Friday, March 30, 2012

Ever Heard of GymPact?

In the US this week, we reached the highest Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot ever - about $500 million. As of this post, no one has won it yet. But that has caused everyone to start thinking about throwing in their own hat for the lottery. You would think that a bigger win somehow means better odds.

Well, all the hullabaloo about gambling and the lottery got me thinking about gambling with our health. Not in the sense of actually playing with our health, but putting down money on us succeeding with our workouts. 

So in natural fashion, I went looking, and I found a few sites and apps where you can actually bet on yourself. One in particular stood out: GymPact. It is both an app and a website.

How does it work? Well, you start with a Pact. This pact is basically you saying how many times you'll go to the gym in a week. And then you earn money per week if you meet your goal. If you don't meet your goal, you lose money.

While I think this is a great idea, the only part I have not yet been able to figure out is how they verify if you are lying when you say you actually did meet your target. Why would anyone say they didn't go to the gym when money is on the line? Well, maybe folks are just that honest.

I will try it out, and let you guys know if it truly works.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Burpees are a great way to work out your whole body (I know I say this all the time). But since I think visual cues are awesome, I found a great video of how to do a burpee. Try it today!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Video credit:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Box Step Exercise

I found this great video that I wanted to share. Have you ever heard of the box step? There are different variations, but the one in the video below is great because you keep moving even though you are getting your squats in midway (and we all know how I love my squats). Enjoy!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Video credit:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eating at Work

Ever think that your colleagues are trying to make you fat? Seriously, how else do goodies just automatically appear at the office all the time? And why else do people always want to go out to these great places for lunch? Okay, I know I’m being dramatic, but you get my point. It’s difficult to eat healthy at the office.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum. The days when you are rushing from meeting to meeting and probably don’t get to eat lunch at all. Or you get so busy and you have to eat lunch at your desk. And then you find yourself snacking on the cookies your colleagues brought. Because again, we have established that they are trying to make you fat.

The problem is that when you are at work, you are usually stressed, and stress-eating always seems to go the overboard way. But being aware of what you put in your mouth, and being prepared to face the food challenges of the week could be just what you need to get you back on track. Here are just a few quick tricks:

  1. Pack your own homemade lunch
  2. Always plan your meals ahead
  3. Try to walk around when you start thinking of food
  4. If you are going out with your colleagues for lunch, decide exactly what you want to get before you get to the restaurant
  5. Always keep a cup of water at your desk to take a sip every time you see or smell goodies

I know this is not all-encompassing, but you’d be surprised how much these little things can help push your work diet in the right direction.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hike Away the Fat

I love to hike. So a couple of friends and I spent most of Saturday on a little hiking excursion. Apart from the jabs I got on Twitter about how black people don’t hike, I had a lot of fun as usual. All I can say is after 5 hours in the woods, I certainly burned hundreds of calories more than the folks who told me I’m not black enough. So I win!

But seriously, why do we have a problem with hiking? The dictionary defines a hike as simply a long walk, especially for pleasure or exercise. Is it that we don’t like walks or we don’t like exercise? Does this have something to do with our rate of obesity?

Sometimes, our health is not based on how much we do the intense exercises, but how well we can incorporate the little things into our daily schedule, like taking the stairs, parking a little distance from the main entrance at Walmart, or taking a hike.

Yes, there are different levels of terrain, but if you walk on relatively flat trails, a hike should not be the most difficult thing in the world. You go at an easy pace, spend some time out with the fresh air, and burn some calories in the process. And if you are with your friends, you get in some good quality time as well. So it’s all a win-win.

I would challenge you all to try a hike for a couple of hours somewhere near you. There is an app called AllTrails that you can use to find hiking trails around you, especially if you are a beginner. It tells you how far the trail is, what kind of terrain it is, and how many miles long it is. Remember to pack some water and take your friends with you. Let me know how you feel after. Refreshed?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Managing Allergies this Season

Spring and Autumn are the two dreaded seasons for allergies. While most people are anticipating the warmth this Spring, others are tearing up, itching, sneezing, and sniffling away. If you are one of these, what can you do to keep the sniffles away?

Educate yourself: You may not know you have allergies because you developed it at a later age. However, about 20 percent of allergy sufferers did not grow up with allergies. So the fact that you never had allergies should not make you ignorant to the symptoms. Have your eyes started tearing up in the Spring? See a doctor. Seasonal allergies are usually caused by pollen, and people can develop pollen allergies at any age.

Limit outdoor activity: I mean, it’s simple, right? Pollen is outside, so as long as it is outside, limit your outdoor activity during the daytime when the pollen count is high. Additionally, limit the pollen that gets back into your home by dusting off your clothes and shoes before you walk in the door, and wash your pets regularly. I know it’s sad because you’ve just gotten over your winter hibernation mode, but short of wearing a mask, this is probably the best way to go. This includes your workouts too, so if you are an allergy sufferer who runs outside and gets miserable after, it may be time to get a treadmill or join a gym.

Talk to your doctor: Many people assume they have one type of allergy or the other and just treat themselves. Just like any other disease, it is best to consult a doctor to test you for allergies before you start to treat yourself. There are over-the-counter drugs you can take as well, but it is much more effective, and probably cheaper too, to just see a doctor before assuming anything, especially if you take other drugs. Do not mix medication without consulting a doctor.

Dress for the season: Synthetic fibers attract pollen, and so during the allergy months, try to wear more natural fibers like cotton. If you do wear synthetic fibers, reduce the contact between your clothes and your face.

I wish you an allergy-free Spring!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mangoes: A Healthy Treat?

Where I come from, the mango is probably the most available fruit. There are hundreds of different kinds of mangoes around the world, and each one has its own unique flavor and look. If you are trying to stay healthy in a tropical environment, rather than reach for expensive unavailable items, why not reach for the regular everyday stuff available to you?

Well, I’m sure you were wondering “What are the health benefits of mangoes?” They are not as popular as oranges in places like the US and the UK, and so people don’t talk about the health benefits as much. Fret not, we are here to help!

King of Fruits: First of all, did you know the mango was called the king of fruits? This is because it is rich in so many nutrients like amino acids, vitamin C and E, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. The mango does contain more calories than say an apple or a peach (about 110 for a medium sized mango) so it is important to make sure you note this as you add it to your diet.

Anti-disease qualities: Mangoes have been known to help assist in treating diseases like diabetes, anemia, gastric reflux, diseases around the eye, and even cancer.

  • Diabetes – A recent study at the University of Queensland, Australia indicates that components within mangoes operate in a similar manner to some diabetes and cholesterol drugs by helping to regulate insulin levels.
  • Anemia – Mangoes contain a large amount of iron, which helps people who suffer from an iron deficiency, like people with anemia. It would also benefit women right after their periods who have lost a lot of blood, and women going through menopause.
  • Gastric reflux – Many fruits are good for acidity, and the mango is one of them. It is high in fiber, which helps regulate the digestive system, but it also contains enzymes that act as an anti-inflammatory agent for the stomach lining.
  • Eye diseases – It is rich in vitamin A! And we all know what that means. Great eye health!
  • Cancer – As we know we don’t exactly know the causes of cancer or what prevents it (or we’d all be doing it), but people who eat certain foods seem to have less likelihood of getting cancer. The mango is one of those foods.
Retention: Mangoes do make you smarter! Well, maybe not smarter, but they help with memory retention and concentration.

Healthy skin: Mangoes are also known to give skin a certain shine by providing moisture and restoring elasticity. Maybe this is one of the reasons why why people in tropical regions tend to look younger than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Hmmm…

Sex drive: So I know you’ve all been waiting for this one. But did you know mangoes help to increase your libido and regulate your sex hormones? Erm… in that case, maybe I should not be suggesting this fruit to all you innocent children out there. I mean, I do know that Eights & Weights readers are innocent. *as we all adjust our halos together*

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

When is the Best Time to Exercise?

So you’ve heard me say that working out in the morning is awesome, but I wanted to take a second to make one thing clear. If you have read anywhere that you burn more calories at a certain time of day, that may not be true. There is really no scientific evidence to prove that everyone’s bodies burn more calories if they work out in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night.

Now, that is not to say that there is no best time for YOU to work out. Each person is different, and so we should not treat our bodies the same. For some, working out in the morning gives you that energy boost for the day and gets your metabolism going. For others, working out right before dinner means that your body would be burning calories way into the night. So how do you know what works for you?

Trial and Error
Frankly, the easiest way to figure it out is by trial and error. Exercise at different points in the day and see how you feel afterwards. Do you get unbelievably hungry and eat everything in sight? Or do you get energized and not need a coffee before that first morning meeting?

Scheduling Conflicts
Another way to find out what works for you is to focus on your schedule. If you find that you get off work really late, then maybe night time exercise is not for you. If you are the type that needs an exercise partner for motivation, and all your friends want to work out at noon, then maybe it’s time to become a lunch-hour burner. But schedule plays a major role because if you don’t find a time that usually works, you would probably become a slacker.

Non-Exercise Related Habits
You other non-exercise habits play a major role. If it takes such a long time for you to fall asleep at night, maybe working out in the morning is not for you because you’d be tired every morning. If you like to go for drinks right after work, then maybe you shouldn’t hit the treadmill after you’ve had a cocktail. And of course, if you are a woman, your hair habits really determine when you work out. I mean, you can’t have a sweaty weave at work.

If you’re hell bent on exercising in the morning, there are two things you should know:
  • "Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. This is probably just because you are starting your day out right and life does not get in the way.
  • Cardio in the morning tends to give you more energy than weights do.

If you are a night person, here are two things to note:
  • People who exercise after work usually tend to sleep better at night. So if you are having trouble sleeping, this might be a good approach for you.
  • Because you are not lounging on your couch, there is less temptation to pig out in front of the TV. Most people use their time at night to laze around in front of the television and get tempted to pull out that bowl of ice-cream.
Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bored with your Healthy Breakfast?

By Sharon Liao,

Sick of your standard breakfast? Whether you're an a.m. oatmeal devotee, a grab-and-go girl, or an omelet expert, we've got a new breakfast alternative for you. These healthy breakfasts will "jump-start your metabolism while keeping you from snacking mindlessly and overeating throughout the day," says David Grotto, R.D., author of 101 Optimal Life Foods. Swap your usual a.m. meal for one of these tasty alternatives and you'll feel more satisfied, avoid temptation and stay energized until lunch.

Your Usual Healthy Breakfast: Oatmeal
Regular: With about 4 grams of fiber per half cup, oatmeal is a healthy and filling way to start your day, but it can taste bland without the right toppings.
Better breakfast idea: Grotto recommends whipping up an "oatmeal au lait": Stir together 1 cup cooked steel-cut oatmeal, 2 teaspoons instant coffee, 1 tablespoon agave syrup, 1/4 cup nonfat milk, and 1/2 cup water; microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds. (Each bowl contains 363 calories and 5 grams of fat.)
Other options: Tired of oats? Try a new breakfast grain, like millet. "It has a slightly nutty flavor," says Grotto. "Plus it contains 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per half cup." Simmer it gently with water and top with fruit.

Your Usual Healthy Breakfast: Toast & Jam
Regular: "Because some people don't like traditional breakfast foods, like eggs or cereal, they have something small instead—say, a slice of toast," says Daniela Jakubowicz, M.D., author of The Big Breakfast Diet. But carbs alone won't hold you over all morning.
Better breakfast idea: Jakubowicz advises having typical lunchtime fare and choosing a meal that contains protein as well. So, instead of butter or jelly, top two slices of whole-grain toast with jelly and peanut butter. Another new breakfast idea? Make a "TLT" with turkey, lettuce, and tomato.

Your Usual Healthy Breakfast: Egg Omelets
Regular: Eggs are a great source of protein in the morning (about 6 grams each), but they could use a nutrient and flavor boost.
Better breakfast idea: "Add nutrients and flavor to a plain two-egg omelet by folding in leftovers, like chicken, sautéed spinach, or roasted squash," says Grotto. Round it out with a slice of multigrain bread and you've got a satisfying new breakfast for less than 315 calories.

Your Usual (not so) Healthy Breakfast: Deli Muffin
Regular: Oversize bakery muffins can pack up to 800 calories and 41 grams of fat.
Better breakfast idea: Swap your staple for an English muffin topped with peanut butter, a sliced banana, and a small handful of chocolate chips. The protein- and fiber-rich banana gives your new breakfast staying power—and cuts 427 calories and 27 grams of fat. "Plus, chocolate triggers the release of serotonin—a feel-good hormone—and keeps your levels elevated for hours," says Jakubowicz. "So you'll be less likely to experience sugar cravings later in the day."

View the original article on 

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Desk Abs Workout

Yes, it is the middle of the day. On a weekday. And you are probably sitting at your desk listening to your manager explain why the numbers were down last quarter (I know you’re probably a Mechanical Engineer right now, but just go with it). And you start to wonder “What could I possibly do right now that would seem like I’m listening intently, and would burn calories at the same time?” Yes, this is how we all think in the middle of the day…

What could you do? Work on your abs! In fact, all you have to do is hold your stomach muscles tight as you breathe in and out.  Breathe in and hold your muscles, and then breathe out and contract them. Try to do this without rounding your lower back.

You can add a twist as well (Well, only if you’re in your office alone) by breathing in and then turning to the side. This mimics a mason twist without requiring too much movement.

Another twist is to move your hips from side to side as you do this. So breathe in, and move your upper body left while your hips go right. Do the same on the other side. You should be contracting your abs the whole time.

Finally to extend the simply breathe in-breathe out, simply lift your chest high as you breathe in, and contract your abs as far in as you can go as you breathe out.

People say you should do all the crazy abs exercises, but I say continuously work on your abs as you do your everyday tasks. You can do these while driving, sitting in meetings, sitting at your desk, etc. Combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you’ll have those abs in no time!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kissing and Calories

Nobody I know is opposed to a long make-out session. And when you hear the words ‘kissing’ and ‘calories’ in the same sentence, of course that brings on some excitement. But did you know that passionate kissing could burn about 1 to 3 calories a minute?

If you don’t spend all your days making out with everything in sight, then that doesn’t sound like very much (because it isn’t). But at least there is comfort in knowing that there is one extra reason that kissing is good for you :)

So grab your significant other and burn some calories today! If they ask why the sudden passion towards kissing, just tell them Eights & Weights said so ;)

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Contemporary Nigerian Cuisine Meal Planner

So I was surfing the internet looking for good healthy Nigerian recipes (as most normal people do on a daily basis, of course), and I happened to come across a meal planner specifically for Nigerians. I thought to myself "This is awesome! I need to share this with the readers." So here we are.

Apparently, a lady named Funke Koleosho has an app, a website, and a cook book with healthy recipes and advice on cooking Nigerian food. You can check it out here:

I found an excerpt from her cook book book that I wanted to share. It's a Two-Week Meal Planner with details about what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks to kick-start your diet. What I love about it is that it is not salads, but real Nigerian food (and sometimes, contemporary food with Nigerian ingredients incorporated). Please check out the Meal Planner below, and click on the image above to buy the book from Amazon if you like what you see. Share with your friends, and buy it for your loved ones. I'm excited when I see Africans trying to live healthy.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Exercise Challenge: How Many Squats can you do?

We’ve been taking it easy for a few weeks, but it’s time to get on the ball again. One of my favorite exercises for the booty and thighs is the squat. I always say you can’t go wrong with the basics; that’s why they are the basics. The squat is one of the most popular exercises for good reason. 

So here’s what we are going to do this week: spend some time shaping up our bums! Pick whatever variation of the squat you like, and do as many of them as you can. Again, this is a basic exercise, and so everyone should be able to handle it. (Quit moaning. I thought about doing the burpee as a challenge. In fact, I challenged myself to more than a few burpees last week, so you should be grateful.)

Just to give you an idea of how the basic squat should look like, see the picture below. I love this picture because I believe that is truly the perfect squat right there.

Three tips I like to follow when doing a squat: 
  1. Your knees should be over your ankles, and should not go beyond your toes. So basically, you should be squatting down, not forward. 
  2. Your upper body should be up. Keep your chest out, and tighten your abs. Look forward, not down. 
  3. Squeeze your butt as you do the exercise. You’d be putting in extra work that way.
So that is the basic squat. If you would like to make this challenge a little harder, try other variations of the squat. See below: 

Pistol squat (or one-legged squat) 

Wall squat (or wall sit)

Sumo squat

For more Eights & Weights posts on squats, check these out: 
Getting the Perfect Booty  
Summer Series: Tone Your Behind  
Four Basic Exercises you Should Know  
Build Your Endurance: Difficult Exercises You Must Try 
Improvised Circuit Training: Diversifying your Workout
Don’t forget to log how many you do, and post your numbers up here, or share it with us on Twitter or Facebook! Challenge your friends to join as well. If we get enough people on this challenge, the winner just might get something ;)
Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,,,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Are you “Lent-ing”?

It’s that time of year again. If you are a Catholic, you’ve probably made your decision about what to give up this season. But this season of sacrifice is not only limited to Catholics, as many religions use this as a season of sacrifice and reflection as well. So what are you giving up this season?

Historically, people have mostly given up food items because that seems like the ultimate sacrifice. I mean, if you can train yourself to not eat something you want badly for 40 days, then there’s not much you can’t survive without.

I know the season has already started, but if you were still deciding what to give up, or if you were thinking of skipping the season entirely, why not lent for your health as well? Here are a few ideas of food items you can give up for your health:

  • Become a vegetarian: Just for 40 days! It’s hard to give up meat because where I come from, meat is the base for EVERYTHING. But even if you have tofu and other meat-substitutes, you can make changes by making your own meals, and using a lot of vegetables and spices. Being a vegetarian has several health benefits, even if you do it for a short time. The biggest positive impact of giving up meat is heart health. Plant proteins generally contain lower cholesterol than animal proteins, especially red meat. This helps to keep your heart healthier. You can even take it a step further and go vegan, giving up dairy products as well.
  • Home-cook your meals: This could be pretty difficult if you work a 9 to 5 job and eat lunch out. But you could considerably improve your health by just cooking your own meals. When you cook, you can control portions, change ingredients, and make it healthier to suit your goals. Plus, you know every ingredient, and so you don’t question the calorie content or how natural the ingredients are. And let’s not forget that you could save yourself a ton of money!
  • Stop the frying: Need I say more? Nowadays, it seems like everything is fried; from meat to potatoes to sauces. For 40 days, why not give up the frying and stick to boiling or baking? You could considerably reduce the number of calories you consume every day, and you could help lock in the nutrients in your food by not destroying them in the deep fry pan.
  • Drink healthy as well: We all know that soda does nothing for us. So why not use this opportunity to wean your body off the liquid crack? Try sticking to water, fresh juices, and tea. You’ll have so much more energy, and you’ll be saving yourself a ton of empty calories every day. The same goes for alcohol. Don’t moan; it’s only 40 days.
  • Get off the sugar high: Let’s talk about dessert. Yea, I see you sitting in front of the TV with your big bowl of ice-cream late at night. Yes, you. Use this lent season as an opportunity to skip the desserts and late night sweets. If you are the type that needs a dessert after every meal, you’ll be saving yourself a ton of calories each day, and that could dramatically help you achieve your weight loss goals in a shorter time.
So what are you giving up this season? And how have you done so far?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...