Sunday, February 26, 2012

One-on-One Training with Jackie Warner

This week, I wanted to share a snippet from one of my home workout DVDs: One-on-One Training with Jackie Warner. Just looking at this lady’s body inspires me to work out; she has muscles for days…

This DVD has 3 parts – Upper body, Lower body, and Abs. Each segment is 20 mins. That way, you can either get a full body workout in an hour, or focus on a particular area for 20 minutes.

The snippet below is pretty short, but it’s a great way to get a quickie workout if you’re sitting at home doing nothing. I strongly believe everyone should have a home workout video for the day you don’t feel like going outside. Plus, it teaches you proper form the way working out on your own might not.

Check it out!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Healthy Turkey Meatballs

Last week was Valentine’s Day, and so you've probably bathed in all that candy (yes, you!) and lounged around with your loved one. Now, it’s time to get back on track. This week, I wanted to share a recipe that I stole. Yes, I know you can’t believe it. I mean, “Stealing” should never be put in the same sentence as my name. I’m such a good girl *bats eyelashes*

Anyway, I got this from a friend. Italian food gets such a bad rap because of all the cheese. But there are ways to make it healthier. Stick to whole wheat pasta, cut out some or all the cheese, use tomato-based sauces instead of heavy cream-based sauces, and add in a lot of flavor with garlic and other spices.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 pound lean ground turkey
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons soy milk (or non-fat milk)
½ tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cloves garlic
Grated vegetables of your choice (carrots or peppers)
1 pack of whole wheat spaghetti
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 onion
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon hot powdered pepper

  • Preheat the oven to about 375⁰. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or use a non-stick baking tray.
  • In a large bowl, throw in the turkey, bread crumbs, parmesan, milk, egg, black pepper, thyme, half a clove of garlic (chopped), grated vegetables, and half of the salt. It may be more efficient to put the turkey in last so you can mix up the other ingredients really well.
  • Shape the mixture into balls; the size totally depends on you. If you’re in the mood for huge balls, go ahead. If the tiny balls do it for you, enjoy.
  • Throw the balls in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are brown.
  • While that’s happening, work on your sauce. Bring the oil to heat in a pan. When it’s hot, throw in the chopped onion and the rest of the garlic.
  • Right before the onion and garlic start to brown, add in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, the rest of the salt, and the hot pepper. Why the pepper? Because that is just how we do where I’m from.    
  • Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes so the tomatoes get that ‘cooked’ flavor. Add in the basil.
  • Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. The meatballs should be ready by now, so carefully put them into the sauce one by one. Let the meatballs and sauce simmer for 10 minutes so the meatballs can absorb the tomato flavor.
  • Cook the spaghetti like you usually would. Bring water to the boil, and add the spaghetti. It usually cooks in about 10 minutes depending on the heat and the amount of water.
This recipe serves 4, and is less than 500 calories per person. Isn’t that great? If you’re like me, you’ll cook the sauce a day before you want to eat it because we all know tomato sauce tastes better the day after :)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

That Heady Feeling

Frankly, I’ve never been one to understand why people take recreational drugs. The positive effects last but a minute. Gradually, you start to lose focus, crave more and more, and lose brain cells until you can’t function normally. What’s a healthy alternative? Exercise!

I know, I know, that sounded kind of bad. But let’s look at this objectively. Both exercise and recreational drugs have similar biochemical effects in your brain. Both stimulate the release of dopamine and can change the way the brain is wired. The brain has been proven to be the pleasure powerhouse of the whole body, and so anything that makes you feel good usually has something to do with your brain.

What is even freakier? In the 70s, when running started becoming this big phenomenon, scientists claimed that running and sex produced the same high as morphine, and so it was technically possible to be addicted to either one. Runners were known to experience a natural high, and some people had to keep pushing their bodies hard to experience an even greater high.

However, in recent times, scientists have dumped the theory that exercise is bad because it could be addictive. The positive benefits it brings to our bodies nullify any claims connecting the effects in our brains to hard drugs. This is not to say you don’t get a high from exercise, because you do. But you get a healthy high. What could be better?

It has been proven that people who exercise are generally happier and feel better about themselves. A lot of psychologists have started to dabble with exercise treatments for depression, drug addiction, and ADHD for this very reason.

In fact, researchers have said that when they tried exercise as a treatment for drug addiction, the addicts were found to be less likely to take drugs after they’ve exercised. Could it be because they are getting their high from exercise already? Or could it be that exercise is helping fight the withdrawal symptoms? I’m not sure what the answer is. But what was it that Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde? (Yes, I take very serious life advice from Legally Blonde) “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make happier people. Happy people don’t just kill their husbands.” Endorphin is short for "endogenous morphine".

In my experience, exercise makes you even more tolerant, more sedate, and more in control. You’re more tolerant because you feel good, you’re more sedate because endorphins diminish the perception of pain, and you’re more in control because exercise makes you more aware of your body. If all that comes with feeling happier, I say bring it on!

Cheers Eights& Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Building Upper Body Strength

You want beautiful biceps and triceps, and yet you can’t do a full push-up? Don’t despair. Many people, especially women, don’t just wake up with arm strength. You have to keep working on it and pushing your body until you see improvement.

Why is upper body strength important in the first place? Besides keeping you strong for everyday activities, you need your strength for last through your exercises. The older you get, the more strength you need to perform the same activities. Have you ever seen a 40 year old that cannot lift 10-pound weights with a well-shaped back? Yep, you have your answer.

So you know you need upper body strength. What do you do?

  • Do More: You cannot stay at the same level you are and hope that you’ll magically get better. Try as hard as you can to do more upper body exercises every day. As you’re working out, you see that you can do 5 push-ups? Tomorrow, try to do 6. Even if you can’t actually do 6, keep trying until you can complete those 6. Push yourself to do one more than you are comfortable with. And what happens when you actually complete that one more? Add another one more! 
  • Anywhere, anytime: Okay, maybe not on the floor of your boss’ office… but whether you’ve worked out on a day or not, it doesn’t matter. Before bed, when you wake up, before dinner, at your friend’s house, anywhere, get down and do some upper body exercises. I keep referring to the push-up because it is a perfect upper body exercise, and you don’t need any equipment. You can drop down and do a push-up anywhere. And the more you do, the stronger you get. 
  • Find your trouble spot: There are some exercises you may be good at, and some you struggle with. When you are in the gym, you feel like you have to do the ones you are good at so you don’t embarrass yourself. But honestly, you should be focusing on the ones that give you trouble. That is where you can really see your growth. Can you do a push-up well, but have trouble with side planks? Keep doing more side planks until you can do it for longer and longer. 
  • Do it right: So you do your push-ups with your belly sagging or your butt pushed out? You may be making it easier on yourself and not actually being true about what your body can do. If you’re not true to yourself, you won’t push yourself. Make sure you are doing your upper body exercises the right way, in the right position. Have you seen the video of Ellen DeGeneres and Michelle Obama doing push-ups? I was super impressed with Ellen's push-ups, even more than Michelle's.
  • Mix it up: I say this a lot, but that’s because it is important. When you do the same thing day in and day out, your body gets used to it. You can do the same exercises with a twist. For example, with the push-up, don’t just do the regular push-up. Do it with one hand, do the half-way down push-up, do it on one leg, do an upper push-up position, do it whatever way you can as long as you mix it up. 
  • Do at least one: You know how girls do push-ups on their knees, or alternate other exercises to make them easier. While that’s fine, you won’t graduate much if you just keep doing that. Even if you can’t do many sets of a full regular exercise, try to do at least one every day. You’ll build strength to be able to do more.

We all want really strong upper bodies. But there is so much we think we can’t do because we don’t try. Progress is slow sometimes, but that’s what it is: progress. That means you won’t see it if you don’t push for more every day.

For some diet and nutrition tips on gaining big muscle, check out this site.

Cheers Eights & Weights!
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