26.9.12

Soup Season: Chicken Noodle Soup

With so many coughs and sniffles flying around, I wondered to myself how I could contribute to the health of the nation (or at least those who travel on the central line and run the risk of infecting me!). Chicken soup is renowned (yet not scientifically proven) for its restorative properties when feeling a little under the weather with colds and congestion and this is one of my favourite recipes.

Chicken Noodle Soup (BBC Good Food)
serves 4, ready in 30 minutes


Ingredients



  • 900ml chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast , about 175g/6oz
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 garlic clove , finely chopped
  • 50g rice or wheat noodles
  • 2 tbsp sweetcorn , canned or frozen
  • 2-3 mushrooms , thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions , shredded
  • 2 tsp soy sauce , plus extra for serving
  • mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli (optional), to serve

Method 

  1. Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken and shred into bite-size pieces using a couple of forks.
  2. Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, corn, mushrooms, half the spring onions and the soy sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender. Ladle into two bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs and chilli shreds if using. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling

Nutrition per serving: 
217 kcalories, protein 26g, carbohydrate 26g, fat 2 g, saturated fat 0.4g, fibre 0.6g, sugar 1g, salt 2.52 

I personally don't like mushrooms so always leave them out; they can be replaced with any other vegetable that I fancy. You can also add a few more noodles to make it more filling. This is comfort food at its best; low calories and satisfying!


Elle :) x

24.9.12

Am I cr-raaaaay-zeee?! #RTTB

Last week, during a period of confusion and what felt like depression, I was offered a place in the Run ToThe Beat (RTTB) half marathon, on 28th October. I deliberated for a number of hours during the day, chatted to a few friends, ummed and ahhhhedd, before I decided “why not?”. A half marathon IS on my ‘Fitness Bucket List’ so to speak and…YOLO (you only live once)…also, life is too short…and all the other clichés I could find to convince myself this is a good idea.


You were with me when I completed my first 10k race back in July, and that felt like an amazing achievement. A half marathon is approximately double that distance!  Twice as far as I have EVER run in my life!

Over the past few months, I’ve kept up to date on the #SistersInNike journey to their half marathon and have envied them and their commitment. I don’t have months to train, I have 4 weeks, and I will give it my all! I’ve downloaded the NikeRunning Race Coach 12 week training plan and cut it down to 4 weeks based on what seemed most important from each 3 week block. It seems I just have to add more running into my weekly training, along with some stretching and I may be okay.

I have been warned that the RTTB course is a little hilly so I am prepared for that. I’ve also been given some great advice on twitter including to think about my pace, hydration and electrolyte replacement around the 6 mile mark. If you have any more training tips to share with me, please leave them in the comments box, or get at me via twitter! All tips welcome!

Elle ;) x

21.9.12

Blah, blah, blah, tabata...

As part of my job and lifestyle, I try to keep up to date on what others are doing in the fitness industry and what everyone is enjoying. Today, I keep seeing tabata all over the shop! There is never anything totally new on the scene, tabata is just a variation of HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training). This high-intensity training is fun, blasts calories, blasts fat and moves so quickly it's hard to get bored. For tabata, you perform an exercise at maximal intensity (anaerobic) for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You repeat this pattern a total of eight times, making one tabata round four minutes. It seems you can also "stack" the rounds which work different areas with one minute rest between each 4 minutes (e.g 3 x 4 minute rounds with 1 minute rest = 14 mins).

Don't be fooled into thinking that you can exercise for 4 minutes, 3 times per week and need not do anything else! The biggest gains are seen when this is used in conjunction with your regular training! A good way to incorporate the rounds are to finish off a session such as Nike Training Club or Bootcamp with a couple of rounds / cycles. This does however sound like what I need to help me get into shape for my week holidaying in Miami (T minus 16 days). 

So, I am laying down my plan here: next week, Monday 24th September to Friday 28th September (probably excluding one day for rest), I will either a) wake up early and complete 1 - 3 cycles or b) add 1 - 3 cycles to any workout I do. All in a bid to be bikini ready and kick start my motivation! 

Here are a few cycles / rounds I have thought up which you can try too:

Cycle 1: jumping jacks, mountain climbers
Cycle 2: burpees, ski jumps
Cycle 3: high knee runs, alternating backward lunges

Cycle 4: bicycle crunch, toe touches
Cycle 5: squat jumps, froggers
Cycle 6: lateral hops, knee tucks

Are you gonna give it a go?! How can you not! You can follow my progress on twitter or read the full report on how I did right here, next week!

P.S I also found a free app for my phone which does all the timings! 


Elle :) x

P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

20.9.12

Perfect Form: Push Up

The last record for Push Ups in one minute was recorded by the Guinness Book of Records in 2004 and stood at 138! I don't know about you, but I cannot do anywhere near that amount! I think the last time I checked, I could do 19 (hmmm or maybe 9?!) full press ups (with some strain and struggle!). During my time teaching, I have seen women shy away from full press ups while the guys use them to prove their manliness! It's time the girls "manned up" and the boys do it with perfect form!

(image from Men's Health)

The Push Up works your chest, triceps and deltoids; it also benefits other muscles including your abdominal regions. Push Ups should form the foundation of any good bodyweight routine such as Nike Training Club along with other exercises such as Plank (see my previous post, Perfect Form: Plank).

So, how do you do it?!


1. To start, keep your torso straight with a straight line from your ears to your toes. There should be no sagging or bending and the weight should be over your shoulders. Place your hands just wider than shoulder width, still in line with yours shoulders.

2. Take 2 - 3 seconds to lower your body towards the ground until your elbows are bent and your chest is an inch from the ground. Ensure your whole body moves at the same time. Then immediately push yourself back up to your starting position.

They're not easy right?! I always encourage everyone to give these a go, even if it's just one. Then you can place your knee's on the ground (see image below) whilst assuming the same position as described above to complete your set.
(image from Women's Health)

I suggest the following number of sets and repetitions:

Beginner: 2 sets of 5 - 10
Intermediate: 3 sets of 10 
Advanced: 4 sets of 15 - 20 (or an alternative advanced version)

As with most exercises, there are plenty of variations out there; one of my favourite being the decline push up with side crunch! Check out the video here

So good luck, go get that toned upper body! 

Elle :) x

P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

11.9.12

Soup Season: Sweet Potato & Chilli

The evenings here in London are beginning to get chilly again. This can mean only one thing: soup season is fast approaching! You know that warming feeling you get inside before you snuggle up to watch TV on the sofa as darkness descends...well, here is a quick, easy, tasty and nutritious recipe for you to try!

Sweet Potato and Chilli Soup (BBC Good Food)
serves 4, ready in 30 minutes



Ingredients


Butter 
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped or a pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
500ml vegetable stock
75g Gruyère cheese (I often use cheddar), grated
A pinch of paprika, optional

Method

  1. Melt a knob of butter in a large pan, add the onion, chilli, coriander and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes until softened. Add the sweet potato and cook for a few more minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until the veg is soft
  2. Mash, or blend if you want a smooth soup. Season and serve with a sprinkling of cheese and a pinch of paprika.

I always opt for the smooth version but that is just a matter of preference! It can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two, and can even be frozen! Enjoy!

Elle :) x

7.9.12

Perfect Form: Plank

We're not talking wood here; we are talking about one of the best abdominal exercises out there which also strengthens your back and shoulders. For the ladies, if you read my post about Ante and Post Natal fitness you'll understand why we need to put in the ground work now! For the guys, you know the ladies love a guy with a toned torso ;)

The plank is one of those core moves which we should master before moving on to compound and more complex variations. It is an isometric exercise; this means you hold the position for a period of time.

So how do you do it?!

1. Begin with your hands placed directly under your shoulders; keep your torso straight with a straight line from your ears to your toes. There should be no sagging or bending and the weight should be over your shoulders.


2. Engage your core by sucking your belly button towards your spine. Squeeze your shoulder blades together in order to lift 'up and out' of your shoulder joint to help maintain your posture. Focus your eyes above your fingertips to maintain a neutral position in your neck.

Modified Plank (image from mindfulmum.co.uk)

There you have it! Just don't forget to breathe! How long you hold a plank for depends on your ability; if you are new to this exercise I would aim for 20 - 30 seconds to start with or try the modified plank (see picture). For those who are more experienced, aim to remain in position for 1 minute with good technique.

The variations for the plank exercise are endless but I do have a few favourites! They include the NTC drill; Cardio Plank which brings a cardiovascular element into what is usually just a strength exercise. Check out the YouTube video below of the exercise! It will also give you a great visual of the positioning of a well executed plank.


Side plank is another favourite! Begin by laying on your side, placing your elbow on the floor just under your shoulder. Lift up on that elbow, lift yours hips and keep your body stiff with a line running from head to toe.

Hold this position for up to 30 seconds each side. Click HERE for a video demonstration.

So give these a go, and I'll post soon on progressions!

Elle :) x

P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

5.9.12

Back to school time: Day 2

Another 9am start on my Ante and Post Natal Exercise course in Vauxhall this morning. Sitting here right now in my coffee break I certainly feel a little more engaged than I did yesterday. But maybe that's because all the information from today has occupied my mind and yesterday's info has gone out the opposite ear to which it came in?!

Anyway, so far today we finished all the ante natal theory including how to adapt muscular strength and endurance exercise for expectant mothers (especially those in their second and third trimester).

Now it's onto what exercise mum can do after baby is born! It felt like a sprint finish to the end, with the Post Natal side of things taking only a couple of hours to go through compared to the day and a half we spent on Ante Natal. But in all honesty, there was nothing new to cover. We did however learn about what a c section entails and I will dispel the myth now - THEY DO NOT CUT THROUGH YOUR ABDOMINAL MUSCLES. I don't know about anyone else but for me, this was a huge relief! It is also not recommended to exercise before your 6 week check. One other thing I would like to share with you though is about a condition called diastasis recti. It basically is the separation of your abdominal muscles during pregnancy. It doesn't happen to everyone but it is common. Have no fear though as usually it corrects itself within 3 to 4 days of giving birth and then you will have to work to restrengthen your abdominals progressively.

I'd love to say the day ended on a high; sadly, this is not the case. 21 out of 23 of us decided to take the 1 hour 15 minute exam before leaving. Those 21 of us could not believe the amount of work expected of us in such an inadequate time. That was the first time in years that I have been writing till the very end, having to scribble any answer just to have an answer, and no time to check my work. Luckily, it wasn't just me that felt this way so we will be following it up with the awarding body who compiled the exam.

So I'm holding tight to hear if I have passed or not (please note I am not holding my breath!). I'm looking forward to working with ante and post natal women in the future though! My NTC class tonight has already had to listen to all this while performing their hip lifts!

***UPDATE*** I've just been informed that I passed the exam! I am looking forward to the future working with both Ante and Postnatal clients!!

Elle :) x
p.s my assessment of celebrities who ping back into shape after pregnancy: they either a) starved throughout pregnancy b) worked their butts off during pregnancy c) starved for the 5 weeks after giving birth or d) have incredible underwear that nips and tucks. I just know that no one sensible could get back in shape so quickly without putting themselves at risk.

3.9.12

Back to school time: Day 1

Today was day 1 of my Ante and Post Natal Exercise course with YMCAfit. A 9am start for a day in a classroom is not exactly motivating but this is a course I have been wanting to do for quite a while. Having accidentally specialised in women's training, this has naturally become an area of interest. That, and the fact that the course was cheaper than hiring a celebrity personal trainer to whip me back into shape after my child birth time has come.

Before today, I had a pretty good idea about what pregnancy entailed. My mum was a neonatal nurse for many years and I have been teaching a group of mums for the last year. I also have a few friends who have brought "mini me's" into the world.

Well it's the end of day 1 and I can say so far I have learnt ALOT! We have covered topics such as the physiological changes that occur during each trimester, hormones, adapting aerobic training and screening. We even took part in a class suitable for women in their third trimester consisting of an Exercise to Music warm up, a circuits main section, some abdominal work, pelvic floor muscle work and a little bit of stretching.

Having not yet been pregnant before myself, the most interesting part was wearing the bump! Imagine a vest stuffed with weight where your abdomen is and extra weight around your breasts! Wearing that whilst trying to manoeuvre on and off equipment in the fitness suite was a learning curve; just the bump alone is a workout in itself!

The course is 2 full days and will arm me with 20 CPD points which is more than enough for this year. Tomorrow is more classroom based learning and then I have the option to take an exam in the afternoon or leave it until I feel ready. Right now I'm not sure which option I will choose; I think I'll sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning.

If you ever employ a personal trainer or work with a Fitness Instructor (even when not pregnant) you should check they are qualified via the Register of Exercise Professionals. On their website you can search the directory and see what qualifications your Personal Trainer or Fitness Instructor hold.

So Day 2...here I come!!

Elle :) x
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