatoes allows you to use less oil. This is why just a ¼ cup of palm oil should do. However, if you decide the oil is not enough, it is okay to add in some more. But I would try not to go over a ½ cup.
  • Keep stirring the tomatoes as they fry so it doesn’t stick. Keep this going for about 15 minutes.
  • While the tomatoes are frying, mix the blended egusi with about ½ a cup of water until it is smooth.
  • When the tomatoes are done frying, pour in the meat and the meat stock into the tomato sauce. Stir and allow the sauce to cook for about 5 minutes. 
  • Add in the dried fish, which should be all soft now. And then add in the crayfish.
  • Pour the egusi into the tomato sauce and stir. This would be a great time to taste to see if the sauce needs some more salt, pepper, or seasoning cubes. If it does, add in some more to your liking. And then let the sauce cook up for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped spinach, mix it all in, and let the egusi soup simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the soup is simmering, boil about 2 cups of water. When the water is boiling, pour in the blended oats. Keep stirring like you would do with pounded yam, until it becomes a solid. Add water to get to your desired consistency.
  • Serve and you’re all done!
Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of this meal, so the picture above is just of some random egusi, but please try it and send me some pictures of yours. I’d like to see how it turns out for everyone.

Now we can eat classic Nigerian food and not feel so guilty!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

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