Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Exercise and Your Skin

It is no secret that exercise has many benefits, but is healthy skin one of them? When we refer to our skin, we talk of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing (I hear the guys go 'huh?'), and even what foods you should or should not eat. But folks often skip the benefits exercise has on the skin.

Exercise increases blood flow to all the organs including the skin. Organs perform better when there is better oxygen flow. However, I think the other end of exercise concerns most people: sweat.

You've probably heard that sweat is bad for your skin. Well, that is not entirely true. Sweat in itself actually clears out your pores. The problem is the bacteria that gets attracted to the salt in sweat. This is why it is very important to let the sweat do its job while you exercise, and then give your face a mild wash right after. So sweat is good, but leaving it on your skin is bad.

Well, for the ladies, because we wear makeup on your faces, we tend to wash our faces more than we should, which removes the nutrients from our skin. And when you exercise in the middle of the day or the evening, it probably means you wash your face both before and after exercise. If you absolutely have to wash your face multiple times a day, use a very mild wash so it doesn't strip your skin of the good oils it needs.

Now, although we've established that exercise is great for your skin and your circulation, there are things we do that may hurt our skin when we exercise. For one, constantly touching, rubbing, and scratching can have negative effects on the skin, especially sensitive areas like the face. If you are in a bacteria-infested environment like the gym, it is even worse. Try to stay away for constant contact between your fingers and your face, make sure you wear clothing that doesn't cause uncomfortable friction, and try not to let your skin come in direct contact with shared items without washing them or wiping them down (e.g. equipment, towels, headphones, mats).

At the end of it all, one of the most important things to remember is to hydrate. Water is great for your skin, and if you lose a lot of water when you exercise, you need to replenish the body's supply.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Exercise But My Thighs Still Rub Together. What Gives?!

If you are a woman that isn’t super skinny, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of or experienced the “Chub-Rub”, which is a colloquial term for thighs rubbing together when you walk or run. (I didn’t make up the term; It really is called the Chub-Rub). So your questions probably are “Is this normal?”, “Can it be changed?”, “Why does it happen?”

On TV, you see all these skinny girls with their butts as tight and as high as their backs. And you begin to think that if you can’t get that way with all the exercise you’ve been doing, there is something wrong with your body. No, there isn’t. Our bodies accumulate fat in different areas. Trust me, I’m pretty bummed about this as well because we really can’t control how and where we store fat. Consolation? Folks like Beyonce who do exercise consistently, but still have this problem.

However, that said, we can still control our fat by losing weight all over and toning specific areas. To lose weight and tone your muscles, you need a combination of cardio exercises and strength training. The cardio (running, spinning, swimming, etc) helps to burn fat all over, while the strength training helps to define muscles.

Because our inner thighs aren’t used for a lot of the daily exercises we do, they need to be specifically targeted with strength training to get them toned. So besides the regular squats and lunges, what are a couple of great strength exercises for your inner thighs? There are very may, but I will highlight two amazing ones:

Plie Squats
Lying Ball Squeeze

Now, depending on what culture you come from as you read this, what you determine to be a beautiful body might vary as well. Some cultures love really skinny legs, and some want women to have some junk in the trunk (which also comes with junk in the hips mostly). So there also is the question of “What am I willing to give up?”. If you are targeting fairly large hips, it usually comes with some thigh friction. If you are willing to give that up for skinnier legs, you can do a lot of cardio to burn more fat all over, and that should remove the thigh friction problem.

Unfortunately, some people are more blessed than others in this department. I do know people who are fairly big, but do not have this thigh issue, and I also know folks who are skinny but this is a huge problem for them. So it all depends on what body you’ve been blessed with.

If you find that you are getting chaffed from walking or running, it may be time to find a temporary solution like powder, Spanx, or deodorant between your thighs so it doesn’t burn from the constant friction. But whatever you do, do know that you are not alone.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tips to Curb your Appetite

So you get hungry ALL THE TIME? It may be because of what you eat. Here are a few tips to help you stay fuller longer.

Lean protein: Lean protein keeps you full. And to make it work even better, eat lean protein as part of your breakfast. A good rule is to keep 30% of your breakfast as lean protein. Examples are soy milk, low fat yogurt, eggs.

Whole grains: Unless you have no other choice, always opt for whole grains rather than processed carbs. Nowadays, there are many options like brown, local, or wild rice instead of regular white rice. Even with cereals, you can look on the box to see what the contents are. Are they mostly whole grains?nor does it say sugar, sugar, and more sugar?

Exercise: Contrary to popular belief, exercise actually helps to curb our appetites. It doesn't mean you'll automatically eat less though; it just means you may not be as hungry as fast as you used to. A lot of people see exercise as an excuse to eat more because they burn more. Don't fall into that trap!

If you're still hungry after all that, chew some gum! Well, that is my tactic. But it doesn't have to be gum for you. You can find something else to keep your mouth busy so you stop thinking about food. Trust me, your body will adapt.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breakfast Under 300 Calories

Most of the time, our biggest problem is not just what we eat, but how much. Don't get me wrong; some things are pretty bad for you, but when you take a look at many of the food options out there, if we control our portions, we can go a long way in controlling our caloric intake. 

A reader asked me about healthy breakfast options, and I thought about it. A lot of the items we eat for breakfast are not necessarily unhealthy, but we eat more than we should. So I thought it would be a great idea to give you all some good breakfast ideas under 300 calories:

2-egg veggie omelette and toast: Omelettes are great, as long as you don't overdo the oil. I would use very little cooking spray instead of oil. Fill your omelette with vegetables like spinach, peppers, and tomatoes. Eat it with a slice of whole grain toast, and just a teaspoon or less of butter. You can also replace the veggie omelette with scrambled eggs with vegetables.

Yogurt parfait: Parfait is great because most of it is yogurt, but make sure you are not filling it up with more granola and topping than you are with yogurt. A 6-ounce cup of yogurt and one low calorie granola bar or about half a cup of granola will do.

Whole grain bagel: Bagels are yummy, but you have to be really careful with the size. I look at some bagels and they literally scare me. A medium whole grain bagel topped with a teaspoon of cream cheese or peanut butter will be just under 300 calories.

Whole grain waffles or pancakes: Yes, you can have pancakes too. Just make sure you limit them to about 2, and don't kill it with syrup or toppings. I would suggest only about a teaspoon of honey or jam (preferred) or syrup (if you must).

Oatmeal: To be perfectly honest, this is what I find myself eating most mornings because it is simple, and you cannot go wrong with oats. Half a cup of dry oats are only about 145 to 150 calories, so even after you add in some milk, honey or sugar, and some fruit, you'd still be under 300 calories. Plus, oats are a great way to eat natural food because the only ingredient in oats is really just oats.

Cereal: No, cereal is not the devil. As long as you look at your cereal box, and it has a low number of calories (don't forget to factor in the milk!), and you understand what most of the ingredients are, you are usually covered. I wrote a whole post on cereals here: The Healthiest Breakfast Cereals. There is a great table to help you make good decisions as you pick out your breakfast cereals.

Smoothies: As long as you know exactly what is going in your smoothie, you can make better decisions about what is healthier. A great low calorie smoothie is the strawberry banana smoothie that is made up of real strawberries, real bananas, low-fat yogurt, and ice cubes. Be very careful when you buy smoothies from restaurants as most use syrup as an additional flavor. Always ask!

Muesli: No one needs to tell you that muesli is a very healthy natural option for breakfast. Pair about 1 cup of muesli with low fat milk or yogurt for a low calorie breakfast.

Breakfast wraps: Breakfast burritos and other wraps can be healthy too as long as you stick to smaller sizes of whole wheat wraps, and fill them with eggs and beans, and not sausages, bacon, or other processed breakfast meats.

Fast food breakfast sandwiches: Yes, McDonald's and Burger King have advertised new breakfast options that are under 300 calories. It may seem like a fable, but it is true. Try to stick to plain egg sandwiches, and skip the ham, bacon, and even cheese where you can. Forget the fried sides as well because that is where they get you.

You now have some great options! Make sure you also consider your drinks as you make healthy breakfast choices. A cup of 'designer coffee' (yep, Starbucks) can contain a ridiculous number of calories. Stick to plain coffee with low fat or soy milk. Or just have some tea :)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Plyometrics: Split Squat Jumps

So yesterday, I was doing a plyometric circuit workout (you're probably like huh?), and the Eights & Weights readers were on my mind. I totally wanted to share my whole workout with you.

Plyometrics is a type of workout that introduces very quick and powerful movements like jumping. Athletes use these movements a lot to improve their power and their speed. And we all need power and speed in our workouts sometimes.

I will write a bit more about plyomterics later in the week, but for now, here is a video basically showing one of my favorite plyometric moves.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Product Review: Nike+ iPod

Are you a consistent pavement pounder, or looking to get into running? Now that summer is basically here, it is a great time to utilize the free space Mother Nature has given us and step away from the treadmill. As you prepare to run outside, here is an interesting tool that could help you out: The Nike+ iPod.

Never heard of it? Well, if you own an iPod, you have probably seen the Nike+ iPod app already installed on your device. If not, it is available in the Apple Store. For those who have seen the app and wondered how to use it, here’s where Eights & Weights comes in!

So first off, what is the Nike+ iPod? It is a kit that helps you measure your running or walking distance, time, and calories burned. If you’ve ever tried to run outside and then measure your run distance with Google Maps, you’d realize how difficult a task that is.

Now, the next question is how. How does the Nike+ iPod kit measure your workout information? It measures your distance and elapsed time as you run, and calculates your calories burned based on the predetermined weight information you entered when you set it up.

Just as with everything else, it is not perfect in calculating your distance, especially since everyone moves differently. However, I have found that you can get it near-accurate by calibrating. At the end of every run, the app gives you an option to adjust to an “Actual Distance”. So all you have to do to calibrate is run a distance that you already know perfectly, and then if the distance the tool calculates is different from what you know, adjust it to the actual distance. Going forward, it uses your calibrated entry to readjust itself. For example, you know you usually run a straight 2 mile road, and you have confirmed this with Google Maps. If at the end of your run, Nike+ iPod tells you it is 2.5 miles, you can simply calibrate it back to 2 miles. Pretty cool, huh?

Another cool part of the kit is that you can select predetermined distances. So if you wanted to run a 5K, you can simply select a 5K run, select your playlist, and start running. It alerts you of the distance covered at every kilometer. If you select your run in miles, it alerts you at every mile. I’m not sure if you can change the voice of your ‘alerter’, but I’m pretty partial to a man’s voice telling me how much longer I have to go with my run :)

There are tons of other tools out there, but I really like this one because you don't have to ‘wear it right’ or think about it while you’re running. It does the job for you as close to accurate as possible. I think it is a great tool. The one big negative about it is that you do need Nike shoes. I mean, it is a Nike and Apple tool so they have to use it to make money off of us somehow.

Now you know what the tool does and how it works. If you are thinking of buying it, here is what you’d need:
  • A pair of Nike+ shoes (not all Nike shoes are Nike+). Technically you can use any shoe, but only Nike+ shoes have the compartment for the transmitter.
  • A mobile Apple device (iPod, iPhone, Sportswatch, Sportband).
  • A Nike+ iPod app on your Apple device.
  • If you have a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Generation iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, Nike+ Sportband or a Nike+ Sportwatch, all you need is the transmitter device to embed in your shoe.
  • If you have an iPod nano, you need a Nike+ Sports Kit, which contains the shoe transmitter, and a receiver plugged into the iPod nano.
  • If you have an iPhone, an alternative to the Nike+ iPod is the Nike+ GPS App, which does not require the shoe transmitter. However, it is not a free app.

Lastly, if you were wondering where the hell the transmitter goes in your Nike+ shoe, simply lift the inner sole of your left shoe, and you’d see a compartment pre-created for your transmitter. You’re now fully equipped go out and run as much as you can this summer. No excuses!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,

Friday, May 18, 2012

In the Kitchen: Sweet Potato and Liver Pottage

Don’t pretend; you know you like my cooking :) Well, even though it’s never mostly the traditional food you expect. Today, we’re getting our iron in with sweet potatoes and liver. No, don’t flip over to yesterday’s post. Work with me here.

For those of you reading this recipe who are not from one of the British colonies, you probably have no idea what a pottage is. It’s basically like a stew with a combination of ingredients, usually tomato based, that lasts for a few days and can be heated and reheated. Basically, the perfect idea for daily left-overs. I like vegetables in everything, so you’ll always see some vegetables in any recipe on here.

So let’s cook shall we? (Oh, and by the way, I have to apologize for my amateur photography before you read this)

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 sweet potatoes
½ lb okras
½ teaspoon dry hot pepper
1 teaspoon curry
1 lb broccoli
6 oz tomato paste (or tomato sauce)
1 lb chicken liver
8 oz spinach
1 seasoning cube (my preference is Knorr)
Some salt
1 tbsp palm oil
Lots of water!

Peel your sweet potatoes, season them with a dash of salt, and bring them to a boil with about 1 cup of water. Let them cook for about 15 minutes or to your desired texture.
While the sweet potatoes cook, chop up the liver, season it with a dash of salt, and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. 

While those are cooking, you can chop up the spinach, broccoli, and okra. I had chopped and frozen the okra beforehand.

Once the sweet potatoes and the liver are cooked, dice up the sweet potatoes like you would if you were making soup.

Put the palm oil in a fresh pan. You only need the oil so the food does not stick, and to give it a tad bit of flavor, so do not overdo the dish with oil. I tried to stick to 1 tablespoon only. A great way to make the most of your oil is to throw in about a tablespoon, and use the spoon to spread the oil around the pan. Bring the oil to the stove.

When the palm oil is hot enough, throw in the tomato paste. I only use tomato paste because it makes the pottage thicker, so you can use blended tomatoes or tomato sauce. However, because it is a paste, and because you have virtually no oil, it could start to burn up pretty quickly. To keep it fluid, I throw in the liver and the liver stock. Add in a dash of salt, the seasoning cube, the pepper, and the curry. Stir, and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Time for the veggies! Don’t add them all at once though because they have varying absorption speeds. Put the okra in first, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Next, throw in the sweet potatoes and stir.

After about 5 minutes, throw in the broccoli. If your pottage is thick by now, the broccoli should provide enough juice to water it down a bit. You can throw in the broccoli and spinach at the same time, or wait 5 minutes and then put the spinach in. 

Everything is in now, so you can stir and let it cook for about 5 minutes. You’re done!

Because it is a tomato based stew, it usually tastes better once you’ve let it sit for a few hours. Try the recipe and let me know what you think. I know some folks would be adding more pepper in there.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Healthy Sushi Chart

Let's first get this out of the way: I am a sushi lover. I know a lot of folks who read this blog that can't comprehend how anyone eats sushi. Well, I woke up this morning with sushi on my mind, and I suddenly found myself asking the question "Is sushi really as healthy as people think it is?"

Because it is seafood, we find ourselves going "Oh, that's super healthy", but remember that everything is in the preparation. I mean, chicken is healthy too if you're eating the right body part and not deep frying it. A lot of sushi is raw, but there are the deep fried options, like anything made with tempura. And there are the sauces and toppings as well. One great thing about sushi is that they will usually tell you everything that is in a roll.

The original sushi options were probably pretty healthy before we started to introduce all the new age stuff. I'm pretty sure the Japanese don't make Philly rolls. Hey, I'm just saying.

We all know you most likely won't find caloric information at a sushi restaurant. So to help you make the right decisions when it comes to your rolls, I built a chart that gives a summary of the calories in the most common rolls. Please note that all these options below are with white rice. However, you can make an even healthier choice by asking for brown rice sushi whenever you go out to eat. In my experience, they would usually make it if requested.

Sushi Roll Calories Fat (g)
California Roll 255 7
Philly Roll 380 11
Shrimp Tempura Roll                                       500                 21
Tempura Roll 544 13                
Dragon Roll 507 18
Rainbow Roll 330 8
Veggie Roll 170 5
Spicy Tuna Roll 300 11
Mackerel Roll 232 2
Spicy Salmon Roll 330 5
Shrimp Roll 199 0
Avocado Roll 140 6
Salmon and Avocado Roll 305 9
Tuna Roll 185 2
Eel and Avocado Roll 370 17
Cucumber Roll 135 0
Volcano Roll 388 10

There are tons more, but I included popular options and threw in some low calorie alternatives. The great thing is that a lot of sushi has avocados, which are great for you. You just need to pay attention to all the ingredients in your roll.

Are you disappointed? Did your sushi of choice not make the list?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Donkey Kicks

Back to our summer workout theme, we're toning those butts today. We have so many great butt exercises, and I wanted to share one with you today that you may not have seen. It's called the donkey kick. Try it out!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Preventing Post-Exercise Soreness

For those who have recently started working out, the excitement of exercise is sometimes trumped by the muscle pain you feel the next morning. I have had several readers ask me the infamous question: "How do I get rid of post-workout muscle soreness?"

There are two types of muscle pain, and they should be treated differently. There is the pain you feel during or immediately after your workout. That pain is either your muscles telling you they have done some hard work, or your body telling you you might need to slow down. Then there is the more popular pain; the one that slaps you in the face when you wake up the next morning (or sometimes, even a couple of days later). This type of pain is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

DOMS is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers when you have really pushed your body hard, or when you do something new and different. As you keep doing the same exercises more, your body gets used to it and you start to notice less pain. However, if you switch up your exercise routines a lot, you don't give your body adequate time to get too used to anything. This is not a bad thing because to stay fit and lose weight, you usually need to switch up your exercise routine consistently. 

So it's a Catch-22, right? If you don't work hard, or if you do the same things over and over, you'll end up not getting sore. However, you need to work hard and switch your exercise up to reach your goals. So what do you do? The good news is that there are steps you can take to lessen or prevent the pain.

Warm Up: It sounds cliché, but warming up is really important to protect your muscles and joints, and to avoid getting too sore after your workout. What is the best way to warm up? Do something very similar to what you would be doing during your workout, but just do it slower and with less force for about 5 to 10 minutes. For example, if you'd be running, walk for a few minutes first. If you'd be kickboxing, start with very light punches and kicks. It is important to use the same muscles you'd be using so that the body gets used to the motion.

Cool down: This is the same theory as warming up. It gives your body a chance to slow down and get back into the regular motion. Also do it for about 5 to 10 minutes, possibly longer if you worked out for a couple of hours.

Stretch: You have heard this a lot, but stretching help reduce the pain as it is actually part of the cool down process, allowing your muscles to relax. It is like a mini-massage to ease muscle tension. When you workout, you put a lot of tension on your muscles, and so stretching just helps remove some of that tension. You've probably noticed some things called foam rollers at the gym. These are great to help relieve muscle tension. If you have the money and time to get a massage, go for that instead :)

Ease into a routine: Most folks that want to lose weight are tempted to just jump in and do as much as they could possibly do. However, it is important to give your muscles time to get used to activity, especially if you're been pretty sedentary. If you hurt yourself, you can't work out anyway, right? 

However, even with these, if your are experiencing pain that lasts longer than usual, the procedure is to ice it, and then call a doctor. Contrary to popular belief, indirect ice (frozen veggies, etc.) works better on muscle pain than heat.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Healthy Cooking with Fish

Fried fish is yummy when prepared well; I can’t deny that. And in a lot of cultures, fried or boiled fish are the only two options most people know. And considering that a lot of folks prefer fried fish to boiled fish, nothing more needs to be said on the subject.

However, fish in itself is pretty healthy as it is a great low-fat protein option to meat, and it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote heart health. So rather than smothering our fish and concealing most of its great qualities in a not-so-great way, let’s try other ways of preparing the fish to get the same great taste and retain the positive benefits. How, you ask? How can you do this besides boiling it?

Grilling: Well, most of you are probably familiar with grilled fish. To do this, you’d need a grill and your spices to give the fish some flavor. Grilling does require some non-stick spray or a dash of oil to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill.
Steaming: Steaming is very similar to boiling, but the food isn’t bathed in the actual water. When you steam fish, you spice up the fish like you would for any other cooking method, but rather than put it in a pot of water, you put it in a steam basket in the pot over the water. This way, when the water turns to steam, that is actually what cooks the fish. This is a method, you can’t really use with meat because it would take forever, but since fish is delicate, you can cook it this way and still retain the nutrients.
Baking: If you want some crust on your fish, this is one good way to keep the crust without frying it. However, if you are trying to balance out your calories, it is important to consider what ingredients go into your crust as well. Baking is usually in a dish in the oven or in foil. Foil is great for baking fish as it helps retain the juices, especially for drier fish like cod.
Broiling: Broiling is not so different from grilling. The major difference is that while the heat comes from the bottom when you grill, the heat comes from the top when you broil. So if you are broiling fish in your home oven, make sure you adjust the oven tray a few levels down so that the fish doesn’t get too dry.
Poaching: Poaching is a specialized form of cooking. Poaching fish is similar to boiling except that you spice up the water or liquid the fish will be poached in, make sure the level of the spiced water is just high enough to cover the fish, and cook at a particular temperature (usually 165 to 180 degrees) for the specified amount of time.

So while I agree that fried fish is delicious, there are other ways to cook fish to keep it healthy and still retain the flavor. Try one of these methods today!

Cheers Eights & Weights! 

Photo credit:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Myths: Is Nutella Healthy?

If you love the hazelnut and chocolate goodness, you have probably heard of the recent debates in the news about how Nutella is marketed. A mother won a class action suit against Ferrero USA (the company that makes Nutella) for promoting their product as a healthy choice for kids. Basically, from their commercials, she had been led to think it was a healthy breakfast option, she fed it to her kids, and then found out it was not as healthy as they marketed it to be.

We do live in a society where “implied advertising” rules. Note that they don’t necessarily call it false advertising. I mean, if all the mobile networks claim they have the best network, somebody must be lying, right? But then again, it depends on what they imply “best network” to mean. It’s all a game.

 So let’s address the issue at hand; is Nutella really that unhealthy? Nutella is a mystery spread to most people. It’s like it tastes good so who cares? Well, let me give you a little insight into the deliciousness that is Nutella. It is made from hazelnuts, almonds, cocoa, and milk. Or at least, that is the way it is advertised. If you look at the ingredients on a jar though, what is the first thing you see? Sugar.

Most people don’t know this, but companies usually list their ingredients in the order of quantity, at least in the US. So this means the sugar content in Nutella is more than the hazelnut, cocoa, milk, and almond content. That is something to think about. In fact, if you dig deeper into production, you’d find out that Nutella is really about 70% sugar and vegetable oil. That’s definitely something to think about.

So what is the nutrition content of Nutella? The picture below gives clear details. It is clear that the 200 calories come mostly from sugar.

So what am I saying really? Don’t fall prey to implied advertising. Make sure you make informed decisions when you select food options. There is nothing wrong with a bit of Nutella here and there just like you would do with any other spread or any other dessert, but it is important to keep your portions controlled, be conscious of your calorie consumption, and not pig out simply because you think it is healthy. Don’t forget the tagline: Everything in moderation.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Have You Done Your Squats Lately?

Yes, it's me again with my squats. If you are a new reader, you may not yet know that I love the squat. It really is a great exercise for the buns and thighs. Well, if it's done right. So this is just a reminder to get those squats in as the summer approaches! We do all want to see you in those shorts... ahem.

Remember 4 big things while you get your squats in:
  • As you go lower, squat with your butt, not your chest. So try to keep your chest up and your upper body upright as much as possible.
  • You are exercising your legs, not your knees. So try to make sure your knees are not moving in front of your toes as you go down. Keep them behind your toes.
  • Keep your feet at least hip width apart. It definitely could be as wide as you want depending on the type of squat you choose to do.
  • Go as low as you can, but never sacrifice your posture for the depth of your squat. It is more important to get it right than to look like you are flexible.

Here is a photo showing how to do a perfect squat:

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Ultimate Power Song

I’m not sure how you work out, but I do get tired in my middle of my workout, especially if it is a run. My technique to beat the fatigue is to get out of my own head. Your body will do what you tell it as long as it is able, but most of the time, we stop mentally before we even get to tire out physically.

Before I go off on a tangent, one other way I fight fatigue is by playing a song that gives me energy. I call it my power song. Yes, my power song changes periodically as new music is released, but at any time in my life, there is usually one song that pushes me beyond my limits.

If you are looking for a way to push yourself, I’d strongly suggest finding your power song. It has worked for me. To help you figure out where to start, I’ve listed my current power song, as well as some of my previous ones. Enjoy!

Estelle ft. Kardinal Offishal – Freak
Ciara ft. Missy Elliot – Work
Lil’ Mama ft. Chris Brown and T-Pain – Shawty Get Loose
All American Rejects – Move Along
Kelly Rowland – Commander
Drake – Forever
Chrisette Michele – I’m a Star
Paramore – Decoy
Kanye West ft. Jay-Z & Nicki Minaj – Monster
Maroon 5 – Harder to Breathe

What is your ultimate power song?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Win a Contemporary Nigerian Cuisine Cookbook!

As promised, it's time for our next freebie! Eights & Weights is partnering with Funke Koleosho of Contemporary Nigerian Cuisine to give one lucky reader a chance to win her Contemporary Nigerian Cuisine cookbook. How often do you get to see a good Nigerian cookbook that gives healthy options as well? Please check out the website at the link above for details on the cookbook, apps, and other products and services offered by Funke. You will also find details on how to order the book if you don't win, or if you are outside the UK.

I also did a review of the book recently here, so you can check it out too. Unfortunately, right now, this freebie is only for our readers in the United Kingdom, but rest assured that we will be bringing you more offers for our readers in other regions.

What do you have to do? There are two ways:
  1. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and fill the form below with your Twitter or Facebook details.
  2. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and either tweet us your entry or send us your details on Facebook.
  3. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and email us your details.
Please remember to include an email address whichever form you use.

Good luck!

Monday, May 7, 2012

My First Half Marathon

It’s almost summer time, and those of you that know me know that I like to run races in allergy season. No, I’m not crazy; I just like to challenge my body and what better way to do it that pound the pavement with other crazy folk before the weather gets all hot and sticky?

But this week holds a special significance for me because on Sunday, May 6th, I ran my first half marathon! For those not familiar with the mileage on these things, this means I competed with thousands of other people to finish off a 13.1 mile race. That’s right: 13.1 miles! I’m on my way to a full blown marathon.

Now, I may seem pretty excited but the hours after the run yesterday were anything but exciting. I felt a little like someone else had taken over my body and I was feeling their pain, not mine. As an avid exerciseaholic (yes, I made up a word), I sometimes underestimate the pain that comes with new fitness experiences because I usually like workout pain. This was on a whole different plane though, and when I analyze it I understand why. I ran that race and did not stop once. Yes, for about two hours, I did not stop once.

Anyway, pain aside, you must be able to tell that I am extremely proud of myself. Though it was painful, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences at the same time. Knowing that I could control my body to achieve something most people can’t made me feel good. And although I know that the rules usually discourage music, I’m so grateful I had my run playlist. If you’re building your own ‘Power Playlist’, I’ll share a few of the songs on mine in a future post so that you have some ideas. All I can say is music does really push you further. Well, that and the gentleman's voice on my Nike+ iPod app. He is amazing :)

What preparation worked for me? 
  • Not running the day before. I was so tempted to just get a few minutes in, but I’m glad I didn’t. It gave my muscles and joints a chance to relax, especially my knees and ankles.
  • Eating that morning. About an hour before the race began, I had a bagel to keep my energy up. I usually don’t eat before my runs, but I’m glad I did.
  • Stuffing some energy food in my running pouch. I am one of those runners who hates carrying anything when I run. But I stuck a mini energy paste sachet in the pouch of my pants, and I’m glad I did because I needed it between mile 8 and 9.

I did make one mistake though. I did yoga a couple of days before my run to relax, and almost hurt my knee in crow pose. I’m pretty glad God spared me there. However, the lesson I took from that is that when you’re supposed to be taking it easy, do workouts that don’t have the tendency to hurt you. I mean, what’s the point if training if you get hurt at the last minute?

So a big thank you to all those who supported me on Twitter and Facebook! If you have any marathon stories to share, we’d love to hear them.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The v-sit is probably one of those exercises that looks easy when you see someone else doing it, but it's actually terribly difficult if you struggle with strength in your ab region. Well, below is a video that describes the v-sit so you can try it at home.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Marathon Tips: Tapering

What is tapering, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Usually, we push our bodies when we exercise because it helps us burn calories and stay healthy. However, when we are training for intense extra-normal physical activity like an athletic event or a marathon, we put our bodies through even more intense daily activity because we are training, not just exercising. Our bodies weren’t necessarily created to go through that level of intensiveness continuously.

Now, as humans, obviously we want to keep pushing ourselves farther right before our goal because we think it makes a difference. But in reality, the last week before your marathon doesn’t change too much around what your body is capable of. If you could reach only 10 miles last week, you probably won’t magically be able to reach 15 miles 2 days before your big run without stressing your body out completely.

So yes, I know it doesn’t seem to make too much sense, but this is why it is important to rest the week before your workout. Most seasoned runners actually start to reduce their daily mileage a couple of weeks before the race. This process of slowing down and running less miles is called Tapering. Don’t discount it because it is pretty important.

Most trainers will advise you to start slowing down your mileage as you get closer to the date. I would say the best advice I have received is to cut runs to about 50% of what you normally do. A few days before the race, you should probably only be doing about a third of what you usually do, especially if you’re used to consistently running long and hard.

The day before the marathon should probably be a day you don’t run at all or a day that you run a very short distance, just to keep your feet going. Focus on getting your energy in on that day by eating right.

But be warned. It’s not all roses and lilies when you are tapering. Your body may not be used to slowing down and so you may find yourself cranky, losing focus, and convinced that you have no energy. Rest easy; the big race is just days away and you’ll be back to your regular self in no time!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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